1, 2014 - No. 79
Announced in Calgary and Edmonton
All Out to Occupy the Space
for Change by Developing Independent
Working Class Politics
By-Elections Announced in
Calgary and Edmonton
• All Out to Occupy the
Space for Change by Developing Independent Working Class Politics
- Peggy Morton
• Alberta Emergency Medical
Services Workers Speak Out
Scrap the Temporary
Foreign Worker Program!
• Condemn the Harper
Dictatorship's State-Organized Worker Trafficking and Attacks on the
• More Evidence of Bogus "Labour Shortage"
Education Is a
Right! Increase Investments in Public Education!
• Who Decides at Athabasca
University? - Dougal MacDonald
to U.S. and Canadian Troops in Iraq and Bombing of Iraq and Syria!
Announced in Calgary and Edmonton
All Out to Occupy the Space for Change by
Developing Independent Working Class Politics
workers rally to denounce PC government's attacks on pensions,
Edmonton March 2, 2014.
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice has announced four
by-elections to be held on October 27. Prentice who has not been
elected to the Legislature, will run in Calgary-Foothills. This seat is
now vacant as Len Webber, who is presently sitting as an independent
after leaving the PC caucus in March, has resigned after
winning the Conservative nomination in Calgary-Confederation for the
next federal election. Education Minister Gordon Dirks and Health
Minister Stephen Mandel will run in the upcoming by-elections in
Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud respectively, formerly held
by the last two premiers Alison Redford
and Dave Hancock, who both resigned their seats. Neither Minister has
a seat in the Legislature. There will also be a by-election in
Calgary-West as Ken Hughes, an early contender for the leadership who
withdrew and backed Prentice, is resigning and returning to the private
The by-elections will be used
to claim legitimacy for the Prentice coup and his fraudulent reset.
They are an attempt to mask the reality that the corruption of the
former Premier is not a matter of Redford or her party but stems from
the outmoded relations of production, the anti-social
and destruction of the public authority. They are an opportunity to
take a stand against the fraudulent "new government" of Jim Prentice
which represents the direct takeover of the governing institutions by
the powerful global monopolies. The resources of the people of Alberta
will now be used even more to benefit
this or that monopoly or monopoly group as they vie to concentrate
economic and political power in their hands.
Prentice has been installed in power to gain
access to global markets for the oil sands, further wreck the public
authority and any regulatory restraints, and go much further in
integrating Alberta into the United States of North American
Monopolies. The politicization of the private interests of the oil and
is presented as being identical to the interests of workers and the
general interests of society. This is not true and must be opposed. The
politicization of private interests disinforms the polity and leaves it
vulnerable and disorganized in the face of mounting attacks. This is
why it is so important to step up the ideological
offensive against all attempts of the Prentice government to present
itself as legitimate in any way. This requires a staunch defence of the
rights of all.
The installation of two unelected Ministers,
Gordon Dirks in Education and Stephen Mandel in Health makes the
by-elections also an opportunity to take a stand against the wrecking
and privatization of health care and education, and to affirm that
public health care and education are a right. Minister of Health
Mandel, a former property developer, is mandated by Prentice to carry
out Prentice's plan to greatly increase funding to private entities for
seniors' "supportive housing." Dirks is the president of a private
religious school and has been put in charge of the promise to put
trailers in communities and call them schools,
further degrading public education.
Public sector workers with the
support of other sectors of the working class have taken a stand in
defence of their rights and forced the Redford government to retreat on
Bills 45 and 46 and its assault on pensions. Let's organize now to keep
that momentum going and to make sure that the pro-social program
and new direction for the economy are advanced in the course of the
by-elections. Let's ensure that the anti-social austerity agenda of the
PCs and Wildrose is deprived of any standing.
