Autumn View Edition 4, 2017

A message from the chair

Kathleen Wynne’s long overdue announcement of her $155 million “Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors” was certainly a step in the right direction.

The fact that it seems a touch politically motivated shouldn’t take away from the fact of the need for both the money and the beds that are promised. Five thousand long-term care beds over the next four years and 30,000  over the next decade, along with 15 million hours of additional nursing care, personal support workers (PSWs) and therapy, can’t come soon enough.

However, we shouldn’t have to wait 10 years for those 30,000 beds. Even the 5,000 in the next four years doesn’t come close to meeting the present-day needs. Not to mention that improvements in home care have been all but ignored in this announcement.

Almost all seniors want to stay in their own homes as long as possible, but to make this happen, we need improved services like home nursing and more PSW’s to help out.

Ontario’s senior population is expected to double in the next 25 years. We need to plan now to accommodate the resulting 4.6 million seniors who will need the care and services at home before they will need those long-term care beds that were just promised.

Wynne’s announcement and hopefully subsequent action will be a much needed improvement in the situation, but we must be vigilant to see to it that we keep her government’s feet to the fire on this issue and the feet of any new government that may take over in June of next year.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

OPSEU Pension Trust and extended medical coverage

The following is a synopsis of the Q & A that were brought to OPSEU Pension Trust (OPT):

1. Question: What about pre- existing conditions with the new out of province medical coverage?

Answer:  There is no clause in the OPT information and instructions are to contact Great-West Life
        (GWL) about your particular condition to determine if you are still covered and to what degree.

2, Question:  Does the new coverage include cancellation or baggage insurance?

Answer: No, it does not.

3, Question:  it appears that the legacy members can join any time down the road but when they do join there is no in and out and back in again. Is this true?

Answer: Yes.

4, Question:  How does catastrophic drug coverage differ from what exists with OHIP, GWL, or
the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB)?

Answer: Under the current legacy plan, all eligible drug claims in a calendar year are reimbursed  at 90% less a $3 deductible per prescription. Catastrophic Drug Coverage (CDC) provides for the reimbursement rate to increase to 100% on eligible drug claims that exceed $10,000 per patient in a
calendar year (less a $3 deductible for each prescription).

5, Question: Can you get just the catastrophic drug coverage and not the out of province coverage?

Answer:  No.

6.  Question: Is there a separate pool of money that funds this coverage and if so what happens if 
            there is a shortfall?

Answer: No, there is not, and the coverage is fully funded.

7.   Question: How long are the stated rates good for?

Answer:  Rates are reviewed on April 1 of each year.

8.   Question:  Is there any age restriction?

Answer: No.

9.  Question:  Are there shared benefits?

Answer:  The family plan gives coverage to your spouse anyway, but if you wanted to increase the    $ 1 million catastrophic drug coverage to $2 million it appears you could  carry and pay for two plans.

Hopefully the above covers most concerns, but do not hesitate to contact OPT or GWL about your personal circumstances.

This article was written by Ed Faulknor as a result of a meeting with representatives from OPTrust.

On the Road Again

If you're in the market for a new set of wheels, choosing the make and model may be the easy part. Deciding whether to buy or lease is typically the real challenge. Each has its advantages, but what’s right for you depends entirely on your personal situation, finances, and long-term plans.

When you purchase a car, you either pay for it in full or pay a portion of the price in the form of a down payment. A loan is arranged for the balance, and you make monthly payments until the loan is paid off. If you lease, rather than pay the full purchase price of the vehicle, you pay (or borrow) only the amount that the car will depreciate over the term of the lease. This smaller amount means the monthly payments for a lease are usually lower than for a purchase.

Lower payments can seem pretty compelling, but that’s not the end of the story. When a lease term finishes, you don’t have equity in the car. At that point, you have the option of buying the car for the residual amount or returning it and moving on to a new car and lease – and another term of monthly payments. In contrast, when you purchase a car, your monthly payments end when the loan is paid. You then own the car, free and clear, and you can drive it for the life of the vehicle or sell it.

Factors to consider:  time horizon

A car lease has a fixed term, usually between two to four years, with your monthly costs calculated based on the term. Do you need the car for only a year or two? Can you foresee any reason you might not need the car before the lease term is up? If so, think again. Getting out of a lease early can incur costly penalties, so make sure you can maintain the payments for the entire term.

