Autumn View Edition 3, 2017

Autumn View Edition 3, 2017


A message from the Chair

Recently I marched in the annual Hamilton Labour Day Parade. Its theme here and right across the country was Universal Pharmacare for all. Truly, its time has come.

A 2015 Angus Reid poll found 91% of Canadians believed our public healthcare system should include a universal prescription plan. Yet here we are, almost the end of 2017, and we are the only developed country in the world where our health care does not include prescription drugs. Today 8.4 million working Canadians don’t have prescription drug coverage and women are less likely to have it than men because more women work part time. Younger workers are even worse off because they are most likely stuck in low-wage precarious jobs.

There are 3.5 million Canadians that can’t afford to fill their prescriptions and in some cases, find they need to half their pills or skip days to stretch the need to renew. The sad truth is, some are being forced to choose between groceries and medication, and that should never happen!

Pharmacare makes economic sense. The only people that think otherwise are the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies who are raking in a fortune with our present system and campaigning vigorously against Pharmacare. An example cited in a CLC document shows that in New Zealand, where a public authority negotiates for the entire country, a year’s supply of the cholesterol-busting drug Lipitor costs around $18/year compared to $812/year in Canada. No wonder our health costs are out of hand.

Since this is a Retirees’ newsletter, most of you readers are over 65 and have close to complete drug coverage. But what about the drugs that are not covered, particularly the catastrophic drugs? And what about the coverage for your children and grandchildren? The Ontario government is talking about a target plan that will cover anyone under the age of 25, but isn’t it time to stop talking? Next year’s election could bring a party to power who opposes Pharmacare and where are we then?

It is time to act now with new federal legislation that brings Pharmacare in right across Canada. Contact your MP and let them know you support Pharmacare. Vote for those that will support it both Provincially and Federally, write a letter to the editor in your local paper and, when you get a chance, sign a petition in support. We can all help make this happen. 

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

Short-term profiteering threat to workers’ pensions

“The idea that it is in any way acceptable to scrap defined benefit pension plans so hedge fund managers and others can make a quick buck is one reason income inequality is a growing problem.” — Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer

Ottawa (4 Aug, 2017) — A recent article in the Globe and Mail business section on the situation at Sears Canada provides some useful information for refuting claims that businesses can’t afford defined benefit pension plans.

According to McGill Industrial Relations program graduate Cole Eisen, between 2008 and 2016, $1.4 billion was paid to Sears Canada shareholders through dividends and share buybacks. At the same time, the workers’ pension plan went from a $220 million surplus to a $110 million liability. As a result of that shortfall and the financial problems facing Sears Canada, workers are facing cuts to benefits.

Payments to shareholders may have fatally damaged company

Dividend payments to shareholders and share buybacks are only supposed to occur when a company is in good financial shape. But that wasn’t the case with Sears Canada.

Sears Canada has been in difficulty for some time and available funds should have been used to help the company get back on its feet or meet its obligations. Instead, money was used for payments to shareholders that were clearly unaffordable. In 2010, Sears Canada paid out $753.4 million in dividends, even though its net income was only $125 million. In 2012 and 2013, all of the company’s net income was spent on dividend payments.

As the Globe article points out, this is typical of the growing tendency to put short-term profit taking over the long-term strength of a company.

Those attacking defined benefit pension plans ignore excessive payments to shareholders

Whenever a company with a defined benefit plan runs into trouble, conservative commentators and think tanks use it as an opportunity to attack workers’ pensions. That happened with Sears Canada. But in their rush to attack defined benefit pension plans those commentators are overlooking the real problem – an obsession with short-term profits that is threatening to do real damage to the economy.

“Defined benefit pension plans are the most effective way to ensure people are financially secure when they retire,” said Elisabeth Ballermann, Secretary-Treasurer for the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “The idea that it is in any way acceptable to scrap defined benefit pension plans so hedge fund managers and others can make a quick buck is one reason income inequality is a growing problem.” 

This article was taken from the NUPGE website.

The Right Advisor Can Make All the Difference

As you approach retirement… You’ll have a lot of financial decisions to make.

● How will you take your pension income? Will you convert other assets to income?

● Do you want certainty or flexibility in your retirement income, or some mix of both?

● How hands-on do you want to be in managing your assets – and will your involvement decrease as the
   years go on?

● Are you making tax-efficient investment decisions?

● If you have a family cottage or other property that you want to leave to your children, how can you
   help them manage the tax bill?

