Friday, 29 July 2011

Red Cross accepting donations through text messages

OTTAWA, July 28, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Red Cross is pleased to announce that Canadians are now able to support emergency relief operations in the Horn of Africa via text messaging. Donors interested in this option must simply text AFRICA to 30333 and a one-time donation of $5 for the Horn of Africa Drought fund will be added to their mobile phone bill.

The charge will be posted once the donor responds to a confirmation text. Text messaging donations are available in $5 increments*.

"We are pleased to announce this new donation option," says Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. "It is a quick and easy way to make an impact on the lives of communities across the Horn of Africa."

The Government of Canada will match the donations of individual Canadians between July 6 and September 16, 2011. Those funds will go into a relief fund that is separate from the Canadian Red Cross and will be administered by the Government of Canada. Funds from the matching program will support on-going humanitarian assistance in drought-affected parts of East Africa.

*Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply to donation texts. All charges are billed by and payable to the mobile service provider. The service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the Canadian Red Cross by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at Donors can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 30333.

The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and over 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Canadian Red Cross mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

New website aids 1.2 million Canadians living with fibromyalgia

"Kathy Zador, lives with fibromyalgia (CNW Group/". first resource of its kind

TORONTO, July 25, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new website that brings together information about fibromyalgia, a community of experts and people living with fibromyalgia is the first comprehensive resource of reliable, up-to-date knowledge, research and data about the condition developed specifically for Canadians. will give Canadians living with, or who suspect they have fibromyalgia, as well as their families and friends, a central place where they can gather information on the condition and treatment options, seek advice from experts on managing their pain, interact with others living with fibromyalgia or find ways to better describe their symptoms to their doctor.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain condition affecting an estimated 1.2 million Canadians of all ages, cultures and both sexes. Most commonly described as widespread muscle pain that lasts longer than three months and makes everyday activities difficult, the condition actually has a broad range of complex and diverse symptoms. These include persistent soreness and flu-like aches, tender points, stiffness, sleep difficulties, tiredness and general fatigue.

"It can sometimes take a long time for a person to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia because the symptoms often mimic other conditions," said Steven McNair, president and CEO of The Arthritis Society. "Canadians living with fibromyalgia need access to a variety of tools and resources, tips and advice that will make researching and finding treatment options much easier."

"I'd say the most important first step in obtaining a diagnosis is that people living with fibromyalgia need to take the time to prepare before their doctors appointment so that they can talk to their doctor knowledgeably about their symptoms," added McNair. features information on what is and who suffers from fibromyalgia, the symptoms and causes, and treatment options including complementary therapies. Resources include informative videos from patients and health care professionals, a list of doctors that accept new fibromyalgia patients, contact information for Canadian associations and the latest research on the causes and treatments for chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

There is also a way to raise funds in support of fibromyalgia patients. Visitors whose lives have been affected by fibromyalgia in some way, shape or form simply add themselves to a support map of Canada and will donate $5 to The Arthritis Society to help support awareness programs useful for those living with fibromyalgia. Then they can also let others know about the importance of supporting this cause using Twitter, Facebook or email.

It can take time and persistence to identify and diagnose fibromyalgia. Many doctors have little experience with fibromyalgia and so a patient may have to see GPs and many specialists before they are diagnosed.
"Reaching a diagnosis is more likely to be successful if you educate yourself about fibromyalgia and what you can do to help to manage your symptoms," said Dr. Roger Shick, Physician Operations Leader of the St. Paul's Hospital Pain Centre in Vancouver. "The more you know, the more involved you'll be in your treatment and the easier it will be to develop a treatment plan that works best for you." has been developed by one of Canada's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies and was founded on the belief that it is essential to break the stigma attached to fibromyalgia and help increase awareness of the very real symptoms and impact of this condition on someone's life.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Suppression of Ambrosia (ragweed) on a large scale - The fight continues

MONTREAL, July 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Anxious to put a term to the respiratory allergies which affect more than 10% of the population, many municipalities and the Quebec ministry of transportation succeeded. Thanks to a devised intervention set up by the company Herbanatur Inc., to help suppress this highly toxic plant on their whole territory. Indeed, using a product 100% natural (Adios Ambros) which kills the plant without affecting the other plants. The municipalities and the Quebec ministry of transportation significantly reduced the level of pollen produced by Ambrosia. The strategy of the units of intervention deployed by HerbaNatur from mid-July to mid-September was to cover the sectors at risk like the roads and cycle tracks, the parks and play-grounds and the vacant lots potentially infested. The results of the Aérobiology reports show without a doubt, a reduction of the level of pollen, under the threshold of allergy in all the cities which were treated and sampled.

