Autumn View Edition 1, 2018

A Message from the Chair

I’m hoping that by the time this edition of Autumn View reaches you, that fairness will have won out over greed and common decency will have prevailed over the disgraceful conduct of some of corporate Canada.

This statement is in reference to the fact that as of today, the millionaire Tim Horton bosses are slashing workers' health care benefits, taking their tips and eliminating their paid breaks all because the raise in the minimum wage is cutting into their exorbitant profit line.

The highly profitable Restaurant Brands International (RBI) the parent company of Tim Hortons generated $3 billion US in 2016. Its CEO made $6.17 million in wages, stock options and other perks, while another $350 million went to shareholders and yet these same people want to reduce work hours and cut uniform and drink allowances for those that earn the very least.

The corporate folks want to blame the franchise-owners since they claim that issues like work hours and paid breaks are the responsibility of the franchise. However corporate Tim Hortons dictates most every detail of the franchise business practice including necessitating that the franchise-owner must have a net worth of at least $1.5 million. On top of that Tim Hortons corporate sets the price on everything sold in a store.

In Cobourg, where this all started, the franchise-owners are none other than Ron Joyce Jr. and Lynn Horton-Joyce the children of the founders of the Tim Horton chain and billionaire heirs to the Timmies fortune.

Not all of the franchise locations have cut workers’ benefits but those that have seem to be governed by greed and don’t appear to care that the intent of the minimum wage legislation is to improve wages and working conditions for those on the lowest rung of the income ladder.

This afternoon I am heading out to a demonstration at one of the Tim’s in this area that has made cuts hoping that this action and many others across Ontario will help put pressure on Tim Hortons Corporate to find another way to minimize profit loss other than on the backs of their employees.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

Blended finances for blended families

CANADIAN FAMILIES COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES. About one in eight (12.6 per cent) are blended families (or stepfamilies) in which one or both adults brought children from a previous union into a married or common-law relationship. Merging two households with children can be full of promise, joy and excitement – but it can also be financially complicated. As couples with children from previous marriages or partnerships start to consider joining their lives together, they also need to think about the financial implications of integrating their incomes, expenses, assets and debts, selling one or both homes, and filing taxes. Open communication is key. It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to what will be shared and what won’t. An in-depth conversation can set up a solid foundation for new blended families. Address the following questions together. Then, bringing an advisor into the conversation at the right time can help you evaluate your options and choose the best plan forward for the family.

1. What will each partner contribute financially?

It’s a good idea to create a list of each partner’s sources of income, savings and investments. Also write down any financial obligations, including debts and expenses such as alimony and child support payments. Now there’s a starting point for creating a realistic budget and approach to day-to-day cash management for the blended family. Merging households with children can be financially complicated.

2. What are your shared financial goals?

Joining forces can help partners achieve their goals faster – if they agree on what those goals are. Start to talk about what each partner wants in the short, medium and long term. Then discuss what has to happen for both partners to reach their goals. Aim to get right down into the details: How much needs to be saved each month, for how long? What expenses can be cut to make that happen?

3. What’s your approach to kids and money?

Do kids get an allowance? At what age, and how much? Is the allowance paid no matter what, or earned through completing chores? And, if they do receive an allowance, what are they expected to pay for? In some families, allowances are for the fun stuff – toys and treats. In others, they’re for essentials, such as lunches and bus fare. It’s important to agree on a single, consistent approach for all the children.

4. How are you saving for the children’s education?

It’s common for blended families to have different amounts saved for the post-secondary education of each partner’s children. It may be possible to merge education savings in a family RESP so all children have access to the same pool of money. On the other hand, if ex-partners are contributing too, they may prefer to keep plans separate. Figure out what works for all children within the constraints of family dynamics.

5. Where will you live?

Prior to marriage or living common law, each person may sell his or her principal residence without paying capital gains tax. Once the individuals become spouses only one home can qualify for the principal residence exemption.  Make sure you consider this factor before deciding where to live.

6. Should you formalize your arrangements?

If both partners are open to the idea, consider drawing up a marriage contract. While they may not seem very romantic, marriage contracts help ensure that both partners clearly understand their joint financial starting point. They’re a way to protect both partners. And they can formalize parents’ wishes concerning which assets will go to which children.

