Category Archives: Canada

Canada heatwave: How can cities adapt to rising temperatures?

People look for ways to cool off at Willow’s Beach during the ‘heat dome,’ currently hovering over British Columbia and Alberta as record-setting breaking temperatures scorch the province and in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada June 28, 2021. REUTERS/Chad Hipolito

LONDON, – Seattle, Portland and other cities in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Canada are blasting past heat records this week, facing sweltering temperatures more than 15 degrees Celsius (30 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal summer highs.

Portland hit 116F (46C) on Tuesday – and the regularly warm Canadian village of Lytton, in British Columbia, set an all-time national heat record: 49.6C, or 121F.

Globally, such cities better known for their cool or mild weather face the biggest risks from heatwaves, with residents rarely equipped with air conditioning and governments less used to offering advice or emergency cooling spaces.

In the northern state of Michigan, “structures are not well-adapted for heat – we built them for cold. But our world will be changing,” noted Patricia Koman, a research investigator at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. 

Globally, heat risks will hit 3.5 billion people by midcentury, almost half of them in urban centres, a 2020 study by climate scientists found. 

And by the end of the century, heat deaths globally could nearly equal those from all infectious diseases combined today, according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research.

But cities that have long dealt with dangerous heatwaves – from Ahmedabad in India to Athens in Greece – or those now preparing for them have strategies for dealing with worsening heat risk that could help the newly boiling cope.

Here’s some of what they’ve learned:

Offer public cool spaces – but pay attention to the details

Air-conditioned malls, libraries, churches, trains or community centres are great places to cool off for those too hot to stay at home, and city officials often coordinate with them and include them on lists of places to seek respite from heat.

But such cooling centres need to be close enough to safely access – particularly for the elderly or disabled – or transport to them needs to be provided, said Anouk Roeling, a sociology expert of crisis and disaster at The Hague, in the Netherlands.

“If you have to walk 30 minutes to get to a cool space, the health benefit kind of gets lost,” she said.

In the long term, planting more trees and creating shady street corridors to allow more people to walk safely can help, city experts said – but trees take time to grow and other short-term measures may be needed.

Making sure cooling centres are actually open is also key.

In some hot southern European cities, where many people go on holidays in August, volunteers that normally open community centres may not be around with the keys when they are most needed, city officials there said.

Mobile phones can give personalised advice

Mobile phone apps such as Extrema, now used in Athens and a range of other cities, offer users a range of personalised heatwave advice, from locations of the closest cooling centres to localised temperature forecasts.

For those willing to share more personal information, the Extrema app can also offer warnings about how various levels of heat could change the action of medications taken by the app user.

Look for shade and water

From Qatar’s steamy capital of Doha to Tel Aviv, hot cities are adding more sun-shading canopies, ensuring buildings have overhangs and creating other structures that can help hold down the heat for those who need to be out in it.

Tel Aviv has held competitions to design innovative and beautiful shading structures for sidewalks and public spaces.

In Cape Town, which also has struggled with water shortages, water-thrifty spray parks rather than swimming pools now help cool residents on hot days.

And in parts of India, families organise to provide ceramic containers of cool water outside their homes and businesses to help cool sweltering passersby.

Cooler roads and roofs help too

With the summer Olympic Games starting in July, Tokyo has laid 126 km (78 miles) of reflective pavements, in part to cool the marathon course. In other cities, simply ditching black tarmac for lighter coloured pavement can help keep road and sidewalk users safe. 

Painting more roofs white, to reflect heat, also is a relatively cheap way of lowering temperatures and risks in particularly poor areas with no money to pay for cooling, city experts say.

Paying for cooling takes planning

New York City has provided air conditioners and other cooling equipment to some low-income seniors – a group at high risk from heatwaves.

But poorer families in many cities may struggle to pay hefty utility bills and so will often try to struggle through without turning on their cooling devices, with deadly consequences, city officials warn.