Supported by the Lung Association of Quebec, HerbaNatur Inc. was given the mission of eliminating this undesirable plant on a provincial scale in order to improve the quality of life of the people who suffer from respiratory problems.

Visit the Herbanatur web site:

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Travel tips on crossing the Canadian border upon returning from vacation this summer

MONTREAL, July 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - The summer holiday season is upon us, and many Canadians will likely be travelling abroad over the coming weeks. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is making every effort to minimize border wait times during this peak period; travellers can facilitate their re-entry into Canada by keeping the following five tips in mind.

1. Plan ahead to avoid delays at the Canada-U.S. land border. The CBSA suggests that you avoid travelling during peak periods such as afternoons and weekends, and use the Internet to keep track of wait times. You can consult border wait times on the CBSA Web site at, on Twitter at, or on your cell phone at or

2. Bring appropriate identification for yourself and for all children travelling with you, regardless of their age. CBSA officers watch closely for missing children and may ask you detailed questions about the children you are travelling with. If you have or share legal custody of the children, have copies of the relevant legal documents, such as custody rights, on hand.

3. Declare all merchandise you have bought and have all your receipts on hand. Officers may ask you to show receipts for the goods you have purchased and your hotel receipts to verify the length of your stay outside Canada. Keep all of your receipts together and on hand to avoid unnecessary delays.

4. Be aware of your personal exemptions. Depending on the length of your stay abroad, you may be entitled to certain personal exemptions.


24 hours or more CAN$50

48 hours or more CAN$400

7 days or more CAN$750

Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products may be included in your 48-hour or seven-day exemption, provided you are of legal age. Certain restrictions apply.

5. Know before you go. Certain goods are prohibited or restricted from entering Canada (weapons, certain plant and animal products, etc.). You can find out more about this by consulting the I Declare brochure, available at

Finally, use your NEXUS card and save time at marine, land and air ports of entry when entering Canada or the United States. Visit for more information or to apply for a membership.

For more information, visit the CBSA Web site at or contact the Border Information Service at 1-800-959-2036.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Microsoft chooses Toronto for 2012 Worldwide Partner Conference

photo credit: Ken Russell
15,000 people from 130 countries expected for prestigious conference in Toronto

TORONTO, July 13, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - One of the world's most prestigious and advanced conferences will come to Toronto next July as Microsoft Corporation announced today that its Worldwide Partner Conference will meet in Toronto in 2012.

More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the Toronto conference, representing technology companies in 130 countries. While the main hubs of the action will be the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Air Canada Centre, many other venues will be involved as 500+ events take place during the conference and at least 32 hotels across the Toronto region will host delegates.

"Winning a prestigious meeting, for such a widely admired company, is not only a boost to the local economy but a testament to Toronto's ability to host major events," said David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto, which submitted the winning bid along with provincial and local partners.

"Microsoft Corporation's annual Worldwide Partner Conference attracts more than 15,000 delegates," said Eric Gales, General Manager, Microsoft Canada. "The four-day event celebrates the accomplishments of the company's 640,000 global technology partners. Microsoft Canada is thrilled that next year's event will be hosted in the city of Toronto and excited by the opportunity for the city to showcase its diverse culture, entertainment, and world-renowned hospitality."

From July 9 through 13, 2012, Worldwide Partner Conference is a must-attend conference for the technology industry that attracts delegates, vendors and suppliers from around the world. It is an opportunity to showcase Toronto as a destination as well as Toronto and Ontario's innovative information technology businesses.

"Our government is thrilled that Toronto has been chosen to host next year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference and we're proud of our support to help bring it here," said Laura Albanese, MPP York South-Weston. "This is a major win for the GTA and Ontario - it will put us front and centre on the world map, while boosting support for jobs, the economy and increased tourism."

Tourism Toronto has committed to create a scholarship program to assist international students participating in the 2012 conference, with more details on this initiative to be shared in the coming months. Tourism Toronto will also provide opportunities for students in Ontario's tourism and hospitality programs to gain valuable experience in event management through a marquee international conference.

