“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
As summer winds down and a new school year begins, the conversation about food in schools is once again heating up.
In June, Sen. Art Eggleton tabled a motion calling on the federal government to consult with key stakeholders to develop a cost-shared universal nutrition program across Canada.
He is not the first senator to have made this call. Back in 1997, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance made the recommendation “to create a national school nutrition program” but no action was ever taken. In 2015, the Standing Committee on Social Affairs Science and Technology and the Minister of Health advocated “for childcare facility and school programs related to breakfast and lunch programs… and nutrition literacy courses.”
A universal, national school food program would make sure that all students from kindergarten to Grade 12 have the same access to healthy food in school.
The case for such a program in Canada is already strong. So what needs to happen to make this a reality?
Canada is lagging behind other high-income countries in providing nutritious food to children.
In a UNICEF report published last year, Canada ranked 37th out of 41 countries on access to nutritious food for children. That is below the United States.
One reason for this is Canada’s patchwork of programs that serve only a fraction of kids. Funding for programs comes from several different stakeholders, including provincial and territorial governments, municipal governments and charities. This contrasts sharply with school food programs in other countries.
In Brazil for example, food is a constitutional right, which means that a national program feeds 47 million students at 190,000 schools each day.
The benefits are multiple, not only improving student nutrition, health and social development, but providing wider employment. The program supports local food systems and regional economic development, since 30 per cent of food purchased for the program comes from small family farms.
In Italy, school meals are a central part of education about national culture and health. In Rome, 70 per cent of ingredients in school meals are required by law to be organic. These are also local or regional foods, making school meals a local economic growth strategy as well.
In Finland, school lunches, which are free for all students, are the healthiest meal that students eat during the whole day.
These international examples illustrate how healthy food provision is prioritized elsewhere in the world. This pays off through an impressive return on investment for school food programs — of $3 to $10 for every dollar invested.
Because children’s eating habits are more easily influenced than those of adults, interventions aimed at children are also more likely to have the potential to reduce future health-care costs.
Children spend on average six to seven hours or 50 per cent of their time awake at school which makes schools the ideal medium for instilling lifelong eating habits in a non-stigmatizing way.
Public support for a national program is growing. Martha O’Connor, former director general of the now defunct Breakfast for Learning Program affirms that “70 per cent of Canadians believe that child hunger in Canada is more important than national unity or the deficit. Strategic investment in a national school nutrition program is an investment in the future of all Canadians.”
Political will is essential for a national school food program to become a reality. And Eggleton’s motion is catalyzing this important conversation about the state of children’s health in Canada.
Growing rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease among Canada’s population are unsustainable. The Coalition for Healthy School Food, comprised of 40 organizations across Canada, estimates that a national, universal healthy school food program would cost $1.8 billion per year.
The Coalition is calling on the Government of Canada to initially invest $360 million, through provincial and territorial transfers, in healthy school food programs.
The eventual goal would be universal coverage, through a cost-shared model of joint investments from the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as some investment from not-for-profits and parents where applicable.
The United Kingdom recently implemented a promising strategy of directing the revenue from a national sugary drinks levy to fund school food programs. Diabetes Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Childhood Obesity Foundation are making the same recommendation for Canada.
A soda tax could produce $1.7 billion in annual revenue for Canada, just short of the Coalition’s estimate to fund a national school food program.
Given the burden that chronic, diet-related diseases already place on the Canadian health care system — a cost estimated at $190 billion each year — a $1.8 billion investment in the health of our next generation is surely a small price to pay?
The cost of implementing a national school food program will pay for itself through improved mental health, learning and other health outcomes.
Schools have a strong history of successful public health intervention and a national school food program is a critical investment that we all can support. It’s a no-brainer.
Photo Credit: Centre for Executive and Graduate Education
October 2, 2018, the Dalhousie University MBA(FS) Class of 2018 celebrated the culmination of their academic journey in the graduation ceremonies held at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.
In the audience, Ann Etter watched as her son, John-David Etter crossed the stage to receive his well-earned degree. This was the same stage she crossed in 2001 when she was awarded the identical MBA(FS) degree. Seventeen years have passed between the two graduations, a confirmation that the pursuit of academic excellence continues and evolves within a world of dynamic change.
