Archive | November, 2014

Canada’s Influential South Asian Canadians

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Dr. Sinha works on a National Seniors Strategy

At the ripe age of 37, Dr. Samir Sinha is emerging as Canada’s most compelling voice for the elderly. In 2012, as the lead author of Ontario’s seniors strategy report, Sinha called for improving health care for older Canadians—and keeping them as physically active as possible—at a time when our ballooning aging population makes this a critical social issue. In 25 years, one-quarter of Canadians will be older than 65. And older adults currently account for 60 per cent of hospital bed days, while making up only 15 per cent of the population. “We have a health care system that was designed to meet the needs of younger Canadians, and now it needs to rapidly adapt to meeting the population it’s serving most,” Sinha says.

As director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital since 2010—upon his return from Oxford University where, as a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his master’s in medical history and a Ph.D. in sociology—Sinha has proven his approach works. His patients spend far less time in hospital than the provincial average and are more likely to live longer, independently at home. This includes Mr. W, now 104, who came under Sinha’s care in 2010 when he was admitted for pneumonia. Sinha ensured Mr. W stayed active and did physiotherapy. He returned home, where he’s been ever since. Many more Canadians may soon benefit from his approach: Sinha is working with the Canadian Medical Association on a national seniors strategy.

Arvind Gupta adds research funding to UBC’s budget
Thin on experience, rich in conviction

 

It’s not the fact that Arvind Gupta is a computer scientist that makes him such an unusual choice to oversee the University of British Columbia and its $1.4-billion budget. It is that UBC’s new hire has zero administrative experience in academia, a far cry from the usual path from professor to dean to vice-president to president.

What Gupta does have is a belief that exceptional research of all kinds has a place at UBC. This is blasphemy for those who believe university is a place to learn for learning’s sake, and that research should be “pure” and divorced from commercial interests. Gupta isn’t afraid of stirring the pot. He argues that collaborating with industry is UBC’s way forward—and makes his case for partnerships with the private sector rather bluntly, at least by the polite standards of power struggles in academia. Gupta is also an innovation expert who, as CEO of Mitacs, overhauled the non-profit research-funding organization to make it a place where Canada’s top graduate students are paired with industry to solve real business problems. He’s already announced he will add $100 million to UBC’s $565-million research budget. Now it’s up to Gupta to prove his hypothesis that this multi-million-dollar investment will distinguish UBC graduates and make their diplomas worth more than others. “What we’re doing now,” he says, “is not good enough.”

Alia Hogben, the Liberal voice of Islam in Canada
Right voice, right time

 

When Alia Hogben took over the Canadian Council of Muslim Women a decade ago as the group’s executive director, few could have predicted the long-time bureaucrat from Ontario’s ministry of community and social services would emerge as one of the most compelling liberal voices of Islam in Canada. Her moderate Muslim perspective is indispensable. As a 2012 Order of Canada recipient, awarded for her work on women’s rights and promotion of interfaith dialogue, she is only the second female Canadian Muslim to receive that honour. She also has an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University and a column in the Kingston Whig-Standard, where she’s written how she was discouraged that many people, such as members of Islamic State, use religion as justification for unspeakable crimes. Recently, Hogben told the Canadian Press she’s disheartened that Stephen Harper did not denounce the anti-Muslim backlash in the aftermath of the Ottawa shooting. But Hogben is not one to point fingers. Rather, she champions Islam’s message of inclusivity.

Bharat Masrani to influence Canadian banking
Steady as he goes

 

Measured by total assets, Toronto-Dominion Bank is now the country’s largest bank (having overtaken Royal Bank of Canada this year) and is well on its way to becoming Canada’s first trillion-dollar financial institution. That alone gives Bharat Masrani, TD’s new CEO, immense influence over the economy. Born in Uganda to Indian parents, raised and trained in the U.K., and boasting deep experience in the U.S. and Canada, Masrani’s resumé befits the modern and complex world of banking. He’s indicated he will be outspoken on economic and policy issues, just as his mentor and predecessor Ed Clark often weighed in on the housing market and indebted households. As with any new bank CEO—this year alone four of the Big Five got new chiefs—it will take time for Masrani to define his tenure, but he’s hinted at the direction he’ll take: steady as it goes internal growth rather than big-ticket acquisitions. Whatever brings in the billions.