"We are confident this will prove to be the most inspiring and technically advanced Worldwide Partner Conference ever for Microsoft, and will highlight our ability to come together as a tourism community to host large and sophisticated global corporate events," said Mr. Whitaker.

Meetings in Toronto

The meeting and convention industry is a lucrative and competitive one that is a vital part of the tourism economy in the Toronto Region. Conventions generate spending on a range of services and businesses including meeting facilities, hotels, restaurants, retail, attractions and taxis. In 2010, meetings and conventions injected $495 million into the local economy. Overall, there are 224,000 people employed in tourism and hospitality in the Toronto region.

Toronto has been building a reputation among meeting planners as a desirable place to hold important meetings and was ranked #1 out of 46 North American cities in several key categories in the most recent survey of meeting planners by Watkins Research. This year some of the top global meetings will take place in Toronto:

American Bar Association - August 2011 (20,000 attendees)
SWIFT/SIBOS (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) - September 2011 (7,000 attendees)
U.S. Green Building Council - October 2011 (25,000 attendees)

About Tourism Toronto

Tourism Toronto, Toronto's Convention and Visitors Association, is an industry association of more than 1,200 members established to sell and market the greater Toronto region as a remarkable destination for tourists, convention delegates and business travellers around the globe. Tourism Toronto operates in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Culture as Regional Tourism Organization 5, representing the cities of Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton. For more information please visit

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Parkbus launches bus service to Ontario Parks from Toronto

TORONTO, July 7, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Parkbus kicked off the 2011 season as the first bus bound for Algonquin Provincial Park departed from Toronto this morning. The non-profit pilot initiative, funded in part by the Government of Ontario, provides direct bus service to popular camping, canoeing and backpacking hotspots in select provincial parks. Introducing a sustainable alternative to car travel, the project is set to help Torontonians experience Ontario's most popular outdoor destinations this summer.

"With its misty-morning lakes and its vast wooded areas, Algonquin Park is one of Ontario's greatest natural treasures," said Linda Jeffrey, Minister of Natural Resources. "Whether you like the full comfort of a lodge, want to try a night in a yurt or to sleep in a tent under the stars, this new service will help get people in the GTA closer to one of this provinces greatest treasures."

Buses are operated by Muskoka-based Hammond Transportation, with service running weekly until September 5th, with Thursday or Friday departures from Toronto and Sunday arrivals from the parks. Toronto pickup locations are located near College, Dufferin and Glencairn subway stations and a one-way adult fare is $34.95+HST. For trip planning information, complete schedule and tickets visit or call 1-800-928-7101.

Parkbus is a project of Transportation Options (T.O.), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable tourism and transportation in Ontario. Since 1992, T.O. has worked collaboratively to research, develop and promote new initiatives that are integrated, environmentally sound, healthy, service oriented and focused on improving the experience of users. Other projects of Transportation Options include award-winning Bike Train Initiative and the Welcome Cyclists Network.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Each year, BCAA Road Assist rescues close to 300 children and pets from locked cars

Summer heat can turn your car into a four-door furnace in a matter of minutes, warns British Columbia Automobile Association

BURNABY, British Columbia, July 4, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - An unfortunate incident over the Canada Day long weekend in which a six-month old puppy died after being left alone in a hot vehicle in Burnaby serves as an example of how quickly temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous—and sometimes fatal—levels. What parents and pet owners may not know, and what the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) would like everyone to know, is that it only takes minutes for your car to become a four-door furnace and a safety risk to vulnerable passengers such as children and pets.

"Cars sitting in the hot summer sun act like magnifying glasses, creating intense interior heat," says Ken Cousin, BCAA's Associate Vice President, Road Assist. "Interior temperatures can climb to over 60 degrees Celsius in just 10 to 20 minutes, despite windows or sunroofs being left slightly open or parking the car in the shade."

According to the Vehicle Cabin Temperatures Survey conducted by the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland in Australia, temperatures inside a car can increase by 50 percent within five minutes and 80 percent within 15 minutes. The Canada Safety Council also reports high temperatures in a confined space of a car can cause a child or pet to go into shock quickly, and circulation to vital organs can fail.

Each year, BCAA Road Assist rescues close to 300 children and pets from locked cars.

Many of the 'accidental lock-in' calls attended by BCAA technicians occur while children playing with keys lock themselves inside the vehicle, or when drivers and their passengers become distracted while getting in and out of their vehicle. Car doors can close unexpectedly, locking young children or a pet in the car along with the car keys. BCAA receives about 100,000 requests from Members each year to retrieve keys from inside locked cars.

