Canadian Cancer Society pinning hopes on daffodils sales this April

It must be April as tScreen Shot 2016-03-31 at 7.10.42 PMhousands of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers are fanning out across Ontario selling daffodil pins.

Canada’s aging and growing population is forecasted to drive a 40 percent increase in total cancer cases by 2030, further increasing demand for the society’s support services.

Buying and wearing daffodil pins provides much-needed donations and shows people living with cancer that they do not have to face the disease alone.

Money raised during Daffodil Month helps patients and their families in communities across Ontario.

Donations fund life-saving research, support services and other important work that means fewer people will be touched by the disease.

Ontarians can also buy live flowers and support Daffodil Month.

Loblaw Companies Limited has again stepped up to support Daffodil Month. For every fresh-cut and potted daffodils sold, the grocer is donating $2.

The flowers will be available at Loblaws, Zehrs, Valu-mart, Real Canadian Superstore and Your Independent Grocer locations across the province until Sunday, April 17 or while supplies last.

“Loblaw’s generous support for Daffodil Month is especially important this year,” said Susan Drodge, director of corporate partnerships for the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario. “As a charity, we must do whatever it takes to ensure we can meet the expected jump in demand for our support services over the next 15 years. It is comforting to have a partner like Loblaw in our corner.”

The Daffodil Month partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society and Loblaw is in its third year.

To date, more than $221,000 has been raised through this collaboration.

Fresh cut daffodils will sell for $4.99 and potted daffodils for $5.99. For every bunch of fresh cut or potted daffodils sold, $2 will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

This April, join the fight. Support Canadians living with cancer and buy fresh daffodils or a daffodil pin. Find out more at

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization dedicated to preventing cancer, saving lives and supporting people living with cancer through research funding, services and advocacy.

To learn more, call 1 888-939-3333 or visit

To support the campaign on social media, use Twitter: @cancersociety or Facebook: CanadianCancerSociety with the hashtags #JoinTheFight and #DaffodilMonth.


Mayor receives report from advisory panel on poverty

London-for-All-final-report-1With the members of his poverty advisory panel surrounding him, Mayor Matt Brown has received more than 100 recommendations for bringing an end to poverty in the Forest City.

The report — London For All: A Roadmap to End Poverty —was unveiled on March 31 by the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty.

The panel members include Deputy Mayor Maureen Cassidy; Dr. Chris Mackie, Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health; Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Aboriginal Health Lead with the South West Local Health Integration Network; Dr. Helene Berman, professor at Western Health Sciences; Dharshi Lacey, diversity program manager at Pillar Nonprofit Network; Andrew Lockie, CEO United Way Middlesex-London; Dr. Abe Oudshoorn, professor at the School of Nursing at Western University; and Glen Pearson, co-director of the London Food Bank.

“Six months ago, I asked the members of the poverty panel to confront an extremely difficult and complex challenge: What can we do as a city, as a community, to finally end the burden of poverty,” Brown said. “Today I am so pleased to receive their report. I know it is thorough. I know it is thoughtful. I know it is focused. And I know it will be a community call to action to all of us who strive to make London a better city for all.”

The report’s 112 recommendations address a variety of areas: income and employment; changing mindsets; health; homeless prevention and housing; transportation; early learning and education; food security and system change.

Recommendations contained within the 50-page document — including changes that can be made within the next 12 months — include applying to have London become a basic income guarantee pilot site, establishing the living wage figure for London, invest in housing allowances to support flexible, permanent housing stability, reduce transit-related costs for people with low income, and allowing children under 12 to ride public transit free.

The report also contains implementation strategies and effective measurements to gauge progress.

“Londoners spoke very clearly to us,” said Cassidy, panel co-chair. “The time for change, the time to act, is now. Poverty, we learned, is not just about the individual, it is about the community.”

The report also puts the city’s challenge into context, stating 17 percent of individuals are living in poverty.

In addition, 24 percent of children are living in poverty, as are 41 percent of Indigenous peoples.

Mackie, the other co-chair, said panel members worked closely with various community members and agencies to establish the path set forward in the panel’s report.

“Panel members attended almost 100 meetings and met with more than 1,000 Londoners to fully understand the issue of poverty in our community,” Mackie said. “Ending poverty in one generation is a lofty goal and it is only by working together that we will more effectively address gaps, remove barriers and help end the cycle of poverty for future generations.”

At the Mayor’s request, the panel will present the report to council for endorsement at the Monday, April 18 Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee.

The report is posted on line at


Public called upon to support London Food Bank’s 29th spring food drive

Food bankWith the need seemingly again increasing, Londoners are being called upon to support those in need of help putting food on the table.