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Retailers tell ” white lies” about big Black Friday “discounts”

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Those Black Friday deals may not be as good as they seem.

“There is mounting evidence that the Black Friday phenomenon is associated with inflating original prices, creating a false sense of urgency among shoppers and encouraging rash decision-making,” according to a new report commissioned by Vancity.

The report cites one large U.S. study in which “among the majority of monitored retailers, average prices did not change significantly on Black Friday and in many cases actually increased compared with the day and even the week prior,” said Mohamed Ladak, Vancity vice-president of payment solutions.

Black Friday, the U.S. discount shopping day that falls after American Thanksgiving, migrated to Canada along with the influx of U.S.-based retailers and gained a foothold as a kickoff to Canada’s holiday shopping season.

In the U.S., toys and tools had the biggest pre-Black Friday price hikes of about 23 per cent, according to White Lies on Black Friday: Pricing Integrity in Black Friday Sales, prepared by the Mustel Group for Vancity.

Spending in the 2013 Black Friday to Cyber Monday period increased 16 per cent compared to the previous year among Vancity enviro Visa cardholders.

“We’re not suggesting good deals cannot be found,” Ladak noted. “Do your research.”

Mark Startup, vice-president of MyStore, a division of the Retail Council of Canada, said local retailers and consumers have definitely adopted Black Friday.

But “is the white lie to be construed as a practice in the industry? I would say certainly not,” Startup said. “There is too much competition and consumers are too intelligent and have too much information to find themselves deceived …”

Indeed, a 2013 Canadian study found that 28 per cent of shoppers browsed Black Friday deals but did not buy. Almost three quarters of Canadian shoppers avoided Black Friday sales in 2013, according to retail consultant David Ian Gray’s DIG 360 Black Friday survey in 2013, which was conducted using AskingCanadians’ online data collection.

Black Friday is driven by large department-store-type, U.S.-based merchants, but Canadian independent retailers “are less likely to embrace the Black Friday brand because it stands for significant discounting in the lead-up to U.S. Christmas,” Startup said, echoing the Mustel study findings.

Shoppers can expect to see “a few doorcrasher” sales from the big-box retailers, and everything else on a “fairly typical seasonal discount,” Gray predicted. “Are you going to see amazing knockout deals? It’s going to be a muted version of Boxing Day.”

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Economic growth set to decline year-after-year

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

The Hon. John McCallum, MP
Ottawa

 Buried in the federal government’s fall fiscal update was some major news: economic growth in Canada will decline year-after-year for the next five years.

 Let me say that again: from 2015 to 2019, growth will decline each and every year.

 Faced with this sad prognosis, the Conservatives are putting all their eggs in the income splitting basket, a plan that will consume $2.4 billion borrowed dollars this year and $2 billion every year going forward, squeezing out room for a growth agenda.

 The Conservative income splitting policy is unfair: it does nothing for 85% of Canadians. And for 15% who do benefit, the largest gains go to the wealthiest. Single moms and dads, parents with similar incomes within the same tax bracket, those on low incomes, those without children or whose kids are at the expensive post-secondary level—all get nothing from Income Splitting.

 Income splitting is too expensive, it’s unfair and it’s anti-growth at a time when growth is what Canadians need.

 Instead of lavishing benefits on those who need them the least, we need to help our economy expand and give all Canadians a real and fair chance at success. Two key elements of that agenda are infrastructure and education.

 Investments in infrastructure will create jobs today and lay the foundations for greater prosperity tomorrow. By helping our cities build durable tools like better transit and water systems, we will reduce traffic gridlock and give a substantial and sustainable boost our productivity and quality of life.

 Seven out of ten future new jobs in Canada will require post-secondary education. If we can raise our post-secondary education attainment rate to 70 percent, we’ll have a workforce ready to meet our future job market needs.

