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Thursday, May 5, 2011

  • Canada lags, Stratford audience is told
  • Injuries from kitchens, labs — and pathways
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Giant screens in background]

Feridun Hamdullahpur, the president of the university, spoke briefly yesterday morning as this year's Canada 3.0 forum began its final day. "In order for Canada to succeed in the digital world," he told the audience of hundreds in the Stratford Rotary Centre, "business-as-usual is no longer acceptable. In the 21st century, the next big idea could come from any corner of the globe."

Canada lags, Stratford audience is told

a news release issued yesterday at the Canada 3.0 forum

Canada’s adoption and development of digital media technology and practices compared to other developed countries continues to slip as the conversation — but not sufficient action — continues, a new report prepared by the university-affiliated Stratford Institute reveals. The study, titled The Stratford Report 2011, was unveiled at the Canada 3.0 2011 forum, Canada’s premier digital media event, which has the goal of making Canada a digital nation by 2017.

“The old caution remains: vision without action is hallucination,” said Ian Wilson, executive director of the Stratford Institute who presented the report Wednesday afternoon. “A compilation of comparative statistics gleaned from authoritative sources, especially international studies, indicates that Canada continues to decline as a digital nation, contrary to the goals of all of us working hard to improve the country’s competitive position.”

Wilson said that while there have been consultations such as the one launched by industry minister Tony Clement at last year’s Canada 3.0 forum, what is required is targeted action supported by unprecedented collaboration between all levels of government, universities and the private sector.

Government is not setting the example for Canada to achieve the Canada 3.0 forum goal of becoming a digital nation, given that Canada’s ranking of government procurement of advanced technology products puts the country in 26th place compared to other developed nations. This means that government at all levels is not helping drive investment and innovation in the use of Information and Communications Technologies. Similarly, lack of private sector investment in ICT is limiting Canadian productivity, Wilson said.

“We’ve seen spending on bridges, sewers and other physical infrastructure, but a dismal lack of investment in the new digital economy. Investing in technology innovation and in our content will have returns outlasting buildings. An educated workforce, together with our accumulated intellectual resources, are the real capital in the competitive global knowledge economy of the 21st century,” Wilson said.

The report also highlights a dichotomy between the amount of time Canadians spend on-line — 43.5 hours per month versus the worldwide average of 23.1 hours per month — and what we do with that time.

“Canadians are well connected — to foreign content. Studies show that Canada is one of the best connected countries, extending broadband connectivity to rural areas, but we’re connecting to foreign content because only 1% of Canadian audio visual content and 13% of our print content is available on-line, which is totally unacceptable,” said Wilson.

Wilson praised the some 2,000 people who participated in the Canada 3.0 2011 forum this week for trying to make a difference to Canada’s future. “This is all about ensuring that as Canadians, we recognize that the future is digital and we need to inspire action to ensure productivity and prosperity for this country,” said Wilson.

Canada 3.0 is organized annually by the Canadian Digital Media Network, and brings together industry, government, public sector and academic communities of interest with the common goal of advancing Canada’s competitiveness in digital media. The forum focuses on a goal called the Moonshot by which anyone in Canada can do anything online by 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.

The Stratford Institute for digital media is a forward looking digital media policy research centre. The Institute will conduct research, encourage debate, organize consultations and encourage initiatives at the local, regional, national and international levels related to Canada’s future prospects as a digital nation. The think tank has been established through a partnership of the University of Waterloo, the City of Stratford, OpenText Corporation, the Canadian Digital Media Network and with support of the Government of Ontario.

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Injuries from kitchens, labs — and pathways

Injuries and “incidents” involving Waterloo employees happened at a rate of more than one every working day last year, according to a report from the university’s safety office, although the total was down from the previous year.

There were 314 injuries during 2010, compared to 339 in 2009, the annual injury report says. Of those, 34 (compared to 33 the previous year) involved “lost time”, meaning that the injured staff or faculty member was off work for a day or more.

More than a third of the injuries were the result of two kinds of work: custodial and food service. Plant operations custodians, along with residence housekeepers, had 55 of the injuries, and food services staff had 50 (down sharply from 75 in 2009).

But the single most dangerous activity on campus was what it is every year: just putting one foot in front of the other. A total of 80 accidents during 2010 (including one of special interest to me) were the result of walking.

The report attributes 33 of the injuries to laboratory work, 25 to “storage and handling”, 23 to building maintenance, 21 to “clerical and office” work. There are a handful of others, including one injury resulting from “teaching”.

Injuries are also sorted according to how the damage was done: 76 “slip or trip” incidents, 48 “contact with temperature extremes” (burns), 43 lacerations and cuts, 4 needle sticks. This year there were no motor vehicle injuries and none that could be blamed on insects or animals. There were, however, 26 injuries from “overexertion”.