Calgary-Elbow and Edmonton-Whitemud are not a slam
dunk for the PCs. Edmonton-Whitemud voters turfed out PC Premier Don
Getty in 1989, for example, despite his party winning the general
Say No! to all attempts to destroy the public
authority and impose monopoly right! Occupy the space for change so as
to deprive the monopolies and their salesmen of the ability to block
the people's striving for empowerment. The alternative is to fight for
pro-social solutions to the problems created by the
ruling elites' destruction of social programs and pay the rich schemes.
The economy needs a new direction, not the destructive politics of the
Alberta Emergency Medical Services
The by-election in
Edmonton-Whitemud, where the unelected Minister of Health Stephen
Mandel is seeking a seat, is an opportunity for health care workers to
go all out to defeat the Tories and Wildrose and their anti-social
austerity agenda. Working to defeat the PCs and Wildrose is a way to
take a stand against
the privatization, underfunding and dismantling of the public health
care system. The by-election is an opportunity to put forward
pro-social solutions to the public health care system, including
Alberta's emergency medical services. In doing so we uphold the right
to comprehensive public health care for all and demand
government provide that right with a guarantee.
The Health Sciences Association
of Alberta (HSAA)
represents Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers across the
province. The Association demands that the unacceptable wait times for
patients and working conditions for EMS staff be addressed. HSAA
President Elisabeth Ballerman explains that in 2012
her organization conducted a province-wide survey of EMS practitioners,
which verified that ambulance services lack adequate resources,
resulting in a serious impact on patient care and unacceptable working
conditions for EMS workers.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) took over all
ambulance services in Alberta in 2009 from the municipalities. This
further disenfranchised the workers and imposed arrangements on
communities that did not meet their needs. The process was halted in
2010 in the face of escalating response times and since then
a patchwork system has emerged, which has utterly failed to meet the
needs of urban and rural communities alike.
The Minister of Health at that time responded to
the HSAA survey by asking the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA)
to conduct a review of ground ambulance services. The HQCA report was
released in January 2013. It made five broad recommendations,
none of which have been fully implemented,
HSAA released the results of a new survey on
September 25. "EMS practitioners from across Alberta identified seven
key issues that needed to be addressed in order to create and maintain
a positive work environment. Respondents were overwhelmingly concerned
about the lack of resources, poor EMS management,
the lack of career development opportunities, low employee morale, the
inability to take time off, the dispatch system, and patient, public
and EMS practitioner's safety," Ballerman says.
The percentage of
EMS workers taking part in the survey who reported that conditions had
"deteriorated somewhat or deteriorated a great deal" was the following:
Resources -- 66 per cent
Management -- 62 per cent
Career development -- 51 per cent
Employee morale -- 81 per cent
Ability to take time off -- 68 per cent
Dispatch -- 63 per cent
Safety -- 44 per cent
"The results of this survey should be of grave
concern to the AHS leadership, our new health Minister, the Prentice
government, and indeed all Albertans," Ballerman says. "The survey
demonstrates the concern of EMS professionals throughout the province
of their ability to provide the quality of care that Albertans
should be able to expect is significantly compromised."
The population of Alberta has grown by about
100,000 a year since 2009, while the number of ambulances and stations
has remained virtually unchanged. Hospitals are running at 105-110
per cent occupancy. They cannot expedite transfer of patients. As a
result, on average it takes one full hour for EMS workers
to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. During this time,
ambulances are not available to respond to emergencies.
EMS responders are intimately familiar of what is
required to ensure patient safety and provide the working conditions
needed to uphold the rights of patients and EMS workers alike.
Emergency providers do their duty in this dysfunctional system, but the
government refuses to do the same. Not only are the EMS
practitioners and the communities they serve denied adequate resources,
but also, the human factor is blocked and those who are capable of
actually solving problems are denied any real role in decision-making.
Together with emergency physicians, nurses and
other staff, EMS providers are quite capable of organizing and
delivering the kind of emergency response that is a fundamental part of
the right to health care, and which quite literally is a matter of life
and death. What is lacking is political power in the hands
of the working people.
Scrap the Temporary Foreign
Condemn the Harper Dictatorship's State-Organized
Worker Trafficking and Attacks on the Unemployed!
