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 11, 2017

"Are better health benefits a tall order? Not for millenial workers"

Oct. 19, 2016 "Are better health benefits a tall order? Not for millennial workers": I found this article by Erin Anderssen on Oct. 17, 2016 in the Globe and Mail

Last summer, when Starbucks began hearing from employees at five forums across the country, the company didn’t expect mental health to become the top talking point. The forums were targeted to staff between the ages of 18 and 24, and, hosted by the company executives, were an invitation to discuss youth issues. But in each city, their employees kept bringing it up – not only struggles with depression and anxiety, but grief, work-life balance, care-giving stress.

The result of the forum was Starbucks Canada’s announcement earlier this month of an increase in coverage of psychotherapy to $5,000, one of the largest amounts of coverage in the country. Starbucks undoubtedly crunched the numbers and saw the advantages – good PR, a healthier, happier work force that misses fewer shifts. But it was still millennial employees who raised the issue first.

The move by Starbucks is an example of the way that millennials – those employees in their mid-20s and 30s – are contributing to a pro-active conversation on workplace health in general – one more oriented toward preventative medicine, positive mental health and well-being.

Google and Facebook are famous for their millennial-friendly extras. But benefits experts say there is a growing trend for more traditional firms to follow suit, in part to attract and retain younger employees. That includes expanding employee assistance plans, creating more holistic benefits around fitness, providing advice to reduce stress around debt and adding digital mental-health services – in part to attract and retain millennials.

At ATB Financial in Edmonton, for instance, employees can trade benefit credits for vacation days and a “wellness” account that can be used widely, for example, for new skis or yoga. At National Leasing in Winnipeg, the head office added a nap room and gym and now runs an annual week of mental-health programs, including daily meditation classes and motivational speakers – an idea conceived by one of its many millennial employees after a first-hand experience with a mental-health issue.

For all the rhetoric about entitled millennials, these changes are a good deal for everyone. And not only does a decision such as Starbucks’s help spur more companies along and balance some glaring inequities in Canada’s health-care system – particularly access to an important treatment such as therapy – it’s also good for the country.

As Krishna Patel, 24, who works for a Toronto insurance company, puts it, “You want to have options, so you aren’t just going to a doctor and popping pills.” Benefits wouldn’t decide a job choice, but all things being equal, she says, they would would tip the balance. “Not providing these services seems outdated, conservative and regressive,” she says. “Even if I don’t use it, it’s a sign they care about their employees.”

No wonder millennials want coverage for gym passes and therapy and individual health spending accounts that let them use their benefits for the services they want. This is a generation that came of age during stigma-busting campaigns, such as Bell Let’s Talk, and as mental illness entered the common parlance of celebrities. They have been urged – by their teachers, doctors and parents – to seek help when they need it. Owen Kelly, a psychologist in Ottawa, says that among his younger patients, “there is a increasing recognition that some of what we have labelled a ‘medical problem’ also falls under the category of a human problem.”

And yet, as provincial health ministers meet with their federal counterpart Jane Philpott to haggle more money out of Ottawa in health-care transfers, we should not expect a golden pot of cash to add new services for mental health. The government farthest along in creating a publicly funded program for therapy is Quebec. Their scientific health agency has released two reports making the case for it and another is expected next year to propose how to do it.

The price tag for publicly-funded therapy in the province was estimated around $450-million, a small sliver of Quebec’s $32-billion health care budget. But Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, who praised the move by Starbucks, has already said that Ottawa will have to kick in much more than it’s promising just to keep hospitals running properly – let alone expand areas such as home care and mental health.

Companies have done the math: Wellness programs pay for themselves in productivity, employee satisfaction, reduced absenteeism. Millennials come with their own unique demands, leading a push for online and virtual services and a wider range of therapies, such as mindfulness and resiliency training, according to Lori Casselman, a former Sun Life financial executive, now working as chief health officer for LEAGUE, a digital health insurance company.

“They are a force for change,” Casselman says. “We can learn a lot from what they have been accustomed to – being more transparent, more self-aware. Because of that, we are seeing more of a reduction in the stigma around talking about mental health.” The push for flexibility and faster access to resources is something, she says, “other generations are benefiting from because the industry has to respond.” And, she says, while young employees won’t choose a company for its benefit package, they do treat it as “reflection of workplace culture” as Krishna Patel pointed out.

But companies are only patching up – not fixing – a big hole in Canada’s mental-health-care system, one in which wealthy, working Canadians get better access to the science-based treatment. The Starbucks benefit is a good one – it doesn’t limit the kind of therapy (although it requires employees to see a licensed social worker or psychologist), it doesn’t require a doctor’s referral, it’s large enough to make a difference. (The company’s previous $400 plan was in line with what many companies still offer – barely enough to cover a couple of sessions with a psychologist.)

But coverage is only available to Starbucks employees who work more than 20 hours a week, which is about two-thirds of their 19,000 Canadian employees, according to company estimates. And, as one barista in Ottawa pointed out, it might be hard for someone dealing with a mental-health issue to be available for every shift or to perform under pressure during busy times and they are still dependent on an understanding manager. “My skepticism is that it’s one of those things that looks good on paper,” she said, asking that her name not to be used. “But how will it translate into real help for the people I work with?”

