Archive for » April 12th, 2012«

Federal budget 2012: More than 1000 job cuts at Canada Border Service Agency

OTTAWA—Eliminating more than 1,300 jobs at the Canada Border Services Agency could hurt efforts to protect national security, according to the union that represents agency employees.

“These proposed budget cuts would have a direct and real impact on Canadians and our communities across the country,” warned Jean-Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union on Thursday.

“More child pornography entering the country, more weapons, illegal drugs, will pass through our borders, not to mention terrorists and sexual predators and hardened criminals.”

The doomsday scenario presented by the union leader stemmed from his learning that the border services agency would cut 1,026 positions nationwide over the next three years, including 124 in the Greater Toronto Area, as part of cuts announced in the federal budget.

Fortin said the union was told an additional front line positions — those filled by officers in uniform — would also be eliminated, although he had no more information about where those cuts would take place.

A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement on Thursday that the Conservative government has increased the number of frontline border officer positions by 26 per cent since taking office six years ago and that no border services officers would be cut from ports of entry.

Julie Carmichael said Fortin’s claim that 325 border service officers would be cut is “false.”

“We are now looking at ways to make our border leaner, more efficient and faster for Canadians. We will keep it open to legitimate travel and trade, but it will remain closed to criminals and terrorists,” Carmichael wrote in an emailed statement.

“We will find savings by reducing unnecessary spending and duplication of work such as cruise ships that currently need to be cleared numerous times instead of just one. This is a needless waste of time and costs our tourism operators money.”

Fortin, whose union represents about 11,000 employees, said that half the positions in the 200-member intelligence branch will be cut, as will 19 out of 70 dog teams.

“We expect the CBSA to use the most effective tools for each job. Detector dogs are a great tool in the right circumstances, but they will no longer be used when there is a better tool available,” wrote Carmichael, who did not answer a question specifically about the impact of reducing the intelligence branch by half.

Carmichael then lashed out at Fortin by suggesting that his complaints are tied to a decision to have the border services agency stop paying the salaries of full-time union executives.

“Fortin is obviously upset that we are cutting the $1-million slush fund for big union bosses,” Carmichael wrote.

Fortin argued the cuts will impact the public, even if they do not always notice.

“They’re going to see it by the time waiting,” Fortin said when asked how the cuts would impact Canadian travellers coming to and from the United States. “What they probably won’t see is the security involved.”

The federal budget released Mar. 29 showed a $5.2-billion reduction in spending will reduce total federal employment by about 19,200, or 4.8 per cent, over the next three years.

The government expects to eliminate about 7,200 through retirement and voluntary departures, whereas the rest will come from layoffs.


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State Job Fair held in Albany today

US applications for unemployment aid tick up

WASHINGTON (AP) — More people sought unemployment benefits last week, suggesting that the job market’s recovery remains slow.


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SA economy resilient: Kenyon

AAP

South Australia’s economy is showing great resilience with employment levels growing, the state government says.

Employment Minister Tom Kenyon said the state’s jobless rate in March was steady at 5.2 per cent, the same as the national level.

The March figures also showed 1,200 more South Australians had jobs last month compared to the same month last year.

The minister said 128,900 new jobs had been created since the state Labor government came to office in 2002, including 13,700 since the March 2010 election.

“Today’s figures continue to demonstrate that we’re showing great resilience in the current global economic climate,” Mr Kenyon said.

“South Australians can continue to remain confident about the future.”

The South Australian opposition said the latest jobless figures showed one in four young people were out of work.

Employment spokesman David Pisoni said the state’s youth jobless rate was 26.9 per cent, above the national average.

“It is clear that this Labor government has abandoned young job seekers in SA,” Mr Pisoni said.

“With the highest taxes and the worst business confidence in the nation, businesses in South Australia simply cannot afford to create jobs or increase hours for their existing workforce.”


