Posts Tagged "Heres"


Own a house with your partner? Here’s what happens if you break up – National

by BBG Hub

The last thing you expect when you buy a home with your long-term partner is to break-up shortly after.

But that’s exactly what happened to Nora, who asked Global News to change her name for privacy reasons.

Nora and her boyfriend dated for about three years before they decided to buy a house together in an Ontario suburb.

At the time, she was given financial advice to put the home in her name because she was earning more money while her partner was finishing school. Nora also took advantage of the government’s first-time homebuyers tax credit.

READ MORE: ‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child

Only a year after living in the home together, Nora and her boyfriend split. They didn’t have any formal agreement about their property and who would be responsible for paying what.

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Their mortgage was in Nora’s name, and the couple had another personal loan, too.

“I ended up getting a lawyer because I was very unsure [of my rights] and it was a ton of money we were talking about,” Nora said.

“She unfortunately advised me that he could get up and walk away if he really wanted to, and I would have to take him to court to try and get the money that he owed,” she said.

Must-have tips for first time home buyers

Must-have tips for first time home buyers

Thankfully, Nora and her ex-boyfriend came to an agreement through her lawyer. The pair decided they would sell the house, and he would be responsible for his half of their outstanding debt.

“I was, in all honesty, very lucky, but it was incredibly stressful,” said Nora.

“I had no idea the sort of risk I took.”

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The importance of a cohabitation agreement

Nora’s experience is not that uncommon. More Canadians are in common-law relationships today than in the past, data shows, and many are buying homes together.

More than one-fifth of all couples — 21 per cent — were living common law in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. This is a big jump from about 6 per cent in 1981.

READ MORE: More millennials are signing prenups — and experts say that’s a good thing

What’s more, the government agency says many adults now choose to live common law before marriage. The latest available data found that 39 per cent of married 25- to 64-year-olds lived common law with their current spouse before getting married.

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But common-law partners don’t have the same rights married couples do, and many don’t understand the risks of buying a home together, says Diana Isaac, a family lawyer at Toronto’s Shulman Law Firm.

In Ontario where Isaac practices, common-law couples do not have any automatic rights to property like married couples do. This means if a couple lives together but their home is only in one person’s name, as in Nora’s case, a cohabitation agreement is important.

A cohabitation agreement is essentially a contract that outlines how a couple will deal with assets like property and spousal support should they break-up or one person dies, Issac says. It helps prevent future legal issues, and clearly outlines who owns what.

Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting

Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting

These agreements are especially vital if property is only in one person’s name (i.e. “on title”) but both parties put money into it. Cohabitation agreements are also valuable when one partner moves into another person’s house, and begins contributing to the household.

This is because if a couple splits, each person keeps whatever they technically own — including property.

“If the person is not on title and they have contributed to the home, the title would take precedence,” explained Isaac.

“The individual that is not on title would have to prove their contributions by way of a trust claim in order to have an equitable interest, which becomes very complicated and very costly.”

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In cases like Nora’s, if she and her boyfriend didn’t come to a post-split agreement, she would have been on the hook for the house, Isaac said.

READ MORE: Canadians fear debt almost as much as they fear death

“When that mortgage statement comes through and your name is on there, you’re responsible for it.”

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Laws vary across Canada for common-law spouses

Common law legislation varies from province to province. In Ontario, couples are considered common law if they’ve lived together for three years or more. If they have a child together, a couple becomes common law sooner.

In B.C., couples are considered common law if they’ve shared a home in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or they’ve lived together under two years but have a child together.

Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit

Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit

The Civil Code of Quebec currently does not recognize common-law couples (or “de facto spouses” as they’re called in the province). In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec does not have to give common-law spouses the same rights as married couples.

In 2018, efforts were put forward to change Quebec’s legislation regarding common-law couples.

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In Manitoba, all laws in the province governing property rights of married couples are applicable to common-law partners who have been living together in “a conjugal relationship for at least three years.” Common-law couples can also register their relationship at the Vital Statistics Agency.

It is important couples understand the laws in their province so they can make informed decisions. Isaac suggests couples talk to a lawyer to draft cohabitation agreements prior to moving in together.

READ MORE: ‘The current system is broken’: changes coming to Sask. divorce and separation laws

Nora wishes she knew about Ontario’s laws earlier. She wants unmarried partners to know it’s important both parties protect themselves if they’re going to put money into property together.

If her ex didn’t agree to cover his half of their home, it would have been up to her to figure it out.

“When it was deemed that there was no way this relationship was going to be salvageable … I had no interest staying in [the house],” she said.

“It just had too many bad memories.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hiring a babysitter? Here’s how much you should pay them – National

by BBG Hub

When Lauren Bondar and her husband have work commitments or want to go out on a Saturday night out, the first thing on their minds is finding someone to take care of their children.

Bondar, a public relations worker at a Toronto-based firm, has a 20-month-old daughter and three-year-old son, so leaving the kids at home alone is not an option.

The options — namely nannies or babysitters — have different pros and cons. Most nannies will have set rates and no wiggle room for negotiating, says Bondar, while babysitters or teens open to minding children are more likely to be willing to haggle.

READ MORE: Parents feel squeezed by child-care costs. Here’s where they want help

Bondar finds nannies typically charge between $15 and $18 per hour of care. Teens, who often ask their parents for advice about rates, will cost you anywhere from $12 to $15 an hour.

