Bigger clawbacks to Old Age Security not the answer

“The principled argument for not clawing back [Old Age Security] benefits is that all seniors should be entitled to a bare-bones public pension as a basic building block of the overall retirement income system,” wrote Andrew Jackson, the Packer Professor of Social Justice at York University, in The Globe and Mail Oct. 1. “The OAS benefit is very low and is added to a meagre Canada Pension Plan benefit that replaces just 25 per cent of average earnings up to a maximum of $12,144 a year. True, the very affluent do not need OAS. But this was equally true of OAS when it was introduced as a non-means-tested universal benefit in 1951 and a key building block of the postwar welfare state. The core idea was that universal benefits should be paid to all as a basic right of citizenship, and as an indication that all citizens should benefit from as well as pay taxes to support a strong social safety net.” Read full story.

York Region groups sign accord to protect students
There is a new level of support coming for troubled students in your school, reported the Aurora Banner Oct. 1. Representatives from the York Region and York Catholic district school boards, York Regional Police and 14 other community agencies – including York University, Southlake Regional Health Centre and Georgina’s Jericho Youth Services – signed a community threat assessment protocol in Aurora Monday. The protocol aims to provide support for at-risk youth, before they commit violent acts. Read full story.

Starbucks’ gun letter: Are companies assuming political roles?
The recent respectful request from Howard Schultz that Starbucks customers no longer bring firearms into its stores or outdoor seating areas illustrated how polarized Americas are on the issue of gun control and generated a healthy debate about the company’s motivations for taking this position….Has democracy shifted from the ballot box to the checkout till? “I would argue that this is a great example of how companies have become public institutions and how they are informally assuming political roles similar to government,” said Dirk Matten, professor and Hewlett Packard chair in corporate social responsibility at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in The Guardian Oct. 1. “Schultz knows that his customers and staff, in their majority, believe in a different implementation of the 2nd Amendment and prefer not to have guns in their coffee shops.” Read full story.

Mac faculty feeling chill of fear from tribunal ruling
Secrecy around the suspension of five McMaster business professors is sending a chilling wave across the school’s faculty….The final 320-page report on the incident is being kept secret. The only public document released is a 26-page summary that does not identify the professors disciplined, what exactly they were accused of doing or what evidence was presented against them. For Gus van Harten, professor of administrative law at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, that’s a flawed process that offends one of the most basic of Canada’s legal principles. “We have an open courts concept that ensures the decision-makers are exposed to some public scrutiny,” he said in the Hamilton Spectator Oct. 2. “I would worry that a tribunal can make these kinds of decisions because it gives the university administration a sharp tool to interfere with the academic freedom of faculty.” Read full story.

‘NCR: Not Criminally Responsible’ gets new life
Five months after its world premiere at Hot Docs created a sensation, John Kastner’s NCR: Not Criminally Responsible is having a major impact on professionals in the mental health and legal worlds as well as documentary film lovers, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 2….Dealing with the fallout has become a time-consuming occupation for the veteran filmmaker. He has been invited to Rideau Hall by the governor general for a mental health event. NCR was selected to open a convention of Canadian psychologists in Vancouver. It is being used as a teaching tool by Osgoode Hall Law School, York University’s criminology program and Ryerson University’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Olivia Chow plans to screen it for her constituents at the Bloor Cinema on Nov. 19. Read full story.

Ontario mother’s gang rape case thrown out because of ‘slow’ and ‘inefficient’ court system
Lawyer Alan Young, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, maintains the province must start tracking how many cases are tossed annually because of Ontario’s “slow” and “inefficient” system. “It’s currently not a rare occurrence,” said Young in the National Post Sept. 27. “Is it an epidemic? Nobody knows.[…]The question is do we need to do more, and you can only really answer that if you’re tracking the cases to know whether it’s a prevalent issue.” Read full story.

The condo lifestyle
Better condominium managers and boards (the owner-run groups that actually administer the building) are among the steps essential in making condos better places to live, according to Anne-Marie Ambert. A professor in York University’s Department of Sociology and a 30-year veteran of condo living, Ambert operates the Condo Information Centre website….Ambert hopes that changes to Ontario’s Condominium Act, currently under review with legislation to update the act expected in the spring of 2014, will give owners better protection, reported the Ottawa Citizen Sept. 26. She, along with other stakeholders including condo residents, has just released a series of recommendations to the Ontario government as part of the review process. Read full story.