Les médecins sont «prêts» à donner plus de place aux infirmières, selon McCann

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Après avoir longtemps résisté, les médecins sont désormais prêts à donner plus de place aux infirmières pour désengorger le système de santé, croit la ministre de la Santé, Danielle McCann. D’ici un an, on pourrait même voir des infirmières praticiennes spécialisées faire des diagnostics, selon elle.

« L’objectif, c’est que les infirmières praticiennes spécialisées (IPS) puissent utiliser toutes leurs compétences. Il y en a presque 500 en première ligne. Imaginez le potentiel ! Actuellement, elles doivent se fier au médecin, elles ne peuvent pas poser de diagnostic », a expliqué la ministre de la Santé en entrevue au Devoir. « Imaginez-vous si on dégage ça ! On a l’offre de service qui va être augmentée. »

Récemment, Danielle McCann a officiellement demandé au Collège des médecins de « regarder la possibilité » que les IPS puissent poser un diagnostic. Elle a aussi suggéré au Collège de modifier la règle voulant que les patients vus par une IPS soient tenus de rencontrer un médecin dans les 30 jours suivants.

« Ils doivent me revenir à court terme, dans les prochaines semaines, avec une proposition », dit-elle.

Cette réforme « va peut-être être une petite révolution de l’accès en première ligne », avance la ministre, qui n’exclut pas la possibilité que les IPS puissent commencer à faire des diagnostics d’ici un an. « On va essayer », dit-elle.

Les médecins réalisent que le système ne fonctionne pas. La population n’en peut plus, et je pense que les médecins, y compris la Fédération, [le] réalisent.

Tout en négociant avec le Collège des médecins, Danielle McCann a bon espoir de convaincre les omnipraticiens de changer la façon dont ils sont payés. Elle veut qu’ils prennent en charge plus de patients, mais ne soient pas obligés de les voir en personne. Avec le nouveau système, ils pourraient être consultés par téléphone sans en subir un préjudice financier, par exemple. « Ils sont prêts, on les a rencontrés », dit l’ancienne dirigeante de l’Agence de la santé de Montréal.

La méthode douce

Aux antipodes de Gaétan Barrette pour ce qui est de l’approche, la ministre de la Santé préconise clairement la méthode douce avec les médecins. Depuis son arrivée, elle n’a pas non plus imposé de pénalités aux médecins de famille qui n’avaient pas atteint leurs cibles pour le nombre de patients. Elle a aussi cédé dans le dossier de la Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) en abandonnant l’idée de rendre publics les noms des médecins qui surfacturent, ce qu’elle avait pourtant promis de faire en début de mandat.

La carotte sera-t-elle plus efficace que le bâton ? C’est le pari que fait Danielle McCann. « Quand je suis arrivée, le ministre était à couteaux tirés avec les fédérations médicales. C’est très important parce qu’on n’avance pas dans ce temps-là. J’ai instauré une collaboration. Le ton a changé », dit-elle.

« Les médecins réalisent que le système ne fonctionne pas. La population n’en peut plus, et je pense que les médecins, y compris la Fédération, [le] réalisent. » Son président, Louis Godin, « dit lui-même qu’il faut faire quelque chose », précise-t-elle.

Quand on lui fait remarquer que les médecins ont souvent résisté aux changements dans le passé, la ministre affirme qu’on verra des « changements graduels » et que le modèle sera « opérationnel d’ici la fin du mandat ».

« On veut soutenir nos médecins de famille. On veut qu’ils prennent en charge davantage de patients, mais on ne veut pas qu’ils s’épuisent. Au contraire qu’ils se déchargent, qu’ils délèguent à d’autres professionnels, dont les pharmaciens. Et qu’ils aient la possibilité dans la prise en charge du patient de consulter le médecin spécialiste sans être pénalisés. » Suivant cette logique, au lieu de voir 500 patients chacun par exemple, ils pourraient en voir 1000 parce que 50 % de leur temps serait libéré, explique-t-elle.

Rencontrée la journée de la publication d’une chronique remettant en question son leadership, elle n’a pas voulu dire quel était l’état de santé dudit leadership. « Vous en pensez quoi, vous ? », s’est-elle contentée de répondre avec un sourire en coin.

Délestée cet automne de trois gros dossiers — les négociations (confiées à Christian Dubé), les CHSLD (Marguerite Blais) et le cannabis (Lionel Carmant), la ministre de la Santé a consacré toute son énergie aux soins de première ligne. La CAQ a promis pendant la campagne que tous les Québécois malades allaient pouvoir avoir une consultation en moins de 90 minutes d’ici la fin du mandat, et c’est là d’abord que les changements se feront sentir, dit-elle.

« Ça ne s’est jamais fait au Québec », dit-elle. « Dégager un potentiel qu’on a chez les professionnels pour vraiment augmenter les services en première ligne. »

De l’air pour les infirmières

Or les effets de cette réforme ne se feront pas sentir demain matin. Que fera-t-elle d’ici là notamment pour aider les infirmières et les préposés aux bénéficiaires qui sont débordés ?

Des fonds « ciblés » seraient prévus dans le budget, avance la ministre. « On va aussi avoir des ressources d’appoint. Il faut attendre le budget pour être plus précis là-dessus. »

Des fonds seront ainsi débloqués pour embaucher des préposés aux bénéficiaires, des aides de service et des infirmières supplémentaires aux endroits où les besoins sont les plus criants.

« On ne peut pas nier qu’à certains endroits on est en dessous du ratio qu’on devrait avoir, vous comprenez, notamment dans certains CHSLD. Nous, on sait où. Donc on ne va pas ajouter des ressources à travers le Québec, mais là où on en a le plus besoin. »

La ministre caquiste a aussi demandé aux Centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de créer davantage de postes à temps plein pour les infirmières. Certains le faisaient déjà, mais elle souhaite que cela se généralise.

