Autumn View Fall Edition, 2021

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A message from the chair

For a while now, the far extreme right has rose to a high level in Canada and around the world. White supremacists are not new by any stretch, but they are so wrong and so unacceptable. The hatred they spew is witnessed by many and influences many people who hear their biased rhetoric. We are not born with bigotry within us, we learn it and we must make sure that we do not perpetuate the ideas of hatred.

It is incumbent on all of us to speak and act in a fashion that demonstrates opposition to any form of unfair actions and statements against anyone because of their race, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Over the past year, Black Lives Matter demonstrations, attacks motivated by Islamophobia and the discovery of graves of Indigenous children at former residential school sites should give us all great reason for concern.

It is past time for all of us to stand together and fight to stop what has caused these atrocities. I am not suggesting that you should run out and join a demonstration or write letters to the editor in your local paper, although both would be nice.

I do think however we should start with the basics. The next time you are talking to a family member, a neighbour or someone at your place of worship and something is said that you know is not acceptable, call them on it. Let them know and anyone else who may be listening that you do not accept such conduct. If as I said, bigotry is learned, it can be unlearned.

Ed Faulknor, Chair

OPSEU Retired Members Division

COVID’s third wave is shaping up to be worse than the second — for Canadians and the economy

The spring brought new spikes in COVID-19 cases to Nova Scotia and Manitoba, now considered Canada’s hotspot, along with long-suffering Ontario and Quebec. With the virus came more restrictions, and more pressure on the mental health of pandemic-weary Canadians.

The third wave also appears to be having a harsher impact on the economy than the second, say TD economists.

Hours worked fell 2.7% in April, signalling a possible contraction in economic activity, while in the second wave total hours worked barely changed. Statistics Canada backed this up yesterday, predicting a 0.8% decline in GDP in April from the month before.“Additional job losses appear to be in the cards for May, with most provinces staying the course on restrictions during the month,” TD said. In April only three provinces avoided job losses. Ontario took the worst of it, with employment falling 2.1%, followed by B.C. which saw a 1.6% drop. Mobility remains far below pre-pandemic levels in retail and recreation, said TD, with Ontario showing the lowest levels as more restrictions were imposed in April and May.

The accommodation and food industry face an L-shaped recovery with restrictions in place for Ontario, Quebec and Alberta for most of the winter and spring. Ontario will lag further with outdoor dining restricted until at least mid-June and indoor dining only expected to return in late July or early August.The third wave has also slowed consumer spending, down by an average pace of 0.7% from mid-April to mid-May.

Another TD study by senior economist Sri Thanabalasingam found that while spending on goods soared during most of the pandemic, it slumped in the second and third wave, particularly on household items, a big seller last year. Compare Canada’s performance to Australia which today joined a rare club of economies that have fully recovered from the COVID-19 recession.

Data out today showed its economy is now 0.8% larger than it was before coronavirus was first detected in China in December 2019, the Financial Times reports.“ Australia is in rare company here,” said Kristian Kolding, an economist at Deloitte Access Economics. “Only five other countries can boast an economy that’s larger now than before the pandemic. And we achieved that goal while keeping COVID numbers lower than almost anywhere else.”

Canada’s time will come, economists say.

All provinces except Manitoba and Newfoundland & Labrador have released reopening plans, with most seeing their service sector broadly open by mid-June and the relaxation of most restrictions and capacity limits by July, said TD. Ontario’s plan is more cautious, with the first stage not beginning until June 14, and capacity limits to be lifted very slowly. All plans depend upon a minimum vaccination level being reached, ranging from 50% to 70% for first doses, but most provinces have already exceeded 60%, TD said. Canadians have accumulated about $100 billion in additional savings in their deposit accounts, so when stores reopen they have money to spend.

“Indeed, the Canadian economy could be in for an extraordinary second half of the year, if we continue to make inroads in the battle against COVID-19,” said Thanabalasingam. “While variants of the virus pose some risks, the proverbial spending light at the end of the tunnel is shining bright.”

This article was written by Pamela Heaven for the Financial Post and was supplied to Autumn View by Leony deGraaf Hastings, Financial Advisor of deGraaf Financial Strategies 905 632-9900, www.dgfs.ca

Mental Health Wishlist

Caregiver Distress is on the Rise – Wishlist Shares What Caregivers Say They Need

In Ontario, 3.3 million ordinary people, including children and youth, are caring for family members, partners, friends, or neighbours with physical and/or mental health needs.

While many caregivers find their role rewarding, previous research from Health Quality Ontario has shown that one in four caregivers are experiencing distress, anger or depression and according to CIHI research, nearly half (45%) of caregivers of those with dementia are experiencing distress.

A 2019 opinion poll from OCO indicates that 46% of caregivers who support someone with a mental health challenge are not coping well in terms of their mental health. 57% say they are not coping well emotionally and 47% say they are not coping well physically. A strong majority agree they often feel anxious or worried (87%), overwhelmed (85%), frustrated, helpless and trapped (82%) and are getting disturbed sleep (80%).

