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Newsletter. Issue 2005-22. Oct. 29, 2005
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Lahore, 12th October 2005 (Fifth Day)
"Letter from: Rt. Rev. Lawrence J. Saldanha Archbishop of Lahore & President of Pakistan Catholic Bishop’s Conference."

8th October 2005, a normal bright Saturday morning. Suddenly, at 8.52 a.m. my office began to shake and shudder, the whole building began to sway - an experience quite different from previous earthquakes. It was quite prolonged too, it seemed like two terrifying minutes. With unsteady steps I made my way out to the verandah and saw the birds flying in alarm. All my office staff ran out, numbed and dazed.

Soon the TV began to give the breaking news that a massive earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale had happened, with its epicenter in Azad Kashmir, just 80 km north of Islamabad. The four towns worst hit were: Muzzafarabad (75% destroyed) (capital of Azad Kashmir) Abbotabad (40%), Mansehra (50%) and Balakot (90%).

Scores of villages were wiped off the map by landslides. One 12-storey luxury apartment block in Islamabad collapsed like a house of cards – hundreds including a few local Christians perished in it.

Indian Kashmir was also affected but so far only 1300 casualties reported.

 After four days the death toll has risen to 33,000, mostly from the above towns. I fear that it will cross over 40,000. Four Catholic victims were buried in Islamabad – there is a report of a few Protestants killed in Abbotabad.

Economy needs workers past 65-Labour shortage worries businesses
Immigrants, more babies not solution


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Getting people to work longer — not subsidizing more babies or bringing in more immigrants — is the best way to boost the labour force as the population ages, the Conference Board of Canada says.

Developed nations tend to choose among three policy options in response to the aging trend, but two of them don't work, the Conference Board says in its annual performance report card.

"France is subsidizing women to have more babies," board president and chief executive Anne Golden told a Star editorial board meeting yesterday. But the cost of raising and educating a child in a developed country far exceeds such subsidies, she said.

"We're not thinking through immigration," Golden also said. Even if Canada were to bring in immigrants at a rate of 1 per cent of the current population a year — an idea reiterated by Prime Minister Paul Martin last month — there still would not be enough new workers to meet demand, she added.

The answer is later retirement, the Conference Board concludes in a 183-page report, Performance and Potential 2005-06: The World and Canada: Trends Reshaping Our Future.

The board is a non-profit business body. The report is its 10th annual Canadian performance review aimed at identifying what the country can be doing to increase productivity.

"We have at most another 10 years before the accelerating aging of the population begins to undermine economic performance and social well-being," it says.

"After 2010, the baby boomers will begin to retire, and by 2025, 20.4 per cent of the population will be over age 65 — double the share in 1980.... There will be fewer people in the active labour force to support the retiring baby boomers."

Canadian workers are retiring earlier. In 1976, the average retirement age was 65. In 1998, the figure dropped to 61, and now stands at between 61 and 62.

On the longevity scale, Canadians rank high among developed nations, the report says.

"Canada's smoking rate is the lowest of the 24 countries we studied," it says. Similarly, rates of alcohol consumption and obesity proved relatively low, as were death rates from cancer and heart and circulatory diseases.

Despite such statistics, the report ranked Canada 10th in the health category, down from eighth last year.

Acquisition of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines and radiation therapy units in Canada lags behind that of other countries, the report says. Canada has 2.1 doctors per 1,000 people, compared with 4.1 in Italy, the top performer in that category.

On the aging workforce question, the Conference Board says a coherent national strategy is needed both to motivate older people to keep working and to motivate employers to retain and hire older workers.

Its recommendations include:

Increase the eligibility age for government pension plans. Citing conclusions of the chief actuary of Canada, the Conference Board says the current system is too generous for retirees who begin collecting between 60 and 65 and penalizes people who continue working past 65.

Combat ageism in the workplace. "In most countries, there are deeply ingrained biases against older workers, and dispelling them is not easy."

Pass laws to eliminate mandatory retirement.

Reduce unemployment and disability benefits to prevent workers from using social security programs as a route to early retirement.

Provide better adult education and training to enhance older workers' employability.

Establish flexible work arrangements to accommodate older workers' health.

Help older workers find jobs through specific government employment services.

Offer subsidies to employers who hire and retain older workers, offsetting higher salaries often commanded by older workers compared with younger ones.

Here's a report that is on the right track. Local solutions for local problems.

Canada losing ground in global rankings, Conference Board says

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11:45 AM EDT Oct 23

TORONTO (CP) - Canada continues to slide down the ranks of the world's top economies and is a "chronic laggard in key areas, notably productivity and investment," according to the Conference Board of Canada's latest global report.

Dropping investment spending and sub-par productivity growth pulled Canada down to the No.12 spot from sixth place last year and third in 2003, the board said Tuesday.
"Canada runs the risk of squandering its abundant endowments and opportunities," Conference Board CEO Anne Golden said in a release.

"Our report card shows that Canada's relative performance continues to slip, and other countries are not standing still."