Elle n’a toutefois pas l’intention d’intervenir sur le salaire des préposés aux bénéficiaires, qui demeurent très bas. « On n’est pas à cet endroit-là en ce moment », dit-elle. Pour « valoriser la profession », elle souhaite qu’ils soient formés à même les CHSLD et parle de « payer leur formation, au moins une partie ».

Le budget au printemps devrait aussi inclure les 200 millions de dollars promis pour les soins à domicile, mais il faudra attendre plus longtemps avant qu’il y ait un coup de barre dans le domaine des services en santé mentale.

Danielle McCann veut d’abord consulter. Ainsi, un forum, ou une consultation à l’image de celle organisée par Marguerite Blais sur la proche aidance, sera organisé ce printemps. La ministre souhaite alors tester les idées des proches de personnes malades auprès des experts.

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Ottawa tarde à mettre en place son analyse comparative entre les sexes

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Les libéraux de Justin Trudeau ont promis d’examiner comment leurs politiques affectent les femmes et les hommes différemment, mais selon des documents internes, le gouvernement tarde à implanter cette analyse dans tous les ministères et organismes publics.

Selon un sondage interne mené par Condition féminine Canada pour mesurer l’implantation de « l’analyse comparative entre les sexes plus » (ACS+, dans le jargon gouvernemental), moins de la moitié des ministères et organismes publics ont un plan en ce sens, la plupart des ministères affirmant qu’ils n’ont pas les mécanismes internes pour le faire.

Les conservateurs et les libéraux ont reconnu que l’ACS+ était utile pour réfléchir aux politiques et pour s’assurer que personne n’est laissé de côté.

L’analyse comparative entre les sexes est un outil utilisé pour réfléchir à la manière dont une politique donnée peut affecter les hommes et les femmes de différentes manières, tout en tenant compte de l’âge, du revenu, de la culture, de l’ethnicité et d’autres facteurs qui se recoupent.

Si l’analyse — idéalement réalisée dès le début de la conception d’une politique — révèle qu’un sexe serait soumis à des impacts négatifs disproportionnés, les responsables ont la possibilité de réorganiser les choses ou d’atténuer ces effets.

M. Trudeau a demandé à la ministre de la Condition féminine, Maryam Monsef, de s’assurer que le gouvernement utilise davantage l’ACS+ dans la prise de décision. En 2017, les libéraux disaient avoir appliqué une analyse comparative entre les sexes à un budget fédéral pour la première fois. Mais des lacunes importantes subsistent, selon les propres conclusions du gouvernement.

Par exemple, en 2016, le gouvernement Trudeau a imposé à toutes les notes de service adressées au Cabinet et au Conseil du Trésor — qui constituent souvent la base de dépenses importantes ou de décisions stratégiques — une analyse différenciée selon les sexes. Selon l’enquête interne, moins de la moitié des ministères ont vérifié si cela avait été fait pour ces notes ou pour d’autres documents.

Les résultats montrent également que 40 % des ministères et organismes affirment ne pas surveiller dans quelle mesure ils ont mis en oeuvre l’ACS+ et quels en seraient les effets.

« L’ACS+ est moins intégrée à certaines phases du cycle politique », indique le sondage, ajoutant que les ministères et organismes signalaient des obstacles importants à la collecte et à l’analyse des données distinctes pour les femmes et les hommes.

La formation problématique

Selon les résultats de l’enquête, présentés en mai 2018 à un comité de hauts fonctionnaires, la formation sur la manière de procéder à une analyse comparative entre les sexes n’est toujours pas obligatoire dans l’ensemble du gouvernement et se concentre uniquement sur l’analyse des politiques.

Sarah Kaplan, directrice de l’Institute for Gender and the Economy de l’Université de Toronto, n’était pas surprise d’apprendre que l’ACS+ n’avait pas été plus largement appliquée, en dépit des priorités féministes dont se vante tant le gouvernement Trudeau.

« Je suppose que la plupart des employés des ministères voient simplement cela comme un ajout à leur horaire déjà complet d’activités qu’ils sont censés faire. Je pense donc que c’est pour cette raison que nous ne voyons pas une mise en oeuvre en profondeur », a expliqué Mme Kaplan.

Selon elle, la formation proposée aux fonctionnaires est l’un des principaux problèmes — elle ne va pas assez loin pour offrir des conseils pratiques sur la manière d’appliquer tôt l’analyse comparative entre les sexes.

« La formation en ligne est vraiment efficace pour vous donner l’état d’esprit de vous dire : » Ce sont quelques éléments à prendre en compte «… mais la formation contient beaucoup moins de choses sur ce que vous devez faire réellement, techniquement, si vous voulez faire cette analyse comparative entre les sexes », a-t-elle précisé.

Un enjeu de longue date

Les difficultés du gouvernement pour appliquer une perspective de genre aux décisions politiques traînent depuis longtemps. Un plan d’application d’une forme d’analyse sexospécifique est en place depuis 1995.

En 2016, le vérificateur général, Michael Ferguson, a publié un rapport affirmant que les analyses sexospécifiques du gouvernement n’étaient « pas toujours complètes, ni de qualité constante ».

En réaction au rapport, un plan d’action de 15 ans avait été instauré et le gouvernement assure qu’il travaille à la mise en oeuvre de l’ACS+.

« Notre gouvernement continue de placer la problématique hommes-femmes au centre des décisions afin que nos politiques répondent mieux aux besoins de tous les Canadiens », a déclaré le porte-parole de Mme Monsef, Braeson Holland.

« Nous constatons des progrès significatifs dans l’ensemble du gouvernement, notamment en ce qui concerne les effectifs en place pour appuyer l’ACS+. Par exemple, les analystes des politiques de 80 % des ministères suivent désormais le cours en ligne offert par Femmes et de l’Égalité des genres Canada. Nous continuons de voir une adhésion importante au gouvernement et continuerons de travailler avec nos partenaires partout au gouvernement pour promouvoir l’adhésion. »

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Ontario commits to keep full-day kindergarten in place for the next school year

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Ontario’s education minister is committing to full-day kindergarten this fall — but telling parents they’ll have to “stay tuned” to find out if it will continue beyond the next school year.

