If you want my business, speak to me

0501 - I’ve been spending considerable time updating our insurance for both home and auto.

Something is very obvious, a lot of companies don’t want to be bothered by customers, they just want you to hand them your money. It’s totally mind-boggling that companies blow a fortune on creating websites and then don't have a link to contact them. It gives the message that they have no interest in talking to their customers.

And when you finally find a personal contact number you’re are forced to press a series of other numbers, at the end of which they direct your toward their website.

The way I look at it is if don’t want to talk to me you don’t really want my business. Communication is a two-way street. Oh, and graphic designers should never, ever be allowed to get anywhere near website design. Functionality is the key, not fancy designs.

Vaccination passport idea totally unnecessary and expensive

0428 - The idea of a vaccination passport is another expensive creation that is totally unneeded. People are arguing the pros and cons of what would be a very costly exercise. A “passport” for proof of vaccination would spawn another bottomless pit bureaucracy, pissing money down the drain.

At present, everyone who is vaccinated gets a card verifying the immunization status. That card has all the information anyone needs. Setting up such a program doesn’t happen overnight, and if we’re heading toward herd immunity like they tell us, the idea might well come after the pandemic threat is passed.

The province is looking into the idea of requiring documentation for people coming into the province on international flights, but is not looking into following the lead of other countries when it comes to day-to-day activities. Hopefully sanity prevails. Just hang on to that vaccination card, it’s all you should ever need.

Pension raise depends on your age and possible election

April 22, 2021

A lot of seniors were looking forward to getting a $500 cheque from the federal government this August, and a 10-per-cent raise in their monthly Old Age Security payments next year. After all, usual pension increases range in the area of a buck or two per month.

Don't go on a spending spree just yet. First, not all seniors are eligible, only those 75 years of age and older will get that. That will frost a lot of seniors between 65 and 74 years old.

A cynical view is that this creates a two-tiered retirement age. The Liberals complained loudly when the Harper government raised pension age to 67, but that's essentially what the Liberals are doing but much worse.

Then the big one – it's a political promise, it has not been passed by Parliament. That's important because there's talk of a federal election and the budget to this point is a sales document to entice voters. If an election is called before the budget is passed, it's all smoke and mirors, and everything goes out of the window. The same holds true for proposals to provide more daycare support to families. A great menu laid out, but will we get a nibble?

It's time to stop kicking the can down the road

0410 - A recent note on social media reported that after five months, the main homeless camp has been removed from Bowen Park. Current legislation requires overnight campers to remove their tents in the morning so they don’t become permanent. But they do come back at night.

What some might interpret as good news is actually a sad situation. Simply chasing homeless people around the community does not fix the root problem. In about 2010, the city worked with the provincial government and got approval for more than 100 housing units for exactly the social problem involved today.

Charities which help feed them, and citizens who donate clothing and other necessities, do not end the problem, they only make it a little easier to endure. 

The city has been engaging at the committee level with the community’s housing needs, but that’s down the road.

A large part of the problem of homelessness is mental health and addictions, what our MLA and cabinet minister Sheila Malcolmson is in charge of. It’s kind of tough roughing it in tents while the bureaucratic process moves along at a snail’s pace.

The problem is here and now, not some time down the road.

What is at the root of racism in British Columbia?

0329 - Our most recent social focus has been on racism directed at Asian people after the senseless killings in Georgia in the U.S. It has raised the consciousness especially in British Columbia where there were public demonstrations over the weekend.

What causes the hatred toward any one in our society? Why do “some” people act the way they do? It deserves serious thought. We have no record of any serious conflict with our local Asian population. What then makes them the target of hate? We’ve seen news clips of Asians in Vancouver being assaulted for no reason other than they are Asians.

A look at world politics might shed some light. Wherever you look in the media these days it’s confrontation with China by many countries, particularly Canada and the U.S. If it’s not trade then it is territorial, but mainly political.

We’re all familiar with the accusations of British Columbia real estate manipulation by “Chinese” investors. We’re hearing daily about two Canadians being wrongfully held in prison in China. We see almost-daily the ongoing saga of the Chinese business woman in Vancouver on extradition proceedings at the behest of the United States.

The larger-scale politics forms the view of the uninformed. When we hear it from the top it's easier to fathom how this comes about. Not everyone reacts the same way, but hearing confrontations often enough and long enough fires up some people who react to that.

