Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Weather Network's Winter Outlook: the Return to a Stormier Winter Season

Active Weather, HD and Winter Programming in the Forecast

OAKVILLE, Ontario November 24, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Weather Network has just announced its winter outlook for the months of December, January and February. After a mild season last winter, La Nina conditions, which have developed in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, will result in a stormier season for most Canadians across the country, marking a return to more typical winter conditions from coast to coast. Look for some extremes in weather this winter across many sections of the country, separated by spells of less inclement and more stable conditions.

In order to keep Canadians in the know about the stormy season ahead, The Weather Network offers online and mobile applications to provide immediate active weather warnings by region across the country. Active weather alerts will inform Canadians of severe weather headed their way with notifications to their mobile device or their email. Mobile applications can be downloaded at and email applications at

So, what can Canadians specifically expect this winter?

Western Canada Conditions

Canadians living in or visiting mountainous areas of British Columbia and Alberta can expect more snow this winter than on average. The Lower Mainland of British Columbia can expect above normal precipitation for the season. Below normal temperatures are anticipated for northern areas of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and most of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Eastern Canada Conditions

For Canadians living east of the Ontario/Manitoba border, large swings in temperature are expected throughout the winter. Overall, though, the temperature swings are expected to balance out to near normal for the season. Near normal precipitation is expected for eastern parts of the country, with the exception of extreme Southwestern Ontario and most of Newfoundland and Labrador where above normal precipitation is expected.

And for those looking to get a head start on holiday shopping or travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday to the U.S., conditions look favourable across most of the country. The snowy and very cold weather across the Prairies and northern plains states will be easing by the end of the week, but chillier weather with lake-effect snow is likely across the Great Lakes.

The Weather Network's Winter Outlook is now available online at

High Definition and Winter Programming

This winter, The Weather Network will be broadcast nationally in High Definition, and will debut a new look for consumers on analog or standard definition television, with revitalized maps and backgrounds.

On December 6th, winter programming will return on The Weather Network. In addition to the forecasts available year-round, The Weather Network will once again provide Canadians with Highway Conditions (also available online) and the Driving Hazard index on television. Additionally, Ski & Snowboard Conditions will be broadcast on the television network and will be available on, as well as through the mobile site. As always, the latest conditions and forecasts are always one click away with the online application, WeatherEye.

"The weather affects people at the most local level, and once again this winter we are helping to keep Canadians safe and informed of the latest winter weather conditions and forecasts," said Mitch Charron, Vice President of Television at The Weather Network. "From the transition to HD programming to weather warnings, we want Canadians to know they can count on us to give them reliable and up to date weather information for their region."

Canadians can contact their local cable or satellite provider to inquire about the availability of The Weather Network in High Definition for their region.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

On Nov.13 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a big surprise while enjoying their lunch. Over 100 participants in this awesome Christmas Flash Mob. This is a must see!

This flash mob was organized by to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Special thanks to Robert Cooper and Chorus Niagara, The Welland Seaway Mall, and Fagan Media Group.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Small Voice, Big Dreams - Global Survey of Children in Developing Nations Finds Them Hungry to Learn - and Just Plain Hungry

Children from 30 developing countries tell Canadians how they can help this year

MARKHAM, Ontario November 17, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the end of the 2010 tax season approaches, many Canadians are thinking about how they will spend this year's donation dollars. Canada is the second most charitable country in the world, according to the World Giving Index. But Canadians don't want to give blindly. In a new, global survey - released in conjunction with Universal Children's Day on November 20 - children tell us in their own words how they would like Canadians to help.

When asked, the majority of 10-12 year olds living in poverty throughout the developing world revealed that if they had the opportunity to be leader of their country, they would improve or build more schools. And if they had a dollar, they would spend it on food; one in three children report going to bed hungry at least one night a week.

The findings are part of the Small Voices, Big Dreams survey - an ambitious, multinational survey of nearly 3,000 children ages 10 to 12 in 30 developing countries. [A summary of survey results can be found at]

The survey was sponsored and conducted in the field by ChildFund Alliance, a global alliance of child development organizations, and compiled and tabulated by Ipsos Observer, an international research company. Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC), the Canadian affiliate of ChildFund Alliance, was committee co-chair for this global survey. The survey is the first of its kind for the Alliance, whose roots extend back more than 70 years. The Alliance currently reaches 55 countries, with a combined global revenue of over $500 million (CAD).

"This survey amplifies what we hear in the thousands of villages where we work - that children living in poverty want to be educated, and hunger is a sad fact of life," said Mark Lukowski, Chief Executive Officer, CCFC. "It's essential to share the voice of the children with Canadian donors."

The survey found an overwhelming sentiment among the world's poorest children toward improving their lives through education. More than half of those surveyed (57%) said that, were they given the opportunity to be the leader of their country, they would educate all children, improve the quality of schools and/or construct more of them. When asked what they need most in their lives, one in three (34%) said more or better education.

