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Tuesday
Feb112014

I Shall Not Hate

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian medical doctor is a man of forgiveness, hope and compassion. On the 6th anniversary of his three daughters’ massacre at the hands of the Israelis who bombed his home, this noble physician addressed a large audience at King’s University College in January. Tearfully, he walked us through his journey along the path of indescribable grief and pain to a stance of forgiveness and compassion. Through the lens of today’s bitter world-wide strife and war, he offered a path to peace and presented a challenge to humankind:

  • Today’s suffering is man-made.
  • War is a genocide and the slavery of humanity. It must be prevented.
  • Words and good deeds are stronger than bullets.
  • I may have the right to hate but it is a disease of the one who carries it.
  • The biggest weapon of mass destruction is hate in people’s hearts.

What can we do to challenge hate and move forward?

  • Do not blame.
  • The antidote to hatred is success.
  • Dig deeper to discover the problem below the hate.
  • Don’t ask others to change; change my heart so others can follow me.
  • Have faith, hope and ACTION.
  • Begin with something I can do to make the world we want for our children.
  • Help to relieve poverty which is the biggest enemy of the people.
  • Education is the best way to face the mystery of life.
  • Support your brother and sister.
  • Call upon the potential of the human being.
  • All must take action to alleviate the pain.
  • Make a difference.

 Read more in Dr. Abuelaish’s recently released book, I Shall Not Hate.

 Jean Moylan, CSJ

Monday
Feb102014

Weekly Pause & Ponder

“The reality we name as “God,” mightier and more vast than 400 billion galaxies, permeates my existence as a human person. Certainly God is infinite and unknowable, but we look into our hearts and lives, and there is this same God bursting to life in us.  Why do we keep looking elsewhere to find God? Why do we stay locked into a spirituality that looks for God in the heavens in preference to a spirituality that focuses on the God within and among us, urging and prompting us to claim our sacred identity - and live it? Here is the arena of conversion and the heart of Jesus’ message to all of us who have ears to listen.”
Excerpted from Tomorrow’s Catholic:Understanding God and Jesus in a New Millennium by Michael Morwood.
Thursday
Feb062014

The Debate: Raising the Minimum Wage

The debate on the minimum wage is heating up in Ontario and getting greater attention across the country.  Pushed by the recent Ontario government panel to offer advice on adjusting the minimum wage, and regional advocacy efforts to see the rate rise to $14/hr, the conversation is shifting towards one of fairness and actual costs of living.  The Ontario government has agreed to raise the wage to $11/hr does little to appease those for an increase (reflective of the costs of living) or against. Regardless, the pressure to make changes that lift people out of poverty remains.

On January 28th the Ontario Minimum Wage Advisory Panel released their recommendations to the Ontario government.  This was following three months of consultations around the province in the fall of 2013 to better understand the views of Ontarians on what the minimum wage should be and how it should be calculated moving forward.

The result was that the Panel felt they could not give an accurate idea of what the minimum wage should be, but concluded it should be tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index and revised annually. It was also recommended that a 5 year indepth review be instituted as well.

Responding to the report, the Ontario government agreed to a slight increase of $0.75 which will bring the minimum wage to $11/hr – leaving people earning this rate 16% below the poverty line.  The increase, although much smaller than advocates had hoped, reflects the 6.7% in inflation since the last raise to the rate in 2010.  The Premier, Kathleen Wynne, said she took the impact on business into account when considering the increase.

The current minimum wage in Ontario is $10.25 and was scheduled to be increased in 2010 as part of the provincial poverty strategy, but this was put on hold.  Meanwhile, with an increase in low wage work it was estimated that 40% of individuals above the age of 25 are earning a minimum wage.  The problem:  a full-time minimum wage worker is 21% below the poverty line.

Canada Without Poverty presented to the Panel and called for the minimum wage to be set to a living wage, which would reflect actual costs of living in specific regions and ensure individuals and families could cover a bare bones budget.  Included in this calculation would be the costs of housing, childcare, transportation, clothing, nutritious food, and additional health care costs.  Not included are other important financial considerations such as debt repayment and saving for the future.  What is most amazing about the living wage is that it is a partnership between business and government – the living wage would be adjusted according to social service programs offered by government.  For example, if there was a $10/day child care plan, then the amount of the hourly wage needed would drop.