 We don’t have to settle for gradual economic decline. Investments in education and infrastructure are two essential components for the prosperity of our middle class and our collective future.

 John McCallum is a Liberal MP and the former senior vice-president and chief economist of the Royal Bank of Canada.

 

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Baird Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attack in Afghanistan

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird issued the following statement:

“Canada condemns in the strongest terms the suicide attack that took place at a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan, reportedly killing dozens of people and injuring scores more.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and friends, and wish a swift recovery to those injured.

”This heinous attack was clearly meant to target innocent civilians who had gathered to watch the sporting event. Afghan civilians continue to bear the devastating impact of this ongoing campaign of terror.

“Canada stands by the Government of Afghanistan as it strengthens its efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms in order to bring peace and prosperity to all Afghans.”

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Opposition Mounting to Budget Bill’s Denial of Benefits to Refugee Claimants

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

By Samuel Getachew

Toronto

With the words of Margaret Mead echoing inside my head – Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – I protested in front of the constituency office of Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s constituency office earlier this week with a small but determined group of community activists. The group was there to deliver an open letter in opposition to a latest proposed omnibus bill by the federal government.

This omnibus bill – C-43 sections 172 and 173 – is an invitation for provinces to deny basic necessities of life, such as shelter and food, for refugee claimants and those without status in Canada, by denying access to social assistance. For the Harper Conservatives, this is an encore performance having presented a similar bill two years ago, since having been deemed in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by a Federal Court, denying basic health care for refugees and refugee claimants.

That is never a good thing especially for a country that has benefited a great deal from migration.

I hope the federal government will soon realize that these actions are not just wrong but are forever tarnishing Canada’s image at home and abroad. At best, these actions are the direct attribution to the extremism that still exists within the Conservative party that has not fully shaken the skeleton of Preston Manning’s old and outdated Reform Party.

Think about it.

The actions of the government when it comes to their treatment of the most vulnerable in our society have been condemned by a slew of Canadian personalities including Conservative Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall. For Premier Wall, the decision to deny health care coverage to refugee claimants was “unbelievable” and he noted “the decisions that have been taken federally have been having this impact on people who are clearly the most vulnerable.” The Premier stated, “It is a Canadian and Saskatchewan value to help those in need”.

This new omnibus bill goes even further.

Health For All, a social activist organization opposing the bill notes that it “allows provinces the right to deny social assistance to refugee claimants and others who lack permanent residency status”.

For Ritika Goel, a member of HFA, a South Asian activist and family doctor notes, “Refugee claimants are among the most vulnerable members of our society. To deny them access to what is often their only source of income would be cruel and in direct violation of Canada’s stated commitments to international human rights law.”

One time refugee and newly minted Canadian lawyer, Teklemichael Abebe, finds the situation of would-be-refugees in Canada concerning at best. He wonders if the potential minor monetary saving can truly compensate the great welcoming tradition and reputation Canada is known for around the world. Indeed.

How could that be? Doesn’t Canada talk about being a decent, responsible and generous country? Why are we being mean-spirited and worrying about petty savings at the expense of human beings? Are we not the country that welcomed refugees and immigrants who look like me, Adrianne Clarkson or Michaëlle Jean to our shore and afforded us rights and privileges?

Pierre Trudeau welcomed Ugandan refugees of Indian-descent in the thousands after their mass exodus from Uganda some four decades ago. Joe Clark welcomed 60,000 Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian political refugees and Jean Chrétien welcomed 5000 Kosovar refugees in 1999. The noted one-time Ottawa mayor and an NDP Member of Parliament, the late Marion Dewar, led an organization named Project 4000 – where Ottawa residents sponsored and supported thousands of Asian refugees. Even United Nation’s High Commissioner for refugees once awarded Canada and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney the Nansen medal in “recognition of their major and sustained contribution to the cause of refugees” in 1986.

The fact is that Canada’s interest in the well-being of would-be refugees and refugees has always been a nonpartisan Canadian tradition. It is our signature to the world and is how the world has come to know and respect us.

