#194: The Boreal Failure – Northern Ontario

The time has come to start chipping away at Canada’s largest province, Ontario. A land of scholastic mystery, the engine room of this sadsack state hides too many malevolent folds to be covered in one go. Because of its sheer size and shittiness our tour of Onterrible begins up north, to a post-extractive hellscape that makes the Soviet Union’s old industrial yards look pleasant. How bad is Northern Ontario? How about we begin with a piece from the Toronto Star with the by-line “Survival in Ontario’s north requires ingenuity, endurance and a trace of subversion”, which includes stories of pitiable want and active avoidance of the stew of ineptitude that is Queen’s Park.

From the same piece:

Northern towns have one small food outlet if they’re lucky. If not, residents go to the next town. No matter where they shop, they won’t see cantaloupes, fresh pears, bunches of raw broccoli, inside round steak or 200 gram blocks of partially skim mozzarella cheese. At least half of the items on the province’s [nutritous food basket] checklist aren’t available in the north.

That’s fucked up. Northern Ontario is one of Canada’s most neglected regions. Governed from Toronto by people who consider Northern Ontario to be nifty map-filler, the area’s chronic neglect and desperation takes so many forms that this entire piece will consist of ringing them off and asking you, the reader, if this is the kind of stuff you expect in a “rich country”.

web-na-reserve-health-0321
(S) Soviet mining camp or Canadian town? You decide!

The first shit-shaped tee-ball to get smashed by yours truly is the staggering cost of transportation. Those people of Manitoulin Island who don’t own vehicles get to spend a staggering $35-60 on cab fare to get to the nearest grocery store. Imagine if every grocery trip you made involved you purchasing several t-bone steaks only to throw them into the street. Speaking of transportation, Northern Ontario is a classic case of “free”** Canadian healthcare. Take the town of Timiskaming, where nearly 1 in 5 men have diabetes. If a denizen of Northern Ontario dares to need specialized medical help that they can’t find locally they can expect a $100 grant from the government…but only for one-way travel. Better get ready to hitchhike home, sucker! People in Northern Ontario are, to be frank about it, unable to take care of themselves because of the sheer costs associated with transportation. And even assuming that you’re picked up by someone who isn’t going to rape you and chuck your corpse in the snow good luck traversing Northern Ontario’s roads in the winter. Come to town to get one health problem examined, go home with two. Now that’s some Canadian mathematics for you!

How about telehealth services, asks the hypothetical caker apologist? Treating Northern Ontarians as though they have a right to get around is expensive and icky, after all. Why see a doctor physically when you can go online?…Except the Internet access in Northern Ontario is fucking terrible. Are you surprised? And before you ask about Northern Ontario “getting a job”, why don’t you read some labor stats? Like these, which put Northern Ontario’s employment rates at 54.5% and 58%, respectively?

We certainly can’t forget the crown jewel of Northern Ontarian shittiness – atrocious housing. We’re talking fucking shacks here, folks.

li-natives-house620
(S) Totally legit house! For a lawnmower, perhaps.

Living in such dire poverty, surounded by joblessness and want with nowhere to go and no way to get out, lead lives of stunning want. Appendix B of this report speaks to some of the difficulties associated with combatting homelessness and so-called “invisible homelessness” (which basically means couch-surfing and bumming at friends’ places). Words like “skeletal infrastructure”, “no infrastructure”, “using informal networks”, and “lack of data”. Lacking basic information and having no real means to handle the basic needs incumbent to capitalist civilization suggests to me that these areas are effectively without governance. And that’s not just me saying this, either.

That’s a good way to end our brief trip through Northern Ontario. The area lives with infrastructure deliberately designed to bypass inadequate and poorly thought-out governance from Toronto. People can basically afford to slowly become more ill, trapped by insane transit costs and a live of grinding dependence on piss-poor social security. And if there’s anything worse than being governed by cakers, it’s being forgotten by cakers.

17 thoughts on “#194: The Boreal Failure – Northern Ontario”

  1. Thank you for continuing to post such thorough explorations of how undeveloped (or “undeveloping”–moving in the wrong direction) the developed world really is. Although I no longer live in Canada, it is revealing to see beyond the “marketing myth” to the truth of despair so many live in. And, a good reminder of how often the governments of our democracies fail the most marginalized citizens.

    Keep up the great writing!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words! I really enjoy providing a counterpoint to the terabytes of apologism that exist on the Internet. It’s also the best use for a poli-sci degree in Canada that I’ve discovered thus far.

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  2. Hi. I signed up!
    I want you to know I work in the hospitality industry’ transportation in Orlando Florida, but it doesn’t matter where in the hospitality industry you work, whenever you see the Canadians coming you cringe’ you hang your head” you look for a way to get away! someone needs tell them tipping is PART of the salary structure in the hospitality industry! try tipping the people that provide personal service ie servers Bellman, drivers in the salon, Exedra. We appreciate you visited but you have to pay for good service.
    The better you TIP the better it gets, it gets around who’s tipping! And who’s not Canada!

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    1. Hi Rock, thanks for writing in!

      Canadians seem to believe that income inequality either “isn’t that bad” or is somehow a rite of passage; there’s also a frustrating predisposition towards either justifying that inequality or even celebrating it (see also: Kevin O’Leary’s comments on how people should be paid even less because it “encourages” them).

