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Download original - Alberta Social Policy Framework - Government

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									                      Submission
               Social Policy for Alberta
                      July 5 2012



                          To

                  Ms. Leann Wagner
          Stakeholder and Engagement Lead
              Social Policy Project Team
             Ministry of Human Services

                Government of Alberta


                         From

                    Beverley Smith

       Women's and children's rights advocate

          Member - Fund the Child Coalition

Past president - Kids First Parent Association of Canada


                    Calgary Alberta




                                            MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 1
I am honored to be asked by Calgary MLA Alana DeLong to take part in this survey. I am
pleased that my home province and province of my birth, Alberta, is again seeking to be
right on top of social change, responsive to it and fair to all citizens. It is the same spirit that
helped nurture the Persons Case, the Famous Five and the Murdoch case about dower
rights. When we weave together what is personal and make it part of political and social
policy we are in touch with the fullness of people's lives and do not see them just as earning
robots.

I would like to respond to your questions about social policy within the framework you
have outlined. My take on things however may at times strike you as thinking outside the
box so you may find categories you have set out start to overlap for me. I hope to in the end
present you with some suggestions for actions, laws and regulations to meet the guidelines
and principles which I set out.



Definitions

Your paper suggests that we use “common consistent language and definitions" to facilitate
understanding.

a. needs

You itemize housing, employment, safety and childcare. Your survey also suggests you are
looking at health care, care of the handicapped and disabled, care of seniors, early
education. Your survey also suggests you sense a need on the part of the public for
government transparency about its services and who funds them and how they operate and
you sense a need to not create government solutions that are obtuse, top heavy with
administration, expensive to run or hard to understand and access.



b. goals

Your paper suggests you aim at maintaining a 'minimum standard of wellbeing', just
treatment of individuals and provision of resources to help people meet their own needs. So
you are aiming at economic dignity and a framework of fairness and justice that enables
choices.




c challenges - you itemize poverty, family violence, over representation of aboriginals in
our child intervention and justice systems. Your survey suggests you are looking in
particular at immigrant poverty and trouble finding jobs in their skill area, at senior
                                                                   MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 2
poverty, at chronic health problems, at mental health problems at high drop our rates from
schools and at bullying within schools and at elder abuse.



d. fine-balances

 Your survey suggests you are also looking at some fine-balance issues including how much
government should do as a service or program and how much the individual should do in
terms of self-reliance. You are trying to create coordination of many services that offer
about the same thing from government, community and for profit and not for profit. Your
survey suggests you are also trying to create affordable solutions for government,
wondering how many languages to offer service in and how to respond to a very culturally
diverse population without discrimination or favoritism.



e. drivers of change in our society

 Change is as the yin-yang symbol indicates, is both challenge and opportunity. Your
expression' drivers of change' is similarly enigmatic because while admitting our
population is growing and our cultural identity is widening, it is not clear if government
then wants to respond to change or help 'drive' it. A government always has that struggle
really because for instance though the tax code is designed to respond to behavior and tax it
fairly, it also can be used to encourage some behavior -which is why we permit or instance
deductions for charitable donations. I am just pointing out the observation that when we
create a social policy it may have that dual effect- it may respond to what seems to be
happening and it might fairly or unfairly encourage some new trends. If we are going to
encourage new trends and lifestyles we have to think very carefully about if those are really
good for all, or options we can value without preferring them.




______________________________________________________



Permit me now to look at the framework you have set out in detail and to make some
suggestions:

Definitions

Your paper suggests that we use " common consistent language and definitions" to facilitate
understanding. There are some terms that may need clarification;
                                                              MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 3
- Work, employment, jobs

In traditional economics terms these words suggest paid work only, paid employment and
the paid labor force. Point one I would make is that social policy framework might be a
great place to recognize that much of the work done in Alberta is not paid. There are a lot of
people doing unpaid caregiving of the young, sick, handicapped, elderly and dying. There
are lots of people doing volunteer work, coaching teams, reading to the blind, taking the
sick to doctors' appointments and much of this volunteer work is actually vital to the
functioning of many institutions. Yesterday I was visiting a friend in a nursing home.
Government pays for her wheelchair bus to the doctor's appointment but she is supposed to
have someone go with her. They hope it is a family member but often none is available so
they hope a volunteer will come. Her medical care depends then on volunteers as part of
the chain. Much of our societal functioning from sports and community associations to
households depends on someone doing work for free. A fair social policy then would also
recognize and value this unpaid type of work. It is in fact about 1/3 of the economy.



