York’s Faculty of Health will bring more visibility

There’s more to York University than subway extensions, wrote a Health Connection columnist in The Toronto Sun Aug. 23. Take the new Faculty of Health that officially opened July 1. Under one roof – figuratively, not literally – will be kinesiology & health science, health policy & management, nursing and psychology. Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic, said the University had been asking itself for years what it could do to make health more visible at York and bring together people from the various branches of the discipline. “(The Faculty of Health) is about bringing people together and making things more visible, especially at the graduate level,” Embleton said.

Embleton said there won’t be any new programs offered in the new Faculty this year but its establishment will inevitably mean expansion, especially for graduate programs. She also makes clear that the Faculty of Health is not a Faculty of Medicine to train doctors. “York does want to eventually get a medical school, dependent, of course, on so many things – like money. If we were eventually to have a med school, this new Faculty is a good base, but if we never had a med school this would still be a good thing to do.”

Leading the new faculty is Harvey Skinner, its first dean and a psychologist who specializes in public health, behaviour change and the use of IT to improve public health. Skinner, recruited from the University of Toronto, takes over Sept. 1. Embleton said the Faculty of Health will cost York about $900,000 a year in net new money.

Michaela Hynie, associate chair in York’s Department of Psychology, sits on the planning committee for the Faculty of Health. She said the “big impact” will come from the signal the Faculty of Health sends to students that York can offer them opportunities to pursue their individual interests.

Flaherty subway statement produces big reaction

Toronto and York Region leaders are urging Ottawa to help fund the extension of the Spadina subway line to York University and Vaughan after Finance Minister Jim Flaherty hinted the federal government was wavering on the issue, reported the Toronto Star Aug. 23. “It would be in their interest to participate,” said Howard Moscoe, a Toronto councillor and TTC chairman. “It will serve a region (federal Conservatives) want to have some votes in. It’s an important project for all of us. They need to, in some way, demonstrate their commitment, not simply to Toronto or York Region but to cities in general. Their agenda for cities has remained non-existent.”

Moscoe said he sent Flaherty a letter last week requesting federal funds after hearing him say Ottawa hadn’t been asked to help. Moscoe said the minority Tories would make a mistake if they didn’t fund the project. “If they think they can win this country and ignore the cities, they made a serious miscalculation.”

  • Greg Sorbara was a junior cabinet minister 20 years ago when he proposed a subway line to link the downtown University of Toronto and the suburban York University, wrote columnist Murrary Campbell in The Globe and Mail. He’s still waiting, but the fact that he’s still enthusiastic that the line will be completed indicates the ability of humans to choose hope over experience.

“Let me put it this way, Jim Flaherty can’t kill this subway, he can do great harm to his government if his government is not a financial participant,” Sorbara said, adding the provincial government would “find a way” to take up Ottawa’s slack if need be. “We are determined to get this subway built. We can not afford to lose the initiative and the momentum that this will create for us.”

  • Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty surprised many Torontonians this week by telling the Toronto Star there is no guarantee the much-vaunted subway extension to York University and Vaughan will receive federal funding, wrote the National Post Aug. 23, in a Question & Answer column.

Q: As things stand now, are you optimistic the subway extension will happen?
SORBARA: I am not only optimistic, I am determined that it will happen. It’s too important a project for the Greater Toronto Area to be anything but completely committed to it.
Q: What makes it such an important project?
SORBARA: It is the number one priority of municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area because it will have the effect of changing transportation patterns and taking as many as 80,000 cars a day off the road. It is a project that will expand capacity and usage for the transportation system in the Greater Toronto Area. The second thing is that it signals to the province that we are going to take public transit and transportation and gridlock seriously in this province. So it’s important both as a symbol and substantively.

  • Statements by Flaherty about funding for the Spadina extension were also discussed on most of Toronto’s radio and television stations, including regional television programs in Italian, Portuguese and Cantonese. Items on CFTO-TV and CITY-TV, featured comments from disappointed passersby and York students, among others.
  • Bud Purves, president of York University Development Corporation, spoke about the subway on CBC Television’s “News at Six”. The item also featured comments from concerned area residents and a York student.

