Archive | October, 2015

Chase Constantino tells a story through his dance moves!

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Chase Constantino is a performer and choreographer predominantly operating in and around the GTA, but not limited to it. Chase has performed all over North America whether in the Hollywood or Bollywood scene, and always creates a presence. He first began as a singer and actor, until dance joined his roster of talents. Dance has taken Chase to many new and great places, and he now celebrates it at every chance he gets.

Chase began dancing reggae and hip-hop but was soon called to recognize his potential in his own community. As a South Asian dancer, Chase has had the opportunity to embark on a cultural journey which has made him skilled in Bollywood, Bhangra, and the Classical Indian style Bharatanatyam.

He has had the opportunity of working with Bollywood stars such as Neha Dupiha, Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor as well as many other names. Chase is also one of the principal dancers and instructor for the Bollywood Choreographer Divya Kumar, which has allowed his to travel around the world with opportunities of Bollywood performances.

Aside from the Bollywood world, Chase has worked with many Canadian and International artists in either backup performances or feature music video roles. His resume includes artists like Kos, Feist, Alex Cuba, Russell Peters and Apache Indian. On the recent film Breakaway, Chase not only choreographed a scene in the movie but got the chance to work with SYTYCD judge/choreographer Trey Armstrong as a featured dancer in a Ludacris video directed by Lil-X.

Not every performer can say that they have performed for the Queen, but on the last Royal Visit to Canada Chase personally met the Queen and performed in a Bollywood-fusion piece directed by Deepa Mehta.

With all of Chase’s success in the dance world he has recently started his own dance company and performance group called Broken Dance formerly known as Broken Pin-Stripes. Chase most recently had his choreography and talent recognized on the nationally broadcasted and world renowned show, Canada’s Got Talent. Where his company, Broken Dance not only were chosen to be aired in the Toronto Auditions episode but through judge’s selection and audience votes made it all the way to the Finals!

Here’s Generation Next’s interview with Chase:

• Please tell us a bit about your academic and family background?

I am one of 3 children, the youngest with 2 older sisters. My parents grew up in Mumbai and although they have a mixed background they are predominantly Goan. I was born in Bahrain and came over to Canada when I was 7 years old. I grew up in Mississauga and then attended York University where I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts and a Creative Advertising Diploma from Seneca College.

• After acting and singing, how did you find your true talent in choreography?

I had always been into the arts since I was a child. I started with drawing to copy my sisters, and soon found myself singing in plays at the age of 6. As I grew up I knew I loved performing and kept trying a new art form. In high school I moved to theatre, and finally in University I was forced to join a dance team where my obsession took over.

• Where do you get your inspiration for new moves in choreography?

 I love being inspired by different artists and dance pieces. Seeing how people innovate movement and formations, I try to draw inspiration from that, not plagiarizing. I take that inspiration and I try to experiment with my own body when I choreograph and try to see how movement can flow into something new and what my body and experience leads me to do.

• Before showing of dance moves, do you picture the artist who will be performing it? Is it important for you to know?

I think it is very important to know your artists and dancers, is it within their capability? What range of movement do they have? What will make them look good while not compromising creativity. I tend to have a process where I day dream about songs and dance routines and picture how something would be performed on stage, with innovative ideas and formations and that is my jumping off point for my choreography.

• Which dance would you say you have specialized in and why?

I have always had a love for dancehall reggae and hip hop as I started dancing those styles. But since then I have grown to love so many more, Bollywood, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Bhangra, etc.

 I would say the dance form I specialize in is definitely a hybrid. It is Bollywood centric, but the fusion of that with Classical styles or with Hip Hop- I truly try to bring my own personal dance experience to my choreography to make it signature.

• What type of dance brings you closer to yourself?

 I love learning classical because of the discipline .. hip hop helps to hone musicality and sharpness.

• How do you keep yourself fit?

Most people think I keep fit by dancing, and of course it helps. But I definitely need to take the extra mile and go to the gym. I try to go at least 4 times a week, but it’s hard at time when you travel or have a unpredictable schedule.

• Do you have a special diet?

