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Rethink age eligibility for OAS, Tories say

23 August 2017 22:23:51 Brampton-News (from http://rss.metroland.com)

Tory critic says old age security report shows need to rethink age requirement

Vice null Time23 August 2017 22:23:51


NDP leadership rebel Jagmeet Singh takes aim at Old Age Security: Walkom

26 July 2017 19:55:54 Brampton-News (from http://rss.metroland.com)

New Democratic Party federal leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh is unorthodox in more ways than one.

Vice null Time26 July 2017 19:55:54

Security breach targets Trump Hotel guests

12 July 2017 14:26:16 Simcoe County-News (from http://rss.metroland.com)

Security breach compromises payment card information for Trump Hotel guests

Vice null Time12 July 2017 14:26:16

'We need to raise our game': the challenges facing the public service in 2017

14 May 2017 23:41:52 Ottawa Citizen - News

When Michael Wernick emerged as the federal government's top bureaucrat 16 months ago, he had little idea just how radically the job of clerk of the privy council was about to change. Usually the clerk's emphasis is on policy, on providing cabinet with expert, non-partisan advice. But Wernick very quickly learned his main focus would instead be government operations. Just weeks after he settled in, federal managers launched Phoenix, the massive, multi-year software project meant to modernize the pay system for hundreds of thousands of government employees. The botched rollout, which technology experts are still trying to rectify, was a stark reminder of how Wernick's predecessors had failed to equip the public service with the skills necessary to modernize the federal government's electronic backbone. "We need to raise our game in project management," Wernick acknowledged last week in his annual report to the prime minister on the state of the public service. "Progress has been slower than expected." Indeed, departments and agencies across government are struggling with billions of dollars worth of information technology projects. These projects were intended to improve online access for Canadians, and to increase the efficiency of government. Shared Services Canada — the government's central computer services agency — recently estimated that nearly a dozen significant projects are behind schedule, over budget, or both. These include Phoenix and the very late project to upgrade the government's email system. Both are classified "red." Another two dozen projects are coded "yellow", as they are merely in danger of running off the rails. Not surprisingly, the Liberal government is increasingly anxious that this mess be dealt with well before the next general election, scheduled for 2019. The question is, how? The government has under-invested for decades in computer networks, telecommunications systems and online services. The result is that most aspects of this complicated system must be upgraded within desperately short time frames. Older data centres and software are being pressed into service far longer than planned, forcing the government to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on stopgap measures. This is money that could have been invested in new gear or re-engineered services. Hiring private contractors and outside experts to fix things isn't a panacea. Shared Services, after all, outsourced the job of streamlining and upgrading the government's email systems to Bell Canada and CGI Group — and that $400-million project is running three years late, according to current projections. Boosting the number of in-house employees with experience in information technology is an option. But government insiders cite two major difficulties: One is the complex process of managing large projects across multiple agencies; the other has to do with qualifications — the top echelons of the bureaucracy are staffed mainly by policy experts, not people with hands-on knowledge of the government's technical operations. Which brings us back to Wernick. As the government's top bureaucrat, he has special responsibility for ensuring the public service is trained for the right mission — and in this case, the job has everything to do with IT. Wernick pointed out last week that he is not starting from scratch. Public servants have successfully managed a number of complex technology files, including a multiyear upgrade of military pension services. Building projects managed by Public Service and Procurement Canada, notably in the Parliament Hill district, have generally been done on time and within budget. Wernick has also boosted training in a handful of departments, including Public Service and Procurement, which handles most of the government's contracting. To date, the Liberals appear to have relied far more heavily on outside experts than in-house staff. Consider how government staffing levels have changed from April 1, 2016, to April 1, 2017 — the first full fiscal year under the Liberals and most of Wernick's tenure as clerk. The Citizen obtained detailed data from nine of the largest federal departments, which collectively account for nearly 80 per cent of the government's total workforce. Our survey shows the group of nine's workforce grew by 4,500 or just 1.6 per cent year over year. Within the national capital region, these departments added about 1,700 workers, for a year over year gain of 2.6 per cent. While growth overall was slow, two of the departments added staff at a reasonable clip — Public Service and Procurement (up 5.8 per cent) and Employment and Social Development (up 6.2 per cent). The first is responsible for managing the Phoenix Pay projects (among many other procurements) while the second department is one of the government's most technology intensive. Canadians tap the Employment and Social Development website to apply for Canada Pension Plan payments, old age security and employment insurance, among other things. Whether hiring in these departments increased because of IT spending is unclear. Certainly the government has boosted its use of professional services and staffing services firms, such as Calian. To what extent can be gauged from an anomaly in how government and Statistics Canada track employment. StatCan, for instance, has reported that the federal government swelled by 27,100 employees (eight per cent) in the year ended March 2017 — including 23,000 within the national capital region and 4,100 in the rest of the country. Yet, over the same period, the government's top nine departments — a 78 per cent sample — grew less than two per cent overall. StatCan pointed to two potential culprits when queried about the differences between its data and the departments' own employment records. First, StatCan officials prepare their estimates by surveying households; they don't get their data directly from the departments. (A separate survey by Treasury Board does that but this won't be available until the summer). Second, StatCan acknowledges that "respondents may report working for the government, even if they are in fact contractors providing services to federal government." This seems to be what is happening, with the result being that StatCan's monthly survey is including thousands of private contractors in its tally of government employees. Private contractors, especially those with expertise in technology, tend to be concentrated in the Ottawa region — precisely where the biggest government employment gains have been reported by StatCan. This also fits the historical pattern of departments relying on outsiders for special skills ranging from military electronics to software engineering. Nevertheless, as Wernick has already concluded, it's not enough just to pile on outside experts. The federal government also requires a critical mass of federal managers capable of seeing these complicated technology projects through. Developing these in-house champions might well prove Wernick's most difficult job in the months ahead. jbagnall@postmedia.com Twitter.com/JamesBagnall1