The monopoly media are filled these days with
Jason Kenney claiming to be in the corner of Canadian workers and
saying that employers have become too reliant on the Temporary Foreign
Worker Program (TFWP). The media are highlighting a series of tweets
between Jason Kenney and Mark Milke, a senior
fellow at the Fraser Institute.
Milke has been very active in
the past year spreading virulent anti-worker disinformation about
public sector pensions. He has now shifted his attention to demanding
that Alberta employers not be restricted in any way in the number of
temporary foreign workers (TFWs) they hire. He says hotels in Banff and
not able to function without trafficked workers from abroad.
Kenney responded by goading Milke that as a
free-marketer, he should not favour government intervention. Rather, a
"free market" solution is for wages to rise, Kenney said, and asked
Milke to show him evidence of a labour shortage.
The Harper dictatorship has criminalized workers
fighting to defend their wages, benefits and working conditions. It has
launched unprecedented attacks on the federal public sector workers
aimed at gutting sick leave provisions, privatizing management of sick
leave and degrading their pensions. When Kenney
states that the TFWP is driving down wages and is a form of
"quasi-indentured labour," it is clear he is up to something and
workers should not be complacent.
Kenny suggests TFWs
are creating a glut of workers yet only a few months ago, the
Harperites used the large number of online ads for workers on Kijiji,
of their bogus statistics claiming a labour shortage. This seeming
change of tune from shortage to glut may be connected with
cutting social spending on the unemployed.
One aim of the Harper government is to further reduce
number of people on EI -- not the number of unemployed but those
for EI. Only 38 per cent of unemployed workers now receive EI benefits.
The Harper dictatorship recently announced cuts to employers' EI
contributions for small businesses, which will
starve the EI benefit fund and be another weapon to justify even more
attacks on EI benefit recipients.
Kenney gave an example in the Atlantic Provinces
where fish plant workers were unemployed while the fish plants hired
TFWs. He said both workers and employers need to be "nudged." The
"nudge" refers to the "job matching service" created through the Canada
Job Bank for purposes of trying to force those
on EI to accept jobs below their normal salary, and/or travel longer
distances to work or lose their EI benefits.
A bait and switch
fraud is also at play, the kind of thing for which the Harperites are
infamous. New regulations actually make it easier to hire TFWs in
skilled trades, with a guaranteed 10-day turnaround
time for approvals. While the changes to the TFWP may reduce the number
in the fast food, retail trade and hotel industries, employers in those
sectors can use international mobility programs (IMPs), which are
from Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs). Employers do not have to
attempt to hire Canadians or pay the prevailing wage rate to hire
workers under an IMP. According
to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 69 per cent of all TFWs working
in Canada on December 21, 2013 had work permits issued under the IMP,
which means without an LMIA.
The International Experience Program allows
employers to hire young workers between the ages of 18 to 35 from 32
countries, mostly in Europe. It has quietly been changed from one year
to "up to two years." Workers are not tied to one employer, but
employers can easily bind them in practice through their
ability to request an extension. The global monopolies have access to
the intercompany transfer provisions, as well as agreements under NAFTA
and other free trade agreements, which also have no requirements for an
Kenney now admits that workers in the TFWP have
"quasi-indentured status" to cover up past and future crimes against
workers' rights, not to correct them. The changes Kenney has made
favour a revolving door of TFWs who are not able
to put down roots in Canada and who are made even
more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Many workers now in Canada have paid
dollars to modern-day wage-slave traffickers with whom the employers
are in cahoots within this state-organized international trade of
workers. This violates the principle of a modern society to recognize
the rights of all. This worker trafficking must be stopped,
the perpetrators punished, and the employers forced to reimburse the
victims. Anyone currently working in Canada must have full rights to
live here in peace without threat of deportation, unemployment and loss
of livelihood. The EI social program must be strengthened not weakened
with the aim to eliminate the
labour market altogether as a weapon of exploitation and class
privilege. The Harper government should be thrown out of office to show
that Canadians will not tolerate worker trafficking and attacks on the
rights of workers!
