Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"Kitchen confidential"/ mental health

Jan. 21, 2017 "Kitchen confidential": Today I found this article by Liane Faulder in the Edmonton Journal.  It's about mental health and working in a high-pressure and fast-paced restaurant environment that can lead to depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse:

It’s 7:15 on a Friday night at Chartier, and according to restaurant owner Darren Cheverie, the whole restaurant is like a “ticking time bomb.” Virtually every corner of the popular 80-seat French eatery hums with guests. 

Back in the narrow, crowded kitchen, lobster crackers for the $65 lobster poutine for two have disappeared, but that’s OK. The lobster has proven so popular, they’re now out. Cracker crisis averted! Meanwhile, in a kitchen pass-through, Cheverie confides to head chef Steve Brochu that a certain table is “difficult.”

“More bread? More poutine?” suggests the chef, who will be on his feet 12 hours today. 
While this classic weekend night at Chartier may sound stressful, it’s routine in the restaurant business. The back-of-the-house staff — six cooks and a couple of dishwashers — thrive on the bustle.

The fact that the evening is satisfying for the kitchen staff speaks to the atmosphere created at Chartier by Cheverie, 33, and his co-owner and wife, Sylvia. When they launched the Beaumont eatery in early 2016, they were determined that their own restaurant would avoid the poor working conditions prevalent in many establishments.

While chef Gordon Ramsay’s tirades on television and chef Anthony Bourdain’s exposé on the corrosive culture of the professional kitchen are entertainment, to be sure, they also undeniably reflect the culinary underbelly. Talk to cooks and chefs, in Edmonton and elsewhere, and you will hear stories of hurled plates, unreasonable demands and abusive taunts experienced at some point in their kitchen careers. 

And that’s just part of the sometimes-toxic mix that awaits the wannabe chef. Low wages and high expectations, unpaid overtime in a fast-paced and stressful environment, physical symptoms from carpel tunnel syndrome to back strain, lack of benefits including paid sick time, and non-stop shift work are the decidedly less shiny facets of the restaurant, bar and catering industry, which generated receipts in Alberta totalling $748 million in June 2016 alone, according to ATB Financial.

Spending time in the pressure cooker of the commercial kitchen can, and does, lead to mental health problems for chefs and cooks, including depression and addiction to drugs and alcohol, according to participants at a recent fundraiser called Food for Thoughts. At least three veterans of Edmonton commercial kitchens — Stuart Whyte, Dan Letourneau and Cory Rakowski — are determined to raise awareness of poor mental health in the commercial kitchen, and to do something about it.

One thing about a gathering of chefs — the food’s always good. That’s the first thing a casual observer might have noted at the kick-off fundraiser for Food for Thoughts. Held in November at the Whyte Avenue bar and restaurant, Nightjar, the meeting was full of familiar faces who raised a glass or three while enjoying a range of trendy finger foods.

At first, the room burbled with upbeat chatter. But the mood dampened as a panel of chefs and mental health advocates rose to speak about something that rarely occurs to customers enjoying a night out at their favourite eatery.

Long hours in a hot, physically demanding and pressure-filled environment working at low wages with few, if any, benefits, leads to pain — physical, mental and financial. Also at play is easy access to alcohol, and late-night and weekend shifts that not only keep workers away from their friends and families, but set up potential conflicts at home.

Illicit drug use is not uncommon, in part fuelled by the infamous party culture of an industry dominated by youth. Forty-five per cent of the 120,000 restaurant employees in Alberta are under the age of 25, contributing to a workplace that can prove unhealthy, if not outright dangerous.

And if the body or mind becomes ill, there are few supports in place. Paid sick time is a rarity, prescription drugs or counselling are generally not covered by a workplace plan, and the culture of the kitchen is macho. Cooks who aren’t there to help when literally hundreds of plates must go out during a busy two-hour dinner rush don’t get much sympathy from their workmates, who grumble as they pick up the slack.

“We struggle as an industry with a lack of oversight and accountability,” chef Cory Rakowski told the roughly 50 folks assembled at the fundraiser. “We accept that not being paid overtime is the norm. We accept (that) abuse, emotional, mental, is the norm. These are things we are OK with, in the name of passion…

“We are taught how to fix a broken Hollandaise, but we’re not taught how to cope with the pressure, the lack of self-worth.”

Starbucks created headlines in October when it announced it was making generous counselling benefits available to its workforce, largely made up of young people with an average age of 24. Starbucks employees have to work 20 hours a week to get the benefit, but the company says this includes about three-quarters of their 19,000 Canadian employees.

But restaurant employers outside of chains and hotels offer little in the way of benefits. It’s the norm for restaurant staff at an independent eatery to not be paid for sick days. A 2016 labour market survey by government and industry in British Columbia noted that while cooks and chefs are driven by passion, they feel overworked and undervalued. The majority of the 450 surveyed would not recommend the career to friends or family. 

David Grauwiler, executive director of the Alberta division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, says people working in the restaurant industry face stresses similar to other shift workers, including sleep issues and disruption to family life.  

