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What happens when one municipality has 25% of a region's population but 75% of its social housing responsibility?

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There are 21 municipalities in Metro Vancouver. On some issues, one has all the responsibility.

This week, the City of Vancouver began evacuating another tent encampment, this one along Hastings Street in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. It has involved violent altercations between the police and people in the area. 

It is the third consecutive year in which a major tent encampment has been broken up by the city, following Oppenheimer in 2020 and Strathcona in 2021. 

In those years, the encampment was cleared out after B.C. Housing was confident there were enough sheltered units available for people to move into.

This year, B.C. Housing has said "we have been clear … that, on short notice, we do not have access to large numbers of new spaces in Vancouver to accommodate the timing of the emergency order."

You might imagine the two governments most directly involved — the City of Vancouver and B.C. government — to be talking openly and boldly about how they are resolving what seems to be a cyclical crisis they have failed to improve.

You would be wrong. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart was silent in the two days following the police altercation. The provincial government declined all requests from CBC News for an interview. So did B.C. Housing — which has declined requests to speak since their board was fired and its CEO announced his unexpected retirement. 

Their lack of response is notable. But one would be remiss not to mention why every other municipality in Metro Vancouver is not part of the conversation. 

To take just one example, 33 of B.C. Housing’s 57 supportive rental housing sites in Metro Vancouver are either in the Downtown Eastside, or less than a 10-minute walk away. Put another way, more than half of their sites in the Lower Mainland are in a stretch of land where less than two per cent of the region’s population lives. That’s not including housing providers that B.C. Housing contracts, or municipally run services. 

And according to Metro Vancouver data, 73.7 per cent of all the region’s bedrooms classified as “emergency shelter and housing for the homeless” are located in Vancouver, despite the city having just 25 per cent of the region’s population. 

One could continue. Many have, for many years. And yet, the intense concentration of government resources and housing into a relatively small portion of Metro Vancouver continues, without any tangible improvement in outcomes. 

Today’s focus may be what the City of Vancouver is or isn’t doing. 

One wonders if it makes sense that the other 20 municipalities in the region are rarely part of the conversation. 
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"One wonders if it makes sense that the other 20 municipalities in the region are rarely part of the conversation. "

Oh it makes perfect sense for these other municipalities.

20 years ago when I worked in Toronto United Way stopped by with their hand out and wanted money to "help homeless kids".

My then boss, bless her, asked how many shelters they had in Markham (where the office was) after some back and forth the person admitted that they had zero youth shelters in Markham. Instead, they give them a TTC ticket and sent them into downtown Toronto where all the shelters were.

My boss, who like me, lived in Toronto told the woman she wouldn't give any money just so they could punt their "undesirables" into her neighbourhood.

Same is going on here. The other municipalities are stay quiet, because they don't want to have to admit that they just punt their undesirables into Vancouver only to then sneer down their noses how "awful Vancouver is".
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Pluralistic: 12 Aug 2022

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Today's links

The FTC takes aim at commercial surveillance (permalink)

The biggest fallacy in the online privacy is that there is a difference between "state surveillance" and "commercial surveillance." Bizarrely, it's a fallacy that is widely held by both government snoops and Big Tech snoops.

Many's the time I've spoken to a DC audience about privacy, only to have an audience member say, "I'm OK with Uncle Sam spying on me – after all, I've already given up every sensitive scrap of information about my personal life to the Office of Personnel Management when I applied for security clearance. But I don't want my money going to Google – those bastards would sell their mothers out for a nickle."

Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, I hear, "I don't care if Google has my data – they just want to show me better ads. But the US government? Hell no! Those govies and their profiteering private contractor pals are all too stupid to get jobs at real tech companies and who knows what they're going to do with my data?"

Both groups are gripped by the delusion that state surveillance can be disentangled from commercial surveillance. In a just world, companies would be barred from undertaking mass-scale surveillance for their private gain. After all, this is a practice that imposes vast risks on the public – humiliation, identity theft, extortion, and more – and is only profitable because the companies that create this risk can privatize the benefits of spying and socialize the costs of leaks:

How is it that the government hasn't stepped in to force companies to end the practice of spying? Worse, how is it that the government abets spying – for example, by reinforcing the risible fiction that clicking "I agree" on a meandering, multi-thousand word garbage legalese novella constitutes "consent"?

