Category Archives: 长沙楼凤

Scientists hopeful about Liberal ‘unmuzzling,’ but warn could take time

The Conservative government, much criticized for its “muzzling” of federal scientists are out of power much to the approval of some scientists.

READ MORE: Liberal MPs hold press conference on muzzling of scientists

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“I heard from a number of [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] colleagues, and they commented that there was dancing in the streets and lighting candles,” said former DFO scientist Steve Campana. “I celebrated with them by proxy.”

Campana spoke to Global News from his new home in Iceland where he’s been teaching for several months. For Campana, it was the very muzzling that drove him to leave his position as a shark researcher for the Canadian Shark Research Lab. For years, he did public outreach, interviews, spreading news about advances in understanding sharks. But when the Conservative government came in his interviews went down by 90 per cent with no reason given. He said he followed proper procedures, filling out the necessary paperwork. It made no difference. Close to retirement, he decided to find work elsewhere.

WATCH: Former DFO scientist, Steve Campana, explains why researchers feel the government is ‘muzzling’ them

“I personally feel that communicating science to the public is an important job,” he said. But being unable to do that was frustrating.

It seems that he wasn’t alone. In November 2014, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), a union representing federal scientists, vociferously launched a campaign against the Harper government’s efforts to control the information disseminated to the public.

A survey the union conducted revealed that 90 per cent of federal scientists felt they weren’t allowed to speak freely to the media. PIPSC declared that they would be more politically active ahead of the election. And they followed through: In May protests were held across the country calling for more freedom of speech for scientists.

Now, with the Liberals —; who have vowed to take the muzzles off scientists —; in power, there is hope.

“It’s not going to immediately free up constraints of talking to the public,” said Ken Denham, a professor at the University of Victoria who was a former scientist with the DFO.

“I think things will change, but it won’t be overnight.”

Denham’s experience was similar to stories from federal scientists: not free to openly communicate with media, even restrictions on accessing other scientific data over the Internet.

For Campana, he was even reprimanded for attending a shark conference in South Africa on his own dime and time. The reason? Because other delegates would know he worked for the DFO.

The path ahead

Both scientists believe that the move forward will be a gradual one.

“I believe there is going to be lingering fear and paranoia by federal scientists until they’ve given a clear directive about what they can do,” said Campana. “They’re going to need some very clear assurances.”

Denham worries that the culture of fear will continue to exist at the managerial level within departments. For years there has been the concern that a minister would look unintelligent, uniformed or simply just plain bad. Management was there to protect ministers’ images under the shadow of Harper. It will take a long time, he thinks, to lose that fear.

WATCH: Union wants assurances government scientists won’t face interference

Campana agreed.

“I think it’s going to be a big hurdle to get over. That culture of fear is there within management,” he said.

“People are afraid. It’s like being repeatedly burned, and you’re afraid.”

Neither scientist believes that federal scientists should be given free reign.

Denham turns to the U.S. for an example of how the federal government could move forward.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an administrative order called Scientific Integrity. In section 4, it specifically addresses scientists’ communication of scientific ideas. Specifically, it refers to “transparency, traceability, and integrity,” even going so far as to say that government scientists are free to express their own opinions on government policies, so long as it’s made clear that they are their own.

But the unmuzzling of scientists is just one of the pressing issues in the scientific sector. According to PIPSC, under Harper’s government, $2.6 billion and more than 5,000 jobs were targeted to be cut between 2013 and 2016 in the science sector.

Trying to increase funding will be another hurdle.

“Unmuzzling scientists can be done with a stroke of a pen, but releasing funding, well that’s money,” Campana said.

Though the move to more openly communicative federal departments will undoubtedly take time, at least it’s a move in the right direction.

“I’m really hoping things will open up,” said Denham. We’ve got all these intellectual people in a lab with a door that’s semi-locked.”

Follow @NebulousNikki

©2015

What’s fuelling Canada’s economic recovery? Even more debt

The country’s central bank remains worried about rising debt levels among Canadian consumers – a trend that’s developing into a major vulnerability to the economy as households borrow more and more money without the wage gains to back it up.

Much of that debt is being funnelled into the housing market, which has experienced runaway price growth in some regions in recent years, notably Vancouver and Toronto.

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That’s led the Bank of Canada to reiterate on Wednesday its concern that chances of a nasty correction are rising.

“Vulnerabilities in the household sector are continuing to edge higher,” the bank said in a new report on the economy. Historically low mortgage rates are contributing to “strong growth in mortgage credit, especially in British Columbia and Ontario.”