Finances

Making a larger down payment can lower the sales tax you pay on a lease, or significantly lower your monthly payments if you buy. If you want to lower your monthly payments to boost your cash flow, leasing might work best given that monthly payments are usually lower. Still, leasing means that you’ll always have those monthly payments. If you purchase, you could have several years of vehicle use after the loan is paid off.

Kilometres

Lease terms often include mileage limits. Go over the maximum, and you might have to pay penalties. If you’ll be driving a lot, try to negotiate a higher mileage limit before signing the lease. Failing that, you’ll need to work out the cost of exceeding any limits and factor that into your overall budget.

Wear and tear

A lease sets limits on how much wear and tear is acceptable, and charges extra fees if the car has any damage. If you have kids or animals riding in the car regularly, it might be better to opt for purchasing. The excess wear and tear charges could eat into money you’ve set aside for a down payment on your next car, resulting in higher monthly payments and a higher overall leasing cost.

Maintenance

With a lease, you get a new car every few years, which means fewer worries about its reliability. Maintenance is included in your warranty. If you own, you’ll have to pay for ongoing maintenance and repairs as the car ages.

While buying a car is almost always cheaper in the long run, a lease might suit your personal situation better. If you do consider a lease, know what you’re getting into. Review all the details in your lease agreement – including options and penalties that apply. Before you make a decision, talk to an advisor. She or he can help you figure out what’s best for you.

Comparison shopping; buying vs leasing

How costs compare (in pre-tax dollars) on the same vehicle over 10 years.                       

Vehicle list price 

Lease  34,000
Purchase  34,000

The details   

Three-year lease, 24,000 Kilometers      Five-year loan with $0 down                            

Annual allowance $0 down, 1.9 % financing      0% financing. No limit on KM

Assumes continual rollover at lease end

Monthly Payments         

Lease $520 
Purchase $600

Payments duration        

Lease 10 years 
Purchase 5 years

Total Financing cost 

$ 62,400
$ 50,500

Maintenance    

Lease Warranty

Purchase $14,500 regular maintenance

Total costs                     

Lease $62,500                                                     
Purchase   $50,500

Savings   $ 11,900 Plus value of vehicle

deGraaf Financial Strategies, Burlington, ON

A unique strategy to kick-start a financial future

CHILDREN ARE FULL OF IMMEASURABLE POTENTIAL – but they often need financial resources to make their dreams come true. Aspiring professionals need to finance years of schooling. Future entrepreneurs need start-up capital. Everybody needs a home, and real estate doesn’t come cheap.

There are many ways to help build a foundation for a child’s or grandchild’s financial future. One innovative strategy is to purchase insurance that increases in value over time. This approach uses a permanent life insurance policy to facilitate the tax-efficient transfer of wealth between generations.

Here’s how it works 

  • Purchase a permanent life insurance policy on the life of a child or grandchild
  • As the owner, choose to top up the premiums to build cash value
  • Transfer ownership of the policy to the child or grandchild at or after age 18

As long as certain specific Canada Revenue Agency requirements are met (see sidebar), the transfer can qualify as a tax-free rollover. After the transfer, the child or grandchild can name a new beneficiary and access the cash value to meet current or future cash needs, such as paying for post-secondary education or purchasing a new home. Provided that funds are withdrawn after the child or grandchild turns 18, any policy gain is taxed in that young adult’s hands – not in the hands of the former owner.

Get planning flexibility

Many people accumulate money to leave their children or grandchildren by investing in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), or some other taxable investment. These investments may have strict contribution limits or may not provide much flexibility. But for those with excess wealth, there is an additional option. By purchasing a permanent life insurance policy, the parent or grandparent has more flexibility to allocate excess wealth towards the policy’s cash value. And the cash value grows within a tax deferred environment.

