This Pandemic Is about Human Rights: Alex Neve of Amnesty International

A video interview with Canada’s AI secretary general on crisis and opportunity

Every aspect of the crisis, Neve says, is about human rights. “The virus is a full-frontal cruel attack on the right to health and sadly, in so many instances the right to life itself. All of the manifestations of the economic crisis and the ways in which it is threatening people’s livelihoods and abilities to meet basic necessities, that’s all about human rights as well.”

The virus has affected certain communities differently. “The ways in which both the virus and the economic crisis have particular impact on marginalized communities raises real concerns about discrimination and equality, which in many respects, is one of the most fundamental tenants of the entire human rights system,” he says.

Wedge notes the impact the Spanish Flu had on human rights and asks whether Neve thinks we’ll see that same transformation after COVID-19. “Because of course, the Spanish flu as we know, affected so disproportionately the poor and the vulnerable at that time,” she says.


What Would Nature Do? Not Wall Street

Models for a healthy down-to-earth economy are all around us.

With proper care and respect, Earth can provide a high quality of life for all people in perpetuity. Yet we devastate productive lands and waters for a quick profit, a few temporary jobs, or a one-time resource fix.

Our current expansion of tar sands oil extraction, deep-sea oil drilling, hydraulic fracturing natural gas extraction, and mountaintop-removal coal mining are but examples of this insanity. These highly profitable choices deepen our economic dependence on rapidly diminishing, nonrenewable fossil-energy reserves, disrupt the generative capacity of Earth’s living systems, and accelerate climate disruption.

A global economy dependent on this nonsense is already failing and its ultimate collapse is only a matter of time. For a surprisingly long time, we humans have successfully maintained the illusion that we are outside of, superior to, and not subject to the rules of nature. We do so, however, at a huge cost, and payment is coming due.

To secure the health and happiness of future generations, we must embrace life as our defining value, recognize that competition is but a subtext of life’s deeper narrative of cooperation, and restructure our institutions to conform to life’s favored organizing principle of radically decentralized, localized decision making and self-organization. This work begins with recognizing what nature has learned about the organization of complex living systems over billions of years.

Our Original Instructions

Some indigenous people speak of the “original instructions.” Chief Oren Lyons, of the Onondaga Nation, summarizes the rules in “Listening to Natural Law” in the anthology Original Instructions:

“Our instructions, and I’m talking about for all human beings, are to get along … with [nature’s] laws, and support them and work with them. We were told a long time ago that if you do that, life is endless. It just continues on and on in great cycles of regeneration. … If you want to tinker with that regeneration, if you want to interrupt it, that’s your choice, but the results that come back can be very severe because … the laws are absolute.”

The human brain evolved to reward cooperation and service.

Modern neuroscience affirms that the human brain evolved to reward cooperation and service. In other words, nature has hard-wired the original instructions into our brain. Extreme individualism, greed, and violence are pathological and a sign of physical, developmental, cultural, and/or institutional system failure. Caring relationships are the foundation of healthy families, communities, and life itself.

We are living out the consequences of our collective human failure to adhere to the original instructions—the organizing principles of healthy living systems readily discernible through observation of nature at work. These are the principles by which we must rethink and reorganize human economies.

So how would nature design an economy? An economy is nothing more than a system for allocating resources to productive activity—presumably in support of life. In fact, nature is an economy, with material and information exchange, saving, investment, production, and consumption—all functions we associate with economic activity. Absent human intervention, as Lyons says, “It just continues on and on in great cycles of regeneration.”

Nature surrounds us with expressions of the organizing principles that make possible life’s exceptional resilience, capacity for adaptation, creative innovation, and vibrant abundance. Earth’s biosphere and the human body are two magnificent examples.

Wall Street


Defining value Money Life
Primary performance indicators Growth, financial returns, flows, and assets Life’s abundance, health, resilience, and creative potential
Primary dynamic Competition to maximize self-interest Cooperation to optimize self- and community interest
Decision-making power Global, top-down, centralized, and concentrated Local, bottom-up, and distributed
Time frame Immediate return Sustained yield
Local character Uniform Diverse
Resource control Monopolized Shared
Resource flows Global, linear, one-time use from mine to dump Local, circular, perpetual use, zero waste
Deficits of concern Financial Social and environmental
Measure of efficiency Returns to financial capital Returns to social and natural capital
Growth Infinite growth of money and material consumption A stage in life’s endless regenerative cycles of birth, growth, death, and rebirth