If you have a financial advisor, you're probably working with them already on these decisions. If you’ve never used a financial advisor, now is a good time. The decisions you’ll be making can affect you for the rest of your life.

What you can expect from an advisor:

● A commitment to understanding you, your objectives and your risk tolerance.

● A detailed understanding of financial matters and strategies.

● An ability to identify and explain your range of options so that you can make informed decisions.

● Access to a network of other professionals who can help you in related areas (e.g., tax specialists,

● Management and monitoring of your plan.

● Regular meetings to discuss your plan, how it's working, and if changes are warranted.

The role of the financial advisor 

Understanding the different kinds of financial advisors:

Financial advisors are able to provide you with advice and products according to the licence(s) or registration(s) that they have, their training and specialized designations. They may call themselves an investment advisor, an insurance advisor, or a financial planner. Depending on your needs, you may need more than one type of financial advisor.

  1. An advisor who can assist with mutual funds or with a portfolio of stocks and bonds will be registered with their provincial/territorial securities regulator or the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada.
  2. An advisor who can assist with life annuities, segregated funds and the use of insurance for estate planning purposes will be licensed with their provincial/territorial insurance regulator.
  3. A financial planning advisor with a specialized designation like Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Consultant (CH.F.C.) is trained in a cross-section of financial planning matters including estate planning and taxation.

What you should find out about a financial advisor:

  1. You might want to interview two or more advisors to find the best fit  for you. Be prepared to ask them about themselves, how they work and what you can expect from them.
  2. What products and services do they offer(e.g., investments, annuities, insurance, financial planning)?
  3. How are they regulated? What licenses or registrations do they carry? (You can verify this by checking on the provincial regulator's website).
  4. Do they have professional accreditations?
  5. What experience do they have?
  6. What kind of clients do they work with – and can they provide you with references from clients like you?
  7. How do they do business? For example: How often do they like to meet? Do they work with a team or alone?
  8. How do they get paid and what does that mean to you? (They may charge a fee for their service which will be billed to you. Alternatively, they may be paid a commission by the financial institution where they place business).
  9. Do you feel comfortable with them – is this someone you want to work with?

Leony deGraff – deGraaf Financial Strategies 1 800 775-7047

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. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter.

I go somewhere to get something, and then wonder what I'm here after.

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

Unpredictable markets got you idle?

SHORT-TERM MARKET UPS AND DOWNS can be very unnerving, even if your goals are far in the future. So it’s not surprising two recent surveys have found that many investors aren’t enthusiastic about investing in today’s markets. In February 2016, the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index fell to its lowest level since the financial crisis in 2008. That same month, CIBC World Markets reported that Canadians were holding $75 billion in cash, instead of in investments better suited to longer-term goals.

It can be difficult to stay the course when markets are volatile. However, keeping your money inactive and out of the markets may actually mean missing opportunities that could help you meet your investment objectives. Cash has a hard time keeping up with inflation, let alone building value over time. And, historically, the moments when investors were most pessimistic about the markets have been among the best times to invest because they have often been followed by market upswings.

While market volatility chases many investors to the sidelines, it can be a great opportunity to bolster your long-term portfolio strategy.

Investment choices have broadened over the past decade, giving you and your advisor more flexibility to build a portfolio with growth potential that remains safely within your tolerance for risk. Here are three strategies to consider.

Diversify to help soften the ups and downs

Owning investments that tend to rise and fall at different times can help smooth out your returns. The traditional way to diversify has been to mix stocks and bonds in a balanced fund – and that can still be an effective approach for some investors.

In addition, alternative investments are becoming more accessible to investors; diversifying into hedge funds, private equity, real estate, infrastructure, farm and timber lands, and commodities can offer additional levels of risk management. Investors also have the opportunity to benefit from sophisticated strategies used by institutional investors (such as pension plans) – for example, funds that target absolute returns to help control volatility.

Use guarantees to help put a floor on losses

In times of volatility, investors often flock to guaranteed products such as bank-offered guaranteed investment certificates. However, there are other guaranteed options with greater growth potential – something that’s especially important in the current environment of historically low interest rates.

Segregated fund contracts are a popular choice because they come with a wide variety of underlying investments. Their maturity guarantee and death benefit guarantee offer a guaranteed payment after a contract has been held for a set term and on death, no matter what happens in the markets. They can also offer estate planning benefits and potential creditor protection.