 I definitely do not. My friends hate me for this but I do have a very high metabolism so I tend to eat whatever I want. Although, I try to stay away from too much junk food and keep a high protein diet it doesn’t always work out.

• Would you like to work more in Hollywood or Bollywood?

I don’t think I want to pick. I think the magic of Bollywood is always there, I love working on Bollywood sets because you can be creative and use your imagination. Indians are all about dreaming big. But when I work in Hollywood I get to showcase and bring light to not only my style but my culture and help break boundaries which is also rewarding.

• Do you think Hollywood offers scope to South Asian artists such as yourself?

Hollywood is increasingly offering opportunities to South Asians. It may not be as many out there, but things are changing and we are making waves.

• How is your brand different from say other dance companies in the GTA?

Our brand is different because of our choreography and our talent. I have some of the most talented dancers that I work with and that coupled with the difference of my fusion choreography- I think we are able to tell a story with our dance. We are not just about filling a song with repetitive moves but engaging our audience with a great performance and choreography.

• Most young people like to dance. Some think of themselves as outstanding as well. How can one know that he/she has a world class talent and should hone their skills more?

 I don’t think its something that anyone can just judge. I mean there are the staples that I look for when I adjudicate dance, but as an individual if you have a passion for dance you should know no limit. There is always a dance style to learn and room for improvement.

• What advice would you offer to those who want to venture into the field of choreography?

Be true to yourself. Don’t regurgitate and copy routines and choreography you see. Think about where your strengths are, the difference in your movement and use that to create from your heart.

• Can you give three basic dancing tips to our readers, please?

1. Don’t be afraid to look stupid, looking stupid is half way to perfecting the move.

2. Practice indeed makes perfect, and each of us work differently.

 3. Dance with conviction and heart. .

• Are the tips different for men versus women?

Although, choreographing men and women can be very different. The rules should still apply, in fact I would say to both sexes. Don’t be afraid to learn each other’s choreography- it is just another step in understanding movement.

• Tell us about Broken Dance and what you hope to achieve through it?

Broken Dance has been great and I see it growing as a dance and entertainment company and would like to in the future have it as a studio when my choreography work slows down. But my aim is to also bring productions to the masses using the talent of Broken Dance and show the world the difference in our company.

• Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Well I see myself happy in 10 years and in the performance arts. I know that sounds simple, but for me to be happy is to just keep going on and striving for the best in what I love. Aside from Broken Dance I want to continue choreographing, I choreographed and went on my first world tour recently and I would like to be able to have that global reach in the near future.


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Women have a chance to shine in the next Parliament

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau’s has made a commitment that fully 50 per cent of his cabinet will be made up of women.

That promise is both welcome and ambitious. Under Harper, 31 per cent of cabinet positions were held by women – the most senior being Rona Ambrose in health, Diane Finley in public works and Lisa Raitt in transport. And on the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning, the inner circle of key decision-makers, only three of 15 members were women.

So women will be watching carefully to see how Trudeau carries out his commitment. Will women crack the top positions of power – finance, foreign affairs, justice, trade, public safety and defence? Or will they be over-represented in “softer” portfolios and second-tier cabinet jobs?

It’s not as if women haven’t successfully held powerful cabinet positions in the past. Former prime minister Kim Campbell was the first woman to be defence minister in any NATO country, while both Flora MacDonald and Barbara McDougall held the foreign affairs portfolio.

Still, even now there has never been a female finance minister. Naming a woman to that job would be the strongest signal Trudeau could send that there are no limits for women in his government.

Happily for the incoming prime minister, there’s plenty of talent among the 50 female Liberal MPs (27 per cent of his 184-member caucus) elected last week.

Among the returning veterans are long-serving Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett; former journalist Chrystia Freeland of Toronto, who co-chaired Trudeau’s economic panel; B.C.’s former environment minister, Joyce Murray; and Judy Foote, a former Newfoundland cabinet minister.

Among top-flight newcomers are Ottawa lawyer Catherine McKenna, who beat the popular NDP incumbent Paul Dewar; Vancouver’s Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former Crown prosecutor and one-time regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations; Karen McCrimmon, the first female base commander in the air force; and lawyer Melanie Joly, who placed second in the last Montreal mayoral election.

