Archive for July, 2011

There were two articles in the Telegraph-Journal today discussing the French English duality bilingual debate. One was by Philippe Ricard, the other by Jean-Marie Nadeau.

We do actually have a problem in this province between French and English and there is a growing division and a growing hatred. It is cyclic and endemic. Without going into where the latest rounds actually started (largely because I don’t know, the anger has been ongoing for a few years) it is cyclical in the fact that the English side says the French want to much and want to force everyone in the province to speak French, The French side says we need more rights to be able to protect our culture for assimilation. The more one side screams, the other screams back again and it is getting annoying to some of us who actually want nothing to do with either side of the argument.

Pure and simple as a bilingual province both English and French have equal rights to be served in their own language.  Both have equal rights to protect their language and their culture from assimilation. No one on either side should ever be forced to give up their language for the simple expedient of finding of finding a job (even in the public service). No one on either side should be forced to move from the province to find a good paying job or get services in their own language.

Now lets look at a few things that are being demanded in these articles. Duality in education is a demand and in general is untouchable directly from the Canadian Constitution. I think we there could be tweaks to make this more efficient, things like sharing transportation between the various English/French districts to make it more efficient and less costly. However the issue of costs of texts and teaching materials is what it is.  You can’t pay less for a text and still expect to get the same text. However I do have some question on the issue of needing more money per student so that they can teach French culture.  Realistically English schools should be getting the same money so that they can teach English culture (such as it is) as well.  Protecting French language cinema, TV, music and media I understand (though it is not mentioned here) simply because the overall market in Canada (or North America) is significantly smaller due to a smaller audience.

The SANB lawsuit against the Department of Education though I find to be troubling and that is because it is going to cause more bitterness and hatred.  And this bitterness and hatred is going to be met with the same. This lawsuit should not be termed in reference to the fact that we should not be cut because we are French. It should only be termed as education should not be cut under any circumstances. To make demands of this nature only to cover the French population will do nothing to remove the levels of viciousness that is starting to erupt.

Philippe Ricard asks in his article what Anglophones want.  While there are a very vocal and cranky majority that wants the French gone completely, what the majority of Anglophones actually want is equality.  True equality, means that French can function in this province without being forced to learn English and English can function in this province without learning French.  However on his list of items to be proud of he listed call centers, this is not exactly something that we as a province should be proud of (French or English) we have brought in a large number of high-turnover low income jobs with little chance of advancement. This is not an achievement this is selling out your province for job stats and paying each of these companies a lot of money to do it.

We as a province need to be looking at a truly equal society. Both getting access to the same services as the other and both as proud of our heritage and our provinces uniqueness as the other. This cannot be achieved if we are constantly fighting with each other over who gets more.

We may have a need from French and English schools separately to protect either group from assimilation however everything else should be bilingual with each group getting access to services in their language (at the same location, but not necessarily by the same person) at any public service.

Any private company should have the right to operate in their language (or the language of their employees) and the signage on the building should reflect the language/s that the company is capable of doing business in.

Basically the same rights of Francophones that need protection also needs protection in Anglophones as well as it is only through those protections that the anti-French rhetoric will be muted because the large majority who are upset at the demands of the francophones are only worried that their rights will be violated to protect the rights of the Francophones.

On the Duality in health care issue though I think we need to rethink our approach. Every person in this province needs access to health care, and in their language. This means that it should not matter what hospital any individual walks into in this province they should have access to health care in this language (again not necessarily the same person but equally qualified)

And never again should anyone in this province be denied employment to any government funded agency or institution solely based on the language they speak. And everyone should have access to service in their language, by someone who is a proficient speaker in that language.

In an article in today’s Times Transcript Deputy Mayor Kathryn Barnes says

"But it should be explained that this whole decision was not to overlook people’s input on the roads. We did have meetings, it’s been before council, it’s been on the website and we’ve talked about it repeatedly."

And in essence she is right. Not 5 years ago this specific issue regarding these two streets was discussed repeatedly and public outcry was such that the project was abandoned. And then last year it was voted on by council and enacted. I am not sure the message got out well enough to the general public that any debate got overlooked and this is how come the issue is coming to a head now (after the council passed the resolution, once people realized what was happening).

What is even more telling of the City’s attitude towards the public’s opinion on this issue is the fact that while there was a public meeting on the issue on the Salisbury road the city could be found outside working on removing the lines at the same time and that crew was saying they were not stopping no matter what people said because council was not going to meet again till after they had finished the work.

Council would rather take shortcuts and not spend money but look like they are promoting an “active lifestyle” instead of doing the job right spending a bit of money and actually making room to add bike lanes to the existing four lane roadways that are involved.

Council is taking an incredibly short-sighted approach to this action and as a result a future council is going to have to spend part of it’s budget to fix this council’s screw-ups.

Over the past little while I have been looking at the Moncton Event Center and suggesting that perhaps there is a better model option that could be used.

My suggestion when which I have mentioned in the past is to expand the design for the center and make it so the center is self sufficient.

However I also feel that the best way to explain my concept is to go through the general concept with some pictures to try to show my idea.

My general theory is to change the design to incorporate retail and residential properties in such a way as to make this project self sufficient.

The designs are a rough draft only but gives you an idea of what I am looking at.

Moncton Event Center Main Floor

in the above photo I have shown the general layout of the concept for which I am looking. This includes the space for a 20,000 seat arena, retail space on an outer ring around the arena, and the inclusion of an area set aside for the local Special Olympics program.

