Wednesday, March 28, 2012

April is Canadian Cancer Society's Daffodil Month

Daffodil Day is April 27 photo credit: Canadian Cancer Society via Flickr

Wear a Daffodil Pin to Show Support for People Living with Cancer

TORONTO, March 28, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Every three minutes, another Canadian will hear the words "you have cancer" for the first time, and the Canadian Cancer Society wants them to know that they are not alone.

During Daffodil Month, and especially on Daffodil Day (April 27), the Canadian Cancer Society is asking Canadians to join the fight against cancer by making a donation to support its work throughout Canada and to proudly wear a daffodil pin as a symbol of support for people living with cancer.

"We want to create a movement across Canada and see thousands of Canadians wearing the daffodil pin," says Peter Goodhand, CEO and President, Canadian Cancer Society. "United by the daffodil, we will show people living with cancer that they don't have to face cancer alone, and we won't give up until all forms of the disease are defeated."

Throughout Daffodil Month, special events and activities will be taking place in communities across Canada to raise vital funds to prevent cancer, fund research, inform and support people living with cancer, and advocate for policies to improve the health of Canadians.

Daffodil Day on April 27 helps wrap up the campaign by designating a special day where Canadians can take a moment to reflect upon the thousands of people who are on a cancer journey and also to remember those who have died.

"We encourage Canadians to do something special on Daffodil Day for those living with cancer or to contribute in some way to the fight against cancer," says Goodhand.

On Daffodil Day:

...Tell a loved one or friend with cancer that you are thinking of them; let them know about the Society's information and support programs.
...Do something special for someone you know who has cancer. For example, make a meal, drive them to an appointment, or babysit.
...Sign up as a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society and see how you can make a difference.
...Join a Relay For Life team or sponsor somebody who is participating.

"Whether it's through family or friends, we all have a story about how cancer affects us," says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. "It's these stories that tie Canadians together and motivate the Society as it carries out its important mission work across Canada."

To donate online or to find out where you can get a daffodil pin go to or contact your local Society office. The pins are also available at participating locations of Curves, First Choice Haircutters, Laura Canada, JACOB, LifeLabs, MAC's, Pacrim Hospitality Services hotels, Pharmasave and WirelessWave/Tbooth. Although the pin is not being sold for a set price, the Society encourages Canadians to make a donation to help support its work.

By supporting the Canadian Cancer Society during Daffodil Month, Canadians will be joining a team that works hard to fight cancer in Canada. Your donation will help the Society:

...prevent cancer research to outsmart cancer
...empower, inform and support Canadians living with cancer
...advocate for public policies to improve the health of Canadians

During Daffodil Month Canadians can make a difference by:

...wearing a daffodil pin to show your support for people living with cancer
...attending a Daffodil Day event in your community
...buying fresh daffodils - the Society's symbol of hope
...donating to the Canadian Cancer Society when a volunteer canvasser knocks on your door
...participating in a Society fundraising event in your community

Contact your local Society office to make a donation and to find out what's going on in your community.

Cancer statistics

...In 2011, it was estimated that 177,800 new cases of cancer (excluding 74,100 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer) would be diagnosed, and about 75,000 Canadians would die from the disease. This meant that on average about 480 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer, and about 205 died from the disease every day.

...An estimated 2 in 5 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. An estimated 1 out of every 4 Canadians is expected to die from cancer.

...Today, over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years after their diagnosis. In the 1940s, survival was about 25%.

...The death rate for all cancers combined is declining for males in most age groups and for females under 70.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

Children four and under should move more, sit less and avoid screens

Canada's first-ever physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines for the early years released

TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Children aged four and under should move more and sit less every day as recommended by the first-ever Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years. All children aged one to four should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity throughout the day, and children under the age of one should be physically active several times daily. Parents and caregivers should also limit prolonged sitting for more than one hour at a time and excessive screen time.

The Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years (ages 0-4 years) are Canada's first systematic evidence-based physical activity guidelines and the world's first standalone sedentary behaviour guidelines for this age group, which puts Canada at the forefront of the emerging body of sedentary research. They are presented by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) and ParticipACTION, with support from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group (CHEO-HALO).

Although children in the early years are assumed to be naturally busy and active, they spend 73 to 84 per cent of their waking hours being sedentary. In addition, despite the detrimental effects on physical and social development, most young children are exposed to screen time too early in life and for too long.