There’s also hope Trudeau will signal that a new era for women on Parliament Hill by placing women in high-profile leadership positions in the Prime Minister’s Office.

A final sign that women will hold more sway is that there is strength in numbers. A record 88 women were elected as MPs, up from 76 in the last Parliament. Of course, there are more MPs in total, so the percentage of female representatives edged up only slightly from 25 to 26 per cent.

That’s short of the 30 per cent the United Nations says leads to a shift in policy and practice in government, still a dozen more women can make a difference.

Trudeau faces a difficult balancing act in fulfilling his promise on women in the cabinet – weighing regional considerations and the ambitions of his many MPs, both male and female. It will be a crucial early test of his promise to bring fundamental change to Ottawa.

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Four things Trudeau will get right

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

We’re in this for the long haul. Well, at least for four years. While only 39.5% of the electorate voted for Liberal candidates, Justin Trudeau will be governing with a majority mandate.

It’s full steam ahead with his agenda. There will be plenty of time to critique his forthcoming missteps and gaffes. And make no mistake, they’re coming.

But let’s take a look at several upcoming issues that Trudeau will hopefully get right in a way that most Canadians should applaud him for:

1. He will likely approve the Trans Pacific Partnership. In their campaign release from early October, responding to the Conservatives’ TPP announcement, the Liberals said they’d be “thoroughly examining” the deal but added free trade “is how we open markets to Canadian goods and services, grow Canadian businesses, create good-paying jobs, and provide choice and lower prices to Canadian consumers.”

The other 11 nations in the TPP represent almost 800 million customers and a combined GDP of nearly $13 trillion. Not only will Trudeau get behind this, but hopefully he’ll work on other trade deals.

2. The Liberal platform pledged to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.” Trudeau has said this will take anywhere from a few months to two years to come into effect.

An Ipsos poll from August showed that 65% of Canadians support decriminalization. Previous polls have shown similar majority support for legalization.

A Statistics Canada release from May showed 80% of the 73,000 police-reported cannabis offences in 2013 were for possession.

Also the numbers for “trafficking, importing, exporting and production” are on the decline. Once these are regulated, the black market will lose its grip on them.

A 2002 Senate report noted: “The cost of enforcing the drug laws is more likely to be closer to $1 billion to $1.5 billion per annum.” That figure has surely increased. Let’s stop spending so much money policing possession.

3. The signature pledge of the Liberal campaign was the “largest and longest federal infrastructure plan in our nation’s history.” Liberals committed $125 billion for public transit and “social” and “green” infrastructure.

Their platform doesn’t single out the projects they want to build. This is a problem because, as the Conservatives will tell them based on their own experiences from their post-recession stimulus spending, it’s actually harder than it sounds to identify worthy shovel-ready projects and get the money quickly out the door.

Plus if their “green” infrastructure spending is anything like it’s been in Ontario, the money is going up in smoke.

But if they spend the money mostly on much-needed key infrastructure – granted, that’s a big if – then we’ll build things we need. Regardless of how sound Trudeau’s deficit plans are, the beauty of infrastructure spending is at least you’ve got something to show for it.

4. Back in 2008 an auditor general’s report revealed 24 Sussex Dr. is in need of major renovations at an estimated cost of $10 million.

Many denounced Stephen Harper for not offering to move out. But, as any landlord will tell you, the best time to do maintenance is between tenants.

Margaret Trudeau let slip the other day that her son and family won’t move in right away, but stay elsewhere until the work is complete.

This is a minor but symbolic issue. It’s ultimately the incoming PM’s choice and he’s making the right one. The National Capital Commission – which manages the residence – owes it to the Trudeau family to get the renos done as fast as possible.

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Ontario government’s payments to teacher unions top $3.7-million

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

The tally for the Ontario government’s secret payments to teacher unions has reached more than $3.7-million after the province on Friday released payout figures for previous rounds of bargaining.

