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

Monday, January 30, 2017

"I was fired while pregnant"/ "I was fired for using medical marijuana"

Jan. 9, 2017 "I was fired while pregnant. What are my legal options?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


I am 6 1/2 months’ pregnant and, due to complications, my doctor suggested I go on sick leave before maternity leave. I offered to continue working for the company remotely and they agreed I could do so, for six weeks. However, I was terminated two weeks later without cause. I received severance, but am left without health insurance. I had been with the company for three years. I signed a full and final release, and think maybe I should not have. When is the due date for filing a claim, if I have a case?

George Cottrelle
Partner, Keel Cottrelle LLP

The laws of Canada prohibit discriminatory termination of employment related to pregnancy.
Your employer allowed you to work from home until you commenced maternity leave.
Your employment was terminated two weeks later.

Leaving aside the release, you have a right to initiate either civil proceedings for damages for wrongful dismissal, or to make an application for compensation and possible reinstatement, under either the human rights or employment standards legislation applicable to you, for discriminatory, or reprisal, termination. The onus is on your employer to establish that the termination was not related to your pregnancy.

The time limits to commence civil proceedings, or to make a claim under human-rights or employment-standards legislation, are generally six months to two years, but can be as short as 45 days, depending on the applicable province and the nature of the proceeding.
The fact that you received a severance payment and signed a release may prevent you from initiating civil proceedings, or filing a human-rights or employment-standards complaint, with certain exceptions. For example, if you received the statutory minimum severance only, then the release should not preclude you from filing a human-rights complaint, or commencing civil proceedings.

The courts sometimes decline to enforce releases where there is an inequality of bargaining power, financial pressure is used to take advantage of a vulnerable employee, or where it is otherwise inequitable. However, if there was a bona fide settlement, and the release is properly worded, then your case may well be closed.

Colleen Clarke
Corporate trainer and career specialist

I am deeply sorry for your misfortune. What a cheap shot by the company! This is not the time to be job searching and you won’t feel like it while being a new mom, so put everything, including your resentment, on the back burner for the time being.

Get your résumé updated so you are ready to roll when you decide to go back to work. Set a date for when you plan to return because time will fly by and procrastination can be your enemy. Build in a plan to start your job search at least three months before your return date. Start your job search mentally before you start physically.

Scroll Internet job sites for positions and register with recruiters a few months before you start back. Take every advantage of all opportunities to network. Get your 30-second presentation honed so when you ask other moms about themselves you are prepared to share your expertise and what you are looking for. Tell your doctor, who sees a number of patients each week, what type of work you will be seeking.

Use the free services of an employee assistance program (EAP) through your husband’s company. They help with résumés, job-search strategies and can be someone to talk to while you are off, a mental-balance system for you.

Jan. 16, 2017 "I was fired for using medical marijuana.  What are my rights?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


I did not inform my employer during a job interview that I used prescribed medical marijuana, but did ask our crew leader during my second shift if I could use it to combat pain I was feeling from walking all day (because of torn labrum in both hips). I explained that there is no THC in this marijuana – CBD only – so essentially it’s impossible to be “high” or intoxicated. She was more than okay with me using the medicine, but after my second day on the job, her boss sent me a text message terminating my employment. What are, or were, my rights in this situation?

Robert Weir
Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Toronto

Whether we are school bus drivers, brain surgeons or lawyers, our employers are generally and reasonably entitled to expect we are not high when we come to work, no matter the source of impairment.

That does not change just because an employee has a marijuana prescription. This employer should have asked itself: can the employee perform their duties safely and productively while taking this medication? The employer, likely, does not know much about THC (tetrahydrocannabino) or CBD (cannabidiol). It is, however, obligated to better understand this employee’s claim that it is impossible to be high or intoxicated. The employer may need to seek expert medical advice on this, just as if it were trying to understand a complicated back injury that restricted an employee’s ability to bend or lift.

Even where there is some mild impairment caused by prescription medication, an employer must decide if there are ways to accommodate an employee if they are taking such mediation because of a disability. Again, the employer will have to consider issues of safety and productivity when conducting this assessment.

If he had been given the chance, this employee appeared ready to assist the employer in better understanding the nature of this prescription medication. Just as an employer has an obligation to ask the right questions, an employee has an obligation to provide information to assist the employer in the accommodation process. Had the employer taken the employee up on this willingness to assist, they might have had a long and productive relationship.
Also, having one’s employment terminated by text message: not cool.

