Life is a journey, Enjoy the trip

Poverty, Precarious work and voting

(This is the first of several items I’ve been wanting to write about. I thought it was best to wait until after the election)

There are many people talking about the voter participation rate in the last election and how low it was.

At first, I was jumping on the “all people don’t care!” bandwagon but upon some reflection and reading how other people were feeling I have to get this off my chest.

Some people may not care about it but some other people don’t vote for several reasons.

  • They are tired of a system that does not seem to help them no matter who is in power.
  • They don’t have the time to vote let alone research the issues and candidates.

There can be many reasons for both of these, but IMHO people who are living with poverty and precarious employment have more important things they think about.

Things like:

  • Will I have enough money to pay the rent/mortgage this month?
  • Will I have enough money to put food on the table for myself and my family?
  • Can I earn enough to have a cash flow to pay for prescriptions that will take Trillium 6-8 weeks to send a check back? (if the med is covered)
  • Can I earn enough to afford the dental work for a family member who really needs it done?
  • Can I turn my brain off at night to allow me to get enough sleep to function the next day?

This is the reality for many people. The municipal government does not have control of many of these policies but people have been let down by those on the provincial and federal level enough times that they don’t see the point with another layer of government.

We know what has to be done, and we know how much it will cost, what we need is the will to do it.

To those who can manage trying to make ends meet as well as getting out and helping the community, my hat is off to them. Not everyone can.

I manage to find time to be on the Library Board, it is time well spent and I feel like I am making a contribution back to an organization that provides a lot of good in the community. However, I have had to back away from other commitments as I know what my physical limits are.

Having lived with the stress of non-full-time employment for 4 out of the last 7 years, I can tell you it is a constant stress. Thoughts like above are usually the first thing I think about waking up, and it’s what I try to not think about so I can get a decent nights sleep.

I am halfway through a three-month contract which pays well enough to pay the bills but not enough to cover any unexpected large expenses or my wife’s medical bills. I always try to save a small portion for fun things like a meal out or to support the community in some way. I am always looking for other sources of income to try and build that savings up. Telling your family you cannot afford to do something is the toughest things anyone has to do. Seeing other people doing cool things can be depressing as well.

I don’t look for pity, amazing people have stepped up to help when we really needed it. I look for people to realize what we have tried in the past does not work, it’s time to do something different. If you are a politician or policy influencer think of it like this “It’s more important then being re-elected or how my peers will think of me”. If we can break this cycle then more people will have the physical and mental energy to do amazing things.

So let’s move ahead and have a bit less about the low voter turnout, please.

Can the Wi-Fi chip in your phone help feed the world?

In his latest Gates Note, Bill Gates talks about new technology that can help farmers know more about their soil to help them grow more crops.


The main innovation is in how FarmBeats sensors transmit data. Most farms have poor or no access to the Internet. In the United States, 20 percent of people living in rural areas don’t have access to even the slowest broadband speeds. Most farm data systems require expensive transmitters to connect, but FarmBeats relies on a clever workaround: it uses TV white space.

White spaces are unused TV broadcast spectrum. If you’ve ever watched an old TV, you’ve seen white spaces before. They’re the “snow” you’ll sometimes see while flipping through channels. These gaps in spectrum are plentiful in the remote areas where most farms are located, so data can be sent over them the same way that data gets transmitted via broadband.

A very good example of how thinking out of the box can solve a problem.


Canada Day 2018

Happy Canada Day

I’m writing this in a Canadian institution, Tim Horton’s while my wife is making use of another Canadian institution, namely free healthcare at the local hospital. (She is fine, just a routine appointment).

As we celebrate Canada’s birthday, let us also think about all the things that Canada and Canadians do for ourselves and the world.

Let us think about indigenous people on whose land we are on. In London, Ontario where I am writing this, it is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron (Neutral), and Wendat peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. 

Let us also think about those in our armed forces both serving and who have paid the ultimate price.

Let us think about those in critical and not so critical services who are working today.

Let us think about those who are suffering, whether the death or sickness of a loved one to just trying to get through the day.

Canada is a great country but we also have challenges still to overcome. If we take the energy and enthusiasm we have on this day and apply it to tomorrow, the next day and into the future, there is nothing we can’t solve.

Whatever side of the political spectrum we all unite in this day. Let’s take this forward and solve things like homelessness, universal health care and clean water for all Canadians. There are solutions to all of these problems. Us and our appointed representatives simply have to have the will to do it.

When people ask “Why should we do these things?” We respond “Because we are Canadian and it’s the right thing to do.”

Happy Canada Day.

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