Ontario’s health minister gives strong support to York medical school plan

The president of York University wants to open a new $150-million medical school that would focus almost entirely on training family doctors to help fill the shortage in Ontario, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 21. And Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman says he favours the idea.

After a speech to the Empire Club yesterday, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri said "we are the largest metropolis across North America that has only one medical school – yet we’re also the fastest growing region of Canada.

"We want to focus on training more family physicians who will work in the community on broad health issues and let other medical schools focus on specialties and subspecialties," said Shoukri, who announced his plan for a medical school at York as soon as he took office last July and met with Smitherman to pitch the idea.

Reached yesterday, Smitherman admitted, "when President Shoukri came to see me, I told him I thought the idea had merit but I wasn’t going to be its champion. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve become its champion; it’s an innovative approach to training doctors rooted in the community."

Smitherman said he will push for the school within his government.

The Canadian Institute of Health Information has warned Ontario has one of the lowest rates of family doctors in the country; 84 per 100,000 residents, compared to a high of 203 in the Yukon.

Premier Dalton McGuinty promised to provide another 500,000 Ontarians with access to a family doctor during last fall’s election.

While Shoukri knows the University of Toronto’s medical school is opening a satellite campus in Mississauga, he said it would not overlap because "we would focus on broad health issues of health care and prevention and promotion."

New coach McLean hopes to give Lions some teeth

York University believes it has found the coach to transform the Lions from football laughing stock to national contender, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 21. McLean is optimistic about his chances of turning the York football program around. "There are kids (at York) who can catch, run and block; I know that very well and with proper fundamentals this team can, and will, be successful," said McLean.

McLean, a former all-Canadian when he played at the University of Alberta, wasn’t too concerned that he joins York well into the recruiting season for high school players. "It’ll be harder but more of a challenge and there are players ready to come on board," he said. "My goal is to develop a program that has success year in and year out. I want to put a product on the field that students, staff and alumni can be proud of every year."

When think tanks produce propaganda

Most people would find it strange that Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) sponsors the salaries, research, travel and tuition of dozens of professors, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, wrote Amir Attaran, professor at the University of Ottawa, in The Globe and Mail Feb. 21. But DND’s Security and Defence Forum does exactly this. The list of Canadian universities getting over half a million dollars of SDF money is extensive: York University ($580,000), UQAM ($630,000), Wilfrid Laurier University ($630,000), Université Laval ($655,000), McGill University ($680,000), UBC ($680,000), University of Manitoba ($680,000), UNB ($680,000), Carleton University ($780,000), Dalhousie University ($780,000), University of Calgary ($780,000) and Queen’s University ($1,480,000).

Rather than have DND dole out cash to public intellectuals – and risk tainting their scholarship and their conferences – it should give the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council that money, to award grants on an arm’s-length basis, argued Attaran. This is how other public intellectuals in Canada get funded.

What to do when your banker cozies up to your foe

Telus Corp. chief executive officer Darren Entwistle is stepping down as a director at Toronto-Dominion Bank, severing what was a deep relationship between the telecommunications company and its major financial backer, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 21. Entwistle’s departure comes after TD stepped up this summer as both a lender and equity owner in the planned buyout of BCE Inc., Telus’s major competitor.

"Darren Entwistle is doing the right thing by not allowing his membership on a board to create a conflict or even the perception of a conflict," said James Gilles, founding dean at the Schulich School of Business at York University. "A decade back, this kind of issue would have gone unremarked. Now, boards are bending over backwards to avoid even the perception of a conflict."

Owners desperately seeking Fido: Call in Sherlock Bones

Most pet sleuthing is still do-it-yourself, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 21 in a story about how people try to find their lost pets. Heartbroken owners trade stories on Web forums, sharing tips on everything from the best poster glue to what to say to insensitive friends who suggest abandoning the search.

If it weren’t for the support she got on Pets.ca, York University student Carly Guglielmin said, she might have given up her search for Spencer, her nine- year-old bichon frise that went missing last March. "People on the website don’t think I’m crazy," said Guglielmin, 21, who is on a first-name basis with most shelter workers in Toronto. "That really helped a lot."

