Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Business Smarts for Sustainability

12 simple solutions to complex issues

Submitted by Myrtle Macdonald, Chilliwack


ast 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 them all.

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 corporations.

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 bus service.

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.




Copyright (c) 2009-2014 The Valley Voice