Posts Tagged "News"


How awarding perfect attendance can backfire on children: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Awards for children who never miss a day of school are commonplace in Canadian schools, but now, some experts worry it might be teaching children the wrong lesson.

Research has shown that chronic absenteeism is a predictor of poor academic performance and higher dropout rates. To mitigate those risks, some schools track students’ attendance and give out perfect attendance awards.

Although this practice may boost attendance, Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto, worries about the adverse long-term effects.

READ MORE: Self-regulation — What adults can learn from these zen pre-kindergartners

“As humans, we’re not perfect, and trying to attain that actually doesn’t do well for us because it limits us,” she told Global News.

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“It gives us this idea that we have to be in control all of the time. We can’t be vulnerable, we can’t take risks and we can’t have failures — but all of those things are important for learning.”

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In some circumstances, perfect attendance awards can actually be demotivating, as proven by a 2019 study at Harvard University.

What are young kids taught about violence against women?

What are young kids taught about violence against women?

Researchers randomly chose 15,239 students in California between the grades of 6 and 12 who had perfect attendance for at least one month in the fall term. They then split them up into three groups.

The first group received a notice saying that, if they achieved perfect attendance in the next month, they would win an award. The second group received a notice saying that they’d won an award for perfect attendance in the previous month, and the third group did not receive any letters or awards.

For students who were already low-performing academically, the impact of the awards was clear: seeing their peers receive praise for never missing a day of school only made them less motivated to succeed at school than they were before.

READ MORE: End of gender reveal parties and more family activism — Parenting trends in 2020

Martyn said perfect attendance awards can cause children to feel shame over something that could be totally out of their control.

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“Maybe they need a mental health day or they’re feeling burnt out or they’re stressed or they’re being bullied. There are many reasons why children need to skip school sometimes,” she said.

“As a society and parents and educators, we need to be able to support them. We need to teach children how to understand what they need.”

Pressure to be perfect

Incentivizing kids to never miss a day of school could encourage them to ignore their own needs in the pursuit of perfection.

“In general, we want to avoid that word ‘perfect’ for young people,” said Dr. Shimi Kang, an expert in youth mental health and founder of Dolphin Kids, an educational program that teaches children social-emotional skills.

Rates of perfectionism are on the rise in young people — particularly young girls — and it can be linked to anxiety, depression, poor body image and poor relationships, said Kang.

Advice for parents as students balance school pressure, anxiety and mental health issues

Advice for parents as students balance school pressure, anxiety and mental health issues

“We know that children who have high absenteeism rates at school are … missing out on the very important social, emotional, academic learning and community, so you definitely want to encourage attendance and discourage absenteeism,” she said. “But having a focus on the record … is not exactly the right place to put the focus.”

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Kang offers a “thoughtful attendance award” as an alternative.

“I think we should award … the person who is actually brave enough to say, ‘you know what, I can’t make it today,’” she said. “That way, we’re training people who have an ability to take care of themselves.”

READ MORE: The growth chart debate: ‘This is not how kids grow’

This, Kang says, would better address the mental health crisis happening around the world.

“One in four people on this planet have mental health issues. Stress is the number one health epidemic identified by the World Health Organization. Stress impacts our physical body, our blood pressure, our sugar levels, our sleep, our mental health,” she said.

“It is a huge burden on society when people don’t know how to manage and take care of themselves.”

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Children can have suicidal thoughts at very young age: psychologist

Children can have suicidal thoughts at very young age: psychologist

Martyn points out that mental health discussions are happening, but not enough of them are in the classroom.

“[Awards like these are] basically telling our children that they’re not good enough,” Martyn said.

“It’s only been in the last number of years that it’s a discussion to take mental health days at work … that hasn’t translated to the classroom.”

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A symptom of a larger problem

There could be many reasons a child is chronically absent from school.

John Ippolito, an associate professor in the faculty of education at York University in Toronto, believes it’s the responsibility of teachers and administrators to determine those reasons and, if possible, offer help.

In his work, Ippolito has done extensive research on the relationships between families and schools — particularly minority and marginalized families, which can often face “challenges that make regular attendance more difficult.”

READ MORE: Parents are using tech to ‘track’ their kids’ locations. Does it cross a line?

These challenges could include poverty, cultural and linguistic barriers, or a lack of safe and affordable transportation.

“These can all make it hard for kids to get to school,” he said. “[They can lead to] a communication breakdown between the home and the school.”

He recommends that schools adopt “programmatic systematic interventions” to prevent further breakdown with families.

“This can create a dialogue forum to begin to nurture open relationships between the school and the families, so that those families … who are marginalized feel much less afraid to come in and ask the school about the resources available,” he said.

Communication between teacher and student is key

Moving forward, Martyn hopes teachers and administrators will begin to foster more open communication with students and their families.

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“I’d like to suggest that we better support children so they learn resilience,” she said. “How do we support children to deal positively with adversity?”

READ MORE: Hockey? Swimming? Here’s how much parents spend on extracurricular activities — Ipsos

This can include asking students questions like “if you’re sick, what are the things you can do?” or “can you get your homework?”

Teachers should be showing kids how to “positively fight” through adversity, said Martyn.

“Not for the sake of making somebody else feel better, but fight back because it’s in our best interest, because we want to do well and we want to succeed and we like that feeling.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Want to be happier in 2020? Make mental health a priority – National

by BBG Hub

Three weeks ago, you may have written down a list of new year’s resolutions with goals like “save $20 a week” or “meditate for 20 minutes each day.”

It’s also highly likely that you’ve already abandoned your resolutions — according to one 2017 survey, 80 per cent of people drop their resolutions by February.

That’s why, this year, we’re hoping to take the focus away from making resolutions and, instead, put it towards resetting the most important parts of our lives.

READ MORE: Forget making resolutions — here’s how to reset the new year

When it comes to your mental health, happiness expert Gillian Mandich says it’s all about starting the new year at a slow, gentle pace.

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“When we get busy at the holidays, things get so hectic that we’re just rushing from one thing to the next and we aren’t able to put as much intention into what we’re doing,” Mandich told Global News.

