Them Pussycats is Quick!


When I spent a week in the hospital I made a discovery; the food is disgusting.

Let me explain.

Years ago I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre in the kitchen. Now, I wouldn’t recommend that food for any five star nights out but it wasn’t bad. Perhaps a bit bland but otherwise edible. I say this so you will understand how bad hospital food actually is.

There were many meals where the smell of the food alone was enough to turn my stomach. There was one particular meal, I couldn’t tell you what the meat was, where it was so bad I was unable to eat anything because the smell was so pungent. It smelled like a combination of bad body odor and wet dog farts. For anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating, let me assure you I’m not.

At some point I felt I should go around the hospital to see if there were any stray cats because I had a sickening feeling I knew what each meal’s mystery meat was.

And the coffee.

This wasn’t even close to anything that could remotely be called coffee. It was brown and liquid but that was all it had in common with coffee. And, yes, it did taste a lot like something you might find in your toilet during a bout of the flu.

In short, the food was just this side of inedible and they’re feeding this to people who are sick and injured. Doesn’t that count as cruel and unusual punishment?

But let’s put that aside for a moment. The truth is there is not one person sitting in the legislature that would ever put up with eating food this bad for a single second. Yet I know that it’s possible to supply a large group of people better tasting food. We did it when I worked at the Edmonton Remand Centre (although admittedly I don’t know what it’s like now).

So can anyone tell me where our health care dollars are going? It’s certainly not to quality food. Anyone with any ounce of sense knows how important good, healthy food is to healing yet our government can’t even be bothered to find out if the food is edible or not.

I have a sneaking suspicion I know exactly where our health care dollars are going and it’s not to the care, diagnoses and recuperation of the sick, injured and disabled in Alberta. We have a health care system that is top heavy and is clogged with management. Again and again I’ve heard those in the health care industry whisper to me about how many managers and supervisors they have to report to. Those whispers come secretively because they’re afraid to speak out and they know those higher ups will do their best to stop any change.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just hospitals and clinics that are top heavy. It’s all over Alberta Health. Go to their administration offices sometime and count the number in managerial or supervisory positions. Now add in various bonuses and quirks like meetings that happen on the golf course. Yes, free golfing for those in Alberta Health in manager positions.

Are you angry yet?

There is a reason the food is inedible. There is a reason there’s a three-year waiting list for a hip replacement. There is a reason hospitals in Edmonton have equipment that’s falling apart. There is a reason there’s not enough long term care facilities.

That reason is fat cats sitting in positions of power that don’t want to give up their space at the trough. Isn’t it time we demanded an accounting for our dollars? How is it that countries like Iceland or Denmark or Finland can do it and we can’t? The wait lists for NECESSARY surgery and long term care are getting longer and absolutely nothing is being done about it. Why aren’t we screaming about those at the top getting cushy wages at the expense of Albertans’ health?

I hope the cats know to steer clear of Edmonton hospitals. I’m pretty sure I know what the mystery meat is.

The Saga of the Commode

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As my readers are aware, I just finished a week in the hospital and I want to share some of the highlights of my stay. Today I’d like to talk about the Saga of the Commode. So sit and grab yourself a coffee. This is a story that never should have happened.

Before I talk about the commode, I need to do two things; explain what a commode exactly is and why I needed it.

A commode is a device that helps a person get to the toilet to do their business. It looks a lot like a chair with wheels and a hole in the seat that your ass hangs out of so you can do your deed. The patient (me, in this case) sits on the seat and a nurse or nurse’s aide can then wheel me into the bathroom. As a diabetic, I used this device a lot. The aides decided they didn’t want to perform this task and that I was perfectly capable of walking into the bathroom on my own after the second day there. I wasn’t and I’ll explain why.

This whole thing started when I slipped and fell on a wet floor and sprained the MCL ligament in my knee. Now, had things been normal, that would have been no big deal as I could have compensated for it and gone on with my life. However, things in my life are rarely normal.

Prior to this injury I had done the following;

  • Radial head fracture to the left elbow – January 2018
  • Radial head fracture to the right elbow – April 2019
  • Prior reconstruction of the ACL ligament in the left knee – 2005
  • Degenerative arthritis in the right knee

The problem was my body was so banged up that I simply couldn’t compensate for the new injury and, as a result, kept falling. After I wound up in emergency for the fifth time I demanded they admit me. I knew going home was a death trap for me. I live alone and have no one to help (more on that later).

