One of the truly shit experiences available in a deindustrializing, post-employment economy is to be stuck working for a temp agency. Usually this means a big helping of everything bad: odd shifts allocated unreliably, low wages, and a certain amount of abuse it would seem. Temp work has so little to recommend it and yet it has come to be relied upon by the largest and smallest of firms.
Temp workers are treated as disposable elements. Such workers are laid off constantly and shuffled around with little concern from the businesses using them. They encounter second class status and are often enticed into poor situations with fake promises of becoming permanent at some indeterminate time. Being a temp has a socially stinky side as well. Temps are seen as lower status persons in lunch rooms, when it comes to the issuance of uniforms or safety equipment and in a host of little ways that add to the financial precariousness and stress.
We know of a temp who worked in a large motion picture film printing plant in Etobicoke for two years and experienced first hand all the frustrations of temping. For example, the company failed to take a report of a foot injury that put him off work for a week and the accident statistic was assigned to the temp agency, not the film plant which was part of a billion dollar global firm. Permanent employees in the plant which turned out feature films for shipment all over North America, had their hearing monitored over time in case noisy equipment was doing damage. Not the temps, many of whom worked there for years.
A lot of temp agencies are skeevy, fly-by-night operations that manipulate vulnerable workers who are younger, near the end of their working lives, in social difficulty, have weak language skills, or do not know Canadian law or lack in-demand job skills.
It is with some comfort then that suburban-poverty.com read of legislative reform that should put some more responsibility onto the shoulders of these temp agencies.
Front page of the Toronto Star: good news!
New Ontario law would protect ‘precarious’ workers. Ontario is expected to introduce new labour laws to protect “precarious” workers and unpaid interns from wage theft and other workplace abuses
A plethora of Chevron logos on their web site makes us a little nervous for The Atlantic these days but even so we can’t usually get enough of their content when trying to figure out the big picture in North America. Today, for example, a thoughtful personal essay on Rob Ford deconstructs a simplified urban-vs-suburban explanation by pointing out non-white, suburban support for the Big Man. It tends to be assumed that well off but greedy, resentful, and anxiety-prone suburbanites are Ford’s political rocket fuel but it looks like racialized suburban poverty and a kind of newcomer conservatism are a major energy source as well.
Rob Ford and the Two Torontos. Don’t believe what you’re hearing about the scandal-plagued mayor’s supporters. The truth is much more complicated
image: Lightning strikes wealthy, liberal cesspool called Downtown via Wikimedia Commons.
Governments, universities, think tanks, large corporations and political parties generate studies and position papers as a matter of course. Sometimes they get a bit of a bounce around in the media though most remain fairly obscure. Suburban-poverty.com read recent leakage from a federal Tory document advocating American-style labour laws with concern.
Our home province, Ontario, is heading into a provincial election and so the grinding and mashing of a worn set of gears called neoconservatism is again to be heard far and wide. Progressive Conservative leader Hudak has aligned himself with his federal forefathers and their take on right-to-work legislation, minimum wages, worker safety, child labour all in the name of jobs. A claw back is what you call this. A fast ticket to the 50s people: and that’d be the eighteen fifties.
Hardly a surprise. Hopefully nobody will fall for this nonsense. Some splatter from Mayor Ford’s antics should help the voters make their minds up. Mayor Ford promised a right wing agenda and certainly delivers on the innate antipathy usually contained in them. Hudak’s interest in abusive, race-to-the-bottom American labour law grows from the same family tree that Ford’s rage and anti-social behaviour does. For both, the words of their Great Grandma Margaret Thatcher, “there’s no such thing as society”, clearly still represent the wisdom of the ages.
‘Right-to-work’ U.S. states a model for Ontario, say Tories. The Tories are launching a jobs tour to insist Ontario can be a manufacturing powerhouse again. But critics say it’s a road map to lower wages
The middle class could soon be up for sale in Ontario
So how do we integrate the blustery politics and crazed gyrations of the Rob Ford era with lived reality and genuine human aspiration on the ground in Toronto? The amalgamated mega-city of Toronto is, we know, home to suburban poverty. Has the nation’s largest city become a suburban project with an urban core turned politically into a fringe element? What is the role of income in determining who supports Ford? Was Ford’s ascent to power really boosted by a suburban politics of resentment that will never reconcile with the non-suburban other? If this is true does it reflect what the people want and what are the chances for a more progressive future politically and economically with a little less of the unhappiness this bipolarity seems to guarantee. It’s looking messy and interesting and messy so if suburban-poverty.com’s readers are getting frustrated and turned off, well, we don’t blame you one bit. A possible filter for some of the bullshit exists online in academic Zack Taylor’s efforts to match voting patterns and income in the 2010 election won by Ford on his simplified neoconservative platform of stopping the abusive, out of control gravy train he alleged Toronto had become. Make a coffee and sit down to Metapolis.
