Submit your story ideas, questions or concerns to [email protected] or join our news team!
Kara Brulotte – OTTAWA • ON | 01-06-2023
Sports are integral to Canadian culture. From sports like soccer played in warmer months to hockey and skiing in the colder ones, Canadians are actively involved in athletics, often from the time they’re young children, with almost 75% of kids involved in sport according to The Physical Activity Monitor (2019-2021). That number decreases as they age, with only 25% of those over 18 years old participating in sport, starting at 44% at 18-24 and decreasing to around 15% for those 65 and older. However, the ratio of those participating also changes throughout the years. For children, 79% of boys participate in sports while 70% of girls do, similar numbers. However, as people age, that difference grows much larger, with only 19% of women over 18 participating in sports compared to 36% of men, almost double. This shows a serious issue with access to sports by gender, specifically professional, and though the government of Canada is aiming for complete equality in sports by 2035, there is still a long way to go. So, what exactly is wrong with the current environment when it comes to women’s sports?
First there is the lack of exposure for women’s sports. According to preliminary data gathered by the Sports Information Resource Centre, 92.6 percent of Canadian media related to sports is centred on male sports, despite the fact that many people desire more women’s sports: 54% of women and 45% of men, according to a study by Canadian Women and Sport (2020). When women’s sports are widely televised, they get views. When Canada was facing off against Sweden during the women’s soccer finals of the 2021 Olympics, the match had 4.4 million views, while the Stanley Cup finals in 2021 only received 3.6 million. The high viewership of the 2021 Olympic Finals show that even though there is a demand for women’s sports coverage, media outlets are still overwhelmingly showing male sports, therefore keeping many female professional athletes from gaining the recognition that they deserve. Women’s sports are not valued equally to media outlets, and that in turn lessens the public’s awareness of female athletes and female sports as a whole.
The lack of women in leadership roles in the world of sport, especially among coaches positions, must also be taken into account. In Canadian men’s sports, 97% of coaches are men, while in women’s sports, 74% of coaches are men according to Canadian Women and Sport (2020). The only position of power that women held more than men was assistant coaches of women’s sports. Even then, it’s a 51 to 49 split. Furthermore, at the Olympic level, 83% of coaches were men according to E-Alliance (2021). Thus, there isn’t any mobility for women considering a career in pro-sports, since as soon as they can no longer compete at the competitive level, there is a low chance they will find further employment in the sports industry. Also, having mostly men for coaches can dissuade some women from participating in sports at the professional level. Though this might not faze everyone, having a male coach can be a difficult experience for some. Finally, there is the issue of sexual abuse that occurs at the hands of male coaches. In a study of german competitive athletes who had experienced sexual violence, 63% of the perpetrators were coaches, according to Allroggen et al. (2016). In another study of adults who had participated in organized sports as adolescents and experienced sexual abuse, 78% of the perpetrators were coaches, according to Rulofs et al. (2019). Overall, this discrepancy between male and female coaches makes collegiate and professional sports less viable as a permanent career due to the lack of women in the industry outside of the sports themselves, as well as making a more uncomfortable atmosphere for female athletes.
Finally, a pay gap exists between male and female athletes, just as it does in other Canadian professions. For example, in 2021 the Canadian Women’s soccer team received around 5 million, while the Men’s team received 11 million according to a statement of operations released by the Canadian Soccer Association Inc (2021), despite the fact that the men ranked 40th and the women ranked 6th according to the FIFA world rankings (men’s and women’s respectively). The women’s soccer team is still fighting for equal pay now, and many other sports show the exact same thing; women being paid less for equal or higher athletic performance. This does not encourage young women to go into professional sports, due to the lack of equal pay and most of all, the lack of equal respect.
The Canadian sports industry has a long way to go till it reaches equality between genders, and it continues to dissuade young women from pursuing sports after the age of eighteen. In an industry dominated by men, with a lack of media attention and unequal pay, female athletes have a tough break, even outside of simply athletics. However, with women pushing their way to equal pay, and equal coverage, the future of female sports in Canada is bright.
Allroggen, M., Ohlert, J., Gramm, C., and Rau, T. (2016). “Erfahrungen sexualisierter Gewalt von Kaderathleten/-innen [Experiences of sexual violence by squad athletes],” in ≫Safe Sport≪: Schutz von Kindern und Jugendlichen im organisierten Sport in Deutschland. Erste Ergebnisse des Forschungsprojektes zur Analyse von Häufigkeiten, Formen, Präventions- und Interventionsmaßnahmen bei sexualisierter Gewalt [≫Safe Sport≪: Child protection in organized youth sport in Germany], ed B. Rulofs (Cologne: Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln).