“We’re consulting with our education partners in terms of what’s working and what’s not,” she told reporters during a visit to the Boys & Girls Club of East Scarborough on Galloway Rd. on Tuesday afternoon to talk about her government’s proposed child-care changes.

“We’ll be back in touch with you after our consultation has been concluded and we have worked through the data and have a report prepared to share with you.”

Last week, the Ministry of Education started discussions with teacher and support staff unions, as well as trustee associations, on potential changes to class sizes, full-day kindergarten and hiring rules. Thompson has said she wants to ensure “the best learning environment” while the province is wrestling down a deficit of up to $14.5 billion.

She was asked by reporters then about the future of full-day kindergarten, but would not speculate.

“What I’m saying is this: we’re consulting with our education partners and stay tuned,” Thompson said.

“What I’m saying is I’m absolutely respecting the process of consultation. We are listening. We’re asking first, we’re listening and then we’re going to analyze the information that has come back to us,” the education minister also said.

“So it would be absolutely irresponsible to have a position before we actually have finalized our consultations. I’m sure you can appreciate that.”

The government has asked the unions and trustee groups to comment on the full-day program, class-size caps in the primary years, as well as a controversial hiring rule known as Regulation 274 that compels principals to hire supply teachers with the most seniority for long-term and permanent positions.

A ministry consultation document asks about full-day kindergarten, in particular class size — currently an average of 26 students — and the staffing model, which is a full-time teacher and full-time early childhood educator. (The exception is classes with fewer than 16 students, which can be teacher only.)

The document asks if there are “other models the ministry should consider.”

While there are other full-day models, experts have said making changes would not only upset staff but also families, who have come to depend on the popular program for 4- and 5-year-olds.

Earlier suggestions for full-day kindergarten proposed maintaining a half-day program with a teacher with early childhood educators covering the rest, including before- and after-school care, at a cost of $1 billion a year.

However the Liberals, under Dalton McGuinty, decided on an all-day teacher and early childhood education model, adding half a billion dollars annually.

In 2012, in his report to the Liberal government, economist Don Drummond said the $1.5 billion full-day kindergarten program should be scrapped or revamped.

And during the 2014 election, former Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak proposed a teacher-only model — though drop class sizes to 20 children — to save $200 million.

Research of Ontario’s program has shown gains in children’s social, emotional and cognitive development from the Ontario full-day program, and helps catch problems early on — saving money in the future.

Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy

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Gathering place for new Canadians opens in south Winnipeg – Winnipeg

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Ryerson School in south Winnipeg is the new home of a community hub aimed at giving immigrants a warm welcome.


READ MORE:
Winnipeg students create on-demand snow shoveling app, will partner with Hire-A-Refugee

“Many of the services for our new refugees are in downtown Winnipeg, but the kids are here. Giving the organizations that serve these communities a place to meet here at Ryerson School is an exciting part of what we can do for families,” says Ted Fransen, superintendent of the Pembina Trails school division.

The idea has been in the works for over a year.

One of many families present at the grand opening of Winnipeg’s new welcoming hub.

Marek Tkach / Global News

The final product was designed by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations.

“It’s essentially like a family resource centre for some of the newcomer families that live in the Pembina Trails area. We want to provide a safe, welcoming space for these families where they can find support and services but also build connections with each other,” says Noelle DePape of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.


READ MORE:
Winnipeg church hopes Kingston RCMP investigation won’t deter sponsorship

Nasar and Nahsih Hamad are brothers who moved to Canada from northern Iraq, They are excited to take advantage of the new facilities where Nasar’s five-year-old son goes to school.

“We are comfortable here not like Iraq. We are very comfortable,” said Nasar.

“The Canadian people help us go shopping, go to the doctor and take the bus. They show us.”

WATCH: Syrian refugee thanks Justin Trudeau at New Brunswick town hall






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

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Place à l’amélioration | Le Devoir

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Vaut-il la peine de confier à une chambre spécialisée au sein de la Cour du Québec le soin de traiter l’ensemble des infractions de nature sexuelle ? Telle est la question lancée dans l’arène parlementaire par la députée péquiste Véronique Hivon et dont se saisit actuellement sans l’avoir avalisée la ministre de la Justice, Sonia LeBel.

Notons d’entrée de jeu l’avancée spectaculaire que symbolise le seul fait que cette réflexion anime les politiques. Le mouvement #MoiAussi n’est pas vain, même si du point de vue des victimes, les efforts et le courage consentis pour dénoncer l’inacceptable ne se traduisent pas en accusations et en condamnations suffisantes. Invitées à briser le silence malgré toute la douleur associée à la confession et au parcours juridique, des victimes déçues du processus ont raconté avoir eu le sentiment d’être victimes à nouveau, cette fois d’un système judiciaire mésadapté.

Nous concédons sans grand mal que des efforts majeurs doivent être consentis pour rebâtir la confiance érodée entre les victimes et le système de justice, vers lequel d’ailleurs elles ne se tournent pas spontanément, preuve de l’immensité de ses failles. Nous constatons qu’il existe un décalage entre le courant de sympathie engendré par certaines des causes révélées dans la foulée de #MoiAussi et le sort qu’elles connaissent une fois passées par la moulinette de la justice — l’aboutissement de l’affaire Rozon demeure la dernière rebuffade en date.

Nous rappelons au passage, comme l’ont fait les élues d’ailleurs, que toute solution envisagée ne changera rien au texte des lois : la présomption d’innocence demeure un socle dans notre société basée sur la primauté du droit, et il incombera aux victimes alléguées de porter le fardeau de la preuve et de convaincre le tribunal de la justesse de ce qu’elles avancent.

