Posts Tagged Liberal

CUPE Blasts Help For Autistic Kids And Puts Its Members First

(CUPE Says Money Should Go To Its Members Rather Than Autistic Kids)

CUPE who is the union representing educational assistants (EA) in the province of Ontario released a press release this week in which it has lambasted the provincial government for piloting a project which will allow autistic kids to receive privately purchased therapy to be administered in public schools. CUPE says by doing this would open the door to privately funded education, and that its current members are not qualified to handle special needs students despite millions that have been negotiated in front line workers with the province over recent years.

As part of its revamp of Autism services in Ontario the provincial government is expected in the next few months to allow families a choice to purchase Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for kids with autism privately or go through publicly funded Centre’s. This move by the province to offer a private option paid for by the province is expected to reduce wait times for this needed therapy.

The move by the province to pilot a project to allow privately purchased workers to administer this therapy in school would be a necessity to the success of students receiving that therapy at the choice of the families, and lighten the load on parents who often have had to drive autistic kids to and from these appointments, often in separate cities in which the these children are being educated in and miss days at work. CUPE on the other hand thinks that the province should shell out that money to retrain EA’s across the province, rather than give parents a choice or say in their child’s therapy:

“We represent 13,000 Educational Assistants who work hard, with other Board employees and parents, to develop and deliver individualized educational programs to assist students with multiple challenges, including those with autism,” said Terri Preston, Chair of the CUPE Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee. “They are deeply concerned by any initiative that opens the door to the privatization of those critical services in our schools.”

Parents of children with special needs, including children with autism, have every right to expect they can walk into their local school and receive the services their children need, fully funded and publicly provided,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “They shouldn’t have to worry about securing outside funding, finding a private provider or paying out of their own pockets, to ensure their children succeed at school. That is the responsibility of the government and instead of just abdicating their role to private operators, they should be properly funding and providing all the necessary services students with special needs require.”

The ABA therapy these kids will be receiving will most likely be publicly funded as part of the new Ontario Autism Program. Terri Preston, Chair of the CUPE Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee essentially stated in this bizarre press release from CUPE that the union negotiated $52 million from the province for front line workers recently, who by admission of this press release are not qualified enough to be working with special needs kids in our public schools, and the government must pay for unqualified staff to get degrees in behavior analysis (which is a two year full time university course at Brock University):

“As education workers, we know students with special needs need more front-line staff support,” said Preston. “It’s why, in contract extension talks with the government, we negotiated $52 million over two years to increase front-line staff working with students with special needs. Even with those hard-won investments, more support is needed for students with a variety of complex needs and that’s why the government needs to finally conduct a long-overdue funding formula review.”

The press release gets a hell of a lot weirder as you read on. In its closing remarks after blasting the government for allowing parents a choice and complaining that its membership is under-qualified to support kids with special needs ended the press release with this statement:

“Many of us already have ABA training or incorporate ABA principles into our work with students,” said Laura Walton, an Educational Assistant who is also Vice-Chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee. “Educational Assistants are constantly upgrading their skills and knowledge, often at their own expense, so any funded training opportunities are always welcome. We have been asking the government to ensure Educational Assistants, and all board employees who work to address the complex needs of our students, have access to an array of professional development opportunities, including ABA training.”

Wouldn’t working with privately funded ABA therapists which I would think would be the goal of the government here, be more beneficial to both their own members and the students they serve? Wouldn’t that give EA’s workplace experience in ABA working alongside these therapists? Where’s the outrage from CUPE that university or college programs educating future EA’s are not required under law to ensure an extensive ABA training? After a $52 million investment from the province in front line EA workers to support special needs, why is the province agreeing with CUPE to hire unqualified staff in a $52 million negotiation in the first place? In our view it should not be the position of the province or tax payer to front the bill for unqualified staff. Simply hiring qualified staff would be a better more economical option, or better yet CUPE can pick up that tab.

The problem that exists right now in the education system is one where there is money in the system, but it’s not getting to the students that need it. There’s no accountability in the education system right now. From this press release, it sounds that CUPE wants to be showered again with government coffers, while the rights of special needs kids in the system are yet again pitted against the needs of education sector unions. For its part, in its press release CUPE blames successive Liberal and PC governments for the lack of supports in our school system, yet falls short on criticizing the NDP who have yet to come out with a platform recognizing the lack of accountability the public education system is currently facing right now – the lives that have already been lost across the province to due education sector unions ignoring student mental health issues  – the full time battles parents of kids of all levels have had to deal with as a result of these unions – yet we continue to shove money down the throats of this unaccountable system in hopes it gets better. $52 million CUPE negotiated went towards unqualified staff. When will the rights of all students in Ontario be put before union demands, and when will we have an accountable public education system?