“When you work unusual hours, it places pressure on core relationships,” says Grauwiler.
He notes the “intensive pressure” of meeting service needs in a limited amount of time, and the rigours of teamwork add to the stress of restaurant life. One of his big concerns is that there is little help available for kitchen workers.

“For people who don’t have (supplemental insurance) benefits, Alberta continues to be a very difficult place to navigate their mental health,” he says. “When people have nothing in the toolbox, they are at greater jeopardy of serious difficulty.”
When the Cheveries opened Beaumont’s Chartier last year, the couple was determined to create something different, and healthy. Darren had been in the service industry since the age of 14, and, as an adult, held general manager of food and beverage positions in a variety of large Canadian restaurants.

Darren also had his own struggles with drug use and alcohol in his 20s, exacerbated by workplace pressure. Though he is in a secure and loving relationship and blessed with a young daughter, he knows he will always struggle to avoid the quick and easy solution to the anxiety and depression that have plagued him his whole life.

Darren loves the hospitality business, the excitement, the passion, the personalities, and pleasures. But he knows it’s a rough business.

“There are not too many careers that are this stressful and demanding,” he says. “You are constantly onstage and constantly being judged. We want to make people happy and when you don’t make them happy, it’s a knife in the chest.”

He says the industry, infamous for chronic labour shortages, also suffers from a lack of leadership. Chain restaurants with bigger margins may offer training, support and mentorship to employees, and also set a higher standard for behaviour in the kitchen. But some people in charge of cooks on the line, in big and small establishments alike, may be in the same topsy-turvy boat as their staff. 

This was driven home to Darren in 2014, when three chefs under his supervision — two of them rising stars who had achieved the level of sous chef — took drugs at home after wrapping up an intense quarterly meeting at the large restaurant at which they all worked. One died, another was in a coma for several days. The third called Darren when he was the only one to wake up the morning after the drug use.

It was 8 a.m. Darren was already at the restaurant when his cellphone rang. That Darren was the first call the distraught chef made came as no surprise; kitchen staff become like family to each other. He told the chef to hang up and call the police, and then prepared himself for the storm ahead. 

“When you have two people in leadership roles, the waves that go through the restaurant and the company are pretty big,” says Darren.

The restaurant flew in replacement kitchen staff so nobody would have to work the line while colleagues processed the loss. They also provided significant human resources support.
Upon reflection, one of the things that disturbed Darren about the whole incident was its genesis. It wasn’t as if the quarterly meeting had gone badly, or that the chefs were coping with negative stress. No, it was the casual nature of the drug use, a hallmark of some sectors of this fast-paced industry.

He doesn’t know if those colleagues suffered from mental health problems or other issues that drove their drug use; nobody talked about that in the kitchen. In Darren’s experience, turning a blind eye to addictive behaviour is what people do in most professional kitchens.
“It’s bullsh** if (colleagues) say they don’t notice the guy who is the cocaine addict in the back, or the bartender who is abusing drugs and alcohol on a nightly basis,” he says. “We have to support those people and not just let them go.”

It was kitchen culture that contributed to the psychological breakdown that drove NAIT graduate Danielle Job from her position as executive chef for the cafe in a Canadian department store chain. Her mental illness had its roots in a physical problem, an intestinal bacteria that was difficult to diagnose and kept her out of the kitchen because she was ill and doctors worried she would pass it on to others through food preparation.

She was off work for a couple of months, and when she returned, she was given the cold shoulder by fellow employees and her boss.

“It was like, ‘thanks for being gone so long and leaving everything to us’,” she recalls. “People said it was in my head because they didn’t have a name for what was wrong with me.”

It all wore away at her self-confidence. 

“I thought, ‘I can’t be a chef, I’m not a good chef.’ My anxiety started to go up because every time I had to be off, there was a stigma. I felt I wasn’t good enough anymore. With being a chef, there is no coming in at eight and leaving at four. So that was really hard.”

At the time she became ill, Job was one of a small minority of chefs in the industry who did enjoy company benefits, including short- and long-term disability. (A 2003 report by Statistics Canada noted that only 13 per cent of workers in the accommodation and food industry have supplemental health insurance.) But Job struggled to access the benefits she was entitled to and was twice denied long-term coverage by the insurance company. She tried to kill herself in May 2016. 

“I was 31, and I was in the psych ward for a suicide attempt. So many things had beaten me down. I had no fight left in me.”

She quit her job in August, and is still in a dispute with the insurance company. In quitting, she lost not only income, but benefits that covered her prescription drugs to help with the depression and anxiety. 

Job knows that the stigma surrounding mental illness is not restricted to the restaurant industry. But she believes conditions in the industry make the stigma worse, and make workers vulnerable to the illness in the first place.

“The work is undervalued, now with so many people doing YouTube (cooking) videos, people think it’s so easy…it’s very hard for people to see that what you do is worth them paying you for it.”

The atmosphere in kitchens is “very much a boys’ club,” she adds.

“When it comes to running a restaurant or an event, being a woman, you are very much the minority. I do feel that I have to do something over and above, out of this world, just to compete with a male chef.”