"Regular physical activity is essential at a young age as it contributes to bone and skeletal health, motor skill development, psychosocial health, cognitive development and healthy body weights," says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Director, CHEO-HALO. "It is also key to avoid the harms associated with excessive sedentary behaviour, in particular the negative effects of screen time exposure, in the earliest years of development. Lifestyle patterns set in the early years predict health outcomes later in life."

For healthy growth and development, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for the Early Years recommend:

...Children under the age of one should be physically active several times daily - particularly through interactive, floor-based play. This should include supervised indoor and outdoor experiences such as tummy time, reaching and grasping, pushing and pulling, and crawling.

...Children aged one to four should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day. This should include a variety of activities in different environments where children can develop movement skills, such as climbing stairs, playing outside and exploring the environment, brisk walking, running or dancing.

...By age five, children should progress towards at least 60 minutes of energetic play, such as hopping, skipping and bike riding.

Minimizing sedentary behaviour, including screen time, during waking hours is just as important as being physically active. Sedentary behaviours are characterized by little physical movement and low energy expenditure and include sitting or reclining for long periods of time. For healthy growth and development, the Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years recommend:

...Caregivers should limit prolonged sitting to no more than one hour at a time, for example, sitting or reclining in a stroller, high chair or car seat, and watching television or playing with non-active electronic devices like computers, video games or phones.

...Screen time is not recommended for children under the age of two.

...Screen time should be limited to less than one hour per day for children aged two to four.

"These guidelines place a high value on the benefits of physical activity that begin in a child's early years and accumulate throughout life," says Kelly Murumets, President and CEO of ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation. "It is crucial for parents and caregivers to give young children regular opportunities to move more, and it can be as simple as getting outdoors to explore the neighbourhood rather than sitting in front of the TV, or by playing on a mat reaching, pushing or crawling rather than keeping children idle in a high chair."

To download a copy of the new Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for the Early Years please visit and

About the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) is the principal body for physical activity, health and fitness research and personal training in Canada. CSEP fosters the generation, growth, synthesis, transfer and application of the highest quality research, education and training related to exercise physiology and science. CSEP is the GOLD STANDARD of health and fitness professionals dedicated to getting Canadians active safely by providing the highest quality customized and specialized physical activity and fitness programs, guidance and advice based on extensive training and evidence-based research. For more information, visit

About ParticipACTION

ParticipACTION is the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada. Originally established in 1971, ParticipACTION was re-launched in 2007 to help prevent the looming inactivity crisis that faces Canada. As a national not-for-profit organization solely dedicated to inspiring and supporting healthy and active living for Canadians, it works with its partners, which include sport, physical activity, recreation organizations, government and corporate sponsors, to inspire and support Canadians to move more. ParticipACTION is generously supported by Sport Canada. For more information, visit:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Zellers Committed to Ensuring Continuity of Care to its Pharmacy Patients

BRAMPTON, Ontario, March 23, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Following the announcement of the sale of files from 95 Zellers pharmacy locations in Canada to Loblaw, Zellers reaffirms its commitment to ensuring continuity of care to all its pharmacy patients, including its remaining 99 pharmacies, which include locations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Zellers' patients can be assured that it is committed to ensuring customer information remains protected in accordance with privacy legislation.

About Hudson's Bay Company

Hudson's Bay Company, founded in 1670, is North America's longest continually operating company. The Canadian operations comprises The Bay, a major department store, Zellers, a mass merchandise format, Home Outfitters, a kitchen, bed and bath specialty store, and value-priced Fields stores. With more than 600 retail outlets and approximately 50,000 associates in Canada, Hudson's Bay Company banners provide Canadians with stylish, quality merchandise at great value and with a dedicated focus on exceeding customer expectations.

The Hudson's Bay Company's US banner operations include Lord & Taylor, an upscale specialty retailer with 47 stores across nine states, with another store opening planned for Spring 2012. The company also operates 3 outlet stores,, and two Lord & Taylor Home stores.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Discussion and Musical Performance Event Aims to Raise Awareness of Depression, Self-Injury

GUELPH, Ontario March 23, 2012 - University of Guelph - Student and multi-faith groups at the University of Guelph hope to raise awareness of depression, self-injury, addiction and suicide among youths through a discussion and musical performance in War Memorial Hall Sunday, 6:30 p.m.

The event will feature Jamie Tworkowski, founding director of the non-profit group To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).

"A recent campaign on campus highlighted the fact that one in five people experience a mental health issue," said James VanderBerg of U of G’s Multi-Faith Resource Team.