-childcare, care of seniors


The logical meaning of the word care is provision of necessities of life and the mind to
others who cannot provide for themselves. The care is defined by the task not by who does
it or its location. So in fact wherever there is a child, whoever is tending that child is
providing care, 'childcare'. Wherever a frail senior is getting help with any daily activity
that senior is getting 'care'. So I hope that your social policy framework enlarges the
definition you may have been presupposed to take of only care in certain places, in
government or private run institutions for they are not the only location of care. I hope
when you fund 'childcare' or 'senior care' and when you recognize caregivers you also
enlarge your definition to recognize those who do that care role at home, for friends, and
for free. That also is care.



-education, early learning, readiness to learn

 Babies are born' ready to learn' and they learn in every waking moment. They are always
taking in information, processing it and developing skills. There is no restriction to where
they are located or who is beside them. So when your social policy looks at any aspect of
education, I hope you look at the learning process itself not at which building it is in and
only fund one building. There are many reasons to enlarge the definition. First, to make it
more accurate. Second, to make it legally palatable since to only fund some locations of
learning would create unequal benefit under the law and would create two tiers of children,
which would be human rights violations. Third, to ensure optimal learning the findings of
most teachers and I am one, is that the smaller the group, the more one on one the
instruction, the easier it is to ensure learning. So any formula to value early learning that
                                                               MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 4
favors large groups over one on one small or family groups would actually be
counterproductive. Small children aged 3-5 for instance can be gently lead to actually
reading, if taught very gradually and one on one, finely adapting the pacing to the child's
interests, skills, attention span. It is not possible to teach a large group to actually read that
young but a small group, yes.



a. needs

In the Maslow hierarchy of basic needs we see many things. Obviously governments are not
gods and cannot magically create utopias and happiness. An economic framework can only
set up people to be able to 'pursue' happiness from a level starting place, overcoming some
problems if any at the start gate. Government does not run the race for you. However a
social policy framework is by definition trying to look not just at money, but at other
aspects of life and is also trying to increase the likelihood of a level playing field there too.
That is why you look at freedom from discrimination, at having leisure time, at an end to
bullying in schools or to senior abuse.


But most of the needs you have itemized are still very basic on the Maslow scale. At the
bottom we have food, clothing shelter - and the need you point out to address
homelessness.


At the next level we have safety, healthy, employment and there we have your identified
areas of safety, mental health, illness prevention, illness treatment, care of the handicapped
and disabled, senior care.


At the next level we have love, friendship and family. You do not seem to look at those
needs too much.

At the next level we have confidence, self-esteem, and respect of others. You do not seem to
look at those, although you do note 'dignity'.

 At the level of basic human needs on the Maslow scale we have creativity, self-actualization.
Clearly a government cannot make people creative. No one can. But we could look at ways
to foster that level of freedom where creative ideas are welcomed.

My point is that you are in a very sweet way trying to make things better for Albertans and
yet are not really able to tap into some of the higher level needs. I think it is because, past a
certain point, government can't meet those needs but people can themselves. What
government can do is enable people to start a family, to spend time with friends, to have a
good life where their kids thrive. People can create the lifestyle they want, the career
choice, the choice of how to raise the child, what style of health treatment they like when ill
                                                                   MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 5
and where, who will be their caregivers and where. It is where we give people choices that
the higher needs are met. If is when we feel the need to still run their lives, to create
programs to subtly tell them what to do, that we hamper the ability to meet higher level
needs.

