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OLM Pet of the Week- Meet Thomas

August 25, 2016 12:04 pm
OLM Pet of the Week- Meet Thomas

All photos provided by Freedom Dog Rescue. Featured photo taken by Beth Photography and has been cropped to fit our page. You can see the original on Beth Photography’s Facebook page.  

For this week’s OLM Pet of the Week, we want to introduce you to Thomas, a Doberman Pinscher who is being fostered by Freedom Dog Rescue. Thomas is estimated to be 8 or 9-years-old and we can personally say we have never met another dog who is more of a gentleman than him! This big guy has a heart made of pure gold and wants nothing more than to be loved and cared for.

While his original name is unknown, Thomas was re-named after his former owner, who sadly passed away recently. While the other two Dobes who were part of Thomas’s family were able to find a home together, they weren’t able to take in all three, so Thomas is now in search of a loving forever home to call his own. This gentle giant loves to greet people at the door with a big friendly grin or a chew toy to share. Like almost every dog, Thomas loves to go out on walks and is very well-behaved on-leash and off-leash at dog parks. When it’s down time, he he’s happy to hang out and play with his chew toy. He adores snuggling up with his people and loves to give kisses when he can.

Thomas is a clever boy who already knows many commands and tricks, including sit, stay and paw, so he wouldn’t need any further training or behavioural courses. He is always happy to share his food and toys, and you don’t have to worry about him nipping your fingers when giving treats. Thomas adjusts well to new situations and would love a forever home that comes equipped with a fenced backyard. He does well with other dogs, so long as they are older and not ankle-biters, but it is unknown how he is around cats. He does not need to be crated during the day and his only additional needs are daily joint supplements to keep him healthy and strong.

If Thomas sounds like the right fit for your home, you can fill out an adoption application form on the Freedom Dog Rescue website, or email freedomdogadoptions@gmail.com for more information.

About the Rescue:

Freedom Dog Rescue is an Ottawa-based not-for-profit organization founded in 2015. Running entirely on volunteers and foster homes, Freedom Dog is dedicated to helping dogs locally and internationally find loving forever homes. All dogs from Freedom Dog Rescue are spayed/neutered and are up-to-date on their vetting. Their adoption process includes an application form, a home visit and a meet-and-greet to ensure that both and owner and the dog are the right match.


OLM Pet of the Week is a weekly segment on our site which showcases adoptable pets in our Capital. Each week a new pet will be featured in order to help them find a loving forever home. Any Ottawa-based animal rescue interested in having an adoptable pet featured can email isabel@ottawalife.com.

Volvo V60 is a Wagon for the Driving Enthusiast

August 24, 2016 3:32 pm
Volvo V60 is a Wagon for the Driving Enthusiast

It appears we’ve forgotten how to travel lightly.

I have nothing against SUVs and crossovers, but with nearly two-thirds of today’s vehicle purchases being some form of truck, it begs the question: do most of us really need this much vehicle?

I’m not sure how many hockey bags today’s smallish families need to haul, nor if they spend much time off-roading with all that ground clearance. Either way, the belief that “less is more” is clearly no more.

I’ve often heard it said: “I like a commanding view of the road.”

Uh, yeah… With the vehicle ahead likely being another freakin’ sport utility, I’m not buying it.

Which leads to my point that wagons should be making more of a comeback.

Volvo V60 T6 AWD 2016-rear-2400px

With broad shoulders, integrated dual exhausts and a prominent roof spoiler, the Volvo V60 has an athletic look from the rear.

Not the lumbering Roadmasters and faux wood-panelled Country Squires of decades past. Their fondness for petrol, barge-like handling, and ability to rust overnight would do little to advance my argument. Instead I’m talking about the wagon’s modern interpretation, as seen in Audi A4 allroad, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class.

These deliver an alchemy of performance and practicality that evades most SUVs. Keeping in mind that a high centre of gravity isn’t your friend when it comes to agility.

No less capable than any of the above is Volvo’s V60, my tester for the week.