OCO wanted to dig deeper to better understand caregiver mental well-being and the factors that contribute to caregiver distress, anxiety and depression. The results are shared through The Caregiver Wishlist – Caring for the Mental Health of Caregivers. The Wishlist reveals what caregivers believe, if addressed, can improve their own mental health.

Our findings are based on interviews and surveys of more than 1,000 Ontario caregivers, including caregivers who support a child/youth or an adult with mental health challenges.

Here are some of the most common and important wishes of caregivers:

  1. Greater empathy and respect – They want to be a partner and contribute to decision making and care planning.
  2. Help navigating the health care system – Caregivers want help so that navigation is easier and more efficient. Some don’t know where to start at all.
  3. Easier access to information and resources – Caregivers want the right information at the right time – about the condition of the person they care for and resources for their care – but also for themselves.
  4. Timely access to services – Wait lists are long – caregivers want the person they care for to have timely access to care.
  5. Caregiver mental health support – Caregivers recognize the need to care for themselves. They see counselling, peer support groups and respite as key ways to take care of their own mental health needs.

The Ontario Caregiver Organization

Make plans to deal with the taxes on your cottage

It was about 90 years ago that my great-grandfather built his first cottage. It had no running water, no electricity, and an outhouse in the backyard. One day, some children from town played a practical joke and moved his outhouse back about two meters, exposing the hole. When nature called and my great-grandfather stepped into the hole, he decided it was time for an upgrade. So, he put plumbing in the cottage. Over the years, he made a lot of improvements, and the value of the property grew.

Thousands of Canadians are heading to the cottage, or cabin, for this long weekend. Many of those properties have grown in value in a big way over the past year. It begs the question: How much tax will eventually be owing on the property, when will those taxes be due, and what can we do about it?

The Basics

You could end up paying tax on your cottage property if it has grown in value, and those taxes will generally be due when you sell, transfer ownership, or pass away – whichever comes first. As a general rule, pushing that tax bill as far into the future as possible makes sense, which often means keeping the property as long as you can. But,let’s face it, there are many reasons why this may not be practical. You may have to sell, or want to sell, for many reasons. Or perhaps you want to transfer ownership to the children before you pass away. What can be done about the tax liability?

Consider these ideas:

Maximize your adjusted cost base

You’ll only face tax on the value of your property over and above your cost amount – that is, your adjusted cost base, or ACB. If you’re like my great grandfather and have improved your cottage over time, create a list of all those improvements. You may not have receipts for those costs, but don’t lose sleep over that. If it’s clear that those improvements were made, list them anyway, then estimate as best you can the costs. You should add those costs to your ACB. Canada Revenue Agency will not likely ask to see the receipts and, if the department does, you can deal with that battle at the time. There are court decisions that could help you at that time (speak to a tax pro). Going forward, keep any receipts or proof of the costs of these improvements.

Claim the Principal residence exemption

As long as you “ordinarily inhabit” your cottage property (there is no definition of what length of time is required, but even a week or two a year should be fine), then you can generally claim the principal residence exemption, or PRE, to shelter all or part of any gain on the sale or transfer of the property, or upon your passing. Many people keep the PRE to shelter their city home from tax. But given the big jumps in value of many cottages over the past year, this should be rethought. It generally makes sense to shelter the property with the biggest gain per year of ownership – which could be the cottage today.

Transfer ownership today

The advantage of transferring ownership to your heirs today is that any future growth on the property will not face tax in your hands in the future. So, this is a type of “estate freeze” (where the future growth, and tax bill attached to that growth, is passed to the next generation). The challenge is that you could pay tax today when making the transfer. If you can claim your PRE, then there might not be a tax cost. And if there is going to be a tax cost, you’ll pay tax at today’s capital gains inclusion rate (just 50 per cent of capital gains are taxable today). It’s commonly believed that the capital gains inclusion rate could increase in the near future given the need for our government to raise tax revenue to pay for all the pandemic support that’s been provided. Speak to a tax pro or trusted financial adviser before you make a decision to pay tax on a transfer today.

Consider life insurance to cover taxes

Finally, dealing with a tax bill on the cottage can be as easy as buying a life insurance policy to cover the taxes upon your death. This way, you won’t leave your heirs in a pickle if they want to keep the cottage but don’t have much in liquid assets to pay the taxes owing. Take the time to understand what that tax bill might look like today, then consider a permanent life insurance policy that also allows for the tax-free accumulation of investments inside the policy.

This article was written by Tim Cestnick for the Globe and Mail and was supplied to Autumn View by Leony deGraaf Hastings of deGraaf Financial Strategies 905 632-9900, www.dgfs.ca

Defined benefits Plans in Ontario

Defined Benefit Pension Plans in Ontario have proved resilient to the tremendous challenges the 2020 Pandemic have dealt them. We are in a difficult Pension environment as Pensions depend on investment, stock and bond returns. Some Pensions have kept growing while others have greatly suffered.

Here is a summary of the four major Public Service DB pension Plans.