Nous estimons qu’un tribunal spécialisé s’apparente à une solution d’allure simplette pour enrayer une problématique complexe. Jusqu’à preuve du contraire, cela ne semble pas nécessaire.

Pour soutenir les victimes et les encourager à porter plainte, pourquoi ne pas raffiner et affûter les dispositifs déjà en place ? Formation, prévention, soutien psychosocial : dans toutes ces sphères, il y a « place à l’amélioration », pour reprendre les mots de la ministre LeBel, qui n’a pas accepté d’emblée l’idée d’un tribunal spécialisé mais y montre une ouverture, comme le premier ministre, François Legault. Un tel tribunal est à risque à la fois d’entraîner des coûts exorbitants et de peiner à assurer sa mission sur l’ensemble du territoire du Québec, laissant les régions en suspens.

Les escouades policières spécialisées ont donné des résultats encourageants, qu’il faut espérer pouvoir multiplier, car la formation et les méthodes d’enquête sont à parfaire dans la résolution des crimes sexuels. Les procureurs spécialisés pourraient être plus nombreux. Quant aux juges, c’est à l’ensemble et non pas à un club restreint que revient la responsabilité de plonger dans la formation continue, dans le suivi des développements jurisprudentiels et psychosociaux. Il va de soi que leur incombe aussi la responsabilité d’« être de leur temps » et d’entendre les victimes sans mépris ni condescendance, notamment dans le champ délicat du consentement, où sont encore véhiculés de grossiers préjugés et stéréotypes.

Le seul fait que la discussion soit amorcée entre la ministre LeBel et des élues des trois partis d’opposition envoie un signal politique fort, qui s’ajoute aux démarches entreprises par le fédéral autour des clarifications du Code criminel en matière de consentement et de la formation des juges. La discussion est enclenchée ; place à l’amélioration !

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Faire un peu plus de place pour le vide

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Pour inaugurer l’année 2019, la plateforme Netflix a mis en ligne la série documentaire Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, dans laquelle la conseillère en organisation part à la rencontre d’Américains ordinaires dépassés par les aléas de la vie domestique. Dans chaque épisode, les protagonistes accueillent Kondo et son interprète dans leur logis, partagent brièvement leur histoire, et l’opération grand ménage se met en branle.

Au fil du travail, chaque situation révèle ses particularités. La veuve esseulée retrouve sa capacité d’envisager l’avenir en se départant des biens de son mari. Le jeune couple gai voit son mode de vie validé par un milieu familial conservateur grâce à l’organisation impeccable de son appartement. La mère d’une famille contrainte de déménager dans un espace exigu est rassurée dans son rôle de « bâtisseuse de logis » grâce à la méthode Kondo. Le rapport aux possessions matérielles devient ici une métonymie de notre rapport au monde, laissant tendancieusement entendre que le désordre n’est pas qu’un symptôme des problèmes, il en est aussi la cause.

Si l’on connaissait déjà Marie Kondo depuis la publication, en 2014, de son livre The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (plus de cinq millions d’exemplaires vendus à ce jour), la série documentaire semble créer un phénomène de masse. Dans l’Ouest canadien et aux États-Unis, on rapportait un volume exceptionnel de dons dans les commerces de seconde main, en ce début d’année. La frénésie s’est aussi emparée des réseaux sociaux. Dans mon fil d’actualité, la fièvre du désencombrement était partout. Des photos de piles gigantesques d’objets divers, de literie, de vêtements, de livres, de vaisselle, puis de commodes parfaitement rangées, avec les petits rouleaux distinctifs de la méthode Marie Kondo.

Autant l’admettre, même si j’en ai un peu honte : je n’y ai pas échappé. Je me suis demandé, moi aussi : « Et si je n’étais qu’à “ça”, juste “ça”, de la sérénité ? » Alors qu’on décrivait récemment les millénariaux comme la « génération burn-out », soit une génération tellement rompue à la nécessité d’alimenter obsessionnellement son capital humain que les individus se maintiennent dans un état d’hypervigilance perpétuel, jusqu’à l’épuisement, ce mirage est séduisant. J’ai donc mis, moi aussi, tous les objets de mon tout petit trois et demi dans un grand tas, et j’ai rempli des boîtes de don.

Sauf que j’ai vite été envahie par le sentiment d’ajouter bêtement de l’eau au moulin du « tout à l’efficience » qui règne partout. Ou alors étais-je simplement gênée de succomber aux chimères de l’industrie de la croissance personnelle, moi qui d’habitude ai plutôt tendance à m’en moquer ? Ce n’est pas clair. Mais enfin, j’ai été prise d’un terrible coup de déprime. Et si, en cherchant à augmenter mon niveau de sérénité, par l’organisation stricte de mon appartement, j’acceptais en fait, avec beaucoup de naïveté, de me conformer encore plus à l’idéal de l’individu déraciné, dégagé de tout, même de ses possessions intimes, qui se dévoue entièrement à l’efficacité, à la productivité, à la performance ?

La méthode Marie Kondo nous promet de nous accompagner dans la quête de la « meilleure version de nous-même », mais les raisons pour lesquelles il faudrait l’entreprendre, cette quête, sinon pour répondre à des aspirations que l’on croit personnelles, mais qui en réalité nous sont imposées, ne sont pas claires. Après tout, le capitalisme néolibéral n’est pas à court de stratégies : l’écoeurement de l’orgie consumériste peut aussi être monnayé et mis au service de la croissance. Allez, tout le monde dans le rang, ceux qui achètent comme ceux qui jettent et trient compulsivement ! Ce sont les deux faces d’une même pulsion que le marché de consommation tente de harnacher. Et à ce titre, la méthode Kondo est parfaite, puisqu’elle ne sous-tend aucun principe moral. Il ne s’agit pas de formuler une critique de la consommation, pour des raisons écologiques, politiques, ou sociales. Il ne s’agit pas non plus de chercher à échapper à l’aliénation et à l’abêtissement ; de chercher à renouer avec l’expérience sensible et signifiante du monde. Non, l’organisation est ici une fin en soi. Vider pour vider ; vider pour mieux remplir. Le début et la fin d’une démarche qui nous mènera au bonheur, mais dans la reproduction du même, et avec le sourire.

