MS Society urges Members of Parliament to act to improve #LifeWithMS​

 From May 1-3, 2017 representatives from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and members of the MS community will meet with parliamentarians in Ottawa to launch MS Awareness Month (May). The meetings will focus on getting the government to take action to improve #LifeWithMS.

Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, making advocacy and action related to MS a top concern for Canadians. Priority topics include policy changes regarding access for people living with MS (implementation of accessibility legislation; affordable treatments; and delivery of home care, supportive housing and age-appropriate/function-appropriate long-term care) and secure employment (flexible employment for those with MS and other episodic disabilities; and improved income and disability supports for those living with MS).

The often unpredictable and episodic nature of MS makes it particularly challenging in maintaining an adequate quality of life. This, along with the challenges of living with a disability, which has both visible and invisible symptoms and the barriers in support programs across all levels of governments, creates immense challenges for Canadian families.

"Every day my life and the lives of countless other Canadians are impacted by multiple sclerosis," says Marilyn Lenzen, who lives with relapsing remitting MS. "There can be a lot holding us back. Many of us living with MS don't have the option of benefiting from new MS treatments, which could slow down the progression of our disease due to a lack of government funded drug coverage. As our MS progresses, our independence is lost. Without sufficient home care options, we're forced to leave our homes for non-age-appropriate long-term care facilities. Our government has the power to improve the current situation by increasing access to treatments, investing in comprehensive home care, and enhancing access through accessibility legislation."

Throughout MS Awareness Month and leading up to World MS Day (May 31), the MS Society also advocates for the importance of accelerating research in the MS community, which continues to lead us to new treatments, better quality of life and one day, a cure.

Parliamentarians are invited to a reception on the evening of Monday, May 1 (5:30pm; Commonwealth Room, House of Commons), to learn more about how the MS Society is accelerating research to improve #LifeWithMS.

At 1pm on Wednesday, May 3, the annual Carnation Pinning Ceremony will take place in the House of Commons foyer where MS Society representatives, members of the MS community and party representatives Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre), Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach) and Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby South) will present carnations, as a symbol of solidarity with Canadians affected by MS, to MPs as they enter the day's session. Following the ceremony, MPs involved in the ceremony will present members' statements calling for support for the cause from fellow parliamentarians.

About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

Ontario Nurses' Association Members to Mark Canada's National Day of Mourning and Remembrance

​Members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) will pause tomorrow to remember their colleagues who have been made ill, been injured or died on the job during Canada's National day of Mourning and Remembrance.

"ONA is a leader in advocating for improvements in workplace health and safety," notes ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Yet each year, thousands of workers are injured, made ill or killed in the workplace. Statistics show that workplace injuries and violence harm nurses and other health-care workers at a frightening rate."

ONA members will remember their fellow registered nurses – Nelia Laroza and Tecla Lin – who were infected and died of SARS while caring for their patients. They will also pause to remember Lori Dupont, RN, who was murdered by a colleague while she worked in Windsor's Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

"The Day of Mourning is a chance to also renew our commitment to improving workplace safety for all, so that nurses, allied health professionals and every working person is safer on the job," says McKenna. "We are continuing to push for more stringent occupational health and safety laws, and for accountability for workplace safety from employers, CEOs, directors, officers and supervisors. ONA continues to call on the Ministry of Labour to hold these decision-makers accountable for the safety of their employees."

Health-care sector workers are eight times more likely to experience workplace violence than those in the manufacturing industry.

ONA is the union representing 64,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses 

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) is committed to increasing awareness about the importance of prevention and early detection for this deadliest form of skin cancer. In Canada, melanoma is the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer with over 6,800 cases this year. It is one of the most common cancers in youth ages 15 to 29 and is the most aggressive skin cancer if not caught early. For more information, visit www.melanomanetwork.ca.

Many high-profile people have been treated for melanoma including former US President Jimmy Carter, Republican Senator John McCain and Hall of Fame Quarterback Troy Aikman. Legendary Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley, Crazy Canuck, alpine ski racer Dave Murray and most recently CBC's The Vinyl Café, Stuart McLean lost their battles with melanoma.

"When in doubt, take it out. If you have a mole that is troubling and you are not sure, ask for a biopsy," says Annette Cyr, Founder and Chair of the Board of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "Over half of initial melanoma is caught by the patient or by a family member. Make sure to check yourself monthly and take a photo on your phone to track any changes in your mole. Melanoma is very treatable if caught early."

Check your skin regularly as melanoma can affect any race, gender or age group. You are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have one or more of the following characteristics: prolonged exposure to UV radiation including outdoor sun and artificial UV radiation (tanning beds, sun lamps); severe blistering, sunburns before the age of 20; a family history of melanoma; more than 50 moles on your body; moles with unusual shape or colour; skin that tends to burn; fair or freckled skin; red or blonde hair and blue eyes; or a weakened immune system.

Know the ABCDE's to spot Melanoma:

A = Asymmetry
One half of the mole does not match the other.
B = Border
The mole edges are ragged, notched, uneven or blurred.
C = Colour
A variety of colours including shades of black, brown, tan, sometimes with blue, grey, red pink or white may be present.
D = Diameter
The mole has grown in size and is larger than 6mm.
E = Evolution
The mole has changed in the past few weeks or months and may be itchy, scaling or bleeding.
"Melanoma is on the rise in Canada," states Dr. Paul Cohen, Dermatologist and Director, Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "Because our winters are so long, many people are spending more time outside when the weather gets nicer and not applying sunscreen often enough. Whatever your skin type or skin sensitivity, there is no excuse to not be able to find a sun screen that suits you."

Dr. Cohen offers the following sun safety tips: seek the shade between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the sun is strongest; avoid tanning and UV tanning booths; cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses; use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day all year long; apply a thick layer of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating; and examine your skin head-to-toe every month and let your doctor know if you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious.

Wear a black ribbon throughout May to show your support for melanoma awareness and prevention.

The Princess Ball Raises $68,000 for Make-A-Wish® Canada​

 The fourth annual Princess Ball in support of Wishes for Olivia was a magical success on April 23rd, raising $68,000 for Make-A-Wish® Canada. Guests and volunteers gathered at the Liberty Grand Governor's Ballroom in Toronto. The family-friendly charity gala carries on the legacy of Olivia Grace White, who died suddenly at the age of 5 from an undiagnosed blood infection in 2012.

Host Stu Jeffries guided guests through the story of Beauty and her Beast while guests dined on a royal feast, were entertained with exciting dance numbers, visits with their favourite princesses, and countless activities.

Funds were raised through ticket sales, sponsorships, a silent auction, and contests on site such as "Belle's Enchanted Rose Garden" where the winner received a mother/daughter matching Pandora bracelet set.

Run by Olivia's mother Jennifer White, Wishes for Olivia was founded in 2013 after Olivia's sudden passing. This enchanted tribute to her is meant to carry on her legacy as such a kind-hearted spirit.

"This year, we wanted to celebrate how smart, quick, and persistent Princesses can be," says Jennifer White, The Princess Ball founder. "Our sponsors, volunteers, and guests have made seven wishes come true this year through Make-A-Wish®. They have provided the power of hope to keep these very special children persistent for years to come."

While some of the wildly popular activities returned to The Princess Ball such as the candy station, face painting, and hair adornment, there were new additions to the roster. Some of the new activities included: Belle's Enchanted Rose Garden, Little Town Flower Market, Belle's Perfumerie, designer popsicles, and a delicious chocolate fountain.

The silent auction and raffle items, donated by local businesses and organizations, highlighted prizes such as a return trip for two anywhere Westjet flies, 4-day tickets to Disney World, a Boom 97.3 prize pack, two Hasbro gift baskets, PANDORA jewellery sets, and much more.

Sponsors and partners for the 2017 The Princess Ball include: Hasbro, PANDORA, Home Trust Company, NagataConnex, Marketers on Demand, Liquid Entertainment, CastleBound Characters, Michelle Fernandes Photography, Photoworks, Tandem Studios, Happy Pops, Melonhead, GlamaGal Tween Spa, Gourmet Craft & Catering, Mabel's Labels, Event Wise, A Petal or Two, and SongBird Marketing Communications.

About Wishes for Olivia Fundraising Organization

Wishes for Olivia is a Not-for-Profit that was started in 2013 by Jennifer and Glenn White. The organization raises money for Make-A-Wish Canada in memory of Olivia Grace White, who died at the age of 5 of an undiagnosed blood infection. Wishes for Olivia participates in a number of fundraising activities throughout the year, including Tough Mudder -- competing as the "Cinder-Hell Yeahs" (annual), various team events/competitions, and, most notably, the annual charity gala The Princess Ball. To date, Wishes for Olivia has raised $280,000 for Make-A-Wish Canada.

For more information visit www.wishesforolivia.org and www.theprincessball.com.


Expanding role of community pharmacists could save Canada's health care system up to $25.7 billion​

 Canada-wide implementation of three pharmacy services could yield cumulative cost savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years, depending on the level of uptake of these services, according to a new report released today by The Conference Board of Canada. Expanding pharmacy services would translate to direct cost savings for governments and prevent chronic disease and premature deaths.

The report, The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada, part of a three-part research series commissioned by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), reviews the health and economic impact of three services that are currently delivered within a community pharmacy setting—smoking cessation, advanced medication review for heart disease and pneumococcal vaccination. The research findings provide ample evidence that expanded pharmacy services improve health outcomes and reduce burdens on the broader health care system.

"This report is good news for a cash-strapped health care system, governments, payers and ultimately all Canadians," said Alistair Bursey, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "While we have long understood the health benefits of pharmacist care in interventions such as smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease through past clinical practice research, these findings help to bridge the evidence gap to demonstrate the significant value Canada's pharmacists can bring to our health care system."

In addition to health and economic gains, a large return on investment is also expected for all three community pharmacy services. By 2035, for every dollar spent, the direct return could reach up to $2.30 for advanced medication review for heart disease, $9.10 for smoking cessation, and $72.00 for pneumococcal vaccination.

Expanding pharmacy services would improve the health of Canadians through chronic disease management, health promotion and prevention, as well as improve access to health services in rural and remote communities. Pharmacists can also help meet the demands of high-needs and vulnerable populations at reduced cost. Pharmacy care means fewer visits to doctors' offices and emergency rooms, saving health care dollars while also improving health outcomes for patients.

"If given the opportunity, community pharmacists could do more to help meet the growing demand for convenient, accessible, and cost-effective health care services," said Bursey. "The infrastructure for these services already exists; now we must expand pharmacists' scope of practice and remunerate them appropriately to provide this care across the country."

Pharmacists are ideally positioned to provide this care: they have the skills, training and expertise to do even more.
Community pharmacists are regarded as the most accessible and convenient primary care providers, and by capitalizing on their expertise as medication experts and broadening their scope of practice, they could play an even greater role in ensuring the sustainability of our health care system.

Canadian Fertility Consultants, Committed to Healthiest Outcomes Through SET Surrogacy Program

 One year ago, Canadian Fertility Consultants changed its longstanding policy of allowing its clients to decide whether or not to transfer multiple embryos into their Surrogate Mother, increasing the chances of a high-risk, multiple pregnancy.

Canadian Fertility Consultants made the decision to lead the charge within the fertility industry and institute the SET (single embryo transfer) policy for all clients using eggs from a woman under 35 years of age.

This policy change was part of a movement CFC is developing to ensure the protection of its Surrogates and Children born through Surrogacy.
According to the CDC, SET helps women avoid several risks to their own health that are associated with carrying multiples. It also helps families achieve success while preventing some risks known to be associated with giving birth to twins, or what is called "high order multiple births" (three or more children born at the same time). Infants born in multiple births are more often born early, are smaller (low birth weight) and experience more adverse health outcomes than singleton infants. There is consensus among experts that the desired outcome of ART is a healthy singleton infant.

The Government of Canada has long recommended using the SET protocol to increase the chances of a healthy full-term pregnancy; however, the industry has been slow to adopt these recommendations. Canadian Fertility Consultants was the first major Canadian company to make the SET protocol mandatory, and has always been committed to setting the gold standard in surrogacy practices in Canada.

"We would never advise a pregnant woman to skydive, so why would we put her at risk, along with the babies she's carrying? The risks of multiple pregnancies are clear, and we are ensuring that this risk is eliminated through our new SET only program", said Leia Swanberg, CEO of Canadian Fertility Consultants.

CEO Leia Swanberg knew that they may initially lose clients because of this major change in policy; however, the company has remained committed to ensuring the healthiest possible outcomes for her surrogates. Over the last year, the company has seen amazing results, and its surrogates and intended parents have benefited from the SET protocol.

The intention is to protect all parties involved by committing to the safest outcomes possible. The company will stand behind its policy by offering a Discounted Second journey agency fee, and will encourage other industry professionals, such as lawyers and Fertility clinics, to do the same for those who are pursuing two journeys simultaneously.

CFC hopes that fertility clinics and other industry professionals will adopt SET policies of their own, mandating the protection of the women carrying, as well as the families being created.

The Surrogates in the company's program are such amazing women, and deserve to be honored and respected, and this is one way that can be done. The company is always committed to providing its Surrogates with the best medical care, and their safety is always the prime concern.

Canadians Lack Access to Obesity Treatments and Support: Report Card​

Canadians living with obesity are gravely underserved by Canada's public health systems and private benefits plans, according to a report released today by the Canadian Obesity Network (CON-RCO).
The Canadian and American Medical Associations, the World Health Organization, the Canadian Obesity Network and other groups now consider obesity to be a chronic disease, like diabetes and cancer. However, many health systems, as well as private and public payers and policy makers, have yet to embrace this definition and dedicate sufficient resources in support of patients. 
The Report Card On Access To Obesity Treatment For Adults In Canada 2017 identifies substantial shortfalls in access to treatments outlined in Canadian clinical practice guidelines established in 2006, including behavioural interventions, medically supervised weight management using meal replacements, anti-obesity medications and bariatric surgery.
The report makes seven key recommendations to improve Canada's response to obesity, chief among them being the adoption of a true chronic disease approach to provide treatment and ongoing support for those with the disease.
Among the key findings are:
There is a profound lack of interdisciplinary healthcare services for obesity management in Canada.
A very limited number of Canadian physicians are pursuing formal training and certification in obesity management.
Canadians who may benefit from medically-supervised weight management programs with meal replacements are expected to pay out-of-pocket for the meal replacements, in sharp contrast with coverage available for meal replacements used in diabetes, cystic fibrosis and cancer care.
Those who rely on public coverage for prescription drug costs do not have access to the two prescription anti-obesity medications in Canada. Pharmacare programs in all the provinces and territories, as well as federal public drug benefit programs, receive a grade of F.
Less than 20% of the Canadian population with private drug benefit plans have access to these medications.
Nationally, bariatric surgery is available to only 1 in 183 adults (or 0.54%) every year who may be eligible for it. There are vast differences in access to bariatric surgery from one province to the next.
Wait times between referral to bariatric surgery and consultation with a surgical team receive a grade of F in all provinces; wait times between consultation and bariatric surgery receive a C grade in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta, and a B grade in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
"Treating obesity should only be initiated in patients when abnormal or excessive fat accumulation impairs health – in other words, not everyone of a certain weight or waist circumference needs medical interventions," says CON-RCO Scientific Director Dr. Arya M. Sharma. "However, more than 1.5 million Canadians are classified as having Class II or III obesity*, which is associated with negative health outcomes. Clearly, we need to do a much better job of helping them with the tools at our disposal."
Research suggests that obesity can be successfully managed using the interventions outlined in the Canadian guidelines. If left untreated, obesity can result in significant illness, a profound reduction in quality of life, and increased mortality.
Canadians living with obesity struggle with related health issues, rampant weight bias and discrimination and a lack of access to evidence-based management resources, says Marty Enokson, chair of CON-RCO's Public Engagement Committee and an outspoken obesity care advocate.
"We have a long way to go in Canada before we can say we properly support people with obesity, not just with evidence-based medical interventions, but also with the respect and dignity that any person deserves," Mr. Enokson says. "We don't blame people living with cancer, heart disease or diabetes for their disease, and we don't make them fend for themselves in terms of finding help.
"We have some treatments available for obesity, and there are more on the way – we need to be willing to use them, and we need to make them as accessible as possible, as we would for any other chronic illness," he adds.
To view the recommendations, the full report, online summaries and other materials including study methodology, go to: www.obesitynetwork.ca/reportcard.
The Report Card On Access To Obesity Treatment For Adults In Canada 2017 was produced by the Canadian Obesity Network with the support of an unrestricted grant from Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
The Canadian Obesity Network is Canada's largest professional obesity association for health professionals, researchers, policy makers and obesity stakeholders, with 15,000+ members. www.obesitynetwork.ca
*Class II obesity defined as BMI: 35.00 kg/m2–39.99 kg/m2; Class III obesity is  BMI: ≥ 40.00 kg/m2

Canada's top health researchers recognized for their life-changing work

Canada is home to some of the finest minds working in health research today – researchers who are creating new scientific knowledge, strengthening the health care system and improving the health of Canadians and others around the world.

Today, CIHR is pleased to announce the names of the four outstanding researchers who are the recipients of the inaugural CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes, which recognize excellence in health research and its translation into benefits for Canadians.

Dr. John Dick is the recipient of the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery, in recognition of his pioneering work as the first scientist to identify cancer stem cells. A professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. Dick's research holds the promise for improved treatments and quality of life for cancer patients.

The CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact goes to the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, in acknowledgement of the organization's 25 years of providing care and treatment for those living with HIV, educating health professionals, and promoting evidence-based policy to protect people from the virus.

Dr. Gregory Steinberg is the recipient of the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator. A professor at McMaster University, Dr. Steinberg's work on understanding, at the molecular level, how obesity causes type 2 diabetes and the role that nutrition and exercise play in maintaining good health, shows enormous promise for the more than 10 million Canadians who have diabetes or are at high risk of developing the disease.

Finally, the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation: Patient Engagement goes to Dr. Charlotte Loppie, for her continued dedication to bringing Indigenous peoples into research projects that touch their lives, with the goal of empowering communities, building research-capacity and tackling the health disparities faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Dr. Loppie is a professor at the University of Victoria.

The winners will receive their medals at a recognition ceremony to be held later this year.  


Emergency opioid treatment NARCAN™ Nasal Spray added to NIHB Program in Canada​

Adapt Pharma Canada, the makers of NARCAN™ (naloxone) Nasal Spray 4mg, applauds the Canadian government for removing barriers to accessing life-saving naloxone, used to treat opioid overdoses. Health Canada has updated medical coverage under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) to include NARCAN™ Nasal Spray.

The NIHB is a national program that provides coverage to registered First Nations and recognized Inuit for a specified range of medically necessary items and services that are not covered by other plans and programs. Those eligible under the NIHB Program were previously only able to access the naloxone intramuscular injection. Designed with the general public and communities in mind, NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is a ready-to-use, needle-free alternative to other available opioid overdose emergency treatments.

"It is important for Canadians to have access to emergency naloxone treatment in case of an opioid overdose, and adding NARCAN™ Nasal Spray to the NIHB program makes it more accessible to those who need it," said David Renwick, General Manager, Adapt Pharma Canada. "NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is one key component in addressing the national opioid crisis. It's helping police and other first responders across Canada, as well as those in the community who provide emergency treatment to overdose victims."

NARCAN™ Nasal Spray has been available in Canada since July 6, 2016, when the federal health minister executed an Interim Order for the immediate importing and sale of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray. In October of the same year, NARCAN™ Nasal Spray was approved to be sold without a prescription.

Police departments continue to incorporate NARCAN™ Nasal Spray in response to the worsening crisis and the rise of illicit and lethal opioid drugs. Police officers and other emergency personnel, including firefighters, are using NARCAN™ Nasal Spray to temporarily reverse the effects of opioids in emergency situations.1 They are also using it in case of accidental contact with opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl.1 Front-line RCMP officers are equipped with NARCAN™ Nasal Spray, as are more than half of all municipal police departments in Ontario and every municipal department in British Columbia.

Fertility challenges a burden for adolescents and young adults with cancer: new report

 The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) has released a report on Canadian adolescents and young adults (AYAs) – aged 15 to 39 – living with cancer. The report identified fertility as a primary concern for men and women in this group, and that the emotional and financial impact of the inability to become biological parents, as a result of cancer treatment, can be devastating to individuals and their families.

"Loss of fertility as a complication of cancer therapy is important, specifically to adolescents and young adults. Many who survive cancer but find themselves infertile, experience damage to their aspirations and identity, made all the worse if they feel that they weren't made aware of the risks of infertility nor of opportunities to preserve fertility prior to cancer therapy," said Dr. Paul Grundy, Expert Lead of Pediatric, AYA Oncology at the Partnership. "This whole issue dubbed 'oncofertility,' has generally not been given appropriate attention by our healthcare system, perhaps in the face of the more life-threatening diagnosis of cancer, but survivors tell us that these long-term challenges are very important."

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer: A System Performance Report provides data on the burden fertility clinics would experience if all AYAs with cancer were referred for fertility counselling, and includes insights from AYA cancer patients on fertility concerns following a cancer diagnosis. During treatment for cancer, patients receive therapies that are toxic to the ovaries and testes, and can lead to problems with fertility.1 This is significant for young patients who are all within the reproductive age range.

"The cancer diagnosis was easier to accept than I could have hoped. My reality was that I had the disease and I felt lucky to have treatment options, but the pain I felt when hearing that treatment may leave me infertile is impossible to describe," said Bronwen Garand-Sheridan, cancer survivor. "What was worse was the lack of psychological support provided after receiving this news. Our health system must do a better job of preparing the cancer patient for the news of infertility."

For young women with cancer, procedures such as egg harvesting are intensive procedures to perform in a potentially unwell patients. Egg harvesting can take upwards of two weeks and may delay the start of treatment. It also comes with a significant financial burden averaging more than $10,000.

Key opportunities and challenges outlined in the report include:

Interviews with AYAs diagnosed with cancer identified fertility as a major source of distress prior to treatment.

Fertility preservation is an option for young people with cancer and concerned about their reproductive health, but it is affected by the limited number of specialized in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in Canada.

It is estimated that if all women aged 15-39 with cancer, in Canada, were referred for fertility consultations (e.g., to discuss egg harvesting), fertility clinics could see an increase from 103 patients per clinic per year in Ontario to 230 in Alberta, with all other provinces falling within this range. This would be a burden for clinics which treat all women (including those without cancer).

Data are not available in Canada on how well informed young men and women with cancer are on fertility issues, and on how many are referred to (or actually see) a fertility specialist. These are areas to be explored in future reports.
"Most fertility clinics get very few referrals for AYAs with cancer, suggesting that the majority are not being referred for counselling," said Dr. Anne Katz, Sexuality Counselor at CancerCare Manitoba. "We need to identify gaps in care and steps to be taken to ensure equitable access to fertility preservation counselling and services for young men and women with cancer across the country."

In addition to oncofertility, Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer provides information on incidence rates and trends, and distribution of cancer types among AYAs in Canada. It also includes other unique aspects of the AYA cancer journey including: mental health and psychosocial needs; medical needs during diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship; impact of cancer on employment and professional development; and challenges with AYA involvement in research and clinical trials.

"We are pleased to see this type of research being done looking at the cancer experience of adolescents and young adults in Canada, particularly in the area of oncofertility," said Britt Andersen, Executive Director of the Terry Fox Foundation. "The better we can understand the mental and emotional trauma experienced by this group during their cancer journey, the better we can improve outcomes for these cancer survivors who have many years ahead of them."

A full copy of the report is available at systemperformance.ca.  

Canadian employers bear the economic burden of the poor health of their employees​

In Canada, about $69.4 billion is spent annually on direct and indirect costs for five key modifiable risk factors – physical inactivity, smoking, excess weight, use of alcohol and low vegetable / fruit consumption. Although Canadians know that they need to lead a healthier lifestyle, they continue to get a failing grade when it comes to reducing their risks for chronic disease.

Of this enormous cost attributed to these five modifiable risk factors, approximately 70% are indirect, such as premature death and workplace disability costs. In Canada, this represents a major economic burden for employers.

Of course there are the humanitarian reasons to focus on the reduction of risk factors that can cause premature death and disability, but if that is not convincing enough, then let's look at the economics of it all. Dr. Hans Krueger (President of H. Krueger & Associates Inc. and Adjunct Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health) has shown that a 1% year-over-year reduction of these five risk factors would save the Canadian economy over $7 billion in the next five years and a staggering $28.1 billion in the over the next 10 years. "It's difficult to imagine anything else that could produce that kind of return for Canadians," said Rhiannon Traill, President and CEO of the Economic Club of Canada.

Canadian workplaces present an optimal venue to introduce early intervention strategies that reduce the economic and health burden of these modifiable risk factors. Using analytics combined with evidence-informed approaches has to be the focus for not only employers, but the entire health system. "The old argument that prevention strategies provide no immediate payoff is no longer valid. The lion share of the people with these five modifiable risk factors are in our workforce, so we must take immediate action. Although health outcome improvements are a longer-term play, there are turnkey opportunities to drive quick tangible results for employers," said Susanne Cookson, Co-founder at Cookson James Loyalty.

The Economic Club of Canada, the podium of record for economic issues affecting Canada, and Cookson James Loyalty, Canada's leading experts in evidence-informed health behaviour change interventions, are proud to announce a formal strategic partnership to improve the health and wealth of Canadians.

Research is underway to review intervention models that look to demonstrate the impact of small, easy to implement changes for employers that will make a big difference to the bottom line and prevent premature death and disability of their workforce. Starting this October 2017, an annual report card on the economic burden of health in the workplace will be unveiled during Healthy Workplace Month.

Seven of the Most Common Myths about Organ Donation Debunked​

This National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (April 23 – 29, 2017), Trillium Gift of Life Network is debunking myths about organ and tissue donation and encouraging Ontarians to register consent for donation.

Registration has the power to saves lives and it gives hope to the over 1,500 people in Ontario waiting for a lifesaving transplant today. The reality is that every three days someone will die because of not getting an organ transplant in time. But you can help. With more registered donors, we could prevent deaths on the waitlist.

To break down barriers and promote donor registration, Trillium Gift of Life Network has debunked seven of the most common myths about organ and tissue donation.

MYTH: A signed donor card is all you need to become a donor.

FACT: Because paper donor cards were a less than ideal way to record a donor's consent, Trillium Gift of Life Network began recording consent in a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care database. This ensures that a person's wishes about donation can be shared with loved ones at the appropriate time. Formally register at www.BeADonor.ca.

MYTH: I am too old, no one would want my organs or tissues.

FACT: Age alone does not disqualify someone from becoming a donor. The oldest organ donor in Canada was over 90 and the oldest tissue donor was over 100. There is always potential to be a donor; age should not prevent someone from registering.

MYTH: I cannot be a donor because I have a serious medical condition.

FACT: All potential donors are assessed at time of death for medical suitability, which includes a review of their health history as well as serological testing. It is best not to rule yourself out because there is always potential to save or enhance the lives of others through organ and tissue donation.

MYTH: My religion will not allow for organ donation.

FACT: All major religions support organ and tissue donation or respect an individual's choice. However, if you are unsure of your faith's position on donation, consult with your faith leader.

MYTH: Organ donation will delay and impact my funeral plans.

FACT: Organ and tissue donation will not delay or interfere with funeral plans. Medical suitability testing and a recovery surgery typically take place within 24 to 36 hours of someone's passing. After donation, the family can carry out funeral arrangements as planned, including an open casket funeral, burial, cremation, and so on.

MYTH: Families have to pay for the cost of organ donation.

FACT: Donation does not come at a cost to the family. Organ and tissue donation is a gift. The costs of organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Ontario are covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

MYTH: I cannot donate blood, so I cannot be an organ donor.

FACT: The regulations for blood donation are different for organ and tissue donation. Even if you are not able to donate blood, you can still become an organ and tissue donor.

Register today at www.BeADonor.ca or learn more about these myths and find answers to other questions at http://www.giftoflife.on.ca/en/faq.htm.

Did you know?

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In recognition of this milestone, landmarks will be lit green to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation - including the CN Tower, Toronto City Hall and the 3D Toronto sign.
According to an Ipsos study, as many as 1.8 million Ontarians mistakenly believe they are registered organ and tissue donors. Paper donor cards became obsolete when Trillium Gift of Life Network adopted a registry. Check your status or register your consent at www.BeADonor.ca.


Healthcare professionals and volunteers recognized for demonstrating exceptional patient care​

CUPE files unfair labour practice complaint against Canadian Hearing Society

 Lawyers for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2073, representing 227 striking workers at the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS), have filed an unfair labour practice complaint at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The workers have been on strike since March 6th.

In its submissions to the OLRB, the union contends the employer has violated the Ontario Labour Relations Act in multiple ways. The Act (legislation governing the rules of engagement in collective bargaining) is clear that where there is a bargaining agent - a union - representing workers, the employer may not attempt to "direct deal" with individual employees. Yet that is exactly what the CHS did on April 7th, when it couriered 227 individual offers to striking workers by Purolator, at their home addresses.
"Repeatedly, the CHS has sought to prolong this strike rather than resolve it," said Barbara Wilker-Frey, CUPE National Representative. "They took over three weeks to come back to the table after the strike began. Once at the table, they refused to make any meaningful compromise toward resolution - even when faced with a major move by the union to address their so-called liability concern. Then, once talks broke down again, they tried to cut individual deals with our members."

The union's complaint outlines that in addition to "direct dealing", the CHS also shared information with striking workers that it never once tabled in negotiations. The CHS also sent out false financial information to employees, which differs from figures used at the bargaining table.

"We wonder how many thousands of dollars the CHS wasted sending these misleading, inappropriate individual letters to our members by same-day courier across the province," said Wilker-Frey. "The money CHS is spending to prolong this strike should be going to provide high-quality services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. We continue to urge them to find a mature way to resolve this dispute. We have met them on their major point. They need to find a way to get to yes. Both parties owe that to the community we serve."

The 227 workers have not had a wage increase in four years. They are counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants, and information technology specialists.


The 11th annual Human Touch Awards took place on April 20, 2017, honouring 10 healthcare professionals and volunteers from across Ontario who have made a positive impact in the cancer and kidney care communities. Presented by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network, the Awards recognized those who have gone the extra mile to truly provide the 'human touch' by offering support, guidance and encouragement, and lifting the spirits of the patients and families they encounter.

This year's award recipients have proven to be champions in person-centred care, making every effort to meet the unique needs of each patient to ensure they receive the best possible care. From making phone calls to experts around the world to appropriately treat a patient with a rare and complex condition, to building a peer support group for young women with cancer or simply offering friendship or a smile, these passionate healthcare professionals and volunteers leave a lasting impression each day.

This year's Human Touch Awards recipients are:

Deborah Bezaire, a firm believer in person-centred care who demonstrates leadership and compassion on a daily basis to improve the overall patient and family experience.
Vera Buckingham, a beloved volunteer who manages the nourishment cart at her local renal program, wholeheartedly delivering coffee and treats every day – even homemade goods.
Julie Chaves, a front desk registration employee who creates a positive setting in an environment that is otherwise stressful, particularly for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
Dr. Jocelyn Garland, an assistant professor of nephrology and tireless patient advocate whose knowledge and expertise enables her to find solutions to treat patients with complex conditions.
Elise Gasbarrino, a cancer survivor who founded an organization that provides support, facilitates connections and empowers young women who are being treated for cancer.
Maggie Genna, the 'captain' at a chemotherapy suite who leads her team with precise attention to detail and efficiency, ensuring the safety of patients is always the top priority.
Craig Lindsay, a former kidney disease patient turned active volunteer who never shies from sharing his personal story to provide hope and inspiration to patients facing similar struggles.
Dr. Michael Lock, a radiation oncologist who is relentless in his search for new evidence and innovations to ensure his patients receive the best and most up-to-date care and treatment.
Debora Prokopich Buzzi, a volunteer patient and family advisor who uses her voice to advocate for fellow patients with the goal of improving the overall patient and family experience.
Nancy Woodcock, a renal dietician who, after over 30 years, still continues to think outside the box to ensure her kidney disease patients receive the best care and achieve optimal results.
Over 80 awards have been given out since the inception of the Human Touch Awards in 2007. The Human Touch Awards were created to highlight the importance of providing emotional support to people with cancer and kidney disease, in addition to the medical treatment they already receive. The Awards also showcase the incredible work taking place across the province each day by committed, dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals and volunteers.

CCO acknowledges the generous support of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario branch and the RBC Foundation, sponsors of the 11th annual Human Touch Awards. The partnerships between CCO, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and other organizations, health professionals, front-line care providers and volunteers make up Ontario's cancer and kidney care programs that are essential to providing and maintaining high-quality healthcare in the province.


Nurse Practitioners in Ontario now able to prescribe controlled drugs and substances​

65% Losing Sleep Over Money; Health Care Costs Lead List of Worries for First Time

65% of Americans are losing sleep because of money, according to a new CreditCards.com report. The most common worry – expressed by 38% of Americans – is health care or insurance bills. 37% lie awake fretting about saving enough for retirement, 34% because of educational expenses, 26% over mortgage/rent bills and 22% due to credit card debt. Click here for more information:


Health care and educational expenses are the only categories in worse shape now than during the Great Recession. Concerns over health care costs have spiked over the past year (up nine percentage points).

In 2007, just prior to the recession, 56% of Americans said they were losing sleep over one of these five topics. During the recession (2009), the figure jumped to 69%. It fell to 62% each of the past two years and ticked up to 65% this year.

Gen Xers are the most concerned about health care expenditures and saving for retirement. Millennials are the most fearful about outlays for education, housing and credit card debt. These issues are cutting into the slumbers of 73% of Gen Xers, 71% of millennials, 59% of Baby Boomers and 48% of the Silent Generation.

People who are losing sleep over money aren't taking it lying down: 82% reported taking at least one step to improve their financial situation over the past year versus 54% of those who aren't losing sleep. The most common action the insomniacs took was to reduce expenses, followed by selling something, signing up for a new credit card and taking on a second job.

"People lose sleep when things feel out of control," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst. "Take back some of that control by taking action. Even small moves like making a budget, selling something of value or trimming expenses can make you feel empowered and help you sleep more peacefully at night."

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 308 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from April 6-9, 2017. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.


Today, on behalf of more than 3,100 nurse practitioners in Ontario and the millions of people they serve, NPAO is thrilled to announce that the Honourable Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) have approved the prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners in Ontario to prescribe Controlled Drugs and Substances (CDS).

At the NPAO conference in September 2016, the Hon. Minister Eric Hoskins made a commitment to Nurse Practitioners and the people of Ontario to put patients first by enabling broad prescriptive authority.

This has been a much-anticipated expansion in scope given that Ontario was the last jurisdiction in North America to grant Nurse Practitioners the authority to prescribe controlled drugs and substances. NPAO has been working on this issue on behalf of NPs and their clients for many years, and we are delighted to see it come to fruition. The change in regulation is pivotal in enabling NPs to work to full scope and put their patients first.

"Every day, Nurse Practitioners play an important role in providing psychiatric care and addiction services to patients, relieving pain and suffering, and delivering palliative and end-of-life care to the people of Ontario. These changes will enable Nurse Practitioners to better provide safe, efficacious and timely care. In addition, Nurse Practitioners in Ontario will now be able to provide medical assistance in dying to those who are eligible."
----Theresa Agnew, CEO, NPAO

"NPAO represents Nurse Practitioners who provide care to clients with seizure disorders, learning disorders, and mental health conditions, and to people experiencing acute and chronic pain. Nurse Practitioners work in Emergency Departments, in hospitals, in long-term care homes and in pain clinics. NPs provide palliative care in the home to those with cancer. These changes will especially help those Ontarians who live in remote and rural areas of the province," states NPAO president, Wendy McKay.

We know that NPs regardless of where they work will continue to deliver excellent care to patients in a wide variety of sectors. NPAO will continue to engage with key stakeholders in the development of educational tools and resources including webinars and guidelines to help ensure safe and effective prescribing of CDS. NPAO is committed to ensuring that Nurse Practitioners are held to the highest standards in the prescribing of controlled drugs and substances.

NPAO is the professional voice for over 3,100 Nurse Practitioners in Ontario. Our mission is to achieve the full integration of Nurse Practitioners in order to ensure accessible, high quality health care for all.

NPs provide service to the people of Ontario across the health care system in variety of settings including community clinics, hospitals, long-term care homes and in patients' homes. NPs practice in inter-professional teams with a broad range of health care providers. NPs independently diagnose illness and health care conditions, prescribe drugs, and order x-rays and laboratory tests for their patients. NPs can also admit, treat and discharge patients in hospitals and long- term care homes.


Study Paints Somber Picture of U.S. Mental Health Status and Access to Care 

 More Americans than ever before suffer from serious psychological distress, and the country's ability to meet the growing demand for mental health services is rapidly eroding.

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed a federal health information database and concluded that 3.4 percent of the U.S. population (more than 8.3 million) adult Americans suffer from serious psychological distress, or SPD.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducts the National Health Interview Survey on which the research is based, SPD combines feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair people's physical well-being. Previous survey estimates had put the number of Americans suffering from SPD at 3 percent or less.

The findings — believed to be the first analysis of its kind in more than a decade — were published in the journal Psychiatric Services online April 17. More than 35,000 U.S. households, involving more than 200,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64, in all states and across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, participate in the yearly survey.

Among the study's other key findings is that, over the course of the surveys from 2006 to 2014, access to health care services deteriorated for people suffering from severe distress when compared to those who did not report SPD.

"Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation," says lead study investigator Judith Weissman, PhD, JD, a research manager in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone.

Weissman says the situation appears to have worsened even though the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) include provisions designed to help reduce insurance coverage disparities for people with mental health issues. She adds that the new report can serve as a baseline for evaluating the impact of the ACA and in identifying disparities in treating the mentally ill.

Comparing self-reported SPD symptoms across nine years, the NYU Langone research team estimates that nearly one in 10 distressed Americans (9.5 percent) in 2014 still did not have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or counselor, a slight rise from 2006, when 9 percent lacked any insurance. About 10.5 percent in 2014 experienced delays in getting professional help due to insufficient mental health coverage, while 9.5 percent said they experienced such delays in 2006. And 9.9 percent could not afford to pay for their psychiatric medications in 2014, up from 8.7 percent in 2006.

"Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy," says Weissman. "Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year."

She says her group's next research report will detail how underdiagnosis of SPD impacts physician practices and encourages overuse of other health care services.

Senior study investigator and NYU Langone clinical professor Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH, who also serves as director of general internal medicine and clinical innovation, says physicians, especially in primary care, can play a bigger role in screening people and detecting signs of SPD and potential suicide.

"Utilizing tools at the time of intake on all patients allows us to collect important data and devise strategies for care," says Pegus. "Our study supports health policies designed to incorporate mental health services and screenings into every physician's practice through the use of electronic medical records, and by providing training for all health care professionals, as well as the right resources for patients."

Besides Weissman and Pegus, other NYU Langone researchers involved in this analysis, which took four years to complete and was self-funded by NYU Langone, are Jeannette Beasley, PhD, MPH, RD; Melanie Jay, MD, MS; and Dolores Malaspina, MD, MS, MPH. Additional research support was provided by study co-investigator David Russell, PhD, at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. 

#MakingSchistory: Wormzilla Invades Lake Geneva​

On the eve of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) has unveiled a giant worm on Lake Geneva. The 25m structure represents the parasitic worm of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) that causes significant suffering and death. Aiming to generate global attention, the GSA is calling for more concerted action to eliminate this disease. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are at risk of schistosomiasis: a silent water borne killer that lurks in freshwater lakes and rivers.

"Schistosomiasis is the biggest killer you've probably never heard of, and that's the problem. We want to bring the suffering that this disease causes to the attention of the world and policy makers as more awareness will lead to greater action. The giant worm on Lake Geneva is part of the #MakingSchistory global awareness campaign. We want to make history and consign schistosomiasis to the past. Together with our partners, the GSA is determined to cut the cycle of transmission & eliminate schistosomiasis," said Dr Johannes Waltz, Global Schistosomiasis Alliance.

The call for more global action to tackle schistosomiasis has been put into focus this year as the Merck-World Health Organization medicine donation programme marks its tenth year. This programme provides free praziquantel to children in Africa. To date 100 million children have been treated.

"We are confident that elimination of schistosomiasis is possible. We have made a lot of progress in the last 15 years but we need to do more. The availability of free treatment has enabled us to break the cycle of misery caused by schistosomiasis, improve the health of a generation of school aged children and protect them from the serious consequences of infection. The next steps will be to provide clean water and better sanitation which are needed to stop the suffering completely," said Professor Alan Fenwick, Professor of Tropical Parasitology, Imperial College London and Founder, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.

Schistosomiasis kills 280,000 people every year in Africa alone. People can become infected with schistosomiasis when they come into contact with contaminated water while washing, playing or working. Infection is especially high in children and can cause anaemia, stomach pain and swelling, diarrhoea, bladder cancer as well as holding back their cognitive development and growth.

About #MakingSchistory

The #MakingSchistory campaign acknowledges the great steps taken in moving towards elimination of schistosomiasis, while recognising the need for stronger concerted efforts to keep fighting this dreadful infection until it is wiped out. As part of the #MakingSchistory campaign, the GSA will also be producing a report sharing real stories of the people involved in the fight to eliminate schistosomiasis - 'The people #MakingSchistory' - to be launched in May.

More information about the campaign can be found at: http://www.MakingSchistory.com.

Grifols Donates 140 Million International Units of Blood Clotting Factors to the World Federation of Hemophilia Humanitarian Aid Program​

Today, Grifols, S.A. announced that it will donate a minimum of 140 million international units (IU) of blood clotting factor medicines (Factor VIII) to the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program over the next five (5) years. This announcement is a continuation of the Company's three-year commitment from 2014, bringing the total humanitarian aid commitment to more than 200M IU of Factor VIII over eight years. Grifols' direct contribution to the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program builds on the Company's participation in Project Recovery, which transforms previously unused cryoprecipitate from Canadian blood donors into medicines that treat hemophilia patients in developing countries.

