Last spring, as data from the U.S. showed startling disparities in the ways COVID-19 was infecting and killing Black and Brown Americans, Black health leaders in Canada — where race-based data wasn’t being collected — sounded the alarm. Dr. Upton Allen was one of them, and that advocacy led to action.
“Once data started to be collected that allowed us to make those assessments, it became really quite clear that individuals who were from racialized communities were much more likely to be affected by COVID-19, compared with other individuals,” recalls Dr. Allen, who is division head of infectious diseases at SickKids.
Together with community partners, Dr. Allen launched a pilot project to better understand how and why Black Ontarians were getting infected by COVID-19 at higher rates.
“In a couple of months, we will have a more complete picture of the full extent to which COVID-19 has penetrated into the Black community, and the individuals who are at the greatest risk for infection,” he explained.
He says the data will also allow scientists to see whether the improvements and supports being put into place are actually benefitting Black people.
He says the work is important to him not only because of his expertise in infectious diseases, but as one of the few Black people in his field in Canada.
Allen tells CityNews he knew representation was key, and it was important to not only lend his voice, but his time and work.
As well as being an infectious diseases leader at SickKids, he is also senior associate scientist in Child Health Evaluative Cciences at the hospital.
Still, he recently took on another role as the City of Toronto launched the Black scientists task force, in part to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy.
“The hesitancy isn’t confined to racial lines,” he notes. “That said, it became apparent to me as I was interacting with the Black community, because of my other projects, that it was really quite clear that there were several individuals in the community who were hesitant. But when you tried to drill down to find out why people were hesitant, the hesitancy was based on wrong information.”
Dr. Allen says he is now working to help people from the Black community get accurate information about the vaccines. He hopes this work will benefit Black and racialized communities while addressing the mistrust, and the systemic barriers to care and support these communities face.
“The goal is to provide correct information, not to twist anyone’s arm to be vaccinated,” he says.
The last year has been a long one for doctors and medical professionals. Afforded a moment to look back, Dr. Allen says he hopes he’ll be proud of two things when reflecting on this time.
“As a doctor, you just want to save lives. You want to ensure you improve the quality of people’s lives,” he says, adding, “I would be extremely pleased if I can say that the members of the Black community participated in an effort to generate information that related to them, and they were a part of that process.”
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has announced a competition to pick eight co-passengers for his trip to the moon. The trip will occur in two years when fellow billionaire Elon Musk is expected to kick off his moon mission, in SpaceX’s Starship rocket. Maezawa had created history back in 2018 by becoming the first person to pay for the trip. Of course, the mission may be delayed still, but Maezawa seems bullish on its completion. The announcement was made via a video, in which he says humankind will once again head to the Moon in 2023. The mission will have 10 to 12 people in total, but Maeawa is opening 8 of those seats to anyone in the world.
How to apply to go to the moon
The steps to apply are easy enough, but one must remember that a moon mission isn’t the easiest thing for just anyone to achieve. Here’s what you need to do.
Open the dearMoon website, a site that Maezawa has setup to bring new information for the project.
The homepage of the website consists of the registration form, which includes your name, country, email address and a picture. You also need to tell them which social platforms you follow Maezawa on. The website also mentions that those who pre-register will receive an email about the selection process.
You will also get a certificate signifying that you were a candidate for the crew.
What is the dearMoon project?
Maezawa named his trip the dearMoon project and hasn’t clarified what the mission is meant to achieve. That’s an important note, since mission goals usually determine who will be picked for the mission. As mentioned before, it will take 10 to 12 people up to the Moon on the SpaceX Starship, which the company has been developing since 2012. It’s meant to be one of the first passenger missions to the moon. Elon Musk has also been planning a similar trip to Mars sometime in future.
Having private flyers is part of the way SpaceX funds its programs and the 2023 mission is expected to be the first time when man sets foot on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission back in 1972. Maezawa had originally said he wants to take “artists” with him, but added in this video that anyone doing something “creative” would be called an artist.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, job-seekers expect to attend employment interviews online. But increasingly, the employers and recruiters looking to hire are sitting those same interviews out.
Instead of asking candidates questions face-to-face, many hiring managers are now relying on asynchronous video interview (AVI) platforms that have candidates record answers to questions under a countdown timer.
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AVIs, which are also called one-way or on-demand interviews, have been around for years but their use has surged during the pandemic.
A spokesperson for the American company HireVue, one of the larger companies operating in the market, said the company has seen a 24 per cent increase for its on-demand video interviews during the past year.
In the same time period, Toronto-based Knockri quadrupled its customers, and Moncton-based VidCruiter doubled its staff.
A representative with VidCruiter told CBC Radio’s The Cost of Living it used to earn 99 per cent of its revenue from clients outside Canada, but that has changed in the past three years. The company said its clients include the CBC, Canadian universities, big corporations — such as Lowe’s — and the federal government.