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New Poll Suggests Ontario Is Heading For A Change Of Government

A new poll conducted by Ipsos found that 76% of Ontarians want a new party in the Ontario Legislature in 2018.  The Ontario Liberals have long ignored calls from people across the province and from members of their own party that current leader and premier Kathleen Wynne needs to be ousted and people want change.  Are the Liberals now poised to recreate the mistakes of the Democrats south of the border with Hillary Clinton in ignoring calls for a change election?

Last week TVO’s Agenda aired a one on one interview with Wynne.  Steve Paikin didn’t mince words, and put Wynne on the hot seat from everything from Hydro, to Green Energy, to her unpopularity across the province, and calls for her to step down.  Wynne’s responses seemed rather tone deaf to a lot of the concerns of most people in Ontario, and she didn’t seem rather confident in her prospects post 2018.

Wynne over the past few months has been focusing the party more towards the left.  She has been trying to move people over from the NDP over to the Liberals in policies such as free tuition, and a $15/hour minimum wage hike, however that may be of more benefit to the NDP come election time as Wynne’s personal popularity has plumbed and people are looking for change.

Ipsos currently puts the PC’s upfront at 39%, Liberals at 32%, and the NDP at 22%.  The PC’s out of all the major parties have risen quite a bit of money for 2018.  The big problem is with its leadership.  No one truly knows what Patrick Brown stands for on policy other than opposing Wynne on everything she does.  He often takes up popular movements, only after the popular movement has died down. He’s not a family man, and no kids.  The party has also been plagued with infighting in nomination races, with accusations of corruption and ballot stuffing. We’ve been following Brown on a number of policy fronts over the past year, and we think that the more people get to know him, the more people will discover that Brown’s PCs will be too much of a risk to take since by all accounts the party and the leadership looks unstable under his rein.

The biggest beneficiary to a change election could be the Ontario NDP.  The only people that have their arms up over Wynne’s leftist moves in policy are the traditional PC hardcore base.  Liberal and NDP voters are likely to vote NDP next election due to this being a change election.  It would be a very hard sell to see Liberal voters voting for Brown in next election. The move to the left by Wynne in policy will likely gravitate Liberal voters who are upset with Wynne over to the NDP.

Another big factor is an aging demographic, and health care.  Boomers who have been supporters of the PC’s in the past do remember the Harris cuts to health care.  With the PC’s vaguely calling for a value for money audit on all government ministries, this screams of cuts to services.  Who determines the value for each ministry, and how will that be decided is quite a mystery at present.  Millennials are now the main demographic in Ontario and are more than likely to vote on the left.  A low voter turn out usually benefits conservatives, which is unlikely in a change election.

Traditionally when Liberals are in power federally, Ontario goes PC.  The problem is that tradition in politics globally and also across the country is no longer exists.  Free tuition, and drug plans are to be a big hit with the Millennials in which both the NDP and Liberals have adopted in policy.  With Ipsos polling NDP Leader Andrea Horwath as the most supported for premier in 2018 at 42%, one can probably expect Ontario will be Orange in June of 2018.

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Ontario Minimum Wage Increase A Good Idea

(Businesses Across Ontario Are Being Too Penny Wise With The Proposed Wage Increase)

Scary clowns are a big hit these days at the box office, and while the people of Ontario get acquainted with a clown called Pennywise from the latest version of Stephen Kings IT, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario [FAO] is warning tax payers and job seekers of another scary metamorph; a proposed minimum wage hike of $15/hour.  This increase is set to be fully implemented by 2019 and came under fire yesterday in a report from the FAO.  The FAO stated that it will cost the Ontario economy 50,000 jobs if it goes ahead with this wage hike.