The London Food Bank’s 29th Annual Spring Food Drive will begin on Friday, March 18 and run through Monday, March 28.

Londoners are encouraged donate non-perishable food items, and non-food items, at one of London’s fire stations or their local grocery store.

Once the food is sorted, it will be distributed to London’s less fortunate through the food bank and 20 other social agencies and networks. In 2015, 60 percent of the 72,439 lbs. (32,927 kgs) of food collected from the drive was given to other social agencies.

Londoners are asked to donate any type of non-perishable food item.

Examples include: peanut butter, rice, baby food and formula, soup, vegetables, beans juice, tinned meat and fish, pasta and pasta sauce, boxed dinners and other dry goods such as powdered milk, cereal and crackers. Non-food items such as diapers, toothpaste, toilet paper and detergent are also welcome.

Londoners can drop off their donations at all 14 of London’s Fire Stations or their local grocery store.

Participating stores include Metro, Loblaws, Valumarts, FreshC., Sobey’s, No Frills and the Great Canadian SuperStores.

St. John Ambulance will assist in the collection of the donations from the drop-off locations.

Donations will be sorted at the Food Bank warehouse at 926 Leathorne St.

In St. Thomas, bags can be dropped off at the fire station or the Metro and the Superstore. The donated food will be collected and distributed by the St. Thomas Caring Cupboard.

People in other areas of the region wishing to participate can drop their food off at their local food bank.

Over the last 10 years, the food bank has seen an increase in clientele of just over 50 percent.

In 2015 alone, 25,738 different Londoners looked to the food bank at some point in the year for help.

Despite the staggering numbers, 2015 saw a decrease in the number of families requiring assistance from 2014. The decrease was 10.9 percent or a total of 380 families a month — 3,527/month in 2014 and 3,143/month in 2015.

That trend has already reversed in 2016.

The previous six months (September 2015 to February 2016) saw a 4.8 percent increase over the six months previous to that (February 2015 to August 2015).

The 3,507 families a month that came to the food bank for help in February 2016 is a 12.8 percent jump over February 2015.

It should be noted that over the past 15 years, there has been a 41.8 percent increase in clientele. In 2000, on average 2,228 families a month were receiving assistance, and in 2015, that number had increased to 3,527 families a month.

Last year, 11,247 different families (25,738 individuals) were helped.

Londoners have continued to be very generous, donating over 2.12 million lbs. of food last year, worth an estimated $4.24 million dollars.

Move for Wheels raises funds and awareness for Meals on Wheels

MealsMeals on Wheels London is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year.

The annual Move for Wheels will be held on Friday, March 18, at the Covent Garden Market (second floor) starting at 2 p.m.

With a goal of raising $50,000 for senior meal and transportation services, the event includes new, dynamic fun move activities, signature indoor walk, silent auction with items worth over $5,700, music and plenty of socializing.

“Meals on Wheels London is a very important part of our community, and strengthens the key message that good food is for everyone and contributes to maintaining health and the ability to live independently at home longer,” said Sarah Campbell, executive director Meals on Wheels London.

Move for Wheels is held to generate public awareness about senior nutrition with a key focus that “Good food is for everyone.”

The event also raises vital funds for Meals on Wheels London programs and services.

Mayor Matt Brown is showing his support of the campaign by delivering meals to clients on Tuesday, March 22.

The organization’s local meal provider Youth Opportunities Unlimited is also getting into the spirit with executive director Steve Cordes and youth from the YOU Made It Café taking part.

Over 45 local business and individuals have donated items for the silent auction, including a VIA Rail round trip for two to Ottawa, Idlewlyd Inn and Spa overnight stay, Sunningdale Golf package for four, Hear More Canada, Grand Theatre tickets, jewellery, spa packages, children’s items, restaurant gift certificates, and more.

Donations can be made during the event and until Wednesday, March 30, by cheque or online at

New this year are dynamic move activities being presented by Classic Rock Free 98.1 FM.

Local community Move Partners include Amica London offering Fun with Function, Phoenix T’ai Chi Centre, Standing Gentle Yoga with Kate Eckert from Stoney Creek YMCA, and Line Dancing with Art Ferris a long-time volunteer of Meals on Wheels London.

Meals on Wheels London is a charitable organization that has offered nutrition (122,000 meals annually) and transportation services (9,600 rides annually) to seniors and disabled adults in the Forest City since 1969.



YMCA of Western Ontario names community leader to its top job

NYMCAot long after leading United Way of London & Middlesex to another record-setting fundraising total, Andrew Lockie has been chosen to take on a new community challenge.

On March 17, the board of directors of the YMCA of Western Ontario announced Lockie — who is in his seventh year as CEO of the United Way of London and Middlesex — as the association’s new CEO.

