In the 1970s two locations around Winnipeg were chosen for a social assistance experiment. Everyone was provided with a living income regardless of who they were for a period of four years. Evelyn Forget has studied the results. Forget is a professor o…
I am not a selfish man by any means. Nor am I a greedy one. I am, however, a lazy man – and, as such, have rarely thrown my hat into the ol’ “helping less fortunate people” ring. Until now. Lu Makes a Run For His Soul I reach out to you now, dear reader, [...]
Housing advocates demand action as shelter occupancy remains near capacity.
Toronto City Council has rejected a proposal for an emergency debate on homelessness. This morning as their meeting was getting underway Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) asked his colleagues to consider adding the issue to the meeting’s agenda. After a series of impassioned speeches in which many councillors across the political spectrum expressed concern about [...]
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Linda McQuaig discusses Stephen Harper’s class war:
Canadians don’t like Harper’s anti-worker agenda — when they notice it. That’s why there’s been such a public outcry since the temporary foreign worker program was exposed as a mechanism by which the Harper government has flooded the country with hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign workers, thereby suppressing Canadian wages in the interests of helping corporations.
Apart from this clumsy fiasco, the Harperites have been adroit at keeping their anti-worker bias under the radar. Instead, they’ve directed their attacks against unions, portraying them as undemocratic organizations run by “union bosses” who ignore the interests of ordinary workers.
It’s revealing that this harsh critique of unions largely comes from business think-tanks and conservative politicians — folks who aren’t generally known for championing workers’ rights but who apparently can’t sleep at night at the thought workers aren’t being well represented by the people they elect to run their unions.
Of course, the real reason Harper attacks unions is because they’ve been effective in promoting the interests of working people over the past century. By establishing norms for higher wages and benefits in the workplace, and by pushing governments to implement universal social programs, unions are largely the reason we have a middle class in this country.
- Meanwhile, Carol Goar laments that Ontario’s Wynne Libs chose not to make a meaningful effort to cut down on poverty. And Dr. Dawg documents the federal Libs’ latest attempt to be indistinguishable from the Harper Cons.
- In the latest in conservative transparency, Alison Redford is covering up her own government’s pipeline safety report – presumably to avoid the possibility that its conclusions might get noticed in the review processes for new pipelines. Michael Harris discusses the Cons’ strategy of blaming their own scandals on unnamed bureaucrats (who are of course prevented from defending themselves with the truth). And the Star finds that the federal government won’t answer questions about $2.4 billion in consulting contracts – while contracts ranging up to nine figures seem to have bought the public little more than the contractor’s silence:
(S)everal departments and agencies refused to say what services they bought as part of the roughly $700 million in taxpayer money they spent on management consulting.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), in charge of delivering social programs and services, has billed more than $420 million since 2004.
One of the department’s most recognizable divisions, Service Canada, has spent another $129 million for management consulting — more than 70 per cent of which was given to a single recruitment company, according to the government’s contract records.
What consulting work was done for all that money? A spokeswoman with HRSDC refused to say.
The company, Quantum Management Services, was just as tight-lipped.
“I’m not going to answer your questions,” said Anne Cote, a vice-president in the company’s Ottawa office.
- Fortunately, at least some individuals are working to shed lights on the increasingly-hidden operations of our state and corporate sectors. And Dennis Gruending highlights a few of the examples noted by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.
- Finally, Joe Bower discusses the effect of standardized testing in Alberta – which has enabled the Fraser Institute to take pot-shots at a school for student parents based on its failure to be sufficiently choosy in recruiting pupils.
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the U.S.’ extreme inequality is limiting its prospects for economic recovery:There are all kinds of excuses for inequality. Some say itâ€™s beyond our control, pointing to market…
Just because spring is around the corner does little to protect the Torontonians who are without permanent housing.
Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and his right-wing allies brush off any news of an underlying crisis within the shelter system — even…
Miscellaneous material for your Monday morning reading.
