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All In Hand

Farewell, Dr. Salisbury

Miss Vicky Wed Apr 9, 2008

So the city's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Salisbury, has resigned to take on a position with Transport Canada, returning to his previous career in Aviation Medicine. I think it's a good move for Dr. Salisbury, who never seemed entirely comfortable with the politics involved in trying to convince a narrow-minded and ill-informed group of councilors of the benefits of adopting best public health practices. He knows his stuff, to be sure, and isn't afraid of taking controversial but necessary positions... but he's not the most, um, diplomatic of fellows. He seemed to rub council the wrong way, and while decisions on such important issues should not be based on petty personality politics... well, we are talking about the Ottawa City Council here, aren't we?

And I don't blame him for wanting to leave, either. Whether it's harm reduction or air quality or pesticides, our council's performance in their role as the local Board of Health has been profoundly and repeatedly disappointing. Their neglect puts the Medical Officer of Health in a bit of a bind - although the MOH is appointed by Council, they have provincially-legislated powers to promote and protect the public’s health, and a responsibility to act according to the province's Health Protection Act. So you can imagine how frustrating it must be when Council completely disregards professional advice and medical evidence and makes decisions like, say, canceling the Safer Inhalation Program, which will have the effect of increasing our already-alarmingly high HIV/HepC infection rates. Miss Vicky is not entirely sure she would be able to remain diplomatic in that situation either. Not that diplomacy is her forte... but she digresses.

So the search will be on for a new MOH. It's not the best timing, that's for sure. There is a trio of councilors gunning for the Needle Exchange Program and the debate's not going to be pretty. We need a strong voice heading up the city's public health department - someone who can present the evidence in the face of irrational politicking and help councilors make an informed decision despite the emotional nature of the issue.

Miss Vicky will have more to say on the Needle Exchange in time. Right now she just wants to say thanks to Dr. Salisbury for the work he's done ... for all of us.

Portrait of a blogger-to-be

The Webgeek Wed Apr 9, 2008

Wee G, working from home.

Re-Cycle Bicycle Co-op News!

Miss Vicky Sun Apr 6, 2008

Well, it's bad news and good news, really. Regular readers here may recall that Re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op have been looking for a new location for some time, and were hoping to join our community. Well, their search is finally over. That's the good news. Bad news, at least for us, is that they're not QUITE in the 'hood - the new location is on Bronson at Gladstone, next to Jak's Kitchen.

But wait! There's more good news! The co-op has formed a new partnership with Hintonburg-based Causeway Work Centre. Here are the details of this great new initiative (and info about how you can help support it):

The re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op has big news, and it comes in two flavours for Spring.

Firstly, we have moved! Yes, after eight years we have left the old basement shop behind, and have relocated to 477 Bronson Avenue (just south of Gladstone). It is a ground floor, retail space.

Our hours remain the same, and we have now switched back to the warmer-weather schedule of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6pm to 10pm. Please come and check out the new digs! Complete info is at our website: http://re-cycles.ca.

Secondly, we have entered into a partnership with Causeway Work Centre (http://causewayworkcentre.org). Causeway provides a range of employment and educational programs and other supports to persons with mental illness and other disabilities. They were interested in setting up a bike repair training facility and found out about re-Cycles. Building on our complimentary mandates, we decided to co-locate in order to share shop tools, expertise and overhead costs.

The Causeway project is called "Cyclists’ Kitchen", and like re-Cycles it will sell refurbished bikes. This working arrangement allows both organizations to further their economic, social and environmental goals while providing an expanded service to the cycling community in Ottawa. re-Cycles will continue to provide a place for the walk-in public to learn bike repair, whether by volunteering or by working on your own bike.

Both organizations will draw from the same pool of donated bikes and parts, so you can now drop off your donation whenever we or they are open! During the summer season, Cyclists’ Kitchen will be open from 9am-5:30pm Tuesday to Friday, and 9am-1pm on Saturday. For donation details, see the re-Cycles website.


Show tune showdown!

Miss Vicky Fri Apr 4, 2008

This event is guaranteed to entertain! Well, entertain Miss Vicky, anyway, as she has a secret past as a musical theatre geek.

The Showdown takes place at the Bronson Centre at 8pm this Saturday (April 5). Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and may be purchased starting March 10 from Leading Note, mother tongue books, After Stonewall, Wildes and at Ticketweb.ca

Ottawa Underperforms Again

Miss Vicky Tue Apr 1, 2008

The Annual Report Card on Homelessness is out, and Ottawa's grade pretty embarrassing. Again.

Housing: C-
The average rent for a one bedroom apartment increased 3.1% to $798 per month.

Income: C
The increase in social assistance only kept pace with the cost of living.

Homelessness: D
The number of times shelter beds were used increased by 5.7%.

Length of Shelter Stay: D-

Average shelter stay increased by 13.9% to 38.4 days.

The numbers are quite depressing. A slight decrease in the waiting list for subsidized and supportive housing. A slight increase in housing stock (very slight). But more people staying in shelters for longer periods, including more families and and more kids. And that's not youth - that's kids.

In addition to giving us a picture of the current state of affordable housing and homelessness in Ottawa, the report includes stories of people who have benefited from the programs that exist, as well as descriptions of those programs and organizations. It's a handy resource and well worth a look.

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