The Swedish automaker has had a long history of building stout and reliable wagons that were “as sleek as the box they came in.” The running joke, however, ended around Y2K when Volvo discovered the curve and began using it slightly more with each generational change.

Today, the product lineup has found its mojo, and no more so in the V60 and its variants.

This mid-size sport wagon starts at $40,600 for the T5 Drive-E FWD, topping out at $53,000 (plus options) for the T6 Drive-E AWD R-Design.

The cryptic nomenclature indicates a plethora of drivetrains, including the base model that gets a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder (240 hp, 258 lb/ft), a T5 AWD with 2.5-litre turbo five cylinder (250 hp, 266 lb/ft), T6 AWD models powered by either a 2.0-litre with turbo and supercharger (302 hp, 295 lb/ft, as tested) or with 3.0-litre inline six (300 hp, 325 lb/ft). And finally the top-trim R-Design gets a potent turbo 3.0-litre that delivers 325 hp and 354 lb/ft of torque, but that’s being replaced by the turbo/supercharged four cylinder.

What they all have in common is a look that’s more coupe than estate car.

Volvo’s signature grille with large “iron mark” logo is flanked by projector headlamps that sweep back into a “double-wave” character line following the V60’s high and rising beltline. With its long bonnet, steeply-raked windshield and rear-sloping roofline, its profile is lithe and athletic.

By opting for a wedge rather than box shape, the V60 does present a few compromises, such as narrowing windows towards the rear and a decent, but not huge, cargo capacity of 430 litres. That expands to 1,241 litres with the 40/20/40 second-row folded flat, not angled up like many other vehicles.

Interior volume, despite the tapered cabin, is generous, with reasonable head and leg room for rear passengers. What I like here is the separately folding middle seat that drops to allow longer objects – like skis and lumber – to pass through so that two can still ride comfortably.

Volvo V60 T6 AWD 2016-front seats-2400px

The V60’s leather sport seats are heated and well-bolstered to really grab you in the corners.

Another handy feature is the standard-equipped power folding headrests. They may seem gimmicky, but with smallish back windows, flopping them forward sure aids visibility. And they’re handy for bonking a rambunctious teenage son in the head, according to his younger sister.

Up front, the ergonomics are good, with the centre stack angled toward the driver. It looks a bit dated compared to some of today’s touchscreens, but the ease of pressing a single button rather than stabbing your way through menus and submenus while driving, more than compensates.

And the multifunction scroll knob works well enough in navigating the infotainment. Sensus provides the usual radio functions, along with built-in WiFi, streaming music, and apps such as Volvo On Call that allows you to start the engine, lock the doors and warm or cool the cabin from your smart phone.

What the company is best known for is safety, and despite a newfound affinity for style, Volvo hasn’t lost any of its ‘bank-vault’ build quality. This you can hear, and feel, in the way the doors close with a solid ‘thunk’ – no tinny rattles.

The V60 is made of boron and lighter steels, making for a robust safety cage to protect occupants and disperse energy during an accident.

And, of course, there’s no shortage of safety tech to help prevent these mishaps. Like City Safety that precharges the brakes for a quicker stop, or automatic braking if it senses a crash is imminent.

The system also detects pedestrians and cyclists, neither of whom would ever cut in front of moving vehicles. But in case they do, City Safety will warn with a light on the windshield and even apply the binders if needed.

My tester, the T6 Drive-E AWD starting at $47,900, falls pretty much in the middle of the V60 range.

It comes with premium content like leather seating (power up front with memory for the driver), power sunroof, pushbutton start, 18-inch alloys, stop-start technology (annoys but saves fuel) and the previously mentioned Sensus infotainment.

It also received a pile of option packages like Climate ($1,350 – includes heated seats, heated steering wheel); Technology ($1,600 – includes adaptive cruise control, collision warning with auto brake, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning, road sign info and more); Navigation ($2,950), and Blind Spot info at $1,000 which includes lane change merging aid and parking sensors.

Volvo V60 T6 AWD 2016-dash-2400px

Volvo’s signature floating centre console is angled towards the driver. Its buttons and knobs provide direct control of many vehicle functions, including HVAC, phone and seven-inch infotainment display.