For more than a decade Grifols has been a proud supporter of the WFH and its efforts to improve access to treatment of bleeding disorders around the world. The renewed partnership with WFH reaffirms Grifols' commitment to the global hemophilia community accounting for the Company's most significant contribution to the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program to date. According to the WFH, this donation of Factor VIII medicines will secure a projected average of 10,300 doses to treat approximately 6,000 patients per year in developing countries worldwide through 2021, where access to adequate treatment is often lacking or absent.

"Today, World Hemophilia Day represents ideal timing for Grifols to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to bleeding disorders and the hemophilia community," said Victor Grifols Roura, President of Grifols. "Our philosophy aligns fully with the mission of WFH, sharing a clear passion for providing adequate treatment for all patients regardless of where they live."

Grifols produces plasma-derived medicines to treat rare, chronic diseases such as hemophilia and also develops solutions for the diagnoses of bleeding disorders. The company plans to increase its production of blood clotting factor medicines to specifically meet its donation commitment to this program.

"Since its creation in 1996, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program has benefitted more than 100,000 people in 90 countries. We are grateful for our contributors' commitment and support for our mission, such as Grifols, to improve the diagnosis and access to care for people with bleeding disorders who wouldn't otherwise receive the treatment they need. We have seen time and time again the dramatic positive impact on quality of life that such donations make on patients," said Alain Bauman, CEO, WFH, and Executive Director of WFH USA.

An estimated 400,000 people around the world have hemophilia, yet only 25% receive adequate treatment. Grifols' donation also supports the second decade of WFH's Global Alliance for Progress (GAP) program aimed at increasing the number of patients diagnosed and treated for bleeding disorders, particularly in the world's most impoverished countries.

For more information about WFH, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, go to http://www.wfh.org/.


Canada's Minister of Health gets a healthy dose of hope and happiness​

mobileDOCTOR by guard.me - Introducing Canada's First Telemedicine Program for International Students

 guard.me International Insurance now offers international students direct access to a doctor at the touch of a button, anytime, anywhere, using a mobile device. International students across Canada that are covered by guard.me can now talk to a medical professional over the phone without having to visit a clinic or wait long hours in an emergency room.

The new mobileDOCTOR by guard.me is the first and only telemedicine service of its kind to provide immediate and confidential medical attention to international students 24/7 and in over 140 languages. When unsure if they should go to a clinic or the emergency room, international students can access on-the-spot medical advice, get a referral, or obtain new prescriptions when appropriate.

"The mobileDOCTOR program helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that are not always available in rural communities," says Keith Segal, president and CEO of guard.me International Insurance. "In urban areas with long wait times, calling mobileDOCTOR can mean speaking to a medical professional in minutes instead of hours. It can also save lives in critical care and emergency situations."

Telemedicine is most beneficial to international students unfamiliar with the healthcare system in Canada who are often unprepared for the long wait times for doctor appointments and emergency room visits. The mobileDOCTOR service lets students call and talk to a nurse or physician about common health concerns such as cold and flu symptoms, infections, rashes and injuries so they can receive proper medical advice without delay. Mobile technology allows healthcare professionals in multiple locations to receive photos, share information and discuss patient issues to provide a high level of care for students.

mobileDOCTOR by guard.me was developed in partnership with Praxes Medical Group, which has over 20 years' experience providing health services for clients in locations around the world.


The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today visited Saint Elizabeth's corporate office in Markham, Ontario, touring the company's unique 'hope and happiness showcase' and meeting with health care staff, patients and family caregivers.

Led by Saint Elizabeth CEO Shirlee Sharkey, the visit highlighted the important role of home care and social innovation in Canada's health system.

"It was a tremendous honour to host Minister Philpott – her passion for innovation, thoughtful approach and deep commitment to improving care for people and families is clearly evident," said Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth. "We applaud the federal government for taking bold action to strengthen health care through targeted investments in home care, palliative care and support for family caregivers."

"I was pleased to visit Saint Elizabeth today and to engage with providers and patients who know first-hand the value of providing health services that allow Canadians to live independently. By improving home care, including home-based palliative care, we can help modernize our care system so that it can better meet the needs of Canadians. I am proud to be part of a government that is working to provide better health care, not only for aging Canadians but for all Canadians as well," said Minister Philpott.

During a private roundtable, staff, patients and family caregivers spoke to the Minister about new approaches to care at home including:

The use of Intelligent Care™ to deliver greater patient engagement and meaningful interactions with an empowered practice team
New ways to educate and support health care providers, from formal career training to continuing education, skills development, mobile learning and knowledge exchange
Saint Elizabeth's groundbreaking work and community benefit investments to improve access to end of life care
Since it opened in 2016, Saint Elizabeth's 'hope and happiness showcase' has attracted health care leaders, students and innovators from across Canada as well as the United States, the Netherlands, Norway, the Middle East and Australia.


6th Annual Canucks Autism Network Family Festival to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month​

Costs of Treating Pneumonia Will More Than Double by 2025

Due to rising health care costs and an aging population, the number of hospitalized cases and the total cost of treating pneumonia is expected to rise dramatically by 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.

The Economic Burden of Pneumonia in Canada: A Status Quo Forecast estimates the total number of pneumonia cases requiring hospitalization will nearly double to 49,424 in 2025, up from 24,761 in 2010. Meanwhile, the annual total direct health care cost of treating the disease will reach over $530 million by 2025.

"As the Canadian population continues to grow and age, additional preventative measures, such as vaccines, would provide value by reducing the number of cases over time and improve how disease is managed in hospitals as well as in the community," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada.


The total direct health care cost of pneumonia is expected to increase from $216.2 million in 2010 to $532.2 million in 2025.
Key cost drivers: rising health care costs, an aging population, and increasing incidences of pneumonia.
Incidence rates are forecast to rise nearly 20 per cent among those aged 75 and older over the forecast period.
The largest cost driver for treating pneumonia is the need for hospitalization and the potential complications or illness following hospital discharge. While the average cost per case of pneumonia is forecast to increase for all age groups examined, the highest cost is found among those aged 65 to 69 and is expected to reach $12,619 by 2025. Overall, the total direct health care cost of pneumonia will increase from $216.2 million in 2010 to $532.2 million in 2025.

Age heightens an individual's risk of contracting pneumonia. With the number of Canadians over age 65 set to sharply increase, population growth and demographics alone will be responsible for 58 per cent of the overall cost increase by 2025. The incidence rates of the disease are expected to rise most significantly among those aged 75 and older—at nearly 20 per cent over the forecast period.

To ease the inevitable economic burden the increasing number of cases will create, public health policies have included recommendations to vaccinate children, seniors, and other vulnerable and high-risk populations against common causes of pneumonia.

The research for this briefing was co-sponsored by The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care and Pfizer Canada.


 On Sunday, April 9th, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) will host the 6th Annual CAN Family Festival at Jack Poole Plaza, in celebration of Autism Awareness Month. The CAN Family Festival, emceed by Breakfast Television Host Riaz Meghji, will include live entertainment by Bobs & Lolo and David Morin, a pop-up local artisan market, food trucks, a skate park, face painting, a ball hockey tournament featuring Vancouver Canucks Alumni, and a variety of family-friendly activities and exhibitors.

The event kicks off with the lighting of the cauldron to commemorate April as Autism Awareness Month, followed by a fundraising walk. The CAN Family Festival is open to the public with free admission and is expected to draw over 1,500 attendees, including appearances by:

Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks President, Hockey Operations & Alternate Governor, NHL
Kirk Mclean, Vancouver Canucks Alumni
Darcy Rota, Vancouver Canucks Alumni
Paolo Aquilini, Canucks Autism Network Founder
Katy Harandi, Canucks Autism Network President & CEO
"With 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism, and over 11,000 families impacted in BC alone, support from the community is needed now more than ever," says CAN Founder, Paolo Aquilini.

Media are invited to attend at 11:00 a.m. PT. Paolo Aquilini (CAN Founder), Katy Harandi (CAN CEO), and select families living with autism will be available for interviews. Please RSVP to lindsay.petrie@canucksautism.ca and check in at the Media Check-In Tent upon arrival.

The CAN Family Festival, presented by the West Coast Fishing Club Fishing for Kids Tournament and Macquarie Group Foundation, is proudly sponsored by: North Growth Foundation, Vancouver International Airport, OpenRoad Toyota, Kinetic Security, Helijet, Clark's Audio Visual Services Ltd., Cactus Club Coal Harbour, Helly Hansen, Modern Fort, Great West Graphics, Tim Hortons, Trace Mineral Water, RYU Apparel Inc., TapSnap, Triple O's, Breakfast Television Vancouver & City TV, OMNI Television (Official), Miss 604, the Daily Hive, 103.5 QMFM, and The Vancouver Sun.

About the Canucks Autism Network (CAN)
The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) provides year-round sports and recreational programs for individuals and families living with autism, while increasing awareness and providing autism training in communities across British Columbia.

To learn more, please visit www.canucksautism.ca


Minister Philpott highlights significant investments for better access to mental health services​

 Canada's publicly-funded, universal healthcare system is a source of great pride for all Canadians, and that's why the Government of Canada is working hard with provincial and territorial governments to ensure Canadian families have access to the health care services they need. That includes support for mental health, which affects one in three Canadians, and is a critical factor in our overall health and well-being.

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, marked World Health Day at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, by announcing that, as part of Budget 2017, the federal government plans to provide targeted funding of $5 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories to improve access to mental health services. In particular, this investment will lead to better access to and shortened wait times for mental health support to help families, including children and youth under the age of 25. She said, "We often talk about our physical health, but improving our mental health is just as important. It is time our health care system reflects this reality. The Government of Canada has a leadership role to play in improving the health care system, including support for mental health."

With 12 provinces and territories having accepted the federal offer of funding for mental health, the Government of Canada is now focused on working with provincial and territorial Ministers of Health to set common objectives and track progress, in order to ensure accountability to Canadians for this new healthcare spending.

These investments complement federal investments announced in Budget 2017 of $828.2 million over 5 years for improving Indigenous health. This includes an additional $118.2 million over 5 years to improve mental health programing specifically for First Nations and Inuit. The Government of Canada will continue to work with Indigenous partners, provinces and territories, community organizations, mental health experts and other stakeholders to increase public awareness of, and combat the stigma associated with, mental illness.

Together, we will help make Canada's health care system more responsive to the mental health needs of Canadians and will begin to close the gap in the availability of care in this area.

Hakim Optical Gala Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Over 300 guests attended the recent Hakim Optical Gala in Toronto to commemorate the company's Golden Jubilee. The event highlighted the success of the company in Canada, paid tribute to the dedication of all current and past employees and honoured Hakim Optical founder, Karim Hakimi and his passion to his craft.

"I am very proud of my people and those that have stood by me for 30 to 40 years. Today we have 700 trained lensmakers, and have trained over 2,500 people [over the years] -some of them became our competitors while many have stayed with me," Mr. Hakimi said.

Among the dignitaries at the gala included Mr. Hakimi's longtime friend, former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Toronto City Councillor Shelley Carroll, as well as representatives from the Barbados and Hungarian consulates in Toronto.

"Anywhere you go in Canada you can find a Hakim Optical," says McCallion. "Canada has benefitted from [Mr. Hakimi's] immigration to this country and for the structure [he] built, the economic base [he] built, Canada has been enriched [by his] presence," she added.

Mr. Hakimi also received personalized messages and congratulatory letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Mayor John Tory, and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti all who were unable to attend but wanted to recognize his incredible contribution to Canada. Mr. Hakimi was also given official letters recognizing this milestone from the various government bodies who attended.

The gala started off with a cocktail reception and progressed to a seated dinner affair. The night included several speeches from employees, government officials and family members including Mr. Hakimi's daughter and granddaughter. Guests were treated to a heartfelt video which showcased the company's history, work culture, major achievements, and highlighted Mr. Hakimi's latest venture – a resort in Belize.

As the leading Canadian independent optical retailer, Hakim Optical is a privately held operation run solely by Mr. Hakimi. He has devoted the last 50 years to creating one of Canada's best known corporate brands with a simple goal of improving the vision and the ability of people to see better.

For more information, visit www.hakimoptical.ca  

National representatives speak to Senate committee in support of vaping as harm reduction tool​

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) was on Parliament Hill today in support of Bill S-5 – An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-Smokers' Health Act. Representatives from CVA underscored the importance of including e-cigarette-specific amendments to this bill during a presentation before the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI).

Senator Chantal Petitclerc, sponsor of Bill S-5, has said that "this bill strikes a balance between the harms from vaping products if they entice youth to develop a nicotine addiction and the public health benefit if they contribute to reducing tobacco-related death and disease. This is why the government is proposing a flexible regime, one that can be adjusted as the science on vaping products develops." CVA endorses the government's science-based approach.

Ms. Shai Sinnis, CVA Board Member, spoke on behalf of the organization at today's committee hearing about the benefits of electronic cigarettes, namely the progress e-cigarette use has made toward providing a less harmful alternative to smoking. Sinnis also addressed key components of Bill S-5 that should be considered. CVA's sister organization, the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada, also presented to SOCI.

"Based on our continued review of the growing body of evidence, including qualified literature, studies and research on vaping, the CVA is convinced that vaping is a less harmful choice than smoking," Sinnis stated. "It has the potential to dramatically reduce disease - and ultimately, death - caused by smoking."

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is a national, not-for-profit organization established in 2014. The CVA was founded to represent an emerging industry in Canada, the many business people looking to succeed in that industry, and the thousands of Canadians for whom vaping became a life-saving alternative to smoking.


Canadians have more than 1 million potentially unnecessary medical tests and treatments every year​

Looking at selected medical tests, treatments and procedures in Canada, a new report finds that up to 30% of them are potentially unnecessary. Unnecessary tests and treatments waste health system resources, increase wait times for patients in need and can lead to patient harm.

The report Unnecessary Care in Canada, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Choosing Wisely Canada, uses data to measure the extent of unnecessary care associated with 8 tests and procedures that span the health system. Choosing Wisely Canada is a national, clinician-led campaign that partners with national clinician specialty societies to develop evidence-based recommendations about tests, treatments and procedures that are unnecessary and offer no value to patients. To date, Choosing Wisely Canada has released more than 200 recommendations.

"By setting a baseline for measuring these several recommendations, we can see that there is room to improve care for patients and eliminate waste," said Dr. Wendy Levinson, Chair, Choosing Wisely Canada, and Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto. "All clinicians want to provide the best quality of care for their patients. With this report, we can now see noticeable regional- and facility-level data that identifies opportunities for improvement and reinforces the concern over resource stewardship across the country."

"Many Canadians experience care that may be unnecessary," said David O'Toole, President and CEO, CIHI. "This report is another step toward ongoing standardization of measures and improved data to identify gaps, track improvements and ultimately improve the quality of — and access to — care for Canadians."

This report also details success stories — from national- and facility-level organizations as well as from individual clinicians across the country — of using the recommendations to identify and reduce unnecessary care.

Highlights from the report include the following:

Almost 1 in 3 low-risk patients with minor head trauma in Ontario and Alberta had a head scan in an emergency department, despite a Choosing Wisely Canada recommendation that this is unnecessary and potentially harmful.

1 in 10 seniors in Canada use a benzodiazepine on a regular basis to treat insomnia, agitation or delirium. A number of Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations highlight the harms of long-term use of these medications.

In Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 18% to 35% of patients undergoing low-risk surgery had a preoperative test, such as a chest X-ray, ECG or cardiac stress test. Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations highlight that these tests are unnecessary, are potentially harmful and can delay surgery.

For children and youth in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the rates of low-dose quetiapine (likely used to treat insomnia) increased rapidly to 186 per 100,000 in 2013–2014 from 104 in 2008–2009. Choosing Wisely Canada recommends against the use of this medication in children and youth to treat insomnia.
Regional- and facility-level variations also signal that unnecessary care may be taking place and suggest that there is room for improvement.

Body Weight Fluctuations Linked to More Deaths in People with Coronary Artery Disease

Repeated cycles of weight loss and gain may be linked to higher risk for stroke, heart attack, and death in people with pre-existing coronary artery disease, according to a study published online April, 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, the study was the first to measure the effect of "weight cycling" on health outcomes in people with pre-existing heart disease. People with the largest weight changes were found to experience 136 percent more strokes, 117 percent more heart attacks, and 124 percent more deaths than those with the smallest shifts in weight.

Those in the high-fluctuation group had weight changes as large as 3.9 kilograms (or roughly 8.6 pounds), while weight varied by around 0.9 kilograms (just under 2 pounds) in the group with the smallest shifts in weight.

"Our findings suggest that we need to be concerned about weight fluctuation in this group that is already at high risk due to coronary disease," says lead study author Sripal Bangalore, MD, director of the cardiovascular outcomes group in the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU Langone.

"Even though this analysis was not designed to find out the causes of increased risk with body weight fluctuations, we need to examine how we can help Americans keep weight off, rather than having it go up and down," says Bangalore, an associate professor of medicine in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology.

The research team reviewed data on 9,509 men and women with coronary artery disease (CAD) who participated in the Treating to New Targets trial, which originally concluded in 2005. Study participants were between the ages of 35 and 75. All had coronary artery disease, high cholesterol levels, and some history of heart problems. Half were being treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs in intensive (versus standard) doses to see if this resulted in fewer deaths. All were monitored for a median of 4.7 years.

The analysis linked shifts in body weight to statistically significant differences in outcomes only in people who were overweight or obese at the beginning of the study, but not for people who started with normal weight. Body weight changes were also strongly linked to an increase in newly diagnosed diabetes, and associations persisted regardless of patients' average body weight and traditional risk factors for heart disease.

The researchers caution that their re-analysis does not show a cause-and-effect relationship between weight cycling and poor outcomes, but only an association. The authors also recognize that they were unable to tell if people lost weight intentionally, unintentionally, or due to illness, or if any eventual heart problems resulted directly from the weight loss, change in weight, or illness.

Dr. Bangalore hopes that the current findings will lead to further study of weight fluctuation in people with coronary artery disease and to the development of related practice guidelines once all the evidence is in.

In the United States, more than 36 percent of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, about half of Americans report they are trying to lose weight, and weight cycling is frequent. Obesity is known to increase the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, as well as for coronary heart disease.

Besides Dr. Bangalore, other researchers involved in the study were Rana Fayyad and David DeMicco from Pfizer Inc.; Rachel Laskey from THOR Specialties; Frank Messerli at the University Hospital Bern, Switzerland; and David Waters at San Francisco General Hospital. The original Treating to New Targets trial is registered online as NCT00327691, and was sponsored by Pfizer.

guard.me joins CAMH in #OneBraveNight at the Westin Harbour Castle Toronto​

This Friday, April 7, employees at guard.me International Insurance will join thousands of Canadians across the country to stay up all night to support those who suffer from mental illness. The annual CAMH #OneBraveNight for Mental Health inspires hope for the one in five Canadians who experience mental health issues every year.

This is the second year in row that the keep.me SAFE program by guard.me has partnered with the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Volunteer staff from guard.me will be staying up in the lobby of the hotel from 7 p.m. on Friday until 7 a.m. the following morning. The Westin is providing the group with a full size heavenly bed in the lobby, complementary snack station and hospitality suite for freshening up during the night.

"We are hoping friends and colleagues will drop by the Westin to provide encouragement and share their stories," says Kevin Santos, Social Media Manager at guard.me who will be tweeting and posting about the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. "Or they can support us from home and send us selfies throughout the night that we can share on our keep.me SAFE platforms."

According to mental health experts, people living with mental illness feel most alone and have the least amount of hope when it is dark. Last year, the CAMH #OneBraveNight for Mental Health raised over $830,000 that was dedicated to improving access to care, conducting more research to find better treatments, and building more spaces for healing.

"We have groups of colleagues and students joining us at various locations across Canada," says Wendy Mohammed, who leads the keep.me SAFE program at guard.me "This is our way of increasing awareness and challenging stigma so that students feel comfortable asking for help."

To learn more or to get involved, please contact Bogumila Lapinski Anaya at bogie@guard.me or visit: http://give.camh.ca/site/TR/OBN/OneBraveNight?team_id=2921&pg=team&fr_id=1090


keep.me SAFE by guard.me is Canada's first and only mental health support program for international students that provides 24/7 counselling in their own language and culture by phone, chat and video.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health.

The Westin Harbour Castle is one of Canada's leading hotels, located on the shores of Lake Ontario and steps away from downtown Toronto. 


Ontario Doctors are Losing Out on the Biggest Tax Benefit the Canadian Government Has Made Available to Them​

 On January 1 2017, new tax legislation Bill C-43 took effect causing Ontario doctors to lose one of their most valuable tax savings benefits. But with a few simple steps that benefit can be kept safe.

"There are very few great opportunities for Ontario doctors to reduce their corporate tax bill," says Rino Racanelli, contributing editor at Canadian Money Saver magazine. "Doctors make a huge mistake in keeping excess business funds just sitting in their corporation. What they may not know is that the government can charge them over 35% tax on that money. Money they could be using to help their patients with better equipment and more office staffing. Well there's a much better way for doctors to pay far less tax and put that money right back into their practice."

Rino is a well informed interview, he'll tell your audience:

The enormous mistake doctors make when investing in their business.

A little known strategy that takes business profits and turns them into tax-free retirement income (it takes 5 minutes and filling out 1 sheet of paper).

How one doctor was able to leave his family an extra $800,000 by taking advantage of the new corporate tax rules!

How to transfer corporate assets to your heirs tax-free. (Yes absolutely tax free!)

Why doing nothing is a doctor's worst option and best option for Canada's tax department.

Ontario government shuts down debate on short-sighted changes proposed in Bill 87

​ Ontario's doctors are concerned that the provincial government is limiting necessary discussion on Bill 87, an omnibus heath-care bill, which makes amendments to 10 different pieces of legislation. As with Bill 41, the government is closing Second Reading debate for Bill 87 early, and after only allowing ten hours to consider significant changes that may have unintended consequences.

"While doctors support the intent of Bill 87 to address the issue of sexual abuse of patients, it also contains many distressing elements that could negatively affect the provision of patient care, as well as Band-Aid solutions that unnecessarily increase red-tape," said Dr. Rachel Forman, Ontario Medical Association spokesperson. "Instead of working with doctors to develop solutions that protect patients and address system challenges, the government continues to operate in a silo."

The results of government acting without the input of stakeholders are slowly being revealed in the implementation of Bill 41 – growing bureaucracy without any additional resources for patient care.

Doctors foresee the government's proposed changes in Bill 87 will weaken the health-care system for patients. Bill 87 fundamentally erodes fairness and natural justice for physicians at the CPSO level, and as a result, may put front-line providers in a position where they are afraid to perform certain aspects of the physical exam because they will not be afforded due process.

"We are also alarmed that the government wants to gain access to the personal health information of individual doctors," said Dr. Forman. "The government has provided no clear purpose for this power or limits on when or how much information they can access. Physicians and other health-care providers are also patients and are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Bill 87 introduces administrative changes with unintended consequences, such as more paper-work for doctors for immunization reporting and surveillance, instead of prioritizing a fully operable immunization registry. As well, the introduction of new compliance requirements around 'Specimen Collection Centres' creates unnecessary bureaucracy. These changes will make it harder for doctors to offer specimen collection services (such as blood, urine, saliva) to patients. The introduction of new compliance requirements might make providing the service unsustainable in community clinics.

"Despite the government's disregard for physician expertise regarding the health-care system and patient care, we will continue to advocate for Bill 87 to be stopped so that changes can be made," said Dr. Forman. "Our health-care system won't function properly until doctors can be at the table with government to make the changes necessary to safeguard patients and improve care."

Zika Virus Reported in Pregnant Women in 44 States​

A new government report shows that nearly 1,300 pregnancies from 44 states with possible recent Zika virus infection were reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry in 2016. Most of the women acquired the virus during travel to Zika-affected areas, the report says.

Among the pregnant women with confirmed Zika infection, 1 in 10 had a fetus or baby with birth defects. The highest risk was from confirmed infection in the first trimester -- birth defects were reported in 15 percent of these fetuses or infants.

The report, published today in the journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), includes data on completed pregnancies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with laboratory evidence of possible recent Zika virus infection reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry from January 15 to December 27, 2016.

"Zika virus is causing a lot of anxiety among my patients and their partners, who are accustomed to traveling for work or to visit family," says Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and medical advisor to the March of Dimes. "I advise them that preventing infection is the most important thing for themselves and their babies. Protect yourself from Zika before and during pregnancy, and that includes avoiding travel to affected areas. But remember -- it's not forever. Yes, you may miss a family event now, while you're pregnant. But after the baby is born, in a few months, you'll be able to travel safely and with peace of mind."

The March of Dimes coordinates with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to provide up-to-the-minute information in English and Spanish for women, men, and families at ZAPzika.org and nacersano.org/zika. The March of Dimes also answers questions about Zika virus in social media and via email in both English and Spanish. Send email to AskUs@marchofdimes.org or Preguntas@nacersano.org.

"We don't yet know the full range of disabilities in babies infected with Zika virus," says Dr. Dolan. "Even babies who don't have obvious signs of birth defects still may be affected. Babies born to women who have evidence of Zika virus during pregnancy need brain imaging and other testing after birth to make a correct diagnosis, and to help us understand how these babies grow and develop."

She noted that the March of Dimes is hosting and promoting "Zika Care Connect," a new website that will launch this month to assist Zika-affected families in finding healthcare professionals around the country who can provide specialized care.

Other March of Dimes activities to protect babies from Zika virus include:

Funding research into a "weak spot" in the structure of a Zika virus protein that may lead to development of the first drug treatment for Zika infection;
Providing continuing education for nurses on "What Every Nurse Should Know" about Zika in both English and Spanish;
Preparing Zika Prevention Kits for newborns in Puerto Rico (including mosquito netting, onesies and prevention tips).
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause damage to the brain, microcephaly (smaller than expected head) and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects. Zika infection during pregnancy also has been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.

"Vital Signs: Update on Zika Virus-Associated Birth Defects and Evaluation of All U.S. Infants with Congenital Zika Virus Exposure -- U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, 2016" was an early release in MMWR, Vol. 66, April 4, 2017.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit peristats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.   


Tribute Film about Leonard Nimoy Shown at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health​

It has been just over two year since legendary actor, Leonard Nimoy succumbed to COPD. Nimoy smoked for decades and recognized this as the cause of his lung condition though he had quit long before his diagnosis. He spent many years as TV's beloved, Spock, taking viewers on missions to distant galaxies, but his final, and what he considered his most important mission, he embarked upon away from the lights of Hollywood. He spent his final years trying to raise awareness about COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD often goes un-diagnosed until it is too late for treatment to be effective. It is estimated that as many as 13 million people may have COPD and not know it. There is no cure for COPD but the earlier treatment starts, the more successful it is at prolonging life and providing better quality of life. Mr. Nimoy also spoke often to his million plus, Twitter followers about the importance of quitting smoking, or better yet, never starting.

Both as a tribute and to help further his mission, his daughter Julie Nimoy and her husband, David Knight, have created a documentary entitled, Remembering Leonard, His Life, Legacy, and Battle with COPD. It is fitting that one of the first places this film will be shown is at the premier gathering of the United States tobacco control movement, The National Conference on Tobacco or Health. This conference occurs every 5 years and is attended by participants from around the world. Government agencies and government funded organizations gather here to strategize over the best way to get the word out about the health risks of tobacco use. This year's conference will take place in Austin, Texas. Forums will be held on such subjects as how to steer kids away from tobacco use, E-cigarette public education, the smoke-free HUD housing rule, and the problem of tobacco use in Asia, South America, and other developing regions.

One of the struggles is those battling COPD is that they are often required to be on supplemental oxygen infringing on their independence and limiting social contact. Mr. Nimoy led a very busy, active life before his diagnosis. He and his wife had a family getaway in Lake Tahoe which sits at about 6,225 feet above sea level. They enjoyed hosting their large blended family for weekends on the lake and enjoying the beautiful mountain vistas. As his conditioned worsened, being at higher altitudes and travel in general became more challenging. He eventually purchased a portable oxygen concentrator to get away from heavy and cumbersome oxygen tanks. In his later years he was often photographed using the tiny AirSep Focus that he purchased from 1st Class Medical. Caleb Umstead, Founder and President of 1st Class Medical introduced the film at the conference. Following the film Julie and David joined the theater via Skype for a live question and answer session.

1st Class Medical is one of the largest distributors of portable oxygen concentrators in the world. Its employees had a special affection for Mr. Nimoy and his voice on the phone always seemed to generate a certain excitement in the office among Trekkie and non-Trekkie alike. When production of the movie was announced the 1st Class Medical marketing team reached out to Julie Nimoy via her Twitter account asking to be a part of the project. "Mr. Nimoy was diagnosed with a serious, chronic health condition but he had a family, an active social life, and many interests that he wanted to continue to pursue. He is an American icon recognized the world over but his story is not unlike that of the rest of our patients, no matter who they are or where they live. They just want to go on living independent lives and enjoying the things that they have always enjoyed. Mr. Nimoy's most famous quote was 'Live, Long, and Prosper'. That's what we want to help our patients to do and that's why we were 100% on board to help the Nimoy family get this film made to get this important message out."

Throughout the summer Remembering Leonard will be shown at various festivals and events across the nation. Follow them on Facebook for upcoming announcements.

Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation announces up to CAD $ 1 million in funding available to support knowledge mobilization in the field of aging and brain health

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI) officially announced today the launch of its Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program (KMP2). This program is designed to help clinicians, managers, researchers and academia in Canada drive adoption of best and next practices across stakeholder groups in the aging and brain health sector, nationally or across a province. In total, up to CAD $ 1 million in funding will be available through KMP2.

KMP2 is focused on supporting knowledge mobilization and adoption that will address one or more of the four themes listed below, of which the first three are aimed at older adults with dementia:

Reduce unnecessary emergency department visits.

Prevent falls or mitigate injury due to falls.

Provide better management of complex health conditions at home.

Improve brain health or cognitive fitness in older adults.

Applicants must have evidence-based knowledge, proven solutions, next or best practice recommendations that are of interest to older adults, caregivers and healthcare providers. They must be ready to disseminate and drive adoption of their solutions into the aging and brain health sector.

"The Government of Canada is committed to supporting research and innovation to improve the brain health of Canadians, especially older adults living with dementia. Providing new and best practices to health care providers and those who care for loved ones with dementia will help improve the overall health and quality of life of both patients and their caregivers," said the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health.

"Many older adults struggle with health and safety challenges such as chronic disease, falls, and mental health issues," said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. "Our government is pleased to support initiatives like the Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program, which will help improve the quality of life for seniors in Ontario."

"The Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program will provide a significant opportunity for professional healthcare practitioners to share and implement their evidence-based learning with older adults, their circle of care and other healthcare workers. The program is aimed at facilitating behaviour change consistent with evidence, in order to provide improved health outcomes and quality of life for older adults and their caregivers," says Dr. William Reichman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Baycrest Health Sciences.

This funding program is open to applicants employed by an Institution or affiliated with an Institution that qualifies as a Canada Revenue Agency qualified donee or a non-profit organization located in Canada.

KMP2 projects may encompass a range of activities that will create actual products and/or dissemination tools or methodologies; enable the spread and integration of knowledge into practice throughout several organizations; support staff with adopting next practices; and, evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge mobilization activities and outcomes for end users.

Examples of compatible projects may include: (1) authoring, publishing and distributing a book on proven nutritional habits and strategies to improve cognitive health of older adults aimed at a broad audience; (2) documenting and disseminating an evidence-based approach to falls prevention within long-term care facilities across the province and/or; (3) evaluating the effectiveness of a behaviour change strategy to support the adoption of an evidence-based practice to avoid ED transfers for older adults with dementia.

CC-ABHI will support eligible project costs that are directly associated with the dissemination and adoption of knowledge, to a maximum of CAD $250,000 per project. CC-ABHI's funding will be provided directly to the host institution employing the principal Investigators of the qualifying projects. All projects must be completed within a 12 month period.

Eligible applicants must submit a completed application form by 5 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2017. The complete eligibility requirements, selection criteria and additional information about the program are available on the CC-ABHI website.
Funding for the Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program is provided by the Government of Canada through the Public Health Agency of Canada, by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, and by the Baycrest Foundation.

About Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI)

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation is a solution accelerator for the aging and brain health sector, providing funding and support to innovators for the development, testing, and dissemination of new ideas and technologies that address unmet brain health and seniors' care needs. Established in 2015, it is the result of the largest investment in brain health and aging in Canadian history. Spearheaded by Baycrest Health Sciences, CC-ABHI is a unique collaboration of healthcare, science, industry, not-for-profit and government partners. CC-ABHI's objective is to help improve quality of life for the world's aging population, allowing older adults to age safely in the setting of their choice while maintaining their cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. For more information on CC-ABHI, please visit: www.ccabhi.com.

Massachusetts Police Officers Take Steps to Stop Suicides Among Their Ranks ​

 In 2006, one of the officers who was a member of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (MASS C.O.P.) died by suicide. He was afraid to seek help because he didn't want to lose his badge. With over 700 police officers present at the President's Dinner on Friday, March 31, the MASS C.O.P. President Scott Hovsepian announced that his union, which represents nearly 4,300 police officers in Massachusetts, would be instituting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's anonymous online screening tool, the Interactive Screening Program, a Self-Check Quiz to reach distressed police officers and help connect them to peer support officers and mental health services before a crisis emerges.

"If this can save one life, it is money, time, and energy well spent. You can't put a price on a life. If we had had this program in place, we might not have lost our colleague to suicide in 2006," said Scott Hovsepian, a 23 year police officer for the city of Waltham, MA, and president of MASS C.O.P. "I want police officers nationwide to know that there are tools like the Self-Check Quiz that can help them through the hard times. We are starting with police officers in the Bay State."

Brian Fleming, the owner and operator of Peer Support Services, LLC., held a four-hour training session in early 2017 for some of Massachusetts' police officers about mental health education, alcohol and drug abuse, and how to prevent suicide among their colleagues. After the session, he was approached by Hovsepian about doing more. Luckily, years ago Fleming had helped arrange for another Massachusetts police department to contract with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Interactive Screening Program and so he arranged an introduction for the officers from MASS C.O.P. to meet with staff from AFSP to talk about how the foundation could help the union from losing its members to suicide.

"We are honored to be partnering with MASS C.O.P. to offer the Self-Check Quiz to its members. Police officers are accustomed to servicing others, and this is a way for them to ensure they stay healthy and strong," said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP chief medical officer. "Seeking help for your mental health is the brave thing to do."

The Self-Check Quiz is an online tool offered by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and used by institutions of higher education, workplaces, law enforcement agencies, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to reach distressed people and help connect them to mental health services before a crisis emerges. It is also known as the Interactive Screening Program.

The program expansion to MASS C.O.P. has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm of Sandulli and Grace.

1.8 Million Ontarians Mistakenly Believe They are Registered Organ Donors

An Ipsos study has revealed that as many as 1.8 million Ontarians mistakenly believe they are a registered organ and tissue donor. April is BeADonor month, and Trillium Gift of Life Network is encouraging Ontarians to check their donor registration status. There are two ways to verify you are registered: visit www.BeADonor.ca to check, or check the back of your photo health card; if the word "donor" is printed, you are registered.

If 1.8 million Ontarians were added to the registry, as many as 45 per cent of the eligible population would be registered. Trillium Gift of Life Network considers this a more accurate representation of the widespread support for organ and tissue donation in Ontario.

For decades, Ontarians proudly signed paper donor cards declaring their intent to donate their organs and tissues after death. At that time, the card was the best available means to make your donation wishes known and, in fact, as many as two million Ontarians still have a donor card.

The challenge with traditional paper donor cards was that they were often not available or located when needed, and families may not have been aware their loved ones had signed one. Paper donor cards became obsolete when the province began recording consent for donation in a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care database. Registration through www.BeADonor.ca or at a ServiceOntario centre is the only guaranteed way of ensuring that your donation wishes are known at end of life and shared with your family.

"When you register, you give an incredible gift to those waiting for a transplant and to your family," says Ronnie Gavsie, President and CEO, Trillium Gift of Life Network. "By providing evidence of your wishes through registration, you relieve your family of the burden of making that decision for you at a very difficult time."

"We've had three consecutive record years of lives saved through the compassion of organ and tissue donors and their families," says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. "It's very encouraging to see growing support for donation in Ontario. As a next important step, Ontarians who believe they are registered should please check online to confirm. To do so, visit www.BeADonor.ca and give hope to the 1,500 people waiting today."

Other highlights from the survey:

Three in 10 (29 per cent) of Ontarians falsely believe you can register as a donor by signing and keeping a paper donor card.
Over 300,000 Ontarians have a donor card stored somewhere not easily accessible, including a safety deposit box, in their car, or with someone else.
Seventy-one per cent of those who believe they are a registered donor have discussed their wishes with their family.


Minister of Health announces Acting President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research​

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced that Dr. Roderick McInnes has assumed the responsibilities of Acting President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Dr. McInnes is an internationally recognized researcher who brings extensive leadership experience to CIHR, having served as the inaugural Scientific Director of the Institute of Genetics, from 2000-2010. She said, "I am very pleased to announce that Dr. McInnes has assumed the responsibilities of Acting President of CIHR. Dr. McInnes' track record of scientific excellence and knowledge of both the Canadian health research landscape and CIHR make him very well suited to take on this important new role. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Alain Beaudet for his service to Canadians and wish him the very best in his retirement from the public service."

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. McInnes is the Director of the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital at McGill University in Montreal, the Alva Chair in Human Genetics, and the Canada Research Chair in Neurogenetics. He is also a Professor of Human Genetics and a Professor of Biochemistry at McGill.

Dr. McInnes replaces Dr. Alain Beaudet, who was appointed as CIHR President in 2008. In this acting assignment, Dr. McInnes will lead the organization until a permanent President is appointed by the government.

The selection process for the next President has begun and will continue over the coming months. Qualified individuals who are interested in applying for this position are invited to visit the Governor in Council appointments website. 

Estimates Show Thousands of HIV Cases Averted in BC through Expanded Harm Reduction and HIV Treatment

A study by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), published in the top-ranking medical journal The Lancet HIV, has found harm reduction and access to HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) averted an estimated 3,204 incident HIV cases in British Columbia between 1996 and 2013. Both evidence-based public health interventions had significant, independent effects on the spread of HIV and the control of the epidemic.

To identify the relative impact of ART and harm reduction, which have both been scaled up in BC since 1996, the authors modeled multiple hypothetical scenarios. Assuming harm reduction services were not scaled up beyond 1996 levels, ART alone is estimated to account for 44% (1,409) of the averted HIV cases across the province. The impact of universal access to ART is likely underestimated, as the study only considered its impact on transmission through needle sharing with its efficacy in reducing HIV transmission set conservatively at 50%.

Assuming ART had no effect at all on HIV transmission through needle sharing, harm reduction services alone—defined in this study as needle distribution and opioid agonist therapy (OAT)—are estimated to account for 77% (2,473) of the averted HIV cases.

"Both harm reduction and access to HIV treatment are keys to curbing the transmission of HIV," said Dr. Bohdan Nosyk, Research Scientist with the BC-CfE and an author on the paper. "As a treatment for addiction, opioid agonist therapy provides benefits in terms of reduction in disease transmission and improvement in quality of life. Our research has linked the treatment to increases in workplace productivity and decreases in crime costs—making a further economic case for its implementation as part of a harm reduction effort."

Access to harm reduction and ART also significantly increases an individual's quality of life years (QALY). OAT, a first-line treatment for opioid addiction that reduces cravings and withdrawal associated with opioid addiction, is linked to substantially greater QALY gains than needle distribution programs.

Over the past 20 years, BC has rapidly expanded access to lifesaving OAT (with methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone) and implemented needle distribution programs. There are over 50 unique service providers of harm reduction services within Vancouver's downtown core alone, covering a spectrum of services such as psychosocial treatment, housing supports and mental health care.

BC and Vancouver are unique within Canada and compared with many jurisdictions worldwide. A global review of interventions to prevent HIV infections among PWID estimates needle distribution programs covered 5% to 8% of injections, and only around 8% of PWID had access to OAT. Globally only 4% of PWID are estimated to have access to ART.

In BC, since the 2013 implementation of the Treatment as Prevention® (TasP®) strategy supported by the provincial government, access to ART has been universally offered upon diagnosis with HIV. On sustained and consistent treatment, an individual living with HIV achieves an undetectable viral load and the chances of HIV transmission drop to negligible. Previous BC-CfE research, based in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, found community viral load was the strongest predictor of HIV transmission among PWID.

"If we are to get to the end of AIDS by 2030, as established in the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Target, we must broadly and universally implement harm reduction hand-in-hand with Treatment as Prevention®," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the BC-CfE. "We know these interventions are mutually supportive and essential to reaching people who inject drugs."

GoodLife Fitness to 'light it up blue' for World Autism Awareness Day​

According to a recent report from the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, at least 41 million children age 5 and under are obese or overweight. At thGoodLife Fitness will illuminate its Home Office building in blue lights this Sunday, April 2, as part of the 'Light it Up Blue' campaign to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

After his daughter Kilee was diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder at age two and a half, GoodLife Fitness founder and CEO David 'Patch' Patchell-Evans made it his mission to support awareness and research to help Canadians living with autism spectrum disorder, which now affects one in every 68 Canadian children. Patch urges Canadian businesses and individuals to find their own ways to 'light it up blue' for autism awareness.

"My daughter, who is now 21, continues to teach me important lessons about gratitude, perseverance and joy," says Patch, who was awarded the 2007 Canadian Medical Association Medal of Honour for his support of autism initiatives. "On April 2, the world celebrates how far we have come in autism education, research, early diagnosis, and awareness. A lot of hard work is yet to be done, but I am comforted knowing these kids and adults are in the hearts and minds of so many caring people around the globe."

