Archive | December, 2016

Who I Am Toady…

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin


Everyone has ups and downs, but even that statement is not widely accepted in our community.

When I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14 and I came and told my parents, their response was that the doctor was an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about.

Of course I believed my parents and never bothered talking about it again, nor did I even try and explore it further.

Almost a decade later, I was bitter, miserable, unhappy, and just sad all the time. It was like there was never a light at the end of the tunnel for me.

In my mid twenties, it got worse. Life just got harder with the pressure of graduating, finding a job, finding a husband, settling down, having a family. My way of coping with negative situations only got worse, and I went through a few personal problems on top of that.

That is when the thoughts came into my head. Wanting to end my life. For years I kept feeling that way, but never found the courage to actually follow through with it.

The one time I did cut my wrist and ended up in hospital, was when I was aware of how bad things really got. That was also the day, my parents understood what I was going through and they just had no idea where to begin.

I was a 23 year old woman, who did not want to live anymore, and I was surrounded by people who had no idea of how to help me.

I spent the next 5 years in and out of hospital, different psychotherapists, different types of anti depressants, several more suicide attempts, and a nervous breakdown. I lost my job, most of my family and friends disliked me because I pushed them all away, and I was not capable of being in a relationship.

Do you know what I did? I went to the London College of Fashion and enrolled to do a hair and make up diploma.

In the midst of all of that, I wanted to do make up! The one thing I enjoyed since I was a young girl. So I decided to just follow that passion. The only passion. The only thing I felt I was good at. You all know the story of how hard it was to even convince my parents to not pursue a career in science, since I graduated with a Biology and Psychology degree, so you can imagine what sort of stress that also added to my endless list of issues. They simply had no respect for my career choice.

My job is hard, it is very stressful, you work under a lot of pressure. It is not just doing make up on people, but you are running a business. You also have to be patient and tolerant. Qualities I did not possess. I was so focused and driven to pursue my career in this, that I knew I had to figure out how I can learn to cope in negative situations, and not feel like jumping in front of a train at any given opportunity.

The first thing I did was go to my GP and talk. He suggested the right kind of anti depressant for me, and I started off with a low dosage. Most people get so scared of anti depressants, and if you do google it, there are tonnes of pros and cons to taking them. There are also so many different types of anti depressants. You just have to figure out which one works for you.

I am not a doctor, so I cannot describe what it does and how it works scientifically, but all I needed to know was that it numbed the pain, the bad thoughts, the constant negative feelings. Equally I did not feel anything positive either. You feel nothing. I needed to feel nothing. Isn’t feeling nothing better than feeling sad all the time?

Once the medication kicked in, I started seeing a psychotherapist. I know the waiting list to see a therapist is very long, but if you can afford it, just go online and find a local one. Most countries have a listing. The NHS site in the UK has a very descriptive list of therapists; their expertise and experience. You can pick and choose depending on what the nature of your problem is.

I tried several therapists until I found a lady who was just the right type of therapist for me. She taught me coping strategies. How to cope in a negative situation.

I find that with most therapists they get you to talk about your past too much. I understand that finding the source, the root of the problem is key to eliminating the symptoms, but not everyone can handle bringing up the repressed memories of one’s childhood. Everyone suffers from different types of problems.

My mum used to always say “What problems could you possibly have? We have done everything for you, you have a roof over your head, food, warmth, luxury, we buy you everything, why would you be sad?” Of course she was right. But I came from a generation where we didn’t talk about what happened in our childhood. We were wise enough at such a young age, not to burden our parents with things we knew they would never understand. More than that, we didn’t want to tell them things that would potentially hurt them. We tried to protect them by suffering ourselves. Imagine that responsibility being a child?And then what do you think happens 20 years later? We blame our parents for not having been there for us, for not having protected us, for not having saved us from that big black hole inside our head.

But it is not their fault. They never knew, and they were never exposed to the things we have been exposed to in the past two to three decades.

Once I was able to cope better with everyday things in life, I focused more on my career. I was motivated to build something that distracted me from all the bad things in my life. Some of my friends who have suffered from depression, all found something that made them appreciate life. For some it was having a baby, for some it was gym, and for some it was changing their career.

For me it was my career, IS my career. I put my life and soul into it, and worked hard to be where I am. I am still very critical of myself and still feel I have a very long way to go to perfect my skills, but it is enough to keep me going. Enough to make me feel content and happy.

I know I have a big social media presence, and I come across like the happiest person on earth, who has it all; that magical walk in closet, the million Zara items, that costly chia seed lifestyle, and those damn expensive Starbucks cappuccinos every week. But I want to inspire people, not show off to them. I want someone to see the benefits in the things I do. And also help someone, anyone, see the brighter side of life. Even if it’s through my famous chia seed dessert. I know the Starbucks is not inspirational in any way, but the coconut milk substitute is beneficial to your health! There you go! Anyway joke aside.