Canadian Soccer Association, The. (2021). Statement of Operations. https://www.canadasoccer.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/The-Canadian-Soccer-Association-Incorporated-2021.pdf
Canadian Women & Sport. (2020). The Rally Report: Encouraging action to improve sport for women and girls. https://womenandsport.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Canadian-Women-Sport_The-Rally-Report.pdf
Canadian Women & Sport. (2022). Women in Sport Leadership 2022 Snapshot. https://womenandsport.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Leadership-Snapshot-2022.pdf
E-Alliance. [@EallianceSport]. (2021, August 4). #Tokyo2020 is proving that Canada has no shortage of talented female athletes, yet only 17% of coaches in the Games are women. [Image attached]. [Tweet]. Twitter.
Men’s ranking. FIFA. (1992). https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/men?dateId=id13974
Rulofs, B., Feiler, S., Rossi, L., Hartmann-Tews, I., and Breuer, C. (2019b). Child protection in voluntary sports clubs in Germany: factors fostering engagement in the prevention of sexual violence. Children Soc. 33, 270–285. doi: 10.1111/chso.12322
Women’s ranking. FIFA. (2003). https://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/women?dateId=ranking_20230324
Sexism in Canadian Sports
Kara Brulotte – – OTTAWA • ON | 17-05-2023
The recent twelve-day public worker strike brought striking back to Canada’s public eye, with the last nation wide strike happening in 2004, nearly 20 years ago. Strikes have been used throughout history to push for workers rights, but what exactly are they, and what are the circumstances surrounding this most recent one? A strike is defined as a refusal to work organized by a body of employees as a form of protest, and they can last anywhere from a couple of hours to multiple months. Workers can strike for many different reasons, including to raise wages, improve benefits, get types of leave, and more recently, to remain working virtually instead of in person.
In Canada, legal strikes are organized by unions, which many employees, both public and private, are a part of, with the striking union being the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). This union represents 155,000 workers in various government departments, whose jobs range from Service Canada to Veterans Affairs. There are multiple different types of strikes, both legal and illegal, but the Canadian public workers strike was an economic one. So, what caused these workers to strike?
The recent public workers strike had many factors involved in its conception, but the main two causes of it were inflation and the pandemic. Over the past three years, government workers were not required to go into the office due to risk of Covid infection, and many grew accustomed to this. Sudbury CRA representative Chris Foucault said “Now that people have made these accommodations, they’ve got rid of their daycare, they homeschool their children and now they’re being forced to come back to the office”. Now, federal government workers are required to come to work in person for two out of the five days in the work week, and many are having trouble adapting to this change.
The second reason is current inflation rates. If wages remain the same while inflation continues to rise, that wage is losing value. This factor caused CPAC to reject a 9% wage increase over three years, continuing to push for a better deal. The federal workers strike had two main demands caused by the current situation, which were a wage increase and the ability to work from home all days of the week in order to avoid upending the lifestyle the pandemic had caused. The striker affected many federal services, including tax processing and passport renewal, as well as Social Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, and Canada Pension plan application. It also affected services provided by Veterans Affairs and Indigenous Services Canada. Picket lines were set up in cities across the country, with many protesting in Ottawa.
The Canadian government struck a deal with 120,000 of the striking workers after 12 days of protest, offering a 12.6% wage increase over four years, as well as a one-time payment of $2,500, according to the Treasury Board of Canada. There was also negotiated language targeting job security for PSAC employees and better managing of remote work requests, as well as the creation of a union-employer panel to discuss remote work issues and a joint committee to review equity training, according to a PSAC statement. The government did not change their stance on in-person work, and public workers are still required to go into the office two out of five days. This could lead to future tension, as many are not content with the required two in-person days, despite having only returned to this system last December.
This strike was substantial, being the first Canada wide worker strike since 2004, and before that, 1991. It included around 155,000 people, almost half of the 319,000 people employed by the federal government, Canada’s largest employer. Strikes and union organizing give workers power, and as Canada struggles to return to a pre-pandemic normal, how the workplace adapts will pave the way.
A Look Back at the Federal Worker Strike
Kara Brulotte – – OTTAWA • ON | 05-05-2023
Climate, Environment, Community
Spring flooding is a reality that Ottawa faces each year, with a growing intensity. Many people are forced to use sandbags to stop rising water, deal with flooding basements and even evacuate their homes each year. But why is this a regular part of Ottawa springs, and what can be done to ameliorate or even prevent these extreme weather events?