"Depression, self-injury and suicide are, sadly, part of our everyday reality. Too often, though, we keep such things from coming up in conversation. An event like this pushes against that tendency. It gives us a chance to connect people with support groups and resources, and to bring the issues out in the open."

The event will include a talk and open discussion with Tworkowski, a musical performance by Noah Gunderson and a resource fair.

Tworkowski started TWLOHA in 2006 by writing about a friend’s struggle with depression and addiction. His article launched an online and social movement that led to the non-profit agency.

"We aim to connect people with help, to present facts about these issues, and, more than anything, to present hope creatively and tastefully," he said.

"We let people know it’s okay to talk about these things, and they're certainly not alone if they deal with these issues."

Tickets are $5 and are available at the information desk in the University Centre and at the event. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Counselling Services, Guelph Campus Ministry, Student Support Network, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Multi-Faith Resource Team, Power to Change, Student Affairs, the Wellness Centre and several U of G colleges.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scouts Canada Invites All Canadians to Join "Good Turn Week"

More than 100,000 Scouts Canada Members will do a Good Turn April 14-22

OTTAWA, March 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - One "Good Turn" can make someone's day. Imagine what 100,000 "Good Turns" could do! Scouts Canada has designated April 14-22 as Good Turn Week and is calling on all Canadians to step up and join them by doing a "Good Turn" for a friend, family member, neighbour or the community.

"Scouts Canada's National Youth Network created Good Turn Week as a way to inspire every Scout to do something great. We invite Canadians to emulate Scouting's virtues and make the effort to deliver a simple act of kindness," said Dylan Reinhart, National Youth Commissioner and Chair of the National Youth Network of Scouts Canada. "It's really not difficult to do, and our goal is simple: to foster a stronger sense of community and friendship in Canada through consideration for and assistance of others."

Good Turn Week exemplifies the principles of Scouting: to always help others. A recent York University study found that people who did "Good Turns" saw a marked increase in their happiness and self-esteem. In its third year, the Week not only encourages Scouts but also challenges all Canadians to recognize the importance of doing a "Good Turn" and taking the time to go above and beyond.

"Good Turn Week is an opportunity for all Canadians to put into practice the values that we teach our youth," said Steve Kent, Chief Commissioner and Chair of the Board of Governors of Scouts Canada. "We're proud of the efforts our Scouting youth have undertaken to create a week that inspires numerous acts of Canadian goodwill. With each simple act of kindness, we can help make Canada a stronger community."

During the week Scouts Canada members will be out in the community doing "Good Turns". After each good deed, they will pass along a "Good Turn" bracelet and encourage them to "pay it forward" - creating a cycle of goodwill that will spread throughout communities across Canada.

There are countless ways to do a "Good Turn". From passing along a parking ticket with time left on it to a driver who's just parked, to assisting an elderly neighbour with their yard work, the possibilities are endless. Canadians can share their "Good Turn" on the Scouts Canada website by texting "Good Turn" with a description of their good deed to 51051 or submitting it via

Doing a "Good Turn" is a practice rooted in the values of all Scouting youth: Beaver Scouts (ages 5-7) promise to "help take care of the world;" Cub Scouts (ages 8-10) promise to "do a good turn every day;" and Scouts (ages 11-14), Venturer Scouts (ages 14-17), Rover Scouts (ages 18-26) and volunteers promise to "to help other people at all times."

For more information or to see what "Good Turns" Canadians are doing visit:

About Scouts Canada

Scouts Canada, the country's leading youth organization, has more than 100,000 members nationwide representing every faith and culture. Scouts Canada groups offer programming in more than 19 languages reflecting Canada's multicultural landscape and communities. Kids in Scouts have fun adventures discovering new things and experiences they wouldn't discover elsewhere. Along the way, they develop into capable, confident and well-rounded individuals, better prepared for success in the world. For tens of thousands of children and youth across Canada, Scouts is the start of something great. For more information visit

Scouts Canada is a not-for-profit organization (Charitable Registration No. 10776 1694 RR0028) and a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Injury snapshot released for Ontario communities

TORONTO, March 22, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today marks the public launch of what may be the most detailed injury snapshot ever prepared for the province of Ontario and its 36 public health units. The Ontario Injury Data Report reveals, for example, that children aged 0-4 landed in emergency departments after a fall from playground equipment at a rate of 152 (per 100,000) in Toronto, compared with 424 (per 100,000) in Peterborough and 251 in Ontario as a whole, while the 2.1 rate (per 100,000) of homicides in Toronto compares to a 0.4 rate in Peterborough and 1.3 in Ontario as a whole.