It was Prime Minister Stephen Harper who once uttered the words that has guided our foreign policy for almost a decade. He described how he believes “very strongly that in this world you have to have values and you have to stand up for your interests and if you don’t do those things you’re not going to get anywhere”.

I certainly hope the Prime Minister does not believe denying human beings their most basic necessities to life is a Canadian value or interest worth promoting. I hope he understands that how we treat the neediest among us is how we are judged. This is what determines Canadian society and I would like to see a tradition where we treat our most vulnerable in a manner that makes us an exemplary nation in the world.

Anything less should not be a Canadian value.

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PAKISTAN-Russia relations upset India

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

Lahore

 The visit of Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to Islamabad on November 20, 2014, was major positive development in the Russia-Pakistan relations. The two sides signed a comprehensive agreement for expanding their relations in several important sectors. This includes political and military issues, counter-terrorism, international security, arms control, drug control and cooperation in education, culture, scientific and technical fields.

 This agreement creates a big opportunity for Russia and Pakistan to expand their cooperation in several areas of mutual importance. Their current bilateral trade is limited which is expected to increase if they expand their bilateral relations as suggested by the latest agreement.

Now, both countries have to enter into agreements for specific actions in the agreed sectors for bilateral cooperation. For example in the area of education and culture, they will have to create arrangements for fellowships and grants for the students and their exchange programs. Similarly, they will have to agree to steps needed for cultural exchanges which can also include the visits of artists, musicians, writers and arts exhibitions.

 Pakistan and Russia are currently negotiating the supply of Russian helicopters and other military equipment to Pakistan. Russia will provide military equipment for strengthening Pakistan’s capacity to fight terrorism. This sale is expected to be completed soon and the helicopters, their spare parts and other military equipment will be delivered in 2015. India expressed its objection on the proposed supply of military equipment to Pakistan which was rejected by Russia.

 When this military equipment is received by Pakistan, it will be major shift in Russian policy towards Pakistan. It was in 1968-69 that Russia supplied helicopters, tanks and communication equipment to Pakistan. By 1970, Pakistan’s relations showed clear signs of decline. The Soviet Union sided openly with India in the 1971 East Pakistan crisis and defended India’s military intervention in East Pakistan.

  Zullfikar Ali Bhutto (Prime Minister December 1971-July 1977) reduced tension between Pakistan and the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union established the steel mill in Karachi. However, the over-all relationship was limited in scope. The Soviet Union continued to view India as its principal partner in this region.

 Pakistan’s relations with the Soviet Union deteriorated further after the Soviet Union sent its troops to Afghanistan to control its government in December 1979.

Pakistan joined hands with the United States and the conservative Arab states to create Afghan-Islamic resistance to the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The Soviets blamed Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan. It had to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in February 1989.

  The bitter relations between the Soviet Union and Pakistan overshadowed their relations after the end of the Afghanistan war.

In December 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia emerged as the successor state for all practical purposes. Several constituent republics of the Soviet Union became independent in 1991-1992. It took Russia ten-to-fifteen years to return to global politics as an active player and challenge the U.S.-dominated world order.

 The signs of improvement in the Pakistan-Russia relations began to emerge during the last three years. The contacts between the officials of the two states increased, giving a very clear indication that Russia wanted to improve its relations with Pakistan.

 The important visits between the two countries during 2012-2014 include Pakistan’s Foreign Minister’s visit to Moscow in February 2012, Russian Foreign Minister’s return visit to Pakistan in October 2014, Pakistan’s Air Force and Army Chiefs visited Russia in August and October 2012 respectively, Russia’s Air Force Chief and the Army Chief visited Pakistan in April and August 2013, the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism in Islamabad in January 2014 and Pakistan’s Defense Minister went to Moscow to participate in an international conference in May 2014. The meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization provided good opportunities to the leaders of Pakistan and Russia to meet. Pakistan is has an observer’s status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and wants to become its full member.

