Tag Archives: poor

Disruptive Technology and the End of the Backbone of Our Economy: the Middle Class Family.

This past week, Waterloo Region Council continued our work on the new taxi by-law that will include Uber and other new types of vehicles for hire. Council members spoke excitedly about the potential of disruptive technology. Rideco, a local app based shuttle business, told us that part of what they do as a tech firm is research ways to make driverless cars a viable business.

Driverless cars. My baby boom friends are so excited about them. As they age, they won’t have to give up their  car. In ten years, if not sooner, everyone can have one. Will everyone want one?

When I was first married, my in-laws ran rental cottages in the Halliburton Highlands. Across the road from them lived a family on a half acre with ranch house and lawn rider grass. The dad was a trucker who ferried goods from Toronto to the stores and supermarkets of cottage country. His wife was a teller at the local bank. They lived a good middle class country life. Their daughter grew up to work in the bank. I don’t know what their son did, but he may also have been a truck driver. Once again, a good life. Their millennial grandchildren could also squeeze out that life for a few years if they are lucky. The present generation of school-age children? Not happening when they grow up.

With all the excitement about disruptive technology, only a few seem to be talking about the effect of all these changes on the average person. It’s fluffed off with, “Oh, we’ll get the jobs back from China.” “It’s up to them to retrain for something (what?) else”.

Driverless cars will mean driverless trucks and driverless taxis, buses and shuttles.

 

According to Service Canada Truck driver statistics; 69,300 people are truck drivers. 97.1 percent of them are men, 92 percent are between 24 and 64 years old, 70% have high school or post-secondary education, and only two percent of them are bachelors. There is a shortage of long haul truckers at the present time. Average salary is around 40,000.

According to the 2006 census, pre-Uber, there were 50,000 taxi cab drivers in Canada. 21,050 bus, shuttle, and subway operators worked in 2013.

Approximately 140,356 good paying jobs will vanish in 15 to 20 years due to driverless cars. For taxi cab drivers, good paying full time jobs are disappearing now with the growth of ridesharing apps.

You may ask why didn’t Regional council just ban Uber if they are a bad employer? That is not the job of Regional government. We look after such things as requiring criminal background checks and safety inspected cars. It is up to the provincial government to make employment laws that regulate industries (Not just Uber) who say those who work for them are private contractors not employees.

The citizens of the Region like the convenience and features of the new apps. That is not the problem. The problem is that Uber runs on a part-time contractor model instead of employing people. A ridesharing company in Montreal, Teo Taxi, pays employees  15 dollars an hour.

But this dispute will be finished when driverless cars and trucks appear.

The wife in the middle class family I mentioned above will also see her job disappear. 46,000 positions in 2014, 90 percent between 24 and 64 years old, 98 percent women, 79 percent full time and $34,900 annually.Bank machines and self checkouts in grocery stores are eliminating white collar jobs as well.

Secretaries and executive assistants now transcribe minutes directly into laptops set up with the meeting minutes template. Everyone is is paperless, no more photocopying. We all look after our own calendars and memos. Bills are paid electronically. People use a computer program to do their taxes and finances instead of hiring a bookkeeper.  Huge numbers of white collar jobs are disappearing. 

Statistics Canada says of administrative and secretarial positions as of 2014,

Over the past few years the number of secretaries has decreased very sharply. Implementation of office automation and the diversification of administrative staff duties explain this decrease to a large extent. Since these changes are already well established, the number of secretaries should decrease significantly over the next few years, but at a much less spectacular pace than before.

Where will these employees go? What will happen to those middle class families who managed so well up to the year 2000? How will they support themselves and their families? Where and at what will the majority of school children of today do to make a decent living? We need  a serious conversation about employment and disruptive technology.

 

 

 

 

Obituaries of the Poor

by guest columnist, Birgit Lingenberg

Dino

Died November 21, 2014, aged about 55.

