I DO NOT, HAVE NOT, WOULD NOT ever suggest throwing money at a problem. I am a REALIST, believing in examining a problem to understand what the situation IS. I am not an Ideologue who, wearing the blinders of ideology, looks at a situation and sees what they want to see, not what really is. There is NO perfect solution. A system dealing with people demands flexibility and denies neat, easy answers. Rigidly applying Ideology guarantees failure. How I came to homelessness: click Backstory below.
Reading Simon Gibson's recent comments on harm reduction had me wondering if someone ought to inform Mr Gibson that 'I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out' is a Joke, not a statement of reality.
Change is uncomfortable, conspicuously so in instances necessitating changing one’s mind.
It is far more comfortable, far more the usual human way, to let inertia keep us bogged down in what we know – no matter how inaccurate that ‘knowledge’ is.
"Gibson said he worries Abbotsford could end up being a centre for drug treatment programs that support continued addiction without addressing the deeper problem."
If Abbotsford council were to repeal the bylaw there would be NO flood of people into Abbotsford. For the simple reason that harm reduction is part of healthcare everywhere in BC except Abbotsford, and since people everywhere else in BC already have access to these services they have no need to come to Abbotsford.
While the health of Abbotsford's citizens should be of concern to Abbotsford City Council, council’s actions make it clear the health of Abbotsford's citizens is not a matter of concern to council, at least not in the manner an Arena or professional hockey team or paying million dollars subsidies are..
Still, City Council's anti-harm reduction bylaw is consistent with Council's policy of profligate mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Because of the bylaw, dollars for Fraser Health programs containing even the tiniest amount of harm reduction are spent in every Fraser Health community BUT Abbotsford.
"Needle exchange, safe injection sites and free-standing methadone clinics will perhaps be desirable for some addicts but without a full detox facility, they could almost certainly create an environment of social acceptance [for drug addiction]," said Gibson.
Hmmm. I had not realized that there was an environment of social acceptance of alcoholism - despite alcohol being legal. I was also under the impression that cigarettes being legal did not preserved the environment of social acceptance that existed prior to public knowledge of the serious negative health consequences of smoking. Nor did legal status stop the development of an environment of social disapproval/non-acceptance of smoking.
Leaving me wondering how Mr Gibson could conclude that heath care services to address the serious negative health consequences of addiction would in any way encourage social acceptance?
Indeed, would not a focus by the health authorities on the negative health consequences of drug use serve to decrease social acceptance of drug use?
Would not a public focus by the health authorities on the serious negative health consequences discourage drug use period?
Harm reduction could act as a disincentive for addicts to seek treatment, he [Simon Gibson] added“
The evidence makes it clear that drug users involved with harm reduction programs such as Insite get into treatment faster. I know it seems counterintuitive, but then substance use is a people issue and people are contrary.
The reality that substance users involved with harm reduction programs seek recovery and wellness sooner is why David Portesi, director of public health for Fraser Health, stated:
"[The bylaw] drives clean needle distribution into the shadows, increases the value of used needles on the street and increases the risk of HIV and Hep C infection."
"And at the same time, it reduces our ability to engage users in treatment discussions."
This outcome, people seeking recovery and wellness faster with harm reduction, is consistent with the fact that stable, safe, supportive housing results in people seeking recovery and wellness sooner.
Councillor Gibson went on to state "Harm reduction will do little to make Abbotsford a safer and more secure community."
It doesn't really matter whether the above statement arises from philistinism or from the wilful ignorance of a closed mind, sealed tight to prevent a single new thought entering and disturbing the mind. What matters is the blindness reflected in the statement and the negative consequences for ALL citizens of Abbotsford.
Harm reduction is not about drug treatment programs it is about healthcare - for the individual substance users/abusers and the other members of the community the users/abusers live in.
The women selling themselves for money for drugs depend on upstanding citizens purchasing sex because those good citizens are the ones with the money they need to feed their addiction.
Have you seen the advertisement for the vaccination against Hepatitis A & B if you are travelling? An advertisement that uses how easy it is to be infected with Hepatitis A or B to scare you into using their product? You don't have to go to a foreign country to get infected with Hepatitis A or B. This sobering reality is why I was/am sure to be vaccinated against Hep A & B.