Bill Howatt
Chief research and development officer of work force productivity, Morneau Shepell, Toronto

From a human-resources perspective, medicinal marijuana should be handled in the same way as any other prescription medication. As long as the medication does not impair the employee’s ability to function in any way, does not put anyone at risk, and there’s a prescription from a licensed medical doctor, the employee cannot be discriminated against. However, different than other medications, both the employee and employer have the right to review how this medication impacts the employee-employer relationship.

As a medical marijuana user, you must understand your rights. You also must adhere to the Health Canada standards for accessing this type of medication. It appears that you attempted to get an informal accommodation by disclosing your condition. However, supervisors cannot make medical accommodations on their own; they need to engage HR to ensure one standard is being used with all employees with the same need. How your situation was handled raises questions that are worth discussing with an employment lawyer.

Accommodations are a two-way street. Employers can’t dismiss requests for accommodations out of hand, and employees can’t dictate what they want or how they want to be accommodated. Employers must do what is responsible and be ready to defend their decisions, as they may be tested.

The number of medical marijuana prescriptions is increasing rapidly. While the law makes it clear that employees cannot be discriminated against, and have the right to use this form of medication, there still are practical day-to-day management considerations. As research shows a link between marijuana use and job accidents/injuries, employers will be challenged how to determine whether an employee has exceeded the safe-dosage level, and to assess the percentage level of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Training for managers will be important, as will be clearly stated HR policies that make it clear how and when accommodations will be granted.

"Need a morale boost? Simulate a plane crash"/ "To hug or not to hug at work?"

Jan. 11, 2017 "Need a morale boost? Simulate a plane crash": Today I found this job article by Tyler J. Kelley in the Globe and Mail:

You get to see how people handle stressful situations. This unifies the team.

Greg Drab Owner of Advantage Personal Training

Teaching employees survival skills in a stressful situation can help with teamwork and leadership abilities

Montana Woods, 19, a premed student at the University of Connecticut, had been told what to do. Yet, as the water rose above her head, she was seized by fear and panic. Upside down, water filling her sinuses, it was difficult to remember how to escape.

Ms. Woods and seven others – two university students, four trainers from a personal training company and the owner of a paving company – spent a Saturday in November surviving mock plane crashes at an indoor pool in Groton, Conn. Unlike the 120,000 students who had gone before them, this group had no overt need for aquatic-survival training. They all worked safely on land. What they wanted to learn was how to be leaders and to work as a team.

The class of three women and five men were clients of Survival Systems USA, which has been teaching aquatic survival since 1999 out of a boxy blue building across the street from GrotonNew London Airport. The company has instructed employees of the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., the National Guard, the New York Police Department, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Army, among others.

In teaching survival skills to people who might have occasion to use them, “we’ve seen residual effects along the way: improved morale, self-esteem, capabilities people didn’t know they had,” said Maria C. Hanna, president of Survival Systems USA.

Until recently, she said, “we’ve never stopped long enough to say, ‘You know, this is something that can appeal to a market in a different way, using the tools from aviation to help people develop themselves.’ ”

Ms. Hanna is hoping to market her company’s services as a teambuilding activity. This was the second time Survival Systems had given the new class. Since the curriculum was still being tweaked, it was offered at no cost in return for students’ feedback, but soon, the six-hour, one-day experience will retail for about $950 a person, a price comparable with the company’s other one-day programs.

The building’s crown jewel is a Modular Egress Training Simulator, a plastic and metal craft that can be arranged to resemble the cockpit of almost any helicopter or small plane on the market. A purpose-built crane lifts it up and lowers it into the pool. Other equipment in the cavernous space can replicate the downwash from rescue helicopters and generate rain, darkness, 120-mph winds, smoke and fire.

During a preliminary tour, Ms. Woods saw the simulator for the first time.
“I looked at it and I realized it would start filling up,” she said. “I’m a lifeguard, I surf, so I shouldn’t be scared of this, but personally, water deaths are my least favorite deaths.” In high school, Ms. Woods read Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm, about the sinking of a fishing boat and, ever since, she’s retained a visceral image of drowning.