Died alone in bed. He was poor . He helped homeless women by letting them sleep on his couch. Left leg removed due to diabetes. Ate most of his meals at the Ray of Hope. Enjoyed the social aspect at the Ray of Hope. Family never visited him, he died in isolation. (Dino was well-known and liked in his building – Jane)

Dino had mobility issues and needed an electric scooter and then an electric wheelchair. Last winter he got stuck with his scooter. He spent about $1,100 to repair his scooter. He took the $1,100 out of his food money. This meant almost no food money for five months for Dino.

No funeral service in Waterloo Region.

Terry

Died on November 25, 2014 at age 65.

Died at St. Mary’s Hospital. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for their coffee and for socializing. He did not have much contact with his family. He ate mostly out of cans. He smoked a lot for about 50 years and had diabetes and emphysema.

I saw him about one week before he died. In my heart I knew he would die. I asked him if I could call him an ambulance and/or a family member.

He said, “No, I’m fine. I’m just tired and weak. AND F— the family”

I told him that he looks terrible and that I can see he will die soon. We cried together

Eight days later he died. No memorial service as of today.

Roxy

Died January 3, 2015, aged almost 44.

Roxy died at Grand River Hospital. She was homeless. She love to help people, hug people and she loved music and dancing.  She was into drugs and prostitution and you may ask why.

Her one son died in a house fire. Her boyfriend at that time was babysitting her son while she was out. Because Roxy did not pay back all of the money she owed her boyfriend for some drugs, the boyfriend set the house on fire and let her son die.

Roxy always hugged me and I always hugged her. We had a very special friendship even though we were very different people.  She once asked me to ask the people like you what you could do to help people get out of poverty. Cause of death was a probable drug overdose.

Mihal

Died January 11,2015, aged 56

Died alone in his bed. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for coffee and socializing. He loved his sister  very much. His brother-in-law  did not like him. He was embarrassed to be seen with Mihal (Mike)because Mihal had schizophrenia for many years.

Mike used to cry because all he ever wanted was to be able to meet with his sister 2 or 3 times a week. Mike had a heart of gold and liked many people. Many people liked Mike too. He was my ex-boyfriend and we had our wedding paid for before we broke up.

A beautiful visitation, memorial service and reception at the Henry Walser Funeral Home on January 16, 2015.

The coroner said the cause of death was a heart attack. Mihal’s diet included lots of coffee, lots of sugar, lots of carbohydrates and many meals at the Ray of Hope and the soup kitchen.

Annie

Died January 21, 2015, about 42 years of age.

Died alone in her apartment. She was homeless a lot in her life. She was poor. She was into lots of drugs.

I saw her injecting drugs into her main vein on her left hand on January 16, 2015 during Roxy’s memorial at the soup kitchen.

There was Annie sitting on the girl’s bathroom floor in the mid-afternoon. What a sad sight! Annie told one of her closest friends that she missed Roxy and wanted to be with Roxy.

The memorial was February 6 at the soup kitchen.

Scotty

Died between January 29, 2015 and February 2, 2015 at about age 38.

He died somewhere in Waterloo Region. He was homeless and ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Our of the Cold churches. He was into drugs and alcohol.  There will probably be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Angie

Died in mid-January 2015 at age 42.

She was so beautiful and kind and loving. She was Polish. She was homeless and used drugs and was into prostitution. Annie once told me that she had no other choice but to be into drugs and prostitution because there was no other way to survive. She ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Out of the Cold sites. She used to coach surf in order to be warm at night. No obituary int he Record.There might be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Andrew

Died on February 2, 2015, aged 30.

Died in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital. He was poor. He was friendly and caring.

On Sunday, February 1, 2015, he left a friend’s Superbowl party and was walking home. Not too long after that he was found frozen in a snow bank. Cause of death was cardiac arrest.  There was a visitation on February 6 and a funeral service on February 7 in Cambridge.

Do you recognize these people?

They are well-known in our community.

They are people that I have known anywhere from one year to six years. They are people who were loved by many and who loved many. They were people who all lived in poverty.

What can people do to help save the poor people? What can you personally do to help poor people? Did you know that most poor people live 10 to 20 years less than the middle class and the rich?

