Archive | October, 2014

What does universal child-care mean for working women?

Posted on 30 October 2014 by admin

Countries with universal child-care programs have highest percentage of working moms. Then there’s Quebec …

When it comes to child care, the Nordic example of universal support is touted so often that you’d be forgiven for developing a severe bout of Swedish-success-story fatigue.
But as Ontario reviews its child-care options in the wake of this week’s Ombudsman report — and as the country considers the NDP’s proposed national child-care policy — it’s worth reflecting on the impact on working mothers, who most often must choose between work and home.
And so, to Sweden.
First, some assumptions: Most research takes for granted that having more working mothers is a good thing. Women are more educated than ever, and want commensurate employment. Full-time work means greater economic independence for women and a bigger tax base for government.
That premise isn’t granted by all. Mothers often choose to work part-time or not at all, for a variety of complex personal and social reasons. Many enter the workforce out of economic necessity, not because they relish juggling workplace and household responsibilities.
But mothers in Ontario and Canada are increasingly choosing to maintain their careers after childbirth, notes Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada. Canada already enjoys a relatively high rate of maternal employment: about 73 per cent of mothers work; in Ontario the figure is around 76 per cent.
But OECD figures show that there is still a gap between female employment and maternal employment nationwide — a gap Senior says is “absolutely” due to the lack of affordable child care.
“We know that despite women’s participation increasing, their ability to be full participants is still being hampered in terms of the types of jobs that they’re able to take or even the roles that their male partners are playing in the home,” she says.
OECD figures provide a closer look at the connection between accessible child-care and working moms. The five developed economies with the highest percentage of working mothers — Iceland, Slovenia, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands — also boast comprehensive national child-care programs. These countries show a negligible gap between the percentage of women working and the percentage of mothers working. The top four have both female and maternal employment rates of more than 80 per cent.
For Nordic countries, affordability is king. Places like Denmark and Sweden have maximum caps on how much parents pay for child care. In Sweden, for example, parents do not pay more than 3 per cent of their income to place a child in licensed care. In Canada, total child-care costs eat up almost 30 per cent of our average wage — compared to 7 per cent in Sweden and 11 per cent in Denmark.
For variety, consider tiny Slovenia. Despite being neither Nordic nor particularly wealthy, Slovenia has the second-highest maternal employment rate in the OECD. At least 84 per cent of its women with children are in the workforce. Slovenia’s GDP is a fraction of the size of Ontario’s but almost 90 per cent of children between the ages of 3 and 6 are accommodated by the country’s universal early education system.
In Europe, universal child-care programs are “investments that were begun when it was recognized that women’s employments could and should increase,” says Professor Jane Jenson, a senior fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who analyzes social policy in Canada and the European Union.
“The response was to provide the conditions under which women and families would feel comfortable about leaving their children in care, and so the emphasis was on building affordable and accessible child care”
One of the most powerful examples of the link between affordable child care and maternal employment does not lie across an ocean. It sits right beside us – in Quebec.
According to research compiled by Pierre Fortin, a professor of economics at the University of Montreal, up to 86 per cent of mothers have now joined Quebec’s labour force, one of the highest participation rates in the country. Single mothers in particular were significantly more likely to look for work as a result of universal child-care, and were significantly less likely to be poor. (It’s no coincidence that Fortin was on hand to answer questions when NDP leader Thomas Mulcair revealed his party’s child-care policy — one million new $15-a-day spaces — to the nation).
None of this addresses one of the greatest political bugaboos of the child-care debate: Do the tax benefits of having more mothers in the workforce offset the cost of subsidizing a universal system?
Fortin argues yes, that the public investment gets a great return.
“In 2008 in Quebec, we estimated that the two levels of government pocketed $900 million over and above the additional cost it incurred by going universal. The universal system has this advantage of leaving provincial and federal governments with more money that could be invested in helping low income families.”
UBC Economics Professor Kevin Milligan doesn’t dispute the evidence that universal care can expand the workforce, but he does raise concerns about quality.
“We looked at things like development score, motor skills score, social skills, things like aggression, things like behaviour — and we didn’t find evidence that things got better,” says Milligan of his research on Quebec’s system and its impact on children. “In fact, there’s some evidence that things got worse.”
Milligan says it’s difficult to isolate exactly what caused the drop in behavioral and health indicators in Quebec, but the lesson for provinces mulling a Quebec-style program is that they shouldn’t necessarily expect a developmental boost for their children.
Back in Sweden, universal care doesn’t seem to have dented child well-being. According to UNICEF, Sweden ranks fifth in the world on that score, behind four countries that also have universal systems.
“For 20 or 25 years now, policymakers in Europe have understood that early childhood education is an important part of human capital development,” says CIFAR’s Jenson. “It’s not simply a case of providing care. It’s a case of providing early childhood education. That’s why you see . . . the development of educationally rich programs as is done in Nordic countries.
“In Europe, it’s not only that it’s quality but it’s also affordable, so that families aren’t asked to pay the monstrous percentages of their income that you see in Canadian child-care outside of Quebec.”