MORE: Burbs around Vancouver, Toronto no bargain, either

“Although the most likely scenario is one in which these imbalances unwind gradually as the economy improves, a disorderly unwinding, such as one that might be triggered by further weakness in the resource sector or a rapid rise in global interest rates, could have sizable negative effects.”

Good news, bad news

The good news: the country has largely rebounded from a mild recession brought about by lower oil prices earlier this year, according to the bank, and the job market is proving surprisingly resilient, experts say.

The less-than-good news: consumer borrowing is fuelling the rebound (which has been “supported by the stimulative effects” of the Bank of Canada’s two rate cuts this year, in January and July), the bank said.

“Household spending continues to underpin economic activity,” the bank noted.

Low rates aren’t just encouraging home buyers – they’re encouraging car buyers, furniture buyers, and others as debt in all forms grows. The bank’s report said increased borrowing continues to easily outpace gains in take-home pay. That means Canadian households are digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt.

MORE: Debt hits fresh all-time high among Canadian households

Click here to view data »

Why rates are low

As part of its mandate to keep the financial system and economy stable, the Bank of Canada sets its key, overnight lending rate it provides private lenders such as big banks, who in turn use the key rate to determine the interest rates they charge customers.

The central bank has dropped rates to record low levels in recent years to help the economy recover from the Great Recession —; and most recently to boost growth amid the the oil crash. But in so doing, it has fuelled bulging debt levels among consumers.

By the bank’s own estimate as many as 1.5 million households have taken on risky levels of debt.

Click here to view data »

Normalize

The bank expects incomes to catch up as the economy begins to improve next year and interest rates “normalize,” or head back up to levels associated with a Canadian economy operating closer to full capacity (see chart above, before 2009).

“Looking ahead, the housing market and household indebtedness are expected to stabilize over the projection period as the economy gains strength and household borrowing rates begin to normalize.”

Still, the country’s central bank remains cognizant that growth is coming at the expense of higher household debt levels – and that’s creating something of a ticking time bomb, which economy watchers aren’t sure can be easily diffused.

“Persistent strength in household spending would provide a near-term boost to economic activity, but it would also further exacerbate existing imbalances in the household sector, increasing the likelihood and potential severity of a correction later on,” the bank said.

©2015

NDP hammers Sask. government over emergency room wait times

REGINA – The Saskatchewan Opposition says long wait times in the province’s emergency rooms are prompting a lot of people to leave without being treated. The NDP’s Cam Broten said in the legislature Tuesday that last year, 18,000 people registered with a triage nurse at hospitals in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and North Battleford, then left without seeing a doctor.

He said in Prince Albert, 15 per cent of patients that required urgent care and 10 per cent of people needing emergency care left before being seen.

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Premier Brad Wall responded that wait times are consistent in Saskatoon and Regina, but he won’t be satisfied until the wait times are reduced to zero.

Wall said his government has increased funding to reduce that number and has laid out a foundation to determine what needs to be done.

He also asked the NDP what their plan is for dealing with emergency wait times, with a provincial election looming early next year.

READ MORE: Sask. gov’t scrapping plan to eliminate ER waits by 2017

Meanwhile, the Opposition pointed out some alarming statistics in Saskatchewan’s north when it comes to suicide rates. Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger said suicide rates in one northern Saskatchewan health region are 3.5 times higher than the national average.

Belanger said the number of youth hospitalized for suicide attempts in the northern part of the province is 300 per cent higher than the rest of the province and in the far north, the number climbs to 625 per cent.

He said there needs to be more accessible mental health and addictions services, and better opportunities for housing, education and employment.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said they are working on spreading services and protocols up north and in other areas of the hospital, including emergency services and long-term care.

He said the issue doesn’t just relate to health, but also includes education, social services, various agencies, and the community to find solutions.

©2015

‘Great Scott!’: Doc Brown has message for fans on ‘Back to the Future’ Day

The future is now.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 is being marked as Back to the Future Day, the precise date Marty McFly, played by Canadian actor Michael J. Fox, and Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd, arrived in the future.

To celebrate the occasion, and to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the famed trilogy, Doc Brown had a special message to fans.

“Great Scott! If my calculations are correct, it is now precisely Oct. 21, 2015,” Lloyd said while sitting in a DeLorean. “The future has finally arrived. Yes, it is different than we all thought. But don’t worry, it just means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has.”

“Your future is whatever you make of it. So make it a good one,” Lloyd said.