The revelation came the same day tensions in the province’s classroom labour battle ratcheted up: Premier Kathleen Wynne threatened to dock elementary teachers’ pay if they do not end a work-to-rule campaign by Nov. 1, and Toronto high-school teachers vowed to start working to rule if they cannot reach a deal with the school board by Nov. 4.

The Liberal government’s practice of giving money directly to teacher unions to cover expenses during collective bargaining came to light earlier week when The Globe and Mail uncovered payouts of $1-million each to the high-school teachers’ and Catholic teachers’ unions, plus $500,000 for francophone teachers in this year’s bargaining.

On Friday after two days of questions from reporters on other payments, the government released further figures.

  • Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation received $200,000 in 2012, $400,000 in 2008 and $1-million this round.
  • The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association got $1-million this year, but nothing in the previous two rounds.
  • The smaller Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens got $170,000 in 2012 and $10,000 in 2008, plus this year’s $500,000.
  • The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents support staff, received $181,000 in 2012 and $280,000 in 2008.
  • The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario took no money in 2008 and 2012, and has said it would not accept any in this round of talks, either.

The payouts began when the province started getting directly involved in negotiations in 2004 instead of leaving everything to school boards. The extra level of talks added more expenses for unions, and the government agreed to compensate them. Education Minister Liz Sandals has admitted she did not receive receipts or other itemization to prove what the money was spent on, but gave several examples of possible expenses, such as ordering pizza for union officials during bargaining sessions.

Ms. Wynne on Friday said the payouts are just the cost of settling labour disputes. “This is a $20-billion-plus enterprise. There is a cost associated with coming to agreement. From my perspective, it is extremely important that we get these negotiations concluded.”

OSSTF president Paul Elliott defended the payments, saying they are routine and go back years.

“It happens locally, it happens provincially… it is part of the process. It’s been part of the process as long as I’ve been doing this and it’s really nothing new,” he said. “No, it’s not a sweetener. It’s part of the whole complete bargaining process.”

Asked how much the government has paid his union in previous rounds of talks, he said: “I would have to go and check that, but it’s part of the same thing that we’ve always done.” Asked if he would make that information public, he said: “No. I won’t commit to getting those numbers.”

Critics argue that, since unions collect member dues to fund collective bargaining, it should not be up to taxpayers to cover their expenses.

“They’re saying this is $1-million to buy 50,000 pizzas,” Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said. “It’s disrespectful to taxpayers. The government’s arguments don’t add up. To put context to what $1-million could buy: That’s the government’s breakfast program for 4,000 classes for a week.”

Also on Friday, Ms. Wynne met in her Queen’s Park office with the presidents of ETFO and the support staff unions to present them with an ultimatum: If they do not end their work-to-rule by Nov. 1, the government will give school boards the right to impose new wages and working conditions on teachers and support staff with five days’ notice.

“Activities that are important to students and parents, such as report cards, are not being done. This cannot go on,” she said after the meeting. “After that notice period of five days, management could respond to the withdrawal in services with a commensurate reduction in pay or other changes in the terms of employment.”

ETFO president Sam Hammond said his union will sit down to bargain with the province immediately, but will continue its work to rule. Currently, elementary teachers are refusing to provide comments on report cards or conduct parent-teacher interviews. Starting next week, they will withdraw all voluntary services, such as running sports teams or clubs. “What we asked for, and what we’ve been trying to get, is a very respectful negotiated settlement.”

CUPE president Fred Hahn said the school boards have not given his negotiators any times to sit down and bargain.

“Arbitrary dates and threats do not help in the bargaining process,” he said. “If there are eight days left, they better be available every one of those eight days to bargain with our members to get a fair agreement. We need partners on the other side of the table.”

Meanwhile, OSSTF’s Toronto local put out an ultimatum of its own. President Doug Joliffe said teachers would withdraw some services on Nov. 4 if they have not reached a deal with the school board by then. Mr. Joliffe said teachers will stop performing administrative duties and will not fill in for absent colleagues, but will continue to perform extra-curriculars.

“We’re trying to put as little pressure on the students as possible,” he said. “The idea of this is to put all the pressure on the principals who, we hope, will then put pressure on their superiors.”