“When we talk about resetting, it means stopping for a moment to take stock, take inventory of where you are, how you’re feeling, if you’re feeling the way you want to feel or if you’d like it to change.”

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Alberta documentary sheds light on men in the oilpatch and mental health

Alberta documentary sheds light on men in the oilpatch and mental health

Once you do that, you can look forward to the future and determine what you want your life to look like at the end of the year.

“You can determine what type of life you want to create and work towards that, as opposed to being reactive and just taking things as they come,” said Mandich.

“Being proactive [means] deliberately choosing where you want to go and how you want to feel this year as much as possible.”

Here, Mandich and other mental health professionals offer some tips and tricks for resetting your approach in 2020.

Take the good with the bad

All your emotions and feelings are important — even the bad ones.

“If you’re feeling sad, angry, frustrated, anxious … all of those feelings are totally OK and part of the human experience,” said Mandich.

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The next time you inevitably have a bad day, focus not on closing yourself off from the world but investigating what made you feel that way.

READ MORE: Postpartum euphoria is more than just feeling happy — experts say it can be a ‘lethal condition’

“Get clear on where those feelings are coming from and then you can go from there,” she said.

“The first step is really that awareness piece: what is in your life or your environment, and who are you surrounding yourself with? [Who and what] are contributing to the feelings that you’re having?”

Once you know the answers to these questions, you can make decisions about who and what you want to keep in your life for the new year.

Write things down

You can use anything from an app to a journal to a document on your computer. The important part is that you’re documenting your plans for the future.

“When we talk about resetting our mental health, part of it is planning for how you want to feel,” said Mandich.

“Research shows that when we write things down, we’re more likely to follow through with it.”

READ MORE: How to talk to your kids about the death of a loved one

Another way you hold yourself accountable is to share your plans with a trusted friend or family member.

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“That can really help to make your goals more realistic,” she said.

“Write it down, plug things into your calendar and then … every week or every month, check back in. Create a habit where you start to regularly check in with your feelings and course-correct throughout the year.”

Keep this simple mood-booster in your back pocket

Caring for your mental health doesn’t mean trying to be happy all the time, but boosting your mood can make the difference between a bad day and a good day.

Christine Korol, a registered psychologist at the Vancouver Anxiety Centre, recommends something called “behavioural activation,” which is when you “track what you are doing and how it makes you feel.”

Lack of friendships impacts men’s mental health — here’s how to deal with it

Lack of friendships impacts men’s mental health — here’s how to deal with it

In addition to tracking your actions, try to add “ACE activities” to your day-to-day life:

  1. Achievement: An example of this would be doing the dishes or finishing your taxes.
  2. Closeness: You could call a friend or go get a coffee with someone you love.
  3. Enjoyment: This could be as simple as listening to your favourite music. “Enjoyment is really important for busy people who cut out all fun to stay on top of their to-do list,” said Korol.

Korol believes this is one of the “most effective treatments” for depression and low mood.

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Consider seeing a therapist

“Mental health is the accumulation of your thoughts, feelings and actions,” said Rana Khan, a registered psychotherapist at Couple Therapy Toronto. “Now let’s break that apart, and you can see where you stand.”

Once you do that, you’ll be able to determine more clearly whether 2020 is the year you should see a therapist.

  1. Thoughts. Are you having too many thoughts? Are you have too few thoughts? Are your thoughts really dark and negative? Do you think that whatever you think never happens? If so, you might need to talk to someone about those concerns.
  2. Feelings. Do you find that your feelings match the situation that you’re in? Are you able to be happy when others around you are happy? Are you able to be sad when others around you are sad? Do you get angry when the situation doesn’t call for anger? If you find that feelings don’t match the setting, you might need to talk to someone about those concerns.
  3. Actions. Do you know why you do the things you do? Do you have reasons for acting the way you act? If you don’t know why you do the things you do and struggle with that, you might need to talk to someone about those concerns.

READ MORE: Vast majority of workers with mental health issues keep it secret from their boss: study

If you’re uncomfortable seeking professional help, there are some tools — Khan recommends exercise or journalling — you can try on your own.

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“See if they help you cross the finish line. If you aren’t able to, that is completely OK,” he said.

“There are people who can help you cross that finish line, and that’s when you can seek that extra support.”

This year, we’re hoping to take the focus away from making resolutions and put it towards resetting some of the most important parts of our lifestyle: everything from our finances to parenting and more. Each day this week, we will tackle a new topic with the help of the Global News’ ‘The Morning Show.’ Read them all here

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Drinking tonight? Here’s how alcohol could affect your sleep – National

by BBG Hub

If you’re dying for a good night’s sleep, you might want to rethink the glass (or two) of wine you have with dinner.

In a recent survey by Mattress Advisor, 25 per cent of people reported feeling restless and waking up often throughout the night after drinking, 23 per cent reported feeling hot while they slept and 19 per cent reported nausea and vomiting.

What’s more, 55 per cent of respondents said they thought they got a good night’s sleep after drinking, but Susan Bondy, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto, said this is likely because of alcohol’s drowsy effect.

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You might fall asleep quickly, she said, but alcohol can hurt your rest in several ways throughout the night, leaving you grumpy in the morning.

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The actual science behind how alcohol affects your brain is difficult to understand, but Bondy describes alcohol as “one of the messiest psychoactive substances.”

“Some drugs interact with very specific neurotransmitter receptor sites and very specific systems,” she said. “Alcohol actually interacts with a ton of them, so it’s very difficult to … predict exactly what the effects will be in a specific person.”

Dry January trend sparks nationwide discussions around effects of harmful alcohol consumption

Dry January trend sparks nationwide discussions around effects of harmful alcohol consumption

How drinking affects your sleep will also depend on your tolerance and the dosage. Alcohol could have a stimulating effect on one person, and a sedating effect on another, Bondy said.

Here are all the ways alcohol can negatively impact your trip to dreamland tonight.

Drinking will make your sleep worse

Drinking in large quantities before bed will undoubtedly cause you issues later in the night.

It will affect your “sleep architecture,” which is what Bondy calls the time you spend in deep sleep versus the time you spend in light or dreaming sleep.