- Sixth Estate is the latest to weigh in on Statistics Canada’s findings about inequality:
Progressive taxes are based on the idea that the more money you earn, the more you spend on unnecessary luxuries. Poor people therefore have very low tax rates because the bulk of their income is (or should be) spent on absolutely necessary items: food, clothing, and shelter. Wealthy people have higher tax rates because the bulk of their income is available for discretionary spending. Losing 50% of $1 million per year isn’t remotely as painful as losing 50% of $10,000 per year.
Except that in Canada, the progressive taxation system has clearly been left behind. Over the past 30 years, the income of the top 1% nearly quadrupled, but their tax rate did not increase. The bottom 90% merely doubled, and their tax rate slightly decreased. The most explosive gains were won by the top 0.01% — an elite club which saw their income quintuple since 1982, even as their tax rate actually declined from a peak rate of 46% in 1994 to just 35% today. Some burden!
- And even the Conference Board of Canada can tell there’s a problem with poverty and inequality that needs to be addressed:
Linked to inequality is Canada’s high poverty rate, which ranks among the worst of the 17 countries the report looks at.
Canada’s child poverty rate is 15.1 per cent, up from 12.8 per cent in the mid-1990s, earning a ‘C’ ranking – only the U.S. ranked lower. Working-age poverty was 11.1 per cent, up from 9.4 per cent in the late 1990s – the ‘D’ ranking Canada received was the same as the U.S. and Japan.
The Conference Board calls Canada’s rate of child poverty “unacceptable,” and says action needs to be taken.
“Poor children do not eat well, do not learn well and have low chances of escaping poverty when they grow up,” Lafleur said.
- Gaius Publius looks in detail at the evidence showing austerity helps nobody (except a few predatory elites who are more interested in distancing themselves from the masses than any social or personal good). And Paul Adams points out that it’s long past time to move past Paul Martin’s all-too-successful effort to claim that manageable deficits are a worse outcome than poverty and lost opportunity.
- Finally, Mike Duffy’s sad attempt to create a Prince Edward Island paper trail in order to hang onto his Senate seat would be a damning blow to any chamber with a good name to preserve. But who wants to bet that his fellow Con patronage appointees will do anything but circle the wagons around him?
By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: A new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) argues that, without change in public policy, it’ll take Canada 228 years to close its yawning gender gap. The study, titled Closing Canada’s Gender Gap, examined Canada’s progress in closing the gap between men and women over the [...]
The post Gender gap leaves Canadian women “leaning in” for the next 228 years, says study appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.
This and that for your Tuesday reading.
- George Monbiot writes about the dangers of allowing wealthy and privileged individuals to speak as the voice of the poor and downtrodden: As the UK chairs the G8 summit again, a campaign that Bono founded, with which Geldof works closely, appears to be whitewashing the G8′s policies in Africa.
Last week I drew attention to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched in the US when it chaired the G8 meeting last year. The alliance is pushing African countries into agreements that allow foreign companies to grab their land, patent (Read more…)
In her report on B.C.’s 2013 budget CCPA-BC economist Iglika Ivanova concluded that the province’s financial statement focused on balancing the budget at the expense of British Columbians’ present and future wellbeing. The following are a few ex…
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.
- Linda McQuaig discusses Stephen Harper’s class war: Canadians don’t like Harper’s anti-worker agenda — when they notice it. That’s why there’s been such a public outcry since the temporary foreign worker program was exposed as a mechanism by which the Harper government has flooded the country with hundreds of thousands of cheap foreign workers, thereby suppressing Canadian wages in the interests of helping corporations.
Apart from this clumsy fiasco, the Harperites have been adroit at keeping their anti-worker bias under the radar. Instead, they’ve directed their attacks against unions, portraying them as undemocratic (Read more…)
Assorted content for your Sunday reading.- Joseph Stiglitz discusses how the U.S.’ extreme inequality is limiting its prospects for economic recovery: There are all kinds of excuses for inequality. Some say itâ€™s beyond our control, pointing to …
Kermit Gosnell’s trial for murder has begun and the fetus fetishists are fapping themselves into a frenzy. As we pointed out here, he will be The Poster Boy for Evul Abortionists forever, or until another one comes along.
Also in that post, we pointed…
The story of child poverty in Canada is very much an urban story. One out of every 10 children living in urban areas was poor in 2010, compared to one in 20 children living in non-urban areas. Three quarters (or 76%) of all poor children in Canada lived in one of the urban centres shown [...]