Set young people on the road to financial independence

For parents and grandparents who have accumulated more money than they need to finance their own lifestyle goals, building cash value within a permanent life insurance policy makes it possible to transfer wealth to a child or grandchild tax-efficiently. Even better, it allows parents and grandparents to see their gift in action – helping a loved one realize ambitions, hopes and dreams. And for the child or grandchild, after ownership transfers, the insurance can become a solid foundation for a comprehensive financial plan that protects his or her family and continues to build cash value into the future. Your advisor can help you determine if this strategy is right for you, and how it may complement other elements of your family’s financial planning. Keep in mind that it’s often best to purchase a permanent life insurance policy early in a child’s or grandchild’s life because this gives the cash value the longest possible time to grow before it’s needed.

deGraaf Financial Strategies, Burlington, ON

"Once an activist, always an activist"

Ethel Birkett-LaValley
Algonquin Golden Lakes First Nation Band & Member of Algonquin Pikwakanagan Band

Ethel’s list of accomplishments is so extensive we had to do them in point form. That doesn’t in anyway describe her many personal attributes that her friends know so well. Her contributions over the years have made countless peoples lives better.

Present:  Vice-Chair, Retired Members Division – Region 3

  • 1995 – 2005: Secretary-Treasurer, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL): responsiblefor Federation’s financial affairs and overseeing the Human Rights Department for Women’s Issues, the Aboriginal Committee, and the Solidarity & Pride Committee         
  • 2002:  Gifted with three eagle feathers from Sam George (brother of Dudley George whowas killed protecting sacred ground in Ipperwash Provincial Park), Frank Dreaver(Leonard Peltier Defense Fund), Elder Alvin Coponace (Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers of Canada and Aboriginal Economic Renewal Initiative Conference)
  • 2001:  As Aboriginal Canadian Labour Council (CLC) Vice-President, attended theUnited Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa as part of the CLC delegation
  • 1994:  First Aboriginal Vice-President, Canadian Labour Congress
  • 1978 – 1995:  President, Local Union #306, Ontario Public Service Employees Union
    (OPSEU)
  • OPSEU/Executive Committee -  Vice-President 1982-1984, 1985-1995
  • Vice-President, National Union of Public Employees (NUPGE) 1992-1995; represented            NUPGE in Geneva, Switzerland at a conference of indigenous people (1994)
  • 1998:  Elected mayor of the newly amalgamated Corporation of the Township of South Algonquin
  • Reeve, Township of Airy, Ontario 1985 – 1998 (Municipal experience included: FirstWomen Reeve of Airy Township, 1974 – First Woman Councillor for Airy, Member of Renfrew County Health Unit Board, Trustees, 1990 – 1992, St. Francis Memorial HospitalBoard, member of the Whitney/Algonquin Park Emergency Response Team, Chair of Airy and District Medical Centre and Library (1977), youngest director to the Northern  Ontario Municipal Recreation Board)
  • 1992:  Vice-President, Association of Municipalities of Ontario
  • Past labour member of the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Board

October 23, 2017

Wynne government's hospital bed announcement a temporary band-aid but health coalition slams expanding health care privatization                                                                               

Toronto – The Ontario Health Coalition congratulated the Health Minister for recognizing the crisis in Ontario’s hospitals and announcing 1,200 new hospital beds today. However, the coalition cautioned that this is only a temporary band-aid that will partially alleviate the crisis but not solve it. One-fourth of the hospital money announced today was already announced in the budget and the announced beds are both temporary and too few to meet the need. The coalition is disturbed by the government’s plans to continue the crisis in public hospitals and move capacity to private for-profit corporations.

“Ontario needs a long-term plan to rebuild capacity in our public hospitals to meet population need,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition who has been fighting hospital cuts and closures for the last decade. “We have been in a hospital overcrowding crisis all year all across Ontario, not because of a flu season, but because hospital beds have been cut in our province for decades. At this point, the cuts are deeper than in any other province in Canada and any other country in the developed world. Ontario now has the fewest hospital beds per person, the least amount of nursing care per patient. Patients are forced out of hospital, often with no care or inadequate care, too frail, and as a result we have the highest hospital readmission rate in the country.”

Taking issue with the claims and process used by the government, Mehra said. “From what has been happening in Australia we are expecting a terrible flu season, no question. But even before this, Ontario’s hospitals are overcrowded to the point of being in total crisis. Planning for our hospitals needs to be long-term and based on projections of community need. It needs to be done in an open and transparent way and policy must be forged with democratic public input, not made in backroom deals with the Ontario Hospital Association, whom we do not trust to advocate for the real needs of Ontarians.”