GET RID OF POVERTY — SAVE THE HUMAN RACE!

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Note from Jane

I know and Birgit knows that these obituaries are controversial in spots. Being poor herself, Birgit wrote out the original of this blog by hand as she presently doesn’t have access to a computer. The committee and I were deeply moved when she read them out at the Employment and Income Support Advisory Committee meeting on Friday February 6.

There are some negative comments about families in this blog. Please understand that family situations can be incredibly difficult and no one should be blamed for a situation. I have removed last names. If you are a family member of one of these people and would like their obituary removed, I will do it ASAP.

ALIV(e), a local poverty group, has a blog written by poor people. You can find it here.

Sincerely,

Jane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ALIV(e) blog

Homelessness and Housing. The First of My Five Priorities for the Next Term of Regional Council.

My pledge: I will work to get funding to build more homes for the homeless with supports. I will continue to work on the building and repair of affordable housing.

 

I went to my daughter’s apartment at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to pick her up for her 25 km run at Pinehurst. (The Run for the Toad). I stepped into her apartment vestibule and there were two teen-age girls sleeping on the floor. One of them woke up when I began to dial my daughter’s apartment.

I said,”There are shelters you can go to. They have space.”

The girl said,” It’s full.”

I said, “If you ask there should be a motel room available if everything is full.”

I could see she was considering that.

On our way to Pinehurst, I said to my daughter that maybe this was their first night homeless but she pointed out that they smelled, so had probably been homeless for awhile. My daughter lives near Victoria Park and while she is sympathetic to the homeless, particularly teen-age girls, she doesn’t want them sleeping on the floor in her vestibule. Especially when we are now supposed to have enough shelter beds.

We were also concerned because not all of the men and teen-aged boys hanging around in the park are people those girls should associate with.

Another Out of the Cold site closed this past week. That makes 5 of the 7 volunteer-run church sites closed. Fortunately, the YWCA and Mary’s Place has stepped up with a 50 cot temporary location in a community room.I should point out that Out of the Cold opens on November 1st but there are shelter beds.

What can we do about homelessness?

The Homeless Hub website says the following about homelessness:

Ending homelessness means doing things differently, and not simply managing the problem through emergency services and supports such as shelters and soup kitchens. When people come to depend on emergency services without access to permanent housing and necessary supports, this leads to declining health and well-being, and most certainly an uncertain future.

When I was a librarian at a public library, we always had the homeless sitting in the library and looking at the newspapers. Shelters close in the day, other places only open for meals.

The best way to help the homeless is to get them a home, often with supports.

There are two types of homeless. First those who are temporarily homeless: teenagers kicked out of their home, men without a home due to family problems or job loss, mothers and children homeless due to domestic violence, evicted families. While not easy situations, these people can be helped to find new homes. Those under threat of eviction can go to the rent bank or other programs. This does not mean that we have enough affordable or supportive housing for all who need it, we don’t, but progress is being made.

The next group is those with mental health or addiction problems that are hard to serve. They may not want to go to a shelter for various reasons. I saw two men sleeping in an ATM vestibule as I passed by from attending an event the other night. What do we do?

We need more outreach workers to help the hard to house. We need, as always, when the problem is the least of our people: more supports, more mental health and addictions programs, nore housing with supports.  It is worth the cost.

A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote “Million Dollar Murray” about a homeless man who used up paramedic, police and  hospital resources at a tremendous rate. The people who run Supportive Housing of Waterloo have proof that the number of emergency calls surrounding some of their permanently housed homeless have dropped. The people now have supportive workers in their building that they can interact with.

Obviously, I am running on continuing the work that the Region of Waterloo is doing to build more affordable housing.  The Region, the Province and the Feds must work together to help house the chronic homeless. We also need to repair the housing built in the 60s,  70s and 80s that is now reaching the end of its life. New housing or rent subsidies for those in need of affordable housing are also needed, although the region is in the forfront compared to other cities in the province.

