No. 24September 16, 2021
– Anna Di Carlo –
A major issue facing the polity and electorate is that the democratic process is not funded but the cartel parties are. Despite spending limits imposed on the parties and candidates and controls over contributions to political parties so that elections are not seen to be influenced by money and powerful interests, the trough of cartel party state subsidies is bottomless.
The five parties in the House of Commons — the cartel whose activities centre on keeping the people out of power — are entitled to have their election promises costed out by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). This is thanks to a Liberal-initiated law adopted in 2017.
A September 7 PBO tweet informed that it had received 100 costing requests from these parties. It said 75 had been returned to the parties and only 12 were publicly posted by that date. The Tweet explained, “we release these costing estimates on dates selected by the parties that placed the requests.”
In other words, the PBO not only costs the party platforms for free, it is also at the beck and call of the party strategists in their campaign roll-outs. As a result, the public posts increased on September 8 when the Conservatives asked to have 31 of their platform elements released a few hours before the French-language leaders’ debate.
How many employees are paid by the PBO to perform this “free” service for the cartel parties?
The PBO was created in December 2006 under the Harper Conservatives. The claim was that it would address criticisms about “the accuracy and credibility of the federal government’s fiscal projections and forecasting process” and concerns about “successive governments overstating deficits and understating surpluses for political gain.” Thus, its original justification was to shore up the loss of government credibility. The expanded 2017 mandate provided by the Liberals gave the cartel parties access to the PBO’s services, thus by-passing spending limits as well as contributing to the fraud that election promises somehow provide a mandate which permits whatever party forms the government a legitimate claim to represent “the people.”
Far from restoring the credibility of party government, the PBO is another crisis-ridden measure which underscores the corruption inherent in what are called the liberal democratic institutions. It reveals the need for democratic renewal, not the truth about electoral promises!
The PBO, in its annual report, states that it has an annual budget of $7.3 million. Independent candidates (except those who are incumbents) and parties without representation in the House of Commons are not “entitled” to submit costing requests. For the 2019 election, the PBO reports that from June 24 to the October 20 vote, it priced out 216 requests from political parties, of which 115 were made public. It says that the PBO’s “limited resources” were divided equally among all the parties in the House.
It adds that this “notionally translated to approximately 2,600 hours of analyst time for each political party [my emphasis] during the 120-day costing period.” The PBO says it used personnel from Finance Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Statistics Canada who “were able to furnish timely access to data and, in some cases, thoughtful analysis.”
Just imagine if the cartel parties had to pay KPMG or Deloitte for the “notional” 2,600 hours of number crunching, data and “thoughtful analysis” at the typical hourly rate of $300 plus. That is $780,000 per party. The provision of this publicly-funded service to the members of the cartel neither gets reported as an election expense, nor is it treated as a “contribution-in-kind” from the state.
So much for the farce of “spending limits” that are supposed to create a “free and fair” playing field when an election takes place!
This PBO arrangement is one more fact revealing how the cartel parties have become appendages of the state. At a time the credibility of the cartel party system of government is zip zero to nil, the PBO costing exercise is a hopeless effort to shore it up. While it seeks to provide election promises an air of legitimacy, it in fact reveals that the democratic institutions no longer function to serve the people in any way. Because the promises are costed, the people are supposed to think they mean something and that those who make them can be trusted because they can be held to account by the people.
That is a “notional” average of $780,000 of unaccounted funds per party, folks. If that does not point to the need for Democratic Renewal, we do not know what does.
In this election vote Marxist-Leninist and for independents and small parties which advocate Democratic Renewal and for whom Accountability Begins at Home!
– Alexandre Cubaynes –
Besides the hundreds of thousands of people killed as a result of U.S. wars of aggression and occupation in which Canada has also participated, many young people have been killed and wounded and suffer post-traumatic stress as a result of crimes committed in Afghanistan and other countries. They are also victimized by the lack of care upon their return home. Youth for Democratic Renewal (YDR) is involving young people to look at the Canadian government’s continued efforts to mobilize youth for imperialist wars, war preparations and other provocative activities at the national and international level. YDR also opposes the militarization of cultural life and the education system in myriad ways and participates in antiwar activities to Make Canada a Zone for Peace.