In search of a winning progressive coalition – bullet point summary
…and as a more detailed .pdf file with maps
image: Roman coin depicting a citizen voting – via Wikimedia Commons
And so even suburban-poverty.com finds itself disturbed by the churning wake and swathes of debris from the good ship Rob Ford’s high seas distress. He and his “nation” are not fully under the waves yet but the scrambling and thrashing has begun.
The search for explanations as to why an otherwise fairly rational and comparatively happy place like Toronto is producing this kind of political phenomenon at times rests on a belated appreciation of a suburban-urban divide. Not to say this isn’t interesting and important and very real but we found the perspective in the Toronto Life opinion piece linked below adds something important.
A bit of good, old-fashioned class interpretation can enlighten just about anything. We hate to have to break this to you all but some in Toronto have and some have not and power has always been about deciding who gets what. Not to say that personality and relationships have nothing to do with this shipwreck.
Adult situations are complex and the nature of life is tragic. Tragic decisions are made every minute of the day and we can be sorry for the outcomes of such decisions. Rob was fronting for the rich and the super elites and it got to be too much for him. Substances and a very contemporary moral relativism pushed him along to where he is today and brings the voters, workers, taxpayers and the poor along for the ride. What a waste to embarrass Toronto and the rest of Canada like this.
Philip Preville: Ford Nation is not who you think it is. Crackgate revealed that the city’s crippling political divide isn’t between downtowners and suburbanites—it’s between the rich and the poor, and it’s only getting worse
See also: (216) NEWS FLASH: Ford gored & Toronto floored
HungerCount 2013 has been released and it shows a dip in the overall number of people using food banks in Canada. That’s a good thing. But even a quick scan of the report is tough reading. Food banks exist in every part of the country and are patronized by some 882,000 people. That’s enough to see hunger as a product of the system and not the result of defective luck or character, isn’t it? In some provinces over forty percent of the persons served by food banks are children. This is where we are, Canada.
HungerCount 2013 is produced by Food Banks Canada, an umbrella organization that analyzes food need and makes policy recommendations. In the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area the international spectacle of Rob Ford has kept this report from a place in the media that you might expect it to have in a serious society run by grown ups. That’s a bad thing.
Hopefully the report and its recommendations will get proper attention soon. There’s even an iPod app for the HungerCount.
Almost as sickening as the moral relativism of the mayor of Toronto in a time of social difficulty as exemplified in this year’s HungerCount is the nation’s Prime Minister. Fresh from a party conference in snowy Calgary is Stephen Harper. The important issue there is how soon Canada will adopt right wing, American-style labour law.
40-page .pdf file from Food Banks Canada
For previous HungerCounts back to 2008 visit this page
Say No To Hunger
A good scare comes less via Halloween this week than a document taken wing from an Ottawa U think tank about the harsh financial realities of suburbanization. Try this on for Halifax from the report: the Regional Municipality could “save $700 million to 2031 by increasing the number of new dwellings sited in the urban core” instead of going for peripheral growth. HRM has barely a half million people making that a very significant investment, one best not taken lightly.
Really, the gig is up for mass suburbanization wherever it happens to be found in Canada, and however good it was while it lasted. The public cost/revenue picture for sprawl as we have known it since the 1970s is now completely unsustainable and yet tens of millions of people are expected to be housed in Canada over the coming decades. A real world financial proposition of capital cost for roads, sewerage, water, policing, fire stations, roads, cultural affairs and social services and transit will soon have a direct impact on life in Canada. This report challenges the centre of the economic and political regime we have been living under for decades now.
Here is the report: Suburban Sprawl: Identifying Hidden Costs, Hidden Innovations
44-page .pdf file
This op-ed piece from the Globe checks the realities of the “drive until you qualify” proposition for those costing out suburbia: The true costs of suburban sprawl
Architecture and urban affairs dude Christopher Hume attached the report to suburban-poverty.com’s home turf of Peel Region recently. His conclusions were stark, to say the least. Hume described Brampton and its big dollar mayor as heading towards a cliff, the same one Mississauga drove over a couple of years ago.
iQor is a very large American corporate collection agency that arrived in Canada a few years ago through the purchase of Equifax. With customers galore they even came to provide collection services for the Ontario Works office here in Peel Region. Eagerly self-empowered with lots of money, a militaristic-sounding name and a brace of high tech data analysis and telecom tools and global intentions it looks like they also began overstepping things. Most recently earning themselves a $500,000 fine from the CRTC for bothering people. All that capital and technology and yet a deficit of basic competence in its application.
Collection agency fined $500K over automated phone calls: industry minister says it may be time for Ottawa to look into consumer complaints
Collection agency fined $500K video
image: via Wikimedia Commons
Slim social services, transportation issues, and costly housing for those in social difficulty nag at the high self-esteem and prosperity of a large suburban area immediately north of Toronto.
York region tackles youth homelessness Toronto Star
image: Oak Ridges Plaza by raysonho via Wikimedia Commons