Contract work is at heart of CBC labour dispute

The labour dispute at the CBC is focusing attention on the use of contract workers, a concept becoming more popular with business – to the horror of organized labour and many workers, reported Canadian Press in a story published Aug. 18 in the Winnipeg Free Press and other newspapers across Canada. “The risk is that individuals, households and, hence, communities, will experience higher levels of insecurity,” said Leah Vosko, Canada Research Chair in feminist political economy at York.  “Employment uncertainty leads to a range of stressors and strains that contribute to ill-health among individuals and problems in households and communities,” she said. “Such feelings of insecurity make it difficult for people to plan for a range of life events, from having children and pursuing education to planning for retirement.”

Schulich MBA wins praise from Forbes

The value-for-money proposition of Canadian business schools got a boost in Forbes magazine’s ranking of returns on investment from global MBA programs, reported The Globe and Mail Aug. 19. York University’s Schulich School of Business ranked third among two-year degrees outside the United States (and first within Canada), boasting a five-year “MBA gain” of US$104,000 after graduation. (That’s average post-MBA compensation minus costs of the degree, based on tuition and forgone salary). Schulich leads all two-year programs in percentage payback on investment with 146 per cent. See also Headline News.

‘Curious’  that Conrad Black has not been charged

Their newspaper empire lies in ruins, and now the legendary friendship and business partnership between Conrad Black and David Radler that gave birth to it may also be about to disintegrate, reported the Ottawa Citizen and Vancouver Sun Aug. 19. That possibility flows from Thursday’s announcement by the US Justice Department that Radler has been indicted on federal fraud charges. US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said Radler is cooperating with a continuing federal investigation. It’s also expected, he said, that Radler will plead guilty at a later date. That revelation raises the sensational possibility that he will offer testimony against his longtime business ally and friend. Richard Leblanc, a professor with York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, said it’s curious that Black hasn’t yet been charged. “We can only speculate that one motive for Mr. Black not being charged is perhaps a plea bargain with Radler,” he said.

Look for steps health minister should take

“It’s about time! It is good that, after three months, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh has responded to the Chaoulli court decision, stating clearly his commitment to a single-payer, publicly funded health-care system and confirming that private care is not the panacea for our health-care ills,” wrote Ricardo Grinspun, economics professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a letter published Aug. 19 in the Toronto Star. “When Canadians go to the polls in a few months, they will want to hear about concrete steps the minister has taken to bring stated intentions into practice. Will the minister assume responsibility, forsaken by him and his predecessors, to report, monitor and enforce compliance with the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act? Will he belatedly respond to Auditor General Sheila Fraser, who in her September 2002 report stated that Health Canada ‘is unable to tell Parliament the extent to which health-care delivery in each province and territory complies with the criteria and conditions’ of the health act? Will he take action against provinces that are openly flouting the health act? Will he implement the Romanow report recommendations to include diagnostic imaging as listed procedures under the health act, to stop the queue jumping of those who can buy their way to the top? In short, when Dosanjh and Prime Minister Paul Martin meet Canadian voters on the campaign trail, will they be able to look them in the eyes and say ‘I am committed to a national, publicly funded and administered, not-for-profit health-care system, and this is my record to prove that’?”

Canada’s Arctic claim hurt by inaction

During a meeting next month with his Danish counterpart in New York, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew said he intends to lay out the historical basis for Canada’s ownership of Hans Island, reported Canadian Press in a story published in the Toronto Star and other major newspapers across Canada Aug. 19. But solid archival arguments could be undermined because of Ottawa’s perceived lack of interest in enforcing Arctic sovereignty. “Canada has a very credible case, but it’s been potentially asleep at the switch more recently,” said H. Scott Fairley, who taught international law for 25 years at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Fairley said Canada could reinforce its position by making a non-threatening appearance on the island, perhaps in the form of an RCMP patrol.

Sarah Harmer serenades profs at fundraiser

Niagara Escarpment homegirl Sarah Harmer played a private benefit for the preservation of the ecologically significant ridge at the Creemore area home of Bill and Melody Duron, reported Toronto Life in its September issue. There, 220 guests – including human resources expert Monica Belcourt of York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, and psychologist Ellen Bialystok of York’s Faculty of Arts – spent a hot night pond-side, sitting atop hay bales, basking in Harmer’s sweet, soulful voice.

Photographer’s unique vision on display in Ottawa

The outcast, the dangerous, the forbidden and the exotic – these are just some themes running through a new exhibition of Toronto-area photographer Michael Semak’s early work at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, reported Aug. 19. The show focuses on his production from the 1960s and 1970s. Semak, professor emeritus of visual arts in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, is known for a style that emphasizes unusual viewpoints and subjects such as Toronto’s Warrendale, a former home for disturbed youth, and the Black Diamond Motorcycle Gang.

Two degrees, no job

“According to the federal government, 93.2 per cent of Canadians in the labour force, or 16,173,000 of you, are financially better off than me. I’m unemployed. I have a master’s degree, but I can’t find a job,” wrote Eli Schuster, a York grad, in an opinion piece published Aug. 19 in the National Post. “Personally, I don’t know where I went wrong,” wrote Schuster. “I studied hard, earned mostly As in high school and graduated with two degrees in political science,” including a 1998 MA from York. “Unfortunately, I’m now stuck with nearly $40,000 in student loan debts, and I’ve been declared ‘overqualified’ for lots of run-of-the-mill jobs,” wrote the Toronto-based writer and editor of

Flycatchers look for multiple mates

The idea that birds form long-lasting, stable and faithful relationships has taken a beating over the last few years, wrote the Toronto Star’s Jay Ingram in a column reprinted in the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 19. But York biologist Bridget Stutchbury‘s research suggests it could be abandoned altogether. The Acadian flycatchers she studied aren’t monogamous, they’re “socially monogamous”. That means forming pairs for the purposes of maintaining the nest and feeding the young, but at the same time doing everything possible to mate with others.

On air

  • Monica Belcourt, director of York’s Graduate Program in Human Resources Management, answered viewers’ questions and discussed office ethics in light of the Bernie Ebbers conviction, maternity leave and vacation issues, and managing e-mail, on “Michael Vaughan Live” on ROB-TV Aug. 18.