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If either a babysitter or a nanny asks you to propose a rate, Bondar recommends considering the minimum wage and asking around for suggestions. There are babysitting and mom Facebook groups, where people trade advice or you can ask other mothers you know, but Bondar warns that the goal shouldn’t be to find the cheapest option.

“You don’t want to undercut people who are helping you look after your children because I don’t think that fosters a long-term reciprocal relationship,” she says.

The going rate for babysitters climbing to minimum wage and beyond

The going rate for babysitters climbing to minimum wage and beyond

Deciding what to pay your babysitter and nanny doesn’t just depend on their level of experience. The length of time you’ll need child-care for, the time of day and how many kids should be part of the calculation.

Bondar says having two children instead of one doesn’t mean that she typically pays more because she is often leaving the children in the evening, when they will be in bed and hopefully asleep for most of the time.

Even daytime gigs where the kids will be taken out somewhere don’t often vary in price, she says.”In the summer, we had one of my son’s camp counsellors, who was a teenager, come take him out for the morning with another friend of his, who also went to camp,” Bondar recalls.

READ MORE: ‘Babysitting while Black’: Woman calls police on man looking after white children

“I didn’t ask her rate, but we offered her $20 an hour, and had two almost four-year-olds with her. She seemed thrilled by that and it seemed fair knowing she had two kids.”

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Bondar says she doesn’t tip her babysitters, but finds other ways to ensure they understand how grateful she and her husband are for their service. “If we were to get home at 10:30 at night, we pay them until 11,” she says.

Actions like that can go a long way during the holiday season, Friday nights or on weekends, when the demand for sitters and nannies is higher and babysitters could have several families calling looking for help.

Winning the Canadian female vote – Part 2: Child care

Winning the Canadian female vote – Part 2: Child care

“You want to treat the person fairly from the onset, so if you call them and you are in a pinch, when you need them last minute, they’re more inclined to help you,” says Bondar.

If you’re relying on family to mind your children, you can often find yourself in a position of not knowing whether you should pay them or not.

Bondar says she doesn’t pay her father-in-law when he watches the kids, but would fork over money for family members that aren’t grandparents. “I don’t have a little cousin in town, but if I did I would absolutely pay like $15, like I would for a teenager,” she says.

“I’m sure they would insist not to, but I would want to order them dinner or give them a bit of money because they are helping you out.”

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© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Here’s when to change your clock for Daylight Saving Time — and why we ‘fall back’ – National

by BBG Hub

Most Canadians will likely welcome an extra hour of sleep in early November as clocks “fall back” with the end of Daylight Saving Time.

The time change will happen at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3, at which point clocks will change to 1 a.m. That means the day will last 25 hours.

The shift means it will be darker for longer in the morning, but the sun will be out “later” in the evening.

Nine things you didn’t know about Daylight Saving Time around the world

Daylight Saving Time has been used in Canada for over a century despite complaints that it’s inconvenient. There are also contradictory claims about whether or not it helps save energy.

The controversial practice was widely adopted in Europe and North America during the First World War as a supposed fuel-saving measure. Modern critics argue that it doesn’t accomplish that goal anymore, because most power grids have become more efficient since the 1910s.

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It’s also just a pain to adapt to a time shift in the middle of a chilly autumn.

Various Canadian provinces and U.S. states have flirted with the notion of getting rid of Daylight Saving Time altogether, but it currently remains a part of most Canadians’ lives.

Huge majority of British Columbians want Daylight Saving Time permanent

Huge majority of British Columbians want Daylight Saving Time permanent

Some communities across the country have opted not to participate in the time-shifting practice, including most of Saskatchewan and several towns in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

New legislation coming to keep B.C.’s clocks fixed, but seasonal time changes not yet over

The European Union has also voted to scrap Daylight Saving Time by 2021.

The extra hour of sleep doesn’t come free, though: You’ll have to “give back” that time when Daylight Saving Time returns on Sunday, March 8, 2020.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Parents feel squeezed by child-care costs. Here’s where they want help – National

by BBG Hub

Steve, 32, knows all about the struggle to find affordable, high-quality child care.

The new father lives in Ottawa with his wife and 11-month-old son. Until recently, both of them worked full time, Steve in marketing and his wife in child care. (Global News has agreed to withhold the family’s last name to protect anonymity.)

Things drastically changed when Steve’s wife had to leave her job because they couldn’t afford daycare, and the irony of the situation isn’t lost on the young parents.

READ MORE: Paid leave, tax credits, more benefits — What the parties are promising parents

“Child care in Ontario is so expensive … with how little she makes teaching 10 other kids, it made more sense for her to stay home with our son than to go back to work,” Steve told Global News.

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It would have cost the young couple more to pay for daycare while earning dual incomes than it did for Steve’s wife to remain on maternity leave.

Cameras in daycares: pros and cons

Cameras in daycares: pros and cons

Steve works a typical Monday-to-Friday workweek, but his wife had shifts that changed all the time. For this reason, he says their “ideal” child-care program would prioritize flexible hours.

“Our ideal program would have hours that reflect a typical workday [and] costs that would allow the daycare workers to earn a decent wage.”

Unfortunately, Steve’s experience isn’t the exception — for most Canadian parents, it’s the rule.

Lindsay Williams and her partner live in Toronto with their two kids, aged five and 10 months. She’s currently on maternity leave but she worries what will happen when she needs to go back to work soon.

