The changing face of nursing care

A dynamic new university-hospital partnership will revolutionize the way people in Ontario train to become nurses, wrote Sun Media July 13. York University and the University Health Network (UHN) are teaming up to create a joint nursing academy that will focus on advancing the knowledge and practice of nursing.

“Both UHN and York have a deep commitment to helping to change the way health care is delivered, to improving the quality of health care, and to integrating the patient’s perspective in health-care decisions and planning,” says Gail Mitchell, the academy’s newly appointed director, who is a seasoned nurse and a professor in York’s School of Nursing, which is part of the University’s Faculty of Health. “This academy will focus on initiatives to meet these shared goals of both organizations.”

The network, which encompasses Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Toronto Western Hospital, is a flagship academic hospital, possessing the largest hospital-based research program in Canada. This strong thrust towards research and education will translate into more enriched learning opportunities for future nursing students at York, Mitchell says.

“When it comes to knowledge development in the area of nursing, and other areas of health science, UHN is definitely a very interdisciplinary, scholarly institution, and being able to partner with them is a really terrific opportunity from which our students will benefit,” Mitchell says.

The academy is expected to be fully up and running within three to five years, but Mitchell says the two institutions will very soon forge ahead with some initial joint projects. Among them will be research programs that will focus on areas such as patient safety, living with diabetes, patient-centred care and women’s health.

The academy will also create a new bridging program that would allow experienced registered nurses to pursue a master of science in nursing degree. “This doesn’t exist in Canada, so it would be a new innovation,” Mitchell says. “It would allow these mature nurses to step into leadership roles with new nurses while preparing to go into a master’s degree.”

Ultimately, Mitchell says, the partnership may act as a new model for teaching nursing that she says will help resolve Ontario’s chronic shortage of nurses by enhancing their recruitment and retention, and advancing the public perception of the profession.

Says Mitchell: “It’s becoming clearer that nurses are knowledge workers, and we need to be involved in creating best knowledge and practices.”

Speech opens African corruption debate

Only an African-American president, walking through the “Door of No Return” with a wife and children descended from slaves, could have given the hard-line, anti-corruption talk US President Barack Obama gave on Saturday in Accra, Ghana – and garnered such a rapturous response, wrote The Globe and Mail July 13.

“You can’t speak about Africa in terms of corruption unless you speak of the West,” said Pablo Idahosa, coordinator of York’s African Studies Program and a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “One could talk about the globalized impact of corruption and the globalized beneficiaries of corruption…. It takes two, if you pardon the expression, to tango.”

Idahosa pointed out it was former US president Bill Clinton who refused to impose an oil embargo against Sani Abacha’s despotic regime in Nigeria. “It’s a consequence of a globalized system that’s willing to accept the benefits of corruption of the people who’re willing to put that money in banks,” Idahosa said.

Idahosa said he hopes the president’s anti-corruption plans extend to a more stringent study of US companies’ dealings in African states. “In terms of US policy, [Obama has] probably had a better understanding of Africa than any other US president. That’s not a particularly hard act to follow.”

Both sides have ‘feet in cement’

Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty is less antagonistic with organized labour and is – right now – under pressure from no one to order the workers back, wrote The Belleville Intelligencer July 13.

Sara Slinn, professor of labour law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said the city may well want to avoid back-to-work legislation as that would end with an arbitrator imposing a settlement. “Public sector employers aren’t necessarily that keen on interest arbitration awards because the arbitration awards tend to be quite conservative,” Slinn said.

“It’s not likely, if the city wants concessions, that an interest arbitrator is going to accept that. An arbitration award is not going to provide a win or a tremendous loss to either side, unless circumstances are highly unusual and I don’t really think they are here.”

Patience may be required, Slinn said. “It’s not short but it’s not long as these strikes go,” she said, adding the ability of the workers to survive on limited strike pay is key factor. “Striking or being locked out is really costly to workers. It’s not an inconsiderable sacrifice.”

Researchers shed light on how patients built their own enclosures

When the Provincial Lunatic Asylum wanted walls built to close off its inhabitants from the outside world, patients dug the foundations, laid the stones at the base and stacked bricks nearly five metres high, wrote the Toronto Star July 13 in a story about events during Mad Pride Week.

