Archive for the ‘ New Brunswick ’ Category

Where Are The Jobs? Where Are The Employees?

So it seems NB is faced with a double barreled problem.

It seems that Employers can’t find workers with the skills they need to do the job.

It seems there are not enough jobs to go around because our unemployment numbers are still rising.

So what is the problem?

The issue is all over the place, employers are looking for people to fill the vacancies being left by retiring workers, while many sit at home unemployed.

The real problem is that the skills that many in this province have do not meet the skills that these employers need.

The changes need to be radical.

  1. As a population we need to realize that our traditional skills are no longer useful and we have to be willing to accept retraining. In fact we need to embrace this retraining.
  2. As employers we need to realize that no longer can we expect people to walk into a job fully trained. We need to accept that on the job training is the new reality.
  3. As a province we need to do what we can to make this transition as painless as possible.

Adults can not afford to retrain. This is really from a financial perspective more then anything else. Many have children and a family to feed and can not afford the time off work to get schooling to get the requisite skills. And because of this same situation they also can not afford the bills that many of us saddle ourselves with while we are younger.

In all honesty there are a few things that needs to change to make employment more feasible.

We need to make it easier for people to leave unemployment and social assistance to find jobs. This means that the jobs that are available will pay better then they receive on these programs and a transition program that will allow them to transition to their new jobs without putting themselves in a financial bind (anyone who has ever moved from one job to another will understand what I mean)

We need to make it easier for people to get the skills they need. Encouraging companies to train workers for their trades instead of insisting on university degrees or certifications (in fields where this is possible ie: trades, manufacturing, management etc.)

As a province we need to start to shift from rewarding companies for new hires (rewarding short term hires and high turnover rates) and instead start rewarding companies for improving retention of employees, rewarding companies for employees that have stayed with the company for 5, 10,15,20 etc years.

Over time we as a province and as a people have become set in our ways, Many of us took up the same job our parents, grand parents etc have done through the years, while those of us who did successfully find work outside these traditional fields found that many of the companies were focused on high turnover, low wage jobs.

Now a generation is starting to retire, a generation that held many of the stable long term jobs and we as a people do not have the skills to fill these positions. We need to not only retrain our existing workers, but also change the way the province treats companies and workers.

We need to create a system that makes it easy to retrain a workforce, makes it easy to get the skills needed for a job and that encourages companies to train employees as much as possible and to retain them for extended periods of time.


Setting Out To Improve Bilingualism

So today Kris Austin stood on the lawn of the legislature and suggested that now is the time to look at bilingualism and see what we can do to improve the way it is done in New Brunswick

So the question is how do we make changes and how do we make sure that the people of this province are behind us.

We Talk. We talk to each other, We talk to our friends and We Talk publicly.

We need to know and understand what each and every New Brunswicker wants, needs and expects out of the language legislation for this province.

With a population that is easily 1/3 French there is no question that Bilingualism has to play a significant part in this equation. The question is what part does it play and how should it be implemented.

Bilingualism was introduced into this province with the intent of creating a fair and equal province for everyone, this was done because at the time French people were not getting service in their language and had trouble getting work in govt as well.

The problem was created when the Ideal of Bilingualism, which was to create a fair and equal playing field for all, was instead dumbed down to “make things easier for hiring”

Instead of making sure that there were French people hired, and French people were able to get served in their language, what was instead done was that it was determined that rather then try to get the proper mix of French and English workers they would just start insisting that everyone have both languages. From this came an even more bastardized idea that well maybe we should have one system for French and one system for English.

There is one problem with this plan. Many decades after segregation was put to bed we decided that for some reason it was ideal to put another version of segregation in place. This time we would take our french and our english hospitals and students.