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WATCH ABOVE: A special message from Doc Brown.

READ MORE: Did 2015 turn out the way Marty McFly saw it?

Fox is also celebrating arriving in the future, but in a different way.

The Michael J. Fox Foundation teamed up with the White House to promote research and treatment for brain diseases, including Parkinson’s. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the early ‘90s, and didn’t speak publicly about his diagnoses until 1998.

In a statement from the White House, Fox challenged fans to “imagine the world you want to live in 30 years from now.”

“When Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled 30 years into the future, we could only imagine the innovations we take for granted today —; new ideas and technologies that have completely changed the way we live, learn, and work,” the actor said in the statement. “Back then, if you’d have told me that I’d go from talking on a cell phone to talking cell biology, I would never have believed you.”

READ MORE: 5 fun facts about ‘Back to the Future’ 30 years later

“Doctors and researchers around the world are developing new tools to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, to tailor treatments —; for all illnesses —; through precision medicine, and to make life better for millions of people. This truly is the stuff of the future.” Fox said.

Back to the Future filmmaker Robert Zemeckis’ trilogy has left a lasting impression on pop culture in the 30 years since the original film debuted, spawning a theme park attraction, video game and animated series.

Many fans and several brands turned to social media to celebrate #BackToTheFuture.

Here’s a look:

Even police departments got in on it.

©2015

‘Heartless media’ ruins Price pregnancy announcement

MONTREAL – Coming off his 36th shutout of his career against St-Louis Tuesday night, the good news just keeps on coming for Habs’ star Carey Price.

While rumours had been circulating, Price’s wife Angela took to 桑拿会所 early Wednesday morning to make it official.

On her blog, the first-time mother-to-be expressed sadness and anger that certain media outlets and reporters had announced the news prematurely.

“Why would a first time mother and father want to be the ones to announce this big news, when heartless media can do it for you?” she asked.

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Price went on to say that she had been robbed of a once-in-a-lifetime moment but that she wouldn’t let the intrusion ruin what is a very exciting moment in her life.

She finished off by thanking the many well-wishers and confirmed that they would not be naming the baby Stanley.

Baby Price is due April 26 during the first-round of the playoffs.

Habs fans will likely root for the baby to sleep through the night, so that Price can remain sharp and focused.

But considering the franchise record-setting 7-0 start to the season, it might take more than a few sleepless nights to rattle the star goalie.

The Canadiens play next in Buffalo on Friday night.

©2015

Report recommends Canada revive wealthy immigrant program linked to soaring home prices

For 18 years, the federal government invited rich people from around the world to buy a life in Canada.

The Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) sought people with net worth of at least $1.6 million to make an $800,000 loan to the Canadian government that would be returned to them after five years, interest-free. In exchange, they were given permanent residency.

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The feds shut the program down in 2014, saying it provided “limited economic benefit to Canada;” it attracted investors who paid “less in taxes than other economic immigrants,” and media reports have linked such programs to skyrocketing home prices.

Three years later, the Conference Board of Canada has issued a report calling on the feds to bring it back — but to make sure it’s “done right.”

READ MORE: Strong words from premier on abolishing immigrant investor program

Kareem El-Assal, a senior research associate in immigration with the Conference Board, wrote the report recommending the federal government establish a new IIP.

El-Assal admitted that programs like the IIP “haven’t done very well.” But the report flowed out of a summit that imagined how the IIP could be improved.

And though the report recommended the re-launch of such a program, he said the Conference Board is “not taking the position that Canada needs to have [a new IIP].”

“We were just performing an intellectual exercise,” he said.

Potential benefits

The report cited three potential benefits of any future IIP: it could allow provinces to accrue interest on investors’ loans; it could bring money for economic development; it could boost consumption.

The report didn’t show full confidence in any of these benefits, however.

While interest rates are set to go up soon, a 2015 analysis suggested provinces and territories still making money from IIP funds had made around $39,600 per investor.

That’s not a lot of cash when you consider settlement costs for investors and their households, David Ley, an expert in millionaire migration and a UBC professor, told Global News.

“They will be making use of educational services, health services etc.”

The report also argued that a new IIP could create thousands of full-time equivalent jobs.

It cited analysis by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showing that investor funds helped create 10,781 FTE positions from 2007 to 2011.

But IRCC couldn’t determine whether these jobs would have been created without an investor program — suggesting this particular benefit is “positive, though not as large” as it could be.

READ MORE: B.C. city now ranks among world’s top 2 luxury home markets, and it’s not Vancouver

Investor families could also potentially boost consumption, the report said; they spend about $750,000 per household on investments, goods, services and real estate, according to one estimate.