While most children are hungry to learn, the survey also found that a great many of them are just plain hungry. When asked what they need most, one in three (33%) said food. To the question, "What would you spend a dollar on?" almost half (45%) said food and/or water. If they were leader of their country, one in five (19%) said they would help people get food.

The emphasis on food is understandable given this finding: one in three children (32%) say they go to bed hungry at least once a week.

The survey also sought to quantify the amount of time these children work outside of school. Twenty-six percent of the boys and girls surveyed said that they spend at least half a day each day working on household chores or other work.

"One of our guiding principles is to listen to those living in poverty, focus on how we can help, and empower communities so they can lead their own development," said Lukowski. "We are especially attentive to the voices of children so we can identify their concerns and develop solutions through our global programs."

About the Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey

The Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey was undertaken by the ChildFund Alliance from July through September 2010. Identical six-question surveys were administered to approximately 100 children ages 10 to 12 in 30 developing nations. A total of 2,970 children were surveyed. ChildFund translated and submitted the results to Ipsos Observer, a global research firm, which tabulated and compiled the results. The margins of error, at 95 percent confidence, is: total survey (+/- 1.7%).

About Christian Children's Fund of Canada and the ChildFund Alliance

For more than 50 years, Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC) has helped children and families of all faiths break the cycle of extreme poverty around the world. CCFC is a member of ChildFund Alliance, a network of 12 child development organizations whose work encompasses more than 15 million children and their families in 55 countries with a total revenue of more than $500 million (CAD). Visit

About Universal Children's Day - November 20

First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, Universal Children's Day was established to encourage all countries to institute a day to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children as well as to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food Banks Canada's HungerCount study reports highest level of food bank use on record

HungerCount 2010 provides unique, essential information on levels of food bank use in Canada, profiles people in need of food assistance

OTTAWA, November 16, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The results of the HungerCount 2010 survey released today show food banks across Canada helped 867,948 separate individuals in March 2010, an increase of 9.2%, or more than 73,000 people, compared to March 2009. This is 28% higher than in 2008, and is the highest level of food bank use since 1997.

Of the 867,948 people helped in March this year, 80,150 - 9.2% of the total - stepped through the front door of a food bank for the first time. The survey also shows that food bank use grew in every province in 2010.

"This is a reality check. Food banks are seeing first hand that the recession is not over for a large number of Canadians," said Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada, which coordinated the annual national study.

"We are hearing that it is really tough out there," Ms. Schmidt said. "Many people who lost their jobs during the recession have now exhausted their unemployment benefits, and are looking to self-employment or to temporary and part-time jobs for income. Others have been forced to fall back on social assistance. These options aren't paying the bills, and people are accessing food banks to fill the gap."

As in past years, the profile of those assisted by food banks is highly varied:
38% of those assisted by food banks are children and youth under 18 years old.

Half of assisted households are families with children.

17% of households that turn to food banks for help each month are living on income from current or recent employment.

7% of assisted households report a pension as their primary source of income.

"Coming to a food bank is not an easy decision for people," said Bill Hall, Executive Director of the Battlefords and District Food and Resource Centre, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. "Unfortunately, there continues to be a need for help in our community, and we have expanded our efforts to meet that need - when the overall goal should be to address the causes of hunger more broadly, and to be able to reduce our services and even close our doors for good."

"Though the recession has made things worse, the causes of hunger and low income run much deeper than the recent economic crisis," said Ms. Schmidt. "The need for food banks is a result of our failure as a country to adequately address a number of social issues, including a changing job market, a lack of affordable housing and child care, and a social safety net that is ineffective."

The HungerCount provides recommendations on how the federal government can work to increase people's ability to be self sufficient. Food Banks Canada's recommendations include the following:

...Implement a national poverty prevention and reduction strategy, with measurable targets and timelines.

...Create a federal housing strategy to increase and monitor investment in affordable housing programs in Canada's cities, towns and rural areas.

...Maintain current levels of federal cash and tax transfers to provincial, territorial, and First Nations governments.

...Address the unacceptable rates of low income among our most vulnerable seniors - those who live alone, without other means of support.

About the HungerCount Survey

HungerCount was initiated in 1989 and is the only comprehensive national study of food banks and affiliated food programs in Canada. Since 1997, data for the study have been collected every March. The information provided by the survey is invaluable, forming the basis of many Food Banks Canada activities throughout the year. For a full copy of the HungerCount 2010 report and associated graphics, and for more information, please visit

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is the national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada. Our Members, Affiliate Member food banks, and their respective agencies serve approximately 85% 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.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

For the first time in history, Canada Post asks Canadians to submit and vote on stamp design

OTTAWA, November 9, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - For the first time in its 159 year history, Canada Post is asking Canadians to submit and vote on the design that will become a Canadian postage stamp. Starting today, until January 10, 2011, Canadians are invited to submit designs online to The submission that proves most popular online will become one of 20 semi-finalists to be submitted to the Stamp Advisory Committee (SAC). One of those designs will become the 2011 Mental Health stamp.

