Toronto panned, China lauded for response to SARS

China treated its people with greater respect for human rights during the SARS outbreak than Toronto, according to research by a York University professor. It’s a conclusion that Toronto Public Health says is not supported by evidence, reported The Globe & Mail on July 6. Lesley Jacobs, professor of law and society at York, said in an interview that Toronto Public Health “responded in an extremely Draconian way” to SARS.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 people were quarantined in Toronto, compared to 1,200 people in Hong Kong, he said. In addition, his report concluded that Hong Kong provided greater care for its health workers by giving them accommodations during the SARS crisis in 2003. Toronto health care workers could travel only between work and home, Prof. Jacobs reported.  The Chinese provided furnished flats stocked with food, TV service, mobile phones and even babysitting services for quarantined health care workers, Prof. Jacobs said. “Here there was virtually none of that,” he added. “The Ontario Human Rights Commission doesn’t have a single SARS-related complaint on record,” he said, adding that rather than showing a lack of discrimination, this proved the OHRC had no role in SARS policy making.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, director of communicable disease control and the city’s associate medical officer of health, said that health workers in Toronto were not offered places to stay because it was thought that allowing them to return home, even if it meant wearing respiratory masks, would at least allow them to spend time with their families. Yaffe said that Toronto issued only 27 mandatory quarantine orders, the rest were largely voluntary and most people complied without complaint. “We agonized over [whether to quarantine people],” she said. “We always take human rights into consideration…. We did quarantine people, but people understood it was necessary.” After analyzing the after-effects of SARS and understanding how the disease is spread, Dr. Yaffe said that Toronto Public Health would now only suggest quarantining people who had come in close contact with an infected individual.

A National Post story on July 6 covering Jacob’s research (see July 6 issue of YFile) ran the same day in The Vancouver Sun, The Montreal Gazette and The Edmonton Journal.

Tim’s should ignore Homolka plug for ice-caps says Middleton

“It is perhaps the ultimate test of the old advertising adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity,” reported the National Post in a July 6 story about Karla Homolka’s yearning for an iced cappuccino from Tim Horton’s. On Monday night, in the first interview she has given since being jailed for her role in the sex slayings of three teenage girls, Homolka said she wanted to make Tim Horton’s her first stop after 12 years in prison. Marketing experts said the unprompted endorsement of Tim Hortons’ frothy summer coffee treat – which was introduced only in 1999, while Ms Homolka was in prison – is a testament to the company’s ubiquitous status in the public consciousness. They recommended the company ignore the comment. “I would imagine the Tim Horton’s people will be running for cover on this one,” said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “They should just ignore it, lie low. Hopefully it goes away.” He doubted Ms Homolka’s desire for a Tim Horton’s drink would have any impact on sales. “Will it harm Tim Horton’s? No. Will it help? God, I hope not.”

Gatorade betting on hockey phenom’s potential says Schulich’s marketing prof

Gatorade became the second major company this year to hitch its wagon to Sidney Crosby’s rising star by signing the 17-year-old hockey player to a three-year endorsement deal, reported The Edmonton Journal July 6. Crosby signed with Reebok in March in what was reported to be a five-year, US$2.5-million endorsement deal for equipment and apparel. What Crosby is projected to be able to do as a pro, combined with media skills beyond his years, has made him an attractive pitchman for companies. But for Gatorade and Reebok, Crosby’s value is in his potential, said Ashwin Joshi, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. “Think of stockpicking. The idea is you buy low and sell high,” explained Joshi. “Not so much Gatorade and Reebok, but lesser brands have been going after junior players for a number of years. The idea is that you catch them young. They’re cheaper to buy at this point in time when they have tremendous upside potential to them.”

Market’s upward trend no surprise to Milevsky

Mutual fund sales hit a seven-year high in June, according to estimates released yesterday by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, reported the Toronto Star July 6. Industry observers attributed the record sales to strong markets and increased consumer confidence. “I’m not surprised,” said Moshe Milevsky, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “The TSX seems to be (approaching) an all-time high and investors feel it’s safe to get back into this [type of] investment.”