READ MORE: 66% of pregnant women not getting major recommended vaccines — CDC

She’s started the daycare search, but it’s tough to find somewhere that checks all of her boxes.

“We both work full time [so] we need an extended day spot for my five-year-old and an infant spot for my 10-month-old. We need care Monday to Friday,” she told Global News.

“Preferably, we’re looking for care close to our home or close to my work … [and] we’re looking for a clean, safe environment with a registered early childhood educator. We’re [also] looking for centre-based care with play-based learning.”

Do kids need preschool? Early childhood education professor weighs in

Do kids need preschool? Early childhood education professor weighs in

Williams placed her first child on daycare wait lists when she was pregnant, but she still had to wait 17 months before securing a spot.

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“I had to harass daycare [centres] by calling them non-stop,” she said. When she finally found a spot, she was forced to end her maternity leave two months early in order to qualify for the centre.

Williams took the spot because it was the only one she could find, but the service has been less than ideal.

READ MORE: How to talk to kids about climate change without scaring them

“The timing of daycare for my son has always been a struggle with my work hours … I’ve had to pay people to take him to daycare or pick him up on top of paying the daycare fees,” she said.

The “ridiculously high” cost of care has also been a struggle for Williams and her husband.

“To send both our sons to daycare — if we find a spot — we calculated that we would be paying $2,600 a month. At that point, is it even worth me going back to work?” Williams said.

HIV prenatal care home aims to keep mothers and babies together

HIV prenatal care home aims to keep mothers and babies together

“We would struggle financially on my partner’s earnings as he’s a contractor … his work is up and down and his hours vary. I would lose my career — something I worked so hard for — my paycheque, my adult interaction.”

Williams is looking for affordability and accessibility, but it’s also important that her children are well taken care of.

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“We’re leaving our sons with strangers for the majority of the day,” she said.

About 60 per cent of Canadian children under the age of six received some form of child care from January to March 2019, a recent Statistics Canada survey found. That’s nearly 1.4 million children in just three months.

According to child-care experts, the care services available aren’t good enough to handle this many children across the country. There’s a lack of options, and when care is available, it’s typically a massive monthly expense.

To improve child care for Canadian families, experts say there needs to be more of a focus on three main principles: making child care affordable, accessible and high quality.

Affordability is most important

Unfortunately, the high cost of care is a major issue for parents, and the price tag varies widely across the country.

According to Statistics Canada, the average monthly cost of full-time care in 2011 ranged from $152 in Quebec to $677 in Ontario, and that’s not even 10 years ago.

(Editor’s note: When Global News asked Twitter users if they had this problem, the response was overwhelming. Read some of their stories below.)

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Sharon Gregson, a spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, joined the fight for more affordable child care when she became a single mom of four children in the early 1990s.

“I needed affordable child care to go back to university [and] to work,” she said.

She quickly realized good quality, affordable and accessible child-care centres were few and far between.

“There are a few basic tenets that are true of all quality child-care systems: they are affordable — or even free — for families, educators have good levels of education and are well-paid, and they’re publicly funded.”

High child-care costs can impact all aspects of how a family lives, Gregson said — from how they eat to the kinds of extracurricular activities they can access and everything in between.

READ MORE: Unemployment is low. The economy is growing. Why do Canadians feel like they can’t get ahead?

For Diana Sarosi, Ottawa manager of policy and advocacy for OXFAM Canada, affordable child care is actually a women’s rights issue.

“Care responsibilities are a huge barrier to women’s economic equality,” she said. “[Women] often have to make tough choices when it comes to working or caring for children … this still disproportionately falls to women.

“Women do double the amount of unpaid care work that men do.”

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For Sarosi, it’s critical to provide better child-care options so that women don’t have to make these difficult sacrifices.

Accessibility is critical

Right now, finding daycare with flexible hours close to your home or work is an extremely difficult task.

Sarosi believes making child care in Canada more universal would be one way to make this process easier.

New report looks at value of real-life friendships

New report looks at value of real-life friendships

“This doesn’t mean that in every municipality, the exact same program needs to be in place … It means that everyone who wants child care has access to child care,” she said.

“In municipalities, there are different needs. [Child care] has to be tailored to those specific needs.”

For Morna Ballantyne, executive director of Child Care Now, making child care affordable and accessible can be made possible by creating a publicly owned and operated system.

READ MORE: ‘Stretched thinner and thinner’ — Timberlea mother says no federal candidate has earned her vote

“The current situation is that child care is really left to … what we call ‘the market,’” she said. “The child care that’s available is available because individuals or organizations — it could be for-profit or not-for-profit, like a church — decide to set up a child-care service.”

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There are some government stipulations regarding how these businesses are allowed to run — like limits to how many children they’re allowed to care for at once — but the service isn’t publicly delivered or publicly funded, and that concerns Ballantyne.

“People set up shop in a variety of ways, and then parents have to go and find those services and pay money,” she said. “Some parents will get some assistance from the government, depending on where they live, but the service itself isn’t 100 per cent funded by the government.”

Voter trust low among party leaders

Voter trust low among party leaders

Ballantyne believes this can lead to widely varied costs across the country and unregulated, inconsistent services.

“We have a situation now where there are lots of communities that are being under-serviced. When there’s limited supply, it tends to be those with the highest income levels who are serviced,” she said. “With a publicly managed system, we can manage the supply and demand.”