 When we want the public to feel their taxes are well spent, we may think this means we
need a huge middle bureaucratic level of inspections of government, of accounting and
publication of reports. That is in fact how you make government transparent is government
is the 'driving force' of change. If however we let citizens be the driving force of change,
then we let them know how money is spent the most efficient and transparent way of all.
We let them spend it.

 Instead of for instance funding daycare and then making sure everyone only gets money for
use of daycare and inspecting and regulating daycares as our main focus on 'childcare', we
could fund kids. We could create a birth bonus as in Australia and Singapore. We could
create a universal maternity benefit, a universal per child benefit till age 18 of several
thousand dollars a year and then parents could take on the onus of providing the care. That
would ensure they found the care style they wanted- because they chose it. Some would
enroll in daycares or nurseries at churches, some at community centres, some at parent co-
ops, some at large institutional daycare chains while some would get sitters, live-in nannies,
live out nannies, and others would get care by a neighbor, grandma or trusted friend. Some
would provide care by a dad at home, mom at home, parents taking turns or by a parent
who had a paid job from home, telecommuted or took the child to their paid work. In other
words if you say that Albertans are a diverse lot, now is the time to recognize they are also a
diverse lot in how they want to live, how they want to raise their kids.

For government to tell them a one size fits all solution will create huge problems for what
language or culture it will be in and will for sure never please all the people. To avoid class
action lawsuits and human rights complaints about inequality, it is really wisest for
government to enable parents to choose themselves. When we fund' the child' then we can't
have lawsuits or complaints. Parents become their own providers of transparency about
how the money was spent.

This does mean I am suggesting one of those cross-over categories I promised. Yes we
should encourage self-reliance but yes we need government help. How does that work? We
need government to fund parents and then we need to let parents choose what to do with
the money..



b.. goals

Your paper suggests you aim at maintaining a 'minimum standard of wellbeing', just
treatment of individuals and provision of resources to help people meet their own needs. So
you are aiming at economic dignity and a framework of fairness and justice that enables
choices.
                                                                MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 6
I applaud those goals. I do suggest however that we realize that people can only 'meet their
own needs' if we empower them with enough after-tax income to have options. I am so
proud of Alberta that we have a single rate tax because it operates much like income
splitting. It alone of the provinces then treats the lower earner in a household as equal to
the higher earner and in black and white looks at their relationships as one between equals,
interdependent, not as the more insulting to women view of the lower earner as a
dependent. This is important to women - or to whoever is the lower earner. And because
we already do this, we are well on the way to the next step which is to recognize that each
partner in the household 'works' and is contributing to the household, sometimes in ways
that bring money into the home, sometimes by services that are worth money to the home,
or that save money. Too often tax systems including the federal one treat the nonearner as
if she is lazy and not contributing to the household or the economy.


It is also important though besides fair taxes for individuals and families to provide
recognition of factors that reduce ability to pay tax. A physical handicap creates unusual
expenses to get to that starting gate. Childhood presents a lot of expenses that make it more
difficult for a couple, once parents, to pay tax. That is why to ensure fair taxation we should
consider a birth bonus and a universal funding of care of children, wherever the child is, to
age 18 and this money should go to parents.



c challenges - you itemize poverty, family violence, over representation of aboriginals in
our child intervention and justice systems. Your survey suggests you are looking in
particular at immigrant poverty and trouble finding jobs in their skill area, at senior
poverty, at chronic health problems, at mental health problems at high drop our rates from
schools and at bullying within schools and at elder abuse.

Let me look at those more closely in view of my proposed solution of funding people to
provide more options for their own lifestyle.

Poverty - would be reduced if we valued the other side of life besides earning. The people
who earn little often are also doing other roles that keep them from earning more. The
mother who earns only part-time because she tends a handicapped child, or twins, or a
newborn is still working when she is not' at work'. If we funded more than the paid work
but also some of the caregiving we'd keep her from poverty. If we had funding for care of
frail seniors flow with them, as a trial program in Saskatchewan is doing, we'd find they
would be able to stay out of more costly institutions and yet still have enough money to
have a minimal standard of life. In other words the poverty people have is not usually
because they don't work or work hard enough but because we are not recognizing the other
work they are doing.

