“Ontario funds all public services at the lowest rate per person of any province in Canada and as a result Ontario funds all hospitals at the lowest rate of any province in Canada.

"Ontario now has the fewest hospital beds left per person of any province in Canada. It’s not just by national measures. For the entire OECD, that’s all developed nations of the world, Ontario is third from the bottom in the number of hospital beds left, followed only by Chile and Mexico,” Mehra says.

Drastic cuts to nursing staff – with the most recent layoffs involving 169 registered nurse positions at Windsor Regional Hospital announced January 18 – means Ontario also has the fewest nursing hours per patient of all Canada’s provinces, she says.

“We have devastated health professional services like rehabilitation therapy, we have privatized and contracted out vital patient-care services like cleaning and food services to the detriment of patients.”

If the health-care cuts continue, the OHC and its partner organizations are planning to hold a province-wide referendum asking Ontarians whether they support them.
La Loche, the Canadian Town Where 4 Were Killed, Has a Bleak History
The community has high levels of unemployment and addiction to drugs and alcohol, and there have been waves of suicides, mostly among young residents.
By Ian Austen

It’s been said a million times and nothing changes…but we must do better in First Nations communities. We as a society fail them over and over.
When white people riot, they get a musical
A Vancouver-based theatre company is staging a musical based on the 2011 Stanley Cup riots.

Ironically, when Vancouver was met with sports-related protests, not every single person should have been punished to the fullest extent of the law. Bob Whitelaw, an individual who penned over 100 recommendations for British Columbia’s attorney-general and the British Columbia Police Commission after a 1994 Vancouver riot, even considered the word use of “hooligan” as too strong.

“They talk about hooligans….Many of them seemed to be just young people who were out to have some fun and got caught up in it and that’s unfortunate.”

Of course, 2011 was not the first (or last) time people rioted over sports. Alternet compiled a list that included other instances such as, the University of Kentucky Wildcats winning the NCAA Championship in 2012 and the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, 2007, and 2013. There are also video compilations of news coverage showcasing the differences in vocabulary used when a journalist is describing a white riot versus a black protest.

Making a musical out of the 2011 Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver, while seemingly benign, is in poor taste. It suggests that we should mould an act of mass violence into something silly – perhaps even igniting a few “I remember when I was young and…” moments.

It also signals to us what we can validate and what we always must condemn. Throughout all of this, we must question who it is we are laughing at and who it is we are laughing with. The answers may reveal a truth that most of us do not want to come face to face with.


Last night, Melanie Mark became the first woman MLA of First Nations heritage to become elected to the British Columbia legislature. The NDP candidate won the by-election for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant which was called when MLA Jenny Kwan ran for the NDP in the federal election. Melanie Mark is of Nisga'a, Gitxsan, Cree, and Ojibway heritage. 

And check out that entrance.


*edited to correct Jenny Kwan’s party*
B.C. universities eye mandatory indigenous studies course
UBC, SFU discuss changes to educational requirements

One day, it may be mandatory to take a course in aboriginal history and culture to graduate from university in B.C.

It’s a step the University of Winnipeg has already taken. Starting next year, every undergraduate at that institution and at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., will have to take at least one indigenous studies course. There are several courses to choose from and the total number of credits required to graduate does not change.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that education is key to reconciliation and recommended a course in aboriginal history and culture for all students of social work, medicine, nursing, law and journalism.

In B.C., younger students will also soon be educated in indigenous knowledge because the kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum is being revamped to include specific instruction about residential schools as well as indigenous content throughout.

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Ottawa Used Technicality To Disqualify 1,000 Residential-School Claims
The federal government used a technical argument to disqualify an estimated 1,000 claims for compensation made by indigenous Canadians who were abused at Indian residential schools listed in the agreement negotiated to award them for their suffering.

In April of last year, Rosemary Nation, a judge of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, tossed out the appeal of a woman whose case had been rejected by the IAP on the basis of the administrative split. The unidentified claimant had attended the Grouard school, on the north shore of Lesser Slave Lake, and her arm had been broken by a nun some time after 1957 when responsibility for the school was handed from the federal government to the province, which occurred in a handful of the roughly 58 cases.

Really, the only argument that’s necessary to defeat the ‘if the cabinet is gender balanced, it can’t be a real meritocracy’ whining is this: cabinets have been regionally balanced for years. This is designed to better unite the country, and so the people out West won’t think that Ontario is in charge of everything.

Which is to say, it’s never been a meritocracy within the lifetime of any current Canadian. And why would it be? Cabinet is a team designed to perform a function, not a reward for being ‘the best’. The best person for the job is the person who best serves the needs of the team, and Trudeau has wisely recognized that one of the (many) things the team needs to do is reassure all Canadians that their fates aren’t being decided solely by a bunch of white ontarian men. If that is part of the function of cabinet, and it is, then Trudeau did pick the best people for the job.

