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The real challenge is to expand medicare, not just save it

Sunday, September 13th, 2020

While Canadians sing the praises of public care, they actually spend close to a third of their health-care dollars in the private sector — on things like prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, physiotherapy and home care… The job now isn’t just to protect medicare as it is against efforts to chip away at it, but to extend public coverage into other areas. A comprehensive pharmacare program should top the list

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This Labour Day, resolve to make life better for underpaid, undervalued ‘heroes’

Monday, September 7th, 2020

If the mantra of “build back better” means anything, we must revalue low-paid but essential work and tackle the scourge of precarious work, gig economy jobs and temp agencies that leave workers scrambling just to earn minimum wage. We need to legislate paid sick days for all workers… and dramatically expand affordable childcare so that women aren’t held back.

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Trudeau gets it wrong on Canada’s other health crisis

Monday, September 7th, 2020

Only Ottawa could take the big step of decriminalization and make addiction a health issue, not one for the justice system… it’s a political calculation on the part of the Liberals, who no doubt fear there are more votes to be lost than gained by taking that route… But if Trudeau truly wanted to follow the science, he would take a different approach to Canada’s other pandemic.

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Ontario and Ottawa keep failing on reforms to solitary confinement

Saturday, August 29th, 2020

The debilitating effects of solitary confinement on prisoners’ mental health are well known. There’s a reason the UN defines stints in solitary beyond 15 days as torture. It should be used only as a last resort and not, as it so often is, to put a troubled inmate out of sight and out of mind, or as a way to maintain security in the face of under-staffing or lack of appropriate mental health care inside institutions.

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New income support system must go beyond tinkering with EI

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

… pushing hundreds of thousands of people into poverty would risk stalling the recovery that’s now underway. About half the jobs that were lost in the depths of the lockdown in April have already come back, and we can expect unemployment to keep falling. But if the purchasing power that was pumped into the economy through CERB is suddenly cut off, that could plunge the country into a prolonged recession.

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After court ruling, Ottawa should suspend refugee agreement with U.S.

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Canada can no longer outsource decisions on who deserves asylum to an American system that is far from safe… “the accounts of the detainees (in the U.S.) demonstrate both physical and psychological suffering because of detention, and a real risk that they will not be able to assert asylum claims.” … as the Safe Third Country Agreement… applies only at official ports of entry, many thousands of would-be refugees crossed on foot at other points, flooding Canada’s refugee system.

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We can’t let COVID-19 destroy economic gains for women

Saturday, July 25th, 2020

To ease the load on women, governments need to find a way to get schools back full-time as soon as possible… Second, for women to participate fully in the workforce, affordable, quality childcare, under new safety protocols, is essential… $2.5 billion is required to meet the need. In an era of crisis, when money has seemed to be no object, it would be dollars well spent.

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Police shouldn’t be answering mental-health calls

Thursday, June 25th, 2020

At this point… there’s no excuse for politicians to refuse to act… there are models elsewhere that could usefully provide direction. One that’s receiving lots of attention… involves teams of medical professionals and crisis workers responding directly to calls involving people in mental crisis, and rarely has to resort to police backup.

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Clean clothes, decent food: Ontario’s inmates deserve this much

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

… decent water to drink; food that’s not expired or mouldy; clean clothing delivered on time and not covered in feces, urine and blood stains; books from outside; adequate time for phone calls so inmates aren’t left to fight among themselves for the chance to talk to family, friends and lawyers; some video visits; access to rehabilitation programs and exercise. Those are pretty basic standards that any jail in Ontario should be able, and expected, to deliver.

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Less crime, more policing: This disconnect must be fixed

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

The bottom line is that we spent decades constructing police forces that are expensive, over-militarized and not best suited to the tasks they face in the third decade of the 21st century. In too many situations, they are making things worse, not better. Reformers have been calling for change for a long time, and public pressure may now finally give the politicians the courage to start fixing the problem.

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