Reboot the WTO template, say Robarts researchers

After a decade in existence, the Word Trade Organization (WTO) continues to run an outdated operating system based upon the interests of the quad countries (the US, EU, Japan and Canada), wrote Daniel Drache, political science professor and associate director of the Robarts Centre for Canadians Studies at York, and Marc Froese, research associate at the centre, in The Financial Express (India) Aug. 23. Despite the supposed software upgrade at Doha, the system takes no interest in many emerging developments in the international society of states. More dangerous is the fact that the balance of power is drifting south, causing the WTO’s operating system to seize up and crash.

The WTO set out to be a powerful voice in world affairs but is now a vision manqué. Its procedures for dealing with non-tariff protectionist measures, its representational crisis and its silo mentality to international law suggest that the trading system is due for a major overhaul. Remarkably, all countries are committed to a fair and equitable trading order. World trade continues to skyrocket and regional trade deals are also on the rise. Open trade can be a force for development and poverty reduction, or it can be a vehicle for greater inequality and corporate enrichment at the expense of the global south.

Hamilton mayor opposes donation limits

Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni will continue to accept union and corporation donations despite a community group’s call for reform, reported the Hamilton Spectator Aug. 23. The group, Citizens at City Hall – CATCH – is asking candidates in the November election to accept donations only from individuals, a challenge already embraced by Toronto’s top mayoral candidates. Hamilton would be following a positive trend if it supported CATCH’s bid, said political science Professor Robert MacDermid, of York’s Faculty of Arts, who studies campaign donations.

Ottawa is moving to ban corporate and union donations. It’s unfair that current rules allow someone to donate twice if they own a corporation, MacDermid said. Limiting donations to individuals puts everyone on equal footing and makes candidates reach across the community for support, he said. It’s also difficult for citizens to know if corporations are connected and overcontributing, a point highlighted in Di Ianni’s [upcoming] court case [to hear 41 charges under the Municipal Act stemming from the 2003 election]. “It removes a grey area that is outside scrutiny,” MacDermaid said.

Don’t slam the door on your way out

Experts say that most employees do leave their jobs in a professional manner – but for those who don’t, there’s a price to pay, wrote a careers columnist for The Globe and Mail Aug. 23. Take the senior executive at a Toronto advertising company who announced his departure in an abrupt voice mail to his boss. Fifteen months later, he’s still looking for a new job, says York’s Stephen Friedman, an executive career coach and trainer who took on the executive as a client. “Within a day, everyone in the business knew how he had left. Those who have considered hiring him felt he reacted like a child. He was seen as immature and has been blackballed,” says Friedman, who teaches organizational behaviour and human resources at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto.

Need funds for computer reports

Letter writer Charles Davies makes an apparently sensible suggestion that report cards could be computerized, wrote Clive Holloway, professor emeritus in York’s Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science & Engineering, in a letter to the Toronto Star Aug. 23. I have had experience with such a system in a prestigious (and expensive) UK school. The first thing one learns is that it is expensive both in funding and personnel time and, unless the necessary resources are allocated to the system, it can become a quagmire and give teachers even more stress. I rather suspect that in the present climate there will be insufficient funds and resources allocated to this sort of exercise in Ontario and any that are will come from already stretched school budgets, wrote Holloway.

New UOIT president takes his seat

The first day of school started early and ended late for Ronald Bordessa, reported Oshawa-Whitby-Clarington This Week Aug. 22. Taking over from University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s (UOIT) founding president, Gary Polonsky, Bordessa started his new job on Aug. 14. At age 62, Bordessa joins UOIT with more than 30 years of post- secondary experience under his belt. His most recent involvement was as vice-president, academic and provost at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. He has also taught at undergraduate and graduate levels for York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, where he held several academic administrative positions, including associate dean and dean of the Faculty.

Lions vs. Blues game to air across Canada

The York University Lions and the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, two struggling football programs over the years, will clash for the Argo Cup in a rare nationally televised game, noted the Toronto Star Aug. 23. The Score television network has it on Sept. 30 with kick-off at 2pm.