While I have an element of understanding in trying to bring up our students in their formative years understanding their own culture and language, I feel we are perhaps limiting our children by not allowing them the chance to learn both languages properly right from an early age.  (We are one of the only countries that actually teach only two languages as it is)

In our health care system it is even more interesting. We originally started with an English and a French healthcare system. This was then for some obscure reason changed to a Bilingual and French system. The immediate outcry from that resulted in us having two Bilingual systems, each with a different administrative language.

There is no reason why we can not have one system with an administration that operates in both languages. There is also no reason why a Uni lingual Franco or Anglo staff could not operate in any of these facilities simply because there would obviously be sufficient staff that one of the other staff at minimum could speak the second language.

We as a family are completely english and yet however have CHOSEN to go to the french hospital (which is slightly farther away) because our son’s doctor has priviledges there and because we instantly found a difference in attitudes and personality when we walked through the door.

Surprisingly enough the French hospital is a much friendlier place where in the english hospital we always felt like we were on edge at all times. I Chose to use the French system because I felt it was superior and I feel that by merging the two systems and creating an environment where all staff are allowed to speak their language of choice, not worry about their jobs because of their language and where quality of work and experience count for more then what language you speak, then just perhaps we might create not only a more cooperative healthcare system but one that is capable of providing a far superior level of care then our present two divided systems allows.

We as a province need to realize that we have two populations, we need to work together not at cross purposes to each other and that is best achieved when we work in a system where your language is not what determines your qualifications but your ability and your education does.

We need a system where it is simple to get service in your own language, if not from the person directly in front of  you, then from another staff member who is working in that department or area.

We need a system where we unite together to drive our province  forward not split and fight and sink our province while we fight over the spoils.

For over a year there has been a blog post I have been avoiding mentioning. The reason is that in all honesty, while the situation was bad, I had hoped not that the people involved in the issue would have learned from their mistakes. Instead what appears to have happened is that the lesson has been ignored, the reason for the lesson was ignored and the fact that I completely blew a gasket has been emphasized with all relevant information to the issue being left out. The time has come to clear the air, that became evident as I have watched people pull away from our family who would have ordinarily stood solidly behind us if they were aware of the actual facts.

Our son during his kindergarten and grade 1 school years, was a student at Lou MacNarin school in Dieppe, NB a suburb of Moncton. Prior to his going to school, because of his autism, we had seriously considered keeping our son home and doing home schooling. The principal at the school at the time convinced us that they had an incredible special needs program and that all of his needs would be cared for.

The initial reasons for our leaning towards homeschooling was because, with his autism our son had behavioural issues that could create difficulties in a classroom environment and in addition had not taken to toilet training either. The principal at the time and the vice principal as well both assured us that not only did they have the facilities to deal with him, they also had some of the best TA’s available. So, against our better judgement we decided to allow our son to attend the regular school system, because we felt that if they were capable of dealing with him, then the access to the social environment would be extremely beneficial to him.

From a purely social aspect our son did not do that badly. He was instantly befriended by some of the girls and this has been an ongoing thing since, he has always had children who took a friendly interest to him. The school was informed by the autism center who was working with him prior, as well as by the psychologist that saw him as part of the initial diagnoses that at all times he was to be completely monitored and that he was a serious flight risk. This was something that was continually brought up as a reminder to the school during all meetings.

While his kindergarten year was marked by a repeated change of teachers (3 teachers in one year) something that is not a great situation for an autistic child, he was handled fairly well by the two TA’s who monitored him. The only concern we found was that he was being pushed for conformity on to wide a range of school routine items to quickly and was not picking up any of them with any real success.

During his Grade 1 year was when things started to drastically deteriorate. TA job action curtailed his inclusion in some activities that he normally would participate in and this brought increased behavioural issues and also increased pressure by the TAs to meet “classroom routine”. During several meetings we brought the issue of the fact that we felt reducing the number of items being focused on would allow him to complete some of them and then we could move on to others, however we were told that they were all to important to slack off on any of them while they worked on others. As well there appeared to be a reduced attempt to make sure he was cleaned up after lunch or breaks and the longer the year went on the less the effort to clean him was used.