High-quality care must be a priority

While affordability and accessibility are certainly necessary, Don Giesbrecht, CEO of the Canadian Child Care Federation, believes high-quality child care is equally as important.

“This isn’t just about throwing money at [the problem].”

High-quality child care can be “really beneficial for young children in terms of their development,” he said. “The first five years of [life] are the most important years in human development.”

Research bears this out. According to a 2010 study, good-quality child care can have a positive impact on peer socialization, and it can help prepare young kids for school.

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READ MORE: Climate change emerges as one of the top ballot-box issues among voters — Ipsos poll

Geisbrecht said high-quality childhood educators are needed to create strong curriculum and pedagogy for young children, but “recruiting and retaining” continues to be one of the long-standing issues in this sector.

This is due, in part, to low wages.

“It’s not just about compensation, but that is a primary motivator,” Giesbrecht said.

Ballantyne agrees.

“You want to make sure the caregivers are qualified … that they’ve actually had training in early childhood education,” she said. “You also want to make sure that there’s not high staff turnover because we know that really impacts the quality of care.

“For all of that, you need to pay sufficiently high wages to attract people into the sector and to keep them there.”

Will childcare costs in the GTA ever come down?

Will childcare costs in the GTA ever come down?

Ultimately, it all comes back to funding.

“We want public funding, public management and planning … so that these three things can happen simultaneously: the number of spaces can be expanded, the quality can be assured to be good and … the fees are actually affordable,” said Ballantyne.

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“You can’t do one without the other.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Don’t like any political party leaders? Here’s why you should still vote – National

by BBG Hub

The 2019 federal election is just around the corner, but some Canadians may feel uninspired to head to the polls.

Maybe you dislike all of the political party leaders, or you’re frustrated with debates turning into personal attacks.

So what do you if you don’t like any of the political party leaders and don’t want to vote? Here are some things to consider.

You vote for an MP, not a leader

Alex Marland, a professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland, says it’s important Canadians remember that they don’t directly elect a prime minister, they elect Members of Parliament (MPs).

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know to vote 

While media attention is usually focused solely on party leaders, Marland says, it’s actually quite useful for Canadians to think about individual candidates.

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“Reality is, research suggests that it’s anywhere from four to 10 per cent of Canadians who do actually consider their local candidate when they’re voting,” Marland says.

“I think it comes down to recognizing that the leader is powerful, yes, but the power that an individual MP can have comes from the ability of that MP to be willing to stand up, and willing to challenge authority.”

Federal Election 2019: Majority of Canadians surveyed say mostly heard negative news about PM candidates

Federal Election 2019: Majority of Canadians surveyed say mostly heard negative news about PM candidates

With this in mind, Marland says voters should choose a preferred local candidate who is likely to represent their interests irrespective of party affiliation.

Don’t destroy your ballot

Destroying your ballot because you don’t like candidates isn’t the best option, according to Laura Stephenson, a professor of political science at Western University.

“It doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the election because it’s still going to be decided by everyone else who did cast a ballot,” she explains.

READ MORE: Promises Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, May and Blanchet have made

Elections Canada does not consider spoiled or destroyed ballots, therefore making them essentially useless.

Marland echoes Stephenson’s stance, and says destroying a ballot is an “ineffective act of signalling dissatisfaction.”

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Instead, they both suggest voting for the candidate you dislike the least.

Vote for the person you dislike the least

“Recognize that elections are about trade-offs and making imperfect choices,” Marland says.

Marland says research shows that when people say they dislike all their options, chances are they haven’t fully read all parties’ platforms.

He says that people often don’t like someone because of how they physically look — not because they truly dislike all their policies.

Why voting is so important for Canada’s generation Z

Why voting is so important for Canada’s generation Z

“If you were to take a look at any political party leader or party’s policies, inevitably, there are policies that we are going to disagree with and you just choose the best of the available options,” Marland says.

“To me, that’s the best possible way to express frustration, because you say, well, I don’t like these alternatives, therefore this is the alternative I’ll support.”

It’s almost impossible to unseat a PM. Here’s why it’s worth it to try

(If you’re frustrated with your options, Marland says citizens can volunteer to help a local candidate on their campaign or connect with other members of the community.)


Stephenson argues that voting is often a better option than sitting out the electoral process. The point of a democracy is to voice your opinion, not withhold it.

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READ MORE: Diversity of federal candidates up from 2015 but advocates say more work to be done

“There’s lots of different forms of political expression out there when it comes to the ballot box,” she says.

“But the best form of political expression is actually just saying who you like better.”

For more information on when, where and how to vote, Global News has created this voter’s guide.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Impetigo is a contagious skin infection — here’s how to ensure your kids don’t get it – National

by BBG Hub

If you have a young child in daycare or preschool, you’ve probably heard of the skin infection known as impetigo.

It’s a common and contagious bacterial contamination that typically affects kids ages two to five, although anyone can get it.

Impetigo can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Here’s what you need to know if you think your child might have it:

READ MORE: The stigma of more children after one is sick — Why some parents feel guilty

Signs and symptoms

The infection typically starts as “red sores on the face, especially around the nose and mouth, and on hands and feet,” according to Dr. Dina Kulik, a pediatric health expert and founder of

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The sores will quickly rupture and ooze for a few days, developing “honey-coloured crusts.”

“Sometimes, the lesions leak clear or yellow fluid,” said Kulik.