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Government of Canada Invests to Help Youth in Old Massett Get Jobs

OLD MASSETT, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – April 12, 2012) – The Government of Canada announced new funding to support youth in Old Massett to help them gain the skills, knowledge and experience they need to enter and succeed in the job market. The announcement was made by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Minister responsible for British Columbia, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

“Our government’s top priority is creating jobs and economic growth,” said Minister Moore. “Our government’s Youth Employment Strategy is helping youth develop the skills and gain the experience they need to get jobs now and prepare for the workforce of tomorrow.”

The Old Massett Village Council is receiving over $158,000 from the Skills Link program to help youth overcome barriers to employment. Skills Link is part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES).

With annual funding of more than $300 million, YES helps youth, particularly those facing barriers to employment, obtain career information, develop employment skills, find jobs and stay employed. YES includes the Skills Link and Career Focus programs and the Canada Summer Jobs initiative, which creates thousands of job opportunities for students every summer.

Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes an additional $50 million over two years to enhance YES so that more young people can gain tangible skills and experience. This funding will focus on connecting young Canadians with jobs in fields that are in high demand.

The participants in the Old Massett Village Council’s project will get hands-on experience in carpentry, milling and timber framing to help them gain the hours required for a first-year carpentry apprenticeship.

Youth employment programs are part of the Government of Canada’s broader strategy to create an educated, skilled and flexible workforce. The Government underscored its commitment to this strategy in Canada’s Economic Action Plan. A key component of the Plan is to create more and better opportunities for Canadian workers through skills development. To learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.

The Government of Canada is helping youth prepare for, find and maintain meaningful employment through enhanced online services available at Youth.gc.ca.

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IF THERE IS A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN ANY PRINTED VERSION AND THE ELECTRONIC VERSION OF THIS NEWS RELEASE, THE ELECTRONIC VERSION WILL PREVAIL.

This news release is available online at: www.actionplan.gc.ca.

BACKGROUNDER

The Youth Employment Strategy is the Government of Canada’s commitment to help youth make a successful transition to the workplace.

Skills Link helps youth facing barriers to employment, including youth who are single parents, youth with disabilities, and youth in rural and remote areas, to develop the skills and gain the experience needed to find a job or the confidence to return to school.

Career Focus provides funding to employers to hire young post-secondary graduates to give them career-related work experience and help them acquire skills to transition into the job market.

Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer employees to create summer job opportunities for young people aged 15 to 30 years who are full-time students intending to return to their studies in the next school year.

To learn more about Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy and other youth employment initiatives, please visit Youth.gc.ca.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
        Alyson Queen
        Director of Communications
        Office of Minister Finley
        819-994-2482

        Media Relations Office
        Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
        819-994-5559

Source: Canada's Economic Action Plan

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employees warned about disclosing too much

In a note of caution that employees of other agencies might also want to heed, the Energy Department has warned its employees who file publicly available financial disclosure forms not to include extra information that might leave them vulnerable to identity theft.

Eye Opener

The warning comes as Energy and other agencies prepare to make available on their Web sites the public disclosure forms that are filed annually by some 28,000 executive branch employees. That group includes many career federal employees in the Senior Executive Service and in other high level positions, as well as political appointees and certain general and flag officers of the military.

Most publicly available disclosure forms are held at individual employing agencies. Energy and some other agencies have required paper-based requests for access, so online posting will make them more readily available.

The requirement to post the forms online is part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, which President Obama signed last week. Although the law is directed primarily at ethical policies for Congress, it also includes several provisions affecting executive branch employees.

Under the law, the publicly available disclosures on Office of Government Ethics Form 278 filed this year must be made available online by Aug. 31.

The form, which affected employees must file by each May 15, requires disclosures including the value of assets and the income they produce within ranges; the purchase or sale of assets; certain gifts received; certain liabilities; continued income from previous employers; and some outside positions the employee holds.

However, some employees also include information not required on the form such as home addresses, Social Security numbers and investment account numbers, said an e-mail from Energy’s office of general counsel to department employees who file that form.