The Economy of the Biosphere

Earth’s exquisitely complex, resilient, and continuously evolving band of life—the biosphere—demonstrates on a grand scale the creative potential of the distributed intelligence of many trillions of individual self-organizing, choice-making living organisms. Acting in concert, they continuously regenerate soils, rivers, aquifers, fisheries, forests, and grasslands while maintaining climatic balance and the composition of the atmosphere to serve the needs of Earth’s widely varied life forms. So long as humans honor the original instructions, the biosphere has an extraordinary capacity to optimize the capture, organization, and sharing of Earth’s energy, water, and nutrients in support of life—including human life.

In nature, species and individuals earn a right to a share in the bounty of the whole as necessary to their sustenance through their contribution to the well-being of the whole. Over the long term, those that contribute prosper, and those that do not contribute expire. The interests of the whole are protected against rogue behavior by natural limits on the ability of any individual or species to monopolize resources beyond its own need to the exclusion of the needs of others.

Individuals and species may compete for territory and sexual dominance, but the amount of territory or number of mates nature allows an individual or species to claim is local, limited, and subject to continuous challenge. Until humans began to create the imperial civilizations characteristic of our most recent 5,000 years, the idea that any species, let alone a few individual members of a species, might claim control of all of Earth’s living wealth to the exclusion of all others was beyond comprehension.

The Economy of the Body

The human body is a more intimate demonstration of the creative power of life’s organizing principles. The individual human body comprises tens of trillions of individual living cells, each a decision-making entity with the ability to manage and maintain its own health and integrity under changing and often stressful circumstances. At the same time, each cell faithfully discharges its responsibility to serve the needs of the entire body on which its own health and integrity depend.

Working together, these cells create and maintain a self-organizing human organism with the potential to achieve extraordinary feats of physical grace and intellectual acuity far beyond the capability of any individual cell on its own.

We would favor local, cooperative ownership and control.

Each decision-making, resource-sharing cell is integral to a larger whole of which no part or system can exist on its own. Together they create regulatory mechanisms internal to the whole that work to assure that no part asserts dominance over the others or monopolizes the body’s stores of energy, nutrients, and water for its exclusive use. Resources are shared based on need.

All the while, the body’s cells self-organize to fight off a vast variety of viruses, cancer cells, and harmful bacteria, adapt to changing temperatures and energy needs and variations in the body’s food and water intake, heal damaged tissues, and collect and provide sensory data to our conscious mind essential to our conscious choice making.

Another of the many impressive expressions of the body’s capacity to self-organize is the process by which our cells continuously regenerate while maintaining the body’s integrity as a unified organism. The cells lining the human stomach have a turnover of only five days. Red blood cells are replaced every 120 days or so. The surface of the skin recycles every two weeks. The cells of the body are constantly reproducing, growing, and dying.

A Human Economy Based on Nature

If nature were in charge of creating an enduring human economy, she would surely apply the same principles she applies in natural systems. Her goal would be a global system of bioregional living economies that secure a healthy, happy, productive life for every person on the planet in symbiotic balance with the non-human systems on which we humans depend for breathable air, drinkable water, fertile soils, timber, fish, grasslands, and climate stability. Each bioregional economy would meet its own needs for energy, water, nutrients, and mineral resources through sustained local capture, circular flow, utilization, and repurposing. Decision making would be local and the system would organize from the bottom up. Diversity and redundancy would support local adaptation and resilience.

The challenge is epic in its proportion and long overdue.

This should be our goal and vision. With the biosphere as our systems model, we would design our economic institutions and rules to align with nature’s rules and organizing principles. We would replace GDP as the primary measure of economic performance with a new system of living system indicators that assess economic performance against the outcomes we actually want—healthy, happy people and healthy, resilient natural systems. These indicators might be based on Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index. We would redirect the time, talent, and money we currently devote to growing GDP, material consumption, securities bubbles, and Wall Street bonuses to producing the outcomes we really want.

We would favor local, cooperative ownership and control. Organizing from the bottom up in support of bioregional self-reliance, our economic institutions would support local decision-making in response to local needs and opportunities. Cultural and biological diversity and sharing within and between local communities would support local and global resilience and facilitate life-serving system innovation.

The result would be an economy based on a love of life that honors the original instructions and conforms to the organizing principles of nature, real markets, and true democracy. The challenge is epic in its proportion and long overdue.