On Friday, March 31, GoodLife Fitness will host a 'Bluetique' event for staff at their Home Office. Associates can donate to autism research and treat themselves to a blue manicure or blue hair chalk to mark the occasion and generate conversations, awareness and support for families and individuals living with autism. Patch kicked off the events, and conversations, this week by painting the 'light it up blue' logo on his face.

To date, GoodLife's CEO has donated $11.5 million to autism-related initiatives. Some of these initiatives include:

Patch co-founded the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group with renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Derrick MacFabe.
In November of 2016, the Pacific Autism Family Network opened the GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub, made possible by a $5 million commitment from GoodLife Fitness and a $20 million development grant from the Province of British Columbia. The new facility is the first of its kind and seeks to advance autism research, learning, treatment and supports for families.
Patch highlights the challenges he had when his daughter was first diagnosed saying that, "help was virtually non-existent."

"I applaud Autism Speaks Canada and the many organizations that are working hard to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorder and for the fantastic resources they have created to help educate the public," says Patch.

"The 'Light It Up Blue' campaign celebrates World Autism Awareness Day by encouraging people to spread awareness and increased understanding about autism, leading us all to a more inclusive community. We rely on companies like GoodLife Fitness to lead the way by keeping autism top-of-mind and support families and individuals living with autism spectrum disorder," said Jill Farber, Executive Director, Autism Speaks Canada. "Thank you, GoodLife, for your leadership,"

For Canadians looking to get involved, Autism Speaks Canada offers resources, like social media tools and fundraising materials, to make it easy to participate in the 'Light it up Blue' campaign. The Autism Speaks Canada website offers more information about support those living with autism spectrum disorder.

About GoodLife Fitness
Proudly Canadian since 1979, GoodLife Fitness is the largest fitness club chain in Canada and the fourth largest overall in the world. With over 375 clubs from coast-to-coast, including GoodLife Fitness, Fit4Less by GoodLife and ÉconoFitness Clubs, approximately 13,300 employees and more than 1.3 million members, GoodLife is helping to transform the health and wellness of 1 in 28 Canadians. www.goodlifefitness.com

Taking diabetes prevention across borders

 Sun Life Financial Inc. is proud to announce a $300,000 commitment to the William Osler Health System (Osler) Foundation to launch the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Program (Global Health Program) and the Sun Life Financial At Risk Diabetes Clinic (At Risk Clinic) at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health in Brampton. These unique initiatives will support diabetes screening, treatment and collaborative research to benefit patients in high-risk populations such as Punjab, India and surrounding communities of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

"We're committed to working with Osler to provide enhanced access to diabetes prevention and care initiatives through the Global Health Program and At Risk Clinic," said Lisa Ritchie, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. "At Sun Life, we understand the value in collaborating with local health care organizations to improve access to care; exchange knowledge and skills; and find innovative ways to improve services at home and abroad."

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes prevalence in India is among the top three highest in the world and the region served by Osler has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in Ontario. The Global Health Program will significantly improve diabetes care in the GTA and Punjab, with the biggest impact in India coming through increased access to diabetes education and care for rural villagers through diabetes medical camps. The Global Health Program will also engage nursing students as a way to educate the next generation of health care professionals in Punjab on how to prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes. Closer to home, the impact will be felt through comparative research opportunities into diabetes and other chronic diseases.

"We recognize that diabetes is a huge concern in the region we serve, as well as in India where so many of our patients and their families are from," said Ken Mayhew, President and CEO, Osler Foundation. "We are grateful to Sun Life Financial for their support of both programs. This new partnership will provide improved access to diabetes care that is urgently needed and help fill a gap and reduce the prevalence and severity of the disease."

Sun Life Financial and Osler Foundation also announced today the creation of the At Risk Diabetes Clinic at Osler. Opening in spring/summer 2017, the At Risk Diabetes Clinic will help identify and provide support to individuals at risk of developing or those who have already been diagnosed with prediabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to develop into type 2 diabetes within 10 years or less. However, with the proper support and access to education and resources, the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes can be stopped. The At Risk Diabetes Clinic will offer dedicated fitness, education and dietary/nutritional support to people and their family members at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including children between the ages of 6 and 18.

Sun Life Financial takes a holistic approach to supporting the well-being of Clients, Employees and communities around the world. Since announcing diabetes as our key business and community giving priority across our global footprint, Sun Life Financial has committed over $17 million to the cause.

National pharmacare is not in the cards - too expensive, politically unlikely - New expert report

 The strength in numbers: at the heart of this 17th edition of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge

 Today, Leucan launches the 17th edition of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge, presented by PROXIM. This year, Leucan is relying on the strength in numbers and is launching the Leucan Executive Challenge.

This initiative of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge encourages business executives to become leaders of their community by hosting a Leucan Shaved Head Challenge in their organizations. Every leader endeavours to raise a minimum of $25,000 with his/her team. "I have the pleasure of initiating this motion through which we set the goal to raise $500,000 to provide financial assistance to families with a cancer-stricken child across Quebec," explains Alain Champagne, CEO of Optimé International. In order to ease the financial burden and cover part of the expenses incurred by childhood cancer, Leucan provides families with welcome grants, among others, so that they can focus on what matters most: their child.

In addition to Mr. Champagne, eight other executives have decided to mobilize their team for Leucan: Mrs. Manon Bergeron, Assisted Operations, Human Resources and Administration Manager at Desjardins - Caisse de la Rive-Nord du Saguenay, Mr. David Bowles, President of the Montérégie regional committee of private schools, Mr. Yvon Charest, President and Chief Executive Officer at iA Financial Group, Mr. Michel Dallaire, Chief Executive Officer at Cominar, Mrs. Danielle Dionne, Human Resources Manager at Extra multi-ressources, Mr. Danny Dufour, CEO of Maxi Metal, Mr. Louis-Philippe LeBlanc-Boucher, Marketing and Customer Experience Director at Olivier Ford & Groupe Olivier, and Mr. Reneault Poliquin, Executive Director, Multiplatform Media Sales Montreal & Eastern Canada at CBC & Radio-Canada Media Solutions. To learn more about the campaign leaders or to encourage them, please visit leaders.tetesrasees.com.

Dominic Paquet, volunteer spokesperson of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge adds that "Taking part in the Challenge as a team is a way to show concretely your support to sick children and their families. It's also a collective commitment proving that, together, we can go much further."

People can also sign up as participants and take on the Challenge at one of the 50 official shaving sites across the province organized by Leucan throughout the year. To register or to encourage a participant, please visit tetesrasees.com.

Leucan wishes to highlight the generosity of PROXIM, the presenting sponsor of the event for a second year; Mia for creating the Leucan earrings of hope for a third year and donating the sales proceeds to the Association; and stand-up comedian Dominic Paquet, proud provincial spokesperson of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge for a sixth year.

About the Challenge
The Leucan Shaved Head Challenge is a major fundraiser of Leucan that engages the community in a spirit of solidarity to provide services to cancer-stricken children and their families as well as providing financial support to clinical research. It is also a gesture of support for children whose body image is altered when chemotherapy provokes hair loss.

About Leucan
For close to 40 years, Leucan has been supporting cancer-stricken children and their families from the day of diagnosis through every stage of the disease and its side-effects. As a loyal ally of hundreds of families and thousands of members across Quebec, the Association provides specific and personalized services delivered by a qualified team with a cutting edge expertise. Leucan also funds clinical research and the Leucan Information Centre. With its nine offices, Leucan is present throughout Quebec.

 The proposal for a publicly funded pharmaceutical coverage plan is making the rounds again in Canada. Canada is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with a public health-care system that does not include coverage for pharmaceuticals. Advocates for an expansion of the Medicare system to include prescription medication note that it has become common for some lower-income Canadians who lack private drug insurance to leave prescriptions unfilled due to the cost, or miss doses. This affordability problem for lower-income Canadians appears to be getting more serious.

However, a new report from The School of Public Policy and authors Owen Adams and Jordyn Smith, says that despite the best intentions of proponents, national pharmacare is not in the cards anytime soon.

"Perhaps the biggest obstacle for champions of Pharmacare, is that the term can mean so many different things to different people. There is virtually no consensus on what would even be the appropriate Canadian system, particularly in light of how significant a factor private coverage already is in Canada. The matter of how much each level of government, provincial/territorial or federal, would be responsible for funding drugs is a whole other, rather thorny matter," said Adams.

The author notes that despite a vigorous debate, pharmacare is low on the list of changes Canada's want to see in the health care system. The sheer complexity of even defining what a national pharmacare program would look like or what and who it would cover undermines its feasibility. Costs would be very high at a time where the feds and provinces are running massive deficits. And, the fact that the federal government is now negotiating health funding deals with provinces individually, makes the application of any national health initiative a major challenge.

Is pharmacare a possibility according to the author? Perhaps. But not now.

The report can be found online at www.policyschool.ca/publications/


To Floss or Not to Floss? DentalPlans.com's Tips for a Healthy Mouth​

Recent reports have questioned the benefits of certain routine oral health practices, such as flossing. According to the national DentalPlans.com's SmileIndex™ Survey, many misconceptions exist about what is and is not healthy for one's teeth and gums.

"Having good dental hygiene is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth and smile," said Bill Chase, vice president of marketing for DentalPlans.com. "It is important to understand how to properly care for teeth and gums, otherwise you may be doing more harm than good."

Tips for healthy smiles:

Be gentle: Brushing teeth roughly can weaken enamel, causing cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Use a soft brush, and take it easy.

Brush Properly: Hold the brush is at a 45° angle against the gum line and sweep the brush up and away from your gums.

Floss: From dental hygienists and dentists to the Department of Health and Human Services to the American Dental Association have, for decades, recommended daily flossing to keep mouths and teeth healthy. But a recent report from the Associated Press (AP) indicated that there may be no medical benefits associated with flossing. Regardless, removing food debris and bacteria caught between one's teeth is helpful and recommended until truly proven ineffective.

Go to the dentist: Removing tartar is not something that can be done at home, without risking the chance of causing dental damage. Dental hygienists are trained to remove tartar that causes decay and gum infections safely.

Do not wait: People tend to pay out of pocket as dental problems arise, waiting until a costly dental crisis occurs before purchasing a plan. And, dental insurance imposes waiting periods, sometimes of six months to a year, before coverage for expensive dental treatments kicks in. Dental savings plans, an alternative to traditional dental insurance, make dental care more affordable, saving members 10%-60% on most dental care procedures. Learn more at dentalplans.com.

Shortage of physiotherapists limits access for some Canadians

 Growth in the employment of physiotherapists has been keeping pace with the sharp increase in demand for their services. This growth, however, has been largely concentrated in the urban centres of Canada's most populated provinces leaving those on the outskirts underserviced, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada.

"The number of Canadians that have consulted a physiotherapist has been steadily growing over the last few years and demand for these services may be outstripping supply in certain areas of the country. The main challenge going forward is how access to physiotherapy services can be improved for those who need it most," said Greg Sutherland, Principal Economist, Health Economics, The Conference Board of Canada.


At the end of 2014, there were approximately 20,130 physiotherapists employed in Canada.
Nearly all of Canada's physiotherapists (90 per cent) are employed in an urban area.
The unemployment rate among physiotherapists seeking employment in the profession was 0.3 per cent in 2014.
The number of Canadians that have consulted a physiotherapist has been steadily increasing across Canada.
The number of Canadians consulting physiotherapists increased from 8.4 per cent of the adult population in 2001 to 11.6 per cent in 2014. This represents an increase of 3.8 per cent per year. By way of comparison, Canada's adult population has grown by annual average of just 1 per cent since 2001.

Urban areas comprise just 3.6 per cent of Canada's geography and about 82 per cent of the population, but contain 90 per cent of Canada's physiotherapists. The remaining 10 per cent service 90 per cent of the country's land mass, and recruiting physiotherapists to these non-urban centres poses a significant challenge. As a result, patients in these areas have reduced access to the resources necessary to meet their physical therapy needs.

Further analysis reveals that the strongest rates of physiotherapist employment growth are in regions with the smallest increase in consultations. In Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, employment growth above 4 per cent more than exceeds the 3.4 per cent increase in consultations. However, in all other provinces combined, annual employment growth of 2.6 per cent on average is not enough to address the increase of 4.5 per cent in physiotherapy consultations.

From a sustainability perspective, there is not an abundant supply of physiotherapists to satisfy a dramatic rise in demand, especially in rural and remote communities. As of 2014, the unemployment rate for all professions in Canada was 6.9 per cent. With the unemployment rate among physiotherapists around 0.3 per cent, there is no surplus to help alleviate the rising demand and exhausted supply in some areas of the country.

The Market Profile of Physiotherapists in Canada is the second briefing in a three-part series. The first report, The Role of Physiotherapy in Canada: Contributing to a Stronger Health Care System, provides an understanding of the role of physiotherapists within the Canadian health care system. The third and final briefing in this series will forecast the demand for physiotherapy services for seniors, using an approach that integrates the use of rehabilitation services in long-term care and homecare and provide recommendations for action from a variety of perspectives.

The Conference Board of Canada will host the Healthy Canada Conference 2017: Access to Affordable Medicines in Toronto, April 26 – 27, 2017.

New Wellness Tool Brings Awareness of Healthy Living to Kids in Tangible Way​

OAccording to a recent report from the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, at least 41 million children age 5 and under are obese or overweight. At the top of the report's 6 main recommendations for governments to help curb this worldwide issue is to promote the intake of healthy foods and physical activity. New business CoCompany's launch of the ThoughtFullBoard – a health and wellness tool designed to facilitate and encourage independent healthy decision-making in kids – will do just that.

Developed by Julie Cole, Co-Founder of Mabel's Labels and Joanne Corner, an NCCP Level 3 Professional Figure Skating Coach, the ThoughtFullBoard uses a team of experts' insights to help families focus on small acts of wellness to create a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime.

"Moms are tired of nagging their kids about making healthy choices, getting off their screens and taking responsibility," says Julie Cole, Co-Founder of CoCompany. "The ThoughtFullBoard is a tool designed for parents who aim to inspire independence while establishing healthy habits in their families."

The visual boards help children and parents track different categories of health and wellness throughout the day. Along with icons on the board, the tracking line and HeartStepper Magnets encourage you to track your progress and be aware of your health and wellness.

All products in the ThoughtFullBoard line are developed by a community of parents and experts, including Dr. Sharon Carson, Pediatrician and Sarah Remmer, Registered Dietician & Family Nutrition Expert, who are incredibly passionate about improving kids' wellness and creating positive lifelong habits.

"The boards are really gorgeous and functional, too – so they add beauty to your kitchen space while providing kids with the opportunity to manage their own good choices. Mom is happy with both the design and with kids creating good habits!" Julie Cole says.

To view the ThoughtFullBoard collection, please visit thoughtfullboard.com.

Women's College Hospital brings accessible BRCA genetic testing to Canadians

 Approximately one in 200 Canadians have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation which puts women at a higher lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, while male mutation carriers are at an increased risk of developing prostate and other cancers. Currently, genetic testing for these gene mutations is only offered to, and covered for, people who meet eligibility criteria based on several factors like a strong family history of cancer. Researchers in the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at Women's College Hospital (WCH) will lead a population-based study called The Screen Project that will offer genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations to Canadians at a cost of $165 USD. U.S.-based Veritas Genetics, the global leader in genetic sequencing and interpretation, will be performing the BRCA genetic testing. The study hopes to determine the feasibility of guided direct-to-consumer population-based genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and also to estimate the number of cancers that would be prevented through such a program.

Hereditary mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are responsible for five to 10 per cent of breast cancers and 10 to 15 per cent of ovarian cancers. Although knowledge about hereditary cancers has improved, referral rates for genetic testing remain low among primary care physicians. A recent study found that only 23 per cent of eligible ovarian cancer patients were referred for genetic assessment. Research on the underutilization of genetics in clinical care shows that the majority of BRCA mutation-carriers in the population will go undetected.

"The technology for identifying BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation-carriers has improved dramatically since their discovery in the mid 1990s. However, we have not yet achieved our potential in preventing breast and ovarian cancers among women using genetic testing," says Dr. Steven Narod, co-principal investigator and the director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH. "Population-based genetic testing is a new approach for widespread testing in Canada that we hope will change that paradigm."

Narod is a co-discoverer of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and the recipient of the 2016 Basser Global Prize for his work on breast and ovarian cancer genetics.

"The Screen Project aims to address the health gaps in eligibility criteria that currently exist by offering this genetic test to any interested Canadian at a more accessible price," says Dr. Mohammad Akbari, co-principal investigator and director of the Research Molecular Genetics Laboratory at WCH. He led the international team discovered RECQL as the latest breast cancer susceptibility gene in 2015.

Individuals who are interested in BRCA genetic testing can participate in the study by registering online at www.thescreenproject.ca. On the registration site, patients will have access to an informational video and educational materials to learn more about hereditary cancer and genetic testing. Once participants have provided the necessary information and consent, they will be directed to Veritas' website to submit payment and have a saliva collection kit shipped to their home. Those who are unable to afford the cost of the test will be eligible for financial assistance. Saliva samples will then be tested at Veritas' laboratory and the results will be reported to the patient within two to four weeks. Individuals who test positive for the BRCA mutation will be contacted by the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH, while those who receive a negative or inconclusive result will receive a report from Veritas Genetics.

"The current barriers to accessing genetic testing in the healthcare system can prevent or delay people from obtaining knowledge that can significantly reduce their cancer risk," says Nicole Gojska, genetic counsellor at Women's College Hospital. "Several options are available to detect cancers early or reduce the risk of cancer from happening. For example, for women, these options can include intensified screening, taking medications to reduce cancer risks or preventative surgery. As genetic testing for cancer predisposition is becoming increasingly more common in clinical practice, men and women with BRCA mutations may also benefit from tailored cancer treatments."

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing needs to be guided by a medical professional with long-term follow-up and management. All participants who are identified as BRCA mutation-carriers through this study will be offered a follow-up consultation with a WCH genetic counsellor to review their test and discuss the implications of their diagnosis. By providing genetic testing that is equitable and accessible to all Canadians, WCH hopes to demonstrate a new model of care for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer prevention that will close the gaps that exist within the healthcare system.


Mood Disorders Society of Canada Urges Action on Improving Canadians' Access to Life-Saving Medications​

Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) today released a groundbreaking brief recommending action to improve Canadians' access to the medications they need and to strengthen patients' role in the approval of new life-saving medications.

As the brief makes clear, successful treatment of a debilitating illness such as depression — now the leading cause of disability worldwide — can hinge on patients being able to access the right medication. But as MDSC's research for the brief determined, Canadians suffering depression are too often prevented from obtaining the medications that would restore their full functionality and quality of life. People on limited incomes without private health plans, for example, cannot access medications unless they are publicly funded and the right one for them may not fall in that category.

In spite of having faster and broader access to medications, access is also an issue for Canadians with private health plans — where insurers delay in covering new medications or require that patients try less expensive medications first. Canadians may also lose access to their medications when they change jobs, move to another province or territory, or from hospital into the community.

"We must ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to the best medications that will treat their depression and restore wellness," said Phil Upshall, MDSC's Executive Director. "By depriving people of the most appropriate medications for their individual needs that can transform their lives, we are exacerbating the terrible toll depression takes on individuals and families — the hardest-hit being the most vulnerable people in society."

MDSC's brief also demonstrates that the newest and best medications developed for treating major depressive disorder are far less likely to be recommended for public drug plan coverage in Canada than new medications for non-mental health issues. Even when new medications for major depressive disorder (MDD) have been fully approved by Health Canada, they can remain inaccessible to the people who need them.

To help dismantle this barrier to access, MDSC urges that patients themselves be given a much stronger voice in the Canadian Agency for Medications and Technologies in Health. This non-profit, independent body evaluates Health Canada's findings and recommends whether a new medication should be publicly funded by provincial and federal drug plans. As MDSC emphasizes, patients' experiences of taking medications, and living with them, can add a uniquely valuable perspective on the evaluation of new medications and how widely they should be made accessible.

Canadians' financial stress continues to affect their health: Manulife Financial Wellness Index

Two in five Canadians say they are financially unwell, according to the latest Manulife Financial Wellness Index. Those respondents are concerned by debt (82 per cent), not saving for retirement (60 per cent), stressed (67 per cent) due to their financial situation and 83 per cent said they are not financially prepared to protect their loved ones (death, serious illness, disability, having a will, etc).

"We want to help Canadians live better and healthier lives. Looking at people's wellness has traditionally included physical aspects, and in recent years focused more on emotional health," said Sue Reibel, Executive Vice-President and General Manager Institutional Markets, Manulife. "Our findings show that the role of financial wellness, whether good or bad, affects overall wellbeing and is an important contributor to helping Canadians reach positive emotional health."

Financial wellness is based on the way an individual manages their overall financial situation, including budgeting, retirement planning, investing, debt management, financial protection and financial stress. Manulife's research shows that money continues to be the greatest source of stress and it impacts an individual's mental health leading to absenteeism rates and lost productivity. Canadians who consider themselves financially unwell revealed that dealing with money is a factor of stress (81 per cent, often/sometimes) and those who are financially unwell are eight times more likely to have bad stress levels and may be distracted at work (49 per cent, often/sometimes).

Manulife's Financial Wellness Assessment is a quick, easy and free online questionnaire measuring financial wellness. The assessment was launched in 2016 for group retirement customers and is now also available to group benefits customers, helping one in three Canadians to improve their overall financial situation. It provides Manulife group plan customers with a score and a personalized action plan. The Financial Wellness Assessment can be found in the sign in section of their online account.

"This is the first time a financial assessment is available for both group benefits and group retirement customers to help them improve their financial situation. This assessment will help them learn their financial wellness score, and provide them with personalized action plans they can use to potentially reduce their financial worries," said Reibel.

Healthy finances and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand

Canadians who are financially well are more likely to be successful at managing their health according to the Financial Wellness Index. Those with low levels of financial wellness are almost five times more likely not to engage in any healthy activity. Canadians who say they are financially well are more likely to say that their physical health is excellent (25 per cent) or good (45 per cent), they eat more fruits and vegetables (79 per cent), get more exercise (68 per cent), get regular health checkups (61 per cent) and educate themselves on being healthier (46 per cent).

In addition, employers offering group plans have an impact on the financial wellness and health of their employees. Those who are financially well are more likely to have a group retirement
(65 per cent) and group benefits plan (79 per cent) compared to those who are financially unwell (42 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively). Also, those who have group benefits plans are more likely to score better on the stress index (56 per cent) than those who do not have any plans (48 per cent).

"Employers have an important role to play in their employees' wellness, physically, mentally and financially. Their actions can positively impact the level of engagement and productivity of their teams, which in the long-term can impact their bottom line," added Reibel.

About the Manulife Financial Wellness study

Environics Research Group surveyed 2,024 Canadians, 18 and over, between August 31 and September 7, 2016, asking them about budgeting, retirement, investments, debt, protection and stress. Respondents were equally split along gender lines, average age was 47, and quotas and weighting were used to ensure that results reflected the Canadian reality in terms of age, gender and region.

This survey was designed as an index and is intended to be repeated annually to create an informative track of Canadians' financial wellness over time.

Ontario government underscores commitment to expanded scope of practice for RPNs​

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Eric Hoskins showed their support this week for the excellent work of Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) with their attendance at the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) Queen's Park Day.

A group of approximately 60 RPNs were welcomed to Queen's Park Wednesday by Premier Wynne, Minister Hoskins and about 50 Members of Provincial Parliament to highlight the role RPNs play in the province's health care system and to discuss ways to further improve access to timely, high-quality care for Ontarians.

"The Ontario government has sent a strong signal about the vital role Ontario's RPNs play in our health care system," said Dianne Martin, Chief Executive Officer of RPNAO. "We look forward to working with the province on important changes that will enhance the ability of RPNs to deliver safe, evidence-based care in a more timely, efficient manner."

Minister Hoskins underscored the "outstanding" work performed by RPNs across the province on a daily basis and said the government is committed to removing barriers to help improve care for all Ontarians.

"RPNAO has been clear that scope-of-practice changes would help address certain barriers and ensure patients receive faster access to the right care and our government agrees," Minister Hoskins said. "We know that by working together on increasing RPNs' scope, we can further improve access to care for Ontarians and reduce wait times even further."

The visit to Queen's Park was organized by RPNAO and included a reception for MPPs and meetings with government leaders. There are approximately 50,000 RPNs registered to practice in Ontario, the second largest group of regulated health professionals in the province.

"We value the work that each and every one of those RPNs does in this province," said Minister Hoskins.

Understanding the Buzz About Medicinal Marijuana

 The conversation about medicinal marijuana has gone mainstream.

According to Health Canada, an estimated 130,000 Canadians are registered to purchase medicinal marijuana from licensed producers. This volume of users, changes to regulations and prevalent anecdotal evidence has led to increased discussion about medicinal uses of marijuana.

Although Health Canada governs and regulates licensed producers and there are a variety of sources that contain up-to date information on medicinal marijuana, currently there is no single comprehensive source providing medical advice.

For patients living with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder — or other illnesses that could be supported by the benefits of cannabis — navigating the information can be intimidating or overwhelming, and it can be an added challenge determining if you are getting your information from a reliable source. Being a relatively new field, many people are hesitant, either because of the associated stigma or they just don’t know where to start.

“As is the case with all matters relating to health, it’s crucial for consumers to be armed with information from credible sources so they can make an informed decision about what’s best for their health,” says Laurie Simmonds, President and CEO of Green Living Enterprises. “The Green Living Show is a great forum to discuss alternative health therapies and bring together a group of experts who can help provide clarity.”

The WeedmapsTM Speaker Series at the Green Living Show will feature exhibits and experts from GrowWise Health, Mettrum, Apollo Cannabis Clinic, Summertree Medical Clinic as well as Tokyo Smoke — the first Canadian consumer brand to launch as a licensed cannabis producer in Canada. These experts will be discussing a variety of topics such as the current medicinal regulations, what strains are most effective for specific ailments, the different methods of consumption, using cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, and a cannabis cooking demo.

Dr. Carolina Landolt, a leading Canadian rheumatologist with more than 10 years experience and the founder of Summertree Medical Clinic, is one of the experts who will be speaking at the Show. One of the fundamentals of her practice is demystifying medical cannabis for patients and other physicians.  

“The stigma associated with medical cannabis presents a significant barrier to effective patient care,” says Dr. Landolt. “Medical cannabis is a reasonable option for individuals dealing with conditions such as chronic pain or insomnia, but often patients are afraid to explore this option due to prevailing negative myths and misconceptions regarding medical cannabis. The Green Living Show is a great place to speak directly with practitioners and other experts to get first-hand information.”

If you are looking for alternative therapies to complement your current health regime or are curious about your options, The Green Living Show’s cannabis-centered exhibitors and stage content is the place to help guide you in the right direction.

This April, discover all of these cannabis resources — plus 400 sustainable companies — at the Green Living Show taking place April 7th to 9th, 2017, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For more info on leading a healthier, greener lifestyle, please visit greenlivingshow.ca. ‘Like’ it on Facebook, follow the Green Living Show on Twitter and Instagram @GreenLivingPage.

About WeedmapsTM
WeedmapsTM is the first and most comprehensive directory in Canada and the United States that provides patients with vital information on where and how they can get their legally prescribed medicinal marijuana.

Innovation meets Imagination: New Samsung Space at The Hospital for Sick Children helps bring patients closer to home

 Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. today unveiled the Samsung Space at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), part of its ongoing, multi-year partnership with SickKids that includes making a $1 million-dollar donation to Canada's most research-intensive hospital that is the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Located on the 9th floor of the hospital, the Samsung Space is an interactive digital environment that will provide a variety of immersive experiences through the Samsung connected ecosystem, bringing visitors closer to what matters to them—whether it's #MissingHome, their family, friends or even their favourite room.

The Samsung Space vision was brought to life by Samsung and the SickKids` Child Life support team. Open six days a week to in-patients at SickKids, children and families are now able to be together in a healing and relaxing environment away from the clinical areas, letting families enjoy time together doing what families usually do – watching TV, playing games, or simply spending time together. The Space also intends to provide a sense of normalcy to patients and families going through a difficult illness or treatment.

"We continue to be inspired by the courageous young patients at SickKids. As part of our continued, meaningful partnership with SickKids, we hope this new Samsung Space can make a difference by providing fun experiences that allow children to be children and help bring them closer to the people, places and moments they miss most," said Mark Childs, Chief Brand Officer, Samsung Canada.

"We are grateful to Samsung Canada for their generous gift which allowed us to transform the space physically as well as hire staff dedicated to developing programming and managing the Space," says Karima Karmali, Director, Centre for Innovation & Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care, SickKids. "We believe in the value of play in our commitment to children's health and development, and know this inviting, innovative space will help our patients in their healing."

Innovative technology in the Samsung Space includes:

a 75" SUHD Samsung television, with stunning, immersive picture quality to make family movie nights extra special
a variety of Samsung GearVR virtual reality headsets, inviting visitors to explore their imagination and immerse themselves in the Moon, Mars, or places outside our Galaxy
a Samsung Synced Interactive Table, allowing visitors to go 'hands-on' with their favourite apps or games
Samsung Gear360 cameras, Samsung Galaxy View and Galaxy Tab E devices
The Samsung Space is a demonstration of the Samsung global philanthropic Hope for Children program, and joins other partnership initiatives at the hospital. These include bringing 21st century learning tools and Samsung tablets to the students at SickKids` Epilepsy Classroom, SickKids' onsite Samsung laundry pairs that bring the comforts and convenience of home to more families and Samsung employee volunteers. The Samsung Space is the latest example of this continued commitment and meaningful partnership in action. 


Canada's First Music Therapy Clinical Research Study for People with Epilepsy​

With Purple Day almost upon us, Epilepsy Ontario is pleased to announce the beginning of the first research clinical study in Canada to look at the role music therapy can play in seizure reduction.

Thanks to the generous support of the William Donald Willis Fund, Epilepsy Ontario has entered into a formal partnership with the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital to conduct a two-year clinical research study advancing the work of previous international studies that have found an intriguing link between music – specifically Mozart's K 448 Sonata – and seizure reduction in individuals with intractable Epilepsy.

"As we know, up to 30 per cent of people with Epilepsy do not benefit from drug interventions," says Epilepsy Ontario Executive Director Paul Raymond. "We felt it was important to fund research into alternative therapies that could potentially be beneficial to all people with Epilepsy."

Epilepsy neurosurgeon Dr. Taufik Valiante and post-doctoral fellow Marjan Rafiiee in collaboration with members of the Epilepsy Program at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, lead the Krembil Research Institute study to compare the seizure profiles of individuals with Epilepsy listening to Mozart's K 448 versus the time that they listen to a control music which is a "scrambled" version of the sonata.

Previous Epilepsy music therapy studies using K 448 have found evidence of seizure reduction by as much as 24 per cent, which compares favorably to some of the most commonly used drug interventions.

"This is a bit of a golden age for research into the brain," says. Dr. Valiante. "The technological tools to study the human brain are ever increasing in sophistication and accessibility. These tools are allowing the mystery of the human brain's relationship with music to be explored in a wide variety of clinical settings, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and depression."

In fact, it was an introduction to research into music therapy applications for motor movement rehabilitation in individuals with Parkinson's disease that piqued Dr. Rafiee's interest in Epilepsy music therapy.

"It was shocking to me to be honest," says. Dr. Rafiee. "I started looking at some of the literature and was looking at the numbers, seeing some patients even becoming seizure-free. I couldn't believe I had never heard of this before".

For former Epilepsy Ontario board member Sean O'Malley, who first pitched the idea of funding a music therapy trial, the inspiration was his daughter Rhiannon, who has drug-resistant Epilepsy.

"Ever since she was little, she would crave music at all times, in a way that I came to feel was her own form of self-medication," says O'Malley. "One of her favourite things to do in the world is to go for an hour-long drive with me around the lake we live on and listen to our favourite music. "No matter how hard a day she seems to be having with seizures, that hour always feel like an oasis of relative calm in her brain."

Epilepsy Ontario is dedicated to promoting independence and optimal quality of life for children and adults living with seizure disorders. Through a network of local agencies, contacts and associates across the province, Epilepsy Ontario reaches out to people with epilepsy and their loved ones. We do this by providing: client services including counselling and referrals, information, education and advocacy services.


Weston Brain Institute announces awardees of more than $30 million in grants to fight brain diseases of aging​

 The impact of neurodegenerative disease of aging grows every year, affecting more Canadians and creating an ever-increasing burden on Canada's healthcare system. In an effort to help address this challenge, the Weston Brain Institute today announced the allocation of more than $30 million in funding for Canadian research projects.

"The lack of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, has been called the biggest unmet need in modern medicine," said Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director at the Weston Brain Institute. "The funding we've committed to these incredible Canadian scientists focuses on projects with the potential to make the greatest impact in this field."

The funding is a part of the larger $100 million announced in 2016 by the Weston Brain Institute for high-risk, high-reward translational research projects with the potential to help speed up the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases of aging, an area that is significantly underfunded in Canada.

The Institute grants through a number of programs, enabling researchers to receive funding and support based on the stage of the project and funding needed. Today's announcement highlights the more than $30 million directly granted since 2012 toward its Early Phase Clinical Trials, Rapid Response, Transformational Research, and targeted programs. This brings the total funds allocated to date for Canadian researchers to more than $45 million.

The Institute's Scientific Advisory Committee provides guidance to the Institute regarding overall strategy, program development and program design. Grantees are selected by committees composed of these advisors plus additional experts selected based on the applications under discussion. Both these groups are comprised of world-class international researchers.

About the Grants

The Early Phase Clinical Trials Program (up to $1.7m) supports Phase I and IIa clinical trials. This is an innovative funding opportunity whereby applicants have optional access to clinical trials design experts to help improve their study designs. Grantees include:

Dr. John Breitner of McGill University/Douglas Health Research Institute: leading a placebo-controlled randomized phase I/IIa trial to test whether increases in ApoE through administration of probucol (a cholesterol-lowering drug) can have protective effects in people at high risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia.
Dr. Elizabeth Finger of Western University: testing the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of intranasal oxytocin as a treatment for apathy, indifference, and lack of empathy in patients with frontotemporal dementia.
Dr. Marta Kaminska of McGill University: examining the effects of long-acting levodopa on obstructive sleep apnea in Parkinson's disease patients in a pilot proof-of-concept trial.
Dr. Zahra Kazem-Moussavi of University of Manitoba: investigating the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in treating Alzheimer's disease in a placebo-controlled, randomized, phase IIa clinical trial.
Dr. Stephen Pasternak of St. Joseph's Healthcare Foundation: investigating whether ambroxol, a cough medicine, can reduce Parkinson's disease dementia in a placebo-controlled, randomized phase IIa trial.
Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto of Douglas Hospital Research Centre: testing in a first-in-human trial the safety and efficacy of a new drug that can potentially cross the blood brain barrier and promote amyloid clearance in early Alzheimer's disease patients.
The Rapid Response Program (up to $200,000) provides seed funding for novel projects. This program runs with the quickest granting process to enable researchers to promptly explore high-risk, high-reward ideas and catalyze future projects. Grantees include:

Dr. Gary Armstrong of University of Montreal: tested whether pimozide, a neuroleptic drug, protects synaptic function in animal models of ALS.
Dr. Isabelle Aubert of Sunnybrook Research Institute: tested using MRI-guided focused ultrasound to deliver a potential amyloid-targeting Alzheimer's drug into the brain of mice.
Dr. Mallar Chakravarty of Douglas Hospital Foundation (2 grants): aimed to enhance treatment of AD by identifying those who are more likely to respond deep brain stimulation; and developing biomarkers that can reliably identify people at risk for Alzheimer's disease through minimally-invasive and automated techniques.
Dr. Howard Chertkow of Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research: investigated the use of salivary tau as a biomarker for early Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Pieter Cullis of University of British Columbia: investigated the use of lipid nanoparticles to carry and deliver biologic therapies for ALS and Huntington's disease.
Dr. Mark W. Erwin of Toronto Western Hospital: transplanting neural stem cells non-invasively to the spinal cord in mice as a potential treatment for ALS.
Dr. Susan George of University of Toronto/Dr. Melissa Perreault of University of Guelph: validating GSK-3 as a potential therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Benoit Gosselin of Laval University: developed an innovative wireless device to monitor an animal's real-time responses to drugs which is now commercially available.
Dr. David Kaplan of Hospital for Sick Children: tested two anti-cancer drugs, bosutinib and ponatinib, to determine if they can be repurposed to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Iva Kulic of University of British Columbia: validating P2X7 as a therapeutic target to treat Alzheimer's diseases.
Dr. Daniel Levesque of University of Montreal: performing a high-throughput screen to identify compounds that target Nurr1/RXR as potential therapeutics for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Joanne McLaurin of Sunnybrook Research Institute: testing a combined stem cell transplant and Abeta lowering therapeutic intervention in a mouse model to treat vascular contributions to Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Romina Mizrahi of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: tested a novel PET ligand (FEPPA) for neuroinflammation as a biomarker for mild cognitive impairment.
Dr. David Park of University of Ottawa: validated two proteins involved in immune system function, LRRK2-WAVE2, as a therapeutic target in Parkinson's.
Dr. Tarek Rajji of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: conducting non-invasive magnetic brain stimulation in patients with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory.
Dr. Jerome Robert of University of British Columbia: developing bioengineered 3D human brain cell models that could accelerate therapeutic development by serving as an intermediary drug testing platform between animal testing and human clinical trials.
Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva of University of Toronto (2 grants): developed a novel method to analyze the methylation status of C9orf72 repeat expansions with the goal of developing biomarkers for ALS and FTD.
Dr. Antonio Strafella of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: tested a novel PET ligand (FEPPA) for neuroinflammation as a biomarker for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Peter Stys of University of Calgary: developing a simple and inexpensive blood test for routine screening for early detection of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Anurag Tandon of University of Toronto: using ultrasound to deliver an immunotherapeutic to clear alpha-synuclein as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Carmela Tartaglia of University Health Network: testing a novel tau-binding PET imaging tracer to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired CFL athletes and to differentiate them from Alzheimer's disease patients.
Dr. Julianna Tomlinson of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: developing a new mouse model to speed up the development of treatments for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Beibei Zhao of University of British Columbia: testing the efficacy of a potential therapeutic vaccine for ALS in preclinical studies.
The Transformational Research Program (up to $1.5m) supports high-potential, larger, longer projects with excellent preliminary data. Grantees include:

Dr. Mitchell Albert of Lakehead University: testing Xenon as a new MRI imaging agent to increase the image contrast of brain scans.
Dr. Isabelle Aubert of Sunnybrook Research Institute: combining MRI-guided focused ultrasound technology with gene therapy to reduce amyloid build-up and prevent degeneration in Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Steffany Bennett of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: identifying how a family of fats (sphingolipids) can be used as biomarkers to map disease progression in Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.
Dr. Francois Gros-Louis of Laval University: identifying biomarkers for ALS from patient skin biopsies.
Dr. Philippe Huot of University of Montreal: leveraging new drug combinations to alleviate Parkinson's disease-related psychosis and dyskinesia.
Dr. Kullervo Hynynen of Sunnybrook Research Institute: developing a focused ultrasound helmet to transiently open the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs to the brain.
Dr. Haakon Nygaard of University of British Columbia: Testing novel compounds that can restore the production of normal progranulin protein as a potential therapy for frontotemporal dementia.
Dr. David Park of University of Ottawa: validated the Pink-Letm1 and the mitochondria-calcium pathway as a therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Marco Prado of University of Western Ontario: developing an automated, touch screen based rodent attention and memory test to enable higher throughput drug testing.
Dr. Elizabeth Simpson of University of British Columbia: developing promoters that enable delivery of gene therapy to specific neurons and brain regions for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Dr. A. Jon Stoessl of University of British Columbia: imaging tau accumulation to develop a new diagnostic tool to differentiate between Parkinson's disease and similar diseases.
Dr. Jacques Tremblay of Laval University: developing a gene editing system to correct the disease form of the amyloid gene to treat Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Jackalina Van Kampen of University of Prince Edward Island: characterizing a new mouse model of Parkinson's disease, to be used as a tool for screening disease-modifying therapies.
Dr. Cheryl Wellington of University of British Columbia: modelling traumatic brain injury in mice to develop a biobank of samples of prodromal Alzheimer's disease.
Targeted programs provide support for outstanding translational research in ALS, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Given these diseases share related pathologies, work here is likely to advance research in other neurodegenerative diseases of aging. Grantees include:

Dr. Blair Leavitt of University of British Columbia: developing a new mouse model to investigate therapeutics targeting progranulin for the treatment of FTD.
Dr. Yingfu Li of McMaster University: developing a new technique to identify biomarkers for earlier detection of ALS.
Dr. Mario Masellis of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: identifying genomic and neuro imaging biomarkers using patient data from the GENetic Frontotemporal dementia initiative (GENFI) program.
Dr. Christopher Pearson of Hospital for Sick Children: stabilizing C9orf72 gene repeat expansion by modulating activity of DNA repair proteins as a potential therapeutic for ALS and FTD.
Dr. Janice Robertson of University of Toronto: using computer and mouse models to identify new drug candidates targeting misfolded proteins in ALS.
Dr. Donald Weaver of University Health Network: synthesizing small molecules that can prevent the misfolding of tau protein to treat PSP and FTD.
About the Weston Brain Institute
The Weston Brain Institute is Canada's largest privately funded national initiative aimed at accelerating breakthrough discoveries for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and frontotemporal dementia. The Institute directly supports world-class neuroscience research and focuses on high-risk, high-reward projects, independent of commercial potential, that address the existing translational gap in neurodegenerative research using an innovative fast-track granting model. The Institute is supported by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation in Canada and the United States, and the Selfridges Group Foundation in the rest of the world.

Canadian collaboration to accelerate development of cancer treatments

An innovative collaboration between government, industry, and academia aims to accelerate the development of cancer treatments in Canada. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Toronto-based Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB) have put in place over $1M in collaborative agreements over the past year to produce and test therapeutic antibodies discovered at the University of Toronto (U of T).

