Success! GST removed from tampons

No tax on tampons!Remember the story about the tampon tax and the campaign to remove the GST on feminine hygiene products?

Well, they did it. They won! They succeeded!

It sometimes seems like political victories are so rare that it bears repeating.

A social media campaign targeted the Canadian government on this issue and the government agreed to remove GST from feminine hygiene products.

Activists will be celebrating this victory on July 1, when the tax is officially removed.

This is a feminist issue and it quickly picked up steam. Maybe because it simply affects so many people. Why should women be taxed on items that are necessary for our physical health?

This heart-warming story goes to show that when an issue gets the attention it deserves, change really can happen, even in the current divisive political environment. And that when women get together to fight for a swift change, anything is possible!


Celebrating Canadian Multiculturalism Day – June 27

Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27) 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. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, Canada is made up of citizens from over 200 nations. The picture below shows the distribution of nations.

Canadian Multiculturalim Day In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. By so doing, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, their language, or their religious affiliation. The 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada also confirmed the rights of Aboriginal peoples and the status of Canada’s two official languages.

Canadian multiculturalism is fundamental to our belief that all citizens are equal. Multiculturalism ensures that all citizens can keep their identities, can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging. Acceptance gives Canadians a feeling of security and self-confidence, making them more open to, and accepting of, diverse cultures. The Canadian experience has shown that multiculturalism encourages racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

Through multiculturalism, Canada recognizes the potential of all Canadians, encouraging them to integrate into their society and take an active part in its social, cultural, economic and political affairs.


Why you should care about Public Service Day

I have to admit, Public Service Day on June 23 is not really on anyone’s radar. Most people have never heard of this particular celebratory day. It’s a relatively new day that was created by the United Nations (UN) in 2003.

The day was designed to acknowledge the important work government workers perform on a regular basis. Their work is much more valuable than anyone even realizes. The UN even gives out awards that fight government corruption, improves the delivery of services, creates a climate of innovation, and advances knowledge management in government.

Many people aren’t very sympathetic to the interests of civil servants. Many believe they are overpaid, enjoy too much job security, receive too much vacation time, enjoy good quality health and dental benefits, and well-funded pension plans.

But let me ask you something: are these necessarily bad things? Is it a bad thing to enjoy a good salary that covers your living expenses? Is it wrong to know your job won’t be eliminated to streamline costs? Doesn’t everyone want more vacation time? Isn’t a comprehensive health and dental plan something every worker should have? Shouldn’t we all have pensions that can fund our retirements?

Of course they are. But instead of attacking public employees and demanding to bring them down to everyone else’s level, why don’t people start demanding the same rights, privileges and benefits that civil servants enjoy? Why don’t they form a union in their workplace and begin demanding job security, higher pay, improved benefits, pensions and more vacation time?

The answer: It’s not easy. It’s not easy asking your boss for more vacation time AND a raise at the same time. Those two things usually don’t go together. But a union can demand those things.

Let’s salute our public sector workers. They are smart, highly professional employees who provide critical services that we all rely on.


We are all rising for homecare

Across the world, the demand for homecare is growing. Our healthcare system needs to provide the best possible care for patients, clients and residents in the comfort of their own home. That’s why SEIU Healthcare is running a public awareness campaign called Rise for Homecare. There are a lot of people who have been telling us they feel the same way.

Take Robin Plein, a PSW from Timmins, for instance.

“So what does a senior need to stay at home? A reasonably comfortable safe place, good simple food – not frozen dinners. They also need to socialize, with us and others. They need to get out, walk, and if possible, feel useful. They all have different needs,” she says.

Homecare PSWs are dedicated to their job and their clients. Just listen to what PSW Debbie Kruk has to say.

“We PSW’s make sacrifices to work this job. Why do we do it? We love the people we look after and our jobs. People are struggling out there on their own. We care for blind, elderly people in their nineties, living in their home.”

“As far as I can see the need for homecare has risen,” Debbie added.

Many people value the work PSWs do for their families. Just ask Judith Medwid, a parent who lost her daughter to a neurological disease last year. Her daughter was only 43 years old.

“I have the utmost praise for every PSW who took care of my daughter in her last year of life. They were very caring, cheerful and above all, professional, right to the last day of her life. Help was only a phone call away. Thanks with all our hearts. ❤”

Homecare workers like Shereta Bowers is the type of homecare worker people relyon.

“As a home care worker going in the retirement home in the morning to care for my clients, it is a joyful experience for me,” Shereta says.

Cynthia Colby is a family member who also understands the important work PSWs do for their clients.

“I am a family member who fully supports your initiatives toward improving homecare access, wage increases for PSWs. My Mother has Alzheimer’s. She lives at home with her husband. She would be living in a nursing home if we didn’t have a caregiver providing her with some relief. Thanks for all you do!”

What do you think of our homecare system? You can also join the conversation at our Rise for Homecare campaign page. Let us know. Rise with us. Together, we can help create a stronger, better homecare system.