When we have no funding for care of children, of course we get child poverty. If we funded
kids, we'd wipe out child poverty. We would not however wipe it out by ensuring all
parents are at paid jobs full time.. That may seem like a solution except that not all people
                                                                MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 7
want that lifestyle and many would refuse it out of strong commitment to their kids. So we
would have people in poverty still, because we only funded one lifestyle.

We must also make sure to recognize that there are several types of poverty. If we correct
financial poverty by having both parents earning and away from the kids, we might be
increasing emotional poverty, separation anxiety of kids and their risk of becoming very
needy for attention elsewhere. If they do not feel as prioritized as they wish, kids do go
wander to other routes for attention and some become bullies, some drop out of school,
some experiment with whatever the peer group suggests like violence, shoplifting, drugs,
and alcohol experimentation. Not all social problems can be eradicated by parental money
and some are worse if parents are just never around.



Family violence

I believe that frustration within a family is usually tied to two stressors- paid work and
family time. If either of those elements is failing, there is huge tension. Lack of money can
cause that tension but often governments assume that is the only source of tension.
Governments tend to help both adults get education for paid jobs, upgrades for paid jobs,
daycare to pursue paid jobs. We even tie maternity benefits and pensions to paid jobs so
government clearly assumes that if you help people, you help them earn money.

However we are seeing even in highly successful men and women in career, a frustration
with outcomes for their kids, Alberta despite having a very high education and income level
has a very high school dropout rate. A lot of kids are going off the rails here and in
provinces of financial success, rates of drug use and teen crime often are also elevated.
There is a connection. When husbands get angry in a general way for things not going well
they may erupt at wives, and we get spousal abuse, but really the problem is in neither of
them. Something we are creating as a framework for their happy lives is not letting them
live the dream in ways other than money. When we see child abuse it often is from homes
where something has gone wrong to frustrate that basic paradigm that might have helped
the household have the life they wanted. Parents may take it out on the kids but of course
the kids are not the cause. The parents are wrong to be abusive but to solve the problem
counseling parents is not the real answer either. We need to make it so households can find
that balance where they earn and can spend time with those they love. That balance may be
that someone is home while the other earns, or that both earn and both are home in shifts
or part-time each or it may be that they both earn and they get help to provide care of their
children, to do their housework. We have to empower people to find their own bliss and
make their own solutions, and that is what actually will reduce family violence.



Aboriginals in the criminal justice system



                                                                MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 8
I had a chat a few years ago at a children's conference in Calgary with a spokesperson from
an aboriginal women's group. She was pointing out to me and I'll never forget it, that it is
offensive that when funds go to natives they are so directed, with a basic mistrust of how
aboriginal people can manage money. I tried to confirm that this is not just a mistrust of
one race because funding for care of children itself is one-sided even in nonnative
communities and preferentially goes to non-family care. She and I agreed that this funding
formula insults parental judgment. In her case though I do see that there are vestiges even
of racism or so it could be interpreted for when we fund even a program for natives but not
the natives themselves, we are funding the middle level, the intervenor and in many cases
that means actually nonnatives. We are funding nonnatives to tell natives how to live and
how to raise their kids. We have grown way past the offensiveness of the residential
schools but in some ways not the full way. We have to actually dare to trust the judgment of
parents, aboriginal or not. I teach school sometimes in schools with a high proportion of
aboriginal children. The goal we have to try to give them back pride in their culture, to do
their smudge ceremonies and respect their songs and dances and traditions is wonderful.
However it is often white people teaching them and we are in essence telling them things
from our point of view. Ideally we will also welcome native teachers but we have the
chance right now to let natives teach natives children in their own homes. Nature provided
them. It is not fair that we do not fund them directly. We should fund all parents directly.
Yes there will have to be mechanisms in place to apprehend those who use the funds so
unwisely that there are illegal situations like child abuse and child neglect. But we already
have laws in place for that. We should start, as any good democracy does, with the
assumption of innocence.