Cancer treatment is evolving rapidly toward more effective molecules, including single-domain and bi-specific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, and immunotherapy. These medicines, also called biologics, are able to specifically target cancer cells and in some cases, recruit the body's immune system to help destroy them.

CCAB is a business development and commercialization engine whose mission is to translate UofT's large portfolio of early stage biologics into high-value assets and products. To this purpose, CCAB has partnered with NRC to biomanufacture and test hundreds of antibodies.

Roman Szumski, Vice-president of Life Sciences, NRC said, "It is very gratifying to deploy NRC's biologics expertise, which is over 20 years in the making, to projects that may revolutionize the treatment of cancer. We are thrilled to be working with the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics on accelerating the development of innovative medicines, to improve health outcomes for Canadians."

The collaboration continues to grow and now leverages NRC's three programs in Human Health Therapeutics:

Biologics and Biomanufacturing: producing biologics, testing their ability to fight solid tumours, and determining their biomanufacturability;
Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers: determining if specific antibodies are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, target and fight brain cancer;
Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics: determining if specific antibodies are able to modulate the immune system so that it finds and destroys cancer cells.

The goal of the collaboration is to identify the most promising antibodies, and increase their value by generating data that effectively de-risks each asset. CCAB's objective is to then licence lead antibody candidates to seed newly formed Canadian biotechnology companies. These new Canadian start-ups will, in turn, advance these molecules toward clinical trials in patients. With several biotechnology companies already participating and benefitting from these programs, the collaboration between CCAB and NRC is clearly set to catalyze the country's biotech sector and generate promising new cancer treatments for Canadians.

Truth or Myth? Global Survey for World Oral Health Day Exposes the Truth About our Oral Health Habits

Today on World Oral Health Day, FDI World Dental Federation is myth busting what people around the world believe to be good oral health practices, encouraging them to become better informed and take action. Oral health is integral to our general health and well-being, impacting every aspect of our lives.

To view the Multimedia News Release, please click:


The results from a survey carried out in 12 countries, by YouGov on behalf of FDI, exposed a significant gap between what people believe to be good oral health practices, versus what they actually do. Eight of the countries reported that 50 percent or more of the people surveyed think it is important to brush your teeth straight after every main meal. Brazil, Mexico, Egypt and Poland were the worst offenders of this incorrect oral health practice (84%, 81%, 62% and 60% respectively). FDI recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth to avoid weakening tooth enamel.

"These survey results highlight an alarming discrepancy between knowledge and actual good oral health practices," said Dr Patrick Hescot, FDI President. "We want everyone to take control of their oral health this World Oral Health Day and understand that by adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up, they can help protect their mouths. A healthy mouth allows us to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease. Good oral health matters and translates to a better quality of life."

The majority of countries surveyed incorrectly believe that rinsing the mouth out with water after brushing is important; Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India and Canada were found to practice this myth the most (77%, 75%, 73%, 67% and 67% respectively). It is actually recommended not to rinse with water straight after brushing to allow maximum exposure to fluoride, which will optimize the preventative effects.

Nearly half the population surveyed in India, South Africa, Brazil and Poland (52%, 49%, 48% and 42% respectively) felt that drinking fruit juice rather than fizzy drinks was important for good oral health. Fruit juice however, can also be high in sugar which can cause tooth decay. FDI recommends keeping consumption of sugary drinks to a minimum as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair, stated, "Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life, will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease."

Other key findings on oral health practices include:

77 percent of people surveyed agreed that visiting a dentist once per year is good oral health practice, but only 52 percent actually tend to do it
Only 28 percent of respondents identified drinking alcohol in moderation as important for good oral health 


Open 200 permanent beds at Ottawa hospitals to deal with critical bed shortage​​

 With patients in hallways and offices, and occupancy levels at Ottawa hospitals consistently at 100 per cent and some days spiking upwards of 120 per cent, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) today called on the province to open at least 200 fully-funded and permanent beds at hospitals, Ottawa-wide. The beds are needed to recover capacity, ensure patient safety and alleviate the now constant strain from insufficient beds at area hospitals.

It's the Liberal government's fixation with a policy of few beds, few staff, very high bed occupancy and too low funding, that's causing serious capacity problems at Ottawa hospitals, OCHU president Michael Hurley says.

Overcrowding and a critical shortage of hospital beds that comes with this Liberal policy, "should not be accepted as the new normal," Hurley stresses. "We should not pretend that this overcapacity is a symptom of a virulent flu season. The issue is that too many beds and staff have been cut while the population has grown and gotten older. There is absolutely no surge capacity in the system and hospital staff from nurses to cleaners are working at an exhausting pace, because they have too many patients to care for."

Data shows that Ontario has the fewest hospital beds of any province in Canada and the fewest staff for those beds. Data shows hospitals in the other provinces are funded at 25 per cent more than Ontario hospitals. Over 18,000 beds have been closed in Ontario over the last few decades despite a growing and ageing population. The result is that, like in Ottawa, many Ontario hospitals are reeling from high bed occupancy rates and in many cases are overcapacity for long periods of time with ad hoc patient beds being put in tub rooms, solariums, offices and emergency department hallways.

One Ottawa hospital is cancelling surgeries and another is asking people, some of who could be very sick to self-diagnose and opt to stay home. In what can only be described as an immense tragedy, a mentally ill inmate was on a waiting list for a bed at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre when he hanged himself earlier this month, in his Ottawa jail cell.

"Ottawa's Liberal MPPs know full-well their government's policy to downsize hospitals is causing harm. It's incumbent on them to act and restore at least 200 permanent beds at Ottawa hospitals," says Hurley.

There are roughly 2000 patient beds between Ottawa's hospitals (Royal Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital, Bruyere, Queensway-Carleton, Montfort and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Adding 200 permanent beds (about 10 per cent more beds) would bring the hospitals' bed capacity to 2200. A level high enough to deal with the surge in patients.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) maintains in their 2017 pre-budget submission to government that hospitals have made $4.5 billion in budget cuts on behalf of the province. The OHA says the average occupancy has grown to more than 92 per cent at Ontario's hospitals. Studies show that bed occupancies upwards of 85 per cent are associated with greater risks for patients including higher risk of infection. Overcrowding also creates problems handling both emergency and elective admissions.

"Continuing to run our hospital system with no spare bed capacity, indeed at most times, over 100 per cent full, is the opposite of the 'first do no harm' principle that our health system is based on. Experts say capacity over 85 per cent is dangerous. How can patient safety be assured when hospitals are too full, and at between 100 and 120 per cent capacity?" Hurley asks.

Ontario's Financial Accountability Office estimates health care needs about a 5.3 per cent annual increase to meet basic costs, driven higher than inflation by drugs and medical technologies. OCHU is calling for at least a 5 per cent provincial funding increase for hospitals in 2017.

Canadian Blood Services seeks new Board Directors from anywhere in Canada

Five new Board Directors needed - apply by April 21, 2017

 As a result of routine term expirations, Canadian Blood Services now needs five new Board Directors. We invite applications from Canadian citizens from across the country.

The Board of Directors

The Board comprises thirteen members, including the Chair, four Regional Nominees, two Consumer Nominees who have knowledge or experience with consumers of blood or blood products, and six General Nominees who have backgrounds in business, scientific, medical, technical and public health domains. The four Regional Nominees are appointed directly by the Ministers of Health for the provinces and territories of the relevant regions (except Quebec) and are not the subject of this call for Directors.

Available positions

The following five Board positions are scheduled for election in the fall of 2017:

Chair of the Board - Individuals interested in this position must have experience in the role of Chair, preferably with a significant, complex organization.
Consumer Nominee - In addition to Board member responsibilities, the incumbent will be responsible for co-chairing the National Liaison Committee -- a Board advisory committee composed of stakeholders from across the country.

General Nominees (three positions) - Individuals with business, scientific, medical, technical or public health backgrounds are invited. Ideally, candidates with business backgrounds bring senior executive experience, such as that of CEO of a large manufacturing and physical distribution company, and may also have a CPA designation. Candidates with scientific, medical, technical or public health backgrounds bring transfusion and transplantation expertise, perhaps in combination with ethics, public health and/or research expertise.

Previous Board experience, preferably with significant not-for-profit organizations, is highly desirable for all five positions.

Directors are elected for four-year terms and receive honorariums. While most meetings are in Ottawa, Directors are required to travel to Board meetings held in various locations across Canada. Individuals interested in these positions must deal with documents electronically and have ready access to the internet to address Board information on a timely basis.


Canadian researchers join international fight against Zika​

 The spread of the Zika virus, which can cause devastating birth defects, has become a pressing public health issue in many countries. To this day, there is no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Health, announced a $3 million investment for Zika research in May 2016. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, today announced the names of the three teams of Canadian scientists who will collaborate with Latin American and Caribbean researchers to study the Zika virus.

Philpott said, "In collaboration with their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean, these Canadian scientists will help answer some of the many outstanding questions we have about the Zika virus, ultimately providing evidence that will inform public health policy and improve how governments respond to outbreaks of the virus."

Dr. Tom Hobman, from the University of Alberta, and his team will study how the Zika virus changes host cells during infection, with the goal of developing anti-viral therapies that can be used against the virus.

Dr. Keith Pardee, from the University of Toronto, and his team will test a new, low-cost tool to rapidly detect the presence of Zika virus in patients' bodily fluids. The new diagnostic tool is designed to be used in remote, under-resourced locations and will be field tested in Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia. Current tests to diagnose Zika virus are time consuming and prone to false positives due to the possibility of a patient's prior infection with other flaviviruses such as dengue.

Dr. Beate Sander, from Public Health Ontario, and her team will conduct field studies in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador to better understand how the virus is spread from mosquitoes to humans, predict which areas in the region are most at risk and use computer simulations to assess the most effective intervention methods, including mosquito control measures and vaccine development.

Together, the international teams will create new knowledge to help develop diagnostics for Zika virus infection, understand the pathology caused by the virus, and ultimately prevent its transmission and morbidity.

To date, there have been 481 cases of Zika virus detected in Canada, most of which have been travel related, although the virus can also be transmitted from mother to fetus and sexually transmitted. There are currently no cures for Zika virus infections or vaccines available against the virus. Zika is linked to severe birth defects, like microcephaly, and neurological disorders including Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition in which the body's immune system attacks its nervous system.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy avoid travel to countries or areas in the United States, like Florida, with reported mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Mental Health Commission of Canada Releases Implementation Findings on National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the findings of its three-year Case Study Research Project that tracked 40 Canadian organizations from various industries and sectors as they successfully implemented the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard).

A global first, the Standard is a "made-in-Canada" set of guidelines, tools and resources to help employers promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work.

The Case Study Research Project findings identify promising practices and lessons learned from these organizations, representing 250,000 employees, which implemented the Standard in 2014.

Key findings include:

Ninety-one per cent of the organizations implemented the Standard because it is "the right thing to do". Other reasons included "to protect the psychological health of employees" (84%) and "increase employee engagement" (72%).
Seventy-eight per cent implemented respectful workplace policies and educational initiatives.
Seventy per cent provided early intervention through employee and family assistance programs and services addressing mental health.
Sixty-six per cent enhanced awareness of mental health among employees.
Participating organizations achieved on average 72 per cent compliance with the five elements (commitment and policy, planning, implementation, evaluation and corrective action, management review) in the Standard, a remarkable improvement from 55 per cent compliance at the baseline stage.
In Canada alone, mental health problems and illnesses account for more than one third of disability claims and two-thirds of disability costs. A recent Ipsos poll found the Standard could be a contributing factor to the overall improvement in the psychological health and safety of Canadian workplaces. For example, employees living with depression who work in an organization using the Standard are missing five fewer days each year from work, according to the survey.

"Today, we aren't just saying mental health at work matters," says Michael Wilson, MHCC Board Chair. "We see the results from 40 dedicated organizations from across Canada who rolled up their sleeves and led by example. They have helped put mental health and wellness at the heart of their organizations. Through their efforts a shift is happening on Bay Street and on Main Street. From small, independently owned businesses to the telecommunications giant Bell Canada, we now have a blueprint for successful implementation of the world's first workplace psychological health and safety standard."

"No workplace is immune from mental health challenges, and now no workplace is without the resources to address them," says Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. "The Standard gives every employer the opportunity to examine their mental wellness efforts and the tools they need to improve."

The Case Study Research Project was led by the MHCC with funding support from Lundbeck Canada Inc., Great-West Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnership Program-Disability Component.

CannaConnect Opens First Medical Cannabis Clinic in Toronto's Downtown Core

CannaConnect, Canada's leader in connecting Canadians with their medical cannabis needs, has opened downtown Toronto's first medical cannabis education centre and clinic. Located at 120 Adelaide St. West, people working and living in the area will now have access to one of Canada's premier medical cannabis facilities.

For a free consultation, please contact a CannaConnect representative at info@cannaconnect.ca or call 647-362-7320 toll-free at 888-779-8462.

There are a lot of professionals in Toronto who suffer from ailments such as anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation but due to a lack of proper education they may be suffering needlessly out of fear that they are doing something illegal or that by self-medicating they are unsure of what they are getting. "We want to get the word out that CannaConnect is here to help and that our licensed suppliers maintain the highest level of standards of quality control," said CannaConnect CEO, Lee Grossman.

The use of medical cannabis as a treatment is carefully regulated in Canada. In order to qualify with CannaConnect, a patient must simply provide a medical document such as a doctor visitation note or symptom report indicating that they have seen a Canadian-licensed physician regarding their condition. In accordance with Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), CannaConnect specializes in connecting patients suffering from legitimate medical conditions to a trusted network of physicians/medical professionals and licensed cannabis producers.

"Given the recent media reports on raids of illegal marijuana dispensaries, the opening of our facility downtown Toronto couldn't come at a better time," said Mr. Grossman. "We offer people a legal alternative to getting access to treatment for their existing medical conditions."

CannaConnect's office is located at 120 Adelaide St West, Suite 2500


Dietary kit reduces baby blues, a precursor to postpartum depression​

A dietary supplement kit, created to counter mood-altering brain changes linked to depression, virtually eliminated the "baby blues" among women in a new study at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Postpartum blues are common among women after giving birth. However, when severe, they substantially increase the risk of clinically diagnosed postpartum depression, which affects 13 per cent of new mothers and is the most common complication of child-bearing.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was led by Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, who heads the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

"Developing successful nutrition-based treatments, based on neurobiology, is rare in psychiatry," says Dr. Meyer, who holds a Canada Research Chair in the Neurochemistry of Major Depression. "We believe our approach also represents a promising new avenue for creating other new dietary supplements for medicinal use."

The nutritional kit consists of three supplements. They were carefully selected to compensate for a surge in the brain protein MAO-A, which occurs in the early postpartum phase, and which also resembles a brain change that persists for longer periods in clinical depression. Both findings were discovered in previous brain imaging studies by Dr. Meyer's group.

MAO-A breaks down three brain chemicals that help maintain mood: serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. When these chemicals are depleted, it can lead to feelings of sadness. MAO-A levels peak five days after giving birth, the same time when postpartum blues are most pronounced.

The kit includes tryptophan and tyrosine, which compensate for the loss of the three mood-regulating chemicals, as well as a blueberry extract with blueberry juice for anti-oxidant effects. Dr. Meyer's team had also tested and confirmed that the tryptophan and tyrosine supplements, given in higher amounts than people would normally get in their diet, did not affect the overall concentrations in breast milk.

The current study, administered by research fellow Dr. Yekta Dowlati, included 21 women who received the supplements and a comparison group of 20 mothers who did not. It was an open-label study, meaning the women knew they were receiving nutritional supplements. The supplements were taken over three days, starting on the third day after giving birth.

On day five after giving birth – when the baby blues peak – the women underwent tests to assess the kit's effect on mood. The testing included sad mood induction, which measured the ability to be resilient against sad events. The women read and reflected on statements with sentiments that expressed pessimism, dissatisfaction and lethargy, and then listened to a sad piece of classical music. Before and after this test, researchers measured depressive symptoms.

The results were dramatic. Women who were not taking the supplements had a significant increase in depression scores. In contrast, women taking the dietary supplements did not experience any depressed mood.

"We believe this is the first study to show such a strong, beneficial effect of an intervention in reducing the baby blues at a time when postpartum sadness peaks," says Dr. Meyer. "Postpartum blues are common and usually resolves 10 days after giving birth, but when they are intense, the risk of postpartum depression increases four-fold."

The results support further research to replicate the effects in a larger sample in a randomized, controlled trial, and further assess the kit's ability to reduce both the postpartum blues as well as clinically diagnosed postpartum depression.

Since severe postpartum blues significantly heighten the risk of postpartum depression, this supplement kit is anticipated to be an integral part of a dietary supplement regimen that health-care providers could one day recommend widely to prevent postpartum depression, the researchers say.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world-leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter. 

Fraser Institute News Release: Health-care spending more than doubled since 2001; projected to keep growing

Health-care spending by provincial governments has increased by 116 per cent since 2001, and even though increases have slowed recently, health care is projected to consume an even larger portion of program spending over the next 15 years, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Following more than a decade of marked health-care spending increases, Canadians may wonder why historically long wait times and a lack of access to doctors and life-saving equipment remain staples of Canadian health care," said Bacchus Barua, senior economist for health-care studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Sustainability of Health Care Spending in Canada, 2017.

The study finds that from 2001 to 2016, health-care spending increased across Canada by 116.4 per cent.

In Alberta, which had the largest increase over the 15-year period, health-care spending grew by a staggering 191 per cent -- almost doubling GDP growth -- followed by Saskatchewan (137 per cent), Manitoba (123 per cent) and Ontario (114 per cent).
By 2031, the study estimates health-care spending will consume 42.6 per cent of all provincial program spending (on average), up from 40.1 per cent in 2016 and 37.6 per cent in 2001.

In fact, over the next 15 years, four provinces are expected to eclipse the 45 per cent mark -- British Columbia (47.2), P.E.I. (47.1), Ontario (45.4) and Nova Scotia (45.3).

And when measured relative to the size of the economy, health-care spending is also on the rise. While provincial health-care spending (in total) represented only about 6.0 per cent of Canada's GDP in 2001, it is projected to grow to 9.3 per cent by 2031.

"As health-care spending continues to grow, and consume a larger share of provincial program spending and the economy, there's either less money available for other important priorities or governments may have to raise taxes and/or run deficits to cover the increasing costs," Barua said.

$3.5 Million to make smoking cessation more affordable for Ontarians

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in collaboration with Lakehead University's Moving on to Being Free program, has been awarded $3.5 million to implement a new and innovative program that seeks to deliver payment cards ("Quit Cards") to over 7,500 smokers throughout Ontario and increase capacity to enhance smoking cessation program delivery to priority patient populations.

The program, powered by the Ottawa Heart Institute's Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), aims to improve access to quit smoking medications by offering Quit Cards to hospitalized smokers, which can be used like a gift card at any Ontario pharmacy to purchase up to $450 worth of nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., nicotine patches, gum, inhaler, lozenge and spray). The Quit Cards will be distributed to patients until March 31, 2017 and must be redeemed for nicotine replacement therapy by April 30, 2017. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

"Many smokers identify the cost of smoking cessation medications as a main barrier to quitting," said Kerri-Anne Mullen, Program Manager for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation Network. "In the past, easy access to no-cost smoking cessation medication on discharge has been limited for participants of hospital-initiated smoking cessation programs in Ontario."

Quit Cards will be distributed to nearly 80 healthcare sites that are part of the OMSC or Lakehead University provider networks and the program will evaluate one and six months smoking abstinence rates among participants.

Patients who receive a Quit Card from a health professional during an initial smoking cessation consultation at a participating hospital or clinic will be enrolled in follow-up support and can access smoking cessation counselling after discharge.

"This important new program helps us offer an effective tool to our patients who smoke that will ultimately increase their chances of becoming smoke-free," says Patricia Smith, Lead for Lakehead University's Moving on to Being Free program. "Quitting smoking can add years to a smoker's life and can prevent the onset or progression of serious chronic illnesses, which is why smoking cessation is the most important intervention we can offer to any patient who smokes."

Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer: Pharmacists Help Address the Opioid Public Health Crisis in Canada

During Pharmacist Awareness Month, I am highlighting the important contribution of pharmacists to addressing the opioid public health crisis.

Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Concern is growing about the impact of this crisis on Canadian youth.

There has been a significant increase in the number of opioid overdoses and an acute rise in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in several provinces in Canada. Both illegally manufactured and prescribed opioids are being sold on the street. Some people have become addicted as a result of over-prescription and have turned to street drugs to manage their addiction. Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. Unfortunately, drug addiction often carries stigma, which in itself can be a serious barrier to care.

Pharmacists are often the first healthcare providers to notice a prescription drug problem in a patient, or over-prescribing by physicians. Pharmacists are a knowledgeable and accessible resource — they provide information about proper use of prescription opioids, and offer services such as taking back old or unused medications and disposing of them safely. Their work helps to prevent opioid misuse, overdoses and deaths from overdose.

I encourage all Canadians to learn about the health risks associated with the use of opioids, the signs and symptoms of a possible overdose, and how to help themselves and those around them who may be using these drugs. Knowing more means you can help prevent opioid misuse and addiction, and potentially save a life.

Use medication properly

Your pharmacist can answer your questions about the risks of drugs, their proper use and alternatives.
Use prescribed opioids exactly as directed. Prescribed painkillers can be dangerous if they are taken incorrectly or misused. Taking opioid medication also comes with a risk of developing an addiction.
Use painkillers only if you absolutely need to.
Keep prescription medication out of the wrong hands

Pharmacies will take back your old and unused medications and dispose of them safely.
Keep your prescription medication safe and secure to prevent medication such as opioids from ending up on the street.
Keep your medication out of the reach of children to avoid serious harm or death.
Don't throw medication in the garbage or flush it down the toilet.
Learn how to administer naloxone

Naloxone is a drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid medications. If you or someone you know is at risk for possible overdose, get a naloxone kit. Naloxone kits are available without a prescription at pharmacies, certain walk-in clinics, community health units and some local non-governmental organizations.
Your pharmacist can provide guidance on the appropriate and safe use and administration of naloxone. The Canadian Pharmacists Association has developed a short video that demonstrates how to administer naloxone.
Learn about drug use

Youth need accurate information to understand the harms and consequences of drug use. Knowing how to address stress and troubled relationships can also help.
Parents may be interested in the guide Talking with teenagers about drugs.
Physicians are encouraged to not over-prescribe opioids as pain medication.
Recognize the symptoms of an overdose

An opioid overdose can be identified by a combination of:
slow or weak breathing;
dizziness, confusion, drowsiness;
cold and clammy skin;
pinpoint (very small) pupils; and
collapse and coma.
Know what to do if you witness someone experiencing an overdose

If you think you are witnessing someone experiencing an overdose:
Call 911 and follow their directions.
If you have a naloxone kit, use it.
Stay with the person until help arrives.
For more information, visit Canada.ca/opioids.  


New Ottawa-Ontario health deal fails patient care: OPSEU​

 Friday's announcement that the federal government and Queen's Park have reached agreement on a new, 10-year funding formula for health care spending is a blow to patient care and opens the door to greater privatization of health services, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said.

"This agreement falls well short of the principles that hold together our publicly-funded health care system, " said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Based on the numbers released, Ontario will fall behind in meeting demand which will further weaken our publicly-funded Medicare and open the door to greater privatization of health care services.

"The only winners in this deal are the privateers who are plundering our public health care system through privatization of hospital services and long-term care facilities," he said.

In today's announcement, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott pledged Ontario would receive $4.2 billion in transfers from Ottawa over the next 10 years – an increase of about three per cent over the previous health care accord, and about half the amount that health care advocacy groups have been calling for. Additionally $2.3 billion has been earmarked for home care and $1.9 billion for mental health initiatives.

Unlike the previous 10-year health care accord where Ottawa negotiated with the all 10 provinces as a group, this time the Trudeau government walked away from the table in December, 2016, and said it would negotiate one-off deals with each province – a tactic that OPSEU told parliamentarians three months ago was certain to harm patient care.

OPSEU Executive Board Member Sara Labelle, who is also Chair of the union's hospital professionals division, said the deal announced today will only widen the inequality gap for patient services and foster a two-tier health system.

"Access to health care should be based on need and not on the size of your wallet," she said. "We will continue to fight for affordable, universal, accessible health care for all. I fear this agreement will serve to widen the inequality that, unfortunately, marks health care in Canada where people with means will access private care, while the vast majority will be left with an under-funded public system."

Ontario's labour minister called on to end savage assaults on health care staff​

Savage assaults by patients and patients' families on Ontario nurses, personal support workers and other front line hospital and long-term care staff, have left workers with severe facial injuries, broken bones, brain injuries and in several cases, unable to walk. Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress and psychological damage according to the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE which today issued an open letter to the Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, urging him to show leadership and compassion, and adequately safeguard staff in health care workplaces.

"Every day countless hospital and long-term care staff are physically and sexually assaulted at work. When people speak up about this problem they are threatened and, in one recent case, fired. The provincial government is guilty of exposing healthcare staff to harm, turning its back on their beatings and of conspiring with employers and the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to deny them compensation when they are injured. A health care workplace that is unsafe for its staff is also unsafe for the public we care for," says OCHU's president, Michael Hurley.

Since a nursing conference focused on workplace violence in January 2016, OCHU has documented incident after incident of abuse, threats, assaults and sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, within the health care sector. The most recent assault was an attack with a weapon on a hospital worker in Cornwall last month.

The minister is being asked to:

Ensure that hospitals and long-term care facilities are adequately and safely staffed;

Reform the WSIB, which has consistently harassed and denied claims for staff disabled by workplace assaults;

Enact "whistle-blower" protection for workers who report or speak up about workplace assaults or of situations in which violence could occur;

Support an amendment to the federal criminal code criminalizing assault on a healthcare worker;

Ensure that all acts of violence are properly reported and investigated;

Ensure that every workplace has violence-prevention measures including safeguards such as: adequate security, personal monitors, alarms and flagging of potentially violent patients.

"We were disturbed by the study participants' recounting of how pervasive and even 'normalized' violence has become within the health care facilities we studied", says Dr. James Brophy, co-principal investigator along with Dr. Margaret Keith, both affiliated with the University of Stirling of a recent study of violence against hospital staff in Ontario. "They described an almost universal frustration with the role being played by Ministry of Labour and its failure to address the underlying causes of violence. The WSIB was also roundly condemned for its lack of recognition and assistance for those physically and psychologically harmed."

Among Canadian provinces Ontario is almost at the bottom in funding hospitals and long-term care.

"Underfunding has resulted in cuts, staff shortages and patients and residents waiting longer for all types of care. In healthcare where the majority of workers are women we have to see this issue in its larger context, as another example of tolerated violence against women. It's time to end the dirty little secret of violence in healthcare," says OCHU secretary-treasurer, Sharon Richer.

OCHU is demanding that the province ensure that adequate staffing be put in place and that no health care worker be forced to work alone.

OCHU is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents over 70,000 health care workers Ontario-wide. To read OCHU's complete letter to minister Flynn, please go to ochu.on.ca.


Researchers hone in on when, where Zika virus attacks​​

 The Zika virus attacks tissues in the nervous system, male and female reproductive and urinary tracts, muscles, joints and lymph nodes, and persists for at least 35 days, according to a study conducted in a nonhuman primate model by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon.

The research, published today in Public Library of Science Pathogens, furthers understanding of where and at what precise point in time the virus attacks.

"This study helps us better understand how the virus manifests itself so that scientists can develop therapies and vaccines that could work in humans," says study author Daniel Streblow, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU School of Medicine. "What is different about this research is that we also were able to look at specific points in time to see where the virus grew in the tissues, not just the blood, so we can identify and target the reservoirs where the virus hides."

The study showed the wide – and persistent – distribution of Zika virus in tissues, including neuronal tissues and the female reproductive tract, that may have important implications for the link between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome, sexual transmission of the virus and fetal infection and its consequences, most notably microcephaly.

Researchers examined Zika virus infection in seven nonhuman primates (rhesus macaques) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center from March 2016 to August 2016 using a 2015 Puerto Rican Zika virus isolate. The results complement and extend previous work with a detailed analysis of viral tropism -- the cells and tissues of a host that support growth of a particular virus -- in the infected animals at seven, 28 and 35 days post infection.

"We observed that the Zika virus targets a number of neuronal, lymph, joint, muscle and genital/urinary/reproductive tissues at seven days post infection, accompanied by a rash, fever and conjunctivitis, or pink eye, similar to the clinical symptoms described in human infection," says first author Alec Hirsch, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU School of Medicine.

Researchers note that what was interesting about this study was that the virus remained persistent in the genital/urinary tract, multiple types of lymph nodes, spleen, joints, heart and the male and female reproductive tract at 28 and 35 days post infection.

These findings also correspond to a similar observation of Zika virus RNA in the genital tract of a human female, and may also explain an instance of female-to-male sexual transmission. In male rhesus macaques, researchers were unable to detect viral RNA in the testes, which was somewhat surprising given the reports of male-to-female Zika virus sexual transmission. They were, however, able to detect viral RNA in the prostate and seminal vesicles, which could be a potential reservoir and mode of sexual transmission. Additionally, the presence of virus in the bladder and urine suggests virus seeding into the semen in the urethra may also be a possible route of transmission. The team notes that further intensive study with regard to sexual transmission is needed.

"Our study significantly advances what is known about the growth of the virus in the host during the early stages and through more than a month post infection, aspects of Zika virus infection not examined by previous nonhuman primate studies," says Streblow.

The OHSU scientists who conducted this study came together in response to the outbreak of Zika virus in the Western hemisphere and the need to understand how the virus was attacking the body. The research team quickly grew to a 20-person cross-section of faculty across the university with expertise in reproductive and developmental science, flaviviruses, vaccine development, immunology, perinatology, pediatric neural development, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, placental function, virology and infectious disease.

The research was funded as a pilot project by the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

Cannabis Canada to launch new guidelines and standards to enhance consumer safety and increase transparency​

iCannabis Canada Association, the leading organization of Health Canada Licensed Producers of cannabis, will soon roll out new guidelines and standards aimed at enhancing consumer safety and increasing transparency within the medical cannabis sector in Canada.

Elements of the guidelines and standards will include that Licensed Producer members of the Association must provide, as a requirement of membership, confirmation that their product testing protocols include bacteria, microbial, aflatoxins, heavy metals and pesticides and it is recommended that the results will be published online so these are readily available for consumers.

"Cannabis Canada is committed to working in close collaboration with Health Canada to ensure the safety, efficacy and continuous improvement of the legal medical cannabis industry," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada Association. "Our association has been discussing and working to develop industry-wide guidelines and standards for some time now, so we are in a position to act swiftly to ensure that consumer confidence is restored following recent incidents. The Board of Directors unanimously agreed today that the new standards should be a requirement for 2017-2018 membership. This will be voted on at the April 10th Annual General Meeting.

About Cannabis Canada Association

Cannabis Canada is the leading organization of Canada's Licensed Producers of Medical Cannabis under Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

The Association's mission is to act as the national voice for our members in their promotion of industry standards; support the development, growth and integrity of the regulated cannabis industry; and serve as a trusted resource on issues related to the safe and responsible use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.

Members of Cannabis Canada share a philosophy of both patient-centric care and improved public health, and are committed to product safety and quality, secure and reliable access and the promotion of the safe and effective use of cannabis. For more information, visit www.cann-can.ca.


$1 billion in savings for Canadians with a simple switch from prescription to over-the-counter for heartburn meds, erectile dysfunction meds and birth control pills says new Conference Board of Canada study​

 One billion dollars could be freed up in the Canadian healthcare system and broader economy by switching just three categories of medication from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC). The savings would come from reduced drug costs, fewer doctor visits, and less time spent away from work, according to a new study by the Conference Board of Canada released today.

Total savings in drug costs: $458 million
Total savings in doctor visits: $290 million (6.6 million fewer doctor visits)
Total savings in labour productivity: $290 million
The Conference Board of Canada report looked at three prescription medication categories. One of these, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for the treatment of frequent heartburn/indigestion, has already seen some medicines switched to OTC status in Canada. The other two, oral contraceptives (OCs) and erectile dysfunction (EDs) drugs, are being examined as potential candidates for switch in other countries or have already been switched to OTC status there.

The largest savings estimated in the study was for the prescription to OTC switch of PPIs like Olex® or Nexium®. When available without a prescription, these medicines allow Canadians to quickly access new treatments for the relief of frequent heartburn or indigestion. The total savings for these switches alone was over $700 million annually. The total savings for the modeled OC and ED switches was $220 million and $106 million, respectively.

The study found that less time spent away from work collectively adds a $290 million boost in economic productivity, while fewer doctor visits frees up valuable time to treat more complex patient needs.

"By far the biggest impact from over 6.6 million fewer doctor visits and hundreds of millions of dollars in drug plan savings is to provincial and federal government healthcare budgets," said Karen Proud, President of Consumer Health Products Canada. "At the same time, all Canadians would benefit from easier access to medicine they need and the reduced burden on our strained healthcare system. Allowing people to choose a trip to the pharmacy instead of missing work to see a doctor just makes sense."

While enabling more Canadians to have easier access to family doctors, switching also lowers the cost of treating these conditions for the Canadians who need it most, as OTC medications are more affordable than prescriptions for people without a drug plan or without full drug coverage. However, Canadians with comprehensive drug plans may pay slightly more for the convenience of choosing an OTC medicine over a prescription.

"Canada lags behind countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Australia by six to seven years when it comes to prescription to OTC switches. What the Conference Board of Canada report shows is that this is costing our healthcare system and our economy billions of dollars," said Gerry Harrington, Consumer Health Products Canada's Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs. "It's time for Canadians to have more self-care choices."


One woman's quest to get us to rethink menopause​

 Shirley Weir is celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th with a campaign to get us to rethink a phase of life that affects 100% of women: menopause, or more specifically perimenopause.

She is calling on advertisers, media, and all of us, to discard some of the traditional language commonly associated with menopause as she says the way we think about menopause is ruining our ability to enjoy it.

"We have a tendency to adopt the negative connotations passed onto us either culturally or generationally," says Weir. "And somewhere along the line, we learned that menopause is something that must be feared or fixed."

Weir is the founder of MenopauseChicks.com where she helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. The first thing she likes to do in every conversation, is ensure people are clear on definitions. Menopause is one day—it is the 12 month anniversary of the last menstrual period, and the average age of menopause is 51.2. Weir was 49 when she reached menopause. Perimenopause is the 5-15 year phase of hormone fluctuations leading up to menopause. This means perimenopause can begin as early as 35. Most people are unaware that women can have experiences (Weir doesn't like the term symptoms as it implies disease, which of course, menopause is not) caused by hormone fluctuations while they still have a period. There is very little research on perimenopause, as the term was only coined in the 1990s.

In her own research, whenever Weir says menopause, the first word to come up for many people typically has a negative connotation. Hot, old, tired, moody and fat are examples.

"Rarely does someone say smart, confident or beautiful," says Weir. "I believe that's because we have been over-conditioned with myths and misconceptions. We are so used to seeing the stereotypical image of the grey-haired, stressed-out lady holding a fan; many of us just assume that's an accurate representation of menopause. And it's one that we literally want to run away from, rather than embrace."

Shirley cites three examples:

An Oprah Magazine (September 2016) article titled "Hooray for Hormones!" tells women they can expect to get fat, hot, lose their memories and lose control of their bladders in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

"I looked at the magazine photos and thought: are these the new profile pictures for menopause?" says Weir. "I'm not telling people to unsubscribe—I'm saying speak up! I'm inviting everyone to speak up whenever someone gets the menopause connotation wrong. This is important if we want to create a future where women no longer feel alone; where they feel comfortable talking about perimenopause and menopause and seeking support"

A CBC radio show promised to help women navigate menopause at work. The tips included: i) dress in layers and ii) get a small fan for your desk.

"This is incredibly insulting and unhelpful," states Weir. "We are smart women. We don't need to be told to dress in layers! We do need compassionate and flexible workspaces though. And education, conversation and a place where both men and women can learn about this these life phases."

Up until recently, the Sigma Canadian Menopause Society (a physician & health care professional group) had one picture in its "consumer" section to illustrate menopause and it was a photo of an 80-something year old woman in a wheelchair being comforted by a nurse. Weir called SIGMA to explain how the picture misrepresented midlife women, and the society replaced the photo the next day. The organization still refused to include the word perimenopause in its literature, to which Weir says is indicative of how complex and confusing the menopause topic is, and how far we still have to go in redefining perimenopause and menopause. This is especially true if medical professionals can't yet agree on what to call one of life's most natural phases.

About Menopause Chicks:
MenopauseChicks.com helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. Founder, Shirley Weir is on a mission to connect women to unbiased information, to midlife health professionals—and to each other, through her private online community. As a women's health advocate, Shirley is reframing the menopause conversation from something that has been traditionally viewed as negative, into a milestone worthy of celebration. A well-regarded speaker and writer, Shirley hosted the first-ever "menopause graduation party" in 2016 and was a speaker at TedXGastown Women. Shirley is a 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction nominee and a GroYourBiz fellowship recipient.

Facebook: /MenopauseChicks
Private Online Community: www.facebook.com/groups/MenopauseChicks
Twitter: @MenopauseChicks
Instagram: @MenopauseChicks

Open Letter - Health Ministers Urged to Use New Mental Health Commission of Canada Report to Guide Smart Spending on Mental Health​

The Hon. Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health
The Hon. Brandy Payne, Alberta Associate Minister of Health
The Hon. Terry Lake, British Columbia Minister of Health
The Hon. Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living
The Hon. Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health and Community Services
The Hon. Glen Abernethy, Northwest Territories Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia Minister of Health
The Hon. George Hickes, Nunavut Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health
The Hon. Robert Henderson, Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Wellness
The Hon. Dr. Gaétan Barrette, Québec Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan Minister of Health
The Hon. Pauline Frost, Yukon Minister of Health and Social Services

Dear Ministers of Health,

We are encouraged by the unique opportunity offered by the Health Accord process and the federal commitment to increase investments in the mental health system for the first time in decades. Prioritizing the mental "wealth" of people in Canada will help us tackle the growing $50 billion dollar economic cost of mental health problems and illnesses.

A new report released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) underscores that making wise investments in evidence-based treatments will help all levels of government improve mental health outcomes, while saving taxpayers' dollars.

Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada's Mental Health System: Economic Considerations refreshes and updates the work published by the MHCC in 2013, which laid out the compelling economic argument for investing in mental health. Now, the MHCC has gone one step further by examining where investments have the greatest impact, and therefore, provide governments with the strongest likelihood of recouping their spending down the road.

The examples highlighted in Strengthening the Case aren't inflexible or prescriptive. Rather, they point to the kinds of effective spending that can be tailored to the needs of specific populations, spanning prevention, promotion and community-based services. The strategic investment of new money allocated to mental health can translate to savings across the lifespan. This is because many mental health problems and illnesses begin in childhood, when they are mild to moderate in nature, requiring relatively low cost interventions that pay off in the longer term.

By way of example, Ontario's Better Beginnings Better Futures Program saves the healthcare system nearly 25 percent in publicly funded services per person. These savings come from fewer physician visits and reduced social welfare and education costs. We also know that making psychotherapies more available for a greater number of people can save two dollars in the long term for every dollar spent now.

Another means of spending smart is community-based rapid response teams, which can successfully intervene when young people are experiencing suicidal thoughts for half the cost normally incurred by hospitals.

Strengthening the Case is a valuable addition to a growing body of work that supports the implementation of various provincial, territorial and national mental health and addictions strategies. Simple, immediate interventions at the community level can often head-off decades of future spending. In fact, only a tiny percentage of people living with the most serious mental illnesses require highly specialized or intensive care.

Together, we can begin the long-term process, inch by inch, dollar by dollar, of building a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. We can fund services and supports that will help stave off the growing financial cost of mental illness, while investing in better outcomes.

As a former Minister of Finance, and, as my co-author, a former hospital administrator can attest, budgetary decisions should be made with the best intentions and in light of the best available information. It is our hope that this new report will help to inform your decisions, or, in some cases, reaffirm your choices.

Yours in health,

Louise Bradley,

The Honourable Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C
President and CEO,

Mental Health Commission of Canada


Waterloo Public Health Nurses' Employer Looking to Gut Benefits: Strike deadline as early as March 29​

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) public health nurses working at the Region of Waterloo are absolutely insulted by their employer's proposals to gut nurses' benefits.

The 131 ONA members – including Public Health Nurses, Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Specialist Registered Nurses – have been seeking a new contract following the expiration of their previous contract last June 30.

Conciliation talks were held on February 28 but ended after the employer tabled these unacceptable concessions.

"Bargaining has been very different this round versus our past experiences with this employer. After seven days at the bargaining table, these highly skilled professionals are insulted, disrespected, disillusioned, and devalued by this employer," said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Our dedicated nurses work to ensure that the 575,000 residents of the Region of Waterloo remain healthy and well, yet their employer has been absolutely disrespectful. The employer flatly refused to listen to ONA members' counter-proposal, ending talks."

Mediation is scheduled for March 27. Failing resolution, the nurses may be forced on strike as early as March 29.

They provide services that include chronic disease prevention, monitoring, investigating and controlling infectious disease outbreaks – such as influenza, meningitis, measles, tuberculosis – Sexual Health Clinics, provide blood-borne infection testing and monitoring for such diseases as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and B. They provide harm reduction strategies including needle exchange programs that include naloxone training, dispensing and counselling. Public health nurses provide sexual health services in area high schools and youth clinics. Other supports include pregnancy counselling, prenatal support, and support for high-risk families. They run breastfeeding clinics and partner with multiple community agencies.

McKenna says the nurses "also provide visits to new parents so our youngest citizens get a healthy start to life. In short, the work our nurses do is vital to this community."

ONA members will hold an information picket to educate the public. McKenna urges the community to support the valuable nurses of the Region of Waterloo, who do not want to be forced to withdraw their services.

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.     


When caught early, colon cancer is more likely to be treated successfully​ 

​March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging Ontarians to get checked with a safe and painless take-home test. When caught early, nine out of every 10 people with colon cancer can be cured.

