Former Edmonton health chief to investigate listeriosis outbreak

Former Edmonton health chief to investigate listeriosis outbreak.

 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Tuesday that Sheila Weatherill, a past CEO of Capital Health in Edmonton, has been  appointed  to act as an independent investigator into the outbreak, which sparked a recall of many sliced meat products across Canada. [end of quote]

This only after criticism earlier this month that the PM was delaying the critical process and putting Canadians at risk. The new deadline for the report is now not due until late July, a four month setback and almost a full year after the deadly Listeria bacteria caused death and illness from Listeriosis.

Further it is reported that because Prime Minister Harper did not choose to give Weatherill full judicial inquiry powers, that the report will not be effective and leave Canadians at risk – this according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. 

From Joe the plumber to Obama the painter – Volunteer!

President-elect Barack Obama urges public service, paints at shelter –
A day away from becoming the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama rolled green paint onto blank walls at an emergency homeless shelter in Washington, the Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for teenagers…On the holiday honouring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.,  Obama is asking all Americans to mark the civil rights leader’s legacy by making a renewed commitment to public service.

King, who pushed for equality through peaceful resistance, was assassinated in 1968. “Today, we celebrate the life of a preacher who, more than 45 years ago, stood on our national mall in the shadow of Lincoln and shared his dream for our nation. His was a vision that all Americans might share the freedom to make of our lives what we will; that our children might climb higher than we would,” Obama said in his statement. Obama said King’s “was a life lived in loving service to others.As we honor that legacy, it’s not a day just to pause and reflect — it’s a day to act,” Obama said. [end of excerpt]

Obama gets it. He just plain gets it. He understands what is needed, and that it is not “the government” that can do it, but ordinary people, by donating their time and energy – their sweat equity – who can make the biggest difference to a nation. There are shelters near you, right now, that are in need of volunteers. Shelters for teens like the one Obama was helping at, shelters for women and children seeking refuge from abusive relationships, shelters for youth, men and women who find themselves homeless. They all need help. Simple hard work. And not so hard – they need painters, dishwashers,chefs,waiters and waitresses, barbers,manicurists, sweepers and even patient listeners. I’m glad in a way that we are so close to America here in Canada – maybe the call for grassroots public service will bear fruit here at home. We’re so used to calling public service working for the government, when Barack Obama has reminded us that true public service starts with you, the public.

Now that is a New Year’s resolution worth keeping.
[volunteer at project417.com]

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CNN Rips Bush For Katrina Remarks in Farewell Speech

[Source – huffingtonpost.com & CNN] – Campbell Brown of CNN cut through George Bush’s bull Monday night, taking the President to task for his remarks about Hurricane Katrina during his farewell press conference. Brown “was taken aback” with Bush’s statements defending his administration’s Katrina response – “Don’t tell me the federal response was slow,” Bush said, “when there was 30,000 people pulled off roofs right after the storm passed.”

“Many people will disagree over many aspects of the Bush legacy,” Brown said. “But on the government’s handling of Katrina? It is impossible to challenge what so many of us witnessed firsthand, what the entire country witnessed through the images on our television screens day and night. “Mr. President, you cannot pat yourself on the back for that one,” she then said. “We will debate the war in Iraq, debate national security, the economy, and the rest of your legacy. Those debates will continue for years to come. But on how you handled Katrina, there is no debate.”

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Telecom giant Nortel files for bankruptcy

ECONOMIC Crisis Worsens –

Telecom giant Nortel Networks Corp. (TSX:NT) and several of its units have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a court in the United States. The move comes shortly after shares in the company were halted on the TSX pending news.[source Yahoo! CP]end of excerpt… . (more updates here shortly on the impact on Canadian economy and deepening recession, check back soon for analysis)

To say we have been expecting this is an understatement – after shares tumbled to the 30 cent range recently. To say we are looking forward to this is a mis-statement. Nortel has been so important to the Canadian economy, even a way of life, when you look at the pervasiveness of Nortel hardware throughout the Bell and other telco customers across the country. That old clunker dial phone you’ve been hanging on to as a collectors item in the basement? – Nortel made it ( or Northern Telecom). For a very long time in Canada, their name was ubiquitous in the business telephone system market – a Bell system was a Nortel system was a phone system – wait there are other manufacturers? How have they fallen so far from a stellar history – especially one filled with so much groundbreaking technological inventiveness.  How will this affect measures to ease poverty  and homelessness in Canada? Check back here and to the Canada News Commentary blog at  canayjun.blogspot.com for more in depth analysis.