Mr. Joliffe said the main issue is health and safety, including such problems as principals and vice-principals not being available to resolve discipline problems because they are too frequently pulled out of their schools to attend meetings, and science labs in schools not receiving proper safety inspections.

Toronto District School Board spokesman Ryan Bird wrote in an email: “It’s our hope that an agreement can be reached in the very near future so that there is no impact to our students and schools.”

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Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

 Several states of India are in the grip of Hindu extremist movements. These movements are strong in north Indian states, often described as the Hindi-belt which include, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, East Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Harayana and Delhi. Such movements are also strong in Maharashtra (especially Mumbai) and Gujarat. The disputed region of Kashmir is also target of such movements but the Kashmiris also face Indian state’s security apparatus.

 Encouraged by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hard line and extremist Hindu organizations have become active and they are using intimidation and violence to impose their view of India. These organizations talk of Hinduism and Hindu culture, as defined by them, as the real identity of India and that the followers of other religions have to accept this identity and adjust according to its requirements.

The political and social pressures on the Muslims, Christians and Sikhs have increased.

The low caste and outcaste Hindus (DALITS) are also facing a lot of insecurity because of the violent methods of these groups. India’s government in New Delhi and the governments in the capitals of India’s states are unwilling to protect the religious minorities.

 In some cases, half-hearted steps were taken but there is no attempt to strictly enforce India’s constitutional and legal requirements on these groups.  The Muslims of India, being the largest religious minority, are an easy target of these extremist Hindu groups.

 These Hindu organizations are also fanning anti-Pakistan sentiments. Pakistani artists and other prominent personalities visiting India have become the target of their religion-based ultra-nationalism. Their anti-Pakistan activities have reduced to zero the prospects of improvement of relations.

 In a way, this reinforces Modi government’s policy of keeping Pakistan under political, diplomatic and military pressures.

 Hindu hardline groups have existed in India all the time.

Some of these, like the Rashtriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS) can be traced back to the pre-independence period. The RSS was said to be involved in several anti-Muslims riots in post-independence India.

 A political party by the name of Jan Sangh became active in the immediate aftermath of India’s independence. Initially, it publicly talked of re-integrating Pakistan into India. Later, this objective was dropped but it maintained a strong anti-Pakistan posture. This party, Jan Sangh, was part of the first non-Congress coalition government at the federal level in 1977-1979. However, in 1980, the Jan Sangh was not revived.

Instead, a new party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was set up which included a large number of Jan Sangh members as well as new activists who thought that this party would not be a copy of Jan Sangh in its ideology. It began to talk of Hindutva rather than Hinduism, describing it as culture rather than religion.

  Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister of India, (1996, 1999-2004) was the leader of the BJP. Despite the party’s links with old Jan Sangh and other hard line Hindu groups, Vajpayee did not allow the mindset of these groups to dominate the government.

 India had reacted sharply to the terrorist attack on Indian Parliament in December 2001, blaming Pakistan based militant Islamic groups for the attack and mobilized its troops to Pakistan border in January 2002.

For the next ten months, the troops of India and Pakistan faced each other on the border. In October 2002, India realized that its military move will not produce any result. Vajpayee decided to withdraw Indian troops.

 Pakistan also pulled back its army. It was after this that Vajpayee did a rethinking on India-Pakistan relations and he not only agreed to a ceasefire on the Line of Control in November 2003 but also agreed to initiate the dialogue with Pakistan during his visit to Islamabad in January 2004 for the SAARC summit conference.

 In May 2004, the Congress returned to power in India and its Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, decided to carry on with the dialogue process which lasted, with two suspensions, until November 2008 and the attempts to revive it in 2011-2012 could not be sustained.

 Now, the same B JP is under a new leader, Narendera Modi, who is known for sharing the views of hardline Hindu organizations. He was able to mobilize support of the corporate and industrial sector of India as well as Hindu hardline groups and movements. The corporate sector provided him money and the hardline Hindu organizations provided him workers for political mobilization.

 In the post-election India (May 2014 to the present) Modi gave a free hand to these Hindu organizations to mobilize support, thinking that this would keep his government stay popular and win state-level elections. He also thought that he could keep the corporate and industrial sector happy by strengthening India’s economic ties with the rest of the world and by giving them more economic opportunities within India.