Colon cancer (commonly called 'colorectal cancer' or 'bowel cancer') is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. It is estimated that in 2016, approximately 9,900 Ontarians were diagnosed with colon cancer and approximately 3,200 Ontarians died from the disease. Despite this fact, many people are not getting checked – particularly men.

"Many people don't realize that colon cancer may be present in the body for a long time before it causes physical symptoms. The role of screening is to catch the cancer early because it is highly treatable at that stage," says Dr. Catherine Dubé, Clinical Lead, ColonCancerCheck, Cancer Care Ontario. "For people over 50, getting checked regularly can improve their chances of beating colon cancer. Men between the ages of 55 and 65 would particularly benefit from getting checked."

Cancer Care Ontario recommends that men and women at average risk between the ages of 50 and 74 get checked for colon cancer with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is a safe and painless cancer screening test that checks a person's stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer. An abnormal FOBT result does not necessarily mean that a person has colon cancer, but more testing with a colonoscopy is needed to find out why there is blood in their stool.

Research shows that regular screening using an FOBT, for people who are 50 years of age and older, can reduce deaths from colon cancer. If colon cancer is caught after it has spread to other parts of the body, treating it is harder and less likely to be successful. For people whose colon cancer has spread, as few as one out of eight will be cured.

"When it comes to colon cancer, early detection is key," says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Despite being one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in Ontario's men and women, colon cancer is highly treatable when caught early so it is important for Ontarians between the ages of 50 and 74 to get checked regularly."

Colon cancer can develop when growths on the lining of the colon, called polyps, turn into cancer over time. People between 50 and 74 years of age without a parent, brother, sister or child who has been diagnosed with colon cancer are considered to be at average risk for the disease and should get checked every two years with the safe and painless take-home test, called the FOBT.

Some people who have had polyps removed from their colon, as well as people with inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), may be at increased risk for developing colon cancer and may need to be checked regularly with colonoscopy instead of an FOBT.

Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting checked for colon cancer with a take-home FOBT kit. People without a family doctor or nurse practitioner can get a kit through Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213, community pharmacies and mobile screening coaches.

For more information on colon cancer screening in Ontario, visit cancercare.on.ca/colon.


Optimizing care for patients waiting for cardiac surgery

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has launched a new program for all patients waiting for coronary artery bypass surgery or heart valve replacement or repair. The program, called Cardiac PreHab, will help those patients to improve their health before a procedure.

Cardiac rehabilitation, a comprehensive program to get patients healthy again after a heart attack, cardiac surgery or other cardiac events, has been shown to save lives. But the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) now wants to find out if patients waiting for non-emergency heart surgery could start improving their health before their procedure, and if this could make their recovery easier and improve their outcomes after surgery.

Portions of the new program have been in place for a while: patients waiting for outpatient procedures who come in for pre-admission appointments have long been connected with services such as smoking cessation, physiotherapy or social work on an ad hoc basis. But the PreHab program now aims to standardize these assessments and referrals, and to make them as comprehensive as possible for all patients waiting for outpatient surgery.

"Rather than letting the waiting period for a procedure be one of inactivity and anxiety, PreHab can use that time to help patients become as ready as possible for their procedure," said Heather Sherrard, Executive Vice President of Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Officer at the Heart Institute. "They may need to quit smoking, their diabetes may need to be better managed, they may be able to improve their diet or level of exercise. The PreHab program can help with all those issues to get these patients as fit and healthy as they can be."

"Patients have a lot of misconceptions about what they should be doing before surgery," explained Jane Brownrigg, Clinical Manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation. "We talk to patients waiting for surgery who say 'My doctor told me to take it easy,' and they've interpreted that as 'Just sit on the couch'. Many think they should go on a diet, she continues, which can actually cause muscle loss-an unwanted side effect before any procedure."

As patients complete PreHab, data will be gathered to evaluate the program and it will be possible to see if patients who come to PreHab are more likely to also register into cardiac rehab. There is a very high rate of enrollment for rehab at the Heart Institute compared to other centres across the country, but still only a little above half of all eligible patients enroll. Increasing that number is vital as rehab reduces morbidity and mortality rates and this new program may contribute to this improvement.

BELLUS Health and The NEOMED Institute Announce an Exclusive Worldwide License Agreement for the Development of a Treatment for Chronic Cough​​

​BELLUS Health, a biopharmaceutical development company advancing novel therapeutics for conditions with high unmet medical need, and The NEOMED Institute (NEOMED), a not-for-profit organization bridging the gap between basic research and the commercialization of new drugs, today announced that BELLUS Health has obtained an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize BLU-5937 (formerly NEO5937) for the treatment of chronic cough. BLU-5937 is a potent, highly selective, orally bioavailable small molecule antagonist of the P2X3 receptor.

Under the terms of the agreement, BELLUS Health will pay NEOMED an upfront fee of CAD $3.2 million, consisting of CAD $1.7 million in cash and CAD $1.5 million with 5,802,177 BELLUS Health common shares. NEOMED will be entitled to receive a royalty on net sales-based revenues. In lieu of milestone payments, a certain portion of all other revenues received by BELLUS Health from BLU-5937 will be shared with NEOMED according to a pre-established schedule whereby the shared revenue portion decreases as the program progresses in development.

"This transaction adds a potentially best-in-class drug candidate to our pipeline that will be a core focus of our drug development efforts going forward," said Roberto Bellini, President and CEO of BELLUS Health. "BLU-5937 targets a clinically validated target, the P2X3 receptor, in the chronic cough pathway, and based on its high potency and selectivity for the P2X3 receptor, we believe it has the potential to become a superior treatment option for the millions of patients who suffer from chronic cough."

The P2X3 antagonist program was initiated by AstraZeneca scientists in Montreal, and assigned to NEOMED in October 2012. BLU-5937 was selected as a drug candidate to advance towards the clinic based on development efforts and extensive pre-clinical work in chronic cough done at NEOMED.

"I am extremely pleased to announce this collaboration with BELLUS Health to further the development of our P2X3 program which was discovered and developed at our Ville St. Laurent R&D facility. NEOMED's mission is to advance innovative Canadian science programs to the point where they can be successfully progressed by a partner. We have strong confidence in the ability of the scientific and clinical team at BELLUS Health to rapidly and efficiently develop this program for the benefit of providing a new and much needed therapeutic option for these underserved patients," declared Donald Olds, President & CEO of the NEOMED Institute.

Chronic cough is a cough that lasts more than eight weeks and is associated with significant adverse social, psychosocial and physical effects on quality of life. It is estimated that, in the United States alone, more than 2.7 million patients suffer from chronic cough that is not controlled by currently available medications.

Jacky Smith, MB, ChB, MRCP, PhD, Professor and Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, University of Manchester and University Hospital Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, and a leading investigator in the field of chronic cough, said, "Millions of adults suffer from poorly-controlled chronic cough and often experience significant physical, social and psychosocial complications. These complications include sleep deprivation, exhaustion, incontinence, work disruption, social exclusion, anxiety and depression, illustrating this significant unmet medical need. BLU-5937's potency and selectivity for the P2X3 receptor support its promise as an efficacious and safe treatment option for chronic cough patients, with the potential to significantly improve their quality of life."

First diagnostic radiotracer for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease approved in Canada

 Piramal Imaging SA and ISOLOGIC Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals today announce that Health Canada has issued a Notice of Compliance (NOC) to ISOLOGIC Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals for NeuraCeq (florbetaben F18 injection). ISOLOGIC has received marketing authorization from Health Canada for the commercial production and market supply of NeuraCeq in Canada. NeuraCeq is the first diagnostic radiotracer to support the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that is commercially available in the country. NeuraCeq availability in Canada was previously limited to investigational medicine purposes.

"The commercial availability of NeuraCeq will provide physicians throughout Canada a non-invasive method to more confidently and accurately assess complex and atypical cases of cognitively impaired patients for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," said Doctor Jean-Paul Soucy, Medical Director of PET imaging at the Montreal Neurological Institute. "In the absence of an approved disease modifying treatment, advancing our ability to make an early and accurate AD diagnosis is critically important to providing optimal symptomatic treatment and non-pharmacological measures to manage disease progression and quality of life in these patients."

NeuraCeq has previously received approval from the FDA and several countries in EU and Asia, and is a diagnostic radiotracer that when used in combination with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, can identify beta-amyloid plaques in the human brain, which are known as an important biomarker for Alzheimer's disease.

"We are confident that our commitment to providing access to this new diagnostic beta-amyloid radiotracers in Canada will have a significant impact on the management of patients suspected of having Alzheimer's disease," said André Gagnon, President and CEO of ISOLOGIC. "In the context of evidence-based medicine, the introduction of NeuraCeq in the marketplace will offer a new clinical evaluation method for patients, physicians and caregivers alike in the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease. It could potentially help identify more efficacious interventions to help prevent, halt or slow down this terrible disease."

"We are very pleased to bring this very important diagnostic imaging tool to new markets like Canada," said Dr. Ludger Dinkelborg, Director of the Board, Piramal Imaging. "Piramal Imaging is proud to have chosen ISOLOGIC as a partner allowing us to continue our strategic endeavours to provide this important solution to Canadian patients."

 Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the publication of an updated edition of its valuable reference, Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, edited by Michel Tibayrenc. This book is aimed at controlling and preventing neglected and emerging worldwide diseases that are a major cause of global morbidity, disability and mortality. Using an integrated approach, the book discusses the constantly evolving field of infectious diseases and their continued impact on the health of populations, especially in resource-limited areas of the world. At the same time, Elsevier announced five additional immunology, virology and microbiology books.

Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Second Edition looks at the worldwide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, increasing antimicrobial resistance, and the emergence of many new bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral pathogens. With contributions from leading authorities, the book includes developments in the field of infectious disease since it was last published in 2010. It demonstrates how the economic, social and political burden of infectious diseases is most evident in developing countries which must confront the dual burden of death and disability due to infectious and chronic illnesses.

Michel Tibayrenc, M.D., Ph.D., has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for more than 35 years. He is a director of research emeritus at the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) Montpellier, France, and the founder and principal organizer of the international congresses MEEGID (molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious diseases). The author of more than 200 international papers, Dr, Tibayrenc has been the head of the unit of research "genetics and evolution of infectious diseases" at the IRD research center for 20 years. With his collaborator, Jenny Telleria, he is the founder and scientific adviser of the Bolivian Society of Human Genetics. Dr. Tibayrenc has won the prize of the Belgian Society of Tropical Medicine (1985), and the medal of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro (2000), for his work on Chagas disease. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal, "Infection, Genetics and Evolution."
The six new immunology, virology and microbiology titles are:

Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Second Edition by Michel Tibayrenc

Autophagy: Cancer, Other Pathologies, Inflammation, Immunity, Infection, and Aging by M.A. Hayat

American Trypanosomiasis Chagas Disease: One Hundred Years of Research, Second Edition by Jenny Telleria and Michel Tibayrenc

The Digestive Involvement in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, Second Edition by Manuel Ramos-Casals, Munther Khamashta, Pilar Brito-Zeron, Fabiola Atzeni and Joan Rodes

The Heart in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, Second Edition by Fabiola Atzeni, Andrea Dorea, Mike Nurmohamed and Paolo Pauletto

The Innate Immune System: A Compositional and Functional Perspective by Tom Monie

In order to meet content needs in immunology, virology and microbiology, Elsevier uses proprietary tools to identify the gaps in coverage of the topics. Editorial teams strategically fill those gaps with content written by key influencers in the field, giving students, faculty and researchers the content they need to answer challenging questions and improve outcomes. These new books, which will educate the next generation of immunologists and virologists, and provide critical foundational content for information professionals, are key examples of how Elsevier is enabling science to drive innovation.


Government of Canada invests in dementia research about Indigenous Peoples​​

Today, Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $1 million for two research projects that will bring new and culturally-adapted approaches to address the needs of Indigenous peoples living with or at risk of developing dementia. He was joined for the announcement by Marc Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt.

Lefebvre said, "This announcement highlights important health research being conducted right here in Sudbury. I'm pleased to see strong collaboration between communities, caregivers, families and individuals living with dementia."

The new investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will fund the work of top researchers at the Health Sciences North Research Institute and Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Dr. Janet McElhaney received $500,000 to use a community-based approach that will combine Indigenous practices with Western technologies to empower caregivers supporting older Indigenous peoples with dementia.

Dr. Jennifer Walker received $500,000 to develop a Canadian Indigenous Cognitive Assessment Tool for widespread use and to lay a foundation for a national study of dementia in Indigenous populations.

"Investing in projects aimed at advancing our understanding of Indigenous Peoples' health is a priority for CIHR. I'm confident that the grant recipients will develop culturally appropriate diagnostic tools and care models for both rural and urban Indigenous peoples. New data will help target the best health care services," stated Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health.

These projects are part of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy, which supports research on the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, said, "The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health of Indigenous peoples. I commend the outstanding researchers recognized today for taking further action to face the challenge of aging and dementia in First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations." 

Recent Breakthroughs by Endocrinologist André Carpentier - A Novel Look at a Unique Tissue: Brown Adipose Tissue

Up to recently, brown adipose tissue (also known as brown fat) and its impacts on the human body were poorly understood. We long believed that brown adipose tissue was found only in newborns. Now we know that brown fat is present and functional in hibernating mammals, newborns, and even adult humans. And better yet, it could play a useful role in certain weight-control strategies.

Portrait of the new knowledge just recently acquired by the team of Dr. André Carpentier, expert in metabolic molecular imaging.

What is brown fat?

Brown fat is found in the neck, above the collarbone, and near the spine and heart. This adipose tissue is brown because it contains many blood vessels and mitochondria, which are like little furnaces that produce energy from fat and sugar. But how does that happen? Mitochondria of brown fat contain a protein that enables them to generate heat by burning fats directly. Indeed, when the body is exposed to cold, brown fat consumes a significant quantity of energy already stored in its cells as lipid droplets. That is what makes this tissue so unique and critical in fighting the cold.

Dr. André Carpentier, endocrinologist and research professor at the FMSS and the CRCHUS, is an expert in multi-organ metabolic molecular imaging. Molecular imaging makes it possible to locate and display tissues in vivo as well as their functioning and the metabolic interactions between organs.

Exploring a new tissue

André Carpentier and his collaborators have been working on the topic of brown fat for several years. In 2012, his research piqued interest around the world. Indeed, he realized that exposing healthy individuals to cold (18°C) activated their brown-fat furnaces, and that these brown fats harness more than circulating fat and sugar: they literally burn their own fat content.

This research team suspected that brown fat might play an essential role in the process of how body temperature adjusts when an individual is exposed to intense cold, although this had never been demonstrated before.

Demonstrating the physiological role of brown fat in the human body

More recently, André Carpentier's was able to artificially block activation of brown fat when the body was exposed to cold. When this is done, the body tries to defend itself against the cold by increasing shivering! In his study entitled "Inhibition of Intracellular Triglyceride Lipolysis Suppresses Cold-Induced Brown Adipose Tissue Metabolism and Increases Shivering in Humans", his team demonstrated the body's unequivocal reaction: it shivered even more when brown fat activity is abolished. These results were published in Cell Metabolism in Published hard copy in February : Cell Metab. 2017 Feb 7;25(2):438-447

This is the first study to establish directly the physiological role played by brown fat in the human body. Up to now, the only evidence has been indirect observations and correlations.

In fact, through this study in humans, André Carpentier and his research team have demonstrated two things. First, brown fat automatically generates heat from its own fat content, meaning that it uses its fat reserves to keep the body warm. In addition, brown fat has a genuine impact on heat production in the human body. When the body cannot count on using its brown fat to keep warm, it compensates by increasing heat production through muscle action: once brown fat has been neutralized, the body shivers to stay warm.

Published online on January 17, 2017.
Cell Metabolism (www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/home) is a peer-reviewed scientific journal specializing in research on metabolic biology in the fields of cellular biology, molecular biology, physiology, and translational studies. Its 2014 impact factor was 17.565 according to Journal Citation Reports.1

Does brown fat increase energy expenditure?

Still in 2012, André Carpentier cautioned that it would be premature to posit that brown-fat activation could play a role in weight loss or serve as an effective, complementary treatment for obesity or type 2 diabetes. At the time, he had not yet attempted to safely, chronically, and effectively activate brown fat in humans.

Nevertheless, animal models demonstrated that increased metabolic activity of brown fat promoted the breakdown of dietary fat. This, however, had never been tested on human beings. A second study carried out by André Carpentier's research team, whose findings were published in January 2017, made it possible to situate the role of brown fat in humans according to a physiopathological perspective.

For this research study, patients were cold-acclimated at 10°C for two hours a day, five days a week over four weeks.

The research results demonstrated the metabolism of dietary fat by brown fat in the human body. Brown fat, however, only uses 1% of dietary fat, even when activated by cold. This isn't, however, at all disappointing. While it is quite unlikely that brown-fat activation can be used to lower the level of dietary fat circulating after meals, the increased, sustained use of dietary fat could play a role in an integrated strategy to prevent obesity.

The study results have been published in Nature Communications as "Dietary Fatty Acid Metabolism of Brown Adipose Tissue in Cold-Acclimated Men."

Nature Communications (www.nature.com/ncomms) is a bimonthly scientific journal that publishes research articles in all fields of science as communications. Its 2015 impact factor was 11.239 according to Journal Citation Reports.2

Now, effective, safe, and realistic strategies to activate brown fat must be developed with a view to achieving a better energy balance. Indeed, a chronic imbalance of only 50 to 100 kcal per day over years basically accounts for most of the worldwide obesity epidemic. We believe that the safe chronic activation of brown fat could play a role in obesity-prevention strategies and the maintenance of long-term weight loss in obese individuals. Moreover, brown-fat activation could have useful applications in adapting work under extreme cold conditions.
– Dr. André Carpentier

Nature Communications Article : Dietary fatty acid metabolism of brown adipose tissue in cold-acclimated men
Cell Metabolism Article : Inhibition of Intracellular Triglyceride Lipolysis Suppresses Cold-Induced Brown Adipose Tissue Metabolism and Increases Shivering in Humans

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_Metabolism (2015-09-26)
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Communications (2016-12-09)  


Dr. Guislain Museum and Janssen Seek Nominations for 2017 "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award

The Dr. Guislain Museum in Ghent, Belgium and Janssen Research & Development, LLC ("Janssen"), today announced that they are seeking nominations for the sixth annual Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award. The Award honors an individual, project or organization that has made a remarkable contribution to reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Nominations from people and organizations worldwide can be submitted at www.drguislainaward.org until 16 April, 2017. The Award recipient will receive a $50,000 prize to further efforts that reduce societal stigma associated with mental illness.

"We know that people are often reluctant to seek help for mental illness due to the societal stigma," said Brother René Stockman, general director of the Dr. Guislain Museum. "The Dr. Guislain 'Breaking the Chains of Stigma' Award recognizes exceptional people whose work helps to reduce the stigma that exists about mental illness."

An independent selection committee, comprised of international advocates and renowned authorities in the field of mental health, selects the Award winner. The Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award winner will be honored at a ceremony on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, 2017, in Ghent, Belgium.

Chantharavady Choulamany, MD was selected as the 2016 Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award recipient for her impact on the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness in Lao People's Democratic Republic. As one of two qualified psychiatrists in a country that has more than 6 million people, Dr. Choulamany has dedicated her life to increasing access to mental health services and developing education programs to treat and improve understanding of mental illness. She works with all levels of government, advocating for better treatment services and more trained health professionals, as well as additional funding to support mental health programs.

"At Janssen, we are deeply committed to advocating for people with mental illness," said Husseini K. Manji, MD, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. "We are working with the global mental health community to bring about change so that no one who suffers from a brain disorder is treated differently. This Award importantly recognizes people around the world who are making a difference to break down stigma."

Janssen has an ongoing commitment to advancing neuroscience research, a legacy which dates back to the work of Dr. Paul Janssen (1926-2003). "Dr. Paul" is known as one of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate physicians and pharmaceutical researchers. To honor his legacy, Janssen supports the mental health community and various advocacy organizations and projects. In 2011, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson launched Healthy Minds, a comprehensive initiative that aims to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and public-sector partners to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for diseases and disorders of the brain.

About the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award
Individuals, organizations or projects from around the world that have made an exceptional contribution in dealing with, or promoting the awareness of, mental health care are eligible* to receive the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award. The Award is given to an individual(s), organization or project that:

has made an exceptional contribution to mental health care in the broadest sense on a cultural and/or social level;

has provided a genuine contribution to decreasing stigma around mental health conditions;

has promoted attention for mental health care;
and, has done all this with passion, creativity and innovation.

The Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award honors Dr. Joseph Guislain (1797-1860), a driven activist for patients with mental illness and the first Belgian psychiatrist to provide scientifically based treatment for these individuals. As a passionate advocate for those with mental illness, Dr. Guislain worked tirelessly to stand up for the rights of patients and to help improve their social position. The Dr. Guislain Museum and Janssen jointly sponsor the Award, with funding provided by Janssen. Both organizations have a rich heritage and long-standing involvement in the field of mental illness research, treatment and education.

About The Dr. Guislain Museum

The Dr. Guislain Museum was founded in 1986 in Ghent, Belgium, with both permanent exhibitions addressing the history of psychiatry and outsider art, and a series of changing thematic exhibitions. The Museum features an array of psychiatric photographs, two centuries of comprehensive archives and an extensive library chronicling the history of psychiatry. Comprehensively, the Museum seeks to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness. The Dr. Guislain Museum attracts 72,000 visitors each year.

University of Guelph, Bruce Power and Nordion team up for research project using Cobalt-60​

 A high-tech form of insect birth control connected to nuclear power could solve a devastating pest problem for Ontario farmers, says a University of Guelph researcher.

Bruce Power, the world's largest operating nuclear facility located in Tiverton, ON, and Nordion, a global health science company that provides market-leading products used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, announced today funding and support for a multi-year study led by U of G Professor Cynthia Scott-Dupree on sterilizing pepper weevils using Cobalt-60.

The researchers hope to control pepper weevils, which can burrow into farmed peppers and destroy them from the inside.

"It is very difficult to control these insects when they are hidden inside the pepper," Scott-Dupree said.

According to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, pepper weevils ruined $83 million worth of crops in 2016 – a figure that does not include the costs of management, suppression initiatives or cleanup of the pest.

Cobalt-60, which is produced in four of Bruce Power's eight nuclear reactors, is used for the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which could be a powerful strategy for controlling the weevil, said Scott-Dupree, of the U of G's School of Environmental Sciences.

"We want to move away from insecticide as much as possible, and SIT provides us another tool in our pest management toolbox," she said. "It fits well with biological control programs that growers already have established in their greenhouses. While no strategy is 100 per cent effective, using nuclear energy to sterilize insects is an environmentally friendly method of controlling these pests. There is no danger of the pepper weevils spreading any radiation following sterilization, so it is also safe for people."

Scott-Dupree, the Bayer CropScience Chair in Sustainable Pest Management at U of G, will send pepper weevils to Nordion, an Ottawa-based supplier of medical isotopes and gamma technologies, which receives its Cobalt-60 from Bruce Power. Gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 will sterilize the insects before they are released to mate normal, unsterilized pepper weevils in greenhouses.

"We will only release pepper weevils that have all the attributes of normal, unsterilized weevils, except that they are sterile," said Scott-Dupree. "When they mate, the eggs will not be viable, no progeny results and the pest population will decrease."

Families and businesses in Ontario rely on low-cost nuclear for 60 per cent of their electricity each year, said Ontario's Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault, who visited Nordion lab facilities in Ottawa on Feb. 23. The Long-Term Energy Plan recognizes the far-reaching benefits of nuclear energy, whether through low-cost, carbon-free power, jobs, economic benefit, clean air, health care and, as is the case with this collaboration, agriculture.

"As a global leader in nuclear energy, it is exciting to see Ontario's nuclear community joining forces to help researchers discover innovative ways to remove an agricultural pest in an environmentally friendly manner," said Minister Thibeault.

Pioneered in the 1950s, SIT has been successfully used to control the codling moth, a pest of apples, in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. since 1992. Scott-Dupree has also recently conducted research which has found that SIT has potential to control American serpentine leafminer, an insect pest that feeds primarily on chrysanthemums.

Cobalt-60 harvested from Bruce Power's reactors is already used to help sterilize 40 per cent of the world's single-use medical devices and treat brain tumours.

"This innovative research could improve Ontario's agricultural sector by reducing the impact of pests on produce, while also providing a possible gateway to the future of farming," said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power's President and CEO.

Scott-Dupree and her team plan to determine the optimum radiation dosage that ensures the sterilization of pepper weevils before testing SIT releases in greenhouses.

"The study will take some time, but the potential it has makes it worthwhile," she said.
"It is exciting to think of all the benefits this study could mean for farmers, Ontario's economy and the environment."

Nordion's facilities will be used to sterilize the pepper weevils.

"We are excited to see a technology like SIT, which has had wide and successful application in other areas of the world, help us here in Ontario," said Ian Downie, Vice President of Gamma Technologies at Nordion. "Our partnership with Bruce Power helps us support these kinds of scientific advances using Cobalt-60."

About University of Guelph

Formally started in 1964, the University of Guelph is research-intensive and learner-centred, with campuses spanning urban hubs and rural communities. U of G is known for excellence in the arts and sciences, and for a commitment to developing exceptional thinkers and engaged citizens. U of G has nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students at our campuses in Guelph, Toronto and Ridgetown, including 1,200 international students from more than 100 countries. It now has 122,000 alumni living in 150 countries. Students, faculty and staff study a range of disciplines -- physical and life sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences, business, agricultural and veterinary sciences. Learn more at uoguelph.ca.

The Ontario Brain Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Pool Their Strengths to Make an Impact on Brain Disorders in Ontario

Brain disorders are chronic, lifelong conditions that heavily impact individuals and their families. Strikingly, brain disorders account for roughly a third of total years lost to death and disability from all diseases globally, more than the combined number for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Considering both the personal and societal tolls of brain disorders, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) have partnered on several initiatives that aim to make a positive impact on brain health in Ontario. These initiatives will be invigorated by the Ontario Government's new $75 million dollar strategy that will support and build on Ontario's strengths in health informatics.

Measuring the Impact of Brain Disorders in Ontario

In 2015, ICES and OBI released a comprehensive report on individual brain disorders throughout Ontario. The report encompasses 13 brain disorders and gives estimates for: how many people are living with each disorder and their population data, such as age, sex, and income; the number of new cases identified each year; and an overview of direct healthcare costs associated with each disorder.

In addition to raising awareness about the growing prevalence of brain disorders, the report data has served as a tool for planning health services and support in Ontario.

Linking Data to Advance Knowledge

OBI collects rich neuroscience research data from its five research programs focused on: epilepsy, depression, cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Data are shared on a common platform called Brain-CODE. This unique resource provides neuroscience researchers with information to help uncover the underlying mechanisms and predict treatment outcomes of brain disorders.

ICES holds the administrative health records of more than 13 million Ontarians; these records are coded to protect privacy and can be linked to various databases. While OBI's data are rich and standardized to facilitate cross-disease comparisons, medical history and demographic information from participants remains limited. To fill this 'broad data' gap, OBI has teamed-up with ICES to provide a comprehensive view of health and health care delivery in Ontario. With a mutual interest in using data to understand brain disorders and their burden on the health care system, OBI and ICES have agreed to collaborate on a secure linkage of their datasets.


The Final Stretch of Immunodeficiency Canada's #PIechallenge Campaign

Immunodeficiency Canada's awareness/fundraising campaign, the #PIechallenge, is still going strong with 3 weeks left. The six-month long campaign ends on March 14th, 2017. The best 3 #PIechallenge submissions will receive incredible prizes from Starbucks and Jimmy's Coffee.

The #PIechallenge is simple: bake a pie, post a photo of it on social media with Immunodeficiency Canada's copy/paste message, tag 3 friends to take on the challenge, and donate $5.00 to the cause. The campaign has raised almost $2,000 already! Who doesn't love Pie?

The campaign is raising funds for individuals with Primary Immunodeficiency. PI occurs in people with immune systems that are either missing or defective. Lack of awareness means that between 70-90% of PI sufferers remain undiagnosed. With early diagnosis, proper care and optimal treatment, individuals with PI can live full and rewarding lives.

Immunodeficiency Canada is a national registered charity. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Chaim Roifman, the non-profit's vision is "To cure Primary Immunodeficiency (PI)". Today Immunodeficiency Canada provides education and research into a cure for PI. The organization also focuses on patient support, such as providing emergency financial assistance for families who have a child with PI in a hospital.

About Immunodeficiency Canada:
Immunodeficiency Canada is a respected Canadian leader in the field of genetic disease of the immune system. A national registered charity (87276 0897 RR0001) working with 16 PI diagnosis and treatment centres across Canada. For a complete listing of programs visit: www.immunodeficiency.ca. 

The glitz, the glam and the cigarettes​

As the red carpet is being rolled out for the Oscars on Sunday, the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is asking the province to ensure future movies showing tobacco use are rated for adults – not kids and teens.

Studies show that the more kids and teens see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking. Overwhelming research demonstrates that thirty-seven per cent of youth smokers in Ontario are recruited to become smokers by seeing smoking in the movies. In our province, 13,000 people die every year as a result of tobacco-related illnesses – the number one cause of preventable death and disease.

"Criteria such as violence, language, sexual activity and psychological impact, including substance abuse, are used to assign a movie rating to movies geared towards children and teens. Smoking, which kills half of its long-term users, needs to be added to the list to help prevent a new generation of young people from smoking," says Lorraine Fry, Co-Chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies.

The Oscars remind us that kids and teens in Ontario have a much higher exposure to onscreen tobacco imagery than those in the United States, due to different rating systems. This year, out of 15 Oscar nominations in major categories that show smoking, only two of them have an 18A rating in Ontario, while eight are rated R in the US. Not surprisingly, in Ontario, between 2004-2013, 86 per cent of new movies released with tobacco were youth-rated, while it was only 54 per cent in the US.

The Ontario Film Review Board classifies films to provide the public with information to make informed viewing choices for themselves and their children. The OFRB does not currently rate movies with tobacco imagery18A.

"We see the research and we know that 79 per cent of Ontarians are in support of not allowing smoking in movies rated 14A or lower. We also know that it is possible to protect young people from exposure to on screen smoking while allowing filmmakers to include smoking in films rated 18A in Ontario," says George Habib, President and CEO of The Lung Association - Ontario.

Canadian News Media Challenged to See the Whole Picture When Reporting on Obesity

The Canadian Obesity Network, in partnership with Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., is calling on Canadian media to re-examine how people living with obesity are portrayed in news stories and to use non-biased, respectful images.

Often, the media use images to accompany news stories that depict people living with obesity from unflattering angles, focusing on the abdomen or lower body with the head cut out of the frame, and frequently consuming unhealthy food or engaged in sedentary activity.1 Widespread use of these stereotypical "fat-shaming" images can promote weight bias and discrimination, a significant cause of distress in people living with obesity.

"We want to work with the media to encourage a shift from the use of imagery that depicts people living with obesity in a negative light, to one that looks at the whole picture," said Dr. Arya Sharma, Founder and Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network. "These body-focused images can perpetuate negative stereotypes, and don't accurately reflect the whole person; a person who has a life, accomplishments and who is living with a chronic disease versus what many people wrongly assume, a lifestyle choice."

Obesity is recognized by the Canadian Medical Association as a chronic medical disease, which research has shown is caused by a number of risk factors, including genetics, physical activity, diet, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, immigration and environmental factors.2,3 Yet misperceptions persist. One survey found that a majority of Canadians (86 per cent) believe that personal choice about physical activity and food intake is a leading cause of obesity and more than half (55 per cent) believe that people living with obesity lack self-discipline.4

"We know that 'fat-shaming' or criticizing people about their weight or eating habits can cause people who are overweight or living with obesity to eat more calories and gain more weight," said Dr. Michael Vallis, Lead, Behaviour Change Institute. "People are more motivated by positive encouragement, rather than negative stereotyping. Seeing negative stereotypes perpetuated in the media can only hurt efforts made by people living with obesity to achieve successful weight management. These biases also make people with obesity vulnerable to major psychological distress."

Obesity is a condition that is associated with serious comorbidities, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, overproduction or deficiency of fats in the blood, certain types of cancer and a decreased life expectancy. The risk of illness and death increases with the severity of the condition. It is a complex and multi-factorial disease that is influenced by genetics, physiological, environmental and psychological factors.3 Body Mass Index (BMI) is a method of measuring obesity at the population level; however, at the individual level, it does not indicate the disease of obesity, which is clinically defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that impairs health. BMI is calculated by dividing an individual's weight (kilograms) by height (metres) squared, though BMI numbers are widely considered demeaning to the struggle people with obesity go through on a daily basis.

The global increase in the prevalence of obesity is a public health issue that has severe health and social implications for Canadians affected by the disease. In Canada, based on population level BMI measurements, approximately 25 per cent of adults,3 equivalent to approximately 6.5 million people, could be affected by obesity.

About the Canadian Obesity Network
The Canadian Obesity Network - Réseau canadien en obésité (CON-RCO) is Canada's largest professional obesity association for health professionals, researchers, policy makers and obesity stakeholders, with 12,000+ members. CON-RCO works to address the social stigma associated with obesity, change the way policy makers and health professionals approach obesity and improve access to evidence-based prevention and treatment resources. www.obesitynetwork.ca


Crawling for Reid 2017

 Adventure Offroad Park & Nature Center in South Pittsburg Tennessee (just North of Chattanooga), will be sponsoring an incredible off-road charity event on March 4th, 2017 called Crawling for Reid. The event was developed to raise money to support Reid Davis Underwood. Reid was born on with a devastating skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a rare genetic connective tissue disorder that causes painful blistering of the skin and the mucous membranes. Reid has an especially severe form of this disorder, called Recessive Dystrophic EB (RDEB). This form of EB is characterized by an inability to create Collagen VII, which is one of the proteins that keep the layers of skin together. RDEB individuals experience widespread blistering on both the outside and inside of the body, disfigurement from repeated scarring and other serious medical problems such as skin cancer.

Reid is now two years old and has already been through more challenges then most people face in a lifetime. Reid’s skin is so fragile, that he constantly has severe wounds that must be managed. Wound care usually takes a couple of hours each day and typically involves bleach or vinegar baths to disinfect the wounds. Blisters must also be drained to reduce pressure and pain. Topical ointments are applied to reduce infection and prepare the skin for special bandages. Bandages must be non-adhesive; no tape can be used but instead they are wrapped in gauze. Pressure points and friction must be avoided. It is a challenge every day to get all this right and keep the wounds from becoming infected.

As Reid’s parents, Brian and Audra, lived out the daily reality of having a child with EB, they became convinced that they had to try and do something to improve his quality of life. Their search led them to one of the smartest and most compassionate doctors in the world, Dr. Jakub Tolar. Dr. Tolar runs the stem cell institute at the University of Minnesota. He and his team have developed a variety of stem cell treatments to both improve the quality of life for EB patients but also to hopefully find a cure for the disorder.

Reid has participated in a series of cutting-edge treatments that have been designed to reduce the severity of his symptoms. Reid first participated in an experimental Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) that was designed to give him healthy stem cells from his older sister, Avery. This procedure was successful with replacing some of Reid’s damaged cells with his sister’s heathy cells. Despite initial success, the level of replacement cells began to drop, so a second procedure was used to transfer more of Avery’s cells to Reid. This second procedure has resulted in more therapeutic levels of Avery’s cells being viable, resulting in these cells producing some of the collagen 7 that Reid so desperately needs. The result is that wound healing is occurring better than before.

Life is still unbelievably hard for this little boy. At the age of two, Reid’s activity level is increasing. He tries to do much of what a typical toddler would do; crawling, trying to pull up, and trying to play with toys. Unfortunately, even everyday activities that would be no big deal to a typical toddler, still result in severe wounds and Reid still has some chronic wound areas that do not heal. To address these chronic wound areas, Reid has participated in a third round of procedures. Cells were taken from Avery in a type of microscopic skin biopsy and these cells were grown on a scaffold in the lab. These cells were then placed on the chronic wound areas in hopes that his skin would accept them. It is too early to tell if the procedure will help, but work with other EB patients has indicated that it may have some benefits.

As Reid’s family and friends have watched the progression of this horrific disease, it has become increasingly apparent that the best hope for Reid lies in the ability of his doctors to find a cure. The exciting news is that Dr. Tolar and his team are on the brink of making this dream a reality. Bone Marrow transplant is a serious procedure and it has many side effects. Even though healing is better, it is not a cure and children still die from either the procedure or the complications of the disease. Dr. Tolar and his team have been developing a procedure that will allow them to take defective EB cells and transform them into stem cells. They then use gene editing techniques to remove the genetic typo and replace it with the correct coding. The result is DNA that can now produce an inexhaustible supply of cells that can be used in various ways to improve outcomes for EB patients and potentially even cure this disease. This revolutionary finding, that cells can be used to potentially cure genetic disorders, could revolutionize treatment for not only EB, but a host of other genetic disorders.

The Crawling for Reid event was organized by Reid’s uncle Bobby Underwood to help address Reid’s ongoing medical and life expenses and to raise money to support the work of Reid’s doctors at the University of Minnesota. This is the third year for the event and the off-road community has been incredible in getting behind Reid and his family. This annual event is sponsored at Adventure Offroad Park (AOP) in South Pittsburg, TN. Off-road enthusiast from across the southeastern United States come together for a day of great four-wheeling and to participate in a huge raffle that helps to raise additional funds for Reid and his doctors. Jeeps, trucks, buggies, and ATV’s all roll into AOP and participate in events such as trail rides, a blindfold tennis ball challenge, drag races, and walking through a host of vendor tents filled with all sorts of amazing products. Food vendors are on site and even a bounce-house to help keep the kids entertained.

This year’s raffle is going to be truly outstanding. Participants will have a chance to win many amazing prizes that have been donated by individuals and businesses from the off-road community and beyond. Just a few of the items to be raffled off include jeep bumpers, winches, sets of wheels, sets of tires, suspension lifts, drive shafts, coolers, fire pits, and custom roll cages. The highlight of the raffle will be when the CFR team raffles off a Polaris RZR XP 1000 ATV. If the winner of the Razor is present at the event, they will also leave with a bonus package including bead lock wheels and tires, a custom-built cage, and a trailer to haul their new ATV home. If you are in the Chattanooga area the weekend of March 4th and want to support a great cause, participate in some incredible wheeling with amazing people and have a chance to walk away with some incredible raffle items, AOP will be the place to be. It only costs $25 a person to attend the event day and $50 to enjoy wheeling at AOP all weekend. Children 12 and under attend for free.

For more information, check out Crawlingforreid.com. This website includes event information, as well as more information about Reid, EB and the cutting-edge research occurring at the University of Minnesota. You can also join the event page on Facebook (Crawling for Reid) for the most current information on the event and updates on the ever-expanding list of raffle items being released. If you can’t make it to the event and want to help, you can make contributions on Reid’s GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/zvth23n8 or by contacting the Crawling for Reid team at crawlingforreid@yahoo.com.

New Partnership Brings Mental Health to the Front of the Class​

- Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE Canada) and The Co-operators are proud to announce a new partnership that will support mental health literacy and improve well-being in school communities across Canada. Teach Resiliency is an online portal and community of practice offering teachers tools and strategies to assess resilience needs and resources to promote and enhance teacher and student mental health.

Research indicates approximately 20 per cent of Canadian students are suffering from a mental health illness and, in comparison to the general workforce, almost twice as many Ontario teachers feel stressed all the time (Canadian Psychiatric association, 2012; Koller & Bertel, 2006; Ontario College of Teachers, 2006; Jamieson, 2006). Teach Resiliency is a response to recent research and a 2014 study released by PHE Canada that identified gaps and needs of teachers in supporting positive mental health for themselves and their students.

Mental health is a priority focus for The Co-operators, the Presenting Partner of the Teach Resiliency program.

"One in five Canadians will live with mental illness, and all too often it is misunderstood. As a society we can, and must, do better," said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO of The Co-operators. "Teach Resiliency will provide valuable resources to better equip both teachers and students to prevent, recognize and address mental health challenges."

Teach Resiliency is a PHE Canada initiative, being developed in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Western University – Centre for School Mental Health, and is set to launch in May, 2017.

"Teach Resiliency is a unique initiative supporting the mental health and well-being of students and teachers alike. We are thrilled to partner with The Co-operators whose support will allow for the continued evolution of the program and impact in school communities across the country," said Brian Storey, President and CEO of PHE Canada.

About Physical and Health Education Canada

PHE Canada is a recognized leader and vital contributor in fostering achievement and health among Canadian children and youth. We advocate for and advance quality health and physical education opportunities in school-communities and increase awareness of the relationship between health and education and the importance of learning environments that focus on an inclusive, whole child approach. We envision a future wherein all children and youth in Canada are living healthy, physically active lives. For more information, please visit www.phecanada.ca.


Government of Canada Announces New Funding to Combat Opioid Crisis

le cThe current overdose crisis is having a devastating impact in many communities. Today, the Government of Canada announced an additional $65 million over five years for national measures to respond to the opioid crisis and implement the government's Opioid Action Plan. In addition, the federal government will provide $10 million in urgent support to the Province of British Columbia to assist with its response to the overwhelming effects of the emergency in that province.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minster of Health said, "Our government is committed to providing those working on the ground in the fight against the opioid crisis with the tools and resources they need to turn the tide. Today's announcement is just part of our ongoing commitments to exhaust every possible avenue in addressing this crisis."

Canada's opioid crisis is multifaceted. First, the overdose crisis has been driven by the emergence of fentanyl and other powerful illicit opioid drugs, which has led to unprecedented number of deaths among users of illegal drugs. And second, high levels of addiction to legal opioids across Canada have been caused, in part, by inappropriate prescribing practices and poor education about the risks associated with opioids. The government's Opioid Action Plan, including the new resources announced today, addresses both of these aspects of the crisis.

