Autumn View Edition 4, 2018

A message from the chair

Since just before the Ontario election, those who think left-of-centre politically have been concerned that Doug Ford is Mike Harris incarnate. Based on the short time he’s been in power, they have every reason to be apprehensive.

If you recall the Harris years, the plan was pretty straight forward:

  1. Create a fiscal crisis (real or imaginary).
  2. Slash and burn to deal with this crisis.
  3. Give tax cuts before the next election to buy votes.

Well, our illustrious new Premier has started right on cue, following the Mike Harris playbook with his declaration that the previous Liberal government left us in a fiscal mess with a $15-billion deficit.

Not everyone agrees with this figure, suggesting it’s exaggerated. None the less, it’s now the foundation for step two of Ford’s program. The slashing of services, the downloading to municipalities, the attacks on the poor and the assault on labour are already under way or being discussed.

To date, the government has cancelled social assistance programs and reduced planned increases for Ontario Works, which will drive more workers to have to take part-time precarious jobs. When they killed the labour reform bill, Bill 148, the government made their circumstances even worse – and the cuts to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program sure won’t help them, either. If you’re not lucky enough to be upper-class to high-middle-class, it’s going to be a long, tough haul during the Ford tenure – and it’s going to get a lot worse, in my opinion. Those tax breaks or cuts in step three won’t help the working poor – not one, little bit.

The cutting of services and the loss of jobs for many government employees hasn’t even begun, but it will. And when this Conservative government starts downloading and downsizing and selling public assets into private hands, you can bet a whole raft of workers will be added to the working poor, part-time employee category.

And how does all this affect those who are already retired? Will the cuts in services and to the Ontario Drug Plan, and any number of additional costs or co-pays, make our lives more difficult? Our hope might be that, as a voting block, the grey power contingent may put enough pressure on this government to ease back and have some compassion. However, at this point, I’m not optimistic.

Ed Faulknor,
Chair, OPSEU Retired Members Division

Role reversal

How to manage costs when caring for aging parents.

Canada's seniors outnumber the country’s children. The 2016 Census, which counted 5.9 million people aged 65 and over and 5.8 million people aged 14 and under, was the first to reveal this shift. That’s in part because people are living longer.

The fastest-growing age group in the 2016 Census was centenarians – people over age 100. And a growing aging population brings health care challenges. It’s falling to adult children to handle the realities of their parents’ declining health, and in many cases the associated costs as well.

Statistics Canada calls years lived in full health “health-adjusted life expectancy” (HALE). The latest figures show men with a HALE at birth of 69 years and women with a HALE at birth of 71 years. Given rising life expectancies for both men and women, this means the average Canadian will live with some level of disability for about 10.5 years.

Living with a disability can be a financial challenge for seniors and their adult children. One estimate pegs the cost to Canadians of caring for aging parents at $33 billion every year, factoring in both out-of-pocket spending and time away from work. Out-of-pocket spending alone averages $3,300 annually for every caregiver who is contributing financially to a parent’s care.

The good news is that adult children and their parents can work together to prepare for potential expenses. Focusing on budgeting, short-term and long-term financial planning, insurance protection and tax strategies can go a long way to putting a plan in place.

How much will it cost?
The first step towards planning to pay the costs associated with parents’ care is to work out what those costs will be – and that’s difficult because expenses vary widely depending on each person’s state of health, as well as the lifestyle and level of care desired.

For seniors who are considering or require accommodation outside the family home, costs may include the following:

Independent living: $1,400 to $3,500 monthly

Independent living in a retirement community or retirement home is for seniors who want conveniences such as easy access to shops and activities, but who don’t need help with the activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, walking and continence). There may be on-site gardens, fitness centres, pools and even golf courses. Services such as housekeeping, meals, laundry and transportation may be available for an extra price. Generally, seniors and/or their families must pay the full cost of independent living.

Assisted living: $1,500 to $5,000 monthly

Assisted living in a retirement community, retirement home or residential care home provides some support with the activities of daily living, but is designed for seniors who can manage most things on their own. Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists, may visit regularly, and residents may get help managing their medications. Costs, which may be structured as a flat rate or à la carte, may be partially paid by the government.

Around-the-clock care: $2,500 to $8,000 monthly

Around-the-clock care in a long-term care home is for seniors who need more support with the activities of daily living. It often includes leisure activities, exercise programs, physical therapy, medication management, pain management and hospice care.  Each province sets the maximum it will contribute towards long-term care accommodation. In addition, memory care is a specialized type of around the-clock care that may be offered in an assisted living facility or long-term care home. A secure area, often with alarms on doors, helps protect residents with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease from wandering. It may be partially funded by the government as well.