7. How does your relationship affect your estate plan?

Set aside time to talk to an advisor and a legal professional, about how merging families affects estate planning – keeping in mind that marriage revokes wills in some provinces. Together, decide on an approach that protects each partner and treats children from each family fairly. In addition to updating wills and any trusts, it may be necessary to update beneficiary designations on registered accounts such as RRSPs and RRIFs, insurance policies and pension plans.

8. How does your relationship affect your tax plan?

Canadian tax law considers partners to be spouses once they get married, or have lived together in a conjugal relationship for 12 months or more (whether or not the relationship is same-sex). Spouses can claim the spousal credit, transfer some tax credits to each other, take advantage of spousal RRSPs, split pension income, leave assets to each other on a tax-deferred basis and more. Sharing a tax professional can help blended families maximize the tax benefits.

Speak with an advisor

Joint financial planning can strengthen new blended families, improving financial well-being today and in the future – and working closely with an advisor through what can be a complex transition can help minimize negative surprises and conflicts.

This article was submitted by Leony deGraaf Hastings CFP, EPC, certified Financial Planner, 1-800-775-7047  www.dgfs.ca .

Talking care with parents

How to have conversations about support for aging loved ones.

According to Statistics Canada, seniors are the fastest-growing age group in the Canadian population.  Given longer life expectancies, many of us will have to care for an aging parent at some point, and providing and paying for that care can be a real concern. In fact, a recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of Canadians don’t know how they’ll manage the care and finances of their aging parents. To prepare for any eventuality, consider gathering family members together to talk about living situations and levels of care that will meet everyone’s needs, as well as how to handle and finance that care. It may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but planning in advance can help avoid misunderstandings later. Here are some suggestions to get the conversation started.

Involve family members from the beginning

It’s a good idea to include siblings and other family members in the conversation right from the start. Have open and regular discussions on how to manage costs associated with parents ’care, and designate responsibilities. This way everyone has the chance to speak their mind and contribute to decision making.

Find out what your parents think

Ask your parents what they want and where they want to live, and discuss what types of care may be needed. If they want to stay in their own home, can they afford and maintain it themselves? Will it need accessibility alterations (ramp, hand railings, etc.)? Consider including an independent third party in the conversation, such as a personal care worker or an advisor, to help everyone understand the practical, financial and emotional aspects of elder care.

Get familiar with your parents’ finances

Your parents have been managing their own money for many years, so this can be a sensitive topic. There may come a time, however, when it’s necessary to learn about your parents’ finances and help them get organized, so if and when it makes sense, offer your help to work with their advisor to do what’s best for their financial needs. You’ll also want to find out if your parents’ will and/or estate plan is up to date. Do they have a power of attorney (referred to as a health care directive in some provinces) outlining their wishes for medical treatment, or a power of attorney for property authorizing someone to act on their behalf regarding their financial affairs? Although it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, many of us will eventually have to manage the care and finances of elderly parents. With this in mind, the earlier you start the conversation, the better prepared your family can be. By taking advantage of various resources and including an advisor in the conversation, you can help ensure that your parents will receive the best care they can get if and when the time comes.

This article was submitted by Leony deGraaf Hastings CFP, EPC, certified Financial Planner, 1-800-775-7047 www.dgfs.ca
 

Pension funds left in deficit, while shareholders cash in

“What the CCPA report shows is that the retirement security of millions of Canadians is taking a back seat to windfall profits for well-heeled shareholders.” — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer

Ottawa (01 Dec. 2017) — A Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) report, entitled The Lion's Share, found that companies whose pension plans are in deficit are paying billions to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks. CCPA looked at 39 companies on the S&P/TSX 60, a list of 60 of the largest companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, with defined benefit pension plans. In 2016, those companies paid out a total of $46.9 billion to shareholders. That’s more than 4 times the combined $10.8 billion deficit in their pension plans.

“What the CCPA report shows is that the retirement security of millions of Canadians is taking a back seat to windfall profits for well-heeled shareholders,” said Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

Report shows attacks on defined benefit pension plans are based on false information.

