Tuesday, November 30, 2010

CNIB Applauds Court Decision Calling for Better Accessibility for Government Websites

Full web accessibility ensures equal access to information for blind and partially sighted Canadians

TORONTO, November 29, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - CNIB, Canada's primary source of information and support for people with vision loss, applauds the decision made today by the Federal Court of Canada that calls on the government to make its websites fully accessible for blind and partially sighted Canadians.

"We applaud the court's decision today as it makes it clear that equal access to information and services on government websites is a fundamental right, not a privilege, for all Canadians, including people living with vision loss," said Bill McKeown, Vice President, Government Relations, CNIB. "While it's unfortunate that it took a court case to achieve this fundamental right, we believe today's decision will ensure blind and partially sighted Canadians have better access to information including government subsidies and employment opportunities."

The case was first brought to the courts in 2007 by Donna Jodhan, a blind Toronto-based accessibility consultant who encountered significant difficulties in accessing sections of federal government websites to apply for jobs and complete online Census forms. Ms. Jodhan launched a Charter Challenge on the basis that government's websites violated the rights of Canadians with vision loss to equal benefit of the law guaranteed under Section 15, the equality provision, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

More than three million Canadians are unable to read print because of a disability such as blindness or partial sight and every 12 minutes, someone in Canada begins to lose their vision.** Due to inaccessible government websites, these individuals lack access to vital information and services relating to everything from health and social welfare to public security.

"Equal access to information enables blind and partially sighted Canadians to remain independent, productive members of society," said John Rafferty, president and CEO, CNIB. "And as we live in an age where online access to information is often taken for granted, we encourage all levels of government and private organizations to embrace the latest standards in web accessibility - with the right guidance, it's not as onerous as some might think."

About CNIB

CNIB passionately provides community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To find out more, visit www.cnib.ca or call 1-800-563-2642.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When I'm 65 …

Quebec boomers set to prove Paul McCartney wrong
and give new meaning to old lyrics

WINNIPEG, November 23, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - An Investors Group poll reveals that 51 per cent of Quebec boomers disagree with the picture of quiet retirement living painted by legendary Beatle Paul McCartney in the song, "When I'm 64."

In January 2011, the first of Quebec's boomers - an estimated 90,500* - will start to turn 65 years of age. Instead of worrying about becoming older as McCartney's lyrics suggest, Investors Group research shows that 66 per cent of Quebec residents between the ages of 45 and 64 are looking forward to retirement as an exciting new stage in life.

"Boomers won't be knitting by the fire and taking quiet Sunday drives," said Claude Paquin, Senior Vice President of Investors Group in Quebec, in reference to McCartney's lyrics. "They are gearing up, not shifting down, for what is around the corner. This generation is defined by their youthfulness - they are upbeat and energetic in their approach to getting older."

Who could ask for more?

Quebec boomers expect to enjoy more than 20 years of retirement living and a majority (65 per cent) have a clear vision of their retirement lifestyle. They believe that it will be comfortable (51 per cent) but fulfilling (39 per cent), busy (43 per cent) and exciting (27 per cent). Only 11 per cent of boomers think retirement will be lonely and boring.

Lack of work pressures (57 per cent), opportunity to travel (60 per cent), more time for hobbies, recreation and fitness activities (70 per cent) and more time with family (46 per cent) will bring them the greatest enjoyment.

Nearly half (47 per cent) will take McCartney's cue to be doing the garden, digging the weeds. More will be enjoying other quiet activities including reading (75 per cent) and watching TV (67 per cent).

Will you still need me, will you still feed me?

While McCartney's song seems to indicate his hopes for his future well-being are pinned on his partner, fewer than four-in-ten boomers in Quebec (38 per cent) say they will rely on their spouse for financial and emotional support for day-to-day assistance. Thirty-four per cent aren't sure who will give them support.

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of boomers (73 per cent) believe it has been easier for them to be financially successful than it will be for the current generation, half of them don't think they can afford their dream retirement lifestyle (51 per cent). In fact, one-in-three (31 per cent) think they won't even have enough money to pay their basic retirement living expenses.

But the future looks brighter to boomers who currently work with a financial advisor. Thirty-two per cent believe they will have enough money to afford their dream retirement -compared to only 23 per cent of those without an advisor who believe the same.

"As boomers become seniors, they will have to address the gap between their dreams and the practicalities of getting older," said Paquin. "This doesn't necessarily require adjusting lifestyles and attitudes, but rather asking themselves some honest questions about their financial means."

