Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 18 2015, Page 13

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 18, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE A13 IDEAS œ ISSUES œ INSIGHTS THINK- TANK A 13 Winnipeg Free Press Thursday, June 18, 2015 I F there was a government manual on how to write bad legislation, to alienate your local business community and to destroy any semblance of good faith or trust, Bill 35 ( the Workers Compensation Amendment Act) would be a Chapter 1 case study. On June 8, with great fanfare from its political base, the Selinger government introduced Bill 35 to provide presumptive coverage for post- traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD) to all WCB- covered workers — from architects to waste- management workers. Workers who are exposed to a potential PTSD “ triggering event” and are diagnosed with PTSD by a medical professional will automatically qualify for WCB medical and wage- loss benefits. Given the majority of Manitoba businesses are required to register for WCB coverage, the implications are economywide. The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce supports the WCB — an entity funded 100 per cent by employers. Collectively, we are committed to creating awareness and reducing incidents of workplace mentalhealth injuries. Where Bill 35 enters the rabbit hole is with presumptive coverage for this specific type of injury. This means all cases of diagnosed PTSD are presumed to be work- related, unless the contrary is proven. In 2012, Alberta first responders who suffered from PTSD became eligible for presumptive coverage through WCB Alberta. Exposure to hazards and traumatic events constitute a daily rigour of the workplace for these men and women. As such, the chamber supports presumptive coverage in these cases given the strong evidence of linkage to their specific workplace. Employers’ concerns are with the presumption of all PTSD being work- related. Few workplaces can match the inherent trauma faced by emergency personnel. Bill 35, which should have stopped at first responders, opens a Pandora’s box of scenarios. For example, an employee is having serious domestic issues. Following a poor work performance review, he files a WCB claim for PTSD. Under Bill 35, the office setting is presumed to be the cause of the PTSD. The employer, therefore, bears the WCB claim costs for the support, the responsibility for which, morally and legitimately, belongs with the provincial health- care system, and colleagues carry the weight of a redistributed workload. Manitoba’s worker compensation system was built 100 years ago upon a historic trade- off — injured workers gave up the right to sue employers in exchange for no- fault insurance for work- related injuries or illness, while employers agreed to pay for the system. Bill 35 is a direct attack on this trade- off, off- loading provincial liability and costs onto the backs of Manitoba employers. The government states employer costs will not rise. This is an incredible statement given medicine’s evolving understanding of PTSD and the unfettered expansion of presumption. Neither the government nor WCB have produced a cost analysis on the impact of the proposed changes. In the 1980s, WCB Manitoba faced a massive unfunded liability, in large part due to increases in benefits driven by government without due diligence on the cost of doing so. Neither the government nor the WCB have provided any evidence injured workers are being denied compensation benefits for PTSD work- related injuries. In fact, the WCB acknowledges all those entitled to WCB benefits are already receiving them. Premier Greg Selinger noted this proposed change was driven by the Manitoba Nurses’ Union, United Firefighters and Manitoba Government and GGeneral Employees’ Employees Union. During the WCB’s ‘ consultation process,’ Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton proclaimed on Twitter the province would be bringing forward landmark PTSD legislation soon, confirming the public ‘ consultation’ was mere window dressing on a decision already made. Increasingly, business is being shut out and dismissed by the provincial government. While business and government agree to disagree on policy from time to time, we have done so with respect and a commitment to building bridges for the long term. Agreement was not required, but respect and trust were valued and nurtured. As such, past disagreements gave way to agreement on initiatives that continue to build Manitoba. A government receptive to working with business is one of the most important deciding factors influencing a company’s expansion or relocation, according to Yes! Winnipeg, the city’s business- recruitment agency. With Bill 35, the Selinger government has put out the ‘ closed’ sign. Loren Remillard is the executive vicepresident of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. NDP goes too far with rules on PTSD L IBERAL Leader Justin Trudeau has just released a significant electoral and democratic reform policy package ahead of the anticipated 2015 fall federal election. While it will add some heft to the Liberal program, the net effect is questionable and highly partisan and is at odds with Trudeau’s stated intention