Month: February 2019

Storming Mad

In the challenging employment times we now live in, even heroic champions like this guy would have the odds stacked against him.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was once a World of Warcraft player in better employment times. I cancelled my subscription shortly after my full time employment finished, but I still follow Blizzard’s newsfeed, mostly for the trailers and cinematics. My gaming in WoW may have ended but I am still a fan of the lore.

One thing that caught my eye was Blizzard announcing a layoff of over 800 employees. Apparently the bloom has come off the rose that is WoW, particularly after the reaction for their latest expansion, “Battle For Azeroth”. One would have assumed revenue has fallen, so Blizzard felt the need to cut expenses. On the surface, a sensible decision, though I do feel bad for the employees who were let go.

Then I did a little bit of digging and what I found out angered me.

At the same time these layoffs were announced, Blizzard’s newly hired CFO, Dennis Durkin, received $15 million just for taking the position. Right then: Blizzard couldn’t find money to retrain or relocate these laid off employees, yet had no trouble finding $15 million to hire ONE guy — a finance exec, of all things.

I might have been a bit more forgiving if the hire was a creative consultant, a developer, a lore master, anyone who could contribute a gaming strategy that would have taken the stink off of BFA’s negative review and get subscribers to come back.

Instead, Blizzard has a new stink to air out: the optics of laying off employees while announcing record profits AND hiring a line executive for a rather obscene amount of coin.

This is not the first time Corporate Canada — and in this case Corporate America in the form of Blizzard — has put making money well over the well-being of its employees and customers. Over 10 years ago, Canadian banks reported record profits, after reducing teller staff and hiking bank charge. In 2018 GM Canada announced plant closures despite receiving corporate welfare on the condition of keeping local workers employed and not to relocate.

This has always been an ongoing practice, and the reason why this continues is because we’re sheep. We as consumers allow this to happen. We don’t vote with our wallets. Some of us might say we will, even vow that we shall, but clearly there’s nothing happening.

This same practice will continue unless companies are held responsible for the negative aspect of laying off employees for no reason other than to boost profits for their shareholders. Companies that are doing well have no reason to let people go. Re-assign? Yes. Re-train? Definitely. Discard just to fatten the margin because someone had the gall to ask for fair wages for a hard day’s work? Absolutely not.

This must end, and it’s up to each and every one of us to do something about it.

Thanks for reading.

David.

Taking A Bite Out Of Poverty

This man would never had a positive change in his life had he not regained a reason to smile again. Click the image to read this wonderful news story that has stuck with me for so many years.

WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE USED:

The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) recently asked for more funding for dental programs used by low income earners and the homeless. Currently in Ontario, OHIP does not cover the cost of dental care, which means unless you are rich or at least work for a company with a generous benefits plan, you are shit out of luck if you do not have the money to go to the dentist.

The ODA itself is shit out of luck if it thinks the Doug Ford government, which has already shown a callous disregard for the poor and homeless by treating them as an excessive expense to be cut from the budget, will go along with the idea. In fact, in a recent link, the Doug Ford government is considering plans to allow private companies to deliver health care — meaning dental care may not be the only thing Ontarians will be paying for out of their pocket.

You don’t have to be knowledgeable about the human body to know how important it is to have a good set of teeth. Teeth aid in digestion of food: if you can’t properly chew your food, that food will either not metabolize properly while going through your digestive tract, or you simply won’t be bothered to eat since you can’t chew. Poor oral health could also cause serious health problems to occur if oral infections spread throughout the bloodstream.

There’s another aspect most people miss when it comes to the importance of publicly funding dental care. It’s looking for work.

Much as I rag on employment assistance centres and their mostly useless job seeking tips, one tip I am in agreement with them on is that appearances count during an interview. Missing teeth is an unattractive thing to see, if not at least a visual distraction, and could subconsciously prejudice a job seeker’s chances of landing a job. We are after all a very shallow society that worships beauty to somewhat unreasonable standards.

I make this point because I’m often reminded of a 2007 news story I read in the Toronto Star. It’s about a man who could not afford dental care because he’s poor. As a result, he lost nearly all of his teeth and in turn could not find work because it affected his appearance. The reason why this story stuck with me for so long was because I do have a great deal of knowledge about the human body — in fact I once wanted to be a doctor — and found it odd that medical treatment for an illness was only covered by Ontario for as long as it did not happen in your mouth. So. Stupid.

After reading this story, I talked to my (former) dentist about it, and suggested that maybe OHIP should cover dental care. She responded, rather tersely, the day that dentists have to deal with OHIP is the day she relocates to America. Seriously.

Why would she have this dislike of publicly funded dental care? Is it because she can’t set her own prices when working under OHIP? Is it because OHIP — being a government run body — is a bureaucratic mess to deal with?

Whatever the reason, dental care is STILL extremely important for the working poor, not only as a sound foundation of good health but also for personal happiness and boosting self-confidence.

Thanks for reading!

David.

P.S. For those of you who didn’t bother reading the story — that’s okay, it’s somewhat depressing — it does end with a happy ending. Toronto Star readers were moved by this story and generously donated enough money to give the fellow a new set of chompers.