Time waits for no one

Concerns about finances (54 per cent) and personal health issues (57 per cent) threaten the retirement enjoyment for the majority of boomers and, if they could go back in time to make their retirement plans, 35 per cent of already retired boomers would start saving earlier.

In the end, Mick Jagger may have got it right when he sang "Time waits for no one," Paquin said. "Boomers, who took those lyrics seriously when they heard them at a young age, were probably inspired to plan for their future."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stayin' Alive - How Canadian Baby Boomers Will Work, Play and Find Meaning in the Second Half of Their Adult Lives

As Canada's Baby Boomers prepare to enter the second half of their adult lives, leading pollster and analyst Michael Adams describes his generation's thoughts on topics ranging from retirement and spirituality to sexuality and funeral plans. This fun and insightful book draws on over twenty years of Environics social values data—including a special 2008 study that surveyed an extra-large sample of Boomers on issues specific to their current life stage.

“A thorough and revealing reflection on the values of the BabyBoom generation, with a surprise at its core: we're not as uniform a group as the hype contends, and our nostalgia goes back a lot farther than the 1960s." - Moses Znaimer, Founder of Zoomer Magazine + Media

The four social-values "tribes" Adams described in his bestselling book Sex in the Snow are alive and well: the Disengaged Darwinists, Connected Enthusiasts, Autonomous Rebels, and Anxious Communitarians continue to display distinct values and behaviours—and are evolving in fascinating ways as they age. Adams outlines each tribe's approach to retirement, health, technology, family, consumption, spirituality, and politics. His tribal segmentation analysis is an important corrective to analyses that treat Canada's largest generation (over 9-million men and women) as a monolith.

“Packed with laser-sharp ‘Aha!’ insights, this is required reading for everyone from marketers to NGOs and politicians. Stayin’ Alive drills deep into the mindset of Boomers and beyond – the generations that will profoundly shape our next few decades.”
– Jeannette Hanna, Trajectory’s VP, Strategy; co-author Ikonica, A Field Guide to Canada’s Brandscape

The trends and insights Adams finds in Environics' large bank of social values data will be invaluable to marketers, policy makers, human resource professionals and anyone else seeking to understand where Baby Boomers—and the rest of us—are headed in the years to come.

“As an ‘Autonomous Rebel,’ I appreciated the insight into all the Boomer tribes. This book is invaluable for anyone for whom the attitudes and behaviour of the Canadian Boomer generation is a significant factor.” - Alan C. Middleton, Schulich School of Business, York University

Visit Michael Adams website at: www.michaeladams.ca

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Improved Patient Outcomes through Meaningful Use of EMRs by Ontario Physicians

TORONTO, November 17, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario physicians using Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are reporting that EMRs enable them to improve patient care and operate more efficient practices.

"Ontario's doctors know firsthand the important role that EMRs can play in supporting the advancement of our patients' care," said Dr. Mark MacLeod, President of the Ontario Medical Association. "Physicians using EMRs report that patient safety has improved and continuity and overall quality of care has improved. We will continue to work hard to achieve our shared goal with the provincial government of ensuring every patient has an electronic medical record."

OntarioMD has been funding and supporting over 5,0001 community physicians to adopt EMRs since April 2005 as part of eHealth Ontario's EMR Adoption Program. OntarioMD collects EMR user surveys to evaluate the success of the Program and identify areas for improvement. Since 2008, more than 2,000 surveys have been collected.

Dr. Stephen Chris, Board Chair, OntarioMD, said:

"There is a lot of discussion about meaningful use and EMRs right now. Physicians participating in Ontario's EMR Adoption Program have eagerly adopted EMRs, and shown remarkable levels of meaningful use of EMRs since we first measured use in 2008. The latest 2010 survey results show further improvements in patient outcomes and even greater EMR use."

Greg Reed, CEO of eHealth Ontario, noted that,

"Considering that the majority of your health information is collected and managed by your family doctor, it is an absolute must that physicians successfully adopt EMRs within their practice in order for ehealth to be a success. Working closely with our partner OntarioMD, Ontario now has more physicians using EMRs than any other Canadian jurisdiction combined."

The latest survey results for 2010 clearly illustrate that physicians using EMRs are producing positive results including:

...90% are using EMRs regularly to write and renew prescriptions;

...90% are regularly receiving and managing lab results electronically, up from 82% in 2008;

...92% are using their EMRs to enter their encounter notes, eliminating the need for paper records;

...73% felt they were primarily paperless, up from 60% in 2008.

