(729) Trek of the interns

OtoApril sees the eightieth anniversary of the start of the On-to-Ottawa Trek.  We’d rather not wait to mention and think about the parallels between what caused the trek and where we are in 2015, they are that powerful.  The trek was a social movement born of the immense difficulties of the Great Depression in western Canada.  A large body of unemployed and disaffected men gathered and moved by rail toward the capital, orchestrated largely by the Communist Party of Canada, in order to protest their treatment at the hands of economic forces.

Just what a dramatic potential challenge to the austerity economics of the Canadian government the trek represented is largely forgotten. The tepid efforts of the federal government to do much for the unemployed beyond the provision of a system of labour camps offering a wage of twenty-cents-a-day provoked anger in many Canadians.  The Tories botched their handling of the trek, which culminated in political scandal and the Regina Riot with two dead and over one hundred arrests.  The next federal election saw the governing Conservatives punished with the loss of ninety-five seats.

Comparing the state of men labouring at twenty-cents-a-day to the interns and low wage workers of right now shouldn’t require much effort, whether you are the government or a working person.  In fact, there would seem to be a continuity.  Instead of railway boxcars we have, perhaps, the Internet drawing the ninety-nine percent together in a common cause; the fight against harmful impersonal economic forces that look set to overwhelm society.

The historian in us was drawn this week to black and white photos of men riding boxcars eastward.  At first they seem like tokens of another world.  Within minutes the same Twitter feed that brought us eighty years into the past delivered these two items.

Unpaid labour fits into Harper’s plan: Mallick

Employers embrace the warm glow of paying their staff enough to live on. The Walmart effect and the example of certain London local councils has led to pay rises for many. But poverty wages elsewhere could be hard to shift

image: On-to-Ottawa trekkers boarding rail cars in Kamloops, BC.  Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons

(726) Time to try something different

6040480574_ea6feb4846_zTime and money in the 905: it’s amazing the stranglehold car commuting puts on us.  In Brampton, a family is trying to work their way around the weighty inevitability of it all.  Coincidentally, the Toronto Star looked at their efforts right at the time of the Toronto International Auto Show, a major fest of cool cars and long payment plans.

Car-less in the 905. One family’s quest for automotive freedom. A Brampton family dares to exercise its options and trade two cars for more time together

Nobody is saying the car economy is exactly over.  Just that change is coming and change is possible…

6 reasons why cargo bikes are the next big thing grist.org

You may not always get a thank you note…

My life as an, um, activist raisethehammer.org

One dad’s Twitter photo essay on his daughter’s perilous walk to school streetsblog.org

See also: (179) Automobituary

image: wyliepoon via Flickr/CC

(725) Falling down Everest

everestOntario has yanked the license of a major private career college with fourteen campuses.  Hard times for students left in the lurch but question marks have been hanging over these organizations for pretty much a generation now.  The fast-growing career institutes parallel the not-for-profit, government-funded community college system yet charge much steeper tuition for their programs.  The parent company of Everest has had some questionable moments in the United States, perhaps that triggered the province to look more closely.  Everest was also responsible for one of the most brutal late-night infomercials in the long and malignant history of that loathsome media form.

Everest College shut down in Ontario, 14 schools closed. Ottawa student says ‘6 months ago, we were advised by our campus president that all is well’

Private-career colleges forcing students to take on more debt with lackluster results and poor job prospects

Canadian Alliance of Student Associations/Alliance Canadienne des associations etudiants

(720) GTA school closures

3109012794_ed170a6fb4_zA school closure list is probably not designed to make anyone happy.  Declining enrollment is hitting schools all over greater Toronto and buildings are physically aging, too.  Closures are inevitable, it would seem, and concern is being raised that low income students are taking the hit disproportionately.  Do we see a resemblance between the closure map and a map of the GTA’s priority neighbourhoods?

Mapping which neighbourhoods could be most affected by TDSB school closures. A look at potential school closures across Toronto reveals that it could affect communities with the greatest need torontoist.com

Majority of schools on TDSB hit list in poorer neighbourhoods. Majority of elementary schools targeted for closure due to falling enrolment are in city’s poorer neighbourhoods, according to a report to be released Monday by the Elementary Teachers of Toronto thestar.com

image: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

(716) Mad money

big splitCanada’s federal Tories have talked up their income splitting plan as a form of relief for families, something to strengthen the country.  Critics are pointing out that the benefits of this three billion dollar giveaway are directed nowhere near those most in need.  The Broadbent Institute has released material that mocks the new tax mechanism as belonging to a long gone era.

Op-ed: Income splitting a tax gift for the affluent

How much money is $3-billion infographic

image: screenshot Broadbent Institute site

(708) Younger workers

payroll insertsWhen the business press comes up with something other than “rah rah markets”, or a profile of the latest over-achiever, we tend to notice.  This short item about younger workers is a nice example.

Millennials’ job plight is more complex than simple unemployment. Even young people with jobs still grapple with low wage growth, job insecurity, high debt loads and more  canadianbusiness.com

For more on this:

Government had warning about foreign workers and youth unemployment.
Five of the top six industries that employ youth are among top half of industries bringing in temporary foreign workers, internal documents show thestar.com

Artists have been practicing under austerity and precarity for centuries.  So…

Hey! Let the kid become an artist

image: vintage payroll inserts Kevin Doolley/Flickr