That brings me to the commode. It was a lifesaver for me. By the time I was in the hospital, I was simply unable to walk the short distance to the bathroom. To hell with dignity, I needed to pee.

The first commode I was given had only three barely functioning brakes on it. The brakes are important when you’re getting in and out of it, especially when you’re prone to falling like I was. Having brakes that didn’t work meant I was taking my life in my hands every time I went pee. Thus, the nurses and aides were relegated to the duty of using their body weight to keep the thing still.

I’m a large woman. If that thing slipped, not only was I going to do damage to myself but I was taking out whatever poor sod had the misfortune of trying to keep the thing still.

The second commode had functioning brakes but the armrests fell off leaving two metal spikes where the armrests should be. One nurse scratched herself on it and another commode was found.

The third commode had one functioning armrest and three decent brakes. It still was a bit shaky but better than the first two. Problem was it was narrow and me and my roommate were of the larger lady part of the population. It was like trying to pee with my legs crossed.

So this got me thinking. I looked at other equipment in the room. Tables designed to go over the bed had barely functioning wheels and couldn’t be raised or lowered at all. There was one chair in the room for visitors which was all right since that wasn’t much of a problem for me. A TV was mounted on the wall but had long lost its remote meaning that a nurse or aide had to change the channel and adjust the volume at all times. Rule became pick one channel for the day. A&E is far more interesting than I thought.

There were chairs that some of the elderly patients would be placed in that desperately needed replacing. Wheelchairs that looked like they were ready to give up the ghost and more that I’m sure I wasn’t aware of. Even the bathroom was problematic as it was placed directly behind the room’s door which was an accident waiting to happen.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton is supposed to be one of the more well-equipped and maintained hospitals in Alberta. That’s what I was told, anyways, but it’s not. The truth is that the equipment meant to make patients comfortable is old and falling apart. So much so that jerry-rigging was an everyday occurrence for the staff.

Can anyone tell me why this hospital, or any hospital in Alberta, is in this state? It was disgusting to see staff and patients struggling with substandard equipment and rooms (which, by the way, have no air conditioning nor way to move air in them. In an Edmonton summer that means you are roasting in a very stifling room).

Sarah Hoffman had four years to make a difference. Now we have Tyler Shandro, a man I have zero confidence in, and I still don’t see anything changing. Is this what we Albertans want our health care to look like? Do we want a health care system that jerry-rigs equipment and overworks staff? That’s when accidents happen and in the medical profession accidents can be deadly.

It is time we Albertans started demanding an accounting of where our health tax dollars are going. Next time it could be you or your loved one in the hospital and Albertans deserve far better than this.

A Week in the Hospital

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I recently spent a week at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta due to repeated falls. It’s a rather involved story as to how I got there but that’s not my point today. Today I’d rather talk about the hospital and some of the conditions.



First, I want to say the nurses were amazing. They all deserve raises. Especially Rosy and Aisha (who work on Section 44). They listened to my fears as though they were profound and always took me seriously. I want to be one of those people who say they do not get paid enough to do what they do and still keep a smile on their face.

Doctors and Therapists

I know they’re busy and, gosh, I didn’t help. However, the doctors and therapists came through. After the tests were run and it turned out to be something fairly minor, they still treated me with respect and dignity.

Nurses’ Aides

This is where things take a dark turn. Some of the aides were helpful and kind but I found that was not the norm. Rather, I found many of them were terse to the point of being rude. They refused to take my concerns seriously and often gave me snarky responses to my questions. Crying (which I did a lot) was met with eye rolls they thought I couldn’t see. Concerns for my safety or well-being were answered with a click of the tongue they thought I couldn’t hear. At one point I had to ring my bedside alarm SIX TIMES before the nurse herself finally came in (she was on her way to another room). Having my alarm ignored was a common practice by the aides. One aide said she thought if she waited I would fall back asleep. My roommate didn’t fare any better with them and I gave up on trying to reason with them.

Going Home

My experience in the hospital gave me a perspective on Alberta’s Health Care system that shocked and alarmed me. This week I’m going to do a series on that experience that will hopefully show people just what’s happening with their tax dollars. To say we can, and should, do better is an understatement. The care that’s being provided is the absolute bare minimum and that minimum isn’t even the best care available. Old and broken equipment, underpaid staff, snarky and rude staff, inedible food…. Albertans should be demanding better for their tax dollars. After a week in the hospital I’ve got only one question:

What is the Alberta Government doing with the money that is supposed to allocated to health care? Why are hospitals having to deal with substandard equipment and food? Where, exactly, dollar for dollar, are our tax dollars going?

