Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS March 18 1996

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS March 18 1996

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Welcome to the Motel Convalescence

Like other hospitals across Canada, St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, N.S., has been forced to come up with some imaginative ideas for doing more with less. Since 1990, St. Martha’s has closed 50 per cent of its 175 beds because of a $6-million reduction in its $22-million annual budget. But the hospital’s solution to providing care for convalescing day-surgery patients has had some of those patients asking out loud,

“Where are you taking us?” says Liz Isenor, acting director of patient services. Since 1993, the patients have been recuperating not in hospital, but at a local motel. St. Martha’s tendered for the service last year, and Welcome Inns of Canada, one kilometre away, won the bidding. So far, the motel has put up patients for a total of 272 nights, at $38 a night. Even after adding in the cost of discounted meals from the nearby Snow Queen Restaurant, motel recupera-§ tion costs 75 per cent less than in-hospital care.

And patients are becoming accustomed to the more relaxed surroundings. According to motel owner Gary Cusack, they enjoy being with family members, with nursing care just a phone call away. And then there is the food. “I know they take a lot of pride in their meals up at St. Martha’s,” says Cusack, “but people sure enjoy the food here from the Snow Queen.” TTiis could be the start of a whole new line of greeting cards: “Heard you were in the motel, hope you check out soon.”

Hail to the chief?

The pending divorce of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Prince Charles is not only a topic of hot gossip, but a matter of some symbolic significance throughout the Commonwealth. The Queen’s insistence that Diana drop the honorific prefix Her Royal Highness has military brass wondering about her status as colonel-in-chief of army regiments in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But for now, at least, the two Canadian army reserve regiments that could be affected, the West Nova Scotia Regiment in Kentville, N.S., and the Princess of Wales Own Regiment in Kingston, Ont., seem to be in no hurry to switch loyalties. Roger MacLellan, honorary colonel of the 160-strong West Nova Scotia Regiment, notes that the princess has kept in regular touch with the regiment since assuming her post in 1992. “As long as she remains Princess of Wales, she will be acceptable to us,” he says. Even if she loses the HRH? “She’s acceptable to us,” MacLellan repeats, “and we’d never take any action to have her removed.”

Whose booze?

As the international airline regulatory agency based in Montreal pondered Cuba’s threat to ban U.S. flights over its territory last week, it had another crisis to deal with closer to home: the curtailment of its supply of cheap booze. The 200 foreign diplomats and senior officials working at the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization are accustomed to buying their liquor duty-free, like other diplomats in Canada, under an agreement with Ottawa. But in November, in a challenge to Ottawa’s authority over diplomats on Quebec soil, provincial authorities seized a truckload of liquor being delivered to the ICAO and charged an Ottawa supplier with illegally importing alcohol. As Ottawa and Quebec City

wrangle over jurisdiction, ICAO delegates are keeping their views on the dispute to themselves. “We’re bystanders on this one,” said Hutton Archer, ICAO’s chief of public information. “The system has been working for the last 50 years without any problem.”

Toronto, a haven of 'poetic' wastelands

For Toronto theatregoers, it seems there may be an upside to the economic doldrums. Deborah Warner, one of Britain’s foremost directors, is currently casting an admiring eye on the city’s empty warehouses, factories and office buildings. She is hunting for a suitable setting for a dramatization of T.S. Eliot’s classic poem “The Waste

Land” during next month’s du Maurier World Stage theatre festival. The onewoman show—performed by celebrated British actress Fiona Shaw—requires a bleak, end-of-the-world locale. Among sites Warner has scouted are a water-treatment plant, an abandoned disco and a mothballed Ontario Hydro power station. Warner has been particularly intrigued by the empty floors in unfilled downtown office buildings. “In Britain, we don’t allow audiences into the tops of skyscrapers for fear the IRA will blow them up,” remarks the director. At the moment, she is favoring either a 19th-century theatre (she would put the audience on the stage) or a deserted factory near Lake Ontario, with a view of the city’s towers in the background. Says Warner: “Your industrial wastelands are very poetic.”

He shoots, he reads

Tie (The Domi-nator) Domi usually walks softly and carries a big stick. But for the sake of promoting literacy in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer is throwing down his gloves and taking a book in hand. Domi is one of seven Leaf players who read from Ottawa author Roy MacGregor’s youngadult mystery, The Night They Stole the Stanley Cup, on a new audiocassette. The tape-and-book package is part of a campaign launched to benefit Frontier College, a national literacy organization. MacGregor, who writes a sports column for The Ottawa Citizen, says he is thrilled by the hockey players’ support. Fie sent a copy of the novel to defenceman Larry Murphy, one of the participants. “He’d only been given a couple of chapters to read,” said MacGregor,

“Contrary to what people think, I’ve been hit plenty in my career. ”

— Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, after being knocked unconscious for two minutes last week by Edmonton Oiler Kelly Buchberger’s elbow, in just his second game with his new team, the St. Louis Blues

“and he wanted to know how the story turns out.”

Breaking a March habit in Quebec City

Officials in Quebec City are hoping to avoid the unpleasantness they have encountered in the past during the annual March-break influx of thousands of university students. Excerpts from a cautionary letter the city’s police faxed last week to bus operators in Ontario and the Maritimes, to be shown to young Quebec-bound passengers:

On behalf of the Quebec City police department, I would like to welcome you

to our city. The purpose of this letter is to inform you about Quebec City’s bylaws, as well as certain articles in the Criminal Code of Canada. By telling you about them, we want to help people avoid the unpleasant experience of facing

municipal or even criminal charges. Here are a few examples of our municipal bylaws: City bylaw 192 deals with law and order. In several provisions it prohibits certain types of

behavior, including: causing disturbance by yelling, screaming or fighting; being intoxicated in a public place; consuming alcoholic beverages other than in a bar or a dwelling; it is also prohibited to urinate in the street or any other place that is not designed for that purpose.

The simple possession of “pepper spray” is an offence under the I Criminal Code and, as I such, is prohibited. We would ask you to re[ speet these rules. We want you to remember your visit to Quebec City as a pleasant one marked by lots of good, clean fun. Thanks for your time. And, once again, enjoy your stay in Quebec City!

Revellers in Quebec City: bylaws to obey

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