Prominent Quebecers plead for federal anti-Islamophobia rep to be given a chance
MONTREAL — A letter of support signed by 30 prominent Quebecers, including academics, activists and community leaders, is asking that Amira Elghawaby be given the chance to fulfil her mandate as Canada’s first special representative on combating Islamophobia.
Provincial politicians in Quebec and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet have called for Elghawaby’s resignation for a 2019 article she co-wrote criticizing Quebec’s Bill 21 and saying a majority of Quebecers appear to be “swayed” by anti-Muslim sentiment. That law, adopted in 2019, prohibits certain public sector workers — like teachers and judges — from wearing religious symbols at work.
The letter dated Friday acknowledged the concerns raised by Quebec’s political class since her appointment last week but underscored her apology and her expressed desire to engage in further dialogue.
“We are sensitive to the concerns that have been raised since her appointment, but the challenge before her is a considerable one and we believe that Ms. Elghawaby should be given the opportunity to assume and pursue the mandate for which she was appointed,” the letter said.
On Wednesday, Elghawaby apologized, saying she was “extremely sorry” for the way her words had carried and how they hurt the people of Quebec.
The letter said, “We stand ready to contribute to a constructive dialogue around these complex and sensitive issues and are committed to countering biases of all kinds.”
Among the people who signed the letter are constitutional lawyer Julius Grey, philosopher Charles Taylor and Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Quebec City mosque where six men were shot in 2017 in an anti-Muslim attack.
The Anti-Hate Community Leaders’ Group, an Ontario-based activist organization, also released a letter in support of Elghawaby’s appointment. It said that after working with Elghawaby for more than a decade there is no one better suited for the federal position.
“We urge the federal government, other elected representatives and community members to let Amira do her much-needed job instead of playing politics — Islamophobia has taken the lives of too many people in Canada already and we need swift action,” the group wrote.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stood behind the decision to name Elghawaby to the role, saying she is the right person to help Canadians grapple with tough questions about religion.
A news release Jan. 26 announcing her nomination said Canada’s special representative on combating Islamophobia “will serve as a champion, adviser, expert and representative to support and enhance the federal government’s efforts in the fight against Islamophobia, systemic racism, racial discrimination and religious intolerance.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press
Worst city in Canada for bed bugs revealed | CTV News – CTV News Toronto
A Canadian city has just been named the worst in the country for bed bugs for the third year in a row.
Orkin Canada, a pest and wildlife control services organization, revealed in a release Tuesday that Toronto was the city in which it carried out the highest number of commercial and bed bug treatments in 2022.
Following Toronto in second is Vancouver, B.C. then Sudbury, Ont. in third.
London, Ont., which went unranked in 2021, is new to the list this year, clinching the eighth spot in the top 10 “buggiest” cities in the country in 2022
Ontario dominated the top 10 list with a total of eight cities across the province being ridden with bed bugs, including Oshawa, Ottawa, Scarborough, Sault Ste. Marie, London, and Hamilton.
“Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but are excellent at hiding. Involving a trained professional to identify bed bugs that have been introduced or are in the early stages of an infestation is recommended,” Dr. Alice Sinia, a Ph.D. Entomologist at Orkin Canada, said in the release.
“Bed bugs are extremely resilient, making them difficult to control. As people begin to ramp up their travel plans this year, it’s important they know how to protect themselves through pest identification and proper control.”
Sinia explains bed bugs can hide in taxis, buses, trains, and airplanes, so travellers should regularly check their clothes and luggage for any unwanted passengers.
To avoid a bed bug infestation while travelling, Orkin recommends the SLEEP method – survey your hotel room for any bed bug symptoms, lift and search typical bed bug hiding spots like mattresses and underneath cushions, elevate your luggage, examine your personal items, and place your clothing in the drier for up to 45 minutes on the highest setting.
At home, Orkin recommends decluttering your space, and thoroughly inspecting second-hand furniture for dark ink-like blot marks or whitish egg clusters.
These are Canada’s 25 “bed buggiest” cities, in order:
- Toronto, Ont.
- Vancouver, B.C.
- Sudbury, Ont.
- Oshawa, Ont.
- Ottawa, Ont.
- Scarborough, Ont.
- Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
- London, Ont.
- St. John’s, N.L.
- Hamilton, Ont.
- Winnipeg, Man.
- Montreal, Que.
- Windsor, Ont.
- Edmonton, Alta.
- Timmins, Ont.
- Moncton, N.B.
- North York, Ont.
- Etobicoke, Ont.
- Calgary, Alta.
- Mississauga, Ont.
- Whitby, Ont.
- Prince George, B.C.
- Regina, Sask.
- Brampton, Ont.
- Halifax, N.S.