OPTRUST

Fully funded status at 100%

Investment return of 8.9%

Net assets of 23 billion

47,249 Employees 40,198 Retirees

HOOPP-Health Care

Fully funded status at 119%

Investment return (2020) of 11.42%

Net assets of 104 billion

248,260 Employees

114,300 Retirees

CAAT (Colleges)

Fully funded status at 119%

Investment return of 11.1 %

Net assets of 15.8 billion

17,000 Employees

11,000 Retirees

OMERS

Funding status at 97% (not fully funded)

Investment return of –2.7%

Net assets of 105 billion

500,000 plus Employees 180,000 Retirees

As we look forward to 2021 and hopefully an end to this devastating Pandemic, future challenges remain for Defined Benefit Pensions in Ontario.

  • Increasing number of retirees relative to active members (life expectancy changes)
  • Lower long-term future investment return (lower interest rates)
  • Target Benefit Pension Plans (shared risk) or Defined Contribution Pension Plans for new Public Service employees introduced
  • Any freeze on Pension Plan contributions by the Ontario Government
  • Massive Government Layoffs

With a huge deficit tabled by the Ontario Government in its 2021 budget, we must watch for any attacks or reform on our Pensions in the future.

Protecting and fighting for our Defined Benefit Pensions now is preserving Pensions for TOMORROW.

Brian Luckett, Vice-Chair Region-6 Retiree

OPSEU/NUPGE calls for end to for-profit long-term care

“The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s final report has exposed the shameful and outrageous failure of long-term care. We’re calling for an end to for-profit care and for public control of the sector.”— Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (04 May 2021) — The key final recommendations from the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission have been long demanded by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and its Component, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO).

Report shows for-profit facilities have to go

“The Ontario Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission’s final report has exposed the shameful and outrageous failure of long-term care. We’re calling for an end to for-profit care and for public control of the sector,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas echoed that finding. “Anyone can see that facilities where profits come before people are an obstacle to having a sector where our most vulnerable citizens can live in safety and dignity,” said Thomas. “We need public control of long-term care and for-profit facilities have to go.”

Report reflects OPSEU/SEFPO’s concerns

The commission’s final report released on April 30 made 85 recommendations, many of which are consistent with OPSEU/NUPGE’s demands for increased staffing levels, better working conditions, more rigorous inspection and enforcement, increased investment in staff and infrastructure, stepped-up training, improved access to community and home care and minimum care standards.

“We’ve made some of the same recommendations during the pandemic, and for years before COVID-19,” said Thomas. “The commission clearly saw that front-line workers have many of the solutions that would have prevented this tragedy, and we can use their know-how to come out of this pandemic with a first-class Long-term care system. We are glad to see our submission to the commission reflected in the final report.”

If an older adult tells you that they’re being abused:

  • be patient – listen carefully and don’t jump to conclusions
  • believe them – do not question what they are telling you. You may be the very first person who has ever been entrusted with this information. It may be hard to understand what is going on, especially if the perpetrator is a nice person to you or someone you know
  • do not judge them – do not express pity or tell them what to do. Respect their decisions even when you don`t agree. Tell them you care about them and offer them a level of support that you feel comfortable providing and know that you can provide on an ongoing basis. Do not promise them things you know you cannot do or are not comfortable doing
  • understand that making efforts to change an abusive relationship is extremely difficult – a person who is being abused can be very afraid and not certain what to do. It can take a very long time for people to decide to make a change in their lives, to reach out for help or to even talk about their situation
  • do not deny what is going on – if you choose to deny what is going on or not to listen to a person, this will serve to isolate the person who is being abused even further
  • do not confront the perpetrator yourself – this could put you and/or the person who is being abused in trouble
  • educate yourself on resources available – learn about safety planning and call your local community information centre, community care access centre, community support agency; talk to your own doctor or lawyer; or search on the Internet for resources and information
  • encourage them to seek help – offer to help them find the right place to turn to and local resources, if this is something you are prepared and able to do

The Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children (CREVAWC) delivers It’s Not Right! Neighbours, Friends & Families for Older Adults to raise awareness of elder abuse. Contact them to learn more about bringing their elder abuse prevention initiatives to your community. You can also order print copies of the It’s Not Right brochure (PDF) in English and French from ServiceOntario.

What to do if you’re being abused

If you’re being abused, you should know:

  • you do not deserve to be abused
  • you are not to blame for the abuse
  • you have a right to live without fear
  • you have the right to a safe, healthy environment and healthy relationships
  • abuse often gets worse over time
  • you have the right to control your own life and make your own decisions
  • you are not alone – others have experienced abuse and many have found ways to deal with these situations

You may or may not want to leave the situation or take action, but it is important to know your options and that help is available.
To seek help, you should:

  • tell someone you trust what is happening to you
  • ask others for help if you need it
  • turn to the police for help if someone is hurting you or you do not feel safe
  • talk with people to learn more about resources and services available in your community
  • find out your options to take care of your personal needs and financial security
  • make a safety plan in case you have to leave quickly

Safety planning checklist

You may want to consider putting together an emergency kit with:

