• My Experience with Reliance Home Comfort

    Date: 2017.07.08 | Category: Open letter | Response: 0

    Sean O’Brien, President & CEO
    Reliance Home Comfort
    P.O. BOX 2305
    Oshawa, ON L1H 7V5

    8 July 2017

    RE: Issue on 8 July 2017

    Dear Mr. O’Brien,

    After having issues with my central air conditioner for a few days, yesterday I went online to your website to book an appointment. Your website told me someone would be here between 11 am and 6 pm. (Though, it may have said 1 pm and 6 pm.) However, 6 pm arrived and your technician had not. I called your phone number and they told me they had no record of my appointment

    I asked to speak with a Manager, but that was not done. I was told one would call me back in an hour, but that too never happened.

    After I started posting complaints online, your employee Penny got involved. She put up a valiant effort and deserves a huge raise, but at that point, I was beyond livid at all the broken promises that I went and found a competitor of yours to rescue the remainder of my weekend.

    I am quite frustrated Mr. O’Brien because I waited around for hours like one might for Rogers or Bell, and like those companies, no one showed up. Is this how you run your business? Letting paying customers to wait around for hours and then when you don’t show we then compare you to two of Canada’s historically reprehensible companies? For the record, I use neither of them. For the record, I will not use your company either – now or in the future.

    You seem to have a big culture problem with your company, Mr. O’Brien. While researching whom the President of Reliance Home Comfort was, I came across a 2014 press release admitting a penalty by the Competition Bureau. If you don’t wish to loose more customers, I suggest you start at the top. Also, fix your website scheduling system.

    Sincerely yours,

    Peter V. Tretter

  • The colours of movement

    Date: 2016.11.24 | Category: Articles, J2DW, Living Green | Response: 0

    dance-sihouetteToday is my last day as Chair of Living Green Barrie. In a few hours, I will get up in front of a few people at our Annual General Meeting for the last time. After 7 years, it’s time.

    I’ve enjoyed my time on the board of directors and in the office of Chair. And who knows, maybe in a year or two I will return.

    For now, I am focusing on my non-profit Journey to Diversity Workplaces and job hunting which has been going on for a few months. Also to give myself a bit of a social life. When you spend three nights a week on dialysis, it’s nice to have a night to play board games, or stay home and watch TV.

    My new year’s resolution for 2017 is the same as I had for 2016 – to make new friends and to develop the friendships I have. So if I message you asking you to have coffee, please say yes! It’s been a great resolution this year that I want to continue.

  • The realities of cooperative banking

    Date: 2016.10.19 | Category: Banking, Politics | Response: 0

    Last year I left my part-time job working as a teller for a major Canadian bank. Having left that, a few credit-union-copy-2months ago I decided to move my money to a… credit union. Meridian to be exact.

    While job hunting, (I am available for hire, by the way,) I have come across a few job posts from a few credit unions. And the reality is their sales force has the same sales goals as the major Canadian banks. I’m told this is not a bad thing as credit unions profits get paid out to their members. Which is true. Even credit unions that have investment shares – those shares can usually only be purchased by members.

    And they do the whole one member, one vote thing.

    There are some downsides, however – if you tend to travel a lot, you won’t find your branch outside your home province. Because in Canada there is an entire one federal credit union – and it’s a french credit union. (So no, Vancity and Meridian are not federal credit unions.)

    This means if you want to do banking outside your home province, you’ll have to rely on your phone, computer, or an ATM linked to your credit union. (Ask them for details.)

    On the positive side, from personal experience, I find employees at credit unions seem happier. Perhaps it’s the same reason people prefer to work for non-profits. (Though I should note, Canada’s credit unions are for-profit and pay corporate taxes.)

    Also, credit unions are supposedly easier to borrow from if you need a loan. Why? Because it’s my money you’re borrowing. Members supporting members and all that.

    Think a credit union is the right choice for you? Good news, bank transfer day is coming up November 5th! Call your local credit union for an appointment. Operators are standing by.

  • Levelling up at RVH

    Date: 2016.03.02 | Category: Health, Rants & complaints | Response: 0

    Since my last post, a lot has happened. This past November the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre

    Picture of my grandfather undergoing dialysis.

    Picture of my grandfather undergoing dialysis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    opened their first in-centre dialysis chair. With the one chair they have given dialysis to up to 12 patients per week. With one chair! WOW!

    I joined the Renal Patient & Family Advisory Committee, which saw me invited to today’s Clinical Operations Re-Design Group meeting.

    Now the temporary unit is set to open at the beginning of April with two in-patient chairs, and four chairs for out-patients who need extra in-centre care.