It's because the project of mass state surveillance depends on mass commercial surveillance. Remember the Snowden revelations? Remember how they started with #Prism, a program whereby Big Tech had secretly colluded with the NSA to conduct illegal, mass surveillance?

The companies denied it at first, but they changed their tunes – and squealed like stuck pigs – when another NSA program called "Upstream" was revealed. "Upstream" was the NSA's practice of wiretapping the fiber lines between Big Tech's data-centers.

Prism turned out to be a way to trick the tech giants into thinking that they were in control of the NSA's harvesting of their users' data. But what was really going on was that the NSA was capturing everything, picking out the stuff they wanted, and requesting it via Prism (this is called "parallel construction" and it's used when an agency does not want to reveal its methods to its partners or adversaries).

The NSA depended on Big Tech collecting and retaining everything, and it depended on the companies recklessly transmitting data between their data-centers without encrypting it. The NSA is also the agency charged with defending Americans from foreign surveillance, the risk of which also increased thanks to Big Tech's overcollection and sloppy storage. If the NSA took its defensive mission seriously, it would have been screaming its head off, demanding an end to commercial surveillance and hardening of internal communications. Instead, it exploited both.

The public-private surveillance partnership is very old, and it's key to monopolists' strategy. It took 69 years to break up AT&T, because every time trustbusters came close, America's cops and spies and military would spring into action, insisting that the Bell System was America's "national champion," needed to defend it from foreign enemies. The Pentagon rescued Ma Bell from breakup in the 50s by claiming that the Korean War couldn't be won without AT&T's help:

But it's not just powerful federal agencies that rely on commercial surveillance – and who aggressively cape for the tech surveillance industry. Local cops rely on Amazon's Ring doorbells to conduct off-the-books, mass scale street surveillance. Despite Amazon's repeated false claims, police can do this without Ring owners' knowledge or consent:

Hard to overstate how sleazy this is, even leaving aside the creepy public surveillance part. Amazon sells you networked surveillance cameras, encourages you to put them inside and outside of your house, promises that you will have control over the footage they capture, then secretly hands it out to cops. In a just world, Amazon would face stiff penalties for lying to its customers about a matter this sensitive. In our world, nothing happens – because local cops across America go to bat for Amazon every time the issue comes up.

Google deceptively captures your location data. It is effectively impossible to opt out of Google location collection. You have to uncheck a dozen or so boxes in different places. Even the senior Googlers who ran Google Maps couldn't figure it out – they thought they'd opted out, but hadn't.

In a just world, Google would face stiff penalties for deceiving billions of people who thought they had explicitly told the company not to track their location – but in our world, Google is left alone to do so. I mean, of course – why not? Without Google's mass harvesting and indefinite storage of surveillance data, cops wouldn't be able to use "reverse warrants" to go after Black Lives Matter protesters:

(If you think that reverse warrants are good because they were used to prosecute the 1/6 insurrectionists, please consider that the vast majority of reverse warrants are used against progressive protesters).

Facebook deceptively captures your personal communications. You may think your private messages are private, but actually Facebook collects this data and retains it forever. In a just world, Facebook would be punished for this. In our world, Facebook turns over teens' private chats about procuring a medication abortion to cops seeking to charge an underaged girl as an adult with multiple felonies:

Republicans talk a big game about tech companies being too powerful – but they mean that tech companies shouldn't be able to do content moderation.

They don't mean that tech companies should stop collaborating with latter-day Witchfinders General in their hunt for formerly pregnant children to imprison on behalf of the forced birth movement.

A federal privacy bill has been working its way through Congress all year, but it keeps getting watered down to the point of uselessness – or worse, because the bill will preempt good state privacy laws and replace them with a weak federal rule. But that might be moot, because I hear there's no chance of the bill passing.

This isn't regulatory capture – it's legislative capture. Congress and the Senate are thoroughly dependent on the big tech companies, as well as other surveillance giants like the credit reporting bureaux and the military contractors who build and maintain government surveillance systems.

All that might piss you off. It should. But here's the good news. The great news. When it comes to digital surveillance, America no longer has a regulatory capture problem. That's because personnel are policy, and the brilliant, fearless Lina Khan is running the FTC.