We are Earth’s children; she is our mother. We must honor and care for her as she loves and cares for us. Together we can forge an integral partnership grounded in the learning and deep wisdom of her 3.8 billion-year experience in nurturing life’s expanding capacities for intelligent self-organization, creative innovation, and self-reflective consciousness.


David Korten

DAVID KORTEN is co-founder of YES! Media, president of the Living Economies Forum, a member of the Club of Rome, and the author of influential books, including “When Corporations Rule the World” and “Change the Story, Change the Future: A Living Economy for a Living Earth.” His work builds on lessons from the 21 years he and his wife, Fran, lived and worked in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on a quest to end global poverty.

Pipeline projects, the pandemic and the question journalists fail to ask

Trans Mountain Pipeline Construction: Nevertheless, the definition of “essential service” is symbolically important, and inherently political. Photo credit: TMX handout

While the pandemic marches on, it’s another workday at Burnaby Terminal, the oil storage “tank farm” that is being doubled in density as part of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX). Large vehicles rumble inside the compound and through the electronically controlled perimeter gate. The clatter of heavy machinery resounds through the nearby forest and neighbourhoods. Large signs warn obstructing access to this facility could result in arrest — the fate of hundreds of Indigenous-led land, water and climate protectors in 2018. A smaller sign, next to the guardhouse and gate, says, “Social distancing, where possible, while at (company) sites.”

“Where possible.” That’s a big caveat. Maintaining a two-metre distance in construction sites is often not possible.

While thousands of B.C. businesses have closed, schools and libraries gather dust and millions of British Columbians are urged to stay at home — all for good reason — fossil fuel-related expansion projects continue as if they are “essential services.” Both Trans Mountain and LNG Canada (a consortium of foreign corporations) boast they are meeting significant milestones on their respective projects.

TMX would convey toxic diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands to the Westridge harbour terminal in Burnaby. LNG Canada’s Coastal GasLink (CGL) would bring liquefied “natural” gas from the fracking fields through (as is now notorious) Wet’suwet’en territory to the northern B.C. town of Kitimat.

Significant health concerns have been raised about both projects, as well as BC Hydro’s Site C hydroelectric dam in the province’s north. Though publicly touted as “green” energy, it is partly intended to provide subsidized electricity to LNG Canada and carries enormous environmental costs of its own, from methane emissions to flooding of Treaty 8 Indigenous territories and some of Canada’s richest farmland.

At the end of March, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) publicly called for a halt to all construction at the 1,600-worker Site C dam camp “due to the risk COVID-19 now poses to vulnerable workers and nearby Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in northeast B.C.,” followed by a similar call with respect to CGL pipeline construction. The UBCIC added “corporate exceptionalism” should not be a pandemic-response strategy: “The expansion of economic enterprises cannot be considered essential when it directly endangers the health and well-being of every one of us.”

Similar appeals were made by city councillors in Fort St. John, the town nearest the Site C camp, and by Dr. David Bowering, former chief medical health officer for the Northern Health region — joined as recently as April 29 by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Nevertheless, Premier John Horgan said Site C construction will continue until provincial health officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry “tells us otherwise.”

Henry and other provincial authorities have emphasized the precautions mandated specifically for industrial work sites, such as increased sanitation and physical distancing between employees, and procedures for detecting, isolating and removing workers who do become ill. BC Hydro claims to have reduced its workforce, but hundreds remain and residents and officials in vulnerable communities continue to question the adequacy and enforcement of provincial guidelines. Workers themselves have expressed deep concern for their families’ and their own safety.

“The scary thing is that many of the camps are in northern B.C.,” says Ben Parfitt, former environmental reporter and now a researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “There are few critical beds there. Small, isolated First Nation communities where people live in often crowded housing conditions and lack ready access to health care, can ill-afford to have the virus arrive. Both First Nation and non-First Nation leaders have raised concerns about the Site C workers’ camp, where several people have come down with COVID-like symptoms.”

Validating such concerns, the Interior Health Authority warned of an outbreak at the Kearl Lake oilsands work camp near Fort McMurray, Alta., on April 18. The outbreak has expanded to northern B.C. via workers travelling between the two provinces.

The definition of ‘essential service’ is symbolically important, and inherently political. It’s an important clue as to the vested interests and policy mindset of political and corporate elites.”

