International Youth Day

International Youth Day

“Youth is wasted on the young,” or so it is said.

Seriously though, young people in Canada and abroad face a future that is filled with challenges and opportunities. The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organizations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

This year’s day is about achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.
Celebrations at the United Nations headquarters and around the world will recognize the importance of youth efforts, collaboration and participation in the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Events to celebrate International Youth Day 2016 will take place all over the world.

Happy International Youth Day!

By: Mark Klein


What a time to be alive


I’m a large black man living in Toronto, Ontario.  My relationship with the police has been well documented via social media over the past 10 years. From rants written on message boards, to blog entries on Live Journal, it hasn’t been easy dealing with the cops.

Four years ago during Caribana weekend in the city, I had the unwanted privilege of being pulled over five times in a single night while driving my 1978 Chevrolet El Camino. Now I can’t express enough how humiliating it feels being pulled over in a very busy part of the city during a very busy weekend. I’ve been pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black) so I know how it goes, the cops flash their lights, present a false reason for stopping you, only to attempt to find out who you are and what you do. I try not to lose my cool, I smile, let them know I’m not one of the bad guys they’re looking for and usually it ends with a warning or tip from the boys in blue.  But after being stopped for the fifth time, I was beyond furious. “Don’t you guys share information? I thought you job was to serve and protect, not profile and harass. Yes, this is my car. Yes, I have insurance. I’m just trying to drive around with my brothers and enjoy to fruits of my labour.”

Since that outburst, I haven’t been pulled over again while driving my classic car. I guess after they collected all the cards from their carding program and saw my information numerous times, they might have realized that I wasn’t a threat. I know how it can be for young black men in Toronto, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be black in America. Some police officers are shooting black men for some of the most unjust reasons of all time. If raising your voice results in getting a bullet, I would have been dead a long time ago.

I haven’t been sleeping very well lately. For the past few days, it seems like we can’t even go 24 hours without something crazy happening or seeing another tragic headline in the media. We as a society are being confronted with the ugly reality of discrimination and something has to be done about it.

About a year ago I was exchanging messages via Whatsapp with a buddy of mine, discussing the current state of race relations in Canada. South of the border our American neighbours were dealing with the deaths of two unarmed black youth (Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown) who were killed with little real consequences for their shooters. Ironically enough, he was in my El Camino for three of the five times I got pulled over during Caribana.

A strong, proud and opinionated Black man, he is one of the few black faces in his workplace and has often offered an opinion not commonly heard in his Bay Street office. “Miller, I can feel it coming. This new era of hate is upon us.”

His words of foreshadowing discrimination and hatred at the time seemed laughable and exaggerated, but sadly he turned out to be right.

Since that conversation, our society has been subject to countless shootings of unarmed black men. Their deaths have been caught on body cameras of police officers who pulled the trigger, while some of the footage has been caught on cellphone by witnesses and shared millions of times across the globe.

I saw what the Falcon Heights Police department did to 32-year-old Philando Castile in Falcon, Minnesota. Castile’s dying moments were live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, causing outrage, protests and harsh comments from the state’s governor.

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police on July 5. Sterling was selling CDs outside the store, as he had done for years, when he was murdered by police responding to a call of a man threatening someone with a gun.

Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man was shot by North Miami police as he was trying to help a man with autism, even though he had his hands in the air and was laying on the ground, he still took a bullet in the leg. Cell phone footage captured the incident and luckily he lived to tell his story.

I know some people aren’t too supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement and are quick to say “All Lives Matter” but let’s be clear, not all lives are being murdered by police officers whose job is to “serve and protect”. You might not agree with the tactics used by the supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement but instead of criticizing their antics, but try to understand their perspective and applauding their efforts to shed some much needed light on these issues with policing. We as Canadians have a reputation of being polite and passive, but when issues of injustice and arise, are you still willing to remain silent?

If all lives matter, we should all be standing with the black lives matter movement.

By: Andrew Miller

Taking a vacation is good for your health (and your job)


We are obsessed with talking about well-being, on this blog, and so it’s no surprise that we enjoy reminding people to take their much deserved vacation time. After all, taking a vacation is proven to be not only fun and relaxing, but also be good for your health.

One study compared heart disease rates among 12,000 men over nine years. They found that those who took frequent vacations were 32% less likely to die from heart disease and 21% less likely to die from another serious health problem.

Another large and influential study found that women who took a vacation only once every six years were almost eight times more likely to develop heart disease compared to women who vacation at least twice a year or more.

It’s no surprise that people who take vacation time are less likely to suffer from higher levels of stress and depression. A study conducted on 1,500 women found that those who take vacations at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and stress than women who take at least one vacation every two years or more.