Miscellaneous material for your Monday morning reading.- Sixth Estate is the latest to weigh in on Statistics Canada’s findings about inequality: Progressive taxes are based on the idea that the more money you earn, the more you spend on unnecess…
On April 23, the Fraser Institute released the annual update of their misleading Consumer Tax Index report. The piece is meant to feed the anti-tax sentiment with numbers sprinkled liberally for their shock value instead of providing any meaning…
President Obama put the idea of raising the minimum wage on the radar in the U.S. It deserves to be on the radar in Canada too. That’s because low-wage work is on the rise.
Obama says raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hou…
Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.- Erika Shaker rightly tears into the special brand of FAIPOF demanding that First Nations protesters focus solely on their own community leaders rather than recognizing broader and more systematic inequ…
Assorted content to end your week.
- While there’s room to question whether we should accept spending as self-definition in the first place, Zoe Williams is right to make the point that arbitrary restrictions on benefits serve to put yet more barriers to full social participation in front of the people who can least afford them:
Replacing cash with vouchers has a number of damaging effects. First, it’s infantilising. Crisis loans delivered this way take on the shape of pocket money or charity. Second, it’s stigmatising, as asylum seekers on the Azure card often point out – people don’t want strangers to be able to make judgments about what they’re buying, and whether they should be buying it. People want privacy in their financial transactions. Call them crazy. Third, it erodes the idea that the public purse is something we all created together and, in a crisis, are entitled to draw on it. Yes, I’m talking about a culture of entitlement – culture is a culture of entitlement. Modern civilisation is built upon pooling resources and being entitled to a share in them.
Fourth, and to my mind most important – though all of these effects are vitally important – something very significant happens when you expel people from the sphere of money. In the moment of exchange, everyone is equal; you don’t have to prove that you’re worthy of that purchase, your status is bestowed by the fact that you can pay for it, and you are worth as much in that moment as anybody else who can pay for it. There’s a fillip of power in the process; it’s why people who like shopping like shopping, and it is especially important when – for some reason that is probably financial – you spend a lot of the time feeling powerless. Give people a voucher instead, and they are not equal. Asda may be getting the same amount of money for the same amount of food, but charity and condescension have crept into the transaction – or maybe pity. But nobody wants their groceries served with pity.
I see those pragmatic arguments now as a Maginot line, and food stamps marched in over the undefended territory of human dignity. When you relegate people to a world outside money, you create a true underclass: a group of people whose privacy and autonomy are worth less than everyone else’s, who are stateless in a world made of shops.
- But then, the corporate sector seems to have decided that self-worth gets in the way of its profit motive. And so the future of the labour movement – discussed by Richard Littlemore – figures to be an important factor in determining whether human dignity has any place in public policy discussions.
- Meanwhile, Paul Wells writes that Stephen Harper has led Canada to a world outside meaningful budgets, as heavily-advertised (but ill-defined) “plans” have replaced any semblance of accountability for public spending.
- Finally, Tim Harper expands on the Cons’ decision to be the lone pariah state which can’t be bothered to cooperate in documenting and combating desertification:
At a time when a parade of federal ministers (including Baird) and provincial premiers, including Alberta Premier Alison Redford, have been invading Washington to tout this country’s supposed “green credentials” in a bid to win presidential approval for the final phase of the Keystone XL pipeline, a decision like this simply blows up all that work.
Walking away from a convention that is dealing with a problem that has been at least accelerated by climate change reinforces the world’s view, including a widely-held view in Washington, that the Harper government is all about resource development and exports, barely paying lip service to climate change.
…The Canadian move comes on the eve of an April 9 UN meeting bringing scientists, governments and civil society organizations together in Bonn. It is billed as the first ever cost-benefit analysis of desertification, land degradation and drought.
We’re not coming.
Three days ago, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced an additional $51 million in humanitarian assistance to the people of the Sahel, citing a “complex crisis of drought, flooding, failed harvests, and disrupted livelihoods.’’
Baird pulled us out of the UN program trying to prevent it.
Wonder how green we look to Kerry now?