 Federal Minister for Petroleum and natural Resources, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Moscow in June 2014 to participate in the World Petroleum Conference. Pakistan’s Advisor on National Security and Foreign Policy, Sartaj Aziz visited Moscow in June 2014 and Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister came to Islamabad in October 2014.

 There are no foreign policy disputes between Pakistan and Russia. In fact, Russia is worried about the on-going militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and wants to cooperate with both countries to control it. Russia is already helping the Afghan Government to control the Afghan Taliban and other militants. It wants to work with Pakistan for the same purpose because it recognizes the role of Pakistan for controlling terrorism in Afghanistan.

 There is another dimension to the renewed Pakistan-Russian relations. India is Russia’s principal friend in South Asia and Russia assigns the highest priority to its relations with India. However, India has cultivated very active relations with the United States. Russia knows about the changed foreign policy disposition. It has therefore making friendly gestures towards Pakistan. Russia wants to increase its foreign policy options in South Asia and show to India that Russia has some new foreign policy options. Therefore, improvement of relations with Pakistan helps Russia to build some diplomatic pressure on India.

 While Russia is endeavoring to increase its options in South Asia, Pakistan is also thinking on the same line. It sees the prospects of improvement of relations with Russia as an opportunity to expand its relations at the global level. It will thus secure good relations with all the major powers.

 As there is no political dispute between Pakistan and Russia, it is now easy for them to get out of the shadow of the negative history of their relations. Russia can help Pakistan in mineral resource development, energy development and building of new infra-structure. Trade is another area where both sides can gain. The improvement of relations with Pakistan will also reduce Russia’s dependence on India for dealing with the issues relating to this region.

 Despite the improvement of relations with Russia, Pakistan will maintain close interaction with the United States and other western countries. There are stronger economic and military sales ties between Pakistan and the United States. This relationship will continue. Similarly, Pakistan will maintain its close relations with China. China has made more contribution to Pakistan’s industrial development than any other country.

 If Pakistan maintains cordial relations with all major states, this will strengthen Pakistan’s diplomatic position at the global and regional levels. Therefore, Pakistan’s leadership should not sleep over the latest agreement with Russia. It needs to adopt concrete measures to implement the agreement of November 20. This will increase Pakistan’s foreign policy options and help to improve its reputation at the global level.

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India’s BJP seeks gains in Kashmir elections

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Voters have cast ballots in the first round of polls in Jammu and Kashmir where Indian PM Narendra Modi’s BJP is trying to win power for the first time.

More than a million people are eligible to vote in the first of five phases in staggered elections for the Muslim-majority state’s 87 assembly seats.

The disputed Kashmir region is claimed by both India and Pakistan.

It has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years and the rivals have fought two wars over the region.

Thousands of soldiers were deployed in and around polling stations as voting was held on Tuesday in 15 seats, amid fears of street protests and militant attacks.

Results are due on 23 December.

Voting was also held in the central state of Jharkhand, where the BJP is also attempting to gain power.

Boycott call

Two regional parties dominate politics in Indian-administered Kashmir – the governing National Conference and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder, reporting from Srinagar, says the BJP has never been a serious player and it has a non-existent base in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, given its hardline views on the state’s tenuous relationship with India.

But under Mr Modi, who swept to power in the May general elections, the BJP is making an attempt to capture the state.

Separatist hardliners have called for a boycott of the vote, a move that many believe could help the BJP.

Hindus are a minority in Kashmir, but their votes become crucial if Muslims stay at home in protest on polling day.

But some analysts say that it will not be easy for the BJP to win the polls.

“The BJP has always been very proactive in Kashmir, but the media blitzkrieg and the euphoria [this time around] could boomerang to the advantage of the regional parties,” political analyst Sheikh Showkat Hussain told the AFP news agency.

 

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Ontario falling behind its own poverty reduction goals

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

Campaign 2000’s annual report card shows province not meeting goal it set in 2008 to reduce child poverty by 25 per cent over five years.

One in five Ontario children still faces life in poverty, according to a new study.