Using government figures, the Ontario Health Coalition has produced charts comparing Ontario’s hospital beds, nursing, and funding compared to other provinces, available here: http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/wp-content/uploads/Pre-Budget-Briefing-Feb-2016-1.pdf

Briefing Note:

On the number of beds:  A hospital bed in this context refers to a funded and staffed bed. There are all kinds of empty wards in Ontario’s hospitals where beds have been closed down, but hospitals do not have the funding to reopen and staff them. Adding 1,200 hospital beds will still leave Ontario dead last in Canada in the number of hospital beds per capita, and at the bottom of the entire OECD. This is not enough beds to prevent overcrowding in flu season and it is not a long-term plan. In the government’s release the beds are described as “temporary” and “transitional.” Furthermore, opening up mothballed hospitals is not a plan to build capacity in public hospitals to meet the needs of a growing and aging population.

The globally accepted safe level of hospital occupancy is 80 – 85 percent. Many of Ontario’s hospitals are routinely running over 100 per cent with stretchers in hallways, patients crowded into non-patient spaces, emergency departments housing patients for days at a time. Undue pressure is put on patients to get out of hospital from the moment they are admitted, and often patients are sent home with all kinds of promises for care that never materializes. The OHA has called for more long-term care beds and has cited the low numbers of beds as evidence of “efficient” hospitals. That is not how patients see it. Readmission rates are climbing every year, people are left in inhumane conditions, and families are suffering as a result of the hospital cuts that have gone too far.

On privatization: The government is planning on moving hospital patients out to retirement homes, home care and community care. The vast majority of retirement homes are private and for-profit. They are not health care facilities and they are “self-regulating.”  They do not have the standards and safety regulations of long-term care homes. A number of retirement homes unlawfully charge patients for services that are supposed to be OHIP-covered. Health policy should not be used as a subsidy for a private industry, no matter how much they lobby the government for public money. Similarly, patients that can be moved out to home care are already moved out, and home care is majority privatized. While the $40 million increase for home care volumes is needed, plans to continue to offload and privatize hospital care are not supported by the evidence. Many of the services that are being cut today are not transferable, for example operating room closures, surgical and medical bed closures, cuts to RNs, RPNs, cleaners, health record transcribers and health professionals, cuts to inpatient mental health and so on. The “transition” of hospital care to home care was accomplished more than a decade ago. Now this rhetoric is used as a cover for cuts to needed care.

On bed blocking: The Ontario government and hospital leadership continues to ignore their own evidence that the overcrowding in hospitals is not due to seniors who can and should be moved out. Alternate Level of Care is a designation that refers both to people in hospital beds that could be moved to long-term, home or community care, and to patients that are waiting for a hospital bed. Patients waiting for mental health beds, or rehab beds, or medical patients in surgical beds are all counted in Alternate Level of Care statistics. Thus, government and hospital leadership routinely overstate the number of patients that could be moved out. For more details and the most recent publicly available numbers on this see: http://www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca/index.php/release-backgrounder-ontario-government-responsible-for-overwhelmed-hospital-emergency-departments-critical-bed-shortages-systemic-and-pervasive/

Further, Ontario has a severe shortage of long-term care beds. As a result, today’s long-term care homes grant access to only those patients with the highest acuity. Since hospital patients are the top of the list to be moved into long-term care homes, if they are not being discharged to long-term care it is because the care needs of the patients are too high for the long-term care homes to take. Already violence and homicide rates in long-term care homes are too high and homes cannot be forced to take people for whom they cannot care safely. It therefore will not be successful to plan to move these patients out to private for-profit retirement homes and other less intensive types of community care.

On the money: The government announced $100 million for temporary and transitional beds in hospitals and $40 million for home care. Of the $100 million, $26 million was already announced in last spring’s provincial budget. The $40 million for home care volumes is new money.  The funding is welcome and needed. Ontario funds its hospitals at the second lowest rate in Canada (only Quebec is lower) and here, hospital funding is far below the average of the rest of the provinces. However, the coalitions warns that the temporary nature of the funding should raise red flags. The government’s fiscal plan is to increase hospital funding next year, leading into the provincial election, then reduce it again. The coalition is calling for a long-term capacity plan, based on the evidence of population need for care, to protect Ontarians against such short-term partisan policies and ensure that Ontario’s hospital crisis is properly solved for the long term. 

~ Protecting Public Medicare for All ~
Ontario Health Coalition

Funny airline announcements

“Sorry about the bumpy landing. It’s not the captain’s fault. It’s not the co-pilot’s fault. It’s the Asphalt.”