Je pensais à tout cela en rangeant mes livres préférés et mes petits rouleaux de vêtements. Et en contemplant le vide laissé sur mes étagères et dans mes tiroirs par ma purge Kondo, je me suis demandé s’il ne s’agissait pas en réalité d’une triste métaphore de nos désirs, et peut-être même de toute notre existence.

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From the beginning, Ontario Place was about the future

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It was meant to be a place for the people.

But Ontario Place was also conceived with a bit of hubris in mind.

John Robarts, right, was the Ontario premier who first pitched Ontario Place, which he said would reflect a “mood of gaiety and openness.”
John Robarts, right, was the Ontario premier who first pitched Ontario Place, which he said would reflect a “mood of gaiety and openness.”  (David Cooper / Toronto Star file photo)

It also was built without building permits.

The idea was first pitched by then Progressive Conservative premier John Robarts in August 1968 as a new exhibition space for the province — an expanded Canadian National Exhibition — in response to Expo 67, which had just concluded to great acclaim for Montreal, which was rivalling Toronto as a cultural jewel.

Robarts, who was opening the Ex that day, the Star reported, called the province’s vision in part a “major new recreational complex for the use of the people of Ontario.” The project would see the CNE open longer; it would include water elements like those at Expo and replicate the success of Ontario’s pavilion at the recently concluded world fair, he said. It would reflect the same “mood of gaiety and openness.”

It was architect Eberhard Zeidler, now 93, who was called on to dream up the design.

At first Zeidler was asked to look at building a new exhibition inside the existing Ontario Government Building at Exhibition Place, he described in his book Buildings Cities Life. Zeidler and the senior government officials he was working with had other ideas.

Lead architect Eb Zeidler — pictured with his wife Jane, right, and their four children — was called on to dream up the design for the park.
Lead architect Eb Zeidler — pictured with his wife Jane, right, and their four children — was called on to dream up the design for the park.  (Zeidler Partnership)

“We felt that if the new project was going to be a showplace for Ontario, it should be on neutral ground. It could not truly represent all of Ontario in Toronto’s Exhibition Place, and so the idea grew to put the building into Lake Ontario,” he wrote.

The first sketch of Zeidler’s vision looks uncannily like what Torontonians would come to know and love as they crossed the bridges over Lake Shore Blvd.

The idea was born out of an initial need to combat Mother Nature. In order to protect the exhibition spaces of five floating pavilion “pods” and a state-of-the-art theatre from sometimes mighty waves and winds coming off the lake, landfill would be used as a protective barrier. That, Zeidler realized, could be used to create several man-made islands that he thought could host performances, restaurants, shops and other play areas. It would be much more, he thought, than a refurbished exhibition space.

At the heart of the site were the “pods,” which are essentially three-storey boxes suspended over the lake and used for both rotating exhibit spaces and restaurants. Most iconic is the 800-seat domed Cinesphere made of aluminum alloy tubes — “the big golf ball,” as one kid in an early commercial coined it. It was the first permanent IMAX theatre in the world. For decades, the Cinesphere housed the first IMAX projector that was used at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, according to a 2012 exhibit called Your Ontario Place, held at the Urbanspace Gallery and curated by Nathan Storring. The first screening was Canadian filmmaker Graeme Ferguson’s mesmerizing North of Superior. Later, Hollywood blockbusters like Indiana Jones were played.

It took a lot of experimentation to get it right. Zeidler talks in his book of building a “mock dome” in the basement of their Madison Ave. office and trying to project slides onto it to see if they could make a curved screen work.

There was also the 2,500-seat Forum open-air theatre, with its grass lawn. It drew crowds to see the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Cash.

A Children’s Village, opened later, was for the time a novel playground full of atypical climbing structures and curiosities that encouraged climbing, splashing and jumping. The water slides and bumper boats came after.

“It kind of somehow happened the way I thought it should happen,” Zeidler told the Star in a recent interview about how his original drawing came to life.

Lead architect Eb Zeidler's original sketch of the concept for Ontario Place is very close to what was built and still exists there today.
Lead architect Eb Zeidler’s original sketch of the concept for Ontario Place is very close to what was built and still exists there today.  (Zeidler Partnership)

Not everything went exactly to plan with construction, though.

One day, government officials suggested they start work on the landfill for the islands, Zeidler wrote in his book. The next day, trucks arrived on site to move the earth around, with that provincial go-ahead.

“A dam began to grow into the lake,” Zeidler remembered. “One day, an army of Metro police cruisers arrived and delivered a stop-work order, because we had no building permit. All hell broke loose.”

There was concern, he wrote, that the government would look silly for stopping work on a project it had talked up for months. In the end, the officers were told to get lost or they’d be fined and that the province didn’t need permission from the city.

And that was how the construction of Ontario Place was “officially sanctioned,” said Zeidler.

In February 1970, legendary Star photographer Boris Spremo was on scene when Robarts himself was expected to officially open a bridge to the islands from the CNE. When workers went to lift in the final piece, they discovered the bolts to secure it didn’t fit. Warm weather was blamed for expanding the bridge structure. The bridge, Zeidler remembered in his book, was fixed only half an hour later, but by then the cameras had gone.

To make a long breakwater on the southern part of the site, they decided to sink three freighters.

Zeidler and those working on the project thought they’d make a big party out of it, gathering on another ship to watch them sink and having, Zeidler noted in his book, “a lot to drink.” As the engineers had carefully calculated, however, the boats sank only a few inches into prepared sandbanks, so those waiting with anticipation didn’t get much of a spectacle.