This remains true despite a pledge in Ottawa, made exactly 25 years ago today, to eliminate child poverty by 2000 and the province’s promise in 2008 to reduce poverty by 25 per cent by 2013.

The national problem has not just lingered. It is worse than it was in 1989.

More than 1.3 million children across the country — 550,000 of them in Ontario — live this way, according to authors of the 2014 report card on child and family poverty.

The odds only get worse for single-parent homes with one child, where the rate of poverty is 44 per cent in Ontario. The numbers are also bleak for First Nations children living on reserves, those with disabilities and children of colour. According to one calculation, half of all Ontario children born to immigrant parents live in poverty.

For all these children, poverty can mean a lack of access to healthy food, affordable shelter and other basic necessities. It means more than half a million Ontario children start life on unequal footing.

And as the wealth of the nation has more than doubled, the report points out that income for the country’s poorest families has essentially flatlined.

“The numbers evoke for me a serious concern about whether our leaders and our policies are reflecting what I think Canadians still value, which is a sense of fairness, and of value in sharing and collective solutions,” said Laurel Rothman, who works with Family Service Toronto and is the national co-ordinator of Campaign 2000, authors of the report.

“We can fix this. You’re not looking for a cure for cancer. We’re looking for the will to use the tools that exist.”

Campaign 2000’s annual report card also shows the province falling behind on its 2008 goal of reducing child poverty by 25 per cent over five years. The most recent data available from 2011 shows only a 9.2 per cent drop.

After the Liberals admitted failure on that target, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government launched a second strategy in September that recommitted to the 25 per cent reduction goal.

The new report calls on both the province and the federal government to create implementation plans that would take concrete steps on jobs, housing, child care and social assistance programs.

“Twenty-five years and one generation later, it is clear that poverty continues to rob children and adults of their dignity and potential,” the report says. “We need to fix the problem of poverty to ensure real progress, for real people, now.”

The report defines the poverty line as Statistics Canada’s After-Tax Low-Income Measure (LIM-AT), which in 2012 was $23,755 for a single parent with one child 16 years old or younger.

The numbers contained in the report are current to 2012, using taxfiler information from Statistics Canada and Canada Child Tax Benefit records. These figures, however, can’t be compared to previous numbers on poverty because the way they are calculated has changed.

In Toronto, an earlier report showed nearly a third of all children — 145,000 of them — live in poverty, ranking it the worst of the country’s major municipalities.

Anju Nair, 45, lives in a one-bedroom apartment near Victoria Park and Danforth Aves. with her 10-year-old daughter.

With a PhD in developmental biology, Nair came to Toronto from India in 2010. Her first priority was finding a home.

She settled on a place in Crescent Town, one of the city’s neighbourhood improvement areas and home to many new immigrants. Since then she has been unable to find work that will allow her to properly care for her daughter.

“I really belong here. I think this is my home now,” Nair said. “Now, it’s getting a job, getting a full-time job. . . . It is challenging and it is overwhelming, but I have to do what I have to do.”

Almost 90 per cent of her employment insurance is needed for rent, leaving little for necessities, even with child benefits and child-care subsidies.

She has found joy in Canada — a large park nearby where her daughter can play, transit that gets her to the store, a place where she feels safe. Her daughter was placed in a gifted program at her school, something she says is a “blessing.”

But Nair is still faced with the monthly question of what to sacrifice. Needs like winter clothes — boots and jackets — become more than a headache.

“It’s not like if you don’t have, you are fine,” she said. “No, it’s about survival.”

The report pushes for the province to make employment a “pathway” out of poverty, especially for single-parent households like Nair’s.

It argues that the minimum wage needs to increase to $15 per hour in 2015 in order to push people 10 per cent over the low-income measure used to define poverty. Currently, the province’s $11 minimum wage — raised in June after being frozen at $10.25 — still leaves single parents below that line.

The report notes the work available to Ontarians is leaving them with few options to earn a living. In 2009, the province saw a 50 per cent increase in involuntary part-time employment and a 75 per cent spike in long-term unemployment.