Lockie assumes the role former CEO Shaun Elliott vacated in January.

His appointment is effective May 16.

No stranger to the local YMCA, Lockie served as vice-president of educational services from 2005 to 2009.

Herald Krimmer, board chair, said Lockie is the right leader for a pivotal time in the association’s history.

“We were fortunate to have an excellent field of candidates,” he said. “We feel very confident that Andrew is the right candidate to help us build on a strong track record of community impact and are looking forward to his leadership during an exciting growth period.”

In the past decade, the association has grown from serving approximately 23,000 people with $10.5 million in annual revenue, to today being home to nearly 1,300 employees serving more than 135,000 people across southwestern Ontario with expected annual revenue this year of $34 million.

This included mergers with the YMCAs of St. Thomas, Strathroy, Woodstock and most recently, Windsor-Essex.

By 2018, the organization will have added two new health and fitness branches, in Windsor and in southwest London.

As a charity, the Y dedicates millions of dollars each year to assist individuals and families who would otherwise be financially unable to participate in health and recreation programs.

This, said Lockie, is what makes him so passionate about the work of the YMCA.

“Much like United Way, the YMCA is an important partner in the building of strong and healthy communities,” he said. “I am excited to return to the Y and continue a community building agenda that serves individuals and families across Southwestern Ontario.”

During his time at United Way, Lockie oversaw the growth of annual fundraising results from $7.3 million to $9.1 million.

He holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and a certificate in Strategic Perspectives in NonProfit Management from Harvard University.

Lockie brings to the YMCA an extensive experience in community impact strategy, operational and financial management and fundraising.

In addition to his role at United Way CEO, he has given leadership to many national and local community-building initiatives, including United Way Canada’s Strategic Planning Task Force.

He also has played a prominent role on the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty.

Lockie’s long history at the Y began in 1991 as a junior camp counsellor at Camp Queen Elizabeth, which he also attended as a camper.

He went on to work in a variety of roles including programmer, camp director, and general manager before taking on his role with educational services.

In addition to his time at YMCA of Western Ontario, he has also worked at YMCA Sudbury and YMCA Christchurch, New Zealand.

City’s 2016-2019 multi-year budget approved, 2.82 percent annual hike

Screen shot 2016-01-11 at 6.06.39 PMAfter several months of sometimes contentious debate, council has approved the city’s first multi-year budget.

On March 10, council approved London’s 2016-2019 budget, which achieves an annual average 2.82 percent property tax increase from rates.

The hike equates to an increase of approximately $76 to the average home assessed at $221,000.

“This is a budget that is responsible and sustainable,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “It funds major initiatives in a fiscally responsible way that will help us work together to build a better city. It also protects the existing services that Londoners rely on each and every day.”

Moving to a multi-year budget, according to a media release from the city, better links council’s four year Strategic Plan with appropriate funding plans.

“This is a strong budget that supports the implementation of significant portions of our strategic plan,” said Ward 7 Councillor Josh Morgan, special advisor on budget. “It entrenches service review processes within the budget which will drive value for every dollar spent.”

Any significant adjustments made over the four-year period will be brought back for council’s consideration on an annual basis.

Morgan adds the budget approval actually marks the start of a new process for London.

“As council and civic administration work to deliver on the priorities in this budget, Londoners will be engaged and have meaningful opportunities to assess and provide feedback on both the implementation and any necessary annual adjustments.”

Water and wastewater services are rate based and charged separately.

Council approved the 2016 water and wastewater rate increase of three percent back on Dec. 8, 2015.



Change your clocks, change your smoke alarm batteries

ClockLondoners may lose an hour of sleep this weekend, but the London Fire Department wants them to gain peace of mind.

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 13 and the department is reminding Londoners to replace the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when they set their clocks ahead one hour.

In order to survive a fire, occupants need to be provided with early warning and know what to do when the smoke alarms sound.

Installing and maintaining working smoke alarms on every storey of a home and near all sleeping areas is the law. Tampering with an alarm or removing the batteries can result in a fine of up to $50,000.

For rental properties, landlords are responsible for installing and maintaining the required number of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Statistics from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal reveal that among the almost 27,000 home fires that occurred from 2009-2013, there were no smoke alarms in 18 percent of them, a statistic that is rising.

In 36 per cent of residential fires (arson fires excluded) where there was a fatality, there was no smoke alarm warning.

In addition to smoke alarms, everyone should have in place a home fire escape plan, outlining two ways out of every room and designating a meeting place outside the home to ensure that all occupants got out safely.

The plan should then be practiced by holding fire drills in the home, just as they are in schools and workplaces.