For seniors who prefer to stay in their own home, there may be expenses associated with home renovations to improve access to the home and safety in areas such as stairs, bathrooms and kitchens. Additional costs may include:

  • Personal care worker: $20 to $30 hourly
  • Registered nurse: $40 to $69 hourly
  • Live-in caregiver: $1,900 to $3,500 monthly
  • Electric hospital bed: $3,000 to $5,000
  • Scooter: $2,400 to $5,000
  • Walker: $100 to $450
  • Bath lift: $1,200
  • Medication dispensing machine plus monitoring: $800

It’s important to note that around-the-clock care at home may require two or three live-in caregivers or shift workers to comply with provincial labour laws governing the maximum number of hours one person can remain on duty in a day. Some of these costs may be partially paid by the government, based on a case manager’s assessment of needs and the financial resources available to pay for care.

Support strategies

The burden of providing and paying for quality care doesn’t have to rest solely on seniors or their adult children. Government, corporate and charitable programs can offer some support. Other family members may be in a position to provide care or financial assistance as well. Consider these tactics to help manage the costs:

  1. Find out what’s covered - Government programs can help pay for equipment, such as wheelchairs, home improvements and vehicle modifications for people who need them. In addition, some car manufacturers have mobility programs that help pay for vehicle modifications. Benefit plans may provide additional coverage, so look up the details of parents’ policies.
  2. Check parents’ insurance protection - Do parents have critical illness insurance? It pays a lump sum that can be used for any purpose if they are diagnosed with a covered condition such as a heart attack, stroke or cancer. Do they have other life or health insurance, such as long-term care insurance, that would help pay for care? If they don’t have coverage and you’re considering senior care far enough in advance that parents are relatively young and healthy, it’s worth discussing insurance options with an advisor.
  3. Tally parents’ income and savings - Parents may have enough money to pay some or all of their own costs. Income may include a monthly benefit from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and, for low-income seniors, the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Provincial benefits may add an income top-up. Parents may also have a private Registered Pension Plan, Registered Retirement Savings Plan/Registered Retirement Income Fund savings, Tax-Free Savings Account savings, and cash and investments in non- registered accounts. Get a clear picture of what’s there, and decide which income and savings will pay for what expenses.
  4. Consider leveraging assets - If seniors are moving into different accommodation but own a home, they may be able to sell it or rent it out, and use the proceeds towards borrowing against their equity with a reverse mortgage or home equity line of credit. If they have accumulated a cash value in a life insurance policy, this may be a source of funds as well. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of all these options with an advisor.
  5. Save on equipment - It’s a good idea to research and comparison shop before buying equipment – especially big-ticket items. Consider gently used equipment. And, if a parent needs something only for a short period of time – for example, while recovering from an injury – find out if it’s possible to rent, instead of buying. Ask family and friends as well. Someone may have just what’s needed in a closet, and be more than happy to declutter and help out.
  6. Minimize taxes - Help parents take full advantage of tax credits and benefits such as the age amount (maximum $7,225), disability amount (maximum $8,113) and deduction of eligible medical expenses. In addition, the federal government proposes that for 2017 and future years, adult children who are caring for a parent who has a physical or mental infirmity may be able to claim the Canada Caregiver Credit (maximum $6,883).
  7. Take care of the caregivers - Caregiving is hard work, and many caregivers are under extra pressure if they’re balancing work and other family commitments. Spending a little extra can save money in the long run if it prevents caregiver burnout. Find out about respite care – short-term stays for seniors in an assisted living facility that gives caregivers a break. Day programs for seniors may also be available and are often government-subsidized. And keep in mind that when parents are gravely ill, caregivers may be eligible for compassionate care benefits from Employment Insurance for a maximum of 26 weeks. Proceeds to pay for their new living arrangements. If they don’t want to sell their home outright, they could.

Planning ahead for parents’ care

When a parent needs extra help immediately, some decisions must be made in the moment. But a lot of planning can be done ahead of time, and doing this up-front work can help save stress, worry and money in the long term. It’s always a good idea to:

Have open conversations with parents about their preferences – for example, do they want to remain at home as long as possible, or would they prefer to be part of a community of other seniors?

Get the details of parents’ finances, including income, savings, debt and insurance. Discuss with other family members how costs associated with parents’ care can be fairly divided.

OPSEU helps drive defeat of ‘unnecessary’ OMERS pension changes

Publication Date: Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 7:45pm

Toronto – Together with its labour allies, OPSEU has made significant progress in efforts to protect the pensions of thousands of its members. The OMERS Sponsors Corporation Board of Directors voted today on six proposed changes to the pension plan as part of its Comprehensive Plan Review, defeating all but two.