Following a public-health order on April 23, the province is finally sending inspectors to work camps. But there is a legitimate concern about whether park rangers, mining inspectors or other B.C. public-service employees slated for this role are qualified to assess COVID-19-related health-protection procedures.

The risk from fossil fuel “essential services” is not confined to the northern region. Many residents see my hometown, Burnaby, as a fossil fuel sacrifice zone. The TMX project has long raised the spectre of pipeline ruptures, uncontrollable toxic tank-farm fires, salmon-bearing stream contamination, oil-tanker spills and damage to the livability of surrounding neighbourhoods.

To that brew, add the potential for incubating a coronavirus outbreak at Burnaby’s two TMX terminals. As Elan Gibson, a spokeswoman for Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion (BROKE), put it, the virus is often not symptomatic among its carriers, and workers at both the tank farm and the Westridge terminal “are going to and from their homes and into our communities each day.”

The Indigenous-led group Mountain Protectors, working out of the Watch House built next to the tank farm in 2018, has collected “ample proof” TMX is not respecting the province’s or its own “social distance and safety measures,” according to Gibson. Photographs in the local newspaper appear to confirm this claim. Encouraged by BROKE, Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley transmitted these concerns to Trans Mountain and B.C. government authorities.

Essential services?

Are such megaprojects worth adding public-health risks to their indisputable environmental costs?

The B.C. government apparently thinks so. On March 26, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth released a list of “essential services,” defined as those “essential to preserving life, health, public safety and basic societal functioning … the services British Columbians rely on in their daily lives.” While not mentioning specific companies or projects, the list identifies “critical infrastructure service providers,” including “oil and natural gas.”

The list was developed by Emergency Management BC (EMBC) in consultation with other government ministries and the Provincial Health Officer. In legal and operational terms, the designation apparently doesn’t sharply differentiate essential from non-essential businesses, apart from those (like beauty salons and casinos) that have been ordered closed. All are required to adapt to health office guidelines; industrial work camps have a specific set of rules as well as qualified exemptions, for example, from liability for damage due to COVID-19 exposure, and from ceilings on crowd size in one site.

Rather, the list is intended to “encourage” designated businesses to remain open, and to provide a shared framework should further public-health measures be necessary, according to the EMBC’s Joint Information Centre.

Nevertheless, the definition of “essential service” is symbolically important, and inherently political. It’s an important clue as to the vested interests and policy mindset of political and corporate elites. Treating these three projects as “essential” to B.C.’s future implies a multifold gamble — that global gas and oil prices and demand will escalate sharply from their current historic lows, that the rest of the world will largely abandon efforts to contain greenhouse gas emissions, that taxpayers are willing to continue subsidizing gas and oil producers and lock Canada into exporting fossil fuels for decades, that we are willing to continue destroying farmland just as food-supply chains are becoming demonstrably more fragile and that Canada will continue to play an outsize role in exacerbating climate catastrophes that could make the coronavirus pandemic seem trivial.

None of the megaproject trio currently delivers services to British Columbians. (Trans Mountain did not respond to requests for comment on whether it is an essential service, and on what grounds.) Nor are their prospects of being a future economic engine particularly promising. In the case of TMX, independent analysts like economist Robyn Allan and veteran earth scientist David Hughes have argued compellingly there is no large Asian demand for Alberta’s bitumen, TMX will not hugely increase its per-barrel price, relatively few permanent jobs will be created, competing delivery routes will be online soon and there is sufficient export capacity in Canada’s existing pipelines.

Rather than fuelling economic growth, TMX could burden Canadians with $9 billion or more in rising construction and insurance costs — costs that have recently shifted Canadian public opinion against the project, according to recent polls.

Similar claims could be made about the dubious economic benefits and definite environmental costs of CGL, compounded by tax subsidies to a foreign consortium (LNG Canada) and the blatant violation of Indigenous rights and traditional territories.

Collaborative media?

The stakes are high enough to warrant critical attention from the province’s news media — the institution that should be informing citizens about policies and events that affect them, acting as a watchdog on power and scanning the scene for threats to individual and community well-being. These are aspects of what media scholars Clifford Christians and his colleagues describe as the “monitorial” function of the press.

They identify three other ideal functions of the press in a democracy: facilitating a forum for public conversation, identifying and even advocating for necessary social change and collaborating with government and other institutions to support broadly acceptable social purposes.