I want to make a difference. I have not had it easy, and nothing was given to me on a plate. I worked very hard, and suffered painfully, to be where I am today, and to be who I am today.

I hope people can see that through my social media posts.

When I got divorced, my parents thought I was going to try and harm myself again. They were like hawks in my house; constantly watching me, analysing me, and trying to talk to me. It really helped that they understood what I was going through. They understood that this could trigger my depression. As I now strongly believe that depression is a mental disease, and it never really goes away, it lingers, and just waits to attack. I did suffer a nervous breakdown. I did feel suicidal, and I was seeing a therapist again. But after only a few months, did I realise that I did not want to go down that path again. I did not want to take medication nor sit on a couch and talk about my ex husband. Instead I joined the gym, hired a personal trainer, saw a nutritionist, and focused on my inside. I just wanted to love myself. Figure out what I needed, and what would make all this go away. And it did go away. That cloud hanging over my head during the divorce went away. And it was all because I did that. I made it go away, by wanting to live. Wanting to be happy. Desperate to have another shot in life again. Believing that someone will love me, and that I will have a happily ever after.

We all deserve it. But how one achieves that is in no one’s hand but your own. You have full reign, full control of how you want your life to be.

Getting professional help is the first step. And once you understand what is going on in that head of yours, you should be able to explain this to your loved ones, because we all need the support of our family and friends.

When you are depressed you do feel alone and you shut yourself off, but even if it’s just the one person you can talk to, only one, it’s enough. It is better to have one person who you can trust, than a million negative people who are waiting to see you drown.

People love a gossip, and people are nosy, and you think they care, but all they want is entertainment. When you type my name into google, one of the most searched words associated with my company name is the word divorce. Do you know how many people still want to know what happened? Why I got divorced after only a four-month marriage? I never gave in. I have never shared my story on social media in the past 2 years. Firstly, it is no one’s business, secondly, it has nothing to do with my career, and thirdly it is not beneficial to anybody else.

All I want people to know is HOW I got through this, and HOW I overcame such a painful time. Because I know that divorce in our community, is another subject that is brushed under the carpet.

The stigma of divorce, depression, and all the other terms that are taboo in the Asian community, need to be addressed. How else are we supposed to set an example to the younger generation if we are encouraging them not to face these big problems?

I received a message last night from a girl who was feeling suicidal, and after reading my article, she snapped out of it, and thanked me for motivating her to go seek the necessary help.

I was so heartbroken reading that.

But then I was so happy I opened up about something so personal to me, because it made that difference to one person at least. And I can say that it was definitely the first time I have saved someone’s live!

Let us all save more!!!

I am grateful for all the comments, private messages, emails, and even text messages from previous clients, for sharing your stories, for supporting me sharing mine, and for wanting to help people who have also suffered or still suffer from this illness.

I was having a few bad days, which is ok, and I received a request from Women’s Planet to write an inspiring story for them. So I did. Timing, I tell you! Never did I imagine though, that I would get such a response. It really overwhelmed me and threw me off. I had never planned to ever talk about my depression, but reading all those private messages last night, made me realise that people were expecting me to share my story of how I overcame it. So I did. And I really hope this explains just a notion of who I am today!

I might not be able to make someone’s problems go away, but I can surely beautify them just for that one special day, and make them feel like they are worth everything. That is the power of my job, and I find it most rewarding. It is my way of giving back to the world, because we all deserve to feel and be happy.

I hope my blog was useful, and whether you yourself are suffering from depression, or know someone who does, then please take the necessary steps to seek/provide help.

Thank you.

Images courtesy of MY Photograph

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Sonam Kapoor, Alia Bhatt Reveal Intimate Details About Fawad Khan

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

Sonam Kapoor and Alia Bhatt who have worked with Pakistani heartthrob Fawad Khan in the Bollywood films Khoobsurat and Kapoor and Sons respectively, have shared some intimate detail about the Pakistani actor.

The divas were discussing about their experiences of kissing men in movies and how it’s quite awkward. Alia and Sonam too had their share of awkward kissing scenes especially with Fawad Khan. Khan who has no kissing clause in his movies shared a fake kiss with both the actors.

In a show hosted by Rajeev Masand, Bhatt stated, “You know with FK, Fawad, he was so nervous. I was like dont worry I wont touch your lips.

Because it was a fake scene.” The 23 year old also spoke about how much she had to cajole Khan so he stops freaking out. “Yeah, so we had to take it out . I told him I wont touch you. Every time I was coming close, he would go back. I said Fawad, just relax”.

Sonam too added, “Our kissing scene has not made to Khoobsurat because he’s like take it out”

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Will Vin Diesel join Deepika Padukone in India for promotions of ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’?