Employees who already have filed their forms for this year should review them and if they included such information, they should re-file their forms without it, the e-mail said. For those yet to file, it said, “Please do not include account numbers. We will be scanning approximately 700 forms to comply with this requirement. If you include such information, we cannot guarantee that we will catch it.”

The Office of Government Ethics recently posted on its site, www.oge.gov, the portion of public disclosure forms that it holds, mainly involving officials subject to Senate confirmation.

In the longer run, the law envisions replacing postings on agency Web sites with a central database including the publicly accessible forms plus the separate, confidential disclosure forms filed by more than 300,000 other federal employees. Those employees mainly hold positions that can have an economic impact on a non-federal entity, such as in procurement, grants, regulation or auditing.

Creating such a database and making it compatible with numerous agency computer systems and their security controls will be a complex and potentially costly project, OGE has said. The law sets a goal of 18 months to create that system, which is to keep the confidential forms shielded from public view.

Meanwhile, the ethics office has issued guidance on several other parts of the STOCK Act that took effect on its signing for those who file public disclosure forms. One requires them to notify their agencies within three days if they begin negotiations for future employment or compensation and to recuse themselves from involvement in certain decisions once such discussions have started.

The other requires some of those officials to begin disclosing mortgages on their personal homes.


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Job seekers gather for NY gas-drilling job fair

People lined up Wednesday for New York’s first job fair in the shale gas-drilling industry, as prospective employers pinned their hopes on the state lifting a four-year-old ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Even ahead of the 3 p.m. start at Broome Community College, job seekers and exhibitors gathered outside the doors. Business reps ranged from titans of the oil and gas industry to scientists, wetland specialists and experts on construction site erosion control. More than 700 people turned out for leads on a job.

The college is in the sweet spot of the Marcellus Shale region, a gas-rich formation that underlies parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

“I’m optimistic in saying the industry will be working in New York state fairly soon,” said Broome County legislator Steve Herz, an event organizer.

Horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, made it economically feasible to extract oil and gas from the shale. But in New York, concerns about potential contamination of New York City’s water supply led to a ban in 2008, pending revised regulations to address the impacts of fracking. The method unlocks the gas by fracturing the shale with an injection of water mixed with chemicals and sand.

And even if drilling is allowed in the state, the industry is already seeing retrenchment as supplies near capacity and prices fall to a 10-year low.

Still, companies and workers in the state’s Southern Tier are benefiting from the boom 20 miles south of Binghamton in Pennsylvania. Thousands of wells were drilled in that state since Marcellus Shale exploration began there about five years ago.

“Neil Guiles of Vestal Asphalt is a perfect example of a New York company benefiting from what’s happening in Pennsylvania,” Herz said. “His business has tripled, and he’s made major capital investments.”

New York counties along the state border are reaping benefits. Chemung County Executive Thomas Santulli said the county has avoided property tax increases for seven years and leads the state in the growth of sales tax and hotel tax revenue, thanks to Pennsylvania gas workers filling the county’s hotels, bars and stores.

While industry proponents tout the economic benefits of shale gas drilling, broad opposition paints a bleak picture of adverse health impacts, an industrialized landscape and a boom-bust economy.

Broome County Executive Debra Preston acknowledged the controversy, with some towns enacting bans against it, but said she remains confident the state Department of Environmental Conservation will complete its review and allow some shale drilling to begin this year.

“It’s really going to help all the businesses in the region, from hotels and restaurants to places like Lowes, Home Depot, and clothing stores,” she said at the job fair.

A study by Penn State Extension and Penn College found that each Marcellus gas well generates 12 full-time jobs for at least 20 years. But it also cautioned against focusing only on jobs or tax revenue from gas drilling. It said no economic study has included the potential costs, such as the effects on existing businesses losing employees and the costs of environmental damage and cleanup.