The instructor talked to the class about teamwork, leadership goals and safety procedures for the activities ahead. After a lunch of pizza, the students walked eagerly to the pool deck. Everyone wore flight suits, water shoes and helmets. It was dark and foggy. AC/DC’s Thunderstruck blared and a disco ball lit the room.

“All we need is a roller rink,” one of the personal trainers joked.
The classmates jumped without hesitation from a 14-foot platform into the pool. Life vests inflated, they were given the duration of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On to find a way to stay warm while floating. It turned out to be: Assume a carpet formation, arms linked, legs under the arms of the two people across from you.

Taylor Cintron, 19, an economics major at UConn, was put in charge of the next task, boarding an inflated life raft. Before the last person was on, Singin’ in the Rain started playing. Wind and water blasted the raft. Ms. Cintron yelled orders over the squall. Everyone got aboard and, after some scrambling, the life raft’s tent-like roof was closed against the rain.

The pop music was supposed to ease anxiety. It appeared to be working.
“I’m less scared than I thought I was,” Ms. Cintron said during a break. “I hate touching people,” she said, but “this is okay, I trust everyone that I’m with. It’s not touching for no reason.”

Finally, each person was strapped into the simulator, submerged and flipped. In this exercise, there are three rounds. First, you reach for the window frame, undo your seat belt, pull yourself out and swim to the surface. Second, add a closed window to the puzzle. (You’d do the same in a submerged car, only you might need to break the window.) Third, pretend your window is stuck and, by holding onto the seats and the console, cross to the adjacent window.

An instructor is poised behind the participants the entire time, ready to whisk them to the surface if anything goes wrong. Although no one has drowned during the training, the fear remains.

“Last time I took my staff here, two or three backed out,” said Greg Drab, 40, owner of Advantage Personal Training of Mystic, Conn., which had sent the four trainers to the class. “After the second exercise, a couple people had hit their threshold.”

If Mr. Drab had been paying retail, this would be more expensive than the $50 ropes course he’d done with employees in the past, but even at $950, he said, it would have been worth it.

“You get to see how people handle stressful situations,” Mr. Drab said. “This unifies the team.”

Everyone in that Saturday’s class escaped the simulator successfully, but it took Ms. Woods longer than she would have liked. Standing by the pool, still dripping, she said she felt “a little more at ease with my whole fear. I know as long as you follow the procedures there’s nothing to worry about. In every situation there’s a moment of panic and you have to squash it.”

Within the team-building industry, Survival Systems’ course would fit into the category of extreme experiences, such as driving a race car at 150 mph or flying a fighter jet, said Merrick Rosenberg, chief executive of Team Builders Plus, which is based in Marlton, N.J., and has taught classes to Fortune 500 companies since 1991.

Mr. Rosenberg said he distinguishes “team-bonding” activities from those with “deep learning or cultural transformation” as their goal. In a team-bonding experience, he said, such as the Survival Systems’ class, participants “overcome self-imposed limitations” and learn trust, communication and leadership, but they don’t re-enact and critique workplace dynamics as they would in the more interpersonal “deeplearning” exercises. Team Builders Plus offers both.

Mr. Rosenberg said survivalskills classes appeal to some more than others.
“There are specific types of groups that like high-risk activities,” he said, citing lawyers and people in sales, public relations or marketing.

People in social work, nursing, finance or engineering, he said, might not be as keen to face the fear of drowning.

“I would think this is a very millennial experience,” he said. “It won’t appeal to everyone, but for the people who match that demographic, they’re going to have a blast.”

Jan. 28, 2017 "To hug or not to hug at work?": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently shuffled his cabinet and, say what you will about his choices, there is one thing I couldn’t help noticing: What’s with all the hugging?

While the Prime Minister’s penchant for hugs is no secret – Maclean’s magazine counted 22 hugs and 32 kisses when his first cabinet was sworn in – I can’t help but wonder when, and if, we hug too much in professional settings.

I worry since I am also a hugger. Sure, I shake people’s hands when I meet them, but, after knowing someone for a while and developing a rapport, my instinct is to give most people a hug. In my mind, it breaks the ice professionally and brings authenticity to new relationships.
However, not everyone agrees on hugging, and entering into close contact with individuals we work with can be tricky. The key to navigating hugs at work, according to Mark Bowden, a Toronto-based expert in body language and human behaviour, comes down to being clued into the company’s culture, or “tribe.”