  • emergency phone numbers written out and stored in a safe place
  • emergency money (e.g. for a taxi, hotel or payphone)
  • extra clothing
  • a list of medications, name and phone number of pharmacy, and at least three days’ worth of medications
  • glasses, hearing aids and other assistive devices such as cane, walker or wheelchair
  • a safe place to go in the event of an emergency (both in and outside your home)
  • an escape route from your home
  • keys for your home, car, and safety deposit box
  • copies of relevant documents, including:
    • identification (e.g. birth certificate)
    • marriage certificate or record of common-law relationship
    • notice of assessment from most recent income tax return
    • cheque books and credit cards
    • lease, rental agreement, or house deed
    • bank book and recent statements
    • health card
    • Social Insurance Number
    • passport
    • immigration papers

Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility

Helplines and resources

If you’re in an emergency, call 911 or your local police, ambulance or fire service.

Ontario Provincial Police
1-888-310-1122
TTY: 1-888-310-1133

Reporting lines

Long-Term Care ACTION Line

1-866-434-0144

TTY: 1-800-387-5559

The Seniors Safety Line is a 24/7, confidential and free resource that provides information, referrals and support in over 150 languages for seniors experiencing abuse.

Call 1-866-299-1011 for support.

If you are in danger right now, call 911 or your local police.

TREAT RACISM LIKE COVID -19

  1. ASSUME YOU HAVE IT
  2. LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS
  3. DON’T SPREED IT
  4. BE WILLING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE TO END IT

Islamophobic attack in London, Ontario

Ottawa (07 June 2021) –

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is deeply saddened and angry at the murder of 4 Muslim individuals and at the violence inflicted on a young Muslim child in London, Ontario on Sunday June 6. Police have charged a suspect and confirmed there is evidence that the attack was premeditated and motivated by hate.

“NUPGE condemns the violent and abhorrent Islamophobic attack. Targeting innocent people based on their faith is repulsive and must stop,” said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. “The federal government needs to step up and designate more funding for anti-Islamophobia initiatives. It has a duty to protect people of all faiths living in Canada.”

Anti-Islamophobia funding tied up with anti-racism funding

Little has happened since the federal Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage published their report, Taking Action Against Systematic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia, in 2018. In October 2020, it was announced that the federal government was providing $15 million for 85 anti-racism projects, “which will address barriers to employment, justice, and social participation among Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, and religious minorities” (Canada.ca).

An article in Ricochet notes, that although approximately 10% of the promised $15 million went to Muslim-led organizations, “the pattern of limited engagement with organizations led by Muslims most likely to experience systemic barriers persists. Just over 3% of funds through this program were secured by organizations meaningfully-led by hijab-wearing Muslim women, 1.4% to organizations led by Black Muslims, and 2.5% to first-time Muslim recipients of federal public funding.”

We shouldn’t wait for another attack before we take action

NUPGE calls on the federal government to increase the amount of funding going to anti-hate initiatives focused on religion, and designate a specific amount to be used on anti-Islamophobia initiatives. In particular, the federal government should ensure the funds go to Muslim-led organizations with consideration for how other demographics such as race, gender, and class combine with Islamophobia and make some people more vulnerable than others.

“We need more funding for anti-hate initiatives, but we also need to take more action in our daily lives,” said Bert Blundon, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer. “Call out hate speech and Islamophobic ‘jokes’ when you hear them. Correct fake news about Islam and Canada’s refugee and immigration policies when you see it spread on social media. Ignorance breeds fear and hatred, but we have the power to influence those around us.”

This Article is from the NUPGE website

OFL: Ford’s use of notwithstanding clause threatens democracy

TORONTO, June 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — After a decisive judgement by Justice Edward M. Morgan recognized the unconstitutionality of Bill 254’s amendments to the Ontario Election Act, Ford’s Conservative government has announced they will recall the legislature and invoke the notwithstanding clause to overturn the ruling. The Ontario Federation of Labour is deeply concerned by Ford’s move to silence his critics and trample Ontarian’s constitutionally protected Charter Rights.

“The Ford Conservative’s decision to invoke the notwithstanding clause, to reinstate a Bill that has been ruled unconstitutional, is a desperate move from a government that has lost the confidence of the people of Ontario,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. “This move is an attempt to silence the people who lost family members in disastrous long-term care conditions, families and education workers who called for safer classrooms, and workers who demanded paid sick days. It is a power grab, an abuse of power, and it is unacceptable. We will not be silenced.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour warned the Ford Government about the unconstitutionality of Bill 254 and that the government’s proposed changes to the Ontario Election Act would undermine electoral fairness. Bill 254 imposed arbitrary restrictions on the ability of organizations to engage with citizens on issues of public importance like paid sick days, fixing long-term care, and keeping classrooms safe. At the same time as restricting third-party speech on issues of public importance, the Bill privileged the wealthy by doubling individual contribution limits.

“Ford’s decision to ram through this blatant power grab with the unprecedented use of the notwithstanding clause makes it clear that he cares more about protecting himself and his party than about electoral fairness and democracy,” said Coates. “We will not let Ford silence his critics in a desperate attempt to cling to power.”