It’s not a surprise that businesses – whom over the past several years have enjoyed a tremendous amount of federal tax breaks – are lining up to oppose this policy and demonizing it as being economically unsound.  Ontario Progressive Conservatives leader Patrick Brown had something to say about it as well, however he brushed off the wage increase a distraction in a bizarre rant on twitter, and Brown isn’t clear on his stance on the policy at all and what he would do differently if he became Premier:

“Wynne is putting potentially 1000s of jobs at risk so she can try and distract from the fact she takes the stand at trial tomorrow #onpoli pic.twitter.com/IUVuQC1VIE

— Patrick Brown (@brownbarrie) September 12, 2017

Brown seems very comfortable in the opposition benches. Offside of the very off tone Ontario PC response, there seems to be a lot of red balloons around the economic storm drains on this policy and it isn’t even Halloween yet.

Since the market crash of 2008, we’ve been shifting from traditional conservative economic ideology (which failed miserably) towards one of managing the economy on several different levels in a bi-partisan way.  Corporate tax cuts have not produced substantial jobs in Canada, in fact the opposite has happened. A study by the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives in 2011 found the biggest employers were sitting on the money they saved from these cuts:

“From 2005 to 2010, the number of employed Canadians rose 6% while the number of jobs created by the companies in the study grew by only 5%. In essence, the largest beneficiaries of corporate tax cuts are dragging down Canadian employment growth.”

In 2013, federal conservatives were warned by then Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney that Canadian companies were sitting on vast sums of cash they have saved through tax cuts, and bail outs rather than creating jobs to bolster the economy.  As I remember it Carney stated this several times throughout his time at the Bank of Canada. While company CEO bonuses grew, so did the economic divide in Canada and in Ontario as well as a result of businesses not investing what they should in the local, regional, and federal economies.  The economy has changed post 2008 not just in Canada but globally, and managing this economy has changed as well.

If the cost of living is high throughout the country and the province, than a minimum wage increase to ensure people have the means to survive should be something we all should be embracing patriotically.  Businesses will adjust.  Yes there may be some job losses (in my opinion way less the FAO has reported will happen) in the short term by companies who are not willing to spend profit margins on their employees, however just as those jobs are lost, they will be offset by more spending power by the general worker.  As the minimum wage increases, so should increases to everyone’s wage as the economy grows as a result of more spending power.  At least that would be the working economic theory on this policy. The wage increase is cycled through the economy.  Employees who make more, become more productive and contribute more to the economy on whole.  With many people in Ontario living paycheque to paycheque, and the fact that over the past several years businesses have sat on cash from tax cuts, they can suck it up and do their part.

The Ontario NDP has been calling for this wage hike for some time.   This ideology was also adapted by conservatives who bailed out auto sectors, and bailed out the economy through “stimulus” after the disastrous effects of traditional conservative ideology of deregulation and corporate tax cuts took hold in 2008.  Change is difficult, but necessary post 2008 economics. Greed is no longer good economics, nor is it socially acceptable post 2008.

JK

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Are Ontario’s Service Providers Siphoning Money From Autistic Kids?

I’ve had several parents come up too me with their stories since last week’s post on my son’s situation.  There seems to be a large number of fights and battles with regional service providers like Kinark across the province that manage services for kids with autism too get kids the services they need.  It’s important to note that these service providers fall within direct oversight of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.  The Ontario Autism Coalition has been fielding complaints from parents regarding these service providers as well.  Too simply state that my son’s situation is an isolated incident would be to undermine the enormity and severity of some of the problems parents are reporting to advocates regarding regional service providers across the province. Kinark has been named one of the top three worst service providers in the province for parental complaints by the Ontario Autism Coalition.

In 2006, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s spouse Jane Rounthwaite worked as a consultant with Kinark.  According to ontariosunshinelist.com there was a spike in 2004 where the total number of employees at Kinark that were paid $100,000 or more reached 29.  Prior to when the Ontario Liberals took office in 2003, Kinark only had about 1 – 2 people making over $100,000.  When Rounthwaite was hired by Kinark in 2006, the total number of people employed by Kinark making over $100,000 was around 8.  In 2015 that number has ballooned to 22 people working for Kinark that are making over $100,000 (click image to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

There was quite obviously a problem with this organizations management back in 2004 with ballooning overhead costs, in which I would think was the primary reason why the organization was looking for a contractor to “fix” the issue.  Somehow, Rounthwaite got the contract.  It’s still not clear why Rounthwaite was given that contract.  Wynne was the education minister at the time, and Rounthwaite was a principle stakeholder in the contracting company hired by Kinark.  To date the public isn’t clear on what Rounthwaite’s involvement with Kinark was.  Questions journalists had while investigating Rounthwaite’s involvement with Kinark have been repeatedly blocked by the government, and the issue hasn’t seen the light of day with the ethics commissioner for proper follow up either.