    I was fortunate to have a tour earlier today. Located near the Atrium entrance will make getting to dialysis easy for the out-patients. The unit is small. Might be tight once equipment and chairs move in, but it’ll be comfortable. Gone are the curtains you may be used to, replaced with screens for infection control.

    In addition the unit has an isolation room for any patients that require it, and three sinks to ensure handwashing is priority #1. They’re not fooling around with infection.

    As well there will be a washroom which is easily accessible for patients. Patients who can’t sit in a chair and require a bed will also be accommodated.

    Overall the temporary unit looks very promising, and earns an A+. Great job all.

  • 9 Enticing Volunteer Opportunities you can do NOW!

    Date: 2015.08.07 | Category: Green Party, J2DW, Living Green, Politics | Response: 0

    Everyone and their dog knows I love to volunteer. It’s unfortunate but many organizations, my own included, are always looking for volunteers. I present 9 of these opportunities.

    Barrie in relation to other North American cities

    Barrie in relation to other North American cities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    1. Shane L.S. Dennis does community cleanups every Sunday. I don’t know what time, but they meet at Unity Market on Toronto St @ Simcoe St right here in Barrie.

    2. An organization my late mother supported, the Simcoe County Alliance Against Homelessness is always looking for help!

    3. General volunteers – Bonnie North, the Green Party candidate in Barrie — Innisfil is looking for a few good people to knock on doors, call voters, put up signs, and whole lot more! Apply within.

    4. General volunteers – Journey to Diversity Workplaces is a local non-profit I started in 2013. We’re looking for a few good people to join the board. We are looking for a few good general volunteers for things like blogging, editing, essay-writing, photography/videography, and more. Apply today.

    5. Board members – Journey to Diversity Workplaces is a local non-profit I started in 2013. We’re looking for a few good people to join the board. We meet every 2 months or so, commit is about 2 – 4 hours in the months in which we meet. Apply today.

    6. General volunteers – Living Green Barrie, a local charity whose board I currently chair is looking for a few good people as general volunteers for things like tree planting, event planning & running, and other future opportunities. Apply within.

    7. Board members – Living Green Barrie, a local charity whose board I currently chair is looking for a few good people to join the board. It’s 2 – 4 hours per month. Apply within.

    8. Volunteer Coordinator – Bonnie North, the Green Party candidate in Barrie — Innisfil is looking for a good person to manager her volunteers. Apply within.

    9. Official Agent – Bonnie North, the Green Party candidate in Barrie — Innisfil is looking for a good person to manager her books. Apply within.

  • The secret of why I’m going back to school

    Date: 2015.05.21 | Category: Education, Green Party, Health, J2DW, Living Green | Response: 0

    English: Royal Roads University

    English: Royal Roads University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

    It’s official.

    I’ve quit my job. My last day is May 29th. I’m almost done a pre-requisite course on Academic Writing.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I am going back to school.

    Mid-June, I will be starting in the Master of Arts in Leadership program at Royal Roads University.

    Now you may be wondering why someone who doesn’t even hold a bachelor’s degree would want to do a Master’s degree for? After years at my current job, I knew it was time for a change. And for years I have been applying for various jobs internally, and externally. But what finally made me consider going back to school was the fact that I felt I needed education to back up my experience, and it was a great reason to renew my sanity.

    I was also inspired by Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May who has a law degree, but no post-secondary education other than that.

    What will I do with this degree? I don’t honestly know. I applied at the end of 2014, and got my offer in February. I really like how the staff at Royal Roads University worked with me to ensure I had all the documents required for my application. They even extended the deadline for an errant transcript. (I have done some undergraduate course work.)

    I’ve always believe if you don’t like your current situation, you should change it. Thankfully there is usually more than one way to change a situation. Since everyone and their dog is going the second career route these days, why can’t I?

    I do have some challenges facing me. I have a learning disability, I’m on dialysis – which alone makes it hard to travel to Victoria, BC for the twice I have to go – two weeks each. As well I’m busy with volunteer commitments, some of which I am giving up, or already have. I am prioritizing. Because volunteering doesn’t pay the bills.

    Still at the end of the day, I know I will be better for having gone back to school.

  • The internal activist

    Date: 2015.04.17 | Category: Green Party, Health, J2DW, Rants & complaints | Response: 0

    crowd-of-people

    The list for a donor organ in Belgium is 1,248 patients long. Many will wait more than three years to receive a kidney. Roel Marien, 39 and the father of two young girls, says he does not have the time to sit and wait. So he took matters into his own hands and began to search for a donor among his Facebook friends.
    His move sparked a discussion among doctors and patients in Europe about the current system, which is based on strict laws and anonymity. Is it fair if people search for organ donors online to avoid endless waiting lists? Might social media give certain patients an advantage, if they can present their stories well online? Should Patients Be Able to Find Organ Donors on Facebook? (2015) by Benjamin Duerr as published in The Atlantic.

