oh Canada

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Interesting times indeed. I’ve never had much good to say about the government, the people that work in it or politicians of any stripe or size. Unfortunately, these are the people we are told we must rely on during this crisis.

Lisa lost her job a little over a week ago, she won’t be getting it back even when the lock down passes. The business she worked for was one hanging be a thread at the best of times, it probably won’t reopen and if it does it will be at a diminished capacity. Fortunately the owners are wealthy and don’t need the income, the business was more of a hobby for them.

Even though she worked for over seven years for the company, she won’t receive a dime of severance. Since there is no jobs available she will apply for Employment Insurance (EI) that she has paid into since she was fourteen. So far she hasn’t been able to get through to file a claim. This is understandable considering what Canada is experiencing.

I was on EI once. Many years ago the company I was working for told me in November they would try but most likely not be able to keep me on during the winter months due to lack of work. Since it was November, I thought I would be proactive and apply for Employment Insurance, something I also had paid into since I was fourteen. 

I was accepted, however, I never collected a cent, because I continued to work. I kept the claim open in the event of shortage of work. This is something just about every support worker in the school system does to collect EI during Spring, Summer, and Christmas breaks. I worked for the school system for many years and saw people do this regularly.

After about a month of being on EI I was phoned by a government agent who told me there was plenty of work in the oil industry and I should move to Alberta and get a job there. 

She was daft to the fact I hadn’t collected on my claim and was still working. After talking to her for some time I realized she was like most government workers – incompetent. I cancelled my claim right there and then and told her I would never file again. She was happy with that. She figured her job was done.

Before I hung up I asked her how I was picked to be harassed, she said they pick people with EI claims by random.

I have relayed my experience to many people who rely on EI regularly and not one has shared my experience. I guess I was just unlucky. Of course after the claim was cancelled I lost my job for several months due to shortage of work. I ended up doing what I could to make ends meet.

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The place I work has laid almost everybody off due to the virus, I have been kept on three days a week. That could change tomorrow. If I get laid off completely I will not be filing for EI. I will do anything to make a buck and get by, just like I always have.

I feel sorry for people who think they can rely on government during this difficult time, it is filled with the worst workers with the most advantages in Canada. Every time I see our Prime Minister preening for the camera, or our Mayor warning people, in dulcet tones, not to flush rags or wipes into the municipal sewer system, I feel sickened.

I want bugger all from government other than a half assed road and water in the tap, not much to ask considering the high taxes we pay. Taxes, I should stress, I have always paid, never hiding income, always playing by the rules and even speaking out, on every available occasion, against the widely practised ‘under the table’ economy in Canada.

What I ask in return is for the government to get out of the way and stop making life more difficult for the people they supposedly serve.

trouble down below

_LME4835-smThe spring Milky Way over a frozen lake.

This isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it is going to kill me. Lisa and I have been looking at each other with tiger eyes. Luckily she knows how to run away from me. I shaved my beard, that made Lisa happy. Lisa says I have Ron Duguay hair and Bobby Clark’s smile, her two favourite hockey players growing up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If it means me not putting my teeth in so be it.

The valley bottom is all upset, yet the sky still marks time and reminds us where we stand. I feel comfort in that.

Once this is all over, I’m going to get in shape so I can catch Lisa anytime I want. Till then, fortunately, she pretends to trip up once and awhile.

late march

RCE_4780Taking a turn at the look out.

It’s been trying and we haven’t been locked up like some.

We hiked the east side of Columbia Lake. Where the mighty river starts. I’ve never seen where the Columbia turns huge before it spills into the Pacific. Where Salmon run before being turned back by hydro-electric dams. I prefer it up here in the hills.

RCE_4755Pictograph from another time.

The frost is below six inches of soil. Another week and the ground can be worked. I’ve started a few seeds inside. I worry for them as I am a lazy gardener, preferring plants outside.

RCE_4817Getting ready for war.

Most people I know have lost their jobs. Some small businesses may never reopen. It’s always close to the vest even in the best of times.

RCE_4812If only we could read.

We scrambled up into the rocks to an ancient cave where we couldn’t discern the writing. Where battles were recorded. Where people watched loved ones stolen or killed. Where Eagles swooped above goats, knocking newborn kids off ledges to jagged rocks below.

RCE_4770If we had a choice to come back.

The rhubarb is showing. It will be welcome.

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sparrow

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Strange days have found us. Still the birds sing, and why shouldn’t they? 

For them it’s business as usual. Singing for a mate. The ground is softening up, tempting a few seeds sown. My guess is the garlic, planted in fall, will be the first to show. 

The skies are exceptionally clear and blue. Snow is in every shaded crook and cranny. The roads will rise and fall as frost retreats. 

If this keeps up, I’m going to appreciate less tourists racing around. Then again, we will have to get used to less money, gardens being raided, watching for spring time cress and saving our energy.

Just like the Song Sparrow, we have been put on alert.

COVID-19

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This week the coronavirus hit the valley. Although, to my knowledge, there hasn’t been any reported cases, there is a sense of panic in the air. 

People shopping the stores bare of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and everything on sale. Others cancelling travel plans, as recommended by our government.  

The resort I work at has cut everyone’s hours. This didn’t come as a surprise, as we cater to international travellers and Canadian tourists, most cancelling their reservations during the usual busy spring break.

The schools in the area have gone on spring break, scheduled for two weeks, still without official word, will undoubtedly be off at least two weeks longer.

It will be interesting how the virus plays out in the coming days and weeks. So far, in Canada, the issue has not become politicized. The information we are receiving from government officials has been consistent and unified. 

My feeling is we may be entering a different time. That things are about to change for many people around the world and here in Canada. 

Rex Murphy, of the National Post, pointed out in his recent column that coronavirus is doing everything the climate change movement has been advocating for several years. Emissions are down, including a whooping 25% in China, more than the entire green house emissions of Canada. Travel, another huge source of pollution, is down.

There has been plenty of news saying we must change for the sake of the environment, but to date very little has changed. Maybe this is where we take it seriously; where we realize we don’t need to travel and build second homes on the edge of every lake.

Now with that said, this is the way it will play out. The people, who consider themselves left leaning environmentalists with lots of money, who live in mansions or on the edge of the wetlands won’t miss a flight or change one iota. 

The middle-class will become poorer and they will have to learn to live with less. They won’t be able to afford to pollute (read heat their homes).

The lower class, which Lisa and I are included, will have a lot less. 

I don’t worry much about Lisa and I, we are used to having not much. Our last holiday was over thirty years ago. We are workers and the world will always need workers. We consigned ourselves long ago to working until we died. Not so bad or unfair considering most of our descendants also did this, why should we be any different?

However, to see many of my co-workers given the word their hours are cut and layoffs are inevitable was painful. They are low on the totem pole, regardless of what our government, left or right says, they are inconsequential, the bottom of the bottom. 

They will have to come to work if they are sick.

Sure the government has plenty of relief policies in place, but not for housekeeping, and not for the poorest Canadians. A teacher or government worker will never miss a pay check, they may even come out ahead.

And so it goes.