The Government of Canada has already taken numerous steps to address the crisis, including making naloxone readily available, overturning the ban on the use of prescription heroin to treat the most severe cases of addiction, and introducing Bill C-37 to simplify and streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites.

The Government of Canada remains committed to a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to addressing this crisis and the underlying causes of problematic substance use over the long term.

"The opioid crisis is having devastating impacts in Canada. When faced with such a grave situation, we must work with our partners and provide tangible aid. This funding will address an urgent need and support an important line of defence in keeping B.C. communities safe," said The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In addition, the Government of Canada's contribution of $65 million over five years will be used to support the federal government's ongoing implementation of the Opioid Action Plan and the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy announced in December 2016, which reinstates harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada's drug policy. This funding could be used towards: increasing national lab testing capacity; developing and implementing a national public awareness campaign; increasing research on problematic substance use; expanding supports for First Nations and Inuit communities, such as access to naloxone kits; strengthening national data surveillance and monitoring; and, funding grants and contributions to address various issues that are unique to the opioid crisis.

Government to make warning stickers and patient information handouts mandatory for all opioids dispensed in Canada​

Reducing the harm associated with problematic use of opioids requires a comprehensive response that involves health professionals, law enforcement, and all levels of government. In addition, we must take steps to better inform Canadians about the potential risks associated with the use of these medications.

Today, Health Canada announced that it will put forward a regulatory proposal to make warning stickers and patient information handouts mandatory with all opioids dispensed in Canada. This commitment to raising awareness is a component of Health Canada's Opioid Action Plan.

The sticker would warn patients about the risks of addiction and overdose with opioid use, and would be applied to the container being dispensed to the patient. The handout would contain broader information on the safe use of opioids and important risks associated with opioid use. By being better informed about their medications, Canadians will be better able to use them appropriately and reduce risks of dependence and overdose.

Health Canada's proposed content for the sticker and handout is currently being developed based on the recommendations of the external Scientific Advisory Panel on Opioids, which met in November 2016. The Panel's full recommendations can be viewed online in the Panel's Record of Proceedings.

The proposed content and format for both the warning sticker and patient handout will also be included with the draft regulations as part of the Canada Gazette, Part I consultation process later this year.

Health Canada's Opioid Action Plan focuses on a broad range of actions to address all parts of the opioid crisis. It includes better informing Canadians about the risks of opioids, supporting better prescribing practices, reducing easy access to unnecessary opioids, supporting better treatment options, reducing the availability and harms of street drugs, and improving the national evidence base. The Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis further builds on commitments to take action on this crisis.

By working together, we can protect ourselves and our families from the harms associated with the problematic use of opioid medications.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.


CIHI/Commonwealth Fund study on health: the good, the bad and what's missing

In the Canadian Institute for Health Information's spin-off report from the annual Commonwealth Fund International Health Survey of 11 countries released today, Canada fared pretty well. Though the Canadian Institute for Health Information led its media messaging with wait times, it should be noted that the study ranks Canada at or above average in 24 measures and below average in 17 measures. The measures compare access to care and patient experiences.
In the past, pro-privatization groups in Canada have misused data from such international reports in an attempt to drive down public confidence in public health care and to push privatization. They will likely try to do the same with this report, but the evidence actually shows that where public resources have been levied (such as toward target surgeries) our rankings go up, and where services are covered by public health care our access to care rankings are higher than most of our peers. These findings support the case for more public health care, not more privatization.
The good:
Canada ranked high in cost and access to care. Patients can easily access doctors' care here without extra user fees here compared to other countries. Where we did poorly - in cost and access to drugs and dental care - the services are not publicly covered. This underlines the importance for our federal government to enforce the Canada Health Act and its protections for Canadian patients against extra user fees for needed care. 
We rank high in terms of timely access to "professional help" for mental health care.
93 per cent of Canadians have a family doctor or a place of care - on par or above the rest of the countries - and we lead the pack in the quality of care patients say they receive and in information from doctors and medication reviews.
Canadian doctors ranked higher in discussing with their patients lifestyle choices such as healthy nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation, alchohol use and stress.
The bad:
Canada's ranking is low on access to same- or next-day appointments with family doctors. Note: CIHI did not measure whether a same- or next-day appointment was actually needed. It appears that no other primary care team members such as nurse practitioners and health care professionals were included in the study.
Canada has the longest emergency department waits. In the media commentary so far, there has been focus on e-health records relating to this, though large sums of public money have already been invested in e-records. In the actual study, CIHI focused on emergency department utilization by patients and rural access to primary care. What was not included anywhere is the fact that Canada's hospital beds have been cut and reduced beyond any country in the Commonwealth Fund study. This is, without any doubt, a major cause of emergency department waits, cancelled surgeries and waits for admission to hospitals. 
Canada also has wait times for specialists and non-emergency surgeries that are highest among the 11 countries. For target surgeries, where governments have put in resources, Canada's rankings were good. Again, the cuts to public hospital capacity that have resulted in lengthening wait lists were not mentioned.
Several social determinants of health were highlighted. Working age Canadians worried about being able to pay for housing and nutritious meals. Rates are disturbingly high among those in their 20s and 30s, more so than peers in other countries. 
Canadians with below-average incomes face more cost barriers for health care. Cost of transportation to medical appointments and taking time off work can be a barrier for low income Canadians (this impacts many seniors).

OMA Response to Premier's "Statement on Renewed Negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association"​

The OMA Board of Directors applauds Premier Wynne's change in approach, as reflected in today's public commitment to restoring a productive relationship with Ontario's physicians.

In particular, the OMA welcomes the commitment of Premier Wynne and Minister Hoskins to the principle of binding interest arbitration for Ontario physicians, and to reaching a binding interest arbitration agreement with the Ontario Medical Association, as the first order of business when negotiations resume.

This means that a binding interest arbitration process will be in place before the terms of a new Physicians Services Agreement are negotiated. The OMA has been seeking binding interest arbitration so that an independent adjudication will resolve any outstanding differences between the parties in the negotiation of the terms and conditions of a Physician Services Agreement.

The OMA also appreciates the government's promise that there will be no unilateral adjustment to physicians' compensation or accountabilities while negotiations are ongoing.

The OMA appointed its negotiating committee earlier today, and looks forward to commencing negotiations once it has developed its negotiating mandate following consultations with Ontario physicians. We are pleased that the government will be appointing a new negotiating team shortly.

The OMA wants to thank its members – Ontario physicians – for their dedication to their patients and their ongoing advocacy to improve health care in Ontario.

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) represents more than 42,000 physicians and medical students across the province. Ontario's doctors work closely with patients to encourage healthy living practices and illness prevention. In addition to delivering front-line services to patients, Ontario's doctors play a significant role in helping shape health care policy, as well as implementing initiatives that strengthen and enhance Ontario's health care system.

Faith and Healthcare: T.B. Joshua Finances A Young Boy's Throat Surgery

 UN's Sustainable Development Goal 3, which promotes health and well-being for all, helps balance healthcare provision and healthcare financing, as well as addressing various challenges faced by ordinary citizens. The complexities of healthcare access and financing were clearly shown in a moving life experience of a 13-year old Nigerian orphan named Praise Sunday during a church service on Sunday 12th February 2017 at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), Lagos, Nigeria.

In an armed robbery on May 8th 2016, Praise Sunday tragically lost his mother and sister. During this ordeal, the young boy, whose father passed away several years earlier, sustained life-threatening injuries to his throat.

Praise and his extended family members sought medical assistance across Nigeria, depleting their financial means as he underwent seven surgeries. Left with a tracheostomy tube in his throat which enabled him to breathe, he was completely unable to talk and communicated only through writing. In September 2016, they sought aid at The SCOAN, a religious institution known for its extensive charitable endeavours. The General Overseer, T.B. Joshua, through the humanitarian arm of his faith-based organization, financed a delicate and complex health procedure carried out in Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa.

Specialists, Dr Martin Vanlierde and Professor Mark De Groot, undertook the corrective surgery to restore Praise's ability to both breathe and speak normally again. The procedure was successful and his speedy recovery exceeded expectations. The total cost of Praise's travelling expenses, welfare and medical bills was US$50,000 - all financed by T.B. Joshua's faith-based organisation.

During a live broadcast of his story on Emmanuel TV, T.B. Joshua addressed the congregation, encouraging faith leaders and medical doctors to work together to address the societal conundrum, related to healthcare access today. He said: "If God's servants and doctors work together, there will be no limit to what they can achieve. The medicine doctors use comes from nature and our God is the God of nature."

The SCOAN has previously financed other medical trips, including a Nigerian policeman who received more than $25,000 to be flown to India for a complicated medical procedure to restore his damaged urinary system after he was shot by gunmen during duty hours.

With their collaborative effort, faith-based organisations, such as The SCOAN, which helped turn a young boy's ordeal into an inspiring story, can largely enhance healthcare access and its financing.


More Canadian Emergency Personnel Combatting Opioid Overdose Crisis with Nasal Spray Treatment​

- Adapt Pharma Canada today announced that 22,000 kits of NARCAN® naloxone Nasal Spray have been shipped in the past six months to more than 75 first responder agencies – primarily law enforcement agencies.

Police departments continue to incorporate NARCAN® in response to the worsening crisis and the rise of illicit and lethal opioid drugs. Police officers and other emergency personnel, including firefighters, are using NARCAN® to temporarily reverse the effects of opioids in emergency situations.1 They are also using it in case of accidental contact with opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl.1

"Since entering the Canadian market last year, we have been working diligently to move at the speed of this crisis," said David Renwick, General Manager, Adapt Pharma Canada. "Our commitment, as per the federal health minister's urgent request, is to provide access to NARCAN® and to help save as many lives as possible. We'll continue to help address the opioid overdose epidemic by getting emergency treatment in the right hands."

Indicated for emergency use outside of a hospital to reverse known or suspected opioid overdose, NARCAN® provides a 4 mg dose of naloxone concentrated in a small 0.1 milliliter spray.1 Designed with the general public and communities in mind, the product is a ready-to-use, needle-free alternative to other available opioid overdose emergency treatments. On July 6, 2016, the federal health minister executed an Interim Order for the immediate importing and sale of NARCAN®, and on October 3, 2016 NARCAN® Nasal Spray was approved and is now available in Canada without a prescription.

Emergency medical assistance (calling 911) should be requested immediately when an opioid overdose is suspected, before using naloxone.

Individuals with a satisfactory response to an initial dose of naloxone should be kept under continued surveillance.

Caregivers administering naloxone should be prepared to act in response to or assist the patient in cases of potential adverse reactions such as aggressive reactions, convulsions and vomiting. Special attention is warranted if naloxone is administered to a neonate or a pregnant woman.


In the absence of opioids, in opioid naïve people, naloxone administration shows essentially no pharmacologic activity. In opioid dependent people, naloxone may trigger an acute opioid withdrawal syndrome.

The effectiveness of naloxone has not been assessed in people with intranasal conditions such as abnormal nasal anatomy, nasal symptoms (i.e., blocked and/or runny nose, nasal polyps, etc.) or in people having a product sprayed into the nasal cavity prior to naloxone administration.

Naloxone does not counteract overdoses due to: barbiturates, benzodiazepines, psychostimulants (e.g., cocaine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, etc.), alcohol, or any other non-opioid drug such as non-opioid tranquilizers, anesthetics or sedatives. Naloxone is not effective against respiratory depression due to non-opioid drugs.

Naloxone Hydrochloride Nasal Spray should be administered with caution to persons who are known or suspected to be physically dependent on opioids.


Information Update - Health Canada safety review finds risk of serious skin burns with over-the-counter topical pain relievers containing menthol​

The Montreal Heart Institute is proud to announce the opening of the very first electrophysiology laboratory (EP Lab) equipped with robotic and magnetic navigation and dedicated to congenital heart diseases in Canada. Congenital heart diseases are cardiac malformations that affect approximately 1% of all Canadians. "The implementation of this cutting edge technology is a major advance. Thanks to this new lab, we will be able to perform interventions to treat arrhythmia in patients presenting with the most complex forms of cardiac malformations", says Dr. Paul Khairy.

"Arrhythmias are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality within this population. It was therefore crucial to have access to an efficient solution to treat these complex issues that cannot be adequately addressed with traditional techniques", continues Dr. Annie Dore, cardiologist and clinical director of the Congenital Heart Disease Centre.

Robotic Magnetic Navigation Enables Complex Interventions
The intervention aims at mitigating arrhythmia by destroying the responsible electric cells and thus restoring a normal cardiac rhythm. "Thanks to the robotic and magnetic system, we can effectively and accurately guide catheters in a safe manner through complex anatomies caused by cardiac malformations. The first patients we treated with this new modality presented with serious forms of congenital heart diseases. A catheter ablation would not have been a viable option in those cases if it weren't for the sophisticated functionalities this robotic magnetic navigation platform offers", continues Dr. Khairy.

An Advance Benefitting Patients from across Canada and beyond
"This Canadian first will benefit not only Quebec patients and those hailing from other provinces, but it will also benefit patients from abroad", according to Dr. Denis Roy, cardiologist and Executive Director of the Montreal Heart Institute.

The Montreal Heart Institute, World Leader in the Treatment of Adult Congenital Heart Diseases
A few decades ago, most children presenting with serious forms of congenital heart diseases died during childhood; today however, more than 90% survive until adulthood, which leads to a rapid increase in the patient population presenting with congenital heart diseases. Thanks to this new robotic magnetic navigation platform, and combined with the expertise of its medical team, the Montreal Heart Institute is strengthening its international leadership position in the treatment of adult congenital heart diseases.

The construction of this highly sophisticated lab, in which we can now offer cutting edge care, was made possible thanks to the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, St-Jude Medical, Dalfen Family Foundation and the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation.

About the Montreal Heart Institute
Founded in 1954 by Dr. Paul David, the Montreal Heart Institute constantly aims for the highest standards of excellence in the cardiovascular field through its leadership in clinical and basic research, ultra-specialized care, professional training and prevention. It is part of the broad network of health excellence made up of the Université de Montréal and its affiliated institutions. According to Research Infosource, the Montreal Heart Institute has been ranked the number one research hospital in Canada for research intensity and funding per researcher.

About the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation
The mission of the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation is to raise and administer funds to support the Institute's priority and innovative projects and help its fight against cardiovascular disease, the number-one cause of death worldwide. Since its creation in 1977, the Foundation has donated nearly $218 million to the Montreal Heart Institute.


CP supports "Beautiful Hearts" in Ottawa through 2017 LPGA and CFL events

utive, said: "Cancer Research UK set up the Grand Challenge awards to bring a renewed focus and energy to the fight against cancer. We February is Heart Month and Canadian Pacific (CP) is proud to announce two major charity partnerships that will benefit the beautiful hearts of children and adults in Ottawa through the 2017 CP Women's Open and CFL regular season, playoffs and Grey Cup.

The overall campaign, titled "Beautiful Hearts", will support the refurbishment of facilities that patients use every day at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and University of Ottawa Heart Institute and celebrate the resiliency and spirit of the human heart.

CHEO is the official beneficiary of the 2017 CP Women's Open at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, August 21-27. The University of Ottawa Heart Institute will benefit from all funds raised through our partnership with the CFL throughout 2017.

"CP is excited to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in the nation's capital while supporting two world-renowned hospitals by bringing the best LPGA golfers and CFL players together," said Keith Creel, CP President and CEO. "Through CP's community investment program, CP Has Heart, the 'Beautiful Hearts' campaign will bring crucial support to both CHEO and the Ottawa Heart Institute this year."

Each year, CHEO touches the lives of more than 500,000 infants, children and youth from Eastern and Northern Ontario, Western Quebec and Nunavut. To better care for all of these patients, CHEO will be embarking on a $1.8 million project to upgrade the hospital's Catheterization Lab and Interventional Suite. A redesigned space, specialized equipment and pediatric specific training will be critically important elements in the health and wellness of CHEO's patients.

"Technological advancements offering the clearest and most concise images for our doctors are a vital element of the Catheterization Lab and Interventional Suite upgrade that will be funded with the help of CP's 'Beautiful Hearts' campaign," said Kevin Keohane, CHEO Foundation President and CEO. "The result will be a technologically advanced suite that will allow doctors and technologists to more accurately diagnose, and more gently treat, vulnerable young patients."

Born with a rare type of congenital heart malformation, Zander Zatylny underwent two open heart surgeries by age one. Now seven, Zander has had eight stents placed into both his right and left pulmonary arteries to improve blood flow. He requires regular monitoring and will need future interventions. He will benefit first-hand from real-time, 3D imaging that will guide his physicians during future procedures.

As children grow into adults, their care transfers to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Four days after her birth in Vancouver, Olivia Hiddema had her first open-heart surgery. At age two, Olivia and her family moved to Ottawa where the doctors and nurses at CHEO monitored her regularly as she progressed through childhood. When Olivia turned 18, she graduated from CHEO to the Adult Congenital Heart Clinic at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute where she underwent a second open heart surgery at age 20.

Olivia will directly benefit from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute's largest expansion in its 40 year history, adding 145,000 square feet of state-of-the-art clinical space to the existing facility. This expansion will allow the Institute to continue to serve the cardiac care needs of Canadians, as the referral centre for hospitals throughout Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, Nunavut, and for many more patients from coast-to-coast who come to Ottawa for life-saving procedures.

"The next five years will be the most exciting of the Institute's history," said Jim Orban, President and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation. "Partnerships like the one with CP Has Heart are vital to the Institute's evolution and support like this ensures that world-class cardiovascular treatment, programs and patient care are available today, shaping the lives of so many Canadians tomorrow."

This week, as part of the Ottawa Heart Institute's "February is Heart Month" campaign, CP is matching donations to a maximum of $7,500, turning your support into up to $15,000 for the Heart Institute. Donate at FebruaryisHeartMonth.ca

For every retweet, Facebook share or 'love' reaction of the "Beautiful Hearts" video from the @CFL, the League will donate 50 cents to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Stay tuned to @CPhasHeart on Facebook and Twitter and at CPHasHeart.ca to see how you can further contribute and help both charities in the coming months.

Information Update - Health Canada safety review finds risk of serious skin burns with over-the-counter topical pain relievers containing menthol​

Health Canada is advising Canadians that a safety review has found a risk of serious skin burns with the use of certain over-the-counter (OTC) topical pain relievers containing menthol.

These pain relievers are applied to the skin to produce mild irritation or inflammation intended to help relieve muscle and joint pain. They contain one or more active ingredients and come in various formulations, including creams, gels, liquids and patches.

While a minor rash or a burning sensation are a known side effect, more serious effects like skin burns, pain, blistering or other severe skin damage are not generally expected from the use of these products. Health Canada has received 21 reports of serious side effects involving OTC topical pain relievers containing menthol in various concentrations (containing 0.75% to 11% menthol), as a single ingredient or in combination with other ingredients (most commonly methyl salicylate). In many cases, the products were used as directed, with burns, severe swelling and blistering appearing within 24-48 hours of the first application.

From the available data, it was not possible to determine whether the risk of serious skin burns is linked to any specific brand, formulation or menthol concentration, or any ingredient other than menthol.

Some menthol-containing OTC topical pain relievers already warn about the risk of serious skin burns on their labels or packaging. Health Canada will publish an updated labelling standard for all menthol-containing topical pain relievers in the coming weeks to better inform consumers about the risk. The warnings will advise consumers to stop using the products and get medical help right away if they experience severe skin reactions.

Health Canada's safety review also looked at the ingredients methyl salicylate and capsaicin, in addition to menthol. While serious skin burns have been reported with the use of OTC topical pain relievers containing methyl salicylate or capsaicin, the review did not find sufficient evidence to confirm the same risk with methyl salicylate or capsaicin alone.

Health Canada continues to monitor these products, as part of Health Canada's role of monitoring all health products in Canada. Additional health and safety action to protect Canadians will be taken as needed.

What you should do when using OTC topical pain relievers:

Stop use of the product and get medical help right away if you experience serious skin reactions such as pain, swelling or blistering.

Know that all topical pain relievers containing menthol, methyl salicylate or capsaicin produce a warming or cooling sensation where they are applied. They should not cause severe pain or skin damage.

Always follow the directions provided with the products. Do not apply the product to broken, damaged or irritated skin, and do not bandage the area tightly or apply heat (for example, by using heating pads, lamps, or hot water bottles). This can increase the risk of side effects including serious skin burns.

Talk to a health care professional such as a pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about these products.

Report adverse events to health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at
1-866-234-2345, or by reporting online, by mail or by fax.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre champions Canadian excellence in health research on Roche global cancer research network

- Hoffmann-La Roche Limited (Roche Canada) today announced that Toronto-based Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has joined the company's global cancer immunotherapy Centres of Research Excellence (imCORE) Network. The network brings together the world's leading scientific and clinical experts in cancer immunotherapy to collaborate on the investigation and development of promising new treatment approaches for the disease. The goal is to rapidly initiate pre-clinical and clinical research based on the latest scientific discoveries in cancer immunotherapy and to aggregate, as well as share data within the Network to help accelerate research for people living with cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths in the country.1 In fact, 2 out of 5 Canadians (45 per cent of men and 42 per cent of women) are expected to develop cancer during their lifetimes.2

"Cancer is a complex disease, and one that poses a significant burden across the world," said Ronnie Miller, President and CEO, Roche Canada. "As a research-driven organization, Roche is proud to have the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre join the imCORE Network to help us better understand immune biology and cancer, and to ultimately improve treatment options, as well as outcomes for patients. We believe that by working as a truly global cancer research team, we can help transform the fight against cancer."

The imCORE Network is comprised of 21 academic centres, inclusive of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, from nine countries across the globe, working together to access and share technology, data and expertise to advance science. The aim is to identify approaches to expand the number of people who benefit from cancer immunotherapy by exploring new ways to activate a person's immune system to fight their cancer. The Network will work collaboratively with Roche to identify new avenues of research, to refine current research assumptions and to prioritize research projects to expedite the discovery and development of novel treatment regimens and options.

"The imCORE Network provides a great opportunity for academic centres like ours to collaborate and explore new concepts, both in the laboratory and in the clinic," said Dr. Lillian Siu, Medical Oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Site Lead for the imCORE Network. "This type of collective learning is exactly what is needed to make important progress in a field as fast-moving as cancer immunotherapy."

As a part of a global announcement regarding the launch of the imCORE Network, Roche has made a commitment to invest up to 100 million Swiss Francs (more than $130 million Canadian dollars) to support basic and clinical research collaborations related to cancer immunotherapy. This investment is incremental to Roche's on-going research and development of investigational medicines and treatment approaches in the field of cancer immunotherapy.

"We are delighted that Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has been selected to be part of the imCORE Network," said Dr. Bradly Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research, University Health Network. "This is a testament to the successful synergy between our Drug Development program and our Tumour Immunotherapy Program that enables us to bring high quality basic, translational and clinical research to our patients."

Statement from Cannabis Canada Association on New Health Canada Inspection Provisions

Cannabis Canada Association welcomes Health Canada's announcement that it will begin conducting random testing of medical cannabis products produced by licensed producers, to provide added assurance to Canadians that they are receiving safe, quality-controlled product.

Cannabis Canada's first priority, consistent with that of Health Canada, is to ensure that the health and safety of clients is protected. The medical cannabis industry is rigorously regulated. Existing testing and the new spot checks are designed to uncover any issues with quality control. In the event that a quality issue is uncovered, as has recently been the case, there are mechanisms in place to ensure immediate rectification. Moreover, should it be necessary, seed to sale tracking mechanisms are in place to support effective recalls.

"As Canada's world-leading medical cannabis system develops and grows, it is critical that licensed producers maintain compliance with Health Canada regulations, so that Canadian patients can have confidence in the quality of the medical products they receive," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada. "This is the path to Canada's establishment of a strong and sustainable medical cannabis system that can serve as a model to the world."

Cannabis Canada is committed to working in close collaboration with Health Canada to ensure and enhance the safety, effectiveness and continuous improvement of the legal medical cannabis industry.


Doctors Confront Children's Hospitals Over #HazardousHotDogs

Hard-hitting billboards and other advertisements are urging children's hospitals in six cities to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs. Hot dogs should not be served to patients because they are the No. 1 choking risk for children and are linked to high risk of colon cancer says the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors. The six targeted hospitals are in the colon cancer corridor, a cluster of nine states with high death rates from colorectal cancer.

The Physicians Committee is also releasing a new report finding that 72 percent of surveyed children's hospitals nationwide serve cancer-causing hot dogs to patients. The World Health Organization warns that processed meats, including hot dogs, are "carcinogenic to humans" and there is no amount safe for consumption. According to a recent study published in JAMA Surgery, colon cancer is increasing in young people (ages 20 to 34 years).

In strongly worded letters, the Physicians Committee is urging hospital CEOs to remove hot dogs from patient menus in time for March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

"Children's hospitals can become leaders in preventing diet-related diseases by increasing the offerings of healthful, plant-based options that are popular with patients—like veggie pasta and fruit smoothies," says Karen Smith, R.D., senior dietitian for the Physicians Committee.

Billboard advertisements have gone up near the Children's Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson, Miss. The billboards are 10 feet tall and 22 feet wide.

The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City and Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital in Nashville are targeted with bus shelter ads that are 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In addition, the 60 buses in Nashville's fleet all display bus interior advertisements. In Little Rock, the 44 available buses display interior advertisements highlighting #HazardousHotDogs at Arkansas Children's Hospital. The #HazardousHotDogs advertisements will remain posted until March 5, 2017.

The advertisements posted near hospitals that serve hot dogs feature a photograph of a girl holding a hot dog with the words "Choking Risk Now, Cancer Risk Later?" Viewers are urged to "Ask your local hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs! www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org."

The states in the colon cancer corridor with high rates of fatalities are Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Hot dogs serve as an indicator of a disease-promoting food environment.

At least three children's hospitals located in the colon cancer corridor already exclude hot dogs from patient menus. These hospitals, including West Virginia University Children's Hospital, will not be targeted with advertisements.

Patients and health care providers are often concerned that healthful foods are more expensive, but a recent study shows that healthful, disease-fighting food can be inexpensive. Published in Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, the study finds that omnivores can save $750 a year by simply switching to a plant-based diet.

Canadians with diabetes deserve a life free of fear​

Today, the Canadian Diabetes Association becomes Diabetes Canada to shine a brighter light on diabetes and rally Canadians to stand with the one in three Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes.

"Diabetes Canada and the movement to End Diabetes bring to life our vision of Canadians with diabetes living a life free from fear of stigma, discrimination, and the complications that often come with this serious disease," says Diabetes Canada President and CEO, Rick Blickstead. "End Diabetes is our rallying cry to stop the health impacts of diabetes as well as its shame, blame and misinformation. Canadians living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes tell us they often feel scared, angry, frustrated or overwhelmed. We need to create greater awareness about the realities of living with diabetes."

Diabetes Canada will launch End Diabetes through a campaign using the real words of people with diabetes put to song. The accompanying music video stresses the emotional toll of living with diabetes. The video and song will generate conversation about diabetes to make this invisible epidemic visible.

"We know the daily challenges of managing diabetes can have a negative effect on the mental health of those living with the disease," says Diabetes Canada's Chief Science Officer, Dr. Jan Hux. "Fear of stigma and discrimination is a reality for people living with diabetes and many don't want to admit they have the disease. People suffer in silence and this new campaign invites Canadians to think about diabetes in ways they never have before."

Diabetes Canada will champion issues related to diabetes stigma in other ways, including funding related research and providing resources to help health-care providers support their patients in dealing with the emotional impact of diabetes. This campaign goes further, to engage all Canadians from coast to coast increasing understanding, awareness and empathy for the 11 million Canadians living with or at risk of this chronic disease, and asking everyone to join the movement to End Diabetes.

"Diabetes Canada and End Diabetes—two simple phrases—two powerful ways to help Canadians in ways they need and deserve," adds Blickstead. "We look forward to Canadians joining us on this next, exciting chapter."

Visit enddiabetes.ca to view the music video and show your support for Canadians living with diabetes.

About Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:

Educational programs and support services;
Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

New test predicts risk for cardiovascular disease

A new test that predicts an individual's risk for developing cardiovascular disease has been launched today by Everist Health Inc of Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Eighteen million people die every year from cardiovascular disease," says Everist Health CEO Matt Bartlam. "It is the world's number one killer. I believe our test can make a major contribution to improving the world's cardiovascular health for several reasons.

"The test is non-invasive and painless. The test results can provide the medical professional with important new data that at the same time can be translated into simple numbers that we can all use and understand.

"The new test uses technology known as plethysmography to measure the flexibility of a person's arteries which is recognized as the best predictor of future risk. A device, known as AngioDefender™, measures the percentage flow mediated dilation (FMD) of a patient's arteries–the ability of arteries to contract and expand. This reading, together with other basic patient details such as blood sugar and cholesterol levels can then be used to quickly calculate a person's heart age.

"So, while the medical professional gets new data–the FMD score–the individual can have their cardiovascular assessment translated into a simple heart age number that is easy for the public to relate to. If an individual's heart age turns out to be lower than their actual age the message is to keep on doing the things that are contributing to a healthy cardiovascular system such as diet, exercise and non-smoking–but if the heart age is higher than a person's chronological age, this can be a powerful driver of behavior change to lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

"Although there are other ways of estimating an individual's heart age, they tend to be based on general historical population data but importantly our test permits a personal calculation based on the individual's actual medical information," says Matt Bartlam. "I believe our test will become the gold standard for measuring heart health and predicting future risk."

Importantly the AngioDefender™ test can reveal cardiovascular problems in people that may appear to be at low risk such as athletes or young, apparently fit, non-smokers with a healthy lifestyle.

Matt Bartlam believes that the new test can have wide application because it is light and mobile and does not require a specially trained operator. "It can be made available to the public in a variety of non-hospital environments. We have conducted successful tests in Canada, Europe and India and it has been shown to work well in a variety of environments including corporate wellness programs in India and community care facilities and rehabilitation centres in Canada.

"At the same time researchers in the UK National Health Service are using the technology in trials where new cancer drugs are being monitored for potential cardiovascular side effects.

"I believe our technology will find wide application in countries where the hospital systems are poorly developed," says Matt Bartlam, who points out that interest has been shown by health workers in Africa.

Initially the test will be available in Germany, the UK, Canada and India where multiple trials are ongoing and distributors are in place. The company plans to broaden its availability to the entire European Union by 2018. The test has also been the subject of trials in the USA which have recently been concluded. "We expect to submit our findings to the FDA in the next few months," says Matt Bartlam.


OICR researchers to be part of Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge helping to answer cancer's biggest questions

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) researchers Drs. Lincoln Stein and Steven Gallinger have been announced as members of one of the first global research teams to be recipients of Cancer Research UK's Grand Challenge.

The Grand Challenge aims to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research in a global effort to beat cancer sooner.

Stein and Gallinger's pioneering team will study samples from five continents to understand the DNA damage associated with different cancers, to understand what causes them and if they can be prevented. The project will be led by Professor Mike Stratton at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge, with collaborators from France, the U.S. and U.K.

The winning projects are set to revolutionize our understanding of cancer, and how to better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. The international, multidisciplinary teams will bring together people, technology and knowledge on a scale that has not previously been undertaken in cancer.

"One of the most intriguing aspects of cancer is how much the rate and types of cancer differ from one part of the world to another," said Stein, who is Interim Scientific Director of OICR and Director of OICR's Informatics and Bio-computing Program. "This project is the first large-scale attempt to systematically study how geography influences cancer at the genomic level, and will lead to new understandings of how diet, lifestyle, the environment and genetics interact to cause these regional differences. Dr. Gallinger and I are proud to participate in this groundbreaking project by contributing scientific expertise and samples collected from Canadians across several cancer types."

Gallinger is Head of Hepatobiliary/Pancreatic Surgical Oncology Program at University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital and leader of OICR's PanCuRx Translational Research Initiative.

"Our province's researchers are among the best in the world, and I am thrilled to congratulate Dr. Stein and Dr. Gallinger on this very well-deserved honour," said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. "Their insight and expertise will be a great benefit to this project, which will help global researchers better understand this disease as we work towards a cancer-free future."

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "Cancer Research UK set up the Grand Challenge awards to bring a renewed focus and energy to the fight against cancer. We want to shine a light on the toughest questions that stand in the way of progress. We're incredibly excited to be able to support these exceptional teams as they help us achieve our ambition."

"Cancer is a global problem, and these projects are part of the global solution. Together, we will redefine cancer – turning it from a disease that so many people die from, to one that many people can live with. We will reduce the number of people worldwide affected by cancer and achieve our goal of beating cancer sooner."

Cancer Research UK set up Grand Challenge in 2015 and committed up to £100 million (CDN$164 million) to this new approach to help increase the pace of research. Phase two of the Grand Challenge, when Cancer Research UK plans to issue a set of second challenges, will launch this summer.

For full details of the Grand Challenge go to www.cruk.org/grandchallenge

Sticker shock: Canadians projected to pay a steep price for sugary beverages​

According to new research commissioned by leading health organizations Canadians are consuming high amounts of sugary drinks and if this continues, the consequences to our health and the healthcare system will be devastating. Most troubling, young people drink the largest amount of sugary beverages.

Dr. Jan Hux, Chief Science Officer, Canadian Diabetes Association said, "Over the next 25 years, almost one million people will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as a result of sugary drink consumption. The relentless rise of this disease does not have to be a foregone conclusion as we make every effort to end diabetes through education and policy changes."

The research from the University of Waterloo reveals that sugary drink consumption is projected to result in over 63,000 deaths and cost the healthcare system more than $50 billion over the next 25 years. It is estimated that sugary drink consumption in Canada will be responsible for:

More than 1 million cases of overweight and more than 3 million cases of obesity

Almost 1 million cases of type 2 diabetes

Almost 300,000 Canadians with ischemic heart disease

More than 100,000 cases of cancer

Almost 40,000 strokes

Almost 2.2 million disability-adjusted life years (the number of years of healthy life lost due to ill health, disability or early death.)

In 2015 Canadians purchased an average of 444 ml of sugary drinks per day. That is more than the equivalent of one can of pop per person, per day, every day. The average youth drinks 578 ml of sugary drinks each day which can contain up to 16 teaspoons or 64 grams of sugar. This puts them well over the recommended daily sugar maximum of no more than 10% of total daily calories.

Although pop sales have been decreasing over the years, the research uncovered staggering growth in sales of newer products that offset these reductions:

Energy drinks +638%
Sweetened coffees +579%
Flavoured water +527%
Drinkable yogurt +283%
Sweetened teas +36%
Flavoured milk +21%
Sports drinks +4%.

Consuming too much sugar is a significant risk factor for overweight and obesity and several chronic diseases. Overconsumption of sugary drinks is an independent risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes regardless of weight status. Tackling the health effects of sugary drinks requires a comprehensive approach including ensuring access to safe and free water, restricting food and beverage marketing to children, public education, better food labelling, revisions to Canada's Food Guide, and levers to make unhealthy choices less attractive and healthy choices more affordable.

The research was commissioned by Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Diabetes Association, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, and Heart & Stroke. The research was carried out at the University of Waterloo by Amanda C. Jones, Dr. J. Lennert Veerman and Dr. David Hammond. The study included an analysis of national data on sugary drink sales and consumption in Canada, and projected the health and economic impact of sugary drinks in Canada.

Proposed Settlement Reached in Canadian IKO/CRC/Canroof Organic Shingles Class Action

 A proposed settlement has been reached in the national class action regarding IKO/CRC/Canroof Organic Shingles (collectively, "IKO Organic Shingles").

"IKO Organic Shingles" means all asphalt organic shingles manufactured by or on behalf of IKO Industries Ltd., Canroof Corporation Inc., or I.G. Machine (the "defendants"). The class action relates only to organic shingles. The class action does not relate to fiberglass shingles (some of which have been sold under the same brand names as IKO Organic Shingles). IKO Organic Shingles were sold under the following brand names: Chateau, Renaissance XL, Aristocrat, Total, Armour Seal, Superplus, Armour Lock, Royal Victorian, Cathedral XL, Ultralock 25, Armour Plus 20, Armour Tite, Cambridge Ultra Shadow (laminated organic), Crowne 30. IKO Organic Shingles have not been manufactured since 2008 and have not been sold since 2010.

The Class Action: The class action alleges, among other things, that IKO Organic Shingles were negligently designed and manufactured in a manner that, under normal conditions and usage, would result in premature failure. The defendants deny these allegations and assert that IKO Organic Shingles are free of any defect, and in fact, are good quality roofing materials.

The class action affects current or former owners or lessees of buildings located in Canada that contain or contained IKO Organic Shingles.

The Proposed Settlement: The defendants have agreed to pay CDN$7,500,000 to resolve class member claims. The proposed settlement agreement sets out who is eligible for compensation, how the settlement funds will be distributed, and how class members can apply to receive benefits. A copy of the proposed settlement can be viewed at www.classaction.ca/iko.

The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing or liability. The defendants agreed to settle the action to avoid the costs of litigation and achieve finality in its obligations to class members.

Settlement approval hearing: The settlement agreement is conditional on approval by the Ontario Court. A hearing to approve the settlement will be heard on May 9, 2017, in Brampton, Ontario. Class members have the right to object to or otherwise make submissions about the settlement. Objections must be made in accordance with the process outlined in Part 10 of the long-form notice of the settlement approval hearing. This notice is available online at www.classaction.ca/iko.

Siskinds LLP is counsel for the class. Siskinds is a law firm based in London, Ontario, with an office in Toronto and affiliate offices in Montreal and Quebec City.

How Fresh is Your Breath?

It's almost Valentine's Day, a time of enchantment and affection. But how much love and attention do you show your mouth? If you're not making the effort to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to the dentist for regular check-ups, then you're falling short of being a good partner in your mouth's fight against tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.

We all know fresh breath and a healthy smile are important, so the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) is passing along some helpful hints on how to be ready for Valentine's Day or any day!

Regularly brushing your teeth, gums and tongue along with daily flossing will cut down on the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Stay hydrated throughout the day and evening and be aware that dry mouth is a common side effect of alcohol consumption and taking certain medications, like antibiotics.

Garlic, onions, dairy and meat may taste great but they're also known to cause smelly breath. Try ending your meal with some sugar-free gum or mints to keep fresh.

Not only is smoking terrible for your health, it's also brutal for your breath. Your dentist has helpful ideas on how you can quit smoking so don't be afraid to ask!

ODA President Dr. Jack McLister, says, "While persistent bad breath can be a sign of a more serious health condition, most of the time it's due to poor oral health-care routines. Show your mouth that you care by brushing and flossing every day."

Heart & Stroke and Roots team up to help raise awareness during Heart Month
Prenatal and Postpartum Nurse Practitioner Services Cut at Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

 Heart & Stroke is excited to announce a collaboration with Canadian lifestyle brand Roots. The new partnership kicks-off with a selection of limited-edition Roots items, including a Heart & Stroke toque that well-known Canadians are modelling on their social media channels this month. The Roots items feature the new Heart & Stroke logo that debuted last November. The sale of these unique items will go towards helping support the cause.

"Teaming up with an iconic brand like Roots during Heart Month will help raise awareness about the devastating impact that heart disease and stroke has on Canadians," says Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Heart & Stroke. "In conversations with Roots, we discovered we share a passion for fighting heart disease and stroke, and a common vision for healthy lives."

"We're also enthused to be collaborating on a campaign that brings style and substance together; it is sure to reach a greater number of Canadians about the urgency of our cause," adds Craig. "We need Canadians' support to drive progress and produce the medical breakthroughs that save lives. We're excited to give people a way to 'wear' their support for Heart & Stroke!

"Roots is involved because heart disease tragically affects many of our employees, their families, our customers and communities coast-to-coast," said Jim Gabel, President and CEO, Roots Canada. "We believe through direct work with Heart & Stroke we can increase awareness and make a genuine difference in finding solutions to combat these terrible diseases."

Celebrity Partnerships

Heart & Stroke is asking Canadian celebrities, including actors, musicians and athletes to show their support for the organization by taking a picture of themselves wearing their Roots Heart & Stroke toque and then posting it to their favourite social media channel to help raise awareness on a larger scale.

But it's not just celebrities who can help. People across Canada can show their support for the fight against heart disease and stroke by snapping a photo of themselves wearing their Roots Heart & Stroke toque or leather bracelet and posting it with #MoreMoments. By literally wearing their hearts on their heads in Heart Month and beyond, Canadians can make a difference in raising awareness and supporting the cause.

About the Limited-edition Roots items

To get involved this Heart Month, visit roots.com to purchase an item from the limited-edition collection, including:

Limited-edition Roots Heart & Stroke Toque, CAD $26.00
Limited-edition Roots Heart & Stroke Leather Bracelets, CAD $10.00
In addition, starting today, Roots is furthering support of the cause by including a signature FAST Signs of Stroke leather tag with the purchase of every leather bag on roots.com during Heart Month.

For more information, please visit www.heartandstroke.ca.

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is angered following notification that Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit management has cut invaluable Nurse Practitioner services provided to mothers, babies and families in the communities of Haldimand and Norfolk.

"In yet another decision that puts dollars ahead of our patients' health, this employer has chosen to cut our highly educated Nurse Practitioner and opt for the community's new mothers, babies and families to pay the price," said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "It's so disheartening to see the decisions being made that will cut the excellent care and services our NP provides to our most vulnerable group of patients."

Health unit management provided notice to ONA that it would cut the NP's position on February 8, 2017; management cited a decrease in Ministry funding to maternal & child health programs.

However, notes McKenna, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services reports no decrease to maternal and child health program funding provided to the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

The Health Unit has one Nurse Practitioner who provides prenatal and postnatal care to many populations, including teen mothers and those who are experiencing difficulty accessing medical care. Children of women receiving prenatal or postpartum care by the Nurse Practitioner may also receive wellness care up to the age of six years. Other services provided include well baby check-ups, pregnancy testing, birth control counselling, immunization for children 0 to six years old, and cervical screening and breast exams.

