Well it’s been while since I’ve taken pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard.)
I have to congratulate you and your band of merry ideologues! You finally made the right decision about Cathedral Grove and abandoned your urge to cut down trees, “pave paradise and put in a parking lot.” You know, in ancient Britain, the Romans used to cut down the magnificent old growth groves because they knew that the druids and others considered them to be power places and they didn’t want that source of energy to continue to be available to the people as it would conflict with the power and authority of Rome. I’m guessing that wasn’t your original impetus…right?
I’m also pleased that you’ve been able to come to reasonable agreements with the unions that represent the public service. It is amazing how the urge to present a “no labour strife” face to the world in 2010 can influence the governmental decisions, overriding even your earlier clarity about how best to reduce BC’s public services and community social programs. Now I’m hoping that this same sense of largesse spills over into the deeply flawed concept of minimum wage, especially the $6.00 per hour fiasco that you imposed on younger and inexperienced workers. I’m also hoping your new found munificence can light the darkness surrounding the deeply disturbing fact that BC still has the highest level of child poverty in Canada. (Statistics Canada 2003 – 23.9%). This means that almost one in four of our children live on or below the poverty line. In fact, Statistics Canada states that: “BC is the only province where child poverty rates were actually higher in 2003 than in 1997 despite increases in child benefits.” From my point of view as a parent and a member of our society, this is appalling and likely the darkest blot on your government’s record. (To be fair, this trend in child poverty has been sharply upward since 1998, so it’s not just your government that must share responsibility for this dubious distinction.) This situation is obviously intimately connected to the bizarre idea that anyone working for minimum wage can actually make enough to offer their children any kind of food and lodging security – it’s also obviously hooked to your reduction of “welfare” payments. This needs to be your next project Gord. To begin with, take a look at the most recent poverty statistics that define the poverty line in urban BC for a single person as $19,962 and for a lone parent, single child family at $24, 851 and for rural BC, a single person as $13,742 and a lone parent family as $17,107.) If the parent of one child was working for minimum wage in BC at the moment, they would have to work almost 60 hours / week just to hit the urban poverty line. Now just for fun, throw in the crazy idea of childcare so the parent can actually work to make ends meet, and you get to see how impossible this must seem. And Gord, I need to stress that your friend, Stephen Harper’s idea of childcare funding (you know the old $1200 (taxable yet!) for every child up to six) just doesn’t cut it. So I’m wondering what you, and your elected band of merry men and women, are considering to develop a “made in BC” solution to these issues of child poverty, minimum wage and under-funded day care. You know Gord, we say “children are our most important resource” but I fail to see how this is reflected in the way in which your government has addressed this issue.
So, even though you haven’t asked, here are my suggestions. Take the considerable resources of your government, and our tax dollars, and commit to eradicate child poverty in BC. Make it a prime focus of your government to ensure food and housing security to all children in BC. Take a lead in the country and increase the minimum wage to $10.00 per hour and throw out the humiliating and degrading $6.00 per hour wage that you brought in as some misguided approach to “helping business.” Take some of the “budget surplus” (otherwise known as the results of over-taxation) and apply it immediately and directly to affordable and effective child care. Reduce provincial taxes for those at the lower end of the spectrum and lobby to have the federal government reduce taxes for those in the lower tax brackets as well. Lobby Stephen Harper’s government to get rid of their $1200 childcare fantasy and replace it with federally funded, quality daycare. Failing that, create a provincial daycare strategy that provides free, quality daycare to parents who make less than the poverty line and make it a sliding scale for those who make more.
Gord, father to father, I urge you to tackle this issue. Without our kids safe, secure and well-cared for, we reveal ourselves to be a society based on wrong-minded ideologies and belief systems.
Until next time,
Dear Gord is a satirical attempt to promote a serious and in-depth re-consideration of how we, our society and our governments make decisions in light of the increasingly enormous influence that corporate lobbying, power, influence and seduction are having on our way of life. It is also a request to ask for thoughtful and serious reflection on what the role of government is and how it is becoming increasingly invasive in our lives and dependent on corporations. I hold that changing the world begins with changing our attitudes and becoming involved first in our own communities.
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