Alberta’s march towards private healthcare
Jeremy here again for your October 14 newsletter. You’re going to have to bear with me breaking down the news for the second day in a row. Apologies to my enemies.
Today we’ve got massive layoffs in Alberta’s healthcare sector, more anti-Mi’kmaw violence in Nova Scotia, a voluntary municipal handgun ban doomed to failure and Canadian military psyops with shady connections.
Alberta Opens Door To Health Care Privatization By Contracting Out Services
Yesterday, Alberta health minister and neighbour berater Tyler Shandro announced up to 11,000 hospital worker layoffs, most of which will be made through contracting out services. This sets the stage for the healthcare privatization many feared when the United Conservatives took power last year. The positions to be contracted out include caretaking, food services, laboratories and laundry.
The CBC obtained an Alberta government memo that said nurses and other frontline workers were on the chopping block. They reached out to the health ministry for comment, and while waiting to hear back the ministry told Postmedia the full, official details, which ultimately included no firings of frontline staff. However, 800 frontline jobs will be shed through attrition.
Shandro said he expects the plan to save up to $600 million annually over three years. The more extreme draft plan, which was dated July 29, anticipated savings between $837 million and $1.2 billion each year, with 10,300 full-time positions eliminated. This from a government that cut the corporate tax rate by four percentage points in its first year in office.
Labour leaders, as you may imagine, are not too pleased. Here’s what some of them told the Ceeb:
- “When this all comes out, it is going to be a powder keg — and that powder keg could blow.” — Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) vice-president Susan Slade.
- “Obviously we’re going to do everything we can to fight these job losses at the bargaining table and in the streets.” — AUPE president Guy Smith.
- “I think my members would respond the way any worker would to the notion that an employer is just going to bore full speed ahead with decimating workplaces and refusing to give any consideration to assisting employees that they are discarding. People will only take so much.” — United Nurses of Alberta president Heather Smith.
Context: In February, a government-commissioned report from accounting firm Ernst & Young called for significant restructuring of Alberta’s public healthcare system. The report identified $1.9 billion in potential savings for Alberta Health Services, including contracting out services, ending coverage of certain treatments the government deems to be “of limited clinical value,” unilaterally cutting radiologists’ pay and closing rural hospitals.The draft plan was a response to this report. So more cuts are coming. It’s just a question of their severity.
- Mi’kmaw lobster fisher Jason Marr had to barricade himself in a lobster pound yesterday as a mob of settler fishers threatened to burn his boat and take his catch. They also burned and vandalized vehicles, including Marr’s.
- “They slashed the tires. I watched one guy pee in the driver’s seat of my truck. Another guy poured a jug of some antifreeze or something down inside my gas tank. Another guy poured a jug of something down the vents in the heaters of my truck.” — Marr
- Marr recorded about an hour of footage, in which he steps outside and several RCMP officers apparently standing guard tell him to get back inside. Eventually, the cops grab him by the arm and tell him to leave.
- “They totally annihilated that building, just tore it all apart. They took all the lobster.” — Marr
- Context: The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that the Mi’kmaw have a right to earn a “moderate livelihood” through fishing in the offseason. The Sipekne’katik First Nation opened a self-regulated fishery in September, sparking a backlash from commercial fishers, who are more concerned with their business’s profitability than treaty rights.
- Following through on a characteristically half-assed attempt to stem gun violence, the federal Liberals are allowing municipalities to ban handguns if they so choose.
- The problem is, of course, that a municipal handgun ban isn’t effective unless surrounding municipalities also prohibit handguns.
- “You can’t have a checkerboard of jurisdictions that have different handgun rules.” — Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president and Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita.
- Gun control advocate Heidi Rathjen says a national ban is the only appropriate course of action, a position shared by Toronto Mayor John Tory.
- “No municipality, no police force, no gun-control organization asked for municipal bans. To us, this is a way for the Liberals to look like they’re doing something on handguns when you know the outcome is a big question mark.” — Rathjen
ICYMI: Canadian Military Spent More Than $1 Million On Propaganda Campaign Linked To Cambridge Analytica
The Ottawa Citizen reports that the Canadian military has spent more than $1 million on behaviour modification training from a British company associated with the now-defunct SCL Group, the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, which gave the personal data of 30 million Facebook users to Donald Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign.
Two contracts for training military and civilian public affairs staff with Emic Consulting, whose director previously worked for SCL, were revealed Monday in a report from Emma Briant, an expert in military propaganda at Bard College in the U.S.
A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence says the purpose of the training is to assist in planning strategic communications campaigns, or as Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance has ominously called it, the “weaponization of public affairs.”
Back in July, as part of this initiative, a team assigned to Canadian military intelligence mined data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit accounts in Ontario, which was purportedly done to assist the military’s work in long-term care facilities. The data included basic information about the homes, as well as the public’s negative reaction to the government’s handling of the COVID crisis in long-term care.
That’s a wrap on today’s Passage Daily. Stay tuned to your inbox tomorrow for more analysis of the news from a perspective you won’t get elsewhere.