Immigrant poverty



Immigrants are a boon to our communities and do a lot of jobs that many people here do
not want to do. We do not pay some of those jobs very well. The answer to immigrant
poverty may not be simply to educate them more so they can get better jobs. That is a good
goal but we should also ensure that they get fair pay at the jobs they already have.

In my particular interest area of caregiving, I notice that a lot of childcare workers, nursing
home workers, hospital aides, cleaning staff and nannies are immigrant workers. If we
valued the care role more we would also feel obliged to create better pay for them. The
challenge may be to look at the sexism of our pay scale even more than the racism for often
what we are paying very poorly are roles that are traditionally female. When we assume
that anyone who takes care of a handicapped child, a senior with dementia or a dying
person is just a nice person and does it out of love, we demean them for they also need to
eat. They also deserve a good standard of live with ability to take part fully in our culture, to
rent or buy good housing, to have holidays and go to the movies. We must not just assume
anybody lives outside the paradigm where they shop in the same grocery aisles.


                                                                 MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 9
Senior poverty



In a culture that only values paid work, we devalue those who are unpaid - even if
caregivers - and those who are not yet paid - children- and those who are no longer paid -
seniors. We read of the pension crisis when the group that is earning has to support all the
others. But in fact, that is not what is happening. They are all still mutually supportive. Kids
will be the taxpayers who support us so they are our insurance policy our world will go on.
They are not a 'burden' but a promise. Seniors today are the very ones who set in place
some of our best social programs that right now we depend on - universal medical care,
employment insurance. But the right of seniors to pension is not just because we owe them
for favors rendered or that they put money into the bank and deserve it back now because
it's theirs. We must also realize that they continue to serve. Seniors are often the
caregivers to young children and the main providers of care to the frail elderly. By taking
care of each other they are saving us billions in hospital funding. There is a UK
grandparents' group lobbying government for funding for those people who had to give up
their paid jobs to take care of the grandkids and who want their work valued. Seniors by
their savings and investments are actually funding most bank loans and home mortgages
today indirectly and are keeping much of our economy afloat. By their mentoring and
advice even in retirement they are a sometimes formal but often informal network to advice
today's movers and shakers still. And this is vital advice. By their money they are also often
the providers of a leg up for couples raising families, repaying student loans and trying to
buy a house. We undervalue seniors when we think their pension is some sort of handout
for people who are not 'productive'. They are very productive and this is no handout.

My solution is to reduce senior poverty by ensuring that the care role they provide is
valued. It is in fact a chief part of their role. If when they provide a medical care level that
doctors require, that would be funded if a stranger was hired, then help them by funds
when they provide it. If funding flows with the person needing care, seniors who provide
childcare or elder care would not be poorer for providing this care. Too often we ask them
not just for their time but for them to also bake the cookies, drive across town and bring
dinner as if there is no cash register bill for this. We can reduce poverty of seniors when we
enable their care roles with some funding.

The irony of a tax system that values caregiving is that there would be a rebound benefit.
Yes it would cost the state money to fund every child, to fund every handicapped child
needing care, to fund every frail elderly person who needed care. But it would cost less to
fund them adequately at some base level than to offer a few of them very costly services and
ignoring the others keep promising more would one day get the 'nursing home space' or
'daycare space' that is so costly to taxpayers. That is making promises we have no intention
of keeping because such universal high cost coverage would bankrupt us. But if we fund the
care to the one who needs it directly at a more modest level, then people would have just
                                                                 MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 1
                                                                                         0
enough money to set up their own arrangements, and some of that would be in ways that
employ others, that generate business activity. There would be more people hired to do
home care, more nannies, more mom and tot businesses, more furniture companies and
leisure companies catering to seniors and children in their homes not just in institutional
settings. Funding care would bolster business all the while letting people choose lifestyle. It
is a win-win.