Posted on 29 December 2016 by admin

After spending months in the wild wild west shooting for her debut Hollwood film, Deepika Padukone is finally back home. She has a busy schedule ahead of her as she will soon have to split her time between Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ and her upcoming Hollywood release ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’. Her Hollywood debut hits theatres in January 2017 and she is expected to spearhead promotions for the film along with her co-star Vin Diesel.

We do know that Deepika and Vin get along like a house on fire. Their easy chemistry and camaraderie is evident in their social media posts. Chances are that Deepika’s fans in India will now get to see and meet her co-star, as Vin could fly down to India to promote the movie.

Vin Diesel has a massive fan following in India because of his hugely successful ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. For fans, it will be a double whammy of sorts to see Vin and Deepika promote the film together.

Deepika did not have a movie release this year, her last Bollywood outing was ‘Bajirao Mastani’ that released in 2015. Needless to say her fans are eagerly awaiting the release of her fist Hollywood film.

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The 100 Most influential People

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Sania Mirza: An inspiration on the court

By Sachin Tendulkar

The Mirzas probably knew what the future held for their daughter. Her name, Sania, means brilliant.

I first heard about Sania Mirza back in 2005, when she became the first Indian to win a Women’s Tennis Association event. In 2008 I saw her play in the third round of the Australian Open against Venus Williams. Though she lost, I believed she had the potential to be a star.

When Sania’s singles career was cut short by wrist injuries, she, through dedication and willpower, reinvented herself fully as a doubles player. Today Sania and her partner on court, Martina Hingis, are No. 1 in doubles and utterly dominant—they have taken the past three Grand Slam events.

Sania’s confidence, strength and resilience reach beyond tennis. She has inspired a generation of Indians to pursue their dreams—and to realize that they can also be the best.

Tendulkar is one of the greatest cricketers of all time

Sundar Pichai: The Internet’s chief engineer

By Bill Nye

Sundar Pichai has helped change the world. Last summer he became the CEO of Google. You can look him up, er, I mean, you can Google him. He was the head guy on Google Drive. That’s the original term for “the cloud.” He worked on Google Chrome, Gmail and Android phones. A great many of us can’t tell which side of a street we’re on without checking Google Maps. He was born in Chennai, India, to a middle-class family, and discovered an aptitude for numbers when his family got its first telephone, a rotary, when he was 12.

He is an engineer. So is his wife. Engineers use science to solve problems and make things. Engineering applies a combination of logic and intuition to problem solving. It’s a way of thinking that leaves one well suited to run a company. We are all watching for what he produces next.

Nye is a science educator and the author of Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World

Priyanka Chopra on Breaking Out of the Bollywood Stereotype

Diane Tsai 

Priyanka Chopra has already accomplished a lot in her acting career, with some 50 films to her credit, and she’s only on the up-and-up. The actress and TIME 100 honoree stars in the hit show Quantico on ABC and will appear in the the upcoming movie reboot of Baywatch.

But she’s had to work hard to get where she is. In an interview with TIME, Chopra explained that as a young actress, she was treated as a dime a dozen. “When I was very young, I was 19 and I was doing the first few movies, I remember that my dates weren’t working out. My scheduling wasn’t working out for a movie with a very big actor. And the producer said, ‘Well, she can’t work it out, it’s fine, we’ll just cast someone else. Or, you know what? I’ll launch a new girl because girls are replaceable.’ I didn’t understand it then. But I think subconsciously it really worked on my mind, and I started picking up parts which were strong, which were not just the damsel in distress waiting for someone to rescue me. As much as I like being rescued. Every girl does … Now 13, 15 years later, whatever, I think that the movies that I do, I’m irreplaceable and the boys are replaceable.”

Aziz Ansari: TV’s new romantic

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson

As people who shoot in New York, we know there’s no way to have an on-location show there that’s generic. It always ends up becoming specific. And on Netflix’s Master of None, you see New York through Aziz Ansari’s eyes. Each episode is its own little experience: the way Aziz talks about his ethnicity and career is so interesting, and the entertainment-industry world he writes about is hysterical and on point.

Our shows are really different; Aziz shows people in a slightly more settled phase of life. As Dev, an aspiring actor, Aziz is looking for love in a more openly sentimental way than we usually see on TV. It’s inspiring to see him experiment and break the mold. The episode “Mornings,” a time lapse of days Aziz’s character spends with his girlfriend, felt different from anything on TV; so did “Nashville,” where his foodie character missed a flight because he was buying barbecue sauce.

Aziz is obsessed with food too. When we went to Mission Chinese Food with him, we just let him order. We knew it would be good—and it was amazing.

Glazer and Jacobson are the creators and stars of Broad City

Sunita Narain: Clearing the air

Sunita Narain’s ideas have shaped some of the key debates of our time. A paper that she co-authored in 1991 remains to this day the foundational charter of the global climate-justice movement.

