Wanted: health-care ideas

You emphasize that health care has grown from 33 per cent of provincial spending 10 years ago to 46 per cent today. Projections are that this will reach 100 per cent in the 2030s, wrote Harvey Skinner, dean of York’s Faculty of Health, in a letter to the Toronto Star April 1.

Fresh thinking and action are needed to get at the root of the looming crisis in health-care expenditures. Instead of producing and responding to illness, a dramatically different approach is called for. How do we have "more people living healthier longer"? This is the big idea worthy of collective effort.

National Post calls class-cancellation practice ‘nonsensical’

Canada’s human rights commissions are at it again. In a new report, Ontario’s HRC [investigator] finds Toronto’s York University guilty of discrimination. Its 34-year standing policy of cancelling classes on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have been deemed unfair, wrote the National Post in an editorial April 1. York initiated the practice because Jewish students – who number about 6 per cent at York – would not be able to attend classes on those days. But in recent years some University employees have argued that the practice is unfair to the non-Jewish student majority.

We fully agree. It is wholly nonsensical for York to cancel three full days of classes just because a small minority of students will be unable to attend for religious reasons. Far better to arrange special accommodations for those few students who cannot make it to a lecture or tutorial than shut the university down.

That said, this HRC [report] represents yet another example of a commission overstepping its boundary and bowing to pressure from individuals and organizations more bent on limiting our freedoms than strengthening them. York is governed by intelligent, capable people. Its student body is well represented. Together they are more than capable of resolving issues about when the University should and should not cancel classes than Ontario’s overzealous human rights watchdog.

  • The Canadian Press, CBC TV and 680 News Radio also carried a report of the investigator’s findings on March 31.

Work permit for scholar who had faced deportation

An award-winning Ontario scholar and her mom will receive work permits this week after their deportations to St. Lucia were placed on hold, wrote The Toronto Sun April 1.

Lucilla Augustin, 41, and her daughter, former York student Sarah Saintserra Leonty, 20, are to pick up the documents at a St. Clair Avenue East immigration office as early as today. Leonty was given a last-minute stay of deportation last month by the Federal Court. The family were to have been deported on March 28. They were granted a two-year stay by immigration authorities, she said.

Students at York University also staged a rally last week to protest the deportations. The student, who hopes to work in the foreign service, was forced to drop out of the International Development Studies Program at York last April due to the high fees for foreign students, who pay up to $15,000 a year, compared to landed immigrants and citizens who pay $5,000.

100Gs Club up to 42,527

The Liberal government released the 2007 Sunshine List March 31, which counted 42,527 people on the public payroll who pull in $100,000 or more a year, wrote The Toronto Sun and the Hamilton Spectator April 1. The list included former York president & vice-chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, who earned $483,124.

Trustee revisits ethnic education issue

Little more than two months after the Toronto public school board approved the creation of an Afro-centric school, trustee Josh Matlow is set to ask the board tomorrow to address the needs of language groups with distressingly high dropout rates, wrote The Globe and Mail April 1.

Michael Ornstein, director of the Institute for Social Research and a professor of sociology in York University’s Faculty of Education, who studies ethno-racial inequalities, said he worries about the accuracy of data used to choose the groups, which were extracted from a "cohort study" that tracked students who entered Grade 9 in 2000. Nevertheless he said Matlow’s approach has some validity.

"There are clearly big problems and they’re racialized. It’s totally ridiculous to deny it," he said. "I guess the question is, do you have one big problem, or do you have a lot of individual problems that are kind of related?"

Government must do more to help post-secondary students

Times are tough for post-secondary students. Being almost at the finish line and a mere few months away from graduation, I am suddenly left to think about my experiences as a York University student and the impact that high tuition fees, student debt and juggling work and school have had on my experience, wrote Charlyn Nuque in a column for Inside Toronto.com March 31.

I think about the opportunities I’ve missed and the extracurricular activities I couldn’t participate in simply because I became too busy. For me, and probably thousands of other students, attending lectures and tutorials has been like a type of commercial transaction. You get in, you get out, and then go straight to work in order to pay for the services rendered.

Overall, I do believe that, without proper intervention, education at a post-secondary institution will continue to be increasingly commodified. The increase in tuition fees and private partnerships will ultimately make postsecondary students’ experience at school like a business transaction. For the sake of future post-secondary students everywhere, I truly do hope a change will come about soon.

On air

  • Debra Pepler, professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health, took part in a phone-in show about bullying and her latest study on the subject, on Calgary’s CHQR-AM radio March 31.