"Cutting this position means no NP services for vulnerable patients and clients in the community," says McKenna. "Many patients are without a family doctor and our highly educated NP fills this gap, providing outreach services in Simcoe, Caledonia, Dunnville and Langton. NPs perform all necessary physical assessments, order laboratory tests and x-rays, diagnose and treat common illnesses and injuries, write prescriptions, and provide counselling and education. Services are provided free of charge. The end of Nurse Practitioner Services will close the Mothers Care Clinic offered to residents in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties.

McKenna urges citizens to protest the cut of this vital NP by writing or calling the health unit, their local councilor and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Nurses know our patients depend on our care and their health depends on it." Visit www.ona.org/hnhu to send a message. Local health unit nurses plan to raise public awareness by leafleting in the coming days.

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses


New coordinated system of heart attack care aims to decrease treatment delays, save lives

- Two new Ontario-wide heart attack protocols for paramedic services and emergency departments that aim to saves lives went into effect February 1.

For patients experiencing chest pain who call 911, the Ontario ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Bypass Protocol enables paramedic services to bypass the local emergency department and transport patients having a STEMI heart attack directly to a hospital that can open the blocked coronary artery and provide a primary intervention. STEMI is a form of a heart attack that can cause death if not treated within minutes.

In Ontario, the frequency of STEMIs is approximately 68 of every 100,000 adult residents, a total of about 7,000 STEMIs per year. Timely reperfusion (the opening of a blocked coronary artery) requires early diagnosis via an electrocardiogram (ECG) and transportation to an advanced cardiac hospital via paramedics.

"Calling 911 means quicker treatment because paramedics are trained to recognize heart attack symptoms," said Doctor Madhu Natarajan, Chair Ontario STEMI Network, Director, Cardiac Cath lab Hamilton; Professor of Medicine, Cardiology at Mc Master University, Interventional Cardiology, Hamilton Health Sciences. "[They] can begin treatment and call ahead to the emergency department and take you to the right place at the right time."

Any heart attack treatment begins with paramedics who have the medical expertise to complete an assessment and perform an ECG to determine if patients are having a STEMI heart attack. With the new protocol, paramedics can bypass the local hospital and transport directly to an advanced cardiac hospital where an interventional cardiologist can restore blood flow to the blocked coronary artery.

"When individuals experience symptoms of a heart attack (i.e. chest/arm pain, nausea, sweating, and shortness of breath) it is very important that they call 911," said Peter F. Dundas, Chief, Peel Regional Paramedic Services, Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs. "The Emergency Department STEMI Protocol ensures standardized, best practice care for all STEMI patients in Ontario."

All emergency departments (ED) in Ontario now utilize a standard STEMI ED protocol when caring for patients experiencing a STEMI heart attack. Educational tools and resources have been distributed to every Emergency Department in Ontario to support implementation of the protocol.

The protocols also include standard care algorithms for patients that reside in remote regions.

The STEMI Protocols were developed in consultation with the CCN, the Ontario Association of Paramedic Chiefs, the Ontario Base Hospital Group Executive Committee, the Ontario Base Hospital Group Medical Advisory Committee, Toronto Paramedic Services and Ornge.

The Cardiac Care Network (CCN), under the direction of the Provincial Programs Branch (PPB), took the lead on the development of the Ontario STEMI Bypass Protocol through their Ontario STEMI Network, which included cardiologists, hospital administrators, base hospital medical directors and paramedics from across the province.

In Canada, there is a death every seven minutes due to heart disease or stroke. In 2008, myocardial infarctions (MI) made up 23 per cent of deaths related to cardiovascular disease. Most deaths caused by myocardial infarctions occur out-of-hospital.

For more information on the Ontario ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) Bypass Protocol, visit http://ow.ly/OL91308McQL.

Is 3D Mammography more effective in detecting breast cancer?​

Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre and the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC) have opened the Ottawa site of the Lead-In to the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST). The Breast Health Centre is one of three clinical trial sites to launch the Lead-In in Canada. It is expected that shortly this trial will be integrated into a larger U.S./Canada TMIST, managed by the ECOG-ACRIN Cooperative Clinical Trials Group.

TMIST is the first large randomized, multi-centre study to assess whether a novel "3D" digital tomosynthesis technology combined with 2D digital mammography may be more effective at reducing the incidence of advanced breast cancers than conventional 2D mammography alone. Previous smaller studies suggest that this new kind of mammography can increase breast cancer detection and reduce the rate of false positives and recalls for women who do not have cancer. If successful, implementation of this technology would provide greater assurance of an effective test, reduce patient stress and anxiety, and ultimately reduce costs to the health-care system. The current Lead-In study aims to enroll 6,300 women in Canada, including 2,000 from Ottawa. Women attending mammographic screening at the Breast Health Centre may be approached to participate.

Digital breast tomosynthesis uses multiple low-dose images of the breast that are layered into a pseudo 3D view instead of the traditional 2D views. As information is not superimposed, tomosynthesis creates a richer and clearer image that may help avoid missing cancers that may be hidden in surrounding breast tissue.

"Tomosynthesis is the most advanced and exciting technology for mammography," said Dr. Jean Seely, Head of Breast Imaging at the Breast Health Centre, associate professor at the University of Ottawa and lead investigator of TMIST Lead-In in Ottawa. "When the full study begins, it will be the largest and most important study to evaluate both 3D and 2D mammography technology together. Outcomes of the study will allow us to decide how we move forward from 2D to 3D screening. Our goal is to improve on ways to detect important cancers as early as possible in order to save lives."

"We are pleased to collaborate and help fund this critical trial," said Dugald Seely, naturopathic doctor, Executive Director of the OICC, and co-investigator of TMIST in Ottawa. "Imaging and mammography are stressful events. The OICC is committed to supporting women so that they receive the best diagnostic technology, limiting unnecessary anxiety and ultimately reducing the burden of disease. The screening program is potentially revolutionary and we hope will be more accurate in correctly finding breast cancers that may not otherwise be diagnosed."

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death amongst women between 40 and 50 years of age. At The Ottawa Hospital there are one thousand new cases of breast cancer diagnosed per year.

Screening mammography has been shown to reduce the mortality of breast cancer. Specifically, women with breast cancer who underwent prior screening had a death rate of approximately six percent after five years compared to 15 percent for people who did not undergo screening. Despite this fact, there is extensive controversy surrounding screening. The harms of high numbers of false positives from 2D mammography have called screening into question. For every 100 women who are recalled for additional testing, more than 90 will have a normal finding or benign disease. This high number of initial false positives creates stress for women and may lead to decreased screening use, with a potential greater loss of lives from undetected cancer. It is hoped that tomosynthesis technology will reduce false positives, improve sensitivity and overall accuracy of digital mammograms.

The full TMIST study of 165,000 women will be led by Dr. Etta Pisano, Dean Emerita, College of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina and current Vice-Chair of Research in the Department of Radiology at Beth Israel Deakoness Medical Center, Harvard University. The Canadian Lead-in study is being led by Dr. Martin Yaffe, Senior Scientist, Imaging Research, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Professor of Depts. Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging, at University of Toronto.

This study has been approved by the Ottawa Health Science Network Research Ethics Board. Further details are available on the Canadian Cancer Trials website.

Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement Launches Call for Innovations in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

  The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement today launched an open call for innovations in palliative and end-of life care. Of the approximately 220,000 Canadians who die each year, an estimated 70 percent do not have access to palliative services – and for many a palliative approach or referral is initiated only within the last weeks of life. By identifying palliative care innovations, we can improve access and spread a palliative approach across health systems.

CFHI is calling on individuals and teams with demonstrated or emerging innovations in palliative care to apply. Selected applicants will:

Receive a 2017 CFHI Innovation Award and be recognized as an innovator;
Present their innovation at the CFHI CEO Forum, held June 21, 2017 in Toronto; and
Benefit from CFHI support to identify opportunities to spread their innovation.
"Strengthening timely access to high-quality palliative care is a shared priority for Canadians," says Maureen O'Neil, CFHI President. "Fortunately, we know there are innovations across this country and CFHI is calling on innovators to apply to our open call and work with us to deliver better palliative care, sooner."

A palliative care innovation is a model, program, approach or tool that is improving – or has the potential to improve – the experience, quality of life and value-for-money provided by palliative care for people with life-limiting conditions and their families. These innovations can be emerging or demonstrated: new ways of delivering care that show promising results for patients and families, or ones that outperform current practice.

For more information on the open call, visit http://www.cfhi-fcass.ca/WhatWeDo/palliative-care

The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is a not-for-profit organization funded by Health Canada. CFHI identifies proven innovations and accelerates their spread across Canada by supporting healthcare organizations to adapt, implement and measure improvements in patient care, population health and value for money. Visit cfhi-fcass.ca for more information.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Health Canada.

Statement from Health Canada on the Testing of Cannabis for Medical Purposes for Unauthorized Pest Control Products

 Recently, two licensed producers of cannabis for medical purposes undertook voluntary recalls of cannabis products that contained low levels of prohibited pest control products (myclobutanil/bifenazate/pyrethrins). Under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), licensed producers are permitted to use only the 13 pest control products that are currently approved for use on cannabis under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).

In response to these events, Health Canada announced today that it will begin conducting random testing of medical cannabis products produced by licensed producers, to provide added assurance to Canadians that they are receiving safe, quality-controlled product. Health Canada will test these products to ensure that only authorized pest control products are used during the production of medical cannabis.

When any health and safety issue is found with a medical cannabis product, the first priority for Health Canada and the licensed producer is to protect the health and safety of clients by ensuring that they are informed and that the affected product is recalled. Following a recall, an investigation is carried out, and corrective actions are taken. This process was followed in both recalls mentioned above.

Health Canada is satisfied with the outreach to affected clients by the licenced producers. Corrective actions have been implemented by both companies, including an expanded testing regime that covers myclobutanil and other pest control products.

The Department will be providing additional compliance education and information to licensed producers to support their efforts to strengthen controls and safeguards to reduce the risk of the use of unauthorized pest control products. This will include communicating with all licensed producers to remind them of their obligations under the ACMPR and the PCPA.

The expanded product testing program will further enhance the Department's existing regime of regular unannounced inspections of licensed producer facilities, as well as the controls in place by licensed producers. Health Canada is committed to continuously improving on safety practices even though existing programs demonstrate effectiveness in identifying issues of non-compliance.

Health Canada remains committed to working closely with the 38 licensed producers to ensure that Canadians can have full confidence in their source of safe, quality-controlled cannabis for medical purposes.


Survey Finds Peer Pressure Influences Hand Washing 

Sometimes peer pressure can produce positive results. A recent survey reveals that Americans are more likely to wash their hands after using a public restroom if others are around.

More than half say the presence of other people causes them to adjust their actions in one of two ways. They'll either make sure they wash their hands or they'll wash longer or more thoroughly. The insights come from the annual Healthy Hand Washing Survey conducted by Bradley Corporation.

The survey also found that a written reminder posted in a restroom can influence behavior. Almost 40% of Americans admit they're more likely to wash their hands after seeing a sign that requires employees to wash before returning to work.

However, it's men in particular who seem to heed the notice. When broken down by gender, 44% of men say signage motivates them to clean their hands while only 34% of women claim it affects them.

Another external factor that impacts hand washing habits is seasonal flu outbreaks. 70% of survey respondents report they suds up more frequently, more thoroughly or longer when they hear about a flu virus going around.

That means this year the suds should be flying since a majority of Americans are more concerned about contracting the flu as compared to last year. Interestingly, it's young adults (age 18-34) who are the most worried. 69% say they're extremely or quite concerned about getting the flu. When older adults (age 55+) were asked the same question, just 35% expressed concern.

"Hand washing should be second nature for everyone throughout the year. During cold and flu season, it's especially important to wash your hands thoroughly and vigorously with soap and water to help protect yourself from getting sick," says Jon Dommisse, director of global marketing and strategic development at Bradley Corp.

Apparently, not everyone is getting the hand washing message. The survey divulges that 82% of Americans frequently or occasionally see others leave a public restroom without washing. And, 67% confess they've taken a short cut by skipping the soap and simply rinsing with water.

Thankfully, a majority of Americans do feel there are times when hand washing is a must. Those instances include after sneezing or coughing, handling a sick child and using a shopping cart or visiting a doctor's office.

Respondents also implement preventative measures to avoid getting or passing germs on. Nearly 60% say they wash their hands more frequently to protect themselves and others. A majority also stay home when they're sick and sneeze into the crook of their elbow to prevent germs from spreading.

In addition, those who are ill often change the way they greet people. Approximately half bypass shaking hands and instead rely on a wave or fist bump. Unfortunately, there is a group who doesn't adapt. 15% throw caution to the wind and don't alter their greeting method when they're sick.

The annual Healthy Hand Washing survey queried 1,042 American adults online Dec. 12-15, 2016 about their hand washing habits in public restrooms and concerns about germs, colds and the flu. Participants were from around the country, were 18 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (49 and 51 percent).

For 95 years, Bradley Corporation has designed and manufactured commercial washroom and emergency safety products, and today is the industry's leading source for commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, restroom partitions, solid plastic lockers, and emergency safety fixtures and industrial grade electric tankless heaters. Headquartered in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Bradley serves the commercial, industrial, health care, retail, and education markets worldwide. For more information, contact Bradley at 1-800-BRADLEY or www.bradleycorp.com.


Request for Proposals Issued for Michael Garron Hospital - A Division of Toronto East Health Network - Phase 1 New Patient Care Tower Project

​ Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Michael Garron Hospital (formerly Toronto East General Hospital), a division of Toronto East Health Network, have issued a request for proposals (RFP) to three companies to design, build and finance the new patient care tower project at the hospital.

Teams invited to submit proposals were selected based on their design and construction capability, experience, and the financial capacity to deliver a project of this size and complexity.

Based on a fair and open request for qualifications process that began in June 2016, the following companies have been invited to submit formal proposals:

EllisDon Infrastructure Healthcare (EDIH)

Design Build: EllisDon Design Build Inc.
Design Team: B+H Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects
Financial Advisor: EllisDon Capital
PCL Partnership

Design Build: PCL Constructor Canada Inc.
Design Team: Parkin Architects Limited and WZMH Architects
Financial Advisor: TD Securities
Walsh Toronto East Health Partners

Design Build: Walsh Canada
Design Team: Perkins + Will and Cumulus Architects
Financial Advisor: Walsh Infrastructure Canada Ltd.
Teams will have approximately six months to prepare RFP submissions. Once the submissions are received, IO and Michael Garron Hospital will evaluate them and select the successful bidder. The winning bidder is expected to be announced in November 2017, with construction expected to begin in early 2018.

The project involves the construction of a new eight-story patient care tower and three-story podium, as well as demolition of some existing wings and selected renovations to the existing hospital at the connection points. Approximately 550,000 square feet of the hospital will be redeveloped, including:

Replacement of the oldest beds in the medical/surgical and rehabilitation units
Replacement of the mental health inpatient units for adult and child/youth care
Consolidation of ambulatory care and ambulatory procedures
Creation of two levels of underground parking and a new main entrance
Accommodation of other administrative and support services needed to support the clinical services
The project also involves renovation of approximately 100,000 square feet of select areas within the existing hospital.

The redevelopment project will enable the delivery of efficient, accessible, high-quality patient care, while replacing some of the oldest spaces in the hospital.

Findings published in Nature show the potential of a messenger RNA vaccine to protect against Zika virus​

Acuitas Therapeutics Inc., a private biotechnology company developing state-of-the-art lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology for messenger RNA (mRNA), announced today publication of data demonstrating that single low dose immunization with a messenger RNA delivered in an Acuitas LNP carrier has the potential to protect against infection by Zika virus. In a paper published today in Nature, Acuitas' scientists and academic researchers including Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, a professor of Infectious Diseases in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania showed that single low-dose immunization with mRNA-LNP encoding the pre-membrane and envelope (prM-E) glycoproteins of a Zika virus strain responsible for the 2013 outbreak elicited potent, durable and protective neutralizing antibody responses in animals.

"I am delighted that our long-standing collaboration with Dr. Weissman continues to demonstrate the exciting clinical potential of mRNA therapeutics. The current data show that a single low dose administration of mRNA-LNP encoding a Zika protein completely protected animals from a subsequent challenge with the virus. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Dr. Weissman to further advance this exciting new therapeutic modality," said Thomas Madden, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Acuitas Therapeutics.

About messenger RNA (mRNA)
Messenger RNA is a natural molecule that allows cells to produce proteins. Information that codes for a specific protein is contained on genes in the cell nucleus. This information is transcribed into a message (mRNA), which then migrates out of the nucleus and is translated into the specific protein. Synthetic mRNA can be introduced into a cell using Acuitas LNP carriers to direct the cell to produce a therapeutic protein. Such therapeutic proteins could replace a missing or defective protein, be an antibody to protect against infection, or provide a protective immune response (i.e. a vaccine).

Government of Canada kicks off Heart Health Month with investments in heart research

Heart disease is the second-leading cause of death in Canada, and research in this area is an important tool in improving the lives of Canadians affected by this disease. Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced an investment of almost $2.9 million to fund five research projects that will support new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat heart disease.

Philpott said, "We are committed to supporting world-class health research in Canada, including the important work being done at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute – one of our country's top cardiac care and research facilities."

Minister Philpott made the announcement during a tour of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute at the start of Heart Health Month. She was joined by three Members of Parliament – the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Anita Vandenbeld, MP for Ottawa West-Nepean; and Mark Holland, MP for Ajax.

The investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research will fund five cutting-edge research projects:

Dr. David Birnie received over $600,000 to conduct the first study of its kind in the world to learn more about cardiac sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that can cause sudden death

Dr. Wenbin Liang received $577,000 to study how to develop more effective therapies for treating irregular heartbeats, a condition which affects over 1 million Canadians

Dr. Ruth McPherson received $263,000 to research new ways to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which affects around 20 per cent of Canadian adults and increases the risk of heart disease

Dr. Katey Rayner received almost $980,000 to study how to diagnose and treat the buildup of plaque in the arteries before a heart attack happens

Dr. Benjamin Rotstein received over $462,000 to develop new imaging techniques to identify plaque buildup in arteries which have the potential to lead to heart attack or stroke

Dr. Alain Beaudet, President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said, "The grant recipients we are celebrating today are advancing scientific discovery through their ground-breaking research, and translating this research into better health and patient care for Canadians. I salute their efforts in creating an environment where research is brought from bench to bedside in such a seamless and efficient way."

Recover capacity and ensure patient safety, open 50 permanent hospital beds in Windsor, province urged

 The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) today called on the province to open at least 50 fully-funded and permanent hospital beds for Windsor Regional Hospital. The beds are needed to deal with the strain on the hospital system to stem the persistent bed capacity problem, recently highlighted by the influx of patients suffering from the flu.

The Ontario government's "fixation with a policy of few beds, few staff, very high bed occupancy and too low funding, is causing serious capacity problems at Windsor Regional Hospital and hospitals across Ontario," says OCHU president Michael Hurley.

Data shows that Ontario has the fewest hospital beds of any province in Canada and the fewest staff for those beds. In less than two decades Ontario has cut more than 18,000 hospital beds. The result is that, like in Windsor, many Ontario hospitals are reeling from high bed occupancy rates and in many cases are overcapacity for long periods of time with ad hoc patient beds being put in tub rooms, solariums and emergency department hallways.

"All this poses potential harm to patients who are entitled to timely and safe hospital care. Unfortunately patients are being put at risk because our hospitals don't have enough beds to admit those who require in-hospital care. We urge the health minister to act and restore 50 fully-funded beds to the Windsor hospital immediately," says Michael Hurley.
Windsor Regional Hospital has 543 beds total between its two campuses. Adding 50 permanent beds (about a 10 per cent increase) would bring the hospital's bed capacity to 593. A level high enough to deal with the recent patient surges the hospital has been challenged with.

Ontario spends among the least amount of money of any of the provinces on hospitals. Data shows hospitals in the other provinces are funded at 25 per cent more, than Ontario on hospitals.

"Continuing to run our hospital system with no spare bed capacity, indeed at most times, over 100 per cent full, is the opposite of the 'first do no harm' principle that our health system is based on. Experts say capacity over 85 per cent is dangerous. How can patient safety be assured when hospitals are too full, and at between 100 and 115 per cent capacity?" Hurley asks.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) maintains in their 2017 pre-budget submission to government that hospitals have made $4.5 billion in budget cuts on behalf of the province. The OHA says the average occupancy has grown to more than 92 per cent at Ontario's hospitals. Studies show that bed occupancies upwards of 85 per cent are associated with greater risks for patients including higher risk of infection. Overcrowding also creates problems handling both emergency and elective admissions. At the Windsor hospital, which has dealt with overcrowding for a sustained period of time, surgeries have been cancelled.

"A risk assessment applied to the capacity of the Ontario hospital system would show seriously insufficient bed levels. This is not a blip. There is absolutely no surge capacity in the system and hospital staff from nurses to cleaners are working at an exhausting pace, because they have too many patients to care for," says Hurley.

Ontario's Financial Accountability Office estimates health care needs about a 5.3 per cent annual increase to meet basic costs, driven higher than inflation by drugs and medical technologies.

On Monday, February 6 hospital and long-term care staff from southwestern Ontario will join a large community rally calling for a 5 per cent provincial funding increase for hospitals in 2017 and a commitment of on-going stable funding.


Health Canada and Canadian Cancer Society launch renewed Break It Off campaign

 Tobacco use and smoking rates in Canada are some of the lowest they have ever been; however, studies show that youth and young adults continue to smoke. To help more Canadians, especially young adults, give up smoking, Health Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society today launched the fourth tour of the Break It Off tobacco cessation campaign.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health said, "Every year, thousands of Canadians die from preventable illnesses related to smoking, and thousands of young Canadians start smoking. This is unacceptable. Successful programs such as Break It Off are such an important tool in our fight against smoking as they help deliver the message that quitting smoking is possible and that help is available."

The Break It Off campaign encourages young adult smokers to "break off" their bad relationship with smoking and stay smoke-free. The Break It Off website has tools and resources that will help young adults work through the various stages of breaking up with smoking. This year's campaign builds on successes from the last three years, and aims to get young adults involved through a series of interactive activities and events at Canadian university and college campuses.

The Break It Off tour began on January 30, 2017 with an event at La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa. On January 31, 2017, the campaign makes a stop at British Columbia Institute of Technology as well as Algonquin College's Woodroffe Campus in Ottawa. Health Canada encourages young Canadians to visit the Break It Off website to access smoking cessation resources, and to see when a campus event will be in their community.

Sunglasses: Your Must-Have Winter Accessory? 

Sunglasses have long been considered the perfect warm-weather accessory. After all, a great pair of shades are just what your eyes need to protect them from the bright Summer sun. But did you realize that sunglasses can be just as important, if not more, during the cold months of Winter? Here are some reasons why a pair of high-quality, polarized sunglasses, like those from Hawaiian-born Maui Jim® Sunglasses, should be your must-have Winter accessory.

One obvious reason sunglasses can be so beneficial in Winter is also the first thing most of us associate with the colder months: Snow. While the fluffy white stuff can provide a wonderland of Winter fun, it can also wreak havoc on your eyes. Per the Vision Council of America, snow reflects up to 85% of harmful UV rays. Too much direct eye exposure to UV rays can lead to a painful condition known as photokeratitis, more commonly known as "snow blindness."

Essentially a sunburn of the cornea, photokeratitis causes burning, irritation and in extreme cases, temporary loss of vision. Luckily, this can all be avoided by wearing sunglasses that offer high-quality UV protection. Maui Jim Sunglasses, for example, feature their patented PolarizedPlus2® lens technology, which blocks 100% of harmful UV rays and 99% of reflected glare, another potentially dangerous condition often present when snow and sun collide.

Another much less obvious reason Winter is prime for sunglasses is the angle of sun during the season. In Winter, the sun sits lower in the sky, leading to more direct exposure of UV rays than in Summer months. This can be especially problematic when afternoon drive times coincide with the setting Winter sun, where UV rays and reflected glare can make for dangerous driving conditions. Again, not only will a proper pair of quality, polarized sunglasses, like Maui Jim's Kawika style, lead to a safer Winter drive, they'll also make sure you look great doing it.

Remember: just because the temps drop, that doesn't mean eye health becomes any less of a concern. So, whether you're shredding the slopes or simply making the cold slog home through the snow, a pair of quality sunglasses should be a crucial part of your Winter accessory arsenal.

Kids Help Phone and the Desjardins Foundation have joined forces to support our youth

 Kids Help Phone, the only national helpline for young people, is pleased to announce it can count on the continued support of the Desjardins Foundation. Through the Foundation's gift of $30,000, the charitable organization will expand its Live Chat counselling service, thereby increasing its support for the improved mental health and well-being of even more young people living in Quebec and Ontario.

"Our statistics show that through online chatting, we are able to reach kids who would not have used a helpline like ours—the chat service provides them with the intimacy, anonymity and security they're looking for," explains Marie-Claude Landry, Interim Regional Director for Kids Help Phone. "This kind of gift is exciting and uplifting because it means that kids will be able to get help when they need it most and in a way that works for them," she adds.

"Youth are at the heart of the Desjardins Foundation's priorities. We're convinced that by partnering with Kids Help Phone, an organization that provides innovative services, we'll be able to make a bigger difference for the many kids and their families who find themselves in need," says Diane Derome, Executive Director of the Desjardins Foundation.

For more than 25 years, hundreds of kids have been reaching out to Kids Help Phone every day for help. In addition to its helpline and online resources for youth, the organization offers real-time chat services with a professional counsellor 5 evenings a week. Thanks to the Desjardins Foundation's commitment, Kids Help Phone's chat service will become more accessible and will boost the number of chat sessions with youth throughout Quebec and Ontario.

Heart & Stroke - The food and beverage industry is marketing our children and youth to death

​Heart & Stroke wants Canadians to know as far as nutrition is concerned, the kids are not alright; our children and youth are bombarded with ads for unhealthy products all day, every day, influencing their food and beverage choices. This is having a devastating effect on their health and setting up conflict at home.

Marketing is big business and it is sophisticated. Millions of dollars are spent targeting children and youth through multiple channels including TV and online and in multiple settings. New research reveals that over 90% of food and beverage product ads viewed by kids and teens online are for unhealthy products, and collectively kids between the ages of two and 11 see 25 million food and beverage ads a year on their top 10 favourite websites.

It is time for this marketing storm to stop. One of the most effective ways to protect kids and support parents is to implement strong restrictions on the commercial marketing of food and beverages to children and youth, and Heart & Stroke is calling on government to table and pass legislation without delay.

The Heart & Stroke 2017 Report on the Health of Canadians examines how unlimited food and beverage marketing targeted at Canadian kids is negatively affecting preferences and choices, their family relationships and their health. We polled Canadians to understand their perspectives and we commissioned one of the country's leading researchers to examine the volume of digital food and beverage advertising to Canadian children and teens, to assess the quality of the products, and to examine how well industry is regulating itself — the first research of its kind in the country.

"Heart & Stroke is committed to giving kids the best start for a long, healthy life," says Diego Marchese, Interim CEO and Executive Vice President, Heart & Stroke. "Pushing for legislation to restrict food and beverage marketing to children and youth may seem like a bold measure, but given experts' prediction that today's children may be the first generation to have poorer health and shorter lifespans than their parents, we need to be bold."

Eat healthy early, eat healthy often

Healthy eating is one of the most important factors for overall health and good habits start early in life. At the same time, unhealthy eating is a leading risk for death in Canada, starting in childhood and building through life.

Since 1979, the number of Canadian children with obesity has tripled, with almost one in three children overweight or obese. Obesity rates are influenced by the amount of marketing kids are exposed to, and it puts children and adolescents at risk for many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is not surprising given the majority of the products marketed to kids are for unhealthy products; something Canadians understand. According to our poll 72% believe the food and beverage industry markets its products directly to children and 78% believe these products are unhealthy.

"We have seen a transition in the last few decades," says Dr. Norm Campbell, Heart & Stroke CIHR Chair in Hypertension. "For the first time we have kids who have spent their whole lives eating unhealthy diets high in processed foods."

Family food fights

Marketers understand the power that kids hold; the 'nag factor' has considerable influence over what their parents buy. According to our poll, 71% of Canadians believe that because the food and beverage industry spends so much money on advertising to kids, it has an unfair advantage over parents when it comes to influencing children's eating and drinking habits.

"The effect on families is often corrosive or disruptive," says Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chair, Childhood Obesity Foundation. "Parents love their kids and want them to flourish but marketing persuades kids to want junk food and drinks. Part of the goal of that persuasion is setting up a conflict between kids and parents. Kids agitate for these products."

Not your grandmother's commercials

TV is still a dominant medium for advertising to children, but as children spend more time online digital marketing is growing. On behalf of Heart & Stroke, Dr. Monique Potvin Kent, an expert on food and beverage marketing and children's nutrition reviewed food and beverage advertising on children's (ages 2–11) and youths' (ages 12–17) top 10 websites over a one-year period, assessing both the volume of ads and the nutritional quality of the products.

"I could not get over the numbers, there are many ads on TV directed at kids and it's even higher for teens, but there are only so many spots available, there is a limit. On the Internet there are absolutely no limits." says Dr. Potvin Kent "The level of food and beverage marketing online is very high and almost all products advertised are unhealthy," she adds.

Dr. Potvin Kent's research revealed the following:

In one year collectively children (ages 2–11) viewed over 25 million food and beverage ads on their favourite websites.
Over 90 per cent of food and beverage product ads viewed by children and teens online are for unhealthy products – processed foods and beverages high in fat, sodium, or sugar.
The most frequently advertised products on children's favourite websites are Kellogg's Pop Tarts, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, McDonald's Happy Meal, Red Bull Energy Drink, and Kraft Lunchables.
The most frequently advertised food and beverage products on teens' favourite websites are Kellogg's Pop Tarts, Kellogg's Froot Loops, Red Bull Energy Drink, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, and Tim Hortons' Roll Up the Rim to Win.
The most frequently advertised product categories on children's favourite websites are restaurants, cakes, cookies, ice cream and cereal.
The most frequently advertised food and beverage product categories on teens' favourite websites are cakes, cookies and ice cream, cereal, restaurants and sugar sweetened beverages.
Industry self-regulation is a failure

For the past 10 years the food and beverage industry has set its own standards and self-regulated its marketing through the Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI). The program is not mandatory and the nutrient criteria is weak. More troubling, advertising to kids has actually increased over the past decade.

"Look at the CAI's latest report and some of the foods they say are 'healthier dietary choices' and are therefore advertised to kids: Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Eggo Waffles. At which breakfast tables are these considered healthy choices?" asks Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Heart & Stroke.

Dr. Potvin Kent's research reveals grave weaknesses in the CAI approach and its criteria, given the high volume of unhealthy food and beverage marketing seen by children and youth. In fact, her study shows that companies participating in the CAI are the worst offenders. Three-quarters of the unhealthy ads viewed by children and youth were from companies that participate in the CAI.

Legislation means a fair fight for everyone

"I get irritated when I am told these types of restrictions are about the government trying to control parents. This is the type of policy that supports parents. Parents are doing the best job they can but our environment makes it hard; every environment we go into is filled with products high in sugar and fat," says Dr. Potvin Kent.

This legislation is about protecting our kids from harm, just like we have done with car seat laws and restrictions on smoking.

Restrictions on marketing to kids has been implemented and shown to work in jurisdictions around the world. The best example is in Quebec where legislation has been in place for 30 years and has been associated with a 13% reduction in the likelihood to purchase fast food, and Quebec also has the lowest obesity rate in Canada among children ages 6 – 11 years, and the highest rate of vegetable and fruit consumption. It also establishes a level playing field for business. Even if the voluntary criteria were strong, companies who comply and put children's health first would be at a competitive disadvantage, and industry's priority is to maximize profits.

Seventy-seven per cent of Canadians feel entitled to workplace health benefits

Entitled is not a word typically used to describe Canadians, but when it comes to workplace health benefits, some believe these plans are a right. According to the most recent Sun Life Canadian Health Index, 77 per cent of Canadians surveyed feel all employees are entitled to receive a health benefits plan sponsored by their employer. Forty-nine per cent strongly agree and 27 per cent somewhat agree with this statement.

"Workplace health benefits play an essential part in our health care system because they help Canadians pay for medical expenses that aren't typically covered by their provincial plan, covering nearly $30 billion per year1 in health care expenditures," said Brigitte Parent, Senior Vice-President, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. "Canadians and their families have come to depend on these health benefits as they provide tremendous support towards their physical, mental and financial well-being."

According to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, 24 million Canadians have supplemental health insurance through their employer or their spouse/partner's employer.

When it comes to employer health benefits, a little more than half of working Canadians recognize the health and wellness support their employers are providing them. The latest Canadian Health Index survey found that:

64 per cent said their employer supports their physical health;

58 per cent said the same about their mental health; and

26 per cent said their employer offers programs or initiatives that promote health and wellness.

What do Canadians expect from their workplace health benefits?

Sun Life's recent Generations survey looked at what Canadians want from their benefits plan across generations. Only 37 per cent of Canadians with benefits surveyed said their plan fully met their needs.

Some key themes from the Generations survey include:

A strong desire for flexibility. This desire spread across all generations. When given the option to choose flexibility or increased coverage, survey respondents indicated a need for both, at 45 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively.

Need for mental health initiatives. Gen Z* (78 per cent), and Millennials** (76 per cent), were most likely to acknowledge mental health as central to their overall health. This demonstrates that younger employees would be more receptive to use mental health resources offered by employers, whereas older employees could benefit from awareness and anti-stigma programming.

Financial health support. Seventy per cent of the survey respondents believe that employers have a responsibility in supporting their financial health. Personal financial planning should be a key feature to make benefits plans more robust for employees.

"Although employees are at different stages of their life, what they want, need and value from a group benefits plan is in many cases quite similar," explains Parent. "With growing diversity in the workplace and increasing expectations of personalization, flexibility and customization are key to ensuring employees are getting what they want and need from their benefits package."

For more key findings and results on the 2016 Sun Life Canadian Health Index, visit www.sunlife.ca/CanadianHealthIndex. For more information on healthy living and financial planning, visit Learn and Plan.

GOJO Shares Tips On How To Reduce The Spread Of Norovirus

​It's not only cold and flu season; it's also norovirus season. Norovirus typically peaks between December and April, and right now there are wide-spread outbreaks of norovirus cases throughout the United States, according to media reports.1

Norovirus Symptoms
Sometimes called the "stomach flu," norovirus is the most common cause of acute viral gastroenteritis around the world, and the most common cause of foodborne illness in the United States.2 Norovirus is highly contagious and can be found in a person's stool even before they start feeling sick and for two weeks after they feel better.3 Symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last approximately one to three days. The most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

Symptoms usually appear 12 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and last approximately one to three days. The most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain.

How Norovirus Spreads
Norovirus spreads quickly and rapidly, people can become infected with it by:

Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, most likely prepared by an individual who is infected with the virus
Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus, for example, when sharing foods, utensils with them4
Steps to Reduce the Spread of Norovirus
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, follow these steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

Practice good hand hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water at key moments, especially after using the restroom since the virus can spread through stool. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can be used in addition to handwashing.
Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Immediately disinfect and clean contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant and cleaner formulated to kill norovirus. For example, PURELL® Surface Sprays are registered with the EPA and effective at killing norovirus on surfaces in 30 seconds.
Wash laundry thoroughly
Wash fruits and vegetables when preparing food; follow proper food preparation guidelines
Do not prepare meals when you are sick2
"Whether you think you might have a cold, flu or norovirus, it's always important to consult a doctor and take precautionary measures to help you and everyone stay healthy," recommends Jim Arbogast, Ph.D., vice president of hygiene sciences and public health advancements at GOJO.

For more information on hand hygiene and surface disinfection measures, visit PURELL.com or GOJO.com.

About GOJO
GOJO, the inventors of PURELL® Hand Sanitizer, is the leading global producer and marketer of skin health and hygiene solutions for away-from-home settings. The broad GOJO product portfolio includes hand cleaning, handwashing, hand sanitizing, skin care formulas and surface sprays under the GOJO®, PURELL® and PROVON® brand names. GOJO formulations use the latest advances in the science of skin care and sustainability. GOJO is known for state-of-the-art dispensing technology, engineered with attention to design, sustainability and functionality. GOJO programs promote healthy behaviors for hygiene, skin care and compliance in critical environments. GOJO is a privately held, family-owned corporation headquartered in Akron, Ohio, with operations in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada and Brazil.

Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2017, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-stomach-bug-norovirus-rips-through-u-s-schools-1485191421?mg=id-wsj
Lopman et al. 2016. The Vast and Varied Global Burden of Norovirus: Prospects for Prevention and Control. PLoS Medicine 13(4): e1001999. Available at http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001999
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. Retrieved January 26, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/transmission.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Norovirus. Retrieved January 24, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/features/norovirus/

JANUARY 30, 2017

Ontario's doctors united in their fight against provincial government

Today, at a Special Meeting of Council, doctors in Ontario affirmed their confidence in the elected leaders of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). Physicians are united in their goal of sending a strong message to government; and, planning is now underway for job action. This is the direct result of the province's on-going refusal to grant binding arbitration, a fair process, which is afforded to all other health-care workers.

"Ontario's doctors are on the verge of job action because the government has shown itself to be completely unwilling to work with us in a productive, professional, and respectful manner," said Dr. Virginia Walley, President of the OMA. "It is with profound disappointment that we must consider job action in order to achieve binding arbitration, which is necessary to right the current power imbalance with the government. This unfair and unreasonable situation allows the government to impose a health-care agenda on Ontario patients that is being developed without the input of the people that Ontarians trust – their physicians."

Over the last three years, Ontario's doctors have seen the government impose multiple, unilateral cuts to the Physician Services Budget, which funds all of the medical care patients need. Under the current government, sweeping and short-sighted changes to health-care legislation have been pushed through–ignoring input from those who treat patients in the community every day.

A recent survey by the OMA shows that members are more engaged than ever, with a substantial majority endorsing the need for job action if the current government approach continues.

It is a fact that more health-care funding is needed to meet the requirements of our aging and growing population. A recent report from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO), an independent branch of the government, shows a substantial gap between what the province is willing to fund for health care and what it will actually cost to provide Ontarians with the care they need. Ontario's population is growing and aging, yet the FAO clearly points out that that the government is funding less than half of the growth in demand for the necessary care that physicians provide. At the same time, the government is cutting the funds available for front-line physician services and creating vast new, expensive bureaucracies with Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and the new sub-LHINs.

"Physicians cannot, on behalf of our patients and the integrity of the system, allow the government to attack health care any longer," said Dr. Walley. "The government is knowingly underfunding the medically necessary care that patients need and have forced the creation of long wait-lists for tests and treatments."

No further public comment on the Special Meeting of OMA Council will be made at this time.

First 24/7 virtual doctor's 'office' arrives in Canada: New service launches to connect doctors and patients in minutes

Ontario, almost 50 per cent say they would be interested in online visits with Ontario based doctors, if such a service were available.

To help bridge the gap and propel us into the future of healthcare, Canada's first 24/7 online platform that connects patients to licensed physicians in minutes, has officially launched in Ontario this week. "Maple allows Canadians to see a Canadian-licensed doctor online within minutes: twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, anytime, anywhere," said CEO of Maple and Ontario emergency room physician Dr. Brett Belchetz. "Think of it like the Uber that connects doctors and patients."

While telemedicine, the remote delivery of healthcare using interactive text, audio and video technology, has seen massive adoption in other countries like the U.K. and the United States, the service is only now catching up in Canada. Maple allows patients to connect with doctors about conditions that don't require an in person visit via a secure and private web portal. The types of conditions doctors can treat remotely include: eye and ear infections, cold and flu, urinary tract infections, allergic reactions, skin issues and rashes, vomiting and diarrhea, sexual health issues, mental health concerns, and many more, as well as providing sick notes and prescribing medications online as necessary. "Based on my experience as an emergency room physician, at least half of the cases I see do not require a hands-on physical examination, and there is a tremendous demand for more comfortable and efficient access to care in Canada, so people can feel better, faster," says Dr. Belchetz. "This service will help reduce strain on our healthcare system by moving suitable primary care out of our hospitals and into our communities."

The new service, which will expand across the rest of Canada throughout 2017, was designed with patients in mind: the busy working mother, the executive who travels for work, the patient who is too embarrassed to talk to their family doctor about a private issue, etc. Currently, telemedicine visits are not covered by most provincial health plans, including OHIP. Maple's service is pay per use starting at $49, and the cost varies depending on time of day and time of week, with the option for an annual membership fee providing unlimited doctor consultations. The fees cover the doctor's time for the consultations and are reimbursable by many Health Spending Accounts (HSAs). Doctors on Maple are able to provide prescriptions when needed, which can be delivered same-day to your front door.

"As a busy mom with a business and a family to balance, signing up for Maple was a no-brainer," says patient Jodi Kovitz. "I'm on the go at all times, and don't necessarily have 3-4 hours to take my daughter to the walk-in clinic when she's sick. I signed up for the family membership which gives me complete peace-of-mind. I can go online at any time and get my child the quality care she needs within minutes."

"Maple is a complement to the current system, not a substitute," says Dr. Belchetz. "The majority of the doctors on Maple work full-time in clinics or hospitals and are using Maple in their downtime to help patients. Maple is designed for patients who may not have the time or means to travel to the doctor's office. It's safe, private and makes basic healthcare more accessible for everyone."


Bell Let's Talk Day 2017 is one for the record books with 131,705,010 total messages of support - and $6,585,250.50 more funding for Canadian mental health

 It's official! Bell Let's Talk Day 2017 has set all-new records with unprecedented participation in Canada's national conversation about mental health, the largest of its kind in the world. People in Canada and around the globe joined with Clara Hughes and the Bell Let's Talk team to talk about mental health like never before.

"Wow Canada! Thank you! We've shattered records again with a mental health discussion that reached every corner of Canada and points all around the world too. We keep on knocking holes in the dark wall that is stigma, and we keep on growing funding for new research and expanded care as the engagement builds and builds," said Clara. "It's amazing to see the passion and positivity all around as we speak openly about the impact of mental illness on each of us. I've talked to so many people whose lives have been made better by our conversation, and I pass their thanks to you. Because you make it happen!"