YDR delivered a report at a recent Zoom organized by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) on the occasion of the anniversary of 9/11, the “War on Terror” and its repercussions. It addressed the ongoing attempts of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to recruit the youth of Canada and Quebec to join the military through the Cadet Program. From the end of elementary school and in the early stages of high school, children and adolescents and their families are targeted by the army’s recruiting agents, YDR pointed out. It explained:
The Cadet Program is a national, community-based program funded by the Department of National Defence in partnership with three civilian organizations: the Navy League of Canada, the Army Cadet League of Canada and the Air Cadet League of Canada.
The program, one of the oldest in the country, was established in 1862 and includes the following organizations:
– Royal Canadian Sea Cadets
– Royal Canadian Army Cadets
– Royal Canadian Air Cadets
The Cadet Program says it is designed to develop leadership and citizenship skills in youth, promote physical fitness, and foster an interest in the sea, land and air activities of the Canadian Forces. While it does these things, the aim of the armed forces is covered up. It is disinformation to divert attention from Canada’s role in U.S. war preparations and participation in aggressive wars and occupations and other activities harmful to the cause of peace, freedom and democracy, in the name of high ideals, including alleged protection for human rights, democracy, freedom and peace.
The Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF cover the costs of cadets (including uniforms and travel). Cadet Leagues require support from the local community to meet their obligations for accommodation, educational materials and program development, support that is not available from any other source. For this reason, parents and cadets are encouraged to participate in and contribute to fundraisers organized by the local sponsoring component of the Leagues.
Any legal resident of Canada, between the ages of 12 and 18, can join the Cadets.
The Army tells us the program focuses on life skills that can be used by cadets in whatever profession they choose and that cadets are NOT members of the CAF and are not expected to enlist in the military. YDR encourages the youth to draw their own conclusions about the sincerity of this statement because cadets are offered lucrative positions and career opportunities in the military which are made attractive to poor families and youth with a spirit of adventure.
In 2017, there were 53,203 cadets across Canada in 1,113 cadet corps and squadrons:
Total number of Sea Cadets: 7,825
Total number of Army Cadets: 18,376
Total number of Air Cadets: 27,002
Girls were finally allowed to join cadets in 1975 and now represent 31.9 per cent of all cadets in Canada. The participation rate for girls is highest among Sea Cadets, where it is 40.2 per cent. Girls represent 30.8 per cent of Army Cadets and 30.3 per cent of Air Cadets.
As the war in Afghanistan intensified, the Army implemented a massive public relations campaign: Operation Connect. To offset the departure of baby boomers from the military and fill offensive mandates, 10,000 new military personnel per year were sought between 2007 and 2012. This objective has not been lowered. In this context, the then-Commander of the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier, ordered all members of the military to actively participate in the youth recruitment process.
In order to meet these ambitious recruiting goals, it is imperative for the military to expand its recruiting pool. The cadet movement is an integral part of this charm offensive. War creates an unparalleled need for manpower and any means to overcome that shortage are considered acceptable and will be taken.
For poor families, it is obviously an interesting proposition since it is a way for their children to participate in weekly activities at summer camps, weekend camps, with financial allowances and trips across Canada, Europe, etc.
Cadets are offered financially attractive career prospects directly by the army.
According to the military:
“Whether you’re thinking of going to college, university or getting your post-grad degree, the CAF can help you get there with one of our six paid education programs. If you qualify, the CAF will pay 100 per cent of your school fees, including your tuition, books and academic equipment! Meanwhile, you’ll earn a competitive annual salary and an excellent benefits package including health, dental, vision care and much more.
“After you graduate from one of our paid education programs, you will be guaranteed a job in your field with the CAF. Your salary will continue to increase through professional experience and promotions. Each program requires two months of service for every month of paid education. For more information about the service commitment, or about any of our paid education plans, visit our Help Centre or explore our new paid education booklet.”
In an effort to train more French-speaking medical officers, the CAF struck agreements with the four medical faculties that offer medical training in French in Quebec (Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval, Université de Montréal and McGill University — Outaouais campus) regarding a specific contingent (four spots) subsidized by the CAF.
