More cuts to people in need

Two letters this week, one to the Minister of Health and the other a letter to the Editor, Star Phoenix. We participated in a recent protest of the elimination of the Saskatchewan Hearing Aid Plan, a service Jim has used since he was six years old. For us, it wasn’t free (as it is for people on social assistance). The HAP is a valuable collection of services including audiology, hearing aid fittings and follow-up, education, early intervention, support and advocacy. It served 40,000 people throughout the province. The government, in current slash and burn mode, says for-profit audiologists and clinics can pick up the load. Apparently there was consultations with them and the government responded to their concerns about feeling “left out” on clients served by SHAP, which operates on a break even basis. An assistant in the Ministry called me to say that private audiologists and clinics will offer “competitive prices.” We wonder where Jim will fall on the inevitable waiting list?

Part of my letter to the Minister of Health:

“Because of the ongoing support and expert audiology care Jim has received, he contributes to the YMCA, to a network of friends, and to the city. He was a valued volunteer with Mayor Clark’s campaign, and contributes to projects like the Darcy Bear Community Garden. He enjoys his season ticket to Persephone Theatre. He’s a big Fringe fan, and he has been a volunteer with the Broadway BBID. A large measure of Jim’s success is that his hearing loss has been monitored, accommodated and supported by ongoing services from SHAP that have reflected Jim’s changing physiology and social needs as he grew to adulthood.

It is not enough to suggest that children will be looked after, and that others will simply switch over to private audiologists. Waiting lists will become ridiculous. Audiology services and the augmentation of hearing loss is a life-long health issue. Consistent monitoring and follow-up are vital to ensuring hearing loss does not create barriers to anyone’s ability to contribute to life in this province. Services and support not provided to youth, adults and seniors create ripples that affect health, educational success, social interaction and employment opportunities. Many of the province’s most vulnerable adults are ill-equipped to advocate for their own needs with respect to hearing loss. Hoping that the for-profit system will adequately serve people is ill-advised.”

Rock stars read it

That’s our buddy, San Francisco-based musician Josh Lippi on the road with singer-songwriter K. Flay from Los Angeles, just after their gig in Saskatoon. In town opening for Mother Mother last week, we got to have a visit with Josh, a friend and bandmate of our musician son Ben. They were halfway through a cross-Canada tour and now are on an international whirlwind. We sent them on their way with a ‘road trip care package’ of homemade goodies and the most recent copy of Saskatoon HOME magazine. Rock stars gotta read, too!

josh kflay


a sweet spot

City Perks may be my favourite coffee shop. It seems to be where my pal Amanda and I always have editorial meetings as we work out assignments for upcoming Saskatoon HOME issues. Summer’s will be great! Just last week, as I waited for her, I treated myself to a late lunch piece of sundried tomatoes and artichoke quiche. Yum. Large wedge, only six bucks. And the coffee is always great. I’m only sorry I didn’t bring home any baking this time! Look at this place, what’s not to like? And there’s Amanda, just as full of light and energy as the place itself.


What a great campaign. “Special” is a word that’s always made our family gak just a little bit when people use it to describe Jim and what he needs to live a good life. This wonderful campaign by CoorDown, Italy’s national advocacy organization, was premiered at the United Nations on March 21. Have a look! It’s brilliant. That’s Lauren Potter as the narrator; Jim met her at a Best Buddies conference in Bloomington, Indiana, when she starred on Glee. Nice woman. This article is by Alexandra Jardine:

CoorDown, Italy’s national organization for people with Down syndrome, examines the euphemistic term “special needs” in its latest PSA, using humor to highlight how their needs might not be so different from those of anyone else.

A film by Publicis New York, directed by Wayne McClammy of Hungry Man, imagines various humorous scenarios where Down syndrome people have “special needs” with a twist. They’re massaged by a cat, they eat dinosaur eggs, are woken up by a celebrity or have to walk around in a giant suit of armour. It ends with the message that what people with Down Syndrome really needs is “education, jobs, opportunities, friends and some love.”

The film stars Lauren Potter, the actress with Down syndrome who played the role of Becky Jackson in “Glee,” and John McGinley, best known for his role as Dr. Perry Cox on “Scrubs,” and whose 18-year old son Max has Down syndrome. Also in the cast are Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, two friends with Down syndrome who created the movie “Spring Break Zombie Massacre,” and Jared Kozak, an actor with Down syndrome known for “Orson’s Last Dance,” “Leader of the Pack” and “Teens Wanna Know.”

The campaign, running on YouTube, directs viewers online to, where they can find out more about the real needs of people with Down Syndrome.

It will be presented to the Conference of the World Down Syndrome Day, which takes place March 21 in New York, at the headquarters of the United Nations.



HOME is ready for you

The Spring issue of Saskatoon HOME magazine is out and will hit the streets next week. If you just can’t wait to see what we’re offering you in this issue, you can have an online look here. Each issue is my new favourite; this time around I had a lot of fun on two pieces in particular. My cover story, The Urban Farmhouse, and the courageous team of Rhonda, Crystal and Brielle (not to mention their menagerie) and a feature on the loving restoration of the Pettit House, University Drive, by the brilliant Karen and Steve duo. I love my job; I get to meet great people and their dragons and turtles, and a great excuse to visit my neighbours in their grand mansion just three doors down.

And there’s other fun stuff, too! Pick up your copy at the various rack locations throughout the city. Do tell us what you think!

Thanks Roxy Theatre

If you’re anywhere near Saskatoon during next year’s Academy Awards, take a seat for the Oscars at the Roxy Theatre. Thanks so much to the Roxy for a fun evening on Sunday night with the Awards on the big screen, complete with Envelopegate. And free admission! Thank you! The Karpinka Brothers were fun, the popcorn is great and there are even prizes. Always fun to go to the Roxy and get a taste of what an old tyme theatre experience was once like, and we always look forward to this event.