To avoid any chance of a child or family pet being harmed by the heat of a car this summer, BCAA encourages parents, caregivers and pet owners to play it safe and take the following precautions:

...Never leave a child or pet alone in a car, even with the windows down or air conditioner on.

...Leave your pets at home during hot summer days unless you need to take them to the veterinarian office, doggie day camp, or grooming salon.

...When running errands, leave children with a responsible adult at home, or travel with a responsible passenger who can stay with children or pets while you complete your tasks.

...If you drive a pickup truck, don't leave dogs in the truck bed. The heat can burn their feet.

...Before buckling children into their seats, check to make sure surfaces such as seat belt buckles aren't overly hot as they could burn a child's sensitive skin.

...Teach children not to play in cars and keep car keys out of reach and sight.

...Keep your vehicle locked at all times—even at home in the garage or driveway. This will help prevent toddlers from crawling into a car and accidentally locking themselves inside.

...If a child or pet is locked inside a vehicle, don't hesitate to call 9-1-1.

Develop a routine so you're always aware that your child or pet is with you

...Look before you leave. Always turn around to check your backseat before you leave the car,
It is surprisingly common to forget you have kids or pets with you if they are quiet or sleeping.

...If you need to retrieve items placed in the backseat, make it a habit to open the rear doors rather than reaching from the front seat. This will ensure you don't forget anyone.

...Put your child's bags and other items in the front seat. With their belongings in plain sight, you're less likely to forget you're travelling with them.

...If you have several kids and/or pets in the car, do a head count before you close the door to make sure everyone is out when you reach your destination.

Facts about heat stress from enclosed cars:

...On a mild summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to more than 60 degrees C. in just 15 minutes.

...50 percent of the temperature rise occurs within five minutes of closing the doors and temperatures can rise as high as 73 degrees C.

...Even if parked in the shade, opening the window slightly or keeping the air conditioner on does not keep the temperature inside the car at a safe level.

...Because of their small size, the core temperature of a baby or small pet can increase three to five times more rapidly and dramatically than an adult. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when the body's core temperature reaches 40.5 degrees C. and can result in delirium, convulsions, coma or death.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Proterra Startup Will Make Electric Buses that Charge in 10 Minutes

Photo: Proterra

"Could reduce transit agencies' fuel bills by 80%"

by Michael Graham Richard, Ottawa, Canada

Buses are a great way to commute, unless maybe if you live in a rural area where population density is very low, but they can be made better by switching their drivetrains from diesel to electric. Indeed, electrification is almost ideal for buses because they have predictable routes making it easier to plan the recharging of the batteries, and they spend most of their time accelerating and decelerating in relatively low-speed traffic (the best conditions for high-torque electric motors and regenerative brakes). The main problems holding this switch to electricity back are price and how long it takes to recharge the batteries... But the startup Proterra is working on solving both of those issues.

They've just raised 30 million dollars, including 6 million from GM, to produce electric buses that use relatively small battery packs - to keep costs down - that can be juiced-up at fast-charging stations in only 10 minutes (enough to give bus drivers time to go to the bathroom and stretch their legs).
Fuel-saving technology is important to transit agencies, especially now that diesel prices are high and volatile--a gallon of diesel costs a dollar more that it did a year ago. Proterra CEO Jeff Granato says each bus will save the transit agency $600,000 in fuel costs over the 12-year life of the vehicle, plus another $70,000 to $95,000 in maintenance costs. Electricity to charge the buses costs about 18 cents per mile, compared with about $1 a mile for diesel fuel. Granato says these savings make the total cost of an electric bus comparable to that of a diesel bus over the life of the vehicle, even though the electric bus costs more up front. (The company won't say how much the buses cost, but they do, apparently, need nearly $700,000 in fuel and maintenance savings to break even with diesel buses.) ( source)

Proterra uses lithium titanate batteries that, it claims, allows them to be recharged in less than 10 minutes every few hours all day and still last eight years or more. They've also developed a special charging station that is 100% automated. The bus just goes under and a special arm overhead connects to the bus, charging the batteries are passengers get off and on the bus. Very clever.

If it works as advertised, I hope that cities around the world will pay attention and that bus fleets will be converted, over time, to this kind of technology!

Via Technology Review

... read more story at