Archive | April, 2017

New Peel Police Prisoner Escort Officer the First to Wear Hijab on Duty

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

When people think of women in general—let alone observant Muslim women—they don’t often think of challenging and traditionally male-oriented jobs like policing.

Now, a young woman who recently joined Peel Regional Police as a special constable, prisoner escort officer (PEO) is working—simply by being present—to change that.

Yusra Syed, a former University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) student who became fascinated with policing during her post-secondary years, beat out a wealth of competitors to become a PEO with one of the country’s largest police forces (the Brampton courthouse she works in is one of the largest based on the sheer number of prisoners it moves). Although Syed has only been in her current position for about three months, she’s worked in security positions at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre and Garda Security that have helped prepare her for the world of the law enforcement.

As for what else sets her apart, she’s the first officer in her position to wear a hijab on duty and her presence is, she hopes, inspiring other women to expand their horizons and pursue dreams they might not be expected to have.

So, what do you do with Peel police?

I’m a prisoner escort officer. I work at Davis Court in Brampton and I escort prisoners to and from prison to the courthouse and from holding facility to the courtroom.”

When did you decide you wanted to be a police officer?

I knew by the end of first year university that I wanted a career in law enforcement, so about 2012. I went to UTM and did a double-major in psychology and criminology. I wanted to get involved then.”

Why did you decide to become a PEO?

The opportunity presented itself to be a PEO, it was a great place to start and learn more about the field.

How was the job been so far?

It’s been really good. We’re training right now and I’m paired with experienced training officers. It’s a great team environment. I’m enjoying the process and learning and doing the job.”

Is it challenging?

In any job, first starting training can be challenging overall. Learning new skills, being in a new environment can be challenging. The challenge isn’t felt that much, because I’m with experienced people.

Do you think your presence is having a positive impact on the community?

I would hope I would have a positive impact. I think it’s a good thing to have the Peel community represented. If you see someone who looks similar to you, it might encourage you to follow your dreams. Around the time that I decided that this is route I wanted to take, I saw an article about a woman who wore a headscarf in another police force and it motivated me.

Have you gotten a lot of support?

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, I get stopped in the hall. Everyone is very encouraging and supportive.

Have you ever felt intimidated?

I wasn’t too intimidated at first, I knew what to expect taking a job like this. Of course a new job can be a challenge, but no, I’m not intimidated.

How did your family and friends react when you told them you wanted to be a police officer?

Family and friends were excited and my parents are my biggest supporters. Any parents of course would be a little concerned that their daughter wanted to go in this field, but they were always supportive from the start. They always encouraged me to do what made me happy. They were very proud when I gave them the good news [that I was hired].

How did your work in security prepare you for your current position?

I’d say the environment is different, but I’m fortunate I worked in that field because it gave me good skills that I can carry into this job. My last job was with alarm response and we had to respond and be aware of how quick to respond. [I learned about] working with the public, working with the police. Now I’m able to bring those skills here.

How do you feel about the other officers you work with?

It’s an important job that has to be done. I have to help other officers and we have to work together to make sure that we can get everything done smoothly and transition from morning to evening. I can be part of this team and do my part. We all understand each other, we come from similar backgrounds. We understand this job and community, and it’s nice to learn the job and the community.

How do you enjoy working in Peel?

It’s very busy in Peel, but Peel has a great community. It’s nice to be working in this region.

What plans do you have for the future?

Right now, I’m excited about the position I’m in. I’m going to focus on doing this job well.
I’m very happy to be working here and spend my time here. I think, if anyone else wants to join this field, they should. They shouldn’t let anything hold them back.

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Ottawa’s ‘name-blind’ hiring a modest experiment with real promise

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

A new attempt by Ottawa to root out bias in the hiring of federal civil servants is a modest initiative, but with real promise. If it succeeds, the pilot project will help government hire the best talent, while at the same time allowing it to better reflect the diverse people it serves. The initiative could act as a model for other employers, both public and private.

The idea behind the “name-blind” hiring project announced this week is simple; the names, emails and countries of birth of job-seekers will be removed from their applications, with the aim of preventing the bias – unconscious or otherwise – that too often leads employers not to bring in applicants of diverse backgrounds for interviews.

