Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Afternoon Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Lee Stevens writes that the coronavirus pandemic has exposed longstanding weaknesses in our social safety net which have caused large amounts of avoidable poverty:
A generation ago, our income support and social service programs were working (albeit not perfect) since it was possible to get a good job with just a high school diploma and support a family with the earnings from that job. But the economy of today is much different. Wages have stagnated while the cost of living has not; more people have a university education but are still having to assemble a range of temporary, contractual and freelance work just to make a living. Those full-time, long-term jobs are few and far between, leading to a rise in what is being referred to as shorter-term “gigs,” and our social safety net has not kept up. This has left many people without any type of income security, paid sick leave or labour protection — a disaster in a public health crisis.

Those who have worked all their lives and have suddenly found themselves dependent on government benefits are beginning to question their beliefs that “having a job” is the best social program. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you “did all the right things,” finished school, secured a job (or jobs), only to realize that everything that you worked for has disappeared. And, while many of those people probably don’t see themselves as living in poverty, they are certainly in need, and it wasn’t because they made bad choices in life. The chasm between “those people” and the rest of us is becoming smaller, and that’s a little scary. So, it’s no surprise to see a sudden rise in citizen engagement and cries for a Just Recovery as systemic inequalities are becoming painfully clearer during COVID.
- Ewa Krajewska, Veronica Sjolin and Teagan Markin write that there's no valid reason to use rhetoric about civil liberties to avoid life-saving mandatory masking rules. Victoria Gibson reports on the Ford government's plans to endanger public health by allowing people to be pushed out of their homes. And Marilyn Slett, Judith Sayers and Joe Alphonse call attention to the need for even basic precautions for Indigenous people in British Columbia.

- Scott Gilmore suggests responding to Donald Trump's anti-immigration policies - most recently including the cancellation of workers' visas - by ensuring that workers able to work remotely have an opportunity to live in Canada.

- Meanwhile, Ethan Cox notes the importance of ensuring that unscrupulous employers don't turn remote work into a means of slashing wages. And Meagan Day interviews Erin Hatton about the foundation of economic coercion underlying the capitalist relationship between employers and workers.

- Lily Batchelder highlights the need to make sure the rich and their heirs pay their fair share. And the New York Times' editorial board writes about the gap between a the concentration of wealth at the top, and the stagnation of wealth for everybody else.

- Finally, Linda McQuaig makes the case to nationalize the production of necessary medicines in Canada.

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