In an effort to change that, New York hopes to persuade the state government to give poorer families financial aid to pay summer utility bills – just as some now receive help paying for winter heat, said Kizzy Charles-Guzman, deputy director of the city mayor’s resiliency office.

Tracking the heat can help pinpoint risks

Heat threats vary across a city and understanding where risks are highest – often in areas with little green space and high social deprivation – can be key to protecting lives.

Madrid is using real-time heat sensors – some mobile, mounted on bikes or backpacks – to give a clearer sense of where heat risks are highest. 

Other cities track areas of heat stress in real time by looking at social media posts and trying to adjust their response efforts accordingly.

Name that wave

Because most heat deaths happen indoors, the scale of risk from heat is often underestimated. To change that, members of the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance want to begin giving heatwaves names and ratings, like hurricanes. 

The alliance, a coalition of 30 big-city mayors and insurance officials, as well as health, climate change and policy experts, think raising the profile of heatwaves is key.

“People do not understand this risk and we need to change that,” said Kathy Baughman McLeod, director of the Washington-based Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, which works to cut climate change, migration and security risks.

“Extreme heat is, or will be, felt by everyone, everywhere at some point. We have to build awareness to this invisible threat – and we have to act.”

https://news.trust.org/item/20210629114348-xbsaz/

Lipstick to learning: Canada’s indigenous women using businesses to end violence

Screenshot_2020-01-23 Lipstick to learning Canada's indigenous women using businesses to end violence
Jenn Harper, founder of the indigenous women’s social enterprise ‘Cheekbone Beauty’, poses for a photo in Toronto, Canada on 16 January 2020. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Belinda Goldsmith

TORONTO, – When Jenn Harper dreamed of a young native Canadian girl in lip gloss she knew she had found a way to help her community.

The dream in 2015 prompted her to set up Cheekbone Beauty from her kitchen, a cosmetics brand with products named after successful North American indigenous women that gives 10% of profits to a fund to help educate children on reserves.

Harper is one of a rising number of indigenous women in Canada setting up businesses that aim to have a positive social impact, with many focused on aboriginal women who have faced shocking levels of violence for decades.

She said she set out to build a social enterprise that would inspire aboriginal youth, particularly girls, among whom suicide rates are up to six times higher than non-indigenous youth.

“I am using lipstick as a platform to raise awareness about what is still happening to indigenous young people,” Harper, 43, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview, wearing a hot pink lipstick from her Warrior Women range.

“We want to change indigenous youth by showing them they are worthy and (should) not feel shame about their history.”

Harper said her drive was personal. Her grandmother Emily Paul was one of about 150,000 indigenous children taken from their families between the 1840s and 1990s and put in residential schools to assimilate them in Euro-Canadian culture.

She described how her family, like many others, had never dealt with the impact of the government policy that ripped apart families, causing addiction and abuse issues, which in turn led to trans-generational trauma.

Harper said she ended up battling alcohol problems for years until she finally became sober in 2014. Her brother killed himself at the age of 32 about four years ago.

HOPE FOR YOUTH

She said her brother’s support for her setting up a business to provide hope to indigenous youth gave her to courage to quit her job in sales last year to focus on Cheekbone Beauty that she runs from a home office, ensuring all products are Eco-friendly.

Last year she appeared on “Dragon’s Den”, the national TV show where entrepreneurs pitch to investors, and in 2018 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invited her to join a round table of female entrepreneurs.

“Getting sober and setting up my business I realised how important it was to share my story with other indigenous women and help others transform,” said Harper, a mother of two from St Catharines in the Niagara region of the province of Ontario.

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20200117141752-jubir/

Millions go hungry in wealthy Canada – and some die young as a result

Screenshot_2020-01-20 Millions go hungry in wealthy Canada - and some die young as a result
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Homeless men eat hot dogs handed out from a soup kitchen handed out in a vacant lot in downtown Vancouver, November 22, 2001. REUTERS/Andy Clark

ROME, – Canadians who cannot afford regular meals are more likely to die early, according to a study released on Monday, showing that people are dying from hunger even in wealthy countries.