Chronic health problems


Many chronic health problems are linked either to poverty or to negative lifestyle due to
frustration. Smoking, overeating and alcoholism are linked to basically coping with
problems in ways that backfire. If we help people have happier lives by recognizing their
care obligations not just their earning obligations, we'd reduce the level of frustration. Most
people do not set out to be self-destructive. They choose that route when they in essence
nearly give up on something about life.

The chronic health problems that are linked to poverty such as poor nutrition, inadequate
housing, inappropriate clothing, lack of clean secure environments, would be helped a lot by
ending poverty. People are smart and don't choose to live without good food. Yet giving
them a brochure pointing out the value of milk won't feed them. Giving them advice about
how to handle the stress of poverty won't reduce their poverty. Giving them medicine to
treat chronic illness is vital but it is also wise to prevent it wherever we can and we do this
best with tax measures as outlined above.



Mental health problems


We err when we think that job creation and urging all adults to paid work will reduce stress
at home. In fact it might just change it. There are types of anxiety and depression that come
from doing what you don’t want to do and having no choices. Many women who are told
they 'have to work' are told daycare is a gift that will help them. But in fact they sometimes
feel in their gut that this is not right and when they do get that paid job, they still feel guilty
leaving the child because their heart wants them to be with the child. No amount of
counselling them to think differently and no amount of money will completely get rid of that
desire they have to be with the ones they love;. So though some women thrive at the paid
job and prefer it, some do not and we must recognize the diversity of goals. Those who are
forced away from the kids and don't want to be there are showing on the paid job anxiety,
depression, high rates of absenteeism and rates of 'presenteeism' there but only in body.
                                                                  MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 1
                                                                                          1
Mental health problems happen when there is a huge gulf between your dream and the
horror of your reality. We can help people lead the life they want if we empower more
options. It is easy to blame the victim but we are part of the problem when we tell some
people they are lesser, when we tell a mother at home she does not work, when we tell an
unemployed person that he/she is useless, when we give up on someone who took a wrong
route such as drinking or drugs and when we think the only route for them to being
acceptable is our one way. The artists and creative geniuses of science are often just a bit
nonstandard and if we open the doors a bit we can enable them. J. K. Rowling lived on
welfare when she wrote Harry Potter. The inventor of the Robees shoe for babies had the
idea from creating a nonslip shoe for her toddler out of an old purse. We need to encourage
creativity and it will come if we have a little faith in people. It may be that funding the care
role is part of that solution.



High dropout rates


Kids often drop out of school in Alberta not because they can't do the work or are getting
low marks but because they don't feel they belong. We have a lot we can do to help them
feel they do belong but it won't happen if we keep funding schools so poorly. We used to
give schools nearly 30% of the provincial budget but now we give them only 14%. Of
course this means that classes are big, buildings are huge and impersonal, staff is
overworked and kids sometimes don't find a niche. If you look at how summer camps
operate, with lots of staff, lots of funds for outings and games and crafts, you see a different
philosophy from what the schools are able to afford. We can change that. But to address
high dropout rates will take significant money to the schools.

In Alberta teens also quit for the lure of the highly jobs and the quick fix. They may be under
financial pressure at home and the family may need that income. They may just want to
have the hot car and fancy life of the TV ads a bit sooner and not realize that the job you get
when you drop out of school at age 17 may be the job you have at age 47 and you won't
advance. As a government Alberta should be proud of its teens who want so much to work
and earn and contribute but a better way to help them may be to ensure that at home there
is enough money so they can stay in school - We have to fund kids to age 18. And secondly,
if we set up some sort of part-time school and paid work blend, maybe even setting up a
school attached to a big shopping mall with lots of work experience and internship and
clerking options while still a student, we may get the best of both worlds. If we make it so
kids don't fully drop out, they are staying in. I know of kids who have quit one course before
grad and in a huff, and yet been too ashamed to ever come back. We can fix that. Help them
get the job experience and stay even if takes them a few more years to graduate. Keep them
engaged in schooling.




