Posted in news, Sports

NFL and Referee’s (NFLRA) Reach Deal: Referees back Thursday.

The new NFL logo went into use at the 2008 draft.
Labour Peace at last…

Anyone surprised that the National Football League (NFL) and their referees have reached a deal late on September 26th. The plan is to have them referee the Thursday night game between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.

An NFL Spokesman tweeted the news just after 11:00 pm.

Replacement referees have worked the first three weeks of the NFL season while both sides worked to get a new labor deal done ending an impasse that began in June when the league locked out the officials and used replacements instead.

The NFL referees association (NFLRA) was seeking improved salaries, retirement benefits and other logistical issues for the part-time officials.  The NFL has proposed a pension freeze and a higher 401(k) match, and it wants to hire 21 more officials to improve the quality of officiating.  The union has fought that, fearing it could lead to a loss of jobs for some of the current officials, as well as a reduction in overall compensation (there are only so many ways to slice a pie).

The NFL claimed its offers have included annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 US annually by 2018 however the NFLRA has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it means an overall reduction in compensation.

I think everyone saw this deal coming after coaches, players and fans expressed frustration culminating with a controversial call at the end of Monday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks where Seattle beat Green Bay 14-12 on a hail mary toss into the end zone on the final play.  Packers safety M.D. Jennings had both hands on the ball in the end zone, and when he fell to the ground in a scrum, both Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate had their arms on the ball.

The closest official to the play, at the back of the end zone, signalled for the clock to stop, while another official at the sideline ran in and then signalled touchdown.  Watching these two referees signalling different calls was comedic and caught the attention of fans and non-fans alike.

The NFL said in a statement Tuesday that the touchdown pass should not have been overturned — but acknowledged Tate should have been called for offensive pass interference before the catch. The league also said there was no indisputable evidence to reverse the call made on the field.


Then came news from Las Vegas that over a half-a-billion dollars changed hands after the blown call, and one major Vegas sportsbook called D Las Vegas is actually offering refunds over the blown call.

With all the negative press over blown calls, 4 1/2 hour games, and the lack of experience the replacements referees brought to the NFL it was only a matter of time before the referee union held the key bargaining chip and negotiations turned in their favour and a deal was struck.   So now that this issue is over, it’s time to turn my attention back to the NHL lockout and the stupidity there…

Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto

A little about Yom Kippur: Wishing you an easy fast.

Kol Nidrei prayer of Yom Kippur
Kol Nidrei prayer of Yom Kippur.

If you are observing Yom Kippur, I wish you an easy fast, and if you are seeing this after the day has finished, then may you be inscribed in the book of life for another year.

Note:  This is a scheduled post done before the day… I’m probably still in synagogue starting to get hungry while asking for forgiveness.

So what does this all mean???

Let’s start with the traditional greeting for Yom Kippur;

gamar hatimah tovah” — “A good completion to your inscription (in the book of life).”

gamar tov,” – “A good completion.”

shanah tovah” – “A good year.”

tzom kal” – ” Have an easy fast.”

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year, and not a happy one, so saying Happy Yom Kippur is not applicable.

A little more about Yom Kippur:  This holiday is observed by the most amount of Jewish people, even those who do not observe the other customs or holidays and during this day, we refrain from work, we fast and attend synagogue services for the day.

The name “Yom Kippur” means “Day of Atonement,” and on this holiday we atone for the sins of the past year.  On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which arrives just before this holiday, G-d inscribes all of our names in the book of life and on Yom Kippur, the judgment entered in these books is sealed.  Yom Kippur is, essentially, the last appeal, or last chance to change G-d’s judgment, and to demonstrate repentance and make amends with those you have knowingly or unknowingly hurt or offended during the year.

Yom Kippur is a complete 25-hour fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur – called Kol Nidre – and ending after the sun goes down on the day of Yom Kippur. There are some lesser known restrictions on this day aside from work and eating / drinking, such as wearing cosmetics or deodorants, wearing leather shoes – canvas sneakers are very common – and engaging in sexual relations are all prohibited on Yom Kippur.

As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted where a threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of 13 and women who are in childbirth or are breastfeeding are not permitted to fast, even if they want to. Older children are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue, in prayer.  Services begin early in the morning and continue until about 3pm. People then usually go home for an afternoon nap and return around 5pm for the afternoon and evening services, which continue until sundown.  After sundown families and friends get together to break the fast and enjoy a meal together.