“There are small groups that we fit into, our tribal groups, that follow the same norms even within a broader culture. So, we need to look at the profession and then the sub-tribes in that profession,” he explained. For example, there may be someone in a very specific role at a bank that hugs, but another person, with the same job description, at another bank, may not be open to hugs.

Hugging also means different things to different people. That proximity may be friendly to some, but come across as overly controlling to others.
“Being belly to belly is very vulnerable and faces can get close and that’s very vulnerable. If that hug isn’t welcome, the message is that I’m going to make you vulnerable and I don’t care,” Mr. Bowden said.

While there is no easy way to navigate the decision to hug professionally, he recommends watching “the tribe” and seeing how they perform. If you observe many hugs, then you can decide if that’s right for you. Keep in mind that if you don’t like hugging, entering into that hugging tribe and deciding not to partake turns you into a social pariah who doesn’t conform.

If you are on the other side of the hugging spectrum and aren’t sure if your hugs will be appreciated, Mr. Bowden recommends seeking permission by saying, for example, “I like to hug. Is it okay to hug you?”

While that question remains uncomfortable for many – since it opens up the door for someone to say “no” – asking consent to hug is already being taught in schools.

“My kids, 11 and 7, are told at school that if they want to give someone a hug … what they are being educated around is asking permission before giving that level of physical contact,” he said.

Another option for huggers is keeping an eye open for “gateway gestures” that would lead you to believe that hugging is okay, for example, or just pats on the back or shoulders.

In other words, observe and take things slowly because “if you rush into that hug, it’s difficult to stop when it’s started,” Mr. Bowden observed. While we don’t know the motivation behind Mr. Trudeau’s decision to hug his entire cabinet – it could mean he’s inviting them into a “family” or bringing them under his command – it appears that Canadians, as a tribe, may be more into hugging than other nationalities.

“I’ve been in Canada for 11 years and I’m always surprised by the amount of hugging that goes on. Canada is a very warm, inviting place, so I would generally expect to see plenty of hugging in Canada,” Mr. Bowden said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Richard King, a Vancouver-based recruiter who often visits U.S. workplaces, who likes to hug, but also acknowledges that it can be fraught with human resource issues.

“The past six years of working for U.S.-based companies taught me a lot about being Canadian,” Mr. King, who works from home in Vancouver, said.

“Whenever I visit the studio in the U.S., I gave and received lots and lots of hugs. During one such visit, an HR manager took me aside and said, ‘Richard, no one hugs at work but for some reason when the Canadians come for a visit, it’s a big hug fest,’ ” he said.
However, Mr. King said he’s conscious of how easily hugging can get out of hand and worries how much is too much? His rule of thumb is to hug upon arrival and then again when it’s time to say good-bye.

So unless you are very astute in determining the values of your “tribe,” be cautious with your business hugs. If you get the sense that it was a mistake, you can always follow up with, “Sorry, I’m Canadian. We tend to hug. Just look at our Prime Minister.”

Sunday, January 29, 2017

"The difficulties of psychiatric dental care"

Oct. 6, 2016 "The difficulties of psychiatric dental care": Yesterday I found this article by Wency Leung in the Globe and Mail.  This is another article that is inspirational and about a deep and meaningful job as a dentist who helps homeless people with their teeth:

Serkis Massihi has been through a difficult time – and his teeth show it.
Massihi, 38, struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and became addicted to prescription painkillers after undergoing shoulder surgery more than a year ago. He began using methadone as part of his addiction treatment, but the drug left his mouth dry. It also made him crave sugar. He binged on pop and candies “like a little child.”
Within nine months, his self-described “beautiful mouth” was plagued by infection and decay. He had receding gums and cavities on nearly every tooth.

Yet Massihi had trouble finding a dentist willing to treat him.
“They turn you down because they don’t have respect for you, they’re not getting the money they want and they certainly don’t care if a toothache’s gonna kill me,” he says.

At the dental clinic at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Massihi is now gradually getting his teeth repaired.
CAMH senior dentist Paul Zung has been treating psychiatric patients at the mental-health facility for 30 years. Previously located in the basement of a neighbouring building, his new, expanded dental clinic officially opens on Wednesday on the second floor of the Bell Gateway Building at CAMH’s Queen Street complex.

