In the news

Fifteen dollars

Surely a raise is good news, but for leaders of the opposition parties in Ontario it was viewed as an election ploy. Remember, a provincial election awaits residents next year.

This decision, now, strikes us as not that simple.

The move to a $15 minimum wage was scheduled under the previous Wynne government to happen in 2019 but was canceled by Premier Ford’s group. That cancellation was owed in part to philosophy and a measure of deference to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that warned of the perils associated with upping wages too quickly.

Party positions aside, most employers recognize the last 18 months has been filled with inflationary pressures that are not going away. There’s escalating costs, increasing rates for contract services and, yes, pressure to do the right thing for employees.

Rather than rail against the increase, or in the case of the NDP now call for $17 as a minimum wage, let’s just be glad Ford had the sense to bump the rate up. Workers have bills too and the past few months have been rocky times for most.

Fly like an eagle

Gazing at the stars off the front deck at the farm we recall counting eight flights coming to and from Pearson airport in Toronto. That was a couple of years ago.

In recent weeks, from the same vantage point, the most we could count was three. The skies are busier for sure, considering there were nights in the last 18 months that not a flight could be seen.

Full disclosure, we have had our fair share of flights. It is generally a convenient, effective way to get from here to there, but there are moments when flying can generate a sense of guilt.

Air travel affects the climate. A statistic from the David Suzuki Foundation suggests one flight could equal a year of driving a car. Take of that stat what you wish, but it begs the question, whether flying is worth the damage it has on the environment.

The recent COP26 gathering in Glasgow, Scotland offers up a prime example. There politicians sounded alarms about a coming doomsday owed to climate change. Wringing their hands with theatrical grit they spoke of carbon taxes and life-altering behaviours needed to address this existential threat.

Yet, moments away, their private aircraft and massive jets stood at the ready.

The hypocrisy astounds.

They had a meeting

Yup, another meeting about the ‘nothing to see here’ event that sent one kid to hospital and left another’s schooling in jeopardy.

Hiding behind the Safe Schools Act, Brent McDonald, executive superintendent for the Upper Grand District School Board, made it clear the incident in question was not up for discussion. Instead, participants were treated to the standard platitudes that pass for leadership in this day and age.

“We must work together to ensure the board is inclusive, safe and that students are supported,” McDonald said.

As noted in our story on page one, school principal Jennifer Meeker acknowledged that “negative student behaviour is on the rise,” including transphobia and homophobia.

Apart from indicating more teacher supervision would occur inside and outside the school, and the standard plea for more training for teachers, there was little in the way of a solid action plan.

Instead, students get a portal to interact with if they feel bullied. Students also had an assembly to bring the issue into the open (whatever that means) and additional child and youth workers have already been deployed.

What we desperately wanted to hear was that the adults in the room – teachers, principals, bureaucrats and trustees – would do more to connect with students one-on-one. Educators who make that connection make all the difference in the world.

Heaven knows the teen years are hard enough between hormones, grades and the pressures found in this digital age.

Without acknowledging shortcomings of the system and pledging to do better, this meeting was a disservice to students and the community at large.