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry bring baby Archie to meet Tutu on Africa royal tour

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry bring baby Archie to meet Tutu on Africa royal tour

Dr. Jeffrey Pernica, head of the infectious diseases division with McMaster University’s department of pediatrics, considers impetigo to be a “mild” infection.

In his experience, impetigo can begin as “bumps that then turn into small blisters.”

“It doesn’t cause pain, but the areas of impetigo can spread if not treated,” he said.

What causes it?

The culprit behind this infection is typically bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus (commonly referred to as staph) or Streptococcus pyogenes (known as strep), according to Kulik.

“[They] live on the surface of the skin [and] enter the skin where the skin is broken,” she said.

“The bacteria that cause impetigo often enter the skin through a small skin injury such as a cut, insect bite or rash.”

Eczema can have a similar effect.

READ MORE: Your washing machine may be harbouring bacteria — here’s how to clean it

“Less commonly, it can also occur on healthy skin,” she said.

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Since it’s highly contagious, the infection is spread easily throughout schools and daycare settings.

“It can spread to other people if they touch the lesions or by touching things that the infected person recently touched,” said Pernica.

Thankfully, unlike the flu, it’s more common during the summer months because “bacteria thrive in warm and humid environments,” he said.

How to treat it

Antibiotics are “very effective” in treating impetigo, Kulik said.

“Most cases … will respond very well to topical antibiotics applied for seven days.”

It’s unlikely, but if an infection is more widespread, growing to multiple parts of the body, or if the child also has a fever, oral antibiotics are recommended.

Canada records its first case of vaping related illness

Canada records its first case of vaping related illness

Pills can also be prescribed if sores appear on the face, Pernica said.

Impetigo typically isn’t dangerous, and the sores will generally heal without scarring.

However, if left untreated, “a child may develop bigger or more sores, and the infection can lead to more serious infection, such as a blood infection,” Kulik said.

In rare cases, it can lead to more severe complications.

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“If the impetigo is caused by Group A Streptococcus … rheumatic fever or kidney problems can occur after the infection,” said Pernica.

The best ways to avoid it

As with most bacterial infections, the best way to avoid catching impetigo is practicing good hand hygiene.

“Wash your hands frequently. Gently wash any cuts, rashes or bites with mild soap and running water and then cover lightly with gauze or a bandage,” said Kulik.

“Minimizing open skin can decrease the risk of impetigo by healing rashes, such as eczema, and minimizing the scratching of bites.”

READ MORE: Does cold weather make you sick?

If someone in your house catches it, be sure to “wash [their] clothes, linens and towels every day,” she said.

“Don’t share them with anyone else in the family,” Kulik explained.

For Pernica, there’s really only one way to steer clear: “Avoid being in close contact with people who have impetigo.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Many women aren’t told they have dense breasts. Here’s why it matters – National

by BBG Hub

Until a few weeks ago, Brenda, 52, only had two mammograms — once when she turned 40 and again when she turned 50. Both came back clear.

At a third mammogram in September, things seemed normal until she received a phone call two days later.

“I got a call back … requesting I have another mammogram and ultrasound of my right breast,” said Brenda, who declined to use her last name in order to protect her privacy.

“I asked questions but was given no answers. I had no idea why I was being called back.”

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Brenda called her family doctor for clarification, and she was told she had “two dense patches” in her right breast that needed a “closer look.”

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READ MORE: ‘Dense breasts’ the biggest risk factor of breast cancer in women, study finds

“It was pretty unnerving,” she said. She was told nothing about how dense her breasts are or what that could mean for her breast cancer risk.

According to Dense Breasts Canada, 43 per cent of women ages 40 to 74 have dense breasts — a startling number, considering the implications they can have for a person’s risk and screening procedures.

What are dense breasts?

Breasts are composed of fat, glands and fibrous tissue, but the proportions of each will vary from person to person, the organization noted.

If a breast is composed of 50 per cent or more glands and fibrous tissue, it is considered dense.

There are four density categories: Category A (under 25 per cent dense tissue), Category B (25 to 50 per cent dense tissue), Category C (51 to 74 per cent dense tissue) and Category D (75 per cent and above dense tissue). The labels used vary from province to province.

Twin sisters get nearly identical breast cancer diagnoses

Twin sisters get nearly identical breast cancer diagnoses

“They’re all normal … There is no typical breast,” said breast density expert Dr. Paula Gordon, a clinical professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of British Columbia.

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“Unlike other parts of the body — like if you look at a chest X-ray, everybody’s chest X-ray looks about the same — but ‘normal’ breasts vary tremendously in how they look.”

You can’t tell if your breasts are dense by look, feel, size or firmness. Breast density can only be detected by the radiologist reviewing your mammogram, according to Lothar Lilge, a senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

“Unless a woman has entered a screening program, it isn’t known that she has dense breasts.”

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However, British Columbia is currently the only province to add density information to mammogram results. In all other provinces, radiologists don’t tell people their breast density category.

This concerns experts because dense breasts can have serious implications.

Why it matters if you have dense breasts

There are two main consequences of having dense breasts. The first is that they have been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer.

A 2017 study found having dense breasts can be the biggest risk factor of breast cancer in women. According to researchers, women whose breasts have more glandular tissue than fat are twice as likely to develop breast cancer.

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“It’s a rather strong risk factor … not as strong as age or known genetic mutations, but a strong risk factor,” Lilge said.