The new space opened on time and at a cost of under $30 million — well below the earlier blue-sky budget.

When the turnstiles started letting in people on May 22, 1971, the Star reported a much smaller crowd than the crush expected — perhaps foreshadowing attendance concerns in decades to come. For an admission price of $1 for adults, 50 cents for students and 25 cents for children over the age of 6, tens of thousands would show up that opening weekend to see the exhibition space.

“The vision and scope of Ontario Place gives promise of our vast potential,” then premier Bill Davis reportedly said the year it opened.

In its heyday, around three million people were showing up annually.

For Zeidler, Ontario Place was first and foremost meant to be an accessible recreational space for all people in a growing city, not simply an exhibition space. Writing in the Star after the opening, Zeidler said an exhibition “should not be forced into a fixed form.” Such a space, he said, could give “new life” to the waterfront in a city whose design cut off access with expressways and railway tracks.

The idea of Ontario Place also always had one eye on the future.

Zeidler at the time spoke of the design of the pods over the water, saying they purposely use as little material as possible to achieve the effect of the pods effortlessly floating above the lake. He hoped it would provide a “glimpse into a future in which with the full use of technology, our cities will once again become human habitations.”

A promotional brochure in 1969, according to the Urbanspace Gallery exhibit, mused: “Ontario Place is a mirror to show you yourself. Your heritage. Your land. Your work. Your creativity. And your tomorrow.”

It wasn’t just in Zeidler’s head.

“When I first came to Canada in 1974, I visited Ontario Place and saw Toronto as the city of the future,” wrote one visitor for a display of memories at the Urbanspace Gallery exhibit in 2012.

The space was also pitched to Ontarians as an inclusive place — “Happy Together” and “It’s all yours,” early advertisements boasted.

The earliest master plan for Ontario Place from the architects who designed it.
The earliest master plan for Ontario Place from the architects who designed it.  (Craig, Zeidler and Strong)

“It was an exciting time,” remembers Zeidler’s daughter Margie Zeidler, who herself was trained as an architect and is the creator of 401 Richmond, a collective of artists and entrepreneurs in a creative downtown hub. “It was a time of people having visions for the future.”

The first signs of trouble came when those overseeing Ontario Place announced plans for a corporate takeover that would see the Forum torn down and replaced with the larger Molson Amphitheatre (what is today Budweiser Stage) in the mid-1990s.

Zeidler and his architecture firm joined residents opposing the plan, but those in charge, Zeidler wrote, were tone deaf to the way in which Forum was integrated into the greater purpose for the space. In the end, he believed the decision to build the new amphitheatre “decimated” Ontario Place, noting a decline in attendance that followed.

Ontario Place’s attendance dropped to just over 560,000 guests in 2011. Though it marked an improvement over previous years as a result of offering free admission, expenses still far outweighed annual revenues, creating a $12.8-million operating deficit partly offset by a provincial subsidy of $6.2 million, according to the annual report from that year.

In February 2012, the Liberal government announced Ontario Place’s main attractions, including the Cinesphere, would close. They asked then chair of CivicAction, now Mayor John Tory to lead a review of how to redevelop the site. There has been no overall redevelopment of the site since then.

An innovative music and arts festival called in/future animated the abandoned west island in 2016 to much acclaim, including a write-up in the New York Times.

In 2017, the new Trillium Park and Davis trail opened on the east island under the Kathleen Wynne government, followed by screenings resuming at the Cinesphere, including a reprise of North of Superior (and also, upcoming, Indiana Jones). There were plans to renovate the interior of two of the pavilion pods as multi-purpose space, with a provincial tender that went out in 2018. A spokesperson for the province says the contract to renovate the pods was never awarded but didn’t explain why.

According to a statement on the province’s website, the Ontario Place site and its modernist architecture celebrated by many Canadian and international awards was found to be a “cultural heritage landscape of provincial significance.” However, it is unclear what requirements that places on the province for future development. Questions about the site’s heritage status were not returned Friday by the ministry responsible.

Those who experienced Ontario Place in its prime have kept distinct memories of an adventurous summer, a dazzling movie-going experience, or a concert under the stars.

“Perhaps it was Utopian,” wrote one visitor on a card describing their experience with Ontario Place during the 2012 Urbanspace Gallery exhibit.

“But it was what true public space is about. We should learn from its successes and reinvent it for the future.”

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

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Rescuer of 11-year-old found facedown in snow was in the ‘right place at the right time’

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He wasn’t on duty on Thursday, but when a Foam Lake volunteer firefighter heard about a missing 11-year-old girl, he knew he had to do something to help with the search.

« I was at a work and I’d seen cop cars taking off from different directions from town here at Foam Lake, » said Cole Maksymytz, recalling the scene when police received word at about 5 p.m. that the girl had wandered away from her Bankend home. The tiny hamlet is located about 200 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

He followed the police and talked with officers, who explained to him that a 11-year-old girl had been at home sick, and wandered away from the house while her mother was away, some time between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.. The mother had seen tracks heading west from the house, but couldn’t find her daughter nearby, recalled Maksymytz.

« I was thinking Jesus, if it was one of my kids, I’d want somebody, I’d want everybody that could help out there helping, » said Maksymytz, who has four children of his own.

Small footprints in the snow

Officials told him they had crews on the search and didn’t need extra help, but Makysmytz kept his eyes peeled as he drove toward home with two of his children with him in his truck.

« Driving down the back road, I noticed on the field, a trail. At first, I thought maybe it was a deer or a moose or something, » he said, explaining a closer look revealed footprints.

« ‘Well, this could be her,' » he recalled thinking. « It had to have been, because the footprint was so small. »

Maksymytz followed the trail in his truck, until his kids piped in to say they saw something black up ahead.  

Cole Maksymytz’s two children, Danica, 6, and Cade, 4, were in the truck when with their father when they spotted something black lying ahead of them. (Submitted by Cole Maksymytz)

« So we drove up there and there she was, laying face-first in the snow, » he said, adding his thoughts immediately went to whether she was alive.