It’s still unusual to see a woman in an executive chef’s position in an independent restaurant, or at the helm in a restaurant chain. But women in many male-dominated walks of life struggle with discrimination based on gender. And many people who aren’t chefs also work in high-stress environments — doctors, lawyers, oil rig workers, air traffic controllers, just to name a few. 

But it’s not just the tough, physically stressful jobs, or easy access to alcohol that are the source of mental-health problems in commercial kitchens. It’s those factors in combination with poor wages, and lack of benefits.

In Alberta, according to 2015 provincial statistics, cooks and chefs made an average of $16 to $21 an hour, before tips (servers generally share a small portion of their tips with kitchen staff). Generally speaking, workers in hotels or chain restaurants make more money than those in smaller shops.

There are other ways in which restaurant workers are different from others in the labour force, says Bobbie Beeson, owner of the Alberta-based Cheesecake Cafe franchise and one of those attending the Food for Thoughts fundraiser. 

“One of the things that might make us unique is that people who are lost tend to find themselves when they join a restaurant team,” says Beeson. “Maybe there are some people who come with pre-existing conditions, and … if you’re a business who nurtures partying and camaraderie through alcohol, that’s what you’ll get. But if you don’t have that culture, then they might find themselves another way.”

Indeed, Rakowski, 36, who has worked as a chef at Edmonton kitchens from 12 Acres to North 53, credits the restaurant industry for providing a place of refuge when he was young. A homeless teenager who was involved in drugs, he found the structure he yearned for in the kitchen.

Sure, there’s heat on every level, but there can also be teamwork, plus an openness, and a lack of judgment.

“It was a place I felt accepted,” recalls Rakowski, who began his career as a dishwasher at the age of 13. “I credit the industry with saving my life. I had an opportunity every day to reinvent myself.”

In the last few years, Rakowski found himself in the spotlight, competing at the prestigious Gold Medal Plates and lauded for his culinary talent. It became overwhelming, and this past summer, he found himself reverting to former bad habits. Back on track now, Rakowski sees the need for attention to be paid to the people in the industry who struggle with mental health issues.

That’s why he, along with Letourneau and Whyte, launched Food for Thoughts. At November’s fundraiser, the three organizers collected about $3,000, money that is currently sitting with Edmonton’s Momentum Counselling, a non-profit, walk-in counselling service. Food for Thoughts plans to work with Momentum to create a support group for food service professionals.

But they want to do more than just address the problems of kitchen staff here in Edmonton. Since the trio launched Food for Thoughts, they have been contacted by numerous interested parties, including at least one hotel chain, who want to get on board.

Though its early days yet, Food for Thoughts wants to work with knowledgeable sources, such as the Canadian Mental Health Association, to create materials and resources that could provide triage for affected kitchen employees. Perhaps, like an eyewash station, or a first aid kit, a mental health safety package could be made available for staff and employers alike. 

“We want to build resources with people in the mental health field,” says Letourneau, 31, noting a second fundraiser is in the works for February. “But for now, it’s baby steps.”
Rakowski says he worries about the future for younger folks coming into the business. “We need to look at the kids coming into the industry and figure out how to help them out.”

This is critical not just to protect young people, but also to maintain the health and growth of the industry, which plays a major role in the economy coast to coast, generating nearly $53 billion in receipts a year, according to Statistics Canada.

Kitchen work is a young person’s game, at least in part because of its rigour. According to a B.C. study, 52 per cent of cooks are under 35 and 63 per cent of chefs are under 45. Fewer than 15 per cent of cooks or chefs are over 55. If older staff could be retained, it could help stabilize the industry, and alleviate chronic labour shortages.
Barriers to change are significant. The industry has tiny margins: if an independent restaurant makes a profit of three to five per cent, that’s a triumph. Customers are sensitive to changes in prices on the menu, so upping prices to better compensate staff is risky. Some restaurant owners do their best. 

“There are employers who do provide benefits and a listening ear. But this is the exception,” says Rakowski.

Asked if he can think of a good employer, Rakowski names the Sicilian Pasta Kitchen on the city’s south side, where he once worked. There, co-owners Steve and Jamie Maguire, and co-owner and chef Don Orchuk, have been running the show for 20 years. They have 73 workers, 20 in the kitchen. Steve Maguire acknowledges the restaurant industry is tough.

“Most of the business is condensed into short hours. Friday and Saturday nights you’re busy from 6:30 to 9, in huge pressure situations and you’re getting hit right, left and centre, within small cramped spaces. It’s very warm back there, and most places don’t pay very well, to be honest,” says Maguire.

“So you have the financial stresses, outside of the normal work stresses. This business traditionally does attract a type of person who is susceptible to drinking and other things.”
Maguire says his outfit pays “a little bit better than the industry,” plus offers a health plan with $500 for professional services such as counselling. The cooks who are on salary have access to paid sick days, but the hourly workers in the restaurant don’t.

“We are good to our people,” he says. “We close for three days at Christmas. We try to give bonuses to the kitchen staff, and they get a free meal at work.”