to fix Ottawa and end what he sees as the abuses of the Harper government. Under a Trudeau government, the Liberals would introduce significant and sweeping changes, including: . Move to introduce a new electoral system to replace Canada’s first- past- the- post, winner- take- all electoral system. . Introduce gender parity for the cabinet. . Make changes to election- financing legislation restricting spending by political parties between elections ( where the Conservative party currently has an advantage). . Amend the Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act and scrap the Citizen Voting Act. . Make voting mandatory. . Make changes to the House of Commons regarding the selection of committee chairmen and chairwomen. . Introduce self- imposed restrictions on omnibus bills and the use of prorogation to end a parliamentary session; . Add more national- security oversight. . Have more free votes for MPs with the important exceptions of confidence votes, the Liberal election platform and items deemed to impact on the guarantees contained in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ( the abortion litmus test for Liberal candidates). . Strengthen the parliamentary budget officer. . Introduce a prime minister’s question period, presumably along the lines of the British model. . Introduce a wider access- to- information model for the federal government. . Allow more parliamentary input into Supreme Court appointments. The Liberal party is looking for a new narrative to campaign on in the 2015 federal election. Trudeau wants to be the “ change” candidate. Will this cut it? It has certainly got Trudeau and the Liberal party some attention. Not all of the policies are unique to the Liberal party. The New Democratic Party and the Green party also favour doing away with the first- past- the- post electoral system. Of all the proposed changes, Trudeau has to be careful playing around with the federal cabinet. Canada was historically considered a deeply divided country between French and English — what the author Hugh MacLennan famously described as the two solitudes. The federal cabinet is considered one of the foremost power- sharing tools to hold the country together. Canadian politics is traditionally done on a regional and provincial basis. How will the gender- parity quota in the cabinet interact with the regional dimension? What other groups would demand parity in terms of cabinet representation? Trudeau is campaigning on making “ government appointments that look like Canada.” The French- speaking province of Quebec is historically very sensitive to any changes to the original Confederation bargain, believing French- speaking Canadians are one of two founding peoples and putting forward political claims on this basis. While Quebec separatism may be dormant, it is far too early to pronounce it dead. Recent polls suggest the NDP led by Thomas Mulcair may be leading the Liberal party in Quebec. Former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe will lead the battered party into the fall election, further compounding the Quebec political scene and making it more difficult to predict the outcome. While the gender- parity goal is perhaps to be lauded for corporate boards, a cabinet gender quota takes Canada back to the 19th century when cabinet posts were allocated by religion. The 1873 cabinet of Liberal prime minister Alexander Mackenzie included four Catholics, three Presbyterians, three Anglicans, two Methodists, one Congregationalist and one Baptist ( himself). His cabinet was judged to be “ inept and nondescript” according to W. A. Matheson, the author of The Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Following the results of the 2011 federal election, which saw the Liberals fall to third place, the jury is still out on the future of the Liberal party. But the tone and direction of Trudeau’s proposals suggest his advisers believe the Liberal party cannot readily win an election under existing circumstances. Some of the proposals amount to an attempt at a reverse gerrymander, a bid to erase presumed Conservative advantages by fundamentally altering the system. The proposal to create a prime minister’s question period may open Trudeau up to charges he intends to grandstand if he becomes prime minister. Trudeau seems to lack the natural political instincts of a political master such as former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who won three majority governments between 1993 and 2000. Rather, Trudeau appears much more dependent on his advisers who appear to reflect the whim and flavour of the moment as well as partisan considerations. The full impact of Trudeau’s proposed electoral and democratic changes remain to be seen. But the Liberals have to be careful some of their proposals don’t take the party further away from government rather than closer to it. Some of the Liberal proposals may be criticized as unworkable or even detrimental to Canada’s political stability. With these proposals, it is far from clear the Liberal party offers a major improvement over Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s highly centralized administration. Bruce Campbell is an Ottawa- based political analyst. He was a research assistant