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Priyanka motivates sister, Barbie ‘aka’ Mannara to go monty!

Posted on 30 October 2014 by admin

Post, Parineeti Chopra and Meera Chopra, now Priyanka Chopra’s third sister Barbie Handa is ready to make her big Bollywood Debut.
Mannara, popularly known as Barbie Handa is all set to take her big step into the Tinsel Town with an erotic psychological thriller ‘Zid’, movie Directed by Vivek Agnihotri and Produced by Anubhav Sinha and Mushtaq Sheikh.
Apparently, the first look of the movie, ‘Zid’ has been released and Barbie has sizzled the poster with her sensual looks. The actress decided to go monty for the poster of the movie to add the flavour and feel to the look of the movie. A little birdie tells us that Barbie had consulted Priyanka before taking the extreme step and the big sister completely supported her younger sister.
Barbie is a very popular face in the Southern Cinema and she has also been applauded by her audience and critics for her acting skills and talent. When Sinha was questioned about his find he said, “While casting for the film we needed a fresh face who had great screen presence, yet someone who could pull off this complex role and Mannara fits the bill perfectly.”
Mushtaq Sheikh further added, “Mannara was a great find especially since she is a powerhouse of talent and will appeal to a wide spectrum of the audience – She has done a fantastic job in the film.”

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Alia finds a new admirer in Hollywood

Posted on 30 October 2014 by admin

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt’s short film “Going Home”, based on women’s safety, has been the talk of the town for a while. And now, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher has praised it too.
The “Two and a Half Men” star shared the link of the video directed by Vikas Bahl on his official Facebook page Monday and wrote: “Wow. Just wow.”
The post has been already liked by 20,444 people. Put on YouTube Oct 17, the video visualises a utopia for women, where, unlike today, mistrust and fear don’t dictate actions and decisions. The “Highway” star had earlier said that it’s a “really special short film”.

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National Diwali Celebration in Toronto

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

The Hon. Deepak Obhrai, P.C., M.P. hosted the 14th National Diwali Celebration on October 18th 2014 at the Hindu Sabha Temple in Toronto. The event was organized in association with Hindu Temples and Community Organizations.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the guest of honour at the National Diwali Celebration, which was attended by Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers from the Greater Toronto Area. Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander was the master of ceremonies. Over 1200 people attended the event.

Mr. Obhrai thanked the Indo-Canadian community for their support in making this annual celebration a big success. The event concluded with a cultural performance and the distribution of Diwali sweets.

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What Happens When Jobs Don’t Need Humans?