Atkinson mentoring program called ‘win-win’ situation

Jennifer Li is a typical university student. She worries about grades, her future and what life after York University will be like. That’s why the fourth-year business student was happy to have someone share their professional opinion and experiences with her, reported Toronto’s commuter daily paper Metro July 6. Li was a part of York’s Atkinson Student Alumni Mentorship Program this past school year. The program connects students from all disciplines with professionals looking to help show them the way. Li credits her mentor with giving her the confidence and drive she hopes to take into her professional career. “My mentor and I have remained friends,” Li said. “I learned so much about interpersonal and social skills as well as concrete information about my field of interest. Since I don’t have much working experience, my mentor provided me with experiences of her own.” Beginning its third year this fall, York University’s Atkinson Student Alumni Mentorship Program has created more than 200 successful mentorship matches. “This is a win-win situation for both our students and Atkinson alumni,” says Carole Umaña, alumni & communications manager in the Atkinson Dean’s office. “Some students are looking for concrete job search and career planning strategies, while others are still exploring their options simply seeking someone experienced to bounce ideas off of.” According to Umana, alumni involved in the program have reported their appreciation for such a program that helps reconnect them with the classrooms they left behind, in some cases, decades ago. “It sharpens their leadership, mentoring and communication skills while placing them back in the classroom on the cutting edge of where current research and theory is being developed in their field today,” Umaña said. Atkinson alumnus David Peck (BA ’93), a corporate consultant and practising magician, has been volunteering with the mentoring program since it began. “I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I started.…This is an opportunity to give back to students some of the excellent education York provided me with,” Peck said.

York Fine Arts students make top-10 list of upcoming film & tv talent

Before Adriana Maggs attended York University’s screenwriting program, she claims she was feeling lost. She knew she wanted to write, and hoped York would help nudge her in the right direction. It did, and now Maggs can add co-creator and writer of a CBC television pilot to her resumé, which also includes a couple of short films and awards. Maggs was one of two writers who studied at York featured in Playback magazine’s “10 to Watch” feature, July 4, on upcoming talent in the film & television industry. Alumna Shelley Scarrow (BFA ’94) can tell you anything you want to know about teens – and a few things you don’t. A top writer for “Degrassi: The Next Generation (Epitome Pictures and CTV), Scarrow doesn’t write from the viewpoint of sanitized nostalgia. Her raw, jarring topics, including self-mutilation and teen sex parties, expose the sometimes dark and confused world adolescents inhabit. Scarrow’s scripts disturb, illuminate and draw acclaim. A York University theatre grad, Scarrow began her career as an assistant to Garth Drabinski at Livent Inc. Landing at Toronto’s Epitome Pictures Inc., she decided to test the writing waters and found her niche crafting scripts for young adults. She recently completed her fourth and final season with Degrassi, which culminated with a three-episode guest appearance by American indie filmmaker Kevin Smith. This season sees Scarrow moving over to the creative producer role on “Instant Star” (Epitome/CTV/The N), which follows a young female rocker coping with newfound fame.

On Air

  • York alumnus Will Ferguson (BFA ’90), winner of the 2005 Pierre Berton Award for popularizing history, was interviewed on CBC Radio’s Toronto afternoon program “Here and Now.”
  • Wesley Cragg, professor of business ethics at York’s Schulich School of Business and president of Transparency International, appeared on CBC Newsworld and spoke on CBC Radio Vancouver July 6 about corruption in Africa saying it was holding back economic and social development.
  • Becky McKinnon, Chair of Timothy’s World Coffee, discussed her company’s program to market York’s Las Nubes brand of sustainable, fair-trade coffee on ROB-TV July 6.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and director of York’s observatory, appeared on CTV’s “Canada AM” July 6 to discuss NASA’s Deep Impact space mission.
  • A CITY-TV story about upcoming jazz festivals, July 4, used background audio-visual footage of musicians in the jazz program in York’s Music Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts.