Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Livio Di Matteo discusses the wasted opportunity to improve Canada's health care system through concerted national investments. And Ryan Meili asks who will provide future direction now that the Cons have scrapped the Health Council of Canada:
Now we see the federal government making a bad situation worse by walking away from the process of rebuilding a national health system entirely instead of negotiating a more robust agreement with targets and timelines for innovation and cost-savings.

The elimination of the Health Council only further underlines this movement away from national planning for better outcomes. Were this a one-off elimination of a governmental body created for a short-term purpose, this decision would be merely disappointing. That the Council’s disappearance is part and parcel of a larger strategy of the elimination of the dissenting and unbiased voice — something that is so needed in a democracy — is downright disturbing.

By removing or limiting evidence-gathering bodies, be they in health, the environment, or general information such as the long-form census, we decrease the evidence available to us to inform our debate and decisions. By strictly controlling how scientists can share information, cutting public broadcasting and eliminating watchdog organizations like the Health Council, we groom an ill-informed electorate.

These backward steps are the recipe for bad decisions to be called good, the recipe for a poor-performing health care system, a weakened economy, and worse health outcomes and quality-of-life for Canadians.
- On the bright side, the CP reports on the Mental Health Commission of Canada's findings that a "housing first" strategy more than pays for itself in addressing both homelessness and associated social issues.

- Kathy Tomlinson breaks the story that McDonalds' franchises in B.C. have been going out of their way to hire temporary foreign workers rather than local applicants. And CFIB spokesflack Dan Kelly comes right out and admits to a preference for employees who lack any rights or leverage - leading to Gil McGowan's proper response:
But Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, strongly rejects claims that Canadian workers are less productive than temporary foreign workers. He said the difference is that many foreign workers are compliant, out of fear of losing their job.

"Is it a bad thing that Canadians stand up for themselves and don't allow themselves to be pushed around by their employers in low-wage service sector jobs?"

"What he's saying is that the government should provide low-wage employers with a compliant, pliable group of workers who are afraid to stand up for themselves," McGowan said. "And that when workers stand up for themselves and refuse to be disrespected in the workplace, that that is somehow a bad thing? I think most Canadians would find that offensive."
- Meanwhile, Adrian Lee writes that the labour movement has a long way to go in attracting young workers - but that there's plenty of opportunity to serve as a voice for a generation which has been told it can't expect anything more than precarious employment.

- David McLaughlin discusses how electoral non-participation is all too likely to become a habit. And Althia Raj reports that the Cons are trying to reinforce exactly that habit by squelching a pilot program to encourage students to vote.

- Finally, Karl Nerenberg examines the impact of last night's Quebec election on the federal political scene - particularly in eliminating demagoguery over sovereignty as a viable strategy for the foreseeable future.

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