“The proportions of time change,” she said. “You spend a lot more time in light sleep and then you slightly wake up and you’re aware of being awake. It’s related to insomnia.”

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It will also reduce the quality of your sleep.

“At the end of the night, you haven’t had a deep sleep, which restores brain function, solidifies your memory [and more],” said Bondy.

Alcohol has also been proven to affect different hormones, like melatonin, which is “well understood to be related to constituting the circadian rhythm, and alcohol has an adverse effect on melatonin levels,” she said.

“People are not well advised to use alcohol as a remedy for mood, for sleep or for anything else, because it’s probably going to have counter-intuitive effects.”

How it affects your body

Ashley Little is a sleep content specialist at Mattress Advisor and one of the lead authors of the survey.

In her research, she found that there are lots of physiological ways alcohol can contribute to a worse sleep.

In a normal sleep cycle, over the night, you’re going into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep about every 90 minutes and you’re cycling through all the sleep stages naturally, in a healthy way,” she said.

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“When you drink alcohol, you’re getting less REM sleep in the first few sleep cycles, so it’s actually suppressing the amount of time you’re spending in REM.”

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Then, later in the night, your body tries to compensate for that, which can cause a lot of disruption.

“Another thing is people have to pee more when they drink before they go to bed, so you’re waking up having to make a bathroom run,” she said.

There are no ‘quick fixes’

Whether you’re bracing for a hangover or hoping to cancel out the beer you had while watching the game, no amount of water or greasy food will reverse the damage done.

“There really is no quick fix,” said Bondy.

It doesn’t even matter if you try to space out your drinks over the night — it’s your blood alcohol level that matters.

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“It goes away gradually, and during that time, you have very severe irritant chemicals in your system,” she said.

“Adding water lightly dilutes the alcohol content, but it doesn’t actually remove [or] reduce the number of molecules of alcohol in systems that have to be dealt with.”

Some people take pain relievers in anticipation of a midnight headache, but Bondy advises against this.

“Many of those interact very badly with alcohol.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Fine whines: Does complaining always work? – National

by BBG Hub

Complaining about something — whether it’s about an item missing from your food order or your partner’s behaviour — isn’t always easy. 

While many of us scoff at the idea of someone constantly airing their grievances, expressing dissatisfaction in a meaningful way can actually increase happiness levels, studies show

Customer alleges Samsung tried to silence him after complaint

Constructively complaining can also be an indicator of high self-esteem, research out of Clemson University in South Carolina found. 

“When people complain strategically, that’s where the true benefit comes from,” said Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at the university.

“People who are effective complainers… are the ones who do it in moderation, and are selective in the audience to their complaint.”

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When complaining is constructive

Kowalski has studied why we complain and how to do so effectively for 30 years, after she was told by a supervisor that she’s a successful complainer. 

In 2014, Kowalski and her colleagues asked more than 400 university students to write down complaints they had about current or former partners for a study

How to make an effective complaint over bad products and services

How to make an effective complaint over bad products and services

They found that those who complained with purpose, looking to achieve a result or cause change, had higher levels of happiness than those who were annoyed without a strategy.

Tactful complaints that are done with intention, with mindfulness at its core, can actually give you the results you’re looking for, Kowalski said. 

Using social media to complain

Amanda from Toronto has no problem complaining to a company or store if they don’t provide the service she’s paid for. (Global News has agreed to withhold Amanda’s last name for privacy reasons.)

She holds businesses to account on social media platforms like Twitter to solicit a response so they can fix an issue.

“It’s really about, here’s the problem I have as a consumer,” she said. “What can you do to help me?”

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Amanda recalls the time she tweeted at a home appliance store about a poor customer experience when they shipped damaged products for a kitchen renovation that were worth thousands of dollars. 

Consumer complaints about wireless and internet services continue to grow

Revealing the problem on social media in a public way caused the store to leap into action and replace the products they sent, she said. 

“I’ll complain looking for a solution as opposed to complaining just to make a complaint public,” Amanda said, adding that social media adds more weight to complaints since others can see them.

It’s important to be reasonable in your complaint, as you should only complain if you have a real issue that requires a solution. But understanding your rights as a consumer can give you the confidence to actually vocalize your dissatisfaction, she said.

Know what you want — and why

Those who are able to complain only when they have a clear objective in mind — not because they are simply upset in a moment — often have a better sense of self and self-esteem, Kowalski said. 

This is especially true when it comes to complaining in public, like at a restaurant. 

Someone who is more confident in themselves will only complain if something is truly wrong with their meal, as opposed to complaining about food only so others will think their standards are high, Kowalski explained. 

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People who like to complain even when there isn’t a real problem may be participating in what psychologists call “impression management,” which is trying to control how others see you, Kowalski said. 

Her research has found this tactic is also used to elicit sympathy, like complaining that you are sick when really you are feeling fine. 

How to complain effectively 

Venting and constantly expressing anger for attention or without an objective can make you feel worse, research out of Iowa State University found. 

But holding complaints in, especially when it comes to your relationships or even your workplace, can also have negative impacts on your health.

Kowalski’s research from the mid-90s shows that some may hide their feelings if they are worried about how others will perceive them. This is particularly true if someone has a high need for approval. 

Learning how to complain in a constructive way can help to improve your relationships and have your needs met, said Amy Cooper Hakim, a psychologist based in Boca Raton, Fla., who specializes in workplace relationships. 

“If we complain in a constructive manner, we’re doing so to improve a particular situation for ourselves, or for others,” Hakim said. 

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Before you make a complaint, first decide whether it’s worth complaining at all. Ask yourself: will this bother me in the next five minutes, or five hours? 

If something is not going to be a problem for you within a few hours, it might not be worth bringing up, Hakim said. But if it’s going to be an ongoing issue, you should address the problem and figure out how to solve it. 

Picking and choosing your battles may make your complaints seem more legitimate to others, as you won’t be known as someone who constantly complains, she said. 

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She also recommends trying to take emotion out of the situation, even though that can be hard to do.

