Greetings, everyone. From time to time we’ll be adding information to the CUPE Local 46 website that you may find relevant. This post comes to us from Progress Alberta via one of our members.
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Progress Report #216
Your weekly update on Alberta politics for May 12, 2020
Another worker employed at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River was killed by the coronavirus this weekend.
The response from the UCP government has mostly been attempts to deflect blame. Premier Kenney, his ministers and backbenchers, and their staff of ‘issues managers’ spent the week online aiming to discredit all critics. To criticize the UCP is to “drag Dr. Hinshaw,” according to Kenney’s ‘issues manager’ Matt Wolf. Outrage at the deaths is “regrettable politicization,” and the NDP secretly intend “to damage beef, poultry, and pork producers,” according to UCP MLA Peter Guthrie.
But no volume of Twitter gaslighting can contend with the truth. Documents from Alberta Occupational Health and Safety show that Cargill violated the OHS Act by shutting worker representatives out of their coronavirus safety investigation. Another Cargill facility in Chambly, Quebec has shut down after 65 employees there tested positive for the virus, which is raging through meat packing plants up and down the continent.
It’s undeniable at this point that factors related to employment at these plants–the conditions in the facilities themselves, the living conditions of the workers, their economic precarity and the obstacles preventing non-citizens from accessing care–make the plant workforce unacceptably vulnerable to this pandemic. And while the UCP government would like to pin the blame on anyone else, the fact is that the choice to close or not close the Cargill and JBS plants belonged to Jason Kenney’s cabinet and no-one else.
Our director Duncan was in High River all last week assisting with mutual aid and interviewing workers. Up on the Progress Report site you can find the workers’ view on the conditions in the plant, as well as one worker’s story of how Cargill dealt with him when he tested positive for the virus. We have several more interviews that we’ll be publishing through the week.
I know this is a difficult time financially for almost everyone, so don’t stress if you can’t pitch in. But sending staff and freelance writers out to do investigative reporting isn’t cheap and we’d like to keep it up.
We’ll have more coverage of the Cargill situation on our social media throughout the week.
- How easy is it to dump your oil wells onto the Alberta public once you can’t make any more money on them? Absurdly, maddeningly easy, as it turns out. Jeremy Appel this week has the story of one Alberta firm that went bankrupt–dumped its liabilities onto the Orphan Well Association–and then popped back up only nine months later, with none of the dead weight, almost all of its old assets, and a new name.
- Research shows that over 70 percent of Canadian oil sands production is owned by foreign companies and shareholders. Owners and their allies in the conservative political parties are calling for a massive federal bailout–but why should Canadian funds be bailing out shareholders that don’t even live in Canada?
- That muckraker Kim Siever did a deep dive into MLA Drew Barnes’ finances on his blog this week, and wow–Drew sure is tied up in some odd things. I thought fools and their money were supposed to be easily parted?
- Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is urging for an end to privately-operated long term care facilities in the wake of numerous horror stories from private care facilities decimated by the virus. As of last week more than 80% of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths have been in long term care facilities; research by Nora Loreto shows that overwhelmingly these deaths are occuring in the privatized homes.
That’s all for this week. Please share our newsletter with any friends or family who you think would like political news and commentary from a progressive point of view. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, you can sign up for it here.
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