“I’m delighted the board saw good sense and voted down these unfair proposals,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We’ll fight till the end to protect our members’ pensions. Because OPSEU has your back.”

The board voted down proposals to:

  • replace inflation protection with conditional indexation
  • integrate the pension formula with the year’s additional maximum pensionable earnings (YAMPE)
  • change normal and early retirement
  • require mandatory participation for non-full-time employees (optional for low-salary employees)

The board voted in favour of removing the 35-year credited service cap and allowing paramedics to negotiate their normal retirement age at 60.

Pension Liaison Committee members Len Elliott and Gareth Jones said OPSEU has worked diligently over the last year to fully examine the proposed changes. In this, they were supported by Thomas, First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida and OPSEU’s Executive Board.

“Our position has been, and remains, that the concessionary changes were unnecessary, especially the proposal to move to conditional indexing,” said Jones. “We’ve worked extensively and continually with the other labour sponsors to create a consensus in opposing these changes, which would have seriously and negatively affected our members.”

“We’re very pleased to reassure our OMERS members that not only were the conditional indexing proposal and three others defeated, but also that our paramedics may now negotiate the same early-retirement provisions that police and fire can," said Elliott. "Further, the 35-year cap on accrual is lifted. Now those who wish to work longer have the option to accrue a larger pension.”

Thomas praised the work of Elliott and Jones, who are Executive Board Members and Regional Vice-Presidents of Regions 1 and 4, respectively. "They've worked extremely hard to protect the interests of our OPSEU members who are enrolled in OMERS – and, clearly, their efforts have paid off."

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 329-1931; Len Elliott, 519-857-4000; Gareth Jones, 613-809-3319
OMERS Sponsors Corporations

This article was included because we have retirees who get pensions form OMERS. We could also face future challenges to Ontario Public Service pension plan by the current government. If that proves to be the case OPSEU may require our support to ensure that retain the benefits that we currently enjoy.

Brother Art Lane: OPSEU activist and leader

When trying to put into words or describe all that Art Lane has done to better the lives of working-class people, it’s almost impossible. All of the important accomplishments and change that Art brought to OPSEU, the labour movement and working people in Canada and the world are truly amazing.

Joining the CSAO in March 1966, Art was a firm believer in the fairness principle. Even as an association, before we became a union, he would challenge the employer when they tried to take advantage of any worker or their right to be treated fairly. His demeanour and forcefulness when pursuing the righting of wrongs surely gave the management of the day cause for concern. Art had a passion to help and a calling to right the wrongs that were inflicted on working people.

Brother Lane was a true believer in trade unionism. Growing up in a household where both parents were union members, he gladly signed his CSAO card, even before it was mandated to do so, and pay dues. He fought for working-class people, taking on issues we now take for granted, such as maternity leave, equal pay for equal work and other gender-equality issues. If there was a fight for fairness and equality, Brother Lane was there or had a role in guiding the people in the fight.

Brother Lane was one of the instrumental players during the 1970s transition of the CSAO from an association into the full-blown powerhouse of a trade union that OPSEU has become. Art was there at the start, and as the saying goes sometimes, we really do walk on the shoulders of giants. In our trade union movement, Art Lane truly was one of these giants.

During his tenure with OPSEU, he was a member of three locals: 439, Brockville Psych; 436, Rideau Regional Centre; and 441, St. Lawrence Regional Centre.

He held many numerous and varied positions in his time with OPSEU. In the 1980s, he was a staff rep, grievance officer, executive assistant to the President, supervisor of staff reps, co‑ordinator of staff reps, administrator of local services, administrator of field services, senior negotiator, and administrator of staff relations. He also served one term as president of the staff union.

In 1984, he made an unsuccessful attempt to be elected OPSEU’s President, but in doing so, he put his name forward as a leader. In 1990, he ran to be MPP in Leeds Grenville as an NDP candidate. Although he didn’t win, he carried the left-wing banner with pride. After leaving OPSEU, he worked for NUPGE and the PEI UPSE. He truly was a brother who knew his way around a union.

He was an adviser for many of our OPSEU presidents, whether or not they admitted it, and Brother Lane was the go-to guy when push came to shove. Art could get his way with a humble authority that most could not say no to.

I think what describes Brother Art best is the answer I got when I asked his son, Alex, “Who was Art Lane?” He was a teacher. He was good at it, and we all have benefitted because of his passion, his honest good nature and his need to help others. To educate and share knowledge and help all of us to share this knowledge were his passions.

I asked a couple of people who knew Art for quotes.

