#55 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Four: Skeleton Shift

One of the ads that fucking haunts me to this day is a PSA that played on Canadian television back in the 1990s. It featured a woman carrying a pot of boiling oh-shit and slipping, pouring the oh-shit all over herself and subsequently screaming as her skin boils. Stay safe, kids! Speaking of safety, Canada has a bit of a problem with workplace safety. There are approximately 1000 reported deaths on the job every year in Canada, with the word “reported” being very important because the actual number of workplace fatalities could be much, much higher. Indeed, employers are known to suppress workplace injury claims; the numbers could be as much as 50% off because caker business would rather ignore problems than deal with them. Never mind the suppression of evidence though, because in Cakerstan if you can’t see things it means they aren’t real!

The last sentence there is literally true of some of Canada’s most dangerous jobs. Take logging, the most dangerous job in Canada according to the Globe and Mail. It may come as a surprise to the caker meme factory, but most Canadians do not experience any facet of the logging industry directly on a day-to-day basis. Same for the fishing industry. The human truck driver behind the machine isn’t often seen by those driving by (who are hopefully focusing on the road, and the same applies for garbage collection and power line installers. Because these jobs aren’t seen, mitigating the dangers incumbent to the task is left up to caker business.

(S) Pretty much

And how reliable, pray tell, is caker business? Well, here’s an oilsands giant getting fined $10,000(!!!) for failing to use appropriate contractors on their construction projects. What’s that? You think I was missing a few zeroes on that fine? Nope! $10k is apparently good enough recompense for killing two and injuring five!! And who knows what kind of justice came for the people on this list, whose deaths often sound truly horrific. And of course you’ve got a higher chance of injury as a temp worker. Really puts Bill Morneau’s “get used to it” comment into focus, no?

At the very least Canada has decided to do the bare minimum in terms of data collection on labor safety! In 2017! Reading that article reveals the amazing extent to which the federal government has absolved itself of responsibility for Canadian workers. Which leads to amazing efforts like the caker businesses currently over-building Saskatoon failing to enforce proper safety equipment on nearly 50% of construction sites. Manitoba’s punishment for six incidents of workplace danger, including a guy being lit on fire because his employer didn’t bother with basic safety, was a collective $111,000 fine. And speaking of not wanting to take this problem seriously, here’s Newfoundland referring to the worker death probe for a man who fell through a skylight as “completely inadequate“. Across the entire country, only five employers have even gone to prison for their role in destroying lives and families. When your major safety accomplishments include not using a lift that previously killed workers you probably need some kind of intervention. Golly, maybe we could have caught that one sooner?

Even though the 1000/year figure sounds reasonable for a country of 35,000,000, it’s pretty clear that the deaths happen away from public eyes, with limited oversight or even basic care from employers and a governmental system that fails at every turn. With data so unreliable, employers who can bully people into skewing what limited data exists in ways more favorable to the company, a predisposition to treating the most vulnerable workers in Canada with the greatest contempt, and a population that hides problems behind numbers, the story behind showcases a culture of disregard and despair.

#54 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Three: On Suicide

I first encountered the great French sociologist Émile Durkheim in my second year of undergrad. I was immediately gripped by his explanation of industrial society and the sense of loneliness it creates in man. But it is another of Durkheim’s intellectual triumphs, the categorization of types of suicidal impulse that we’re going to be working with today. The reason for this is simple: comparison of suicide rates across countries, as my research has found, is practically impossible. Indeed, it’s one of those meaningless numbers that this series is supposed to be combatting. So instead of trying to compare Canada’s dispositions to end it all, let’s instead try to look into why Canadians and which Canadians tend to off themselves. The data on this one is…yeah, you probably already know the drill.

In terms of where Canadians commit suicide, we need only look North. Nunavut is the capital of suicide in Canada, with the issue getting to a point that in 2007 40% of coroner investigations in the territory pointed to suicide as a cause of death. The issue is so extreme that even Pravda has felt the need to call for a state of emergency over the matter. It’s not like Nunavut has a bevy of coroners; bearing witness to children as young as 13 deciding that life isn’t worth living can’t be good for the mental health of the coroner. And it’s not like people have stopped trying since 2007 – attempts are up as recently as 2016, with the victims largely being under 30 years old.