As an activist, Narain is a pioneer. She and the organization that she heads, the New Delhi–based Centre for Science and Environment, have been campaigning to reduce the Indian capital’s dangerous air-pollution levels for almost two decades. Despite resistance from many quarters, some of their key recommendations have been embraced by the courts.

Narain has also consistently opposed the kind of elite conservationism that blames environmental problems on the poor. Instead she has advocated policies that recognize India’s forest dwellers and indigenous peoples as essential custodians of their environments. Hers is a voice that urgently needs to be heard in this era of climate change.

Ghosh’s most recent novel is Flood of Fire

Nadia Murad: A witness for war’s victims

By Eve Ensler

Nadia Murad stands in a long, invisible history of fierce, indomitable women who rise from the scorched earth of rape during war to break the odious silence and demand justice and freedom for their sisters. At 19 she lost her home, her country, her culture, her mother to murder; witnessed male members of her family murdered in mass killings; and was kidnapped, sold and endlessly raped by members of ISIS. She now travels the world speaking out on the genocide being inflicted on her Yezidi people and demanding release for the more than 3,000 women still held in bondage.

As Europe closes its borders to terrorized refugees in Greece and the U.S. turns its back on the suffering, Nadia is a beacon of light and truth—a reminder that it was the American-led war in Iraq that laid the path for ISIS, that U.S. arms left behind on the battlefield fell into the hands of ISIS and that the U.S. waited too long to intervene in the mass killing and enslavement of the Yezidi people. At 23, Nadia Murad is risking everything to awaken us. I hope we are listening, because we too are responsible.

Ensler is a playwright and the founder of V-Day, a movement to end violence against women and girls

Raj Panjabi: Health care hero

By Bill Clinton

To spend time with Raj Panjabi is to see up close what happens when someone with uncommon courage and compassion puts himself on the front lines of the world’s most complex challenges.

I know. I visited Liberia last spring five days before it was first declared Ebola free, and the heroic work Raj and his organization Last Mile Health did to train 1,300 community health workers was critical in helping the government contain the epidemic.

The outbreak in West Africa has been a tragic and cautionary tale about what can happen if we don’t invest in the human resources to stop epidemics before they begin—and why Raj’s mission to put a health care worker within reach of everyone everywhere is so critical. I was proud to present Raj with our 2015 Clinton Global Citizen Award for his part in the massive, coordinated response that brought a halt to this terrible disease.

We will always face challenges, but we’re all better off because there are people like Raj who are visionary, caring and determined enough to meet them.

Clinton is the founder of the Clinton Foundation and the 42nd President of the United States

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Find emergency shelters for the homeless

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

It should be no surprise that it’s cold outside. It is, after all, mid-December in Toronto. Winter officially starts on Wednesday.

That’s why it’s so surprising and disturbing that the city has been scurrying once again in the midst of extreme cold weather alerts to find enough emergency beds to shelter homeless people.

Perhaps a little planning might be in order?

We should not have to wait until December to realize that no one in Toronto should have to suffer, and perhaps die, out in the cold because there aren’t enough emergency shelters. Nor need we wait until the city is in the middle of a polar vortex to plan for enough geared-to-income housing so that people don’t end up on the street in the first place.

But we do.

The city has known there is a shortage of shelters for the homeless for years. A 2013 survey found there were 5,000 homeless people in the city, but currently there are only 4,300 beds. And Toronto’s wait list for subsidized housing stands at a stunning 172,087, forcing some people onto the streets.

Mayor John Tory says he gets it. “In the end, shelters are no place for any citizen of Toronto to be for more than a night in an emergency,” he says. “We need to provide proper housing for people.”

So why, then, were the city’s shelters for women, youth and families all filled past their capacity rate of 90 per cent last Thursday. Shelters for families were completely full.

And why was it left, once gain, to homeless advocates to take to the streets and march through a snowstorm to focus attention on what they call a lethal lack of emergency beds. “We are abandoning people,” said Cathy Crowe, a longtime activist and street nurse.

She is calling on Tory to open the armouries at Fort York and Moss Park as shelter spaces until more suitable emergency spots can be opened. They have been used four times in the past, “sheltering hundreds and undoubtedly saving countless lives,” Crowe points out.

The mayor does not consider the armouries “adequate” or “appropriate” for emergency shelters, his office says. Instead, the city is working to open shelter spaces in “more appropriate places for vulnerable people,” such as vacant schools.

Whatever the solution, the city needs to find it fast. As Crowe points out, the impact of sub-zero weather on the body is “devastating” when people are hungry, dehydrated and not dressed properly.