    I am an activist. But I am not a normal activist as you might think. I am an activist for one person – me, myself, and I.

    This may seem like a selfish position, but in the day of online slacktivism, I think we are all activists for ourselves. You have the people who use GoFundMe to ask for money for school/health, or to ask for a kidney.

    My activism may be a bit more broad – I care about the Green Party and the Environment, my health, and other causes close to my heart. But try and talk to me about something outside of that, and I’ll be with the rest of the world watching Pop Star.

    And isn’t it sad that we can’t move out of our bubbles, our comfort zones, to consider what others are being activists for? What is close to their hearts?

    I heard it said once that liberal-types unfriend more people on Facebook than conservative-types, because conservative types are supposively more open minded. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do have a hard time reaching other activists in my sphere about my non-profit Journey to Diversity Workplaces.

    Does that mean they don’t care? I don’t know. It means that they don’t care enough to look deeper into what I’m presenting.

    The same can be said with my own kidney search. I haven’t taken to GoFundMe, because I am not out of pocket for any expense money. However, I have been on the transplant waiting list for 8 years. Yet a previous blog post I did on the topic got very few reads.

    So what does all this mean? We’re all selfish bastards, and we need to learn to both lighten up, and to support our friends, and neighbours.

    Because isn’t that what a good neighbour would do?

  • A Veteran’s Take on being a Renal Patient: Ten Things I have Learned

    Date: 2015.03.07 | Category: Health, Rants & complaints | Response: 0

    So this article is a response/extension of an article I read earlier today. 
    A Rookie’s Take on Dialysis: Ten Things I Have Learned So Far.

    Dialysis machines in Barrie, Ontario

    Dialysis machines in Barrie, Ontario

    I have been a renal patient since 1985. I have been on peritoneal dialysis twice, and hemodialysis once. In addition, I have had three renal transplants.

    1. You’ll wait on the transplant list for what seems like forever.

    It takes a good year just to get on the transplant list due to all the testing, and vetting the doctor’s and hospital’s like to do.

    WARNING: Once you’re on the list, don’t change transplant centre’s or you’ll have to start over from scratch!

    In 2008 I moved from Ottawa, to Barrie. I got set up with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. It took me 2 years to get on the transplant list with St. Mike’s.

    2. The medical staff is not your friend.

    Yes it may seem like it is one big happy family. Our unit has an annual Christmas party. It’s fun (if you choose to attend,) and probably worth attending once or twice. But you have to remember the staff aren’t your friend. They are there to get paid. So if you think something is wrong, or needs investigating, etc. it’s on YOU to inform the staff. And stick to your guns. It beats having to go to the ER when something does happen.

    The staff like you to believe you can live a normal life. So believe it, and follow through on it. If you need a shift change, demand it. I’ve missed dialysis a few times over the years because a change wasn’t possible. Call their bluff. Now I know what I have to do to get that change.

    3. Dialysis > Death

    That is such bullshit! Ok, so I’m alive.

    That isn’t always better to how you feel while a dialysis patient. With the amount of dialysis we get, you don’t feel like you did when you had fully functioning kidneys.

    Back to #2 – You have a right to live your life, otherwise why are you on dialysis in the first place?

    4. Warm blankets are one of the best things in the world.

    Warm blankets are better than hot, fresh pizza! But you should always bring a blanket just in case your unit runs out of warm blankets, or even worse, doesn’t have any to begin with. (Like at Soldier’s Memorial Hospital in Orillia.)

    5. Stand up for yourself.

    This definitely goes back to some of what I’ve already written here.

    When you’re admitted to the hospital for whatever reason (line insertion, transplant, fistula, line infection, clot, etc.) stand up for yourself. The last time I was admitted, I didn’t get my admission papers until the day before I was released. So demand them.

    Don’t like the food? Demand better.

    Write a letter/email to the CEO. Talk to the nurse or patient rep. (Many hospitals now have patient rep’s to see to your care and needs. Talk to them!) Or what I did; I knocked on the unit manager’s door, and let myself in. I got what I needed in a New York minute.

    6. Relax.

    This seems to contradict everything else I’ve written so far. However, if you don’t relax your blood pressure, and heart rate will go up. You won’t be doing yourself any favours. So when you have time, relax. I try to relax while on dialysis, but seeing as how my blood is passing through me at a fast rate, not always the best time.

    7. A transplant doesn’t last forever.

    A transplant doesn’t last forever. The current estimate (and I’m not a doctor,) is 20 years for a full life of a transplant, and 10 for a half life. Most recipients will be back on dialysis after about the 10 year mark.