CEGE Connection reached out to Ann for her thoughts as she celebrates her son’s achievement and remembers her personal journey to acquire knowledge.
Ann C. Etter
September 28, 2018
The Old and the New
I’ve always been interested in learning new things, however, as I reflect on the topic of lifelong learning, it’s words that my Dad said to me in 1972 that have resonated with me for the past 46 years. As background, I was working with BMO in the summer of ’72 and found I enjoyed banking so much that I decided not to return to university to complete my undergrad degree. My Dad took me aside and shared some very important words of wisdom …he said, “I want you to remember that you are never too old to go back to school”. And there it is – 46 years ago – my foundation to lifelong learning!
Women in banking was a lot different a half century ago than it is today. Women were not actively promoted to management jobs in any bank nor were they highly educated. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would have to equip myself with more education if I was to compete for higher level jobs. So while working full time, I went back to school and obtained my undergrad degree. But I couldn’t stop there. I had a thirst for knowledge and continued through the years with bank courses, too many to count, and went on to obtain numerous designations which eventually brought me to the realization I wanted to obtain an MBA. Hence, enter Dalhousie University which had the foresight to introduce the MBA in Financial Services.
I applied, was accepted and started on the journey to obtain and expand my knowledge of the business environment. Dalhousie provided the opportunity to learn via distance as well as providing a supportive network, which is important, especially if one has a demanding job. The courses, tailored to the Financial Services industry, are challenging and thought-provoking. The profs are top notch and available if needed. The networking opportunities with other students was invaluable.
One of my objectives on this journey was to show my son by example that hard work and commitment to a goal pays off. JD, who was a teenager at the time, knew that obtaining an MBA was important to me. He was extremely supportive at home, allowing me the time I needed to study and complete assignments. JD learned the importance of lifelong learning and went on to set goals for himself to achieve educational success. I’m very proud of JD’s accomplishments. I know that with JD’s outgoing personality and commitment to doing the best job possible, he will be successful no matter where in life his path leads.
As for me, you may be seeing more of me around campus. Lifelong learning will always be a part of my life. As I get closer to retirement, I find myself thinking about what courses I’d like to take in my spare time. Dalhousie is doing a stellar job of keeping the MBA (FS) alumni informed of talks that we can attend. And there are a plethora of courses available.
It will be exciting to attend fall convocation ceremonies knowing that JD and I are the first mother-son duo to obtain the MBA Financial Services.
From all of us at CEGE Connection, we send out warm wishes for a joyful and memorable Thanksgiving.
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
John Milton (1608 – 1674)
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
“During the course of a hot and humid stretch in the middle of summer on the East Coast of Canada, while hearing about record heat waves and wild fires, I find myself reflecting on over 20 years of efforts in Canada to respond appropriately to the challenge of climate change. During the past 20 years, Canada has gone from leader to laggard twice, once with the Kyoto Protocol, and again, it would appear based on recent developments, with the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.”
Dr. Meinhard Doelle, Professor of Law, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University
Dr. Meinhard Doelle, Professor of Law, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, has graciously agreed to join the CEGE Connection conversation and share his insights on climate change and environment law. We highly recommend a visit to Professor Doelle’s Blog: Environment Law News, which provides vital information that speaks to the complexities of environmental and energy law, climate change, GHG emissions, and the role of human rights in these areas of enquiry.
“Decades of Climate Policy Failure in Canada: Can we Break The Vicious Cycle?” has been republished from Professor Doelle’s blog, Environment Law News.
During the course of a hot and humid stretch in the middle of summer on the East Coast of Canada, while hearing about record heat waves and wild fires, I find myself reflecting on over 20 years of efforts in Canada to respond appropriately to the challenge of climate change. During the past 20 years, Canada has gone from leader to laggard twice, once with the Kyoto Protocol, and again, it would appear based on recent developments, with the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. All this, of course, after Canada had already committed to stabilize emissions at 1990 levels by 2000 in the context of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change, a commitment it also failed to implement.
