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U of T endocrinologist Lorraine Lipscombe to lead ‘powerhouse’ diabetes research network



A noted diabetes researcher and public health advocate from the University of Toronto has been selected to lead a “powerhouse” research network that will focus on the global fight against diabetes and other serious chronic diseases.

Lorraine Lipscombe, a physician and associate professor in the department of medicine in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, has been appointed director of the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations.

Lipscombe is a respected endocrinologist who holds appointments at Women’s College Hospital, where she is director of the hospital’s endocrinology division and is a senior scientist in the Women’s College Research Institute. Her research focuses on the prevention and improvement of care and outcomes for patients with diabetes, particularly women.

In February 2021, Novo Nordisk and the University of Toronto announced a $40-million investment to establish the Novo Nordisk Network for Healthy Populations. Based at U of T Mississauga, the network is a partnership between the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and U of T Mississauga. The network will focus on interdisciplinary collaboration to accelerate on-the-ground diabetes research, education and outreach.

“I am truly excited and honoured for the chance to lead this visionary network in demonstrating innovative and effective ways to make populations healthier,” Lipscombe said.

“The Network will afford an unprecedented opportunity to integrate and align expertise across multiple areas to establish a world-leading research program, through strategic collaborations between three U of T academic powerhouses and key community stakeholders in the City of Mississauga.”

“Being one of the most diverse cities in the world, with a mix of urban and suburban areas, and much higher rates of obesity and diabetes than the national average, Mississauga provides a unique environment to explore interventions that can be applied to a wide range of contexts around the world.”

The network executive team welcomed news of Lipscombe’s appointment.

Alexandra Gillespie, vice-president and principal of U of T Mississauga, lauded the incoming director as “a world-class researcher, proven team-builder and dynamic leader known for sharing her expertise to empower the success and well-being of others.”

“With her guiding hand, the Network will achieve its goal of identifying and implementing strategies to prevent diabetes and diabetes complications in high risk and marginalized communities,” added Professor Gillian Hawker, chair of the department of medicine.

Lipscombe’s expertise in both clinical care and population health makes her “a superb choice to lead the network,” said Professor Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, where Lipscombe teaches in the Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation.

“As a clinician and an epidemiologist, she is particularly skilled at seeing the gaps between research and health delivery, and has developed an impressive track record in addressing them.”

Gillespie also noted Lipscombe’s strategic planning skills.

“Professor Lipscombe will enable the Novo Nordisk Network to achieve its ambitious goals: to unite university divisions, hospitals, and community partners in the fight against diabetes and other serious chronic illnesses,” Gillespie said.

“Her leadership will benefit the health of so many people in Mississauga, Toronto, and around the world.”

The announcement of Lipscombe’s appointment comes at a momentous time for diabetes research, as U of T continues a year of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin at the university.

In June, the City of Mississauga announced that it will become the first Canadian municipality to join the Cities Changing Diabetes program. The Novo Nordisk-supported initiative will provide the city with tools, resources and partners – including the Network research hub – to prevent the rise of type 2 diabetes in Mississauga.

About 420 million people worldwide live with diabetes. The World Health Organization estimates that the disease is responsible for more than 1.6 million deaths annually. Complications can lead to devastating health outcomes such as blindness or limb amputation.

“The discovery of insulin is a monumental achievement for Canada and a beautiful example of the translation of research findings into life-altering benefits for people,” Lipscombe said.

“Despite this discovery and all the progress that has been made since then, diabetes remains a major burden on individuals, families, communities and health-care systems around the world.”

“Much research has been done to recognize root causes of diabetes and its consequences and to identify effective interventions. We must now act on this evidence, by shifting our focus from describing what might work to showing what does work.”

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How Canadian churches are helping their communities cope with the wildfires



As wildfires burn across Canada, churches are finding ways to support their members and the broader community directly impacted by the crisis.

According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, as of June 13, there are 462 active fires across Canada – and 236 of them classified as out of control fires.

Whether it’s through phone calls or donations to community members, here’s how a few churches across Canada are handling active wildfires and the aftermath in their regions.

Westwood Hills, N.S.: St. Nicholas Anglican Church

In Nova Scotia, St. Nicholas Anglican Church and other churches in the area are collecting money for grocery cards to give to families impacted by the Tantallon wildfire. 

Right outside of Halifax, N.S., the Tantallon wildfire destroyed 151 homes. More than 16,000 people evacuated the area due to the fire.

The fire is now considered contained, but Tanya Moxley, the treasurer at St. Nicholas is organizing efforts to get grocery gift cards into the hands of impacted families.