The owners at Sicilian Pasta Kitchen do something else to support their staff. At the end of a late-night shift, cooks and servers are encouraged to hang around the restaurant to wind down, and to enjoy an alcoholic beverage if they choose at a reduced price.

“We don’t allow drinking and driving — it’s a fireable offence,” notes Maguire. “Most of the staff are usually getting a ride with someone else.”
But staying behind to quaff a drink at a reasonable price means staff aren’t busting out at 1 a.m. to hit the nearest bar and to down as many drinks as possible before last call at 2 a.m.
“It’s easier for us to look after them if they are here. A lot of places are the opposite. They don’t want the staff to stay behind,” says Maguire.

At Chartier, staff are also free to stay behind for one discounted glass of house wine or beer, or a bite to eat at 50 per cent off, and to discuss the events of the day. Chartier’s executive chef, Steve Brochu, 30, says he’s never been happier since joining this crew, and credits the business model carefully crafted by the Cheveries.

The Chartier wage system is different. Tips are shared among all staff (except owners). This means that, in combination with their wages, staff make between $19 and $21 an hour. There are team building activities, such as canoe trips. It’s been hard to attract servers, the Cheveries admit, because they can make better money elsewhere by keeping most of their own tips. But the people who stay are committed to the concept.

The Cheveries also offer their salaried employees $150 a month to put toward mental health — for yoga classes, gym membership, or family counselling, whatever makes sense. But in the year the restaurant has been open, only one person has accessed the mental health account, and that was to buy a $35 ticket to the Food for Thoughts fundraiser. Darren is puzzled by the lack of uptake.

“I think it’s a little bit of damage from previous restaurant cultures,” he speculates. “If you say you need it, it’s a sign of weakness. We’ve had to book a massage for the executive chef and sous chef because they won’t take the time off.”

He says the industry runs lean teams, and there is a “culture of guilt” when it comes to taking care of yourself. 

“And you wonder why it leads to drug and alcohol abuse. It’s such a high pressure, guilt-ridden industry.”

My week:

Apr. 11, 2017 Dealership interview: I did a job interview in the morning.


1. It was daytime and full-time.

2. I would get benefits after working there for a yr.

3. The company has been there for a years, so there's good job security.

4. There are 2 buses to get there, but they come frequently.

5. The pay would be average.  I did say the range would be $13-$16/hr.

6. I can still work at my restaurant job for 2 days a week.


1. I would have to start this Sat. and Easter weekend is busy.  I'm sure my restaurant would let me have a day off on Sat. and I will work on Sun. because that's the really busy

2. The main thing is that I am not that interested in working at this dealership.  I'm not selling the items, I'm processing the payments.  I don't have to know about the items.  I am simply not that interested in it.

If I get hired, I would feel like I would work there for awhile and then get bored.  I would work there and also be looking for another job so I can quit this one.

However, I would be getting paid to work at my 2 jobs.

Clearing limiting beliefs: I've been watching or at least listening to these law of attraction videos.  It says to clear limiting beliefs that don't serve you.

My current experiences have been:


Pros: It's stimulating work.

Cons: The pay isn't that good, unless you get tips.

Office jobs (like the call centre in 2013 and the home installation place in 2015):

Pros: It pays well, and often has benefits.

Cons: It gets boring after awhile.

I haven't found an office job yet that is stimulating.

College: It's like with college programs.  I did go to NAIT's Graphic Communications to be a graphic designer.  It wasn't really for me.  Then I went to MacEwan's Professional Writing and it was a really good fit for me.

Asian restaurant job interview: I did an interview in the afternoon.  They were open for lunch and dinner.  However, they were looking for 1 day shift and 2 weekend night shifts.  The job wasn't a fit for me. 

The boss called me on Sun. at 8pm.  I usually don't get phone calls for interviews on the weekends or weekend nights.

Time after Time: I was looking up Josh Bowman who plays John/ Jack the Ripper on the show.  Here's how to get the show back on.  I'm going to put this on my Facebook:

mq__spades@kdr305 @rosabay @hailmeimjeff @abbyrose719 @erin_mcmanus72 Time After Time can be requested at the 'Netflix Help Center' online. Netflix might pick up the show if enough fans put in the request. Pls notify other fans so we can get as many as possible!

mq__spades@hailmeimjeff just go to online and scroll down till you see something that says 'Request movie or show' and click that. The rest is pretty simple. All of it is on the Netflix Help Center website.

Apr. 13, 2017 Hope Heels Service Dogs:  I was looking for a job and I found this.  It seems to be a meaningful career:

" charity run by volunteers that is dedicated to the raising, training and placing of service dogs with Albertans in need. We are a dynamic group of volunteers who believe passionately in our mission."

Job search: When I go into the "office manager/ receptionist section" of a job site, I can see a lot of jobs I am a fit for.

I was expanding a bit by looking at "healthcare" and there was a receptionist position I applied for, but there was only one.

I looked into the "hairstylist" section, but there weren't any receptionist positions.

Filmmakers meetup: I haven't been to these in a few months because it was cold out, and I was working at the restaurant.  It was busy at the restaurant and I was tired.  Yesterday I psyched myself out and went to one.  It was fun.  R, M, and A were there. 