“Art was a mentor, warrior and dedicated trade unionist in the purest sense of the term. He was singularly focused on raising up working people, their families and their communities. He was fearless and unapologetically brash. Art was one of the “four horsemen”: a group who took OPSEU from an association to a real union. He never took no for an answer, inspiring an entire generation of no‑nonsense, forward-moving activists. He served as an adviser to four presidents. His fingerprints are forever etched in the DNA of our great union.” - Bob Eaton, Executive Assistant to the President, OPSEU

“His life was a calling to right the wrongs in life... a calling that meant he simply didn’t want to just protect the marginalized in our communities. He wanted to empower people so they could take their rightful places in our communities and workplaces. - James Clancy, former President of NUPGE

John Hanson
Chair, Region 4 Retired Members Division

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a type of lung disease that affects the interstitial of the lung (the space between the air sacs in the lung). There are many different types of pulmonary fibrosis, with different etiologies, treatments, and prognoses. In patients with PF, the lung tissue becomes scarred and stiff, and over time may become more widespread. In turn, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen to the bloodstream, resulting in shortness of breath and vital organs being deprived of the necessary oxygen to survive.

What are the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?

Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis usually have a gradual onset and may include:

  • Shortness of breath, particularly during or after physical activity
  • Spasmodic, dry cough
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Clubbing, or enlargement, of the ends of the fingers (or sometimes the toes) due to a buildup of tissue

What causes pulmonary fibrosis?

  • PF can be linked to particular causes, such as environmental exposures, medications, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, or autoimmune diseases such as scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis. In many cases of pulmonary fibrosis, the cause is uncertain or unknown and as such is termed idiopathic.

From the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation   www.cpff.ca

Art and living with Alzheimer's

Art is all around us in our everyday lives - creativity exists in our dress, cooking, decorating, hobbies, colour and form happens in multiple ways in our daily choices.  For those living with Alzheimer’s or any dementia art and creativity become lost unless we seek to re-connect the individual to the experience.

The creative arts keep the brain working, maintain engagement enriching the person behind the dementia.  Art reaches the individual on a deep emotional level-it bypasses limitations, decreases negativity, increases emotional well-being and allows for choices for those who have few or no choice in their daily lives.

Akin to a gardener who can make beauty from mud - so too can an individual with dementia make beauty.  It is the process-enjoying the ‘how’, not ‘the result’- and so we remove the pressure, and focus on the art and the act of creating.

The psychology of “art as therapy” is person-centered care: genuine, empathetic, accepting, dignity, non-judgmental.  Memories from the past may be triggered by the act of creating.  Our role becomes not instructional, rather, using materials and creation to engage and interact.  The concept becomes melting into the creative process with support and communication - not producing something. Those with cognitive limitation do take in colour, shape and form, and feel a sense of accomplishment in the act of creating.

Doing creative arts with dementia, or any elderly people, helps to decrease social isolation, improve quality of life and well-being, releases energy and negativity, and connects to emotions in a non-verbal way.

Rx for the depressed: ART!  The viewing, the creating, the ability to touch the medium and to lose yourself in the pleasure and happiness of colour - feeling the beauty is a wonderful experience for those who are word or emotion locked.  When done in groups of people, it creates a sense of belonging, beauty, loveliness and calm. Storytelling becomes part of the creative process, as in: “what’s going on in that picture?” This allows the individual to view and experience the art through what they see-not what we see.

Interesting art programs for Alzheimer’s/dementia globally are:

  • in California, the “Memories in the Making when words fail” program: introducing Art to those with mid-late stage Alzheimer’s who cannot communicate verbally
  • in Dulwich, England, the Dulwich Picture Gallery presents integrative art programs for Seniors both with and without Alzheimer’s, known as: “Good Times-Art for Older People”
  • in Liverpool, England, the “House of Memories Project” is for Alzheimer clients. It’s a paradigm shift about how we view Museums-they “house the memories within the community”, including the world stage.  Programs to increase creativity include to walk, discover, engage and connect with the ‘memory walk’ and ‘memory suitcase’ events.
  • in New York City, the MOMA has a program for people with Alzheimer’s/dementia called: The MOMA Alzheimer Project: Meet Me at MOMA. It includes guided tours to view art, learn about artists and to allow the individual to connect and respond to the piece, allowing for reactions and feelings to flow.

A few famous artists who continued to create while living with Alzheimer’s include:  William Utermohlen, Anne Adams, Hilda Gorenstien and Willem deKooning.   deKooning created some of his most unique paintings in his mid-late 80’s, with full-blown Alzheimer’s.

APPS designed by Art Galleries for viewing great art at home, perfect for the mobility challenged, are: The Louvre, The British Museum, The Getty and MOMA.

