Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Business Smarts for Sustainability
solutions to complex issues
Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack
year I spent much energy and time on the LinkedIn Green discussions, but I
am now 93 years of age and I have become impatient with endless discussion,
digressions and lack of engagement. I am a Canadian who has worked in 4
countries overseas and in 6 of Canada's provinces.
Many gifted people have dreams like mine but lack perspective and avoid
becoming involved. You can do more than you think. It is important to think
across local, regional, provincial and national responsibilities and embrace
What I see as the major problems and solutions are as follows:
1. In both government
and private administration, the rich are getting richer and the
poor poorer and the middle class is becoming poor. This inequity
is everywhere and is especially extreme in larger private
2. Unions are immobilized by a wide spread in salary
expectations between levels in the hierarchy. Annual increments
for experience and education are much too large. Unions keep up
the wide salary spread to keep up with the Jones's. All Unions
are to blame.
I am glad that our Fraser Health CEO resigned recently and is
not asking for severance pay. I hope his successor will be paid
half as much annually, which would be ample. If he is worthy and
capable he will not expect a high salary. I do not blame him and
Vice-Presidents for their high salaries. I blame the system,
which includes the governments and all the unions.
3. Government and business cannot afford to hire enough well
educated, qualified, professionals and paraprofessionals, so
they hire mediocre staff who are unable to produce high-quality
products or teach and graduate high-quality graduates.
4. There are well qualified persons who are unemployed even if
they offer to receive less pay, in highly technical or
professional positions. They are told that the union does not
allow them to be hired for less. As a result they are forced to
1) seek contracts for short terms tasks, 2) try to start a new
business, or 3) become self-employed. As a result, there are an
increasing number of bankruptcies because there are too few
consumers who can afford to buy anything. For example, there are
too many restaurants and they go bankrupt because most people
cannot afford to eat out.
5. Few people have permanent positions. Most are paid by the
hour, have to supply their own tools and transportation, have no
benefits to cover dental care, sick leave or vacation pay and
receive no pension. They are not hired long enough to qualify
for Employment Insurance. That is especially hard if the hourly
pay is less the $30.
6. Because of short staffing those who have work often have to
work overtime without pay, or hurry to get the work done on
time. They are unable to give complete quality care/service or
spend time in evaluation and re-planning. If job descriptions
included tasks for slack hours and seasons, with duties for
evaluation, planning, stock-taking, continuing education and
maintenance, there would be no need for seasonal lay-offs.
7. "Best Practices" designed 20 years ago with input also from
consumers, families and practitioners, have been given lip
service and have yet to be well-implemented.
8. The unnecessary hierarchy of administrators and supervisors
spend much time revising five year planning, but they are not in
touch with the grassroots. What they plan is unrealistic and
extremely wordy, although it sounds profound. Every sentence
contains more than one issue/variable so cannot be put into
operation because each segment has a variety of conflicting
implications. Several layers of hierarchy should be fired or
offered retraining/updating for transfer to direct service.
9. Democratic administration is much better. Staff leadership by
peers should be elected annually for no longer than two years,
by those who are engaged in direct care, service or production.
The professionals and paraprofessions who are giving the
service, are the people who best know the needs and solutions,
not the people at the top.
10. Vice-presidents, administrators and supervisors are highly
overpaid. That money should be used instead to hire qualified
professionals and paraprofessionals for direct care positions.
11. There is a problem of unemployment for new university
graduates and also for 50-year-old experienced people who have
been laid off. Why are they unemployed? All of the above plus:
12. Too few people are hired to carry the expanding work load.
The answer is to hire many more staff (nurses and nurses aides,
home care aides, parks guards, fisheries monitors, scientists to
test foods and drugs, search and rescue staff, alternate energy
personnel, oceanographers, teacher aides to support special
needs students, librarians, child care social workers; support
staff for the mentally ill to find and keep employment; group
and family therapists) and more skilled professionals and
paraprofessionals in every government ministry, business and
corporation. Double the number of home care visits are urgently
needed for the elderly, disabled and mentally ill. Also needed
is more frequent ferry and city bus service. Since 20 minute
service has been provided for one line, usage has increased. One
hour service was hard for people to fit into and wait for, so
was poorly used, making City Hall think they could not afford a
Labour-intensive work is what is needed. Other examples are: 1). Hire a
Conductor for every bus for schools, cities or long distance. Why? for
protection, education and well-being of child and adult passengers and the
driver. He/she could also make sure the windows are clean. 2). Put money
into implementing the use of alternate energy, especially solar and
geothermal energy now, not 20 years hence.
Too much time has been wasted in discussion and moaning about costs, while
90% of the GNP is actually going to make the rich richer. Governments have
allowed the Multinationals to become powerful. In fact, some have taken over
rule across national boundaries. Stop giving in to them and start making our
federal government relevant.
That reminds me of the reformers of another age Charles Dickens and
Wilberforce. Their hard work influenced both sides of the Atlantic.
Truly the poor are still slaves who cannot get ahead although they try hard,
and many have had to give up. My late son was one of them. See point 5
above. Because of his endless struggles I understand. The quality of his
work was above average so he often was the senior leader, but with thefts,
unaffordable vehicle repairs and illness, when he could not get to work the
employer hired someone else. Banks allowed no loans or line of credit. Even
Welfare gave no help since he had a part time job. When rent could not be
paid and he was evicted by absentee landlords. In some countries there are
NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) that have set up a mini-loan program
and small banks, run by the poor. I have seen them work very well. A sewing
machine, some chickens or a computer were bought and paid for faithfully by
the month, as soon as there was some income.
Please consider what you yourself can do or delegate, and send me your
constructive comments. I can no longer put time and energy into sorting out
what should be local, regional, provincial or international.
One reporter told me I was feisty. That stings, but my educated daughter who
lives near Montreal, and is 68 years old, told me to wear that as a badge of
honor. Please friends, don't let me down. Take up the challenge to implement
real justice and caring.
About the Myrtle Macdonald
She is has a M.Sc. Applied (in Nursing
Research and Education), McGill University.
She is a retired
registered nurse living in Chilliwack and now working with the local
chapter of the BC Schizophrenia Association. Myrtle was a street
nurse for many years in places like India and Montreal. She turned
92 in June and is one of the Voice's most popular contributors.
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