OntarioMD is a subsidiary of the Ontario Medical Association. It manages the EMR Adoption Program on behalf of eHealth Ontario, which oversees and funds the Program.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Salvation Army Launches 2010 Christmas Campaign Promoting Dignity For All

New Google Technology Allows Donors to Track Giving and Fill Local Kettles at www.FilltheKettle.com

TORONTO, November 16, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Salvation Army today announced the national launch of the 2010 Annual Christmas Campaign aimed at raising money to support dozens of social services programs that work to restore hope and dignity for vulnerable individuals during the Christmas season and throughout the year.

This year, the iconic Salvation Army Christmas kettles will appear on street corners across Canada and on Google Maps through the Army's online "Fill the Kettle" program. Visitors to www.FilltheKettle.com will be able to track donations at nearly 2,000 kettles on-the-street nationwide. Using Google technology, donors will be able to locate and make a secure online donation directly to individual kettles in their community.

"The Fill the Kettle program will provide yet another way for the public to get behind the Christmas campaign and support our social service work in more than 400 communities across Canada," said Commissioner William Francis, Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda. "With 15 to 20 percent of our annual fundraising revenue collected during the Christmas season and demand for our service at an all time high in some areas, we are really asking the public to dig deep this year."

For too many, the basic necessities of life needed for human dignity are out of reach. Approximately 3 million Canadians, or one in 11 people, live in poverty today, making access to everyday needs like food, clothing and shelter difficult.

"The Salvation Army believes that human dignity is a fundamental right for all people," said Commissioner Francis. "When you give to the Salvation Army this Christmas season, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people across Canada."

The Salvation Army will also participate in a number of events this year to raise awareness and money for the Christmas Campaign. On Sunday, November 21st, The Salvation Army will participate in the nationally televised 2010 Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, ON. And, on Saturday, December 4th, The Salvation Army will once again team up with Running Room Ltd. to host the 20th annual Santa Shuffle presented by All Weather Windows. The 5 km Fun Run and 1 km Elf Walk will be held in 37 cities across Canada.

The 2010 Christmas Campaign helps The Salvation Army provide direct, compassionate, hands-on service to more than 1.6 million people in Canada each year, restoring hope and dignity to the most vulnerable in society. The Salvation Army's annual Christmas Campaign has grown into one of Canada's most significant and recognizable annual charitable events. Last year, more than $18 million was raised in the kettles nationwide, an all time record. The Salvation Army relies on the support of numerous corporate partners, including Wal-Mart and Loblaw Companies Limited, which allow Christmas kettles to be placed at their stores each year.

Donations to the 2010 Christmas Campaign can be made at www.SalvationArmy.ca, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769), at your local kettle, or via mail to The Salvation Army, 2 Overlea Blvd, Toronto, ON M4H 1P4. Donors can also give by texting "HOPE" to 45678 from most mobile carriers in Canada.

About The Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and more than 120 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The "New Retirement" Will See More than Half of Canadians Working into their Golden Years

Latest Consumerology Report finds that three quarters of Canadians are financially unprepared for retirement and examines how Boomers will revolutionize this lifestage

TORONTO, November 5, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The baby boomer generation has revolutionized every lifestage to date and will also revolutionize retirement, according to Bensimon Byrne's latest Consumerology Report.

"While most Canadians view retirement as a 'second life' - an opportunity to do the things they really want - we found three quarters of Canadians are financially unprepared to afford the lifestyle they imagine," said Jack Bensimon, president of Bensimon Byrne. "The 'new retirement' will look a lot more like a 'working retirement,' as retirees try to afford the quality of life they want to maintain."

Each quarter, the Consumerology Report, commissioned by the Toronto-based advertising agency Bensimon Byrne and conducted by The Gandalf Group, tracks consumer opinions about the economy, personal financial expectations, consumer buying intention, and attitudes toward key national issues. The purpose of this study was to explore perceptions and expectations about all facets of retirement. Among the findings, most people would like to retire earlier than they expect to be able to, but only a third of Canadians expect to be retired before 65 and almost one in five expect to be working after age 70.

"Due to the images marketers portray, we have a clichéd and dated view of retirement, centered around passive leisure," said Bensimon. "The reality is that many Boomers intend to have active retirement lifestyles. Over 50 per cent of Canadians expect to work in some capacity well into their so-called golden years, whereas more than three quarters of current retirees haven't worked in any capacity. And while future retirees expect family to be a big part of their retirement, they are also looking forward to going back to university, learning a new language, picking up a new skill, starting a business, and getting involved in the community."