Though under-recognized in conventional western journalism theory, that collaborative role is often practised by supporting charity campaigns or governments in times of emergency, like war — or pandemics. I tracked most daily news briefings with Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix from March 30 until April 30. Journalists raised numerous pressing questions about the trajectory of the disease, the situation of vulnerable groups like the homeless and elderly, strategies for response and much else. They can take much credit for how well British Columbians generally responded to public-health advice.

But while five out of 224 questions I’ve recorded concern risks from the industrial work camps, nobody queried Henry’s repeated references to construction projects and workers as “essential.” Perhaps journalists are reluctant to push their monitorial role in a climate of emergency, and vis-a-vis a personable official whose calm professionalism and empathy has made her a folk hero in B.C. The demands of a fast-moving story and the distance of most work camps from B.C.’s southwestern metropolitan media may be factors.

But there’s also evidence corporate news media implicitly accept the ideological premises underlying fossil fuel-oriented energy megaprojects. One recent example: an April 4 column by Vancouver Sun veteran Vaughn Palmer, concerning the pleas from northern B.C. to suspend Site C construction. Palmer devoted just three paragraphs to outlining those calls, and 18 to rebuttals by Premier Horgan, Dr. Henry and BC Hydro. Knowing the additional price tag of “another year’s delay” in the massive river diversion associated with Site C, he concluded, would give the public “a more rounded picture of the stakes.”

Corporate media pundits less often include the costs of business as usual as part of a “more rounded picture.” Jay Ritchlin, a David Suzuki Foundation spokesman, suggests subsidies to the fossil fuel megaprojects could be used instead for transitioning to a new type of economy. The COVID-19 catastrophe requires us to reconsider what really is essential.  SOURCE

Greta Thunberg and children’s group hit back at attempt to throw out climate case

TIME Magazine’s person of the year 2019 Greta Thunberg holds a climate change rally at the Greek Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado on October 11, 2019. Photo:Flickr/Anthony Quintano (CC BY 2.0)

Greta Thunberg and a group of other children have pushed forward their legal complaint at the UN against countries they accuse of endangering children’s wellbeing through the climate crisis, despite attempts to have it thrown out.

The 16 children, including the Swedish environmental activist, lodged a legal case with the UN committee on the rights of the child against Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey last September.

They alleged that the countries – which are legally obliged to protect children under the UN convention on the rights of the child – breached those obligations by failing to protect them from the “direct, imminent and foreseeable risk to their health and wellbeing” posed by the climate crisis.

Three countries – Brazil, France and Germany – have replied to the petition, saying it should not be admissible by the committee.

But on Tuesday the children hit back, arguing that the countries should be judged by their behaviour on the climate crisis. They said the three countries were all failing to cut their emissions in line with the Paris agreement.

In response to the objections raised by Brazil, France and Germany, the children said they had been “directly and foreseeably injured” by the greenhouse gas emissions that those governments had allowed to change the climate.

They have submitted new scientific research on how the countries are failing in their obligations, and said it would be “futile” to argue their case in separate domestic lawsuits in each country, as that “would not provide the type of far-reaching international relief needed to reverse climate change”.

Although 140 countries, excluding the US, have ratified the UN convention on the rights of the child, only 46 governments have adopted a protocol that allows for this kind of legal action. Of those, the five biggest greenhouse gas emitters – Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey – are targeted in the lawsuit, which has been brought by the children with the backing of the green campaigning group Earthjustice and the international law firm Hausfeld.

There has been no decision yet from the UN committee on whether to hear the legal complaint.

The lawsuit joins a growing number of attempts to bring climate cases to court, alleging that government or businesses have flouted the law or failed in their international obligations. One of the most successful has been in the Netherlands, in the Urgenda case, in which judges found the government must change its policies to tackle emissions and the climate crisis.

Greta Thunberg and children’s group hit back at attempt to throw out climate case

In the UK, campaigners brought a successful legal challenge that found the government was wrong to allow the expansion of Heathrow airport without taking into account its obligations under the Paris agreement. The ruling will have implications for other government plans likely to raise emissions, such as road-building schemes.