APP specifically for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia: My House of Memories App, the Liverpool England Museum.

My favorite creative art is poetry, and I am enamored by “The Alzheimer’s Poetry Project” created by Gary Glazner.  Using the creativity of rhyming poetry enhances the quality of life for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia.  Often reciting lines from the poems of their youth elicits a response and happy emotions.  Part of the process is in creating new poetry. This ‘soul’ work reaches the Alzheimer individual on a deeply emotional level.

The poem, by Anonymous: Do You Carrott All For Me, is one of my favorites, both whimsical and child-like, it has a sweet and loving quality that speaks to all of us. 

Locally, the following galleries have programs specific to or ideal for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia:

  • AGH-Art Gallery of Hamilton: ‘Touch Tours’-experience art through the sense of touch-perfect for those with no verbal communication
  • AGO-Art Gallery of Ontario: they present ‘Art in the Moment’ specifically for Alzheimer’s/dementia as well as ‘Multi-Sensory Tours’-individuals are exposed to experiences with art through touch, sound and smell
  • McMichael Gallery: ‘The Art of Inclusion’- art experience for everyone regardless of physical or cognitive issue.

Creating/viewing/experiencing art can also bring the Care Provider and family closer to a person living with Alzheimer’s/dementia.  Through shared experience and discovery, and in observing the person with limitations delighted with their creation it provides joy to the individual and hope to family and friends.

In allowing non-verbal feelings of joy and memory to be released, we provide a sense of wonder, accomplishment and beauty to thrive, through this thing we call, ‘ART’.

This article was written by Michelle Ferrara Director of Community Relations New Village Retirement Residence Stoney Creek ON michelle.ferrara@responsivegroup.ca

Just saying

Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

The reason Politicians try so hard to get re-elected is that they would 'hate' to have to make a living under the laws they've passed.

If at first you don't succeed skydiving is not for you.

How Dancing Improves Brain Health

Cheryl Popp

Research identifies a positive correlation between optimal brain health and dancing.

It turns out that dancing is not just fun, but it’s also good for your brain. Great news, right? We’ve always known dancing is a great way for your body to stay in shape but research has also confirmed it’s a great way for your mind to stay in shape as well.  Dancing is yet another way to improve brain health as we age.

According to a recent study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience    dancing and the added mental challenge of remembering dance steps and sensorimotor demands may be a better form of exercise than traditional fitness training when it comes to slowing the signs of aging.

Sensorimotor demands relate to bodily activity or movement triggered by sensory as well as motor impulses. Having to remember dance steps, holding on to your partner the right way to execute a turn, having to recognize the beat and move in tandem, or just “feeling” the rhythm of the music and moving on your own, are all sensorimotor demands.

Many studies have shown that exercise is associated with preserving cognitive function in older adults. Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Magdeburg, Germany found that dancing — more so than weight and endurance training — was associated with enhancing areas of the brain (specifically the hippocampus) responsible for cognitive function and also for improving balance.

Compared to many physical activities such as swimming and bicycling as well as mentally stimulating activities such as reading and playing board games, dancing was also most closely associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia.

The hippocampus is a region in our brain that is crucial for memory consolidation, learning and navigation. We know that this important region can be impacted by movement, physical activity and aerobic fitness. Researchers have also found that age-related degeneration in brain structure and cognitive impairment may be mitigated, and neuroplasticity improved, with physical activity. This is especially true of dancing especially because it requires more than just motor skills; there is more “thinking” associated with it.

Other studies suggests that dance, regardless of the type, can significantly improve muscle strength, endurance and balance. So dance is good for your body and your brain.

Impact of Dance on Brain Health

Recent research by Joe Verghese, professor of neurology and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for the Aging Brain, also showed the benefits of dance on an individual’s memory and general cognition. Because dance requires mental, physical, emotional and social skills, all of these functions working together can be beneficial to your brain and overall health. Dance is a multi-tasking activity which can improve cognitive function and slow the aging process.

The social aspect of dancing should not be underestimated either. Dancing involves other people and can reduce feelings of isolation and social stress, which can contribute to the risk of cognitive decline. Dancing often involves music which we know can also be soothing and/or motivating and can provide an emotional mood boost. Maybe music inspires you to shake, rattle and roll (or at least tap your feet!); maybe it connects you to a joyous time in your past.