It was a small meeting.  We talked about filmmaking, but also other things too.  M was on unemployment insurance for awhile and now works at another job.  R is still on unemployment.  A did quit her part-time job and got a job in her field at the library so that's good.

It was a good emotional and mental boost for me.  We talked about the new season of Prison Break that recently came out.  I saw the first 2 episodes and I recommend you watch the pilot.

Apr. 14, 2017 Parismony: I looked this up:

"extreme unwillingness to spend money or use resources."

This is Us: I had recorded all the episodes and watched it for the last week and half.

"Follows a unique ensemble, as their paths cross and their life stories intertwine, from sharing the same birthday, to so much more than anyone would expect."

It's about family, marriage, raising kids, relationships and it is touching.  Some of you may say "It's phony sentimentality."  Then again, it is a fictional show.  You should check out the pilot:

Solomon College/ hospitality management

Apr. 13, 2017 Solomon College: I don't remember where I heard about this college.  I copy and pasted it onto my blog/ email to look up later.

Diploma in Hospitality Management: I probably wanted to look into this:

Program Description

International travel has increased exponentially making hospitality one of the fastest growing industries in the world.  This has created a global demand for well trained, highly skilled, hospitality professionals. To meet this demand, Solomon College is proud to announce its partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) to offer a worldwide recognized Hospitality Management Diploma program.

This is a Co-op program which means students acquire relevant, hands on job experience prior to graduation in addition to academic training.  Our partnership with hospitality employers is an effective way to train high quality employees while providing networking opportunities with employers in the field.  In less than two years, students enter a profession that is challenging, rewarding, and in high demand.

Program Structure

When students are closely connected with employers in the hospitality industry, they are able to build valuable workplace contacts for future employment. Therefore, the goal of this program is to integrate academic studies with work experience.

The program consists of two components. The Academic Component requires students to complete 9 courses in a classroom environment over nine months as well as a Business Communication course. The Practicum Component is a maximum one-year paid or unpaid work placement which requires students to complete job interviews with hotels before they are placed.  Afterwards, students return for another three months of study. The total duration of the program is 24 months.

Completion of both components, Academic and Practicum, is required to obtain a diploma from Solomon College.  In order to successfully complete the program, you must achieve a minimum of 70% on all 12 final exams (1 exam per course), a passing grade in Business Communications, and receive a positive performance review from your supervisor at the end of your practicum. Students will also receive a certificate of completion for the AHLEI coursework once they have completed the Academic portion.  Visa students will need to apply for a work permit to legally work in Canada before they begin the Practicum Component.

Academic Courses starting September, 2016

  • Managing Front Office Operations
  • Managing Housekeeping Operations
  • Hospitality Facilities Management and Design
  • Managing Hospitality  Human Resources
  • Supervision in the  Hospitality Industry
  • Management Food and Beverage Operations
  • Hospitality Sales and Marketing
  • Spa: A Comprehensive Introduction
  • Leadership and Management in the Hospitality Industry
  • Hospitality Industry Financial Accounting
  • Security and Loss Prevention
  • The Academic Component also includes a Business Communications class specially designed to support students with improving their English Language skills.
  • All courses subject to change

Admission Requirements

Applicants within Canada:
Students wishing to enroll in the Diploma in Hospitality Management program must pass Solomon College’s entrance assessment examination, and meet at least one of the following conditions:

1. An IELTS Academic score of 5.5 or above in speaking/listening/reading & writing; equivalencies accepted
2. Be a mature student aged 23 or above


$13,500 + $500 non-refundable application fee; textbooks $3,000.

My opinion: The tuition seems really expensive.

Here are the other programs:

Solomon College offers many programs to both local and international students.
Our English as a Second Language program provides English language instruction to prepare students to write the TOEFL and IELTS exams. The program develops your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

Our Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.  It teaches students a level of language proficiency that facilitates their integration into Canadian society. This program is free for all permanent residents to Canada.

Our High School program is for students and adults who would like to earn credits towards their high school diploma or improve their high school marks.

Our Hospitality Program provides students the opportunity to enter a career in the hospitality industry in Canada. You will not only learn about hospitality but also get hands on experience through our co-op program.

Our Aviation Management & Pilot Training Diploma Program provides aviation students with a structured focused flight training program to help learners attain the required licenses and experience necessary to find gainful employment in the competitive aviation industry.

Our Professional and Private Tutoring Services program provides professional services such as editing, translation, one-on-one tutoring, and writing assistance.

Orientations are provided and include topics on:
Curriculum planning, school policies, medical insurance, banking, the transportation system, and Canadian cultural adjustment, depending on the student’s needs and their particular program.

My opinion: I'm not interested in the other programs.

NAIT Hospitality management:

Quick Facts

Credential: Diploma
Length: 2 years
International Applicants: Accepted
Location: Main
Course information

Tuition & Fees

( Maximum per semester )
Tuition: $1,883
Tuition International: International Student Program Fees
NAITSA: $120
Recreation & Athletics Fee: $70.00

My opinion: That's like $6000 tuition for 2 yrs.

