Recession sends Ontarians to food banks in record numbers: report

December 1, 2009

By Mark Brownlee

Food

Oasis of food. Photo: Britt Harvey

The economic downturn has forced Ontario residents to use food banks more than ever before.

According to a report issued Tuesday by the Ontario Association of Food Banks, over 375,000 Ontarians use food banks each month, a 19 per cent rise since the fall of 2008.

Ottawa posted one of the largest provincial increases in food bank use, jumping two per cent in 2008 and about ten per cent in 2009.

“There is little doubt that it has been our most difficult year in a generation,” wrote Adam Spence, the report’s author and the association’s executive director.

The report comes just one day after Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy posted a 0.1 per cent gain in the third quarter of this year, which technically means the recession is over.

But the food bank report says that Ontario residents are still feeling the effects of the recession. Only one-third of people using food banks in the province are either currently employed in full- or part-time jobs or were employed in the last six months.

“The shocking numbers offer a front line reality that is a counterpoint to the green shoots and leading economic indicators that point to a ‘technical’ end to the recession,” wrote Spence.


Local crime prevention group on the chopping block

December 1, 2009

By Kim Mackrael

Neighbourhood

Crime Prevention Ottawa works with local neighbourhoods to improve community safety. Photo: Kim Mackrael

Crime Prevention Ottawa is still reeling after a committee voted to cut the program from the city budget last Friday. The announcement came two days after another committee approved the organization’s three-year strategic plan.

The organization was one of many affected by the audit, budget and finance committee decision to cut millions of dollars from Ottawa’s 2010 budget in an effort to keep property tax increases below four per cent.

Executive director Nancy Worsfold said she was shocked to hear that all of her organization’s $510,000 in funding would be eliminated.

“Honestly, my strategic plan got passed on Wednesday. I was so happy about it. Now…” Worsfold paused. “It’s not for me to speculate on what people may have been thinking.”

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Photo gallery – Carleton University still has unsafe areas for students

December 1, 2009

Story and photos by Teghan Beaudette

Lockers in Loeb building

Rows of lockers in the basement of the Loeb building on campus are poorly lit even during the day. With low student traffic in the area and the absence of emergency telephones or consistent monitoring, the quiet location inspires uneasiness.

Kimalee Phillip, the president of the Graduate Students Association at Carleton University, has been advocating for a sexual assault center on the Carleton campus—something that administration has been stalling on for over two years.

Since a highly publicized sexual assault on the Carleton University campus in 2007, the university has spent over $1.6 million on emergency phones, cameras and lights.

Phillip took Hartwells staff on a walking tour of the campus—showing some of the changes that have been made to increase the physical safety of students on campus and some areas that remain unmonitored, poorly lit and continue to worry students who have to navigate through those areas, especially at night.

Phillip stressed that while additional lights, cameras and emergency phones contribute to feelings of safety on campus, they do not address the larger issues surrounding attitudes towards sexual assault of women. Further, she said, sexual assault is much more likely to be perpetrated by someone familiar to the victim—so these types of measures only address a fraction of the issue.

A sexual assault centre on campus is a critical step in addressing violence against women, especially those on Carleton’s campus, added Phillip.

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Watch the forecast: winter parking restrictions begin

December 1, 2009

Ottawa residents who park on the street will need to keep a close eye on the forecast.

The city’s winter overnight parking regulations are now in effect.

That means, unless vehicle owners have a municipal on-street parking permit, street parking is now prohibited between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. whenever Environment Canada forecasts a snowfall of seven centimetres or more. That will allow the city’s snow-clearing crews to plough the streets.

You can sign up to receive e-mail or Twitter notifications of overnight parking restrictions here.



City moves to modernize parking meters, raise more cash

December 1, 2009

By Adam Hooper

Parking meter

Parking meters count down, whereas tickets from pay stations show the time at which they expire. Photo: Adam Hooper

Ottawa will start replacing parking meters with solar-powered pay stations Wednesday pending a City council vote which is expected to increase parking revenues by $1.7 million.

The new stations will be provided by Precise ParkLink Inc. There will only be a few in operation over the winter as the company makes sure they can handle the cold weather. If all goes well, about 600 could be installed in the coming years.

Under the new system, which has already been put into place in Montreal, customers can go to a terminal, pay for parking in advance, and do not have to return to the car to place a ticket or marker. The location of the car and its “paid-until” status is memorized by the system.

The initial phase will see Ottawa’s few existing pay stations in the ByWard Market replaced with the new solar-powered devices. On Tuesday the new machines were already standing next to their soon-to-be-obsolete brethren, covered by thick bags pending final approval.

Aline Brunet, from St-Jérôme, Que., saw benefits to the new system, having used pay stations in Montreal. “Nobody has to go running after each meter to collect money, so it should be good,” she said, after deciphering the old English-only instructions on the old meters.

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Opening day no-shows give Carleton students extra chance at H1N1 vaccination

December 1, 2009

By Mark Brownlee

Patty Allen

Patty Allen mixes the H1N1 vaccine with the adjuvant at Tuesday's clinic in Fenn Lounge on the Carleton campus. Photo: Mark Brownlee

 

Students, staff and faculty at Carleton University unexpectedly received the H1N1 vaccine from the school’s health services Tuesday morning after about 30 people failed to show up for their appointments on Monday. The clinics, which opened Monday afternoon, have enough of the vaccine for about 125 people a day until they close on Thursday.

The number of no-shows meant that people visiting the health and counselling services clinic on the Carleton campus for regular appointments were given the opportunity to receive the vaccine.

“If they want them, we give it to them,” said Maureen Murdock, director of health and counselling services at Carleton.

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Ottawa economy could take a hit from harmonized sales tax

December 1, 2009

At the pumps

Filling up at the pumps in Ontario could cost you a little bit more under the proposed HST legislation. Photo: Paul Moore

By Paul Moore

 

 

The federal Liberal party has announced it will support the Conservative government’s controversial bill allowing Ontario and B.C. to merge their sales taxes with the federal GST.

After a caucus meeting Tuesday, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters on Parliament Hill that the party vote in favour of the bill, which will create “harmonized” sales taxes (HST) in the two provinces.

“This is a request from the provinces because they believe it will improve the competitiveness of their economy and create jobs,” Ignatieff said. “We will support this legislation in Parliament.”

Ignatieff’s announcement means the bill will almost certainly pass in the House of Commons.

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