Coates added, “Ontarians are in a state of shock. We are still mourning last weekend’s attack in London, still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, still concerned about access to vaccinations, and Doug Ford is focused on his re-election? It’s simply disgusting.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

June 09, 2021 19:28 ET | Source: Ontario Federation of Labour

Discovery of mass burial of residential school children calls for real action

Ottawa – June 8, 2021 – The horrors of the residential school system were once again laid bare, upon the discovery of a mass burial containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children. While many Canadians are shocked by the discovery the real horror has been the lack of any action by the federal government.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report in 2015 – the same year of the federal election, when Liberal leader Justin Trudeau proclaimed there was no more important relationship than the one with Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. Yet six years after the report only 10 of the TRC’s 94 recommendations have been fulfilled.

After the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that Canada does not fund Indigenous children in foster care equally; instead of righting the injustice the Trudeau government moved to fight the decision in court.

In the last eight years the federal government has spent more than $3.2 million in legal fees fighting the disclosure of documents that could support the claims of survivors at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School.

In 2015 Justin Trudeau promised to end all boil-water advisories on First Nations reverses but the has goal yet to be accomplished with the federal government now backtracking its commitment to 2026.

Meanwhile, only a small fraction of the money committed by the federal government to search and locate mass burials of residential school victims has been spent.

Two years after the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released its final report the federal government developed its plan to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations. The plan has been labelled inadequate by prominent Indigenous women’s advocates with The Native Women’s Association of Canada announcing their withdrawal from the process calling it toxic and dysfunctional.

The time for prayers and symbolic gestures from this federal government is over. Canada must take real and immediate action to implement all 94 recommendations of the TRC and drop all its legal actions against Indigenous children and residential school survivors in the courts.

This should be priority number one for this Liberal government – not an unnecessary election that would only further delay real action.

With permission of the USWC – CALM

The Alt-Right and Me

By Miriam Edelsen

I learned about fascism at my father’s knee. He explained to me that he was not a pacifist because some forces in the world had to be fought. Fascism was one such force and he enlisted in World War II because of it. He was subsequently wounded on a beach in France, earning a Purple Heart medal from the U.S. Army. My father was not a man who glorified his memories of the War. But he did teach us that like the swastika, the ‘goose step’ march of the Nazis was one to disdain.

The alt-right frightens me, as a Jew and as a woman. According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, the alt-right is a set of far-right ideologies, groups, and individuals whose core belief is that ‘white’ identity is under attack by multicultural forces using ‘political correctness’ and ‘social justice’ to undermine white people and their civilization.

This fear runs deep, disturbs me to the core. White supremacy and the alt-right are dangerous ideologies and their impact is growing. The views and actions they espouse are reminiscent of Nazi Germany, an unsafe place for Jews, women, homosexuals, disabled persons and the Roma. Anyone thought to be different was victimized.

While I do not walk down the street in fear, they are not far away. It is not just an American or European phenomenon. The alt-right is present here in Canada – and not only on social media. There are 6,660 right-wing extremist channels, pages, groups and accounts across seven social media platforms operating in this country. They use the internet to construct collective identities that are reinforced and mirrored by others of like mind. There’s been an increasing number of hate crimes in Canada, linked to far-right ideologies that demonize Muslims and Jews, as well as immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minority groups. The alt-right fascist ideology intensifies misogyny, sexism and racism via the intersection of social identities such as race, gender, class, religion, nationality and sexuality.

In examining the strength of the alt-right, it is instructive to note the fact that many started out as a men’s rights activists. Some were prodigious bloggers. The linkages between misogyny and the alt-right are worth exploring and interestingly, the Southern Poverty Law Centre labels men’s right activists as hate groups.

Men’s rights activists say that men are suffering and it is women’s fault. Men as a group are subjugated and women should be punished.  The incel movement is characterized by men’s insecurity, sexually and otherwise. They are anti-feminist. The word incel is short for “involuntarily celibate,” a term used by those who feel they’ve been cheated out of their confidence and masculinity by women who have refused to have sex with them.

It is, perhaps, important to recognize this vulnerability — to have empathy for these men. But that only goes so far, in my opinion. It may explain their extreme hatred of women, but it does not excuse it. And there are other significant linkages.

Extreme misogyny and white supremacy aren’t just analogous, they’re entangled. Both see increased demands for equality, whether it’s Black Lives Matter or the #MeToo movement, as coming at the deadly expense of the privileged group — white people or men, respectively.

Other parts of the alt-right focus on this related issue of white supremacy. One leader says “diversity is the code word for white genocide”. Other leadership figures chime in that they need an ethno-state. They mean white people only. And one of Canada’s own alt-right leaders, Lauren Southern, claims that “non-whites should assimilate or go home”.

Men’s right activists speak of taking the “red pill”, awakening to the “truth” that the power structure is, in fact, flipped on its head, and that it’s not women who are the victims of sexism, but men, who they think face unjust family courts and false rape accusations.

