Resolving Timeline Issues

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  • Comments Off on Hey, Canadians – wanna go to the loonie store?

The loonie store is a wondrous place. I found these salad containers there – they have a compartment in the lid where you put your dressing so when you’re ready to eat, you just push this button on top, and pop! the dressing goes into the container below (hopefully you put some salad in there first). Give it a shake and your salad is ready to eat (so long as you have a fork. I suppose you could use your hands, but that would get messy).

My point is, you never know what you’re going to find at the loonie store. And wouldn’t you be interested in finding out what other people’s loonie stores carry? OMG. Loonie store nirvana.

If you do and you want to participate in an exchange, pop on over to Just One Miss’  Dollar Store Challenge (yes, it originates in the US so it’s a “dollar store” not a “loonie store” – although I find our name much more entertaining).

The way it works: you leave a comment, and you’ll be contacted via email for your mailing address and then you’ll be paired up with someone. Take $20 and go to the loonie store and buy some stuff. Put it in a box and mail it to the person you were matched up with. You’ll receive a box too. Then you can blog about it. Or whatever.

But Miss wants more Canadians! So go. Comment. And sign up by March 10 (that’s Wednesday, people).

As Canadians, we’re thought of as apologetic. Humble, even, sometimes (and good god, isn’t that arrogant of me? :)). We set out to Own the Podium this year in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. That is, the program wanted us to win the most medals overall beating out our neighbours to the South even. Well, we didn’t. And really, at having roughly 10 times the population of us and a much larger pool of athletes to draw from, they should have a lot more medals than us.

We ended up with 26 (including both men’s and women’s hockey gold medals. We own hockey again!). The US put in a really good show (gotta love the Flying Tomato) and ended up with 37, the most medals ever at any Olympic games. Germany (who also has a much larger population than Canada) ended up with 30.

So the Own the Podium people said the program didn’t meet it’s objectives. But you know what, peanuts?

What? says the peanut gallery.

We have the most gold medals EVER at any single Olympic games. EVER. That’s a pretty good feeling and accomplishment for a country with about 33 million people in it. Own the Podium? Yeah, I’d say we own the podium with a golden post-o glow.

This week’s Girl Talk Thursday is about getting your bitch on. Let it all out. Please note, there is more than one f-bomb in here.

I’d normally have posted yesterday, but yesterday I really didn’t have anything to bitch about. My life is pretty good. The thing I’m going to bitch about offends me deeply, on a fundamental level.

That thing happens to be Jacques Rogge. And the IOC in general.

Last night, the Canadian Women’s Hockey Team beat their US counterparts in the Olympic Gold Medal game. And I say beat rather than “won against” because the Canadian ladies blanked the US ladies 2-0. It was awesome and I am so incredibly proud of our women for dominating the game from the outset.

After the game, they got their beer on and went out onto the ice after all the spectators had left and climbed on the zamboni. And the IOC is all offended by this, and Hockey Canada, being Canadian has apologized.

NEWSFLASH: Hockey players like to drink beer after the game! Also, the sky is blue!

THEN, and OMG my blood pressure (for real this time), Jacques Rogge says something about how women’s hockey will have to become more international and widespread and not so dominated by two countries if it is to stay in the Olympics.

Really, Jacques? Really? Never mind that it took half a century for men’s hockey to become internationally competitive.

And how dare you, you arrogant prick – you couldn’t even wait until after the Olympics were said and done and let the women have their moment?

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge. You owe an apology to all female hockey players, especially the Canadian and American women, who, through no fault of their own, grew up playing with the boys and men. This is how they train. How about the IOC put money where their mouth is to encourage women in other countries to train with the men, and allow girls into boys’ leagues like they do here?

You also owe an apology to the Finnish women who are spectacular in their own right, and all the women all over the world who have fought against cultural stances that may prevent women from participating in traditionally male-dominated sports.

And you owe an apology to Canada and the US – for being so disrespectful that you can’t even let us have our moment.

Fuck you, Jacques Rogge.

I wrote a bit back about my pet driving peeves. And while these tend to make my blood boil, there’s one other thing that really, really, bugs me.

I am a grammar queen.

“Could have”, people, not “could of”. Hell, I’ll even accept “could’ve”.

Know the difference between their, there, and there they’re.

OMG, my blood pressure.

Which brings me to my issue with CTV’s Olympic Song: “I believe”

It bugs me. Okay, so I’m a bit of a metalhead, but that’s not the reason the song bugs me. It bugs me because it’s gramatically incorrect, all for the sake of a rhyme:

I believe in the power that comes
From a world brought together as one
I believe together we’ll fly
I believe in the power of you and I

It’s you and me. You wouldn’t say “I believe in the power of I” would you?

And this bad grammar is being broadcast all across Canada and around the world.

:facepalm:

This post is part of the Carnival of Maternity Leave over at Strocel.com. Visit http://www.strocel.com/maternity-leave for more posts on maternity leave from August 3 – 15, 2009.

