Better education, more taxes, more public spending addresses economic inequality in Canada: SFU professor

With the rate of job inequality growing in Canada, one Simon Fraser University economics professor says improving education, changing labour laws and increase public spending will minimize the inequality gap.

Krishna Pendakur gave a public lecture to a packed room in Burnaby this week. The lecture was called “What does inequality really mean in Canada? Ninety-nine per cent of us want to know.”

Other suggestions in the lecture include strengthening unionization and raising the minimum wage.

After talking about the distribution of wealth in Canada and how the nation compares to the rest of the world, historically to present day, Pendakur addressed what the Canadian systems and its citizens can do to reduce inequality.

One suggestion is taxation.

“Tax rates have been declining in Canada since the late 1990s.”

Taxation supports public spending, he said, and public spending goes to citizens in need of resources and social services.

“The federal government writes a lot of cheques,” he said.

Public spending is a move towards reducing inequality.

Pendakur said, “When you reduce taxing, you reduce public spending.”

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Whistler resident made it to Mars One’s next round, is one of 100 hopefuls

Reported by Natasha Chang, Mel Edgar, James Goldie and Deanna Cheng

Students in Mount Currie, B.C., had an out-of-this-world assembly Monday morning—their teacher, Joanna Hindle, could be jetting off on a mission to the red planet.

Hindle is currently a teaching English at Xit’olacw Community School at the Lil’wat Nation in Mount Currie. The brainchild of Dr. Norbert Kraft, Mars One aims to put a permanent human settlement on Mars by 2025. Hindle has made it to the third round of screening to be part of the Mars One.

She’ll be 52 by the time she gets to Mars, if she’s successfully chosen for Mars One. “My interest in our galaxy has stemmed from more romantic places, like Wordsworth’s description of the ruddy crest of Mars,” she said in her self-introduction video.

According to Hindle, her personality is a fit for this one-way Mars mission because she never gets bored. “I’m going to bring all the books with me, not in paper of course. I think we’re going to be a little tight on space.”

There are several big reasons why Hindle said she wants to go to Mars: “The opportunity to learn is unequaled, the refusal to adhere to the boundaries we create for ourselves in our cultures and our societies, the imaginative minds that are ignoring those boundaries and to celebrate humanity’s willingness to go and adventure.”

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District of North Vancouver communities want more information on proposed transit tax

One community in the District of North Vancouver is for the transit tax hike while other communities seeks more information on the situation.

The Mayors’ Council will ask in the upcoming plebiscite for transportation funding if Metro Vancouver people are willing to pay an extra 0.5-per-cent increase in the provincial sales tax.

Corrie Kost, executive member of the Edgemont and Upper Capilano Community Association, said, “Show me the money.”

As a retired scientist, he wants facts. Until there is a defined cost-benefit analysis plan, Kost remains in the “No” camp.

On the Mayors’ Council transportation website, the plan for the North Shore is mostly focused on improving public transit in the City of North Vancouver and not so much on the District of North Vancouver.

The website promises 50 per cent more SeaBus service with “increased frequency to provide service every 10 minutes in the a.m. and p.m. peak periods and every 15 minutes at other times.”

Kost said, “A third seabus has been promised for the last 20 years. [Politicians] didn’t follow through many times in the past. It kills their credibility.”

He remains adamant for specific numbers, especially how much residents will receive for the dollar amount they invest.

On the other side of the fence, Rene Gourley, chairman of Delbrook Community Association, said people within his community are a bit more informed than anyone else and they’re for the tax hike because they understand the need for transit options, especially with the older generations.

“It requires strong knees and strong hearts to get around,” he said. “We live on a hill.”

Buses are needed, said Gourley. Otherwise there would be too many cars on the road.

He said, “We’re a car-centric community, a secure standard suburb.”

Looking towards the Blueridge Community Association, the co-chairperson said people aren’t informed enough to state anything firmly.

Eric Godot Andersen said there would be a meeting at the library at Blueridge Elementary School about this specific issue. He’s inviting a speaker from the “Yes” side and from the “No” side to illuminate what the consequences are. No one is confirmed at this time.

The meeting is on March 24, 2015 at 7 p.m.