“When we are emotionally invested and angry, we come off in a certain way where we could perhaps be seen as a whiner,” she said. “But when we can specifically look at the fact of the matter… we [should] focus on that.” 

Also, consider the relationship you have to the person you are complaining to, she said. Complaints should be framed differently depending on if you are speaking with your boss, versus a close friend.

“You can appeal to someone’s soft side if they know you, if they have experienced something similar,” she said. “Think through who you’re speaking to before you just speak.”

Complaining a lot could mean that you are very effective at it, but Hakim recommends using those skills wisely. If you become known as a complainer it can weaken your arguments. 

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For Amanda, she doesn’t see complaining as a bad thing, but rather a sign of empowerment, especially for consumers.

“It’s just holding companies and people accountable for the products and services they provide,” she said. “I’m asking for something that’s reasonable.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘We would slash the fabric’: Fashion’s harmful habit of destroying unsold clothes – National

by BBG Hub

One woman’s recent discovery of garbage bags full of unused children’s clothes outside a Toronto mall is highlighting a serious problem in the fashion industry.

On Wednesday, Natasha McKenna said she was disappointed to find purposely damaged clothes, toys, shoes and other items outside a local Carter’s OshKosh.

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“They weren’t just thrown out, they were destroyed so they couldn’t be used by anyone,” McKenna wrote on a now-viral Facebook post.

McKenna saw everything from cut-up children’s gloves to shoes with cut-out triangles at the ankle and toys that had several pieces missing.

A pair of gloves cut up. Photo by Natasha McKenna

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Carter’s said their policy “is to dispose of damaged or unusable product to prevent any potential harm to our customers.”

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“We contacted our store in Canada and determined the items in question were damaged or unusable and disposed of properly for safety reasons,” the spokesperson said.

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Why climate change in the Arctic affects us all

The company added that in the last five years, it has donated products to children’s organizations in the U.S. in Canada.

The practice of destroying clothes

Unfortunately, the practice of destroying or disposing of clothes is not unique to one retailer. In fact, experts say it’s a practice that happens across the world.

Global News reached out to several retailers for their policy on discarding and donating unsold items. Many of the responses have been similar.

Kristina Lovesey, 28, worked at an Ottawa-based Winners in 2008. She remembers being instructed to destroy “damaged” goods.

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“We would slash the fabric or remove branding so that the item was either unusable or undesirable, shoes would lose the tongue or have the insoles cut up and bags we would cut straps off,” she said.

Other times she was asked to break patio dishes.

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“If there were recalls or the item was damaged to the point of it being a safety issue, those products would go straight into the garbage,” Lovesey said.

“But that wasn’t always the case.”

A spokesperson for Winners and Marshalls Canada told Global News “there is little undamaged merchandise that goes unsold and we typically donate that merchandise to charitable organizations.”

When asked if they ever destroy unsold items, the company declined to answer.

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Greta Thunberg denounces world leaders’ ‘creative PR’ in climate flight at UN summit

Lovesey never got a clear explanation as to why employees would destroy unsold items. She heard everything from thrift shops and charities not accepting brand name clothing to policies around not allowing people to take items from dumpsters. Lovesey says the store would qualify this as “theft.”

“Even as high school kids working part time, I think we were all aware of how wasteful these practices were.”

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Warren Mabee, an environmental expert and professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University, says the issue is widespread.

“With planned obsolescence, [clothes] essentially wear out faster, so consumers are constantly motivated to buy new and keep up with the latest fashion,” he said.

This puts pressure on retailers to constantly clear the shelves to make room for the next thing, Mabee explained. What gets tossed away could be perfect quality, but it simply isn’t selling fast enough.

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This is, in part, due to the shift from “producing clothes that were durable and long-lasting to clothes that are extremely fragile,” he said.

The carbon footprint of fashion

There aren’t robust statistics available on how much is being disposed of in this way, said Mabee, which makes it difficult to develop a “total footprint” caused by this practice.

However, the carbon footprint caused by clothing and the fashion industry more broadly is well-documented.

Fast-fashion giants like H&M, Zara and Nike have faced criticism for their environmentally harmful practices.

A 2017 New York Times article found that a local Nike store was slashing up unsold sneakers and garments so they would be unwearable. In 2017, H&M was accused of burning 12 tonnes of unsold but usable clothes since 2013 by Danish journalists who produced a documentary on the Swedish retailer.

READ MORE: Environmental impacts of ‘fast fashion’ and what you can do as a consumer

In a statement to Global News, H&M Canada said “only when test results show that certain products do not fulfill our safety regulations” they are taken off shelves and not recycled.

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In these cases, “they will therefore be sent to destruction in accordance with our global safety routines, and this is extremely rare,” the spokesperson said.

Upcycling helps divert clothing waste from landfills

Upcycling helps divert clothing waste from landfills

Even more exclusive brands destroy clothes.

Luxury brand Burberry burned unsold clothes, accessories and perfume worth nearly $49 million in 2017 to prevent them from being cheaply sold or stolen, the BBC reported.

When clothing ends up in landfills

When clothing is burned, it produces greenhouse gas emissions. When it’s simply thrown away, it often ends up in landfills.

According to nonprofit Remake, 80 per cent of discarded textiles end up in landfills or are burned across the globe. Only 20 per cent are reused or recycled.

But even when clothes aren’t discarded, there’s an environmental impact on production.

“Even clothes made of natural fibres have a steep carbon footprint because often cotton or other materials are grown in one place … shipped to another country for processing, and then shipped back for final sale,” Mabee said.

READ MORE: Canadians want more action on climate change, but are worried about ‘economic hardship’

“There’s a fairly hefty carbon footprint associated with that travel.”

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The situation is made worse when the fibres are grown using pesticides, herbicides and artificial irrigation, which is increasingly common.

“To add to this, many clothing items incorporate dyes or chemical additives that can cause environmental problems, or synthetic fibres like polyester that don’t decompose in landfills and which are sourced from petroleum sources,” said Mabee.

The rise of modest fashion, explained

The rise of modest fashion, explained

“Polyester and other plastics can also break down in the wash, leading to micro-plastic losses which can pass through water filtration plants, back into lakes, rivers and oceans.”

