A little quiet around here…

I know it has been a little quiet around here lately. Could be the winter blahs. So many current events have left me so disgusted that I just don’t have the energy to engage enough to write about them. Being a social activist or even a human with a pulse has been difficult lately with so much corruption, collusion and crap going on. While I could devote an entire blog with well-reasoned arguments and some research thrown in, I will instead give you my uncensored gut reaction.

Patrick Brazeau – Until now his main claim to fame as a Canadian Senator was losing a boxing match to Justin Trudeau. Now, he has been charged with sexual assault. Brazeau didn’t even have the common sense to put himself on leave from Red Chamber. No, instead, Brazeau is such an entitled prick that his peers had to vote to put him on a forced leave. Of course he will get full pay. I think in cases like this people should not be paid and if they are found not guilty they can receive retroactive pay. It galls me that a senator who has been charged with sexual assault should still be paid! Of course, I am sure he thinks he is totes innocent and all.

Mike Duffy – Another poster boy for why the Senate needs to be abolished. It seems that Mr. Duffy lives in Ottawa. But not wanting to miss a feeding at the trough he has declared his vacation cottage in PEI to be his primary residence. This means that us Canadian taxpayers get to pick up the $30,000 or so he is collecting to support his ‘secondary’ residence in Ottawa. Harper has so few ethics that he is not even forcing Duffy to reimburse tax payers. Entitled assholes all of them.

Juxtaposition of jackboots and flowers. (from a FEMEN protest)

Juxtaposition of jackboots and flowers.
(from a FEMEN protest)

Missing and Murdered Women March – Valentines Day marked the annual Missing and Murdered Women March in Vancouver. This march is an opportunity for us to collectively remember and grieve for the women who have died on the Downtown Eastside. The survival sex trade and extreme poverty in the DTES takes women down. Of course, the conditions in the DTES receive some assistance from serial killers and other women haters who go there to find victims. Violence against women is so ubiquitous in our society that marches like this are not even questioned. Being a feminist who works for social justice in 2013 is heartbreaking.

Truth about the reality for women living in a patriarchal society.

Truth about the reality for women living in a patriarchal society.

The Pope – So the biggest hypocrite walking the face of the earth has resigned as pontiff. Really who gives a rat’s ass? He is only going to be replaced by another white, European man who has no idea what is going on in the world. Yes, there will be talk of electing a man from Africa or Latin America but it won’t happen. Hell, they have even talked about a Canadian taking the prize. Rest assured everyone,  it will be yet another white man who will continue to keep women in their place and maintain the status quo. Oh and have you ever noticed how people sometimes reflect their names? Joseph RATzinger has really lived up to his name.

Sums it up well.

Sums it up well.

Christy Clark – I don’t know about you but I am fucking sick of seeing Christy Clark’s face EVERYWHERE. It seems like you can’t go more than ½ an hour without seeing some ad telling us how great she and her merry band of liars and thieves was the best thing ever for BC. She has sponsored ads on Facebook and Twitter. My evenings are filled with Clark and her ‘jobs’ plan for BC. I don’t give a shit about business and jobs; I want to know what she is going to do for our poor and disadvantaged citizens. She is trying so hard to be sincere but honestly she looks smarmy. I wouldn’t trust her to manage our petty cash at work let alone the province’s finances. Sadly for Clark, making herself so fucking omnipresent means I am going to take so much pleasure in voting for the NDP come election day. In other news because so many Liberal rats have jumped ship, the Liberal’s once healthy majority is down to just 4 seats. There are also rumours of some Liberals breaking ranks and voting against the government’s budget. Bring it on Adrian Dix!

 

Democracy is for Sissies

Is it just me or does it seem that our politicians are ruling via subterfuge? It seems like most government made decisions are one big shell game: ‘quick, look over there, shiny’ while a new tax is shoved down our throats. We can’t even count on them to maintain the integrity of their own values and ethics throughout the course of their time in power. Democracy has become code for bait and switch.

This week in politics in BC, our Premier, Christy Clark, has decided that the culture at the BC Legislature is ‘sick’ and that she tries to stay away from it as much as possible. She likened it to the complaints made about the ‘beltway’ in Washington, DC. These comments, originally made in May, were released when it was announced that the legislature would not sit this fall. Clark clearly has an overblown sense of her importance. To compare BC politics to what happens in Washington, DC is like talking about your acne problem when you have a little zit.[1] All of senior civil servants, you know those people who provide crucial factual information to government politicians, all sit in Victoria. If she is not there, she can’t get all the information to make policy decisions. If her ministers behave as she does, they will also not be getting crucial information with which to make decisions.