During this year we also started to see a trend with the TA’s. Remember we said earlier that our son had not taken to toilet training properly, by the start of grade 1 he had gotten to the point where he would use the washroom properly for urination, however he did not use it for bowel movements, from what we could see he did not appear to even realize that there was a bowel movement coming until it started. Repeated work both at home and at school had not alleviated this issue and a trend started to develop where any time he had a bowel movement in his pants, the TA’s would give him a quick clean up, change his clothes and then send him home saying he was sick and needed to be off for a day or two, refusing to allow him back for at least a full day. The excuse used was that his bowel movements were soft, however as we repeatedly explained to him, this is something that had been a fact of life for us from the day he was born. At that point we probably could count on one hand the number of solid bowel movements that he had, in his entire life. Soft bowel movements have been discussed many times in various sources as being common amongst those with autism, however this was dismissed by the school with an absolute refusal to allow him to return for a full day after any bowel movement in school. This behaviour by the TA’s increased over the year until one day early in the new year, when it was still quite cold outside, we were called and told that he was dirty, they were not cleaning him and to come get him. We got to the school to find that he had been stood outside in the cold with his TA in this condition for the 20 minutes it took for us to cross town. It had sit for so long that by the time we got him home to give him a bath it was completely dried on his body.

This created the first screaming match with his resource team, where they proceeded to tell me that not only was it not their job, but that they did not have the facilities to deal with cleaning him up. Immediately after this I called Jody Carr and his office directly, who were quite good with us and put quickly in touch with the special needs person for district two Allan Marr, who proceeded to say that not only was it their job, but that the school actually had a shower stall set up specifically to deal with this type of situation. Repeated calls from the district to the school did little to alleviate the situation with the school saying that it would be fixed, while in meetings held immediately afterwards we were told that they would call US and hold him inside where we could clean him up before (you guessed it) we took him home.

It was at this time that we started to hear other issues arise as well. He was hitting, biting and otherwise mistreating the TAs and had been doing so for the past two years. Keeping in mind that he is in grade 1 and is 7 at the time and that he is autistic, we did not question the fact that this behaviour was likely happening. What we did question instead was why after this amount of time, it had not been discussed in his daily communications log (a log sent home daily with special needs kids by the TAs to keep the parents apprised of their progress and their behaviours). We also found out that he had been running regularly at the school often escaping the classroom or on the playground. We were also told by the TA that she was not chasing him as he enjoyed the chase. While he does enjoy the chase, we are talking about allowing a 7 year old who is a major flight risk, the freedom to run until the TA in her walking around looking for him actually caught up. Screaming match number two, this is a huge safety risk and he has not only demonstrated an extreme interest in running but is starting to learn that if he does no one will chase him.

We also found out around this time that weights were being used on his hands to attempt to hold his hands to the table so that he would write (he does not handle restraint well) as well as on his ankles to stop him from walking on his tiptoes (which did nothing but make his legs stronger and he still remained on his tiptoes). The resource team also were giving us issues over using ABA at home to teach him as they did not want to use ABA in the school setting to the extent that was required to get him to achieve a task, instead preferring simple reward and punishment (denial of activity) style of teaching which we had told them was generally ineffective with him. They believed that it was our duty as parents to follow their method’s instead of methods that had been proven to work with him over the previous two years of preschool ABA therapy.

We finished the year, hoping against hope that the new school year, with the labour disruption settled and perhaps even a different TA would leave our son in a better position and that he would start to progress. How wrong we were. Very close to the start of the new school year, less then a week till school started, we were told that not only was our meeting with the new teacher and the resource team cancelled but that in fact there was not going to be room for him in their school that year. Now while he was an out of bounds student, this was done at the agreement of the district and the principal when we first enrolled him in kindergarten so that we could ensure a single consistent school experience for him over his elementary/junior high years. This created a huge screaming match where I made absolutely certain that his resource team and the principal were made completely aware that I knew, regardless of their attempts to hide it, that this was in direct response to me involving the district and the province when he was being abused and neglected by his TAs the previous year.