Next I will write about my adventures in the emergency room.

The Circus of Alberta Politics

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I am sick to fucking death of #Ableg and what passes for politics in this province. It’s like a bad version of the song, “Stuck in the Middle With You”

“Clowns to the left of me,

Jokers to the right…”

“Stuck in the Middle With You” – Stealers Wheels

And what’s in the centre is starting to look like the goo left in the container in my fridge (sorry, Greg Clark, but it is). We have these three candidates all talking and not a single one is listening. It’s like a bad script that the Three Stooges turned down. The only thing missing is the theme song from American Horror Story. Since our beloved leaders insist on acting like refugees from a bad sitcom, then I’ll treat them as such.


Rachel Notley as the “Good Girl”

Notley will be that proverbial “good girl” who is always trying to do right. She’s the one with the latest fashions and is always involved in all the groups. A cheerleader by nature, there’s nothing she can’t do (except get a pipeline but, by golly, she’s trying). She can flip from being a geek to being an ally in the blink of an eye. You think she’s everyone’s best friend and confident. However, beneath this sparkly exterior is an interior you should beware of. She makes promises and then half-fulfills them. Said she was going to end poverty and then the bulk of the changes she makes only affects children because adults in poverty don’t make feel good stories. Oh and she’s a member of the Glee Club, too.

Jason Kenney as the “Villain”

Kenney thinks of himself as some kind of Sauron figure who is all-knowing and has a ring of power. The truth is he’s more of a Gollum figure who’s tricksy but not much else. He treats people in the same way Gollum fishes. Grabs them by his bare hands and then smashes them against a rock while singing. He’s forever searching for his Precious but those damn hobbits (the media) keep getting in his way. I’m pretty sure there’s a giant spider out there he’s friends with, too, but that may just be my imagination.

Stephen Mandel as the “Heroic Wannabe”

Mandel has this picture in his mind where he’s a cross between the star quarterback and the nature loving hippie. The truth is that he’s so focused on his image and people’s perceptions of him that he never stops to think that he’s actually doing damage. Everyone loves him and when he saves us we’ll thank him (yeah, I’d still love to thank him for that monstrosity in Edmonton called Roger’s Place Arena). The rest of us peons are too simple to understand the grandiosity of his plans. He’s a member of the Glee Club, too but has trouble staying on key.

I am sick to death of the mockery that has become Alberta politics. I look at my friends and see them hurting because of politicians who don’t really give a damn about the people they’re supposed to be serving. Like my one friend who’s been waiting 3 YEARS for a hip replacement and can barely walk some days. Or my other friend who was working above minimum wage before the increase. Now she’s just making minimum wage and there’s no raise in sight. She works for a small business owner who pays her what they can as it is. Or my other friend who finds himself at the whims in the Alberta Oilsands industry. Not one of them is being heard by the politicians who run around in some horrific slapstick of what the Alberta Legislature is supposed to be. Let’s not even start talking about the reconciliation that’s supposed to be happening or the future of AISH recipients once they age out at 65. None of this even touches on rents skyrocketing in Edmonton or the problems in healthcare. Not one of them has even looked at the base amounts for those on Income Support (which haven’t changed since the late 70s). You want a laugh? Ask any one of them what they think about the Universal Basic Income program.

The only person in all of this who has ever approached me to listen to my fears and frustrations was Greg Clark. A man I supported until Mandel stole the leadership away from him. Am I bitter? Yes. Clark is everything a politician is supposed to be and now he’s relegated to the back seat. I guess that’s what you get for actually caring about your constituents.

I’m done. This whole thing makes me sick.

Media and Politics

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When I was a 20-something with big dreams, no clue and a broken inner compass, I decided on journalism. As someone with Nonverbal Learning Disorder (although I didn’t know it at the time), journalism was perfect for me. Tell the story, don’t get involved, know all the facts. The rules were clear. I could do this.

Journalism is a weird hybrid, inbred creature. A journalist does not involve themselves in the story. A journalist is merely a tool to help tell the story. I loved being able to chase a story down and then getting that last minute twist that threw everything you thought you knew out the window.

See, here’s the rules; the journalist is unbiased. No matter your own personal beliefs, you tell the story as it comes to you. That’s it. You don’t get an opinion. The story is the telling of facts. You don’t omit or twist facts to get the story you want. A journalist works for their readers. Not the paper or station, not the editor or owner. The audience. A slant is allowed but if the slant breaks the rules, it’s out. You have the option of not telling a story.