Posted in Guest Blogger

What are McGuinty’s Liberals doing to Teachers in Ontario? A View from Within…

Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation vs. Ontario Liberals.

Last week I posted an offer on my Facebook page ( for a guest blogger or 2 and had some positive responses.  One such response came not to that group, but instead, to my email (

Those of you in Ontario would be perfectly aware that the governing Liberal government has been putting pressure on the public school teachers, passing an anti-strike bill that cut their benefits and limits the wages for Ontario teachers.  On the Ontario Liberal website, their take on this legislation and it’s impact is outlined here; “Ontario Liberals passed the Putting Students First Act so that parents will have the peace of mind in knowing that the school year will stay on track and education funding will stay where it belongs — in the classroom.”  This is not working at all, with teachers protesting the cuts by not making themselves available for any “extracurricular” activities – sports, art, music, after-school activities and in some cases… curriculum night.

While I do not agree with holding kids hostage for political decisions, there are some arguments which still have to be played out in Queen’s Park, in the media and possibly in court, including; How much have the teachers salaries increased over the past 10 years when private sector salaries have been frozen, or jobs lost, why did the public school teacher’s union not settle with the government when the offer was acceptable for the catholic school teachers, if it’s true that the salaries of public sector employees are 100% paid for by taxpayers (and I am a former public sector employee) then should we not step back for a minute and remember that these employees pay taxes on their salaries and contribute as much as every other tax paying citizen in Ontario.  And one last matter, is curriculum night really extra curricular???

It’s going to get ugly before it gets better, that’s for sure.

So I have an opinion from an actual teacher in Toronto who emailed me his / her thoughts on this matter which I will post below without edit.

Have a read and tell me what you think?

“Teaching, or being a teacher in Ontario.  Right now, as part of a union.  It’s so hard to write these words  because as a human being with thoughts of my own, I am torn in two.   People who know me know that I  hold some fairly conservative fiscal views.  The other part of me is a teacher, who belongs to a union, who is at war with the government.   The part of me that believe in free market enterprise believes that I should have the right to individually negotiate my salary and benefits with my employer based on how much experience and education  as well as success that I bring to the table.  The other part of me I guess is relieved that I don’t have to personally do this every year or 4 years.   I am so scattered on the current subject, but I want to clear up misconceptions:

1.    Teachers want more money.  Untrue. ETFO and OSSTF agreed in principle to a two-year wage freeze last March.  If it were just about the money, this would be over by now.  To understand more deeply though, teachers are on a grid for salary, starting at year 0 and ending in year 11.  You get a raise each year until your 11th year and then you are done.  The only increases you get will come from cost of living increases negotiated by the union (in the neighborhood of 1-2% usually).  Unions were more than happy to freeze those at the top, but were asking that younger and brand new teachers still be allowed to move on the grid with each year of experience.  The government disagreed.  How would you feel?  Now, in fact, this piece doesn’t affect me.  I am past year 11.  I am just frozen, which I don’t actually care about.  But imagine a first year teacher, frozen at first year salary (39,000) working for 2 years, and when they‘unfreeze’ are not given the 2 years of experience they have racked up during the contract.  So despite 2 years of service, when the teacher starts at year 0, when they unfreeze they will go to year 1.  Most teachers will lose a huge amount of money this way and it is unfair. It is overly generous to me who has nothing to lose, and penalizes those coming up behind me.

2.    Why are teachers bitching about sick days when they already get 2 plus months off a year? Let me clear this one up too. Summer for teachers is in fact unpaid. We are prorated during the year and a percentage of our salaries is held back off of each pay.  In our last pay in June, we are given the heldout money that the board reserved from our pay during the year so we can survive the summer months.   Let’s be clear, we are not on paid vacation.  Why do we need 20 sick days?  Easy, because the vast majority of working people (and we get this, we honestly do) will send their sick child to school.  And children by nature are the worst at spreading germs.  I have literally been vomited upon.  I’ve had a child with bronchitis cough in my face. I have caught more flus and strep throats and colds than I can remember.  I don’t use sick days for fun.  I, like many other teachers understand how hard it is for you to arrange child care or take a day off work yourself.  So the choice is either YOU get more sick days or I do.  Quite frankly I’d be thrilled if all parents kept their sick children at home because they had their own bank of sick days, but they don’t, so teachers do.