Canada eventually withdrew its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and in the process did very little to reduce domestic emissions compared to most developed and even some developing countries.
Following its leadership role in 1997 in the Kyoto negotiations, Canada’s federal government of the day worked hard with provinces and stakeholders to develop a set of climate policies to implement effective climate mitigation and adaptation in Canada. It ratified the Kyoto Protocol, supported its entry into force, but efforts to take effective steps to implement Canada’s commitments ultimately failed. Canada eventually withdrew its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and in the process did very little to reduce domestic emissions compared to most developed and even some developing countries. Some provinces, such as British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, stepped up to lead during this period of federal withdrawal, but Canada as a whole never achieved any leadership in its domestic mitigation efforts.
Canada has more recently made another effort at climate mitigation leadership, this time in the context of the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015, only to falter yet again in translating its international leadership into effective domestic implementation. In this post, I will share my reflections on this most recent cycle, which started with the election of the Trudeau Liberal Government in the fall of 2015.
The Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau showed signs of leadership on climate change during the 2015 federal election. It beat out the NDP in part by appealing to traditional NDP and Green Party voters on issues such as climate change. Once elected, it continued to show leadership during the UN climate negotiations, by playing an important, constructive role in the final days of the Paris climate negotiations in December 2015. It was part of an ‘ambition coalition’ of over 100 countries that secured the inclusion of the global goals of keeping temperature increases to well below 2 degrees while striving for 1.5, and to aim to reach global carbon neutrality by the second half of the century. Canada continued to show leadership by ratifying the Paris Agreement quickly to help bring it into force in record time by November 2016.
In spite of agreeing to provisions in the Paris Agreement that recognize the gap between individual commitments and the collective goals and call for an increase of effort over time to meet the collective goals, Canada continues to show no willingness to increase its commitment by revising its NDC.
As the Trudeau government turned its attention to domestic implementation, the failure to turn international leadership into domestic action soon began to show. The first step was not encouraging. In spite of its criticism of the Harper government on its inadequate efforts on climate change, and in spite of its commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Trudeau government did not increase the ambition of Canada’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) from the inadequate NDC the previous government had filed before the Paris Agreement was finalized. In spite of agreeing to provisions in the Paris Agreement that recognize the gap between individual commitments and the collective goals and call for an increase of effort over time to meet the collective goals, Canada continues to show no willingness to increase its commitment by revising its NDC.
The second step of the Trudeau government was more encouraging. It was able to negotiate a Pan Canadian Framework on Climate Change with most of the provinces and all territories. The agreement was disappointing to some in that it did not bring all provinces on board, and its commitment would not get Canada all the way to its 2020 or 2030 emission reduction targets under the inadequate NDC filed by the Harper government. Nevertheless, it had the potential to be an important breakthrough in overcoming the past divisions over effective climate mitigation in Canada, and to put Canada on the path to decarbonization.
There is no credible evidence that Canada, as a whole, will benefit from resisting this transition. There are strong indications to the contrary even in the short to medium term, and the combination of the cost of inaction and the economic opportunities associated with action leaves little doubt about the net economic benefits of decarbonization in the long term.
Perhaps the biggest flaw of this effort was the federal government’s failure to clearly position the Pan Canadian Framework, from the start, as an initial step that needed to be strengthened over time. Instead, it has become an inadequate high-water mark to be attacked and whittled down by powerholders who oppose to the decarbonization of Canadian society out of near-sighted self-interest and political opportunism. It is clear that the opposition to the transition comes from those who benefit from the status quo. There is no credible evidence that Canada, as a whole, will benefit from resisting this transition. There are strong indications to the contrary even in the short to medium term, and the combination of the cost of inaction and the economic opportunities associated with action leaves little doubt about the net economic benefits of decarbonization in the long term.