Khan rose to prominence just five years ago, when, as a law student, she published the earth-shaking law review article "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," which demolished 40 years of right-wing orthodoxy that insisted that monopolies were efficient and beneficial and should be encouraged by governments:

Today, she is chair of the FTC, and she's taking no prisoners. Instead, she's instituting new stringent merger guidelines, aggressively pursuing monopolies, and proposing sweeping new regulation that would allow the FTC to step in on privacy where Congress has failed us.

The FTC's just given notice of a future rulemaking on digital privacy, called the "Commercial Surveillance and Data Security Rulemaking":

They want to hear from you on a series of hard-hitting questions, including

  • Are there some harms that consumers may not easily discern or identify? Which are they?

  • How should the Commission identify and evaluate these commercial surveillance harms or potential harms? On which evidence or measures should the Commission rely to substantiate its claims of harm or risk of harm?

  • Which areas or kinds of harm, if any, has the Commission failed to address through its enforcement actions?

  • Has the Commission adequately addressed indirect pecuniary harms, including potential physical harms, psychological harms, reputational injuries, and unwanted intrusions?

  • Which kinds of data should be subject to a potential trade regulation rule?

  • Which, if any, commercial incentives and business models lead to lax data security measures or harmful commercial surveillance practices? Are some commercial incentives and business models more likely to protect consumers than others?

  • How, if at all, should potential new trade regulation rules address harms to different consumers across different sectors? Which commercial surveillance practices, if any, are unlawful such that new trade regulation rules should set out clear limitations or prohibitions on them? To what extent, if any, is a comprehensive regulatory approach better than a sectoral one for any given harm?

As Thomas Claburn writes for The Register, "the agency's decision to use the word 'surveillance' rather than a euphemism like 'data gathering' or 'personalization' suggests the FTC is already inclined to change the status quo."

You might have heard about the Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia v EPA, where Trump's illegitimate judges used their stolen seats to twist procedure and overturn decades of precedent to say that the EPA was not allowed to take action on climate change unless Congress specifically wrote them a mandate instructing them to do so:

Commentators have focused – rightly – on the environmental consequences of this decision. As Justice Kagan wrote in her dissent: "The subject matter of the regulation here makes the Court’s intervention all the more troubling. Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself—instead of Congress or the expert agency—the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening. Respectfully, I dissent."

But the impact of this decision goes much farther. Expect the commercial surveillance industry to go after Khan and the FTC here, arguing that since the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 didn't mention the possibility of mass internet surveillance, the FTC can't do anything about it. By that reasoning, of course, the FTC should limit itself to policing the business practices of 1914 and previous. Look forward to a future Republican FTC chair opening an investigation into the build-quality of the Packard Six Phaeton.

The fusion of commercial and state surveillance is baked into the companies' business models, which rely on the state's dependence on commercial surveillance data, which, in turn, makes the state unwilling to regulate commercial surveillance.

As my EFF colleague Corynne McSherry said, "The best way to protect your users is to minimize the data you collect, delete what you do collect whenever possible, and encrypt private messages end-to-end as a default. Don't build it, don't keep it, and the cops won't come for it."

The corollary: if you build it, if you keep it, the cops will defend your right to do so. Chairperson Khan needs all our support. We need to flood that docket – and our reps' ears – with rejections of commercial surveillance. Because there is no mass state surveillance without mass commercial surveillance – and vice-versa.

(Image: Cryteria, CC BY 3.0, modified)

Hey look at this (permalink)

This day in history (permalink)

#15yrsago Epcot’s secret meeting rooms

#10yrsago Time wars: our finite lives frittered away in the precarious world of automation

#10yrsago Mitt Romney’s tax bill under Paul Ryan’s budget? 0.82% (Your taxes will probably go up, though)

#5yrsago Amazon scammers’ new trick: shipping things to random widows in your town

#5yrsago You are Henry David Thoreau in the Walden simulator video game

#5yrsago 24 hours later, ANOTHER massive Wells Fargo fraud scandal

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources: Naked Capitalism (, Slashdot (

Currently writing:

  • The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. Yesterday's progress: 503 words (31763 words total)

  • The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation, a nonfiction book about interoperability for Verso. Yesterday's progress: 526 words (27978 words total)

  • Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. (92849 words total) – ON PAUSE

  • A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING

  • Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EXPERT REVIEW

  • Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION

  • Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. FINAL DRAFT COMPLETE

  • A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause." FINISHED

  • A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues." FINISHED

Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.

