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Austerity and the decline of the collective

May 29, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Ryerson University - Ted Rogers School of Management; 55 Dundas Street West; 7th floor; Toronto, ON M5G 2C3 Canada
Open To

On Wed. May. 29 2019 the Centre for Labour Management Relations, in collaboration with CWA Canada - The Media Union, held the 2nd Annual Arnold Amber Memorial Lecturetitled "Austerity and the decline of the collective".

Featuring Alex Himelfarb (Director Emeritus - Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University), this talk explored:

  • The origins of austerity as a public policy choice endorsed by the powerful and enacted by governments out of their common fear of the collective and desire to lower public expectations;
  • The economic, political and social consequences of austerity tools - such as redesigning tax systems and government spending cuts - on those who rely most heavily on public services - Ontario's disadvantaged, marginalized, and vulnerable populations;
  • The bold alternatives that can be pursued to break the austerity trap and achieve prosperity for all, such as: encouraging increased democratic engagement; shifting mandates away from prioritizing fiscal health and towards valuing human health; and engaging a broad range of stakeholders when mobilizing resources.

Opportunities for a better future and a more equitable and just life for all are possible. However, they require us to ask "What do we want the future of Canada to look like? And what kind of government do we need to deliver it?

This event was sponsored by CWA Canada - The Media Union.

A full version of the event transcript can be found by visiting the Austerity and the Collective blog, external link.

Arnold Amber was the first president of CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, which represents 6,000 workers at the CBC, Canadian Press and newspapers and other media companies coast to coast. For him, being a union leader was part of a greater movement for social and economic justice, freedom of the press, and responsible, caring and transparent democracy. As he saw it, protecting quality jobs and quality journalism and ensuring social and economic equality was vital for a healthy society — and a healthy democracy. 

If we had more leaders like Arnold in positions of power, the world would be a wonderful place indeed.

Alex Himelfarb (Director Emeritus - Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University) has held a succession of senior positions with the federal government over 28 years, including Executive Director of the National Parole Board, Associate Secretary of the Treasury Board, and Deputy Minister of Canadian Heritage, culminating in his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet — the most senior public servant in the federal government. He served as Clerk for three Prime Ministers from 2002 until 2006 when he was appointed Canada’s Ambassador to Italy with concurrent accreditation to Albania, San Marino, and as High Commissioner to Malta. Before entering the public service, Alex taught at the University of New Brunswick for nearly a decade, and more recently served as Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University, where he continues to serve as Director Emeritus. He currently chairs or serves on a number of voluntary sector boards.