While Nunavut is the worst of the worst (literally) there are other instances of high rates of suicide that we can look at. There is of course the legendary Attawapiskat, where a state of emergency was declared after waves of attempted suicide cases would swamp local medical infrastructure. Prince Selfie, in one of his most egregious acts of inhumanity to date, promised help and has yet to deliver a timetable for the deployment of that help. This co-opting of Indigenous issues for political profit was probably the greatest collective national gaslighting to ever transpire. This place is literally crazy-making, and cakers have been in the business for decades now.

Back to Durkheim now. Émile found that he could explain the rationale behind suicide attempts with one of four schema. The first is egoistic suicide, which stems from a lack of sense of community. Without the social ties that keep us grounded, we develop a depression and a sense of hopelessness that eventually claims us. The second is altruistic suicide, where the suicide is the result of being so overwhelmed by social demands that we kill ourselves in the name of the greater social good. Think martyrdom in the Christian sense and you’ve got the right idea. The third is anomic suicide, which I think the Wikipedia article does a better job explaining that I can.

“It is the product of moral deregulation and a lack of definition of legitimate aspirations through a restraining social ethic, which could impose meaning and order on the individual conscience. This is symptomatic of a failure of economic development and division of labour…People do not know where they fit in within their societies. Durkheim explains that this is a state of moral disorder where people do not know the limits on their desires and are constantly in a state of disappointment.”

Thanks, Wikibro.

Finally, we come to fatalistic suicide, where life is so restrictive and brutal that death is a better option. Prison camps, oppressive dictatorships, slave labor – that’s the kind of “restrictive” we’re on about here.

Looking at these and evaluating the economic and social condition of areas known for high suicide rates in Canada, we can argue a strong case for the very real consequences of the feelings of detachment, disappointment, economic failure, and stagnation that Canada pretends to do anything about before going back to staring at socks and being smug about bullshit.

I’d be lying if I said living in Canada hasn’t gotten me down some bad paths in my life. If you’re struggling here too, know that you aren’t alone. Work on making yourself the best you can be and make an escape plan. You don’t have to stay here. You deserve better.

(S) Pictured: a place you could be in that is not Canada

#53 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part Two: Dirty Cradle, Living Grave

Way, way, way the fuck back in post #10 I mentioned the obnoxious tendency towards blaming parts of the country for failures of the whole country. It’s an annoying-ass trait that certainly contributes to Canada’s no-can’t-do attitude, but the other side of the coin hides some lethal disparities. Cakers love to point to the high life expectancy of Canadians as a good thing, even though I personally cannot imagine why anyone would want to live longer here. We’re going to talk about the disparity in Canadian life expectancy, and then we’re going to mention some statistics about the sad consequences of that much-vaunted life expectancy figure. Expect a lot of unhappy stories about nursing homes, folks.

(S) Because this is a sad state of affairs, here are some feel-better bunnies

Statscan can’t provide a decent answer because apparently digital infrastructure from the 1990s is totally appropriate for a national data collection service, but the average I’m getting here is that a newborn baby in Canada will, on average, make it to 81.8 years old before cacking it. Unless, of course, you are a male Inuit – in that case, you get to live to be 64 years old, a number which is actually in line with the average in fucking Ethiopia. Non-Inuit Indigenous males have the incredible honor of living to age 74, which is about as long a life as one could expect in that Mecca of longevity, El Salvador.  Frankly, any kind of comparison to Ethiopia in terms of raw numbers kind of does my work for me. But here’s the typical caker reaction: blame the blue guys, disregard the fact that Liberal regimes have existed since the 1960s, which is where life expectancies for some are still mired. Did I mention that Indigenous in Alberta are actually losing ground on life expectancy? Because that’s a good sign, right? Ignore the details, highlight the big number!

And here’s where that bit about post #10 comes back. When anyone has a totally minor problem with the fact that a country that calls itself developed boasts life expectancies on par with a country that fought a several-decade long civil war, the usual apologisms about it being hard to take care of people comes up. You’d think that we’d be good at provision of care in distant places by now, but that would assume that cakers gave a shit about anything more than blaming underclasses for their systemic woes.

Here’s the next rub: do you even want to live that long in Canada? In a country with nearly six million elderly people, 750,000 suffered abuse in 2015. For those keeping score at home, that means you have a one-in-eight shot of ending your life in Canada as a punching bag or a glorified bank account. Far worse, you become a victim of caker business preying on the last pensions that will ever exist in this sham of a country. How bad does it get? How about wrapping people in fucking garbage bags so they don’t make a mess of their bed? Or you could be like Arthur Ross, who died a “13th century death” with a stage-four ulcer. Oh yeah, and that wouldn’t be the last time bedsores killed someone under the care of caker business.

