By Victor Schwartzman
June 25, 2014
Recently B.C. Premier Christy Clark unveiled her Government’s strategy for improving the lives of people with disabilities, starting with their pensions. Pensions were frozen in 2007 at $906 per month, with the Government eagerly clawing back wherever it makes possible any additional money the person may receive. As inflation has not been frozen, so the B.C. Government has decreased the pension benefit each year since 2007.
Clark’s strategy to improve pensions? Do nothing.
Nothing, because first the B.C. economy must grow.
If the economy grows, Clark reasons, the Government will have money to spend on “extras.” Extras include pensions increased above the 2007 level, decreasing clawbacks, properly implementing access legislation and respecting human rights.
Cut disability pensions rather than increase them? Wait to improve them until the economy grows at some distant future point? Is Clark being cynical? After all, she has also promised B.C. will be a world leader in access.
No. Let’s be fair! Clark is following a B.C. tradition of placing human rights on the back burner. Actually, not on the back burner but outside on the broken bbq no one uses.
Yet Clark mixes tradition with innovation. While most Premiers in Canada make discretely veiled references to needing more money in the coffers first, and then doing nothing, Clark has dropped the whole discretion thing and made it plain she will never do anything.
Her plan to place a roadblock to improving pensions started with liquefied natural gas. It is important when introducing a concept to present it as real and not a fake, and LNG is real because it could earn money even if it could also badly damage the environment. Clark hopes LNG will become a significant industry and bring in a lot of money.
But although LNG could happen (“We’re going to have a fracking good time!”), it will take years to get going. That is good, but not good enough. Clark needed something more. She needed an industry on which pension increases would depend, but an industry which could not possibly succeed.
Industries which the Clark Government considered as “must grows” before improving pensions have included:
*Rain Exports. Vancouver is in a rain forest. Phoenix is in a desert. Think about it. Scientists working on a unique internet cloud design were not successful, but this time they are working on rain clouds instead. This was rejected as too likely to succeed.
*Bicycle brain implants. Vancouver has pushed bicycle riding for years as a way to cut down on car fumes and traffic jams. (There are bicycle lanes but, oddly, no wheelchair lanes.) Researchers have now developed a brain implant, ready for market. It makes a person feel pleasure when getting on a bicycle, but when getting in a car the person wants to puke. However, this business has some science behind it, so it was also considered too likely to succeed for Clark’s plan.
*Sushi restaurant exports to Japan. Given that there are at least three sushi restaurants on each Vancouver block, why not export some of the sushi restaurants to Japan? Would Tokyo welcome Canadian sushi? This was the runner up for the Clark plan.
None of them were quite good enough.
The business which Premier Clark will soon announce as being necessary to succeed before disability pensions can improve is:
CONVERT FARMED SALMON TO ETHANOL
Salmon farms are plentiful in B.C., but not so much buyers for the salmon. There are complaints about the taste and texture of the fish. Recent studies, which could be true despite being made up, indicate some farmed salmon have developed legs and larger brains, and in two cases are running salmon farms as cooperatives.
Many people, as a result, have become wary of farmed salmon. How to get rid of all those salmon? Corn has shown the way!
Americans have done very well converting land from producing food eaten by people or animals into producing corn which is eaten by cars. We are told ethanol makes environmental and economic sense. It must be true because before getting food first you have to get in the car and drive to the restaurant drive-thru!
Clark is ready for the criticism that salmon cannot be converted to ethanol. Certainly, the science is in the earliest stages and a solution possibly decades away, which made it the perfect business. So, expect B.C. disability pensions to rise above 2007 levels, but no time soon.
Expect a raise some time in 2099. It would be an embarrassment to the Government if it did not increase disability pensions before the millennium.
Next: AODA II: The Summer Blockbuster Sequel
Thanks to The Tyee.ca and Paul Willcocks’ articles. See them for more information!
Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, http:.//www.redfez.net . He also contributes a monthly poetry review to http://www.targetaudiencemagazine.com . He has had poetry and short fiction published, and has edited novels. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.