The size of the payouts to shareholders make it clear that companies can afford to maintain defined benefits plans for their employees. In almost all cases, the company can easily afford to eliminate any deficits in their pension plans. But instead, share buybacks, to push up share prices, and dividends are the priority.

Between 2011 and 2016, the 4 large banks with pension plan deficits spent $72.2 billion on dividends for shareholders and share buybacks. That’s more than 17 times the total pension plan deficit for the 4 plans.

Sears Canada an example of problem with pension plan deficits

Workers and retirees feel the impact of pension deficits if a pension plan has to be rapidly wound up. Sears Canada is just the most recent example of workers and retirees facing reduced pensions because the plan was in deficit when the company entered bankruptcy protection.

Pensions are deferred wages

The money in pension plans is money workers earned. Workers accepted that part of their pay would go into a pension plan to provide an income in retirement. When pension benefits are cut because of a shortfall in a pension plan the employer is defaulting on a debt.

In contrast, shareholders in corporations are supposed to be taking a risk. Their shares give them control over the company and the profits. However, the trade-off is supposed to be that they are the last to get their money back if a company runs into difficulty.

That changes when companies with pension plan deficits are able to make large payouts to shareholders — as Sears Canada did.

“When there are no restrictions on what companies with pension plan deficits can pay shareholders, pensions are put at risk to guarantee returns for shareholders,” said Ballermann.

Restrictions on payments to shareholders needed to protect retirees

As authors of the CCPA report point out, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the problem of companies leaving their pension plans in deficit while making large payments to shareholders. This includes placing restrictions on share buybacks or dividend increases for companies with a pension plan deficit.

This article was taken from the NUPGE website.

Canada’s unions say they hope finance ministers are fixing CPP inequities

Monday, December 11, 2017 - Canada’s unions say they are encouraged that Canada’s finance ministers are working to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan and hope that means parents who take time off work to raise children and workers with disabilities will not be penalized.

A statement issued by Canada’s finance ministers today promises “to provide greater benefits to parents whose income drops after the birth or adoption of their child [and] to persons with disabilities.”

“We were very surprised to learn that child-rearing and disability protections weren’t included in last year’s hard-won CPP expansion,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

“For 18 months we’ve called on the government to fix the problem by fully protecting workers with disabilities and workers who take time off work to raise their children,” he added.

Unions and women’s groups fought for years to include protections that ensured that parents who took time off to raise children – mostly women – could exclude or “drop-out” periods of low and zero earnings from the calculation of their retirement benefit.

A disability drop-out excludes periods in which a worker has become severe and chronically disabled and is receiving CPP disability benefits.

When the finance ministers agreed in June 2016 to expand the CPP, unions believed these drop-outs would continue to apply in the enhanced benefit. They didn’t.

“We’ll be asking for more details on what the finance ministers are planning,” said Yussuff.

“We know that including these protections in the expanded CPP can mean thousands of dollars more in retirement for parents – especially women – and workers who lost income because of injuries or disabilities, and we want to ensure this problem is fixed once and for all,” he added.

October 31, 2017                                                                                                      Attn: Assignment Editor

For Immediate Release

Thousands of Patients Lining Hospital Hallways in Brampton “Code Gridlock” Just the Tip of the Iceberg:

Coalition Calls for Long-Term Plan to Reinvest & Rebuild Hospital Bed Capacity

Toronto – A memo obtained by the NDP, released in the media today, reveals that more than 4,300 patients stayed on stretchers in hospital corridors and the like for significant lengths of time, often waiting 40 – 70 hours for a bed, as the Brampton Civic hospital grappled with “Code Gridlock” for 65 days this year. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Ontario hospitals in every medium-to-large sized town in Ontario report that they are full, often running at dangerous levels of overcrowding amounting to 100 percent capacity (every single bed full at all times) or even higher.

There is an almost-total consensus among governments and health policy leaders internationally that levels of crowding exceeding 85 percent capacity lead to bottlenecks and blocked emergency departments, take ambulances off the road in offload delays, increase incidence of hospital-acquired infections, increase violence, and lead to inadequate care. It is also irrefutable that overcrowded emergency departments lead to higher rates of patient mortality. Yet the majority of Ontario’s hospitals are routinely running at more than 85 percent capacity almost all the time and many are running at 100 – 120 percent or even higher.