The idea that women are the ones who face discrimination and disenfranchisement is, in their minds, the greatest deception of all, concocted in order to create a protected class for women to elevate their social status and shield them from criticism or repercussion.

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016 and the resurgence of white nationalist organizing brought the white supremacy of the alt-right to the fore around the world, including Canada, but misogynist extremism has endured at the movement’s core. And the ideology of incels, men’s rights and the red pill advertises itself as the rejection of dominant culture. But violent misogynist extremism can’t be addressed without first dealing with the misogyny in our dominant culture that feeds that ideology.

Just before Alek Minassian rammed his vehicle in an attack that occurred on April 23, 2018, along Yonge Street through the North York City Centre business district in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he released a manifesto praising another misogynist killer. The driver targeted pedestrians, plowing down innocent people in his path, killing 10 and injuring 16, some critically. The attack is characterized as revenge for perceived sexual and social rejection. He was rebelling against what he saw as the domination of women. Eight of the ten deceased victims were women. This act, and others like it, are like snapshots into the motivation of the alt-right. It is a scary business. Why does it make me so antsy?

A recent brush with anti-Semitism comes to mind. One night in Argentina, my partner and I were having dinner with our host family and some of their friends. In the context of a wide-ranging conversation touching on the cost of making real estate deals in different countries, another dinner guest says in Spanish, “You know, it takes two Dutchmen to make a Jew.” We must have looked surprised and rather dismayed, not quite believing the remark had been made. Without skipping a beat our host, a distinguished retired university professor, repeats the comment in English, to ensure that we fully catch the meaning. We are appalled. Struggling to converse in our intermediate level Spanish, neither of us says anything. The moment quickly passes, conversation skips to some other topic. No notice is made of the blatantly anti-Semitic remark. Nor of our host’s odd snap decision to reinforce it.

After dinner we retire to our bedroom, right across the hallway from our hosts’. In hushed tones, unsettled and still in shock, we search for more solid ground. Do we tell them that the remark has made us uncomfortable, that it reflects a view of Jews and money that is stereotypical and unacceptable?

In this spectacularly beautiful and remote corner of northern Patagonia, how do we account for the ugly stain the remark has made? Do we report this otherwise charming, refined gentleman to the language school where we are studying? What is to be gained from calling out our hosts and possibly losing the roof over our heads? What is lost by not speaking out?

I experience a strange sensation. I feel unsafe. With a full-on imagination spurred by World War II movies, I picture our host in an SS uniform, complete with jackboots and strutting behaviour. After all, Argentina was a prime destination for thousands of Nazi war criminals and other fascists as the war came to a close. I recognize the exaggerated nature of my thoughts and resolve to keep them at bay. They are not helpful. I did not speak up in that situation, and wish now that I had. I believe that not speaking out only reinforced the original negative message.

In a related vein, the expression of male rage during the January 6, 2021 siege of the U.S. Capitol building, evoked strong feelings. Like many, I felt a kind of bodily fear watching the protesters. In a conversation with my psychotherapist we identified that extreme male rage as a feature of my childhood. In reaction to it I had learned to be vigilant. To walk on eggshells around my father who could storm about, to want not to provoke that out-of-control behaviour.

The protesters at the Capitol building were also motivated by rage, some taking up space that was not theirs to take, like the goon who splayed his legs out over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk. And so, I begin to understand my reaction to the alt-right as something carved deep in my core. The actions of the white supremacists trigger my fear and desire to protect myself from violent expressions of anger.

Perhaps this is the missing nugget of truth that impels me to act against the alt-right.

It is not just that white supremacy makes my skin crawl. It does and we also have to come together to combat it by working with labour, groups in civil society and youth to make the alt-right less attractive to people who feel disenfranchised. A new collective politics must be forged if we are to dismantle unequal power relations and domination and effectively thwart the far right from gaining further ground. I don’t know all the elements of this politics, but am convinced that the first step is naming the insidious ideology wherever it appears. It is with this in mind that I will not be silenced again.

Canada’s unions elect new leaders to help chart a hopeful post-pandemic future for workers

Ottawa – June 18, 2021) Nearly 4,000 delegates at the Canadian Labour Congress’ 29th Constitutional Convention today elected Officers to lead the organization until 2023.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is Canada’s major umbrella organization of national unions, provincial federations of labour and local labour councils and represents over three million workers. Bea Bruske from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) was elected as the CLC’s President. She replaces retiring President Hassan Yussuff who has held the position for two terms spanning the past seven years. Bruske, who received overwhelming support from convention delegates, was previously Secretary Treasurer and a negotiator with UFCW 832 and a Vice-President of the UFCW Canada National Council.

“I am honored to be elected as CLC’s new President and I’m looking forward to working with a dedicated team committed to advancing the interests of the nation’s workers and their families,” said Bruske. “We are committed to building a Canada that works for everyone. Among our key priorities will be to ensure workers are centered in the post-pandemic recovery.”

Lily Chang was elected to replace outgoing Secretary-Treasurer Marie Clarke Walker. Chang was previously Treasurer of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 79.