But that estimate could be overstated; it wasn’t derived from a representative sample of immigrant investors.

Real estate prices

Programs like IIP have been “significantly implicated” in skyrocketing home prices in various cities — especially Vancouver, Ley noted.

He has estimated that, from the late 80s to the late 90s, business immigrants brought anywhere from $35 to $40 billion for their use in Canada.

“If only a small fraction of that, if only 10 per cent, and in fact it was much more than that they would dedicate went to housing, you’ve got an impact of $3 to $4 billion that is hitting the Vancouver market,” Ley said.

“That’s a big impact.”

WATCH BELOW: Quebec’s Immigrant Investor Program criticized for housing prices

Media reports have blamed the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), which is still running, for funnelling foreign money into Vancouver’s housing market via a “back door.”

Quebec’s program works very much like the IIP did, offering permanent residency for an $800,000 loan to people with net worth of at least $1.6 million. Investors only have to “intend” to settle in Quebec; they’re not required to stay there.

And many don’t, reports show. At least 89 per cent of successful applicants to the QIIP settle in other cities, “mainly Vancouver,” according to Ian Young at the South China Morning Post.

Sunset colours reflect off the glass of Vancouver’s crowded downtown skyline.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conference Board report cited research showing immigrant investors contributed to a three-per-cent increase in prices in Vancouver — a “small” one, according to co-author and SFU Prof. Andrey Pavlov.

The research looked at how home values were affected by the 2012 suspension of the federal IIP program, but not its shutdown in 2014.

Pavlov said it focused on the suspension because “asset prices, including real estate prices, respond to news, not to actual changes in policies that have already been announced and are anticipated.”

READ MORE: B.C. foreign buyers tax really did yank down Vancouver home prices: BMO

Ley, however, called the analysis “rubbish,” saying it wasn’t based in on-the-ground research.

“My information comes from speaking to many realtors, many business immigrants, knowing how much money they’re bringing to the country,” he said.

‘Millionaire Migrants’

In 2010, Ley published a book titled Millionaire Migrants; it found that the IIP wasn’t significantly growing their wealth in Canada.

It described 24 exploratory interviews that Ley conducted in 1997, with wealthy migrant families that had come to Canada through business immigration programs like the IIP.

Interviewees came from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and they largely lived in some of Vancouver’s most affluent areas, such as Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and Arbutus/Mackenzie Heights.

An overhead shot of Vancouver’s affluent west side, where a number of immigrant investors have settled.

Flickr/Herb Neufeld/Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

“Only three had made a successful economic transition to life in Vancouver,” he wrote.

Some had started businesses and failed; others didn’t bother trying, having been turned off by high taxes, tough regulations and meagre returns.

Ley went on to interview 250 business immigrant families in total, and “nothing we were to hear in much wider subsequent research challenged the results of this exploratory survey,” he wrote.

Less tax than refugees

If immigrant investors have played a role in rising home prices, they’ve also done it while paying little income tax, Ley’s research shows.

In his book, he cited tax return data for 1997 that showed investor and self-employed immigrants made average total income of $13,531.

For all immigrants and refugees, it was $18,621 — “leaving business immigrants far below the average performance.”

Data from 2013 told a similar story: in that year, “business class” or “investor immigrants” who had been in Canada for two decades reported the smallest employment incomes of any immigrant category.

This is likely because business immigrants haven’t been declaring their global income, Ley said.

READ MORE: Toronto-area home sales drop in May after province introduces foreign buyers’ tax

El-Assal said Ley has “valid points.”

Speaking to Global News, he reiterated that the top benefits of a new IIP would be consumption and the loan to the government.

But it’s unlikely to convince Ley, who feels he has seen enough to form an opinion on the program.

“I’ve already written a book, and I just don’t see any way forward with this proposal at all in terms of the historic record,” he said.

“It’s a closed book as far as I’m concerned.”

©2017Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Bank of Canada set to weigh in on economy, make key rate call

OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada will publish its latest views on the state of the economy this morning, along with an update on its key interest rate.

The country’s central bank is widely expected to keep the overnight lending rate unchanged at half a percentage point (0.5 per cent).

The Bank of Canada has already lowered the rate twice this year, in January and July, to stimulate the economy and offset some of the impact from a collapse in oil prices that began late last November.

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Today’s rate announcement will be accompanied by the bank’s assessment of the economy, contained in the quarterly Monetary Policy Report.