MacEwan Travel: When I looked up "MacEwan hospitality", this came up first:

MacEwan's Travel program takes you places. This two-year diploma program is condensed into an accelerated 13-month format so you can fast track your studies to get right to work. In this program you'll study the ins and outs of the travel industry: from sales and tickets to managing suppliers and agents. You'll also receive hands-on experience with the actual computerized reservation systems used by the travel industry.

Get an in-depth look at the world's most important tourist destinations, and learn what motivates travelers to frequent them. Learn how to deal with everything from international border crossings to environmental and social concerns. Develop an understanding of the evolving travel market and the technology used to document and sell North American and international travel.

MacEwan Business management:

Tuition and fees: There is a very helpful tuition calculator where you put in the program and how many courses you'll be taking a semester.

tech job search/ mobile app developer

Apr. 17, 2017 Tech job search: I found this piece of paper where I had a read a Globe and Mail article about these new jobs.  I looked it up in 2015.  Now I'm going to look at it with new eyes:

Big data analyst:

Big data analytics is the process of examining large and varied data sets -- i.e., big data -- to uncover hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends, customer preferences and other useful information that can help organizations make more-informed business decisions.

Big data analytics benefits

Driven by specialized analytics systems and software, big data analytics can point the way to various business benefits, including new revenue opportunities, more effective marketing, better customer service, improved operational efficiency and competitive advantages over rivals.

Big data analytics applications enable data scientists, predictive modelers, statisticians and other analytics professionals to analyze growing volumes of structured transaction data, plus other forms of data that are often left untapped by conventional business intelligence (BI) and analytics programs. That encompasses a mix of semi-structured and unstructured data -- for example, internet clickstream data, web server logs, social media content, text from customer emails and survey responses, mobile-phone call-detail records and machine data captured by sensors connected to the internet of things.

Here's another:

All such roads lead to the same destination: a job assembling, analyzing and interpreting large data sets to look for information of interest or value.

Data science encompasses "Big Data," data analytics, and more. It is becoming a vital discipline in IT because it enables businesses to extract value about the many kinds of data they collect in doing whatever it is that they do.

For those who do business with customers, it lets them learn more about those customers. For those who maintain a supply chain, it helps them to understand more and better ways to request, acquire and manage supply components. For those who follow (or try to anticipate) markets – such as financials, commodities, employment and so forth – it helps them construct more accurate and insightful models for such things.

In fact, no matter where you look for data, if large amounts of information are routinely collected and stored, data science can probably find something useful or interesting to say about such collections, if those who examine them can frame and process the right kinds of queries against that data. That's what explains the increasing and ongoing value of data science for most companies and organizations, since all of them routinely collect and maintain various kinds of data nowadays.

Basic Educational Background

The basic foundation for a long-lived career in IT for anybody getting started is to pursue a bachelor's degree in something computing related. This usually means a degree in computer science, management information systems (MIS), computer engineering, informatics or something similar. Plenty of people transition in from other fields, to be sure, but the more math and science under one's belt when making that transition, the easier it will be. Given projected shortages of IT workers, especially in high demand subject areas – which not only include data science, but also networking, security, software development, IT architecture and its various specialty areas, and more – it's hard to go wrong with this kind of career start.

For data scientists in particular, a strong mathematics background, particularly in statistics and analysis, is strongly recommended, if not required outright. This goes naturally along with an equally strong academic foundation in computing. Those willing to slog on through to a master's or PhD before entering the workforce may find data science a particularly appealing and remunerative field of study when their slog comes to an end. If so, they can also jump directly into mid- or expert/senior-level career steps, respectively.,1-2217.html

Here's one of my blog posts:

My 2017 opinion: I look at it now.  The job pays $72,000- $96,000.  The job description sounds really interesting by analyzing lots of information.  I do that already with reading the business section of the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail

I look at the information so I know what companies and jobs to apply to.

However, when I look at the education where you need a degree in IT, math, engineering, etc.  I am not interested in that part.

SEO specialist:

A Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist analyzes, reviews and implements changes to websites so they are optimized for search engines. This means maximizing the traffic to a site by improving page rank within search engines.

Simply put, in the words of, “it is the job of the SEO specialist to make your website show up at the top of the search engine results. Ten years ago that job looked a lot different than it does now, and it requires a whole new skill-set from what was needed back then.

A modern specialist must be a problem solver and decision maker, with the ability to prioritize and develop relevant and engaging content. You know the old adage, “Content is king?” well, modern SEO specialists know that search engines are placing increasing value on quality content – which will invariably include keyword or phrases that increases traffic to a site.

In the SEO industry, however, communication and clarity are important. Hopefully, I can clearly answer the question: “What is an SEO Specialist?”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps people find products and information on search engines like Google and Bing. An SEO specialist, then, researches and analyzes the trends and best practices online to develop and implement strategies that improve search results.
The overall goal is to increase the level of traffic to a website by using keywords and keyword topics to improve the user experience and meet search engine guidelines.

Here's one of my blog posts:

My 2017 opinion: You need a degree in something computer related, marketing, communications and advertising.