Get back into the markets gradually

While it is a good idea to deploy excess cash relatively quickly, you don’t have to invest everything at once. It may be easier to commit to investing smaller amounts on a regular basis – and that’s simple to set up with your advisor. There’s another reason to take the “gradual” approach of a regular investment plan: it enables you to benefit from dollar cost averaging. Essentially, the fixed sums you invest will buy more units when prices are low and fewer units when prices are high, effectively lowering your average cost. When your average cost is lower, your returns (measured against that average cost) are higher.

Stay focused on your destination

If you were a pilot flying through turbulence, you’d likely make modest adjustments to your altitude to reach less stormy skies. You wouldn’t head outside at 30,000 feet to change the wings on the plane. The same principle applies when investing. Your portfolio may need minor tweaks to keep you comfortable when markets are volatile, but radical changes (for example, holding too much of your portfolio in cash) could seriously affect your chances of reaching your destination.

The key is to remember why you’re investing in the first place. When you focus on what you want to achieve with your money – whether that’s a comfortable retirement for you, education for your children or any other goal – it becomes clearer which course you should plot through financial market turbulence.

Speak with your advisor about different investment opportunities. Many solutions are available, and he or she can help you identify the ones that will best support your overall financial plan.

Leony deGraaf – deGraaf Financial Strategies 1 800 775-7047

Government must take action against private clinic user fees, OPSEU says

Posted: June 15, 2017

TORONTO, June 15, 2017 /CNW/ – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is calling on the provincial government to take action immediately against private clinics that are charging patients illegal user fees for medically necessary services.

In a damning report released this week, the Ontario Health Coalition identified 88 private clinics across the country that charge such fees, 12 of which were in Ontario.

The report, entitled Private Clinics and the Threat to Public Medicare in Canada, highlights key findings of a survey involving 136 private clinics in nine provinces, and first-hand accounts from 250 patients subjected to these user fees.

“The findings are irrefutable,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We know that Ontarians are being squeezed from every angle, but with these findings, there is simply no more room for excuses; this government must take responsibility and protect Ontario’s patients.”

For years, OPSEU has been raising concerns about the province’s chronic underfunding of health care, devastating cuts to hospital budgets, and the impact these cuts have had in fueling privatization.

“Hospital services have been systematically shuttered from our community hospitals, and then shipped out to private clinics, where patients are subjected to out-of-pocket fees,” said Sara Labelle, chair of OPSEU’s Hospital Professionals Division. “Then the doctors in these clinics go and bill OHIP on top of that. It’s the patients – often least able to pay, but afraid they’ve no other option – that are victimized by this scam.”

OPSEU, which is a proud member of the Ontario Health Coalition, is calling on the provincial and federal governments to enforce the Canada Health Act, and uphold the principles of fairness, equity, and compassion that underlie our public health care system.

“These private clinics should not be profiting off the sick and elderly,” said Thomas. “It’s outrageous and unethical, and that’s why we will continue to fight against privatization in all its forms.”

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)   For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931; Sara Labelle, 905-914-4037


Community leaders must unite to stamp out hate, racism and xenophobia

Friday August 18, 2017

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) condemns the recent violence in Charlottesville, the result of provocative demonstrations driven by racism, hate and exclusion. White supremacists, including the former director of the Ku Klux Klan, marched with torches, Nazi symbols and hateful, racist, anti-Semitic chants, attacking those who stood courageously in defence of human decency, murdering civil rights activist Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more. Canada’s unions stand in solidarity with the victims of this deliberate and hateful violence.

With a president who has himself promoted hate, and now champions rather than condemns the perpetrators of the violence in Charlottesville, the United States has a very frightening challenge ahead. 

That challenge must also be faced here in Canada. Some of the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville were from Canada, and support for the hatred they espouse is growing here too. From the treatment of Indigenous peoples to the murder of Muslim worshipers in Quebec to the countless other examples of hatred being experienced by racialized and vulnerable individuals, we must recognize that we too face an enormous challenge in combatting racism, xenophobia and hate across our own nation.

The CLC calls on labour, community, political and business leaders, regardless of partisanship, to work together in solidarity to take on this challenge, and to help stamp out the hate, discrimination, and oppression being visited upon minorities and vulnerable persons here in Canada.

“I was thinking about old age and decided that old age is when you still have something on the ball, but you are just too tired to bounce it.”

What is non-Hodgkin lymphoma?

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), also called Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is a cancer that starts in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are cells of the lymphatic system.