Gestational diabetes is on the rise and a Canadian study may have found out why – Global News
Gestational diabetes is on the rise worldwide, and a new Canadian study said the reason for it may not be linked to previous speculation such as obesity, maternal age or lack of exercise.
The increase could be that screening methods for gestational diabetes — a type of diabetes that occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy — have improved.
The study out of British Columbia and published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) said in Canada, the rate of gestational diabetes rose to seven per cent in 2014 from four per cent in 2004 across all racial and ethnic groups.
“We were interested in understanding why rates of gestational diabetes were increasing in British Columbia. What we found was that rates of gestational diabetes … there was a change in the way that we screen for diabetes, which has really been taken up in British Columbia,” explained Elizabeth Nethery, lead author of the study and PhD in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.
“We’ve been using a much more sensitive method to screen, and we found that that change in screening practice has really led to the almost doubling of gestational diabetes cases in British Columbia.”
Alberta researchers: New technology a ‘milestone’ in detecting gestational diabetes
The jump in diabetes in pregnancy has previously been linked to maternal age (the risk of diabetes when pregnant goes up with age), less exercise and poor diet, but the authors argued this is likely not the case.
The researchers looked at data from more than 550,000 pregnancies in B.C. from 2005 to 2019 as well as screening methods. During the study period, diagnoses of gestational diabetes doubled, to 14.7 per cent from 7.2 per cent in the province, and so did the amount and type of screenings.
Change in gestational diabetes screening
In order for someone to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a glucose screening test needs to be completed.
“Fifteen to 20 years ago, screening was really considered more optional and that has changed. And now we recommend that everybody gets screened in pregnancy,” Nethery said.
Although it’s not mandatory, Diabetes Canada recommends that doctors screen all women between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy.
There are two types of screenings that are used.
More on Health
The first type is a one-step screening method that consists of a single two-hour glucose tolerance test. The second type is a two-step screening method, which consists of a one-hour glucose challenge test, followed by a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test for patients who screen positive.
The advantage of the one-step screening is that only one laboratory visit is needed, but this single visit takes several hours and requires fasting and three blood samples, the study said.
“The difference with this kind of one-step approach is that it actually catches quite a lot more people than the previous methods that we were using,” Nethery explained, meaning the use of this method could lead to more diagnoses of gestational diabetes.
Whether it’s a one- or two-step approach, there isn’t a universal method for gestational diabetes screening in Canada. In fact, it varies not only from province to province, but also city to city.
Dr. Jennifer Yamamoto, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Manitoba, said because of the lack of uniformity, the glucose test is “quite controversial.”
“We see a lot of variety, whether people do the one- or two-step approach,” she said. “For example, at my centre here in Winnipeg, most people will do the two-step approach. But we still have a number of clinicians who are ordering the one-step approach. So it’s very practitioner-dependent and very regional.”
Currently, Diabetes Canada recommends the two-step gestational screening method.
Lack of screening data
Another problem of gestational diabetes screening is the method is not typically recorded in data registries or hospital discharge summaries, the authors said, and this could explain why the increase in cases of the condition remains unknown.
Although there is a lack of data, the B.C. researchers were able to examine the one- and two-step screening information using medical insurance billing. They then examined a group of pregnancies in B.C. using glucose tolerance screenings (either the one- or two-step process) between 2004 and 2019.
Health Matters: High rates of iron deficiency in pregnant women and diabetes drug access
Between 2005 and 2018, screening for gestational diabetes in the province went up to 95.5 per cent from 87.2 per cent. And the use of the one-step screening methods went from zero in 2005 to 39.5 per cent in 2019, the study found.
The authors found the increase was largely due to changes in gestational diabetes screening practices, from a two-step screening process to a more sensitive one-step screening process.
“We found that change in screening in particular really bumped up the proportion of people that were being diagnosed (with gestational diabetes),” Nethery said.
Does screening improve outcomes?
Gestational diabetes can lead to a number of pregnancy complications if not properly managed. High blood sugar during pregnancy can lead to preeclampsia, abnormal sugar levels in the baby and possible birth injury due to the baby’s large size, according to Diabetes Canada.
Treatment for the condition can be as simple as lifestyle changes, like diet and physical activity; however, some women need to inject insulin in order to manage it.
After delivery, the condition usually goes away, but in severe cases, some women and babies can develop Type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Because gestational diabetes can require a lot of medical involvement during pregnancy (such as more tests and ultrasounds), the more people diagnosed, the more strain on the health-care system, Yamamoto said.
“While newer randomized controlled trials have demonstrated that the one-step approach diagnosis a lot more diabetes, it doesn’t actually improve outcomes at a population level,” she argued.
The one-step screening method picks up gestational diabetes at lower sugar levels, meaning health-care providers can pick up more “mild forms” of the condition.