Still, as of 2011, nearly 40 per cent of children in poverty lived with families who had full-time, year-round work.

Another way to fast-track results on the child poverty file, the report argues, is to increase the Ontario Child Benefit for each family annually by $100 over five years. It also calls on Ottawa to increase the Canada Child Tax Benefit/National Child Benefit for low-income families to a $5,600 maximum from $3,687.

Rothman said other industrialized wealthy nations have made decisions to both prevent poverty and keep poverty rates low.

“The country deserves to have its wealth better distributed,” she said. “There’s no question that political will has a lot to do with it.”

In September, NDP MP (Scarborough–Rouge River) Rathika Sitsabaiesan introduced a private member’s motion to eradicate child poverty with a national reduction plan, one that has “measurable targets and timelines.”

Rothman knows that motions are sometimes just motions and that 25 years later, sometimes little gets done.

“Can we make that into an action plan? I hope so,” she said. “The homework’s done.”

Deputy premier Deb Matthews, the minister responsible for the province’s new poverty reduction strategy, said Sunday night the province is committed to “targeted investments and supports” that will reduce child poverty, including $15 billion spent this year on children’s and social services, access to health benefits and investing in supportive housing.

“Our first strategy set an ambitious target and we made progress. Unfortunately, the federal government did not make adequate investments to help Ontario meet its goals in the first poverty reduction strategy,” Matthews said in an emailed statement, adding the global recession also prevented them from reaching the first 25 per cent reduction target. “Our government is committed to funding programs based on evidence. We must invest in programs and policies that demonstrate measurable evidence showing that they work to make people’s lives better.”

Even as groups like Ontario Campaign 2000 continue to track child poverty, they are left with fewer tools. The cancellation of both the federal long-form census and the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics that offered a window into homes leaves fewer sources for data collection.

Nair, meanwhile, is considering going back to school to study cardiology technology.

“I think I have all the skills,” she said. “I’m qualified.”

Many in her place, she knows, have been less lucky — facing language, cultural and other barriers. She dreams of some day working in social services, to help those newcomers navigate a complex and often frustrating system and give back some of the small fortune she has found.

“I have met with incredible people,” she said. “They have been kind to me and that keeps me going.”

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Do you know how many toxic chemicals are in your shampoo, your lipstick, your toothpaste?

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

We’ve been using cosmetics and personal-care products for thousands of years, from body paint to eye makeup, in nearly every single culture in the world. Egyptians first started using scented oils and ointments to clean and soften skin. They were also the first to use toxic chemicals in their beauty products, with lead and arsenic being common ingredients.

Fast-forward to today and you’d assume things have gotten better, right?

Not exactly. In 2007, researchers at the California-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found what they thought to be “hazardous levels” of lead in one-third of the red lipsticks they tested. And lead isn’t the only issue. There are over 84,000 chemicals registered for use with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Being registered does not imply safety, only that they are used and tracked in some capacity.) Only 200 of these chemicals have been reviewed by Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan. (Again, these chemicals are not necessarily safe.) We’re still using chemicals we know are toxic, as well as a host of others whose effects are unknown.

While words like “lead” or “arsenic” would certainly raise your eyebrows, it’s not always so easy to discern the harmless from the potentially harmful. Here’s a list of the chemical “usual suspects” to watch out for, according to the David Suzuki Foundation:

• BHA and BHT. These are used as preservatives in moisturizers and makeup. Both are thought to be endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can interfere with hormones) and BHA has been linked to cancer.

• Coal-tar dyes. These are dyes that will have “Cl” followed by a five-digit number on the label (or in the United States, “FD&C” followed by the colour). These dyes are potentially carcinogenic and may be contaminated with toxic heavy metals.

• Siloxanes. Anything that ends in “-siloxane” or “-methicone” falls into this category. These chemicals are used as moisturizers in makeup and hair-care products, but they may also interfere with hormone function and damage your liver.

• DEA, MEA and TEA. These chemicals give moisturizers and shampoos a creamy, foamy texture, but they can also react with other chemicals to form cancer-causing nitrosamines.