The findings have implications for public policy makers and marketers, as a growing number of Canadians expect to work beyond the established retirement age of 65. For marketers, it means traditional messages about retirement will appear less relevant, and those who target only a younger workforce will be missing the opportunity to include older workers in their messages. Further, with an aging workforce, employers will be forced to consider the needs of older employees and ensure the work environment is designed with their needs in mind. On the upside, an aging workforce will create entirely new marketing opportunities by expanding the demographic for many categories like apparel, transportation, hospitality, and communications services.

"Boomers are going to revolutionize retirement," said Bensimon. "Their cognitive age is younger than previous generations at the same age. So we expect to see a combination of part-time work, part-time travel, reverse mortgages, exploring brand new interests, and caring for family as the most likely combination of activities in their retirement years."

The study found that despite their lifestyle goals, pre-retirement individuals do not have the financial resources in place to sustain those goals, partially explaining why they anticipate continuing to work for income.

Strikingly, people make almost no link between their aspirations for lifestyle in retirement and their savings plan. Almost three quarters of Canadians have not calculated what income their current retirement investments will provide during retirement.

"Working people are turning a blind eye to the realities of financing their ideal retirement," notes Bensimon. "They acknowledge they are not confident they have enough savings to pay for their retirement, but don't consider that fact when planning their future."

Today's workers also face different challenges in saving for retirement than their predecessors. The majority of people preparing for retirement admit to worrying they will outlive their savings and less than half have any employer sponsored pension plan. As a result, almost all Canadians expect government pensions, OAS and CPP/QPP, to be very important elements of their retirement income. Most homeowners will also be relying heavily on the equity in their home.

Additional Survey Highlights

...The average expected age of retirement for those who are still in the workforce is 62. However, for those already retired the average age they retired was 57.

...Majority of current retirees report being happier in retirement than when they were working.
85 per cent of retirees believe retirement is the best part of their life.

...Although, 40 per cent of current retirees say that their standard of living dropped when they retired.

...Working people also have positive expectations for retirement. They expect to be happier and less stressed.

...Compared with when they were working, current retirees spend less money on travel, entertain at home less, eat out less and spend less on clothing.

...Staying in the family home is a priority for most Canadians when they retire. 70 per cent of existing retirees did and 60 per cent of current workers expect to, yet two-thirds of homeowners are relying on their home for income in retirement.

...In retirement, people value the quality of their life over the length of their life.

...The main hopes for retirement are health, financial security, increased social activity and that their life will be long. The biggest fears are deteriorating physically or mentally, being poor and being a burden on one's family.

...The average life expectancy in retirement among Canadians is 25 years.

...More than half of working Canadians think about death frequently - less so in retirement.

...More than half of Canadians believe in assisted suicide.

...Most Canadians over the age of 50 say that current low interest rates are hurting them financially.

About the Survey

The Consumerology Report is a quarterly survey commissioned by Toronto-based advertising agency Bensimon Byrne. This quarter's survey was conducted by The Gandalf Group amongst 1,500 Canadians. The questionnaire was conducted in French and English over the period of September 20-30, 2010. Previous editions of the Consumerology Report have covered a variety of topics including: The Impact of Macro-economic Trends; The Impact of Environmental Issues; New Canadians, New Consumers; Corporate Social Responsibility; and Economic Trends and Consumer Behaviour. All reports can be found at www.consumerology.ca.

About Bensimon Byrne

Bensimon Byrne is a privately owned, full-service, Canadian advertising agency. Established in 1993, the agency has worked with a host of blue-chip companies and brands, producing some of Canada's most effective and memorable advertising.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Public Service Health Care Plan - Launch of the Electronic Benefit Card

OTTAWA, November 1, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced the arrival of the Public Service Health Care Plan benefit card for employees and pensioners.

"Pharmacists across the country will now accept the benefit card for prescription claims under the Public Service Health Care Plan," said Minister Day. "To date, over 800,000 cards have been provided to almost 500,000 plan members and their eligible dependents."

Members and their dependants will no longer have to pay for the full cost of their prescription up front then complete paper claims to be reimbursed for eligible prescription drugs and medical supplies. The new benefit cards reduce paperwork and processing; members will only have to pay their share of the cost of each prescription up front.

"By allowing the processing of claims electronically, this new card will streamline the process and improve services for members," added Minister Day. "The government will also stand to benefit from saving millions of dollars per year over the long term."

Over the past four months, plan members have been enrolling with the plan administrator, Sun Life Financial, to obtain their new benefit card. Claims will no longer be processed until the plan member completes enrolment. Plan members not yet enrolled can do so by calling 1-877-283-1411 or by visiting www.sunlife.ca/enrolment_pshcp

Further information on the Public Service Health Care Plan can be found at the Treasury Board Secretariat website at www.tbs-sct.gc.ca