“And those are the types of diabetes that maybe don’t benefit from the additional treatment, as we would see in people with more severe, higher blood sugars,” Yamamoto said.
If a person is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, there are more tests, medical visits and ultrasounds and the person is more likely to be induced, she said.
“These not only have a cost to the system, but they also have a lot of individual implications for people,” she said. “And we are potentially kind of over-diagnosing people who especially are on the lower range of blood sugar.”
Women with diabetes, obesity during pregnancy at higher risk to having child with autism: study
— With files from Global News’ Katherine Ward
Woman told she shouldn't serve on Ottawa health board because of her weight – CBC.ca
A member of the Ottawa Board of Health is speaking out against body shaming after she received a letter from a resident telling her she shouldn’t be on the board because of her weight.
Elyse Banham said the letter, dated Jan. 12, sat unopened for weeks on her desk at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre, where she’s executive director. Banham figured it was simply more hate mail protesting the centre’s vaccine clinics.
She finally opened the envelope March 18, and realized it was a response to an Ottawa Citizen article in which Banham called for more diversity on city boards. The letter is signed, but CBC has been unable to verify its authenticity or find the writer, and is therefore redacting the name.
Banham has been a member of the Ottawa Board of Health for four years and has applied for another four, the article noted. But the letter writer took exception to that, apparently based on the photo of Banham accompanying the article.
“As a member of the Ottawa Board of Health, citizens expect you to be a role model for our city’s residents and believve (sic) you cannot fulfil that role due to your unhealthy status. It is unacceptable to be overweight by the 20 pounds it appears you are carrying,” the letter to Banham reads.
“I would be happy to see you on the new committee on the condition that you become a better role model.”
Banham told CBC on Sunday that she was hurt by the letter, but not entirely surprised.
“It’s not that I haven’t experienced this before — I think that people can be very unkind to each other. But this was the first time that somebody took the time to send me a letter and point out that I wasn’t capable of performing work because of my body appearance,” she said.
She decided to post the letter on Twitter, and said she’s received many supportive messages in response.
Fixed it for you. <a href=”https://t.co/3pt173sxkn”>pic.twitter.com/3pt173sxkn</a>
What a horrible letter & strange to direct it at you. They clearly have distorted ideas about health.<br><br>And it’s hurtful & shaming to folks who are overweight – size should never preclude someone from leadership.<br><br>Thanks for your service & I’m sorry you received this kind of hate.
Ignore this person. They clearly have so little respect for themselves that they felt it appropriate to lash out at someone trying to make a positive impact. <br><br>Keep up the good work and know there are many more out there who support you.
Catherine Kitts, the city councillor for Orléans South–Navan and chair of the health board, called the letter “horrendous.” Kitts said she’s sad not only for Banham, but also for the letter writer who took the time to send such a hateful message.
“I was proud of member Banham for calling it out, because that also takes guts, and I was pleased and not surprised to see this outpouring of support for her,” Kitts said. “Member Banham is such an incredible addition to the board of health. She’s such an excellent contributor and a very valued member, and that should be the message. Her contributions to the board speak volumes.”
Vitriolic attacks are an ugly side of public leadership, Kitts said, and situations like this are a reminder “that this is what we’re facing every day.”
Jill Andrew, co-founder of the advocacy group Body Confidence Canada, said that when women in public positions are targeted by body-based discrimination and harassment, “it certainly doesn’t create the type of welcoming, inclusive climate that we need to have more strong women coming forward. So it’s disappointing.
“All too often women are judged not by our intellect, not by the quality of our work or by the history of our work, but by our waistlines. And it is absolutely absurd … it can take many of us away form the duties we have on our plate.”
Banham said she’s proud of the support she’s received after going public with the letter.
“Nobody wants to be told they’re 20 pounds overweight. I can certainly tell you that I did not enjoy that part of my day. But talking to somebody like Greg Fergus — a member of Parliament who posted about working with me and the fact that I am somebody who leads with integrity and tries to use my thoughts and my opinions to support others — I value that and I’m very grateful,” she said.
She said she hopes her experience will show people wanting to serve on boards and in other leadership roles that while there will always be people out there wanting to take shots at them, there are many others who will come to their defence.
“The intent of this message was to hurt me and belittle me. And it would have been easy for me to take that and feel isolated in it. But the reason I shared it is because we can do better together, and the majority of people think that, and that’s why there’s been this outpouring of support,” Banham said.
“And so I’m grateful for all those people who came to my defence, and what I think that really says is that we are looking for more diverse opinions.”
Listen to Elyse Banham’s entire interview with CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning on Monday
Ottawa Morning7:44Ottawa Board of Health member speaks out about body shaming
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