Candidates may find one-way interviews uncomfortable, and some experts pose questions over fairness, privacy, bias and the use of artificial intelligence. Despite these concerns, industrial-organizational psychologists predict the one-way job interview format is not going away.
Why hiring managers like the one-way interview
Using AVIs can eliminate having to navigate complicated and conflicting schedules, because candidates complete them on their own time. They can also cut travel costs if candidates are screened out before having to meet a potential employer in person.
One of the reasons why a lot of companies are turning to this technology is because of efficiency.– Edwin Torres, University of Central Florida
Timed questions also force candidates to be more succinct with their answers than they might be in traditional interviews.
Edwin Torres, a professor in the Rosen College of Hospitality management at the University of Central Florida, has interviewed hiring managers from hospitality companies using AVIs.
“One of the reasons why a lot of companies are turning to this technology is because of efficiency,” he said.
In addition, video recordings mean employers can re-watch interviews and share them with colleagues.
Job-seekers are not as keen on them
Companies claim AVIs can level the playing field by standardizing job interviews, but some candidates have expressed mixed feelings about the format.
Beatriz Gascon, a student majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus, struggled during an AVI interview for an internship at genetic sequencing company Illumina, based in the United Kingdom.
Gascon said she appreciated being able to re-record answers on the HireVue platform, but she froze during her second attempt answering a difficult question.
The platform submitted her second attempt, but she did not get the internship.
Gascon said she prefers face-to-face interviews because talking to a person calms her nerves and the format is more forgiving.
“Usually you have time to make small talk or repeat the question back to yourself,” she said but was frustrated that during her timed, one-way interview there was no way to do that, and no time to waste at even going over a question a second time.
Experts find some won’t complete AVIs
According to researchers at the University of Calgary, some candidates are so against one-way interviews in this format, they refuse to complete them.
“There are a number of people who feel very passionately negative,” said Joshua Bourdage, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Calgary.
Bourdage and PhD candidate Eden-Raye Lukacik are researching perceptions of AVIs, including searching and scraping websites for comments about the interview format and then analyzing the emotions conveyed.
Many commenters complained that the AVI process may be more efficient for companies, but the interviews signal an unwillingness to invest time in speaking with applicants.
According to Bourdage, many job-seekers are interpreting this as a signal of what it would be like to work at a company that uses an AVI process.
How are the videos and recordings judged?
Since companies’ algorithms are proprietary and not shared publicly, neither candidates nor academics can fully understand how the recorded videos are evaluated.
Many companies use AVIs as a screening tool before scheduling face-to-face interviews with short-listed candidates, and some use artificial intelligence to rate what candidates say and how they say it.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, can scan for keywords as well as analyze body language and facial expressions.
AI’s advocates claim it can reduce unconscious bias if trained to ignore things like race and gender but this isn’t universally accepted.
“The problem with that technology is that it has biases built into it,” said Sean Fahey, CEO of VidCruiter.
The company’s own research found speech patterns varied in different regions in the U.S. and Canada. For example, an AI system programmed by someone who lived in one of those regions would automatically have a bias according to Fahey.
VidCruiter decided not to use AI in its product until the technology has been proven not to discriminate.
Researchers agree that artificial intelligence can be biased based on who programs it.
“As long as we train those systems on human ratings, on what the human raters tell us about those interviews, it’s so easy to have biases in this data,” said Markus Langer, a postdoctoral researcher in industrial-organizational psychology at Saarland University in Germany.
Langer, who researches AI and asynchronous interviews, said identifying biases is easier with a large and diverse dataset — something that isn’t always available.
How can candidates prepare?
Though Canadians may be comfortable recording videos in a social context, many are unprepared for AVIs according to Kimberley Black, a researcher who hopes to change that.
“Preparation for asynchronous video interviews needs to be a mandatory part of the curriculum now,” said Black, whose recently-defended masters thesis for Ontario Tech University focused on preparing students for asynchronous and one-way interviews.
Black had college students complete AVIs and critique their peers’ interviews. According to her, the experience led many to realize how much they could improve.
She recommends candidates wear professional clothing, smile, record in front of a neutral background, use hand gestures, and remember to look straight into the camera lens while speaking.
If struggling with that last tip, Black suggests taping a sticky note with a smiley face by the len.
At the University of Calgary, researcher Eden-Raye Lukacik recommends practicing, either by using the interview platform itself where possible or through a practice tool offered by her lab.
Lukacik also said candidates should also present themselves honestly, and pick a time and space that works best for them as they have an edge.
“You kind of get home-court advantage because you’re in your own house.”
Written and produced by Madeleine Cummings. Click “listen” at the top of the page to hear this segment, or download the Cost of Livingpodcast.
The Cost of Living airs every week on CBC Radio One, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. (12:30 NT).
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