Another key point is that a living wage is a human right – one that should be recognized by governments in Canada as it falls under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (which Canada ratified in 1976).  CWP Executive Director noted this in herpresentation to the Minimum Wage Panel last November:

“In this context, Canada has been repeatedly told by the UN human rights system that in order to meet its international human rights obligations, it must raise the minimum wage to a living wage.  For example, in 1998, when Canada was reviewed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – responsible for monitoring Canada’s compliance with the ICESCR – the Committee stated in its Concluding Observations that it was “concerned that the minimum wage is not sufficient to provide an adequate standard of living for a worker and his or her family.” They reiterated this same concern in 2006 noting that the Government had not sufficiently responded to the 1998 concern.  In 2009, after his Mission to Canada, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing recommended that provinces and territories review their minimum wage rates in light of the homelessness problem in Canada.  And, more recently, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food told governments in Canada in his final report that minimum wage must be “at least a living wage” in keeping with Article 6 and7 of the ICESCR, recommending that governments specifically:

… (c) Set the minimum wage as a living wage, as required under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and consistent with ILO Conventions No. 99 (1951) and No. 131 (1970), particularly as regards the requirement that the minimum wage should be fixed taking into consideration, inter alia, “the needs of workers and their families, taking into account the general level of wages in the country, the cost of living, social security benefits, and the relative living standards of other social groups;””

We are not the only ones to bring this idea forward. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) and CUPE Ontario are supporters of the minimum wage being a living wage.

This month on a special “Project Money” edition of CBC’s The Current, CCPA’s Trish Hennessey made a point of connecting the minimum wage to a living wage.  The CCPA makes the case to have a $14.50/hr minimum wage, which would be 60% of the average industrial wage.

In CUPE Ontario’s submission to the Panel, they note that the minimum wage should be a living wage at $14/hr and moving forward should reflect increases in the cost of living. On their website the union quotes Janice Folk-Dawson who is chair of CUPE Ontario’s University Workers’ Coordinating Committee:

“This is an equality issue. Minimum wage earners are disproportionately women, racialized workers, people with disabilities and new immigrants,” she said. “They are also the people doing difficult, front line service jobs like cleaners, food service workers, the child care workers who look after our kids, the personal support workers who look after our aging parents, and the social service workers who support people with developmental disabilities.”

Ontario has an opportunity to lead the country in terms of minimum wage policy. They will now tie with Nunavut as the province/territory with the highest minimum wage at $11/hr (Alberta has the lowest at $9.95/hr), but remember, this is still well below the poverty line.

As governments and business continue to debate the issue it would be prudent to consider the workers who earn this wage and the impact this has on their life and families.  It is not just about a number, it is about people.

*Updated January 28th, 2014

Reposted with permission.
Canada Without Poverty 

Monday
Feb032014

College Fad to Global Trend: Happy Birthday Facebook!

Can you believe that Facebook turns 10 today? Even if you aren’t one of its 1.6 billion users, a figure cited by CBC, no doubt you’ve heard of Facebook. In its Saturday edition, the Toronto Star’s entertainment section featured, “10 Years of Friending” by Raju Mudhar. The article points out that “Canadians are the most active users of [Facebook] in the world. He notes:  “Facebook’s most fundamental achievement is that it has indeed made us more connected….reducing the old six degrees of separation. In 2010, Facebook researchers found that it was actually 4.74 degrees and likely getting lower as more people joined the 1.2 users on the site.”

Western Astrology states, “Aquarians are quick to engage others … which is why they have so many friends and acquaintances. Making the world a better place is a collaborative effort for Aquarians.”

One could say that Facebook is a true Aquarian.

Nancy Wales, CSJ

Monday
Feb032014

Weekly Pause & Ponder

“The universe shows the holy Oneness of Being. This is our home. We might even say, this is who we are.  All of us are this one being. We human beings are supported by everything the universe does with its various interactions that make the galaxies in their clusters and the stars in their attendant planets, some of which have the right conditions for biochemistry, which evolves to the point of self-consciousness and knowledge of all these universe interactions. When we are conscious and knowing, it’s the universe that is conscious and knowing. And our consciousness and our knowing are still working in the same pattern: diversifying, interacting, unifying. We are not alien or strange or different. We are the universe’s own.”

God’s Ecstacy:The Creation of a Self-Creating World p. 15, by Beatrice Bruteau.

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