The study of more than half a million Canadian adults found that hunger was linked to raised mortality from all causes of death except cancer.

But infectious diseases, unintentional injuries and suicide were twice as likely to kill those who faced severe problems finding enough food as those who do not, said the paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“It’s like we found third-world causes in a first-world country,” lead author Fei Men, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Food insecure people in Canada are facing problems like infections and drug poisoning that we would expect people from developing countries to be facing,” he said.

“The results are pretty striking to us as well. In the developed world such as Canada, food insecurity can still cause deaths,” Men added.

More than 4 million people in Canada struggle to get enough to eat, official data show, a problem that ranges from running out of food or skipping meals to compromising on quantity and quality.

Not having enough to eat leads to both “material deprivation and psychological distress” which in turn results in chronic inflammation and malnutrition, it said.
They are also less able to manage chronic conditions, Men said in a phone interview.

“(If they have) diabetes, they are more likely to not adhere to their treatment and drugs so it might have much bigger and harmful effect on them.”

A 2019 study looking at the relationship between hunger and mortality among U.S. adults also found similar that not having enough food was linked to deaths from all causes.

Globally, more than 2 billion people lack access to adequate healthy food, putting them at risk of health problems, including 8% of people in North America or Europe, according to the latest data from the United Nations.

Researchers in the Canada study looked at data on more than half a million adults, of whom more than 25,000 died before the average age of 82.

The findings show public health efforts to prevent and treat diseases and injuries should take into account people’s access to adequate food, the authors said.

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20200120044112-xwvna/

Canadian MPs fight to protect doctors, patients against euthanasia

Euthanasia photoDavid Anderson MP. Credit: Art Babych / Shutterstock

– Canadian members of parliament are attempting to pass a law that would protect the conscience rights of doctors, as government leaders look to expand access to euthanasia in the country.

Conservative MP David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Saskatchewan) introduced bill C-418 in October as a private member’s bill, seeking to protect medical practitioners unwilling to euthanize their patients or provide referrals for medically induced deaths.

Anderson told CNA that he was inspired to submit the bill after hearing complaints from doctors that Canada’s “medical assistance in dying” (MAID) policies were a violation of the Hippocratic Oath.

“One [part] of that oath is ‘we will not administer poison,’” Anderson told CNA in an interview. “So it’s clear, right? And yet, now the medical system is expected to be the ones who actually administer these drugs that terminate people’s lives.”

The legislation would make it illegal to “intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of medical assistance in dying.”

The bill would also make it an offence to fire someone for refusing to take part in MAID. Canada’s healthcare system is government-run, tying doctors’ working conditions and practice closely to ministerial policy.

Last year, MAID accounted for 1.12 percent of all deaths in Canada. Although Canadians have an option to self-administer the drugs to end their lives, only a single person chose this option.

Anderson told CNA that he is concerned that MAID, coupled with Canada’s aging population and increasingly expensive healthcare system, could result in dehumanization.

Presently in Canada, women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of disability are “encouraged to abort [their preborn child] so they’re not part of our medical system beyond that one event,” Anderson said.

The MP is worried that this attitude could be expanded to view the elderly and persons with disabilities as unnecessarily expensive costs to the healthcare system.

“Certainly, seniors, disabled people cost the system more than the healthy people do,” Anderson said.

“You can see people justifying assisted suicide, euthanasia in the future in order to save money, and we don’t want to get to that point.”

Anderson said there are currently posters in hospitals that explain MAID, and also explain who can request that their doctor end their life.

He told CNA that he thinks this is “entirely inappropriate,” and that people “shouldn’t go into the hospital in order to facilitate (their) death.”

Currently, only people who are over the age of 18, have been deemed to be “mentally competent,” and have been diagnosed with a terminal physical illness by two doctors or two nurse practitioners are eligible to receive MAID.

But these restrictions could be changed, Conservative MP Michael Cooper of St. Albert-Edmonton warned CNA.