The lymphatic system

The lymphatic system works with other parts of your immune system to help your body fight infection and disease. The lymphatic system is made up of a network of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and the lymphatic organs. Lymph vessels carry lymph fluid, which contains lymphocytes and other white blood cells, antibodies and nutrients. Lymph nodes sit along the lymph vessels and filter lymph fluid. The lymphatic organs include the spleen, thymus, adenoids, tonsils and bone marrow.

Lymphocytes develop in the bone marrow from basic cells called stem cells. Stem cells develop into different types of cells that have different jobs. Lymphocytes are types of white blood cells that help fight infection. The main types of lymphocytes are:

  •  B cells make antibodies to fight bacteria, viruses and other foreign material such as fungi.
  •  T cells fight infection, destroy abnormal cells and control the immune response.
  •  Natural killer (NK) cells attack abnormal or foreign cells.

Lymphocytes sometimes change so they no longer grow or behave normally. These abnormal cells can form tumours called lymphomas.

Because lymphocytes are found throughout the lymphatic system, NHL can start almost anywhere in the body. It usually starts in a group of lymph nodes in one part of the body, such as in the neck, above the collarbone, under the arms, in the abdomen or in the groin.

NHL can spread to almost any tissue or organ in the body through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. Abnormal lymphocytes, or lymphoma cells, may stay in the lymph nodes or form solid tumours in the body. In rare cases, they circulate in the blood.

Types of NHL

There are more than 30 different types of NHL. They are grouped based on the type of lymphocyte they started from. Most types of NHL start in B cells and are called B-cell lymphoma. NHL can also start in T cells, which is called T-cell lymphoma. NHL that starts in NK cells is grouped with T-cell lymphomas.

The different types of NHL look different under a microscope. They also develop and grow differently. The grade of NHL is based on how different, or abnormal, the lymphoma cells look compared to normal lymphocytes. The grade gives doctors an idea of how slowly or quickly the NHL will likely grow and spread. NHL is usually divided into two grades:

  •  Indolent (low-grade) NHL means that the cancer cells are well differentiated. They look and act much like normal cells. These NHLs tend to grow slowly.
  • Aggressive (high-grade) NHL means that the cancer cells are poorly differentiated or undifferentiated. They look and act less normal, or more abnormal. These NHLs tend to grow quickly.

World Health Organization (WHO) classification system

Doctors use the WHO classification system to identify the type of NHL. Each type can behave differently and may need different treatments.

The WHO classifies NHL based on the type of lymphocyte (B cell or T cell) that has become cancerous. NHL that starts in natural killer (NK) cells is grouped with T-cell lymphomas.

The WHO divides B-cell and T-cell lymphomas into two groups based on the stage of development, or maturation, of the lymphocytes when they became cancerous. Precursor lymphomas develop in immature lymphocytes during the earliest stages of their development. Mature lymphomas (also called peripheral lymphomas) develop in more mature lymphocytes.

The specific type of NHL is based on how the abnormal lymphocytes, or lymphoma cells, look under the microscope, characteristics of chromosomes in the lymphoma cells and if there are certain proteins on the surface of the lymphoma cells.

The WHO includes both lymphomas and lymphocytic leukemias as types of NHL. They both start in lymphocytes, but the lymphoma cells are found in different places in the body. If tumours develop in the lymph nodes or other organs, it is considered a lymphoma. If the lymphoma cells are in the blood or bone marrow and a tumour develops, it is considered a leukemia lymphoma.

Other cancers of the lymphatic system are called Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). The abnormal cells of Hodgkin lymphoma look and behave differently from non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells. Hodgkin lymphomas and non-Hodgkin lymphomas are treated differently.

This article was taken from the Canadian Cancer Society Website.


Approximately 25% of Americans and 17% of Canadians over the age of 60 have diabetes; the aging of these populations is widely acknowledged as one of the drivers of the diabetes epidemic. When caring for a client with diabetes, it’s important to understand what steps you can take to promote optimal health as his or her caregiver. Here we’ll go over the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, discuss how diabetes may impact a client's health, and provide a simple diabetes-friendly recipe you can make with, or for, your client.  

Diabetes in Older Adults

Here are some quick facts to know when caring for someone with diabetes:

Type-1 Diabetes: juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes. Your client would have most likely lived with this since childhood or adolescence. With this type of diabetes, the body's immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. Without insulin, cells cannot absorb sugar (glucose), which they need to produce energy. Thus, they must intervene and induce insulin into their body around meals.