Interestingly, and there are studies proving that vacation time actually increases productivity. Ernst & Young conducted an internal study of its employees and found that, for each additional 10 hours of vacation they took, their year-end performance ratings improved 8 percent. Staff who took frequent vacations were also much less likely to leave the company.

Another study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that employees who were required to take time off were much more productive overall than those who spent more time working 52 weeks a year. Personally, after some days free of the daily stresses, I find I’m able to make more thoughtful decisions at work. Taking a break for one’s own wellness is a right that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and research shows us, it increases productivity: a win-win for companies and employees. So where are you thinking of going this summer? Keep an eye out for our post on places to visit in and around Ontario.

By: Greg Dwulit

We’re in it together

Today, June 27th is Canadian Multiculturalism Day. On this day, Canadians acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we are a nation of communities from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Multiculturalism as state policy was officially adopted by Pierre Trudeau’s government during the 1970s and 1980s. The federal government has endorsed multiculturalism as an ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.

In November 2002, the Government of Canada designated June 27th of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. Canada prides itself on the rich, ethnically diverse landscape that represents this nation. Rather than becoming a cultural melting pot, we honour and encourage our cultural mosaic.

Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country.

Canada currently has one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. Canada also resettles over one in ten of the world’s refugees. In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country. Approximately 41% of Canadians are of either the first or second-generation Canada includes at least thirty-four distinct ethnic groups, and 6.2% of the population self identify as a visible minority.

Multiculturalism day is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and our commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect and to appreciate the contributions of the various multicultural groups and communities to Canadian society.

Just walking down the streets of downtown Toronto reminds us of the cultural richness of this great country and reminds us that we’re all in it together.


Serving the Public

Serving People

On December 20, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 23 of each year as United Nations Public Service Day (resolution 57/277). It encouraged member states to organize special events on that day to highlight the contribution of public service in the development process.

This day was created to:

  • celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community;
  • highlight the contribution of public service in the development process;
  • recognize the work of public servants;
  • and encourage young people to pursue careers in the public sector.

Here in Canada, the Public Service has expanded over the years as populations have grown. The number of services provided to Canadians has increased with the introduction of new offices throughout the country. The civil service has also been reduced several times, often due to restraint programs -, such as the reductions of the mid 1990s led by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and most recently under the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2012.

The public sector is highly unionized in Canada. Approximately 80% of those public-sector employees eligible for collective bargaining are covered by collective agreements, compared with only 25% in the private sector. Most federal government employees belong to the 150 000-member Public Service Alliance of Canada, and have had bargaining rights since passage of the 1967 Public Service Staff Relations.

There probably aren’t many days that the average Canadian doesn’t access services that are made possible by our dedicated Public Service. Let’s all take the time to be thankful for the thousands of Public Service workers in our midst. Happy Public Service day!

By: Mark Klein

Dad’s Day


The very first Father’s Day celebration was held in the Spokane, Washington YMCA on June 19, 1910. The celebration was launched by Sonora Smart Dodd in memory of her father, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and single dad who raised six children on his own.

The tradition caught on, and presently many countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June. In Canada, Father’s Day is not a civic holiday, but nonetheless it’s a day to celebrate our fathers and for some fortunate men, a day to celebrate being a father!

Back in the day, fathers were not viewed widely as primary care givers to children. Fathers were expected to go to work and bring home a paycheque and let mothers take care of child rearing and domestic affairs. Fortunately for all those concerned – but especially for children, those days are long gone.

The rise of feminism brought more women into the workforce. Economic realities frequently dictate that families need to rely on two incomes to make ends meet. As women increasingly bring home paycheques too in equal measure to men, it falls upon enlightened fathers to share equally in child rearing responsibilities along with mothers.

Today, families come in many varieties. Fathers co-parent along with mothers, same-sex spouses and step-parents and also increasingly by themselves. Father’s Day serves as a reminder that parenting is an equal opportunity affair and that fathers have an important role to play. So let’s honour fathers today and everyday.

SEIU Healthcare wishes everyone a happy Father’s Day!

Standing Together

SEIU Healthcare is united in shock and horror at the brutal slaying at the Pulse nightclub is Orlando. We stand with our sisters and brothers in the LGBTIQ community at this tragic time and renew our commitment to fighting bigotry in all its forms.

“We are shocked and dismayed by this horrific act of violence,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare. “We send our best wishes and condolences to the families of the dead and injured.”

The fight against bigotry includes of course, standing with our Muslim sisters and brothers against false stereotyping and Islamophobia. SEIU Healthcare refuses to permit the acts of individuals to tarnish entire communities.

“An attack on innocent people anywhere is an attack on us all,” said Sebastian Trujillo, SEIU Healthcare’s LGTBIQ executive board member. “We will not give in to terror or fear.”

Let’s honour the 49 dead in Orlando during Pride Week.

By: Mark Klein