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Toronto Homeless Man’s Death Not the First

John Massie, known to his friends simply as Classy, the homeless man who died in Toronto outside a bank ATM lobby from burns he received after accidentally setting himself on fire while smoking and drinking, was not the first homeless person in the past year to suffer a similar terrible fate.

The shopping cart where police found homless woman burning

The shopping cart where police found homeless woman burning ::CBC

In Vancouver, in December, a homeless woman identified in CBC reports as simply, Tracey, died in mid-December on the streets of Vancouver. According to the report, the body of a middle-aged homeless woman was found burning in downtown Vancouver after she apparently tried to keep herself warm by burning candles in a temporary shelter she had built over a shopping cart.  The report also mentions a further death in Vancouver of a homeless couple taking shelter outside – the homeless man died and a woman with him was severely burned in January when their portable stove exploded as they used it for warmth while sheltering in a Vancouver alley.

I usually try to blog about more upbeat circumstances here on the Missionlog, but these needless deaths should not be ignored. Someone must advocate for the forgotten of our society – the street homeless. All three deaths were of homeless people trying to stay warm, faced with terribly cold weather while living on the streets. Homelessness is a critical issue no matter which city in Canada you are in, be it Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Mississauga. Those volunteers who venture on the streets with me on Project417 outreach to the homeless have often visited the Toronto Homeless Memorial with me – in a hidden away corner in a dark courtyard behind the Toronto Eaton Center. There are listed more than 550 names of homeless men and women, young and old, who have died while trying to live out on the streets in Toronto alone. They have listened to me sharing the sad statistics: homeless youth, aged 17 to 25 are 8 times more likely to die than the general public – homeless women, 10 times more likely, middle aged and senior males have a mortality rate still 4 times higher than you or I. The recent Vancouver loss seems to have sparked some action, check the following news reports:

How do we make a difference? Where do the changes need to start? When will the misfortune of ending up homeless cease to be a virtual death sentence for so many? Check back to blog as we look into these crucial questions and seek for groundbreaking, grassroots methods to save our homeless friends. If you’d like to take part in a Project417 street outreach program in Toronto visit Project417.com to find out how you can help the homeless.

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Toronto Tragedy – Homeless Man Burns to Death Outside Bank ATM

Homelessness in Toronto has been called a disaster. Now it has progressed to the  point of tragic calamity. The Saturday Toronto Star (Jan 10 2009) reports that John Massie, 46, (known to us here by his street name – Classy), a homeless man who lived on the streets in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, has died of burns he suffered in a terrible misadventure.  It’s almost impossible to retain perspective when reading an article like this. Like many homeless in the dwontown Toronto core, Massie had been seeking a few minutes warm respite from the cold inside a bank ATM lobby at King and Yonge. Like many, he had been drinking, obviously high proof alcohol of some sort – police say he had spilled alcohol on himself, lit a smoke outside the bank and went up in flames. He died hours later in hospital from the burns.

Bench or Bed?

Bench or Bed?

Many volunteers with Project417 have walked the streets of the financial district with me handing out meals and warm clothing, especially the Richmond – King – Yonge – University block frequented by so many homeless. Years ago, Massie probably would have been camped out at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto City Hall, where upwards of a hundred used to camp on benches and in cardboard huts – but council and the new Mayor David Miller forced most of them off saying the presence of so many homeless was bad for tourism. Those of you who walk with me see where most have gone: two blocks down into the financial district, shivering and living out a hopeless existence up against the glass and steel towers of banks and wealthy corporations.