Prepared by the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre, housed at SMARTRISK, the report will help public health units across Ontario pinpoint the most pressing injury issues for each age group in their areas. It will also allow injury prevention practitioners to consider how their injury rates compare to Ontario as a whole.

"This is critical information as injury is the leading cause of death for Ontarians aged 1-44, taking the lives of more than 4,600 people each year and placing an economic burden of $6.8 billion on the provincial economy," said SMARTRISK President and CEO, Dr. Phil Groff.

As part of their mandate to protect and promote the health of their local populations, health units are tasked with finding ways to promote injury prevention. This new data report will assist them in setting local prevention priorities.

Included in the Ontario Injury Data Report are emergency room visits (a total of 2.3-million+ injury-related visits to Ontario ERs between fiscal years 2007-2009); hospitalizations (120,000+ from fiscal years 2007-2009); and deaths from injury (more than 18,000 in total between 2001-2005); broken down by cause of injury, health unit and age group. Suicide was found to be the leading cause of injury death in Ontario, followed closely by falls. Regarding non-fatal injuries, however, falls were the leading cause both for people ending up in emergency rooms and for being admitted to hospital.

Find the full report at

Monday, March 19, 2012

900-Year Old Church Goes 100% Renewable

photo credit: © Kyocera

by Sami Grover - Energy / Renewable Energy

I wrote yesterday about a Victorian textile mill installing a rooftop solar power plant, but that structure was a relative newbie compared St. Michael and All Angels Church in Withington, England. This 900-year-old house of worship has undergone a thorough green renovation to become Britain's first zero carbon church.

Featuring a biomass boiler for heat, and a solar array on the roof, solar panel suppliers Kyocera claim the church is now running on 100% renewable energy:

The 12th century building is now powered entirely by renewable energies. The solar energy is generated with 24 Kyocera solar modules — with a total output of 3.12kW — which are installed on the roof of the church. With over 35 years of experience in the industry Kyocera’s solar technology guarantees exceptional module performance and durability. Moreover, the modules were carefully installed to meet strict regulations concerning historical buildings by using a special ladder system that did not adversely affect the structure of the building or its visual appearance.

The initiative is the latest in a long line of efforts by the Church of England to go green. Given that many churches were traditionally built on a strict east/west axis, they have plenty of south-facing roof space that is ideally primed for solar energy. In fact green energy provider Ecotricity claims over 100 churches have gone solar in South West England alone, with over 300 other churches, vicarages and Church of England schools buying green energy too.

As the comments on my Victorian mill piece show, however, there are many who claim solar just does not make sense in Britain's cloudy climate. So let's just hope the church spends at least as much on insulating these drafty 900-year-old churches as they do on sticking solar on the roof.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

my ehealth subscribers exceed 200,000

British Columbians enjoy direct access to their laboratory results with this rapidly expanding service.

VANCOUVER, March 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 200,000 patients in British Columbia have now registered for my ehealth to obtain their laboratory results directly via a secure patient portal: This is a major milestone since direct patient access to their personal health care information is a major shift in health care system management and a key component of the electronic health record vision for Canada.

Excelleris is leading this change in British Columbia, leveraging their established, standards compliant Health Care Information Distribution and Access platform to now offer a simple, secure, useful and clinically relevant service to health care consumers.

Consumer benefits include:

...Rapid and secure one-time registration after visiting a participating laboratory;

...Secure portal access;

...Laboratory results from participating laboratories as soon as they are available;

...Ability to graph historical trends; and

...Opportunity to research and understand personal laboratory results.

Excelleris Technologies, a partnership between the leading community laboratories in British Columbia- LifeLabs and BC Biomedical Laboratories - launched my ehealth in May 2010. Building on the unprecedented uptake by patients, Excelleris plans to expand the functionality of my ehealth to include other types of health care information relevant to the consumer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Greenland's Ice Sheet May Melt Off Sooner Than Expected

photo credit: Fox-Talbot/CC BY 2.0

by Stephen Messenger - Science / Climate Change

Greenland is home to one of the world's largest and most vital sources of land-based ice cover, long considered at a heightened risk from the melting effects of global warming -- but a new report is revealing that the threat of melt off may be even more alarming.

According to a new report published in Nature Climate Change, the breaking-point for Greenland's ice is a bit closer at hand. Scientists say that even a relatively minor increase in global temps of 1.6 degrees Celsius may render the ice sheet melt off 'irreversible'. It was previously estimated that this grim reality would only come about with a rise of 3.1 degrees.

To make matters worse, reaching this breaking point may not be far off.

"We might already be approaching the critical threshold,” says the report's lead-author Alexander Robinson, via Bloomberg. “The more we exceed the threshold, the faster it melts."

Using computer modeling, Robinson and his team from determined just how long it would take for Greenland's ice to melt completely at various raises in temperature averages. With an increase around 2 degrees, the region's 660 thousands square miles of ice cover would melt in about 50 thousand years; if temperatures spiked 8 degrees, that process could take just 2,000 years. And, say researchers, once gone the ice would not return.

"Our study shows that under certain conditions the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible. This supports the notion that the icesheet is a tipping element in the Earth system," says Andrey Ganopolski, from Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. "If the global temperature significantly overshoots the threshold for a long time, the ice will continue melting and not regrow - even if the climate would, after many thousand years, return to its pre-industrial state."

In the event that Greenland's ice were to melt, ocean levels would rise around 23 feet, significantly altering coastlines throughout the globe.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Canadian Artist Comments on Society with Giant Ice Letters

photo credit: © Nicole Dextras

by Bonnie Alter - Living / Culture

The environmental artist Nicole Dextras could only be Canadian, with her love of ice and snow. She creates 8-foot high ice texts which are a meditation on the landscape.

Consisting of one or two words, the three-dimensional text is a comment on the place where it is sited, and frames the way the viewer sees it. Erected in both cities (Toronto) and country (Yukon, Lake Ontario) the icy letters melt over the days and some end up looking like remnants of another life.

The icy landscape is a perfect medium for her work. As she says:

"Ice Typography absorbs light, melts and eventually leaves no trace; these words have more in common with dreams and oral stories than linear language. Words cast in ice interrupt our literal narratives, allowing a more integrated reading of the land we inhabit, as opposed to the past and current commodification of land as limitless resource."

She uses moulds to create the letters, pouring water (sometimes colored for a more dramatic effect) into them, letting them freeze then removing the moulds.

This ice text was created as part of a project in 2007 on the Toronto Islands. Other words on view were Desire, Reason and Flux.

The artist comments:

"These frozen words relate to the multiple perspectives of language, how one word can conjure up a plethora of definitions depending on the viewpoint of the reader."

Sometimes the words relate directly to the landscape such as “Silence” where the bucolic idealism of nature is transformed by the sound of the crashing waves behind it.

Ethic of Sufficiency is a reflection on the park where the text is located. Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto has a very active community that grows, sells and cooks food for the neighborhood.

These words were made out of ice and set out in the landscape and left to melt. The high winds off Lake Ontario sometimes blew individual letters over before they had time to melt.

This outdoor installation on the Yukon River from 2009 consisted of the 8-foot high word Legacy. It refers to the area's town which was founded over a hundred years ago during the Gold Rush. The next day the only letters left standing were the L and the Y. The artist says,
"In the end the ice blocks resembled the ruins of some forgotten ancient city."

If you are going to be in Ottawa in February, her newest work will be seen at the winter festival Winterlude. Called Phare, it will be a 5-foot high hexagon with fabric embedded in it that will be lit from the inside and act as a giant lantern.

Adam Gopnik's wonderful new book Winter: Five Windows on the Season is a verbal meditation on winter.

He ends with a warning about the impact of climate change on this cold season:
" of the fundamental human rights for all people who live in northern climates is the right to be cold, exactly because their culture cannot go on in its absence. As we warm the world, entire peoples are being deprived of their weather, a right as fundamental as a seafaring nation’s right to access the ocean, or a Venetian’s right to be wet."

... read the full story at

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Planting Trees in the Mongolian Desert to Fight Dangerous Dust Storms in Seoul

Honza Soukup/CC BY 2.0. The Gobi desert in Mongolia.

by Jennifer Hattam - Science / Natural Sciences

It's not quite the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings creating a hurricane across the world, but desertification in Mongolia is generating dangerous dust storms thousands of miles away.

Former South Korean Ambassador to China Kwon Byong Hyon made the connection more than a decade ago, and has helped spearhead an effort since then to plant trees in Mongolia, hoping to improve both the lives of nomadic desert herders there and the air quality his own children are exposed to back home in Seoul.