Unfortunately there are no vaccinations for Hepatitis C or AIDS.
Should you suggest that perhaps we should build some housing for these vulnerable members of our community, given the clear evidence that providing housing gets people into treatment quicker and supports them staying in recovery instead of relapsing, the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth over needles, needles, needles begins.
Given the litany of citizens worries about dirty needles and the potential negative health consequences of dirty needles, how does council justify refusing to allow programs that reduce the number of dirty needles left lying about?
Negative health consequences do not discriminate, do not play favourites, their nature is to spread everywhere they can.
I suppose it is only to be expected that Councillor Gibson and council gave no thought to the fact that their bylaw would negatively impact healthcare in Abbotsford. Or that Councillor Gibson sees no benefit in council no longer interfering with the providing of healthcare to Abbotsford's citizens.
"Harm reduction will do little to make Abbotsford a safer and more secure community."
I am driven to abjure any association with the above statement.
The indifference to, the callous disregard for, the state of our fellow citizens, the wellness of our neighbours, evidenced by that statement is anathema.
'If there ain't nothing in it for me, then there ain't no reason for me to care or be benevolent or have concern for the welfare of my neighbour'
While it is not easy, is in fact most times a struggle, both ethics and spirituality mandate an approach to those abusing substances (of any description) based on:
'.............. The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'
Ignored to Death
During a conversation several members of the homeless community posed a question of ethics, an ethical challenge about the behaviours and actions of the people, institutions and organizations in dealing with an individual - and the fact that these types of behaviours and actions were not unique to this individual.
The ethical challenge applies not just to those directly involved but included the governments whose actions have created the conditions in which these behaviours can or will occur. It also included all of us who have created the ethos [the fundamental character or spirit of a culture] of British Columbia and Canada.
The ethos of a community, a province and a country are not created by words or piously beating our breasts and declaring to the world how wonderfully pure we are and impure others are. No, the ethos of our society results from our actions AND our inactions. The ethos of Canada is the sum total of the behaviours of ALL of us, not some mysterious them.
Mr Dix, before you begin blaming the Liberals and declaring how innocent you and the NDP are - you are at least as culpable, as blameworthy, as the Liberals. It was you Mr Dix who ran around the province taking the politically popular position of extinguishing the HST and ignoring the devastating negative consequences extinguishing the HST who have on the most vulnerable, those most in need of help in BC. An ethical opposition would be focused on speaking for the most vulnerable for they have no voice that will be heard to speak for themselves. An opposition focussed on scoring political points so it can gain power and form the next government is an ethically challenged Political Party.
I originally met George shortly after becoming homeless. At least at one point I was the homeless one and George the housed person. I cannot say who the real George was because I did not met George until after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Yes at the time I met him George could be a little crusty. And yes, George did use illegal substances.
Flash forward to the first half of 2011 where George and I had a conversation, with George speaking about his feeling that after more than a decade he was starting to get to where he was before his brain injury.
The next time I ran into George, he was fresh from the hospital where he had just lost some toes to circulation problems. Regular meals at the Salvation Army, nagging by the Salvation Army’s parish nurse and others who knew George, led to him turning up at the Salvation Army almost dancing. He was so happy he was nearly dancing because he had just come from a check-up where he was told that his physical health had improved so much they would not have to remove more toes as expected.
When I saw George again recently it was quite a shock because he looked terrible - death warmed over terrible - looking like a walking corpse. He was fresh out of the hospital where he had an operation on his stomach. The operation has left George feeling unwell, in a lot of pain and thinking (as do most who see him) that he will, sooner rather than later, be dead.
Hardly surprising then that he is not a fount of sweetness and light. George shares his discomfort, pain and fear through angry, loud, abusive verbal outbursts that include a lot of swearing and are unpleasant and offensive to be on the receiving end of. Which makes George a royal pain in the ass to deal with.
Been there, experienced that, wanted to throttle George.
And while I can understand and sympathize with "I don't have to put up with being sworn at like that"........being an obnoxious, loud, verbally abusive, swearing pain in the ass does not deserve the death penalty.
Dumping George onto the streets is imposing the death penalty because in his current state of health he will not survive being homeless on the streets.