Since it negotiated the Pan Canadian Framework, rather than fully implement it and prepare for the next level of effort, the Trudeau government has taken major steps backward in response to relentless pressure from some provinces and industry sectors. Such steps include the following:
Developing backstop legislation for a key element of the Pan Canadian Framework, the carbon pricing element, that abandons the spirit of the framework by exempting 70 percent of emissions for some industry sectors from the carbon price. This essentially means that most emissions from these sectors are actually not subject to a carbon price at all. Announcing that exemption to some industries will be increased to 80 and 90 percent, further eroding the carbon pricing element of the framework, meaning that even more emissions from these sectors are not subject to a carbon price. Assuming modest efforts to reduce emissions, these sectors may now be exempt from the carbon price all together, without a clear signal that the remainder will be priced in the future. [Read more…]
Fall Convocation has arrived.
Over the next two days, The Class of 2018 will walk across the stage to accept their degrees, marking the culmination of a rigorous academic journey. This year, students will have the honour of graduating during DAL200, a milestone year that celebrates Dalhousie’s 200th anniversary.
Eighteen years ago, the MBA(FS) Class of 2000 crossed the same stage, moving on to join a dynamic alumni community during the year known as Y2K. Year 2000 was the 1000th and last year of the second millennium, the 2000th year of the Common Era and Anno Domini designation. Year 2000 heralded the beginning of a new century and millennium. Amid the Y2K concern that computers would be unable to transition from 1999 to 2000 without significant and disastrous glitches, there was great optimism.
Year 2000 was designated by United Nations General Assembly, with UNESCO, as the International Year for the Culture of Peace.
“The result of the International Year for the Culture of Peace was the emergence of a global movement involving thousands of national and local organizations and more than 75 million individuals, along with the National Commissions for UNESCO, UNESCO’s Field Offices and some 200 international NGOs.” (UNESCO – Mainstream the culture of peace)
Year 2000 was also named as the World Mathematical Year by The International Mathematical Union, an organization established by Kenneth O. May (University of Toronto) in 1969.
“The first aim of WMY 2,000 is to consider the great challenges of the 21st century. In conjunction with the International Congress of Mathematicians held in Zurich in 1994, the Commission organized an historical symposium which surveyed the history of International Congresses from Zürich to Zürich, looking ahead to the first century of the next millennium.” (The International Mathematical Union)
The Class of 2000 continues to contribute within a world that has seen transformational changes in the way we connect across the world, from smartphones to social media, GPS apps to streaming. As new generations of graduates fulfill their academic goals, the Class of 2000 has moved forward to embrace mentoring, generously sharing and transferring knowledge and experience to an emerging workforce eager to accept the opportunities and challenges of their time.
“We are celebrating our past even as we prepare for the opportunities and challenges of our ever-changing world. Our legacy lives in the spirit and ingenuity of our people, our contributions to the community and the impact we make around the world. The dawn of our new century is our time to rise — and shine.” DAL200
“Dalhousie at its best has been driven by a threefold mission of teaching, research, and service, and by a commitment to values of excellence, intellectual rigour, freedom of inquiry and expression, and inclusion and respect for all person.”
President’s Message, A 200th Anniversary Portrait Dalhousie University
Dr. Richard Florizone, Dalhousie’s 11th President
Fall convocation is only two days away, with the ceremonies scheduled for October 2nd and 3rd. The Class of 2018 will walk across the stage to accept their degrees, marking the culmination of a rigorous academic journey. Graduations signify passages and transitions, of moving forward and of accepting new ventures and challenges.
“On behalf of the University Senate, we hereby attest that Dalhousie University has awarded the degree of…”
This year, students will have the honour of graduating during DAL200, a milestone year that celebrates Dalhousie’s 200th anniversary. With a copy of “A 200th Anniversary Portrait” in their hands to remember their time at Dalhousie, graduates will join a dynamic alumni community that spans the globe.
Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2018. We are proud of your success and wish for you the very best in your future endeavours.
For those who live elsewhere in Canada the Fall Graduation Ceremonies will be video archived on Dalhousie Website.
“Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it.”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
The “straw bubble” has burst.
We’re midway through 2018, and we have seen an explosion of efforts and local action to eliminate plastic straws. Some of the world’s largest companies, including McDonald’s and Starbucks, have banned them from some of their operations.