When I found out I was pregnant last year, we were surprised. Not at the pregnancy itself, but at the timing. You see, I’d gone off birth control in March or so when my prescription ran out. By September I was pregnant. My job was really going to hell in a handbasket, and there’s somewhat of a major event happening in Vancouver next year – I didn’t want to commute while that was happening. This couldn’t have been better timing.

In December, Darren quit his job – for the best really since he was miserable there and was out of work for 3 months. He’s in a much better place now, making more money and is able to leave work at work. It did however, drain our savings.

I went on maternity leave about 5 weeks (give or take) before my due date. It was Easter, a long weekend and seemed like a good time to break off. On April 14, I applied for Maternity and Parental EI benefits and was told that it would be about a month before its approved, given the state of the economy and the larger than usual numbers of people applying for EI.

Me: A month? So if I don’t hear anything in about 6 weeks I should call?
EI Agent: No, no, no. It’ll only be 4 weeks. I promise.

(Dude, I work for government; I know that 4 weeks usually means 6 or longer)

On May 17th, the Poptart was born; my EI claim still hadn’t been processed. I waited another couple of weeks then phoned because I was getting these reports in the mail to fill out even though I had asked to be exempt from them. Every time I phoned or went to the Service Canada office, I was told I didn’t have to fill them out – yet they kept sending them. None of the agents had any idea why I was receiving them.

 Normally, the wait wouldn’t be an issue, but my employer provides a 6 week top up to 95% and we were running kind of tight at that point.

At the six week mark, I phoned the automated system again and listened to the whole message which said that I had to fill out the reports in order to get my claim processed.

Me: [hits 0, listens to muzak]
Agent: How may I help you?
Me: So I applied for my maternity EI over a month ago and a decision still hasn’t been made. Also, I keep getting these reports to fill out in the mail, and I asked to be exempt from them. Your automated system tells me I need to fill them out in order to have a decision made. The agents tell me I don’t need to fill them out. So which is it?
Agent: Okay, first, I’ll flag your account and have the agent dealing with your file contact you within 48 hours. And I’ll check with my supervisor as to the reports.
Me: And I would like an email explaining that either I do or do not have to fill out the reports.
Agent: What?
Me: I want something in writing that I do or do not have to fill out the reports. This is ridiculous.
Agent: [goes away, puts me on hold]
Me: [Muzak]
Agent: Okay, you don’t have to fill out the reports.
Me: You’re sure? Because your system says differently.
Agent: Yes, because your file hasn’t been processed, its just in the pile with all other applications.
Me: So where’s that email?
Agent: Its coming. Is there anything else I can do?…

Within 12 hours I got a call saying my file would be processed that day. I got a back payment within 72 hours.

Anyways, it got me thinking: maternity EI should be a no brainer once your Records of Employment (ROEs) are in, especially if your ROE is submitted electronically by your employer. Maternity and Parental EI is based on the number of hours you’ve worked in a certain period of time. I knew I had the requisite number of hours for the maximum benefit. How difficult is it to create an algorithm that runs a check against the number of hours and performs the calculation of your benefits and trigger a conditional approval? All that would be necessary would be for a quick check to make sure that everything is in order. Those Maternity/Parental EI forms could be dealt with by a few agents once a week. And that would reduce the stress on new parents who not only have a newborn to deal with, but also have to deal with government bureaucracy to get a pittance of EI benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have a year off to spend with my daughter. This is MY year with her because in a few years, she’s going to be Daddy’s Girl. I don’t think its fair that my income is cut in less than half – yes, you get 55% of your income to a maximum of $447/week. So its not 55% if you earn more than $812/week. Which I do.

I don’t like running that tight on money. There’s enough, but we have a bit of a cashflow issue, particularly at the beginning of the month after the mortgage, strata fees and my continuation of benefits have come out. We’ve trimmed pretty much everywhere we can, and quite honestly, my complaints are not those of a lot of other people. I should feel lucky that we all we had to do was go down to one car, cut out the maid service, cook more, and go to using my own cloth diapers rather than having a service. And I do feel lucky.

But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Canada has a low population growth rate; it may even be negative now. If the government wishes to maintain its population, then it’ll have to change the way maternity and parental benefits are. In addition to streamlining the process so that approval is immediate, it would be great if it would be an actual 55% of your income. Or more. It somehow only seems fair to do that and relieve some of the pressures on new parents so that they don’t have to choose between work and family.

At the end of the day, though, being able to spend this time with my daughter really, really makes up for it.

So remember when I wrote this?

Specifically, this sentence:

Where’s my tax credit for doing what I can? Where are my chits for locally grown meats and vegetables? Why not start there where its something more tangible?

Well, there’s an opportunity now. My diaper service has a petition in the Canadian House of Commons to ask for a tax credit for those that use cloth diapers and/or use a diaper service, and to increase taxes on disposable diapers. I have a copy of the petition to sign and I’m asking for your help.