Latest podcast: View a SKU: Let’s Make Amazon Into a Dumb Pipe

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Upcoming books:

  • Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics, Beacon Press, September 2022

  • Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023

This work licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to

Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.

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"When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla" -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla

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Trying to fix Ben's Sony SRF-A100 AM Stereo radio

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From: vwestlife
Duration: 19:52

No Sony SRF-A100 radios were harmed in the making of this video. Unfortunately, none were successfully repaired, either. But hopefully the disassembly and diagnosis may be helpful to others with this radio. I also demonstrate the Ando SS-100, a neat little AM Stereo-only radio from Japan. Stay tuned for more AM Stereo-related content in the future, here and elsewhere!

Ben's channel:

The late Chris Cuff, with many AM Stereo-related videos on his channel:

#sony #repair #oddityarchive

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Police chief addresses 'dead name' complaint in arrest of trans activist

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London's police chief has weighed in for a second time about last week's controversial arrest of a London transgender activist. 

In a statement released Thursday night, Chief Steve Williams confirmed that Clara Sorrenti was the victim of a "swatting" incident. That's when someone calls police with false information with the intention of sending police to a person's work or residence to arrest them. 

Sorrenti has said police came to her house last Friday, arrested her at gunpoint and detained her for 11 hours. 

Williams said on that morning, police received a 911 call about a person threatening to shoot people at city hall. His statement confirmed that threatening emails sent to city officials did not originate with Sorrenti. 

The chief also said officers did not force their way into her home — a tactic that is sometimes called a "dynamic entry"  — but insists they knocked on the door. 

He said Sorrenti was cooperative but was arrested for uttering threats based on information police had at that time. He confirmed that officers were armed and it was the force's Emergency Response Unit that carried out the arrest. The chief said that response was necessary, given the nature of the threat. 

Williams also addressed the criticism that police used the name and gender assigned to Sorrenti at birth during her arrest. Sorrenti has told CBC News she's not used the name and gender assigned to her at birth for more than a decade.

Williams said, however, that a bag of her belongings was labelled with her former name, sometimes called a dead name, but that police did not call her by her former name while she was in the holding cells.

Williams said he's reached out to Sorrenti to discuss the incident and made her aware of how she can file a complaint, if she wants to. 

CBC News has not been able to contact Sorrenti about this latest police statement — and police have not responded to multiple requests from CBC News to interview Williams. 

Further to my statement yesterday, I would like to share an update in relation to this incident.

As a result of further investigation, we do not believe that the threatening emails received by City Hall officials originated with Ms. Sorrenti.  We believe there was a deliberate attempt by a third party to place suspicion on Ms. Sorrenti in relation to what are now believed to be false threats to harm people at City Hall.  This is sometimes referred to as "swatting." 
With this determination made, Ms. Sorrenti was released unconditionally from custody and all of her belongings have been returned to her. I have directed members of our Criminal Investigation Division to commence an investigation into the origins of the email sent to City Officials, with a goal of identifying the person or persons responsible and laying the appropriate charge(s).  As this investigation will be complex, and may potentially involve multiple jurisdictions, it will take some time. 

As this is an active investigation, I am unable to comment further on any evidence or the direction of the investigation. Updates will be provided if and when appropriate.

I can share some information regarding the initial police response to the threats received at City Hall.  On Friday, August 5 at 8:30 a.m., we received a 911 call regarding a person threatening to attend City Hall to shoot people.  A short time later we received a second 911 call questioning when officers would arrive.  Threats of this nature are taken seriously by police, as I believe the public expects they would be. 
Responding officers conducted the initial inquiries which culminated in their attendance at Ms. Sorrenti's residence. Officers did not conduct what is sometimes referred to as a "dynamic entry" into Ms. Sorrenti's residence.  Rather, they knocked on the door, announced themselves as police officers, and occupants answered. Any attempt by uninvolved third parties to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and irresponsible.  Ms. Sorrenti was arrested for uttering threats based on information officers had at that time.  Ms. Sorrenti was polite and cooperative.