But I’m more of a driving enthusiast than tech geek, and it is here the V60 won’t disappoint. I’ve driven various Volvo powertrains – including the punchy inline fives and straight sixes – but was also impressed with how engineers have employed both supercharger and turbocharger to augment the 2.0-litre four cylinder.

With more than 300 horses on tap, and peak torque coming in at 2100 rpm, there was no shortage of get up and go. Especially in Sport mode with its quicker throttle and later shifts that get the most from the V60’s eight-speed Geartronic automatic with manual shift.

Handling is taut, but not harsh, and steering provides enough feedback to remind you that the V60 is really just a more functional version of Volvo’s potent S60 sports sedan.

Supporting my earlier point that today’s wagon should be getting a little more love. The sport wagon, at least, provides an ideal balance between performance and practicality – and the Volvo V60 is as good as any in this small but competitive segment.

SNAPSHOT: 2016 Volvo V60 T6 AWD Sport Wagon

BODY STYLE: mid-size wagon
ENGINE: (as tested) 2.0-litre inline four cylinder with turbocharger and supercharger (302 hp, 295 lb/ft)
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic manual mode, electronically-controlled AWD
FUEL ECONOMY: as tested, 11.3/8.2/9.9 L/100km (city/hwy/comb)
CARGO: 430 litres (behind second row) 1,241 litres max
PRICING: T5 Drive-E FWD (base) $40,600; T6 Drive-E AWD (as tested) $47,900 plus options
WEBSITE: volvocars.com.

British Columbia’s Failed Healthcare Experiment

August 23, 2016 2:14 pm
British Columbia’s Failed Healthcare Experiment

Paying Doctors More Did Not Improve Primary Care – and Cost the Province Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

Our first point of contact with the health system – often referred to as ‘primary care’ – should result in prompt and efficient care for our general health concerns, and coordinate our journey through the system when we need more specialized care.

That’s if things are working properly.  Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

In the early 2000s, there was widespread concern across Canada that primary care was in decline.  Walk-in clinics and emergency departments became the de facto point of care for patients who lacked timely access to a family doctor.  Patients struggled to find doctors to take them on as regular patients.

Though British Columbia was not alone among Canadian provinces in recognizing the need for primary care reform, it was unique in its approach to solving the problem. BC’s chosen fix for primary care was based on the simple and appealing idea that we have to pay for what we want.

BC attempted to coax individual doctors to provide important primary care services (chronic disease management, mental health care and preventative care, for example) and discourage walk-in style practice by providing additional incentive payments within the public fee-for-service system.

In contrast, other provinces changed the structure and organization of primary care, moving toward team-based models of care and away from fee-for-service compensation for doctors. Other countries also implemented incentive payments for doctors, but unlike BC, these models were tied to reporting on performance.

The costliest incentive implemented under the BC program was a $315 annual payment made to doctors – on top of regular patient visit fees – for providing ongoing care for complex patients (someone with two or more qualifying chronic diseases). BC now spends more than $50 million each year on this single incentive and another $100 million on similar ‘extra’ payments for obstetrics, mental health care, preventive risk assessment and management of individual chronic diseases.

In a recently-published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, we investigated the effects of these complex care payments. We observed that two out of three eligible patients have these incentives billed for their care.  However, we saw no change in the number of primary care visits patients received or in the continuity of their relationships with a regular doctor.  Hospitalization rates did not go down.

From what we can see looking back, care remained the same, while costs went up.

More broadly, BC patients today still struggle to access quality primary care where and when they need it.  Even patients with a doctor often resort to emergency departments and walk-in clinics because less than a third of BC doctors report having any other arrangements for after-hours care.

The incentive payments for doctors failed to achieve the stated goal of improving primary care for patients.

The incentive program improves compensation for physicians doing the important work of caring for patients with complex disease, but this was not the primary objective of the incentive program and incentives are not the only – or even best – way to pay doctors doing this work more fairly.

While the program was no doubt implemented with the best intensions, it reduces physician motivation to dollars billed, while doing nothing to address other practical and structural barriers to doctors providing quality, accessible primary care.