That’s how it used to work. Now, the audience new they weren’t getting the whole story sometimes or there were some stories that were buried but the media was trusted to tell the truth. However, in the last couple of decades or so something bizarre has happened in the world of media.

It used to be that the media was owned by various people. In my own city of Edmonton, Alberta, the people that owned The Edmonton Journal were different from those who owned The Edmonton Sun. Now both are owned by Postmedia. These are the same people that own The Calgary Herald, The Calgary Sun and The Daily Herald-Tribune in Grande Prairie. One media company owns all the major daily newspapers (or dailies) in Alberta.

Why is this frightening?

Traditionally the media has been a watchdog of politicians. Watergate never would have been uncovered if it hadn’t been for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post. However, lately things have changed and it all has to do with who owns what.

When the media was in the hands of smaller companies, they competed with each other to get the story out. That was journalism. They also competed to ensure they were more trustworthy than the other. Now that the media is owned by a few large corporations there is no drive to keep them trustworthy. A large corporation with a large wallet doesn’t really care about a few small lawsuits. The media is no longer driven by the public’s need to know. Now it’s being driven by a corporation’s need to get information out. More specifically, get the right information out.

Back in May of 2015, The Edmonton Journal acknowledged that Postmedia told them to write a story endorsing Jim Prentice’s bid for Premier of Alberta. Not only did they tell the Journal to do this but they also told The Edmonton Sun, The Calgary Herald and The Calgary Sun to do the same thing.

Are you scared yet?

Now Alberta elected Premier Rachel Notley and we’re now seeing her being vilified in major media. There’s some seepage happening, too. She’s also being demonized in major social media as well. Social media that media outlets are quick to use. Truth be told, Notley could save orphans from a burning building and they’d nail her to a tree saying she didn’t prevent the fire.

And this is happening throughout the western world.

We learned that fake news was happening online and that major media was picking up on those stories. It’s part of how Donald Trump got elected. The same thing is happening here in Canada. Look at the mess that is Doug Ford and if you think he’s content with Ontario, think again.

This isn’t ending. It’s just beginning. I’m not one to cry wolf but I see a furry dog-like creature heading our way and its hungry.

The Housing Crisis as Seen From Below

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There is a new bill up for debate in the Alberta Legislature that would end child-free housing in Alberta. What this means is there would no longer be anymore adult only buildings. This sounds great on paper and, as a matter of fact, Mark Holmgren, a man I admire greatly, advocates for it on his blog post. However, the idea horrifies me and I don’t think people have thought this through completely.

I don’t have kids for a reason and I don’t want to be around them. I’ve said this before in previous posts and, yes, that makes me an asshole. However, that’s not why I’m against this. The only reason this is up for debate in the Alberta Legislature is because kids make for a great photo op and politicians earn brownie points when they look like they’re fighting for kids. Let’s look at the real cost of this bill, shall we? Here I present three real life stories of people I know who will be impacted negatively by this bill.

Lady Grace

I’m going to call this lady Grace because she’s tried to live her life with the kind of grace and acceptance that few attain.

Grace wanted to be a mother all her life. When she was very small she’d play with her dolls, caring for them as if they were live babies. She never resented helping her mother care for her younger siblings. She looked forward to a time when she would have children of her own.

She married a wonderful man and became pregnant right away. Sadly, she lost the baby in the first trimester. Then there was a second. Then a third. Then a hysterectomy. Her husband felt helpless and their marriage didn’t survive.

No one knows the pain of losing a child unless you’ve been through it. Grace battled depression even as she desperately tried to move on with her life. Yes, she could have adopted but she never quite bounced back from those three miscarriages.

Grace now lives in adult-only buildings. Living next door to families is just too much for  her to deal with and can spin her downward into a suicidal spin. Now, though, she may have no choice. So her life is put at risk so politicians can earn brownie points.


Ernie was severely and repeatedly abused by his father from a very young age. His father was a sexual sadist who would alternate between beating and raping him. Ernie survived his childhood by running away and eventually getting help to deal with his demons.

One of his demons involves pedophilia. Even though he’s never looked at a child sexually or even thought about it, Ernie is afraid that what his father did to him left him damaged in ways that have yet to manifest. This is one of the things he sees a psychologist for. His biggest fear is that he will turn into his father.

As a result, Ernie lives in adult only buildings. Living next to children is terrifying to him. Whether the world understands it or not, Ernie is trying to keep himself safe. Now, though, he will have to sacrifice his security so politicians can have the opportunity to say they’re fighting for families.