To be clear, due to the nature of the threats to shoot people, officers with specialized training and equipment were involved in the arrest. These Emergency Response Unit officers are specially trained to peacefully resolve high risk situations.  They offer enhanced protection for the public and fellow officers.  In the past, officers in similar situations have been wounded or killed.  In this case, firearms were displayed until it was determined a threat no longer existed.
I acknowledge that for the average citizen, having heavily armed police officers attend your residence would be traumatic.  I understand this was a traumatic and shocking experience for Ms. Sorrenti. At the same time, the safety of our officers and members of the public cannot be compromised when responding to occurrences of this nature.  I am thankful they affected the arrest without physical injury to anyone.

This brings me to allegations as to how Ms. Sorrenti was addressed during her time in London police custody, using an incorrect name (her "deadname") and gender.  While I cannot confirm any conversations which might have transpired during Ms. Sorrenti's initial arrest, activity in our holding cells is monitored by audio and video equipment. At no time while she was in our holding cells did members of our police service address Ms. Sorrenti by her deadname and gender.  I have personally reviewed the recordings and found our officers were polite, respectful, and professional.
The reference to Ms. Sorrenti's former name appears to stem from the existence of prior police reports.  When an individual comes into contact with police for whatever reason, an entry is made into our records management system using the name provided at that time. That report is merged with prior reports, if any, involving the same person with the same date of birth.  Where an individual has a change of name, or has a nickname or alias, those would be linked with the primary name on file. 
Police are not normally notified when someone legally changes their name. It appears the bag in which Ms. Sorrenti's personal property was held was labelled with her deadname, for tracking purposes.  I recognize that this explanation will not please everybody.  This situation highlights for us the need to develop a mechanism to ensure accuracy in our record keeping, recognizing that, as in Ms. Sorrenti's case, anything otherwise can be hurtful and disrespectful which was never our intent.   For this, I have apologized to Ms. Sorrenti.  In the coming weeks I will ensure a solution is implemented to avoid any repeat of this type of situation in the future.

I have personally reached out to Ms. Sorrenti this afternoon to discuss this matter, and to assure her that we have opened an investigation into the swatting incident. She has also been advised of the channels available to her should she wish to file a formal complaint regarding her interactions with the London Police Service. 

While I recognize the intense interest surrounding this matter, this is all the information I am able to provide at this time as the investigation and review are ongoing.
Chief Steve Williams
London Police Service

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Telus asks CRTC permission to add 1.5% credit card surcharge to customer bills

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Canadians who pay their cellphone bill with a credit card could soon see an extra fee every month, if Canada's telecom regulator approves a proposal currently before them.

Telecom company Telus is asking the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for permission to add a 1.5 per cent surcharge to the bills of customers who pay their bill using a credit card. If approved, it would be in place starting as soon as October.

For a theoretical customer in Alberta whose cellphone bill is $100, the charge would bring their bill to $106.66 — $100 for their basic bill, plus $5 for GST, a $1.58 surcharge for the new fee on top of that, plus another 8 cents in GST on the surcharge.

"The company plans to provide advance notices of the fee to its existing customers starting in mid-August," Telus said in its letter to the regulator.

Fee could be in place by October

The company is asking the regulator to decide on the proposal by Sept. 7 and would like to start levying the new charge as of Oct. 17, and while the CRTC must rule on the matter, in a statement to CBC News the telecom company made the plan sound like a done deal.

"Starting in October, Telus mobility and home services customers choosing to make a bill payment with a credit card will be charged a 1.5 per cent credit card processing fee," Telus told CBC News in a statement. 

"This fee helps us recover a portion of the processing costs we incur to accept credit card payments, and the average cost will be around $2 for most customers," the company said, adding that it can easily be avoided by paying through a bank, via a debit transaction, or other means.

WATCH | Why Canadians pay more for telecom services than many other countries do: 

Do Canadians pay too much for internet and cellphone service?

Consumer advocate and wireless bill expert Mohammed Halabi helps explain why Canadian internet and cellphone bills are so high — and what consumers can do to negotiate lower prices.

Telus' rationale for the move stems from a development this summer, when credit card firms including Visa and MasterCard agreed to a settlement that will see them refund millions of dollars worth of credit card processing fees that merchants have paid them over the years. Crucially, that settlement also gives businesses permission to start charging customers those fees directly starting in October, which is what Telus is trying to do.

Previously, many merchants weren't allowed to charge customers directly for the fees that credit companies charge them for processing sales. Such fees can range from less than one per cent of the sale, to more than three per cent for some premium cards.