Research continues to demonstrate the positive benefits of dance on aging and health, including improved postural, sensorimotor and cognitive performance. All indications are that we ought to be dancing as much as we can.  Twist and shout, waltz, tango, foxtrot, or West Coast swing anyone? Or how about just swayin’ to the music. Don’t like to dance? Think of it as enhancing your brain power and a way to keep healthy and fit. Personally, I would much rather get a good workout on the dance floor than at the gym, although many gyms offer jazzercise, Zumba and other exercise classes that are in fact dancing. Whatever you do remember this rule: dance as if no one is looking!  Dancing is good for your brain, body, heart and soul.

Decoding Ford’s Spending Report:

How 6 key recommendations will make your life more expensive

Earlier this summer Doug Ford commissioned Ernst & Young to prepare a report on how his government could go about cutting services and imposing austerity on the province.

Ernst & Young has now released that report. While it is filled with jargon and dull consultant-speak designed to prevent anyone from reading it, the substance of the report is a repetition of a standard right-wing austerity agenda: cut services, deregulate corporations, charge people more fees, and privatize as much as possible.  We have read the report and decoded the key recommendations into plain English for everyone to understand.

Recommendation #1: Means Test Universal Social Programs

What They Say
On page 42 of the report, E&Y recommends reconsidering the “application of universality to all programs by developing a consistent set of principles to apply means-testing to selected programs”.

What It Means
This means that not everyone would get access to what are now universal social programs. The biggest universal social program in Ontario is OHIP, our universal healthcare program. Means testing a program like OHIP would introduce a whole range of complex requirements to use it. No longer would you be able to go to the doctor and get a free checkup, or have surgery without getting a bill. Instead you’d have to prove your income level and submit a whack of paperwork — and middle class people could be excluded from programs they now can get for free.

Recommendation #2: Privatize Everything

What They Say
On page 43 of the report, E&Y recommends “monetizing assets through divestiture or the use of Alternative Service Delivery” and “generating a one-time cash payout by selling all or a portion of GBEs”.

What It Means
Sell off everything to private companies who will jack up prices to turn a profit. This could include a range of public assets, from water delivery to airports.

Recommendation #3: Fire Nurses

What They Say
On page 35 of the report, E&Y recommends a “shift towards an agile workforce dynamic” and “optimizing the ratio of Registered Nurses (RNs) to Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), optimizing the ratio of Full Time to Part Time resources, and aligning the staffing complement to the level of patient acuity.”

What It Means
What this means in reality is attacking the unions that represent nurses and other healthcare providers, undermining the basic rights these unions are protecting, and ultimately firing nurses.

Recommendation #4: Charge Higher Fees to Access Government Services

What They Say
On page 38 of the report, E&Y recommends recovering the “full cost of providing transactional services wherever a direct beneficiary of a service can be determined”.

What It Means
I hope you like paying big fees to access basic government services like renewing your driver’s license, because what this means is that those fees are about to go up. And if you use government services now for free, expect to start paying for them.

Recommendation #5: HandOver Basic Infrastructure To Corporations

What They Say
On page 40 of the report, E&Y recommends seeking “opportunities to expand the AFP (Alternative Financing and Procurement) model where the size and scope of projects could lead to improved project outcomes.”

What It Means
This means that management of basic infrastructure projects will be privatized and overseen by for-profit corporations who have every incentive to cut corners and inflate costs in order to pad their bottom line. And once the project is complete, the private company can charge people to use it (like a toll road).

Recommendation #6: “Consolidate” Government Contracts in Fewer Hands

What They Say
On page 37 of the report, E&Y recommends the “consolidation of contracts and aggregation of spend across vendors to further leverage economies of scale”.

What It Means
This means giving more government contracts to fewer companies. And who do you think will be the beneficiary of this process? Most likely it will be friends of the Ford government — people who have done him favours, raised money for the party, and so on. Expect to see Ford handing over more control of the services you depend on to his buddies in the private sector.

This article was taken from the Ontario Federation of Union Retirees website.

Feds to Appeal Decision that Freed Up Charities for More Political Activities

Canada Without Poverty launched a constitutional challenge in 2016.

The Canada Revenue in Ottawa is shown on Nov. 4, 2011.

Ottawa — The federal government will appeal an Ontario Superior Court decision that opened the door for registered charities to devote significantly more time on non-partisan political activities, HuffPost Canada has learned.

Justice Ed Morgan found in July that efforts by the Canada Revenue Agency to limit the ability of registered charities to speak out on public policy issues ran counter to the right of freedom of expression and could not be justified in a free and democratic society.

CRA had restricted charities from spending more than 10 per cent of their resources on what they called non-partisan political activity.

But officials in Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier's office told HuffPost Canada that Ottawa will appeal the decision because the department's lawyers believe the ruling contained "significant errors in the law" that need to be "clarified."

The ruling was a big win for Canada Without Poverty, the applicant in the court case, who launched the constitutional challenge in 2016. The group was one of many organizations audited by the CRA under the previous Conservative government.