                                                                 MS. B. SMITH SUBMISSION 1
                                                                                         2
Bullying -

I think that government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation and am so proud
that Canada approved same sex marriage. I also spoke in favor of it before a parliamentary
committee even though I am not gay. I feel similarly about some issues of child-rearing,
about whether to use a soother or not, whether to breast feed or use a bottle, whether to go
to a private school, public school or homeschool. The state has no business in the nurseries
of the nation to tell What to do or How but only to empower parents to make decisions in
the child's best interest.; The Convention on the Rights of the Child after all defends the
right of parents to be the experts in issues about their child, to be informed, consulted and
to also have the main deciding voice in the language and culture that child is exposed to. I
do not approve of bullying and have to deal with the issue daily when I teach but I also feel
that we have way way too broadly defined it . When someone takes someone else's pencil
or budges in line in front of him, when he cracks a joke the other did not understand or did
not invite him to a birthday party this is impolite but it is not bullying. The state cannot
understand the very detailed and unique situations of each child by any broad-stroke
legislation to ban bullying. We cannot vilify it and fairly treat the many little kids who are
now horrified to suddenly be treated as bad guys and criminals for some fairly innocent
mistake. We must not overreact. Yet we are being told by some sectors to overreact mainly
I think because parents are often absent from the child and they feel guilty about this. They
therefore want to in their absence super-secure the child's world. That is why there is such
a push to say strangers are a danger, that kids need helmets for all activities that are
physical and that car seats must be used till the child is 8. The use of school parks that have
rubberized mats to prevent injury is not bad in itself for it does prevent some injury but it
also prevents some learning.

I was just this morning at a public p ark where some kids, bless their hearts, have in the
back area made a little lean to of branches. Someone put some logs over a tiny stream and
someone has hung a rope off a higher tree branch so kids can swing on it. It is early July and
I see ahead for those kids a great summer of creative fun and I see ahead for them also a life
of creative solutions to problems, to patience, to understanding nature. So I think when
government tries to take over parenting it makes a huge mistake. If we enabled parents to
spend more time with their kids we'd have a lot fewer mental hangups with kids, less
anxiety, less hyperactivity to get attention, less depression and serious withdrawal, less
diagnosis of syndromes like oppositional-defiant. We'd have kids less likely to bully because
they already got lots of attention at home and kids less likely to be victims because they
already feel good about themselves and the sticks and stones of insult do not even hurt
them. We have to proof our kids against the world not mostly by laws but mostly by good
parenting. We have to look to those higher levels of the Maslow needs and recognize that
for kids to get self-confidence we have to give it to them with lots of time, praise when it is
deserved and with showing them they matter to us because we will enjoy just hanging out
with them.




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Elder abuse

Elder abuse is a big issue nowadays but elder neglect is as big and much less noticed. Why
do we devalue seniors? In my notes earlier I point out some oddities of this attitude but a
government can help us reverse the trend. If we respect our seniors we'd change the tone. I
love the TV insurance ad that thanks those over 55 for driving safely and that gives them
lower rates for that. It is an empowering ad and we need a government that looks at the
person under the grey topping and still likes that person. If government does it, the social
acceptability of mocking the elderly or delaying helping them when they call for a
wheelchair push would shift.

We need funding to flow to the elderly for their care and then they retain the decision of
who gets the money and who they trust to give them care. If they hold the pursestrings
even in this small way, then we show we respect their minds and decisions and elder abuse
and elder neglect would sharply decrease. It would decrease partly because they would
vote with their pocketbook and seek out better care if they did not like what they were
getting. That tends to keep all caregivers on their toes.




d. fine-balances

 Your survey suggests you are also looking at some fine-balance issues including how much
government should do as a service or program and how much the individual should do in
terms of self-reliance. You are trying to create coordination of many services that offer
about the same thing from government, community and for profit and not for profit. Your
survey suggests you are also trying to create affordable solutions for government,
wondering how many languages to offer service in and how to respond to a very culturally
diverse population without discrimination or favoritism.