MORE: Complete coverage —; plunging oil 

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will also hold a press conference on the report, his first since Monday’s landslide election victory for the Liberal party under Justin Trudeau — who will replace Stephen Harper as prime minister.

Although Poloz was appointed by the Conservatives in 2013, he has followed the usual convention of remaining politically neutral in keeping with the Bank of Canada’s role as a largely independent policy maker.

Poloz carefully avoided the politically charged word “recession” in July when the bank said it looked like the economy contracted in the second quarter — a finding later confirmed by Statistics Canada on Sept. 1.

During the federal election campaign that officially began on Aug. 2, Trudeau and the Liberals repeatedly said Canada was in a recession in the first half of 2015 while the Conservatives — including Finance Minister Joe Oliver — insisted the downturn over the first months of 2015 wasn’t severe enough to be considered a true recession.

MORE: 5 things Canadian consumers should know about a Liberal majority 

Bank of Canada says economy has ‘rebounded’, holds interest rate steady

The country’s central bank is maintaining its trendsetting interest rate at 0.5 per cent, saying the Canadian economy has recovered from a mild recession earlier this year, and doesn’t need a cut in borrowing rates to spur growth.

“Canada’s economy has rebounded,” a statement said. The rate pause was largely expected by economy experts.

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As part of its mandate to keep the financial system and economy stable, the Bank of Canada sets its key, overnight lending rate it provides private lenders such as big banks, who in turn use the key rate to determine the interest rates they charge customers.

The Bank of Canada has already lowered the rate twice this year, in January and July, to stimulate the economy and offset some of the impact from a collapse in oil prices that began late last November.

MORE: Latest coverage —; plunging oil prices

Today’s rate announcement is accompanied by the bank’s assessment of the economy, contained in the quarterly Monetary Policy Report.

WATCH: Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says he’s not concerned about working with the incoming Liberal government.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will also hold a press conference on the report, his first since Monday’s landslide election victory for the Liberal party under Justin Trudeau — who will replace Stephen Harper as prime minister.

Click here to view data »

MORE: Economy’s bounce back from recession bigger than expected 

Poloz carefully avoided the politically charged word “recession” in July when the bank said it looked like the economy contracted in the second quarter — a finding later confirmed by Statistics Canada on Sept. 1.

During the federal election campaign that officially began on Aug. 2, Trudeau and the Liberals repeatedly said Canada was in a recession in the first half of 2015 while the Conservatives — including Finance Minister Joe Oliver — insisted the downturn over the first months of 2015 wasn’t severe enough to be considered a true recession.

‘Bra Day’ educates women on post-mastectomy breast reconstruction

MONCTON – It’s “BRA” day, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, across the Maritimes. It’s a day that promotes education, awareness and access for women who may wish to consider post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

It’s been just over a eight years since Kerry (Tink) Swetnam had breast reconstruction surgery.

“It never fails to surprise me now much women don’t know what’s available out there,” she said.

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Which is why doctors across the Maritimes are trying to education women about the options that are available for breast cancer survivors and post-mastectomy patients.

Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Brent Howley, says the procedure is becoming more readily available and accepted among breast cancer survivors. But he says he is still surprised by a continued lack of awareness about the procedure.

“You hear a lot of things like, ‘I am not a candidate for breast reconstruction, I can’t have breast reconstruction it’s not for me,’” he said.

Swetnam says many people still don’t realize that most reconstruction options are actually covered by Medicare.

“People will look and say, ‘I had no idea I could have that done, I thought I would have to pay for it,’” she said. “New Brunswick Medicare pays for it. It is breast cancer-related, Medicare covers the costs.

“Quite often if a woman has breast cancer on one breast anything that has to be done to the opposite breast in terms of achieving balance and symmetry it is covered in full,” said Dr. Howley.

Swetnam was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and opted for a double mastectomy because the disease she says is common in her family.

“In my family on my mother’s side I lost every aunt and every cousin by rank of age to breast cancer,” she said.

Dr. Howley says that is not an option for everyone, but he says women do have more choices now.

“Our options in terms of reconstruction are more and we’ve also come a long way in terms of doing reconstruction at the same time as their mastectomy,” he said.

Which is what Swetnam opted to do.

“You know maybe years ago having fake or reconstructed breast was more of a stigma,” she said.

She now councils women diagnosed with breast cancer facing a mastectomy. She says their biggest worry is what they will look like following surgery. She recalls one woman who was in tears at the thought of losing her breasts.

“At least go talk to someone see what’s out there.”