The new clinic, with its four dental chairs, is double in size. Zung says the former location was so cramped that he and his dental students were seeing patients “in my office, in the lunch room, probably breaking a half a dozen rules.”

But even with the expansion, the demand for psychiatric dental care is far greater than the dental clinic can accommodate.

Zung says his clinic sees only a small fraction of CAMH patients, those who are most severely affected by dental problems and are well enough to be able to brush and take care of their teeth.

“We don’t try to see everybody,” he says. “It’s a niche role.”
Among the broader population in Toronto, Zung says, he has worked on patients at the city’s non-profit Evangel Hall Mission and the Yonge Street Mission, where he was hard-pressed to handle the volume of individuals with mental illness seeking dental care.
“There’d be, you know, 15 people lined up, and I knew I’d could only get through the first three of them. And then there’d be a different three the next week,” he says, which made it difficult to see patients through an entire treatment plan.

Performing dental procedures on psychiatric patients presents its own set of challenges. Zung says his patients’ teeth serve as an archeological record of their ups and downs. Issues like addiction, psychotic episodes and homelessness leave a lasting impact, he says, noting that individuals with psychiatric illness tend to require five to 10 times more dental work than their same-aged peers who do not have mental illness.

Some of his patients are afraid of using anesthetics, and refuse them. Doing intensive procedures without painkillers “borders on the inhumane,” Zung says. “But they sit there cool as a cucumber and have deep fillings done, things I would not humanly be able to bear.”

Others have anxiety and have had prior negative experiences at dental offices. Some have false fixed beliefs, such as the idea that their teeth will grow back. No-shows are common, and so is having patients suddenly leave in the middle of an appointment.

Maintaining patients’ trust is paramount, Zung says, so he tells them that they can stop him whenever they need. “I keep that promise, and it’s that promise that gives them a sense of control and their pain tolerance goes way up,” he says.

That can lead to tricky situations, however. Zung recalls that he had one patient who had a tendency to bolt before his work was done. She rushed out of his dental clinic immediately after he had drilled a hole for a tooth implant. Worried that the implantation site would be ruined, since bone doesn’t grow back easily, he tried to get her to return as soon as possible. When she finally came back three months later, Zung placed implants as quickly as he could, fearing that she might leave and have the bone destroyed.

“My heart was just racing afterwards,” he says.
One-third of Zung’s patients receive coverage from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). The other two-thirds receive financial support from Ontario Works and the clinic charges them a fixed fee for each appointment, based on a sliding scale relative to their income.

Zung says private dentists can’t be blamed for turning down these patients. Because the ODSP doesn’t fully cover the costs, dentists would be volunteering their time to do complex work, and that’s assuming the patients actually turn up for their appointments. (Zung is paid a salary by CAMH.)

Yet, Zung finds that his skills and abilities are stretched far more than they would be in private practice, and the work, he says, is satisfying.

“I worked in private practice as well, and I thought, ‘I’m cleaning a lot of clean teeth here,’ but in a psych hospital, I’m cleaning teeth that are actually dirty. I’m fixing things that are actually broken,” he says.

James Bennett, 51, of Toronto credits Zung for helping him regain his self-confidence.
Bennett, a chef who was dealing with mental-health issues and alcohol addiction, had a front tooth knocked out in a fight while living on the streets. He had significant damage to his teeth and suffered from tooth pain. He says that getting his teeth fixed was part of taking better care of himself.

“I wanted to get back to work, and it was really important to me, in terms of self-esteem, and to get my smile back again,” Bennett says, who now works in catering. “It was a huge deal to me. It made a huge impact on my life.”

Dec. 22, 2016 "Millennials are shaping the future of charitable giving": Today I found this article by Brenda Bouw in the Globe and Mail.  I'm interested in charity so I had to read it:

Sonja Cunningham was 21 years old when she first started making regular charitable donations. She was approached on the street by a representative from UNICEF and was immediately moved by what she heard about how the humanitarian organization was supporting children in developing countries.

Ms. Cunningham couldn’t afford much at the time – about $10 to $15 a month – but believed strongly that, as an adult, it was time to start giving back.
“Child-related charities have always been close to my heart,” says Ms. Cunningham, who is now 32 years old, married and a mother of two.