Vice null Time14 May 2017 23:41:52

Census 2016: older women going it alone

04 May 2017 18:26:11 Halton-News (from http://rss.metroland.com)

As Canada ages, elderly women confront challenges of going it alone

Vice null Time04 May 2017 18:26:11

Census 2016: Age and sex highlights

03 May 2017 14:42:32 Simcoe County-News (from http://rss.metroland.com)

Highlights from Wednesday's census data on age and sex in Canada

Vice null Time03 May 2017 14:42:32

What astronauts can teach us about aging

23 November 2016 23:47:37 Ottawa Citizen - News

When Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to Earth after nearly five months in space in 2013, he described his physical state as “tottering around like an old man.” Hadfield, in his mid-50s at the time, was experiencing the accelerated aging that life in space brings on. It is so intense, that astronauts usually need help getting out of their spacecrafts when they return. Unlike aging on Earth, changes such as reduced bone density and muscle mass are largely temporary. But the parallels between the effects of space and aging are making some sit up and take notice. Canada is leading the international push to get space scientists and geriatricians working together because there are so many similarities between what astronauts experience in space and old age. Nicole Buckley, lead scientist with the Canadian Space Agency, calls the collaboration “a match made in heaven … maybe not exactly heaven, but 360 km above Earth.” She has made it her mission to bring together research on space and aging. Earlier this year, she delivered a TEDx Talk on the subject in Winnipeg. Last week, she was in New Orleans, making her pitch for collaboration between space and aging researchers at the annual scientific meetings of the Gerontological Society of America. “Being in space can bring on accelerated aging," she said. "Returning to Earth, we see accelerated rehabilitation. If we study those two things, maybe they can inform each other so what we see in space can help us better understand aging.” With the bulge of baby boomers entering, or well into, their senior years, there is growing pressure on health systems to better understand and treat the effects of aging. Buckley said there are three areas in which space scientists and aging researchers can collaborate and help each other: the physical realities of aging, psychosocial problems of both aging and space, and technology. Both the elderly and astronauts experience bone loss. In space, it is less general — centred in the bones involved in weight-bearing, such as the legs, spine and hips — and more rapid than in normal Earth-bound aging. Female astronauts, for example, lose more density in affected bones in six months than menopausal and post-menopausal women lose in two years. “What we see in space is like an accelerated parallel of aging, related to microgravity,” said Buckley. The physical realities of aging and space also include loss of muscle mass, and decreases in the immune and cardiovascular systems. Both astronauts and the elderly also experience decreased elasticity of the arteries. Buckley said the psychosocial experiences of astronauts — such as isolation and living with strangers — relate to similar experiences of the elderly, who may be isolated in their own homes or in living arrangements with people they don’t know well. There are also technology parallels, including the use of telemonitoring, which is the remote monitoring of a patient by a health care provider. In New Orleans last week, Buckley met with a group called WE-SHARE (World Explores Space Health and Aging Research) to discuss partnerships. There is also a Canadian group dedicated to space and aging research. Manfred Gogol, treasurer of Germany’s Geriatric Medicines Society, said those who study aging can learn from space about what happens to astronauts' bodies and what countermeasures reduce the accelerated aging process. Gogol noted astronauts train between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours a day while in space to reduce the decline, which provides an area of research into how exercise affects the physical symptoms of aging. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research’s aging institute is leading the initiative internationally, as is the Canadian Space Agency, said Joanne Goldberg, associated director of scientific affairs with the institute of aging. There is no formal link between the two organizations, but that could come in the future, say those involved. Buckley said the time is right for more collaboration between the two parties. “We are at the beginning of what is going to be a big increase (of the elderly population) in the world,” said Buckley. “We are going to see an increase in the needs that must be met. And what we learn in space can be a very valuable tool to help that process along.” epayne@postmedia.com Elizabeth Payne is the recipient of a 2016 Journalists in Aging Fellowship supported by New American Media, The Gerontological Society of America and The Silver Century Foundation.