I live with Nonverbal Learning Disorder. An easy way to understand this is if ADD and Autism had a love child, it’d be NLD. As a result, I often suffer from sensory overload which causes me to try and focus on every single thing I’m seeing and hearing at the same time. Yes, this leads to panic attacks.

I currently live in a family friendly complex and it’s a fresh version of hell daily. Kids screech at volumes best reserved for slasher flicks. Parents yell, bringing up memories of my own abusive home life growing up. I am now doing my best to save up so I can move into a building that doesn’t have children.

Am I selfish? Probably. The truth is I don’t want to have to pay daily because someone else chose to have children. I don’t think I’m out of line here when I say please don’t inflict your children on me.


Should there be more family-friendly housing in Alberta? Hell yes. Then again, there should be more adult only housing. More senior’s housing. More housing for veterans. More low income housing period. However, if we want to look at the truth of the situation, let’s look back to those same politicians who are wringing their hands over a lack of housing for children.

Here in Edmonton there has been a frenzy of development for the kind of neighbourhoods that house the good folks. You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Boxy little houses in boxy little neighbourhoods with boxy little people leading boxy little lives. They regulate everything from what kind of fence you can have to what kind of grass you can plant so they can always be assured that housing values will always rise. That way the good folk never have to worry about *that* element in their neighbourhood.

Worse is what has happened downtown. Luxury highrises going up faster than a porn star’s dick. Oh sure they look beautiful and I’m sure they have amazing features and views. The result of these highrises is always the same; rent prices increase in a city where a cheap one bedroom costs upward of $1000/month. Capital Region Housing Corporation is overwhelmed already and these highrises do nothing but cause more strain on an already overburdened system.

Want to know who’s to blame for the current housing problem the poor face? Point your fingers to greedy developers who build faster than they can sell and the politicians who approve those developments while older and poorer neighbourhoods go overlooked yet again. The poor are pushed into those neighbourhoods where crime is rampant until the benevolent politician gods see them and decide to develop them. Then rents rise again and the poor move again.

Eliminating adult only buildings is only going to cause more problems and is just another band aid fix to a problem capitalism and politicians created. There is a fix to this problem but not one politician wants to take a look at it. It’s called the Basic Income Program.

But, fuck it. The poor only matter as a photo op.

Poor Little Girl

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Alison Redford looking up at ceiling as she resigns from office

Alison Redford

I am sending out a call to all Albertans. To the left is the iconic picture of Alison Redford during her resignation speech. I want everyone who reads this blog to take this picture and caption it.


Redford’s contempt for the role to which we elected her continues to grow to unbelievable proportions and we Albertans keep putting up with it. There’s no answers coming out of either the Legislature or the PCs. Alberta’s journalists are trying to do their part, asking questions that need to be answered but that’s only a small part of the equation. Our elected officials should be rattling their cages in response to her disappearance.

However, she’s not really gone, is she?

Nope. We know exactly where Redford is. She’s in Palm Springs. So Redford calls sick into work and then plays hooky. Okay. We’ve all done it. Turned a three-day weekend into a four-day one, take a quick trip out of town, maybe party a little too much. If you really want to play the sympathy for the devil card, Redford was probably humiliated by her bum’s rush out of the Premier’s office. A few days away from work is good for a bruised soul.

Even if that’s the way you want to go, enough is enough. We Albertans are still footing her paycheck. If I, or any other Albertan, screwed up at work so phenomenally that we got demoted then decided not to show up for work, we wouldn’t have a job. So why is it that Redford still has her job and is still pulling in a paycheck? From Palm Springs yet.

So let’s see, while Redford suns herself in Palm Springs and licks her wounds, homeless in Alberta worry about where they will sleep tonight. While she plays a round of golf and works off her stress, children go without meals. And while she enjoys her rest, Alberta non-profit organizations strain to keep those living in poverty from drowning under the weight of needs they can’t possibly meet. Businesses raise their prices so they can pay taxes to cover her paycheck. Needed infrastructure goes ignored so that money can be diverted to her paycheck.

But that’s okay. The poor girl needs a vacation.

That’s why I ask all Albertans to take the above picture and caption it. Post it to your social media, letting the Alberta Legislature know how you feel. Perhaps if this gets turned into a meme, they’ll listen. Gods know they haven’t listened to anything else.

Time For a Change

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Pile of coins



For centuries anthropologists, biologists and other scientists have searched for what makes humans different from other animals. At first they focused on our intelligence. After all, it was what got us out of the trees and doing all sorts of neat things like farming and making fire. Imagine our surprise when we found out that wasn’t it. That animals like dolphins, apes and even ravens have intelligence that is comparable to ours.