Cancelling the fall sitting of the legislature is hubris at its worst. The provincial government just announced that revenues are $1 billion dollars below projections. If the legislature does not sit, then the opposition does not get access to this information to ask questions. I actually think there is a more sinister reason for not having a fall sitting. The timing of this supposed deficit announcement is curious. It is a little more than 6 months before the next election. I predict the BC Liberals will have a feel-good budget delivered in February and the shortfall will become a windfall. Everyone in government will slap each other on the back and congratulate themselves on their uber-financial management skills. They will then start the dog and pony show as they hand out the pre-election goodies. Personally, I am tired of being bought with my own money.

We can’t even count on politicians to stay true to their own beliefs in values. Apparently, once upon a time, Stephen Harper was against omnibus bills yet his government has passed one and has another one planned for the fall. Whoops! There goes your democracy right down the omnibus toilet.

All of this begs a much bigger question: when did democracy become a game of collusion and subterfuge? When did political parties abandon ideology and brokerage politics?[2] I used to think brokerage politics was a horrible development, now I long for those days where you could still tease a little bit of ideology from party platforms. Politics is now a game of confuse the voter, say whatever you need to so you are elected then do whatever the hell you want. Re-election campaigns start right after an election. We used to get a measure of peace in the first 2 years after an election, now the attack ads start almost immediately.

Leadership seems to be something that is missing from all politicians modus operandi. Real leaders build consensus, they answer tough questions and they lay out a vision for the future. We are so short on any kind of vision as everyone is focused on the next election. If you are an effective leader, you don’t have to resort to confusion and downright lies to convince people to follow you. If you want to lead effectively you have to be accountable; people watch your every move; you are a role model. I see no role models amongst the current crop of politicians. Instead they are all focused on maintaining their positions of authority even when they can’t stand to work at their place of employment.

 


[1] Primarily this is due to structural differences. In the US there is no party discipline to speak of so every vote is up for grabs. That means lobbyists are trying to convince 535 people of their position each time there is a vote.

[2] Brokerage politics saw the reduced reliance on ideology for policy decisions. Parties tended to move towards the centre so they had a better chance of getting elected.

In the ‘Public Interest’

I attended an interesting conference last week. The conference was focused on legal resources for settlement workers. Where I work we do a lot of settlement work and there are so many facets to it, it was important for me to attend to expand my knowledge. The conference was comprised of smaller workshops on various topics.

I attended a session put on by the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). On first glance, one would think this is a compelling issue in Canada today.[1] In fact, the OCTIP, with help from the federal government, has put together an 8-hour training session on the issue. These people clearly have money to burn. Their materials are plenty and varied. They have cards, brochures and wallet cards all printed on high-quality paper and cardstock. They talked about people being trafficked for the purpose of sex work, other types of labour and organ procurement. Yes, you read that correctly: organ procurement. Apparently the issue is so dire CIC has created a separate temporary residence status for trafficked person.

I honestly felt like I was in a different world listening to this presentation. They never actually presented a case of a trafficked person. We were presented with a list of things to look for so we could identify a trafficked person.[2] After the presentation, I asked how many cases they have of confirmed trafficking in Canada. The answer is less than 100 in 6 years. I have been working with refugees for almost 4 years and we have never seen a case of a trafficked individual. My next question was how much money has been directed at this problem and neither of the presenters knew the answer! There are 4 full time people in the OCTIP in BC and at least one federal person. That would be 5 FTEs conservatively. If we took an average[3] of their salaries as $55,000, that would mean at minimum they are spending $275,000 per year. This means that each trafficked person costs the system $16,500.

I then attended a presentation on family violence. A crown attorney presented some of the difficulties in prosecuting offenders. At one point, the discussion turned to the Missing Women from the DTES[4] and Robert Pickton. The crown attorney very callously spewed what he thought were the numbers in the case. He said Pickton was charged with 8 or 9 murders and that there were 18 that did not proceed to trial.[5] I could not believe the complete disregard for the women who were killed by Pickton displayed by his comments. As a crown attorney you would think he would know the numbers!