“This is the oldest example of patient-built labour anywhere in the whole province,” says Geoffrey Reaume, history professor in York’s School of Health Policy & Management, Faculty of Health. He’s standing next to the south wall of the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health’s Queen Street West site, which was built from 1860 to 1861 by the inmates of what was then the Provincial Lunatic Asylum. “The wall is, without any doubt, a sign of discrimination and exclusion.”

Some of the inmates objected to the hours of unpaid work. One woman, upon being released in 1911, started writing letters to the asylum demanding that they compensate her $1,298 for her years of labour. Another asked for her wages while still living at the asylum. “She was demanding her pay as a laundry worker and it was written in the records as a sign of her ‘insanity’,” Reaume says.

Food bank director was raised by progressive York parents

Nick Saul is the son of academics whom he describes as “extraordinarily progressive", wrote the Toronto Star July 12 in a story about the executive director of The Stop Community Food Centre. Next to his computer, Saul keeps a mid-1970s Toronto newspaper photo of his bearded father [York Professor Emeritus John Saul] lying face down in a field, a police officer cuffing him, during an anti-apartheid protest.

Born in 1966, he spent his first six years in Tanzania, where his father taught political and social science at the University of East Africa. Originally from Toronto, his parents moved back with the kids – he has a younger sister, Joanne – and settled in the Annex. John taught at York University. His mother, Pat, was a high school teacher in marginalized communities and eventually joined York’s Faculty of Education.

“We didn’t have the usual table talk,” says Saul. “At our house it was about the wars of liberation in Africa and anti-apartheid.”

We’ve made lemonade, but it sure tastes sour

“Funemployment!” That’s the buzzword for twenty- and even thirtysomethings who can’t find a job in their chosen field – or any job at all – but, instead of panicking, are pictured in golf shirts, teeing off on yet another gorgeous summer day, wrote Judith Timson in The Globe and Mail July 13.

But let’s not kid ourselves. Funemployment is a crock, wrote Timson. Student unemployment is the highest it’s been in 11 years. I know a…young woman who finished late at York University due to the strike there, only to have her regular summer job – at a city recreation department – vaporize during the Toronto civic workers strike. You think she’s funemployed?

To stop growth, you have to believe it can be done

In Sierra Disneyworld, population growth can always be “managed” with strict land-use planning, wrote Tim Murray in a letter to BC’s Comox Valley Record July 9 criticizing the Sierra Club.

Trouble is, as York University Professor Robert MacDermid, of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, concluded in his 52-page report, "Funding City Politics", developers fund three-quarters of local political campaigns. He used the GTA as a case study but his findings are universally applicable across Canada. Just ask Norm Smith of Chilliwack, who tried to mount a campaign against growth in his bid for mayor last year and was outspent 10 to one by the winning candidate, a developer. And guess who controls land-use planning? Local government!

Scarborough student wins provincial scholarship

Pope John Paul II Catholic Secondary School student Narmie Kandiah credits her community and school involvement for landing her a provincial Millennium Excellence Scholarship, wrote the Scarborough Mirror July 10.

The award, which she applied for in November, comes with a $15,000 bursary toward Kandiah’s postsecondary studies. Kandiah is enrolled at York University, where she will be doing a double major in biomedical science and French beginning in the fall. In the future, Kandiah hopes to attend medical school and become a pediatrician.

York student gets financial aid to run her own business

Paige Phillips, 20, a York University student in fine arts and cultural studies, received assistance from the Ontario government’s Summer Company Program, wrote The Owen Sound Sun Times July 11. Her company, Folk Funk Jewelry, makes handmade button, bead and recycled material jewellery which sells at markets and craft shows.

Ottawa back in CJFL with former York coach at the helm

After a 13-year absence, during which they were members of the Quebec Junior Football League, the Ottawa Sooners are returning to the Ontario Football Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League, where they played from 1974 to 1995, wrote the Ottawa Citizen July 13.

Andy McEvoy will be their new head coach. McEvoy played for the Sooners in 1983-1984, and he also coached the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees from 1991 to 2001, the final year as head coach. Last August, he moved back to Carleton Place after spending five seasons as coach with the York University Lions.

On air

  • Alan Middleton, marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about a marketing strategy for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary’s, Ont., on CBC Radio July 12.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of physics & astronomy in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the most recent delay in launching the space shuttle on CTV National News July 12.