OTTAWA, October 26, 2009 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - The Canadian government should make an investment in supporting volunteering throughout the country, during this time of economic distress. That is the main message of a presentation the President of Volunteer Canada, Ruth MacKenzie, will make to the House of Commons Finance Committee, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, October 28th.
"There are thousands of organizations that depend on volunteering in Canada, to do everything from providing essential community services to coaching teams," she says, "And many are struggling because they need staff and resources to recruit and train volunteers. Volunteers do not come free."
In her presentation, MacKenzie reports that the current recession has created serious difficulties for many of Volunteer Canada's member organizations. In many cases, their funding has suffered causing them to let go of staff - often staff responsible for managing volunteers.
Volunteer Canada is proposing that the Government of Canada make an annual investment of five million dollars in a Canadian Volunteer Support System. It would provide community level volunteer recruitment, training and management resources to organizations, large and small, that depend on the energy of volunteers. Volunteer Canada suggests the federal government should set a goal of increasing Canada's volunteer rate to 60 per cent, from the current 46 per cent, over four years. The proposed support system would be one important means of achieving this goal.
"Volunteering is a basic feature of citizenship in a free and democratic society," MacKenzie argues, "There is a legitimate and useful role for government in promoting and fostering volunteering, and strengthening that citizen engagement. We believe there is untapped volunteer potential in Canadian communities. We just have to find a way to link that potential to the many organizations that depend on them."
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
TORONTO, October 23, 2009 /Canada NewsWire/ - On Monday, October 26, the Honourable David C. Onley will be presented with the first poppy of the 2009 Ontario poppy campaign by Mr. Andre Paquette, 1st Vice-President of the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command. This marks the start of this year's Poppy Campaign in Ontario, which aims to raise awareness of the service and sacrifice of men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The poppy is a national symbol of remembrance for Canadians who have served in times of war and peace. It was adopted in 1921 by The Great War Veterans Association, the founding group of the Royal Canadian Legion. Each year, over 19 million poppies are distributed across Canada.
Friday, October 23, 2009
TORONTO, October 23 /Canada NewsWire/ - In advance of what is shaping up to be an unprecedented flu season, Ontario's doctors are encouraging employers to reconsider asking their employees for a sick note from a physician because of an absence from work. While Ontario's doctors are asking employers to trust their employees, they are stressing that employees shouldn't take advantage of this year's flu situation as an opportunity to simply take a day off.
"In order to help reduce the transmission of H1N1 and other illnesses, Ontario's doctors believe it is wise for patients to stay home when they have flu-like symptoms," said Dr. Suzanne Strasberg, President of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). "Employers need to recognize that by requiring a sick note, they are encouraging those who are experiencing their worst symptoms and are most infectious to go out, when they should just be home in bed."
If a patient has mild flu-like symptoms and no pre-existing illnesses of concern, the most important thing that can be done to prevent others from being infected is to stay home. Going to the doctor's office just to get a note or going to work puts many others at risk.
It is anticipated that while most cases of H1N1 and seasonal influenza will be mild, those who get sick are being asked to protect others who may be more vulnerable to the virus. In addition, while many patients with H1N1 or the seasonal flu will be able to recover under their own care and without needing medical treatment, it is important that a patient see a doctor if symptoms worsen or if they have a chronic and/or pre-existing health condition, or are in a high-risk population group.
"Ontario's doctors know that there will be added pressures and increased work load this flu season but we are ready to care for and treat our patients," Dr. Strasberg said. "It's important for everyone to do as much as possible to help prevent the spread of the H1N1 flu and reduce the strain on the health care system. It's equally important that we continue to focus on patients who need care, rather than those who just need a note."
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The International Day of Climate Action is this Saturday, October 24. It
is being marked in Toronto with a large exciting rally at Queen's Park
from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., organized by the Toronto Climate Campaign and Mardi Tindal, the United Church's new Moderator, is one of the speakers.
