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Archive for October, 2009

REGINA CIVIC ELECTIONS

Posted by strattof on October 22, 2009

REGINA CIVIC ELECTIONS

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 28 2009

9 QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES

1. Should Regina have a domed stadium?

What isn’t getting funded when you put $350 million into an arena? Safe, affordable housing?  Early learning and child care programs? Libraries? Recreational facilities? Arts and cultural organizations? An improved public transit system? Where do we best put our limited resources to get the best return for our community?

 2. What would you do about the lack of affordable housing in Regina?

●Saskatchewan’s “boom” is not benefitting everyone. Regina housing prices have skyrocketed, making home ownership impossible for many residents. Regina also has a low apartment vacancy rate (1.8%) relative to other Canadian cities. ●In 2008, 3,000 people slept in homeless shelters in Regina. Thousands more, unable to find affordable accommodation, have had to double up with friends or family members, leading to overcrowded living conditions. ●Contrary to claims by current City Councilors, affordable housing is not solely a provincial responsibility. The City of Regina can develop affordable housing units that would be managed by the Regina Housing Authority. City Council can also pass rent-control laws and reject condo conversion applications when the apartment vacancy rate falls below 3%.  

 3. Should Regina landlords be required to apply for a licence?

Slum housing is a huge problem in Regina. Adequate shelter is a fundamental human right. A landlord licensing program is a way to bring an end to slum housing. Landlords would be required to apply for an annual licence for every rental property they own. A licence would not be issued until city officials had inspected the properties to ensure they meet housing standards. When, in 2008, the North Central Community Association brought forward a proposal to Regina City Council to introduce landlord licensing, City Council chose to avoid taking responsible action and deferred the matter to a higher level of government. 

 4. Do you think the City of Regina should have a “buy local” policy?

The City of Regina spends our tax dollars on an array of goods and services: from pens and paper, to road repair and construction, to buses and infrastructure projects. A buy local policy will ensure that we maintain jobs at home and that Regina’s economy continues to grow. Despite claims to the contrary, a buy local policy is not against NAFTA regulations which clearly state that governments at all levels can dedicate their spending to locally produced goods and services.     

 5. How would you improve the Regina Public Transit system?

Did you know that Saskatchewan has Canada’s highest per capita carbon emissions? Did you know that there were 11,238 traffic accidents in Regina in 2008? Public transit use is a way to address both of these problems. To increase ridership, Regina Transit needs to lower fares, provide more frequent and earlier and later service, and offer holiday and full Sunday service. It cannot do so without more money from City Council. 

 6. Should cosmetic pesticides be banned in Regina?

The Canadian Cancer Society wants the potentially dangerous use of cosmetic pesticides to be an election issue in all Saskatchewan municipalities. (Go to www.cancer.ca, then click on “Saskatchewan.”)  Some Canadian cities, including Toronto and Halifax, have already banned cosmetic pesticides. But not Regina. When the matter came before Regina City Council in 2002, the Council bowed to pressure from the lawn care business lobby and voted against passing a cosmetic pesticide bylaw.

 7. When will Regina have a city-wide curbside recycling program?

Some Reginians already recycle by paying for curbside pickup services from private companies or driving their recycling to one of the blue-bin stations located in parking lots around the city. These limited recycling options do not suffice, especially when compared to other Canadian cities. Not everyone can afford to pay for private recycling services; and the free blue-box system requires users to own a car to drive the recyclables to the drop-bins, leaving those who make the environmental or economic decision not to drive out of luck. City-wide curbside recycling is the only way to go if City Council wants to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.

 8. What’s your view of the Regina Public School Board’s 10-year plan?

Announced in 2007, the Regina Board of Education 10-year plan comes with a $96.5 million price-tag and involves closing and demolishing many smaller, neighbourhood schools and increased busing to larger, consolidated schools. If the plan proceeds, over 45% of elementary students will be bused to schools outside their neighbourhoods. ●As a trustee, would you support an alternative plan that would reduce busing and promote walking? ●As a trustee, would you stand up for communities that wish to retain their schools? ●As a trustee, would you oppose the current trend toward fewer classrooms, fewer schools, more overcrowded portable classrooms, and increased capital spending on endless cycles of demolition and construction?

 9. What is your position on public-private partnerships?

Traditionally, public facilities, such as schools, hospitals, and libraries, are designed and built by the private sector, while governments finance, maintain, own, and operate them. The much touted public-private partnerships (P3s) involve a different financial and operational arrangement. For, under P3s, the private sector not only designs and builds public facilities, it also finances, owns, and operates them, leasing them back to the city or province for a specified period. ●P3s are a form of privatization. They involve a transfer of publically owned land and infrastructure into private hands. ● Under P3s, quality of service is often compromised because the profit motive takes priority. ●P3s are supposed to transfer risks to the private sector for financing and operating public projects. However, it has been demonstrated in other communities that P3s end up costing governments, and hence taxpayers, more money.  One reason is that private investors want to receive a rate of return that is higher than the government’s bond rate. Another is cost overruns, which contracts normally require be paid out of the public purse. ●The current economic and financial crisis was caused by the same policies behind the push for P3s.

