A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada

The economy isn’t performing too well right now thanks to years of thoughtless growth followed by the hit of COVID-19. The people most hurt by the COVID-19 crisis are the most vulnerable. It’s been widely reported on how women have lost a lot of gains made in the workplace as the “traditional” household roles are now being put back on them. We can do better, and we know how to do better than this.

The previous decade of growth was made at the expense of the environment and people’s wellbeing, the current reboot of the economy doesn’t need to be thoughtless. This time around we can generate economic growth that includes everybody.

YWCA Canada and The Institute for Gender and the Economy at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have partnered to create a Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada, which proposes a new path forward for Canada’s economy – one that focuses on changing the structures and barriers that have made some groups more vulnerable to the pandemic and its fallout than others. The report highlights 8 pillars for recovery with a focus on supporting the care economy, investing in social infrastructure and supporting women-owned businesses.

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This Cambodian Circus Helps Kids out of Poverty

Running away to join the circus is dream many kids have. In Cambodia joining the circus can be the best thing a kid can do, and they don’t need to run away to join the fun. Phare Ponleu Selpak is the circus program, after similar in style to Cirque du Soleil, for youth and functions in two Cambodian cities, Battambang and Siem Reap. What makes this Cambodian approach unique is the attachment to education beyond the circus. Youth who participate in the program get a full education alongside their circus training.

I’ve been to their performance at their school in Battambang, and trust me, it’s really really impressive!

“Cambodian youth are transforming their lives through art, breaking the cycle of poverty,” says Khuon Chanreaksmey. “They are discovering their own talents and realising that with hard work and opportunity anything in life is possible. The salaries they earn performing in the circus help support themselves and their families. Today’s artists are paving the way for the younger generations.”

Phare has fired imaginations around the world on its overseas tours. “Phare is amazing – its performers are so talented, especially since most of them are kids coming from the street, and obviously there’s a lot of hard work and creativity behind the scenes,” says Ravindra Ngo, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Cambodian Society, a non-profit organisation that promotes the country’s art and culture.

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Protests Work: Minneapolis Police Defunding Begins and More

Democracy happens in the streets.

Every single person who has supported the Black Lives Matter movement, or has shown support for social justice in a direct way, has helped make change happen in America. The conversation about racist police and blatant police brutality is getting more attention now than ever before; subsequently the idea of defunding the police has reached more people.

This week Minneapolis has started the process of defunding their police. It’ll years, but it’s started. Other successes from the past couple of weeks can be found in corporate America with IBM no longer offering general purpose facial recognition or analysis software to track people (they realized it entrenches bias and racism).

The current pressure on government and racists is working in the USA keep it up!

Go out there and protest, support the protesters, and have conversations with your friends! Just remember to be safe, wear a mask, and stay physically part to not spread COVID.

“We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department,” tweeted Council Member Jeremiah Ellison on June 4, pledging to “dramatically rethink” the city’s approach to emergency response. In a TIME op-ed published the next day, Council Member Steve Fletcher cited the MPD’s lengthy track record of misconduct and “decades-long history of violence and discrimination”—all of which are subjects of an ongoing Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation—as compelling justifications for the department’s disbandment. “We can resolve confusion over a $20 grocery transaction without drawing a weapon or pulling out handcuffs,” Fletcher wrote.

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Unsure of what defunding is about? Read on:

Is dismantling different from defunding?

Dismantling implies abolition of the current structure. Defunding refers to shaving the budget.

Behind both is the idea of shifting resources from a paramilitary police force to education and social services with the aim of reducing socioeconomic disparities.

What would replace the police?

The idea generally would be to have a social services-based approach, possibly using the fire department to handle drug overdose calls, health care and social services professionals to tend to mental health matters instead of militaristic, uniformed officers with guns.

But even the council members who want to dismantle the police aren’t yet articulating detailed agreement on a new approach.

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Protesting Works

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Democracy is messy and in order for it to function many voices need to be heard, when some groups can’t be heard they peacefully take to the streets. Despite a history of protesting for a good cause resulting in beneficial societal change there are people who doubt the efficacy of such movements. There is a long history of groups getting together and rallying behind a common cause which we take for granted today, like weekends and liberty. Given what is happening this week in the USA it’s high time we all show our support (in a non COVID-19 spreading way) for those fighting for human rights and eradicating racism.

In 1911, 146 workers were killed by a fire in an unsafe factory. At the time, workers often dealt with extremely hazardous working conditions. The tragedy prompted a march on New York’s Fifth Avenue of nearly 80,000 people. This march helped to pass new laws to ensure workplace safety and helped the growing union movement. This eventually led to laws that we still use today, like the minimum wage requirement and the right to collectively bargain as a union.

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Ways to Reduce Police Violence

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This past week saw Americans out on the streets en masse to protest police violence, in particular race-based discrimination practiced by police throughout the nation. Non-white individuals get harassed more, suffer more violence, and are treated worse by the judicial system than white people. This has been proven time and time again, with people getting increasingly sick of it with every passing year. 2020 has seen many needless deaths due to racist and untrained officers – Americans have had enough. We can show solidarity (and many already have with rallies) while calling for systemic change in the USA and in our own countries. A few years ago Scientific American looked into ways we can change American policing.

If implicit bias workshops may not be the answer, what can police departments do?
We don’t know how to de-bias people because the culture is so saturated with those stereotypes. My general recommendation is—and I think it’s consistent with what the Center for Policing Equity is generally proposing—that departments find ways to reduce the rates at which these interactions are occurring.

Meaning what?
Police have a lot of discretion on who they can engage with and who they detain, and that can result in wild variation in discretionary stops. You can reduce the amount of contacts without compromising public safety and then the chance for biased outcomes gets reduced dramatically. We have seen that in NYC: The number of stops are way down and the racial disparities are mathematically necessarily reduced because there is less room for disparity.

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