Vice null Time23 November 2016 23:47:37

Patricia Anne Grimes: 1932-2016

02 September 2016 23:16:49 Ottawa Citizen - News

Patricia Grimes spent more than 40 years as an accomplished and respected pianist and music teacher in this city, a longtime supporter of the Kiwanis Music Festival and its predecessor, the Ottawa Music Festival, and the arts in general. To those who knew her in those decades giving private piano and recorder lessons in her Alta Vista home, her dedication to and support of her students was unmatched, whether they were destined for lives in music or not. She liked to joke, however, that her own career peaked when she was eight years old, and indeed, as a youngster in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Grimes — nee Tatz — was a regular performer on CBC radio and in live venues, mostly in the Ottawa area, earning accolades and fans — and fan mail — from across Canada and the U.S. “Dear Little Girl,” wrote a Mrs. A. E. Green from Wanskuck, Rhode Island, following Grimes’s appearance on a Providence radio station in 1938, three months shy of her sixth birthday. “Several of us enjoy the ‘Rhode Islanders’ while attending to our household duties and were we pleased and surprised to hear you sing your cute song, it sure was a treat and we only wish that you could sing for us every day. It sure was sweet.” By then, though, Patricia, who was born at the Civic Hospital in 1932 to Alfred and Eileen (Powis) Tatz, was already a veteran of the radio waves, having spent half of her young life in show business. Patricia Grimes (nee Tatz) performing a tap dance. She was only three years old when she made her debut, auditioning on Stars of Tomorrow, a CBC talent show hosted by “Mr. Jack,” a.k.a. Syd Brown, and recorded at the network’s studios on the seventh floor of the Chateau Laurier. One listener, Miss Blanche Noonan in P.E.I., wrote, “As I was ready to retire last night, my sister called me to listen to a children’s contest. It certainly was wonderful and I picked on you to be the best. So tonight I am sending a note to you. I didn’t get your last name but do hope you continue in your singing. Your singing came to us here in Bedeque just as if you were standing by my side. Every word so plain and clear. So here’s hoping you win.” Following that inaugural performance, Patricia was asked to return on an almost-weekly basis as a regular featured entertainer. Before long, Mr. Jack took the show on the road, touring towns in the Ottawa Valley and appearing at numerous functions in Ottawa. A photo from 1936 shows Little Patricia Tatz, as she became known, performing for an audience of mostly fur-clad women at Freiman’s department store on Rideau Street. Wearing patent Mary Jane shoes atop white socks, her blond hair freshly curled by her mother, and standing on a wooden kitchen chair so she could reach the microphone, Patricia appeared every bit the Shirley Temple of the North, a persona that she and others purposely cultivated. She included such songs as Good Ship Lollipop, as well as others from Temple’s films, in her repertoire, and it’s difficult not to hear Temple’s voice in an early “candid” moment — wholly staged by Mr. Jack — when, on the occasion of her first performance with an orchestra, Patricia interrupted the nationally broadcast show to loudly proclaim “Stop! Stop! I can sing better without the orchestra!” “I was very tiny, and looked much younger than I