Thank you for saving my life

Man donating blood

June 14, 2015 marks World Blood Donor Day, an initiative of the World Health Organization. This year the focus is on thanking blood donors who save lives every day through their blood donations and to strongly encourages more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly with the slogan “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters.”

The event serves to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood and to raise awareness of the need for regular blood donations to ensure quality, safety and availability of blood and blood products for patients in need.

Transfusion of blood and blood products helps save millions of lives every year. It can help patients suffering from life-threatening conditions live longer and with higher quality of life, and supports complex medical and surgical procedures. It also has an essential, life-saving role in maternal and child care and during man-made and natural disasters.

Want to become a donor?

Canadian Blood Services handles all blood donations in Canada. Becoming a donor is easy and giving blood is too. It’s in you to give!

Getting Started:

  1. Find out if you’re eligible to donate. Not sure? Give them a call at 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
  2. Find a clinic near you.
  3. Book an appointment. Booking in advance helps the clinics run smoothly and also helps them ensure your first donation experience is a good one.

Giving Blood:

  1. All donors are required to register with Canadian Blood Services by providing proof of identity with your full name and signature such as a donor card or full name and photograph such as a valid driver’s license.
  2. Screening ensures both your safety when giving blood, and also protects patients from transmissible disease. It involves physical tests and answering questions on general health, travel history and high-risk activities, consistent with the guidelines of Health Canada’s Biologics and Genetic Therapies Directorate.
  3. When you are taken into the donation area, they will swab your arm with a disinfecting agent to ensure the needle site is sterile, always using a new, sterile needle for every donation and safely disposing of used needles.
  4. When they draw your blood, they keep a portion for testing, and collect about 450 ml for transfusion. While your blood is being drawn, staff monitors you and your progress to make sure you continue to feel well and there are no concerns.
  5. After the needle is removed, they apply sterile gauze to cover the puncture site.
  6. Once you have finished donating blood, the clinic staff will ensure you are feeling alright. There’s a short recovery time, about 5 minutes, during which they monitor you to make sure you have no adverse reaction to donating. Then you get cookies and beverages to boost your blood sugar level.

Your Donation Can Touch So Many Lives

What greater gift is there than the gift of life? That’s exactly what every blood donation delivers. Blood and blood products are a critical part of everyday medical care including major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments and managing disease. Consider this: a victim of a car accident will use as many as 50 units of blood, in other words, they may require up to 50 donors! Whose life will you save today?

Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day (WED) on Friday, June 5, 2015 will be the largest, most globally celebrated day for positive environmental action.

The celebration of WED began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations encourages positive action for the environment. Through WED, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) enables everyone to realize not only the responsibility to care for the Earth, but also reminds one and all of their individual power to become agents of change. Every action counts, and when multiplied by a global chorus, becomes exponential in its impact.

WED is a big celebration, engaging millions across the globe through events on the ground in over 70 countries. Every year, participants, young and old, organize clean up campaigns, art exhibits, tree-planting drives, concerts, dance recitals, recycling drives, social media campaigns and different contests themed around caring for the planet. The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. Evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.

The WED theme this year is therefore “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.


The Golden Age?

June is Senior’s Month, a time to consider the health and welfare of an important and growing percentage of the Canadian population, as well as preparing for the future generation of seniors following quickly behind. Currently, there are over 7.7 million Canadians over the age of 60. The image below shows how that demographic is set to explode in the coming decades.

Population graphic

The Global AgeWatch Index by is the first ever index to measure countries by how well their older populations are faring. According to the index, Canada ranks fourth in the world (overall and for health), just behind Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The US ranks eighth. This index shows that currently, the average 60-year-old Canadian can expect to live an additional 25 years beyond this number, however only 18.3 of those years will be spent in good health. That leaves a shortfall of 6.7 years when each person’s need for healthcare will be greatly increased. We are already realizing a tremendous strain on the healthcare system in 2015 as hospitals face staffing freezes and a growing need for more money to provide workers and services. Combine this with the figures of an expanding elderly population and it is evident that something must be done very quickly.

Canada ranks 4th in the world, but for how long?

Years in good health The Telegraph reported in 2012 that “increasing longevity is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. People live longer because of improved nutrition, sanitation, medical advancements, healthcare, education and economic well-being.” In Britain, one third of all children born in 2012 are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday. Does this mean we raise the age of seniors (Canada already recently increased the retirement age from 65 to 67) or can we fund seniors who may spend 30, 40, or even 50 years in retirement?

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic. They call the senior years the “golden years,” but I’m just worried that the money might run out and they will be more like “tin-foil years” for me.

We must look forward to the future of healthcare and the time is now to take action. That is why SEIU Healthcare has launched the Rise for Homecare campaign. We’re looking for you to share your stories with us as a PSW, a client receiving homecare, or family member of someone receiving homecare. You can also take action by signing and sending a letter to your MPP to ask for his/her support on this important issue. Visit and you’re just a click away from making your voice heard.