Category Archives: Canada

Toronto’s TeamSickKids Off For the 17th World Transplant Games

A group of athletes from Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children are headed to the Gold Coast of Australia to compete in the 17th World Transplant Games with TeamCanada.
Each one of the 25 members of the team have received a heart, lung, liver or kidney transplant. The athletes have been training for months to take part in the games held August 22 to August 30. Sick Kids reports:

“One of the main goals of our organ transplantation program is to provide a better quality of life and as normal a childhood as possible,” said Mary Jo Haddad, President and CEO of SickKids. “Our patients’ participation in the World Transplant Games is a testament not only to the quality of care they have received but also to their own and their families’ resolve. It is their determination, spirit and enthusiasm that we are celebrating today.”

The children that left for the Gold Coast have prepared for several months in an exercise training program with SickKids physiotherapists. This is the second time the team has appeared at the World Transplant Games. In 2007 the 17 heart transplant patients that attended brought Canada back 38 medals from Bangkok, Thailand. The team was the only delegation from Canada to send a team to the Games at that time. This year’s team all receive their treatments at SickKids. The team is comprised of members from eight to 18 years of age. Sick Kids quotes Dr. Anne Dipchand:

“At the 2007 Games, Team SickKids athletes had the opportunity to meet and interact with transplant recipients of all ages and organs,” said Dr. Anne Dipchand, Associate Director of the SickKids Transplant Centre, Head of the SickKids Heart Transplant Program and General Manager of Team SickKids. “One of the greatest highlights for both the parents and the kids was to see people who had received organ transplants as kids, who have grown up into adults leading healthy, successful and fulfilling lives.”

Returning champ Jessica Dorcich, 10, enjoys the chance to meet with other heart transplant patients just like her.

“Even though we have all had different experiences, it is nice to know that we have this chance to come together and compete and show the world what we can do,” she said.

The Daily Observer says that more than 1,500 people from 60 countries will be Down Under competing in the Games this year.

Canada needs sperm donors

Thousands of Canadians who are infertile in Canada have to place all their hopes on just 33 men who are Canadian sperm donors. Other donors are imported from outside of the nation, a result of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.

At one time Canada had two dozen sperm banks but when the Assisted Human Reproduction Act made it illegal to pay for sperm or egg donors they dried up in 2004. Today there are very few men willing to give up their sperm for nothing. CTV reports:

“Today, there is one South Asian donor for all of Canada,” he says, noting that couples are often shocked at the limited choices. “There is a significant shortage of donor semen in this country, yes.”

While it seems like being a donor is as easy as a sit-com plot in reality there is a screening process that takes time. Egg donors have to inject themselves with fertility medications and then suffer through a painful procedure to extract eggs. For men the process is simpler, a cup and perhaps a couple of Hustler magazines, but it’s no guarantee that the sperm can be used. For every 100 donor candidates only 5 have buggers that swim the right way. For couples wanting to be parents that’s not good news. Outreach Health Services is the biggest supplier of donor sperm but it has to import their product. Most of the donors are from Georgia and Florida where donors are paid $100 per visit. Clients can look through donor listings to select that special sperm, as long as they don’t mind it being foreign brewed. The clinics have little choice with the heavy rules applying to home breed donors. CTV reports:

“The legislation said donors could only be compensated for expenses that could be receipted. There was a grace period where people could be compensated for non-receipted period and we’ve been in that grace period ever since,” Dr. Cliff Librach of the CReATe Fertility Centre in Toronto told, explaining how they’ve managed to keep the Canadian donors they have.

LG Life’s Good FilmFest Launches in Toronto

On August 11 LG Electronics announced the first LG Life’s Good FilmFest, a Canadian film festival offering up $130,000 in prize money for short films. With no entry fee, this film festival will allow all talent to show their stuff.