“Please make sure you take all your belongings with you. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please don’t leave children or spouses.”

Canada's stem cell research needs 'big investment' to move forward, experts say       

An early leader in the field, some suggest Canada’s commitment isn't keeping pace with the rest of the world  By Joseph Quigley, CBC News

The field of stem cell therapy is growing rapidly with the promise to revolutionize medical treatments. But in order to take it from research to reality, experts say much more time, support and funding is needed.

Canada has long been considered a world leader in stem cell research — in part because the field was pioneered here in 1961, when Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch discovered the existence of stem cells at the Toronto-based Ontario Cancer Institute.

More recent discoveries by Canadian scientists include a method to change adult skin cells into stem cells and a way to convert blood into nerve cells.

"It is an exciting time. This is an area where Canada does punch above its weight," says Janet Rossant, executive director of the Ontario Institute of Regenerative Medicine.

But Rossant and other experts suggest our level of funding commitment hasn't kept pace with what's happening elsewhere in the world.

"When we're talking about investment in research, we are not, as a country, investing the same percentage in research and development as some of our competitor countries. But we do extremely well on relatively small investments," she says.

Governments and corporations around the world are heavily investing in stem cell research, though the field is still early in its development. A survey from a U.S.-based market-research firm found the global stem-cell market is expected to reach $40 billion US by 2020 and $180 billion US by 2030.

Meanwhile, new therapies are progressing into early clinical trials, with hopes that the regenerative capacity of stem cells could be used to better treat — or possibly even cure — a variety of diseases, from spinal-cord injury to diabetes, multiple sclerosis to Parkinson's disease.

Canada has held some of its own clinical trials, such as a 2015 trial in Winnipeg to test a new stem cell therapy aimed at reducing the effects of MS.

Still, these new treatments are some time away from getting past the clinical-trial stage and it will be costly to make them available for widespread public use.

"You really do not want to be rushing these (treatments) to the clinic," Rossant says. "You want to be sure they're safe and they're effective."

In spite of such hurdles, Rossant says she expects many new stem cell treatments to appear in the clinic in the next two to three years, with one or two of those advancing to that next level of clinical trial in about five years.

"It's happening. It's happening here and it's happening around the world. A step at a time," she says.

Stem cell advocates call for strategy

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $20 million in federal funding to help establish a new facility for the Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, an organization working to find ways to manufacture stem cell therapy treatments for widespread use.

Ottawa had also announced a $114-million grant for a stem cell research hub at the University of Toronto in July 2015, to be called "Medicine by Design."

Figures from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research show the government has invested about $705 million in stem cell research since 2001, including $64.5 million in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

In comparison, the state of California — with a population similar to that of Canada —committed $3 billion in funding in 2004, to be rolled out over about 10 years.

Japan, Korea and Singapore, with their aging populations, are also making large amounts of money available for stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

"I think Canada, while we've been at the forefront, we need to make that next big investment to move the field forward," says James Price, CEO of the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation.

According to a 2009 industry briefing on regenerative medicine from MaRS, Canada ranked first in the world on citations for stem cell research, third in influential patents and fourth in government funding. 

The foundation, a coalition of research and advocacy groups, is calling for a $1.5-billion national stem cell strategy to help maintain Canada's leading role over the next decade.

The foundation would like to see one-third of the funding provided by Ottawa, with the rest coming from corporate or private investors.

Many countries are putting more investment into stem cell research. The state of California alone has committed $3 billion over 10 years to the growing field (The Associated Press).

Canada spends more than $200 billion annually on health care, with two-thirds of that going toward treatment of incurable diseases. Since stem cell therapy holds the potential to cure some of these diseases, Price says it's a worthwhile investment in Canada's health-care future.

But the need for a national plan, Price suggests, goes beyond more funding: it's also about focus.

"What we recognize is that we need to have a sustainable commitment to achieve the objective that we have in the plan," he says. "Our strategy is focused on 10 new curative therapies in the clinic in 10 years. It's focused on producing 12,000 jobs for Canadians and it's focused on attracting significant private-sector investment into the area. 

"And to do that, you need a long-term commitment."

Funny airline announcements continued

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened whilst the captain taxis what’s left of the plane to the gate.”

“Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you and remember, nobody loves you or your money, more than Southwest Airlines.”

“We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately none of them are on this flight.”