Nobody wants to deal with George so they try to dump him on someone else. A situation the Abbotsford Police found themselves caught in when the hospital, which George had been more or less dumped on, phoned the police to remove him for his swearing and angry verbal attacks. Normally, if there is no place to take someone in Abbotsford that someone ends up on the street.
The Abbotsford police ended up taking George to Chilliwack to find a place for him to stay for the night and avoid having George die as a result of being dumped onto the streets by police.
Since them George has been in the hospitals in Chilliwack, in Hope and back in Abbotsford because no one wants to deal with George and get rid of him as soon as they can dump him on someone else.
The homeless community, noting George's absence and concerned about whether George was alive, enquired about what was going on and what George's current fate was. They raised the question of ethics when another member of the homeless community supplied information that George had gone from the Chilliwack hospital to the Hope hospital to the Abbotsford hospital where George currently was.
Last year Dallas, who had struggled with drugs and recovery, found himself in the shelter and depressed as he again struggled with addiction. Not the 'I am so depressed' that most people have experienced and think of when they hear someone is depressed, but the life sucking black hole that is true DRESSION. Dallas sought help as he spiralled down into DRESSION, at Emergency at the Abbotsford hospital.
Only to be turned away as he hadn't tried and was not threatening to kill himself or someone else. So he left the hospital and tried to kill himself. Unfortunately he was successful.
Ted's feet had been frostbitten and not treated. When using Ted is loud, verbally nasty, tries to physically intimidate people and is a bully. When circumstances resulted in me applying antibiotic and bandages to Ted's foot one evening, the, the black damage of frostbite on his toes together with the bare, open flesh where the frostbite damage had resulted in the loss of skin and flesh was such a concern I managed to get his foot looked at by a nurse the following day.
During the course of the examination Ted stated that his foot was not as painful as it had been. I enquired if that might be because of the high level of drugs he had ingested and he conceded it might be. He knew he could lose toes, foot or leg to the frostbite damage, vowing he would rather die.
Because Ted is a royal pain in the ass and very unpleasant to deal with, Ted is another who the system and society strives not to deal with. Ted did find a rather unique way to get help, robbing a bank in Abbotsford, walking down to the bus stop and having a seat until police arrived to arrest him.
The countdown has already begun for the next person slated to be ignored to death in Abbotsford.
"A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members"
"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped."
As I was watching the video of the mother complaining about the fact that 70% of the 83 students in one teacher’s three Math 11 classes were failing (a much higher rate than those of Math 11 students being taught by others) I found myself wondering whether the mother was a product of the BC education system herself?
The question as to the mother being a product of the BC education system arose because of the assumption that either the teacher or the material were at fault, while the obvious and ultimately most important question went unasked or unconsidered or not even thought of.
Given the ample evidence that BC’s educational system is providing a non-educational experience to BC students, the question that truly needs to be addressed is whether the failure rate is a result of this particular teacher actually holding students to the standard (level of knowledge and ability to perform mathematics) that students should have in order to be judged to have mastered the material of Math 11.
I hear you asking “Doesn’t the fact that only the students of this one teacher are failing mean that, obviously, something is ‘wrong’ with this teacher?”
We are talking a system that adheres to the ‘social pass’ or ‘we cannot fail them because it would not be good for their self image’ dogma.
A system that believes it doesn't matter if a teacher knows what they are teaching, what matters is whether the teacher has a lot of teaching theory and technique and that if you 'know how to teach' you can teach anything - even if you don't know or understand the material you are suppose to teach.
It could well be that this is the only teacher with a background in mathematics that allows an understanding of the material and what the students must know and be able to do to be considered to have mastered the material. Or simply that this is the only teacher willing to hold their students to the standard they are suppose to meet to pass the class, with other teachers simply belling the marks to achieve an acceptable number of students passing.
Remember the schools reaction to complaints was simply to raise the marks to placate the parents.
The BC parents reaction was to complain about the failure rate, looking for someone to blame.
My parents reaction to this situation would have been to look at the test(s) that resulted in the failing grade to determine a) were the test questions and degree of difficulty in line with the knowledge, skill and ability set out in the syllabus of the course and b) did my answers show a level of mastery of the material of the course such that I should have passed, or did I deserve to fail because I had not mastered the course material?