for former senator Heath Macquarrie. “ If men were all so intelligent as these representatives of the downtrodden sex seem to be it might not do any harm to give them the vote. But all men are not so intelligent. There is no use giving men votes. They wouldn’t use them. They would let them spoil and go to waste. Then again, some men would vote too much... Giving men the vote would unsettle the home... The modesty of our men, which we reverence, forbids us giving them the vote. Men’s place is on the farm... It may be that I am old- fashioned. I may be wrong. After all, men may be human. Perhaps the time may come when men may vote with the women — but in the meantime, be of good cheer. Advocate and Educate.” Trudeau rolls the dice with big ideas By Bruce Campbell Nellies to honour Manitoba women WOMEN’S DEMOCRACY 100 th A N N I V E R S A R Y W HOA Nellie. With those words, suffragist, activist and writer Nellie Mc- Clung opened up a satirical play all about giving men the vote at the Walker Theatre in January 1914. Operating as the Political Equality League, McClung, along with nine other women and men, joined forces to push for women to get the vote, and McClung cleverly turned the issue on its head by poking fun at the Roblin government, which refused to give women their right for fear of corrupting them. It would take a good two years and a lot of political manoeuvering for the vote to finally be given to women anywhere in the Commonwealth, let alone in Manitoba, but on Jan. 28, 1916, women in this province were the first to cast their vote in a provincial election. But not all women. Voting rights were given to certain women first. Property owners, non- alien. For First Nations women, the right to vote was denied for quite some time. Status aboriginal women were excluded from political activities related to local band governments until 1951. They were given the right to vote provincially in Manitoba in 1952 and were allowed to vote in federal elections in 1960, when Ottawa finally extended the franchise to all aboriginal people, men and women. But in January 1916, Manitoba was ground zero for women’s rights and the suffragist movement. Just two years later, in 1918, white women were allowed to vote federally. In 1929, McClung along with Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby fought for women to be recognized as persons under British common law. Because the British North America Act referred to persons as male, women were prevented from being considered judges or senators because they weren’t viewed as persons under law. As women in Canada, we owe Nellie McClung and her counterparts a debt of gratitude. And it’s also time to acknowledge all the other amazing women who stood up when it was not politically correct to do so and demand women be treated fairly and equally. Jessie Kirk became the first woman on Winnipeg city council in 1920. Edith Rogers became the first female MLA in Manitoba and the first woman of aboriginal descent to hold office. The first woman in the provincial cabinet, Thelma Forbes, was appointed minister of urban development and municipal affairs and public works in 1966. In 1979, Muriel Smith was the first woman to run for leadership of a political party, the NDP. In 1981, Pearl McGonigal became the first female lieutenant- governor. In 1984, Sharon Carstairs was first woman to lead a political party, the Manitoba Liberals. In 1992, Susan Thompson became Winnipeg’s first female mayor. In 2015, Amanda Lathlin was the first First Nations woman to be elected to the legislature. These are just some of the remarkable women who have made history in this country. Today, the Nellie McClung Foundation, in partnership with the Winnipeg Free Press, has a new way to recognize women who have broken ground for other women. The Nellies are awards that will be given to Manitoba women who have made significant contributions in social justice and human rights. This new award marks the beginning of a celebration at the Free Press of the women’s democracy project and culminates on Jan. 28, 2016, with a gala and the announcement of the 10 winners of the Nellie awards. Says Lila Goodspeed, the chairwoman of the Nellie McClung Foundation, “ The Nellies will salute the contributions women in this province have made to social justice, the arts and the promotion of democracy, following in the footsteps of Nellie McClung.” The project will be a series of articles, columns and videos that address women’s equality and representation in government, business and policy and will run regularly in the Winnipeg Free Press . In the meantime, be of good cheer. Advocate. Educate. And nominate. For details about the Nellies and to nominate, go to winnipegfreepress. com/ the- nellies. Go Nellies. Shannon Sampert is the perspectives and politics editor at the Winnipeg Free Press. shannon. sampert@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter: @ PaulySigh SHANNON SAMPERT By Loren Remillard PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Nellie McClung, memorialized in this statue at the legislature, carved a path for other great female leaders in Manitoba. A_ 13_ Jun- 18- 15_ FP_ 01. indd A13 6/ 17/ 15 8: 00: 07 PM

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