Dust Storms More Frequent, Intense

"Intense dust storms have blown across Korea throughout recorded history, but their frequency and intensity have increased in recent decades," PRI journalist Daniel Grossman reported recently for The World, profiling Kwon's "crusade to combat the yellow clouds at their source, hundred of miles away in the Gobi desert of China and Mongolia."

Severe desertification and drought in Mongolia, which is warming twice as fast as the global average, is making life more difficult than ever for traditional livestock herders. It's also sending an unhealthy amount of dust across Asia.

Reforesting Denuded Areas

The anti-desertification initiative Kwon founded, Future Forest, has recruited Korean and Chinese students to help plant some 4 million trees in an effort to "prevent the eastward spread of the deserts, the very source of the much-feared yellow dust storms," according to the Korea Herald. For his work, he has been named the first "Sustainable Land Management Champion" by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.

And Kwon is not alone. Korean activist Dong Kyun Park has also been raising money in Korea to plant trees in Mongolia, efforts that Grossman says has inspired "high-level government talk of reforesting denuded areas" in Mongolia and the establishment of a new nursery for native tree species in the capital city of Ulan Bator.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Millennium Development Goal met, 89% of people have access to improved drinking water

TORONTO, March 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Over the last two decades, 2 billion people have gained access to improved drinking water, halving the number of people without access and successfully meeting the Millennium Development Goal on water, UNICEF and the World Health Organization announced today in a new report.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said,

"Today we recognize a great achievement for the people of the world. This is one of the first MDG targets to be met. The successful efforts to provide greater access to drinking water are a testament to all who see the MDGs not as a dream, but as a vital tool for improving the lives of millions of the poorest people."

The report, Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012, says that at the end of 2010, 89 per cent of the world's population, or 6.1 billion people, used improved drinking water sources. This is one per cent more than the 88 per cent Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target. The report estimates that by 2015, 92 per cent of the global population will have access to improved drinking water.

"This is proof that UNICEF's donors and supporters - many Canadian - are capable of making incredible improvements in the lives of children and their families around the world," says UNICEF Canada's President and CEO David Morley.

But Morley also cautioned the announcement is an important milestone, but by no means the end of the road. Currently 11 per cent of the world's population - or 783 million people - are still without access to safe drinking water, and billions are without proper sanitation facilities.

"Yes, this is very exciting progress, but there is still work to be done to reach the most vulnerable children and ensure equitable access to improved drinking water," says Morley.

For example, only 61 per cent of the people living in sub-Saharan Africa have access to improved water supply sources compared with 90 per cent or more in Latin America and the Caribbean, northern Africa and large parts of Asia. Over 40 per cent of all people globally who lack access to clean drinking water live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To help in the effort to ensure equitable access UNICEF also announced today that Lenny Kravitz - GRAMMY award-winning singer-songwriter, record producer and actor - is throwing his support behind the global push by UNICEF and its partners to help save and improve the lives of millions of children and their families around the world by providing them with access to clean water and adequate sanitation.

Young Canadians interested in supporting UNICEF's efforts to improve access to clean water can join the UNICEF Student Challenge. The challenge is an exciting initiative for post-secondary students to reach the world's most vulnerable children with clean water and win a three-day trip to New York City that includes an exclusive behind the scenes tour of UNICEF headquarters at the United Nations. Learn more at

For more information on the Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation 2012 please visit


UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit

About the MDGs

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development. Learn more at

Japan Earthquake Anniversary March 11 reminds Canadians to prepare for disasters

OTTAWA, March 9, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Red Cross is calling for greater investment in local preparedness initiatives one year after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the coast of Japan. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake, massive tsunami, and Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, killed more than 15,000 people, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. The earthquake also triggered a tsunami warning for British Columbia and areas across the Pacific Rim.

"The scope of this disaster, especially considering Japan was one of the world's best-prepared countries, was massive," says Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. "We are encouraged by the positive impact Canadian donations have and continue to have in Japan however, the anniversary reminds us of the need for Canadian communities to better prepare for emergencies."

The Canadian Red Cross has responded to over 1,750 separate incidents in Canada since April 2011, and provided services to over 35,700 individuals affected by natural and human-caused emergencies across the country.

"The impressive humanitarian response in Japan is the result of considerable investment and planning," adds Sauvé. " Greater investment by Canadian individuals, humanitarian organizations and governments is needed to ensure Canada is prepared for a large-scale emergency."