  •  A vote cast in a civic election counts for more than one cast in a provincial or federal election.
  • Civic politics have a very direct impact on our daily lives, determining the kind of city we live in.

PLEASE VOTE

Polls are open from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL

EVERY THURSDAY

until    peace  breaks out

 From 12 noon to 12:30 pm

On Scarth Street at 11th Avenue

EVERYONE IS WELCOME

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL October 22 2009

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DEBTS TO PAY: TREATY RIGHTS AND BROKEN PROMISES

Posted by strattof on October 22, 2009

DEBTS TO PAY:

TREATY RIGHTS AND BROKEN PROMISES

 All Canadians benefit from the treaties signed between First Nations and the Canadian government. Regina, for example, is situated on land ceded under Treaty 4 in 1874. Under Treaty 4, the Cree and Salteaux First Nations relinquished most of current day southern Saskatchewan. In return, they received small parcels of land and other benefits, including education, housing, and health care.

 While First Nations have kept their side of the treaty agreements, the Canadian government has frequently broken the promises it made to First Nations. Here are some key facts and figures:

 LAND CLAIMS: There are two types of land claims in Canada, specific and comprehensive claims. Specific claims arise from the breach or non-fulfilment of government treaty obligations. Comprehensive claims arise in areas of Canada, such as British Columbia, where Aboriginal land rights have not been dealt with by past treaties.

  • There are currently between 800-1,000 unresolved specific land claims in Canada. 70 of these are in Saskatchewan.
  • The 2010 Olympic Games are being held on un-ceded First Nations territories in British Columbia and are providing mining, resort, real estate, and energy developers with opportunities to continue expansion of projects on First Nations territories throughout the province.

 EDUCATION: Education is the responsibility of Indian and Northern Affairs.

  • Since 1996, a 2% cap on funding increases has been in place for First Nations education. The cap does not keep pace with inflation or population growth.
  • First Nations students who attend school on reserves receive 30% less funding for education than other Canadian children. That’s $3,000 less per child, per annum. 
  • Only 20 of Saskatchewan’s 142 on-reserve schools are in good condition.
  • Between 2005 and 2008, 2,100 First Nations students in Saskatchewan were denied post-secondary education grants due to the 2% cap.

 HEALTH: Health services on reserves are the responsibility of Health Canada.

  • The First Nations infant mortality rate is 1.5 times higher than the Canadian infant mortality rate.
  • Tuberculosis rates on reserves are 8-10 times higher than those for the Canadian population.
  • During the recent H1N1 outbreak, the incidence per 100,000 for the Canadian population as a whole was 20. It was 135 per 100,000 for Manitoba First Nations.
  • Residents of northern Manitoba reserves waited for 17 days for H1N1 emergency supplies, including flu masks, respirators, and hand sanitizers.

 HOUSING: On reserve housing is the responsibility of Indian and Northern Affairs.

  • 26% of First Nations on reserve live in overcrowded houses.
  • Of the almost 96,000 houses in First Nation communities, more than 21,000 (21.9%) are in need of major repairs.
  • Almost 50% of First Nations households are contaminated by mould.
  • Although current figures are not available, some houses in First Nations communities are without running water. Hence the urgent need for hand-sanitizers during the recent H1N1 out-break.  

WATER: Safe drinking water in reserve communities is the responsibility of Health Canada.

  • In 2008, 93 First Nations communities lived under either boil water advisories or “Do Not Consume” orders. 

 Canada has already spent $22 billion on the war in Afghanistan, yet it  continues to neglect its promises to First Nations peoples                                                                                                                                                           

MAKING PEACE VIGIL August 20 2009

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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF POVERTY

Posted by strattof on October 22, 2009

POVERTY IN SASKATCHEWAN

LET’S MAKE POVERTY HISTORY! This Saturday, October 17, is International Day for the Elimination of Poverty.  We can begin to make poverty history in Saskatchewan by ●Eliminating income tax for those earning under $20,000 and making taxes more progressive ●Expanding affordable housing ●Guaranteeing a living wage for all workers ●Increasing Social Assistance and removing clawbacks  ●Ensuring universal access to quality childcare and early childhood education ●Eliminating the 2% cap on First Nations education funding and reducing postsecondary tuition for low-income students.