To be honest, I’m going to keep my powder dry (because nursing homes will absolutely be under the gun later on. But I think I’ve made the point I wanted to. Even if you can get old here, the prospect of living between a failed healthcare system, a built environment designed to eventually force you into isolation as your ability to drive a car fades, and the possibility of being abused and neglected as you slowly die under the aegis of the worst kinds of caker businesses doesn’t exactly leave you with high hopes as to the quality of those years. If it sucks to live a long time, why do we celebrate the life expectancy rate?

#52 – The Quadriptych of Death, Part One: Infantile Mortality Prevention Plan

Welcome to the Quadriptych of Death, a revitalized effort to comment on some basic mortality statistics that cakers love to pretend don’t exist. The Quadriptych is an extension of the old Triptych of Death, which highlighted three ugly stats in an effort to prove that the numbers cakers love to cite as justification for their podunk infrastructure can just as easily paint a brutal picture of this heap. The goal here is twofold – talk about some truly dreadful stats and figures, and break the notion that numbers can speak a singular truth as to the merits of a society.

The first deadly exemplar that we’re going to talk about is Canada’s rather startling infant mortality rate. To cut to the chase, Canada has the second-highest day one infant mortality rate in the developed world with a genocidal bent (spoilers – Indigenous babies are four times more likely to die than non-natives), has consistently underperformed in terms of relative improvement of this problem and has an incredible variety of shitty problems with infants dying, from basic healthcare failures to almost-hilarious problems with bureaucratic paralysis. It is a common sentiment that the measure of a society’s decency is how it cares for its weakest members, and that idea is strongly supported by considering how Canada cares for its babies.

Before we carry forward – yes, the links I gave you are from 2013. And no, things haven’t gotten any better since. Having said that, let us now move on to the thrilling provincial and territorial options! How about we start with the worst of the worst – Nunavut, which has a stunning 18.2 infant deaths per thousand births, numbers which rank up there with those titans of childcare, Kyrgyzstan and Paraguay! The healthcare system in the North is so shoddy that it can’t even fire bad staffers who lead to the death of children! Hooray for slipshoddiness!

(S) Close enough!

On the east coast, Canada’s resident duncecap personal-union Newfoundland has done a fabulous job of shitting the bed, scoring an amazing D- for its health outcomes, citing the shitacular infant mortality results as part of the reason for getting a barely passing mark. Also, for some fucking reason Newfoundland just…didn’t publish mortality statistics between 1987 and 1990. Why? Fuck if I could find out! Nova Scotia, the worst of the Maritimes in terms of healthcare provision is experiencing a steady uptick in infant mortality rate, which if anything is a small mercy as it means fewer people have to be subjected to that wretched province.

Westwards, then, to Manitoba. You know you’re in good hands with this one when the province fobs off responsibility for its failure onto the federal government, with mortality rates reaching 10.2/1000 in parts of the province, which has it rolling with similar numbers to the African island state of Seychelles. Poor Manitobans experience an infant mortality rate that is twice as high as wealthier Manitobans, which is amusing to me because it suggests that anyone with money would choose to live in Manitoba.

And one more province before we get to Ontario’s laughable bureaucratic failure. I of course just had to bring the Wretched Rectangle Saskatchewan to the show, and boy does it look like a fat stack of stink. How bad does Saskatchesuck suck? To the tune of being worse at keeping babies alive than Panama, that’s how! The other reason I really wanted to bring this hellish province up is because it exhibits an alarming rate of infant mortality in urban cores, suggesting ghettoization and chronic poverty within Saskatchewan’s cities.

Last and least is the most laughable of all of the provinces, Ontario. While today Ontario satisfies its sick bloodlust by dick-snipping babies to death and trying to erase the language of discourse by which this information travels, Ontario for decades used its base incompetence at recording live births to keep the infant mortality rate down. Because some municipalities in this province are so cash-strapped that they introduced registration fees for newborns in the early 1990s, the rate of unreported births tripled from 1991 to 1997. Can’t count dead babies if you never counted them as born, right?

Of course, we know that these figures do not necessarily speak entirely as to the quality of Canada’s infant care. But by simply citing numbers we can cast Canada as a proto-African kleptocracy, which is a fun reversal of the usual tactic of throwing contextless numbers at critics to justify this fucking tottering shitheap.