Calls to the district and the province were unsuccessful, not because they did not try but because the school absolutely refused to budge, they had no interest in our son continuing at that school because they were not happy that we went over their heads to resolve the abuse our son was being put through.

Due to the late notice, we were not only forced on very short notice to completely rebuy all school supplies for both our son and his sister (we had to move her not because the school insisted but because it is physically impossible for me to be in two places at one time to take them both to school). We were also forced to hold our son back from the start of his school year for three days because you can not just dump a special needs student who requires a full time TA into a new school without getting resources allocated by the district and approval to bring in a new TA as well as actually finding one.

After a year at the new school there is no complaints. Our new TA at that school was an absolute blessing, his resource team actually listened and dramatically reduced his specific goals that had been worked on for two years, and completed goals that had not been done for two years, in a total of 6 months including us all together finally completing his potty training within the first 3 months of the school year.

It is my sincere belief that it was the actions and choices of his TAs at his old school that not only significantly increased his negative behaviour but resulted in such poor progress of our son for his two years there. His new school made all the difference and while I still believe that he was removed simply because we as parents stood up against the abuse he was suffering, in the long run we are pleased with the end result we achieved.

This story will be cross posted on Living With Autism: A Parent’s PerspectiveCarl Bainbridge as well as on Raindrops and Sunshine

Food is one of the few things that we can not do without and over the recent months and last couple of years some food prices have as much as doubled or more.

Items like bread and milk need to be at a price that those at the lowest levels of poverty can afford them. So must other forms of healthy foods like meat, seafood, cheese, vegetables etc. It has come to the point where I feel it is almost necessary to regulate prices across canada to a level that can be met by even the most vulnerable of our population.

Prices that to my mind would be acceptable on a Canada wide basis are approx

  • Bread 1$ a loaf
  • Meat  1$ a pound
  • Cheese 2$ a pound
  • Milk  1$ a litre
  • Vegetables 1$ a pound
  • Fruit 1$ a pound

Taxes on any given product should not exceed 25% of the total value of the product (including sales tax) with total value of taxes being

  • Federal 10%
  • Provincial 10%
  • Municipal 5%

The time has come, now that prices are getting out of control to start to control how much individuals pay. The reasoning for this is that we need to get our houses in order. And to do this we need to be clear as to exactly where our prices come from.

In addition to these controls we also need to include a few other tangible limits to stop price gouging. These controls include things like:

  • income tax controls (fed 10%, Provincial 10% and Municipal 5%)
  • 2% maximum profit limit on any given product
  • corporate taxation limits (fed 10%, Provincial 10% and Municipal 5%)

With a couple of other little things like Same Price for Same Product (regardless of manufacturer) or Service across Canada and standardized wages (same wages for same job) Canada wide would do wonders to bring allow our citizens a fair opportunity to care for themselves properly and make a decent living

All government departments have been asked to shave money from their budgets for the next financial year. This is a laudable goal as long as it does not reduce the services rendered.

While I cringe at the though of the fact that there will be a reduction in services  due to the fact that the management in these departments are not going to accept part of the cuts being at their level, I have realized there is a way to fix this problem.

Using the Department of Health and the Department of Education as the two best examples, the solution to the financial mess is best solved by creating one single province wide department for each.

This department will equally serve both French and English populations with the single administration being a bilingual administration with the current division of French and English facilities.

The cost savings would be huge and the only loss would be the single English or single French administration as they would be combined into a single province wide bilingual administration. By maintaining the individual French and English facilities we still will meet the needs of both the English and French communities while doing our utmost to reduce the duplication of services at the administration level.

Personally I believe this would be the best way to reduce costs without reducing services offered to the population of the province.