Because just about every part of its business is regulated by the CRTC, Telus needs the regulator to start charging fees that consumers can expect to start seeing from a variety of merchants soon.

CBC News reached out to Rogers and Bell to see if they have any similar plans in the works, but representatives of both companies did not reply to that request within one business day.

Some customers aren't happy

Some wireless customers aren't enthused by the idea. Kenneth Hart of Windsor, Ont., a Telus customer for 15 years, calls the plan "a money grab."

"It's a bad business move," he told CBC News in an interview. "They have some accountants telling them this is good. But then you talk about the PR costs, the reputational cost, and it could create ... dissatisfaction for those customers who are already ... not satisfied."

"This could be the straw that broke the camel's back."

Telus only filed the application on Monday, and the CRTC has already heard from more than 200 Canadians via its website, many of which are opposed to the plan.

Steve Struthers is one of them. The resident of London, Ont., is not a Telus customer but he took the time to give his two cents to the regulator because of how opposed he is to the plan.

"Consumers are already extremely stressed with unaffordable housing, increased food prices, expensive gasoline prices and wages that are not keeping up with any of this," he told CBC News in an interview.

"I'm quite certain they could afford to absorb a 1.5 per cent credit card fee ... It bothers me knowing the cellphone companies aren't happy with the money they're making and they still want more in an environment where people are reaching their limit as to what they can pay."

'The last thing anyone needs is an additional fee'

Rosa Addario, a spokesperson for telecom watchdog OpenMedia, says the plan is just the latest way for the industry to extract more revenue from cash-strapped Canadian consumers.

"All three of our telecom providers ... have reported increased profits, increased revenue and increased customers for 2021," she told CBC News in an interview. "They are doing better than ever. This is just another way to raise our bills through shady practices and extra fees and adding things on top so that we are paying even more than we already are."

Suze Morrison, a former Ontario MPP, is urging the CRTC to reject the proposal, noting that it will disproportionately impact people who are already financially vulnerable.

"Working class people, low income people are really struggling to make ends meet right now," she told CBC News in an interview. "The last thing anyone needs is an additional fee just because of how they pay their telephone bill to keep their phone lines connected."

WATCH | Canada has 3 major telecom providers. Could that change?

Could Canada grow beyond the Big 3 telecoms?

After a nationwide Rogers outage, John Lawford of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre talks to The National’s Andrew Chang about how Canada ended up with only three major telecoms and if that can ever change.

While credit card surcharges are creeping into many businesses, she says it's different for a telecom utility to charge them because it is a necessity. "A consumer has a choice to go to a mom and pop restaurant or to cook dinner at home or to go to a restaurant that's not charging fees for credit card swipes," she said.

"But we've allowed so much consolidation in our telecom industry and there's such a monopoly in the sector that it's not like folks can say, 'OK, well, if you're going to charge a fee, I'm going to take my business somewhere else.' I have nowhere else to go."

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Yeah, how about no. Telus is raking in massive profits, they can eat the cost of doing business.
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Ontario isn't ruling out privatization in health care. Here's what that could look like

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Ontario's Health Minister Sylvia Jones says Ontarians should not be afraid of innovation.

"We've done it well in the province of Ontario and I want to continue to encourage that innovation because it means at the end of the day, people are going to get better service. I don't want the status quo."

The minister's comments come as the government says it's considering various ways to deal with health-care staff shortages that have led to emergency departments across the province closing for hours or days at a time.

On Thursday, a day after she came under fire for refusing to rule out further privatization in the system, Jones emphasized Ontarians will not have to pay out of pocket for health-care services,

Access to health care through OHIP cards "is never going to change," Jones said, in response to a question by Opposition NDP Leader Peter Tabuns in question period.

Tabuns asked if patients should start paying for the care they now receive as a right.

"No, no, no, OHIP cards are used in the province of Ontario to fund publicly funded health-care systems — that will continue under our watch," Jones said 

However, Jones did not rule out — when asked — more of a role for private corporations to deliver public services, which already happens to some degree in Ontario's system.

On Wednesday, when asked if there could be further privatization of the province's health system, Jones said "all options are on the table." 

What further privatization could look like 

Large parts of Ontario's health-care system are already privatized, including many long-term care homes, as well as home care and nursing agencies.