In all of these fine-balance issues I think you are wisest to trust the public and wherever
possible to let them make choices. Fund the person and let them choose how to spend the
money. Government and the community would be wise to offer services that people pay for
and then to see which ones the public buys. Then we get feedback on if the service is good
and wanted or not. There is an outdoor swimming pool in my community, one of the few
left. It deserves our funding as long as people are willing to use it and if usership falls off, it
does not. If however we gave the pool guaranteed funding in perpetuity, there would be
little motivation to keep it clean or safe because staff may not care if the public actually
came or not. We have to be responsive to demand.

d drivers of change in our society


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I think government can only respond to change well if it lets the public lead the way. It is
not a good idea to nudge the public to some goal that a few lobbyists want, be it universal
use of daycare or universal bans on bullying, extreme policies that are not realistic. Fund
people more and programs less.



Guidelines and Principles

1. Alberta social policy recognizes that a citizen is more than a paid worker but also has a
life and deserves time for family and friends, for leisure and rest.

2. A fair society defines work and productivity, labor force activity and success in terms
beyond income alone and recognizes the contributions of those who do volunteer work and
caregiving roles to others unpaid.

3. The Alberta government recognizes the unpaid sector through fair tax laws, fair business
laws, and fair social benefit laws, through human rights laws and through fair pension
provisions.

4. To ensure Alberta has enough money to value and fund care roles, it must make a
powerful case to the federal government for fairer and more significant transfer payments.
It should seek a legal opinion to argue that the original federal constitution and BNA Act
needs amendment given the huge new and unanticipated costs of education, health care
and social policy that the provinces were legislated to have to bear. We need a bigger share
of the pie - all provinces and territories do.


Suggested Actions. Laws and Regulation

1. Redefinition of 'work', GDP, productivity and labor force in all government documents to
include where appropriate unpaid roles of social value.

2. Universal birth bonus of $3,000 per child

3. Universal maternity and paternity shared benefit at a fixed rate per child for one year and
in the amount of $5,000, given in 12 monthly installments, not linked to paid labor force
activity of the parents or to marital status.

4. Universal funding per child till age 18 in the amount of $3,000 per year. This amount
does not change based on age of child or family size.. The money flows with the child.

5.. Daycare users and nonusers alike get financial help, equally. The mechanism for this
funding could be funding daycare children and then creating a new fund for children in
other care locations, or it could be a universal funding that flows with the child, and a
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defunding of daycare preferential status. This daycare subsidy or nanny/sitter/ grandma
stand-in subsidy may continue though n situations of dire financial hardship and for
temporary term help only. This is consistent with the 1970 recommendations for the Royal
Commission on the Status of Women.

6. Funding of the handicapped that flows with the person needing care , no receipts
required since some care preferences may be family based care.

7. Funding of care of the frail elderly so that money flows with the person needing care.
Again receipts for how the money is spent are not necessary since some of the care
preference may be for family based care.

8.Pensions for caregivers prorated to the years of service in which their main personal
income source was reduced or nil due to caregiving obligations.



Ways to Evaluate, Measure and Report Progress

To see if the goals are met, there are already many statistical studies ongoing. I would
expect to see over time

-reduction in child poverty

-reduction in poverty of seniors

-reduction in poverty of immigrants especially women

-reduction in high school dropouts

-reduction in costs in the criminal justice system for young offenders and for adults

-reduction in medical costs at hospitals as more people can get care at home

-reduction in provincial costs for the unemployed, homeless, and for drug and alcohol
treatment programs.

-reduction in pharmaceutical costs for treatment of depression and anxiety

-an increase in the birth rate as Albertans feel more optimistic about life

-an increase in influx of other Canadians to Alberta and as a result an increase in the
number of taxpayers we have, and generators of more jobs and business development



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-national and international recognition for women's rights advancement to value a
traditional caregiving role in formal economic terms at last

-with better funded schools more creative ideas coming out of youth sources, more awards
for excellence, more innovation

-with more options for career-life balance, more innovations in industry and commerce,
more women and men staying attached part time to earning because moving in and out of
earning is now easier.

Respectfully submitted


Beverley Smith




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