More than 1,300 legal actions have been brought around the world to try to force governments to confront the climate crisis. More than 1,000 are in the US; the highest profile case there, the Juliana case, was dismissed by judges earlier this year. There are similar cases ongoing in 28 countries including Ireland, Australia, Spain and New Zealand. SOURCE

BC’s swift response to long-term care crisis sets the bar for other provinces

Today, four out of five Canadians who have died from COVID-19 in Canada are linked to long-term care homes. The first death from COVID-19 in Canada was an elderly resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in British Columbia. It marked the first of dozens of outbreaks in long-term care homes in Canada that have taken thousands of Canadian lives.

The stories from long-term care homes are horrific, particularly in Ontario and Quebec where the situation has deteriorated so rapidly they’ve needed to bring the military in to help provide care for elders. Residents being left alone and uncared for, for hours – or even days – at a time due to inadequate staffing. Chilling allegations of long term care homes hiding dead bodies. Healthy residents living in the same rooms with COVID-19 patients. Nurses and care aide staff denied basic personal protective equipment, forced to work in unsafe conditions. These stories defy common sense and basic human decency. They are both terrifying and enraging.

Compounding this nightmare is how slow many governments have been to respond, how allergic they are to taking accountability for this travesty. Quebec Premier Francois Legault took “full responsibility” only after the province saw 688 COVID-19 deaths, more than half of them in long-term care homes. Ontario Premier Doug Ford denied knowing that former premier, Mike Harris, the architect of health care privatization in that province, was the board chair of the biggest chain of private care homes in Ontario, the sites of numerous, tragic, deaths. Healthcare workers in Ontario had to go to court to get proper safety measures put in place at three long-term care homes, exposing lack of proper government oversight.

BC has taken a different approach, moving swiftly and decisively to step in and make major changes in long-term care to address the fundamental flaws in the system. While there are still ongoing outbreaks in BC, and much more work to do, this week, BC’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced that the outbreak at Lynn Valley Care Centre was finally resolved.

This tragedy was years in the making. 

The dramatic loss of life in long-term care in Canada in the pandemic is a damning indictment of care home privatization, and woefully inadequate employment, health and safety standards — the legacy of right-wing governments.

What makes this tragedy even harder to accept is that so many of these deaths were preventable.

The shocking truth is that the problems at the root of the widespread infection and loss of life in care homes across Canada were well known to governments and experts, years before COVID-19 ever reached our shores.

Health experts agree that the most significant factor in the spread of COVID-19 between care homes has been the precarious nature of work in the sector, a situation that led to many care workers working in more than one care home, just to make a living. Over 90% of all personal support workers in care homes are women, many of whom are also racialized and/or immigrants. Most long-term care workers endure poor pay, part-time contracts and job insecurity, making recruitment and retention in the sector even more difficult.

In British Columbia, the sorry state of the long-term care sector can be traced back to 2002, when the BC Liberal government accelerated the transition of publicly funded long-term care to the for-profit sector by cutting capital spending on senior care and breaking up contracts of unionized health care workers. This resulted in increased privatization, contracting out, and the removal of worker protections, which left healthcare workers with fewer rights than other workers in the province. Mike Harris’s government in Ontario in the 90s tells a similar story about privatization and the long-term care sector, as have other conservative governments across the country.

In February 2020, just weeks before the World Health Organization declared a COVID-19 pandemic, BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie issued a scathing report on the long-term care sector in BC. She found that the $1.4 billion for-profit long-term care sector – which receives $1.3 billion per year from BC taxpayers – spends $10,000 less per month per resident than its non-profit long-term housing counterparts.

Low wages and poor standards may “cut costs”, but the bigger cost is the risk to elders that has resulted.

There are solutions we can implement now

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, in 2019 and early 2020, the current BC government had already taken over operations at four privately-run long-term care homes due to senior neglect and inadequate care. After the outbreak at the Lynn Valley care home, BC moved quickly to immediately implement some much needed changes, including:

      • Centralizing the allocation of long-term care staff to homes so that staffing is sufficient to safely meet patient care needs;
      • Ensure that workers work at only one facility, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases between homes;
      • Treat (and pay) care home workers as full-time workers, with living wages; and,
      • Increased job protections.

BC has led the country in responding to the crisis in long-term care, and minimizing the loss of life, but as BC Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix have both acknowledged, there is much more to do.

It took a coronavirus pandemic for Canadians to see the depth of the flaws in long-term care. The time for talk, more reviews and studies on the problem passed 20 years ago. It’s now time for urgent action to prevent anything like this from ever happening to seniors again.