Canadian households and communities can take simple but effective steps to prepare for disasters. Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours after an emergency and for up to two weeks in a health emergency like a pandemic. Learn the risks and hazards in your community; make a family emergency plan; and get or make an emergency preparedness kit. More information on planning for emergencies is available at

The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and 187 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sir Richard Branson Calls for Greater Protection for Ontario Polar Bears

Private Member's Bill in the works for Ontario, home to almost 1,000 polar bears

TORONTO, March 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - At a news conference today in Toronto, international entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson called for greater protection of Canada's polar bears, announcing that legislation to protect the hundreds of polar bears living in northern Ontario will soon be tabled at Queen's Park.

"The majestic and powerful polar bear is an iconic symbol of Canada around the world," Branson said. "With their habitat increasingly threatened and their very survival in jeopardy, now is the time for action. We owe it to the next generation to ensure that these magnificent animals will live on in the Canadian north."

Branson was in Toronto with his foundation Virgin Unite, in support of the Canadian chapter of WildAid, an international wildlife conservation organization leading the development of a Polar Bear Protection Act for Ontario. It will be tabled in the Ontario legislature as a Private Member's Bill this spring.

Branson called on the business community as well as the general public to support greater protection for polar bears online by visiting .

"Ontario is home to as many as 1,000 polar bears - we have a responsibility to protect this important species of our province's wildlife," said WildAid Canada founder Peter Knights. "Manitoba already has a Polar Bear Protection Act, and the federal government recently named the polar bear a 'species of special concern' under Canada's Species at Risk Act. We need Ontario's leadership on this."

Ontario hosts the southernmost population of polar bears in the world, estimated at 700 to 1,000 bears. The loss of arctic ice is a significant threat, forcing an increasing number of bears to move ashore earlier in the year and for longer periods of time. Body mass, litter sizes and total numbers of bears are in decline, and renowned researcher Dr. Ian Stirling has predicted the extinction of the southernmost populations within the next 20 to 30 years unless current trends are reversed.

About WildAid Canada:

Since 2008, WildAid Canada has been active in building partnerships with business, educators, and governments throughout the country. We are pursuing a variety of initiatives designed to counter the multi-billion dollar illegal international trade in wildlife products and to implement national programs to reduce the human threat to wildlife.

For more information, please visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Care Announces Partnership with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

TORONTO and OTTAWA, March 5, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - In an effort to help meet the growing demand for hospice palliative care resources, We Care Home Health Services (We Care) announced a partnership today with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) to enhance end-of-life services and support networks across Canada and build hospice palliative care capacity by introducing knowledge, tools, and resources for Canadians.

"This new partnership with CHPCA is an important step in raising awareness of the rapidly evolving need for expanded hospice palliative care information and services across the country," said John Schram, President and CEO of We Care Home Health Services. "Many family caregivers face significant physical, emotional and financial stress providing end of life care to their loved ones. Through this partnership, We Care wants to expand the support network for Canadians faced with this sometimes overwhelming challenge."

CHPCA is the national voice for Hospice Palliative Care in Canada. Advancing and advocating for quality end-of-life/hospice palliative care in Canada, its work includes public policy, public education and awareness. The partnership between CHPCA and We Care will serve to build hospice palliative care capacity across the country by expanding knowledge, tools and professional resources. The partnership will be particularly relevant to the millions of caregivers who are desperately seeking viable choices and support services for loved ones confronting terminal illnesses. According to recent statistics from a CHPCA report, less than a third of Canadians that die annually have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life services.

"Too many Canadians are living out their final days in acute care facilities. Our partnership with We Care is meant to shift the tide towards a more community-based hospice palliative care system that brings significantly more dignity, comfort and appropriate care to patients and their circle of family and loved ones," said Sharon Baxter, Executive Director of the CHPCA. "Quality palliative care is the right of every Canadian, yet not every Canadian can access these services at a time when they and their families need it most."

The partnership will focus on three key areas including:

...Engage citizens and key hospice palliative care stakeholders - patients, family caregivers, healthcare professionals - to share their hospice palliative care experience/knowledge to help improve the quality of living and dying.

...Promote the need for quality end-of-life care, notably with the fastest growing age group - Canadians 55 to 64 years of age, as well as the second fastest growing age group - seniors 80+.

...Educate Canadian caregivers in regards to alternatives to unwanted interventions by promoting access to tools, resources and services to support patients and help them and their caregivers better understand options that are available and to improve communications with healthcare teams.

Along with ongoing collaborations, as part of the new partnership, We Care will become a major sponsor of three major CHPCA initiatives - National Hospice Palliative Care Week, World Hospice Palliative Care Day and National Caregiver Day.