There is a new push for primary care reform in BC, this time embracing team-based models, which include nurses, pharmacists and other service providers to help improve accessibility, quality and efficiency of care. This is exciting, but there are lessons to be learned from the failed experiment with incentive payments.

The incentive-based programs were planned by the Ministry of Health and representatives from Doctors of BC (then the BC Medical Association), which helps explain their focus on the activities of individual physicians.

This time around, before spending billions, we need to agree on what success looks like, and monitor progress from the start. Some approaches may not work, and that’s okay – even expected – as long as a lack of effect is recognized and acted on quickly.

We need to measure performance in real-time against clear goals and accept ongoing change as a necessary part of doing better, rather than thinking a one-time course correction is enough.

Most importantly, we need to broaden the team that is involved in choosing reforms to include Health Authorities, nurses and other service providers – and patients. All are necessary to delivering primary care and so all should have a hand in shaping it.

Mcgrail_KimKimberlyn McGrail is an expert advisor with EvidenceNetwork.ca and an Associate Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC.

Lavergne_Ruth_2Ruth Lavergne is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

The Danger of Border Crossing to Play US Lotteries

9:26 am
The Danger of Border Crossing to Play US Lotteries

The Powerball lottery drawing on January 13, 2016, was described as “the biggest jackpot in the history of the world” and it indeed set a record that will be hard to beat. The jackpot prize had an annuity value of $1,586,400,000 (over C$2 billion) and was eventually claimed by three Powerball tickets sold in California, Florida, and Tennessee.

As the multi-state jackpot grew steadily in the weeks ahead of the drawing, Canadian residents surged across the border to buy Powerball tickets in the United States. “The Canadians — they’re coming like crazy here for the lotto,” an official of the California State Lottery told CBS News. “You don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to buy a Powerball ticket, as long as you’re buying your tickets at an authorized retail location, then that’s fine with us.”

A clerk at a grocery store in Blaine, Washington, about a mile from the U.S.-Canadian border, said that 60 per cent of his customers buying tickets were from Canada, while a cashier in another town some 45 minutes south of Vancouver estimated that 95 per cent of its lotto ticket buyers were Canadian.

In order to win the Powerball jackpot, players must match five main numbers selected from 1-69 and a single Powerball additional number from a guess range of 1-26. The odds of winning a Powerball jackpot are one in more than 292 million, compared to a 1 in nearly 14 million chance to win in the Canadian Lotto 6/49 lottery.

It is legal for tourists and non-US residents to play the Powerball lottery. The official Powerball website clearly states, “You do not have to be a citizen or a resident to play the game. You can be a tourist.” Tickets must be bought in person at an authorized retailer in the United States or you can buy Powerball tickets online on theLotter.

Canadians who play the Powerball lottery should know in advance their tax obligations if they win. They will have to pay 30 per cent of their winnings in federal U.S. taxes and some states also collect tax on lottery winnings (for example, New York charges a tax of 8.82%). On the other hand, Canadians don’t have to pay tax on their U.S. lottery winnings in Canada, as lottery winnings are exempt from taxation under section 40(2)(f) of the Income Tax Act of Canada.

There is, however, a little known American law which could make it potentially illegal for Canadians to collect their Powerball winnings. According to the Immoral Articles law, “all persons are prohibited from importing into the United States from any foreign country any … lottery ticket, or any printed paper that may be used as a lottery ticket, or any advertisement of any lottery.”

Essentially this means that if you purchase a lottery ticket in the United States and it wins, it is illegal for you to cross the border to collect your winnings. In December 2015, U.S. border guards actually seized nine B.C. lottery tickets from a man crossing the border into the United States, although the seizure was not enforced and the tickets were returned to their owner.

There are ways for Canadians to legally get around this little-known U.S. law, including leaving their Powerball tickets in a safety deposit box in the United States, or with a trustworthy American friend. And despite the law, State of Washington lottery officials sent a reassuring message to Canadians during the billion-dollar Powerball jackpot frenzy stating they would help winners collect their prize money.

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