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On January 27, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign flooded the airwaves and internet once again, with a corporate campaign taking aim at “fixing” mental health issues. Discussing mental health is important: millions of Canadians of all ages are affected both at home and at work. Mental health includes anxiety, depression and if un-addressed can lead to mental illness and other health issues that leave individuals struggling for the rest of their lives.

Everyone agrees that mental health needs to be addressed, and indeed, talked about in mainstream media. However, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign has more to do with Bell purchasing millions of dollars of PR than addressing the root causes of mental health issues. What the public needs to be made aware of are the thousands of workers who have Bell for an employer and who have paid the costs of the company’s outsourcing and profit-making business decisions.

It’s impossible to talk about mental health on college and university campuses without talking about rising tuition fees and the fact that getting an education puts an incredible financial burden on families. It’s impossible to talk about mental health in the workplace without talking about agency over one’s work, the pressure and consequences of feeling useless and exploited — a nameless pawn in a giant machine. It’s impossible to talk about mental health without pointing to the stark economic disparity we live in, where the rich get richer and everyone else can’t go to school, retire, or pay for daycare.

Part of every conversation about mental health should be the idea that a better, more equal world, would also make us healthier, more balanced individuals. That’s why efforts to build an alternative to the current economic system must be sustained.

Il faut rompre avec Tina (IRIS)

Let’s Talk About How My Job at Bell Gave Me Mental Health Issues and No Benefits


It takes more than smart phones to get jobs for youth

It’s been almost a decade since the 2008 financial crash and the economic consequences of it are still being felt. Youth unemployment may not be as high now as it was a few years after the crash, but it remains a concern worldwide. There has been a lot of talk about the “sharing economy,” where youth can invent their own jobs directly on their phones, but the numbers tell a different story. As youth and student movements have been saying, youth unemployment has risen faster in the last eight years than during previous generations. Finally, it seems as though heads are starting to turn, as the International Labour Organization (ILO) just launched the Global Initiative for Decent Jobs for Youth.

Whether it’s on employment, education, or other priorities that affect young workers, governments have made it clear that they will not prioritize important measures that will build the kind of sustainable, long-term project that youth need. The student and labour movements are best positioned to demand that these issues get the attention they deserve from governments at all levels.

Student group calls on Liberals to make college, university free

Youth unemployment finally on the radar screen: Goar


Black Lives Matter activists take centre stage

Last Sunday, Beyoncé’s Superbowl performance got the ball rolling. The performance and newly launched music video, a nod to black history and resistance in the United States, brought the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront during one of the most watched sporting events of the year. Activists welcomed the performance and exposure and invited people to be part of this movement for justice. In Toronto, city councillor Jim Karygiannis made a fool of himself when he called for the federal government to investigate whether Beyoncé should be banned from entering Canada. His justifications are not even worth retelling, but it’s worth noting that, as Black Lives Matter Toronto activist and co-founder Sandy Hudson put it: “he’s an irrelevant racist”.

As the Beyoncé debate raged on, it was revealed that Black Lives Matter had been named the honorary group for the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade. This good news comes after years of debate where some of the parade’s funders were trying to argue that politics had no place in the celebration — a ridiculous assertion given the obvious political nature of the event. Black Lives Matter members helping to lead the Pride parade this coming July demonstrates the important connected nature of our struggles — and the need to build solidarity across them all.

Beyoncé is telling us to join the movement for Black lives

WATCH Should Beyoncé be banned from Canada? Power & Politics Segment

Black Lives Matter Toronto Will Lead 2016 Pride Parade In June


Warner/Chapell gets to keep millions made from illegal claim to Happy Birthday

As we reported in September, for years performing Happy Birthday without paying royalties to Warner/Chapell was actually a crime, as the media giant claimed to own the rights to performances of the song. While the courts have found that this copyright was never actually valid, only those who paid royalties to the corporation after 2009 will be fully recompensed. All those who paid Warner the hundreds of millions of dollars it made from the song before 2009, will only get back, at most, 15 per cent of their payments.

This judgement highlights one of the key problems with modern copyright rules: It is far too easy (and profitable) for corporations to claim ownership and demand payment for the artistic works they have no rights over. Even when they are eventually taken to court and forced to make amends, the small amounts they are forced to pay pale compared to their profit margins.

While sometimes a seemingly hard debate to parse, the movement to modernize copyright and patent laws is a critical one for artistic and technological innovation.

• “Happy Birthday” is public domain, former owner Warner/Chapell to pay $14M 


Bonus reads:

• “Where to invade next” is the most subversive movie Michael Moore has ever made

Scientists Discover Gravitational Waves — Here’s What To Read


What’s Left This Week is a weekly digest that delivers a quick overview of current news and events. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll receive it directly in your inbox every Sunday. You can also consult the archive from the last year.

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