Evidence of Bogus "Labour Shortage"
Gil McGowan, President of the Alberta
of Labour (AFL), and representatives of Ironworkers Local 720 held a
press conference in Edmonton on September 26 to provide evidence of the
consequences for Alberta workers if Premier Jim Prentice
succeeds in expanding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
Prentice recently stated that
he wants to meet with Harper after dealing with provincial issues,
including a by-election to get himself a seat in the Alberta
Legislature. Labour policy, including the demand by business to reverse
changes and expand the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will be at the
top of the agenda, Prentice
"With the population pressure we're under, with
the job creation pressure that we're under in this province, I've heard
loud and clear over the summer from business people that the changes on
temporary foreign workers are going to be very, very difficult,"
Prentice said recently.
The AFL presented information acquired through
several Access to Information requests. It reported that 12,162
businesses in Canada used the TFWP in 2013. Temporary foreign workers
(TFWs) comprised more than 30 per cent of the workforce in
2,578 businesses and more than
50 per cent of the workforce in 1,123 businesses. The majority of
businesses using the TFWP are based in Alberta, followed by British
Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
familiar with the use of TFWs to depress wages in
the fast food, hotel and restaurant industries. Even Jason Kenney has
admitted that real wages in the fast food industry have actually
declined in Alberta. Less well known is the large scale use of TFWs in
trucking/transport, residential construction and IT, particularly in
Ontario and Quebec, the AFL reported.
The list of companies with more than 30 per cent
of their workforce comprised of TFWs exposes the myth that mainly small
businesses use the program, and shows that the use of TWFs has become
the standard practice of large monopolies. "Merit Contractors"
(non-union) like Flint, Stuart
Olson, Kiewit and PCL are all significant users of the TFWP.
"There are a lot of fast food franchises on this
list, but there are also a lot of big names in industries like
construction and energy," McGowan said. "Albertans deserve to know why
the federal government thinks it's okay for companies like Kiewit,
Stuart Olson, Lafarge and Ensign Drilling to
fill more than 30 per cent of their jobs with TFWs. And I think
Canadians in places like Ontario and Quebec deserve to know why the
federal government is letting companies like Facebook, Amazon,
PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Infosys fill more than 50 per cent of their
jobs with TFWs," he said.
"A company called Supreme International was given
approval to pay 28 TFW welders $19.25 an hour, which is $10.75 below
the prevailing wage for welders in Alberta, and only about half of what
a Canadian welder makes in Fort McMurray. Kiewet Energy Construction
was given TFW permits
for 100 industrial electricians and 100 ironworkers without even
disclosing how much those TFWs would be paid. In June, the federal
government introduced changes that will make it harder for low-wage
employers to get access to TFWs. That's a step in the right direction.
But what these documents
show is that the problem is not solved; it's just moving up the wage
ladder", McGowan said.
The documents obtained by the AFL offer further
proof that employers are trying to drive down wages through the use of
temporary foreign workers. The response of the Workers' Opposition is
to oppose all violations of rights and to fight to defeat the Harper
dictatorship and its low-wage agenda.
Attacks on any section of workers must not be permitted. Rights belong
to people by virtue of being human; rights must be enshrined in the
fundamental law of the land, and all forms of worker trafficking made
illegal. Abolish the Temporary Foreign Worker Program! Rights and
Status for All!
Our security lies in the fight to defend the rights of all!
1. The following large, mainly global monopolies
are users of the TFWP.
Telecommunications and IT: Shaw Cable Systems,
Calgary; Bell Connections, Nokia Siemens Networks Canada, Mississauga;
Infosys Ltd, Toronto.
Construction: Lafarge Canada, Inland Concrete,
Stuart Olson Industrial Services, Calgary; Merit Group Inc., Calgary;
Fortis LGS Structures Inc., Edmonton
Oilfield: Ensign Drilling Partnership, Calgary;
Sinopec Canada Energy, Calgary; Kiewit Energy Fabricators Corp, Calgary
Other: Loblaw, Regina, Saskatchewan;
PricewaterhouseCoopers Management Services LP, Toronto
Education Is a Right!