“The rates of overcrowding in Ontario’s hospitals are unheard of in the developed world,” reported Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition who has done a comparative analysis of hospital beds, nursing and funding levels, available here: http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/Pre-Budget-Briefing-Feb-2016-1.pdf

“The temporary beds announced by Minister of Health Hoskins last week are welcome, but the fact that they are temporary and there is no plan to come anywhere near to addressing the crisis that has been caused by 10-years straight of real-dollar budget cuts to Ontario’s hospitals remains a grave worry. Even when we add the temporary 1,200 beds to Ontario’s existing number of hospital beds, Ontario still ranks dead last of all provinces in Canada in the number of beds per capita,” she noted. “The bottom line is this: Ontario’s hospital funding is among the very lowest in Canada, and, after decades of cuts we have the fewest hospital beds left in the developed world. We also have a severe shortage of long-term care beds. These are the leading factors the current hospital crisis.”

Late last week, a spokesperson for Minister of Health told the media that Minister Hoskins is in discussions with the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to extend the extra funding. This is welcome news, and his government should listen to him. Concrete progress is urgently needed.

“The government is now recognizing the problem, but that recognition is only partial; they are still blaming patients rather than too-deep cuts and taking only temporary measures that will not be enough to address the crisis,” said Mehra. “The government’s plans, as laid out in the budget, are clear: the plan is to announce a short-term boost to health care funding leading into the election in June and to reduce that funding the year after the election. This is dangerous for patients and staff alike. That’s why we are calling for a plan to rebuild hospital bed capacity in Ontario to meet population need.”

For more information: Natalie Mehra, executive director Ontario Health Coalition 416-441-2502 or 416-548-4202.

Background

Ontario’s government has been given repeated warnings that the hospital cuts have gone too far. The Ontario Health Coalition has spent the last 10-years fighting hospital cuts and closures. In fact, the coalition has given cross-province  submissions in every pre-budget consultation for year warning about the cuts; raised the issue in multiple letters to the Minister and in meetings with key policy staff; held repeated rallies outside pre-budget consultations and outside the Legislature; released annual “austerity indexes” listing cuts. The coalition also released a major report “Code Red: Ontario’s Hospital Cuts Crisis” in 2015 warning that Ontario’s hospitals are living in a permanent state of crisis, having been pushed by years of cuts into levels of overcrowding that are dangerous for patients and staff. With the report, the Coalition released an interactive map of Ontario showing 51 hospital sites out of just over 200 hospital sites across the province that are marked as “Code Red” denoting significant hospital cuts or threat of closure. At that time, at least one in four of Ontario hospitals was experiencing significant cuts or closure. Last spring, the coalition held a voluntary referendum asking Ontarians to vote to stop hospital cuts and privatization. Almost 100,000 people voted to stop cuts and privatization. In January 2017, the coalition held a special press conference warning of the bed crisis in Ontario’s hospitals last winter. Today, the situation has worsened. The coalition has also held regular “Days of Action” over the last three years, busing thousands of residents in to the Ontario Legislature to try to stop major cuts and closures of their local hospitals.

Myth Buster

The current PR line that is being used is that a sudden “surge” of patients over the last year has led to the hospital overcrowding crisis. This is not supported by the data that has been obtained by the NDP through repeated Freedom of Information requests. In fact, in addition to the well-documented shortage of long-term care beds in Ontario, there are 3 hospital trends that have contributed to the current situation:

