Asian Heritage Month

Asian Heritage Month

Although May has been celebrated as Asian Heritage Month in the US since 1979, it wasn’t until 2002 that it was official designated by the Canadian Government after the Senate adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy.

During this time, Canadians are invited to take part in events and to participate in festivities across the country that celebrate the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage, who, throughout history, have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation we know today.

Who is of Asian Descent?

The definition of “Asian” may be inclusive and broad, and applies to people who come from or whose ancestors come from:

East Asia
China, Hong Kong S.A.R., Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan.

South Asia
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.

Central Asia
Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Southeast Asia
Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Events in your area:

Ottawa Public Library
Asian Heritage Month at the Ottawa Public Library

Toronto Public Library
Asian Heritage Month at the Toronto Public Library

York University
The Heart of Asia, Right Here, Right Now: A Celebration of Asian Wisdom Traditions in Canada – York University

Various locations
Small World Asian Music Series April – May 2015

Various locations
Roger’s Punjabi International Film Festival



National Day of Mourning

SEIU Healthcare remembers on the National Day of Mourning

Tuesday, April 28 is National Day of Mourning. This is the day when we remember and reflect on those who have lost their lives on the job or have suffered injury or illness in their workplace.

Over the past 21 years, from 1993 to 2013, nearly 19,000 have lost their lives on the job. That’s an average of over 900 deaths per year.

In healthcare, workplace injury is a very serious issue. Healthcare workers face many different occupational hazards including slips, trips and falls, musculoskeletal Disorder (MSDs), repetitive strain injuries, and needle sticks every day.

Employees who work in long-term and homecare environments also have to deal with potential physical, mental and verbal abuse by the very people they are caring for. Of the more than 70,000 Ontarians in long-term care, about 11% are considered severely aggressive. That’s an average of about 13 people per home. Any anyone can be their target, staff, family members and even other residents.

We are happy to report that there were no known workplace deaths that occurred at an SEIU Healthcare facility. But we must be vigilant – proactive education and prevention measures are the key to avoiding workplace mishaps.

The number of workplace deaths throughout Canada has gone down since 2012. In 2013, 902 people were died on the job work a drop from 977 the year before.

Even though we have made progress, there is still much work to be done. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), there were 4 fatalities within the health and social service industries in Ontario in 2013. This number is still too high.

That’s why employees need to speak up. We need to bring more attention to this important issue and create greater public awareness. Even one injury or death cannot be acceptable. Many times, these deaths could have been prevented.

On April 28 at 11:00 am, SEIU will be participating in several National Day of Mourning events across the GTHA. Please join us in solidarity with our brothers and sisters while we pause and remember those workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness due to workplace related hazards and incidents.

Peel Region
SEIU President Sharleen Stewart will be speaking at Brampton Flower City Seniors Centre (Milestones of Labour Monument) located at 8870 McLaughlin Road. The event starts at 10:00 am. Map

York Region
SEIU Secretary Treasurer Manny Carvalho will be speaking at the Woodbridge Memorial Arena, located at 5020 Hwy 7 in Woodbridge. The event starts at 11:00 am. Map

Niagara Region
SEIU Union Representative Sean Soper will be speaking at the Monument located at the Centennial Arena – 1557 Four Mile Creek Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. The event starts at 9:00 am. Map

Dave Blake, an Executive Board member of SEIU, will be speaking at the Monument located at Niagara Falls City Hall on 4310 Queen Street. The event starts at 10:00 am. Map

The Sins of the Father

The sins of the father…

Are being visited upon us in the form of climate change, and today, Earth Day – April 22, Mother Earth is weeping.

Earth Day was founded in 1970 on the heels of the anti-war movement by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest for a greener tomorrow, uniting those had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife for a common goal.

“if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda…”

That first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts in the US.

We all know the past is catching up with us and climate change is real and imminent danger. The question is, what will we do about it or will our sins be revisited upon our children?




“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

That’s a line from George Orwell’s famous novel Animal Farm, in which the rulers of a so-called democratic society (pigs) decide they are more worthy than all of the other animals. In our own diverse society, the concept sounds crazy; there’s no one group more entitled than the rest…or is there?

Equal Pay Day, this year declared to be April 20 by the Equal Pay Coalition, illustrates how far into the next year a woman, on average, must work to earn the same amount a man made in the previous year. Just to be clear – that’s over 100 extra days or nearly 30%.

In 2013 the Equal Pay Coalition declared April 9 as Equal Pay Day. The latest stats show that the gender pay gap in Ontario has actually widened, which is why Equal Pay Day in 2015 is April 20.

Work by the Equal Pay Coalition led to the Ontario government’s commitment to developing a strategy to close Ontario’s gender pay gap. The Premier’s mandate letter to her Ministers recognizes that “women make up an integral part of our economy and society, but on average still do not earn as much as men.”

So although Equal Pay Day is not a celebratory one, it is a day for sober reflection and consideration of how to turn that commitment into reality for working women.