Simply put, the more signatures that are collected, the better the chance at having a tax credit implemented.

So here’s the deal: if you want to sign and you’re in the metro Vancouver/west Fraser Valley area (up to Chilliwack), I’ll meet you. We can have lunch, coffee, whatever and you can meet the poptart. I mean, with this much cuteness, how can you say no?

oh baby baby

You can leave a comment or email me at rtissues (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not in the metro Vancouver Area, and you’d like to sign, you can contact the Happy Nappy Service in your area and see if you can sign.

Update: If you’re not local and have no access to Happy Nappy, or even if you are local and want to take it around to your friends/family/cloth diapering aficionados, I have a PDF of the petition. Leave a comment if you would like it sent to you. Note, the original needs to be sent back to Happy Nappy in Langley by July 31.

Cross-posted at Wet Coast Women

Since I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve fallen into a habit in the mornings. Darren wakes me up when he needs a ride to the train, I drive him there, come back and flake out on the sofa for awhile. From 10-11am the Space channel shows one of my favourite shows of all time: the original Star Trek series.

Yes, I know how much of a geek that makes me. And I really, really want to see the new movie that opens tomorrow, but I refuse to go to a movie on opening weekend. This means I should see it sometime around Christmas.

Today’s episode is called “Friday’s Child” and involves a very pregnant, alien (although human-appearing) woman, whose culture allows no man other than her nearest male relative to touch her. Of course the good Doctor McCoy ends up delivering the baby, yadda, yadda (click the last link for a full, painfully detailed synopsis). My point is: she gets medical care.

Over the last 6.whatever months I’ve seen the doctor more times than I ever have in my life. Because my pregnancy has been astoundingly normal, I’m on the usual schedule of once a month for the first two trimesters or so, then once every two weeks from 28 to 35 weeks and once a week from 36 weeks onwards. I expect if I go longer than 40 weeks, it’ll be once every couple of days until showtime.

Add in there a trip to the clinic when I spiked a fever, and a diagnostic ultrasound at 20 weeks and I imagine this is a fairly costly process.

Yes, I said I imagine. Because really, I have no idea how much each visit costs. I know the ultrasound, had it been performed in California, would have been in the $2000 (US) range. All of those visits have cost me not one red cent. And I could have gotten genetic testing as well.

What I paid for out of pocket: 3 months of prenatal vitamins (because my extended medical didn’t cover it) at about $35/month (or slightly more than $1/day – because I’m in a high enough income bracket that I don’t get government assistance and my extended medical doesn’t cover vitamins) and a 3D ultrasound at $185 after taxes (because it was for “entertainment purposes” and therefore not covered by either basic or extended insurance).

When I give birth, its at a hospital with the latest medical equipment. If I go into a ward, there’s no cost for the room – its billed back to the province. If I want a private room its $180/night (including meals of course!) – which I can claim back from the two sets of extended medical insurance we have.

I shouldn’t say that this hasn’t cost me one red cent. It has because I pay it through my taxes. Because I’m in a high enough income bracket, I also pay a premium to the province for my medical care – its around $60/month; when we become a family of 3, it goes up to about $130/month. This is for basic care. My employer pays 75% of that – even though I’m not working for the next year.

Yes, I have a really good contract.

My employer also pays for my extended medical premiums; Darren’s employer pays for his and between the two we have nearly 100% coverage on everything. I think my extended medical premiums for the two of us are somewhere around $15-$20/month. Those premiums are low because provincial medical care offsets the true costs of medical care.

My point: we don’t have to pick and choose what kind of medical care we want. We don’t have to worry about being bankrupted by medical costs by doing something that is absolutely natural for human beings: having a baby. Every time I go into the hospital or doctor’s office, there’s no copay.

This is because it is my right, embodied in Canadian law, to receive medical care. Put another way, I cannot be denied medical care because of an inability to pay.

Why does this matter? Well, because there are women just south of the 49th who are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions – or what their insurance companies have deemed to be pre-existing conditions. Like pregnancy.

And all over the world:

Every minute a woman dies in pregnancy and childbirth. Each year more than 536,000 women die due to complications developed during pregnancy and childbirth1 and 10 million more suffer debilitating illnesses and lifelong disabilities. Seventy-five percent of maternal deaths occur during childbirth and the postpartum period. The vast majority of maternal deaths are avoidable when women have access to vital health care before, during and after childbirth.

The old saying: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is worth listening to. With proper prenatal and postnatal care, you not only get healthy mothers and babies, but healthy communities.

The MOMocrats are asking for assistance:

MOMocrats support Mother's Day Every Day

High quality and accessible medical care for expectant mothers, mothers and their children make for less economic and social strife. Its pretty simple; Maslow said as much in his Hierarchy of Needs.

Except my story doesn’t stop there. The next post* will be about what extra benefit I’m able to provide because of the low cost of my extremely generous health care and my good luck in being Canadian.

*No promises as to when it’ll actually be up.


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