  1. The number of hospital beds (and staff and services) have been cut to crisis levels.  As a result of decades of hospital bed cuts, Ontario ranks last among all provinces in Canada in the number of hospital beds per capita. Among developed nations, only Chile and Mexico have fewer beds than Ontario. When the 1,200 temporary beds announced by the Minister of Health eight days ago are added in, Ontario still ranks at the bottom of Canada and third from the bottom of the OECD.
  2. Small and rural hospitals have been gutted, pushing more patients into larger town and city hospitals that are already overrun.  Those hospitals that were amalgamated in the restructuring of the 1990s- early 2000s have acted to save their larger sites by centralizing services and cutting the smaller sites. As a result entire small towns’ hospitals have closed or been gutted, and patients have been forced to seek more and more services in larger centres. It is no surprise, therefore, that there is unused capacity in a number of small town hospitals while larger hospitals are increasingly overruns.
  3. Hospital funding has been cut to crisis levels. Despite years of propaganda geared to cover for cuts and support privatization, funding for Ontario’s hospitals has been shrinking as a proportion of health spending since at least the 1980s. Overall public health care spending has been shrinking since at least 2000. By every measure – on a per-person basis, as a percentage of GDP, as a percentage of the provincial budget -- Ontario’s hospital funding ranks near or at the bottom of all Canadian provinces.  In further evidence of the cuts: Ontario has the fewest nurses (RN & RPN) per weighted case (average patient) in Canada and that gap is growing. Ontario has the highest rate of hospital readmissions in Canada and that gap is growing also.

This evidence, sourced from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada’s crown corporation in charge of health data in Canada, using government figures, and the OECD data, are here:  http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/Pre-Budget-Briefing-Feb-2016-1.pdf

There is no evidence to support the contention that Ontario should have less cost per capita because it has higher population density. All European nations have higher population density than Ontario and yet have far more hospital beds. In addition, while Ontario’s south may have high population density, Ontario’s north has extremely low population density. Further, there are higher costs in cities with tertiary and quaternary hospitals with higher costs of living and higher specialization rates. There are higher costs in rural areas where patient transport adds costs. The fact is that the relationship between population density and health care costs is not well studied.

~ Protecting Public Medicare for All ~
Ontario Health Coalition
15 Gervais Drive, Suite 201
Toronto, ON M3C 1Y8

Information

The executive committee of the Retired Members Division tries to make sure that we provide relevant and timely information to all sectors of OPSEU. However, from time to time that doesn’t happen. When that happens, we are informed of the error of our ways by the readers.

In this case we only had contact information for the Ontario Public Service benefits provider etc. It was pointed out that there are other groups in our Union that fall under different pensions and benefit providers.  The next edition will have the contact info for the other groups. If by chance you are a member of one of those groups and you have the contact info at your fingertips you can forward it to Ed Faulknor Chair of the executive committee, ted.faulknor@sympatico.ca.  We will make every effort to track down the benefit and pension provider info for the other units and include it in the next edition.

The Retired Members Executive Committee

Why Canada is wasting millions on useless knee surgeries

'Overwhelming evidence' arthroscopic surgery ineffective for arthritic knees, expert panel says CBC News

An international expert panel says a common, minimally invasive surgery is largely useless for knee problems stemming from arthritis. Yet most arthroscopic knee surgeries in Canada are performed for this common condition.

The panel of physicians, physiotherapists, academics and patients reviewed 13 randomized trials with control groups and found patients who underwent the procedure had the same outcomes as those who didn't.

Arthroscopic knee surgery involves sending a tiny camera called an arthroscope through an incision in the knee, allowing surgeons to look inside and use small instruments to cut tissue.

"It's not helping people in the long run."- Dr Reed Siemieniuk

McMaster University's Dr. Reed Siemieniuk, who chaired the panel, said the ease of the procedure makes it an attractive option for physicians who want to alleviate their patients' chronic knee pain.

"It's minimally invasive. It generally has low risk. But that said, if it's not helping people in the long run, then even small risks can become important when it's so common." 

$31M in health-care spending

Siemieniuk said arthroscopic surgery has been shown to be effective in only a small subset of patients such as those who've had a sports injury or experienced sudden knee trauma from an accident.

Dr. Reed Siemieniuk, of McMaster University, chaired the international expert panel that concluded arthroscopic surgery is ineffective for most chronic knee problems. (University of Toronto)

But the panel's research found that in Ontario alone, of the 27,000 people who had the procedure on their knees in 2013, about 90 per cent were due to arthritis.

With an average cost of $1,300 per procedure, the figures suggests $31 million in health-care spending that likely had no long-term benefit to the patient.

Evidence that arthroscopic surgery is ineffective for arthritis began emerging a decade ago, yet physicians continued to recommend it to their patients to treat secondary problems stemming from the condition such as meniscus tears, sudden pain or clicking and catching of the knee.