TransLink’s transit plan for the North Shore claims its goal is to increase transit travel by 50 per cent by 2040.

Indigenous chief boosts sense of identity through arts, receives Order of BC

ORDER OF B.C. photo

Chief Chester Moore

One chieftain has been recognized for his continuous efforts in preserving and sharing the Nisga’a culture in indigenous communities throughout the province.

Chief Chester Moore, a hereditary chieftain from the Nisga’a community of Gingolx, was awarded with the Order of B.C. last November. As an individual who wasn’t sent to a residential school, Moore has the opportunity of a traditional upbringing and shares his experience through the arts.

His stepdaughter Francine Gail Gurney said, “He’s always teaching and never hesitates to teach.”

The 50-year-old said he is gentle with everyone and the children call him “ye’e,” a term of endearment which means “grandfather.”

Moore’s biography on the government website said he has been actively composing songs, choreographing dance groups and drum drills, teaching carving and cultural practices since the early 1970s.

Gurney was in her 30s when Moore and her mother starting dating. His presence has enriched people’s lives, especially hers.

“I was the shiest person around,” Gurney said. “I wasn’t confident in myself. Once he started teaching our [dance group] – oh my gosh – everything just opened up. Connection to our songs, connection the dance. It was pretty amazing. Things just got better from there.”

As people learned the dance, the group just grew, she said.

“At my first practice, I was so emotional, so emotional about having the opportunity to learn. It just makes me emotional even thinking about it because it touches my life in such a way that my whole perspective on our culture just opened up.”

Dance practice and music helped Gurney heal from the racism she faced while growing up.

“I was ashamed of our native language, our culture,” she said. “I was ashamed. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it until I was exposed to that. It’s OK to be First Nations. It’s OK to identify as a First Nations person.

“The way I grew up, I was constantly talked down to, made fun of, and bullied. Made ashamed of my colour, tradition, culture. Racism.”

Moore, through his teachings, cultivated a sense of pride in the identity in the Nisga’a community.

Gurney continues to dance and she said holds her head up high now. She doesn’t have the same reaction to racist comments or attitudes.

Moore was unavailable to comment by press time.

Canada’s asphalt shingle production, shipment on decline: report

There has been a decline in production and shipment of asphalt shingles from July to Nov. 2014 across the country, according to Statistics Canada.

Ivan van Spronsen, executive vice president of Roofing Contractors Association of British Columbia, said he has seen an increase of density and it is most likely the factor in decline. More floors are added, not roofs.

“Asphalt is normally used for residential areas, not commercial or industrial,” he said.

Almost 23 per cent of asphalt shingles produced and shipped nationally go to British Columbia. The figure in the report for B.C. includes the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

B.C. has the highest population with roughly 4.6 million people. It is about 41 per cent of the total population of the four provinces and territories.

The market used to be homegrown but it’s changing now, said van Spronsen. “There’s also a proliferation of American producers of asphalt shingles flowing the market. A lot of product coming from down below.”

Van Spronsen said despite this, the market is still holding its own.

According to BC Stats, 28,046 residential building permits were issued in 2013. In the previous year, 27, 214 permits were issued.

This report by Statistics Canada measures, on a monthly basis, the quantities of asphalt roofing products produced and shipped by Canadian manufacturers. It was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Asphalt Shingle Manufacturers’ Association and the responses were voluntary.

Nootka Elementary’s 50th Anniversary Celebration a huge success

Nootka's 50th Birthday

SAM TO photo

A dapper Jeff Brooks coaxes people to enter Nootka’s 50/50 draw.

In one corner of the field, kids jumped frantically on the giant yellow bouncy castle while in another corner, crowds enjoyed the entertainment and info booths under the festive white tents. A red fire truck parked beside the gym as music blasted from the covered area.

On May 3, families with strollers and umbrellas flocked to Nootka’s Spring Carnival and Auction event to celebrate the school’s 50th birthday. Proceeds from the carnival will cover the Nootka Parent Advisory Council’s budget and the rest will go towards a new playground.

“It was a huge success,” said Hollie Brooks, carnival organizer and volunteer on Nootka PAC’s fundraising committee. “We raised around $15,000 for the playground.”

Continue reading my article in the June issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood community newspaper on page 8.