Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

When Even The Bank Tells You To Spend More

The Toronto Dominion bank recently released a report (http://micro.newswire.ca/releases/April2003/22/c2879.html/62342-0) praising Alberta as being the only region in Canada that has U.S. levels of wealth while preserving the Canadian-style quality of life. The report is not all wine and roses however, and points out that in order to continue this achievement in the Calgary-Edmonton corridor, certain challenges must be seen and met.

One of the challenges it mentions early on is a possible shortage of labour in the future. The report goes on to say how this shortage of labour is a danger because of the low numbers of Alberta high school students that are going on to post-secondary.

When the banks are telling you, “You know, you should probably be spending more money,” it might be good advice to listen. Of course, Premier Klein’s response to this in the Edmonton Journal (http://canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/archives/story.asp?id=1C7C1F9D-3520-428F-A946-FBDA4FC5BEBC) is that there simply needs to be more job-directed training. Not post-secondary though, as he specifically says “Certainly it’s something that has been identified by industry as a whole, and that is the need to get more trained people — not necessarily degreed people — but trained people.” Because, after all, a post-secondary education has this nasty habit of teaching people to be more critical of what they read or hear, and that would make Mr. Klein’s job a lot more difficult, wouldn’t it?

Meanwhile In Manitoba

The Province of Manitoba has just released their 2003 budget (http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/2003/04/2003-04-22-02.html) . Like other provincial budgets I’ve briefly looked at in this column, and unlike Alberta’s budget, Manitoba seems to realize that easy access to education is a good investment. In Manitoba’s case, this translates to university tuitions being held to 10% below what they were in 1999.

Were AU to be able to offer fees of 10% below the 1999 levels and we would only be paying $335 dollars per three credit course instead of the over 500 dollars that the same course will cost us in just a few short months. What makes this hurt even more is that this is Manitoba doing this. When you hear about the economic power-houses in Canada, you tend to hear about Alberta, Ontario, and maybe Quebec. So why is it that Manitoba can afford to do this, while Alberta, with year after year of surplus budgets, cannot?

The answer of course, lies with our politicians. Somehow, each election time, a lot of people vote for the Progressive Conservatives and Premier Klein. Why, I really don’t know. I am hoping that perhaps one of those supposedly thousands of voters could explain this to me. What possessed you, when you were at the ballot box, to vote for a government that seems to only have one gear: hide the money?

The latest hiding spot for the money is of course the much hyped “sustainability fund”. This is to supposedly shield us from the sudden shortfalls in the budget that the Provincial Government has to unfortunately deal with every time contract negotiations roll around. Shortfalls that luckily seem to vanish when it comes time to decide whether our MLA’s should receive wage hikes.

SARS Stuff

You have most likely heard the uproar when the World Health Organization listed Toronto as a place to avoid due to risk of SARS, and how loudly the governments have complained about that ruling, but when you look at the statistics, you can understand why.

In the latest SARS report (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/pphb-dgspsp/sars-sras/eu-ae/sars20030422_e.html#international) you can compare the rates in Canada to rates in other countries. Canada’s infection-death ratio is one of the worst ratios across the entire globe. With the exception of countries that have had less than ten probable cases, Canada’s death ratio for SARS is the highest hovering at about 10% of probable cases. In comparison, China, the most heavily infected country, looks to have a death rate of less than half of that.

Since it seems that your chances of dying from SARS are worse in Toronto than anywhere else in the world, it certainly makes sense to me to warn people to be careful about going there. Of course, this is not helped when the nursing staff starts to quit (http://www.canada.com/national/features/sars/story.html?id=DF5AC1E9-BFEF-4175-84C8-5F1B822C1EC9) due to the pressures of working with the disease. If the health care system is that fragile in Ontario that such a small outbreak (and really, when you look at the number of people in Toronto compared to the numbers infected, it’s small) can start making the nurses quit, we need some serious investigation into exactly what is going on.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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