At this point, it was 7:40 p.m. in the evening, and the girl had walked nearly six and a half kilometres from her home, he said.

Relief filled him when he checked and found the girl still breathing, with Maksymytz quickly carrying her to his truck.

« It happened that my daughter knew this girl because she goes to school with her, » he said, adding his six-year-old daughter was able to tell him the girl’s name as they drove her back to the police and the ambulance.

I’m happy I did something to save someone’s life.– Cole Maksymytz, volunteer firefighter

On Friday, he learned the girl was recovering well, after receiving treatment for hypothermia and injuries related to exposure.

It reminded him of why he wanted to be a volunteer firefighter in the first place, to help people.

« I’m happy I did something to save someone’s life, » he said. « It just so happened that I was in the right place at the right time. »

Maksymytz also serves in the Wishart fire department. His fire chief there, Darrell Bzedl, was among the locals giving credit to the volunteer for his actions. 

« He went above and beyond to do what he did, » said Bzedl, adding, « We have a good ending thanks to it. »

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Revitalize Ontario Place but don’t raze it, residents say at rally for waterfront park

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A theatre showcasing the work of local playwrights. A giant organic vegetable garden. A series of art studios. A world-renowned research facility.

The blue-sky ideas for Ontario Place abounded Saturday during a standing-room-only event at Metro Hall, where non-profit group Waterfront for All hosted a rally to share ideas for the park’s future and reflect on its unique importance to residents.

Amid the positive tone and memories associated with the waterfront public space — first dates, open-air concerts, movies at the Cinesphere — was an acknowledgment that Ontario Place is “at a critical decision point,” as urban designer Ken Greenberg put it.

“Let’s not underestimate the vulnerability of this particular moment,” he said, noting the recurring suggestion that the entire park needs a “big bang” revamp, rather than simply an improvement on what’s already there.

A razing of the park does not appear to be off the table, according to comments made by Jim Ginou, the new Ontario Place board chair and a friend of Premier Doug Ford. Ginou, who will oversee the park’s redevelopment, told QP Briefing this month that the park’s current state is “disgraceful.”

Opinion | Keenan: ‘Nothing can be saved’ at Ontario Place? That’s simply not true

Since the 155-acre park opened in 1971, Ontario Place has been celebrated as a beloved waterfront public realm that showcased Lake Ontario and drew crowds for concerts, movies at the Cinesphere and more. But when low admission led to financial problems, the previous Liberal provincial government in 2012 closed its main attractions, including its storied movie theatre.

Recent years, however, have seen improvements, including the reopening of the Cinesphere after renovation and the opening of a parkland section that features a 1.3-kilometre trail named after Bill Davis, who was premier when Ontario Place opened its doors.

For these reasons and more, it’s a “myth” that nothing’s happening on the site, Greenberg said. He emphasized to the crowd that improvements should build on existing assets, and should strengthen the idea of the park as a waterfront public realm, accessible to all.

“There’s a whole array of things that could happen … with clever use of what we find on the ground, taking inspiration from the original creation,” Greenberg said.

Mark Mattson, an environmental lawyer and president of water charity Swim Drink Fish Canada, called Lake Ontario “the most valuable” body of water in Canada, with nine million people drinking from it. There is more industry, business and real estate development happening on the lake than anywhere else, he said.

“People downplay Lake Ontario. Well, let me be very clear: this is the most important water body in the country, and we need people to …connect with it, to understand it, and this is an opportunity for that type of experience,” Mattson said.

He cited as an example Kingston’s newly opened Gord Edgar Downie Pier, which was unveiled last year and has unlocked the city’s waterfront for residents and visitors, enabling them to wade, jump or even flip — “a Canadian thing to do” — directly into the water.

“The same thing could be done here, which would ultimately get more people down to Ontario Place,” he said, noting the water samples done on the site show it’s clean.

Suzanne Kavanagh, a director of the newly created Waterfront for All organization, said Saturday’s event was intended to be proactive.

“We’re not militant. We don’t have a petition, because we don’t know what we’re up against,” she said.

However, Ginou’s recent comments about Ontario Place set off “alarm bells,” she said, and served as an incentive to organize those who support the park and want to enhance it.

“We’re saying, don’t blow up the gem — polish the gem,” she said.

The bigger picture concerning the future of Ontario Place is about access to the water, said city Councillor Joe Cressy, who represents Spadina—Fort York. Over two generations the city lost the waterfront to industrialization, the railway and the Gardiner Expressway, “but we are finally starting to reclaim the waterfront,” he said.

“If you want to build a great city, you invest in waterfront revitalization. And what’s the opposite of waterfront revitalization? Mega-malls and casinos,” Cressy said, referencing concerns about what the Ford government might propose for the site.

Attendee Beverley Thorpe said she is concerned about the future of Ontario Place, a park she walks through regularly for “spiritual rejuvenation.”

“I think Toronto is sitting on a gem, the lake itself,” she said. “I would love to see how we could celebrate the lake more here.”

With files from Jennifer Pagliaro and Edward Keenan

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Readers have lots of ideas for Ontario Place redevelopment

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Nadine Spencer, president of the Black Business and Professional Association, remembers attending a reggae concert at Ontario Place when she was a teenager recently arrived from Jamaica, and the way it brought people together.

“I came to Canada in 1979, when I was 12. And I remember going to Ontario Place with my family as a new immigrant, and seeing Peter Tosh play.

Nadine Spencer remembers how attending a concert at Ontario Place when she was a child helped her feel connected to the city, and wants new generations of residents to have the same experience.
Nadine Spencer remembers how attending a concert at Ontario Place when she was a child helped her feel connected to the city, and wants new generations of residents to have the same experience.  (CECIL / NI Photography)

“It wasn’t just Jamaicans. Everyone was there … from all different races, and there we were, sitting on the grass, eating and dancing and just celebrating.”