What was even more galling was his explanation as to why Pickton never stood trial on the other 20 murders: it was not in the public interest. What he means by this is that because Pickton is already been sentenced to life in prison for 25 years there is no point in taking him to trial on the other charges. I would ask, exactly, whose public interest is he talking about? Certainly not mine or, I am sure, the victims’ families in this case. I would also point out that if the women had been from Kerrisdale and their skin a little lighter there would most definitely be a ‘public interest’ in proceeding on all charges.

The Missing Women’s Inquiry was supposed to give the families some explanations as to what happened. Instead it has been rife with issues from the beginning. With little to no Aboriginal representation and focusing almost completely on the police and their investigation many advocacy groups and victims’ families have expressed that this forum will not, in any way, address their concerns. If all this isn’t bad enough, there are now allegations surfacing about sexism in the workplace of the Inquiry. Apparently the environment is highly sexualized where women have routinely faced demeaning comments. To make it even worse, as if that is possible, the women didn’t want to make complaints because they are concerned their future job prospects would be compromised.

It is time for the BC provincial government to get its act together. Why have we spent 1.65 million dollars on combatting human trafficking[6] while Aboriginal women die on the DTES? Misogyny (racism and classism too) is so deeply ingrained in our culture that women can’t even get a fair shake trying to improve justice for dead women. I grow increasingly weary the older I get. It just seems to get worse.


[1] I am sure being a trafficked person is very devastating. I am not, in any way, saying this issue is not important.

[2] If you are interested in the signs according to OCTIP: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/octip/signs.htm

[3] Their salaries probably range from $40,000-$70,000 a year.

[4] DTES=Downtown Eastside.

[5] Pickton went to court on 7 charges of murder and once was dropped. He was convicted of 6 counts of second-degree murder. He did not go to court on the other 20.

[6] Which are most likely many cases of human smuggling. Not that human smuggling is a good either.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘number 2’ edition

  • I have had a difficult week. I was quite fatigued for most of it. I am feeling better though. I am not sure if I was fighting something off or it might have been my ulcerative colitis. Either way, I doubled down on the sleep and got through the week.
  • I finished one of my biggest tasks of the year at work this week. It is a combination report back on the previous year and an application for the next year. It is an insane amount of work and it takes a Herculean effort to get it to all come together. I had been working fairly steadily on it since mid-February!
  • This week the Clark Government passed back to work legislation on the teachers. In doing so they have further contributed to the erosion of workers’ rights in the province of British Columbia. This government has been doing this kind of thing since they were elected in 2001. They refuse to negotiate instead opting for the bully club. Teachers must have input into their working conditions, which, ultimately, are the learning conditions for children. I sincerely hope we have all had enough of their tactics next year and vote them out!
  • Two years in prison is all the time Graham James received for the sexual assaults of Todd Holt and Theoren Fleury. The Toronto Star reports that Holt and Fleury endured ‘hundreds’ of assaults. If we are conservative and say that each man was subjected to 150 assaults each for a total of 300 it means that James is serving 2.43 days for each assault. Nowhere near enough time in my mind. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse I can tell you that it takes years in therapy to work through it and come out somewhat functional on the other side. James is a predator and should be labeled a dangerous offender so that he never sees the outside again.
Published in: on March 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘revelations’ edition

  • I have been quite absent from my blog as of late. It all started because I decided to crochet some presents for holiday season. I have made an intricate crochet piece and 13 very long scarves! I have also tried my hand at 2 afghans neither of which worked out yet. What I have discovered is that I find crocheting very relaxing. I have been crocheting while watching TV and I find it is almost meditative for me. I am feeling so much less stressed. The other thing I really like is that I can be productive while relaxing. I am now spending about 2-3 hours less per day on the computer.
  • We have been entertaining Maya the Maltese for the last month. She is going to my mother at Christmas. She decided she really wanted another dog. We have found her the perfect dog – she is a young adult, female who likes to play. She came already house broken. We had her spayed, microchipped and vaccinated. She will be great for my mother. She is also a great watchdog! She is making all of us mental though. She barks indiscrimantely, particularly in the middle of the night. She is hyper and omnipresent. She seems to try to walk on the backs of my calves. She does have her cute moments though!
  • We have been having some struggles with Bella. She has a hyper thyroid which, in spite being on a high dose of tapezol. We did blood work, which showed that she has cancer as well. She is 16 years old so we decided not to do any further investigation. The biggest problem was that she was not using her litterbox. With a little thought, we moved it into the living room. I took the lid off and I put her in there. She then used it and there was much rejoicing. She has continued to use it now for almost 2 weeks. At this point we are focusing on her quality of life. She is doing quite well right now.
  • Everyone else is doing well. There was some concern about Sienna as she developed a lump. We were all pretty sure it was a fatty lipoma and after 2 fine-needle aspirations it was confirmed that it was a fatty lump.
  • In political observations, I have to say that I hate the sound of Christy Clark’s voice as much as I hated Gordo’s. The face may have changed but the message is still the same and it is all lies if you ask me. Clark is every bit as mean-spirited as Gordon. Her call for cameras to be in the courtrooms when alleged rioters are prosecuted is cruel. It is not only going to humiliate the alleged suspects but also witnesses who may not want their names and faces broadcasted to the larger community. Her comments about CLBC are lame and there is no way she is going to fix anything. I really had dared to hope for more.
Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Today in Politics