3.    So I addressed having our sick days cut in half, and not being allowed to carry them over year to year.  The not carrying over part bothers me, and the cut in sick days bother me.  Here’s the part that doesn’t – gratuity pay when you retire.  Essentially, in the past if you didn’t use your sick days, you’d get a big cheque at the end (nowadays the top payout was about 46,000, not bad right?).  Many unions have already given up this benefit, and I don’t think we teachers have a leg to stand on for this.  I won’t fight for it.  People in the private sector don’t get this, and as more public contracts come up you will see the retirement gratuity go the way of the dinosaur. All I am asking for is my sick days, to bank them, and if I don’t use them, when I retire, they vanish.  Fair enough?

Here’s where we get into tricky territory for me.  We have lost the right to strike, or to collectively bargain, essentially rendering our unions useless, and the dues we must pay to them every month a complete waste of our money.   Anyone who knows me from the past knows that I’ve always lived this double life of hating unions while being a member of one.  I am now in the spot of having to seriously reevaluate all my thoughts and feelings on this issue.  I don’t want to be a hypocrite and say that MY union should be able to collectively bargain and the rest should fold.  It would go against my most inner beliefs.  I can’t help that I chose a profession that is unionized.  I have had times in the last few years where my union(s) came to my aid: when I was unjustly reprimanded by an administrator, the union was there, and helped me navigate a diplomatic and well thought out counter offence that saw the accusation and reprimand go away.  I was grateful at that moment to know there were people who “had my back”.  I got angry four years ago when the union I was in at the time went for major increases in salary in a crappy economy, and more shocked still to see the McGuinty government GIVE it to us.   It was unnecessary and probably put us where we are today.

Now that we are legislated with “Putting Kids First” which we always did anyway, let’s talk about actual outcomes for the government.   They will save (they say) 468 milllion dollars over the course of the 2 years. They are fighting a 15 billion dollar deficit.  For those good at math, he just solved 1/30thof the problem while alienating most of his base (of which I am not one).  If he had wanted to create a larger impact, he should have gone after the entire public sector, with one huge piece of legislation, freezing everyone, everywhere, making us work unpaid days, and cancelling gratuities and collective bargaining everywhere.  But he didn’t.  He attacked teachers.  And that’s where I feel stung the most.  Teachers don’t want to put students in the middle of this, but it’s all they have left. I have watched the news and seen how many individual schools have announced no extra-curriculars for the forseeable future.  Ladies and gents, I hate to say it, but I believe within the next two weeks this will be province wide, and there is even talk that the Catholic teachers will follow suit, as most of them have yet to ratify the deal their leaders took which they felt betrayed them.   Is Putting Kids First ensuring that they have demeaned, hostile teachers?  Is having students essentially living through 2 years of work to rule worth it?   Like I said, I am still sorting this out for myself and asking myself what I think I can live with.   I don’t have answers, but I am tired of that panicky feeling at the bottom of my stomach for what comes next.

As a teacher I am tired of being called every name in the book – lazy, greedy, short hours, blah blah. All of it untrue.  Tired of having to defend myself and I won’t anymore.  No one in the private sector would be shamed for hoping for a raise based on their performance, why do we vilify those in the public sector who hope for the same?  I hate to say it, but us public sector people, we ARE the middle class, and we are the stable jobs that pay into the tax base and keep things alive while private interests go bust.   So please, stop telling me you pay my salary, I pay my salary too.

I am tired of the government PR campaign that seems to say all teachers want is more money, and I’m sick and tired of seeing that my union who has a well defined position (we just don’t want to lose our right to collective bargaining) be completely unable to get the message out.  In the PR wars, we have lost, and lost big, and in doing so have alientated the public.  It’s hard to be a teacher today in Ontario, but I will carry on as I always have, teaching to the best of my ability, and I didn’t need Dalton to condescend to me to “Put Kids First”.  I always have.  But I’m not a volunteer or a nun.  He needs to remember that.”

Posted in Caregiver, Community, family, government, politics

Service Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Contract: Very Important for Employees and Employers.

The importance of contracts!