READ MORE: We need to talk about dense breasts: Why governments are taking notice

The second consequence of dense breasts is that they make it difficult to see breast cancer with a standard mammogram — a phenomenon Gordon calls “the masking effect.”

“[During the X-ray], the fatty breast is completely black. The extremely dense breast is completely white. Lumps, including cancers, are white,” she said. “If a woman has all black fat in her breasts, we’re going to see even the tiniest cancer pretty easily.”

There are only two ways to detect cancer early in dense breasts: ultrasound and MRI.

“Some people call that a double whammy,” Gordon said. “Not only are [these women] at increased risk, but on top of that, we’re not as good at finding it.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Canadian womenaccording to the Canadian Cancer Society, roughly 5,000 will die from it this year.

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Early detection is key to beating the disease, which is why doctors encourage an awareness of risk factors — like family history and obesity — as well as frequent screenings.

Finding cancer early can save lives, but it can also allow a woman to have a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. It can even mean avoiding chemotherapy.

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“That’s a pretty big deal,” said Gordon.

Since people with extremely dense breasts require screening beyond mammograms to detect cancer early, Gordon believes most provincial breast cancer screening programs are due for an upgrade.

Calls for an updated screening process

Because it may be harder to detect cancer in dense breasts, Dense Breasts Canada wants the health-care system to increase screening procedures and provide ultrasounds for those most at risk — including those with the densest breasts.

In Quebec, an ultrasound is given as a supplementary screening procedure if you’re in the highest category of breast density and have a family history of the disease.

British Columbia was the first province to add density information to its mammogram results.

READ MORE: Thousands of women say they have breast implant illness. What is it?

“Your postal code should not determine whether or not you have access to early detection for breast cancer,” Jennie Dale, founder of Dense Breasts Canada, previously told Global News.

She also said the type of information varies — some provinces use older methods to measure and categorize breast density.

“Other provinces are using outdated methods, and many provinces are using methods that don’t include all four categories of breast density so they are ignoring the huge population of women with dense breasts,” Dale said.

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Dense Breasts Canada has a list of what different provinces are doing on its website.

READ MORE: ‘Convinced it was a cyst’ — Wife shares heartbreaking story of losing husband to breast cancer

For Gordon, Brenda’s experience is all too common, and it represents a major flaw in the approach to breast cancer screening taken by most provinces in Canada.

She believes women should be made aware of their breast density — and what it could mean for their breast cancer risk and screenings — as soon as possible.

“My plea would be that women should find out [how dense their breasts are],” she said.

“It’s no different than knowing your blood pressure or knowing your cholesterol level.”

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— With files from Dani-Elle Dubé and Rebecca Joseph

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Children get headaches — here’s what parents can do – National

by BBG Hub

Headaches are common for all age groups, but when a child gets one, it may be hard for them to communicate how they feel.

Dr. Gerald Friedman, pediatrician and headache specialist based in Thornhill, Ont., told Global News headaches occur in children and increase in frequency when they reach adolescence.

“Approximately 50 per cent of children will experience a headache during their childhood,” he said. “Migraine occurs in five to 10 per cent of children.”

Older children with headaches are capable to talk about how they feel.

“For younger children with limited abilities to verbally communicate the parents should pay attention to episodes characterized by crying, appearing pale, vomiting and relief with sleep,” Friedman said.

READ MORE: Boy, 14, dies of rare neurological disease after complaining of a headache

Dr. Daune MacGregor, staff neurologist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, explains some research indicates one in 11 children have headaches.

“If you look overall and ask a school-aged population if they’ve had headaches, at least 60 per cent of them will tell you at some point in time they get it.”

And while some adults who have headaches never go to their doctors, both experts added if your child is experiencing a headache, especially for the first time, parents and health professionals need to understand what’s going on.

WATCH: How to tell if it’s a headache, migraine or brain aneurysm – and what to do next

“Obviously it depends on the frequency… but if you get a child who has recurrent headaches with periods in between then you’ve got to try to sort out what the origin of the headache is,” she said.

Even if your child is getting a headache maybe once or twice a month but they are not responding to pain medication, she says, they should also be checked out.

“It’s really a matter of sorting out whether or not the headache is what we call a primary headache disorder,” she said. “These are the ones that have genetic origins like migraines, tension-type (headaches) or stress-related headaches.”

Symptoms to pay attention to

Friedman says some headache symptoms are known as red flags and it is important to remember that headaches are symptoms.

“These include headaches which awaken the child from sleep during the night, or begin in the very early hours of the morning (between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.), especially if associated with vomiting.”

If a child is feeling a headache that extends to the back of their head, this would warrant further evaluation, he noted.

READ MORE: Changing weather conditions cause headaches in children, study finds

“Children who experience any of the red flag symptoms should see their doctor immediately. Children who experience headaches more than once a week should also be evaluated.”

MacGregor notes sometimes the pressure can change in a child bends over, for example, or there are other symptoms along with the headache that include weakness in the limbs.

She says children often describe headaches in specific ways. Sometimes this can include a pounding headache that makes the child feel sick or nauseous. Some children can describe their heads squeezing, aching or feeling pressure — either way, note down exactly how they feel.

Dr. Marissa Lagman-Bartolomoe, an assistant professor in pediatrics at the University of Toronto and a pediatric and young adult headache neurologist at the Hospital for Sick Children and Women’s College Hospital, told Global News other red flags include headaches associated with fever.