No easy answers

In its new clinical guidelines published in The BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal), Siemieniuk and the rest of the panel recommend against arthroscopy for these symptoms.

He said there are no easy answers for chronic knee pain.

"The first few steps are weight loss, physical therapy and painkillers, whether injections or topical creams. But long term, people with arthritis and chronic knee pain eventually go on to needing knee replacement surgery."

Siemieniuk said it is up to health policymakers and physicians to decide how to discourage needless arthroscopic knee surgery as the guidelines are just that.

Here’s Your Sign

A sign in a shoe repair store in Vancouver that read

"We will heel you
We will save your sole
We will even dye for you."

At an optometrist's office

"If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."

On a plumber's truck

"We repair what your husband fixed."

Types of Heart Disease

Heart and Stroke Foundation

What is heart disease?

Your heart is a muscle that gets energy from blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. Having a constant supply of blood keeps your heart working properly. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions affecting the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes. Coronary artery disease, for example, develops when a combination of fatty materials, calcium and scar tissue (called plaque) builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart (coronary arteries). The plaque buildup narrows the arteries and prevents the heart from getting enough blood.

How can I prevent heart disease?

Heart disease is preventable and manageable.

Your best defense is controlling the risk factors that could lead to coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and being overweight.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, there are treatments to help you manage your illness. You can further reduce your risk by considering these heart-healthy steps:

  • Be smoke-free.
  • Be physically active.
  • Know and control your blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is lower in fat, especially saturated and trans fat.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Limit alcohol use.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Visit your doctor regularly and follow your doctor’s advice.

West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. In rare instances, WNV can be transmitted through organ transplants, blood transfusions or from mother to child during pregnancy. Symptoms usually develop 2 to 14 days after receiving a bite from an infected mosquito.

Approximately 80% of those infected with WNV do not show any symptoms. Of the 20% that do show symptoms, most experience mild illness with symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash 
  • Occasionally, vomiting and nausea

Less than 1% of those infected with WNV experience severe illness involving the central nervous system. The risk of exposure to WNV around the home can be reduced by eliminating mosquito breeding sites, including standing water in places such as bird baths, eavestroughs, flower pots and discarded tires; by wearing protective clothing; always using mosquito repellent when outdoors at dawn and dusk; and by preventing mosquito entry into the home.

Contact Us ezvbd@oahpp.ca 

More Signs

Outside a Muffler Shop

"No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."

In a Veterinarian's waiting room

"Be back in 5 minutes.     Sit...   Stay…"

Fire Safety for Seniors

When it comes to fire safety, seniors are particularly vulnerable. Decreasing mobility and cognitive challenges can make it harder to respond to a fire and reach safety. To stay safe, remember the following.

  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms. By law, smoke alarms are required to be on every storey of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the battery once a year or when the low battery warning sounds. If you suffer hearing loss or sleep with the bedroom door closed, install a smoke alarm inside your bedroom or install a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Have at least two ways out of every room if possible. Develop a home fire escape plan that considers your mobility challenges. Practice your escape plan often. For seniors with memory concerns, record escape plans and place copies in an easily accessible location.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking. Cooking fires are one of the leading causes of fire injuries among older adults. Turn off the stove/oven if you leave the room while cooking. Loose or dangling clothing can easily catch fire if it comes in contact with the burners or open flame.
  • Encourage smokers to smoke outside or use large deep ashtrays that can’t be easily knocked over to collect ashes from cigarettes. Do not extinguish cigarettes in plant pots which often contain peat moss, shredded wood and bark that can easily ignite.
  • Empty ashtrays properly by dousing ashes with water or emptying them into the toilet. Make sure they are completely out. Never empty ashtrays directly into the garbage.
  • Never smoke in bed.

For more information on fire safety contact your local fire department or visit the office of the Fire Marshall website at: www.ontario.ca/firemarshal

This article is an excerpt from an Ontario Government Publication called A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario.

Discounts for Seniors!

If you’re a senior (or you know a senior) looking to save money, look no further. Thanks to the help of many on our Facebook page, I have put together a list of discounts available to seniors in Canada.

