Girl Guides & eating disorders; Big Pharma busted in Ontario; female breadwinners on the rise; Cda to takeover GM?

Girl Guides of Canada, Love Yourself Challenge badge

Girl Guides of Canada, Love Yourself Challenge badge

Here are my picks for National News, written for air this morning on Take 5, CIUT 89.5 FM

Big Pharma bilks the system – but Ontario busts them for $34 million
The Ontario Health Ministry has busted some pharmacies, drug manufacturers and wholesalers for a scheme where they ordered more drugs than they needed so they could collect the drug maker’s rebate, before selling the drugs they didn’t need back to wholesalers – collecting the rebate up to three times.

Seven generic drug companies, four wholesalers and one pharmacy – Kohler’s Drug Store in Hamilton – have been fined to the tune of $33.8 million and 20 charges have been laid.

Toronto’s Tamil Protest continues and could go on for days
Last night Take 5 interviewed a Officer Fields at the scene.  He expects the protest to last for another 2 to 3 days, keeping University Avenue between Queen and Dundas closed to traffic.

The demonstrators want President Barack Obama to intervene and help stop the fighting between government and Tamil forces.

Eating Disorders and Girl Guides – a killer combination?
On May 12th Girl Guides can start earning points toward a new body-image badge (see image up top).  A tag team effort by the 100-year-old Guiding organization and the National Eating Disorder Information Centre – the badge fights back against media images of extremely thin women or sexy teen queens and childhood obesity.

Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness for teenaged girls.

The 100-year-old citizen buildiing organization hopes becoming more relevant will stave off ongoing attrition: Over the last ten years it’s membership has declined by 40 percent – from 150,000 to roughly 90,000.

General Motors Canada will cut its workforce in half and close about 310 dealerships by the end of 2010 as part of its bailout restructuring plan.
Announced yesterday, the plan would cut 57 percent of GM’s Canadian workforce over the next five years – dropping its payroll to 4,400 from 10,300.

The new plan would also see the U.S. Government taking over 50 percent of the company in a debt-for-equity swap.  Canada, meanwhile, is considering taking a stake in the Canadian arm.

A radical procedure offers new hope to Multiple Scleorosis patients
A Canadian-run trial that replaces a Multiple Sclerosis patient’s bone marrow with healthy marrow from stem cells is showing stunning results.

The experimental Ottawa treatment trial on 24 patients began in 2000.  Open only to patients with rapidly progressing MS who failed to respond to therapy and who were likely to become severely disabled, the trial has so far resulted in significant improvements in most patients – and none have relapsed.

The experimental treatment has not been approved.

Northern Ontario – separate and unequal?
Twenty percent of all CBC Radio job cuts nationwide are slated for Sudbury and Thunder Bay – and that’s just not fair say Northern Ontario municipalities.

They’re linking up to sign a resolution going to CBC President Hubert Lacroix asking him to cut jobs proportionately.

Female breadwinners on the rise but still getting a raw deal
Four out of five jobs that have been lost since October 2008 were held by men. That’s because male-dominated manufacturing, construction and natural resource sectors have been hardest hit.  Meanwhile, female-dominated sectors like health and education haven’t been effected yet – leaving some women the sole breadwinner.

The Citizens for Public Justice latest blog says the continuing gender income gap means women are still more likely to be poor.  More women tend to work in part-time or temporary jobs making them ineligible for employment insurance and leaving them with little job security.

And the economic downturn is hurting women – last week the Toronto Star reported a rise in the number of women reporting they were fired because they were pregnant – with their employer using the recession as a scapegoat.

Honourable Mention – High-flying charity grounded, TorStar.

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