“There’s really no other film festival like the LG Life’s Good FilmFest. The concept is simple: an engaging HD short film festival with no entry fee and the chance to win incredible cash prizes. We’re absolutely thrilled that Jaime Foxx could join us to help launch the festival, as his amazing work in film, comedy and music really exemplifies the spirit and talent the FilmFest will no doubt attract,” Tim Barnes said to a media gathering to announce the film festival. Tim Barnes, marketing director for LG Electronics Canada told a media gathering about the short film festival. Using old school snail mail, participants can send in their films in hopes of winning the $100,000 grand prize within one of four categories: Animation, Fashion and Music, Sports and Narrative. The other top three films will each win $10,000 in prize money.

Viewers can watch the short films that have been submitted on the LG’s Life’s Good YouTube channel or at the LG Film Fest site. During the holiday season shoppers will be able to take a five-minute break in stores while viewing some of the best short films from the Film Festival. “We will be giving customers a chance to smile.” stated Barnes. The films will all be presented in HD format, giving the best views for the film makers. Deadline for entering this year’s FilmFest is October 16. The winner will be announced in January 2010. Some people that attended questioned Foxx as the celebrity launching the festival because he is not Canadian. Still Foxx does bring a vast array of talent to the table.

Ontario Living Pink Balloon Event is Slated for September 5

On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon Event will take place at Alderville First Nation Ball Diamond. The goal is 500 people wearing pink t-shirts forming a giant pink balloon in order to give Sick Kid’s Foundation $10,000 for brain research.
The Living Pink Balloon comes from two families dealing with the effects of brain disorders and their want to give back to Sick Children’s Hospital. Last September Hollie Gray, 10, was found unresponsive at her home. Her parents called for help and paramedics quickly took the little girl to the hospital. On route to Northumberland Hills Hospital Hollie’s heart stopped. Hollie was revived. At the hospital a mass was found on her brain. That discovery lead to a quick transfer to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where her parents were told that their little girl was brain dead. The parents were approached by Trillium Gift of Life to discuss organ donation. Hollie’s parents decided that her spirit had to live on in others. Tanya Gray told Digital Journal that the day before her daughter Hollie died from a brain aneurysm she was joking and laughing while watching television with her family. “She had a mild headache the day before. I thought maybe she had the flu. Hollie was such a go-getter kid. She went to bed and just never woke up.” Brenna was diagnosed with craniopharyngioma or pituitary tumor in 2008. She had early symptoms that were unexplained until she had a CT scan after a third seizure. The little girl was taken to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. There she received treatment and is living a near normal life today. The families are asking people to purchase a pink t-shirt by August 20 from The Scissors Edge (1-905-352-2211) and Our House Snack ‘n’ Go in Alderville and at Herbal Magic in Cobourg, Ontario that will be on hand at Sick Kids on September 5 at the hospital. The goal is that 500 people in the t-shirts will help to form a human pink balloon to show recognition for the staff at the hospital. All proceeds will go to brain and behaviour research. Daryl Crowe says, “We understand that there are many causes and people are stretched thin but Sick Kids has touched everyone in some way. So please come out and help us give back.” On September 5 The Living Pink Balloon is hoping to gather 500 people in one place as a symbol of solidarity of support for Sick Kids Foundation wearing pink t-shirts. One giant pink balloon. The September 5 event will feature prizes, BBQ and Pony Rides. The cost is $25.00 a person which includes a Living Pink Balloon T-shirt. The shirts will be available for pick-up at the event. Please reserve your spot by August 20. Tanya Gray is encouraging companies to have teams register along with individuals. All proceeds from the event will go to Sick Kids Foundation.

Food Science Exhibit comes to the Ontario Science Centre

Attention Toronto foodies, the Ontario Science Centre is bringing top chefs in during this summer’s weekends to show off the science that lurks in your kitchen.
The weekend program will be featuring local produce as the chefs prepare recipes and centre researchers discuss the scientific processes involved when it comes to creating culinary masterpieces in your kitchen. Dietitians will also be on hand to explain the importance of nutritional elements of the recipes, highlighting how they work in your body.
The Food Science –Unearthed schedule is as follows:
-Aug. 15 & 16 Claudio Aprile, Executive Chef and owner, Colborne Lane.
-Aug. 22 & 23 Bob Blumer, Author and host of the TV series Surreal Gourmet and Glutton for Punishment.
Other features of the summer programs include a takeoff of the popular Family Feud game show, Family Food Game Show where teams work together to answer science questions while competing for prizes.
There will be Edible Wildlife Nature Walks to teach visitors how to ID which plants are safe to eat and which ones to stem away from because of toxic values. Killer Food teach participants about foods that contain toxins and how to identify them as to stay healthy in the kitchen. Finally No Food to Waste is an exhibit that teaches about composting, fermentation and bio-digestion.
While the chefs will only be on site during weekends the other aspects of the programs run everyday during the summer.
For more information please visit us at the web page for the Ontario Science Centre.