Even though clothing resellers like Value Village are increasing in popularity, Mabee is worried about textile waste, which continues to be a massive problem for the environment.

“As much as 80 per cent of textiles will end up in landfill,” he said. “It can take up to 200 years for [natural fibres] to break down, while synthetic fibre doesn’t decompose at all.”

What can consumers do?

The best thing a consumer can do is to try and buy items “that last” rather than the latest fashion, Mabee said. This may mean investing in locally made brands or companies that have greener manufacturing practices.

He also encourages shopping at clothing resale stores.

READ MORE: Aging population, climate change biggest challenges for Canada’s economy in 2020s: RBC

“One potentially beneficial trend happening now is the shift towards ‘uniform’ dress styles, where you pick a look and then replicate it on an ongoing basis — like Obama and his dark suits and red ties,” he said.

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Mabee also says companies need to make longer-lasting products.

“At the very least, I think companies should be willing to recycle or donate things they cannot sell — rather than disposing of them.”

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘The Goop Lab’: Why health experts are concerned about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new show – National

by BBG Hub

A new TV show called The Goop Lab will bring Gwyneth Paltrow‘s lifestyle brand Goop to life, and doctors are concerned.

The six-part series will make its way to Netflix on Jan. 24, and it promises to delve into some of the controversial topics that the semi-retired actor has discussed through her brand.

In the trailer, Paltrow is joined by Goop’s chief content officer Elise Loehnen as they discover and learn about new wellness trends together.

“What we try to do at Goop is explore ideas that may seem out there or too scary,” Loehnen said in the clip.

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Some health experts are sounding the alarm, fearing the series is just another way for Paltrow to spread misinformation about women’s health.

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Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an obstetrician-gynecologist and outspoken critic of Paltrow and the Goop brand, took to Twitter to share her worry about the upcoming series.

“Medical ideas that are too ‘out there or scary’ should … be studied before [they’re] offered to people as an option,” Gunter said.

In her book Vagina Bible, Gunter aims to protect women’s health from misconceptions and myths often spread through the gaps in medicine, exploited by the “wellness industry” and endorsed by celebrities like Paltrow.

The outrage over the show follows years of controversy surrounding Paltrow and her wellness brand.

In September 2018, the company was forced to pay $145,000 in civil penalties to settle allegations that it made unscientific claims about the health benefits of three of its products: a jade egg designed to be inserted into women’s vaginas to supposedly improve their sex lives, the “heart-activating” Rose Quartz Egg and the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, a tincture that Goop claims “assists in the clearing of guilt, shame, self-criticism and blame.”

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Goop made health claims about the products “that were not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the Orange County district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Shirley Weir founded Menopause Chicks, an organization dedicated to informing women about perimenopause and menopause, and she predicts The Goop Lab will confuse young and old women alike.

“I’m concerned about the show, especially since it’s on Netflix — an account shared by me and my 16-year-old daughter,” Weir told Global News. “We want women to get informed and choose the journey that’s right for them, but when it comes to [Paltrow], I have concerns.

“Even if a woman doesn’t watch the Netflix series, but watches this trailer, it could send her down an uninformed health path.”

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As an accredited obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Yolanda Kirkham worries about any wellness product or piece of information that makes a profit — which describes all of the items and services sold by Goop.

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“It becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact-based information and marketing,” Kirkham told Global News. “We’ve seen from celebrity-backed viral misinformation that results can be harmful or deadly.”

Why people fall for ‘crazy remedies’

In a previous interview with Global News, Gunter said it’s important to note that “women don’t just randomly stick weird sh*t in their vaginas.”

“Somebody who is a trusted authority has led them to believe it’s the right thing to do. They’re not stupid, they’re going online, researching and doing their best,” she said.

“What happened is, instead of meeting the right information, they met a predator, who told them wrong information and it was presented in a science-ish way that made it sound right.”

Fans aren’t sure about Gwyneth Paltrow’s Golden Globes red-carpet dress

Kirkham advises people to be cautious.

Really ask who the source is and what the source of the information might be gaining,” she said.

In an effort to make money, one thing the wellness industry does is “generate fear,” Gunter said.

“It makes people scared of things like toxins, but they don’t actually tell you what those actual things are, or what negative effects they have.”

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Dr. Jen Gunter’s ‘The Vagina Bible’

Dr. Jen Gunter’s ‘The Vagina Bible’

This often leads consumers to buy any product claiming to fix the problem, without being critical about what the product is or what it contains.

Although all groups of people can be vulnerable to misinformation, women are particularly susceptible because of the “shame and guilt” associated with women’s health.

“Vaginal steaming, jade eggs … these potentially harmful practices can then lead to acceptance of more dangerous activities,” said Kirkham.

‘Keep coffee out of your rectum, quit steaming your vagina’ — Q&A with Dr. Jen Gunter


“We should be … promoting and communicating good science, quality improvement, patient advocacy and experience,” she said.

“It’s a responsibility of mentors and celebrities to channel their efforts toward this end, rather than promoting misleading content that can lead to distrust of truth and science.

“We need to value trained experts rather than celebrity — even if it doesn’t ‘sell.’”

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How to spot misinformation

In a previous interview with Global News, Gunter offered four “red flags” for spotting fake health news:

  1. If it’s offered as a miracle cure. There are no miracles in medicine; that doesn’t happen.
  2. If it can treat everything. If the list of symptoms that it can treat is extensive, then it’s not true.
  3. If the word “toxins” is used. Doctors don’t talk about toxins. Studies don’t talk about toxins.
  4. If the information is coming from a site that’s selling the product. You can’t get quality information from that kind of biased source.

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“No one would think that they should get their information on depression from a drug company who makes anti-depressants, right?” she said. “So you shouldn’t get your information on a product, or about the medical condition that product treats, from the person selling the product.”

— With files from Meaghan Wray, Aalia Adam and Elizabeth Palmieri

[email protected]

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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One of 2020’s biggest fitness trends doesn’t require the gym – National

by BBG Hub

The fitness industry is nearly a $100-billion global industry — and it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

In 2019, some of the year’s biggest fitness trends included high-intensity interval training (HIIT), wearable exercise technology and all-natural protein bars.