The memory of that day is with her still, at 50, and Spencer wants to see newcomers have the opportunity to enjoy the same kind of experience.

“I think Ontario Place should be a space where people meet, where families meet and communities meet and we get to know each other and learn from each other — maybe this is just a part of the solution to the bigger issues in the city, to have a space that’s inclusive,” said Spencer, who is also CEO of BrandEQ Group Inc., a global marketing and communications agency.

We reached out to followers on Facebook and Twitter and Reddit and put calls in to people we thought might have something informed, fresh or profound to say.

The ideas were silly and solemn and earnest and out there.

A theme park for cannabis. A penal colony. A beer garden with a retractable roof so it can be used 365 days a year, with a rotating selection of Ontario craft beers on tap, Ontario wines and spirits, and paired with local restaurants for snacks.

Blue Jays fan Robert Fulton proposed an open-air baseball stadium for the Blue Jays, with the city as a backdrop, pointing out that cities in the U.S. have been building popular new parks that hearken back to a different era, pointing to Pittsburgh’s PNC Park as an example.

“The throwback-style parks MLB has been building the last 20 years or so are so beautiful — they alone bring people out,” said Fulton, who has visited Pittsburgh three times since PNC Park was built.

“Whenever I see baseball highlights on TV from PNC Park, the glimpses of Pittsburgh are so nice it made me want to visit the city,” said Fulton.

“We all know how beautiful Toronto is and showcasing it that way is free tourism and advertising.”

Preserving Ontario Place as a park was the most popular response on social media. Many people mentioned the importance of better transit links to the site, including a shuttle from Union Station. There was strong support for keeping the existing structures on the property — the Cinesphere and the pods — and also for adding restaurants, festivals and a marketplace. A couple of people spoke up in support of a mall or casino, but not a majority.

“I bristle incandescently at the thought of a mall or casino rendering yet more prime land to soulless commercial ghetto,” said Cavan Campbell, @CCamOperator, on Twitter.

Water sports were mentioned often, including canoeing, kayaking, sailing and a log ride for kids.

Urban planner Joe Berridge, partner at Urban Strategies, with planning experience in the Ontario Place and Exhibition Place area, envisions it as part of a new convention centre including Exhibition Place to the north, replacing the existing Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front St.

Ontario Place would provide the entertainment and relaxation elements of the convention centre site, preserving the Cinesphere, the islands as parks and the pods as event venues.

“They’re beautiful buildings inside and they have glorious views,” said Berridge, adding that it’s crucial to redevelop the site hand-in-hand with Exhibition Place, which has the transit connectivity and activity needed to rejuvenate and connect Ontario Place.

Berridge envisions hotel, retail and entertainment uses on the existing Ontario Place parking lots, including a winter spa.

Phil Myrick, CEO, Projects for Public Spaces, a non-profit planning, design and educational organization, said redeveloping such a large piece of the waterfront is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Waterfronts are the single most valuable piece of any city’s land and they’re totally unique in terms of the opportunity.”

Online views:

People online had plenty to say about what they thought Ontario Place should be:

  • The magic of Ontario Place for me as a child was the ability to climb and play; the huge space. Why not re-make it into a public park, with wildlife zones, playscapes, quiet gardens; a place to celebrate the physical world. A place to breathe. Toronto’s gift to people? — Megan O’Connor, Twitter
  • Nothing commercial. Keep the William G. Davis Trail in honour of the last real Tory. Keep Cinesphere in honour of great Canadian IMAX technology. Let nature rule everywhere else. Maybe a Tanglewood style concert venue. Splice to the TTC. No parking lots — David Hammer, Twitter
  • Establish an Indigenous cultural and learning centre or university or healing truth-and-reconciliation place in order to reinterpret the name Ontario Place, bringing it back to its roots, making it a place of growth and renewal — Graziano Galati, Twitter
  • How about a boardwalk with restaurants and bars? There’s nowhere near enough patios in Toronto during the summer. Everything is packed. Good example of this is Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia — Jenn Heard, Twitter
  • Casino with a huge poker room! — Jon McKenzie, Twitter
  • Maintain the Cinesphere. Maintain as many of the old buildings as possible. Clean it up a bit and keep it going as a park. The In Future festival was truly stunning, and many of the seasonal festivals have been great, as well. I would love to see more festivals and events held there. If possible open up the buildings in the water as event spaces or restaurants. I also think it’s important to protect, maintain and expand public green spaces on the waterfront — Reddit user
  • No cars. Pedestrians and bikes only. Maybe a fun little railway to move people around the site (especially important to keep all aspects of the site accessible for those that may have issues with mobility). A gem on the waterfront that shines a light on the best parts of the province, and is for all Ontarians, where the whole province can feel at home and find something fun to do (ideally at all times of the year): regardless of their financial means, age, etc. Toronto is the provincial capital. If we’re not going to play host to something that celebrates the province as a whole, who is? — Reddit user
  • I think this should be rebuilt as a mega mall. The mall should be built similar to Woodbine, Yorkdale and BCE mall. These three malls all have one great feature; why not build a mega mall that contains all of the features? Inside the mall I think there should be a Fantasy Fair, a cinema and a daycare centre. This way, it will be used all year round (as) it is set in such a great location. Everyone is welcome — Reddit user
  • Erect a GIGANTIC statue of a golfer in mid swing about to hit the Cinesphere. If you build it, they will come — Reddit user
  • How about a mega mall and a casino, with a dedicated monorail from Union Station. This will put Ontario place back on the map — James MacDonald, Facebook
  • Make it into a complete entertainment strip with hotels, restaurants, shops, whatever else — Joshua Rubinger
  • Bio dome with aviary and planetarium — Eric Henry, Facebook
  • Should be a theme park for cannabis — Reddit user

Francine Kopun is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @KopunF

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