Working Poor & Responding to the Ontario Budget

April 25 marks two important moments. For  everyone who remembers the film Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock and William Shatner ( among others), filmgoers will recall that a contestant was asked  to describe her ideal "date". http://www.hark.com/clips/rktkddnmkl-describe-your-perfect-date She thought long and hard and finally said: "April 25th" She noted that the days were getting longer, days warmer, plants greener among other things etc. Poor Bill Shatner overacted apoplexy with the response. Anyways for those of you who are wondering about your ideal date, a wonderful evening on working poverty and responding to the Ontario Budget is in store. See you there! econimc inequality poster Main Website is:
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Cut in Half! Another ‘Close Encounter of the ‘30’s kind’

Back in 2006, I recorded the personal reminiscences of my mother and youngest aunt.   I never tire of reading their recollections of the Great Depression and World War II. A few weeks ago, after releasing a paper I co-authored on the working poor in Toronto, I was asked to depute before the Toronto City Council committee that was dealing with the possibility of cutting the pay of cleaning and janitorial workers ‘in half’ in order to cut costs. This was not long after Electro-Motive, owned by Caterpillar, called on its London, Ont., workers to OK a 50 per cent pay cut before leaving Canada entirely. It got me thinking. I knew there was something about ‘pay being cut in half ‘in the family remembrances. I found it. Here is the…
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Obscured by self… (by Guest blogger Pat Capponi)

We are the intractable poor, those who’ve been years- sometimes decades on OW or ODSP, whose world is limited to agencies, drop-ins, food banks, Money Marts, and some of the worst housing Toronto has on offer. Men and women with no future, no hope, broken by the struggle to simply survive, whose lives and deaths cause barely a ripple, no obituaries, no weeping relatives, no sign we were ever here, except for thick files in dusty cabinets, destined for shredders, in order to make room for new files, new clients, who will share the same sad fate. We are the cast-offs, the social irritants, lying on grates through the winter, hanging in back alleyways, servicing Johns, on street corners pleading for change, lined up for hours for a loaf of…
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Of the 1%, for the 1%, to the 1%

  Of the 1%, for the 1%, to the 1%? Single People and social assistance In 2012, three years following the greatest recession since the Great Depression, 1.1% of Ontarians (157,000 men and women) received social assistance (Ontario Works) in Ontario (in February 2012).  The number of single people receiving Ontario Works has increased by over 65% (157,000 vs. 95,000) since the year 2000. Social assistance benefit rates Ontario’s single social assistance rate (Ontario Works) was increased to $599 a month in December 2011, with $227 allocated (by regulation) to basic needs. The minimum monthly cost of a nutritional food basket requiring secure, energy efficient, and affordable storage, freezing, refrigeration, and cooking facilities is $270. Ontario’s single social assistance rate was $663 a month in 1993. If adjusted for inflation…
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Flying into Neverland: The precious and vacuous world of In-flight Magazines

Flying into Neverland: The precious and vacuous world of In-flight Magazines "Toronto is embracing its gritty history with a new affection, a nostalgia that trumps even Trump and the other glittering downtown gems that thumb their noses at the – recession? What recession?" Toronto the Great From Parkdale to the Park Hyatt, Toronto embraces both its glittery and gritty sides. By Charlene Rooke En Route Magazine September 2010   As airlines try to inject fun into flying again, nine years after 9-11, it is interesting to reflect on what you have to pay for as part of in-flight service in Canada. Meals, drinks, seat selection, frequent flyer points, rebooking missed flights and even the lowly headset have all been reconstructed as extras in the price structure of the modern airline…
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Funeral Blues Toronto 2011

Funeral Blues Toronto 2011   Turn out all the lights, cut off support to the wading pools. Prevent the library from opening with free subway newspapers Silence the advocates and with muffled drum Bring out the Budget, let the mourners come. Let citizens circle warning the watershed Shouting the message “Our City is dead” Put Ferris wheels round malled harbours of monorails Let workmen downsize as safety fails. Gaze to our North, the South, our East and West, Our working week and our Sunday rest Our noon, Our midnight, our talk, our song; We thought our town would last forever, we were wrong. The Star is not wanted now; throw out every one, Pack up the Globe, the Post and dismantle the Sun. Tear away the commons and gather the…
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‘Denominator Neglect’ Rules in Bob Rae Attack Ad

‘Denominator neglect’ rules in Bob Rae attack ad In the recent Conservative Party attack ad concerning Bob Rae, the ad shows a ‘Welcome to Ontario’ sign with a typewriter animation  revealing ‘1,200,000 welfare population’  scrawling on the sign. The audio in the background intones in a jovial mocking tone that “Premier Rae turned Ontario into the Welfare Capital of Canada”. This is yet another claim in a long line of examples of ‘numerator’ politics. This is where you have a numerator and no denominator; a factual number without a context. In Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman calls peoples inclination to make foolish choices ‘denominator neglect’. Rob Ford does it with the number of city employees. The 53,000 which he considers way too many is a numerator, a factual number.…
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Be Careful what you wish for….Conrad Black should keep his Order of Canada

After following the debate closely, I do not believe that Conrad Black should be divested of the Order of Canada. The temptation to remove  him from the Order is palpable. He is a convicted felon in the US. He renounced his Canadian citizenship. And now, he has written yet another tome where his self-serving weaknesses are bared for all to inspect. He is not a very likeable fellow when viewed from afar. His personal history reads like the prayer book in the church of bombast. His language is circumlocutory and tortuous. While the rest of us move from the dining room to the parlour, Mr. Black “repairs”. He is not the same as you and I. Worse, he appears to think that he is better than us....clearly no plan to…
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