The consequence of telling more people to seek the help they need is that they will actually expect to get it when they come looking – true for both the public health-care system and the workplace. “If I have an employee who is willing to come forward and share that kind of information with me,” Casselman observes, “I better be well-equipped to respond to that as a manager.”

Fadi Dawood, 30, a historian at the non-profit think tank NATO Association of Canada, and a lecturer at Lakehead University in Orillia, describes “a generational schism. Most of the individuals who control benefits tend to be baby boomers, and those who are entering the work force are saying, ‘you can’t have the same expectations.’” In his parents’ day, he suggests, there was no mental-health awareness – an employee complaining of depression or anxiety would be more likely told to get over it and work harder. But his view of his peers – and his students – is that they have a more complex view of mental health and are less likely to see shame in a therapeutic tune-up.

He sought a short course of therapy himself at university, when stress was starting to interfere with his work. “Some of the coping strategies I learned, I continue to use in my life,” he says. More significantly, he is willing to talk about it, though still with some trepidation. “If companies want a healthy work force,” he says, “[covering therapy] is probably one of the most important things to provide.”

Alec Toller, 28, suggests the view around therapy has shifted for his peers, including among men, who have traditionally been more resistant to seeking help. He has gone himself, for a bout of moderate depression and anxiety. “I didn’t want to be dependent on a drug to feel better. I wanted to to change the behaviour rather than my brain.”

But a full course of therapy was only affordable because of coverage he received through the Directors Guild of Canada while working as an assistant picture editor. Like Dawood, he uses the lessons from those 12 weeks in other part of his life – “not just to not feel better, but to feel really good.”

Now studying for his masters in psychology – in part, inspired by his positive experience in therapy – he argues there’s an ethical concern also at stake, beyond the economic case for business. “We have to make mental health truly accessible. It can’t be a service for the wealthy.”

Don’t count on the the push for more flexible, accessible, individual benefits, and best-evidence treatment to lighten up. Coming up behind the millennials is another generation, even more tech-savvy, with even more mental health awareness. “Youth are taking over the conversation,” says Connie Coniglio, the executive director of BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. “Hopefully, that will produce a shift in the way we all see things and the way services are delivered.”

With their insistence that employers see through on their wellness talk, their wish to make mental health a priority in the workplace, and their desire for benefits that actually cover their needs and for treatment that actually works – those millennials, they have some nerve.

Feb. 9, 2017 "Not today Namaste:  Lay your cards on the yoga mat to consent to physical adjustments": Today I found this article by Marsh Lederman in the Globe and Mail.  Here's an excerpt: 

Craig-Evans cooked up the idea for the consent cards over brunch with VYC organizer Carolyne Taylor and Holmes de Castro, who is a certified trauma sensitive yoga facilitator and was one of the evaluators at Craig Evans’s Langara course.

Their shared concerns around physical adjustments and consent led to a discussion of flip chips: a similar concept to the cards; they say “assist” on one side and “no hands-on assist” on the other. The women knew vaguely about them, but despite all their yoga experience, had never seen them in use. Inspired by the flip-chip model and eager to raise awareness and make the issue of consent on the mat more pervasive in British Columbia (and beyond), they decided to make their own cards.

Holmes de Castro, who began practising yoga after a traumatic event – she was sexually assaulted by an armed stranger when she was in her early 20s – is director of programs with Yoga Outreach, which offers trauma informed yoga at community service facilities such as mental health centres, prisons and residential addiction-treatment centres, including Onsite, which is above Vancouver’s supervised injection site, Insite.

Even beyond these settings, she believes yoga is often used in North America as a modality to heal. And she says it’s particularly important that people who fall into that category – including the people she has worked with through Yoga Outreach – be able to consent to physical adjustments.

“They just felt like they’re perpetually getting it wrong because this person is coming along and fixing what’s going on with them. And if that’s been their experience throughout their life, that they haven’t been able to get it right somehow, then that just becomes replicated in a yoga space.”

Holmes de Castro says the cards are timely; they tap into current awareness around consent, autonomy and empowerment. She also points out that sometimes the adjustments may aggravate a physical condition or simply be uncomfortable.

She tells a story about an incident she heard about while training at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. In a large class – there were more than 40 students – a student put up her hand and said she didn’t want to be touched during the class. Halfway through, the teacher, who had forgotten, came around and adjusted her. Then he said “oh that’s right; you’re the person that didn’t want to be adjusted,” and had a little laugh, Holmes de Castro recalls. “You’re being mocked for the choice that you just tried to make, that was not honoured and was called out.”

Taylor has been practising yoga since she was a child – she believes yoga probably saved her mother’s life as she dealt with a dysfunctional marriage. At that brunch – which was only past November – she registered the consent on the map domain while still at the restaurant. She hopes the can help standardize an approach to consent in yoga and is encouraging all participants at her conference to use them.