Politics isn’t business. It doesn’t have the same priorities as business. Throwing business terms like ‘meritocracy’ at it will only lead to confusion.
VIDEO: Justin Trudeau told a struggling worker he's not sure about raising the minimum wage
"Maybe everything just gets more expensive or we have jobs leaving."

What does Prime Minister Justin Trudeau think about raising the minimum wage?

During a series of interviews with ordinary Canadians aired on CBC Sunday night, Trudeau shared his reservations about provincial initiatives to raise the minimum wage, telling a struggling, low-wage worker he questions if that means “everything just gets more expensive or we have jobs leaving.”

Neil Piercey was one ‘ordinary Canadian’ who got an opportunity to grill Trudeau.

Piercey is a 58-year-old worker from London, Ontario who was laid off from a long-time, good paying manufacturing job, but now finds himself in a low-wage job and without a pension as he nears retirement.

In a clip that didn’t air during Sunday night’s broadcast, but was later uploaded to the web, Piercey asks the Prime Minister if he thinks it would be “a good idea to raise the minimum wage?”

Piercey was told the federal government only controls wages on certain industries that fall under federal jurisdiction (something Trudeau’s Liberals supported raising in 2014 before criticizing it during last year’s election campaign), but then Trudeau went a step further, sharing his thoughts about a few provincial initiatives to raise the minimum wage:

“A number of provinces are looking at raising the minimum wage across the board. There’s always a question of whether or not that has the impact that everyone would like to have. Maybe everything just gets more expensive or we have jobs leaving. We have to be very careful about that.”

Although Trudeau said there’s “no easy solutions” and added that “the possibility” of earning enough to live on is “something that Canada’s always done,” CBC’s Rosemary Barton noted after the broadcast that Trudeau’s message left the struggling manufacturing worker disappointed and “unsure about what will happen to him.”

He might also be disappointed in several problems with Trudeau’s questions about the effectiveness of raising the minimum wage […]
Years after homeless man's death, new sobering centre planned in Vancouver
In 1998, the 47-year-old aboriginal man was refused entry to Vancouver's jail and police dumped him in an alley.

Health officials in Vancouver are planning a new “sobering centre” seven years after it was recommended by an inquiry into the death of a severely intoxicated homeless man, but some advocates and family members say it still falls short.

Vancouver Coastal Health has begun planning a facility where police could take people who are drunk or high on drugs instead of a jail cell. It will be attached to a new detox centre, to replace an aging building that already contains a small sobering unit of about five to 10 beds.

A stand-alone sobering centre was recommended in 2009 after an inquiry into the death of Frank Paul. In 1998, the 47-year-old aboriginal man was refused entry to Vancouver’s jail and police dumped him in an alley, where he died of hypothermia within hours.

“I am disappointed to hear about the building not being a stand-alone,” said Peggy Clement, Paul’s cousin. “It looks like the government is trying to put a Band-Aid on just to say that they did something on the inquiry recommendations.”

Advocates say Vancouver Coastal Health has taken too long to act on the recommendation and chronically addicted people may not want to go to a sobering centre inside a detox facility. But the health authority says it’s best to unite addiction services under one roof.

Andrew MacFarlane, a director of mental health and substance use at Vancouver Coastal Health, said he hopes the new site will be built within the next five years and will include sobering, detox, research and outpatient withdrawal management.

When a person arrives at the sobering centre, a nurse will assess them immediately and monitor them over a period of about 24 hours. Once sober, they will be offered the opportunity to go into more intensive programming, he said.

“Having them co-located on the same site facilitates a smoother hand-off. They’re familiar with the site, they’re familiar with the staff, and they can begin their recovery journey in a supportive environment.”

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Report on how to fix education on reserves finds little support in Alberta
The federal government should offer First Nations schools extra money to improve their performance, says a new report about on-reserve education.
By ,Janet French

The federal government should offer extra money to First Nations schools that have improved their performance, says a new report about education on reserves.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada should also fund First Nations schools with 35 per cent more money per student than comparable nearby provincial schools, write the authors of a report published Thursday by the C.D. Howe Institute.

“Each year sees another cohort of students who have passed through a failing system and another new cohort of students entering the same system. Reconciliation and common sense require that improvements be made — and made quickly,” authors Barry Anderson and John Richards conclude.

The recommendations appear to come with little input from the people working to improve First Nations education, said Joseph Jobin, chief operating officer for Treaty 8, a confederacy of northern Alberta First Nations.

“It’s trying to come up with a pan-aboriginal, one solution fits all, which, historically, has never worked,” Jobin said.

Nine out of 10 non-aboriginal Canadians in their early 20s have graduated from high school, compared with 42 per cent of young adults living on reserves. The number in Alberta is dismal, where 33 per cent of young people on reserves have diplomas.