So what does 2020 have in store? Here are the biggest fitness trends of 2020, according to leading industry experts:

Active recovery

Taking top spot this year is “active recovery,” according to the 2020 fitness trends report by canfitpro, a Canadian fitness education company.

READ MORE: New to working out? Here’s how to overcome exercise anxiety

Active recovery focuses on stretching and improving mobility and is intended to complement workouts. Active recovery can also include low-intensity exercises, like yoga, or mindfulness activities like meditation.

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“Since active recovery encompasses anything and everything that can help Canadians feel better, move better and perform better, it should be something you focus on daily,” said Mo Hagan, chief operating officer of canfitpro.

Hagan explained that active recovery doesn’t require going to the gym, either, as it can be done nearly anywhere: grab a foam roller and release your shoulders while watching TV or do some yoga on your break at work.

Leg exercises to help with shoveling

Leg exercises to help with shoveling

“It would make good sense to begin to incorporate some of the many self-care, active recovery activities into a daily practice in between or at the end of a workout, on your days off from exercising and especially when you are travelling and often have to sit for longer periods of time,” she said.

Functional fitness

Functional fitness has made trend lists for several years now, and 2020 is no exception. According to both canfitpro’s report and a worldwide survey by The American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, functional fitness will remain part of Canadians’ workout routines in the new year.

Functional fitness is exercises that replicate actual physical activities people do in their everyday lives, like shovelling snow or carrying groceries.

READ MORE: More than 1 in 4 say they’ve seen gymgoers leave bathroom without washing hands

The movements use multiple muscle groups and are intended to improve balance, increase strength and help prevent injury. Functional fitness makes it easier for people to carry out common tasks outside of the gym.

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HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense movement followed by brief periods of rest, as the purpose of these exercises is to get the heart rate up.

According to ACSM’s survey results, “HIIT was number one in the survey for 2014 and 2018 … and has been in the top five between 2014 and 2020.”

Hagan says many Canadians like HIIT workouts because they can be done in a shorter period of time than other types of exercise and they also deliver results.

How to get an entire workout with just one piece of equipment

How to get an entire workout with just one piece of equipment

“Knowing that you only have to push yourself for very short periods of time before you get a short rest is a training formula that most people can get their minds around doing,” she said.

“Everyone can work hard for 45 seconds — that’s all [you] have to think about in that moment.”

Nutritional and healthy eating programs

Exercise is undoubtedly part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but eating whole, nourishing foods is key, too.

Canfitpro predicts nutritional programs will increase in popularity in 2020, and ACSM says there’s a growing trend to integrate health promotion and “lifestyle medicine” into workout routines.

READ MORE: Stop obsessing over weight loss — focus on these 4 goals instead

Lifestyle medicine encourages people to adopt healthy practices into their day-to-day routines on top of exercise. These behaviours can include eating well, eliminating smoking and moderating alcohol consumption.

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The goal is to engage in better overall habits and not abandon well-being once you leave the gym.

Workplace health and wellness programs

It’s no secret that many of us are sitting at desks far longer than we did in the past. Sitting for too long without movement isn’t great for our backs, let alone our overall health.

More workplaces are recognizing the need for health promotion and implementing wellness programs like meditation sessions or on-site exercise classes.

Universal piece of equipment that can benefit everyone

Universal piece of equipment that can benefit everyone

Canfitpro’s report points out that workplaces are using these methods to help prevent burnout, manage stress and boost productivity.

Bodyweight training

Bodyweight training requires no to minimal equipment, making it an easy and affordable way to exercise.

Both canfitpro and ACSM rank bodyweight training on their list of top 2020 fitness trends, as it is an accessible form of movement for both beginner and advanced gymgoers.

READ MORE: How to safely exercise in hot weather

This type of exercise builds strength by using the body’s weight as resistance as well as movement. Examples of bodyweight exercises include pushups, lunges, burpees and V-sits.

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Things to remember

No matter what type of workouts you do, Hagan says variation is key. You don’t want to get bored with exercise or plateau, and you want to constantly challenge yourself, too.

“While it is true that people are creatures of habit and like to do the same thing when they exercise, it is recommended that you mix up your week with a minimum of three different types of exercise,” she said.

READ MORE: Cursing helps you crush your workout, experts say

Hagan suggests doing a combination of aerobic (cardio) exercise, strength-training exercise and some form of flexibility, like stretching or yoga, throughout the week.

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

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The Queen admits to ‘bumpy’ year in annual Christmas speech – National

by BBG Hub

In her annual Christmas speech, Queen Elizabeth II will acknowledge that both Britain and her family have had a “bumpy” time this year.

Released excerpts of the Queen’s speech, which was pre-recorded and will be broadcast on Christmas Day, nod to the difficulties of 2019. It was recorded before the monarch’s husband, Prince Philip, was hospitalized in London on Dec. 20 as a precautionary measure.

Buckingham Palace released the clips on Christmas Eve. The Queen’s speech reflects on the past year and shares wishes for the year ahead.

READ MORE: From babies to scandal, the Royal Family’s biggest moments of 2019

“The path, of course, is not always smooth and may, at times this year, have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference,” the Queen said while talking about the need for reconciliation and forgiveness.

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She is thought to be referring both to Britain’s tortuous path out of the European Union, which led to a lengthy political stalemate broken only earlier this month when voters gave the pro-Brexit Conservative Party a comfortable majority in Parliament, and to the Royal Family’s setbacks.

This year has no doubt been challenging for the Royal Family.

The Queen’s second son, Prince Andrew, stepped down from his royal duties after a disastrous BBC interview in which he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and denied having sex with a woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

Prince Philip leaves hospital in time for Christmas

Prince Philip leaves hospital in time for Christmas

Giuffre says she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with the prince in 2001 when she was only 17. Prince Andrew denies these allegations.

The family has also endured a public rift between Prince William and Prince Harry.

The Duke of Sussex is celebrating Christmas with wife Meghan Markle and son Archie in Canada this year rather than spending the holidays at the Queen’s Sandringham Estate — a long-standing royal tradition.