The following list includes the store, discount, and minimum age requirement:

  • A&W (age: 60+: 20% off food
  • The Bay (age: 60+): 15% off your purchase, first Tuesday of every month.
  • Bulk Barn (age: students AND 60+): 10% off your purchase, every Wednesday. Discount cannot be combined with any other discount ($3 off $10 coupons).
  • Canadian Tire (age: 65+): 10% off regular priced items, first Wednesday of every month.
  • Golden Griddle (age: 55+):10% discount, excluding alcohol, every day.
  • Go Transit (age: 65+): 1/2 price of a single ride adult fare, every day.
  • Greyhound (age: 62+): 10% off your purchase, every day.
  • Imperial Buffet (age: 65+): 25% off the buffet price, every day.
  • Lawtons Drug (age: 55+): 20% off select merchandise, every day.
  • M&M Meats (age: 60+): 5% off your purchase, every Tuesday.
  • Mandarin Chinese Buffet (age: 65+): 20% off the buffet price, every day.
  • Marriott (age: 62+): 15% off or more on your room rate, every day.
  • McDonalds (age: 60+): Large coffee for $0.85, every day.
  • Rexall PharmaPlus (age: 55+): 20% off your purchase of regular priced merchandise every Tuesday of the Month.
  • Rona (age: 65+): 10% off your regular priced purchase. First Tuesday of the month.
  • Salvation Army (age: 60+): 10% off your purchase, every day. Discount cannot be combined with other offers.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart (age: 55+): 20% off your purchase of regular priced merchandise (excludes certain items), every Thursday.
  • Smitty’s: With a $2 annual fee, receive a $5 gift certificate and save 15% off any menu or retail item, every day.
  • Value Village (age: 55+): 10% off your purchase, every Tuesday.
  • Via Rail (age: 60+): Save on adult regular fare, every day.

Reaching a milestone birthday of 50+ is cause for celebration – think of all the discounts you’re able to receive now (often on top of coupons and other discounts)!

The best possible way to receive a senior discount is to simply ask for one. Most stores offer them, but may not actively promote this service. When it doubt, ask. You can’t get what you don’t ask for!

How Aging Research Will Reshape Our Lives

Posted on October 18, 2017

Aging research has shown that longevity is indeed a heritable trait, estimated to be about 20 to 30 percent genetic. But that doesn’t mean you’re destined to follow in your parents or grandparents’ footsteps. There are many things you can do even if your personal leaf isn’t part of the family tree with longevity and/or optimum brain health.

New research published in June 2017 in Nature, says the maximum human lifespan could jump to 125 years (1).

“Several variables play a role in healthy longevity, including social community, exercise, and a sense of purpose in life,” says Roberta L. Kline, MD, CEO, Genoma International. Cultivating these can improve healthy longevity, and Kline says it’s believed that longevity can occur through both modification of gene expression as well as epigenetic changes.

Studies from the past decade have identified several hundred genes responsible for lifespan(2). However, researchers are currently still attempting to piece together how genes that affect life span influence how we age and how altering or manipulating these genes impacts healthy longevity.

That’s where the science of genomics comes into play.

The Science of Genomics

Kline says genomics looks at how our genes and nutrition interact, and if/how what we eat plays a huge role in our health and longevity. “We know our genes interact with other environmental influences, including social situations, emotions and stress, exercise, chemicals, medications and more. And that epigenetic changes are modifications to the DNA structure that don’t actually change the DNA itself, and are a way that our body responds and adapts quickly to all sorts of environmental factors. All of this adds up over our lifetimes to create health or disease.”

Genomics is playing a major role in longevity research. Much of it is still in the early stages, but some findings can be translated to everyday life today.

One of the major gene families being examined by genomics experts is the sirtuin group of genes, with SIRT1 being especially prominent. “This gene is responsible for turning on, or off, many other genes important in biological systems associated with aging like oxidative stress, inflammation, glucose regulation, lipid metabolism, cell death, and more,” says Kline.

One of the best ways to activate this gene is through periodic fasting. “And you don’t have to be on a multi-day fasting regimen. Research has shown that something as simple as fasting for 12 hours overnight helps activate this gene. So does eating until you’re about 80 percent full, rather than feeling stuffed,” adds Kline.