Then we focused on their ability to problem solve, plan or even use tools. Well, turns out that ravens are great problem solvers, something farmers all over have known for centuries.

Ditto with ability to grieve, understand death, identify the self. All dead ends on how humans differ from animals. The only difference anyone could see was humanity’s ability to find new ways to be cruel to each other in interesting and creative ways. Animals don’t seem to have that capacity.

The one thing, in my mind, that separates humans from animals is our greed. We go way beyond our need to provide for ourselves and loved ones. If you make $50,000/yr, well, you’d better ramp it up because your neighbour is making $75,000/yr. If you have an Audi, better trade it in for a BMW. Forget that there are children starving across town. Forget that someone froze to death in a doorway in the middle of the night because the temperatures fell to -30 C. After all, that extra bit of money you have is something you earned. Never mind that it sits in the bank and is never put to use. Never mind that you don’t actually need two or three cars. They’re yours, dammit.

So how are we surprised, then, that the government we elected, Alison Redford and her cronies, are simply mimicking our own values? I’m not saying we need to instigate Communism here. However, would it be such a hardship to give up some of those bucks sitting in the bank doing nothing so that fellow Albertans can eat?

Our politicians follow the example of the people. When Ralph Klein was elected into office, Albertans everywhere were tightening their belts. Klein simply followed the will of the people and did what we were already doing. Now, Klein performed cuts much like Jack the Ripper performed surgery but it did achieve its goal.

Albertans have been living high on the hog now for quite a while. We’ve earned it. We tightened belts, made seniors and the poor suffered so we could pay down our debts. Then Klein handed out cheques to reward us. So we’ve been eating caviar and drinking expensive beer and then we elected someone who reflected our ideals; Alison Redford.

Redford came in and saw the caviar and imported beer and saw dollar bills. Many Albertans are angry over her uncontrolled spending and outrageous plans such as the palace she was building. However, before we condemn her we need to condemn ourselves. Redford merely did what any leader is going to do; she emulated and amplified what was important to Albertans. We’ve become so stuck in our own greed we can’t see past our own noses.

It doesn’t matter who we elect now, really. We could elect Mickey Mouse and his band of merry men and still have the same problems we faced with Redford. What needs to happen before we elect anyone is change our attitudes. It’s time we stopped saying it’s okay for Alberta Health to have the kind of wait times going on that they do while they screw over our health system with nonsense legislation that makes it more difficult for doctors to treat their patients. It’s time we put our foot down about Income Support saying it’s viable for a single Albertan to live on $667/month. It’s time we stopped expecting non-profit organizations to pick up the slack that the Alberta government should be doing. It’s more than time that we stopped punishing small businesses and rewarding big business. For the sake of little green monkeys, don’t you think it’s high time that government employees stopped using our tax dollars to pay for their golf and calling it “meetings”? Isn’t anyone else sick of MLAs hiring out their buddies for government contracts?

Until we say enough to this and more, anyone we elect will simply do what Redford has done. We need to start asking what potential candidates plan to DO about this mess and not just allowing them to get away with spewing platitudes at us. It’s time Albertans demanded their politicians have real, viable plans to change this around. Not just finger pointing and name calling.

Albertans deserve better. ALL Albertans. It’s time we realized that and more than time we demanded better.


A Modern Proposal

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I believe I have finally found a solution to Alberta’s poverty problem and if it works here it can be exported to the rest of Canada. Think of it as a social experiment that should please all the good people of Alberta.

In Alberta there are two classes; those who have and those who don’t. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking there’s a middle class any more, the Alberta PCs have nicely done away with it and it’s about damn time, I say. Too much time and effort wasted trying to accommodate those who can’t pay for themselves and don’t add to the Alberta coffers enough. So, either you’re a have or a don’t have.

However, I’ve seen too much whining about the poor and have been guilty about it myself. Let’s face it, politicians aren’t interested in poverty because the poor don’t vote. Well, not enough to make a difference, anyway. Even if they did, they don’t pay enough in taxes to be worth worrying about. In other words, it doesn’t pay to look after the needs of the poor.

I have always been one to look for solutions wherever I can find them. It’s not enough to simply point fingers at a problem and hope someone takes care of it, I’m a person of action. So I think I’ve found a solution to that pesky poverty problem in Alberta. One that will be very palatable to the haves and politicians alike. Let us address each problem the poor face in turn.