What we are seeing from an advocacy point of view;  a steady increase in people employed by Kinark making over $100,000 since Rounthwaite’s involvement, with a lot of complaints coming in regarding the treatment of eligible families for services in which Kinark oversees (full disclosure my family is one of those).

What’s worse right now is that there seems to be a lack of enforcement by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services regarding their own “guidelines”.  There seems to be a lack of legislation to hold these regional service providers in line with those guidelines and/or enforcement of these guidelines to ensure that families get the services they need.  The most recent issue that has come up, is that those parents who received money for their kids for transitional services while they wait for the new autism program to be implemented are being misled by these service providers in thinking the best option for services is to spend that money with them, instead of properly informing parents of their choices and rights to seek treatment outside of these providers as per ministerial guidelines.

There is a huge push right now in the autism movement to provide all families with immediate funding for services to get the kids what they need now while they wait for the new program too roll out.  By providing every family affected now with money to purchase services while they wait, it would be cheaper for the province in the long run, but also put the parents in charge of their kid’s therapies.  However there is also a problem that has crept up with that as well outside of many not receiving the money.

The province during its announcement to give families the support they need, upped the amount of money they were giving families for DFO to $10,000 until the new autism program would be in place.  It seems like kids over the age of 5 are not receiving the full amount (a proposal was sent to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to fix the issue yesterday), and some due to administrative issues with regional providers are ineligible to receive anything. Allegations are also surfacing by those that have received the funding that the government is tying their hands on what type of support and intensity of therapy they can receive with this money.

So as we go further down the rabbit hole, there seems to be an upset in the balance of accountability and enforcement where these regional service providers are not providing the services to the kids that need them, misinforming parents, ignoring ministerial guidelines, and what looks to be quite the issue with overhead costs of these non-profit service providers, along with government tying the hands of parents who are looking outside these providers for services with money provided to these families by government until the new program rolls out.

Pile on the fact only a select few got this money to begin with in which that process for eligibility is in the hands of these providers; it becomes a sick and cruel joke on all families and kids affected by this “transition” that need support NOW! All this at the expense of Wynne trying to save a few bucks, while these regional providers run insane overhead with no accountability or enforcement under the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

The plot thickens. Stay tuned…

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Protection Our Constitutional Rights Should Be A Priority For Trudeau As A Result Of Trump Nomination

o-BILL-C51

(Anti-terror bill C51 just took on a whole new face with Donald Trump’s nomination for US President)

 

Has anyone noticed that one of the major policy promises the Trudeau Liberals were elected on seems to be missing in action?  When Justin Trudeau took office it seems like the mad rush to legalize pot was more of a priority than our charter rights.  Just this spring the government announced plans to legalize pot by spring of 2017, yet the government hasn’t committed “yet” to looking at our draconian anti-terror legislation which was a major issue due to the Liberals position of support for the legislation prior to our election last year.

During the 2015 federal election campaign Trudeau and fellow Liberals were blasted over their support for the Conservative lead anti-terror bill.  Trudeau committed to voters that if elected he would overhaul the bill, rather than scrap it, too ensure it was compliant with Canadian Charter rights.  Around the same time the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression launched a charter challenge on the bill.

It very well could be that the government is waiting on the decision of the charter challenge (which can take years if not decades) before Canadians can expect any meaningful changes to the bill.  The lack of response from the Liberal government to protect Canadians constitutional rights should be way more of concern now especially with Donald Trump being nominated the republican nominee for president state side.  Most of our Internet traffic routes through the US than back to Canada, and the US is no stranger to its mass collection of data that crosses its boarders.

Back a few years ago the collection of data to root out possible terror attacks was front and center of a global debate on personal privacy online.  Heading up that debate was a former National Security Agency (NSA) systems administrator Edward Snowden who leaked several documents to journalists detailing the mass invasion of privacy in the US and around the globe. Snowden came out strong on ones right to privacy.  On the other side of that debate was General Michael Hayden who stated that collection of data was necessary to protect the US homeland from attacks.  Now even Hayden is extremely concerned about what a Trump presidency could bring (especially at time index 5:07 in the below video):

It’s not just nukes the world needs to worry about, it’s how our private data would be used by the US under Trump; I would even state under Hillary Clinton as well.  In the face of what is happening in US politics right now, Canadian law makers need to assure Canadians that our data remains private, secure, and out of the hands of foreign countries. We need immediate action on bill C-51 as a result.

