Friday, May 30, 2014

Opinion

'This is Canada, the Real Canada'

30 million reasons for tax reform

Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack

 

ower taxes for the poor and for people who are underemployed is good. However services for children, single parents, the elderly, the disabled and underemployed youth are very far from adequate.

 

The Conservative belief that low taxes will stimulate industrial development has been a failure.  Here are the realities:

   Industrial growth if any, has not resulted in an increase of full time well paid jobs. Most of the benefit has gone to foreign owners,  owners of shares and stakeholders who are already wealthy. Many factories closed. New factories are largely foreign owned and most of the income is drained away from Canada. 

 

  We are selling our natural resources and letting them be refined in other countries.

 

   By far the most increase in jobs has been of minimum wage part time, seasonal jobs, paid by the hour and without benefits.

 

Young people graduating cannot get quality jobs. More and more they cannot afford to get married, buy a house and start a family. They double up with other youth to live in poor quality housing, or they stay with their parents. Many after living alone, return home to their parents and live with them into their 30s and 40s. 

 

There is much depression and hopelessness because no good jobs are available. 

To overcome these sad realities the government must make real changes, such as:

Team university, college and high school education with apprenticeships and internships, with employers who start hiring them well before they graduate. 

  

Tax the wealthy and do not allow them to hide their wealth. 

 

Require the wealthy to invest their wealth in new industries. Nowhere should their money be allowed to sit unused in active creatively.

 

To release much money to be used fairly, cut down layers of bureaucracy in both government and the private sector. The people at the top may have been skilled at one time in the product or service their company is designed for, but they quickly got out of touch with reality, when they are merely administrators. Supervisors and foremen are not needed. Professionals and paraprofessionals know their work well and they should be elected by their peers to do peer leadership, for not more than two years at a time. Everyone should be eligible to have a turn in office, while continuing to work in their regular tasks.  

 

Increments in salary annually and with further education, are much too high. This steep rise in earnings is very unfair.  It also means that many employers will not hire people with experience and extra education. As a result standards and quality assurance are low. Industries require complex knowledge and skills are less successful if employees are all new and inexperienced. 

 

Quality assurance and standards of service and production need to be developed and agreed upon, by the staff themselves, the clients served, or the articles manufactured. 

 

Provide professional upgrading for the hierarchy of supervisors and administrators, since most desk jobs are not needed and are ineffective.  

 

Hire many more professionals, paraprofessionals and apprentices in every profession,  to give direct services or care. We need more Home Care Nurses and Caregivers so that the elderly and disabled can have two baths a week, instead of only one; the mentally ill are getting into jobs and not giving up; parks are well serviced; reforestation is properly done on stripped mountainsides; marginal land is being improved; alternate energy is becoming affordable for all; Occupational Therapy is provided for all who need it;  poor children are getting music lessons and membership in sports; large classes augmented with enough teachers and teacher aides; et cetera.  

 

Help is needed up front. It is nonsense to offer an income tax refund a year later since most young parents don't even earn enough to pay income tax.

 

An ivory tower is just that, a dead expensive palace based on theories that may have been valid at one time.

 

If there is a surplus income gained each year it should not be given as bonuses to the owners, share holders or vice-presidents, but to the staff. It might also go into expansion, but with care.

 

The billions that banks make annually should be used for lines of credit and over drafts and for programs to stimulate productivity among the poor. Banks are too reluctant to give a loan to an untried person. In some third world countries there is a mini loan program for women and young people to buy a sewing machine, some goats or chickens or a computer. There have been thousands of mini success stories, and impressive skills developed quickly while running their programs. Little self-run village banks have done very well.

 

Businesses should not become huge. Monopolies should be broken up by the government.

 

The same is true of similar companies. Just because one grocery chain or an oil company charges high prices, is not a valid reason for other grocery stores or fuel outlets to do the same. There are many special services and products in Canada that behave as if they are monopolies. This power should be terminated by government. Our food costs have jumped 25% in the past few months. It is shocking. Instead of adding 2%, 25% more is charged for vegetables, fruit and bread, etc.

 

There should be programs to fund unemployed youth, as there were in the 1970s. They used their initiative to design a small project that hired themselves and two or three others. Many of these were unique, ingenious and successful. After about two or three years they had grown and no longer needed a government grant. My son-in-law started that way employing mentally disabled people and school dropouts. He became highly successful in rehabilitation services and the manufacturing field.

 

The next to impossible paying off of student loans on a minimum wage has broken the initiative of many thousands. Some countries provide free tuition for university and college students. These countries are no more able to do so than Canada is. They just have better values. Yes our Canadian values have degenerated.

 

It is time also to provide health insurance for dental care, pharmacy and foot care. With the majority of people on part time jobs, they never work long enough in one place, to receive coverage through their employer. They also cannot afford Blue Cross. We Canadians pride ourselves in our Medicare and look down on our southern neighbors for not understanding. We are just as foolish they are about the real cost of having good teeth, feet and medications. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians cannot afford to pay for their prescriptions, so go without. We can learn from Scandinavian and other European countries.

 

It is time to bring in legislation to stabilize the construction industries. My son died a year ago at 57 years of age, because he was one of these underemployed but highly skilled construction workers. Employers liked him and his high standards of work, so often he earned a bit more than his partner(s). He often was asked to train a new worker, but without being paid to do so. Like others in construction, he had to provide his own tools and  transportation, and banks never would allow him a line of credit or overdraft. Health insurance, housing and pension, holiday pay or overtime benefits were never provided. Often tools were stolen, tires were slashed or his vehicle broken down. There was no funding for repairs, so someone else got hired in his place. This is the long term repetitive story of his very sad life.

 

Legislation needs to be brought in to provide stability of housing for the underemployed. Most landlords live in another city. The manager has no right to allow late payment of rent, so if a tenant has missed time at work because of illness, or has a huge bill to pay for car repairs, he is quickly evicted. There is no mercy. This is Canada,  the real Canada. If you work part time it is impossible to get money from Social Welfare, not even in a dire emergency. The food bank often is over a mile away and if you are ill, how will you get there?

 

Housing rental prices should be controlled.  There is no affordable housing for people working at minimum wage. Even if their pay is $20 per hour they cannot afford to pay for an apartment. What is the answer? There are several answers I can think of.  Every apartment building should have two or more subsidized apartments. Government should not be stingy about helping the poor, but assistance should be provided anonymously. No one should know who is subsidized. It could perhaps be linked with income tax returns, on an accurate needs basis.

 

Another solution could be that absentee ownership of apartment blocks should not be allowed. The landlord should be a real live local person. 

 

The quality of construction should also be more carefully monitored. Buildings deteriorate too soon because of low quality materials. 

 

They also deteriorate because the landlord is far away and maintenance is neglected.

I am very displeased with what our government says they will do. They seem to lack real plans. The slogan "to lower taxes" is vague and meaningless.

 

Meanwhile the richer are getting richer, the middle class are becoming poor and the 30-year-olds are working part time, if at all.

 

Please share this letter with the Prime Minister and all the Ministers and Deputy Ministers.  They all need to smarten up. Forgive the rude expression, but it is the truth.

 

Please don't waste the valuable insights carefully assembled in this letter.

 

 

Editor's note: Myrtle turns 93 June 5th and we wish her the best birthday ever!

 

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 turns 93 in June and is one of the Voice's most popular contributors.

 

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