As of June 12, four churches in the area – St. Nicholas, Parish of French Village, St Margaret of Scotland and St John the Evangelist – raised nearly $3,500. The money will be split for families’ groceries between five schools in the area impacted by the wildfire.

Moxley said she felt driven to raise this money after she heard the principal of her child’s school was using his own money to buy groceries for impacted families in their area.

“[For] most of those people who were evacuated, the power was off in their subdivision for three, four or five days,” she said. “Even though they went home and their house was still standing, the power was off and they lost all their groceries.”

Moxley said many people in the area are still “reeling” from the fires. She said the church has an important role to help community members during this time.

“We’re called to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and house the homeless and all that stuff, right? So this is it. This is like where the rubber hits the road.”

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Is it ever OK to steal from a grocery store?



Mythologized in the legend of Robin Hood and lyricized in Les Misérables, it’s a debate as old as time: is it ever permissible to steal food? And if so, under what conditions? Now, amid Canada’s affordability crisis, the dilemma has extended beyond theatrical debate and into grocery stores.

Although the idea that theft is wrong is both a legally enshrined and socially accepted norm, the price of groceries can also feel criminally high to some — industry data shows that grocery stores can lose between $2,000 and $5,000 a week on average from theft. According to Statistics Canada, most grocery item price increases surged by double digits between 2021 and 2022. To no one’s surprise, grocery store theft is reportedly on the rise as a result. And if recent coverage of the issue rings true, some Canadians don’t feel bad about shoplifting. But should they?

Kieran Oberman, an associate professor of philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, coined the term “re-distributive theft” in his 2012 paper “Is Theft Wrong?” In simplest terms, redistributive theft is based on the idea that people with too little could ethically take from those who have too much.

“Everybody, when they think about it, accepts that theft is sometimes permissible if you make the case extreme enough,” Oberman tells me over Zoom. “The question is, when exactly is it permissible?”

Almost no one, Oberman argues, believes the current distribution of wealth across the world is just. We have an inkling that theft is bad, but that inequality is too. As more and more Canadians feel the pinch of inflation, grocery store heirs accumulate riches — Loblaw chair and president Galen Weston, for instance, received a 55 percent boost in compensation in 2022, taking in around $8.4 million for the year. Should someone struggling with rising prices feel guilty when they, say, “forget” to scan a bundle of zucchini?
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The homeless refugee crisis in Toronto illustrates Canada’s broken promises



UPDATE 07/18/2023: A coalition of groups arranged a bus to relocate refugees to temporarily stay at a North York church on Monday evening, according to CBC, CP24 and Toronto Star reports.

Canadians live in a time of threadbare morality. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Toronto’s entertainment district, where partygoers delight in spending disposable income while skirting refugees sleeping on sidewalks. The growing pile of luggage at the downtown corner of Peter and Richmond streets resembles the lost baggage section at Pearson airport but is the broken-hearted terminus at the centre of a cruel city.

At the crux of a refugee funding war between the municipal and federal governments are those who have fled persecution for the promise of Canada’s protection. Until June 1, asylum seekers used to arrive at the airport and be sent to Toronto’s Streets to Homes Referral Assessment Centre at 129 Peter St. in search of shelter beds. Now, Toronto’s overcrowded shelter system is closed to these newcomers, so they sleep on the street.

New mayor Olivia Chow pushed the federal government Wednesday for at least $160 million to cope with the surge of refugees in the shelter system. She rightly highlights that refugees are a federal responsibility. In response, the department of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada points to hundreds of millions in dollars already allocated to cities across Canada through the Interim Housing Assistance Program, while Ontario says it has given nearly $100 million to organizations that support refugees. But these efforts are simply not enough to deliver on Canada’s benevolent promise to the world’s most vulnerable.

The lack of federal generosity and finger-pointing by the city has orchestrated a moral crisis. It’s reminiscent of the crisis south of the border, where Texas governor Greg Abbott keeps bussing migrants to cities located in northern Democratic states. Without the necessary resources, information, and sometimes the language skills needed to navigate the bureaucratic mazes, those who fled turbulent homelands for Canada have become political pawns.

But Torontonians haven’t always been this callous.

In Ireland Park, at Lake Ontario’s edge, five statues of gaunt and grateful refugees gaze at their new home: Toronto circa 1847. These statues honour a time when Toronto, with a population of only 20,000 people, welcomed 38,500 famine-stricken migrants from Ireland. It paralleled the “Come From Away” event of 9/11 in Gander, N.L., where the population doubled overnight, and the people discovered there was indeed more than enough for all. It was a time when the city lived up to its moniker as “Toronto, The Good.”

Now, as a wealthy city of three million people, the city’s residents are tasked with supporting far fewer newcomers. Can we not recognize the absurdity in claiming scarcity?

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