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The Progressive Economics Forum: First Nations Education is critical social infrastructure

Many Canadians know that the federal government is responsible for funding social services, health care, education and income supports on First Nations reserves.

Few people realize that the escalator for these transfer payments has been frozen at 2% per year since 1996, without consideration for population growth or need.

According to the Assembly of First Nations, by 2011 this resulted in an average funding gap of $3,500 per student in First Nation schools compared to per student funding in provincial schools.

This operational funding gap is on top of a physical infrastructure funding gap for resources such as libraries, computer labs, (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada

This afternoon I gave a presentation at Raising the Roof’s Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit in Toronto. My slide deck can be downloaded here. To accompany the presentation, I’ve prepared the following list of “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada.”

1.Efforts to enumerate persons experiencing homeless have generally been spotty, but it is reasonable to assert that homelessness in Canada saw substantial growth in the 1980s and 1990s. On a nightly basis in Toronto, there were about 1,000 persons per night staying in emergency shelters in 1980. By 1990, that figure had doubled. And (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Dix Choses à Savoir sur l’Itinérance au Canada

Cet après-midi, j’ai fait une présentation au Child & Family Homelessness Stakeholder Summit, organisé par Chez Toit, à Toronto. Ma presentation, illustrée de diapositives, peut être téléchargée ici. Pour accompagner la présentation, je vous ai préparé la liste suivante des « Dix choses à savoir sur l’itinérance au Canada. »

1. Les tentatives de dénombrer les personnes en situation d’itinérance ont généralement été intermittentes, mais il est raisonnable d’affirmer que l’itinérance au Canada a connu une croissance importante entre 1980 et 2000. Sur une base quotidienne à Toronto, il y avait environ 1,000 personnes par nuit séjournant dans (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Video: Manitoba government urged to recognize the genocide and help heal the trauma

Winnipeg, June, 5, 2015: At the Manitoba Legislative Building, Maeengan Linklater answers journalists’ questions about his proposed Manitoba Indian Residential Schools Genocide and Reconciliation Memorial Day Act. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Now that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has completed its work, and the major federal political parties have have adopted predictable positions, what can ordinary folk do to make sure Justice Sinclair’s message isn’t lost between now and the election this fall?

I’m rather taken with a draft Act that was made public yesterday on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature that would set aside one day a (Read more…)

. . . → Read More: Paul S. Graham: Video: Manitoba government urged to recognize the genocide and help heal the trauma

Blevkog: The real truth about reconciliation…

Is that all is good with our native peoples. I mean it would have to be if the government department tasked with providing services to them was able to lapse a billion dollars in budget over the past five years. Of course there is also another possibility, that the Conservatives just don’t care.

Paul S. Graham: Introducing the Phoenix Sinclair Little Stars Playhouse

Who, aside from the occasional professional grump, has not taken delight from the sound of children’s laughter and marveled at their ingenuity as they play at being pirates and princesses, artists and acrobats, witches and warriors? Child’s play is fun to watch and fun to join in (even with the aches and pains my grandfatherly body suffers from after a visit with the grandkids).

There is a serious side to play, though, one I had never considered until I met with some remarkable women who are in the midst of an ambitious project in the heart of Winnipeg’s North End.

(Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Homelessness in Canada’s North

Over at the blog of Northern Public Affairs, I’ve written a post titled “Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada’s North.”

Topics covered in the post include the high cost of construction in many parts of the North, the relatively high costs of operating housing in the North, and declining federal funding for social housing in the North.

The full post can be found here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Responsibility for Housing

On Monday I gave a guest presentation to Craig Jones‘ graduate seminar class in Carleton University’s School of Social Work. My presentation sought to answer two questions:

1. Why should government play a role in creating affordable housing?

2. Which level of government is responsible?

With those questions as a backdrop, here are 10 things one needs to know:

1. When it comes to affordable housing, the private sector alone doesn’t cut it—not by a long shot! For it to be profitable for a for-profit developer to create rental housing in one of Canada’s major urban centres, (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Video: Coalition challenges NEB to consider the climate impacts of the proposed Energy East Pipeline

Map of Proposed Energy East Pipeline route. Source: National Energy Board

Energy East Pipelines, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of TransCanada Oil Pipelines (Canada), has applied to build the Energy East Pipeline, a project that will use aging natural gas pipelines along most of its route to move explosive, toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to refining facilities on Canada’s east coast.