"A stamp design will be seen by millions of Canadians; it has an incredible power to invite conversation," says Mary Traversy, Senior vice-president, Transaction Mail, at Canada Post. "We're asking entrants to convey important themes about mental health in a single image and make the winning stamp an ambassador for awareness."

The SAC will choose five designs from the 20 semi-finalists. These five designs will be voted on by the public from February 14 to March 14. The winning design will be announced in April 2011.

Canada Post made mental health its cause of choice in 2008. Since then, customers, employees, suppliers and the public have raised more than $2.5 million for the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health. Some $600,000 of that was from sales of the 2008 and 2009 mental health stamps. Canada Post recently issued this year's mental health stamp, which is intended to help the company reach its $2 million campaign goal. A dollar from every booklet sold supports the Foundation.

The Foundation provides critical funding to community based, non-profit groups helping people living with mental illness - a growing legacy of support for the more than 7 million Canadians who will need help with mental health problems this year. Over $2.5 million in grants have been distributed, to organizations across the country, by the Foundation.

Details on the Canada Post Mental Health Stamp Design Competition

Eligible Canadians have until January 10, 2010 to enter the competition to design Canada Post's 2011 Mental Health stamp. The website includes instructions and the full contest rules.

Entrants will be asked to include a short essay, up to 100 words, about their design and why they feel it will raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues.

Entrants can promote their submissions using social media. The submission that proves most popular online will become one of the 20 semi-finalists, and its designer will win an iPad. The other 19 semi-finalists will be chosen by an advisory panel including mental health experts, representatives from the Canada Post Foundation for Mental Health and stamp and design experts from Canada Post.

Canada Post's Stamp Advisory Committee, a national committee that guides Canada Post in selecting stamp subjects and designs, will select five designs from the 20 semi-finalists. The committee is made up of knowledgeable Canadians from across the country selected for their historic, design or philatelic knowledge. It reflects English-speaking and French-speaking populations and the changing ethnic diversity of the country.

On February 14, 2011, Canada Post will unveil the five finalists to the public and open the voting. Canadians will be able to vote for their favourite submission on or Facebook until voting closes on March 14, 2010. The design receiving the most votes will be declared the winner, to be announced in April 2011.

In addition to having their original artwork produced by a professional design firm and the resulting stamps issued for sale in September 2011, the winner will receive a framed commemorative enlargement of the stamp and a $500 honorarium will be donated to a mental health charity of their choice.

As with all stamps, Canada Post will hold the copyright to the winning design.

The PERMANENT™ domestic rate semi-postal stamp will be issued with a 10-cent surcharge to generate funds for the Foundation.

For full contest rules and regulations, please visit

GO Transit is expanding train service to Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Acton

TORONTO, November 12, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - GO Transit will be expanding rail service on the Georgetown line to Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Acton, with service scheduled to begin by the end of 2011.

"We are pleased to be offering GO train service to Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and Acton," said GO Transit President Gary McNeil. "In partnership with the Province of Ontario and these regional municipalities, we can encourage existing commuters to leave their cars behind and use transit. This is also good news for existing Georgetown and Brampton customers who will have improved service as a result of this expansion."

To begin offering train service by the end of next year, GO will be constructing new infrastructure - a storage facility in Kitchener and ticketing service at new stations in Acton, Guelph and Kitchener, as well as bringing an additional 54 new route-kilometres into to the system. This infrastructure will support two morning and two evening trains.

"This $18 million investment in expanded transit will ensure that the residents of Guelph, Acton, Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas have more transit options when they travel between these communities or into the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)," said Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig. "We appreciate the continued support from the Province of Ontario to deliver Metrolinx's important mandate to provide transit solutions."

An Environmental Assessment (EA) for the expansion of train service from Georgetown to Kitchener-Waterloo was completed in 2009 and approved by the Minister of the Environment in January 2010.

GO Transit is the Province of Ontario's regional public transit service linking Toronto with the surrounding regions of the GTHA. GO carries over 55 million passengers a year in an extensive network of train and bus services that spans over 10,000 square kilometres. GO Transit is a division of Metrolinx, the regional transportation authority for the GTHA.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poverty is about more than a lack of money

A new, Canadian funded human development measure helps us to dig deeper into the nature of global poverty

OTTAWA, November 5, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - by Rohinton Medhora - When is the person with more money poorer than the person with less money? This is not an ancient Greek riddle or the beginning of an African folk tale. It is a question the United Nations Development Program has tried to answer in this year's Human Development Report.