Indeed, two years ago on Jan. 13, 2015, fire tore through a makeshift hut in Scarborough where Grant Faulkner, a homeless man, was sleeping. He died tying to stay warm with a propane heater.

We don’t know whether the father of three was sleeping outside because he was turned away from a shelter. But we may get some answers at the end of 2017 when a coroner’s inquest into his death will be held and may shine a much-needed spotlight on the crisis of homelessness.

In the meantime, while the pressure is on Mayor Tory to resolve the immediate crisis, in the long term homelessness must be addressed by Ottawa and Queen’s Park.

The federal government, which abandoned its role of financing rent-geared-to-income housing in 1993, should get back into that field, and the province should do more to help out, too.

It doesn’t just make sense from a humanitarian perspective. In addition to misery and deaths, advocates estimate it costs $7 billion a year not to deal with homelessness by providing affordable housing, a substantial portion of which is related to hospitalization and incarceration.

Tory must act quickly to resolve this year’s emergency shelter crisis. Then he must plan ahead with the provincial and federal governments to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Water, garbage rates to increase in Toronto

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Toronto homeowners will pay an average of 5 per cent more for water and 2 per cent more for garbage pick-up in 2017.

City council gave final approval Thursday to the “rate-supported” budget.

The much bigger — and thornier — operating and capital budgets will not be passed until February.

Councillors voted to increase the combined water and wastewater consumption charges by 5 per cent, bumping the average residential bill from $914 this year to $960 next year.

That follows years of 9-per-cent and 8-per-cent hikes to fund upgrades in the aging water treatment system and to improve the storm sewer system after significant basement flooding became a problem in the city.

Under the plan, council is expected next year to pass another 5-per-cent hike for 2018.

Councillor Mike Layton once again lost his bid to end a 30-per-cent price break for large industrial users of water who adhere to certain criteria.

Layton, who has a master’s degree in environmental studies, has annually tried to convince his colleagues that removing the subsidy, which costs taxpayers more than $1 million a year, will entice companies to be more frugal with water and pollute less.

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More Discord Between Ontario Physicians And Province

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Dr. Sohail Gandhi

For Christmas, all Ontario doctors asked for was a brief respite from the toxic relationship between them and the Ontario Government of Premier Kathleen Wynne. They realized it would be too much to ask for an acceptable Physician Services Agreement (PSA) — aka a contract — after three years without one, but a couple of weeks without internecine politicking would have been welcome this holiday season.

Unfortunately, that was to be denied to them by Health Minister Eric Hoskins. In an unprecedented move, the health minister delivered a proposal for a PSA to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) Board on Wednesday December 14 at 8:00 a.m., and then held a press conference at 9:00 a.m. in which he publicly announced his magnanimous proposal, promising good times, better health care, happy doctors and a chicken in every pot.

Clearly, it was an attempt to subvert due process. The normal procedure is to present the offer a contract to whatever bargaining agent you are dealing with, and let them review and study it. The fact he chose to simply go directly to the public was viewed as a slap in the face to most physicians, and viewed as a sign of ongoing disrespect by the OMA.

Key to understanding why Hoskins did this however, is to know what had happened in the preceding weeks. Hoskins rammed through the Legislature something called the “Patients First Act.” Supposedly meant to decrease bureaucracy, the Act in fact creates 78 new Bureaucratic agencies (known as sub-LHINs), and numerous physicians expressed their concern in presentations to the Legislature.

Yet, despite these warnings, he forged ahead in a desperate attempt to leave some sort of legacy for his term as health minister. Right now, the only thing he’s accomplished of note after three years on the job is lowered parking rates at hospitals.

Of course, he had to deal with one problem. Those pesky physicians had already started job actions in protest of “Patients First.” The Section of Family and General Practice at the OMA had endorsed a position of “disengagement” from all committees designed to implement any part of the “Patients First” agenda. The OMA quickly followed suit and recommended all physicians across the province disengage from committee work around “Patients First” as well.

Unfortunately for Hoskins, this meant that the job actions would bring focus to how deeply flawed his legacy agenda was. Most people will trust their doctors, not politicians. So, he had a problem, and needed a way to change the discussion in the media.

Employing the same political instincts he used when he back-stabbed Sandra Pupatello in the 2013 Liberal Leadership convention, he opted to come out with this publicity stunt instead. Then, he followed it up with an op-ed in the Toronto Star where he urged physicians not to take job action that affects patient care over the lack of a contract.

Realizing that many news media would blindly follow his statements, he chose to attack physicians’ incomes (again) as a way of deflecting from the fact that “Patients First” is doomed to failure. The plan is to get people talking about greedy doctors again, and ignore all the ongoing, systemic, persistent disasters in Ontario Health Care.

Indeed, a quick glance at most major news reports of his conference, showed NONE of them mentioned that job action by physicians had already started, and was directed solely at the “Patients First” Act, not this supposed contract offer.