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Economists have always believed that, while painful, economic renewal and growth needs to rely on continual job destruction and creation that occurs through scientific and technological advancement. The old adage that “there will always be a need for humans to repair the robots” is used to justify economic theory, but how true is this statement? There are a number of advancements that make it unlikely that robots will need humans to “repair” them, including:

(1) Self Repair & Self Diagnostics: As computer technology moves from its humble beginnings, computer scientists are increasingly developing programs and machines that can self diagnose and do basic self repair.

(2) Artificial Intelligence: From IBM’s Watson supercomputer to Apple’s Siri, artificial intelligence is slowly becoming a basic tool for many with the increasing potential to replace basic human jobs such as executive assistant.

(3) Changing Economic Conditions: From” just in time manufacturing” to 24/7 global fulfillment, today’s economic system is no longer hospitable for the nine to five employee. Today’s employees are increasingly treated as mindless drones versus critical manpower. It is no wonder that corporations share this opinion as technology is at a stage where it can actively compete and beat human efficiency and effectiveness.

In some respects, the crux of the issue is that today’s economic system is failing to address how we manage the transition from a completely human based workforce to a fully automated one. The very foundation of today’s economy has been to develop processes to effectively utilize humans to deliver consistent and cost effective products and services. However, with technology improving products and services, what to do with the growing human population urgently needs to be addressed.

We have witnessed that putting pressure on humans to perform like machines with decreasing pay and inconsistent hours is leading to individual physical and mental degradation as well as increasing social unrest. Indeed, the tropes offered by numerous pundits such as advocating a “living wage” or “decreased regulation” are not addressing the fundamental question that we need to ask: If humans are being replaced with technology, what are humans supposed to do?

For decades, we have directly associated an individual’s economic worth with their employment. We assigned value based on their job in society. But as jobs become increasingly scarce at all levels, what has an individual’s economic worth become?

The most urgent 21st century question is how does human civilization manage the transition between where every individual has a job to one where individuals will need to find a useful purpose beyond economic employment. Turning individuals into soulless “pseudo-machines” isn’t the answer. We are seeing the repercussions of the “pseudo-machine” scenario with increasing civil unrest and social disorder. Not only does it defeat the brilliant potential of humanity, but it also leads us down a path of instability that may take decades if not centuries from which to recover.

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Celebrating Ontario Parks Summer Student Excellence

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Ontario Supporting Student Achievement

Ontario is providing support to student employees for demonstrating excellent performance while working in Ontario Parks.

Now in its 15th year, the Ontario Parks Partners Bursary Awards recognize summer students each year for their commitment to great work, unparalleled service, and leadership in natural resources management. The program, supported by corporate partners, provides funding to students for post-secondary education.

Creating summer employment opportunities for students is part of the government’s economic plan for Ontario. The four part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people’s talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

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Minister Kenney Talks Jobs and Skills Training at the Canadian Club of Toronto

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, delivered a keynote speech at the Canadian Club of Toronto that focused on the Government of Canada’s plan to give Canadians the skills they need for available jobs, thus ensuring the prosperity of the Canadian economy for years to come.

 Minister Kenney outlined the steps the Government of Canada is taking to strengthen Canada’s economic prosperity, including increasing employer-led training, harmonizing skills training and improving labour mobility, providing better labour market information, and speeding up the foreign credential recognition process for internationally trained professionals. Minister Kenney also highlighted the Government’s recent improvements to the immigration system to better align it with the needs of the Canadian economy. Access to a highly skilled workforce is essential to making sure employers will be able to fill the pending skills gaps left by retiring baby boomers.

Minister Kenney also emphasized the importance of enhancing underrepresented groups’ participation in the workforce and outlined initiatives such as the Youth Employment Strategy, which has helped 610,000 youth since its launch in 2006 and the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, which has helped over 190,000 Aboriginal people get the skills they need for jobs since its launch in 2010.

 The Minister also talked about the tremendous opportunities in the Canadian economy’s horizon and the need for all key players, including the provinces and territories, the private sector and post-secondary institutions to work together to ensure Canadians are prepared for the opportunities to come.