Moral responsibility starts with fair taxation

“One of the biggest differences we make in the lives of others is when we pay our taxes. It is our taxes that pay for the public services our communities depend on to survive. A corporation that is dodging taxes cannot claim to be morally responsible.” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President.

Ottawa (30 Aug. 2017) — Apple CEO Tim Cook has recently been talking about the need for companies like Apple to show “moral responsibility.” For anyone familiar with Apple’s record on tax dodging, that sounds a bit like Donald Trump preaching humility.

Apple dodges billions in taxes

In 2016, Citizens for Tax Justice reported that Apple had more money in tax havens than any other corporation. Using tax havens allows Apple to avoid taxes around the world.

It’s estimated that shipping profits to tax havens has allowed Apple to avoid $65.4 billion (US) in taxes in the U.S. A European Commission decision a year ago found Apple owed €13 billion ($19.4 billion Canadian) in taxes on its European profits.

Even though the European Commission decision would have allowed Apple to pay a maximum tax rate of 1 per cent, Tim Cook didn’t recognize that the morally responsible thing to do would be to pay up. Instead he claimed that forcing Apple to pay its share would be bad for investment and job creation.

When public services are short of funds, people suffer

After several years of austerity the world is filled with examples of what happens when public services are under-funded. People suffer.

And we also know that austerity policies have been foisted upon us because of choices politicians have made — choices that have been enthusiastically promoted by corporate CEOs. Instead of ensuring people have access to safe drinking water, governments have allowed the wealthy and large corporations to keep using tax havens. Instead of introducing pharmacare, governments have lowered tax rates for the wealthy.

Apple has plenty of company when it comes to tax dodging

Apple isn't alone when it comes to tax dodging. Canadians for Tax Fairness has estimated that Canadian money in tax havens is at an all-time high. In the U.S., three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies have subsidiaries in tax havens.

Fair taxes first step towards moral responsibility

Solving many of the world’s problems — whether it’s cleaning up the environment or ending poverty — requires well-funded public services. Well-funded public services require both corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share of taxes.

No matter how good their intentions, corporations will not pay their fair share in taxes unless they are required to do so. Tim Cook’s reaction to the European Commission’s requirement that Apple pay what was a very modest settlement, given how much of a profit it made, makes that clear. The responsibility of CEO to maximize profits for shareholders will come ahead of any moral responsibility to the people in the countries where her/his corporation operates.

Fortunately the public are willing to provide the moral responsibility that CEOs cannot. There is growing pressure on governments to crack down on tax havens and other loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthy. In Canada we’ve seen a number of positive steps as a result. The challenge is to prevent tax fairness measures from being watered down by those who’ve grown accustomed to getting a free ride.

National Union of Public and General Employees

Now that I'm older, here's what I've discovered

1.  I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

2.  My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.

3.  Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

4.  Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

5.  If all is not lost, then where the heck is it?

6.  It was a whole lot easier to get older, than it was to get wiser.

7.  Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant.

8.  I wish the buck really did stop here; I sure could use a few of them.

9.  Kids in the back seat cause accidents.

10. It is hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.

11. The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.

12. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.

13. When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.

14. It is not hard to meet expenses . . . They're everywhere.

Submission to public consultation on hospital funding, Hamilton, Ontario

October, 23, 2017

From: Ontario Federation of Union Retirees, Suzanne Clancy, President

Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville Area Council of the Congress of Union Retirees of  Canada (CURC), Malcolm Buchanan, President

Hospital funding

Public funding of Ontario's hospitals is consistently billions of dollars below the national average in several areas, including dollars on a per capita basis, the fewest number of nurses per patient, and the fewest number of beds per capita basis.

The underfunding of hospital services has had a severe impact to maintaining services in rural and northern hospitals and other essential community services through the province.

The government must close the funding gap, moving hospital funding towards the national per capita average.

Hamilton hospitals are severely overcrowded

Most of the Hamilton area hospitals are running regularly at more than 100 per cent capacity.

Overcrowding results in emergency room backlogs. Patients often have to wait for hours before being seen by a medical professional. Overcrowding is the result of no beds being readily available for new patients who have to wait on stretchers in hallways and “repurposed” maintenance closets, staff rooms, etc. until a bed becomes available. This in turn results in patients being pushed out of hospitals far too early and often placed in inappropriate and dangerous situations that often result in readmissions to hospital care.