 This dual track policy appears to be failing. The Hindu hardline groups have gone out of control in their bid to impose their ideological views. They have also established their political control. The growing religious and political tensions in India have perturbed the corporate and industrial sectors, who feel that if internal conflict increases their economic agenda will be adversely affected.

 The growing religious and political tensions, especially the killing of people belonging to religious minorities are making news outside of India which will undermine its diplomatic standing.

 Within India, the Congress Party and others continue to favor the promotion of Gandhian-Nehru traditions of secularism and respect for religious diversity, as written down in the constitution. They are perturbed by these negative developments and openly criticize the inability of the Modi government to control the on-going religious hysteria.

 If the Hindu hard line groups continue with their policy of threatening the religious minorities, the Modi government is expected to face strong opposition within India. It seems that Modi will become victim of his own policy of letting these groups have a free hand.

 Meanwhile, Pakistan should consider its relations with India frozen because of the Modi government’s hawkish attitude and the negative political environment created by hard line Hindu groups. Pakistan’s policy makers should not show impatience in engaging India whether at the diplomatic level or in sports because the situation is not conducive in India. Pakistan should wait and see how the growing internal conflict in India unfolds.

Unless the issues inside India are settled, there is hardly any chance of improvement of India-Pakistan relations.

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Geeta: From struggle in obscurity to becoming India’s daughter

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

It was from a brief report on Pakistan’s Geo News channel in July 2012 that I first learnt of the woman called Geeta, so brief that one would have missed it if one blinked. The news clip referred to a speech and hearing impaired woman who had been stranded in Pakistan since she strayed across the border 13 years ago.

Except for a few minutes of footage showing Geeta praying at a temple in Karachi and meeting a man who read out her scribbles in Hindi, there was nothing else about the woman. It wasn’t even apparent from the report that Geeta was the name given to her by the Pakistani woman who had been caring for her.

Having learnt that Geeta was living in a shelter in Karachi run by the Edhi Foundation, I reached out to a spokesman for Pakistan’s largest charity founded by philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi. Going to Karachi to uncover more details about Geeta was out of the question because the Pakistan government had withdrawn my three-city visa and limited me to Islamabad.

Edhi Foundation spokesman Anwar Kazmi put me in touch with Bilquis Edhi, the wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi who had taken Geeta under her wing after she attempted to escape from several shelters in Lahore. Bilquis ‘apa’ explained to me Geeta’s speech and hearing impairments had left her frustrated as she was unable to explain her plight to others.

The patience showed by Bilquis, who let Geeta set up her own mandir in a corner of the shelter, allowed the woman to open up and tell people through sign language about her Indian origins.

The Edhi Foundation reached out to priests in Karachi’s Hindu temples – among the few people in Pakistan, other than spooks from intelligence agencies, who can read the Devanagari script – to decipher Geeta’s writings. This yielded some clues about Geeta’s village in India but not enough to pinpoint a geographic location. Most people concluded from these clues that Geeta belonged to either Bihar or Jharkhand.

After my report for the news wire that I worked for at the time appeared in Indian media outlets, there was considerable interest in Geeta’s case. Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan made a concerted push to trace her family.

But as media and public interest waned, Geeta’s story too faded from the limelight. Until Salman Khan scored a massive hit this year with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, a film whose storyline was eerily similar to the real life story of Geeta. The fresh push resulted in Indian diplomats confirming Geeta’s nationality and finalising the process to bring her home. Though Geeta has returned home, her journey still isn’t over.


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Ontario Needs More Doctors And Nurses, Not Bureaucrats

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Sohail Gandhi

“Alienation through bureaucratic proceduralism.”

– Franz Kafka

There are many things that medical school doesn’t teach future physicians. Amongst the most glaring omission, is the lack of appreciation for how challenging it is to navigate the complex health care system when you are trying to help a patient. The sheer number of organizations in the health care system, and of course, differing requirements for engaging these organizations is mind numbing.