 

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What Brampton’s three mayoral frontrunners are promising voters

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Accountability and transparency

Linda Jeffrey

Jeffrey pledges to improve accountability and transparency within her first three months in office with a review of: the city’s finances; expenses for council and senior staff; and the code of conduct. She will also implement a lobbyist registry.

“In my first 100 days in office I will restore trust and confidence in city hall by ensuring that expenses of the mayor, councillors and senior staff are posted online,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey will bring in external auditors to get a clear picture of the city’s finances. She will also make sure that city contracts are procured fairly and transparently (the city has come under fire recently for numerous contracts that were not compliant with city’s rules).

Jeffrey is also calling for all council expenses to be posted regularly on the city’s website with a third-party review of spending. She will call for a more rigid code of conduct and is pledging to reduce her pay by close to $50,000 ($165,851 plus any retirement contributions) from the projected 2014 mayor’s compensation of $232,000 from the city and Peel Region.

John Sanderson

Sanderson pledges a two-term limit for his mayoralty. After taking office his expenses and his staff’s will be posted on the city’s website, updated monthly. His daily schedule will also be posted online so taxpayers can keep track of what he’s doing and where he is.

“First, I’m going to turn around the culture of entitlement in the mayor’s office, to actually do some work instead of recklessly misspending the taxpayers’ money. Then I can immediately start work on getting us a university, a third hospital, jobs and a made for Brampton transit plan,” he says.

Sanderson pledges to cut out “unnecessary” trips outside the country and events in Brampton that are more about campaigning than dealing with city business.

Sanderson also pledges to drop the mayor’s $49,000-a-year private limousine service, and cut the $23,000 annual car allowance by $10,000. He will support a ban on any air travel that is not booked at the lowest economy fare. Sanderson will cut the mayor’s salary by $50,000 from the projected 2014 mayor’s salary.

Sanderson pledges to stop closed-door council meetings that he says should be handled in public.

Susan Fennell

Fennell’s website states that her leadership “has delivered real results for Brampton residents, while (responsibly) managing taxpayer’s hard earned money.”

“I am proudly running for re-election so that I can continue to build on the success Brampton has achieved over the past 14 years,” she said in an email.

Her website, as of Tuesday afternoon, also states: “In the coming weeks the Susan Fennell campaign will introduce a series of new ideas to build on Mayor Fennell’s accomplishments, and make Brampton an even better city to live, work, play, and pray.”

Bringing a university to Brampton

Linda Jeffrey

Jeffrey states that Brampton needs colleges and a university to help youth get the skills needed in today’s economy. She wants a university that is focused on “applied health sciences”. She will work with all levels of government, the local community and the “academic community” to develop a university plan. She also pledges to continue supporting Sheridan College’s post-secondary contributions in Brampton.

John Sanderson

Sanderson vows to have a university operating in Brampton before the end of his two terms in office. Within 90 days he pledges to create a new “Brampton university committee” of council with a member of council appointed as chair.

Sanderson states that a 10-year budget will be established and implemented into the city’s base budget to help fund the university and attract the province’s partnership by showing Brampton is serious.

Sanderson wants to partner with an existing Canadian university to build Brampton’s new campus and he would like to focus on institutions such as the University of Windsor, which has a strong automotive engineering program. He would focus on programs that tie directly with industry sectors that are well established in Brampton, such as automobile manufacturing and pharmaceuticals.

He would also support Sheridan College becoming a university.

Susan Fennell

Fennell pledges to oversee “a plan of action” to create two new universities in Brampton. Her website also states that she will support Sheridan College’s effort to become a university.

“Brampton needs a university,” she said. “I am running again because I want to finish the work we have done together to further elevate Brampton’s quality of life.”