AS shown by Million Dollar Murray, it actually costs us less in the long run to help people.

Poverty

Was at CFUW last night where a professor from U of W spoke about poverty and Crown Wards. She spoke about poor people and damaged children. She also talked about her life of privilege and the women she worked with and their lives of poverty and disaster and how she could walk away from it and they couldn’t.

She was a wonderful person,one of our people doing great work in the community and a foster Mom, but her talk made me uncomfortable. Not because I have a good life and others don’t, no that wasn’t it.  I think it was once again the problem with stereotypes of poverty.  I felt this prof wondered why more children weren’t taken from their parents and why CAS lets them stay with relatives.

But it’s way more complicated than that. I know people who despite mental illness and poverty and neglect in their poor family, still love their parents and want a connection with them. And they should have it.

I kept thinking of this song and to show you anything can be found on youtube,here it is.

Dead End Street by the Kinks

I guess it’s also because I know people (some of my best friends are . . .) who are poor, some in my own family, and single mothers and people with family members with mental illness. None of them have children with “failure to thrive” In fact their children are growing up or have grown up successfully.

Yes others I know have families in a mess (poverty not necessarily in the picture either, though messy lives can lead to poverty) but I have lived long enough and seen enough to see that what is true today, isn’t necessarily true tomorrow and may not have been true in the past.

Not in Support of the Living Wage Proposal

Here are some of my thoughts about yesterday’s “non-discussion” of the living wage.

The discussion is a good thing. It is a fact that needs to get out that people working in the service industries like food preparation, cleaning and landscaping are badly paid.

 

I voted against a deferral to the next council. I don’t want us to be a lame duck council for a whole year before the election. Lame duck is usually between the election and inauguration of the new council, after a new council elected. We still have a whole year of a mandate, it’s way too early to refer anything to a new council.

 Why I’m against the living wage proposal.

For those of you unfamiliar with this discussion, Opportunites Waterloo Region asked council to give a living wage of a minimun of 13.23 per hour to all Regional employees. All Regional employees already earn over that amount except for contracted out services such as cleaners or student help.

For some reason, I can’t copy and paste Regional addresses today, so go to the Region website, www.region.waterloo.on.ca, click on government, then council committee agendas and minutes, then community services, then finally, the word, “here” under January 5th for more information.

 My reasons:

1. Next week we finalize our budget and councillors will be looking at  new issues that effect the poor. Some councillors have suggested that we shouldn’t move ahead with any new issues, no matter how worthy, yet they support the livng wage. For us to approve higher salaries for people working for the region then not approve for instance, the money needed to keep daycare levels for poor parents at the same level or not approve an increase in reduced bus passes for all the poor( which is a issue paper  presently not recommended) just doesn’t fly for me.

Delegation by a poor person said,  The wages would go up for about two hundred individuals but this would definitely bring high cost of living for everyone else and so those living poverty would actually be hit harder.”

Actually not a big increase about .2 percent increase which is about two or three dollars per year in a rough estimate.

 

2 Minimum wage is a provincial matter and property taxes are the most regressive tax. For instance a retiree in Waterloo in a modest home  will have their taxes go sky high because they are in an area of student housing, yet they may be poorer than the cleaner earning minimum wage.  Provincial and Federal taxes are based on income or consumption.

3.Struggling small businesses won’t be able to bid as easily or we will face a reduced pool of companies bidding on the contracts.  And presently, many businesses are struggling.

4 But my strongest reason for not supporting the living wage proposal is as follows:

It’s an awkward way to pay people. What staff proposed was using points for choosing a winning bid. This would lead to contractors who may  or may not pay a living wage, depending on the points of the tender.  Tenders can have points for many things, rather than a straight lowest bid. For example, amount of work doing for the region, local office, experience with work (these are usually tenders for wells, specialized work with biosolids, etc.)  The recommended option would have had 10 points for living wage among other requirements for the work as well as the lowest cost.

If council really felt strongly about a living wage for service workers, we would hire them directly. But we know that making service workers employees would mean unionization and much higher wages than the living wage.