I had someone I know tell the tale of how hard it was, when the teacher passed her son when he did not know what he was supposed to have learned or acquired the skills he was to have mastered, to get the school to have him repeat the grade until he had learned and mastered the knowledge he was suppose to have.
The time and effort she had to invest to force the school to do what it should do to teach her child the material of that grade instead of simply passing him on until the school had turned him into another graduate who lacked the reading, writing, math skills and knowledge to thrive in the world outside the classroom after graduation.
Someone else recently shared how, when the schools established the social pass, she had removed her children from the public system in order to ensure her children got an education - not just a certificate that is not worth the paper it was printed on.
I cannot fathom how parents in BC have not demanded their children get the education, the knowledge and skills that they are suppose to receive by making the criteria for advancing to the next grade level having mastered the material of their current grade - not the simple fact they are still breathing.
One wonders what thinking (or should that be non-thinking) was involved in the decision that 'social pass' was a good idea and not something that would, as is happening now, rob students of an education.
Or was it that the 'just pass them' policy is easier on everybody except, ultimately, the students.
To many failing (as in the Math 11 classes)? No problem - just adjust the marks upward on a bell curve.
The school(s) must be doing a fine job, just look at the student's marks and see how well the students are learning, what a swell job the school(s) are doing.
Graduates of the system illiterate? functionally illiterate? unable to do simple mathematics, comprehend and solve problems? Universities having to determine which remedial classes new freshmen need to take in order to be able to function at the level required by University courses? Unfounded rumours started by those who want to impose required standards as the basis upon which advancement to the next grade is made.
Which would force teachers to waste their time ensuring students learn the material and develop the skills necessary to pass tests. Pshaw! Teachers being judged on their ability to enable their students to learn the material and acquire the skills appropriate to their grade level? Cannot have that - it would reveal the competence/incompetence of the members of the BCTF employed by school districts across BC.
No, no. Those types of tests are unrealistic, forcing teachers to focus on knowledge, skills and abilities of the students instead of the important stuff like......ummmmm....you know - the important, non-knowledge, non-skills and non-ability stuff.
The fact that so many graduates are illiterate, functionally illiterate, math illiterate does not mean teachers are not doing a good job. It simply means that.........ummmm...BC teachers are faced with trying to teach really dumb students. Ya, that's it. It is not a failure to teach by teachers, it is failure to learn by students.
No doubt the real problem is that those who, like me, are appalled by what is passing for education in the BC school system are misinformed about the purpose of the BC schools system. Foolishly thinking school is about education.
While in BC school is about providing daycare. Because any system that embraces the 'social pass' where students cannot fail is NOT about educating students, it is about providing babysitting, very expensive babysitting.
The focus on babysitting rather than education is why the coverage and commentary about the recent 3 day teacher strike was focused on the scramble to find/provide alternative babysitting and how inconvenient it was for parents to not be able to drop their children off at daycare, AKA school, as usual.
I recently was confronted with several young victims of the provincial babysitting system parroting the teachers line about class size.
Why is it that teachers cannot teach the children in their care to read, write, do math, problem solve etc, BUT they can manage to indoctrinate the children with the BCTF party line?
Anyway, back to the victims of the education (and one must use the term education very loosely to apply it to BC schools) and the classroom overcrowding indoctrination they received from agents of the BCTF.
It turns out that their 'overcrowded' classes have fewer students the my school classes did and I and my classmates managed to receive a solid education in these 'overcrowded' conditions.
Of course we did have the advantage of being educated before education was reformed (repeatedly). When the focus was on making sure that students could read, write, do arithmetic and had mastered the material of the grade level before they graduated. And teachers were required to know the subject they were teaching - and to be able to read and write.
Because no matter how much teaching theory or how many fancy teaching techniques you have - garbage in still equals garbage out.
Our education system needs to be changed to focus on and accomplish what it is suppose to be doing - providing our youth with an education that gives them the knowledge and skills they will need in the world outside the BC school system.
The administrative side needs serious reform to stop wasting the millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of dollars it squanders each year. As evidenced by the review commissioned by the Vancouver School Board to prove the provinces examination that suggested there were millions of dollars of savings to be had. Oooops!
