Archive for September, 2018

Recruitment of doctors in rural SK communities backfiring

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Like hundreds of other places across Canada, the Saskatchewan town of Wakaw has gone all out to recruit doctors, recently luring two South African physicians to the community with free housing, car allowances and financial bonuses.

Barely six months later, though, the young husband-and-wife team is leaving, partly because of an unusual complaint: they say there are simply not enough patients in the supposedly under-serviced area to sustain their practices. They also charge the town essentially misled them about the nature of their roles, which include one or other of the physicians being on call in the hospital emergency department, 24 hours a day, 20 days out of 30.

Aggressive doctor recruitment has become an integral, if less than welcome, part of Canada’s MD-starved health care system. Dr. Paruk, 28, suggested his and his wife’s experience might serve as a cautionary tale for physicians tempted by generous incentives to make long-term commitments to particular jurisdictions.

He has heard of other Saskatchewan communities where the recruitment of doctors has backfired, too.

“A lot of towns will say “˜We’ll give you this, this and that if you commit to stay here for two or three years,’ “ he said. “We’ve learnt our lesson now … My best advice is don’t make any commitments until you work in a place, until you know.”

The town, though, has its own tale of woe, including other doctors officials had almost recruited in the past, only to have them stolen away by sweeter offers from competing municipalities.

Ed Kidd, Wakaw’s mayor, said Dr. Paruk and his wife, Dr. Tasnim Gafoor, were fully informed of the nature of their jobs, and would undoubtedly have built up a heavier patient roster in the town of 864 if they had simply stayed longer.

As it is, they lasted until just after they had gained their Saskatchewan medical licences, he said.

“It’s like any business, you have to attract people, you have to attract your clientele,” said Mr. Kidd. “Another doctor claims that there are enough patients for three doctors to keep very busy. It just takes a little patience and to get out there.”

Many people in town see family physicians in other communities, like Saskatoon, 90 kilometres to the southwest, and are loathe to leave them for a local doctor until they know for sure the Wakaw practitioner is staying for the long haul, he said.

The mayor said he realizes now the key for communities like his is to find doctors who are suited to a rural lifestyle.

Some researchers have estimated that as many as five million Canadians, many in small or isolated municipalities, are without a family doctor. Recruitment efforts – and the commitments asked of doctors – have escalated in recent years, with some places offering young doctors as much as $150,000 in exchange for a minimum five-year stint.

Drs. Paruk and Gafoor say they decided to emigrate to Saskatchewan in part to be close to family members who are also physicians and had moved to the province earlier. They talked to a number of communities before settling on Wakaw, which offered incentives partly funded by the Saskatoon Health Region and by the municipality itself.

Dr. Paruk says the town’s people welcomed them with open arms. Despite assurances they would have lots of patients, however, they rarely see more than 10 a day, when 25 or 30 a day would be more usual in a rural practice, he said. Meanwhile, he and his wife now constitute two-thirds of the on-call rotation for the local hospital’s newly re-opened emergency department, which he believes is the real reason they were brought to town.

The late-night phone calls disrupt both their lives, no matter who is on duty, he said. “It’s just become way too much for us. We don’t have a life, basically.”

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Toronto police announce G20 security perimeter, road disruptions

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

TORONTO – A significant portion of Toronto’s downtown core will be affected by the G20 summit on June 26-27, police said Friday.

"Never before have the two summits (the G8 – which will be held in Huntsville, Ont. on June 25-26 – and the G20) been held in one weekend, this has presented unique challenges for security partners. However, ones that I know we can meet," said Chief Supt Alphonse MacNeil, head of the Integrated Security Unit for the RCMP. "These summits will put Canada on the world stage for three days in June and we will endeavour to ensure that security will not be the overarching theme."

The security details were announced Friday by Toronto Police and the RCMP.

Toronto Police have designated an area bound by Yonge Street, Spadina Street, Queens Quay and King Street as a security perimeter. A smaller area around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the meeting, will be fenced in.

A security fence will go up starting June 7th.

Police also warned there will be "significant" traffic disruption on the Saturday and Sunday specifically on the 400 series highways, the Gardiner Expressway, the QEW and Lakeshore Boulevard, as well as Highway 427.

In addition, the York, Bay and Yonge Street exits on the Gardiner Expressway will be closed on Friday and Saturday.

Police qualified their statement by saying that some of these plans may change.

Union Station – a Toronto transportation hub – will remain open during the weekend of the summit however the Front St. exit will not be in use from Friday to Sunday.

In addition, no vehicles will be permitted on Front Street west of Bay Street during this time.

Portions of the PATH system – a series of underground walkways in the city’s downtown – will be closed from Friday evening to Sunday and will reopen on Monday.

Members of the public will not be able to exit the PATH into the security perimeter nor will they be able to enter the PATH system from within the perimeter.

"Traffic disruption will be significant in this area and members of the public are encouraged to use public transit or the pedestrian walkways to go into or leave Union Station," said Supt. Tom Russell, head of G20 planning for the Toronto Police Service.

Police warn there will be enhanced parking enforcement throughout the downtown core during the summit.

The homeless will not be allowed into the perimeter once it has been secured.

Police say staff from the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration will be working with the streets to home program to urge homeless people to access services before the larger security perimeter goes into effect.

HangZhou Night Net

Police announce G20 summit security perimeter, road disruptions

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

A significant portion of Toronto’s downtown core will be affected by the G20 summit the weekend of June 26 and 27th.

Toronto Police have designated an area bound by Yonge Street, Spadina Street, Queens Quay and King Street as a security perimeter. A smaller area around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the meeting, will be fenced in. The security fence will go up starting June 7th. Toronto Police and the RCMP announced the security details of the summit at a press conference on Friday.

