Going Too Far?
I’m not a smoking advocate. The costs of it, both to individuals and the public, are simply too great to ignore. It’s a bad habit and I have absolutely no sympathy if the tobacco producing companies are driven out of business.
That said, with British Columbia recently having ruled that it’s legal for governments to create legislation that allows them to sue the tobacco companies for the costs their products cause to the health system, other provinces were sure to follow suit. Nova Scotia is one such province, and has published a release indicating that it will be following B.C.’s lead. (http://www.gov.ns.ca/news/details.asp?id=20051013005)
This does not strike me as a good thing, and I hope that if the provinces receive any victory at all, it is only for damages caused while the cigarette companies were lying about the addictive nature of their products. The reason for this is that if a product manufacturer can be sued for health costs simply because of their product causing harm, this opens the door to any number of companies being sued, including car manufacturers for the time period when they were not including air bags in their vehicles, liquor distilleries and bars, fast food restaurants, chocolate manufacturers, and indeed any company that creates products which might not be very healthy.
In addition, one interesting item this has brought to light is that the taxes paid by cigarette purchasers more than cover the health care costs associated with health problems caused by smoking. If cigarette purchases are already paying for the damage they do, suing them for it again does seem to be unfair.
Post-Secondary Education Becoming Basic
Statistics Canada has released a report showing that the number of 18-24 year olds enrolling in post-secondary education has shown “its strongest increase in 28 years” (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/051011/d051011b.htm). Statistics Canada notes that a likely cause for this increase is that “more entry-level jobs in today’s economy require higher post-secondary qualifications than in the past.”
This is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. As we increasingly figure out how to automate the “easy” stuff, all that will be left is the “hard” stuff, the things that require original thought or creativity. While it’s possible for a person to be creative without any type of post-secondary education, the more you know, the easier it is to join various facts to come up with something truly original.
Yet despite this, and despite the federal government claiming that it wants Canada to be a leader in innovation and in the information society, it still has no ministry, nor even a general strategy, for advanced education across the nation. Only when the Liberal government became a minority government were we able to force them to follow their words about post-secondary education with action, and then only because the government was relying on support from the NDP to stay in power.
Perhaps it’s finally time for the federal government to put our money where its mouth is, rather than where its pockets are. The only way to do that, however, is for each of us to write the current Minister of Human Resources Development, Brenda Stronach, and let her know we understand that Canada’s future relies on the education of Canada’s citizens.
Thinking Small in Alberta
Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Ann McLellan recently announced almost 4 million dollars will be going to the University of Alberta for the National Institute of Nano-Technolgy’s Innovation Centre (http://news.gc.ca/cfmx/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=17448). The money will go toward “finishing construction and designing of the fourth floor” of the centre, “as well as outfitting and furnishing for-lease offices and labs.”
You’d think that a place devoted to studying small things wouldn’t need all the space of four floors, but what I really wonder about is why is the money going toward building “for-lease” spaces? I understand that it may be an attractive option for the institute to try to fund itself, but managing for-lease spaces means having administration dollars devoted specifically to leasing, and not to the stated purpose of the institute. Either that or the building is owned by some private developer, and this is really just another corporate subsidy program. Still, every little bit helps.