Communist Party demands anti-austerity budget for Ontario

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) has produced a comprehensive submission to Ontario's 2018 Pre-Budget Consultations, calling explicitly for an end to austerity and privatization, and demanding a budget for full employment, expanded public services, equality, and progressive tax reform. The CPC(O) notes the devastating impact austerity policies have had on the working class – rapid and widespread growth of precarious employment, plant closures resulting in over 8000 jobs lost, lost wages and benefits, deep cuts to programs, and soaring costs for services including child care and tuition. At the same time, corporate profits have spiked, rising from $156 billion in 2008 to a projected $306 billion for 2017. Profits The Royal Bank of Canada alone announced a profit of $11.5 billion for the third quarter of 2017. The Communist Party submission also positions issues of inequality and oppression as budget priorities. The pre-budget consultations are taking place at a time of resurgent fascism and growing racism, widespread harassment and violence against women, as well as a deep and continuing gender wage gap. To confront and change this situation, the Communist Party identifies key budget priorities such as a shorter work week with no loss in take-home pay, further increases to the minimum wage, expansion of public services and publicly-owned industries, a ban on temporary employment agencies, enforced pay and employment equity, and significant increases to social assistance rates. The Party is also calling for expansions to public transit and public healthcare, increased funding to public services, a needs-based funding formula for public education and an end to funding to Catholic schools, a massive provincial housing program, a provincial system of universally accessible and quality public childcare, funding to anti-oppression and equity-seeking programs, and strong action on climate change and environmental protection. (more…)

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Real action on the opioid crisis in Ontario

Since becoming widely used to manage chronic pain more than two decades ago, opioid drugs have become amongst the most widely-prescribed class of medications in Canada. Canadians are the second highest per capita consumers of prescription opioid medications in the world, with an average of 53 prescriptions written for every 100 people each year. Unfortunately, the widespread availability of prescription opioid medications and their highly addictive nature have resulted in a dramatic rise in the rate of opioid dependency and has fuelled a growing crisis that has affected every province in Canada. Overdoses involving fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100× more potent than morphine—have resulted in at least 655 deaths in Canada between 2009-2014. In Ontario, there was a staggering 867 opioid-related deaths in 2016 alone. While there is much discussion and debate amongst regulatory bodies, healthcare experts and the public on how to curb the opioid crisis, relative little has been said about the damning role of the profit-driven pharmaceutical industry that had sparked the crisis. In 1995, Purdue Pharma—an American pharmaceutical company—produced and began to market OxyContin, a semisynthetic opioid produced from the Persian poppy plant, to physicians as a safe and effective means of controlling chronic, non-cancer pain. Purdue, by its own admission, deliberately misled physicians about the risks of prescribing this drug—claiming that it had little addictive potential. As a result, OxyContin became the first opioid drug to be widely used to manage pain and opened the way for the massive over-prescription of these medications and the resultant surge in opioid addiction. (more…)

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