After spending years under CRA's audit lens, Canada Without Poverty says it was told it was devoting more than 10 per cent of its time on political activities by recommending changes to federal laws and policies on living wages, homelessness, and poverty alleviation. The group was told its charitable status would be revoked.

Federal Liberals had pledged to stop what it saw as the Tories' politically motivated witch hunt against charities whose goals did not align with their own, including: EquiterreEnvironmental Defence Canada Inc., the David Suzuki FoundationTides Canada Initiatives SocietyPen CanadaAmnesty International Canada, and United Church of Canada.

During the 2015 election campaign, the Grits pledged to "allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment." The party also pledged to "modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors" including "clarifying the rules governing political activity," with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.

"A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process," the Grits promised.

Three years later, no changes have been made. Finance Minister Bill Morneau, however, is expected to announce a bill will be introduced this fall.

The legislation, the government said, will reflect one of the recommendations an expert panel made in 2017 saying charities should be allowed to fully engage without limitation on non-partisan public policy dialogue and development — as long as it fits in their charitable purpose.

In a draft statement, provided to HuffPost, Morneau is quoted saying that while the appeal will seek clarification on important issues of constitutional and charity law, the case "will not change the policy direction" the government intends to take to remove the 10 per cent threshold on political activities.

Morneau also adds the legislation will apply retroactively, including to the CRA audits currently suspended.

Group 'shocked' to hear Ottawa's decision

Leilani Farha, the executive director of Canada Without Poverty told HuffPost that the Liberals actions are "nothing to celebrate and that the group is "shocked" to learn Ottawa intends to appeal.

The government is basically saying, Farha said, that this isn't an issue of fundamental rights and that it will restore some provisions as a matter of "good public policy," while forcing "a small anti-poverty organization to defend those rights.

"Ultimately, their position is that what happened to Canada Without Poverty under the previous [Conservative] government does not violate the Charter," Farha said. "If they win on appeal, any future government would be free to re-introduce the same legislative provisions and the same thing could happen to the charitable sector all over again," she said.

NDP finance critic Peter Julian called the Liberals' decision to appeal "outrageous" and a "real betrayal to the folks who believed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he promised to stop [former Prime Minister Stephen] Harper's witch hunt against charities."

Julian dismissed the upcoming government legislation as a sideshow, saying the Liberals "are not very credible" when it comes to making commitments and following through.

This article was taken from Politics Now a UFCW publication

Darwin Awards

When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more than he bargained for... Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.

An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.

Elder orphan

Have you heard the term “elder-orphan”?  This is a newer term used to describe a Senior Citizen who has no spouse, no family and is on their own, often isolated from social contact.

Unfortunately, this is very common for older people-many are absolutely alone with no close person to call in emergency, for medical needs or just for companionship.  I am often asked, ‘how does this happen-how can someone have no-one’?

If you are widowed or single, never had children, your siblings have passed away or there were none, your parents and other relatives have passed away –you may have outlived most of your friends-or they are sick in long term care, you may be estranged from some family…or just one of the people over 90 years of age and there just isn’t anyone you know left living or well in your City.

We forget that these folks are negotiating all the same issues each of us deals with: groceries and weather and tight budgets, transportation needs, housing needs, clothing needs and medical appointments and holidays and weekends and illness…and loneliness.

If you know a Senior who is very alone, include them when you can, perhaps look in on them occasionally, give a cheery wave, offer to take them somewhere, or just pop by for a few minutes to chat and maintain connection to them.

Please remember Seniors in need and include any Senior you know who is alone and isolated…we will all be old someday. Wouldn’t you want someone to remember and include you!

This article was written by Michelle Ferrara Director of Community Relations New Village Retirement Residence Stoney Creek ON michelle.ferrara@responsivegroup.ca

NUPGE condemns Ontario legislation attacking workers' rights

"Premier Ford has chosen to launch a partisan attack by introducing his Making Ontario Open for Business Act. Dismantling the previous government’s legislation means 'open for business' is really just code for shutting down workers’ rights and attacking unions." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (26 Oct. 2018) — Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), is joining the widespread denunciation of the Ontario government’s introduction of the Making Ontario Open for Business Act (Bill 47). This act kills many of the worker protections passed last November under the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 (Bill 148). It also reverses the modest gains made towards allowing unions to fairly organize workplaces, respecting freedom of association as prescribed by international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

Hammering the most vulnerable, putting profits before people

Brown challenged the Ontario government for hammering the most vulnerable worker’s leaving them in continued precarity.