She’s among an estimated twothirds of Canadian millennials who donate to charities, according to The Next Generation of Canadian Giving study conducted by Edge Research. It says millennials donate an annual average gift of $639. That compares with 78 per cent of baby boomers who donated to charities, with an average annual gift of $942.

While millennials may have less money to give today, they’re considered an important demographic for charities to reach in the future. It’s not just the size of the demographic, but its steadily rising income and the likelihood of receiving some of their parents’ wealth when it’s passed down.

“They have huge purchasing power,” says Marina Glogovac, chief executive of, an online funding portal for charities. “Millennials are shaping how giving will be. They’re coming in, making certain demands.”

That includes increased transparency and accountability around where their money goes. A study conducted by the Millennial Impact Project says 78 per cent of millennials are “very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they didn’t know how the donation was making an impact.”

Feeling a personal connection to an organization was also important for 72 per cent of respondents. The project also says nearly 70 per cent of millennials surveyed are willing to raise money on behalf of a non-profit they cared about.

The Edge Research study says Gen Y donors are more likely to support human rights and international development organizations. Ms. Glogovac believes that’s due in part to their time spent on social and digital media, and its global reach.

“I think young people are genuinely concerned about the world, maybe more so than [older] generations,” she says. “The Internet has removed barriers. The ease of use of technology is driving transparency, share-ability and what they expect from charities.”

She says CanadaHelps is trying to facilitate those through its campaigns.

“I think this an opportunity for charities, it’s a challenge and an opportunity and it’s coming up fast,” Ms. Glogovac says.

In the case of Ms. Cunningham, it boiled down to cash flow. After finishing school, buying a home and starting a family, she and her husband decided to increase their charitable contributions, including sponsoring a little girl in Honduras through World Vision.

“I really love feeling connected to the child and her community and it’s been amazing watching her grow and change,” Ms. Cunningham says.

As a public service employee for the province of B.C., Ms. Cunningham also contributes to an employee charitable giving fund through her regular paycheque, has donated to Black Lives Matter, Standing Up for Racial Justice, Wikipedia and is a member of a Syrian refugee constituent group.

At Christmas time, Ms. Cunningham also helps the Victoria Women’s Transition House Society by organizing a gift hamper donation on behalf of a group of moms. They collect hundreds of dollars to buy gifts for specific families, including bikes for two brothers and a new mattress set and linens for a 10-year-old girl.

Donating to charities doesn’t just feel good, it’s a “personal moral imperative to give back and to share what I have,” Ms. Cunningham says.

Ms. Cunningham and her husband set aside about 1 per cent of their income each year for charitable causes.

Ottawa’s First-Time Donor’s Super Credit (FDSC), introduced in 2013 and aimed at millennials, is also encouraging some to give back. The credit is for new donors who haven’t claimed a charitable donations tax credit for any year after 2007. They qualify for an extra tax credit of 25 per cent on their first $1,000 contributed until the end of 2017, when the credit is set to expire.

Charitable organizations like would like to see the credit continue to encourage not just millennials, but the next generation of donors behind them.
Ms. Cunningham isn’t eligible for the credit, since she’s been donating for years, but believes it’s a great way to encourage millennials to give back.

“I would imagine that millennials would take advantage of it,” she says.

Dec. 29, 2016 Social work: Learn to help your community: I found this old Metro custom publishing:

"In today's society, individuals and groups often experience hardship due to social and economic inequity," says Dr. Anne- Marie McLaughlin, associate director, academic, central and northern Alberta region of the faculty of social work, University of Calgary.

"Social work has a dual responsibility to work for a more just society, while at the same time working with individuals and groups to identify their strengths and overcome barriers."

Work at: hospitals, long-term care facilities, non-profit, grassroots organization.

A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one which uses the people in a given district as the basis for a political or economic movement.[1] Grassroots movements and organizations utilize collective action from the local level to effect change at the local, regional, national, or international level. Grassroots movements are associated with bottom-up, rather than top-down decision making, and are sometimes considered more natural or spontaneous than more traditional power structures.[2]

Grassroots movements, using self-organization, encourages community members to contribute by taking responsibility and action for their community.[3] Grassroots movements utilize a variety of strategies from fundraising and registering voters, to simply encouraging political conversation. Goals of specific movements vary, but the movements are consistent in their focus on increasing mass participation in politics.[4]

The idea of grassroots is often conflated with participatory democracy. The Port Huron Statement, a manifesto seeking a more democratic society, says that to create a more equitable society, "the grass roots of American Society" need to be the basis of civil rights and economic reform movements.[5] The terms can be distinguished in that grassroots often refers to a specific movement or organization, whereas participatory democracy refers to the larger system of governance.[6]

My week:

Jan. 23, 2017 Buspass complaint: Yesterday I bought a new adult buspass and the price went from $91.50 to $94.25.  I was surprised.  I read the Edmonton Journal everyday, and I didn't know the price was going to be raised.