The body of evidence that ethnic and racial bias plays a troubling role in hiring is growing. A recent study out of U of T and Ryerson University, for instance, found that job seekers with Asian names and Canadian qualifications were considerably less likely to get calls for interviews than were applicants with English-sounding names — even when the person with the Asian name had a better education.

Similar findings have been made in other western countries. A 2003 study from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that job applicants with white-sounding names got called 50 per cent more than those with African-American-sounding names. In Germany, one investigation found that applicants with names that sounded German were called 14 per cent more often than people with Turkish names.

Ottawa’s new initiative, which will initially affect six departments, is modeled on a similar project in the United Kingdom. In 2015, the government there announced that 10 large employers, including the British civil service, KPMG and Deloitte would start recruiting on a name-blind basis.

Early evidence suggests that these programs help, though they are not enough in themselves to fully defeat bias in hiring. One study of name-blind experiments in a number of countries, determined that while anonymous applications prevent bias and discrimination in the first stages of recruitment, these problems can occur later in the hiring process, such as when the applicants show up for a face-to-face interview.

Name-blind hiring is no substitute for the hard work of culture change, but it is no doubt an important step in the right direction. Bias in hiring is not simply unjust; it’s also perverse. People of colour, indigenous people and immigrants are persistently underrepresented in the Canadian workforce. As these groups continue to grow relative to the general population, so does the lost opportunity. Much of the country’s talent is being overlooked.

Compared to other employers, the federal civil service has a relatively diverse workforce. But Ottawa is right to look to be a model, not least because a government that reflects its constituents is better placed to understand their needs.

Clearly everyone, regardless of their colour, creed, sexual orientation, gender or disability should have an equal opportunity when it comes to applying for and landing a job. But in Canada, that’s not the reality. Ottawa is right to fight to change that.

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Here are the proposed measures the province hopes will cool the Ontario housing market

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Wynne lays out plans to cool Ontario’s sizzling housing market. (Petar Valkov/CBC)

  • The creation of a new Housing Supply Team with dedicated provincial employees to identify barriers to specific housing development projects and work with developers and municipalities to find solutions.
  • An effort to understand and tackle practices that may be contributing to tax avoidance and excessive speculation in the housing market.
  • A review of the rules real estate agents are required to follow to ensure that consumers are fairly represented in real estate transactions.
  • The launch of a housing advisory group which will meet quarterly to provide the government with ongoing advice about the state of the housing market and discuss the impact of the measures and any additional steps that are needed.
  • Education for consumers on their rights, particularly on the issue of one real estate professional representing more than one party in a real estate transaction.
  • A partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency to explore more comprehensive reporting requirements so that correct federal and provincial taxes, including income and sales taxes, are paid on purchases and sales of real estate in Ontario.
  • Set timelines for elevator repairs to be established in consultation with the sector and the Technical Standards & Safety Authority.
  • Provisions that would require municipalities to consider the appropriate range of unit sizes in higher density residential buildings to accommodate a diverse range of household sizes and incomes, among other things.


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Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Ottawa has launched a pilot project to reduce biases in the hiring of federal civil services through what is billed “name-blind” recruitment, a practice long urged by employment equity advocates.

The Liberal government’s move came on the heels of a joint study by University of Toronto and Ryerson University earlier this year that found job candidates with Asian names and Canadian qualifications are less likely to be called for interviews than counterparts with Anglo-Canadian names even if they have a better education.

“It’s not just an issue of concern for me but for a lot of people. A number of people have conducted research in Canada, the U.K., Australia and the U.S. that showed there is a subliminal bias in people reading too much into names,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who first delivered the idea to Parliament last year as a rookie MP from Toronto.

“Name-blind recruitment could help ensure the public service reflects the people it serves by helping to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.”

Some companies in the private sector, including banks and accounting firms, have already adopted the practice, which removes names from application forms in order to stop “unconscious bias” against potential recruits from minority backgrounds.

In the United Kingdom, the government now requires name-blind applications for university admissions service and other applications for organizations such as the civil service, British Broadcasting Company and local government.

U of T sociology professor Jeffrey Reitz said the initiative is an important step forward but cautioned officials they must consult independent experts in developing the process and reviewing the results to make sure it is done correctly.

To conduct name-blind screening, he said, recruiters must remove any information on a resumé that would reveal the ethnicity of the person, such as name, birth place and membership in an association before coding the candidates in the talent pool.