The plan is fraught with risks to human health and the natural environment, but the National Energy Board, the federal regulatory body charged with assessing the suitability of this project, seems determined to turn a (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Video: Solidarity with the Pimicikamak Cree Nation

Oct. 23, 2014: Members and supporters of Pimicikamak Cree Nation rallied at Manitoba Hydro’s Winnipeg Headquarters to explain the reasons for their occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Yesterday, after a week-long occupation of the Jenpeg Generating Station, representatives of the Pimicikamak Cree of Cross Lake brought their protest to Winnipeg. Community members and local supporters rallied at Manitoba Hydro’s downtown headquarters to pray, sing and tell their story to Winnipeg media.

They began with a prayer and followed with a moment of silence and an honour song for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the young reservist murdered (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Who’s afraid of free trade with Europe?

The prospect of freer trade with European nations is generally popular among Canadians. And why shouldn’t it be? Doesn’t the Canadian left repeatedly point to the advantages of many European social and economic institutions? Who could argue with lower prices for European cheese, wine, or chocolate?

After all, we’ve been waiting for years for the Canadian economy to pivot to export-led growth, and how can we do that without free trade deals. This is the government’s line. (Even though classical economic theory would say that trade deals are meant to benefit consumers, not exporters).

Well, there are a number of (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Indigenous Workers in Canada

Labour market data in Canada is easily available by sex, age, and region. We spend a great deal of time talking about these factors. More recently Statistics Canada made labour market data available on CANSIM by landed immigrant status, going back to 2006. This factor is less often included in most labour market analysis, and too few know that it is even available.

But if you want to know how racialized workers or Indigenous workers (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are doing in the labour force you basically have to rely on the census … oh, wait. And on (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Aboriginal women are speaking up for missing and murdered Aboriginal men

Some of the people camping out in Memorial Park to call for a national inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 Aboriginal women. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The hatred directed at aboriginal people in Canada is appalling, as is their poverty and exclusion from the opportunities that exist for non-indigenous Canadians. Nowhere is this more evident than in the federal government’s continuing refusal to hold a national inquiry into the causes of the deaths and disappearances of over 1200 aboriginal women. Now, aboriginal women are beginning to speak up for the aboriginal men who have disappeared over the (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Affordable Housing in the Yukon

Earlier today, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site, I blogged about a recent (and controversial) decision made by the Yukon government about affordable housing in the Yukon. Points raised in the blog post include the following:

-Very little affordable housing gets built in Canada without federal assistance.

-Without financial assistance from senior levels of government, for-profit developers in Canada generally don’t find it worthwhile to build rental housing even for middle-income tenants (never mind low-income tenants).

-Going forward, federal funding for existing social housing in the Yukon is declining.

The full blog post can be accessed (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: The Athabaska Oil Sands: Enough to make you sick. Real sick.

I don’t normally reprint news releases. This time I will make an exception. At the end of the news release are two videos I recorded earlier this year that speak to this issue. In the first, Dr. Stéphane McLachlan, of the Environmental Conservation Lab at the University of Manitoba, talks about the research that is the subject of this news release. In the second, Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May explains why Canada needs an energy policy that is good for Canada’s economy and its environment.

Health Study Reveals Alarming Links Between Oil Sands Contaminants and Incidence of Illness

(Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Impact of Fur Trade in U.S.

The fur trade in Canada is often said to have been less malign than in the US, and it was, but that doesn’t say much given the extraordinary disruption it is said to have createn in colonial America by the American historian Bernard Bailyn in his recent (2012) book, appropriately titled The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675: “[S]omething general and profound…was developing on the eve of English settlement in North America. Emerging slowly at a latent level were the beginnings of fundamental alterations in native culture that, within a single generation after (Read more…)

The Progressive Economics Forum: Rental Housing in Yellowknife

Yesterday I blogged about rental housing in Yellowknife, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site. Specifically, I blogged about a recent announcement by the city’s largest for-profit landlord that it plans to “tighten” its policies vis-a-vis renting to recipients of “income assistance” (which, in most parts of Canada, is known generically as social assistance). Among other things, I suggest in the post that the for-profit landlord in question may be in a monopoly situation. The link to my blog post is here.