What will it take to make this city, this country, wake up and see the travesty that is homelessness? The Star reports Massie was banned from most shelters, and even several public parks due to what they called bothersome, anti-social behaviour. Banned then, even from emergency shelter – banned from Out of the Cold programs – banished to walk the streets and sleep on cement, taking refuge in alcohol, even cheap mouthwash – abandoned by the very agencies and programs that exist to help him.  Security guards and shelter workers, many with Dixon Hall, the agency hired by the city to police grassroots Out of the Cold programs in churches,  regularly ban our homeless friends from shelters due to aggressive, violent behavior.  Some church Out of the Cold programs have opted out of having Dixon Hall staff on site,  instead footing the bill themselves for private safety and security staff so they can have more control over decisions such as banning or turning away the homeless. It’s a difficult line to walk – knowing that it may be a life or death decision, as it was for John Massie.

The report refers to “city restrictions that prevent outreach agencies [from] distributing survival supplies…like sleeping bags, hot food and blankets” as a possible contributing factor to the tragic death of John Massie.  These City of Toronto restrictions do exist and they are almost criminal. There is no bylaw cited by the city in imposing the restriction. Several years ago, all outreach agencies that rely on City of Toronto funding to run their programs received correspondence from the city requiring them to cease handing out food, warm clothing, and outdoor gear or face review of their funding – financial coercion, almost hostage taking in effect. I know most of them complied – you used to be able to call the city’s  StreetHelp line and have a sleeping bag or blanket delivered to a homeless person without shelter on the street – no more, but they will offer to transport the person to a shelter at some point in the next few hours – the same shelters that ban them and turn them away. ( A police “drunk tank” would be better than Massie’s fate outside). I know of more than one organization that no longer delivers hot meals on the street because of pressure from city staff.  There is no bylaw being enforced by the city in this – although several right-wing councillors had suggested anyone handing out food to the homeless needed a food vendors licence like the hotdog carts – ludicrous! They base their cruel coercion on the ivory tower philosophy that servicing homeless on the streets only “enables” their street lifestyle and inhibits them from receiving the help they need – help the City of Toronto has bet will come only from their now long-running “Streets to Homes” programs – whose street outreach workers travel with security guards by their side.

Project417 Help the HomelessProject417’s street outreach receives no city or government funding. An independent Christian charity, we will continue to share the elements of our liturgy – in the form of nutritious sandwich bag lunches prepared in churches across the GTA by thousands of volunteers every year. We will continue to walk the streets and be in community with our abandoned homeless friends like John Massie. And we will continue to grieve for each and every homeless man and woman that dies a needless death cold, hungry and alone. Rest in peace John…

To find out how you can walk with me in solidarity to the memory of John Massie, visit project417.com::


Killer Listeriosis Outbreak – Government Broken Promises put us all at risk -UPDATE

The Harper government has not named the lead investigator into a Listeriosis outbreak that killed 20 people. He promised last year to “get to the bottom of what transpired”. With only 3 months left before the report was to issue findings Harper has done nothing. People are still at risk. Listeria bacteria exists in all meat processing plants…[end of excerpt – source cbc.ca]


First reported here on the Missionlog last August[ see Deadly Listeria Bacteria – Tainted Deli Meats Linked to Food Deaths – Maple Leaf Foods – Toronto ] The hope was that progress had been made in the government’s food inspection process, but the recent news reports show that the health and safety of Canadians is not a top priority with the current minority Conservative government. The company involved – Maple Leaf Foods, has done far more:  read about it here.

Our concern now, as then, is with the homeless street people that we serve. Many of them are included in the groups identified by Health Canada as being at greater risk of contracting listeriosis from the listeria bacteria found in most luncheon meats.  Project417 has always advised independent sandwich run groups not to make sandwiches with fresh deli meats due to problems with food spoilage – Many of our street friends have gotten sick in the past from eating bag lunches prepared by well meaning but uninformed church groups and other volunteers who go out on unsupervised sandwich runs. Even though in the past Public Health  nurses had advised that bologna was a good choice for sandwich runs due to preservatives, as a result of the news reports and Health Canada advisories, we updated the Project417 website with a notice to groups to avoid any sliced meats for use in sandwich runs to the homeless and stick to the tried and true PB&J or plain process cheese slices. That advisory still stands. Check back for more updates soon.

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