“If the government is serious about it, they need to make the process transparent and allow researchers to look at the new procedures and the results,” said Reitz, a co-author of the Canadian study on name discrimination against Asians.

Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants said she hopes the pilot could benefit other minority groups, given studies have shown that white English- and French-speaking able-bodied women have been the primary beneficiaries of current employment equity programs.

“We hope as the government moves proactively to ensure diversity in hiring it will review the existing program and strengthen it to ensure the intentional inclusion of racialized and indigenous job seekers,” said Douglas.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who championed Hussen’s initial idea, said he welcomed the opportunity to explore new ways of recruiting talent for the public service.

“A person’s name should never be a barrier to employment. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is critical to building an energized, innovative and effective public service that is better able to meet the demands of an ever-changing world,” said Brison at the launch of the pilot at Ryerson Thursday.

The six departments participating in the pilot include Department of National Defence; Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; and the Treasury Board Secretariat. A report on the pilot is expected in October.

Using data from a recent large-scale Canadian employment study that examined interview callback rates for resumés with Asian and Anglo names, U of T and Ryerson researchers found Asian-named applicants consistently received fewer calls regardless of the size of the companies involved.

Although a master’s degree can improve Asian candidates’ chances of being called, it does not close the gap and their prospects don’t even measure up to those of Anglo applicants with undergraduate qualifications.

Compared to applicants with Anglos names, Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications had 20.1 per cent fewer calls from organizations with 500 or more employees, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

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NDP pharmacare plan would start with 125 most common drugs

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

A first-ever provincial Pharmacare plan would be in place by 2020 and initially cover 125 “essential” drugs, the Ontario NDP said Monday in releasing more details on its election platform.

While NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the decision would be up to an independent drug committee to determine, prescriptions for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, allergies, birth control and HIV would be included.

Cancer drugs, however, are not expected to be covered.

The NDP said if elected, it would spend $475 million a year on the program, a cost Horwath noted is one-third of one per cent of the province’s total budget.

“No one should have to rack up credit card bills to get the medicine they need,” said Horwath. “No one should end up in an already-overcrowded hospital because they couldn’t afford to take the medicine they were prescribed. That’s why I’m committed to creating Ontario’s first universal Pharmacare program.”

She said the list of 125 will grow as the program expands.

No one will lose any current drug coverage they have, and the existing six prescription programs, including seniors, and one for catastrophic drug costs families face — will remain.

Some 2.2 million Ontarians have no drug coverage at all, and an estimated one-in-four patients can’t afford their medications and, as a result, don’t take them as prescribed.

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Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Dr Hasan Askari

The PMLN has reasons to celebrate because the majority judgment of the Supreme Court bench in the Panama Leaks case did not disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Two judges (minority opinion) disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding the office for failing to be a “sadiq” and “Amin” as required by the constitution. However, the judgment of the majority (three judges) prevailed. Even the majority judgment contains adverse comments about the money affairs of the Prime Minister’s family and is critical of the role of the Chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The majority judgment can be described as an interim order because the case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family has not been closed. The three judges have created an investigative team, headed by the Additional Director, Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), to seek information on sources of funds and their trail from the Prime Minister and his family. This report will be submitted to the Supreme Court in 60 days which will be taken up by a new bench to be established by the Chief Justice. In other words, the case will again be taken up in the light of the report of the investigative team for final disposal.

The opinion is divided on what will happen next. The PTI people are happy that the case has not been closed and that the chances of the Prime Minister’s disqualification still exist. However, the PMLN people feel that the Prime Minister has been saved from disqualification and even the new investigative team would not be able to find anything against the Prime Minister and his family. Therefore, the Prime Minister would continue in his office and complete his term.

This is true in theory that the case is not yet closed. However, there are several doubts if the present judgment will change. It seems that the Supreme Court has provided a subtle way out of the case to Nawaz Sharif.

If Nawaz Sharif and his family did not provide satisfactory evidence on the sources and movement of the family funds to the Supreme Court, how could an investigative team headed by a junior ranking officer extract information from the Prime Minister’s family.

Further, the Additional Director, FIA, is a government servant under the federal government headed by the Prime Minister.

How could be investigate the Prime Minister in an independent manner?