The existing MAID policy that was passed into law is “far more limited” than the version originally recommended by the joint legislative committee, Cooper said.

“My concern at this point in time is that the limited safeguards that have been put in place…All of that now is potentially on the table to be opened up, whereby there would be virtually no safeguards in place,” Cooper said.

Potential changes being considered, Cooper explained, include allowing those with mental illnesses as well as “mature minors” to request MAID, and the creation of an “advanced directive” whereby a person can give instructs for their own death as a contingency plan.

“At this point, there has been no indication that further changes to the law are going to be made,” said Cooper.

“But I’m not optimistic that over the long term that won’t be the case.”

Both Cooper and Anderson expressed concern about the state of palliative care in Canada as a result of the MAID law and a lack of clear conscience rights for doctors.

“We do have a strong palliative care community in Canada, who have been encouraging governments to really commit to that,” Anderson said.

“One of the things that concerns me is that I’m hearing about doctors who have been involved in palliative care in the past who are shutting down their practices because of the threat of being forced to participate in assisted suicide.”

This results in fewer palliative care doctors in Canada, “in a time when we probably should be encouraging it and strengthening it.”

“This government has basically window-dressed when it comes to palliative care,” said Cooper, the Albertan MP.

“There’s very little movement on the palliative care front.”

Cooper told CNA that he thinks it “essential” that palliative care be expanded in Canada and that it is not currently available to most Canadians, a problem he said predates the passage of MAID.

“Absent palliative care, many individuals may feel there is no other choice but to go down the road of physician assisted dying, or may even feel pressure from family members or friends who may be otherwise in a position of looking after them,” Cooper said.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/canadian-mps-fight-to-protect-doctors-patients-against-euthanasia-16438

Canadian police find kidnapped Chinese student Wanzhen Lu after three-day search

China photo Chinese student Wanzhen Lu, 22, has been found by police after being kidnapped in Canada. Photograph: York Regional Police Handout/EPA

Canadian police have safely located a missing Chinese student, three days after he became the victim of a brazen stun-gun kidnapping at the hands of a violent gang.

Wanzhen Lu, 22, was found with minor injuries by police in Gravenhurst, Ontario, a city 180km (110 miles) north of Toronto on Tuesday evening.

A homeowner had called police after a young man matching Lu’s description approached him and asked for help. Lu was taken to a nearby hospital, said York regional police spokesman Andy Pattenden.

Lu was the victim of a violent abduction on Saturday evening. As he and a female friend walked through the underground parking lot of his condominium, three men attacked him, with one of them using a stun gun. Police initially described the attack –which was caught on security cameras – as violent.

Lu was dragged into a waiting black Dodge Caravan by the three men. A fourth suspect was seen waiting in the vehicle. Lu’s friend was left unharmed, but police say she was traumatised by the encounter.

Pattenden did not provide any explanation on how Lu ended up more than an hour and a half north of Markham, Ontario, where he was abducted.

Lu studies business administration at Yorkville University, reported the CBC. Lu is also known for his collection of expensive cars, which include a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Range Rover.

The brazen and seemingly unprovoked attack prompted an intense search, with police deploying aircraft as they tried to locate the missing student. Police also asked the public for possible information that might help locate Lu. A number of tips led police to the black van on Monday.

Pattenden said Lu’s parents, who travelled to Toronto after receiving news of their son’s abduction, were relived by the news of his safety. “Our investigators have been able to provide this great news to the family,” he said.

On Tuesday morning, police announced the arrest of a 35-year-old Toronto man in connection with the kidnapping. He has since been released and no charges have been laid. Police declined to comment further on what prompted the arrest.

Pattenden cautioned the investigation – which has drawn upon organised crime and intelligence units – remained ongoing, with the four suspects still at large. “We’re very concerned that they’re still out there,” said Pattenden.

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/27/canadian-police-find-kidnapped-chinese-student-wanzhen-lu-after-three-day-search