really was,” she wrote in a brief memoir as she approached her 50s. “Of course, this is a distinct advantage, because one is thought to be ‘oh so clever for her age’ and I could sing and act ‘little-girl’ songs until I was 12 years old.” Sometime around 1979, Patricia Grimes (nee Tatz) penned a brief memoir about her life as a child star. As she got older, she added dance to her performances, particularly tap, and was frequently mentioned in newspaper accounts of Kiwanis Club shows, Lodge entertainments, Christmas parties, recitals, church teas, golf tournaments, theatrical offerings, Lions’ Club luncheons, King’s Daughters’ Guild concerts and variety shows. “Every Christmas,” she recalled, “we did a show at Murphy-Gamble’s for ‘underprivileged’ children. We also visited hospitals and homes for the aged. I do have some bad memories from these. The old, sick people always wanted to come close so they could see and touch me. I was always terrified, in memory the places seemed to be always dark and scary. It took me many years, until I was in my thirties, before I could go into a hospital again to visit sick people.” Patricia Tatz was a singer and dancer as a youngster. She loved to talk — about anything, says Jackie Morris, one of Patricia's two daughters. “She was thoughtful, very intelligent and full of energy. And she loved music of any kind.” Grimes earned her Bachelor of Music from Carleton University and studied under pianists Jean-Paul Sevilla and Douglas Voice. When she and her husband Richard Cowper moved to the Niagara region, she continued to support the arts, largely through the Niagara Symphony and Shaw Festival. “Music,” she wrote, “is my heritage and my life.” It was also a double-edged sword. Her father, Alfred, was a professional musician for a while, a saxophonist in Paul Whiteman’s orchestra in New York and, briefly, a student of Sidney Bechet’s. It was Whiteman who talked Alfred out of a career in music, saying it was no kind of life for a family man. Alfred’s father, too, discouraged his son’s musical career, stating that one musician in the family was enough; Alfred’s brother, Carl, played in the Rhode Island Symphony and had his own dance band. It was Alfred who ultimately brought an end to Patricia’s show biz career when he stopped sending her to dance lessons when she was 11 or 12. He had already earlier nixed a possible film career for his daughter when he rebuffed a Hollywood scout who came to Ottawa in the hope of convincing Patricia to fly to Tinseltown for a screen test, thinking she might be his studio’s answer to 20th Century Fox’s Temple. That closed door remained a lifelong regret of Patricia's. Patricia Grimes. Patricia Grimes died at St. Catharines General Hospital on Aug. 11, abandoning her toys and boarding the Good Ship Lollipop, headed for the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay. “As a teenager,” she wrote, “I sang with my younger sister many times at different functions, and we continued to perform into my twenties. I always wished I could have been a dancer, because I know I had the talent, and I have a great deal of fan mail from all across Canada from people who heard me on the radio or who saw me in one of the shows, and expressed their pleasure at my singing and dancing. “In my next life … perhaps.” bdeachman@postmedia.com

Vice null Time02 September 2016 23:16:49

Can Canada's currency printer thrive as 'cashless society' looms?