Here in B.C. we have many, many Asians who are multi-generation Canadians, born here and being nothing but model Canadians. So as a society, are we really racist at heart or is it the outside influences? We have to stop demonizing people – all people.

As a society we used to pride ourselves in the drive for equality, where nobody stood out, where everyone was supposedly the same. Then came the woke diversity mantra which focussed on individuals, creating division among groups of people.

It's the same with other groups and cultures. When someone is put into the spotlight by officialdom, resentment can set in. It inflames the situation, no matter which target group may be getting what is perceived to be special privilege while being accused of white privilege.

Booking vaccination was easy but it takes patience

0319 - I’m in, i got my appointment this morning to get jabbed with the Coronavirus vaccine. It was  easy but time consuming though. After calling the prescribed phone number I got an operator at a call centre in Prince George.

She was very pleasant, but her first response was “Nanaimo is full, they are not booking appointments now.” However, she said she could transfer me but it “may take an hour to get an answer in Island Health”. I waited 49 minutes and got a pleasant responder (in Parksville) who actually knew where Nanaimo is. In no time at all, after getting the name and various numbers I got booked for April 1.

Next week they start taking bookings for the next age level. Good luck.

City council is looking for trouble

0317 - Without supporting one side or the other, what in the heck were city council members thinking when they chose to get involved in a no-win issue? They appear to be looking for trouble. Messing with devout religious beliefs of any group is asking for more trouble than you might be prepared for

The conversion therapy dispute, and that’s what it is, has two entrenched groups supporting one side or the other. Supporting one or other makes you evil in the eyes of the other. 

Morals are highly entrenched on either side, and never the twain shall meet. Whether it is a moral issue or a medical issue, the staff report council asked for will in all likelihood tell them they have no authority to go there. 

Mayor Leonard Krog doubted the city’s ability to enact a ban, but said it’s important to “make a statement that conversion therapy is not something that’s appreciated by members of this council.” 

The Mayor and eight councillors represent 100,000 people, not just their own personal beliefs. Taking their personal moral judgments to the council table is crossing the line. It’s akin to saying, “see how morally superior we are? See how deeply were care about some people – but not all people?”

Without siding with either group, it’s not cut and dried, it’s a quagmire that hopefully council does not get bogged down in. There are far too many pitfalls which tangle the issue, particularly as to age and parental responsibility.  

Whatever happened to telephone etiquette?

0308 - I just experienced a new level of customer frustration when it comes to service by telephone. In this case I dialed the number, got a long diatribe of notices, then told to press one of five options. That led to pressing one of four options. The next level was for three options, and then finally Press Zero which led to an offer of a call back. That totals 13 options without the option of talking to a human being. Now that the provincial government is advertising a new approach to automobile insurance, surely with all those savings they could include hiring a few telephone receptionists at ICBC. Automated telephone systems are nothing less than a lack of respect for the client.

The inmates appear to be running the asylum

03/05 - It is said that Idle hands do the devil’s work. Some people at Canada Post obviously don’t have enough to do, especially at a time the corporation pleads how cash strapped they are.

I’m sure you got a mailout – 13.5 million were sent out – by Canada Post inviting Canadians to send a message to someone they are missing during Covid times, postage free. The CBC reports the person in charge of the program couldn’t say exactly what it is costing.

Then I got a a suggestion from a friend with what he’s going to do with his post card. He’s sending it to Justin Trudeau at Rideau Cottage where he lives these days. I won't repeat his message to the PM, you can make up your own. In case that idea appeals to you, here is the address.
Justin Trudeau, Rideau Cottage, 1 Sussex Dr. Ottawa ON, K1A 0A1.

$3.5 million for drug dispensers outrageous
03/04 - The federal government is spending nearly $3.5 million for five drug vending machines. Quick math says that’s $700,000 per unit. For seven hundred grand they could have hired around-the-clock human dispensers instead of the two machines in Vancouver and one in Victoria at more than two million bucks. The machines are similar to ATMs and allow drug users to get hydromorphone pills with a palm scan. They are described as tamper-proof as well. MySafe allows participants to access a safer drug without contact with anyone. Overdose deaths have spiked during the pandemic with many people using alone and a more toxic illicit drug supply.