Increase Investments in Public Education!
Who Decides at Athabasca University?
Athabasca University (AU) is an online university. It
has four Alberta campuses in Athabasca, ST. Alberta, Edmonton and
Calgary and offers online or distance learning to over 40,000
students, including 7,800 full course equivalents.
The General Faculty Council (GFC) at AU's Edmonton
campus held the second of two special
meetings on September 17. The meeting addressed the important issue of
"Who decides?" at AU.
As set out in the Alberta
Act, the GFC is responsible for academic and
student affairs at AU subject to Board of Governors' approval. The
53-member GFC is mainly populated by fourteen appointed administrators,
28 elected full-time academic staff, and five elected tutors (part-time
At both GFC meetings, full-time faculty and tutors
spearheaded a resolution demanding that the academic decision-making
power currently usurped by the administration must be returned to the
GFC. At the first special GFC meeting on August 28, the
provincially-legislated Chair of the meeting, interim AU President
Peter MacKinnon, stopped a vote on the decision-making resolution by
moving adjournment, exercising what amounted to a veto.
Between meetings, the
administration attempted to
have the mover withdraw the motion. Continuing to oppose the
resolution, even after a "yes" vote on September 17, McKinnon now
declares it to be only "advice" that does not need to be acted upon,
which also amounts to a veto.
The question of "Who decides?" at AU is directly
related to the administration's persistent attempts to
arbitrarily impose a "call centre" model on all the AU faculties
assent. This is being done under the hoax that such a decision is an
administrative matter and not an academic one.
The main aim of imposing a call centre (AU
administration calls it the "student success centre") across all
university faculties is to reduce the pay of the part-time tutors who
do the bulk of the online teaching. The attack on tutors' livelihoods
part of the administration's abject capitulation to the savage March
13, 2013 provincial budget cuts to the operating budgets of all of
Alberta's universities, colleges and technical schools.
Specifically, the call centre model will eliminate the
salaried part of tutor pay, known as "block pay," which is based on the
number of students registered in a tutor's online class. Exactly how
much a tutor's pay will be reduced is unclear but previous experience
with the Faculty of Business, which had a call centre
imposed in the 1990s, shows the cut could be 50 per cent or more.
Losing block pay will also eliminate the fact that it helps stabilize
tutors' overall pay by serving as a buffer to the ebb and flow of the
submission of student work to tutors for marking.
Currently at AU, except for the Faculty of
Business, almost all online classes are organized according to the
original tutor-learner model inspired by Britain's Open University.
Students register and are assigned in blocks to instructors who
interact personally with each class member as required to assist
That is what the fixed monthly block pay compensates. Tutors also
receive additional pay for marking exams and assignments. AU wants to
replace the tutor-learner model with a call centre system, which
separates students from their tutors and requires them to navigate
layers of bureaucracy to receive any academic
The administration claims that tutor block pay
must be eliminated because "tutor costs are becoming unaffordable." The
administration is also falsely implying that block pay should be
eliminated because it is "undeserved" and that somehow tutors, who are
all part-time, are overpaid.
AU administration wrongly considers tutors to be
costs rather than what they really are: producers of much of the value
generated by the university through teaching their students, who in
turn contribute to the economy and society. Education is an investment
that produces value in the concrete form of educated
students and workers. Education value should be returned to the centres
of education, following its consumption and normal exchange within the
economy. Education is not a cost. Tutors are not a cost. They are
producers of value.
The call centre system of paying tutors requires
tutors, renamed "academic experts," to fill out monthly timesheets
detailing every interaction relating to their students and to submit
the timesheets for administration approval. Valuable instructional time
is wasted filling out the timesheets, and tutors can easily overlook
claims for work to which they are entitled. Administrators examine
tutor timesheets and can reject claimed items, which has already
occurred in the Faculty of Business and given rise to tutor grievances.