22 July 2016 15:49:18 Ottawa Citizen - News

Canadian Bank Note Co. has been the government’s currency printer of choice for more than a century. But now the Ottawa firm faces an epic battle against Apple Pay and a slew of other electronic payment apps. Associate business editor James Bagnall examines the forces producing cash’s decline and how Ottawa’s bank note printer will adapt. The call came through on Ronald Arends’ private line around 3:10 a.m. on June 25, a Saturday. “We’ve got a fire, and there's lots of smoke,” said his press operator at Canadian Bank Note Company. Despite the hour, Arends, the firm’s chief executive, was now fully awake. “Adrenaline will do that," he says. The blaze had broken out in his company’s printing facility in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood. Fire trucks were already on the scene, alerted by the company's alarm system. En route to the factory, a half-hour drive away, Arends mentally catalogued the potential damage. About 40 employees worked the overnight shift at the plant. That worried him. Then there were the corporate things: This was the main manufacturing plant for a $300-million-a-year operation. The basement housed exquisite, multimillion-dollar presses that produced currency for half a dozen countries, including Canada. The plant also contained gear for manufacturing drivers’ licences, passports and other kinds of secure ID. Meanwhile, in a nearby staging area and adjoining halls that night, awaiting delivery, were rows and rows of stacked sheets of currency — a small fortune in inventory. • Ottawa’s Arends family has been printing Canadian currency for 40 years. Their Canadian Bank Note Company has, since 2013, been the sole producer of this country’s new polymer bills. The firm is also competitive internationally. Two years ago, it defeated a dozen global suppliers for the right to design and print New Zealand’s new ultra-secure currency. Nearly as impressive, the International Banknote Society a few months ago declared New Zealand’s $5 bill the banknote of the year for its “stunning” design and security features. The win was a reminder that Canadian Bank Note is more than just an old world printer. It is high-tech at its core. Reserve Bank of New Zealand governor, Graeme Wheeler, right, and deputy governor, Geoff Bascand, left, shown with Ronald Arends, CEO and president of the Canadian Bank Note Co. in front of sheets of their country's currency printed here in Ottawa. Because it is, the Arends know better than most the stakes involved as the world’s technology giants seek to replace paper and polymer money with smartphone applications such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay — software that allows owners of credit and debit cards to pay for items with a single click of their phone. While there will likely always be a role for cash, the next few years will be critical in determining how big it will be — and whether it will be enough to support Canadian Bank Note’s best-known division and the source of nearly one-third of its revenues. • When Arends arrived at the plant, firefighters had already smothered the last of the flames. Arends was relieved to learn there had been no injuries. He was also encouraged the fire had been limited to a single printing press — a 10-year-old unit that produced passports and other types of identification. Nevertheless, the plant would have be shut down temporarily. Dense, ink-filled smoke had been sucked into the company’s ventilation system. A second printing press — brand new — would be unusable until it was cleaned and re-tested. “You never know until you experience something like this whether your emergency plans will work out,” Arends would say shortly after the cleanup got underway. “In this case, they have.” The precise cause of the fire is still under investigation, he said this week. Arends added he is confident insurance will cover the vast majority of the $15-million to $20-million cost of the lost printing press, along with related expenses. Independent contractors from Toronto were hired to scrub the facility. One of Canadian Bank Note’s printing machines in Calgary was pushed into extra duty. It helped make up for the loss of the Ottawa unit. Apparently with some success. "We will not miss a single production target," Arends said. The company has also ordered a replacement press from the German manufacturer, Koenig Bauer AG. It will be delivered in the fall, when Arends is confident he’ll finally be able to put the impact of the fire behind him. By Canadian Bank Note standards, it’s been an extraordinary period. Although its products are used daily by millions of Canadians, this is an intensely private, family-owned firm. Douglas Arends, right, and his brother, Ronald, have taken their company to new levels of success. Douglas Arends — the chairman and Ronald’s older brother — owns 100 per cent of the shares. Douglas’s wife, Shirley, is vice-president. Two of Ronald’s sons are employees. His wife, Marilou Robinson, is a senior vice-president of manufacturing and the company’s currency unit. The siblings' father, Richard, emigrated to Canada from the Netherlands at age 10 — a move triggered by a failed family business — and found work as a stock keeper at an electrical company in Toronto. Douglas and Ronald, along with two other brothers and two sisters, grew up in East York. There's a streak of athleticism in the family genes. Richard was a good enough goalkeeper during the 1930s and 1940s to qualify as a member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame, while son Ronald played defensive back from 1966 to 1970 with the Toronto Argonauts. "I retired in my 20s," Ronald laughs. Ronald earned an MBA from University of Toronto while Douglas, who is also a certified engineer, got his MBA from York University. Their career paths diverged widely at first. Ronald spent nearly two decades at Canada Wire and Cable — a parts manufacturer — then switched to Tremco Inc., where he served as a senior executive operating out of Ohio. Tremco was a subsidiary of tire manufacturer B.F. Goodrich. It was Douglas who provided the link to Canadian Bank Note. He had been working in Toronto in 1976 as a mergers-and-acquisitions specialist when he learned that Ottawa-area businessman Charles Worthen had put his majority stake in Canadian Bank Note up for sale. At the time, the firm generated sales of just $7 million annually by producing banknotes, travellers' cheques and passports. But Douglas saw potential for expanding into lottery systems and international markets. So he and another partner bought control of the firm — Douglas would later acquire 100 per cent. Arends got a huge break in 1992, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. Drawing on business contacts from the Ukrainian community, Canadian Bank Note secured a lucrative contract to supply newly independent Ukraine with 1 hryvnia banknotes. The printing deal was instrumental in more than doubling Canadian Bank Note’s revenues to $87.5 million compared to 1991. Profits soared to $13.2 million from just $1.3 million. Douglas seized the moment by selling 5.5 million company shar