No new evidence is expected to be explored by this team, which can keep the case pending.

Further, the Chief Justice will have to set up a new Supreme Court bench to take up the case and look into the report of the investigative team. It is not clear if the bench can decide the matter without looking at the old evidence and without listening to the lawyers of both sides. This will amount to taking up the case more or less from the beginning. If this happens it will become another long process. It is quite possible that the new bench holds some sessions to review the report and then opt for more evidence. It can also adjourn the case for an indefinite period.

As the opposition political parties do not have any confidence in the investigative team headed by a federal government official, they are thinking that the judicial option may have come to an end. The major opposition parties, i.e. PTI, PPP, PMLQ, and Jamaat-i-Islami, have demanded that the Prime Minister should resign. Their argument is that two judges of the bench have disqualified the Prime Minister and the three judges have made some negative comments about him and his family. The PMLN has rejected this demand.

The National Assembly and the Senate had a stormy sessions on April 21, 2017, on account of the Supreme Court judgment. The opposition demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister and Imran Khan was not allowed to make a speech in the National Assembly. The sessions of both houses were postponed for an indefinite period. By closing the parliamentary session, the ruling PMLN has provided an easy reason to the opposition to go to streets. The tempers on both sides are running high in the post judgment period and both sides are using foul language against each other.

The PPP and the PTI have announced their separate plans to hold public rallies against the Prime Ministers in different places. Imran Khan has decided to hold a big public rally in Islamabad onApril 28, The Jamaat-i-Islami is also expected to do that. However, as long as these opposition parties join together in protest they will not be able to build much pressure on Nawaz Sharif. The public meetings of individual political parties can be neutralized by using the state machinery.

This means that despite being saved from disqualification, Nawaz Sharif will not get peaceful and stable political environment. The major opposition parties, especially the PTI and the People’s Party, are expected to resort to street protest on electricity shortages, corruption in government and poor governance. The Panama issue may lose its salience but political uncertainty and confrontation between the government and the opposition will continue.

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Suburban homes might be cheaper, but beware the extra costs

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

As prices in major cities move out of reach of many homebuyers, some are casting their search further to areas where they can afford bigger properties with smaller mortgages.

But suburban living can come with extra costs, like higher transportation and daycare fees, and may not add up to great savings over the long term.

About three to four years ago, about 10 per cent of clients coming to Toronto’s Stomp Realty sought properties outside the city, says co-founder Erica Smith.

Now, about half of her clients look at surrounding areas, with some moving more than 100 kilometres away to Barrie, Kitchener or Waterloo, while continuing to commute to Toronto for work, she says.

“The space that you get going outside of the city is just a lot more favourable,” says Lorena Magallanes, Stomp Realty co-founder.

Last month, the average home price in the Greater Toronto Area hit $916,567 — up 33.2 per cent from a year ago — according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Both realtors recently sold a one-bedroom plus den condo in the heart of downtown for $755,000. In the suburbs that price tag can net a house, says Magallanes.

But while suburban houses tend to be cheaper, that decision may come with daily expenses that don’t crop up with city living, they say.

Suburban life typically demands at least one car. If two people continue to work in the city, two vehicles may be necessary — which then means additional insurance, gas and parking costs.

Commuters using public transit may pay more living further away and may still need a car to get to the closest station.

Families may experience higher daycare fees if increased commute times keep them away from home for longer hours.

People may travel frequently to the city for social and entertainment reasons, adding to their transportation costs.

Homeowners may choose to outsource their yard work and house cleaning if they’re strapped for time.

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TDSB appoints Abdul Patel as newest trustee

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

A retired imam from Scarborough who has worked closely with the Toronto District School Board on issues related to faith, equity and human rights has become the board’s newest trustee.

The appointment of Abdul Patel makes him the third person to hold the trustee’s position for Scarborough-Rouge River since the last round of municipal elections in 2014.

Patel, 68, speaks four languages and describes himself as a full-time community volunteer, longtime Scarborough resident and father of three children who graduated from TDSB schools.

“I am ready to bring my energy and time to this important role and serve the residents of Ward 21 with integrity,” he said in a statement, adding that he wants to make sure “the same opportunities my children received in the public system are there for future generations.”