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Govt jobs index falls for fourth month

The federal government’s leading employment index fell for a fourth consecutive month in April following revisions to the series.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations said its monthly leading indicator of employment fell by 0.167 points to 0.087 in April.

The department said weakness was evident in all four of the indicator’s components.

“It is still too early to confirm that a slowing in employment growth – to a rate below its long-term trend of 1.7 per cent per annum – is in prospect, because the indicator has fallen for fewer than six months,” it said.

The leading jobs indicator anticipates movements in the growth cycle of employment, with a turning point confirmed after six consecutive monthly moves in the same direction.

The indicator has four weighted components: ANZ Newspaper Job Advertisements, Dun and Bradstreet Employment Expectations, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index of Economic Activity and the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index.

Official labour force data for March will be released on Thursday.

Economists’ forecasts centre on a 5000 rise in employment but with the jobless rate rising to 5.3 per cent from 5.2 per cent in February.


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Fed’s Dudley Says Jobs Report Damps Upbeat Economic Data

Federal Reserve Bank of New York
President William C. Dudley said the economy may be gaining
strength even as the weakest job growth in five months
highlights risks to growth.

“The incoming data on the U.S. economy has been a bit more
upbeat of late, suggesting that the recovery may be getting
better established,” Dudley said, speaking to business leaders
at the Syracuse Technology Garden in Syracuse, New York. Yet
“it is still too soon to conclude that we are out of the woods,
as underlined by the March labor-market release,” he said,
adding he still supports holding the Fed’s main interest rate
close to zero through late 2014.

The Federal Open Market Committee plans to meet April 24-25
to debate policy for an economy described as growing at a
“modest to moderate” pace in the Fed’s Beige Book survey
released yesterday. Fed officials, mandated by Congress to
achieve maximum employment, confront an 8.2 percent jobless rate
that Dudley, FOMC vice chairman, said is “unacceptably high.”

Dudley said in response to an audience question that he
agrees with the Fed’s March 13 statement backing low rates
through at least late 2014. “I haven’t seen any set of
information that would suggest to me we should change that
view,” he said.

QE ‘Not Free’

He said it’s “not free to do another round of quantitative
easing,” noting that bond purchases would expand the Fed’s
balance sheet and “create more anxiety on the part of some that
it would lead to future inflation.”

While asset purchases by the Fed shouldn’t be considered
inflationary, some people may hold such a view, he said.

Employers added 120,000 workers to payrolls last month, the
least since October and below every forecast in a Bloomberg
survey of 80 economists. Estimates ranged from gains of 175,000
to 250,000 jobs.

The employment report may indicate that mild weather early
in 2012 spurred hiring in January and February, muting job
creation
in March, Dudley said.

“We thus will need to see more data to determine the
extent to which the March data represent a transitory weather-
related setback,” he said.

Accommodative Policy

Vice Chairman Janet Yellen endorsed the central bank’s
“highly accommodative” policy yesterday, saying the Fed
probably won’t meet its goal of full employment for years while
inflation remains in check.

“Over the next several years, I anticipate that we will
fall far short in achieving our maximum employment objective,
and I expect inflation to remain at or below” the Fed’s 2
percent target, Yellen said in a speech in New York. She said
housing and the European debt crisis are among “significant
headwinds” that may restrain growth.

While further easing “could be warranted if the recovery
proceeds at a slower-than-expected pace,” Yellen said “a
significant acceleration in the pace of recovery could call for
an earlier beginning to the process of policy firming than the
FOMC currently anticipates.”

As president of the New York Fed since January 2009,
Dudley, 59, holds a permanent vote on the central bank’s
monetary policy committee.

He spoke today in the first stop of a two-day tour of
upstate New York. He will speak later today to students and
faculty at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
at Syracuse University. He will also visit Welch Allyn, a
manufacturer of medical devices in Skaneateles Falls, New York.

The central bank compiles an anecdotal account of economic
conditions across the country known as the Beige Book. The
report, released yesterday, said that “hiring was steady or
showed a modest increase across many districts.”