The report answers the question by using a new index that Canada helped to create, the Multidimensional Poverty Index. This new tool for understanding what being poor really means gathers data on ten indicators, ranging from child mortality and nutrition levels, to years of schooling, access to electricity, clean water and proper flooring. The ten factors are combined, and the resulting score for each country is compared to the standard monetary measure of poverty, life on less than $1.25 a day.

The differences between the new and the standard, monetary measure are revealing. In many cases, those differences show that there are indeed countries where people who have some cash in their pockets are actually poorer than people in other countries who have less money. China and India, the giants of the developing world, can help us to understand why.

In India, despite strong social cohesion and a tradition of some publicly funded services, the poverty rate based solely on how much money people have is actually less than the multidimensional rate. And the difference is not trivial: India's poor population grows by 135 million people when you count it the multidimensional way.

By contrast, in China, a strong State has ensured rising incomes and social services to the masses. That means that monetary poverty and poverty measured using the multidimensional criteria are about the same in China (though the difference still amounts to about 50 million people.)

At the extremes, perhaps as a lingering Communist-era legacy, the central Asian country, Uzbekistan, contains very many income-poor people who, nonetheless, are at least decently literate and healthy. In Ethiopia and Mali, on the other hand, the poor may have more cash in hand, but that money does not buy them very much in the way of access to health and education.

Why are such distinctions important? Precisely because different approaches produce different results. The Multidimensional Poverty Index results tell us which countries are better than others in getting clean water and good schooling to their citizens. In a significant number of countries even money in hand does not translate into better access to such services.

Breaking down the new index into its components also reveals the concrete sources of poverty. In India, the poor tend to have relatively higher levels of education than they do good health. In China, it is the lack of education that dominates this measure. Such information should lead to better policies. And so this new index helps us to understand that confronting the challenge of poverty lies in creative thinking and different ways of doing things rather than just throwing more money at it.

When introduced twenty years ago, the United Nations Development Program's by now famous Human Development Index was considered revolutionary. The Human Development Index added life expectancy and literacy to the income measure, and the result has been that countries with lower per capita income are often ranked much higher than others with higher incomes.

This year, for example, Singapore, which has one of the world's highest per capita incomes - $48, 893 - is ranked 27th, while New Zealand - with a per capita income of only $25,438 - is ranked third. (Canada's per capita income is $38,668 and we're ranked eighth.) Historically, a relatively poor country such as Cuba would place well above its per capita income ranking, because of its impressive schooling and health systems.

Leading up to this year's report, Canada financed underlying work at Oxford University and in partner institutions throughout the developing world. This new measure is meant to supplement the Human Development Index by drilling further down into the real life facts of poverty, as experienced by billions of people.

Ultimately, no single Index can provide a complete guide to well-being across countries. In this respect, the authors of this year's Human Development Report are spot on in suggesting that what is needed is not a single "meter reading" but a human development "dashboard". Future work should address innovation strategies (or, more broadly, future productive capacity); environmental degradation; and - perhaps foremost - the role that freedom and democracy play in determining the quality of life.

It is only through the careful background work that the Human Development Report so capably summarizes each year that we will all be better informed about how we as a global community are doing, and how we might do even better in future.

Rohinton Medhora is the Vice President, Programs, of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canadian Patient Safety Week Launches Across Canada

Campaign encourages open communication between patients and providers

EDMONTON, November 1, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - 'Don't just think it, say it' - this is the message the Canadian Patient Safety Institute is getting out to patients, their families and healthcare providers during Canadian Patient Safety Week, November 1-5, 2010.

Every year, between 9,000 and 24,000 people die as a result of preventable adverse events or harm in the Canadian healthcare system.

"Patients and family members may not always feel like they should question their care, or speak up if they think something's not right," says Hugh MacLeod, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. "But whether it is the patient, resident or client, a family member, the healthcare provider, or decision-makers at the executive table, everyone has a role to play. We are hoping that through increased awareness, the importance of communication in healthcare will be recognized at all levels, leading to better outcomes for the patient."

To help highlight the importance of communication in ensuring safe care, thousands of patients, healthcare providers and organizations from across Canada will be hosting events and activities related to patient safety.

One of more than 1,200 registered participants in the week, William Hill, principal of clinical quality and patient safety, Medavie EMS, says his organization will be taking the opportunity to highlight the importance of patient safety for paramedics across the country, including the unique challenges paramedics face in an ever-changing environment. "We often provide care in a perilous environment, so understanding and addressing the unique risks involved for the patient, paramedic and public are of utmost concern for us."

CPSI provides patient safety tools, resources, information and support to ensure the week is a success for participants across the country.

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) was established in 2003 as an independent not-for-profit corporation, operating collaboratively with health professionals and organizations, regulatory bodies and governments to build and advance a safer healthcare system for Canada by inspiring extraordinary improvement in patient safety and quality.