Clever (at least politically) that Hoskins fellow.

How will this all play out? Well, a lot of it will depend on the response from Physicians groups. The Concerned Ontario Doctors group has already pointed out to the media that it’s “Patients First” that is the target. So has the Coalition of Ontario Doctors. Hopefully the OMA will follow suit.

Of note, many physicians have also independently started speaking out about the health system in crisis. The number of physician bloggers continues to expand exponentially, no doubt a thorn in Hoskins’ side.

Sure, it’s easy for him to say that these are just individual voices, but the number of physician voices keeps rising, and they all seem to be focused on problems with the health care system, not on contracts.

Knowing that physicians will continue to fight the abysmal “Patients First Act” and expose flaws in the health care system, he cowardly suggested that “job action” would affect patient care. He specifically asked that patients be “kept out of this.”

In fact, Hoskins knows very well that OMA president Virgina Walley clearly stated that the job action would NOT affect direct patient care. The job action would only be targeted towards stonewalling implementation of the flawed legislation. Heck he’s an OMA member himself (no really) and gets all the OMA memos about this. He also knows as a physician that job action affecting patient care would be contrary to the College of Physicians and Surgeons rules, and would be cause for discipline.

Nevertheless, Hoskins needs a diversion from stories of service cuts, or children going without food for two days due to cancelled surgery, and people sleeping on Emergency Room floors. He can’t refute those stories, so he will scare the public by insinuating that direct patient care will be affected by physicians as part of a pivot away from his multiple failures as a health minister.

Somewhat naively, I had hoped that with the passing of the annus horribilus of 2016, we would see the end of the trench war between physicians and the Ontario Government. But alas, 2017 is shaping up to be more of the same.

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A Look Back into Pakistan’s Domestic Politics in 2016

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

 The outgoing year of 2016 can be described as the year of confrontation and the Panama Leaks. The major confrontation was between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group) and the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf and by the end of the year Imran Khan as emerged as the principal opposition leader. The Jamaat-i-Islami also pursued a limited opposition against the PMLN on corruption. The Pakistan People’s Party pursued a dual track approach. On the one hand it was often found to be standing by the side of the PMLN when it came to the PTI opposition to the PMLN. On the other hand it periodically criticized Nawaz Sharif. Whereas Asif Ali Zardari continued with soft approach towards Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari adopted tough language towards Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN governments at the federal level and in the Punjab. He threatened to challenge the government in 2017. We will have to wait and see if the PPP can restore its standing in the Punjab for confronting the PMLN.

 The news that dominated the year was the leakage of Panama documents in April, involving over 200 Pakistanis, including the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Instead of providing documentary evidence to clear the family of charges of money laundering and building up of foreign asset, Nawaz Sharif and the federal government decided to contested the charges by levelling corruption and financial misconduct charges against Imran Khan and his senior colleague who had challenged Nawaz Sharif on this issue.

 Imran Khan and the PTI resorted to their traditional style of protest by holding public meetings and engaging in propaganda in TV talks shows regarding the alleged corruption by Nawaz Sharif and his family. The September 30 public meeting in Raiwind was very impressive. He threatened to lock down the city of Islamabad on November 2. The federal government and the Punjab government used the state apparatus to neutralize PTI’s show of strength in Islamabad. The province of Khyber-Pkhtunkhwa was blocked at the Punjab provincial border so as not to allow the Chief Minister KP and his supporters enter Punjab and Islamabad.

 As the Supreme Court took up the Panama Leaks Case, the PTI abandoned its program for Lockdown of Islamabad. Both the PTI and the PMLN filed references and court cases against each other in the Election Commission and the regular court. The Supreme Court took up the Panama case and the evidence produced by the PMLN contradicted with Nawaz Sharif’s statements in the National Assembly. To the disappointment of the PTI and other opposition, the Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief justice who was retiring in two weeks, postponed the case rather than giving a verdict.

 Nawaz Sharif spent several weeks in London for medical treatment from May 22 to July 9. In his absence, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar looked after the affairs of the state. He was supported by Mariam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif.

 Civil-military relations ran into problems from time to time. In the last week of January, Army Chief Raheel Sharif announced that he would not seek extension of service on the completion of his term. Nawaz Sharif gave space to the military in managing security affairs but allowed his close associates to publicly criticize the military. The Corps Commanders meeting in August expressed concern on non-implementation of the National Action Plan and the criticism of the military and the intelligence agencies by some leaders belonging to the ruling coalition.

 Another controversy developed about a news leakage of a national security meeting in the Prime Minister house. The Corps Commanders in their meeting in October described the news item as “false and fabricated.” The Army wanted some punitive action against those who issued the news item. However, as the close associates and a family member of Nawaz Sharif were involved in it, the Prime Minister appointed a commission to investigate the matter that amounted to ease army’s pressue. With the change of the army command on November 29, Nawaz Sharif would like the army to forget about the news item issue.