About We Care

We Care Home Health Services, a leading national provider of in-home care and support services with over 50 locations across Canada, provides professional and compassionate care that allows seniors and others to live independently in the comfort of their own homes. We Care employs 4,000 homecare staff and provides care in over 800 communities across Canada, and has received accreditation through Accreditation Canada within all the regions in which it operates in. For more information, visit

About the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) is the national voice for hospice palliative care in Canada. It is a bilingual, national charitable non-profit association whose mission is the pursuit of excellence in care for persons approaching death so that the burdens of suffering, loneliness and grief are lessened.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Raising Awareness About the Effects of Climate Change on Polar Regions

© Discovery

Frozen Planet: Discovery Partners With NRDC, Sierra Club, and Nature Conservancy

by Michael Graham Richard - Science / Climate Change

Discovery Channel is about to premiere Frozen Planet, an epic natural history documentary series that looks so awesome that I'd definitely be writing about it even if Discovery didn't own TreeHugger. Mark your calendars for Sunday, March 18th at 8PM E/P. Do it right now or you'll forget! And if you're not convinced, just look at these photos! These are a few of the dozens of press photos that I had the pleasure to look at, and I just know it's going to be 100X times better when I see the video version. The premiere is still a few weeks off, but Discovery is announcing today that they have partnered with some environmental heavyweights to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on the poles of our fragile planet, which is great. Combining entertainment with activism and education makes each of these things more potent.

Here's some background on Frozen Planet:

"A Discovery Channel/BBC co-production four years in the making, FROZEN PLANET will provide the ultimate portrait of our earth’s polar regions, where the scale and beauty of the scenery and sheer power of the natural elements are unlike anywhere else on the planet. Ambitious and epic in scale, FROZEN PLANET will reveal an astonishing world filled with more creatures, variety, color and spectacle than ever imagined – including the birth of an iceberg bigger than the largest building on earth, a caterpillar with antifreeze in its veins, the greatest concentration of sea birds on the planet and tiny baby polar bears, who at birth are 25% smaller than human babies. Never-before-filmed sequences will include the growth of a saltwater icicle (brinicle) that freezes everything it touches and orca whales working as a team to create killer waves that wash seals off ice floes."

If you're curious about the icy finger of death, check out the video...

The partnership with the NRDC, Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy will help spread the word about the challenges facing the Earth's polar regions.

"Using the series as a tool to bring attention to the poles and the effect climate change has had on them, the organizations are planning various activities around the FROZEN PLANET premiere including: hosting sneak peek screenings for their members, where attendees will see the premiere episode Ends of the Earth before it’s U.S. debut; engagement on Facebook, Twitter, GetGlue and other social media platforms; letter writing campaigns and other grassroots efforts to ensure our polar regions are protected for generations to come. Discovery Channel will also air a Public Service Announcement for The Nature Conservancy during the premiere on March 18th. And in the week following the premiere, series producers and experts from each organization will take part in a live online chat answering questions about the series as well as the wildlife featured in it."

For more info check out the official site: Frozen Planet and follow Discovery on Twitter: @Discovery and Frozen Planet on Facebook.

...view the photos and read the full article at

Saturday, March 3, 2012

College Royal Open House Weekend Offers 'Royal Treatment' at the University of Guelph

GUELPH, Ontario March 2, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release - College Royal, the largest university open house in North America, will take place March 17 and 18. The event is now in its 88th year.

“College Royal, the open house that grew from a half-day event to a two-day extravaganza for over 30,000 visitors, is entirely student-run,” said Cathleen Verhallen, 2012 College Royal president. “It’s the only time of year that you’ll find all of the colleges coming together and opening the campus up to this extent.”

College RoyalFamily-friendly activities will include livestock shows, campus tours, a photography show, juggling, a music workshop, Ultimate Frisbee and a flower-arranging competition. Presenters will discuss student life and a range of research topics, and student clubs, classes and organizations will host exhibits.

Children can pick up “VIP Passports” in the University Centre or at kids’ events across campus. Collect eight stamps from a variety of events to qualify to win a prize. Events include Old MacDonald’s New Farm in the campus dairy barn, teddy bear surgery at the Ontario Veterinary College, a dog show and a square-dancing competition at the Athletics Centre, a chemistry magic show in the MacNaughton Building and a cat show in Rozanski Hall.

For an event schedule and other information, visit the College Royal website.