Canada, the warmonger, needs more and more soldiers to meet its NATO and other commitments around the world where foreign militaries have no business interfering in the internal affairs of other countries or enforcing sanctions, which are acts of war, in the name of high ideals and the like.
YDR points out that current generations of young people born after the fall of the Soviet Union and the division of the world into two camps during the Cold War, are not infected with Cold War anti-communist propaganda. They are characterized by their sentiments for peace in the world and protection of the natural and social environment for the benefit of the peoples of the world, not narrow private interests.
“We do not play their game. Every day, our efforts to raise awareness, inform and mobilize seek to ensure that young people will not be mobilized for imperialist war, will not be used as cannon fodder for the hegemonic wars of the oligarchs and their governments or to replace funding for social programs and civilian search and rescue operations and the like.”
YDR presented a list of CAF operations which it pointed out are worthy of investigation. Even though this is the only publicly available list, it demonstrates an obvious urgent need of the armed forces to recruit new soldiers on a broad scale.
About the myriad operations and activities in which CAF is engaged, YDR points out:
“Canada must not participate in the imperialist war preparations of the United States and must also defend its sovereignty in a meaningful way. The U.S. imperialists must not be permitted to exercise command and control over Canada’s airspace, land, water, government and military assets.
“The slogan of the youth is: Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War! Make Canada a Zone for Peace! Our objective is to establish an anti-war government so that Canada will be a factor of peace and not of predatory war. An anti-war government will withdraw Canada from NATO and NORAD and from aggressive military organizations and arrangements, and will end interference in the affairs of sovereign countries. An anti-war government will work to end the displacement of peoples that is the result of wars of aggression and occupation and provide humanitarian aid to refugees and victims of natural disasters.”
YDR calls on the youth to create their own training camps to create and build projects which humanize the natural and social environment and provide them with the skills they require to live productive confident lives in a manner which opens society’s path to progress.
Not a Single Youth for Imperialist War!
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!
– Peggy Morton –
The fight of women and families for modern child care and early childhood education goes back more than fifty years as reflected in the report of the Royal Commission on Women released in 1970, which called for such an endeavour.
Since then, the need has only become greater as one government after another has made sure it has not created a national child care program as a right. The cartel parties treat child care as an electoral football to attract votes while different governments use complicated systems of credits and create budget categories of various sorts which families have to wade through as they fend for themselves, juggle their finances and worry about the safety of their kids.
For the past 28 years, the Liberals have repeated promises at election time to create child care “spaces.” All the cartel parties offer various forms of subsidies or tax rebates as partial payment to families for child care and early childhood education. Meanwhile the situation has gone from bad to worse. With average costs per child in major cities of from $1,100 to $1,700 or more a month, child care is both unaffordable and unattainable for most families.
It is now an accepted fact that affordable child care is a necessity in a modern economy. The pandemic further exposed the failure of the existing system and private business interests are calling for governments to provide more money for child care, saying they have a shortage of workers and want more women back in the workforce. These employers want to buy the capacity to work of more women, but they refuse to pay for the costs of child care needed for women to join or rejoin the labour force. The financial oligarchy expects that all these costs will be borne through user fees and from the public treasury.
Private interests also see child care as a “market” in which they want to expand their reach and control, with profits guaranteed by the state. One monopoly alone openly states it aims to capture an additional 10 per cent of the “market” which would increase the private for-profit share to 46 per cent from the current 36 per cent.
In a discussion organized by Women for Rights and Empowerment on September 8, the clear conclusion was that women are sticking to and fighting for our own demands. We set the standards, we take the measure. Working women have long established what we need to guarantee the right to child care and the rights of the workers who provide child care and early childhood education based on the needs of women and families and of the society itself.
Upholding the right to modern child care and early childhood education requires upholding the rights of the workers who care for and provide early childhood education. These workers are overwhelmingly women (around 96 per cent). While the average wage is just under $20.00/hour across Canada and Quebec many earn less and their jobs are often precarious. They have a right to decent wages, benefits and working conditions and all who are recruited abroad as cheap labour to care for our children must be given full status on arrival in Canada. The super-exploitation of migrant women brought to the country to care for children in private settings must be ended.