 

Moncton Event Center Second Floor

In the photo above i have shown the general concept with increased retail areas and using the concept that at this level the Arena would still be occupying some of the space at this level. Depending on height demands for the arena and correlating height demands for the retail space an additional floor of retail with this design could be incorporated.

 

 

Moncton Event Center Side View

In the above photo I have shown the inclusion of four floors of apartments and/or condos with a floor of office space (could be increased) and two floors of arena and retail (which could be increased to include a third floor of retail if possible. As well large underground parking (sufficient to meet the needs of the center when full ) would be included.

If you take the idea of condos and use a loose price of 200,000 per unit as well as adjust the price of the arena up by 50% to account for the increase in size this would make the price worth about 150 million for the center.  At 200 Thousand it would require 750 units to cover the cost of the center. Using a more likely figure of 100 or 20 million covered this still leaves 130 million to be covered in rents.  this would leave approx. 730 thousand to be paid monthly.

If you assumed perhaps 80,000 square feet of space at $10/sq. ft. or double that to 160,000 at $5/sq. ft. and you reach an additional 800,000 a month or 70,000 per month more then needed to cover the mortgage. this still does not cover the rental costs of the arena itself or any other relevant income that it brings in.

So in basic fact there should be no need for going hat in hand to the various levels of government it is quite obvious that there is sufficient income available in this building if the design is done correctly.

As an additional edit: on March 21, 2012

I have actually looked at some store front properties in the north end recently, and found the rate to be close to 15$/sq ft so the 10/sq ft figure I quoted last year would easily be a feasible figure and more then that is easily attainable.

Over the last few days a debate has been happening on twitter. The message being sent was that minimum wage hikes actually hurts employment rates and that if we wanted higher wages the province would be better served by improving the education standards and making education more accessible.

This message is also being sent by the federation of independent business. I suppose it is understandable that they wish to keep their overhead down.

But there is a problem. People need to live on the wages that they are provided and even more importantly, somebody needs to work these low end minimum wage jobs.

Improving education is simply going to create a different problem because if we all are capable of doing 15 to 20 dollar an hour jobs or more who is going to stock shelves in the grocery store, who is going to work the gas station. And even more important then that where are all those good paying jobs going to come from. The government in their all seeing wisdom work extremely hard to bring in more jobs but they seem to constantly concentrate on minimum wage high turnover jobs like call centers or labour work.

We need to have a decent minimum wage and that minimum wage needs to be able to allow a person to sustain themselves. We also need to be bringing decent wage jobs into the province instead of touting ourselves as a low labour cost capital.

Our government, and this includes both the liberal and conservatives have consistently been shopping us as a good place to find cheap labour without realizing that by doing this it means all the high end workers that this province does create end up going to other provinces or other countries.

So the truth of the matter is:

  1. We need to set a decent minimum wage.
  2. That minimum wage must allow a person to meet the needs of themselves and a small family.
  3. We need to be shopping ourselves out to high income employers in an attempt to create a better environment and a higher tax base for the provincial government.
  4. We need to be improving the education system in this province so that our students are capable of meeting the needs of an increasing growing marketplace.
  5. We need to move away from increasing our attraction to the low wage high turnover sectors like call centers that do nothing to help the long term welfare of the province or the people that live here.
  6. We need to grow an economy that we can be proud of.
  7. We need to put ourselves in a position where fewer of our lower end workers can be classed as working poor and are barely able (if they are able at all) to make ends meet.

While Sue Stultz is halting all work on nursing home building pending a “review” and a report today saying that 5.7 million had been saved partly due to changes to construction standards we now also hear that a nursing home in Grand Manan has had to close a wing and that 10 patients had been shipped to hospitals and nursing homes across Charlotte County including Campobello Island a trip that according to Google takes over 11 hours and is a distance of over 600 kilometers.

While the conditions of the home were appalling the conditions were known back as far as the last governments mandate and at that time a commitment to build a new home was agreed to. Sue Stultz herself said that regardless of the review if there was a situation that needed to be dealt with here it would be accommodated. Instead families are being ripped apart and uprooted, loved ones sent far away to an island that is only accessibly by travelling a minimum of two ferries and twice crossing the Canada/US border.

There is no discussion of accommodations to make sure that family members are sent with the nursing home residents so that there is a familiar face. There is no discussion of helping families with massive costs of visiting relatives half a day’s journey away. There is no sympathy and no statement saying that there will be shovels in the ground tomorrow morning (or at any other time either) to start work on a replacement building.

Instead this government is hanging it’s elderly out to dry and showing exactly how little they actually care about what they are doing to residents of this province.

A decision this short sighted is highly likely going to be extremely traumatic for the nursing home resident and for the family and it would be surprising if none of the residents (or even other elderly family members with health conditions) die due to the stress caused by this completely amateurish attempt to sweep a serious problem under the rug.

Work on the new home needs to start tomorrow morning and accommodations for these residents need to be found on the Island or steps taken to ensure that family will still be able to see their loved ones at the same regularity they normally would and without any additional financial hardship (up to and including covering employment income while they are with their loved ones as well as covering all travel and accommodation costs).

In addition agreements must be made with the US to guarantee that no family member of a resident moved to Campobello island will be slowed from their travels, detained or denied access to the travel required to reach their family member REGARDLESS OF THE POTENTIAL REASONS.

Mrs. Stultz and the entire PC government should be hanging their heads in shame that this was allowed to occur on their watch. This is an atrocity which should never occur to those who are amongst our most vulnerable.