I love the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). Today the SCC ruled that closing Vancouver’s supervised injection site would be a violation of peoples’ Charter rights. Basically, it would deny addicts access to heath care that helps keep them safe while they inject the drugs to which they are addicted. More importantly, Insite offers its clients a way out of drug addiction, if they choose. And really, what it all comes down to is choice. Just because people on Vancouver’s DTES are addicted to drugs does not mean that they are lesser citizens of the country. They have a right to appropriate health care for them. If that means that a nurse watches them shoot up to make sure they do it safely and that they do not contract blood-borne diseases then so be it. Apparently the number of new HIV infections among injection drug users is down as are serious infections and other diseases. In spite of the research and the evidence of the positive outcomes of Insight, the Harper Cons do not believe that drug addicts are really people, entitled to appropriate medical care. Luckily for us, the SCC does not have such ideology influencing their decisions.

Has anyone been listening to our Premier Christy Clark lately? I think she is a Stepford-Premier. She is always so happy, happy, happy! And what is making her so happy you ask? Well, it would seem that she is really, really optimistic. Optimistic about what one might ask? Well, we are not really sure. It would seem that she is sure good times are just around the corner. Today speaking to the Union of BC Municipalities convention she gave this speech in which she announced 30 million dollars to help municipalities with recreation facilities. Seriously, we are going to build more swimming pools and arenas when children go to school hungry, without proper clothing and without school supplies. Did she not see the coverage Carrie Gelson received when she sounded the alarm about the state of children in inner-city schools? While recreation facilities are important to communities as they give people a place to exercise and socialize, I suspect most people would be quite happy to see that 30 million go into fixing the problems Carrie Gelson highlighted. One has to ask where starving, ill-clothed children fit in to Christy Clark’s ‘families first’ agenda?

Still on our ebullient premier, it would seem she does not really have control over her ministers. This became apparent today when Mike de Jong mused about charging smokers higher health premiums. Of course this is a complete non-starter as it would be a slippery slope. It is the same thing as when doctors muse about charging an obesity-tax on fat people. The argument, as far as it goes with smokers, is that smoking is a choice and therefore smokers should pay for the health care they are doing to need when they get cancer. Smokers already pay more taxes than non-smokers through the taxes governments collect on the sale of cigarettes. What is bizarre in all of this is a senior minister floating this idea without getting the approval of the premier. Perhaps there are cracks in the veneer?

Oh, and Clifford Olsen is dead. I hope the families of his victims get some measure of peace knowing that he is finally dead and can no longer apply for parole.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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Every thing old is new again

So Christy Clark has decided not to call a fall election. Given the HST results, which can be seen as a referendum on her government, I am not at all surprised by this news. However, Clark assures us all that the BC Liberals would have won in a fall election. And, you ask, how does she know this? Well it seems they do internal polling that assures them they would have won. Oh, but they don’t release the results of their internal polling. Ya, ok, wev.

During the leadership campaign, Clark said she was different than her predecessor. She would do politics differently. She pledged to put families first. I suspect that many members of the party supported her hoping that the politics of the old regime would change. It may be that the electorate is tired of the games, paternalism and condescension of the BC Liberal Party.

Like most political parties these days, the BC Liberals practice brokerage politics. Parties used to govern themselves by ideology, which would be reflected in their platform and policy papers. Instead of rooting in ideology, brokerage parties seek to build consensus and their sole reason for being is to be elected and maintain themselves as government. They try to assess what the electorate wants and then give it to them. They are also not above stealing ideas from the opposition.