In the short term – during the COVID-19 pandemic and until a vaccine is found – every province and territory needs to follow BC’s lead in patching up some of the gaping holes in our long-term care system.

In the long-term, we will need better health and safety controls, adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and regulatory measures in place to protect both long-term care workers, and the residents they serve. We also need national minimum standards when it comes to long-term care, so that we can be confident that our loved ones will be well cared for, no matter where they live in Canada.

And perhaps most importantly, all Canadians need to call for an end to privatized, for-profit long-term care, so we can put people – not profit – at the centre of our elder care system. It’s time for this to happen. There’s too much at stake. As we’ve learned  the hard way it’s literally a matter of life and death. SOURCE

A New Ecological Civilization

Creatively United for the Planet

Guy Dauncey, author, futurist and anthropological economist, will share a positive vision of a sustainable future in which we live, work and play in harmony with Nature, and with respect for all beings. 300 years ago, the Enlightenment generated an inspiring vision of scientific, technological and economic progress. What was once global ‘progress’, however, has become a climate, ecological, economic and pandemic emergency. We need new inspiration. When we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we can’t afford to go back to business-as-usual. We need to build for ourselves a New Ecological Civilization in which we live, work and play in harmony with Nature, with respect for all beings, in an economy based on the economics of kindness. See other videos in this series:… Presenter Bio: Guy Dauncey is a futurist, anthropological economist, plus founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is currently competing his next book on The Economics of Kindness. He is an Honorary Member of the Planning Institute of BC, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, and President of the Yellow Point Ecological Society.

Fair Vote Canada: Join Jagmeet Singh at our Annual Conference!

Update! Jagmeet Singh to be our keynote speaker Friday May 29, 7 PM Eastern

With registrations already surging, this year’s Annual Conference just got better! NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will be joining us on Friday, May 29 at 7 PM Eastern.

Please register and share! Your attendance helps us send a strong message that many citizens care deeply about achieving proportional representation–and are ready to take action.


Once you are registered, you will receive a link to join that you can use at any time during the conference–to join Jagmeet on Friday evening, or join any of the sessions and workshop on Saturday, May 30! (If you have already registered, you don’t need to register again!)

Friday May 29, 2020

Jagmeet Singh, 7 PM Eastern

Saturday May 30, 2020

Jagmeet will be speaking about why he supports PR, the benefits of a minority government and how we can make progress towards building a better democracy in this Parliament. The presentation will be followed by a Q+A from the audience.

Saturday May 30, 2020

Frank Graves, 1:30-2:30 PM Eastern

Frank Graves is the founder and President of EKOS Research Associates. Frank is a frequent commentator in Canadian and American media. He has directed several public opinion research projects on behalf of the CBC, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and La Presse. In 2016, he delivered an insightful presentation on the Public Outlook on Electoral Reform to the federal all-party committee on electoral reform (ERRE).

Frank will speak about the current state of democracy, including voter trust and the emergence of populism in Canada. The presentation will be followed by a Q+A from the audience.


Penny Ehrhardt, 3-4 PM Eastern

Penny Ehrhardt is a Senior Associate at the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington and a (non-practising) Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. She served on the Secretariat supporting the Ministerial Expert Advisory Group on the electoral law reform referendum at the NZ Ministry of Justice. Her research interests include the practice and implementation of policy-making, social movements and human rights.

Penny will speak about the impacts of replacing first-past-the-post with MMP on democracy in New Zealand and how proportional representation enabled a strong cooperative response to the current pandemic. The presentation will be followed by a Q+A from the audience.



Anna Keenan, 4:30-6 PM Eastern

Anna Keenan has been a climate and democracy campaigner for over a decade. She has worked as an organizer for the Australian Conservation Foundation, Avaaz in Europe and Greenpeace International. Anna was Campaign Director for PR on PEI, which won the 2016 plebiscite on proportional representation. Anna currently works for as a Fossil Free Community Manager, expanding locally-led climate campaigning, coaching regional staff and using online spaces to scale up their network. Anna has been a member of Fair Vote Canada’s National Council.

This interactive workshop on organizing and campaigning is for all PR supporters and volunteers! This session will involve a combination of teaching and small group workshops where you’ll meet other Fair Vote Canada supporters to learn skills that we can carry into our future campaigns.

Fair Vote Canada is a campaign that is backed by evidence and powered by people–you. We hope you can join us this year as we work together to build a democracy that works for everyone.