Ontario already has private deliverers for health services, such as dental work, says Cathryn Hoy, president of the Ontario Nurses' Association. In these settings, she says people usually pay a premium to their insurance company to access these services.

WATCH | Privatization 'opposite' of solving Ontario's ER crisis, doctor says:

Privatization 'opposite' of solving Ontario's ER crisis, doctor says

Toronto ER physician Dr. Lisa Salamon says the Ontario government should focus on supporting and retaining health-care workers instead of considering privatization to solve the province's staffing crunch.

NDP health-care critic France Gélinas says expanding that further means Ontarians will have to pay more fees to continue accessing health services.

"You see the result in poor care, in barriers to access, and those will only multiply," said Gélinas.

Some hospital emergency rooms have been closing throughout the summer as a result of the recent staffing shortages. Meanwhile, data from the College of Nurses show about 15,000 nurses licensed to work in Ontario aren't currently practising. 

According to the NDP, Ontario has the lowest nurse-per-capita ratio in Canada at 665 registered nurses for every 100,000 people, and the lowest number of hospital beds per capita throughout all OECD countries.

Some hospitals have been relying on nurses from private agencies to fill in the staffing gaps, which Hoy says can pay them four times more than nurses in the public system.

"It is an abuse of health-care dollars and it is abuse of the people of Ontario because we're the ones paying the bill," said Hoy.

Gélinas says a privatized health-care system allows rich people to get care faster, but the "great majority" of Ontarians will wait even longer for care because staff will leave the public sector to work in the private sector instead.

Why are we not thinking that everybody should be equal, and your paycheque should not dictate whether you have the right to live or die?- Cathryn Hoy, Ontario Nurses' Association

She also pointed toward the start of home-care and long-term care privatization in 1996, led by Conservative Premier Mike Harris, in a bid to do things "better, faster [and] cheaper."

"Fast forward to 2022, would you say our home-care system is good? It fails more people than it helps every single day. Same thing with long-term care."

The state of long-term care in Ontario was thrust in the spotlight at the onset of the pandemic, when in the first wave, experts found the province saw 78 per cent more deaths in people with COVID-19 in for-profit homes than in their public counterparts. 

Fixing the current system

Meanwhile, Ontario's official opposition introduced its first motion of the session in Ontario's legislature Thursday aimed at solving the province's health-care staff shortage, and is calling on all members of government to support it regardless of party lines.

Tabuns says the motion calls for health-care recruitment and retention packages that include an end to public workers' wage cap policy Bill 124, more raises, better working conditions and partnerships with unions like the Ontario Nurses' Association.

"This health-care crisis is the worst we've seen in generations," said Tabuns in a news conference Thursday. 

"But there are solutions, and solutions that don't include privatizing a system that has to remain public."

For her part, Hoy said she's opposed to a privatized system. 

"Why is privatization so important to others? Why are we not working with the system that we have? Why are we not fixing it?" said Hoy.

"Why are we not thinking that everybody should be equal, and your paycheque should not dictate whether you have the right to live or die?"

For the past decade, Hoy says the union has been in talks with the province on how to improve the health-care system. While she says the health-care worker shortage didn't happen overnight, it was worsened by the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of collective bargaining rights for nurses after the introduction of Bill 124 in 2019.

"We need a government that's going to work with us, a government that wants to make change and invest monies where money should be invested," said Hoy.

"It is a health crisis in Ontario, and we are putting patient care at risk because of the lack of nurses and health-care professionals to properly provide this care."

'Why are they leaving?'

Both the NDP and ONA called the current state of health care in the province a crisis, contrary to what Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Sylvia Jones said earlier this week. 

Toronto ER physician Dr. Lisa Salamon says it's "strange" Jones hasn't declared the staff shortage a crisis, but is still looking at options like privatization to improve health care.

"What the government needs to focus on is really figuring out: why are they leaving?" said Salamon.

Salamon says instead of privatization, it should get internationally trained nurses and physicians licensed and into health-care settings faster and talk directly to the front-line workers who don't feel supported in their work.

Jones has said the province is looking at how to get internationally trained nurses working in Ontario as quickly as possible.

"We already have people here in Canada who can't afford medication, who can't afford dental care, and these people often end up in the emergency department with serious issues," said Salamon.

"I feel that if you start going that privatization route, it will just become a downward spiral."

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