Wednesday, January 18, 2017




Tis the season for colds, flus and other contagious bugs. 

Schools, workplaces and homes are inundated with contagions. Cold and flu viruses that infect the human nasal passages and lungs like it cold.  They seem to fester best in cooler temperatures when folks are hanging out indoors. 

This round hit my middle guy Liam over the Christmas holidays. Just as he started feeling better over the last week the youngest fella starts coughing and developed a very harsh throat. 

Not wanting the darn bug, I have been extra vigilant to wash my hands, stay hydrated and keep the sick ones restricted to their bedrooms, as much as possible.

However, like the Borg, escape from this bug seems futile. This morning, I woke with tickle in my throat, a stuffy nose with aches and pains all over my body. The man flu has arrived. The down side is no visits for a few days to the Caribou Veteran's Faciity to visit Pop. 

While we are in the middle of the Flu season, our doctor is saying this is most likely a Rhinoviruses that cause colds, apparently the they like tissue in the nose, sinuses, and throat. 

VOCM was reporting last week that there had been thirty confirmed cases of the flu in the province up to the end of 2016. The latest update from the Department of Health states that as of January 7, 2017, there have been 34 (30A, 4B) lab-confirmed cases of influenza, three hospitalizations and one ICU admission. Despite the wave of sniffles, sneezing and sore throats laboratory detections of influenza remain below seasonal levels!

With the flu season comes the vaccine lottery. Specialists use educated guesswork to predict which strain of the influenza will be tormenting us this year. New flu vaccines get released every year. Two kinds of vaccines are available for this season: one with three types of influenza A virus, and another containing the same three influenza A viruses plus a B strain. It all appears to be hit or miss, or mess :)

For those among us with a high risk of serious complications from influenza, the stakes can be high. In Canada the active influenza season generally starts in November and ends in March. 5365 hospitalizations were reported from the 2015/2016 influenza season. 270 fatalities were reported.

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? 

I haven’t, but it is on my to do list.


It is very disappointing, that despite the many concerns expressed locally and nationally, our Provincial Government has decided to stubbornly stay the draconian course of Budget 2016 and implement a literacy tax on the people of this province.

I believe the literacy tax is a shameful disgrace, the imposition of which will have a negative economic impact in the short, and long run. In the short term, local book stores and publishers must accept an unfair burden on their already marginal bottom lines. This could cost jobs and lead to the publication of less local stories. In the long-term, we may see higher rates of illiteracy.

Should books in a province with the highest rates of illiteracy be subjected to “sin taxes” like alcohol and cigarettes which have proven to be somewhat resilient to price increases and contribute significantly to the high cost of healthcare in the province. 

In a province where we lead the country in obesity and diabetes, the government forces us to pay more for books while refusing to tax negative lifestyle choices that have created demonstrably heavy burdens our healthcare system. According to the provincial government the literacy tax will raise $2.1-million in 2017. An additional ten cents on a bottle of pop could have generated an additional $5 million! 

One can only speculate on why a progressive government, laden with educators and educated individuals, would choose to tax books for students, life-long learners and those who crave literacy. In today’s knowledge-based society, literacy is vital to our economic well-being.  It is a retrogressive policy that has become a national embarrassment and will perpetuate unsustainable levels of illiteracy. 

At the very least the government should consider exempting students from paying this tax on literacy. Primary and secondary students should not have to breaking open their piggy banks to pay taxes on Scholastic orders. University and other post-secondary students should not be forced to pay taxes on required text books. 

Surely there are government MHAs, school boards and organizations that represent students that have the strength of conviction to demand a course correction.  We all can not live with our heads down hoping that by being loyal sheep we might not get sheared.

Certainly, there is no economic or social value in this approach. The real opportunity costs, political, cultural and economic, may never be quantified.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Tuesday, NOV 22 is election Day. Please check out my election campaign page and consider casting your ballot in my direction.