Safety director Kevin Stewart says Waterloo continues to have a significantly higher injury rate than the average for workplaces in the same Workplace Safety and Insurance Board grouping — in part because this university employs all its own plant ops and food services staff, while some institutions contract those services to outside companies. The “lost time injury frequency rate”, calculated by an abstruse WSIB formula, is 0.36 for “educational facilities” as a whole, but 0.57 for Waterloo.

Stewart said the WSIB has noticed the difference and will be sending experts this summer to do an “evaluation” of Waterloo’s safety program. He anticipates that the visitors will concentrate on the areas of highest injury.

One thing they may never be able to explain is why June was the top month for injuries during 2010, with 36. November and December came next, which is less surprising: winter came early last year, and the winter months are usually the worst for injuries, with all those slips and falls.

In a separate report, the safety office notes that there were 107 fire alarms on campus last year, plus five more at university buildings away from the main campus. Of the total, 19 were deliberate false alarms, and just 6 were actual fire or smoke, including one case of arson. Most fire alarms are caused by malfunctioning equipment or by dust, steam, welding fumes, and (especially in the residences) cooking smoke. Twenty of last year’s alarms were connected with construction and maintenance work, the fire report says.


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Clean-up blitz to clear space

Central Stores will offer a limited time “no paperwork required” item pickup service from Monday, May 9, to Friday, May 20.. Departments are encouraged to identify items that are no longer needed and that are taking up space. Stores has dedicated moving staff to this project, and Brian Forler (beforler@ will arrange the date and time to remove the items, such as  office furniture, outdated office supplies and equipment, e-waste, paper products and lab equipment. This project is primarily targeting items having only scrap value. Items deemed to be of greater value will still be picked up through this initiative, but must have the appropriate Asset Disposal form.

Military history conference opens

The 22nd annual Military History Colloquium, co-hosted by the history departments of St. Jerome’s University and the University of Waterloo and the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies, starts today in the Arts Lecture Hall and runs through Saturday. Whitney Lackenbauer of St. Jerome’s, returning from a sabbatical leave working on Arctic security issues as a Fulbright Scholar, will speak tonight at 7:00 in AL room 113. David Bercuson of the University of Calgary will be Friday night’s keynote speaker, addressing the Canadian War Museum’s controversial exhibition on Bomber Command.

Link of the day

Cinco de Mayo

When and where

Co-op students return-to-campus interviews May 4-6, Tatham Centre; architecture, May 10, Cambridge campus.

Catalyst Conference for young women interested in math and science, hosted by Women in Engineering, May 6-8. Details.

Information systems and technology professional development seminar: Andrea Chappell, “Update on Replacing UW-ACE” Friday 9 a.m., IST seminar room.

Stratford campus reception (by invitation) honouring artists whose work are on display in the Waterloo building, Friday 3:00, 6 Wellington Street, information ext. 23000.

DaCapo Chamber Choir, based at Conrad Grebel UC, “A World of Colour” Saturday 8:00, St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Kitchener. Details.

Employee Assistance Program sponsors UW Campus Walk, May 9 to June 5, individuals and teams welcome. Details.

WatPD Engineering first birthday celebration, reception primarily for faculty and alumni involved in launching the program, Monday 3:00, Engineering 5 room 3010, RSVP ext. 31208.

VeloCity start-of-term “pitch night”, as students present their technology business ideas, Monday 5:00 to 8:00, University Club, by invitation, information e2barnes@

Class enrolment appointments for fall term undergraduate courses posted in Quest, May 10; appointments for continuing students, June 6-11; for first-time students, July 11-24; open class enrolment, July 25.

Student team recruitment fair seeking newcomers for 10 student teams, Tuesday 3:00 to 6:00, Student Design Centre, Engineering 5.

Co-op job posting for spring term (main group and pharmacy students) appears on JobMine May 14.

PhD oral defences

Psychology. Jennifer MacGregor, “Rain on My Parade: Perceiving Low Self-Esteem in Close Others Hinders Positive Self-Disclosure.” Supervisor, John Holmes. On display in the faculty of arts, PAS 2434. Oral defence Friday, May 13, 10:00 a.m., PAS (Psychology) building room 3026.

Pure mathematics. Matthew Kennedy, “Free Semigroup Algebras and the Structure of an Isometric Tuple.” Supervisor, Kenneth R. Davidson. On display in the faculty of mathematics, MC 5090. Oral defence Friday, May 13, 1:30 p.m., Mathematics and Computer room 5046.

Chemistry. Uthaiwan Suttisansanee, “Investigation of the Microbial Glyoxalase.” Supervisor, John F. Honek. On display in the faculty of science, ESC 254A. Oral defence Monday, May 12, 10:00 a.m., Chemistry 2 room 361.

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