I thought it might be useful to post the link to Service Canada‘s Live-In Caregiver contract.  I have posted many articles over the past couple years about the importance of a contract for those participating in Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program (LICP) – both for employer and for employee but a formal detailed contract is equally as important for live-out caregivers and nannies who are living in, but not through a formal program like the LICP.

The contact forms the basis of a legal agreement between employer and employee as to what is expected and agreed upon by both sides and is used in case of disagreement to support the previously agreed upon terms.

In a nutshell, if you want to hire someone, they have to agree to all the work arrangements in the contract and if you want to be employed by someone then the contact tells you what the employer expects from you and outlines every detail from hours worked, to amounts renumerated to specific tasks.  It’s like going to get a job anywhere else in the world, where you sign the contact before they agree to hire you and it’s about time the contract has become formalized for nannies to avoid employers from taking advantage of them.

Too often I hear and read about employers who think their live-in nannies are on call 24/7 at their disposal to take care of them and their kids, and their house and their pets… It’s ridiculous.  Also hearing about employers placing curfews on their nannies, or making them address you as Mr. or Mrs. like they are a servant.  Most of it is not allowed and some of it is just not right.  If you accepted a job working at a top law firm, or in the warehouse of WalMart would you allow for them to treat you like that?

As a result of some of these abuses of nannies from overseas, the Canadian government has been tightening up the LICP program – prospective nannies can apply from the program by following this link;  Part of the application process, requires that nannies MUST sign a written contract with their future employer, and the employer must also sign the contact which is them submitted together with the positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO).

The LMO is issued to the employer by the government after a lengthy review of the submitted documents and the information is verified, an interview is conducted by phone, and once the employer is deemed to be a suitable employer who has followed all the government requirements and regulations for the LICP.

Employers must also provide to the government their payroll BN number with the CRA, and have available suitable space in their home for a nanny to live, and prove that they have children in need of caring for and the financial capabilities to support a nanny.

The contract must be the same employment contract submitted to HRSDC/SC by your employer, unless you provide an explanation of any changes (for example, a new start date).

The written employment contract will ensure there is a fair working arrangement between you and your employer. The employment contract must demonstrate that the Live-in Caregiver Program requirements are met by including a description of:

•mandatory employer-paid benefits, including:

◦transportation to Canada from your country of permanent residence or the country of habitual residence to the location of work in Canada

◦medical insurance coverage provided from the date of your arrival until you are eligible for provincial health insurance

◦workplace safety insurance coverage for the duration of the employment

◦all recruitment fees, including any amount payable to a third-party recruiter or agents hired by the employer that would otherwise have been charged to you

•job duties
•hours of work
•accommodation arrangements (including room and board)
•holiday and sick leave entitlements
•termination and resignation terms

The contract the government is expecting to see does not have to look exactly like the one provided for in the link – that one is merely a template – but it must contain all the information and clauses indicated as mandatory.

The use of an alternative contract format may delay the processing of the LMO application as HRSDC and Service Canada officers will need to determine if the contract complies with LCP requirements.

Posted in Community, family, Life, politics

IVF Funding in Canada: Infertility Impact on Grandparents

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection can be used t...

Over the past year-and-a-half I have had the pleasure of researching and writing quite a bit on the impact IVF has on couples and the burden that is born by taxpayers in Canada. The province of Quebec, in recognizing this, has been funding IVF treatments and thus reducing the stress on families and the costs on taxpayers. My hope, and the hope of organizations like Conceivable Dreams, is that other provinces in Canada will step forward, understand the true impact of infertility and in the very least, fund IVF treatments while researching the causes of infertility to help those in need.

One area which I had neglected to review was the toll infertility takes on the couple’s extended family – specifically grandparents – both current grandparents and the future grandparents. I found some articles on the Internet on IVF and grandparents and there were written by some pretty amazing people who have gone through IVF treatments and they discuss the difficult time they had discussing their feelings with their families and friends but found solace in their grandparents and the support – financial and emotional – whic helped them through the treatments whether successfully or unsuccessfully.  I also found much discussion around the shame associated with infertility and the typical responses to infertility from those unprepared to have this significant discussion.

There is no question that struggling to get pregnant can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of both women and men – women unable to carry the baby and men unable to create the child. It impacts their relationship and can cause permanent discord which some relationships are never able to recover from.  Imagine a couple going through this difficult and challenging time without support from their parents? Who could they turn to for support? What if they have no close friends who understand infertility? It can be very isolating, I would imagine.