Osgoode grad helps his investment firm hit number one

In a meeting, Osgoode alumnus David Tomljenovic (LLM ’05) broaches the topic of a growing milk shortage caused by rising consumption in emerging economies like China and India, wrote The Globe and Mail in a story about top investing firm Sprott Asset Management in Report On Business: Globe Investor Magazine Feb. 21. "Milk is the new gold," Tomljenovic offers.

Tomljenovic’s killer stock pick was Timminco Ltd., a Toronto-based producer of light metals like silicon, which is used in solar panels. "Maybe once or twice in your career do you get to be involved with a stock that can potentially do what this one has," Tomljenovic said. "It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever been involved with."

Tomljenovic admits to misfires in areas such as environmental technology and clean coal, but suggests that such mistakes are part of the process of finding tomorrow’s big winners. "The classic mistake that retail investors make is to sell their winners and hold their losers," he said. "Here, you cut your losers and buy your winners."

As impressive as the numbers are for Sprott Canadian Equity, a savvy investor has to wonder if this tall poppy will, at some point, be scythed down to size. One who suggests this is possible is Moshe Milevsky, professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business at York University and an independent-minded observer of the investing scene. "Statistically, this fund is pretty impressive," says Milevsky. "But to say that this is going to persist and that somehow this is the winning portfolio, I’d be very reluctant to do that."

Big changes urged at City Hall

Hundreds of millions in savings can be found within the cash-strapped city’s budget, including selling off key assets, according to a report to be released today by an expert panel examining Toronto’s finances, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 21. Panel members include former York University president & vice-chancellor Lorna R. Marsden.

Newcomer calculates mentoring advantages

Next month, York student Daping Yang will volunteer at a clinic to help low-income residents with their tax returns, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 21. And while her clients get free advice, Yang will gain important Canadian work experience.

Yang heard about the program through her mentor, Mary Lou Maher, KPMG Canada’s chief financial officer. "She was looking for something to do for the community and I thought it was a good idea to give her exposure to how some people struggle in life and help her develop her tax knowledge," Maher says.

When Yang arrived from China, she faced barriers. Her training as an accountant wasn’t recognized, plus she couldn’t form complete sentences in English. Over the past three years, Maher advised Yang on improving her English and on becoming accredited here. Now, Yang is an accounting student at York University. Though she speaks with a slight accent, she’s almost fluent in English. She hopes to eventually obtain her PhD.

Three ways of educating citizens of the world

In one of the panels at the 2007 conference of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Wendy Chan, former director of the International Office at Hong Kong Baptist University, now a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto Centre for Comparative, International and Development Education, spoke about three models she has been developing to describe the process of internationalization taking place at universities around the world: the globalist, the internationalist and the translocalist, wrote Carol Irving, a policy analyst in York University’s Office of the Associate Vice-President, International, in the Ottawa-based foreign-affairs newsletter Embassy Feb. 20.

Can these three models contribute to educating citizens of the world? asked Irving. I agree with Chan, who said that this depends on how we choose to define "citizens of the world," what knowledge, skills and qualities these individuals should possess.

In the Canadian context, most of the internationalization activities taking place would be categorized as internationalist or translocalist, with perhaps a few globalist elements. All Canadian universities offer exchange, study abroad or internship programs, all have international students on their campuses to a greater or lesser extent, and many if not all are looking at activities to promote internationalization at home.

Chan’s three models provide an interesting way to view institutions and their internationalization activities, and a focus for examining what we do more closely. In doing so, we can look at whether what we are doing ‘"internationally" is contributing to educating citizens of the world. At the same time, we need to define the concept of world citizenship carefully if we are going to choose this as our goal, and consider whether some of the programs or activities we offer, that may be valuable for other reasons, might be left out through the definition we choose.

On air

  • Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the caste system and the future of secular India, on TVO’s “The Agenda” Feb. 20.