Myths about the gender pay gap

Equal Pay Day 2015

April 14 was Equal Pay Day. It’s not really a day to “celebrate.” Women only earn 71% of every dollar a man makes. Despite all the gains women have made over the past 50 years, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Sometimes people try to rationalize the pay gap as a structural problem that’s difficult, almost impossible, to resolve. This simply isn’t true. Here are a few myths surrounding the gender pay gap:

Women work less hours then men do. Women in full-time jobs earn 20% less than their full-time male counterparts. Even though a greater percentage of women are employed part-time, that doesn’t account for the entire pay gap.

Having children affects women’s earning power. The average age a woman has children is 29. But women under the age of 29 still earn less money than men in the same age bracket.

University-educated women earn just as much as men do. Even though more than half of all university graduates are women, they still earn 10-30% less than other men with the same level of education.

Women choose to work in occupations that pay less. Men make more than women in just about every single occupation. Out of 500 different occupations, women earn more than men in only 31 of them, which is 2.7%. Women aren’t choosing low-paying jobs.

Women earn more money in female-dominated occupations. Women earn 10% less in teaching, 7% less in nursing, and 26% less in administration than their male counterparts. Women make up the vast majority of workers in all three of these occupations.

The good news is that there are ways to fix the problem. One way is to promote unionization. The pay gap is much smaller among unionized employees. Also, implementing a national daycare program would allow women to ensure care for their children while also providing for them.

Even though there is still a big gender pay gap, that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.

Not lovin’ it: come out, come out wherever you are!

Fight for $15 in Toronto

Yesterday was a spectacularly sunny day in Toronto—perfect picketing weather for the 100 or so supporters of the global Fight for $15 movement who gathered at McDonald’s headquarters in Toronto.

As we drove up to Wynford Drive, the first thing of note were the security guards who lined the perimeter of the dated building. With hands folded and blank stares, it seemed like McDonald’s Corporate had prepared itself for a mob of some sort.

Perhaps even more apparent was the seeming lack of life inside the head office. One could only assume from the visible lack of cars in the parking lots around the building that Corporate had decided to give their head office staff the day off, but why? Perhaps McDonald’s decided to warn them of today’s Fight for $15 action. Or maybe each and every single person at the head office was out to an early lunch. Or maybe they were all out recruiting more underpaid fast food workers.

I’m sure there are a lot of explanations.

It’s a shame that these same corporate leaders who are so protective of their staff at headquarters are the same ones who turn their back daily on their frontline workers. Why is McDonald’s not as concerned with providing a living wage to all its employees, employees who serve despite getting literally burned?

This is my plea to McDonald’s corporate employees: come out, come out wherever you are. You may have missed us yesterday, but sooner or later you’re bound to wonder why your employer chooses to continuously ignore the basic needs of its frontline staff. If they can be so callous with some of your colleagues, who knows when your salary could be next.

Have you met Sam & Ella?

World Health DayHave you met Sam & Ella? The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes not, because food safety is the theme for this year’s World Health Day, April 7. 2015 marks the 65th anniversary of this day which was founded by WHO to draw attention to global and public health issues.

Food safety is the science of handling, preparation and storage of food to prevent food-borne illness such as common culprits, Salmonella, Listeria, E-Coli, botulism and cholera. Unsafe food — food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances — is responsible for more than 200 diseases, and is linked to the deaths of some 2 million people annually, mostly children.

What’s your food safety IQ? Here are five of the most common causes of food-borne illness.

Illness Source Symptoms Prognosis & Treatment Resources
  • meats
  • eggs
  • fruits/vegetables
  • reptiles
  • diarrhea
  • fever,
  • vomiting
  • abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment
  • lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment
  • in some cases, the diarrhea may cause dehydration and hospitalization is needed
  • raw meat
  • dairy products
  • fruits/vegetables
  • primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns
  • fever
  • muscle aches
  • diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • invasive infection (bacteria has spread from intestines to blood stream or other body sites)
  • disease may occur as much as two months after eating contaminated food
  • should be treated for two weeks, meningitis for three weeks, and brain abscess for at least six weeks
  • ampicillin generally is considered antibiotic of choice
  • gentamicin is added frequently
  • overall mortality rate is 20–30%; of all pregnancy-related cases, 22% resulted in fetal loss or neonatal death, but mothers usually survive
Escherichia coli

(E. coli)

  • all foods – if proper food safety measures are not followed
  • stomach cramps
  • blood in stool
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • most people infected by e. coli recover within seven to ten days but can be contagious for one to two weeks after they have recovered
  • in severe cases, people can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease that affects the kidneys and other organs
Clostridium Botulinum (Botulism)
  • commonly found in soil and dust
  • improperly prepared low-acid, home-canned foods
  • improperly smoked fish or raw marine mammal meat
  • baked potatoes stored in aluminum foil
  • nausea/vomiting
  • diarrhea (early)
  • constipation (late)
  • fatigue
  • weakness and dizziness
  • blurred or double vision
  • dry mouth
  • difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • descending paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and breathing muscles (starts in the arms and moves down)
  • severe botulism can require intensive medical and nursing care –  it can also lead to paralysis and respiratory failure, which can require a person to be on a ventilator (breathing machine) to breathe
  • if not diagnosed and treated, botulism can lead to death from respiratory failure within three to ten days