York student laments meagre increase in minimum wage

Ontario Finance Minister Greg Sorbara says the government can’t afford to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, a claim that has drawn criticism from New Democrat MPPs and poverty activists, wrote the Toronto Star Jan. 25. York student Gilary Massa Machado, who makes $8.30 as a theatre usher, certainly doesn’t have any spare money to spend. She had to give up her apartment and move back in with her parents because she couldn’t pay the rent. "You just can’t live on $8," said Massa Machado, 21, who added raising the minimum wage to $10 "would be a huge help, not only to students, but to a large (portion) of the population that is working at low-paid jobs." "Poverty is definitely a big issue in Ontario," she said. "In Toronto we see it just walking downtown."

Lexchin is pessimistic about pharmacare

The surge of government enthusiasm last year to develop a plan to provide all Canadians access to essential prescription drugs seems to have petered out, wrote The Edmonton Sun Jan. 25. Drug expenditures in Canada are rising about 10 per cent faster than the rate of inflation, York’s Dr. Joel Lexchin points out in a recent paper he wrote for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. A national pharmacare program may not be enough on its own to control expenditures but it’s still worth implementing because it would ensure national standards, he says. Doctors also need to change their prescribing behaviour, says Lexchin, professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health. He’s not optimistic that we’ll see a pharmacare program any time soon.

Jensen looks for focus

When York alumnus Aaron Jensen (BFA ’06) left Prince Albert six years ago, he was searching, wrote the Daily Herald (Prince Albert, Sask.) Jan. 25. With a multitude of talents, the singer, actor, songwriter and visual artist enrolled in music composition at York University in Toronto, looking to find his artistic focus. It wasn’t until his third year at York that Jensen technically became a student of music. He had met the members of the a capella group, Cadence, early in university and became familiar with their musical style. The Cadence contract came to the 24-year-old Jensen by his willingness and energy to perform wherever he could. Occasionally he had subbed in for a group member, and when a spot came open, he beat out a list of candidates from across North America.

Currently, Jensen is writing a libretto – the text to be sung – for an opera being composed by David Lidov, professor emeritus in York’s Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts. Last year, in his senior year at York, Jensen took on the writing, performing and directing of his first musical, staging "OED: the Writing of the Oxford English Dictionary" as part of Broadway North’s repertory summer theatre season.

Global investments can up reward, risk

When it comes to deciding how much someone should invest globally and where, it is important to know whether the person is going to be a passive or active investor, said Pauline Shum, a professor of finance at York’s Schulich School of Business, in the Toronto Star Jan. 25. A passive investor could hold a global index fund, while a more active client might hold foreign stocks directly.

Education alumna will hold art workshop

The Oakville Art Society is hosting a Life Drawing Workshop featuring instructor and York alumna Nazy Sakhavarz (BEd ‘99) on Sunday, Feb. 25, from 9 to 4pm, wrote The Oakville Beaver Jan. 24. An exhibiting artist based in Toronto, Sakhavarz has taught drawing, portraiture, painting, cartooning and life drawing to adults since 1995. A visual arts teacher with the Toronto Board of Education, her professional experience includes children’s book illustrations, exhibiting and commissioned works, artist talks and workshops.

Modern meets traditional as autorickshaw takes the stage

autorickshaws’ blend of traditional Indian classical music and jazz, as well as other forms of modern music, will be coming to the Lester Centre of the Arts on Feb. 1, wrote The Northern View (Prince Rupert, BC) Jan. 24. The band was formed in 2003 and features York alumna Suba Sankaran (BFA ’97, MFA ’02) on vocals, Ed Hanley on the Tabla, Rich Brown on bass, and Debashis Sinha on percussion. They have toured widely in Canada and have also performed in the US and India.

Sankaran is from Toronto and is a vocalist, pianist and percussionist. She began studying South Indian classical music as a child with her father. She graduated from York University in 1997, where she studied jazz, and then completed her master’s degree in ethnomusicology in 2002. She has also studied South Indian classical vocal music.

On air

  • Robert MacDermid, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the Liberal caucus meeting in Quebec City, on Toronto’s 680 News radio, Jan. 23, and CKAT radio (North Bay) Jan. 24.