KEY SASKATCHEWAN POVERTY FIGURES

47,000             Number of women who live in poverty. That’s 13% of  all women in Saskatchewan.

35,000               Number of Saskatchewan men living in poverty. That’s 9% of all men in the province.

35,000             Number of Saskatchewan children living in poverty. After British Columbia and Manitoba, Saskatchewan has the highest child poverty rate in Canada.

24                    Per cent of single seniors in Saskatchewan who live in poverty.

9,300               Average amount, in dollars, a low-income family of two or more is below the poverty level.

28                    Per cent of total income after taxes received by the top 10% of Saskatchewan families with children. Over the past thirty years, the top ten per cent have dramatically increased their share of total income while the bottom half have lost.

18                    Per cent of income received by the bottom half of Saskatchewan families with children.

5-6                   Child poverty in Saskatchewan could be eliminated if each employee and each employer devoted 5-6 dollars per week to such a program.

5                      In low income areas of Saskatoon, children under one year of age are 5 times more likely to die than are children under one year of age in the rest of the city.

80                    Per cent of people on long-term Social Assistance who have disabilities.

345                  Number of people who are sleeping in homeless shelters in Regina every night.

0.7                   Per cent of rental units currently vacant in Regina. A balanced rate market vacancy rate is 3%.    

786                  Average monthly rent, in dollars, for a two bedroom apartment in Regina.

598                  Amount Social Assistance pays for shelter for a month for families with 1 2 children. That’s                $188 a month short of the average rent.                                                

1,000               Number of individuals served each day by the Regina and District Food Bank.

(For sources of above data, email paul.gingrich@uregina.ca)

 UPCOMING SOCIAL JUSTICE EVENTS IN REGINA

  • Friday October 16: The Future of Social Democracy in Canada: The Relevance of the Regina Manifesto in the 21st Century. Featured speakers are Armine Yalnizyan, Chief Economist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Murray Dobbin, author, activist and social critic. 7 pm, Education Auditorium, University of Regina.   
  • Tuesday October 20: Dignity for All: The Campaign for a Poverty-Free Canada. Featured speaker is Rob Rainer, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty. 12 noon-1 pm, Room 137, Education Building, University of Regina.

Let’s work to improve economic justice by eliminating poverty!

MAKING PEACE VIGIL October 15, 2009

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8TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Posted by strattof on October 22, 2009

8th ANNIVERSARY

OF THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

Eight years ago this month, on October 7 2001, Canadian troops first landed in Afghanistan. Now, after eight long years of war, the commander of US and NATO forces, General Stanley McChrystal, is calling for more troops. The last troop surge sent casualties on both sides soaring.

 Eight years of war have killed 134 Canadians, 1,272 other NATO soldiers, 10,000+ Afghan civilians, and untold thousands of Afghan soldiers.  

 Eight years of war have cost Canadian taxpayers $22 billion, money that could have been spent on health care, education, and poverty reduction.   

 Eight years of war have failed to bring the promised democracy, development, and peace to Afghanistan. According to a government report released in September, Kandahar province, where Canadians are fighting, is becoming more violent, less stable, and less secure by the month.

 Meanwhile, pressure grows on Canadians to extend the war beyond 2011, the supposed end-date to our combat mission:

  •  US government officials have been sounding out power brokers in Ottawa looking for advice on how to convince Canada to keep military forces in Afghanistan after 2011.
  •  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has asked Canada to reconsider leaving in 2011.
  •  In September, Prime Minister Harper said that Canada will remain beyond 2011 to engage in “a civilian humanitarian, development mission,” though officials admit that development work in Afghanistan requires combat troops for security.
  •  Just this week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said that a post-2011 military role remains an option for Canada and that a 300 soldier armed and armoured reconstruction team could be kept in Afghanistan beyond the deadline.

  These voices call for Canadians to start another decade of US-led warfare in Afghanistan in 2012, more than ten years after the current war began.

 When will it end?

 The incoming British Army Chief has said “stabilizing” Afghanistan could take four decades.

 NATO chief Fogh Rasmussen says “We will stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes to finish our job.”

 When will it end?

 When the majority gets its way. Most Canadians oppose the Afghanistan war, and want their country to chart a different course.

 When we change direction. War-supporters have had many years and many millions of dollars to prove violent conflict can solve the problems of Afghanistan and the wider world: their path has led nowhere.

 When we take action.  E-mail your MP and tell him Canada should work for peace, instead of preparing for further decades of war: Ray Boughen (bougenr@parl.gc.ca); Ralph Goodale (goodale@ sasktel.net); Tom Lukiwski (lukiwt@parl.gc.ca); Andrew Scheer (scheea@parl.gc.ca). 

  “This is not the way we put an end to war.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Universal Soldier 

MAKING PEACE VIGIL October 1 2009

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