Type-2 Diabetes: adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Type-2 diabetes can be developed at any age and is usually linked to external factors such as a poor diet, lack of exercise, or excess weight. With this type of diabetes, the body is unable to use insulin the right way. This is called insulin resistance. As Type-2 diabetes gets worse, the pancreas may make less and less insulin. This is called insulin deficiency.

Although the burden of diabetes is often described in terms of its impact on working-aged adults, the disease also affects longevity, functional status, and risk of institutionalization for older patients.

Simple Diabetes-Friendly Recipe: Chicken Salad Wrap

This wholesome chicken salad recipe is packed with protein that will give your client the energy to power through the day, but is also light and healthy. For an even lower carbohydrate count (which affects blood sugar levels), switch the tortilla out for a bed of lettuce.

In line with our Balanced Care Method™, this tasty recipe is easy to make and a healthy meal perfect for lunchtime. Create your own spin on it by switching out toppings for other seasonal vegetables depending on you and your client’s preferences! Good options would be tomatoes or bell peppers.

Calories:  360 Fat: 12 g, Cholesterol: 60 mg, Sodium: 560 mg, Carbohydrate: 35 g, Sugar: 2 g, Fiber: 5 g, Protein: 25 g Servings 4.


● 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded

● 2 tablespoons hummus

● ¼ cup light mayonnaise

● 3 stalks celery, diced

● 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

● ¼ teaspoon dried thyme

● 4 whole-grain tortillas

● 4 cups field greens


● Mix the chicken, hummus, mayo, celery, pepper, and thyme in a medium bowl

● Spread ½ cup of chicken salad in the middle of one wrap. Top with 1 cup of field greens. Fold
    the left and the right sides of the wrap until they touch, and then roll them from the bottom
    to make the wrap.

● repeat the process to make the rest of the wraps.

Tip: You can make this recipe gluten-free by replacing the tortillas with broad lettuce leaves.

Region Seven OPSEU Retiree Winners

There was a Town Hall meeting in Thunder Bay this past September. In an email blast it was mentioned that any committee, division, local or group who brought out the most members would receive a gift certificate for $100.00 from Donato’s for pizza. Donato’s is a locally owned and operated business in Thunder Bay.

Well, at the end of the evening when the tally was taken, the OPSEU Region 7 Retired Members Division won the $100.00 gift certificate for having the most members in a division in attendance.

Bravo to our OPSEU retired members in Region 7 and our thanks to Donato’s for their gracious contribution!

Useful contact information:

Great West Life                                                Ontario Pension Trust

Call Access Line                                              Member services

1-800-724-3402                                              Monday to Thurs. 8am to 6 pm Friday 8am to 5 pm
Weekdays 8 a.m.–8 p.m., ET                         Toronto 416 681 6100
                                                                        Toll Free 1 800 637 0024
If you use a TTY machine, call                        Fax 416 681 6175
1-800-942-6147, weekdays,                  
9 a.m.–5 p.m., ET    Email

So we can respond quickly and effectively, please include your full name plus one of the following:

  • Plan/policy number
  • Plan sponsor/employer name
  • Date of birth

Contact OPSEU Pensions/Benefits Unit 1 800 268-7376 for issues regarding benefits.

Diabetes and You

Diabetes is a condition in which your body cannot properly use and store food for energy. The fuel that your body needs is called glucose, a form of sugar.

Glucose comes from foods such as fruit, milk, some vegetables, starchy foods and sugar. To control your blood glucose (sugar), you will need to eat healthy foods, be active and you may need to take pills and/or insulin.

In the following table, you will find some tips to help you until you see a registered dietitian.

Tips for healthy eating, diabetes prevention and management



Eat three meals per day at regular times and space meals no more than six hours apart. You may benefit from a healthy snack.

Eating at regular times helps your body control blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Limit sugars and sweets such as sugar, regular pop, desserts, candies, jam and honey.

The more sugar you eat, the higher your blood glucose will be. Artificial sweeteners can be useful.

Limit the amount of high-fat food you eat such as fried foods, chips and pastries.

High-fat foods may cause you to gain weight. A healthy weight helps with blood glucose (sugar) control and is healthier for your heart.

Eat more high-fibre foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, lentils, dried beans and peas, brown rice, vegetables and fruits.

Foods high in fibre may help you feel full and may lower blood glucose (sugar) and cholesterol levels.