Returning Executive Vice-President Larry Rousseau was re-elected for a second term. Rousseau was first elected to the position at the 2017 CLC Convention in Toronto.

Newly elected Executive Vice-President Siobhan Vipond replaces outgoing Executive Vice-President Donald Lafleur. Vipond was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Nearly 4,000 delegates from across Canada participated in the CLC’s first ever virtual convention and debated issues including pharmacare, the creation of good jobs and how to ensure a strong COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan that addresses racial and gender inequities. They also passed resolutions on combating Islamophobia and Anti-Asian racism, as well as a resolution calling for the federal government fulfill the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Delegates to the Convention also elected labour council and equity representatives who will lead for the coming mandate. These positions include representation for LGBTQ2SI, young workers, workers of colour, Indigenous workers and disability rights, as well as regional representatives across Canada. New Officers and council members were sworn in late Friday just prior to the Convention’s close.

It’s Time to Share the Wealth

Angella MacEwen and Jonathan Gauvin / May 26, 2021

The super-wealthy have everything they could ask for. Internationally, their global power and influence have enabled them to concentrate corporate ownership, reap record profits, keep workers’ wages low and pay less tax than they did 30 years ago. Canada is no exception.

The current state of affairs is not an accident; it stems directly from political decisions and an economic system designed to benefit the wealthiest among us. Since the 1980s, governments around the world have reduced taxes on corporate profits and personal wealth, weakened regulations and privatized public infrastructure. These decisions allow the powerful to hoard wealth at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment, and social cohesion.

Broadly speaking, much of the attention focused on economic inequality in Canada has been on income inequality, while the role of wealth inequality has slid under the radar. The two phenomena are linked, and an understanding of one can help us reflect on the nature of the other.

Tax wealth, not just income
Wealth inequality shows the opportunity that some groups have to accumulate substantial resources over time. An understanding of wealth inequality shows us that economic inequality is not random; rather, it’s part of a self-perpetuating cycle. If economic inequality were based on pure chance, we would not see the extreme concentration of wealth and privilege that we have today in a small group of bankers, family heirs, CEOs and media barons.

As Canada’s wealth pie has grown over the years, the share of the richest 1% has increased while that of the 99% has decreased; this led Canada’s top 1% to increase their share of net wealth from 15% in 1999 to 25.7% in 2019. In the past ten years alone, the richest Canadians have doubled their wealth, compared to virtually no change for the bottom 50%.

Economic inequality isn’t just unfair; it also creates a deeply dysfunctional economy. The more those at the top make decisions based on increasing their own wealth rather than our shared wealth, the less the economy can perform its role of sustaining people and our societies.
There are clear and concrete solutions that we can implement as a society – if we have the political will.

Wealth accumulation in Canada has been fostered and facilitated by political decisions:

  • Corporate and personal tax cuts have allowed the wealthy to accumulate more wealth — and more power.
  • This power has been used in turn to pressure governments to deregulate — especially by reducing protections for workers, consumers, and the environment.

Taxing the rich is a real possibility to address both income and wealth inequality, by:

  • Creating an annual net wealth tax is a good start toward a fairer economy, but is not enough on its own.
  • Changing how we tax capital gains will raise almost as much money as a modest wealth tax.
  • Increasing the tax rate for corporations, closing loopholes, and increasing taxes on the highest income earners will make the economy more equal, and raise revenue that can be used to fund important public investments.

These proposed tax changes are actually quite moderate, and well within the range governments in Canada have set in recent history. While this means that doomsday predictions about devastating impacts to the economy are clearly exaggerated, it also means that we need to do more than just tax wealth — we need to also change the built-in levers in our system that ensure the rich get richer and the poor stay poor.

The impact of a wealth tax
There is significant resistance to the changes that we’re proposing, so it is important to note that, after a certain point, the accumulation of wealth no longer makes a difference to a person who is wealthy – $100,000 more or less will not prevent them from getting what they want. This includes all the luxury items and privileges they have become accustomed to, that are already far away from anything that could remotely be thought of as essential needs. Most of the money that we are looking at taxing is never used, and could never conceivably be used productively in a single person’s lifetime.

Take David Thomson and family, Canadians who own and control a media and publishing empire founded by their patriarch Roy Thomson. The family’s wealth was estimated at $50.6 billion in September 2020, a jump of $8.8 billion from the beginning of the pandemic. Forbes lists David as the 33rd richest person in the world, and Bloomberg estimates that this wealth is split between David, his two siblings, and four cousins. Even split between seven people, this amount is difficult to wrap our heads around. Billions. If you lived for 100 years and spent $1 million dollars every day of your life, you’d still have money left over.

This, at the same time that there are nearly 5 million people living in poverty in the same country. Years of tax cuts and austerity have helped the Thomson family accumulate this wealth and left too many of the rest of us with insecure jobs, inadequate housing, and a failing social safety net. We risk the tax cut / austerity dynamic happening again in the post-pandemic response if we don’t organize to ensure that our governments choose a different path.