Vice null Time22 July 2016 15:49:18

Easter weekend is a time of baby animals at the Ag Museum

25 March 2016 23:37:01 Ottawa Citizen - News

Easter is a time of rebirth and there are few places in the region that better embodies the notion than the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. Chicks, kids (the goat kind), rabbits, lambs and other tiny beasts are all over the grounds. The show continues all Easter Weekend. Kids (the human kind) aged six and under can hunt for eggs, while the older children can take part in a spring scavenger hunt. Everyone can learn about the making of chocolate and taste a sample. Easter programming runs Friday though Monday. Family admission to the farm is $30 and adult admission is $11. Lambs, chicks and rabbits were the popular attractions at the Canada Agriculture Food Museum's opening day of "Easter at the Farm" on Mar. 25, 2016. Lambs, chicks and rabbits, like this one-year-old English Lop named Alice, were the popular attractions at the Canada Agriculture Food Museum's opening day of "Easter at the Farm" on Mar. 25, 2016. Lambs, chicks and rabbits were the popular attractions at the Canada Agriculture Food Museum's opening day of "Easter at the Farm" on Mar. 25, 2016. Lambs, chicks and rabbits were the popular attractions at the Canada Agriculture Food Museum's opening day of "Easter at the Farm" on Mar. 25, 2016.

Vice null Time25 March 2016 23:37:01