McDonald’s announced recently that it would replace plastic straws with paper ones in all restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland by September 2018. Similarly, Starbucks will eliminate plastic straws from all of its stores globally by 2020.
Airlines, hotel chains and local restaurants in droves are all removing the ubiquitous plastic from their consumer services.
Dramatic and evocative statements and statistics, including the infamous “plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050” prophecy, are inciting some incredible interventions from governments, large multinationals and individual citizens. Although these kinds of statements may not be entirely accurate, the overwhelming response has been the removal of straws from day-to-day society.
Along with these recent “anti-straw” endeavours, there comes an accompanying “anti-anti-straw” rhetoric that opposes such interventions on various grounds.
For instance, disability rights activists have weighed in on the plastic-straw ban. Some people with disabilities need straws to drink because they have trouble swallowing or cannot lift or hold a cup.
A plethora of alternatives to plastic straws exist to provide practical solutions, including silicone, paper and stainless steel. Ultimately, this means all consumers have an ethical choice to make: planet or plastic?
We don’t contest the importance of accessibility, which is why we do not argue in favour of an absolute outright ban on straws. Rather, we believe that “having a disability and doing your part to help the environment are not mutually exclusive.”
The anti-anti-straw arguments we take issue with are often either libertarian (hands off my straws) or pessimistic (this does not address the root cause of the problem) in nature. Some of these arguments are a mix of both.
A slew of journalists and writers have recently put forward counter-arguments to interventions seeking to reduce ocean plastics. They write that targeting straws specifically will not make a significant difference to the ocean.
Quantitatively, sure, straws make up a small portion of the plastics that enter and contaminate the ocean (roughly four per cent of litter). This does not mean, however, that straws aren’t worth addressing.
Why is a targeted effort towards four per cent of marine litter being attacked as useless or ineffective, when the posited alternative is no effort at all?
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’s annual Dirty Dozen list highlights the items most commonly found on marine and freshwater shores. Straws rank ninth, below cigarette butts, food packaging, bottle caps and plastic bags.
Other studies have found similar contributions to marine litter from plastic straws. The UNEP 2018 State of Plastics report also ranks straws and stirrers in seventh place for plastics found in the environment.
However, these other plastics require an entirely different approach to mitigating their entry into the environment.
Should we focus on an outright ban on cigarettes with the same vigour as we have straws? Can we vilify single-use plastic bottle beverage industry players in the same manner?
Presumably, those who are anti-anti-straw would respond accordingly, if not an order of magnitude greater, to these kinds of petitions.
Dune Ives, the executive director of the Lonely Whale Foundation, has called straws “the gateway plastic” for those on the verge of environmentalism. For example, something as mundane or “playful” as a straw can open up a larger, more serious conversation about plastic pollution, or global mass consumption even more broadly.
This point is both the crux of the “war on straws” and the crucial piece moving forward in the overall endeavour to reduce marine plastic pollution: changing the norm.
Comparisons may also be made with plastic bag bans. For example, many countries and jurisdictions around the world have successfully implemented plastic bag bans or taxes to reduce plastic environmental pollution.
Like plastic straws, some groups suggest that because plastic bags are ultra-lightweight, they likely make negligible contributions to municipal waste. These groups also claim that banning plastic bags is more about appearances and idealism than about protecting the environment. However, like plastic bag bans, the concept of eliminating or replacing single-use plastic (SUP) straws requires a revolution in consumer mentality.
There is no radical extreme call to immediately stop the production of plastic products. Indeed, shaming plastic use has been seen as an ineffective way to get more people on board.
Plastics are imperative in many contexts, including sterile packaging and disposable tools in medicine, reducing food spoilage and increasing food safety. The movement to remove SUP straws, or even bags, should consider these nuances, but it is far from destroying the foundation of modern society.
With about eight million to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic entering our oceans each year, there is an urgent need to address our pervasive plastic problem.
We need a broad-scale and widespread approach that questions our throw-away culture, and the overwhelming trend to buy more, buy bigger and buy more often. Avoiding the use of a plastic straw may seem trivial, but it counts.
It may seem like a drop in the ocean, but what is an ocean anyway but many, many, drops?