In researching the role that grandparents play in infertility issues, I came across Dr.Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., the executive director of The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, Boston IVF who pointed out that; “The desire to start a family is a strong one, and failing to achieve that can impact everything from the marital relationship to interactions with future grandparents and friends who become pregnant.”

Unfortunately, many couples find it easier to hide their infertility troubles than announce it to family and friends which often results in these couples feeling isolated and adds additional stress to them.  I read, and have heard, from the many people that I have spoken to, that couple resort to telling others that they have decided to not have children, rather that confessing that they are having fertility issues. That is very sad that there is a stigma attached to infertility among those who have not had to go through it, yet those who have had challenges getting pregnant fully understand the stress and would be more than willing to offer support without hesitation. Often in discussions about children, it rarely comes up that there were difficulties unless the conversation starts there.  Couples assume they are alone with their infertility issues and that it was easy for other couples to have children, but often they realize that is far from the case.

I also found some great resources for grandparents if they want to have this discussion with their children / grandchildren around the issue of infertility at, in an article entitles, “10 Ways to Support a Fertility-Challenged Couple”.

This author of this article suffered from infertility issues and required IVF treatments in order to have her baby, and she points out ways (prospective) grandparents can help, more than financially, the couple and outlines ways in which the grandparents can actually cause more harm than good by withholding certain information or pressuring the couple.

I absolutely agree with this author and feel that the common sense rule applies here (and in SO many other aspects of our lives).  If after reviewing the scenario in your head doing or saying something might hurt or offend the other person – or you if you were in their shoes – then it’s best to not say it at all.  Chances are they have already thought it and stressed about it.

I also think it’s best to get the issue out there, especially to parents in order to set the ground rules.  Most couple do not expect to have issues getting pregnant and after having issues, research has showed that they felt they should have started seeking answers earlier, but clearly going through it is a long, stressful, frustrating process and having a loved-one shoot out a comment like; “Relax” or “Stop worrying” or “It will happen for you.  It just takes time”, may be seen as being encouraging by those who say it, but show the couple they have no support there.

Link to the original article here;

Another great article I came across is here;, outlines how infertility can bring a couple closer together but also leads to them holding back information from prospective grandparents in order to keep their stress levels lower since most parents would do anything for their children and will try to offer the best suggestion to help the couple conceive when the couple just needs support and understanding.

This puts the grandparents in an awkward position as they want to help out and do what is best for their children but usually by the time they find out that their children are suffering from infertility, the couple has already met with specialists, confirmed the infertility, read a ton of articles, Googled it, and have spoken to friends or acquaintances who themselves had fertility issues.  Deep into the stressful period of infertility, couples usually have little time or patience for questions or suggestions which show a lack of understanding of the actual root cause of the infertility or the stress the couple has been holding in.

There are also some wonderful Canadian sources, such as this blog posted by @TJZmommy on her site “Telling My Story”. about the support she received through her battle with infertility.

If you have been impacted by infertility I welcome you to share your story in the comment section of my blog and I guarantee you will be supported by me, and the many readers who have expressed their support for IVF Funding across Canada.

You should also take a moment to check out Conceivable Dreams and please follow @OHIP4IVF on Twitter or the hash tag #OHIP4IVF to support government funding for IVF.

I support OHIP funding for IVF here in Ontario, and strongly feel that helping other couples become parents, who really want to be parents, should be accomplished without the financial burden that comes with infertility – for the couple and the taxpayers.

You can also help the cause by sending a note to the Minister of Health in your province to tell them that funding IVF treatments is the right thing to do, both emotionally and fiscally for everyone involved.

The Ministers of Health are;

Ontario – Deb Matthews;,

Alberta – Fred Horne;

Saskatchewan – Dwight Duncan;

B.C. – Michael de Jong;

Manitoba – Theresa Oswald;

New Brunswick – Madeleine (Mado) Dubé;

Nova Scotia – Maureen MacDonald;

Newfoundland – Susan Sullivan;

PEI – Doug Currie –

Canada – The Honourable Leona

*Disclosure: I am honoured to share this story of IVF as a valued and compensated member of the Conceivable Dreams blog team.