A while ago, one of my colleagues had an idea for improving patient care. It required an Information Technology Solution. However, finding out who to call to get approval for the project was really an eye opening experience. Should he contact the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) IT department? Or the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) IT as this project related to outpatients? Or is it eHealth as they are supposed to be looking at Health Care IT solutions? But the Ministry of Health (MOH) has an IT department too — should they be called? (And no, I have no idea why the MOH has an IT department for the Province if eHealth is supposed to provide provincial solutions).

As I have come to appreciate, there has been an explosion in bureaucracy over the past 12 years in Ontario Health Care. Most of it has been because the government has set up various “arms length” agencies such as the LHIN’s, eHealth, Health Quality Ontario (HQO), CCAC and so on, rather than simply accept responsibility for these tasks under the MOH. From a politicians point of view, this gave them the ability to defer criticism for any decisions by saying such and such agency is “independent.” For the most part, for a Liberal politician, this worked — they did win four elections in a row. But it certainly hasn’t helped the patients any.

My colleague, Dr. Shawn Whatley, posted a superb blog with a look at how many bureaucrats are in health care in Canada. While I encourage you to read the full blog at the link, the short version is that there are 0.9 health care bureaucrats per 1,000 people in Canada, compared to 0.4 per 1,000 in Sweden, 0.255 in Australia and 0.23 in Japan. Germany rocks at 0.06 per 1,000. Worse, as Dr. Whatley points out, Ontario has only 1.7 acute care hospital beds per 1,000 population which is about HALF the average for other OECD countries. Ontario got to this number by closing 17,000 acute care beds (and laying off the nurses needed to staff them) between 1990 and 2013.

Unfortunately, that trend continues. You know that recent Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report? The one that Kathleen Wynne and Eric Hoskins say shows that “Ontario has the best paid doctors in the country.” That’s a nice enough sound bite, but if one reads the report in detail, it also showed that 12,000 nurses have left the profession this past year. Additionally this same report showed that Ontario had only 176 physicians per 100,000 population (SEVENTH place in Canada). Unsurprisingly, only 10 per cent of family docs in the Ontario now take new patients.

Ah, but at least the bureaucrats are producing meaningful reports and are happy to be helping with moving health system transformation forward right? Alas, a Health System Leaders (HSL) survey done by Quantum Transformation Technologies in June 2015 shows otherwise. A full copy of the report is here. Some notable results:

• 55 per cent of HSL’s think Dr. Hoskins is doing a poor to fair job
• 62 per cent think the LHIN’s are doing a poor to fair job
• 72 per cent (no really 72 per cent!) have poor to fair confidence CCAC can be fixed by current government
• 50 per cent feel that the government has a POOR (not poor to fair, just POOR) track record of helping those with mental health issues

This list goes on. It’s dramatic just how poorly the leaders view the system, and how badly they feel the system is functioning. The comments at the bottom of the survey are equally telling as to how they feel the system is run. There are repeated calls to reduce the number of LHIN’s, reduce the size of the bureaucracy and “bold transformation” of the health care system. As a side note, a senior executive form on of the LHIN’s told me that the people who responded good to excellent on the questions did so because they didn’t truly believe the survey was confidential.

So in short, in Ontario, we are burdened with a bloated, ineffective, demoralized health care bureaucracy. Kathleen Wynne and Eric Hoskins solution to this? Lay off nurses and start a fight with doctors. Franz Kafka couldn’t have come up with something this convoluted.


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Get Your Flu Shot and Get It Early

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Ontarians Reminded Vaccination is the Best Defense Against the Flu

Ontarians are reminded to get their flu shots as the province kicks off its annual flu immunization program. The influenza vaccine remains the best protection against the flu virus.

Free flu vaccine is available for all Ontarians at their health care providers’ offices, participating public health units and at community and workplace flu immunization clinics. It is also available from trained pharmacists at approximately 2,500 pharmacies across Ontario for anyone five years of age and older.

 Children and youth aged two to 17 years will also be able to get the flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray instead of an injection. The nasal spray flu vaccine will help offer broader protection against four flu viruses instead of three. The added protection is against an additional strain of type-B influenza which affects children and youth more frequently than adults.