There are serious issues with brokerage politics. One obvious issue is how the party determines what the public wants. After all, politicians are a self-serving lot. Brokerage politics also completely confuse the electorate. If parties follow general ideology, it is much easier for people to understand their options when they vote. The carbon tax is a really good example of brokerage politics at its finest. Parties on the left like the NDP or the Green Party generally champions carbon taxes. However, in BC, it was the right-wing Liberals who introduced the tax in February of 2008. In the election campaign the following year, Carole James, then leader of the NDP, campaigned against the tax. This made absolutely no sense and made the NDP appear to be especially irrelevant. In fact, her intransigence when it came to this piece of policy made her look very silly and likely contributed to the rift in the party that caused her to step down as leader.

Nothing has changed with the BC Liberals electing Christy Clark as their leader. She may be a different person but the politics are the same. The BC Liberals will do whatever they can to stay in power. If that means taking ideas from the NDP or not calling snap elections even when we have fixed election dates.

Great Day for Democracy

I am very pleased that BC voters have overturned the HST. The tax, which was implemented without any notice to BCers, was universally hated and had become a beacon of BC Liberal arrogance. In their paternalistic fashion they imposed the tax on us while telling us that it will create jobs and be a ‘revenue neutral’ tax. Most people in the province can do basic math and wondered if they were now paying 7% more for services how on earth could the tax be revenue neutral?

I heard Kevin Falcon on the radio and he was contrite about the results. He actually admitted that they made an error in how they implemented the tax and he felt that the results, in essence, were a slap on the wrist for the BC Liberal Party. He said that it will take 15 months to 2 years to revert back to the PST, GST situation. I am not clear why it would take that long maybe they are hoping to make up some of that 1.6 billion they now have to pay back to the feds.

One of the things that has bothered me throughout this whole campaign and now the results is that the government and the pro-HST business alliances[1] they seem to think voters are stupid. Repeatedly today I kept hearing that tax policy is too complicated for the average voter and that we should not be deciding tax policy by referendum. The BC Liberals showed complete contempt for the voters when they introduced it 3 months after an election. Regardless what the pro-HST forces said the tax was not good for BC. It hit largely services like restaurants and personal care services with an extra 7%. To say that it would not negatively impact families is bogus – almost everyone needs a haircut or wants to eat out now and then. They also never adequately explained how the HST created jobs. They just kept repeating it hoping that repetition is emphasis and we would all just believe it. I still do not know how the HST was supposed to neither create jobs nor, now, kill jobs. The public was not at all stupid – they understood the question.

Now we will have to contend with paying the feds back. Personally, I think the BC Liberal party should have to start fundraising for that but I know it will be us, the lowly taxpayer, who will repay it. The BC Liberals should have put that money aside and not spent it once the opposition to the HST began to heat up. They should have never underestimated Bill Vander Zalm; he has populism down to a science.

The terms of the referendum demand that the sales tax situation in BC be returned to what it was prior to July 1, 2010. I suspect the BC Liberals will introduce changes to increase the reach of the PST as soon as they think they can get away with it. Oh, and wait, what’s that sound? It is the sound of the air being let out of the tires of Christy Clarke’s surprise election call for the fall. She would likely lose.


Published in: on August 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm  Comments (2)  
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The BC Liberals and the HST mess

The BC Liberals must be completely delusional. They seem to think that a majority of British Columbians can be hoodwinked into supporting a tax that no one wanted, imposed by a party who promised not to, simply by bribing (some[1]) taxpayers with their own money and the promise of a 2 percentage point reduction by 2014. Just because Christy Clark is now the premier does not mean that the leopard has changed its spots. We still have Kevin Falcon as the talking head finance minister making these promises. If we have not learned by now that we cannot trust him and his merry-band of conservative Liberals then we deserve what we get.

The whole scenario gets worse. We will only get the purported changes to this tax if we vote to keep it. If a majority votes against the tax, then, the BC Liberals point out, we would have to pay back $1.6 billion dollars.[2] Now, it seems to me that if the BC government spent that money then it is going to be up to them to figure out how to pay it back to the feds if that is indeed what has to happen. Threatening us with this consequence is meaningless, as we had nothing to do with bringing in the tax, accepting the payment or spending the money.

We also keep hearing how the HST is going to create jobs. I am not an economics expert but I fail to see how a regressive tax can create jobs? Every pro-HST expert seems to say: “The HST is great for business because it simplifies the paperwork businesses have to fill out. Oh and it creates jobs.” I have yet to hear anyone explain to me how reducing the purchasing power of the average consumer through increased and excessive taxation creates jobs. Maybe it creates jobs in the civil service counting all that extra money.