The Progressive Economics Forum: Fur trade and tar sands

Here is Joseph Boyden talking with the Globe and Mail last fall about his novel Orenda:

“You look at this novel and you think immigration, who you allow in and who you don’t. The Hurons allow in the ones who ulimately destroy them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either. They need the trade, and how much greed was involved in that? Look environmentally – you wipe out all the furs and your economy is gone. It’s like the oil sands.”

The fur trade destroyed the Huron economy and the Huron. Bitumen destroys the Canadian economy, and through carbon emissions (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Warrior Up! The Mi’kmaq Struggle Against Fracking at Elsipogtog

Winnipeg, Feb. 17, 2014: Suzanne Patles of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, speaking at Thunderbird House. Photo: Paul S. Graham

It is time to “warrior up” according to Suzanne Patles of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society. She spoke at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on Feb. 17, 2014 as part of a national tour to raise awareness about the struggle at Elsipogtog First Nation against shale gas fracking and police repression, as well as their ongoing assertion of nationhood.

Their blockade in opposition to shale gas fracking at Elsipogtog First Nation (located in Kent County, New Brunswick) came to national attention on October (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: The Gift of Treaties

Winnipeg, Jan. 21, 2014: Niigaan James Sinclair, speaking at the “Gift of Treaties” teach-in organized by Idle No More Manitoba. Photo: Paul S. Graham

A standard dictionary definition of the word “treaty” will describe it, rather drily, as a formal agreement between two or more states – an instrument of international relations commonly used to make peace, cement alliances, enable commerce, and so on.

For Anishinaabe scholar and activist Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, treaties are gifts which oblige the signatories to accept and value each as equals. Treaties, says Sinclair, are as old as creation and inextricably embedded in the (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Thank you, Neil Young, for telling the truth

Filed under: Aboriginal Peoples, Environment, Nibbling on The Empire Tagged: aboriginal rights, Alberta oil sands, alberta tar sands, Neil Young

Paul S. Graham: Video: Idle No More 2.0

Several hundred members and supporters of Idle No More gathered at the centre court of the Polo Park Mall in Winnipeg Friday evening to sing and to dance. Some are calling it Idle No More 2.0. Idle No More Manitoba spokesperson Michael Kannon explains why in this video report.

Filed under: Aboriginal Peoples, Winnipeg Tagged: aboriginal rights, idle no more, Idle No More Manitoba, Winnipeg

Paul S. Graham: Video: The five main threats to Lake Winnipeg

October 26, 2013: Diane Orihel, founder and director of the Coalition to Save ELA, speaks to a workshop in Winnipeg on water quality sponsored by Idle No More Manitoba. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Diane Orihel is a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta and the founder and Director of the Coalition to Save ELA.The Coalition to Save ELA is a nonpartisan group of scientists and citizens concerned about the future of Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area.

Located in northwestern Ontario, the ELA consists of 58 small lakes and their watersheds that have been set aside for research. Since 1968, (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Video: Fracking in Manitoba

Winnipeg, Oct. 26, 2013: Retired scientist Dennis Le Neveu spoke at a forum on the environmental hazards of fracking, sponsored by Idle No More Manitoba. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Fracking is a process used to extract oil and natural gas. It involves drilling horizontal wells into rock formations and injecting a mixture of fresh water, chemicals and sand under high pressure to fracture the rock and release the oil and gas.

Fracking has been linked with contaminated water aquifers, air pollution and earthquakes.

In Manitoba, the gas extracted with the oil is hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas that is lethal (Read more…)

Paul S. Graham: Video: No Prairie Pipeline

TransCanada Pipelines’ proposed “Energy East” pipeline project, which is intended to transport Alberta tar sands crude to eastern Canada, is meeting growing opposition from First Nations, environmentalists and citizens who live along the planned route.

The Winnipeg chapter of the Council of Canadians, along with Idle No More and the Boreal Forest Network held a public forum on the issue on October 22, 2013. Speakers included Maryam Adrangi, the Council of Canadians’ Energy and Climate Campaigner, and Crystal Green, Michael Kannon and Nina Was’te of Idle No More. The forum was moderated by Susan McCrea of the Boreal Forest (Read more…)