Legislation on wage transparency a nice try, but…

By PAT WATSON

Until we can find an economic system that assures every human being that we live in a world of sufficiency and not scarcity, the best we may hope for is a patchwork of fixes to the current capitalist model in which we all navigate.

The latest effort patch here in Ontario is the Liberal government’s anticipated legislation aimed at transparency on wages in order to close the gender pay gap.

Women in the workforce across Canada earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by men. But, when factoring other aspects of identity, the gap is even greater. Consider too, that full-time, stable employment is beyond the reach of many women in our emerging precarious and temporary work culture, so that women have fewer hours of wage earning work than men.

The comparative statistics on that dollar average for a working man is 57 percent less for Indigenous women, 39 percent less for immigrant women, 32 percent less for racialized women, and 42 percent less for women with disabilities.

I’m still waiting for someone to explain why we should be celebrating a $14-per-hour minimum wage.

It has to be repeated that $14 per hour, which lags behind the actual cost of living, still leaves minimum wage earners living below the poverty line.

It would be nice to be able to celebrate this new wage transparency legislation, which is set to be passed a month before provincial elections in June, but like the new minimum wage it is a half-measure, meaning that it leaves a lot of workers still unaccounted for.

The change in making salaries transparent will most directly affect Ontario Public Service jobs, which are unionized jobs that already have to make salaries public anyway. Also affected are companies with 500 or more employees.

This transparency legislation does not draw in smaller companies or people who work through temporary employment agencies, for example

There is no information so far regarding what penalties there might be for companies that do not adhere to the legislation, and there should be since the responsibility has been sidestepped for decades.

This legislation is long overdue considering that there have been rules in place on equal pay for equal work for over 50 year in this province.

In addition, this new legislation aims to also put an end to rules prohibiting workers from speaking about their salaries. Imposed secrecy through coercion has been a very effective method for keeping control of gender-biased wages.

Even outside the workplace, we have a culture of secrecy when it comes to speaking about our incomes. This makes it much easier to maintain the practice among co-workers but it does not serve the interest of fair wages across the board.

The Liberal government has received some criticism from workers’ rights advocates as well as the Ontario New Democrats, who have questioned why it took so long to come forward with this type of legislation.

Optimistically, it is better late than never. But realistically, it still doesn’t go far enough. If it is in an effort to secure votes, since it will be passed in May but not come into effect until January 2019, then it is a limp attempt.

That’s been one of the problems with this government all along. If only they had the courage to do anything in full measure for the benefit of those who most need the strong backing of government legislation.

There are far more poor people in this province than rich people, meaning, a larger potential share of votes, should any political party care to support those voters.

A note on the march toward justice …

The United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is Wednesday, March 21. This year’s theme is “Promoting tolerance, inclusion, unity and respect for diversity in the context of combating racial discrimination”. May we all be one with this grand intention toward justice.

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through A Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.

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Federal elections? What federal elections?

CP

 

By PAT WATSON

A person would have to care about what goes on inside the halls of greatest political power in this country to give any attention to the trial now taking place into disgraced Conservative Senator Mike Duffy’s improper spending claims.

The cross examination of former Chief of Staff of the Office of the Prime Minister Nigel Wright by Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne would prove to be an eye-opener for people outside the industry town of Ottawa – if such people were even a little interested.

The revelations should be enough to remove trust from the Stephen Harper collective seeking to be elected again to run the government, or, depending on your political bent, ruin the government.

But, I have talked to some everyday people about both the ongoing trial and the upcoming federal election and can report that they know absolutely nothing about the trial. Nothing. There are people who may have a vague sense that there is an election coming. And, to suggest that it is a vague sense would be perhaps to overstate their awareness, interest or concern.

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/federal-election-what-federal-election/#sthash.OOBufzIp.dpuf

Ethnic vilification: fear, hate and political gamesmanship

Ethnic vilification: fear, hate and political gamesmanship

By PAT WATSON

Stephen Harper, pragmatic arch-conservative and the current prime minister of Canada, has put a considerable amount of resources, meaning tax dollars and legal maneuverings, into denying legal rights to Canadian-born Omar Khadr.

Khadr, now 28, has just been released from a Canadian prison, after serving time for his involvement at the age of 15 in a gun battle between U.S. soldiers and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan. During the battle, Khadr, who was taken to Afghanistan by his father, is said to have lobbed a hand grenade that killed an American soldier.

The Khadr family had a history of close ties to the 9-11 boogieman, Osama bin Laden, and history will show that, at 15, Omar Khadr was the youngest person held in the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba among purported Islamist terrorists and various others thought to have been involved with al-Qaeda.

More recently, after Khadr’s imprisonment and legal battles arose in the public mind, the threat of the Islamic State (IS) movement has also emerged. Before long, Canadian soldiers who had been returning home from their mission in Afghanistan were then assigned to respond to the IS threat.

A striking feature in all of this to many observers regarding the Omar Khadr case is

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/ethnic-vilification-fear-hate-and-political-gamesmanship/#sthash.7uTlsC8q.dpuf

Harper budget signals need for a new kind of public servant

Harper budget signals need for a new kind of public servant

By PAT WATSON

Dear group of people who will become the next federal government of Canada, we the struggling class would like you to do something for the votes we are trustingly about to give you in our desperate attempt to sweep aside the current group.

We want you to know that we are in need of your absolute commitment to our wellbeing. We are having a hard enough time meeting all the financial demands to keep maintaining the basics of life placed on us daily.

We want you to know that the reason we can’t take advantage of the current government’s tax-free savings plan, now being increased from the generous $5,500 annually, is that we can’t even save $500 annually. That’s why we don’t go to the movies; that’s why we don’t buy magazines; that’s why we don’t even dare to buy a bunch of flowers to brighten up our homes.

We want you to know…

http://sharenews.com/harper-budget-signals-need-for-a-new-kind-of-public-servant/