Quebec has had a program of $9 a day child care for many years. Sounds great of course, but the reality is that the waiting lists for licensed care are long, the number of spaces available has never come close to meeting the need, and workers are still low-paid. Everything indicates that the same Liberal promise of $10.00 a day child care within five years and 40,000 additional child care workers will never materialize.
With 1.3 million regulated spaces in Canada and Quebec pre-pandemic and 20 per cent of them closed during the pandemic, this leaves a shortfall of 280,000 spaces just to return to pre-pandemic levels. Around 63,000 child-care workers had lost their jobs as of February 2021 compared to the previous year. Promises over which nobody exercises control are murky indeed, the stock in trade of the parties vying for power.
The suspicion is that current promises will be part of neo-liberal programs to pay the rich to extend their reach and control of early childhood education and child care, replacing those programs which have closed with corporate chains subsidized by the public purse while women and families have to continue to fend for themselves for access and cover “their share” of the costs. Workers on night shifts need not apply!
Through the half-century long fight since the 1970 Royal Commission, women and their advocacy organizations have established the standards of what constitutes modern child care and early childhood education based on the needs of women, families and society. This is the measure, not the competing claims and cynical promises of the parties vying for power.
High-quality child care must be available for all who need it, especially the most marginalized, and without “user fees.” Centres must be properly staffed, appropriately located, and provide a modern standard of care. Indigenous peoples must have control over all aspects of the care of their children. There can be no place for private ownership and control, and all pay-the-rich schemes should be ended and recognized as a source of corruption which robs child care of needed resources.
The possibility for innovative new arrangements are endless. Child care, along with other public enterprise and services for all children including sports and culture, nutritious and delicious meals and education must activate the human factor/social consciousness. One thing is certain: we cannot rely on governments which pay the rich to create the modern institutions we require and must fight to create them ourselves just as we must fight to establish an education system which serves the needs of a society which seeks to humanize the social and natural environment.
There are roughly 5 million children under the age of 12 in Canada, and about 1.3 million licensed child care spaces. These include 636,157 full and part day centre spaces for 0-5 year olds, 570,022 centre spaces for school-age children to 12 years and 143,647 regulated family (home) child care spaces for 0-12 year olds.
Statistics Canada reported in June 2021 that in 2019 there were nearly 302,000 child care workers in Canada. One third were immigrants or non-permanent residents. Twenty-five per cent of child care workers were self-employed. From February 2020 to February 2021, around 63,000 or 21 per cent of child care workers in licensed facilities became unemployed. In comparison, total employment in Canada decreased by three per cent over the same period. Women make up 96 per cent of the child care workforce. In addition, many migrant workers employed as caregivers on temporary work permits in their employers’ homes also lost their jobs when their employers began to work from home or left the work force.
In 2019, on average, child care workers were making $19.97 per hour, compared to average hourly earnings of $27.91 for workers in all other occupations. Keep in mind that this average is somewhat misleading, given the fact that the highest paid receive remuneration several times greater than what the lowest paid receive.
Prior to the pandemic, about 28 per cent of families in the work force with children had a child in licensed child care. From February 2020 to February 2021, at least 20 per cent of all licensed day care spaces had closed, and it is uncertain how many will be closed permanently. Many of those which closed were operated as “not for profit” centres by community groups or voluntary operators.
According to an RBC Economics report, nearly 100,000 women aged 20 and older have left the labour force since February 2020, 10 times the number of men who left the labour force. The 2016 Canadian census found that both couples without a post-secondary education and single parents had decreased participation in the paid labour force from 2005 to 2015. The high cost of child care and education as well as housing etc. are considered major factors in this decline.
In 2016, around 36 per cent of regulated spaces were operated on a for-profit basis. Large corporate chains are expanding, with one such company alone having a stated goal to capture 10 per cent of the Canadian child care “market.” As with long-term care for seniors, for-profit child care has been shown to pay poorer wages, have fewer highly trained staff and a higher rate of failure to comply with legislated staff/child ratios.
(With files from Childcarecanada.org, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives)
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