Last year, a deal failed that would have granted $1.9 billion more to First Nations schools over three years. Bill C-33, the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, which was supported by the Assembly of First Nations, proposed minimum administrative procedures for schools and suggested First Nations form the equivalent of school boards.

Critics said the move was an unwelcome colonialist intrusion.

Richards, who was a government adviser for drafting C-33, said reserve schools don’t need such broad legislation to make immediate improvements.

“It was obviously a bridge too far and it brought out a lot of native politics that were quite angry,” Richards said Wednesday.

Among his recommendations are that schools set measurable goals for continuous, incremental improvements; have school staff and communities more involved in setting those goals; and to have indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada regional offices become more involved in professional development and training reserve leaders.

Measuring students’ performances, graduation rates, attendance, teacher quality and turnover would help schools understand if they’re improving, the report said.

No more than five per cent of a school’s funding should be tied to demonstrating improvement, the authors say.

“It is tragic that the schools, particularly in the Prairies, remain as weak as they are,” Richards said.

Some of the recommendations in the report have already been introduced to Treaty 8’s 14 schools or are under consideration, Jobin said. The confederacy has adopted teacher standards and incorporated Treaty 8 history into the social studies curriculum.

Jobin worries publicizing recommendations for more funding for First Nations schools will incite ill-informed, racist commentary.

In 2010, Alberta First Nations treaty chiefs signed a memorandum with the federal and provincial governments to worth together to improve education on the province’s reserves. At least 9,000 students are enrolled in First Nations schools in Alberta.

“We’re hopeful now with the new federal government. The previous federal government was not willing to work with us,” Jobin said.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada said the department is looking at education reforms with First Nations.

The concept of any school funding contingent on performance measures doesn’t sit well with the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

ATA president Mark Ramsankar pointed to failed programs in the United States as a reason to steer clear of the approach.

“You’re taking schools that really are quite vulnerable, and Alberta children that are really vulnerable, and removing funding and support, as opposed to moving in the opposite direction and exploring the why,” Ramsankar said.


28 January, 2016 // “Today, we celebrate a very special anniversary in our country’s history: exactly 100 years ago, women in Manitoba became the first women in Canada to gain the right to vote.

This victory played a crucial role in shaping the Canada we know and love – a Canada where acceptance, equality, and respect are integral parts of who we are and what we stand for. While we have made progress towards gender equality, we still have a lot of hard work to do. We know that far too many women in Canada – and around the world – continue to face discrimination.

These brave suffragettes led by example then, and they continue to inspire us now – all Canadians, women and men alike, should be proud to call themselves feminists. We remain committed to advancing gender equality so that our society is one where all women and girls can reach their full potential.

Together, we can, and will, continue to push for true equality between men and women, right here in Canada and around the world.”

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the anniversary of women’s suffrage in Manitoba
Liberals back CSIS in torture lawsuit
The Liberal government is continuing the legal fight against compensation for three Canadians tortured overseas — despite previously voting in favour of their cause.

The Liberal government has taken up the former Conservative government’s legal fight against an apology and compensation for three Canadians tortured in the Middle East, despite voting in favour of the former detainees’ cause while they sat in opposition.

As well, in aggressively defending the actions of CSIS and trying to prevent the release of thousands of unredacted documents that a judge is now poring over, the Liberals are going further than their Conservative predecessors did to protect CSIS sources.

Lawyers for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government are seeking retroactive blanket anonymity for spies and their sources and have filed an appeal in a civil lawsuit launched by the three men with that goal in mind. A Conservative bill last year, C-44, which enacted source protection, was not made retroactive.

Put together, the two moves have stunned a team of lawyers at Toronto’s Stockwoods firm that took up the cause of Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin and Ahmad El Maati, as well as others who closely follow developments in security law.

“It’s a continuation of this incredibly litigious no-holds-barred scorched-earth defence strategy which we’ve been experiencing for 10 years under the Harper government,” said lawyer Phil Tunley, who is leading the team suing the federal government on behalf of the men.

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Canada can do better than current electoral system, minister says
Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef says that there are some advantages to Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, but changes can be made to allow for a higher voter turnout and public engagement.

Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef concedes Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system has its advantages.

And, whatever its flaws, she acknowledges it would be welcomed in fledgling democracies like Afghanistan, from whence she fled as a youngster.

But a mature democracy like Canada can do better, she says.

Monsef has been put in charge of delivering on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to make last fall’s federal election the last conducted under FPTP.

The objective, she says, is to engage voters, improve turn out during elections and make all Canadians feel like their votes count.

That means “a stronger democratic system that allows for a higher voter turnout, that engages the voices of those who at the moment feel like they’re ignored, those who feel like their issues don’t matter and that their hopes and aspirations don’t count,” Monsef said in an interview.

“We have an opportunity, with this government as we approach the 150th anniversary, to strengthen and modernize our democratic institutions and bring them into the 21st century and that is the mandate that we got from Canadians.”