Canadian HIV vaccine ready for human testing

A vaccine for HIV/AIDS developed in Canada is at the human testing stage after passing safety tests in animals. Researchers are now waiting for the United States to approve the human trials.
CBC reports:

“It is a very important milestone for us,” said Yong Kang, a professor of microbiology at the University of Western Ontario in London who has been working on the vaccine for 20 years.

According to Yong Kang this vaccine has the potential of saving millions of lives. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people and more than 40 million people are living with the virus since it was first discovered in 1981.

Canadians for Health Research reports:

“We created a genetically modified HIV and recombinant human adenoviruses to develop a vaccine which can prevent HIV infection and clear HIV-infected cells. It can produce antibodies against HIV and educate one type of white blood cells to find infected cells and kill them,” explains Kang. “We hope the vaccine will not only prevent HIV infection, but that it can be used as an immuno-therapeutic agent.”

It is expected that the FDA will allow for the testing to begin shortly. The United States trials will include toxicology tests and two phases of clinical trials.

The vaccine is being manufactured in a Maryland lab while the FDA approval is being waited on.

Within a decade the vaccine could be available to the public if the human trials are successful. Kang believes that the vaccine could be on the market in as little as three years for therapeutic use and then as a preventive vaccine within six years.

There have been several vaccines that have been developed and undergone animal testing. Few of those vaccines make it to the human test trials and of those there have yet to be a successful human vaccine produced.

A potential vaccine by Merck and Co. in 2007 had to be shut down after those in the trial contracted HIV at a higher rate than those who received the placebo.

The toxicology tests are planned for 40 to 50 HIV-positive volunteers in the United States. The test is designed to see if the vaccine is toxic in humans.

Kang has been the Dean of Science at The University of Western Ontario since 1992.

Collision of two streetcars in Toronto backs up traffic

The streetcar was on its last stop at Spadina and Queen’s Quay in Toronto when it was in an accident with another TTC streetcar. The oncoming train appears to have not been switched properly resulting in a head-on collision.
The two streetcars collided at approximately 2:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The area of the accident is a popular tourist destination. The Spadina car connects to a streetcar at the location to carry passengers to the Exhibition. The Harbourfront is also one of the stops on the route.

Jeannie Kazen was on the streetcar when it collided. She and her husband said that there were only about seven others on the TTC vehicle at the time of the collision.

“This is unofficial of course but it appears that the switch was not on right and the cars just hit,” Kazen told Digital Journal.

The TTC employees at the scene refused to comment on the accident. They were busy sweeping up sand along the tracks and readying the street for service to continue.

There were no injuries in the accident.

Ontario May Close 146 Schools in The Next 2 Years

Across Ontario 146 schools may lock their doors for good over the next two years. Those closings would effect more than 150,000 students according to a report by People for Education.
Low enrollment is the force before the proposed school closings. In the larger cities students get still be close to another school but in rural areas those closings could have a devastating impact and not just for the children.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“It can become an accelerating issue, where a small town loses people and services and if it loses its schools, fewer families want to move there,” said Annie Kidder.

“Do we say to a small town, ‘No, sorry, it’s just too expensive?”’

School enrollments have decreased since 2002 by 14 per cent.

In 2008 16 schools were closed. This will be the last year for another 34 schools slated to be closed.

The closing of a school often means another school will be getting more programs. The smallest schools do not have the funding that they need to have extra programs. This is a difficult issue for school boards.

Some northern Ontario schools have to deal with so little funding that science departments haven’t enough. Some areas are eliminating middle schools sending their Grade 7 students straight into a high school environment or putting the students back into a elementary school setting.