  1. Housing. The damn homeless are everywhere. Like bloody cockroaches. You can’t walk a block downtown without tripping over one and the diseases they carry are worse than cockroaches. So let’s house them. I propose we erect a small camp just outside of city limits with large skyscraper apartment buildings. These complexes, which we will call “camps” for  convenience, will be walled for the poor’s own protection and feeling of safety. It will be just like current upscale walled communities. We can place it near the prisons as we all know how rampant crime is among the poor. This way they can have an easy walk to visit loved ones within prison from their homes. After all, the government isn’t cruel. Keeping loved ones together is important.The apartments will all be the same. From one to three bedrooms with built-in bunk-style beds that fold down from the walls. The living room will be similarly accommodated with sofa, chair and coffee table that is overlaid with easy to maintain cushions for comfort. This design will allow the poor to live in relative comfort while freeing them from having to buy furniture. After all, if you’re poor, having nice new possessions such as furniture is a luxury and the poor cannot afford luxuries.
  2. Food. There is a problem with nutrition among the poor. Currently, the poor buy low-quality, high fat, high sodium, easily stored food that is cheap. This leads to deprivation which leads to health issues. Science has found a low-cost, high nutrient quality food source that can easily be made into a paste. Insects. Insects are high in protein and nutrients, cheap to farm and eco-friendly. They don’t require the vast tracts of land to accommodate like cows or pigs do. Added to this are other high nutrient foods like rice or quinoa and all the nutrient needs of the poor can easily be met at a low cost.
  3. Work. This food will need to be processed. The poor need to work. We can build factories just outside the camps to process the new food source. At these factories the paste can be made and flavored and easily distributed. As well, the factories can be modified to perform a number of functions. Instead of processing clothing in third-world countries, these factories can allow the clothing to be processed right here in Canada. Everyone will work, even those with disabilities. Those with disabilities can work fewer hours unless they choose to work overtime. Of course, the camps will need to be maintained so some of the able bodied will be pressed into that work. This will give them much needed skills and a feeling of contributing to the greater good. This, in turn, will lead to a sense of pride and the poor can eventually work their way out of their situation. From time to time, the good citizens of Alberta may need to hire labour at a cost-saving price. The camps will have easy access to inexpensive labour and a bussing solution can be worked out to bus workers to their jobs outside the camps.This brings me to another problem; prostitution. We are all grown ups and know that prostitution is going on. Largely it is poor women who are supervised by gangs in this line of work. Yet there are those of the good folk who enjoy a good prostitute now and again. I am not going to judge. Therefore, a red light district will be built in the camps where those with money can go to enjoy their services. Instead of paying the prostitute, the consumer will simply pay at an entrance booth. There he or she will get a ticket stating how many prostitutes he or she wishes to enjoy that evening. The prostitute will mark the ticket before their session begins and everyone is happy. This will keep prostitution and its accompanying drugs and crime out of the good neighbourhoods while still making it easily available.
  4. Health. If the Alberta Government is to be believed, everyone’s health is of prime importance. Therefore a health facility will be built in the camp for immediate needs. This will not be a hospital but simply a quick-care facility attended by nurses. Since there will be no need or desire to treat issues at this facility, a doctor only need come once a month to oversee operations. For larger health issues and emergencies, the poor can be taken to a hospital in the city proper and attended to there where there is full access to necessary equipment. The poor can be attended in the hospitals in a discrete, out of the way area designated for them. In this way, the good citizens of Alberta need never see them.
  5. Education. Since higher education is wasted on the poor, we need only accommodate grades 1 to 12. Such frivolous classes as art and drama can be eliminated and replaced with factory education or sewing or maintenance. This will give them real world skills when they go to work in the nearby factories and such.
  6. Crime. We all know that the poor are more likely to commit crime. This, of course, is due to their lazy natures and lack of education. I do not see any use in wasting police resources in trying to stop the inevitable. Therefore, there will be no police presence in the camps.
  7. Waste. I suggest we move landfills near the camps to accommodate for the large amount of refuse that will be processed there. It will be an easy, low-cost solution to the problem.
  8. Clothing. Need, not want, is the rule of the day. Let us not waste time on useless fashion or colours. A simple jumpsuit in beige will be sufficient. Of course, given Canadian winters, there will need to be two different designs; one for summer and one for winter. The winter one will be insulated while the summer one will have ventilation. Shoes will be simple boots for winter, good and functional, and sandals for summer. The jumpsuit will be accommodated with a hood to eliminate the need for a jacket.
  9. Green space. The haves are well aware that nice things are wasted on the poor. The poor cannot take the same pride in their  living conditions as those with money do. However, it is necessary to have some green space so that the poor can be encouraged to take walks to maintain their health. Therefore, one small park in each of the camps with a small playground for children will be constructed. In the parks such plants as apple trees, plum bushes, tomato and potato plants can be planted to supplement their diet needs. These will be luxuries as the Government of Alberta and its good citizens are not without pity.