If you are thirsty, drink water.

Drinking regular pop and fruit juice will raise your blood glucose (sugar).

Add physical activity to your life.

Regular physical activity will improve your blood glucose (sugar) control.

About mental health

Everyone's mental health is important. It needs to be taken care of to make sure you stay healthy overall. Learn about your mental health, how to improve it and the resulting benefits.

What is mental health?

Mental health is the state of your psychological and emotional well-being. It is a necessary resource for living a healthy life and a main factor in overall health. It does not mean the same thing as mental illness. However, poor mental health can lead to mental and physical illness.

Good mental health allows you to feel, think and act in ways that help you enjoy life and cope with its challenges. This can be positively or negatively influenced by:

  • life experiences, such as:
    • family situation
    • the death of a loved one
    • financial and employment status
  • relationships with others, such as your:
    • friends
    • family members
    • co-workers
    • schoolmates
  • work or school environment
  • physical health, such as problems caused by:
    • long-term illness
    • alcohol or drug abuse
  • the type of community you live in
    • is it a supportive and trusting community or one where everyone keeps to themselves?

How can you take care of your mental health?

Take care of your mental health in the same way you would take care of your physical health. It takes practice, patience and support.

You can maintain or improve your mental health by following the advice below.

  • Know and accept that life can be challenging.
  • Know and accept your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.
  • Accept yourself and others. This is the basis of self-esteem.
  • Learn to recognize and understand that you and others have both positive and negative feelings.
  • Create a sense of meaning in your life by learning and trying new activities, like starting a hobby.
  • Create healthy, trusting relationships with people who accept and support you.

Building a supportive community is an important way to improve mental health. Making meaningful connections with your family, friends, peers, colleagues and other members of your community can help you feel:

  • like you belong
  • safe and secure
  • free to express your thoughts and feelings on issues that are important to you

You can help create a healthy and safe environment where you live, learn, work and play by:

  • knowing and accepting that everyone has difficulties in their lives
  • taking part in local events and getting to know your neighbours
  • finding ways to get involved and giving back to your community
  • supporting and including people of different ages and backgrounds in your community

How does being mentally healthy benefit you?

Being mentally healthy can:

  • increase coping skills
    • how we handle difficult experiences and stresses
  • improve self-esteem
    • feeling confident in your worth and abilities
  • improve resiliency
    • your ability to successfully move on after a negative event and regain control of your life

Increasing coping skills, self-esteem and resiliency encourages people to:

  • create healthy relationships
  • positively interact with their community
  • talk openly about their mental health, including their needs and wants

Feeling confident and competent in these areas can improve emotional strength. In turn, this can help improve and maintain your level of mental health.

For more information

Ontario Health Coalition

June 28, 2017 Attn: Assignment Editor

For Immediate Release

Inquiry Should Look into All Recent Homicides, Systemic Issues in Long-Term Care: Health Coalition

  • Toronto – The Ontario Health Coalition is advocating for the public inquiry that the Ontario government has called as a result of the murders in long-term care homes in Woodstock and London be broad enough to cover the systemic issues that have contributed to a context in Ontario’s long-term care homes in which there have been at least 25 homicides in the last four years.
  • “The media attention to the recent tragedy of the murders in LTC is right and just, but at the same time we want to remind Ontario’s government that there have been more than two dozen homicides due to resident-on-resident violence in long-term care homes,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Most of the recommendations from coroner's juries, expert panels and the provincial auditor that would have addressed some of the key systemic issues that contributed to those deaths have, to date, not been implemented.”
  • There are very serious issues that on an ongoing basis create an unsafe environment in long-term care homes and there is a compelling public interest in addressing these. The priority complaint of staff and consumer groups in long-term care is that the homes are severely understaffed, while the acuity (complexity of the care needs of residents) is increasing with population aging and the closure of thousands of hospital beds, including psychogeriatric cuts. The evidence shows that Ontario’s long-term care homes have care levels that do not meet safety standards. The high-acuity and chronic under-staffing in the homes compromises safety of residents and staff alike.
  • “We believe that the announced public inquiry should go beyond the current case and be expanded to include the systemic issues in the long-term care sector that have contributed to conditions in which there have been more than twenty-five homicides in addition to the most recent murders,” said Ms. Mehra.
  • “Our hearts go out to the families and staff impacted by the Wettlaufer murders and all of the families of those impacted by the other homicides in long-term care,” she added. “All the families have the right to a fulsome investigation of the issues. But this should not preclude immediate action. Most importantly, we need urgent action to improve the levels of hands-on care in the homes.”

