Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives May 21 2015, Page 13

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - May 21, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE A13 IDEAS œ ISSUES œ INSIGHTS THINK- TANK A 13 Winnipeg Free Press Thursday, May 21, 2015 I LIKE Steven Fletcher. Our brief encounters, typically in airports or the occasional public event, are always friendly and cordial. It is hard not to admire him. Despite suffering from quadriplegia, he has found the strength to serve his country as a member of Parliament, at various times holding appointments as minister of state ( democratic reform; transport), and currently as a member of the Treasury Board cabinet committee. Now, Fletcher is focusing his energy on promoting physician- hastened death, and public opinion and legislative reform are starting to turn his way. In April, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the prohibition against assisted suicide. A recent Ipsos- Reid poll found nearly 70 per cent of Canadians support the availability of death- hastening alternatives for people living with significant disabilities that might impair their quality of life. In other words, Canadians find it inconceivable to imagine themselves confined to a body that even remotely approximates the one in which Fletcher lives. I suspect Canadians are afraid of the abject vulnerability his life proves is possible. For anyone wondering why physicianhastened death makes disabled people feel vulnerable, wonder no more. While Fletcher argues death should sometimes trump disability, studies of people who become disabled from spinal injuries, head trauma or strokes offer a strikingly different perspective. Just less than 10 per cent of these patients become suicidal. In his autobiography, What Do You Do If You Don’t Die? Fletcher recounts suicidal thoughts that lingered long after his catastrophic accident. Had doctor- assisted suicide been an option after his 1996 car accident, he says he would have considered checking out. Thankfully, it was not. Those of us working in health care understand life- altering illness, trauma or anticipation of death can sometimes sap our will to live. In those instances, health- care providers are called upon to commit time — time to manage distress, provide support and assuage fear that patients might be abandoned. Arranging the patient’s death has never been part of that response. In light of the decision by the Supreme Court, we must now contemplate Canada’s future euthanologists. What professional designation will they require? What disciplines will they be drawn from? What training will they receive? What ethical and practice guidelines will they abide by? And what judicial oversight will they submit to? Fletcher, ethicist Margaret Somerville and I spoke at a recent forum on euthanasia and assisted suicide. Fletcher said he did not want to die drowning in his phlegm and in pain. I assured him that, on behalf of Canada’s palliative care community, we would not let that happen. He said he did not want to be reliant on machines to keep him alive. I told him competent Canadians, under our current laws, are entitled to refuse or discontinue treatment, including life- sustaining measures. He described autonomy as a core Canadian value. I reminded him autonomy has its limits, particularly when it implicates the physician’s role in response to suffering. Fletcher says he has received supportive letters from across the country from people who fear what dying will look like. With too few Canadians having access to palliative care, it is little wonder people are afraid. Offering the option to have their physician end their lives feels akin to confronting homelessness by eliminating guardrails from bridges. Fletcher feels safeguards, such as a ‘ cooling off’ period to establish that a request to die is sincere, not coerced and sustained, are possible. If so many in your circumstance change their mind, I asked him, do we now require a twoyear waiting period? His response was, “ Maybe.” To be fair, perhaps Fletcher had not considered how asking physicians to stop time could undermine their most powerful response to suffering. His voice has become an important one in how we conceive of disability, death and dying and no doubt is one Canadians anxiously await to hear. ( Fletcher was provided the opportunity to respond to this editorial; he declined). Harvey Max Chochinov is the director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Unit, CancerCare Manitoba, and distinguished professor, University of Manitoba. — troymedia. com HARVEY MAX CHOCHINOV Disability doesn’t invite suicide A LEX Paterson of the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition calls for greater transparency around TransCanada’s Energy East project ( Energy East needs full climate review , May 14). He suggests the project will increase greenhouse gas emissions and questions the impact the project will have on Manitoba Hydro. I hope this will help to provide your readers with some important facts about the project and what it means for Manitobans. TransCanada has held a dozen openhouse events in Manitoba alone, where hundreds of people came to ask questions and get information about the project. We have held more than 110 municipal and community meetings, and our discussion with First Nations and Métis leaders, elected officials, community members and others will continue. The truth is, oil continues to play a vital role in our daily lives. It heats our homes, powers our vehicles and is a key element in thousands of the products our families use every day, from hockey pucks, smartphones and medical devices, to car parts and our clothing. The Energy East pipeline will not create demand for oil; rather, it is a response to the very real demand for oil that already exists. A recent study by Navius for the Ontario Energy Board confirms the oil that will be carried by the Energy East pipeline is already being produced and is currently being moved by other modes of transportation, notably by train. The report concludes: “ As a result, ( Energy East’s) approval does not affect production from these resources. The pipeline simply changes the mode of transport for these resources from rail to pipeline.” For as long as we continue to use oil, our priority will be to get it to market in the safest, most environmentally safe manner possible. In the case of Energy East, about 3,000 kilometres of the pipeline are already in the ground, where it is being used to transport gas, which means little or no