Wait times become agonizingly long and painful as surgeries get cancelled because there are no available recovery beds.

More general patient beds, recovery beds, and transition beds must be made available in all Hamilton area hospitals as soon as possible. Closed down or underutilized ward space must be used to provide more beds.

There needs to be more funding for high quality long-term care beds to provide for the “bed blockers” who can no longer return home due to care needs and safety issues not available to families or in the community, but no longer need hospital level of care.

The current strategy seems to be that of placing a loved one at a facility other than the ones listed per procedure. It seems like some demented sales call/game where the salesman attempts to sell item A, take loved one home, that way we free a bed up in hospital and don't take one in the transitional facility. If the sale of item A doesn't fly then try item B, transfer to a community transitional bed and we get a hospital bed back and  the patient becomes someone else’s problem. If both A & B fail then try item C, increase pressure on family to move patient to a facility not selected by his loved ones. Presumably they have more openings, so we can get him out of hospital sooner. But either way sell that family something because we want that hospital bed back now.

Hospital personnelMore qualified RNAs must be hired along with other professional medical personal and specialists such as X-ray technicians, psychologists, physical and occupational therapists, geriatric specialists, and patient and family advocates.

Reinstate medical services that have been contracted out to private for profit agencies and companies.

Hospital cleanliness

Hospitals have contracted out cleaning services that has resulted in sub-standard cleanliness.

Cleaning personnel should be direct employees of hospitals. This should ensure that the cleaning staff are trained, well paid, and have a loyalty to the employing hospitals.

Nutrition and meal planning

More variety in menu choices, cultural diversity in food choices and assisted feeding help.

Physician-assisted death

That all publicly funded hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, must provide physician assisted death services. Such services will only be provided by medical practioners who agree to provide the service, including doctors who do not have the specific hospital privileges.

Very clever credit card scam! This is a new one!

This is very clever. I would probably fall for it if not warned. Give this wide distribution. This scam is actually very clever. Just when you thought you'd heard it all. Be very careful out there! Beware of people bearing gifts.

The following is a recounting of the incident from the victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called "Express Couriers," (The name could be any courier company). He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package for me that required a signature.

The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour. Sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. I was very surprised since there was no special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn't expect anything like it. Intrigued, I inquired as to who the sender was.

The courier replied, "I don't know, I'm only delivering the package."

Apparently, a greeting card was being sent separately. (The card has never arrived!) There was also a consignment note with the gift.

He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 "delivery/ verification charge," providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult (of legal drinking age), and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction.

He added, "Couriers don't carry cash to avoid loss or likely targets for robbery."

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled out his credit card, and “John”, the "delivery man," asked him to swipe the card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad. Frank, my husband, was asked to enter his PIN number and a receipt was printed out. He was given a copy of the transaction.

The guy said everything was in order, and wished us good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged/withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines.

Apparently the "mobile credit card machine," which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a "dummy" card with all our card details including the PIN number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed.

We also personally went to the police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any "surprise gift or package," which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving the gift or package. Also, never accept anything. If you do not personally know or there is no proper identification of who the sender is.

Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you yourself initiated the purchase or transaction!

PLEASE Pass this on — it may just prevent someone else from being swindled.

The top 10 scams in Canada

Police trying to create awareness of common scams

By Shane Ross, CBC News Posted: May 14, 2016 2:56 PM AT Last Updated: May 14, 2016 One of the scams involves a call from a scammer promising to lower the interest rate on your credit card, which actually results in charges being made to your card. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Related Stories

In an attempt to create awareness and protect people from scammers, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has compiled a list of the top 10 scams in Canada.

Sweepstakes scam

This one has been around for years. You get a message saying you've won a contest, lottery or sweepstakes event. Then you're asked to pay fees or taxes in advance in order to claim your prize.

Clickbait scam

Scammers use "clickbait" such as news stories, celebrity photos or fake news to get you to click on something that actually downloads malware that can harm your computer.

Robocall scam

This scam takes personal information such as your credit card number and promises to lower your credit card interest rates, but then charges fees to your card.

Government grant scam

This one requests fees so you can collect a government grant award for thousands of dollars. It may mention programs you've heard of in the news.

Emergency or 'grandparent' scam

Often preying on older people, a scammer poses as a relative in a call or email claiming to have been injured, robbed or arrested while travelling overseas. They ask their target to send money right away.