His appointment fills the seat vacated in February by Neethan Shan, who became a Toronto city councillor after defeating 28 other candidates in a byelection.

Shan held his trustee position for only a year, which he also won in a byelection to replace nine-year trustee Shaun Chen when he ran successfully for the federal Liberals in 2015.

With Shan’s departure, the board faced the choice of either holding another byelection, which is typically done when there are more than two years remaining in a four-year term, or appointing a replacement. Last month, trustees decided to appoint given the proximity of the 2018 election and the costs — between $220,000 and $320,000 for a byelection versus a maximum of $50,000 for an appointment.

Patel, one of 91 applicants, brings some understanding of the board to his new role, which comes with an honorarium of $25,507 a year and a discretionary budget of $11,780. He helped develop the TDSB’s first faith accommodation guide, and is currently a member of its equity policy advisory committee.

Patel has also been active in the interfaith community through the Canadian Council of Imams and other groups, was a commissioner for the Ontario Human Rights Commission and a police chaplain.

“Abdul has experience, strong Scarborough community roots and is an advocate for public education,” said TDSB chair Robin Pilkey. “He’s perfectly suited for the job.”

The news came the same night the board approved a balanced budget plan for the 2017-18 school year, achieved without cuts to the $3.2-billion operating budget as a result of stable student enrolment over the last three years.

Pilkey said the financial stability comes after 20 years of budget constraints. Additional funding for the next school year announced by the province last week will mean more staff for services such as special education, according to the board.

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5 Hacks For Working Parents To Make Your Week More Productive

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Here are five tried and tested productivity hacks that can make your work week more productive, less stressful and more enjoyable.

1. Share the load

You may want to have it all, but it doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Instead, find ways to share the load. If your partner isn’t naturally inclined to help out, assign them specific duties. And, once you’ve done so, fully accept the job they do.

Sure, you can do it better or faster, but what will you sacrifice if you waste your time perfecting something your little one will likely mess up in a few minutes?

2. Create a weekly dinner (and lunch) menu

It’s a near impossibility to choose and make a healthy meal when surrounded by very hangry little humans screaming for food. So, make things easy by planning a weekly menu. I have a roster of healthy, tested meals that I rotate through regularly.

Added bonus: creating a weekly menu also keeps the grocery bills respectable and produces less wasted food.

3. Plan your outfit

How many mornings have you screamed out in frustration that you don’t have anything to wear? Nothing can destroy your confidence than not feeling good in your clothes. And worse still if those clothes don’t fit right.

But, who really has time in the morning to assemble the perfect outfit for the workday ahead? I’m usually begging my girls to get on their socks, so I don’t. Instead, I plan my five outfits ahead of time – everything from tops and bottoms, to jewelry and shoes – that will be appropriate for the meetings and events I have planned for the week.

4. Make use of Sundays

Sundays are best spent lazing around. But, if that relaxation will leave you overwhelmed each of the next five days, you may be better served to use some of your Sunday to prep for the week ahead. Since we’re both morning people in our house, the first hours of Sunday we’re abuzz with activity. While Frank gets our laundry sorted, I’m chopping and prepping ingredients for our weekday dinners and lunches.

5. Calendar check-in

Early morning meetings, late night conference calls, and daycare and school pick up times, the work week, especially for dual-income families, can very quickly become a logistic nightmare. That’s why it’s important to take a few minutes to review your calendars with your partner. Talk about what is coming up and create a game plan to make sure everything gets done.

Take it one further and schedule in reminders to get certain tasks done (e.g., pay bills or call doctor), so you don’t forget about them later in the week.

So, there you have it, five productivity hacks that will help make your work week smoother going. Are there any productivity tips I missed? Be sure to let me know.

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Why Sushmita Sen wants to play the role of a mature woman?

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen today said having explored comedy, drama and emotions, she now wants to play the role of a mature woman in a film.

The former Miss Universe said she has been reading scripts regularly but none has appealed to her so far and therefore she is not seen on the silver screen these days.

“I have explored comedy, horror films and the depth of drama and emotions. Now, I want to do an amazing romance in a romantic film. I want to do the role of a mature woman,” Sen told.

She said the film industry is witnessing interesting times, there are young film producers, studios and a good network of distributors.

The actress said but she is taking time in doing any film as she cannot find an appealing script.

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