Ottawa flooding isn’t really restricted to the Ottawa urban area. Rather, it refers to the banks of the Ottawa river between Arnprior to Hawkesbury, which is around 150 km of affected area. More flood prone locations such as Britannia, Cumberland, Rockland, Hawkesbury, and Constance Bay are at an even higher risk, according to a statement from the City of Ottawa. A flood plain map released by the City of Ottawa shows land at risk of flooding, with the dark blue being representative of a 1 in 50 flood and the grey being representative of a 1 in 100 flood.
Flooding has many different effects, both minor and major. There are three types of flooding, the one occurring in Ottawa is river flooding, where water exceeds its channel due to high levels of snow melt and/or rainfall. It can cause erosion and destabilize portions of land, contaminate water supplies, damage infrastructure, and pose a threat to human life. Outside of the human cost, it can destroy habitats. However, floods are extremely important to the environment. River overflow is a natural phenomenon, replenishing groundwater and bringing new life to wetlands, according to the Natural Geographic. The problem comes with urban development in flood plains. Many developers avoid building in common flood plains and areas where floods occur less frequently aren’t viewed with as much concern.
There is also the issue of increased precipitation caused by climate change. According to the City of Ottawa, annual average precipitation is increasinging, as well as becoming more unpredictable. This has led to extreme flooding in the past few years, such as 2017, record levels in 2019, 2022, and currently. In a future where high and irregular precipitation is becoming the norm, Ottawa and other flood prone areas must adapt. But what is there to do?
There are many ways to deal with flooding, both short term and long term. When it comes to dealing with the floods, there are many methods currently in use in the Ottawa area, such as sandbagging to control the spread of water, and the building of emergency stations to provide water, food, and shelter to those forced to evacuate. There are also longer term solutions, such as building flood resistant housing in at-risk areas, halting development on flood plains, and educating people about the danger of living on flood plains and the increasing risk of yearly floods. Flooding isn’t going anywhere, being the most common natural disaster in our country according to the Government of Canada, and it will only grow worse with increasing precipitation. It’s important now more than ever to become educated on the subject, and to grow accustomed to this new flooding reality.
Spring Flooding in Ottawa
Kara Brulotte – OTTAWA • ON | 27-3-2023
The Ontario health care system is a controversial topic. Our universal health care is not as simple as the title suggests, being more similar to a two tiered health care system. Some hospitals are government run, but many clinics are actually privately owned. Most family doctors are part of private practices, and sleep tests, physiotherapy, and dermatology are all private services incorporated into the public system. All these services, public or private, are paid for with an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. Now, there are services such as optometry and dentistry that are paid for out of pocket or by private insurance, but these do not encompass the majority of health care.
The most striking fact about our current health care system, especially coming out of the pandemic, is the capacity. There are not enough beds, equipment, or staff to handle the number of patients that are coming in. Just this October, wait times in emergency rooms are insanely high, with CHEO patients having to wait more than 14 hours for care. The Montfort Hospital had patients waiting more than 16 hours, and the Ottawa General Hospital had to open up their gymnasium to house the overflow of patients. This leads to patients having a much harder time assessing the care they require, even in emergency situations. It can take years to access specialists or to receive surgeries, for cases that aren’t at the top of the priority list. Staff are also a victim of the current system, with skeleton crews becoming the norm over the pandemic. Conditions have gotten increasingly worse, to the point where 42% of nurses saying they would leave the profession, and 69% saying they would leave their current position, in the next five years, according to a survey from the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario. President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions Micheal Hurley has said this level of strain on the system is not normal, and that there is something dramatically wrong with the lack of capacity and staffing.
As a result of these problems and their worsening due to the Covid pandemic, Premier Doug Ford has put several changes into motion in order to help with the surgical backlog, namely integrating private surgery clinics into public hospitals. Here in Ottawa, the private surgery group Academic Orthopaedic Surgical Associates of Ottawa is operating in unoccupied surgical suites at the Ottawa Hospital’s Riverside campus to do simple knee and hip procedures. The group is asking nurses to work on weekends, and compensating them more than their regular pay. However, this is more than a temporary measure, as Premier Ford said this will be implemented permanently. There are worries that these independent clinics will poach staff from the public system and decrease quality of care, with CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahnn saying that privatization will only worsen staff shortages and rob public health care of resources. Many are worried about this expanded use of independent clinics, with co-chair of Ottawa Health Coalition Betty Yakimenko saying that this could diminish public health care.
The overwhelming pressure on it is leading to suffering for both patients and staff, with the strain being unbearable in the aftermath of the pandemic. However, the solution can be complicated. The integration of more independent clinics isn’t widely supported, but something still must be done about the surgery backlog. The logistics of adding more private elements to the public health system are unclear, with a lack of transparency from the government and clinic owners. This is an issue that will continue to plague the Canadian population, particularly as our population continues to age.
An Overview of the Privatization in the Health Care System