Since the AU
administration first decided to arbitrarily impose a call centre in all
faculties, the tutors, who are organized into CUPE Local 3911, and
their allies, have campaigned vigorously against both the dictatorial
decision-making and the call centre itself. As everyone knows,
instructors' working conditions
are students' learning conditions. Mandating that a call centre must be
imposed at AU will damage teaching and learning, downgrade services to
students and undermine the quality of the education that the
The ongoing campaign by tutors to have a say and to
oppose the call centre includes informing and mobilizing members,
building alliances, being active in committees, lodging grievances,
taking actions such as participating in pickets and marches, informing
the public through various media and assisting the General
Faculty Council to regain control over its right to decide. Tutors have
established the Protectlearning at AU website (www.protectlearningatau.ca)
against the call system and the related petition now has nearly 1,000
1. McKinnon was previously president of the
University of Saskatchewan where he unsuccessfully vetoed the unanimous
decision of a committee granting tenure to a sociology professor.
No to U.S. and Canadian Troops in Iraq and
of Iraq and Syria!
Corner of Spring Garden Rd. and Barrington St.
Organized by: No Harbour
Stop the U.S.-Led Destruction of Iraq and Syria Now!
October 4 --
Meet at City Hall Square -- Speak Out starts at 11:45 am
Organized by: Windsor
firstname.lastname@example.org of 226-975-2010
The Windsor Peace Coalition calls on all those in
Windsor and Essex County who stand for peace and justice to join us in
saying NO! to the U.S.-led destruction of Iraq and Syria.
The only "debate" about it in Parliament is over how
Canada will be involved in a new US-led war in the region. Canadians
don't want debates on how best to invade, destabilize and interfere in
other countries' affairs; we want to end it.
It is brutally ironic that October 7 marks the 13th
anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that was launched
under bogus pretexts and which Canada is still embroiled in today
Don't let the warmongers in Parliament speak in your
name! Don't let them embroil us in another war of aggression under
bogus pretexts that will only lead to more chaos and violence and
crimes against the people of the world!
We call on all unions, political parties, community
groups and everyone else to speak out NOW! Spread the word far and wide
to co-workers, friends and family and through social and other media.
Communities, Not in War!
Anti-War Picket every Saturday -- 11:00 am-12:00 noon
Corner of Ottawa St. and Walker Rd.
Friday, October 10
-- 4:30 p.m.
109 Street and 88 Avenue
Organized by: Edmonton
War and Racism (ECAWAR)
For information: www.ecawar.org
Rally to Oppose the
Halifax War Conference
Saturday, November 22 -- 1:00 pm
Halifax Peace & Freedom Park (formerly Cornwallis Park) Hollis
& South Sts.
The 6th annual Halifax International Security Forum will
be convened on November 21-23 as a platform for warmongering and empire
building of U.S. imperialism and the NATO bloc, in which the Harper
Government is fully embroiled.
Warmongers from more than 50 countries will join
Canadian Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and some 300 others at the
Washington, DC based Forum "to learn from each other, share opinions,
generate new ideas, and put them into action."
The first 2009 forum was dedicated to popularizing
NATO's then new 'security doctrine.' Ensuing forums have provided a
stage to justify NATO's 'humanitarian intervention' in Libya and
Africa, Syria and Iran. Closely following NATO's so-called "summit" in
September at Newport, in Wales this forum will no doubt further NATO's
dark plans to attack and destroy the Assad government in Damascus under
the guise of destroying ISIL "Islamic terrorism," or for NATO schemes
to use Ukraine as a battering ram and platform on which to foster major
aggression against Russia.
It is unacceptable that Halifax, or any Canadian city,
be used as a venue to plan further crimes against the peace and the
peoples of the world. Bring your banners, bring your music and
statements, and most of all bring your friends to oppose this war
Hands off Syria, Iraq
Hands off Palestine & Ukraine!
War Criminals -- Out of Halifax!
Canada Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO!
We Need an Anti-War Government!
No Harbour for War!