I get that the HST simplifies accounting paperwork for business and that is good. However, the real issue with the transfer to the HST was that it applied to everything the GST applied. While the PST was only on certain things, it was not on restaurant meals and books in particular. The restaurant industry has really suffered with an increase of 7% on meals. A tax on books is just ludicrous. We need to encourage people to buy books and to read.

I think the only way to make the HST palatable is to remove it from the items that did not have PST on them. Make restaurant meals, books and other items and services that were not subject to the PST tax-free. I think then people would see some benefit to them. The way it is now, the tax is both odious and onerous.

If the BC Liberals seriously want people to support the tax they need to make the changes, I have suggested and codify them in legislation regardless of the outcome of the referendum. To tell us that we will only get this minor change to the bitter pill we have all had to swallow if we are behaved and we agree to let them keep it is insulting. I only hope that all the people who have been betrayed by the BC Liberals send them a very loud message with this referendum.


[1] If you have kids or you are a senior earning less than $40,000, you will get a one-time bribe payment of $175.

[2] Adrian Dix, leader of the BC NDP says it is more like $1.2 billion. But what’s a few billion among friends?

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Minimum Wage

Christy Clark is making good on her promise to raise BC’s minimum wage. The minimum wage has not been increased pretty much since the BC Liberals were elected. In a province with one of the highest costs of living, a minimum wage of $8 per hour is just not sustainable for those earning it. Factor in a single parent raising one or two children, even without needing childcare, they are living seriously below the poverty line. As prices for many goods and services have risen over the past 10 years, many of those working for those businesses have likely seen very little increase in their wage unless they work for a good employer. There are many employers who will only pay what the government says they have to pay.

Coalition of BC Businesses argues that a large increase in the will force small employers to hold off new hires and potentially reduce hours as a result of the increase. Another factor is that wage inflation will also ‘hit’ non-minimum wage earners in order to keep ratios between workers in place. I find the use of language interesting here. By using the phrase ‘wage inflation,’ the Coalition of BC Business is casting minimum wage increases in a negative way. After all when is inflation ever referred to as a good thing? Normally inflation is bad as it means we pay more for the necessities of life.

I remember a poster that they used to put up in income assistance offices. It was a poster designed to encourage people to take a minimum wage job as they would be better off than if they stayed on income assistance. While in theory this was true, if you factored in the costs of working (transportation, clothing, lunches etc) they would probably have a higher quality of living on income assistance. This would be especially true in the case of single parents. Even with a child care subsidy there is no way they could pay the parent portion and still feed the family.

The bottom line is that increasing the minimum wage puts more money into the economy. If a business cannot afford to pay a phased in higher minimum wage and survive then there is something seriously wrong with their business model. Paying people higher wages puts more money back into the economy, which, in turn, drives business.

The HST is also cited as having a seriously negative effect on business – especially restaurants and other hospitality industries. Perhaps the Coalition of BC Business would be better off trying to get a reduction in the amount of HST consumers are charged in restaurants. I am sure a couple of percent reduction would do far more to improve business than keeping wages so low employees have to make a choice between buying groceries and paying the heating bill.

I am disturbed that the province gave in when it comes to ‘gratuity workers’ or liquor services. While other industries will see the minimum wage rise to $10.25 an hour in the next year and a bit, those working in bars serving alcohol will top out at $9 an hour. The argument is that they actually have a higher standard of living slinging beer because they get tips. I suspect that the amount of tips varies wildly. I am sure those servers working at the No. 5 Orange on the Downtown Eastside would argue that they do not get enough tips to live on compared to others working in swankier places. I think the separation is ridiculous and all of them should be paid the same minimum wage.

The catch up to $10.25 per hour is just that – a catch up. It is still not a living wage for people in this province. If Christy Clark is to be truly visionary, she will build in an ongoing increase in the minimum wage on a yearly basis tied to the cost of living increase. The one good thing that came out of that announcement was that the abhorrent ‘training’ wage has been discontinued.

What would be truly progressive would be a living wage program or at least a minimum income for families with children. If we invest in families and children now, while the children are young, then they stand a good chance of being ready for school and succeeding. We all know that children who fall behind in school due to economic reasons are disadvantaged their entire lives due to fewer opportunities and lower overall health. I hope that Christy Clark’s ‘family first’ agenda means just what it says.

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 8:15 pm  Comments (5)