    There are many recipients who are exceptions to this.

    8. Dialysis is not a mental game.

    See #6. If you psych yourself out over going to dialysis, then you’ll just cause your blood pressure to rise, and your heart rate to rise. Think of it as an opportunity to be away from the kids, or co-workers, etc for a few hours. It’s ‘you’ time.

    9. Drugs.

    Weather you’re on dialysis, or have a transplant – there are so many fracking drugs! So make sure to discuss them all with your pharmacist. In Ontario, you can go for a MedsCheck review once a year. It’s paid for by OHIP. Go over your meds, check there aren’t any that have been discontinued, that the pharmacy has the right dosages, etc.

    Before any transplant, the social worker at your transplant centre will meet with you and ensure you have proper insurance coverage to pay for them. If not, the social worker will help you there too.

    Many of the drug companies now have programs that if you loose coverage, they’ll provide your drugs for free. So be sure to ask about that, and to enroll!

    10. Everything else.

    • Keep an eye on your ‘dialysis adequacy‘. It’s a measure to determine if you’re getting enough dialysis or not. My unit checks mine every month. But they may not tell you what it is. So ask! You might be able to reduce the amount of time you spend there.
    • Your creatinine level will never be the same again. Not even with a transplant. It’ll be close once you have a transplant, but will never be what it was when you were perfectly healthy.
    • If your unit offers coffee/tea/other drinks, it’s a good idea to bring your own mug! (You save the environment, and get more than fits in a tiny styrofoam cup.)
    • Be nice to the staff. They can make your life very difficult. You should stand up for yourself, but do it in a polite way.
  • Healthcare industry injustice towards vegetarians & vegans

    Date: 2014.11.08 | Category: Health, Rants & complaints | Response: 0

    Over the last 6 months, a lot has gone on in my life. As my close friends know, I lost my Mom to cancer in July. So I’ve had both a journey visiting Mom in the hospital, to being an outpatient myself.iStock_000017490436XSmall

    As an outpatient, it’s no different than not being a patient at all. Most hospitals expect you to purchase (or bring,) your own meals, so vegetarian options are plentiful. Vegan options, depending on the hospital, I found, are more challenging to find. But at least you can bring your own.

    A few years ago Mom was advised by her doctor to severely cut down on the amount of meat she eats. So she did. However, at the end of May she was a patient at St. Michael’s Hospital downtown Toronto.

    I remember a disturbing conversation between a dietician at the hospital, and Mom. No doctor had countermanded the orders, so the dietician assumed a lot actually trying to convince Mom to eat meat. (Which is all they had sent her up to this point. She had to demand to speak to someone about fixing it.) Because various diets (such as a renal diet) do not necessarily mix with being vegetarian, or vegan because the protein sources could, for example, be high in phosphorous, which is bad for anyone with renal failure.

    As an in-patient myself in the past (pre-being vegetarian,) most hospital’s automatically order your area’s “special meal” and forget the vegetarian part until you insist. And if you want this done in the first day, you have to complain real loudly.

    I think this is an area St. Michael’s, and locally to Barrie the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre needs to work on. First being meals patients actually want to eat, but secondly not assuming that we all eat meat.

    As a renal patient I’m seen as a bit of an enigma – I haven’t eaten meat in 7 years. Yet my blood work is consistent, and perhaps even a bit better than my fellow patients who do eat meat.

    As the dietician from St. Mike’s pointed out – nephrologist’s (kidney doctor) used to recommend patient’s with renal failure should reduce the amount of meat they eat. According to her that advice is now outdated – I don’t agree with her as the science so far, is behind eating less meat, and more vegetables.

    Who can argue with a vegetable?

    Oh, and I won the argument with the dietician. Team Peter – 4. Team Healthcare – 0.

  • Why you have no say in whom I vote for

    Date: 2014.10.16 | Category: Articles, Open letter, Politics | Response: 0

     photo ballotbox.jpg
    In Canada, we are generally considered to be a democracy. In Ontario, it is municipal election time in every municipality.

    We get to vote for the Mayor, City Council, School Board, Hob Goblin, Batman, etc.

    Ok, we don’t really get to vote for Batman.

    Recently I was telling a few people why I would not be voting for Barrie’s current Mayor Jeff Lehman. A few people told me I was not voting for him for the wrong reasons. However, at the end of the day, those reasons are my own, and we still live in a democracy. I could be totally lying, since it’s a secret ballot, and still vote for him. (Won’t happen, but theoretically it could.)

    I think dialogue is a wonderful thing, but we shouldn’t discourage people from voting for someone – because they’re voting!! I would rather have someone vote for the “WRONG PERSON”, than not vote at all.

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