What’s worse, Covid-19 or the shutdown?
0303 - Texas governor Greg Abbott formally ended his state’s Covid lockdown Tuesday, announcing “Texas is now 100-per-cent open”. Mississippi quickly followed suit. No more mandatory masks, no more distancing, all businesses open with no restrictions, and all other gatherings, including churches and all schools are back in business. Florida did something similar earlier and their virus numbers have gone down. That raises the question, what’s creating more suffering – the virus itself or shutdown? We’ve been getting daily figures in B.C. of “positive” tests for the virus but no indication of how many listed as active cases are actually stricken. Insurance companies in the U.S. are claiming almost double the number of mental-health-related claims, predominantly among youth. And education has suffered immensely. B.C. has now vaccinated more people than have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic and that raises the question of whether it’s time to let the foot off the gas. We’ll be watching those southern states with keen interest.

Property transfer tax impacts affordability
03/02 - Housing affordability is an ongoing topic we hear a lot about from politicians – and they never recognize they are a major cause of the problem. The provincial property transfer tax adds in the range of $8,000 to $15,000 to a home purchase – one per cent on the first $200,000 of the price, and two per cent on the balance. Patchwork band aids are not a solution – giving financial incentives to housing development does not create affordability, it just drags out the problem. It’s time to axe that tax. 

Past time for Ottawa to fix the quarantine fiasco
03/01 – You don’t have to look far to identify government ineptitude, but what’s happening on the quarantine front for Canadians returning from winter holiday goes beyond reason. There are countless stories of people spending up to 10-12 hours and more on the phone, over numerous days, just to get reservations for the government-sanctioned quarantine hotels at outrageous prices. Identify the problem, then fix it, there are no excuses. If that wasn’t enough, comes the story of a sexual assault charge against a government-hired agent looking after those in quarantine. This is a shameful exercise that goes along with the disastrous vaccine rollouts that fall at the feet of our incompetent prime minister. Just fix it. 

Decision on business tax freeze won't be an easy one
02/28 – A proposal by the Chamber of Commerce to freeze commercial property taxes for this year sounds noble enough. City council is getting a staff report to determine the impact. Last year the city collected $32,115,302 in commercial/business taxes. The interim budget calls for a three-per-cent tax increase across the board, just under $1 million ($963,459). Good intent often comes with unintended consequences. That money doesn’t just disappear into thin air, it has to be made up elsewhere – either in higher taxes in other sectors or budget cuts. Balance sheets have two columns – income and outcome, and they have to balance. City councillors may wish for the wisdom of Solomon on March 17 when they decide.

Horgan's decision on Site C was the right one
02/27 – Premier John Horgan and his government were caught between a rock and a hard place. Abandoning the Site C hydro project would have cost $10 billion which could never be recovered. After an exhaustive independent study they came up with a $16 billion budget to complete the project. Getting the facts before leaping was the right thing to do. That made it a no-brainer to go ahead. With all the climate obsession these days, we are going to need a lot more electricity, something that Site C will deliver. WHAT SAY YOU?

Taking away Mister Potato Head's manhood
02/26 – Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Toy maker Hasbro is neutering 70-year-old Mr. Potato Head and renaming him a gender-neutral Potato Head. Mr. Potato Head has been a supporting character in numerous Toy Story films. He/she/it isn’t the only thing to transform in recent years. Toymakers have been updating their classic brands to become more diverse, so Barbie has shed her classic blonde image and now comes in multiple skin tones and body shapes. Will this political correctness madness end? HAVE YOUR SAY

Elbowing to the front of the vaccine line was inevitable
02/25 - Seniors 80-plus are about to get information of coronavirus vaccinations, but again human nature is kicking in with a “me-first” attitude to get to the head of the line. This was bound to happen, opening a can of worms about who is more essential and who is less essential. Everybody is essential in some form or other. Provincial health officials are the professionals looking at all aspects, we need to let them do their job instead of trying to shoulder our way to the front of the line. Getting a dependable supply of vaccine is more important than who gets it first. HAVE YOUR SAY

ANN RODGERS: The First Nations started it with their plaintive cry that some of their elders had tested positive. All band members immediately got given priority. FALSE: First Nations were prioritized due to close-quarters living conditions on reserves, and thus the higher risk of spreading.