Stocks Rise

U.S. stock futures rose, signaling the Standard Poor’s
500 Index will gain for a second day. SP 500 futures expiring
in June rose 0.6 percent to 1,364.60 at 8:45 a.m. in New York.
The benchmark index climbed 0.7 percent yesterday, snapping a
five-day slump.

Dudley said that the expansion “has yet to be strong
enough on a sustained basis to make a big dent in the overall
amount of slack in the U.S. economy.”

The economy faces headwinds and downside risks, including
rising gas prices, weaknesses in housing and government cutbacks
at the federal, state and local levels, Dudley said. Economic
growth outside the U.S. may also flag, and disruptions to the
supply of oil could push up prices, he said.

In response to audience questions, Dudley said that U.S.
deficits would be even worse when interest rates begin to rise.

Rise ‘Significantly’

“Once we normalize interest rates the debt service cost to
the U.S. will go up significantly,” Dudley said. “We’re not
going to keep interest rates low to solve fiscal problems.”

Dudley said the Fed will “do what it has to do” on
interest rates to achieve its dual mandate for full employment
and stable prices and “if this causes more fiscal issues, too
bad.”

Dudley cited a slowing of inflation measured by the annual
change in the personal consumption expenditures index. The gauge
slowed to a 2.3 percent gain in February from 2.9 percent in
September, above the Fed’s goal of 2 percent inflation.

“Even though the recent rise of gasoline prices mentioned
above could interrupt this pattern, we expect this moderation of
overall inflation to resume later this year,” Dudley said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Joshua Zumbrun in Syracuse, New York at
jzumbrun@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Chris Wellisz at
cwellisz@bloomberg.net

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.


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Job seekers gather for NY gas-drilling job fair

People lined up Wednesday for New York’s first job fair in the shale gas-drilling industry, as prospective employers pinned their hopes on the state lifting a four-year-old ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Even ahead of the 3 p.m. start at Broome Community College, job seekers and exhibitors gathered outside the doors. Business reps ranged from titans of the oil and gas industry to scientists, wetland specialists and experts on construction site erosion control. More than 700 people turned out for leads on a job.

The college is in the sweet spot of the Marcellus Shale region, a gas-rich formation that underlies parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

“I’m optimistic in saying the industry will be working in New York state fairly soon,” said Broome County legislator Steve Herz, an event organizer.

Horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, made it economically feasible to extract oil and gas from the shale. But in New York, concerns about potential contamination of New York City’s water supply led to a ban in 2008, pending revised regulations to address the impacts of fracking. The method unlocks the gas by fracturing the shale with an injection of water mixed with chemicals and sand.

And even if drilling is allowed in the state, the industry is already seeing retrenchment as supplies near capacity and prices fall to a 10-year low.

Still, companies and workers in the state’s Southern Tier are benefiting from the boom 20 miles south of Binghamton in Pennsylvania. Thousands of wells were drilled in that state since Marcellus Shale exploration began there about five years ago.

“Neil Guiles of Vestal Asphalt is a perfect example of a New York company benefiting from what’s happening in Pennsylvania,” Herz said. “His business has tripled, and he’s made major capital investments.”

New York counties along the state border are reaping benefits. Chemung County Executive Thomas Santulli said the county has avoided property tax increases for seven years and leads the state in the growth of sales tax and hotel tax revenue, thanks to Pennsylvania gas workers filling the county’s hotels, bars and stores.

While industry proponents tout the economic benefits of shale gas drilling, broad opposition paints a bleak picture of adverse health impacts, an industrialized landscape and a boom-bust economy.

Broome County Executive Debra Preston acknowledged the controversy, with some towns enacting bans against it, but said she remains confident the state Department of Environmental Conservation will complete its review and allow some shale drilling to begin this year.

“It’s really going to help all the businesses in the region, from hotels and restaurants to places like Lowes, Home Depot, and clothing stores,” she said at the job fair.