Traffic and transportation

Linda Jeffrey

Jeffrey has three priorities for transit and transportation: expedite the Hwy. 410 widening plan; bring all-day, two-way GO train service to Brampton and get the city’s Hurontario-Main St. LRT plan “back on track”.

She wants to ensure that the proposed LRT line connects to the city’s Züm and Brampton Transit bus corridors. And she will work to identify and fix the city’s biggest transit coverage gaps.

She also pledges to create a strong relationship with Metrolinx for “future transit to connect Bramptonians with neighbouring municipalities.” Jeffrey will also bring in a cycling strategy.

John Sanderson

Sanderson states that bringing two-way, all-day GO train service to Brampton is a first priority.

He also pledges to support the Hurontario-Main St. light rail transit (LRT), under Metrolinx’s $50 billion Big Move regional transit strategy. But he wants a made for Brampton route through the historic downtown that would work with his plan for downtown growth, while not disturbing the area’s historic character.

Sanderson would also like the LRT to possibly run into the north end of the city where development has exploded over the last decade. He states that an LRT route should also consider connectivity to a new university and even Pearson airport.

Sanderson will reject future population growth targets mandated by the province if Brampton does not get its fair-share of growth-related funding, including transit funding, from Queen’s Park.

Susan Fennell

Fennell pledges on her website to lead a Hurontario-Main St. LRT plan for the city that “respects the charm and heritage of Main St. S.” She does not support new taxes or fees to raise funds to expand transit.

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NEW SECURITY CHALLENGES FOR PAKISTAN

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

  Isolation is not an option for any country in the present day global and regional contexts. Pakistan has traditionally paid much attention to its interaction with other countries and international and regional organizations. Two recent developments have increased the relevance of ties with other states for Pakistan.

First, the on-going armed conflict between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary between Kashmir and Pakistani territory in the Sialkot area.

Second, the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government has adopted a tough line towards Pakistan. It seems that India’s new national security and army establishment and the hardliners in the BJP have decided to apply military and diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

For this purpose India has escalated violence on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary as a punitive measure against Pakistan with a firm belief that Pakistan would not escalate it to a full-fledged war.

This calculation is based on the assumption that given Pakistan Army’s heavy entanglement in North Waziristan and security pressures on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Pakistan would not escalate the armed conflict on the Line of Control or the Working Boundary.

  The Indian Army and security experts since the Mumbai terrorist attacks explored the option of taking some punitive military action against Pakistan that would not cause a major war. They thought of what was described as a limited war, surgical airstrikes or punitive military action in a specified area. They had also thought of what they described as the “Cold Start” strategy which called for creating a fast moving joint ground and other services action to capture some limited Pakistani territory. All these proposed actions were meant to punish Pakistan. However, Indian leadership did not risk undertaking such a military activity because of the fear of escalation by Pakistan.

 Now, the Indian Army and Modi’s national security establishment decided to take a limited risk by striking on Pakistani territory from the Jammu area which is not separated by the international boundary but the Line of Control or Working Boundary. In this way India is using the cover of Kashmir to target Pakistani territory. From India’s point of view this cannot be viewed as a violation of the international border.

  India’s Army and the national security establishment is now exploring a new strategy to deal with Pakistan. Refusing to subscribe to the well-known Indian argument that a stable Pakistan is in the interest of India, the new thinking in India’s official circles is that India should be more active in supporting the dissident and separatist groups in Pakistan and help the militant groups that challenge Pakistani state.

 For these reasons the relations with and presence in Afghanistan is important. This provides access to India to Pakistan’s Baloch dissident elements and some Taliban groups. India is expected to increase support to these groups. What these groups need is funding which can be provided by India and other states that want to take advantage of Pakistan’s internal problems.

 Another set of security challenges are arising on Pakistan’s northwestern borders with Afghanistan. The withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 needs to be examined in a dispassionate manner in order to cope with the security situation in Afghanistan in 2015 and onwards. The peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan is a positive development. Pakistan has welcomed the change of leadership in Afghanistan and it should quickly cultivate the new Afghan government so that the latter comes out of the negative disposition of the Karzai government towards Pakistan.