She adds rashes, blurry vision, dizziness and spinning sensations are also considered red flags. Age and sex can also matter, she added, for example, a teenage girl who is pregnant may be feeling symptoms of headaches.

“Any headache, even if they have a previous headache and its a sudden change and it is progressively getting worse over days or weeks, that is something they should [go to the doctor for].”

Treatment and prevention

Friedman says before treatment options are considered, a child has to be evaluated.

“(This is to) determine the nature and cause of the headaches,” he said. “The more common causes of childhood headaches include tension-type headaches and migraines, and the treatment options vary depending on the cause of headaches.”

Treatment options can include over-the-counter medicines like Advil or Tylenol, experts said, or prescribed medication. For some, treatment can include cognitive behavioural therapy or other types of relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing.

Lagman-Bartolomoe for most children, taking an over-the-counter medication and getting rest can help. Often, sleeping is a beneficial treatment option.

READ MORE: Canadian children’s hospitals report cases of rare, polio-like illness that can cause paralysis

She adds the causes for migraines, for example, are still unknown and more research has to be done from an adolescent’s point of view. Often, the symptom of a headache can be caused by several things like infection, sinus issues or fevers.

Other more worrisome (but not as common) causes can include infections, inflammation of the brain or bleeding in the brain.

Genetics can also play a factor — if a parent or an older sibling has a history of headaches, chances are a child will get a headache as well, experts said. “Up to 80 per cent of patients coming in with migraines will have a first-degree relative who also has migraines,” she said.

And children who have headaches, often have headaches in adulthood.

What parents can do

Friedman said parents should carefully look at their child’s nutrition, hydration status, and sleep patterns if they are experiencing headaches.

“A diary is often a helpful first tool to help the physician sort out what type of headache the child is experiencing.”

Lagman-Bartolomoe recommends parents to be observant of their child’s behaviour. “If the child is asking for the TV to be shut off or the light to be turned off… that’s important in their behaviour.”

If they are feeling nauseous, avoid giving them too much fluid and keep track of their diet.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The ‘Freshman 15’ can be real — here’s how to stay on track – National

by BBG Hub

It’s the tale that all post-secondary students hear before starting school: chances are you will probably gain weight and eat unhealthy in the first year of college or university.

Dubbed the ‘Freshman 15’, students are told they can gain up to 15 pounds in that first year. And while this is nothing new (or even the reality for many students), experts say it’s easy for students to fall into unhealthy habits when it comes to diet.

According to a July report from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., both men and women went through changes in their diet in first year, but men were more likely to get hit with the Freshman 15.

“These changes reflect a poorer-quality diet for both sexes, but more so for males, and were accompanied by increases in body weight, BMI, waist to hip ratio and body fat, which could lead to possible longer-term health implications and increased disease risk,” authors said in the study.

READ MORE: Reality check — Is the ‘Freshman 15’ myth or reality?

Authors found energy intake remained the same for both sexes (the amount of calories they were consuming), but there was an increase in more alcohol consumption — more so among men.

“Diet quality decreased, characterized by a reduced intake of healthy foods/beverages in both sexes such as yogurt, cheese, oatmeal, breads, rice, pasta, vegetables, green salad, fruits, steak, fish, nuts and milk, and an increased consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages such as donuts/cakes, fried chicken, beer and liquor,” authors continued.

Is the Freshman 15 real?

Men displayed a more “adverse and lower quality eating patterns,” and were less likely to eat vegetables or eggs.

Registered dietitian Anar Allidina told Global News the Freshman 15 is not necessarily a myth or truth.

“It’s actually a bit of both,” she said.

Studies have shown that first-year university and college students do tend to gain weight but the average is lower than 15 pounds. Studies show weight gain ranges from four to 10 pounds.”

She added that with any life change, our routine tends to change.

READ MORE: How much these Canadians spent on back-to-school shopping

“As a result, our eating patterns are different,” she explained. “Living on residence and having unlimited access to the dining hall, no one telling you what to eat and snacking late at night can all contribute to less-than-ideal eating choices which can lead to weight gain.”

In fact, she isn’t surprised with some of the results of the Brock study.

“If kids were not independent with meal planning and prep when they were living at home, chances are they will have a harder time making healthier choices when they are living away from home,” she said.

“This is why it is so important to establish healthy eating habits early on and get kids learning how to cook.”

Tips students should keep in mind

Allidina said there are plenty of things students can do to avoid going off track and falling into the Freshman 15.

Don’t skip meals: Getting into a routine and creating a structure for your meals will help you feel more in control of what you’re eating, she said.

Review meal plans: If you are signed up for a meal plan, look into your options before grabbing something to eat. “Be careful at the cafeteria. Make sure you take a look at everything that is available before you choose what to eat,” she said.

“Do your best to fill half your plate with veggies — this could be a salad, a soup, steamed or cooked vegetables or even raw veggies.”

Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains like quinoa, brown rice or whole grain pasta, and fill the remaining quarter of your plate with lean protein like lentils, grilled chicken, or baked fish.

READ MORE: 7 reasons why you’re always hungry

Don’t drink your calories: In place of flavoured coffee drinks or energy drinks to stay awake during classes, stick to regular coffee or tea with one packet of sugar.

“Stay hydrated with plenty of water, which will also help fight fatigue and keep you energized,” she said. “Be careful with drinks and cocktails that are often sweetened. Alcohol is filled with empty calories, so being mindful with beverage choice is important.”