Anita Nickerson
Executive Director, Fair Vote Canada

Organizing for the International Green New Deal Campaign

Fossil fuel industries are driving us into climate catastrophe — and the world’s working class will be forced to pay for their greed. This toolkit helps you organize to fight for a just transition around the world.

Our future has been held hostage by a handful of oil and gas executives. For decades, they have lied to the public about the dangers of fossil fuel extraction, and bought off politicians to repeat their message. They are internationally organized, infiltrating institutions at both national and international levels to advance their agenda of extraction. Their incredible wealth means their families will be fine, but the rest of us won’t.

Young people around the world are organizing to take back their future — and in the United States, Sunrise is leading the way.

Sunrise is a movement of young people working to combat the climate crisis and create millions of good jobs in the process. In just a few years, Sunrise has organized national strikes and direct actions in cities across the United States that have inspired millions to join the fight for a ‘Green New Deal.’

This toolkit answers questions like:

      • What is the ‘Green New Deal,’ and why should we fight for it?
      • How can we organize around the Green New Deal to build people power?
      • And how can we use this people power to expand our political power and create a ‘people’s alignment’?

Download the Sunrise toolkit and begin organizing your community for a just transition today.

The Progressive International is committed to building a climate movement that is as internationally organized as its opponents in the fossil fuel industry. If you are a climate activist or community organizer that would like to get involved with the Progressive International — or organize actions related to this campaign — please write to

Sunrise’s International Green New Deal Toolkit


Download the Sunrise Movement toolkit and start organizing for a Green New Deal today.

Progressive International Launches ‘To Form Common Front’ in Global Struggle for Justice and a Better World

“Nothing less than the future of the planet is at stake.”

There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence,” said Progressive International on Monday. “Nothing less than the future of the planet is at stake.” (Image: Progressive International)

A coalition of left-leaning thinkers, activists, organizations, and political leaders from around the world on Monday officially launched the Progressive International, a new global effort aimed to provide the world with an alternative to the ravages of neoliberal capitalism in a world gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, gross economic inequality, and corporate domination.

“The time has come for progressives everywhere to form a common front,” the group declared on Monday as it called on people around the world to sign on for the effort.

In 2018, Yanis Varoufakis of the Democracy in Europe Movement (DiEM25) and Jane O’Meara Sanders of the Sanders Institute issued an open call for a new global progressive grassroots efforts that would help unify international pro-democracy movement.

In an official statement announcing its formation on Monday, the Progressive International said it was now taking up that call and would act as an “institution for the world’s progressive forces, with a mission to make solidarity more than a slogan.”

“There is a global struggle taking place of enormous consequence,” the group said. “Nothing less than the future of the planet is at stake.”

Linguist Noam Chomsky, in an interview with the Guardian on the launch of the group Monday, said that the urgency created by the outbreak was due in part to the two approaches to the crisis being promoted by policy makers around the globe.

“One is let’s take the savage, Reagan, Thatcher approach and make it worse. That’s one way,” said Chomsky. “The other way is to try to dismantle the structures, the institutional structures that have been created; that have led to very ugly consequences for much of the population of much of the world, [and] are the source of this pandemic.”

“It’s not easy,” Chomsky continued. “There are forces fighting back. The International is going to be facing similar attacks. To overcome them, it depends on the peasants with the pitchforks.”

The group’s council includes big names in the left-wing sphere from around the world, including Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, among others.

Varoufakis told the Guardian Monday that a left coalition had “been urgent for quite a while now” and that he hoped the crises brought about by the coronavirus had not made the left “late to the party.”

Yanis Varoufakis

The bankers and the fascists have so far been the only ones to have organised internationally. It is now the turn of progressives. The Progressive International is now in full flight. Our new web site went on air a few minutes ago. Watch this space.
Progressive International
We unite, organise, and mobilise progressive forces around the world

The Greek economist added that he was skeptical the E.U.’s economic zone would survive the outbreak and warned the one percent would take as much of the subcontinent’s wealth as possible in the decline.

“I don’t think the eurozone can survive it,” said Varoufakis. “But it can survive long enough to deplete huge amounts of wealth and social capital. Europe is rich enough, it can pretend and extend.”

Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a member of the group’s council, said to the Guardian that he had hope the coalition could do some good for the world.

“This initiative comes at just the right time,” said McDonnell. “It’s about the nature of society we want.”