Yeah, well at least I'm not driving.  I rather sit and read the newspaper on the bus.

Jan. 25, 2017 The Simpsons: I wrote about this last week, but here's the scene where Homer becomes a truck driver and Bart comes along.  The movie was called "The Monster that Ate Everbody."

Female movie character: You mean it ate Patrick too?
Male movie character: It ate everybody.
Female movie character: What about Erica?
Homer and Bart (angrily and in unison with male movie character): It ate everybody.

Jan. 26, 2017 Benefits specialist job interview: Today I went to a job interview.  I had seen this job ad before, but I never really applied because it was kind of far away.  It was like 1hr 10 min bus ride.  I have the 1st bus that comes frequently, and the 2nd bus does not come as often.  It was in the west end. 

The ad said full-time and benefits.  I decided to apply and got an interview.


1. Full-time.
2. Benefits.


A job interview is like an information interview. 

1. I learned that the hours were not like Mon. - Fri. 9am- 5pm.  It can be evenings and weekends.

2. You have to have a driver's license and a car to drive to clients houses and tell them about this insurance policy.

3. The pay is 100% commission. 25% is customer service and 50% is expand your network by referrals.

4. You have to get your HLLQP license.

My opinion: I don't think it's a scam.  The clients that you go to see, they are already interested and know about your company.  This is not door-to-door sales.

The office was nice and modern, but when I got there, there were 2 women and a man filling out applications.  It seems like a lot of interviews.

After the interview, I did tell the young guy who interviewed me that this job is not a good fit for me.

He did say that the people who do well say things like: "I can talk to a lot of people."

He did say they are expanding their business and will have another office open soon. 

Even if I did have a driver's license, I wouldn't want to work here because it seems so hard.

Jan. 27, 2016 Highest and lowest paying jobs: Workopolis sent me this:

We recently updated our salary report on what the average Canadian earns. Now we’re taking a look at what the top ten high-paying jobs are right now and which occupations pay the least. How does yours compare?

According to Statistics Canada, the average wage for Canadian employees is currently $952 per week – or just under $50,000 a year. Most of the jobs on our high-paying list earn at least three times that much (And the lowest paying occupations pay less than half the average).

The highest paying jobs in Canada:
Most of the lowest paying jobs will simply pay the minimum wage of whatever region the job happens to be located in. Towards the low end of the scale that is roughly $9.95 an hour earning someone just over $20,000; assuming they worked full time and were paid for 40 hours a week.

The lowest paying jobs in Canada:
  • Sewing machine operator – $22,514 – $41,546
  • Cook, fast food – $20,994 – $26,026
  • Cashier – $21,183 – $29,156
  • Dishwasher – $21,286 – $28,540
  • Bartender -$20,091 – $42,837
  • Restaurant host/hostess – $21,113 – $29,120
  • Service station attendant – $21,052 – $32,357
  • Food and beverage server – $22,360 – $30,369
  • Food counter attendant / kitchen help – $21,184 – $32,888
  • Babysitters, nannies, and parent’s helpers – $20,880 – $37,354
Please keep in mind that this list does not take tipping into account. Bartenders and wait staff, particularly at higher end establishments, can make very comfortable incomes with low hourly wages but the bulk of their income coming from tips.
Jan. 27, 2017 HMV Canada: Today I read in the Globe and Mail, that this store is struggling because of streaming music like iTunes.

Jan. 28, 2017: Today I read in the Edmonton Journal that they will close all their stores.  I was sad.  Then again as a teenager, that's where I bought all my cds.  This is like in 1999-2003.  Then in 2005, I was 20 yrs old and got a credit card and can buy cds and dvds for cheaper on Amazon.

Then I slowly stopped buying cds and dvds.