 Parents will still have the option to vaccinate their children using an injection. The new injection for children and youth aged six months to 17 years will also protect against the same four viruses as the new nasal spray.

 Influenza—commonly called the “flu”—is more than a bad cold. It is a serious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death, particularly for children under five, pregnant women, seniors and people with underlying health conditions. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to give you protection against flu viruses. The sooner you get the shot, the sooner you can be protected.

 Preventing the flu through immunization is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.

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Double Standards… Say What Now?

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

Well girls – listen tight, sit comfortably and get your reading glasses on. What I am about to tell you will either shock you or you’ll be agreeing with me so much that you’ll be gasping for air. And boys – some of you are probably going to hate me for writing this, but it’s time that someone set you straight. Remember throughout this article I say boys but I actually mean “some boys”, so please don’t bombard the comments section.

When you get to your mid-to-late 20s as a girl (not all girls but some), you start to think about the future and think “Hey, I think I want to settle down with a nice boy.” So you start looking. And as you put more effort into your appearance (M.A.C lipstick and all), you think “Ah this is easy. I am a nice decent girl. Any guy would be lucky to have me.” You become more open-minded to meeting new people and this is where you learn the most.

The above reflects me. Unfortunately, I’ve also met several individuals from the male species who have surprised me with their logic of something the cool kids nowadays call “double standards”.

What are “double standards” you ask? As Urban Dictionary puts it, it is “when a situation is desirable for one group but deplorable for another.” In the case of our Tamil boys, it’s “Enjoy now, settle later. But when it comes to marriage the girl has to be a virgin.”

You might think where is the logic in all this? Well you can look all you like because you won’t find it.

You might understand that virginity is important to a girl. Our back home mentality would say that kudumba maanam is hung up on a daughter’s virginity. As much as I am a huge fan of our culture and traditions, boys listen carefully: we don’t live back home anymore and it’s the 21st century. We are surrounded by people who don’t believe in the same things we do. It’s only natural for people to adapt, especially when they are into the 3rd or 4th generations after their parents moved here.

So boys let me get this straight. It’s completely acceptable for you to drink, smoke, have sex, gamble and other shenanigans. But none of the above are allowed to be done by your so-called future wife. I don’t know girls, if you ask me that makes total sense(!)

If you sleep with Tamil girls who you say the right things to and make them feel great and then leave – when it comes to marriage, trust me brother you won’t have anyone left. And to be honest, that serves you right. The saddest part is you would think boys with sisters, female cousins and girl mates would understand this. But you would be surprised.

If a girl wants to have sex, she will. That’s her right and her body. That doesn’t define her personality. I personally believe in sex after marriage not because of all of the above, but because I want it to be with that one person. And you might think I’m totally crazy, but I want my future husband to be the same. It is logical that I can expect that. If I can wait, someone out there can too!

To conclude, girls – this is where you have to spread the message and beware of these little fellas who probably don’t deserve you. They could tick all the boxes. But if that one box – “Could you imagine him being the father of your daughter or son” – isn’t ticked, you’ve got your answer.

Boys, this wasn’t an attack on your species – just advice that maybe you need to change your mindset a little and be a bit more open-minded. If you want to marry a virgin then be one. But don’t shut someone down just because they aren’t.

Hope you enjoyed this not so little article.


Your typical girl next door.

Disclaimer: All this is obviously my opinion, and if I mentioned anything above that hurt anyone’s feelings it wasn’t my intention to do so.


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Has Kat’s sister Isabelle given up on her Bollywood dreams?

Posted on 29 October 2015 by admin

For quite some time, there has buzz about Katrina Kaif’s sister Isabelle venturing into Bollywood.

The young girl, however, seems to have made no headway yet. In September 2014, Salman Khan had flown to Toronto for the screening of her film, ‘Dr Cabbie’.

Touted as Sallu’s first international production, the Canadian venture had Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali from ‘The Big Bang Theory’) as her co-star. Dr Cabbie did the festival rounds and was released on DVDs.

For a while, Isabelle was even seen with Kat at film events, but now she’s gone MIA.

Looks like someone has given up on her Bollywood dreams.


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