 Terrorist incident declined as the Zarb-i-Azam got completed in North Waziristan. However, the Army and paramilitary forces are busy in the return and rehabilitation of the internally displaced people to the tribal areas. The army will have to stay active in the tribal areas to ensure that the Taliban and other do not return. A good number of Taliban and other extremists have escaped to Afghanistan or to urban areas of Pakistan. Though the army and the Rangers have improved security situation in Karachi, the PPP government in Sindh is not ready to allow the Rangers to take any action in interior Sindh. Similarly, the Punjab government has not so far allowed the Army and the Rangers to take independent action against the hardline activists and sectarian groups in the Punjab. Thereby, the Punjab, especially its southern parts, and interior Sindh are viewed as the hideouts for sectarian and other hardline groups. Five major terrorist attacks took place in the year: attack on a university in Charsada, Lahore Iqbal Town park attack, an attack in Quetta on the lawyers, another attack on the police training school outside Quetta and the attack on the Shah Noorani shrine in Balochistan.

 Among the political parties, the MQM faced the most serious crisis. Musstafa Kamal, former MQM Mayor of Karachi, returned and launched himself in politics with a press conference on March 3. Later, he announced the setting up of Pak Sarzameen Party. The MQM got further divided into MQM Pakistan and MQM London. It is difficult to suggest if the split between MQM London and Pakistan is genuine. The PPP is trying to revive its political standing in the Punjab.

 The year is ending with reduced political pressure on Nawaz Sharif. He has survived the year but the opposition parties would continue to be after him to seek the new elections before the end of 2017.

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Tuition increase at Ontario colleges and universities capped at 3%

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Tuition at Ontario colleges and universities will be allowed to rise an average of 3 per cent each year for the next two years, as the government revamps the way it funds post-secondary institutions.

The tuition fee cap is an extension of the allowed increase currently in place, which the government says provides schools with some stability as they adapt to the coming changes. The government will also implement free tuition for low-income students, starting next fall.

“The number one (impact) is access . . . people across the country and beyond are looking at what we are doing in Ontario on the access side — we are already really, really good, but this takes us to a whole new level where every single person in this province can actually afford to go,” said Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development.

“. . . Behind access is quality, because we don’t want people going and not getting (the most) out of that experience. Even though on the finance side, we are helping a lot, they are still investing their time, and students deserve to know they are getting the highest quality.”

The government will also take a look at how to make sure post-secondary studies prepare students for the workforce.

In last February’s budget, the government announced students whose families earn less than $50,000 will be given grants equal to or greater than the average tuition, starting next fall. Half of students whose parents earn $83,000 or less will receive more in non-repayable grants than they have to pay in tuition fees.

The government is funding the changes by cancelling the tuition and education tax credits.

Tuition fees in Ontario have been the highest in the country — averaging more than $6,000 a year for an arts and science degree at university.

Meanwhile, college tuition is among the lowest Canada and the small increase in past years and the next two will see institutions fall further behind in funding, said Linda Franklin of Colleges Ontario.

“We had asked the government to recognize that colleges are different and to develop a tuition formula specific to colleges,” she said. “They have chosen not to do that.”

Student groups said while a tuition hike isn’t something they support, “we think there’s an opportunity here in the next two years, as the government said it is going to be doing extensive consultations exclusively on tuition,” said Jamie Cleary of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance.

The government says a student from a family earning $30,000 per year has a little over one in three chance of going on to post-secondary. A student from a family earning $110,000 a year has an almost two in three chance.

Meanwhile, the changes to how post-secondary institutions are funded will be phased in over three years, starting next fall, when they create “strategic mandate agreements” outlining their strengths and goals and how to measure success.

For the first time, the government is looking at tying part of the funding to a number of indicators — from employment levels after graduation to student retention and satisfaction.

The specifics of how the funding will work, and even what percentage of overall funding it will comprise, have yet to be worked out. But the bulk of transfers will continue to be based on enrolment.

Matthews said for institutions facing declining enrolment because of demographics, the free tuition plan will encourage more low-income and mature students to attend, as well as under-represented groups such as indigenous students.

“It really is positive change,” she said. “The (student grant and loan) changes are for sure our number one priority to get those right.”

Mindful that students are now applying for university and college for next fall, when the tuition relief is set to begin, the government recently launched an online “student assistance calculator,” to give an idea of how much in grants and loans they are eligible for.

The government is advertising its free tuition via social media — Facebook and YouTube — but also in movie theatres.

A government-commissioned report issued a year ago said the government should tie some funding to the quality of post-secondary education, from undergraduate satisfaction to evidence that students have learned skills such as communication and critical thinking.

