Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your weekend.

- Jeremy Nuttall discusses why the Cons' temporary foreign worker program is ripe for abuse, as it ensures workers have every incentive to avoid reporting employer wrongdoing since the employer can singlehandedly ship the employee out of Canada in retaliation.

- But the good news is that workers who aren't quite so easily sent away are making efforts to fight back against the Cons' anti-labour plans - as Kathryn May reports on a pledge among public service unions not to give in to attacks on sick leave and disability benefits. And on the provincial level, SOS Crowns exposes and questions the Saskatchewan Party's privatization of essential infrastructre.

- John Geddes discusses what the Cons want to eliminate in order to make way for subsidies tied to specific employers:
Schemes to place hard-to-employ young people in jobs tend to come and go. BladeRunners is the exception. The British Columbia program has been around since 1994, long enough that even its managers aren’t entirely clear on how it got its name—and for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to single it out as a proven model. BladeRunners helps unemployed 15- to 30-year-olds—mostly Aboriginal, sometimes homeless, often with histories of substance abuse—learn basic skills and land several key weeks of job experience. Counsellors are on call around the clock when participants run into the inevitable problems.

It sounds like the sort of feel-good program any politician might rush to line up behind. But the B.C. provincial government cites BladeRunners as a prime example of the kind of training that the federal Conservatives are out to cut. At issue is the so-called Canada Job Grant (CJG), announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty with considerable fanfare in last year’s federal budget. Under the CJG, Flaherty proposed that the federal government, the provinces and employers each pay a third of up to $15,000 a year for every employee enrolled for training at an eligible institution. But there was a catch: The federal government’s $300-million share was to be taken out of the $500 million a year Ottawa transfers to provinces under existing labour-market agreements—the main source of BladeRunners’ $6-million budget.
- Finally, Ketaki Gohale reports on the level of social responsibility we can expect from big pharma (which we should keep in mind the next time it claims that giveaways are needed to support the development and commercialization of medication):
Bayer Chief Executive Officer Marijn Dekkers called the compulsory license “essentially theft.”

“We did not develop this medicine for Indians,” Dekkers said Dec. 3. “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”
Fortunately, Médecins Sans Frontières offers up the appropriate response.

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