According to the report by People for Education 145 schools in Ontario are undergoing Accommodation reviews.

The most northern schools in Ontario have the smallest school populations. The optimal school size according to researchers is between 600 to 700 students in secondary schools and under 400 in primary schools. While schools with larger populations appear on paper to have more success by economical standards research has shown that graduation rates are higher when school populations are smaller. Students are also more engaged and tend to participate in activities more often at the smaller sized schools.

People for Education is an independent parent-led organization. The group researches and provides information about Ontario schools to the public. In a phone interview with Executive Director Annie Kidder Digital Journal asked about the group’s concerns.

“The school closings have an effect across the board. We need to think about the total community that is effected. The Providence understands that there is an issue. They are doing a lot of talking about it. They understand the importance that schools should act as their community’s hub.”

The largest number of school closings are in the rural areas of the province. The closings are affecting both the elementary and secondary schools in Ontario.

Search continues for Ontario teen Shane Fair

Shane Fair, 19, is missing. On May 16, 2009, the York University student attended a dinner and dance at Ontario Place in Toronto. He was last seen at 12:30 a.m. in the Lakeshore Boulevard West and British Columbia Road area.
Shane was supposed to leave the Calumet Formal at the Atlantis Pavilion on a bus returning to York University. He never made it. The police have interviewed Shane’s roommates.

On Friday a search party was unsuccessful at Ontario Place.

On Sunday his friends and family will search again starting at 1 p.m. at Parliament and Front Street.

The search tomorrow will focus on parks, homeless shelters, construction sites and areas common for “nightly activity” east of Yonge since there is a higher concentration of them and would be in line with the direction might have been heading in should he have been trying to walk home.

Shane is a reserve of the Canadian Armed Forces. He is white, about 5’11”, 170 lbs., with brown hair and a short Mohawk. When he went missing he was wearing a blue suit, blue shirt and blue tie.

Toronto Now a Star in Film, TV Productions

Toronto has long been a spot for film, turning the shots into whatever city is needed. New York, Chicago, Berlin – Toronto has been crafted into them. The tide is changing and now dramas are not only being shot in Toronto but the city is starring as well.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is being filmed in Toronto at the moment. Stars Michael Cera, Chris Evans and Brandon Routh can be spotted around town. A Starbucks on Spadina has served the young Cera a few times. One server who wishes not to be named told Digital Journal that the young star is friendly. While the spotting of the stars is nice for the city what’s more impressive is that Toronto is becoming the focus of many films.

Pizza Pizza can be seen as it really is. Casa Loma is featured as a real place in a battle scene. The spots that mean something to Torontonians are getting filmed as they are really known. Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel set in Toronto.

Toronto can thank Hollywood writers for the nod to the city. Had it not been for the writer’s strike in 2007 Toronto may not be getting the recognition that it is now. When the writers in the States were striking Canadian shows started filtering onto US screens.

The Globe and Mail reports:

“Bathurst Street is practically the cerebral cortex of Scott Pilgrim,” said Miles Dale, one of the film’s producers, who stood at the back of the set wearing the de rigueur producer’s uniform of jeans, baseball cap and chin stubble. He also produced, among others, Hollywoodland (shot in Toronto but set in Los Angeles) and Talk to Me (shot in Toronto but set in Washington, D.C.). Mr. Dale calls Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – based on a series of graphic novels by Toronto writer Bryan Lee O’Malley – “the biggest movie ever identifiably set in Toronto. The books are super-specific in their local details, and Edgar Wright, from the beginning, was set on using images from the books. Universal never suggested setting it anywhere else.”

Atom Egoyan’s next film, Chloe, was meant to take place in San Francisco while being filmed in Toronto. The director convinced his French backers to switch the setting to Toronto. Because of that switch stars Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried are being filmed on McCaul Street, College Street, at the University of Toronto and other places around the city.

Flashpoint is a new hit TV show and also being filmed with Toronto as its backdrop. The Eaton Centre has been featured as well as other downtown spots.

Toronto has arrived. Being one of the Queen Bee’s for setting gives the city Hollywood clout.