“Next year when the yoga conference rolls around, I want this to not be a new thing, but just a thing that is,” Taylor says. “You bring your yoga mat to yoga and you bring your consent card to yoga. It’s just what you bring in your yoga bag.” The Victoria Yoga Conference runs Feb. 10-13 at the University of Victoria. Consent cards will be available for use there. They’re also available for purchase – $10 for a set of 20 inside a muslin carrying bag, with proceeds to Yoga Outreach.

My week:

Apr. 4, 2017 Quickly: Did you know that Quickly is now a bubble tea chain?  There are bubble tea places, and they're independent, but this one is a chain.

Apr. 6, 2017 Mental health: This is like the law of attraction.  I was getting my anti-depressants, because I was off it for a couple of months.  It did affect my life and work.  I was stressed out.

Last week I called one of my friends up, and he said he had an anxiety disorder.  When he was at work, he often felt like throwing up and then he doesn't.  The anxiety mentally affected his body.  He's on medication.

Then this week I got an email from another friend who is also on medication and therapy for anxiety disorder.

Time after Time cancelled: I read about this in the newspaper and I was a little sad about it.  I hope that ABC airs the rest of the episodes in the summer time.  That's what happened in 2013 when the mid-season show Do No Harm got cancelled after 2 episodes.  CTV aired the rest of the episodes on Sat. night at 8pm in the summer:

ABC has pulled drama “Time After Time” from its schedule, effectively canceling the freshman drama series.

A time-travel story following fictional versions of H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper, “Time After Time” debuted March 5 to a soft 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demographic over its two-hour premiere and an average audience of 2.53 million, according to Nielsen data. Over four weeks, it has averaged a 0.5 in the demo and 2.2 million viewers.

“Time After Time” is produced by Outerbanks Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. Kevin Williamson and Marcos Siega (“Blindspot,” “The Following”) serve as executive producers. Siega directed the pilot, with Williamson writing the teleplay. The show is based on the novel written by Karl Alexander.

The series is being replaced in its Sunday, 9 p.m. time period for the next three weeks by Alec Baldwin-hosted celebrity gameshow “Match Game.” “Time After Time” becomes the second scripted broadcast freshman to be pulled from the air this season. CBS canceled “Doubt” last month after airing only two episodes.

Dental office job interview: Two weeks ago, On Sun. morning, I got a text to come into for an interview.  I was at work at my restaurant.  The text wanted me to come on that day.  After work, I called the number and did a phone interview.


1. It was at an office.

2. Good job security because people need dentists.

3. It was an average commute.


I don't know, if I'm a good fit or not.

Work at Home Alberta: I was listening to Shine FM on the radio on Sun. nights.  I listen to Tim Tamishiro on CBC radio every night because he plays calm jazz music to help me relax.

On Shine FM, there was an ad for Work at Home Alberta.  It lead me to this.  It's like taking surveys and writing.  I think this is a scam.  However, I heard it on Shine FM 105.9, a Christian radio station so it's supposed to be good.

Is this a scam?

Behavioural Science: I was watching TV and saw this ad for this program at  It sounded pretty interesting:

—BHS for short—is an interdisciplinary program of sociology and psychology. Through psychology you’ll examine how individuals perceive, develop within, and act upon the world. Through sociology you’ll examine how groups and cultures create their own social worlds and how those worlds affect the people who are a part of them.

You’ll learn how sociology and psychology intersect in human behaviour, and your learning in one will complement the other. You’ll not only take fascinating classes and do interesting research, you’ll also put your learning to work by doing a community practicum.

This is your career

Within your Behavioural Science degree, you can specialize in one of six areas: cognitive neuroscience, culture and society, family and community, human development, religion and social science, or deviance and society.

This is where you can go

Here's a sampling of the jobs our alumni have landed with this degree or entered through further studies:
  • Child and youth worker
  • Crisis intervention services
  • Counselor
  • Teacher or professor
  • Police worker
  • Registered psychologist
It's good and all, but it's psychology.

Apr. 8, 2017 Shades of Blue: This show came out in Jan. 2016.  It stars Jennifer Lopez:

"Harlee Santos, a single-mother New York police officer, is forced to work in the FBI's anti-corruption task force whilst dealing with her own financial problems."

I saw the pilot and I decided to record all the episodes and watch it in a week.  I then watched 2 episodes 1 day.  I thought it was just average.  Then on a Sat. I had went to work, and I read the business section of the newspaper.  I decided to watch an episode.  I watched like 4 episodes in a row.  Then had a break for dinner and watched 1 episode.

I have never binge- watched that much TV since buying Dark Angel season 1 dvds and Alias season 1 dvds in 2003.  It's where I watch like 4 or 5 episodes.  I usually watch 1 or 2 episodes a day.

Now the show is back on and I'm watching it 1 episode a day.  I like to sit and absorb episodes more. 

I rarely watch 2 episodes of a TV show in a row.  I watch 1.  Then a break for an hr like read the newspaper.  Then watch another episode.  I recommend you watch 1 or 2 episodes a day.  There should be a break between episodes.

On it says the show got a season 3.

Apr. 9, 2017: I was thinking about ABC cancelling Time after Time.  Why can't they be like CBS with Training Day?  Put Training Day on a Sat. night and air all the episodes, and then cancel it.


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