 

 

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Supreme Court Says Get Out of Our Data to Trudeau Government

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The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Court Martial Appeal Court and Tax Court are preparing to take the Canadian government to task on ensuring independence from the federal government regarding its data.  Under the past conservative government, all these levels of the courts were to submit to a super-IT department as of September 1st of last year that would see all government services including Canadian courts using the same IT department.  The move by the last government to amalgamate IT services was seemingly to save money and streamline IT security.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, one super IT department could threaten its independence from Government.  Briefing notes obtained by the Canadian Press last week, and provided to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau days after taking office, shows the courts are gearing up for a constitutional challenge on data independence.  The briefing stated:

“[The courts] must maintain control of their data, not only because of concerns about confidentiality, but also because an independent judiciary cannot tolerate having its sensitive information controlled by a separate branch of government.”

The briefing notes also warned that if the Government doesn’t backtrack on this soon, it could face legal action and likely a constitutional challenge by the top judges in Canada.  Advice given to Trudeau on how to handle this situation by his advisers was redacted in the briefing notes.

Prior to September 1st last year when these new IT rules came into play, top court officials wrote a letter to senior bureaucrats in the Conservative government demanding that agents of Parliament such as the Auditor General, Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner should be exempt from amalgamated IT services.  Yesterday, the new Liberal government went before the Supreme Court asking for a six month extension on right to die legislation.  Should the court deny that extension, this spat over IT services and data independence could end up being an interesting back story.

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Canadian Government Could Benefit From Town Hall Public Consultations on Anti-Terror Bill

ralph-goodale

(Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale)

During the election the Liberals heard from Canadians on the new anti-terror bill C-51, and promised to repeal sections of this bill that are problematic. We still don’t know exactly which provisions will be repealed. This past Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale took to the airwaves stating that Canada must be a world leader in tackling radicalization.  During the last election the Liberals promised to reform the Conservatives Anti-Terror bill promising to consult with the public and experts.

In 2009 I took part in the Governments copyright consultations.  These consultations were held in town hall meetings with then Minister of Industry Tony Clement, and Heritage Minister at the time James Moore in a public forum.   These town hall meetings were open up to the public, and also encouraged the public to attend online.  There was also a forum set up by pollster Nic Nanos where people from across the country could air their concerns and debate those concerns in the forum setting regarding copyright legislation and digital rights.  What came out of this consultation process was a balanced approach to copyright law based on the views expressed during the consultation process. A made in Canada approach to public policy regarding copyright.In my opinion this was one of the crowning achievements of the last Government when it came to public policy consultation (a process which the Conservatives later abandoned), and there’s a significant need in the debate between civil liberties and security that demands this type of consultation.

Since the NSA leaks from former NSA system administrator Edward Snowden there has been lengthy and informal debates around the issues between civil liberties and security.  The Liberal platform during the last election promised evidence based approach to public policy, and widespread consultation with the public and experts on issues relating to the anti-terror bill.  What better way to do that, than using the previous Governments copyright consultation process as a benchmark in the debate around anti-terror and radicalization.

If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, than government needs to hear from not just stakeholders, but the public as well.  The Liberals won the last election from what the polls suggested, not on the exclusivity of the Liberal platform and stance on the Conservatives anti-terror bill, but rather a vast majority looked to have voted strategically to overthrow Steven Harper’s Conservatives.  Canadians will be watching very closely to how the Liberals treat the anti-terror bill, and whether the current Government will take the time to consult broadly with the public, rather than using their elected mandate to ignore public concerns on the bill and shut them out of any consultation process.

If we are to become a world leader in tackling radicalization, we must also become a world leader in listening to public will, and working together to come up with solutions that are balanced and encompass a wide range of views.   Only then can other world leaders look upon Canada as a beaming example of how to get it right.  For Canada to become a world leader in tackling radicalization we must develop a balanced approach to policy.  In order to achieve that true balance, all Canadians should be broadly consulted in a more formal manner by Government.

 

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