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Celebrating the victories and struggles of Black workers in Canada

Photo: flickr/Rebel Sage
This February, the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC), alongside the Canadian labour movement, marks Black History Month.

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Marking the victories and struggles of Black workers in Canada

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The Congress of Union Retirees of Canada (CURC), alongside the Canadian labour movement, celebrates February 2015 as Black History Month.

Black History Month began in the United States as "Negro History Week" in February 1926 through the work of African-American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. 

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Putting child care back on the public agenda

Photo: flickr/David Robert Bliwas
All across Canada, parents are struggling to find safe, affordable, quality child care in which their children can thrive. That's where ChildCare2020 comes in.

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ChildCare2020: Let's put child care back on the public agenda

It begins with a simple premise: Child care is a human right.

It's not a luxury, not a privilege. It's certainly not an issue to be overlooked. All across Canada, parents are struggling to find safe, affordable, quality child care in which their children can thrive.

That's where ChildCare2020 comes in.

From November 13-15, in Winnipeg, ChildCare2020 will bring together a diverse cross-section of the early childhood education and childcare sector along with policy experts, researchers, parents, workers, community leaders and activists from communities across the country to discuss what child care could be in the year 2020. It is the first national conference on childcare policy in a decade.

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We need to talk about pensions with upcoming generations

How many times have we talked to our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours about the issue of pensions, only to get the deer in the headlights look? I believe that it is one of the duties of those around the age of retirement to reach out to younger people about the importance of preparing for retirement. We know that Stephen Harper is doing all he can to make the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) unsustainable and to make people work longer to receive the benefits. 

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Lest we forget: Workers' rights since the First World War

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Though there had been world conflicts between empires in earlier centuries, this one was different both in the extent of the carnage and in the fact that it marked the end of the European empires that participated. It also saw nationalistic impulses trump international worker solidarity. Some workers in the trenches on both sides refused to go along, but their "reward" was to be shot by their own side rather than by the enemy.

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Then and now: Shining a light on labour struggles

On travels this summer, I went to Rochester, NY, which was the home of the Eastman Kodak operation. I visited the Eastman Museum which featured a large exhibit of the photographs of Lewis Hine. While you may not immediately recognize his name, you likely have seen his iconic photographs, especially those dealing with child labour. Life magazine deemed his photograph of the Pennsylvanian breaker boys to be one of the "100 photographs that changed the world." His photographs of young girls working in cotton mills still have the power to move your heart a century later.

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What do the Harper Conservatives have against seniors?

You would think that they would love us as a group -- not for our grey hair, but for our votes. In elections, Conservative parties usually gain the plurality of votes from seniors. I make no claim for greater wisdom on the part of the elderly but I would note that we do vote with the highest participation rate of any age group.

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Sweat and tears made Chilean Habitat experience very special

Over the years I had been involved in numerous one-day volunteer projects in the Ottawa area but I knew that there was something beyond that, especially since my retirement left me the time to get involved.

For me, it was Habitat for Humanity and a foreign land. It helped that the foreign land was in the southern hemisphere and I was also able to exchange minus-20 temperatures for plus-20 temperatures or, as I experienced, 20 days of blue skies and temperatures that ranged from 30 to 42 degrees.

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How safe is your pension?

Many retirees have found out that the pension they earned over decades of contributions to plans turned out to be less secure than they had assumed. In cases of bankruptcy such as Nortel, this has been a harsh reality for some seniors. Those who had participated in defined contribution plans found their dreams undermined when the stock market tanked in 2008. Even those in large pension plans such as the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) have been faced not only with increased contribution rates but also stories of huge shortfalls in the pension fund.

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