In a way, I am kind of an SEO.  I try to get people to come to my blog.  I write about current events and people like to read the news.  I put up job articles and my opinions on it.  People go on the internet to read job articles.

Online community manager: Here's a career I didn't research before.

Online community managers use social media to connect a business or organization with its primary audience. These professionals benefit from earning a bachelor's degree and need online experience and knowledge of relevant software in order to obtain a job in the field. They should have strong communication skills and must be able to build their communities.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Communication or journalism
Experience Online experience and knowledge of relevant software
Key Skills Strong communication (written and verbal) skills, build communities, social media platforms, organized, and photo editing, depending on the industry
Salary (2015) $48,513 (median for all online community managers)

Step 2: Develop Social Media Skills

Online community managers must understand the importance of social media and how to utilize it to reach consumers. Employers require professional or personal experience in online publishing. Prospective online community managers should be familiar with Facebook, Twitter, photo sharing sites, blogs, and online media specific to their industry.


What qualifications do you need to be an Online Community Manager?

There’s no one specific qualification you need for this role and there are many ways into an online community management career. Many people who are interested in this line of work train in social media or IT. Knowledge of HTML definitely helps. The depth of your training will largely depend on how much you want to know. There are different courses you can take if you wish to pursue this kind of career.

Useful academic qualifications include:
  • Take a CLAiD or ECDL course. Both of these show prospective employers that you can carry out basic tasks on a computer and they give a good base of knowledge if you want to go on to do more detailed courses. The National Careers Service website has more information on both of these
  • This is more technical, but HTML courses are very beneficial to those who are interested in building online communities especially. You can’t build a webpage without HTML after all! Check the UBIQ webpage for more information on HTML courses
  • Volunteering to moderate a webpage for a couple of hours a week is a great way to start. It gives good insight into what the role involves and looks great on a CV.

My 2017 opinion: The job looks after the company's social media and pays $45,000-$65,000.  I have looked at office jobs and they are titled "Social media manager."

Mobile app developer:

My 2017 opinion: It's good job security.  You need a degree in computers.

Apr. 18, 2017: I remember reading about how there are these jobs that never existed and that you can never even imagine will be created.

In the late 90s and early 2000s, I was a teenager and I know computers and technology will be everywhere.  It will be important in getting a job.

However, did anyone ever think a mobile app developer will be a job?  It didn't come out until like 2007 with the iPhone.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"New property owner ended a job and tendency. What can be done?"

Mar. 20, 2017 "New property owner ended a job and tenancy. What can be done?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

I thought this was a unique question about living at work.  There are lots of temporary summer jobs at resorts and cruise ships where you live at work.  There are a lot of interesting comments on it:


My brother-in-law and sister live on property that they rent from his employer. His employer recently sold the business and the new owners are making changes. Dave has worked for his employer for 25 years. Because the employment is seasonal with a golf club, he gets laid off every year. He has always been expected back, and returns. From the new owners, he recently received an one-month notice to end tenancy for cause, and one-month notice to end tenancy for end of employment. Not only did he lose his job, he has lost his home. What, if anything, can be done?


Natalie C. MacDonald
Partner, Rudner MacDonald LLP, Toronto

Much can be done to assist your brother-in-law. In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) requires his employer to terminate him by providing notice of termination or pay in lieu (eight weeks, given his length of service); and if applicable, severance pay (25 weeks for him).

In addition, in the absence of a valid termination clause in an employment contract, he must be provided with reasonable notice of the termination of his employment (“severance package”), which would include payment of his salary, benefits and any other entitlements he had prior to the termination, which may include his home and the tenancy arrangement.

The notice period, which includes the ESA amounts, is to provide Dave income while he seeks comparable employment, and is typically based on his years of service, age, character of position and availability of similar employment.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, a landlord can only end a tenancy on notice for specified reasons, termination of employment being one. A notice “for cause” could be not paying the rent in full, causing damage or illegal activity. The length of notice required by a landlord to terminate a tenancy depends on the type of tenancy (weekly/monthly/yearly), and if for cause, the type of cause upon which the landlord relies. In any case, he and his wife have remedies available to them.


Eileen Dooley
Vice-president, VF Career Management, Calgary

This is a classic case of being too dependent on your employer. A client once told me he used his employment address for all his mail, including bank statements, mortgage information, etc. Because it was not his property, a simple mail redirect from Canada Post was not possible.

Unfortunately, the employer holds all the cards in this case, and the only recourse you have is to move and find alternate employment. Luckily, we are entering ‘golf season’ so there may be more opportunities now than in the fall/winter season. Use your network and start looking.

Seeing this as a new start, be cautious on how much you depend on the employer beyond a simple paycheque. Not just living arrangements, but use of a cellular phone – bring your own that the employer will support, and that you leave with, or have a separate one for personal use – and any other resources the employer gives to you. If the employer insists that you live on the property as part of employment, ensure that the arrangement has an exit clause in the event of job or residency change. And have a backup plan ready to go.