For more information please contact Edgar Godoy, Campaign Director, 416-441-2502 (office).

Safe Medication Use for Seniors

Tell your doctor and pharmacist immediately if you experience new or unexpected side effects from any medication.

  • Store medication in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight unless otherwise
  •  Keep medication out of reach of children.
  • Do not transfer or mix medication into other containers. If you wish to use a pill
    organizer, please ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • If you have difficulty opening the safety cap of your medication bottle, ask your
    pharmacist for an easy off or flip top lid.
  • If you don’t know if a medication is still good, check with your pharmacist.
  • Do not put medication in the garbage or down the toilet or sink. Check with your  Pharmacy to see if  they have a medication disposal program.
  • Ask questions–your health is nothing to guess about. Your pharmacist and  doctor are there to assist you!
  •  Know how and when to take your medication.
  •  Tell your doctor and pharmacist about any side effects from your medication.
  • Store your medication in a cool, dry place out of reach of children.
  • Do not share your medication.
  •  Do not transfer or mix your medication into other containers.
  •  Ask questions–talk to your doctor and pharmacist.

*©2009, Queen’s Printer for Ontario ISBN 978-1-4249-9485-4

Putting Your Garden to Bed

Putting the garden to bed simply means getting rid of the mess, cleaning up what's left, packing away the things you won't need until spring and making sure everything is ready to go when you need it.

Cleaning up debris, scouting for pests and disease and suppressing weeds will mean that much less work to do in the spring, when there are so many other tasks to be done – and all at once. The cooler weather makes fall an ideal season to spend some time in the garden.

And you can settle in for winter knowing that when you look out the window, your garden will look contentedly tucked in.

Cleaning Up

Pull dead or declining annuals. It's hard to do, but they're not going to come back – get it over with.

Harvest everything above ground in the vegetable garden and under fruit trees. Don't leave fruits and vegetables out all winter to rot attract animals and set seed.

Clean up overgrown areas, to prevent animals and pests moving in and to make it easier in the spring. You know that out of control area behind the shed or where you piled some brush last spring? We all have areas we mean to get to and fall is a great time. Left messy, you'll not just invite animals, you'll invite weedy trees and shrubs.

Don't forget your tools and containers. It's tempting to wait until spring, but who has time in spring to disinfect or sand?

Empty, clean, disinfect and bring in containers. You can store the soil elsewhere if you plan to reuse it. An easy way to disinfect containers is by spraying them with a bleach cleaner.

Clean and store stakes, cages and garden ornaments. They'll last longer if you don't leave them exposed for the winter.

Clean and sharpen tools, before storage. Remove all caked on soil, sharpen edges with a file and give them a protective finish with a light coating of oil. And don't forget to clean and sharpen your pruners.


Shield plants animals might eat. Put fencing around shrubs. Use tree guards for trees bothered by deer, rabbits and voles.

Make sure all tender bulbs are stored for the winter. Most like to be hit by a frost, before you dig and dry them.

Mound soil or mulch around the base of grafted roses. Remember to remove it in the spring.

Prep for Spring 

Weed, especially perennial weeds. I know, you thought you were done with weeding. But pulling those weeds now, when the conditions are poor for them to fill back in, will cut down on problems in the spring.

Tag plants you want to divide in the spring. You won't remember when the time comes. I like to label plants while they're still in bloom, so I know what colors are where.

Compost & soil​

Test and amend your soil. At least test it for PH.  Amendments can be slow acting and adding them now will make them available in the spring.

Prepare your planting beds now, with compost and manure, for planting in early spring. The freezing and thawing will work it into the soil for you.

Till the soil to expose insects trying to burrow in for the winter. You'll disturb their dormancy and put them in view of the hungry birds.

Start a compost pile. You've got all the stuff you've pulled out of the beds, why not?

Shred or mulch your leaves. They are free fertilizer, don't send them to the landfill. They practically compost themselves and the result, leaf mold, is the most beautiful soil you've ever seen.

Consider mulching for fewer weeds in the spring and better soil. A layer of mulch in the fall will suppress weed seed germination in the spring, while it's protecting your plants. Just make sure you weed first.

The above is an excerpt from an article by Marie Iannotte taken from The Spruce website.


I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? 

Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighbourhood.

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.