School boards and school board members have to become focused on equipping students with the knowledge, skills and abilities (the Education) that will serve them well when they leave the school system.
As opposed to boards such as Abbotsford's where the focus is not on preparing students to be able to face and deal with the real world, but on what knowledge to withhold from students. About board members delicate sensibilities as opposed to the needs of students to be prepared to thrive in the real world, not the fantasy world(s) of the Abbotsford School Board members. As if Abbotsford's students lack the intelligence and judgement of their counterparts in countries such as the Netherlands.
Parents need to become involved, demanding the school system educate their children; stressing the importance of education and making homework and study a priority; even though this change will not be easy, requiring as it does the investment of time and effort.
We need to weed out teachers who cannot teach and those who do not have the knowledge to be teaching the classes they are suppose to be teaching. Given the evidence that a significant percentage of the current teaching staff lack the ability or knowledge to educate students, the BCTF will oppose any efforts to make ability, not seniority, the criteria to hold a teaching position in the BC school system.
It is clear that the educational methods, standards and requirements for those wishing to teach in the school system need a serious overhaul to provide those who would teach with the skills, knowledge and understanding of the subject(s) to be able to impart that knowledge to their students.
Maintaining those standards and imposing discipline needs to be independent of the control of teachers. Yes, teachers must be involved in the process but......the process must be independent of the status quo.
Forty years ago the nation debt was $20 billion, national healthcare was being introduced; technology was exploding; the future included the conquest of space - Moon base, Mars, the stars.
The future was so bright you had to wear shades and young people needed an education for that bright future.
Today the national debt is $600+ billion with provincial debt in no better shape; healthcare is crumbling under rising costs, federal/ provincial debt levels and demand; we have not simply turned away from space but have abandoned the sense of wonder and can do that space ignited; youth today are looking at the drudgery of slaving at low paying service jobs to repay the debt they will be saddled with because their parents and grandparents squandered their future to pay for the luxury of their 'put it on credit, let the kids pay it' lifestyle.
Any brightness in the future of today's youth comes from inheriting a large sum of money or wearing rose coloured glasses. So really, I suppose kids today, other than the few needed to keep society running for the comfort of the, don't need an education for their future since their parents and grandparents have already frittered their future away on themselves. There can be no doubt that from the point of view of the begetters it is not simply expedient but provident, that young people lack the education to understand how their future was greedily, thoughtlessly, uncaringly, consumed by their parents and grandparents.
"Once upon a time......
...... in a magic kingdom called British Columbia, the government of the land could spend as much as it wanted without having to give any thought to where the money to pay for everything was going to come from because the government could ‘find’ money whenever it wanted to.
All the citizens of this land were overjoyed that they did not have to pay (as do the unfortunate citizens of lands that exist in the real world) for the ever increasing services and perks the citizens, with their insatiable appetite for more health care, more hospitals, more salary, more perks.....more......more......more....., demanded their government provide to them.
Anytime the government of the Kingdom wanted to spend money on something, the MLA’s merely needed to walk through the garden of the castle called Legislature and pick up the money that had fallen off the money trees growing in the garden or visit the basement of the Legislature and exchange the gold that the little man Rumpelstiltskin had spun from straw or pluck the gold eggs from the nest of the goose who lays gold eggs.
One group of citizens, Teachers, were so enamoured of the government’s ability to 'find' money without limit, they felt it reasonable to demand a 22% wage increase – plus a host of expensive perks and changes to schools. To support their fatuous salary demands, the Teachers spread the tale of the government's magical ability to 'find' $$$$ whenever the government wished, throughout the airwaves of the land.”
Unfortunately for the citizens of BC they reside in the real world – despite politicians of all stripes and parties (Liberal, NDP, Conservative) telling voters the fairy tales voters, who insist on living in the land of 'Wilful Denial of Reality', demand to be told in order to give the politicians what they want - political power.
In the real world neither fairy tales nor wilful denial prevents the outstanding bills and debts from – at some point in time – coming due……as the outstanding bills and debts are now doing in Greece.
The problem is not with the teachers telling a fairy tale, or with the perversion of fairy tales from teaching a lesson about life to fairy tales as a way to enable wilful denial of reality.
