On Friday, doctors in several cities across Canada protested the changes to the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) announced by the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenny. The changes come as part of new tougher reforms to refugee legislation. The IFHP gives health-care coverage to refugee claimants and protected persons who do not qualify for provincial or territorial coverage. Most of these people are fleeing war, torture or rape and as such, these cuts will leave the most vulnerable people in our society more disenfranchised.
The changes will go into effect on June 30 2012, after which claimants will be denied access to a range of hospital services, medications and vaccines unless their situation is deemed urgent as defined by the new policy. In scenarios given by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, individuals will only be treated if their condition poses a risk to public health or safety. Individuals with chronic diseases such as lung disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease will not be covered since they do not pose a public health or safety risk. The Conservatives have justified the cuts with claims that it saves money, promotes fairness, and protects public health.
Canada has always been known as a global leader of humanitarian concerns. It seems that the changes made by the Government are inconsistent with Canadian values. Do we want to be a society that will not take care of the most vulnerable among us? As Ghandi once said: “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members”. Perhaps this is a step in the wrong direction, what do you think?
I have to admit that growing up I barely made use of libraries. I grew up in a francophone suburb of Montreal and the library there didn’t carry a good selection of English books. Being an avid reader I just used to buy all my books at Indigo/ Chapters … which was quite an expensive habit.
After moving to Toronto my wife introduced me to the Toronto Public Library system and I was blown away. They had pretty much every popular book and movie I was interested in. I think the Library system is one of the few things out there that work smoothly and make me glad to pay my taxes.
Recently, the city called for an assessment of all city services to make strategic budget cuts. As a result, our City Council wants to privatize some or all of Toronto Public Libraries’ (TPL) operations and close down branches. The private operator would decrease the degree of public funding that currently aids our libraries, but in order to make a profit, would make some changes that would make library access difficult for many. We would have higher user fees, fewer books, less access to the libraries because of local branches closing or hours of operation being limited, and more staff cuts. This type of cut would be a blow to many, especially lower income families who use the library system as their only means of internet access.
If the city wants to cut expenses they should look at the hourly rates they are paying to big businesses and the expensive contracts they have out there. I suggest that instead of cutting jobs and services they analyze the $100+ / hour they pay to external vendors and control costs that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they hadn’t payed KPMG over $140 /hour to help them strategize on how to cut costs.
I encourage you to reach out to City Council and politely inform them that we want to continue enjoying what TPL offers us today and not to privatize. A list of your local city councillors can be found at: http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp
The arts are amongst the first government sponsored programs on the chopping block when you elect a right wing government. Now that the Conservatives have a majority, the outlook for local arts organizations is bleaker than it has been in the past.
Since 2005, Canadian Heritage funded the well-liked SummerWorks theatre festival through the Canada Arts Presentation Fund. This year they have pulled their funding which represented 20% of the Festivals budget with only a few weeks notice before the Festival start date. As a result artistic producer Michael Rubenfeld recently started an email campaign reaching out to past supporters to make up the $45,000 shortfall that the funding cut represents.
To make ends meet, ticket prices will go up 50 cents and some plays will be cancelled. Show your support for Canadian Theatre by attending SummerWorks from August 4-14. Show information and Tickets can be found at: http://www.summerworks.ca
A lot of us criticize the way things are in the city of Toronto but very few of us get out of the cafes and bars where we hold our debates about the city to actually do anything. Do you want to make a change and stop being a couch potato? Now’s your chance to do something:
The city of Toronto is looking for people to serve on the Board of Directors for a number of City organizations including the Toronto Board of Health, the Airports Authority, the MTCC, Toronto Hydro and a number of other influential city committees.
For more details visit: http://www.toronto.ca/public-appointments/opportunities.htm#apply
For a list of all boards, please visit: http://www.toronto.ca/public-appointments/board-various.htm
Two Toronto city councillors (Glenn De Baeremaeker and Kristyn Wong-Tam ) are proposing to ban the serving of shark fin’s in Toronto restaurants. Shark Fins and particularly Shark Fin soup are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine.
Every year 10’s of millions of sharks die needlessly because of finning. Fisherman cop off the shark’s fins and throw the still living shark back into the sea. With this severe injury, the shark’s then starve to death, are eaten alive by other fish, or drown.
TorontoBlog.net urges the community to support the Celebrate Sharks Summer Tour, and to help them reach their goal of getting 10,000 signatures on their petition which can be found at: http://finfreetoronto.com/petition.html