4 days ago

There are too many important details missing in this scenario and it looks like the HR person's comment has had a big chunk edited out. Grounds keepers, farm hands, and the like are often provided housing and this is usually provided free or at a nominal cost. The employment contract - either in writing or implied, usually states as long as you work here, you can live here. Once your employment ends, so does the housing. It is gracious for the employer to provide a transition period or a payment to help them with a move. I have seen up to 6 weeks plus a portion of moving expenses. Then there is the matter of severance. However , if this individual is not a permanent full time employee and he had a sweet deal with the employer to be able to cycle on and off employment insurance , he should carefully check with a lawyer in his provincial jurisdiction as he might not qualify. Having said that, there are common law principles and good business practices. In the meantime, find a new job.

4 days ago

25 years of seasonal work, off on UI for those 25 years, it's a great deal but no future in it. Since when were seasonal workers that are laid off entitled to severance, if so you had better tell the 10's of thousands of construction workers. Tenancies are carried by the property not the owner unless vacant possession was requested. Should have had a lease signed before the property changed hands.

Nancy G4
3 days ago

It seems that with this column, there is generally a huge gulf between the two answers. Consultant says, there's nothing that can be done, it was a dumb situation for Dave to get into, and try not to do it again. The actual lawyer says that there is a lot that can be done, and gives specifics. What I have learned from this column is that if I have an issue with employment, I should see a lawyer. If I want uninformed but well meaning advice, I can get it free from friends and not have to pay an employment consultant.

4 days ago

That's cute. "You're fired. Oh, and because you're unemployed now, you're evicted too."

3 days ago

It looks to me like the new owner is low balling his/her severance offer. It would seem that one month for an employee of 25 years is too low even if the employee was seasonal. The new owner may expect to negotiate. Alternatively they may not understand employment legislation. Sometimes those who run small businesses run afoul of labour laws for this reason.

The employee may have to fight through a provincial labor relations board or the courts to get a better deal. He should try to negotiate a better deal but still look for another job. The availability of alternate employment and how long it takes him to get it will affect how much he gets.

As to the accommodation, while that seems to be part of the employment renumeration, I doubt the new owner can kick them out on short notice. Housing legislation should apply in which case they may have more time to find a place.

2 days ago

There is a new site called where landlords and property managers can advertise their rental property.

4 days ago

I find the discrepancy between the two answers should be addressed in the article more thoroughly. The lawyer states that the law requires the employer provide severence, pay in lieu etc etc. The second "consultant" blames the victim and advises not to put up a fight and move on. At the very least, should think it is not legal to evict a tenant who pays the rent and does no damage with only 30 days notice. Why wouldn't this employee want to receive what is due to him? There are employment laws in place, according to the lawyer, that are in place for employees protection. Why is the consultant suggesting he just walk away?
1 Reaction

Fred Garvin MP
4 days ago

I'll take answer # 1 for a thousand, Alex ....

Mar. 27, 2017 "On leave, I was told I can’t return to work. Is this legal?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


I am off on medical leave with a torn rotator cuff. Had to wait months for an MRI and to see a specialist, then my employer called in the interim and told me I can’t come back to work. To my knowledge, she has to welcome me back with the same rate of pay and the same amount of hours. Is that true?


Natalie C. MacDonald
Partner, Rudner MacDonald LLP, Toronto

It sounds as though you have been improperly treated. Human-rights legislation requires employers to accommodate employees, if required, and not to discriminate against or terminate an employee, while on medical leave, based on sickness or disability.

When an employee is on medical leave, and the employee is cleared or ready to return to work, the employer is obligated to accommodate the employee, if necessary, to the point of undue hardship.

In some instances, accommodation could mean modified duties, a graduated-return-to-work plan or a reconfigured workstation.

Accommodation is fact-specific.

An employer should return the employee to the same position he or she held before the leave, unless there is a legitimate business reason for not doing so that the employer can prove. An employer is also well advised not to reduce an employee’s rate of pay or hours.

If you believe you have been terminated due to your injury, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal (in Ontario) where, amongst other things, you can ask for lost wages, if any, and general damages for the injury to your dignity, feelings and self-respect.

You can also request reinstatement to your position if you are in Ontario.
The alternate path is to start a lawsuit in the civil courts for damages for the wrongful dismissal itself, and claim, in addition, damages for breach of the Human Rights Code.


Zuleika Sgro
Director of people, Saje Natural Wellness, Vancouver

Medical leave and a return-to-work plan are always important to not only be documented, but also discussed as a partnership between your doctor, your employer and you.

It sounds like you need more facts as to why your employer gave that feedback. My advice is to reach out to your HR/benefits team and ask for more information around their call.

Request it in writing, then visit your doctor with that documentation for support in completing an instruction form for your employer – assuming you are cleared to return.

The form can likely be provided by your benefits carrier.

Then, your employer can review how they could accommodate your return to work. This could be gradual, with modified duties, or in a different capacity and they are required to do so to the point of undue hardship.

The plan to return and ensure your well-being and safety at work should be your mutual priority.

It is important to share your ideas along with your doctors documentation on how to make returning to work possible so you are safe and are part of the process and plan to return.