Building a Healthy Brain Throughout Your Lifetime

Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, rather than simply during the first few years of life, is also revolutionizing longevity and the way we view brain health.

“It was long thought the brain could not repair itself, that once it was injured or damaged by vascular disease, inflammation, or the beta-Amyloid of Alzheimer’s disease, that the trajectory of inevitable decline,” says Karyn Shanks, MD. An internist and founder and director of The Center for Medicine and Healing Arts in Iowa City, IA. “But now we know our brains are alive with the power of neuroplasticity. And that each and every cell has the inherent ability to recover, grow, and create new connections throughout our lifespan.”

Cognitive training appears to be the key to activating neuroplasticity, according to recent data (3. This training spans a wide range of activities from learning a new language, engaging in work and/or an active lifestyle, maintaining high literacy and challenging yourself to use your memory (for instance, remembering directions rather than relying on GPS).

Diet’s Impact in Boosting Brain Health & Longevity

Kline emphasizes that diet has also been found to play a major role in achieving healthy longevity and boosting brain health. Research agrees. Numerous studies indicate consuming antioxidants promotes lifespan extension.

One recent piece of research says the spice curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, has been well-studied for its anticancer properties, but now the spice has been found to increase the lifespan of animals. Researchers believe those results may translate to humans to promote long-term brain health and increase longevity.

Lace ‘em Up

Running has also recently been linked to increased longevity. A recent study published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease says those who run, walk and cycle enjoy a longer lifespan than those who don’t 4. However, running, was specifically connected to the largest increase in healthy longevity, adding three years to a person’s lifespan. The researchers conclude that every one-hour run adds about seven hours to your overall lifespan.

Resources:

  1. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v546/n7660/full/nature22792.html?foxtrotcallback=true
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3410663/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3622463/
  4. http://time.com/4738255/running-increased-lifespan-study/

Ramblings

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. 

Some people try to turn back their "odometers." Not me. I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved. 

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

Ontario Public Service - Retiree Benefit Plan changes

Policy Number for all benefits #157838

If you are eligible for retiree benefits, the following changes will apply to your benefits coverage.

Supplementary Health & Hospital Plan

Insulin Pump and Supplies (change to pages 17 and 18)

Effective August 1, 2005, coverage will be expanded to include diabetic pumps and supplies as follows:

  •  the purchase of insulin infusion pumps to a maximum of $2,000 every 5 years per person
  •  the purchase of insulin jet injectors to a lifetime maximum of $1,000
  •  the purchase and/or repair of one blood glucose monitoring machine per consecutive 4-year period, to  a maximum of $400 per person
  • 100% of the purchase of supplies required for the use of the above-mentioned
  • diabetic appliances to a calendar year maximum of $2,000 per person.

Note: Insulin will continue to be reimbursed as an eligible drug.

Drug Coverage (change to page 12)

Effective June 1, 2004, the deductible changed to $3.00 per prescription.

Additional Drug Coverage (Change to page 11)

Effective April 1, 2009, additional drug coverage: vaccinations or immunizations prescribed by a physician and administered by a qualified health care practitioner will be reimbursed at 90% if they are not covered by a provincial health plan (e.g. OHIP).

Vision Care (change to page 20)

Effective April 1, 2009, 100% of the cost of one routine eye exam every 24 months over and above the $340 maximum payable under the vision care plan. Your 24-month claim period starts after the submission of an eye exam after April 1, 2009 and will be separate from your 24-month vision care claim period for glasses, contact lenses, and corrective laser eye surgery.

Effective January 1, 2010, 100% of the premium for vision and hearing aid coverage will be paid by the Ontario Public Service.

Dental Care Coverage (change to page 25)

Effective January 1, 2009, the dental plan deductible was reduced to $50 from $100 for single or family coverage per calendar year. If you submitted a claim to Great-West Life after January 01, 2009 you will receive a $50 reimbursement.

Effective April 1, 2009, the dental plan will cover pit and fissure sealants for retiree’s dependent children aged 6 to 18 years.

Effective January 1, 2010, the dental plan will pay 50% of the eligible expenses for major dental procedures, after the deductible is paid. The maximum payable in any calendar year is now $2,000, up from $1,200. (change to page 28)

Publication Date: 

Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 10:30am