Well, it’s a wonder anyone can see Canada as a prosperous, progressive nation after findings like this come to light. It’s a wonder anyone can say work pays and will protect us from poverty here.
This kinda money and you could take a cab to work every day and eat at Red Lobster any time you wanted. What comes after this, Canada?
Either way, Happy Monday.
image: angela N. via Flickr/CC
Four pages packed with bad things about the decline in the value of work to working people in Canada. What you’ve been hearing about crap, part time gigs with low wages, it’s all true. Welcome to the new Canada.
In focus. On the quality of employment in Canada
Image: Ellen Forsyth via Flickr/CC
Subdivided. City Building In An Age of Hyper-Diversity
Jay Pitter & John Lorinc, editors
2016. Coach House Books, Toronto
279 pages. $20.95 CAN
This collection of essays was much tougher reading than we expected. After nearly six years blogging about social difficulty in the suburbs we don’t expect to be unnerved by our topic. Subdivided unnerved us.
The good old days of multiculturalism, in which eastern and southern Europeans (and maybe a few other groups), found Toronto adjusting to, and eventually welcoming, them are long gone. In its place, we now see an ever bigger and richer Toronto home to newcomers in a living arrangement of hyper-diversity. This infinitely more complex Toronto is by turns depressing, ugly, unjust and unequal despite recurrent commentary about its peacefulness, high socio-cultural potential and general awesomeness.
Subdivided delivers unto us many a less-than-comfortable truth. There’s too many people here in isolated lives centred on a combination of shit jobs and lacklustre housing. Reading Subdivided made us feel like Toronto’s diversity is the stuff of an Adam Curtis documentary, another nightmarish expression of the global economic machine and its operating system, neoliberalism.
That toughness of presentation is what makes this collection of essays so amazing, so real. It’s hard to think of any other such wellspring of direct, sustained observation of what it is really like to live here. A chapter on Brampton, for example, brings forth a wave of nausea faster than a jar of expired mayonnaise. ‘Browntown’ is next door to suburban-poverty.com’s backyard, we can attest to the truth of what is said here about Brampton. Same for another entry on Mississauga, which is literally our backyard. You’d almost wonder why Canada bothers attracting new residents to its Sprawlvilles. Except perhaps as a cycnical ploy to increase domestic markets and the tax base and to fulfill some corporate/ideological role in the global economy.
What to do? Good transit, a strong social safety net, higher wages, police reform, and affordable housing would help us toward a healthy, cross-connected society according to the essays in Subdivided. None of these things will be achieved quickly or cheaply, though.
We better get busy before something really awful comes of the present lame and indifferent regime of city building in greater Toronto. Stress is not good for the indivdual or the community. Stress and reaction brought us Rob Ford, the scale model mock up of Donald Trump. Who knows what the stresses of race and class we are leaving in place will inflict on us? We aren’t Milwaukee yet but how much longer will we sleepwalk into this?
We suggest future editions of Subdivided include a stamped, pre-addressed thank you card readers can mail to the one percent.
Buy Subdivided for your unnerved urban affairs shelf.
Nobody seems to be an expert when it comes to calling the relative burstiness of Canada’s housing bubble. And what a bubble it’s been! Pretty much all of us can agree, however, that the bubble has a harmful side now. The cost of acquiring and carrying real estate departed the company of Canadian wages a generation ago in Toronto and Vancouver. Rents have been forced up by the bubble, reinforcing the generalized prejudice of not owning what you live in. Overseas investors are amping up prices and eating supply. What is to be done? Some of us remain partial to real estate as a money machine and others are fed up with a machine that seems to exclude them.
image: Bill Ward via Flickr/CC