• Phthalates. These plasticizer chemicals make personal-care products easier to handle and apply. They’re also suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins, and definitely not something that should be in cosmetics targeted at women (or anyone, for that matter).

• Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Remember that toxic, carcinogenic liquid used to preserve your high-school biology dissection project? It may be lurking in your nail-care products, hair dyes and shampoos under the names formic aldehyde, formalin, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea or others.

• Parabens. These preservatives are found in a wide range of beauty products and have been linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer.

• Fragrance (a.k.a. parfum). Even products marked “unscented” may contain fragrance, so check your labels thoroughly. Because fragrances are often considered “trade secrets,” manufacturers aren’t usually required to disclose what chemicals they comprise, but some fragrance chemicals have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity, while many can trigger asthma and allergies. The best course of action here is to call the manufacturer and see if they will disclose their ingredients.

• PEG. These compounds are used in many cosmetic cream bases, as well as in conditioners and deodorants, and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.

• Petrolatum. Doesn’t that word look an awful lot like “petroleum?” That’s because this is a petroleum product – meaning its very production isn’t great for our environment – usually used for shine and as a moisture barrier in cosmetics and skin-care products. But these petroleum products can also be contaminated with cancer-causing impurities.

• Sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate. Also known as SLES and SLS, these two chemicals were initially used as industrial cleaners in car-wash soaps and engine degreasers and now produce the foam associated with a wide variety of personal-care products, including shampoos and bubble baths. SLES and SLS can be irritating to sensitive skin and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.

• Triclosan. This antibacterial compound found in toothpastes, soaps and hand sanitizers may do more harm than good, since it may interfere with hormone function and lead to liver fibrosis, as a new study shows. Plus, it contributes to the creation of superbugs, as bacteria become resistant to its antibiotic properties.

This list may feel a little overwhelming at first and you may be thinking that cosmetics companies wouldn’t put anything unsafe in their products, right? That’s a reasonable conclusion, but unfortunately we must be responsible for what we put on our bodies because many companies are not, in fact, looking out for our health.

Some companies defend their products with the claim that each potential toxin is in such tiny doses that it couldn’t possibly cause harm. However, most people use a variety of products, from body wash to body lotion to perfume to lip gloss, and that’s just first thing in the morning. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the average person is exposed to 126 toxic chemicals from personal care alone, per day. What about all these toxic chemicals in combination? The problem is, we just don’t know.

When I personally made the switch to clean beauty products more than 10 years ago along with healthy lifestyle changes, my health transformed for the better, including clearer skin. Not only do I feel good using products with coconut oil as a base but I know that these products are safe for the environment as well. No fish will be bothered by the fact that the main ingredient in my face wash is coconut milk.

Ditching toxic ingredients and replacing them with clean ones in your personal-care products will go a long way to helping your skin glow from the inside out and lessen the burden on your liver, the body’s main organ of detoxification which has to neutralize every itty-bitty chemical that comes into contact with your skin.

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ICAI celebrates its annual gala

Posted on 27 November 2014 by admin

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is success” – the maxim was expressed by Amit Goyal, Chairman of Toronto Chapter of ICAI while welcoming guests including dignitaries like Honourable Akhilesh Mishra – Consul General of India, Mr. K. Raghu – President of the ICAI, Ms. Dipika Damerla – Minister and Member of Provincial Parliament, Ontario, Ms. Tashia Batstone – Vice President CPA Canada, Mr. Tom Warner – Vice President CPA Ontario, to name a few.

The event was significant as the President of the ICAI K Raghu came all the way from India to inaugurate it. The President appreciated the Toronto Chapter for its efforts to strengthen the bonds of friendship between India and Canada.

Bosco Caesar Dance Company and Bhangra group. While G Pinto added charm by his captivating violin recital, BCDC allured the gathering by their energetic performances and the Bhangra group set the stage for a night to remember. Throughout the evening, raffles were drawn and prizes were given away to the audience. The elegance of the event was enhanced by the black and white décor and the mouth-watering food was relished by one and all.

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