“Doug Ford has decided to take away even the small vestiges of dignity from the most vulnerable workers by taking away paid-emergency leave, equal pay for equal work and scheduling rules. Not to mention rolling back minimum-wage increases that people desperately need,” said Brown. "To say something on the campaign trail is one story, as they court people’s votes, but after the election, it is not about the well-being of people anymore, it becomes about profit. No wonder people are discouraged by politics”

Unions and workers’ rights attacked, more to follow

After decades of living under the Harris implemented rules, which make it very difficult to organize workplaces in Ontario, Bill 148 implemented some modest improvements. Ford’s Bill 47 rolls back the gains on card-based certification and on providing information lists to unions. It also repeals the first collective agreement mediation and mediation-arbitration provisions established under Bill 148.

“Ontario’s labour legislation was long-overdue for an overhaul. Last year’s Bill 148 was a modest step forward,” said Brown. “Ford’s Bill 47 is a major step backwards and was done with no consultation with workers, labour organizations or the people of Ontario. The only ones applauding are those who are profiting off the anti-worker provisions in this legislation.”

"NUPGE stands with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) and with our allies in condemning this ill-conceived and regressive legislation," said Brown.

This article was taken from the NUPGE website.

Wash, Wear, and Care – Clothing and Laundry in Long-Term Residential Care

Pat Armstrong and Suzanne Day;
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.

Posted: August 27, 2018

Wash, Wear, and Care – Clothing and Laundry in Long-Term Residential Care
Pat Armstrong and Suzanne Day; McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.
Book review by Lynn Spink

Wash, Wear and Care summarizes research that uses laundry & clothing in Long-Term Residential Care homes (nursing homes) as a way to explore larger questions about care and how work is organized. Some findings, such as the real costs of contracting out laundry work, are also relevant to hospitals.

The book is part of a seven-year project – Re-imagining Long-Term Residential Care: An International Study of Promising Practices. The project includes professors, unions and community organizations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Anyone with experience in a long-term care home as a resident, a family member, or worker knows that clothes are critical to care – one of the premises of the book. How residents are dressed signals who they are. For some it is the last connection they have with their life outside the nursing home. Clothing is an indicator of dignity and respect for residents and for the workers who care for them.

Laundry includes linens, towels, and clothing. Laundry is often an invisible aspect of care because it is considered women’s work – unskilled. If it’s done by volunteers and family members they’re usually women. It may be done by workers whose work is limited to doing laundry, or by workers for whom laundry is only one of many tasks. In some places racialized men and immigrants are laundry workers.

Forty-eight researchers from 19 universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and Sweden visited 25 nursing homes in these countries. They selected sites based on information from community organizations, unions, governments and reports, including inspections. Teams of 12, with locally-based researchers and outsiders, visited each home at different times throughout one week, with a minimum of two researchers per visit. They made field notes and conducted 500 interviews with residents, relatives, workers, managers, volunteers, and visitors. Many of the detailed observations are supported by references, listed at the back of the book.

Examples range from a nursing home in Texas where laundry is contracted-out to a private for-profit company to a nursing home in Sweden where there’s a washing machine in each resident’s room. There workers doing laundry are a visible part of residents’ daily lives and residents can do their own laundry if they wish. There’s a UK nursing home where a resident with dementia folds the clean towels, for her a comforting memory of a time when she did the housework.

How clothes and laundry are handled can show whether the place is more like a home or an institution for residents. The conditions of care for residents reflect the working conditions of staff. Many of the ten critical factors the larger project identifies are reflected in this study. Number one is that public or non-profit ownership, combined with adequate funding & staffing, is essential. Privatizing laundry work is not only likely to increase costs in the long run, but it denies the contributions laundry work and workers can add to the social care of residents.

If you’re a resident or family member concerned about the smell of dirty linen piled in carts that rattle when pushed down the hallways, there are descriptions of other ways several homes deal with dirty linen, ways that keep the smell confined.

If you’re a worker you’ll find examples of the severe health hazards people handling dirty laundry face, including infections and physical risks such as repetitive strain injuries. There are a variety of ways – good and bad – that employers deal with them.

If you’re a manager facing a Board that’s proposing to cut costs by contracting out the laundry work to a private company, you can present evidence showing that once nursing homes have done that – laid-off workers and cleared out the facility’s laundry machines – private companies often raise their prices. By that time it’s too expensive to return to in-house laundry.

If you’re helping someone choose a nursing home, then Wash, Wear, and Care is an excellent window on some important things to consider. You can order the book from McGill-Queen’s press online: http://www.mqup.ca

Ontario Health Coalition

Telephone 416 441 2502  
Email ohc@sympatico.ca

 

Publication Date: 

Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 10:15am