Kensington Palace also released a photo from the Queen’s speech on Instagram. In the picture, Queen Elizabeth II is sitting at a desk with framed photos around her.

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Commenters were quick to point out that Prince Harry, Markle and Archie were absent from the photo collection. The family was featured on the Queen’s table in her 2018 Christmas speech.

READ MORE: Buckingham Palace releases photos of Royal Family members making Christmas dessert

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex released their own Christmas card on Monday, featuring a seven-month-old Archie up close to the camera.

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— With files from the Associated Press 

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

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Sex workers say Canada’s laws put them in danger — and demand the new government fix them – National

by BBG Hub

She starts by screening them.

Whenever Mari receives online booking requests from new clients, the dominatrix and sex worker asks them to email her their government identification or a piece of work ID.

She also accepts references clients may have from other sex workers. If a client is known to others as a bad date, she won’t see them.

But Mari, who asked Global News to identify her by first name only, says not all sex workers have the “privilege” of screening clients in this way.

Those who work on the street may not have the ability to screen at all, or have to negotiate services in unsafe environments since aspects of communicating about sex work are criminalized.

“It makes our work less safe,” Mari says.

WATCH BELOW: (April 18, 2018) Backpage shutdown has B.C. sex trade workers concerned

Sex workers and legal experts argue that Canada’s sex work laws are prohibitive and doing the opposite of what they’re supposed to do — instead of protecting “human dignity,” the laws push sex workers into dangerous situations by criminalizing nearly every aspect of their job.

Built into Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), is a commitment to review the laws by the end of 2019. That time is now, and advocates say nothing has happened.

The Canadian Alliance of Sex Work Law Reform is calling on the Liberals to start that review process and act on decriminalization. The group also wants to see provincial and territorial employment laws regulate the sex industry as a form of labour.

The organization, which is made up of sex workers’ rights groups from across the country, also says sex workers need to be part of legal reform. They are the ones who know how to best protect their rights, the alliance argues.

READ MORE: Sex worker advocacy group says police violated their privacy

“Despite the stated commitment in 2015 to replace the PCEPA and to reform prostitution laws, the Liberal Party of Canada has yet to take meaningful steps,” the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network recently wrote to the government.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada said it is a governmental priority to ensure that “our laws are effective in meeting their objectives, promoting public safety and security, and are consistent with our constitutionally protected rights.”

“With regard to the five-year review, the Act provides that it is Parliament’s responsibility to establish or designate a committee to study the matter,” the spokesperson said.

“As Parliament has just opened, the House is currently in the process of forming Committees. In the interim, we continue to engage with those involved.”

Sex work laws in Canada

Bill C-36 criminalizes the purchasing of sex but decriminalizes its sale. Known as an “end-demand” model, it also forbids negotiating sexual services in certain public places, such as near schools, financially benefitting off the sale of someone’s sexual services or knowingly advertising sexual services.

Bill C-36 came into effect in 2014 under a Conservative government after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s previous laws in 2013 for being unconstitutional.

The court found the old laws imposed “dangerous conditions on prostitution” and prevented people engaged in a “risky, but legal, activity from taking steps to protect themselves.”

The Conservatives’ solution was PCEPA, which “treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that disproportionately impacts on women and girls.”

In 2014, then-Liberal MP Justin Trudeau voted against Bill C-36, and the Liberals promised to reform sex work laws throughout the 2015 campaign. Despite this, the Liberal government made no changes to the law during Trudeau’s first mandate.

At the 2018 Liberal Party convention, the Young Liberals of Canada called for the decriminalization of consensual sex work. The organization argued the “current prohibition of buying consensual sex work does not address the underlying issues that make sex work dangerous, but rather creates a climate that makes sex workers unlikely to work with the police and be involved with more serious crimes.”

WATCH BELOW: Young people with disabilities aren’t being taught sex-ed

But sex work wasn’t a much-debated topic during the recent 2019 federal election campaign, despite efforts from more than 150 human rights groups that called on the winning party to decriminalize sex work. Sex work law reform was also not a part of the Liberals’ 2019 campaign platform.

Alice, a sex worker who asked Global News to change her name to protect her identity, says Maggie’s, the Toronto-based sex workers’ rights organization, even tried to host a panel with local MPs to raise its concerns.

The event was cancelled by Maggie’s due to poor response from politicians.

The laws essentially criminalize “almost every facet of sex work,” says Sandra Ka Hon Chu, director of research and advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

“They make it incredibly difficult for sex workers to organize, to work in safety, to work together, to work with third parties who could promote their safety, and to even communicate with clients,” Chu says.

Some research shows how Canada’s end-demand model is harmful.

READ MORE: Demands grow for Canada to decriminalize sex work after the election

Research presented at the 2018 International AIDS Conference found that going after the men who buy sex does not actually help sex workers. Instead, researchers said it makes it harder for sex workers to negotiate terms of service, including condom use.

“The criminalization of sex work makes the environment of sex workers’ labour criminal by criminalizing relationships with clients and third parties and sex work income and workplaces,” another recent report by Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network found.

“While the PCEPA immunizes some sex workers from criminal prosecution, sex workers continue to experience ongoing human rights abuses perpetuated by both the presence and practice of law enforcement in the course of their work.”

New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003, which has lead to improved conditions for sex workers, including safer working environments and better relationships between workers and police, a 2008 study found.

Another 2009 study found New Zealand’s laws also did not lead to an increase in sex workers, as numbers in the industry stayed around the same.

This is not surprising to Mari, who says Canada’s end-demand model ignores the fact there’s always going to be people who purchase sex.

“And that’s why the model is a very bad model to be following; it restricts our movements and our rights.”

Advertising and communicating about sex work is incredibly hard

For sex workers who find clients online, laws around advertising make it very difficult to explicitly outline services. Bill C-36 criminalizes advertising the sale of sexual services, including through print media, on websites or in “locations that offer sexual services for sale,” like strip clubs.