For those who think that such accommodations are cruel, let me assure you that this is kinder than the current situation. It is well-known that the poor are most comfortable among their own kind. It is cruel to expect the poor to try to rise above their station and it is bad economics to try to help them. The camps are a quick, convenient solution that is best for everyone.

The Worth of Poverty

Comments Off on The Worth of Poverty

A homeless person's camp

In Edmonton, this is someone’s home

There is a shame that is associated with poverty that no one has addressed so far that I’ve seen. I’ve heard politicians talk about “strategies” and social workers talk about “assistance” but no one talks about the unbelievable humiliation that occurs when you’re poor.

When humans stopped their hunter-gatherer ways and started farming, they gained something; knowledge of what it meant to own property. Suddenly we started comparing what we own to what our neighbours own. Everything became property. From our sperm and eggs to our offspring to our spouses to our farms. We stopped looking at each other as people and started seeing property.

All this means that if you’re one of the have nots, you have less worth than the “good” folk.

I know some people will protest. After all, there are such good works as Income Support, the Food Bank and the Hope Mission. If you’re one of the haves, you support them, give your hard earned money to them and help those less fortunate. You maybe give a coffee to the bum on the street corner begging for change. In a really generous mood you might buy them lunch. Not once do the “good” folk think about the cost to the poor.

At Income Support there’s a belief that if they pay less than a person needs to live it will motivate them to find a job. There’s a few assumptions being made here that are horribly wrong. First, there’s an assumption that if you’re coming to Income Support, you’re too lazy to be motivated to want to work. Second, that anyone on Income Support does not deserve to live in dignity. Then there is the demand that you lay your life bare just to pay your bills and eat for another month. It isn’t enough that the Alberta Government demands that you account for every moment of your time, this “keep em hungry” mentality only perpetuates this cycle. There’s nothing to address how the person got to that position in the first place, nor is there any way to stop the cycle that starts once a person is on support. Humiliation leads to depression which leads to a sense of hopelessness which leads to humiliation. This isn’t addressed by front line workers or Income Support.

If you ever had to use the services of the Food Bank, there is a humiliation that happens when you don’t have enough food to feed yourself. The people at the Food Bank are aware of it and try to lessen it but that doesn’t change that it’s there. It’s not just the Food Bank. Stop and talk to the homeless guy on the corner. He’d love to go home to a shower and a good meal but he holds out his cup knowing you think that loonie you put in the pot is going to another bottle.

Those who have pity those who live in poverty and are repulsed by them in equal measure. The repulsion is covered by good works, donations of food and clothes cover up the guilt that somehow those who have less taint the city. Don’t believe me? Talk to someone about the homeless problem sometime. The usual answers involve a belief that the person must be lazy or crazy. “Get a job, any job” is a familiar refrain to the homeless. Money is thrown at the surface problems of addiction and mental illness but the problem of poverty never goes away.

There is a misconception that there will always be poor. Yes, this is true in a society where we are more concerned about things than we are people. Alberta is one of the richest provinces in Canada. Hell, we’re richer than even most areas in North America yet we have this poverty problem. Alberta’s job prospects are growing at a rate that is unbelievable but even that’s not enough to address our poverty problem.

So what’s the answer?

Let’s start by eliminating the humiliation.

Stop looking at those who are poor as some kind of animal to be rescued. Start seeing their humanity, their person. Let’s address the core problem of poverty; there is an unequal distribution of wealth going on in Alberta that leaves people to suffer horribly. It isn’t a matter of things. It isn’t about who has what. There’s a deeper problem that needs addressing; we assess each other’s worth based on what they have. We are people first and foremost. Strip us all naked and that’s who we are at our core. Let’s start from there.

I can foresee a lot of politicians who will nod and smile and tell me I don’t understand the depth of the problem. I understand better than they think. It’s time that many of our government systems get a serious overhaul. Alberta Income Support, Health Care, MLA expenses and pay, so many more. It’s time to get rid of some of the outdated thinking that’s going on and listen to those who are most deeply affected by these systems.

It’s time to change.

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