Canada earned top 12 rankings in all six categories of the board's global survey, but lost ground in four, including a decline to 12th from sixth in the economy category.
"Even in areas such as health and society, where we believe that we have created a strong social fabric, our public record does not measure up to our international brand," Golden said.
In its annual Performance and Potential report, the board rates the world's 24 richest economies using a wide variety of indicators.

Norway and Ireland led the economy rankings while Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom failed to crack the top 12.
Canada's most glaring - and consistent - failure is its inability to increase productivity. Its 1.1 per cent increase in labour productivity in 2004 puts it at the tail end of the top 12 economies, with Iceland, Sweden and Norway all posting better than four per cent gains.
"Increasing productivity - a theme explored in previous reports - is central to our future well-being," the report said.
An overriding message in this year's report is Canada's need to invest in research and development to make the economy more innovative. It ranked fifth in the innovation component, down from fourth last year.

Canada strongest performance is in education, a third-place ranking, bolstered by the fact 43 per cent of adults completed a college diploma or university degree, the best rate among all countries.

This comes despite a decade of falling public spending.

Ten years ago, Canada spent 6.2 per cent of its gross domestic product on education, just behind Norway. It now sits in the 14th spot at 4.9 per cent of GDP.

"Although more spending may not necessarily produce better outcomes, the other countries in the overall top five - Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark - all invest more in education," the report notes.

The report also said that organizational policies and practices must change now to offset economic and social repercussions of an aging society.

"Keeping older workers in the workforce is one effective way of dealing with labour shortages," the report said.

Some countries - like France - are subsidizing women to have more babies, but the cost of raising and educating a child in a developed country far exceeds such subsidies, Golden said.

The answer is later retirement, the Conference Board concluded.

The board is a non-profit business body. The report is its 10th annual Canadian performance review aimed at identifying what the country can be doing to increase productivity.

 Tourists Stranded By Wilma's Wrath
Oct. 22, 2005. 01:00 AM ?
"Our priority is safety," said Errol Francis, president of Conquest Vacations and chairman of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators.

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Telephone service cut out as Hurricane Wilma bore down on a Toronto family of three yesterday at a beach resort in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

"I last spoke to my daughter at 3 p.m. Thursday," Mary Ann Gallacher said from Toronto, clearly worried for her daughter, son-in-law and their year-old child stranded in the path of the storm generating winds of more than 200 km/h.
"They're huddled in the bathroom. They said it would be the last call for 30 hours."

The hurricane tore into Mexico's Mayan Riviera yesterday with torrential rains and winds, filling the streets with water, shattered glass and debris. The storm shattered windows and downed trees on the island of Cozumel, a popular cruise-ship stop.

"Tin roofing is flying through the air everywhere. Palm trees are falling down. Signs are in the air and cables are snapping,'' Julio Torres told Associated Press by telephone from the Red Cross office in Cozumel.

Officials didn't expect to be able to reach Cozumel until late today to assess damage.

The Category 4 storm, which killed 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica, was expected to pummel the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula for two days. It is forecast to sideswipe Cuba before bearing down on Florida on Monday.

Mexico has evacuated tourists and residents along the coast, set up shelters and put the army on alert, Interior Minister Carlos Abascal said yesterday.

Yucatan and Quintana Roo states closed ports and evacuated about 20,000 people, including 10,000 from Cancun, one of Canada's most popular travel destinations.

Power was cut early yesterday to most parts of Cancun — a standard safety precaution.
In Toronto, tour operators were weighing whether to cancel flights to western Cuba this weekend, depending on the course Wilma takes.

"Our priority is safety," said Errol Francis, president of Conquest Vacations and chairman of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators.

"We don't want to cancel, but we might have to. We're monitoring the situation."
Wilma's outer bands pounded western Cuba late yesterday, where the government has evacuated nearly 500,000 people.

Forecasters said Wilma could bring more than 100 centimetres of rain to parts of the island.
Waves of up to six metres crashed on the extreme westernmost tip of Cuba and heavy rains cut off several small communities.

Goa Hospital's lack of counsellors blamed in the case of man who killed himself and pregnant wife

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Srawan Gawas took two copper wires, tied one to an iron bangle on his pregnant wife's wrist and attached the other to his wedding ring.
He then twisted the wires together, stuck the unattached ends into an electric socket and committed murder-suicide.

The deaths of the 34-year-old taxi driver and his 22-year-old wife in the coastal town of Vasco da Gama in the southeastern state of Goa baffled relatives and neighbours and made newspaper headlines as police failed to find a motive.

The truth emerged when forensic specialists at Goa Medical College sent blood samples from the couple and the six-month-old fetus of their daughter for HIV tests.

"When all three samples turned out to be HIV-positive, we knew why the couple had committed suicide," says Madhu Ghodkirekar, leader of the forensic team.

A police report this month, concluding an investigation of the April deaths, said Alka Gawas discovered she was HIV-positive during a routine test at the hospital. Her husband was also found to be carrying the virus that causes AIDS.

Some doctors and aid workers have criticized the hospital and say the family would be alive today if proper counselling had been given.

Toronto East Goan Seniors Association - Newsletter September-December 2005

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