The wealth tax proposed by the NDP in the 2019 federal election would have taxed each Thomson heir at 1% of their total wealth (over $20 million). At their current valuation, that would be an additional $505 million a year to the federal government, a fraction of the expected growth in their wealth over the year. This amount alone would cover the cost of eliminating the interest on all federal student loans in Canada.

It’s long past time to build a society and economy that will foster shared wealth.

Excerpt adapted from “Share the Wealth: How we can tax Canada’s super-rich and create a better country for everyone,” by Jonathan Gauvin and Angella MacEwen, which is available online and in bookstores from May 25, 2021.

SUE BROWN

Second  Female elected to OPSEU Executive Board Member in Region 6

After being an Activist for many years, Sue let her name stand for Election to the OPSEU Executive Board May 2001. She was duty elected with an impressive number of votes alongside fellow Activists, Wayne Campbell, Bill Kuehenbaum and Will Presley. She served a total of 6 terms, retiring from the Board in 2013. Her fellow EBMs chose her to be the VP of Region 6 in 2007.

Sue worked at the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital and was a member of Local 636.  There were many difficult labour disputes there.  She took on many different roles – she served as President of Local 636, Vice President of the North Bay and District Labour Council and eventually became an Executive Board Member in Region 6. During her time as EBM she served three terms as the Regional VP for Region 6. You always knew when Sue was near.  When she spoke she did not need a megaphone. She had “the voice” of a politician and everyone listened.  Sue helped diffuse many serious conflicts, long standing and perilous to her members.  She wasn’t easily intimidated.  Her no-nonsense diplomacy went a long way and helped to motivate members of her Local. She managed to get members, from many Region 6 Locals, involved and finding common ground.

In 1996 OPSEU participated in its first strike. Sue helped to lead a huge strike presence at the Psych Hospital.   She led the local leaders with force, never knowing from day to day what was ahead.

In 2002 under the Conservative Government, OPSEU went out on Strike again.   Sue was there, fearless in facing both the Government and the Police Force.  They were desperate times and  Sue spent many hours visiting different picket lines, reassuring members that if they stuck together they would be fine.  She formed a group made up of activists, and let’s just say, many interesting events followed.   One of Sue’s adventures resulted in her being arrested “for the cause”.  As unfair as that was, Sue took it in stride and understood it was the price she paid for being devoted and standing up for what she believed.  The mood changed from anxiety to one of resolute determination.

2008 brought on the Timiskaming Health Unit Local 674.   Sue heard the call and took a drive to New Liskeard.  She arrived with her car radio blasting “Raise a Little Hell” …  opened the tail gate of her vehicle to reveal a box full of picket signs.  Everyone was speechless until she said “Well I’m not here for my health Sisters – GRAB A SIGN.  That was Sue.  She totally mobilized the members and Local 674 won “Local of the Year” Award at the AGM.

As a Board Member, Sue took an active role in mentoring young members, especially encouraging sisters to run for leadership positions but she also mentored her brothers.  One brother in particular, Michel Bisaillon, will tell you that Sue’s mentoring resulted in him becoming the activist he did.  Michel followed her leadership and succeeded in becoming a Member of the Executive Board in 2015.  She built an education program that not only equipped members in their struggles with employers but achieved great savings to the region as well.

Sue is married to her childhood sweetheart, Perry and has two daughters, Toni and Jenny.  She is a devoted mother and wife.  She loves her home and runs it with the same expertise as she does everything else in her life.  She and Perry share the love of riding their motorcycles and now with retirement, spend part of the winter doing just that in the south.

After a long fight trying to save the North Bay Psych Hospital and 35 years of dedicated services Sue retired in 2013.   She continues to attend Local meetings and is a delegate from 662 (previously 636) to North Bay Area Council. As a Retiree she is North Bay Member-at-Large for North Bay and Area.  She started the North Bay Retirees’ Flying Squad which is comprised of retired members who were activists and wanted to remain active in the Union.  One of the group’s achievements is an “OPSEU quilt” which was made from different articles, t-shirts and other OPSEU memorabilia. Where and when there is an event, the OPSEU Retirees flag proudly flies.

Yes, Sue “Retired from Work but not from the Fight”.  Now she can fly on her Motorcycle, and enjoy her beautiful home on the lake

By Janine Johnson – Region 6 Retirees Chair

In Memoriam

We would like to try and include an In Memorial Page on back page in our next edition that should come out DEC/JAN. We need your help. Please email the names of any of fellow union retirees that have passed away in the past year to your regions OPSEU/SEFPO chair. Contact information

Region 1                          Brian Sharp                      bwsharp1947@gmail.com

Region 2                          Ed Faulkner                      ted.faulkner@sympatico.ca

Region 3                          Pauling Tapping              pmcruiser@sympatico.ca

Region 4                          John Hanson                    hansonj1@yahoo.ca

Region 5                          Yasmin Damani                yasmin.damani@yahoo.com

Region 6                          Janine Johnson               jjohnson11@live.ca

Region 7                         Sandra Snider                   13sasnider@gmail.com