      Certainly the concept of value-for-money, in this case wherein hospitality workers provide friendly service in exchange for fiscal reward, is not understood. Even worse are the cakers who think that they’re no difficulty for hospitality staff because “they’re polite”.

      Best of luck out there in Orlando, friend. And thanks again for reading up on just how awful Canada is.

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  3. Hi,
    I just found your blog and I must say it rather interesting.
    Your jugement over your compatriote is quite severe even if I admit that many time it is deserved. Since I’m a french speaking Québécois, I have experienced a lot of what you speak, especially your “starves the soul, feed the ego” and the “CHANNEL SURFING” which the trudeau son and father are the best exemple of canada’s superficiality. During the past twenty years, many thing happens who reminded why I was for quebec independence.

    If you want some content I sugest to read that book.

    https://www.amazon.ca/Black-Book-English-Canada/dp/077102259X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483675451&sr=1-2

    Anyway have a nice day.

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    1. Hi Alain!

      Thank you for writing. It is always a joy to hear that I am accurately recounting the struggles and unfair conditions that French Canadians generally and Québécois particularly have to deal with.

      Also, thank you for the book recommendation. I have placed my order. It looks like a very valuable addition to my library.

      Bonne Journee!

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    2. dont forget that when you say “quebec independence” you are arrogantly assuming that you have a stronger moral, ethical, practical and legal claim for it than the indigenous peoples, who the ONLY people in canada with a legitimate claim to the land.

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      1. Hi Greg,

        First Québécois also descendent of the first nation, during the french regime the colony was more a commercial operation that a populating operations, we didn’t push the first nation out of the territory. All they were royals edicts forbidding, stealing territory.
        Those edicts gave us a good reputation among the first nation and bring us close them (except the Iroquois). Before the coming of the “fille du roy”, new france was severely lacking in women, lot of intercultural marriage and the birth of the métis nation. Originally if the french regime would have last. the entire canadian population would have been métis. Also, lot of first nation women got baptised took a french name and married a french colonist. As the result Québécois are not a “pure” European but métis between European and first nations. The difference between First nations and Québécois is mostly cultural but not in the genetic terms.

        Also every nation of the world have the rights of self-determination over there national territory, like it or not it a right written in the United Nations Resolutions 1514 by definition Québec is a nations and also the first nations. It also mean that Canada is a remain of the past British Colonial Empire who’s legitimity is poor. As for the first nation they got the same right as the Québécois.

        What I want, is to offert to the First Nation is a state with full political independence and federal alliance with Quebec similar of the European Unions in smaller scales.

        The independence is not because of the past but for the futur that is to come.

        And to be honest, we got much more to offer as a part of the nations of the world that being part of Canada.

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      2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Peace_of_Montreal

        No one here would ever claim that we have “stronger moral, ethical, practical and legal claim for it than the indigenous peoples” but the fact remains that we were invited to live here, didn’t technically steal any land, and developed everything needed for sedentary living in a time of extreme hardship; there were no successful settlements for almost a century. Only temporary nomadic encampments could be found along the Saint-Laurent before Québec appeared.

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  4. Two years ago, I moved from southern Ontario to a western US state. I lived in a medium sized city where the tap water tests positive for cocaine; some police are on the take like in the movie The Departed; multiple drug distribution rings (the Newfie mafia and biker gangs) have flooded eastern provinces with hard drugs; the third lowest high school graduation rate in public school of all the southern districts
    – the Catholic schools are much better, and a training (rape) school for girls that put the city on the map after a city and provincial Police investigations into it.

    http://www.lfpress.com/2015/07/24/study-finds-traces-of-cocaine-other-illegal-drugs-in-ontario-drinking-water

    Canadians are treacherous and insidious. Be careful.

    Your blog has validated what I have felt about Canadians since I was 9. Thank you.
    Fuck that place.

    Like

    1. couldnt agree with you more. there is something seriously sick about canada, something that permeates the air with its rotten tones of corruption, denial, and monstrosity. at least in america there is an active and robust social dynamic that keeps the fresh air flowing over the dead bodies and the hope of change, but in canada? they’re still a monarchical colony who worship a queen facrissakes.

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  5. Northern Ontario is a lot like a 1960s soviet mining camp, that is the perfect analogy and if you ever have the misfortune of dealing with Ontario’s massive beauracracy it is a very apt analogy too. I had no idea there were still people in this country who lived in tar paper shacks and couldn’t read or write.

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  6. I passed through a central Onterrible town the other day that looked like it had lost it’s only industry (It had looked like it’s only meth house blew up). 40km north to the nearest gas station from there. Probably even further to a decent grocery store. I wasn’t even that far north (North Addington and Lennox County).

    Probably be good to have a SAT phone to communicate, and a rifle to chase down your food in that area which is cool if you’re into that. But that requires money and and access to resources.

    And we make jokes about West Virginia and Kentucky. We have hillbillies and horrible desparation here too with a huge distance to travel for basic needs and services.

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  7. http://rnao.ca/policy/speaking-notes/Kathy-Hardill-plenary-address

    Speaking notes about how poor health is directly tied to poverty.

    She mentions that one client was investigated by children’s aid because she failed to make a prenatal appointment due to a lack of transportation.

    Children’s Aid is another joke system in Ontario that fucks over families and ignores those who are actually being abused, or places them in homes that were far more abusive than where they came from.

    Like

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