“My very real concern remains the nature of the sanctions that the government intends to impose — suspension or, more accurately put, expulsion, without pay, no resources or benefits, including no health benefits, and that is a troubling prospect for a cancer survivor.”
— Sen. Pamela Wallin, Oct. 23.
It’s just a tiny snippet of what Senator Pamela Wallin said in the Red Chamber as she made her position clear that she did not believe she should be removed from the Senate for her spending abuses. And here’s a request for a little forgiveness: this editorial has less to do with the juicy colour of the Senate scandal, and more to do with our government as a whole.
They were but a tiny fraction of the many, many words Wallin offered up, but they are a fraction that she should realize stung scores of people right across this country. They are an example of the apparent blindness of those who make policy to the effects those policies have on the rest of us.
Hearing Wallin decry the fact that she would lose her supplementary health coverage might well have made many Canadians spit out their morning coffee in sheer disbelief — among them, the huge number of Canadian workers who have lost exactly the same thing, and have no soapbox to stand on and protest the disappearance.
Self-employed workers and part-time workers — and there have been more and more of both after the last economic downtown — already live in that world. More and more, workers in full-time jobs in the private sector are watching their pension plans and health plans being eroded as companies move to limit their financial exposure in areas where they used to provide benefits. People laid off in the last recession, those who have seen their manufacturing jobs vanish across Canada — few of them, cancer survivors or not, have seen their company health benefits stay in place.
Far too often, our political leaders make changes for what they claim to be all our own interests — at the same time, when those political changes are made, those same politicians seem to end up magically immune to the effects.
Just stop to consider what would happen if your boss called you in to tell you that you were fired or laid off. Would you expect “but I need my health benefits” to constitute an effective argument to make that boss change his or her mind?
Wallin says without the Senate, and as a result of the damage to her reputation, she faces losing her job and income, and “my ability to earn one in the future anywhere …”
Tell it to a 60-year-old laid-off machinist.
The working world in Canada is a harsh one, and Wallin’s own Conservatives have done their fair share to help make it that way, with everything from employment insurance changes on down.
Welcome, Ms. Wallin, to the real world. Perhaps a good number of your political fellows should consider living under the same harsh realities.