Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed in today’s Toronto Star. The paper sent a writer to work at a large industrial bakery in Toronto recently. Her findings should shock us.
Wages are low. The pace is fast. Safety is a hit-and-miss affair in a profitable establishment making bread products for corporate clients. There has been loss of life at the plant where most of the workers are female newcomers. Their employer has received grants, loans and praise from the government. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board gives them rebates. Through their lawyer the owners say that safety is important.
Temps pick their wages up in cash at a payday lending office thirty-five minutes away by bus. Their employer drives a Bentley and lives in a mansion.
On Twitter alone, mentions of this feature have grown steadily all day. This feature deserves a wide audience and is exactly the kind of reportage the Star should be coming up with.
Congress for the New Urbanism has produced a report on the spatial hardship of living in sprawl. Lower income people often find themselves pushed outward to places where transportation drains their resources when it comes to community participation, shopping, access to employment or public services. CNU should be commended for adding greater depth to their general critique of placemaking with this document. Seattle/Tacoma is the focus of the report but it’s general assumptions are applicable beyond there.
Nearly a week was required just to get a basic description together of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005. Assessing Hurricane Harvey won’t be any easier. If Katrina is the template we know that lower income and racialized groups will be bearing the brunt of this, big time.
An item from Thursday’s Washington Post is a good starting point regarding this multi-layered event and its consequences.
We went looking around online for articles about natural disasters and poverty, specifically Hurricane Harvey, earlier this week. A couple of strong feature articles appeared in due course. Yet, we were unexpectedly distracted and found a rather poignant feeling was created by a piece on survivors of a different kind of horror and disaster.
Survivors of the Holocaust have called Toronto home since immediately after World War II. Now, in the final years of their lives, it emerges that many have lived in poverty. Truncated family connections, disrupted life courses, multiple migrations, language difficulties and emotional problems seem to have exerted themselves to the detriment of Holocaust survivors. The Toronto Star took a look at their situation this month in the item below.
Kudos to Vox for showing interest in the idea of a universal basic income. This particular feature covers a Roosevelt Institute report into the impressive leveraging effects that could accompany the implementation of a UBI in the United States. We’re talking trillions.
Housing has been an issue in Peel Region, this blog’s home ground, for decades. Waiting lists are long and there are issues with building condition. Money from the province of Ontario is no doubt going to be welcome. This article raises the question of distribution as Toronto appears to have been allocated much of the anticipated funding, with Peel and other places less firmly mentioned. Peel Living, a social housing provider, is the Greater Toronto Area’s number three housing agency.
Climate change meets sprawl at the synthetic water line along the Gulf of Mexico. Perilous developments these days for the Houston Ship Channel and places like Rockport, Texas, seen in an image above from a Google Maps screen shot. Turning away from the spectacle of Hurricane Harvey’s wet trek into Texas is just about impossible.
A changing world asks questions about the way we build communities and operate their economies. America’s fourth largest city is also a source of the fossil fuels that helped make sprawl and climate change possible. Business as usual this time next year?
A seven times Pulitzer prize winning media outlet with a mandate rooted in Christian values ought to have a less shallow take on young people living in motor vehicles, no?
Or, is that asking too much? We get it, that people can live in something other than a detached house for a stretch, that life is an adventure and a little creativity can maybe go a long way. Odd circumstances are not necessarily a sign harm is being done. But, this piece is, well, read it for yourself and trust your instincts.