Medical alert scam

This involves a call or a visit from a "company" claiming a concerned family member has ordered you a medical alert device in case of an emergency. The scammer takes credit card or banking information, but never delivers the device.

Copycat website scam

Scammers send an email, text or social media post about a sale or exciting new product, linking to a website that looks like a legitimate retailer. After you place an order using your credit card, you get a cheap counterfeit product or nothing at all.

'Are you calling yourself?' scam

This trick puts your number in so it shows up as on your own on your phone's caller ID, which causes many people to answer the phone or return the call.

Tech support scam

A call or pop-up ad on your computer claims to be from a computer company like Microsoft or Apple about a problem on your computer and asks you to give the tech support department access to your hard drive to fix it. Instead, malware is installed on your computer and the scammers can then steal your personal information.

Canadian Labour Congress denounces Quebec’s Bill 62 as discriminatory

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) says the Quebec government’s new legislation on religious neutrality is clearly discriminatory and puts workers in an untenable situation.

The legislation imposes dubious restrictions on religious accommodation and includes controversial rules which prevent anyone who covers their face from giving or receiving public services. Women who wear face veils as part of religious practice have decried the Bill as a violation of their freedom of religion and of expression, as they already show their faces upon request for identification and security purposes.

Bill 62 applies to Quebec ministries, school boards, universities, public health care institutions, subsidized daycare centres, municipalities, public transit authorities, doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals.

Provincial legislators have not provided any clear guidelines, nor outlined the consequences workers will face should they object to the discriminatory nature of the law.

“This is a harmful, undemocratic, and unnecessary bill that violates the fundamental freedoms of women through state control over their bodies,” says CLC President Hassan Yussuff. “The CLC unequivocally condemns any law which creates two classes of citizens in our country.”

To date, one bus driver may face sanctions for publicly showing support to a protest against the Bill that took place last Friday in Montreal.

Further, the union representing workers at the STM, the Montreal public transit authority, has stated that bus drivers do not want the responsibility of having to interpret the law. Nor should they have to.

“Every Canadian is fully entitled to the rights promised to them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as provincial human rights codes,” says Yussuff. “It’s wrong to ask workers to participate in the violation of those rights – especially while delivering the public services every Quebec resident is entitled to receive.”

This article was taken from the Canadian Federation of Labour website.                                     

CAAT-Academic retiree representative wanted

OPSEU is currently seeking applications from interested CAAT-Academic staff retirees for the volunteer position of OPSEU appointee on the provincial CAAT Retirees Group Insurance Advisory Committee (CRGIAC). The Committee acts as an advisory body, assisting the College Employer Council in ensuring the appropriate benefit design and cost effectiveness of the group insurance benefit plans available to all eligible retirees.

The CRGIAC meets approximately four times per year. Two times per year are in person at Council’s offices in Toronto. The other two times may be by conference call. Expenses are reimbursed.

The duties of the Committee are to:

  • facilitate communication between the Council, the union, the colleges and retirees;
  • understand the retiree benefit plans;
  • consider the impact of proposed new benefit improvements or the deletion or modification of existing benefits, and make recommendations to the Council regarding any change to the retiree group insurance benefit plans;
  • monitor the financial position and administration of the retiree plans;
  • assist in the design of communication materials;
  • review contentious claims and make recommendations when such claim problems have not been resolved through the existing administrative procedure; and
  • review proposed rate increases and make recommendations to the Council.

In order to qualify for appointment, an applicant MUST be:

  • Retired, and a member of the CAAT-Academic bargaining unit immediately prior to retiring (this could be as a full-time or partial-load member);
  • In receipt of a CAAT or Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan pension;
  • Participating in CAAT retiree benefits; and
  • A member of OPSEU’s Retiree Division (or willing to join).

Knowledge of benefit plans and issues, and experience representing members would be an asset. There is not a paid position however, reimbursement of expenses is provided, along with training.

Members of the CAAT-Academic Divisional Executive with appropriate resource people will be interviewing in early February 2018 to ensure selection by the end of February 2018.

Interested retirees must send a letter of application and a resume electronically to Kim Macpherson at kmacpherson@opseu.org, or fax to (905) 712-3009 prior to 5:00 pm on Friday January 19, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication Date: 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 (All day)