Toronto Climate Campaign is organizing a rally as part of a climate day of action. People across Canada and the world will be coming together as part of 350.org, building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis – the solutions that science and justice demand.
More information can be found at www.torontoclimatecampaign.org (although Mardi hasn't been added to the speakers list on that Web page).
Please pass this on to your friends and social networks and encourage those who are available to attend!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and his ministers yesterday held an official cabinet meeting underwater as part of an international movement organized by 350.org to bring increased global attention to climate change.
350.org is organizing a global day of action on Oct. 24 and Maldives, a country of just 350,000, has organized an amazing 14 events.... Read the full story on TreeHugger
Friday, October 16, 2009
A series of three study sessions is offered this fall to everyone in the community who would like to join us. Each session will be an introduction to one of the United Church's interfaith dialogue documents. Please plan to join us for any or all of the sessions.
The evening dates (7-8:30 p.m.) are listed here. If you are interested in attending a daytime group, please let our church office know, and we will select a time to repeat the sessions.
October 20 Bearing Faithful Witness (United Church - Jewish relations)
October 27 That We May Know Each Other (United Church Muslim relations)
November 3 Circle and Cross (United Church - Native Spirituality)
All sessions will be held at Norfolk Street United Church, 75 Norfolk Street, Guelph Ontario (519) 822-6165
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Margaret Atwood is one of the most respected authors of our time, with dozens of books of poetry and fiction to her name, among them Cat's Eye, The Handmaid's Tale, and Oryx and Crake. Her latest book, The Year of the Flood, is set in a fallen future: society has crumbled, climate change and pandemics ravage the planet, and people are forced to rediscover their relationship with the land.
Miss Atwood chats with TreeHugger about the God's Gardeners (the book's rooftop-gardening eco cult), her pantheon of ecological saints, an... Read the full story on TreeHugger
Be sure to join us at Norfolk Street United Church on November 24 at 7pm when the Bookshelf presents Margaret Atwood and the Year of the Flood. Tickets are $10 and are available at the Bookshelf
Food Banks Canada releases Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping
Canadians on World Food Day to tell the personal stories of Canadians in
TORONTO, Oct. 15 /Canada NewsWire/ - It is often difficult for individuals to understand the depth and breadth of the issue of hunger through hard facts alone. On October 16, World Food Day, Food Banks Canada is releasing Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping Canadians, providing a snapshot of the real life situations of Canadians who struggle with hunger and turn to food banks for assistance across the country.
One of the profiles is that of Monique* - a mother of four who unexpectedly lost her job during the economic recession and turned to the Mississauga Food Bank for assistance. The circumstances that brought Monique to the food bank also offered her a chance to develop a new career through an opportunity to join a subsidized job training program.
Monique's story is a frank and inspiring example of the challenges many Canadians face. It highlights the valuable services provided by food banks across the country. Food banks, work to distribute food and consumer products, and also offer employment training, language assistance and, for many, emotional support to help individuals get back on their feet.
"This past year has been an increasingly challenging time for individuals across the country and for food banks assisting them, given the current economic climate" says Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director, Food Banks Canada. "It is our hope that these stories will reveal the real people behind the statistics and will inspire individuals to give generously to support food banks in their communities."
March 2009 data on food bank usage, in comparison with March 2008, revealed that there has been a 15 to 20 per cent increase in the number of Canadians accessing food banks each month. "While food bank usage is on the rise, we are also seeing a decrease in food and fund donations to food banks in some parts of the country", notes Katharine. "If Canadians are in a position to support others, we ask that they make that commitment today".
A more comprehensive report on food bank usage will be unveiled in November with the release of HungerCount, Food Banks Canada's annual report of food bank use in Canada.
With the Thanksgiving season just behind us, Food Banks Canada would like to thank individuals and corporations who donated to food banks during this time. Every donation makes a difference in the lives of individuals and families in need.
Read more about Monique and other individuals across Canada in Sharing our Stories: Food Banks Helping Canadians, by visiting:
* Name has been changed for privacy purposes.
About Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. Our members and their respective agencies serve approximately 85 per cent of people accessing emergency food programs nationwide. Our mission is to meet the short term need for food and find long-term solutions to reduce hunger. Visit www.foodbankscanada.ca for more information.
About World Food Day
Launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the goal of World Food Day is to raise awareness of those living with food insecurity around the world.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For "Raising Awareness on Climate Change" Canadian eco-hero David Suzuki might not be getting a Nobel prize like Barack Obama, but his life's work has not gone unnoticed.
The Right Livelihood Foundation, which was founded in 1980 by Swedish-German philanthropist Jakob von Uexkull to "recognize work that he felt was ignored by the Nobel Prizes," will give an honor...Read the full story on TreeHugger
Monday, October 12, 2009
40 Percent of Salvation Army Centres Report Drop in Food Donations; Demand Increases
TORONTO, Oct. 7 /Canada NewsWire/ - A troubling new report released today by The Salvation Army indicates that a majority of their food banks and feeding programs, 40 percent of those surveyed, saw a decline in donations in the last 12 months; while three-quarters of food centres indicated that they saw demand for food services increase. Additionally, a majority of respondents, 60 percent, said that their food shelves were either 'half-full' or at a 'low' or 'dangerously low' level.
During the Thanksgiving season, The Salvation Army is increasing its efforts to restock and resupply, calling on Canadians for food items and in-kind donations that will support the nation's neediest.
"Thanksgiving is one of our busiest periods for food service and distribution," said Graham Moore, Territorial Secretary for Public Relations and Development with The Salvation Army. "We remain committed to serving Canadians in need with warm meals and groceries, but we also need the public's commitment to help meet this year's heightened demand."
The report, "Restocking the Shelves," releases survey results collected from 139 different Salvation Army officers and employees across Canada. Additional data collected by The Salvation Army, demonstrates that the need has never been greater. Year-over-year data shows that The Salvation Army served approximately 25,000 more people and 65,000 additional meals in the first quarter of 2009 as compared to the first quarter of 2008. Even as some signs indicate that Canada is now emerging from a global economic recession, more people than ever are relying on social service agencies, like The Salvation Army, to meet their most basic needs.
The "Restocking the Shelves" report is the first time that The Salvation Army has released statistics and data from its national network of food centres and programs. The survey and subsequent report were conducted as a result of individual accounts that pantry levels were alarmingly low this year. A spike in demand coupled by an overall drop in supplies has led to a downward trend that has left many shelves empty this fall.
"As a national trend, it appears that our food services and programs are taking a hit from the prolonged effects of the recession," said Graham Moore. "We'll continue to do more with less, hopeful that the generosity of donors and volunteers will answer the needs of those shaken by economic hardship."
The Salvation Army is the nation's largest provider of direct non-governmental social service, serving 2.6 million meals last year alone. The public is encouraged to donate food items, make in-kind donations or volunteer their time at a The Salvation Army centre.
The detailed findings from "Restocking the Shelves" are available online at www.SalvationArmy.ca.
About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and 118 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
TORONTO, Oct. 10 /Canada NewsWire/ - As an organization dedicated to the health of Ontarians, the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (OAHPP) strongly supports and promotes the practice of hand hygiene as one of the best public health precautions available for controlling the spread of respiratory infections.
An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published on October 1, 2009, titled "Conflict emerges over value of handwashing as a preventive flu transmission measure" provides misleading information to the public about the effectiveness of hand hygiene. The article cites a report prepared by a multidisciplinary panel for the Council of Canadian Academies. The panel was chaired by Dr. Don Low with a mandate to:
a) Review and identify the transmission of flu based on existing reviews and original literature
b) Assess the effectiveness of N95 respirators or surgical masks in the prevention of flu transmission among health-care workers
The report found that hand hygiene, which is a major mode of interrupting contact transmission, is a central component of essentially all influenza control protocols for both seasonal and pandemic disease.