The problem is that the advertisements and statements from teachers and their representatives evidence the teachers belief in the fairy tale they are telling.
Providing a little understanding as to why, despite the hundreds of millions of $$$$$ taxpayers pour into education, students are getting a 4th rate education. An education that leaves students in BC functionally (or actually) illiterate in English and Mathematics, lacking even the most basic skills in logic and problem solving or the ability to analyse what has occurred or attain an understanding of the consequences and/or implications flowing from events.
With the teachers demonstrating their inability to analyse, use logic, problem solve, research and understand what is, as opposed to seeing the fairy tale land they want to see, it should surprise nobody that the product (graduates) of the BC school system lacks these skills. Or that students of the BC school system cannot use the English language or Mathematics in a functional or useful manner.
As 'proof' of the existence of their fairy tale land of unlimited plenty the teachers point to the $600 million the government spent on the new roof on BC Place.
A comparison of the proverbial apples to oranges as the BC place roof is a capital project representing a one time (admittedly large, but that is the nature of capital projects) expenditure and teachers salaries, which are operating expenses that need to be paid every year, not one single time.
The teachers also either ignore or fail to understand that operating expenses such as wages, suffer a compounding effect as the starting point of future contracts and increases is the current contract negotiated.
The biggest problem is that the teachers ignore where the provincial government had originally found the $$$ (and what happened to those $$$) - accepting Ottawa’s offer of $1.6 billion to harmonize the PST with Ottawa’s GST.
And we all know, or at least should know, how that worked out.
The citizens of BC voted to continue their state of wilful denial and extinguish the HST - a demonstration of a lack of the skills required to evaluate and understand the consequences extinguishing the HST would have on provincial finances and the ability of the BC government to deliver services to citizens.
I am assuming the decision was due to a lack of skills to understand the consequences of extinguishing the HST and not to the desire to force the government of BC to reduce the services delivered to BC citizens or a lack of mental capacity or insanity.
See "Think. Think. Think." for an analysis of the consequences flowing from extinguishing the HST.
There are delicious ironies in the karmic balance of the government literally having no money to raise teacher salaries.
Irony that the product (graduates) of the BC school system, of the teachers teaching, lack the ability to analyse, use logic, problem solve, research and understand the extensive negative financial consequences of extinguishing HST. One of which is a reduction of the funds the province has to provide services to the people of BC. Which results in not only no money for increases in education costs such as teachers salaries and smaller classes, but puts the government under pressure to find ways to reduce or 'reallocate' spending on education.
Irony that the teachers and their union are supporters of the NDP party, which spent months travelling the province publicly supporting and working to extinguishing the HST. The 'success' of which meant there are no funds available to increase spending on education. Actually, this irony applies across the entire government employees union.
Irony in the strong probability that numerous teachers voted to extinguish the HST, voted to place the government in a financial position where there is no money to be able to afford increasing teacher's salaries or spending more on education.
Irony that voters acted in such an egregious and childish manner as to 'damn reality or the consequences, threw a temper tantrum and extinguish the HST in anger' - rather than acting like adults; taking the consequences of throwing a temper tantrum versus a reasoned response into consideration.
Irony in that childishness being reflected in the teachers rushing to get on strike before the government introduces and passes legislation imposing a settlement. Three days of being on strike that will accomplish nothing since the final outcome of the matter will be the same strike or no strike. The only 'accomplishments' of the teachers strike being the inconveniencing of parents and more negative consequences for students - in particular those who graduate this year. Although, the strike will make available to government the savings achieved from not having to pay 3 days of teachers wages.
Irony in the teachers, whose job is (theoretically at least) to impart knowledge, clinging in wilful denial to the fairy tale world in which the government has (in effect) access to money trees or Rumpelstiltskin or a goose laying gold eggs. Because it is only in that fairy tale world can teachers demands be met. In the real world there is no money and the teachers are SOL.
From the Tao of James:
Reality does not care what you want to be fact, reality does not care what you believe to be fact, Reality simply is what IS
The bottom line, the real world Reality, is it that until teachers are turning out well educated, well rounded, well prepared to deal with the real world product (students) - teachers salaries should be going DOWN, not up.