disruption to the environment in many places along the route during the construction phase. Studies have also shown pipelines produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other modes of transportation, such as trains and ships that run on diesel fuel. That’s because the pump stations that move the oil through the pipeline run on electricity. In Manitoba, that power is clean hydroelectricity for which we would pay fair market value under a bulk- supply contract with Manitoba Hydro, just like any other industrial user in the province. These rates will not be subsidized by Manitobans, nor will TransCanada receive preferential rates from Manitoba Hydro or the province. In fact, the nine new pump stations planned for Manitoba would have a peak requirement of 150 megawatts of power, representing less than three per cent of Manitoba Hydro’s current capacity. Finally, the project will deliver significant economic benefits for Manitobans. An independent study by the Conference Board of Canada shows it will support more than 530 full- time direct and spinoff jobs during planning and construction of the pipeline. During construction and the first 20 years of service, Energy East will also generate more than $ 300 million in new revenues for the provincial and municipal governments to build roads, schools and hospitals and invest in other priorities that will enhance our communities. As we move ahead with Energy East, TransCanada will remain a reliable partner of the Province of Manitoba, contributing jobs and economic benefits for all Manitobans. Tim Duboyce is spokesman for TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline. I T was a wonderful understatement: It’s normal until someone reminds you how ridiculous it is. And with that, Manitoba Teachers’ Society president Paul Olson neatly wrapped up what happens when you treat women exactly like men and don’t keep their important differences in mind. Olson was responding to the news the Manitoba School Boards Association avoided a grievance arbitration with the school district of Mystery Lake by extending the top- up in maternity benefits. Those on maternity leave previously only received top- ups for days they were teaching. In other words, women on paid maternity leave did not get top- up compensation while on vacation. That has now changed, and other school districts will likely have to incorporate the changes as bargaining continues. As Olson said, it’s an obvious equity piece as the majority of the teachers in the school division are women and many are hired in their child- bearing years. But honestly, this is a continuation of transitions made in workplace policy that have been ongoing for more than a quarter of a century. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 1989 Safeway violated the Manitoba Human Rights Act by failing to provide equal compensation for those who missed work due to sickness during the later stages of pregnancy. In Brooks v. Canada Safeway, the court ruled the grocery- store chain could not deny pregnant women coverage under their health- care benefits, forcing them instead to go on employment insurance. The court ruled: “ The respondent alleged that the decision to exclude pregnancy from the scope of its plan was not a question of discrimination, but a question of deciding to compensate some risks and to exclude others. Under- inclusion may be simply a backhanded way of permitting discrimination. Once an employer decides to provide an employee benefit package, exclusions from such schemes may not be made, like in this case, in a discriminatory fashion.” There is a wage gap in Canada. Despite the fact women are better- educated and have higher employment rates than men, they still make less. Women are less likely to make advances in their career. They are more likely to work part time. But it’s not women per se. It’s women with children. In studies, the issue of paid family leave is viewed as an important way to ameliorate the gendered wage gap. One study suggested maternityleave policies are integral to ensuring women’s continued labour- force participation because women can have their children while maintaining their employment position. Canada falls in the low end of the scale for parental leave and benefits in comparison to other rich counties, according to a study by Washington’s Center for Economic and Policy Research published in 2008. Scandinavian countries consistently rate very high, while the United States by comparison is considered to have one of the poorest support systems for pregnant and new mothers in the world. Women who have children have long suffered what’s called the motherhood penalty, making less than men and being held back because they have children. Women on the “ mommy track” can’t be taken seriously career- wise until they’re finished having children. Interestingly, men with children get a fatherhood bonus, with studies indicating they receive more money on average than childless men. As an aside, the study also found men with children are more likely to be interviewed for jobs than women with children. In other words, the stability from having a family is viewed as a plus for men while it works against women. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission says discrimination based on pregnancy continues to be an issue in Manitoba, especially in an employment setting. Statistically, pregnancy- related complaints are pretty consistent, making up 4.5 per cent of the complaints filed in 2013 and 2014. According to the commission, complaints that are filed based on pregnancy in employment typically include allegations there have been changes to job duties or a termination of employment. It’s unbelievable in this day and age women with children still have to fight for fairness in the employment front. As everyone knows, it takes more than one person to make a baby. Having children benefits society, particularly with an aging population and falling birth rates. If we truly want to support women and gender equality, we cannot continue to have women be penalized for having children. It’s not an issue of choice, for heaven’s sake. It’s an issue of fairness. Shannon Sampert is the Free Press perspectives and politics editor. shannon. sampert@ freepress. mb. ca Twitter; @ PaulySigh TransCanada pipeline will deliver many benefits By Tim Duboyce SHANNON SAMPERT The motherhood penalty ‘ Mommy track’ frequently derails women’s career ambitions A_ 13_ May- 21- 15_ FP_ 01. indd A13 5/ 20/ 15 5: 50: 24 PM

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