Team-building exercises cause employee uneasiness

Corporate training seminars designed to build “team” morale  may be doing more harm than good, reported the National Post on May 20. Fortunately, the worst days of intrusive and potentially dangerous employee training schemes appear to be behind us, said the Post. “Employers are very sensitive now,” said Monica Belcourt, professor in the Atkinson School of Administrative Studies and president of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario. “There’s been a big cultural change in Canada in the past decade. People and companies are extremely sensitive to any atmosphere of harassment.” But Canada does not have a monogamous culture, she said. Once companies get into the realm of something as seemingly innocuous as “customer service,” the company has to ask, “At what point does the training try to change attitude and beliefs?” Something as simple as a motivational seminar that talks about a person’s “inner power over their destiny” can offend people who believe that their destiny lies in the hands of God.

Good business

The Schulich School of Business’ non-degree executive education program placed 40th in the open category in the Financial Times’ rankings of the world’s best executive education programs open to all senior managers from all companies. The ranking, reported in the Globe and Mail May 19, is separate from the FT’s list of top business schools, in which Schulich placed 26th in January. Queen’s University School of Business placed 10th in the latest finding, the best Canadian showing in the open category. In its annual ranking of non-degree executive instruction, the London, England-based newspaper surveyed open-enrolment programs and custom programs designed for companies that want to put their executives through specific training. The only school ranked in both categories was the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, which was 27th in open enrolment and 20th in custom programs. The Rotman School at the University of Toronto was ranked 49th out of a field of 50 in custom education.

Class action fuels Bill of Rights debate

The Globe and Mail reported on a veterans’ class-action case in the Supreme Court aimed at resurrecting a statute that has dwelt for decades in legal limbo – the Canadian Bill of Rights. Leading scholars — such as Peter Hogg and Patrick Monahan of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School – have speculated about “gaps” in the Charter that could potentially be filled by guarantees in the Bill of Rights, the Globe said on May 19. When a decision is rendered, the court’s ruling could mean an immense lump of money for war veterans. But it is the implications it holds for the Bill of Rights that may have the most lasting impact. Why is a bill once dismissed as weak now a potential powerhouse? Monahan attributed it partly to a bold streak that came across the judiciary after the Charter instructed them firmly that they could, indeed, strike down legislation. “Having accepted this principle, it became rational to say: ‘We’ve also got this thing called the Canadian Bill of Rights that supplements the Charter,’ ” he said. “Prior to that, the courts just didn’t feel they had this right of review.”

YWCA honours Lorna Marsden

President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden was named as one of seven women to be honoured for their outstanding commitment to the community by the YWCA of Greater Toronto at a special Women of Distinction Awards ceremony May 28, reported the Toronto Star May 19. This annual event, in its 23rd year, is a fundraiser with a goal of collecting $350,000 for housing, employment and counselling programs.

Courts may hold cure for sick system

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Patrick Monahan and former senior civil servant Stanley Hartt wrote in a C.D. Howe Institute commentary last year that Canadians have been forced into a system that “at a minimum compromises their health and potentially may endanger their lives,” reported the Montreal Gazette May 19. The Gazette quoted Monahan in a story about how it may be judges, not politicians, who ultimately force change on our ailing health care system, because fundamental rights are at stake.

Jakobek’s future

Disgraced city councillor and mayoral candidate Tom Jakobek has apologized for lying to reporters about his involvement in a hockey junket and said he regretted authorizing a lawyer to write a letter to the Toronto Star repeating the falsehood. York University political science Professor Ian Greene said that although the scandal kills Jakobek’s present mayoral hopes, he can eventually weather it if he persuades voters he’s remorseful, reported the Star May 17.

Canada’s first post-graduate program in critical disability studies is at York

York Professor Marcia Rioux, former executive director of the Roeher Institute — this country’s foremost think-tank on disability issues — is not one to give up. She has spent the last three years trying to establish a solid base for Canada to establish leadership in advancing the cause of people with disabilities, reported the Toronto Star May 17. This fall all that hard work will pay off. Rioux, who now heads York’s School of Health Policy & Management, is also director of Canada’s first post-graduate program in critical disability studies. “I hope this program will push the envelope,” said Rioux, who has long advocated throwing out systems that promote dependency and replacing them with a culture that respects differences and self-sufficiency. The one-year master of arts program will debut in the fall with space for 15 full-time and 10 part-time students in a specially retrofitted building atYork.

Funding issues

With so many mutual funds losing money last year, taxes weren’t a big issue this spring for investors filing their 2002 returns. But assuming that a fund does make money, what counts for you is not the fund’s published returns, but how much you get to keep after taxes, according to a recently released study on tax efficiency co-authored by Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business, reported the Toronto Star on May 17. The surest way to avoid paying any money to Ottawa on your fund investments is to not make any money on them in the first place.