 If the internal conflict in Afghanistan escalates and the Afghan Taliban become entrenched in Afghan area adjoining Pakistan this will have negative impact on Pakistan’s tribal areas. It is therefore important that Pakistan helps the Afghan government to cope with its internal problems. This serves Pakistan’s interests because if Afghan Taliban become strong it will embolden Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups.

 This calls for paying attention to the control of the tribal areas by Pakistan’s security forces. The current military operation in North Waziristan holds key to asserting Pakistan’s primacy in the tribal areas. The successes in this operation so far create the hope that the Pakistan Army will be able to establish control over the whole of North Waziristan. It should also assert its primacy in other tribal agencies so that the Taliban and other militant elements should not have any territory under their exclusive control where they establish their command and control and training arrangements. The denial of exclusive control of territory to militant groups undermines their capacity to threaten Pakistani state. This will also make it difficult for foreign fighters to find sanctuary in Pakistan.

 Pakistan should also adopt effective measures to strengthen security arrangements on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. This should be done even if Afghanistan is not willing to cooperate. The surveillance of the border by electronic and human means should be done. This can be reinforced by strengthening border security posts for controlling unauthorized movement of people, especially the militants. If the tribal areas and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border are secured it will be possible to control the negative fall-out of the increased internal strife in Afghanistan.

 Further, Pakistan must take the initiative to cultivate the new Afghan government. There has to be active diplomatic interaction with the new government, especially at the highest level. President Ashraf Ghani and the Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah should be invited to Pakistan.

 Pakistan must pursue an active diplomacy at the international level to project the changing features of Pakistan counter-terrorism policy in the tribal areas and on the Afghanistan-Pakistan borders. This will help to build a positive image for Pakistan at the global level.

Pakistan’s diplomacy must also discuss India’s new aggressive agenda towards Pakistan with all friendly countries, especially the states that have equally good relations with India.

 Pakistan should emphasize that the armed conflicts on the Line of Control are not local or accidental incidents. Rather, these are well-planned actions to apply military pressure on Pakistan.

India’s aggressive policy towards Pakistan is not going to fade away on its own. India will continue to build military pressure on Pakistan from time to time. Therefore while responding to India’s military action in military terms, Pakistan musts resort to preventive diplomacy so that it does not have to shift its troops to the Line of Control or the international border with India from the tribal areas and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

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India wants to resolve all issues with Pakistan through talks: NSA

Posted on 23 October 2014 by admin

Asserting that there are no problems which cannot be resolved, India Tuesday said it would like to address all its issues with Pakistan through talks while having an “effective deterrence” to deal with terrorism emanating from there.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also emphasised that India wants to have friendly relations with an economically-growing China without compromising on territorial sovereignty.

“We would like to resolve our problems through negotiations, through talks. I don’t think of any problem that cannot be resolved through negotiations,” he said, against the backdrop of recent escalation in ceasefire violation by Pakistan.

“But on the other hand, India would like to have an effective deterrence to deal with terrorism,” Doval said.

Delivering an address on “The Munich Security Conference” (MSC) here, he emphasised the policy of having friendly relations with all neighbours and said India’s economic progress could bring the regional countries together.

“I think developing better relations with neighbourhood is important. India’s economic development could bind together the region which could see a vested interest that India’s growth will bring more opportunities and they should not feel undermined,” he said.

Turning to China whose troops have been indulging in incursions across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), he said India considers it as “a very important neighbour” with with “we have had good relations for centuries”.

Observing that there had been “some bad experience in 1962 (when China waged war)”, the NSA said, “But we find space for economic cooperation and commerce. I would like to develop our relations to such an extent till the time our territorial and integral sovereignty…We would not able to compromise on it. We should sit together and resolve our boundary dispute amicably.”

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