While sex workers are protected from criminal liability for advertising their own sexual services, website administrators can be charged for hosting such ads, which means sites are less likely to host sex workers’ websites. Content in violation of Canada’s laws can be taken down at any time and seized by the authorities.

This results in sex workers having to use more vague and coded terms so their content is not reported.

WATCH BELOW: (November 9, 2017) App could offer some safety to sex trade workers

“Advertising is very important for business and for openly communicating terms of service and determining consent,” says Anne Margaret Deck, vice-chair of the board at Maggie’s.

While prohibitive for all sex workers, those who work on the street may experience even further challenges.

Canada’s laws also make it illegal to communicate “for the purposes of offering or providing sexual services for consideration” near school grounds, playgrounds or daycare centres.

Kerry Porth, a former sex worker and sex work policy consultant at the Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, says even though communication laws are directed at clients, they harm sex workers, too.

“Even if you only criminalize one party, that communication becomes criminalized and very difficult,” she says.

What’s more, the fact that a third-party cannot advertise on behalf of a sex worker is also harmful, she says. Porth highlights that some sex workers lack resources or the ability to work independently and prefer to work for an escort agency, for example.

READ MORE: SafeSpace London fears naming johns could increase danger for sex workers

Chu, the lawyer, says that for migrant sex workers, for whom language barriers may be a factor, the laws are especially damaging.

“The most marginalized people who do sex work, they’re probably under the most scrutiny because they don’t have access to some of the things that less marginalized people do,” she says.

Screening clients can be hard

Because it’s illegal to purchase sex, Mari says clients have a lot of fear around divulging their identity.

This makes it difficult for sex workers to screen clients in a comprehensive way, which ultimately jeopardizes their safety.

“If [clients] do not want to divulge their identity, their places of work and their reasons for coming to see us, it creates danger for the worker because you do not have any information about your client,” Mari says.

“In any other workplace or any other business, you have information about your clients.”

Those who work in rural communities may have greater difficulty getting clients to offer their personal information ahead of a meeting, especially in places where sex work is heavily policed.

Porth echoes this and says sex workers who work online — who are generally independent indoor workers — are also concerned they might be communicating with a police officer masked as a client.

WATCH BELOW: Canada’s failure to end violence against women

“There’s been a number of sting operations online and so those concerns are valid,” she says.

Violence and sexual harassment are also a legitimate concern.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 294 homicides of sex workers between 1991 and 2014. A third of those murders were unsolved as of 2016, more than 10 per cent higher than the unsolved rate for murders that do not involve sex workers.

Sex workers who are transgender, Indigenous or people of colour are even more vulnerable to violence.

Predators are aware that police are less inclined to investigate the disappearances of sex workers, the Canadian Alliance of Sex Work Law Reform says, and they also know Indigenous and migrant women often fear police detection and apprehension.

READ MORE: ‘It’s time to stop the moral panic’ — Sex worker sounds off on body politics

“Street-based sex workers or sex workers that don’t have an established business and are working independently might have to compromise their safety in order to simply get business and pay their rent,” Deck says.

“And predatory clients know this; they know what they can get away with.”

Efforts to squash stigma

Outside of legal barriers, the stigma around sex work is one of the biggest issues sex workers face. Industry experts argue the laws paint all sex workers as “victims” that need to be “saved” from sex work.

Human trafficking is also often conflated with sex work, even though they are two different things, Porth explains.

While there are instances in which women are trafficked into sex work, that is not the reality for many sex workers who simply want to be able to work safely and on their own terms.

READ MORE: Regina aims to restrict body rub parlours to industrial areas only

Alice says the stigma affects many aspects of her life, including the ability to secure housing and travel. Landlords don’t like renting to sex workers, and health-care providers may pass judgment, too.

Sex workers deserve the right to work in safe conditions just like any other Canadian worker, Deck says.

“Having these laws in the Criminal Code at all just continues to criminalize the industry, push it underground, further isolate sex workers and contribute to stigma.”

— With a file from Rachel Browne

[email protected]

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

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Yes, your poops are different on your period. Here’s why – National

by BBG Hub

Periods can cause cramping, mood swings and acne, but they can also wreak havoc on your digestive system.

“Period poops,” as they are often called, refer to bowel movements that coincide with the start of your period. They typically differ from your regular poops and are often looser and more frequent, or diarrhea.

According to Dr. Yolanda Kirkham, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, hormones are largely to blame.

“Some of the same hormones that cause cramps and inflammation also lead to some of the bowel changes,” Kirkham explained.

READ MORE: What are fibroids? Here’s what women need to know

During your period, prostaglandins — a group of hormones — cause uterine muscle contractions, or cramps. Kirkham says prostaglandins can also cause contractions in the intestines.

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“When you have excessive bowel cramps, you can also have diarrhea,” she said.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms can also affect your bathroom schedule, Kirkham said. If you experience higher levels of anxiety around your period, for example, the hormones related to stress can cause bowel movement changes.

Loose poops are only one menstrual-related digestive change; many women experience constipation before they bleed.

What are menstrual cups?

What are menstrual cups?

Kirkham says there’s an increase in progesterone just before periods begin, which is the hormone that thins the uterine lining.

“It also causes some of our other PMS symptoms, like mood symptoms and acne. It can cause some constipation as well,” she said.

How to manage period poops

There are some over-the-counter ways to deal with digestive changes, Kirkham said.

These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.

“Even before you see the menstrual blood, if you start to have cramps, you can start taking those medications,” Kirkham said.

READ MORE: A heavy period isn’t always normal — it could be a sign of a bleeding disorder

The doctor also stresses that a balanced, healthy diet rich with fruits and vegetables is key, as is exercise.

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“Then there’s also all of the menstrual management medications we use, such as birth control pills, patches and the ring,” she said. “Those both decrease period cramps and period flow… and will also help with the symptoms.”

When to see a doctor

While period poops may be normal, you should seek medical counsel if you experience any changes, including blood in your stool or rectal or anal pain.

These may be symptoms of other issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids or endometriosis, said Kirkham.

“If you’ve got more pain, more than just a change in [bowel movement] texture or bleeding, those should definitely be checked out.”

[email protected]

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

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