In Ontario, about one-third of adults now hold a degree.

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Couple accused of having fake marriage — despite their child

Posted on 21 December 2016 by admin

Would people go so far as to cheat Canada’s immigration system by having a baby to cover up a marriage of convenience?

Three different adjudicators presiding over a Brampton woman’s long-drawn-out spousal sponsorship application apparently think so, even though the couple has a daughter together.

Since 2008, Saranjit Kaur Sandhu has made three failed attempts to bring her spouse, Kulwinder Singh Sangha, to Canada from India — twice the Federal Court of Canada overturned the negative decision and sent the case back to the immigration appeal tribunal for reconsideration.

“The birth of a child does not definitely prove that a marriage is genuine. Each case will turn on its own facts, although there is much to be said for the presumption that ‘the parties to a fraudulent marriage are unlikely to risk the lifetime responsibilities associated with raising a child,’” wrote Justice Yves de Montigny in rejecting the second tribunal decision in 2014.

“(T)here is no evidence that having a child was a ploy to enhance the applicant’s husband’s chances of obtaining permanent residence in Canada.”

Sandhu’s appeal has recently been rejected by the tribunal for the third time and she is back before the Federal Court for another intervention.

“The focus of the past decisions has been the conclusion that the child of the marriage was conceived to bolster the relationship for immigration purposes,” wrote tribunal adjudicator Elena Rose in the latest rejection of the couple’s sponsorship appeal.

“The panel does not believe that the mere continuation of a purported relationship during a sponsorship and an appeal period, nor a shared child, is necessarily evidence inconsistent with a primary goal of immigration on entering the marriage.”

Sandhu, 35, was sponsored to Canada by her first husband in 2005 but the couple separated after six months “because he became abusive towards me and I could not take the sufferings any longer,” according to her affidavit filed with the court.

After the divorce, Sandhu remained in Canada. In 2008, she wed Sangha in an arranged marriage, set up by her family in India. However, her sponsorship application was rejected in the same year. Her battle with the immigration appeal tribunal ensued.

In the meantime, the couple had a daughter, Arshleen, who was born in Canada in 2010 before Sandhu took the then 4-month-old baby to India to be looked after by grandparents.

In the latest rejection, adjudicator Rose wrote she didn’t understand why Sandhu remained in Canada after her marriage broke down, given she had no ties to Canada. She also pointed out that the applicant had failed to specify grounds for the divorce as cruelty.

“Given the alleged difficult circumstances that the appellant had encountered with her first husband, her quick return and immediate embracing of a second marriage, without even considering any other candidates seemed curious,” Rose wrote.

She also questioned why the husband, a never-married 40-year-old would marry a divorcee, 35, whose divorce, by her own admission, put her into a “‘low’ place in society,” the adjudicator wrote.

Although the couple provided supporting evidence detailing their relationship — calls, photographs and Sandhu’s yearly visits to see Sangha in India — the panel concluded that “while corroborating evidence is often helpful in establishing genuineness, it can also be fabricated to bolster an appeal.”

The adjudicator also took issue with Sandhu sending her daughter back to India temporarily while working three jobs — as a cleaner, at a bakery and a plastics factory — in Canada to support her husband and girl in India.

She also suggested Sangha memorized details about his wife’s life, including her address and postal code, “to show he is knowledgeable about her.”

“There is no evidence of a genuine sharing of responsibility for the welfare of the family,” said Rose in dismissing the couple’s appeal. “The evidence throughout was clear that the applicant’s marriage exists for him if he comes to Canada, reunification with his wife and daughter are very secondary.”

In an interview, Sandhu said she insisted on remaining in Canada so she could raise her family and give her child a better future. Being in Canada by herself, she said she had no choice but to send her newborn daughter to her husband’s family back home. However, she did bring the girl back to Canada in 2013.

“I had to leave my daughter with my husband so I could work and earn money to pay for immigration litigation, my own living expenses and travel to and from India,” said Sandhu.

“Canada is a country of hope and good life if one works hard. This is my home. Since we came back, Arshleen often asks me why her father is not with us and why he does not take her to school.”

In the 2014 Federal Court decision, Justice de Montigny said that the fact Sandhu has spent a few months every year with her husband indicates their established relationship.

The tribunal’s decision “must rest on a reasonable assessment of the evidence and cannot be the result of irrelevant factors, peripheral considerations or, even worse, prejudice and insensitivity to cultural difference,” said the judge.

With all that her client has gone through, Jaswant Mangat, the couple’s lawyer, hopes that this time around the Federal Court will take the rare move to order officials to approve Sandhu’s sponsorship of her husband instead of deferring to the tribunal for redetermination, again. A court date is pending.

“No one would persist like this couple has just to bring someone over unless it is a bona fide relationship,” said Mangat. “They have suffered enough.”

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