A study by Penn State Extension and Penn College found that each Marcellus gas well generates 12 full-time jobs for at least 20 years. But it also cautioned against focusing only on jobs or tax revenue from gas drilling. It said no economic study has included the potential costs, such as the effects on existing businesses losing employees and the costs of environmental damage and cleanup.


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A very humble civil servant with an enormous agenda to do right!: DONNA DOUGLAS column

By Donna Douglas

Posted 3 hours ago

In 1995 I wrote my first proposal to deliver the federal government’s self- employment assistance program in this region. I had some questions and as I worked on my proposal I called the person named as contact in the newspaper ad. I got a soft voice, a bit clipped at the edges of her words, friendly and matter-of-fact.

When I ‘won’ that contract, I got to work with Marlene McKeown, work in the real sense of the word.

This was no 9-to-4 civil servant! What I met was a steel wall with a huge heart.

Marlene knew what mattered. She looked at all the many and myriad and often senseless rules created by government and she knew how to blend them with reality. She also knew about trust. And respect.

We worked together until her husband’s move from self-employment to teaching took them to the Bahamas.

They moved there so Ron could ‘try out’ teaching before making the commitment to school.

Marlene took a year’s leave of absence and went with Ron to experience a different culture.

She took her unassuming nature with her and brought back interesting observations.

In those days, Marlene attended program information sessions to answer questions from unemployed people who were looking to create their own job.

She listened, answered and explained.

She didn’t suffer fools or rude people.

When new candidates were selected, she celebrated with them as they signed their agreements to follow government rules.

She could see the sense behind a couple of my own ‘agreements’ and embraced them into the paperwork.

She loved big cars. She loved her home in Innisfil Township. She loved her boys and was unfailingly supportive for their greater good. In fact, we had a group of business candidates ready to sign their contracts on a specific day and begin their self- employment journeys.

Government deadlines were tied to employment insurance claims deadlines.

Two or three of this group would have stale-dated claims and not be able to join the program to start their businesses.

Marlene suggested we sign the contracts early in the morning on a Friday instead of a Monday, to accommodate the date difficulty.

Not a big deal. Except her first son was getting married that day.

I looked at her. Marlene, I said, this is your son’s wedding day.

You should be at the hairdresser, and celebrating as you and Ron get ready for the wedding. You should not be in here signing contracts.

Can’t we just date them for that day?

Well… yes we could.

That was Marlene.

As these businesses celebrated completion of the program, Marlene attended, outside of hours and duty but with true care and interest. She came to training sessions at night because she cared about how people were doing.

And I think she appreciated my unconventional approach to delivering a government program. Most of those clients initiated by Marlene are still in business today.

Breast cancer 32 years ago. Chemo, radiation and Marlene plowed through it all.

Proactively pulling out her hair in tufts as she faced this chemical onslaught of her body.

In between she celebrated arrivals of grandchildren, marriage of her second son, progression of Ron’s teaching career and maintenance of sturdy friendships.

And 28 years later, four years ago, she started to feel poorly.

She was commuting to Toronto for her Strategic

Services Department position by then.

She was a little cog in an enormous wheel.

She hooked herself up to IV, hid it under bulky sweaters and went to work. She knew that her work mattered to others.

She also knew her work mattered to her.

“I’ll live longer if I work,” she said.

I personally believe she didn’t want to give cancer that much power to control her life.

While the self-employment program moved to other government overseers, among them Marlene’s good friend, Kathy Jenkinson, Marlene and I remained in touch.

And then Kathy joined us and as a trio we celebrated regularly but not often enough.

We’d reminisce and update about businesses she’d been involved with and how they’re doing now, 17 years later.

I wanted her to know she made a difference not only in the lives of those people, but in the economic life of this community.

By working quietly as a civil servant in an office filled with African Violets in Barrie.

Thanks, Marlene.

Donna Douglas is a Barrie writer. You can catch her

(and her columns) at www.donnadouglas.com.

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