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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Mincome – guaranteed basic income

By PAT WATSON

There is a solution floating out there that promises to be a revolution against poverty. First, an analogy: If you all agree that shelter is a condition for healthy living and a human right, then we should also agree that we must provide the means for ensuring that standard. That means we mutually ensure the universal provisions for shelter. There is no sense in saying, ‘Well, we all must have shelter as a right, but regarding procurement of the means then you’re on your bro.’

Which brings up the recent discussion coming from the provincial government on running a pilot project on ‘mincome’. That’s the term being used to refer to the idea that every household be provided with a guaranteed basic income.

The Ontario Liberal government is now doing a search for the right community in which to proceed with a pilot project on mincome payments.

This wouldn’t be the first time such a social experiment has been done. A similar pilot project took place in

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/have-you-heard-of-mincome/#sthash.Yxxq7wln.dpuf

Maintaining public housing status quo wrong

TCHC

By PAT WATSON

Mould, leaking ceilings, broken windows covered with cardboard, leaking rusty plumbing. Any of these could be describing housing conditions on any one of the poorly supported reserves where indigenous people live in Northern Ontario. But they also describe conditions crying out for attention within the properties managed by the City of Toronto.

The list of problems would also have to include the rate of violent crime that occurs on or in the vicinity of public housing property, which exceeds the rate in other parts of the city.

Is it too far a stretch to characterize City management as a slumlord?

Here is what the mayor’s Task Force looking into the crisis we call Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) came back with: “TCHC is an organization that, because of its history and structure, is unsustainable financially, socially and from an operating and governance perspective.”

Yet, rather than do away with this whole enterprise, the Task Force has come back with two main recommendations about the structure of the organization, both of which would mean keeping TCHC in existence in one form or another.

The Task Force has recommended changing the name of TCHC to NewHome. NewHome, old home, what’s the difference if it looks and functions no differently?

– See more at: http://sharenews.com/maintaining-public-housing-status-quo-wrong/#sthash.4b51f6RC.dpuf

Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through a Coloured Lens.

“I’m scared for my people”: Minneapolis Black Lives Matter activists on what terrifies them most

Hundreds of Black Lives Matter activists have demonstrated outside the Fourth Precinct police station in North Minneapolis since Jamar Clark, 24, was shot by an officer on November 15. On November 23, five protesters were shot near the demonstration. The following day, I photographed demonstrators and asked them all one question: What are you afraid of? […]

http://qz.com/559435/im-scared-for-my-people-black-lives-matter-activists-in-minneapolis-on-what-terrifies-them-most-a-day-now/

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/