“Never before have the two summits [the G8 and the G20] been held in one weekend, this has presented unique challenges for security partners. However, ones that I know we can meet,” said Chief Superintendent Alphonse MacNeil, head of the Integrated Security Unit for the RCMP.

“These summits will put Canada on the world stage for three days in June and we will endeavour to ensure that security will not be the overarching theme.” Superintendent MacNeil added.

Police also warned that there will be “significant” traffic disruption on the Saturday and Sunday specifically on the 400 series highways, the Gardiner Expressway, the QEW and Lakeshore Boulevard, as well as Highway 427.

In addition, the York, Bay and Yonge Street exits on the Gardiner Expressway will be closed on Friday and Saturday.

Police qualified their statement by saying that some of these plans may change.

Union Station will remain open during the weekend of the summit however the Front St. exit will not be in use from Friday to Sunday. In addition, no vehicles will be permitted on Front Street west of Bay Street during this time.

Portions of the PATH system will be closed from Friday evening to Sunday and will reopen on Monday. Members of the public will not be able to exit the PATH into the security perimeter nor will they be able to enter the PATH system from within the perimeter.

“Traffic disruption will be significant in this area and members of the public are encouraged to use public transit or the pedestrian walkways to go into or leave Union Station,” said Superintendent Tom Russell, head of G20 planning for the Toronto Police Service.

Police warn there will be enhanced parking enforcement throughout the downtown core during the summit.

The homeless will not be allowed into the perimeter once it has been secured. Police say staff from the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration will be working with the streets to home program to urge homeless people to access services before the larger security perimeter goes into effect.

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Former Yaletown socialite facing U.S. drug charges

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Vancouver businessman Rick Bafaro and his ex-wife Jessica Ruth were hailed in 2002 as one of Yaletown’s “glam couples.”

They owned a pair of trendy stores and hairstylist Ruth had dyed the locks of three Vancouver Canucks platinum blond for the 2001 first-round Stanley Cup playoffs.

Today, 45-year-old Bafaro sits in jail in Washington state facing drug-smuggling charges. He’s been named in court documents as the ringleader in a plan to hike into the U.S. carrying backpacks stuffed with B.C. bud. He was arrested, along with four other men, on April 26.

“In one sense it was a complete shock and in another sense it’s not shocking at all,” Bafaro’s ex-wife told The Province on Thursday. “When I say it’s not shocking, it’s not like he’s been involved in this before. But he’s one of these people who’s really artistic and starts going with the flow and doesn’t really think about what he’s doing and how it’s affecting others.”

The Bafaros split up four years ago and Ruth, 40, said her main concern now is the welfare of the couple’s eight-year-old son, Julian. “He’s eight, he’s just starting to read and he’s at a special school for children with learning disabilities,” she said. “He knows what happened. The idea that his dad could be so foolish to make a choice that wouldn’t just affect him but everyone around him, especially his son – I don’t even know the word for it.”

Ruth, who owns Stratosphere hair salon on Granville Street, described her ex-husband as a “free spirit” who “wasn’t grounded” after their divorce.

According to court documents filed in Seattle, Bafaro was arrested at the Best Western Hotel in Bellingham, after four other men were caught in the woods south of the U.S. border. Federal customs and immigration agents found four backpacks in the forest containing 11 heat-sealed plastic bags of marijuana weighing 60.49 kilograms.

The other four men included two respected entrepreneurs, former Telus marketing director Chris Neary, who’s in his mid-30s, and Duncan fitness club owner Daryl Fontana, 37. Also arrested were Sinisa Gavric and Carl

Thiessen.

In court documents, Fontana made a written statement saying he’d met Bafaro on April 19 and Bafaro had told Fontana he stood to make $10,000.

“That would require me backpacking 25-plus pounds of marijuana across the border into the U.S.,” Fontana wrote. “Rick, as far as I know, was the main facilitator of this job. He organized the buying of equipment, the packing of the marijuana and the logistics of the transport from Canada to the U.S.”

According to court documents, Bafaro told U.S. federal agents he was going to be paid “approximately $300 per pound of smuggled marijuana” – or about $40,000 in total – “and that he did it because he needed the money.”

Ruth painted a picture of her ex-husband as an “eccentric, very charismatic person, with lots of energy,” who loved to be part of a team.

“For years and years he tried to make the NHL,” she said. “I could see how people could get taken in and wrapped up in what he’s doing. He’s incredibly active and is in amazing shape and, probably, some kind of strange opportunity came up.”

Ruth said that while her ex-­husband was not making custody payments, he did see his son every weekend. She said Bafaro had two tattoos, one with her name and the other their son’s name.

Before they divorced, the couple were part-owners of Zero Gravity Clothing and Stratosphere hair salon, which was then in Yaletown.

Ruth said she doesn’t plan on going to Bafaro’s trial, which is scheduled for July 6 in U.S. District Court in Seattle. “I’m going for sole custody [of Julian],” she said grimly. “That’s the trial I’m going to.”

She said she’ll leave it up to her son to decide if he wants to go to his father’s trial: “Julian, at this point, doesn’t want to go, not because he doesn’t want to see his dad, but the whole idea scares him a bit.”

Ruth said that, as far as she knows, her ex-husband wasn’t involved in drugs. “Of course, it always makes you doubt things now,” she added.

A letter was filed in court from Bafaro’s girlfriend, Julie Bevacqua, a Vancouver software marketing director.

She described Bafaro as a “compassionate and caring person, encouraging friend and a wonderful, dedicated father.”

She said Bafaro’s “recent divorce was immensely stressful and an unsettling event for him. The guilt over his failure and perceived impact on his . . . son . . . affects him every day.”

Bafaro is charged with conspiracy to distribute and import marijuana and possession with intent to distribute pot.

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