Keep snacks on hand: If you are up late studying, arm yourself with nutrient-dense snacks. “Replace potato chips with air-popped popcorn, keep fresh fruit on hand — apples, pears, and oranges don’t require too much prep,” she said.

“Keep granola bars (less than give grams of sugar), string cheese, whole-grain crackers, cut-up veggies and hummus, and nuts stocked in your room so [you] won’t be tempted to hit the vending machines or ordering a pizza.”

Move: Besides your diet, exercise is the best way to stay in shape and energized.

“Join the campus gym or do a class with some friends as a way to beat stress and have fun. Join a sports team to help you stay active,” she said. “If you can, bring your bike to campus to help get you around and stay active. Walking is also a fantastic and easy way to get in your steps if you have a break between classes.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Nearly 1 in 4 teens have tried vaping — Here’s how parents can talk about it – National

by BBG Hub

More Canadian adolescents are vaping — and health experts are concerned.

The prevalence of vaping has increased in Canada and the U.S. among 16- to 19-year-olds in the last two years, according to a new study published in the medical journal BMJ.

According to a recent Health Canada survey, nearly one in four students in grades 7 to 12 have tried electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. What’s more, a 2017 study found that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are at risk of graduating to tobacco smoking.

Because more teens are vaping, it’s important parents talk to their kids about e-cigarettes. Here’s how to tackle the conversation.

READ MORE: Parents, vaping near children is just as dangerous as smoking — study

How to talk to your kids about vaping

First, educate yourself on what vaping is and how it can be harmful, said Julie Freedman Smith, a Calgary-based parenting expert and co-founder of Parenting Power. Sites like and Health Canada have helpful resources.

Most commonly, vaping is the inhaling of vapour from a battery-powered e-cigarette. These e-cigarettes can look like USB sticks, pens or cigarettes.

E-cigarettes produce an aerosol by heating a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavourings and other chemicals, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

WATCH: Lung illness tied to vaping claims first life in U.S. — CDC

Like any serious conversation, timing is important when it comes to talking to your child about vaping. You don’t want to make them feel like they’re under attack; instead, you want to foster a productive conversation, Freedman Smith said.

“Plan what you are going to say and choose a time to have an open, honest discussion,” she explained.

“That means letting your teen know that this is what you want to discuss and choosing a time that works for both of you, rather than ambushing your child as they head out the door.”

READ MORE: Health Canada failing to address dangers of growing vaping ‘epidemic’ — cancer society

If you already know your kid is vaping, asking whether they are or not is inviting a lie, she added. Instead, tell them that you know they’re vaping because their teacher told you, for example, or you found their vape pen.

Again, reacting the moment you find out is not the best solution.

“Ask your child to share what is happening for them regarding vaping: how they feel about it, the health and legal implications. Share the facts you have gathered and clearly express your expectations: ‘we don’t want you vaping because…,’” Freedman Smith said.

“Work with your child to determine how they will respond to friends asking them to vape with them. What wording can they use?”

WATCH: American dies after respiratory illness linked to vaping

Freedman Smith suggests parents offer reasons like, “It makes me feel sick,” “My parents will ground me” and “No thanks, it’s not for me.”

It’s also important to lead by example. Having a smoke-free and vape-free house teaches children that health comes first.

Health risks of vaping

Parents should be aware of the health risks of vaping so they can explain to their child why they’re concerned. It’s not enough to tell kids e-cigarettes are dangerous, Freedman Smith said. You need to tell kids how their health can be affected.

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, the CDC reports. Nicotine is addictive and harmful to people at any age but especially when it comes to youth.

READ MORE: Health Canada advocates push for e-cigarette crackdown amid surge in teen vaping

The stimulant can harm the developing adolescent brain, affecting the parts that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control, the CDC noted. Research has found that there’s a “strong and robust” linkage between vaping and subsequent tobacco use.

There are several different vaping products on the market, and each contains a different set of chemicals, which is the first cause for concern, Jeremy Drehmer, a health researcher, previously told Global News.

“We’re really in an unknown kind of abyss,” Drehmer said.

“Studies have found that [e-cigarettes] have volatile organic compounds in them that are cancer-causing,” he added, but we don’t necessarily know how much of these compounds exists in each product.

WATCH: EPS, nursing students warn kids about vaping

E-cigarettes also use aerosol — defined as particles dispersed in air or gas — which contains very small, ultra-fine particles.

“Much like tobacco smoke, these can get in and embed into the lungs, causing inflammation and all sorts of health problems,” Drehmer said.

Have ongoing conversations

Like with other substance use, parents need to have ongoing conversations with their children about vaping. These conversations can be informal but should happen on a regular basis, Freedman Smith said.

Freedman Smith suggests parents chat with kids over meals, during car rides or while out walking the dog.

READ MORE: Canadian health officials on alert after reports of vaping illnesses in the U.S.

“When you are with your kids, you can ask their thoughts: ‘Do any of your friends vape? Is it a popular thing in your peer group? What do you think about it? What have you heard about the health risks?’” Freedman Smith said.

“You could also call a family meeting… to discuss this specifically.”

It’s also important to reiterate that you care about your child’s health and you do not want them to vape. You should not assume your kid knows how you feel about it.

“Explain it is illegal [for youth], and there are multiple known health risks and some still waiting to be discovered,” Freedman Smith said.

“[Say], ‘In our family, we look after our health.’”

— With a file from Meghan Collie

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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