There are many studies showing that handwashing is an effective means of interrupting or reducing the spread of viral respiratory infections. Dr. Vivek Goel, President and CEO of OAHPP states, "Countries around the world promote hand hygiene as a cost-effective and easy method of controlling infection that can be followed by all ages."
The expert panel did note that there were no randomized control trials that specifically addressed the ability to control the spread of influenza through hand hygiene. However, this on its own does not lead to the CMAJ's suggestion that there is no evidence for the promotion of hand hygiene as a control measure for influenza.
Dr. Goel notes that OAHPP supports both the provincial and national public health campaigns aimed at flu prevention and protection.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Prolonged Use of Digital Screens Causing Havoc on Canadians Eye Health
OTTAWA, Oct. 1 /Canada NewsWire/ - Computers, cell phones and Blackberries may provide modern conveniences, however prolonged use of digital screens is affecting the eye and vision health of Canadians. The average user of these technological conveniences is not just children or young adults. A new survey conducted by Leger Marketing indicates that on average, Canadian baby boomers are spending 7 1/2 hours daily in front of potentially eye-straining devices such as, computers, televisions, cell phones or Blackberries.
And while technologies have evolved and changed the way people communicate and function in their daily lives, female baby boomers are reporting higher usage of these eye-straining devices compared to five years ago. "As a result, they are reporting more eye and vision ailments associated with high screen time than male baby boomers," says Dr. Lillian Linton, Canadian optometrist and President Elect of the Canadian Association of Optometrists.
Canadian optometrists use Computer Vision Syndrome or CVS, to describe various eye and vision symptoms associated with prolonged computer and other digital screen use. Canadian Optometrists see a range of symptoms associated with CVS including eye strain and fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, blurry vision and photophobia - an oversensitivity to light. The majority of people may not even realize they have this condition.
- Canadian optometrists are seeing a higher volume of patients
complaining of symptoms linked to computer vision syndrome compared
to five years ago.
- 40 per cent of baby boomer patients aged 45 to 54 are associating
their eye and vision complaints with prolonged screen time. This is
higher than other age groups.
Eye and vision health conditions do not always come with recognizable symptoms and can go un-detected. The Canadian Association of Optometrists encourages routine, comprehensive eye exams to help detect, minimize and treat symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. "Be kind to your eyes and visit your optometrist regularly to minimize eye strain," says Dr. Lillian Linton, Canadian optometrist and President Elect of the Canadian Association of Optometrists. For more information on eye health guidelines and to find an optometrist in your area, visit www.opto.ca.
From July 6 to July 16, 2009, Leger Marketing conducted an online survey among 3435 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Leger Marketing panelists. The method simulates a probability sample with a maximum margin of error of +/-1.7%, 19 times out of 20 for the total sample of 3435 and +/-2.6%, 19 times out of 20 for the sample of boomers.
Friday, October 2, 2009
The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day. This is the day to reaffirm that decent shelter is a basic human right and a time to join together to remind governments that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable. Monday, October 5 is World Habitat Day this year and the theme is "it all starts at home." Habitat for Humanity International is campaigning for security of tenure in the world and neighbourhood revitalization in the U.S.A. Read the full story on TreeHugger
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Problems With Tithing
By Daniel Hamermesh
New York Times Freakonomics
An Los Angeles Times article reported on the difficulties of religious organizations in the recession. Contributions are down, and an unusually large number of religious-based schools have closed.
My initial thought was that those religious organizations that encourage tithing would have fewer problems; but a bit more reflection might suggest the opposite.
If every member of a religious group always tithed, the income elasticity of demand for religion would be plus-one. So while tithers donate a large share of their income, the organization’s finances will vary perfectly with the state of members’ incomes; those organizations are by no means immune to macroeconomic fluctuations. There is even some evidence (Dahl and Ransom, American Economic Review, 1999) that suggests that even in tithing religions, in bad times the likelihood of tithing decreases and the income elasticity exceeds one.