Over the 28.5 hours from midnight Newfoundland time to midnight Pacific time, there were 131,705,010 total Bell Let's Talk interactions, including texts, mobile calls and long distance calls by Bell customers, tweets using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag on Twitter, views of the Facebook Bell Let's Talk video, Instagram posts using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, and Snapchats with the Bell Let's Talk geofilter – a 4.6% increase over the 125,915,295 total on Bell Let's Talk Day 2016.

With Snapchat and Instagram joining Twitter and Facebook as Bell Let's Talk partners, total social media interactions almost tripled, from 7,409,845 messages of support in 2016 to 22,008,855 this year. #BellLetsTalk was the top Twitter trend in Canada and worldwide.

Bell donates 5 cents per interaction, at no extra charge to participants, so the result is a further $6,585,250.50 in funding for Canadian mental health programs.

Bell Let's Talk Day once again drew support from Canada's most prominent leaders including Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as the Royal family with tweets from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Will and Kate and Prince Harry. Prime Minister Trudeau also joined in on a live Twitter chat with Clara and Bell Let's Talk spokesperson Marie-Soleil Dion to share his perspectives on mental health.

The scope of engagement in Bell Let's Talk Day has become truly remarkable. Political party leaders, members of Parliament, provincial and territorial premiers and ministers, mayors and councillors, Olympians, professional sports teams and players in Canada and the US, major corporations and a broad range of the most high-profile Canadian, US and global entertainers and other celebrities continue to embrace the anti-stigma cause.

Their participation drove hundreds of thousands of retweets from fans and followers. To see the amazing level of support, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

The 2017 Bell Let's Talk team
Led by Clara, the Bell Let's Talk team was busy all across the country on Bell Let's Talk Day appearing on media outlets, speaking at and hosting events, visiting students and young people, and performing concerts, all to shine a spotlight on mental health.

TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh, and Québec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara, singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and retired CFL player Étienne Boulay, professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian and writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry, musician Robb Nash, Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock, music producer Bob Ezrin, Concordia Stingers hockey team assistant captain Philippe Hudon, singer-songwriter Séan McCann and Afghanistan veteran Bruno Guévremont, all shared their own mental health stories, encouraging Canadians around the country to join in.

"On behalf of everyone involved in Bell Let's Talk and all those the initiative supports, I'd like to convey our immense gratitude to everyone who participated in a day of such wonderful progress for Canadian mental health," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "To Clara and team, to all the partners who helped carry the message forward, to the students who led the charge at campuses nationwide, to all of you who shared your time and your stories: your passion for the cause is making all the difference for people who struggle with a mental illness in their lives and all those who support them. Thank you everyone!"

Canadian student-athletes make a really big noise
With more than 20,000 student-athletes at 54 universities leading the mental health conversation, Bell Let's Talk was a focus for Canadian campuses. Student-athletes recorded a series of inspirational videos about mental health, and more than 100 Bell Let's Talk themed university sports games took place through January and on Bell Let's Talk Day. They also led the charge on Canada's largest ever Thunderclap on the social media crowdspeaking platform, which allows a single message to be shared en masse. With 5,479 people registered and a social reach of 6,003,469, yesterday's Bell Let's Talk Day Thunderclap wasn't just the largest ever in Canada, it was the biggest ever for mental health around the world.

Thank you to partners and friends
Bell Let's Talk extends a huge thank you to the hundreds of Canadian corporations, hospitals and universities, governments, the Canadian Armed Forces, professional sports teams and associations, community and mental health partners, chambers of commerce, and schools, colleges and universities across Canada that joined the conversation through events, promotions and advertising, social media, newsletters and websites.

Your engagement at work
With every interaction on Bell Let's Talk Day driving increased Bell donations to mental health programs around the country, Canadians are having a direct and positive impact on the lives of people living with mental health issues.

There's no doubt views on mental health are changing: 4 in 5 Canadians say they're more aware of mental health issues since Bell Let's Talk began in 2010. Since then, the initiative has supported more than 700 organizations around Canada providing mental health services and support; 3,500 individuals from military families have benefited from Bell True Patriot Love Fund projects; 4,200 frontline mental health staff have been trained; more than 640,000 people have received mental health care and supports through a Bell Let's Talk funded program, including more than 200,000 children and youth; and over 1 million callers to crisis and distress centres have received help though programs supported by Bell Let's Talk.

Bell helped fund the world's first national workplace mental health and safety standard, and was one of the first to adopt it, with some 10,000 Bell managers having completed compulsory mental health training to date. Bell also partnered with Morneau Shepell and Queen's University to develop the world's first university-certified workplace mental health training program, now in use at more than 340 companies.

New Bell Let's Talk projects
In the lead up to Bell Let's Talk Day this year, Clara and other members of the Bell Let's Talk team announced several new projects in January: a $1 million donation, matched by provincial government funding in each Atlantic province, to expand the work of the Strongest Families Institute in the region; the renewal of the $1 million Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen's University; $300,000 to two health foundations in Québec's Lanaudière region to support developing services tailored to clients in the region with mental health problems; a $250,000 gift to McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital to help improve access to mental health services focused on the needs of multicultural communities, and $250,000 for a new mental health program to be delivered by Nunavut's Embrace Life Council; and $150,000 in funding for St. John Ambulance to incorporate a mental health module in its standard and emergency first aid courses.

The Bell Let's Talk Community Fund
The annual Bell Let's Talk Community Fund supports frontline organizations improving access to mental health programs and services in every region of Canada. Applications are now being accepted for the 2017 Bell Let's Talk Community Fund. The 2017 application period is open until March 31 and all 2017 Fund grants will be disbursed before December 31, 2017. To apply for 2017 funding, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About Bell Let's Talk
Bell Let's Talk promotes mental health based on 4 action pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, new research, and workplace best practices. Bell Let's Talk was launched in September 2010 as a 5-year program with a $50 million initial donation from Bell and a commitment to grow its funding based on the engagement of Canadians in the cause on Bell Let's Talk Day. In September 2015, Bell announced it would extend the initiative a further 5 years and commit to at least $100 million in funding for Canadian mental health.

To learn more about Bell Let's Talk, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

JANUARY 26, 2017

Health Sustainability Most Important Issue for Ontario Voters While System Confidence Wanes: Ontario Chamber of Commerce Survey Results Reveal

Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released Health Transformation: An Action Plan for Ontario, which includes new and exclusive survey data from two of Ontario's top research firms that polled both OCC members and all Ontarians. After a year of research and consultation, the OCC has developed three strategic recommendations to improve Ontario's health care system. This action plan comes at a critical time, as recent Fresh Intelligence survey results reveal that only 14 per cent of Ontario's business community is confident that the health care system is sustainable for the future. Despite other growing concerns surrounding topics like electricity pricing and climate change, health care sustainability still remains the most important issue for Ontarians.

Additional data released in today's report, from a survey conducted by the Gandalf Group, suggests that a mere 39 per cent of all Ontarians are confident that the province's health care system will be able to fund a consistently high level of care in the future. Reflecting the OCC's recommendations, half of Ontarians agree that the health care system doesn't need more money, it just needs to be better managed. With this level of increased uncertainty in Ontario's health care system, through its membership, the OCC wants to be a productive partner in revitalizing public care.

"A strong public system is one that puts patients at the center of health care reform and provides Ontarians with the best-in-class care that they deserve," said Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. "There is a great opportunity for the private sector to play a productive role alongside a robust and sustainable public health care system. Partnering with both for- and non-profit experts can provide the public sector with new ideas, improve access to innovation and build confidence in Ontario industry."

Over the course of four reports, the OCC's Health Transformation Initiative has pointed to the overarching theme of making use of private sector expertise as a way to improve Ontario's health care system. With a vision for a sustainable and prosperous health sector that involves private sector participation, the OCC's fifth and final report, Health Transformation: An Action Plan for Ontario highlights the top three recommendations that government can implement today:

Shift Ontario towards a value-based health care system
Modernize procurement and supply chain processes
Better integrate Ontario's technical discoveries and innovations into the public health care system
"Leadership from all sectors is necessary to solve the challenges faced by the health care sector in Ontario," added O'Dette. "With this action plan, the OCC and its members hope to demonstrate the willingness of Ontario business to be problem solvers."

While the recommendations in this report are directed towards government, the OCC is also calling on the private sector to take on a collaborative role in health system reform and drive solutions that will strengthen the economic health of Ontario and put patients first.

Researchers Find New Way to Target Blood Stem Cell Cancers

A protein-sugar molecule, CD99, occurs more frequently than normal on stem cells responsible for blood cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and the related myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). This is the finding of a study led by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and published online Jan. 25 in Science Translational Medicine.

Building on this discovery, the study authors designed an antibody that recognizes and destroys CD99-covered leukemia cells while sparing normal blood stem cells, a finding confirmed by experiments in human cells and in mice with AML cells. Antibodies are immune system proteins that stick to a specific target, like a protein on the surface of invading bacterium. In recent years, researchers have become capable of engineering antibodies so that they target disease-related molecules.

"Our findings not only identify a new molecule expressed on stem cells that drive these human malignancies, but we show that antibodies against this target can directly kill human AML stem cells," says corresponding study author, Christopher Y. Park, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone and its Perlmutter Cancer Center.

"While we still have important details to work out, CD99 is likely to be an exploitable therapeutic target for most AML and MDS patients, and we are working urgently to finalize a therapy for human testing," says Park.

Direct Cell Killing

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) arise from abnormal stem cells that build up in bone marrow until they interfere with normal blood cell production. Patients struggle with anemia, increased risk for infection, and bleeding.

The study results are based on the understanding that cancers, like normal tissues, contain stem cells that give rise to all the other cells. Such "cancer stem cells" are
known to be major drivers of many cancer types. In AML, a small group of leukemic stem cells become incapable of maturing into red or white blood cells as intended. Most leukemias respond initially to standard treatment, but relapse is common as standard treatments fail to kill leukemia stem cells, which continue to multiply.

The research team became interested in CD99 when they observed that it occurs frequently on AML and MDS cells, and then noted in the literature that CD99 is elevated in a rare bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma. This prompted them to see if CD99 was important in the development of these blood diseases.

When researchers examined stem cell populations from 79 AML and 24 MDS patients, they found that approximately 85 percent of stem cells in both groups expressed high levels of CD99. The levels were so high that diseased stem cells could be cleanly separated from related, normal stem cells in AML patients.

Upon confirming that CD99 was abundant on leukemia stem cells, the research team then made several CD99 antibodies, and chose to focus on the one that most effectively killed those cells. Researchers found that when the study antibody attaches itself to CD99 on the surface of a cancer stem cell, it sends a signal inside the cell that increases the activity of enzymes called SRC-family kinases.

While the team does not yet know why, the binding of their antibody to CD99, and the subsequent activation of these enzymes, causes leukemia stem cells to die. Most cells with genetic mistakes leading to cancer "sense" they are flawed and self-destruct, but CD99, so the theory goes, may be part of a mechanism that prevents this. As the antibody binds to CD99, it appears to undo this block on self-destruction.

"With the appropriate support, we believe we can rapidly determine the best antibodies for use in patients, produce them at the quality needed to verify our results, and apply for permission to begin clinical trials," says Park.

While the most common acute leukemia affecting adults (22,000 new cases each year) and expected to become more prevalent as the population ages, AML it is still relatively rare, accounting for 1.2 percent of U.S. cancer deaths. About 15,000 mostly elderly patients are diagnosed with MDS each year as well.

Along with Park, the study was led by Stephen Chung, William Eng, Wenhuo Hu, Mona Khalaj, Montreh Tavakkoli, and Ross Levine with the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Also a study author was Virginia Klimek in the Leukemia Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In addition, Francine Garrett-Bakelman and Ari Melnick in the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell School of Medicine; and Martin Carroll in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, made important contributions.

Funding for the study was provided a Young Investigator Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a U.S. Department of Defense Postdoctoral Fellow Award in Bone Marrow Failure Research (BM120096), a Fellow Scholar Award from the American Society of Hematology, a Clinical Scientist Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, a Translational Research Program Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and a grant from the Geoffrey Beene Cancer Research Center.​

The PARTNERs Project: A new approach to mental health care

The PARTNERs project is 3-year study into the efficacy of a new and innovate model to expand mental health care to those who need it. The premise is simple - working with a network of about 150 family physicians and nurse practitioners in Ontario - the PARTNERs team works as a liaison between the patient and the larger mental health services community. Physicians and nurse practitioners participating in the program refer a patient with mental health or addiction issues to PARTNERs, which designs a treatment plan overseen by a psychiatrist on the PARTNERs team. Then a specially trained mental health "coach" will have a series of regular telephone conversations with the patient, usually on a weekly basis for 20 to 30 minutes at a time for several weeks. Information from those consultations is passed back to the family physician. One physician participating in the study said she found out for the first time from the PARTNERs team that her patient's mental health issues were more severe than had been indicated in the doctor's office.

WHY: We know that as many as 40% of Canadians with mental illness will not seek help. And most of us know from personal experience that the topic of mental health is often not brought up by the patient during a regular doctor's appointment. If it is, it usually involves a referral that can often mean months spent on a waiting list waiting for customized mental health care. Originally a GTA-based study, the PARTNERs project has now expanded to more remote, rural areas of Ontario and is actively recruiting throughout the province.

"We really have two separate health systems, one that takes care of physical health and one that takes care of mental health," says Dr. Benoit Mulsant, Lead Researcher of PARTNERs and Executive Director of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance. "We hope the PARTNERs project, a concept of integrated care, will support these patients by increasing access to the care they need. If we can do this, we hope this model will be widely adopted."

PARTNERs is made possible through the generous support of BELL LET's TALK and is part of the Medical Psychiatry Alliance. (www.medpsychalliance.ca)

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.ca.

JANUARY 24, 2017

Attention: All cervixes, get a Pap smear done!

​HPV Awareness and the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec (CPCQ) are proud to be supporting Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's international cervical cancer prevention campaign called #SmearForSmear. The purpose of this campaign is to raise awareness, in a humorous and singularly cervical way – a smear of lipstick for a smear of cervix. We want to educate everyone everywhere of the importance of getting a pap smear, otherwise known as a Pap test. We all have women in our lives whom we cherish. Show your support of their cervical health by uploading a lipstick smear selfie on social media, urging your family, friends and colleagues with cervixes to get a smear done, showing them they are loved.

"Cervical cancer can be DETECTED AND PREVENTED before turning into full-blown cancer. 500,000 cases annually, globally, are way too many for a detectable and preventable disease", categorically confirms Teresa Norris, Founder and President of HPV Awareness.

Cervical cancer survivor Brigitte Leclerc shares, "The hardest thing I ever had to do is tell my two teenagers I had cervical cancer. If I hadn't gone to my doctor and got my routine Pap smear, for sure I would not be here today. If you don't hear about it, and no one puts the message out there about it, it could happen to you."

Every year, almost 400,000 Canadian women receive a call saying that their Pap smear (also known as a Pap test) result is abnormal. If you are one of them, you were smart to get the smear done when you did. For more information about cervical cancer and the #SmearForSmear campaign, visit www.hpvawareness.org

Participate from January 22-28:

#SmearForSmear is a campaign developed by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK's only dedicated charity supporting those affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities; Visit www.jostrust.org.uk

HPV Awareness, founded in 2002, the only bilingual Registered Charity in Canada providing education programs in every demographic about the human papillomavirus (HPV) in the context of healthy relationships, informing people of all ages of HPV and cervical cancer screening.

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 to protect, support and give a strong voice to people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, informal caregivers, their families and their loved ones). We strive to support cancer-related community organizations, like HPV Awareness and health professionals helping in the fight against cancer across Canada.

Bell Let's Talk Day is tomorrow! Get ready to join in Canada's mental health conversation with great events and new ways to engage

Bell Let's Talk Day 2017 is tomorrow, and national spokesperson Clara Hughes and the Bell Let's Talk team invite everyone to talk, text and engage on social media to grow Canada's mental health conversation like never before.

"Get ready to talk Canada! Mental illness affects all of us in some way and we want to hear from you about it. Don't forget to make a call, send a text, and join in on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on Bell Let's Talk Day," said Clara. "Every time you do, you let those who struggle know that you're ready to listen and to help. Your messages of support also directly drive Bell's donations to mental health in communities all over Canada at no extra cost to you. Let's beat last year's record engagement in the mental health conversation by joining our voices together tomorrow from coast to coast to coast!"

The 2017 Bell Let's Talk team
Bell Let's Talk team members share their stories of dealing with mental illness, discuss new ways to fight the stigma, and invite Canadians to join them in the conversation. This year, Clara, TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh, Québec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and retired CFL player Étienne Boulay also recorded video testimonials in which they candidly discuss their experiences.

Also sharing their stories are Bell Let's Talk ambassadors professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian and writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry, musician Robb Nash, Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock, and singer-songwriter Séan McCann. New to the team this year is Bruno Guévremont, a veteran of 2 tours in Afghanistan and Team Canada captain at the 2016 Invictus Games.


Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair
Clara and Bell Let's Talk Chair Mary Deacon are in Kingston today to announce the renewal of the $1 million Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen's University.

Support for mental health in Lanaudière
Martine Turcotte, Bell's Vice Chair Québec, and Marie-Soleil Dion will be in Terrebonne to announce new support for mental health in the region.

Toronto Raptors game for Bell Let's Talk
Clara will attend the Toronto Raptors vs. San Antonio Spurs game to discuss Bell Let's Talk and encourage everyone to join the conversation.

Montréal Canadiens Hockey Talks game
Michel Mpambara, Stefie Shock and Marie-Soleil Dion will take part in the Hockey Talks game in support of mental health at the Bell Centre in Montréal when the Habs take on the Calgary Flames. Stefie, Michel and Marie-Soleil will distribute Bell Let's Talk bracelets to fans and visit guests from Déclic and Montreal Jewish Hospital together with the Montreal Canadiens Children Foundation.

Séan McCann in Kananaskis
Séan will be sharing his music with students from across Alberta who are taking part in Resiliency Workshops at the Shaping the Future Conference.

Shea Emry in Vancouver
Shea will participate in a Wellmen event at the University of British Columbia with the UBC football team. He will visit with City of Vancouver first responders and Parks and Recreation employees and present a Bell Let's Talk Community Fund cheque to the Canadian Bipolar Association.


Twitter Q&A with Clara and Marie-Soleil
Twitter will host a Q&A with Clara and Marie-Soleil beginning at 2:30 pm eastern. To ask a question or follow along, search #BellLetsTalk and #QA on Twitter.

Raptors 905 game in support of Bell Let's Talk
Michael Landsberg and Kevin Breel will attend the Raptors 905 game at 11 am eastern at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga where 5,000 young people will receive Bell Let's Talk touch and text gloves.

Mary Walsh in Ottawa
Mary will participate in the Canadian Armed Forces panel discussion on mental health at 1pm eastern with CWO Kevin West, Col Rakesh Jetly, LCdr Lyn Kingsley and Gilles Moreau at National Defence Headquarters, moderated by CTV Ottawa News Anchor Graham Richardson and Canadian Armed Forces member Lt(N) Julie McDonald. Live-streaming of the panel discussion will be on Twitter, Periscope and Facebook.

Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will attend the event.

Andrew Jensen in Halifax
Andrew will be at Nova Scotia Community College to join students in a discussion about mental health that will be live-streamed at 12 pm Atlantic time to all 13 campuses. At 7 pm, Andrew will take part in the puck drop at the Dalhousie Varsity men's hockey team game.

Michel Mpambara in Montréal
Michel will have lunch with children at L'Ancre des jeunes and take part in a discussion about mental health.

Robb Nash in Winnipeg
Robb will perform at the Burton Cummings Theatre for all grade 7-8 students from the St. James-Assiniboia School Division in Winnipeg.

Bell Let's Talk Day at Studio Bell in Calgary
A full day at the National Music Centre, known as Studio Bell, includes a session with leading music therapist Jennifer Buchanan, the NMC President's Tour highlighting the healing and restorative power of music, a Kimball Theatre presentation called "Why does Music make us feel emotions?" and a 90-minute evening concert with Séan McCann.

Shea Emry in Vancouver
Shea will present a Bell Let's Talk Community Fund cheque to Westcoast Family Centres.

Marie-Soleil Dion and Stefie Shock in Québec City
Marie-Soleil will host and Stefie will DJ at Soirée FEQ – Bell Cause pour la cause.

Howie Mandel Special
The Bell Let's Talk Day Special with Howie Mandel airs in simulcast at 7 pm on CTV and CTV Two and streams on CTV.ca and the CTV GO App. The special will be available on CraveTV and on demand following its network premiere.

University Sport games in support of Bell Let's Talk
More than 20,000 student-athletes will lead the campus conversation about mental health, joining with students and staff from 54 universities across the country to discuss the impact of mental illness and how to fight the stigma. Student-athletes also appear in a new Bell Let's Talk video series called Let's Talk About It. Several university games are taking place on Bell Let`s Talk Day. Please visit https://oneteam.bell.ca/events for details.

Join the conversation to drive Bell's donations
Tomorrow, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every text message, mobile call and long distance call made by Bell customers; every tweet and Instagram post using #BellLetsTalk; every view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video on Facebook; and every use of the Bell Let's Talk geofilter on Snapchat.

Bell Let's Talk now has its own hashtag emoji on Twitter. Whenever you type #BellLetsTalk or #BellCause in a tweet, the Bell Let's Talk logo automatically appears at the end of the hashtag.

Bell's donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let's Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges, if any, apply. Bell Let's Talk Day 2016 set new records for engagement with 125.9 million messages of support, and Bell increased its funding for Canadian mental health by $6,295,764.75.

5 simple ways to fight the stigma around mental illness
Everyone can help end the stigma around mental illness by learning the 5 simple ways developed by Dr. Heather Stuart of Queen's University, the first Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair:

Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness
Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs
Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot
Listen and ask – sometimes it's best to just listen
Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence
To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.​

Information Update - Fluoroquinolone antibiotics may, in rare cases, cause persistent disabling side effects

 Health Canada's recent safety review of oral and injectable fluoroquinolones, a class of antibiotics, found that in rare cases some known side effects may be persistent or disabling. This includes muscular issues such as tendonitis and Achilles tendon rupture, nerve damage such as peripheral neuropathy, and central nervous system issues such as anxiety, dizziness and confusion.

As a result of its safety review, Health Canada is working with manufacturers to include information concerning this rare but serious risk in the product labelling of these drugs.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are used to treat several types of infections, including respiratory and urinary tract infections. Reactions can occur hours to weeks after taking a fluoroquinolone.

There are several oral and injectable fluoroquinolones available in Canada, both generic and brand name:

ciprofloxacin (Cipro);
moxifloxacin (Avelox);
norfloxacin; and
Health Canada is also working with the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health to conduct additional studies to better understand the use of fluoroquinolones in Canada.

If new safety information is identified, Canadians will be updated, as required.

What consumers should do:

Before taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, tell your healthcare professional if you have previously experienced a side effect related to fluoroquinolone use.
Consult a healthcare professional if you experience side effects such as joint and muscle pain, numbness, tingling or confusion while taking a fluoroquinolone.
Discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your fluoroquinolone treatment with your healthcare professional.
Information for healthcare professionals:

It is recommended that the potential for disabling and persistent serious adverse events be considered when choosing to prescribe a fluoroquinolone.
Fluoroquinolones should not be prescribed to patients who have previously experienced serious adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones.
Stop a fluoroquinolone treatment if a patient reports a serious adverse reaction and substitute with a non-fluoroquinolone antibacterial drug, if required, to complete the patient's treatment course.
Report health or safety concerns

To report a side effect to a health product to Health Canada:

Call toll-free at 1-866-234-2345
Visit Health Canada's Web page on Adverse Reaction Reporting for information on how to report online, by mail or by fax.

Morneau Shepell finds organizational change linked to physical and mental health sick leave

New research announced today by Morneau Shepell found that organizational changes have led to employees taking sick leave from work. In a recent survey of employees and employers across Canada, nearly half (46 per cent) of employees have taken time off work and/or noticed other employees take more time off work following workplace changes.

The survey found that two thirds (66 per cent) of respondents have experienced at least one organizational change with their current employer – this included team restructuring (39 per cent), downsizing/layoffs (35 per cent), job re-design (35 per cent), re-design of the physical office space (29 per cent) and mergers (15 per cent).

Of those employees who have experienced a change, 43 per cent said it had a negative impact on their perception of the company, 40 per cent said it negatively affected their health and well-being and 30 per cent indicated that it impacted their job performance. Across the country, Alberta employees experienced the most workplace changes, with nearly three quarters (74 per cent) facing at least one workplace change with their current employer during the time of their employment.

"We have found that among the types of organizational changes, job re-design has the strongest correlation to sick leave for both physical and mental health," said Alan Torrie, President and CEO, Morneau Shepell. "This type of change sometimes gets less focus than things like mergers, but it is clearly important to the day-to-day experience of employees."

"The reality is that organizational change is more likely to increase than decrease over time. With technology advances, new business models and global economic forces, change is the new normal," Torrie explained. "With this, it is important for organizations to understand the impact on people and consider the best way to support their workforce through on-going change."

Depression and anxiety remain the most prevalent mental health conditions in the workplace

Morneau Shepell also assessed workplace mental health issues in general and found that the most prevalent conditions remain depression and anxiety, with 31 per cent and 28 per cent of employee respondents having indicated a current or past mental health condition, respectively.

Additionally, sick leave for mental health concerns is more than two times as likely for employees age 30 and under, compared to the average likelihood of employees older than age 30. "On the positive side, many employees are turning to their co-workers as an important source for social support. We found that 61 per cent of employee respondents indicated their co-workers had a positive impact on their mental well-being," said Stephen Liptrap, Chief Operating Officer, Morneau Shepell. "Employer support and resources, such as an employee and family assistance program, were also noted as valuable by employees."

Workplace culture top concern for employees and employers

Through its research, Morneau Shepell found that 75 per cent of all respondents indicated work culture as the most important issue to address regarding mental health in the workplace. This issue ranked above the importance of employees' willingness to get help (71 per cent), employees' coping skills and resilience (70 per cent), reducing stigma among employees (65 per cent), reducing stigma among managers (65 per cent) and concerns about employees returning from disability leave (62 per cent).

"We know that employees who report a positive work culture are less likely to have taken mental health sick leave in the past two years," said Paula Allen, Vice President, Research and Integrative Solutions. "We also found that employees were less likely to indicate negative impact to their job performance, view of the company or their own health and well-being after an organizational change when they report a positive and supporting work culture."

That said, among people managers, nearly half (47 per cent) indicated negative workplace culture as the top issue in the workplace. This issue was ranked higher than absenteeism (36 per cent), presenteeism (32 per cent) or employee engagement (21 per cent). While the national average is 47 per cent, the number of people managers across the country that identified negative workplace culture as the top issue varies with 58 per cent in Alberta, 49 per cent in British Columbia, the territories and Ontario, 48 per cent in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 47 per cent in the Atlantic and 36 per cent in Quebec.

About the Survey

The purpose of the survey by Morneau Shepell, conducted in October 2016, was to understand and compare the perspective of working Canadians regarding workplace mental health and absence, with 1,018 respondents in total. The margins of error for the survey are +/-3.1 per cent, valid 19 times out of 20.

The Company is presenting the initial findings of the survey at Employers Connect, the 6th annual Morneau Shepell summit on workplace mental health being held in six cities across Canada – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Halifax on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, in Edmonton on Wednesday, February 15, and in Montreal on Wednesday, February 22.

JANUARY 23, 2017

South West Community Care Access Centre Nurses and Allied Health Professionals have Strong Strike Mandate

Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members working for the South West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of job action if ongoing negotiations for a new collective agreement do not result in a fair deal.

"These dedicated, highly skilled, highly educated nurses and allied health professionals are vital to the counties of Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, London-Middlesex, Oxford, Elgin and Norfolk," says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Our members who work as Care Coordinators expertly assess their patients, working closely with physicians and community support agencies in arranging care plans for care in their homes (including palliative care services), community or schools. Our members also provide excellent direct care through Rapid Response nursing, Mental Health and Addiction nursing in schools, and Geriatric nursing teams. Care Coordinators connect patients with family doctors and are there for patients being discharged from hospitals. They assess patients for eligibility for placement in long-term care facilities, making this transition smoother and less stressful. They truly are system navigators for patients in our health-care system."

The strike vote was conducted following two days of negotiations in December and January on behalf of 461 members, who have been working without a contract since March 31, 2016.

"The work our CCAC members do ensures that patients' care needs are accurately assessed, that those needing support for a range of conditions receive that help in a timely manner," says McKenna. "From school children to those at the end of life, our members play a key role in their health and wellbeing."

McKenna notes that while ONA CCAC members do not wish to be forced to withdraw their services, they are united in their goal of negotiating a fair collective agreement that respects the value they bring to their communities and addresses key workload issues that can negatively affect the care they are able to provide.

"As health-care providers, our patients' care needs are paramount to us and we are optimistic that a negotiated contract can be achieved," says McKenna. "Negotiations are scheduled to continue on February 6, and ONA members will be at the table in solidarity. We expect the employer to come with the goal of reaching a settlement."

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses

St. John Ambulance integrates mental health into First Aid courses with Bell Let's Talk support

Bell Let's Talk today announced a $150,000 donation to St. John Ambulance that will support the integration of mental health training in standard and emergency First Aid courses.

"Addressing healthcare needs should include a person's access to mental health support. With the support of Bell Let's Talk, St. John Ambulance is poised to evolve our First Aid courses, which are delivered to more than 500,000 Canadians each year, to include a new mental health component," said Philip Clarke, Chancellor of St. John Ambulance.

"We currently offer Mental Health First Aid courses in several provinces stemming from our partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Integrating a mental health module into our standard and emergency First Aid courses is the next evolution of our commitment to the mental health of Canadians."

The integrated module will be available nationally starting in 2018. Courses in English and French will be offered in workplaces, hospitals, schools, and communities. Canadians will learn what to do in an emergency, including how to recognize high risk situations and when to escalate quickly to professionals.

"Having someone nearby who is trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness can make such an important difference for someone experiencing a crisis," said Bell Let's Talk national spokesperson Clara Hughes. "Providing initial help and guiding a person toward appropriate professional resources is just as important for our mental health as for our physical well being."

"This partnership with St. John Ambulance demonstrates that mental health is integral to an individual's overall health and that it is important for everyone to learn to be mental health First Aiders and recognize when someone who may be struggling needs help," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk.

Allsup Cites New Study Tying Depression To Poorer Chemotherapy Outcomes In Lung Cancer Patients

 A recent study of patients with lung cancer highlights the significance depression may have on treatment outcomes and the ability to work, according to Allsup, a national company that has helped more than 275,000 people with severe disabilities receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

"Individuals with a severe work-disrupting illness often have several health issues to deal with. It's not unusual for people with cancer to experience depression or anxiety, as well as the physical effects from the cancer and treatment, such as chemotherapy," explained Ed Swierczek, senior claims consultant at Allsup. "When you apply for SSDI, it's critical to make sure your doctor is documenting both the physical and mental health impacts from your illness."

The study, presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology's Asia 2016 Congress in December, found that individuals with more advanced lung cancer were more depressed than other lung cancer patients. Researchers reported that the presence of depressed mood reduced patients' ability to tolerate chemotherapy, and these individuals had a higher incidence of vomiting, reduced white blood cell count and longer hospital stays.

Cancer is one of the top five categories in terms of conditions that qualify someone for disability insurance benefits, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2015, nearly 82,000 people with cancer were awarded Social Security disability benefits. The SSA issued updated cancer medical listings in May 2015, and lung cancer is evaluated under Medical Listing 13.14. To qualify for SSDI benefits, individuals must have paid FICA payroll taxes, usually worked five of the last 10 years, and have a severe work-disrupting injury or illness that is expected to last at least a year, or is terminal. Applicants also must be under full retirement age (65-67).

Allsup offers an easy-to-use online tool -- empower by Allsup® -- designed to determine an individual's likelihood of qualifying for SSDI benefits, walks users through the application process, and guides return-to-work efforts, if the person medically recovers.

When online visitors apply for Social Security disability with Allsup as their representative, they benefit from expert advocacy for their disability insurance claim. First-time applicants who choose Allsup have a 50 percent higher success rate with their SSDI application compared to the national rate at Social Security.

Visit empower by Allsup to receive a free online SSDI assessment.

Federal Prisoners Mental Health Class Action

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified a class action alleging that the Government of Canada failed to provide mentally ill offenders incarcerated in the Federal penitentiary system with adequate medical care, improperly subjected them to solitary confinement, and failed to protect people who suffer from mental illness. The action was certified with the consent of Canada, the defendant, on December 12, 2016.

The claim alleges breaches of sections 7, 9, and/or 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The allegations have not been proven in court. Now that a class action has been given the approval to go ahead by the Court, the next step will be for the parties to litigate the case on its merits.

The class action covers all offenders in federal custody who were diagnosed by a medical doctor with an Axis I Disorder (excluding substance use disorders), or Borderline Personality Disorder, who suffered from their disorder, in a manner described in Appendix A, and reported such during their incarceration, where the diagnosis by a medical doctor occurred either before or during incarceration in a federal institution and the offenders were incarcerated between November 1, 1992 and the present, and were alive as of July 20, 2013.

Appendix A:

Significant impairment in judgment (including inability to make decisions; confusion; disorientation);
Significant impairment in thinking (including constant preoccupation with thoughts, paranoia; delusions that make the offender a danger to self or others);
Significant impairment in mood (including constant depressed mood plus helplessness and hopelessness; agitation; manic mood that interferes with ability to effectively interact with other offenders, staffs or follow correctional plan);
Significant impairment in communications that interferes with ability to effectively interact with other offenders, staff or follow correctional plan;
Significant impairment due to anxiety (panic attacks; overwhelming anxiety) that interferes with ability to effectively interact with other offenders, staff or follow correctional plan;
Other symptoms: hallucinations; delusions; severe obsessional rituals that interferes with ability to effectively interact with other offenders, staff or follow correctional plan;
Chronic and severe suicidal ideation resulting in increased risk for suicide attempts;
Chronic and severe self-injury; or,
A GAF score of 50 or less.

The Toronto law firm of Koskie Minsky LLP has been appointed as class counsel..

JANUARY 20, 2017

Air is cleaner, Ontarians healthier since Ontario shut down coal


That's the number of smog days Ontario has experienced since the last piece of coal was burned for electricity in 2014.

Let's compare that to 2005, when residents of the Greater Toronto Area suffered through 53 smog days while coal, with its toxic emissions, provided 19 per cent of the province's power.

From this fact alone, it's obvious shutting Ontario's coal plants has helped clean the province's air and given a new lease on life to millions who suffer with asthma. Just a few years ago, people of all ages became prisoners in their own homes on hot summer days. They feared for their health when smothering, polluted air descended upon their city. Today, they enjoy a better quality of life outdoors with a much lower risk of an asthma attack or a trip to the emergency room.

Despite what the Fraser Institute said in a report earlier this week, Ontario is indisputably a healthier place to live, work and play since coal was phased out. In fact, this positive action by the provincial government has resulted in an 87 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector when compared to 2005. From the Ontario Ministry of Energy's report on The End of Coal (2015), other air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, and mercury emissions have also seen major reductions, further decreasing incidences of asthma exacerbations related to air quality.

The province has managed to reduce these toxins from our air while maintaining the reliability of our electricity sector through the increased use of carbon-free options such as nuclear, hydroelectric and renewables, which are supported by natural gas. The fact remains, Ontario cities have not been enveloped in smog on hot summer days since coal was eliminated.

How can such an obvious improvement in air quality simply be discounted? Clean air is vital to the health of all Canadians. The Asthma Society of Canada works with hundreds of people who have been rushed to the emergency room, admitted to hospital, been treated for illnesses, visited their doctor and, unfortunately, even died during times of heavily polluted air, most often in the form of summer smog. This places an incredible drain on the health care system, while the emotional impacts on asthma and allergy sufferers and their families is incalculable. Since coal was phased out in Ontario, the quality of life for millions of people who live with asthma and allergies has increased exponentially.

The Government of Ontario did the right thing when it shut down its coal-fired electricity plants. The one summer smog day since, as well as the improved health of the people who used to fight for breath on those hot days, is proof enough. We are encouraged to see a commitment to the phase out of coal being adopted across the country so all Canadians can breathe easy.

Vanessa Foran is the President and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada, which is dedicated to helping Canadians live with asthma through research and education. Learn more at www.asthma.ca.

Paul Alofs, President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation To Pass The Torch

Glenn Ives, Chair of the Board of the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation (The PMCF) announced today that Paul Alofs, the long-serving President and CEO of The PMCF will step down in April 2018. This notice period will ensure time for a thorough search for his successor and continuity with donors, staff, volunteers and the cancer centre team.

"The Board is very grateful for the wonderful leadership Paul has provided to The Foundation and his very significant personal contribution to conquering cancer in our lifetime," said Mr. Ives. "We are also very happy that Paul will remain with us until the Board has selected the next President and CEO so that we have a smooth transition to a new leader – a passing of the torch which will allow us to continue the fundraising momentum as we build for the future."

Mr. Alofs joined The PMCF in 2003 after spending a month as a volunteer at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. His passion for the cancer cause is a constant, inspired by his own family story as a caregiver for his mother Patricia, who died of cancer in November 2002. Through his 13 years at The PMCF he has built an amazing team, been at the helm while $1.056 Billion in net fundraising revenue has been raised, and led the early completion of the five-year Billion Dollar Challenge – a combination of $532 million secured in philanthropic support and another $520 million in research grants. Paul's passion, dedication and fundraising success have had a profound impact on research and patient care at The Princess Margaret that will endure for many years. Under Paul's tenure, The Princess Margaret brand has strengthened, new fundraising programs such as The Ride to Conquer Cancer have been created, and unprecedented growth has been achieved in the lottery program with these events raising undesignated funds to support the priorities of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation has a remarkable track record and an excellent team in place," says Dr. Peter Pisters, President and CEO University Health Network. "Under Paul's leadership, The PMCF has made an amazing contribution to cancer research, patient care innovation and putting patients first at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre".

Atlantic Provinces and Bell Let's Talk partner on $2 million funding program for child and youth mental health

Bell Let's Talk and all 4 Atlantic provinces today announced unprecedented support for child and youth mental health across the region with a combined gift of $2 million to the Strongest Families Institute.

A $1 million donation by Bell Let's Talk will be matched by provincial government funding in each Atlantic province over a 4-year period. With $2 million in new funding, the Strongest Families Institute will expand its existing services in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and launch its services in New Brunswick. This initiative will reach approximately 2,000 children, youth and families across the region.

"Strongest Families has a proven track record of providing evidence-based mental health services for children and youth, and Bell Let's Talk is pleased to partner with the provinces to expand their reach to more families across the Atlantic region," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "We commend our government partners for their leadership and commitment to mental health. Working together, we can provide significant support for more young people and their families throughout Atlantic Canada."

The Strongest Families Institute provides programs for children, youth and families dealing with mild to moderate mental illness and other health issues through a unique distance coaching approach, supporting families over the phone and Internet in the privacy of their own homes.

"Strongest Families has been designed to remove barriers to care," said Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President & CEO, Strongest Families Institute, and Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University and Scientist, IWK Health Centre. "There is no need to travel or take time from work or school, and appointments are scheduled at convenient times. Our outcomes are strong, families report high satisfaction and the drop-out rate is less than 10 per cent. We help people when and where they need it, and we thank Bell Let's Talk and the provincial governments for supporting us."

For the first time, Strongest Families Institute will launch programs in New Brunswick, supporting children and youth in both English and French, thanks to a combined donation of $700,000 from the Government of New Brunswick and Bell Let's Talk.

"The Government of New Brunswick is proud to be joining forces with our Atlantic partners so that children and youth with complex needs can benefit from programs aimed at families dealing with mental health issues," said Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick Minister of Health. "The Strongest Families Institute will provide timely access to quality e-health services for New Brunswick children and families, an initiative that will complement our province's already successful Integrated Service Delivery model for children and youth."

Strongest Families has been helping young people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador since 2015. Together, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Bell Let's Talk are providing $450,000 that will allow the organization to better meet expanding service demands across the province.

"Family-centered care is vital to helping young people thrive and cope with mental health problems," said John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services. "Strong communities begin with strong families, and our government is pleased to expand our contribution, along with our Atlantic Canadian partners, to this important initiative in support of youth mental health. I would also like to thank Bell Let's Talk for its commitment to mental health and the Strongest Families Institute."

The Strongest Families services were initially developed and tested at the IWK Health Centre. In addition to existing provincial funding, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre are joining with Bell Let's Talk to build on this support with a combined contribution of $700,000.

"Strongest Families delivers vital and flexible programming to Nova Scotian families, ensuring children and youth get mental health services where and when they need them. Our province is a proud supporter of their work," said Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness. "Thank you to Bell Let's Talk for your ongoing work to raise awareness for mental health and for this generous donation to the Strongest Families Institute. It will have a very real and positive impact on our province's youth."

Prince Edward Island has been offering Strongest Families Institute services for the past year, and the provincial government is joining with Bell Let's Talk for a new contribution of $150,000.

"We are pleased to work with Bell Let's Talk to enhance mental health supports for Island youth," said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson. "Strongest Families is a tremendous program which has already helped more than 130 Island families. It is customized to each family's needs, providing timely and efficient treatment to help our young people and their caregivers."

About Strongest Families Institute
Strongest Families Institute (SFI) is a not-for-profit corporation founded in Nova Scotia and is internationally recognized for its effective evidence-based programs for children, youth and families dealing with mild to moderate mental health and other issues impacting health and well-being. They provide timely, accessible care to families by teaching skills through a unique distance coaching approach – supporting families, over the phone and Internet, in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Strongest Families provides family-centered care that is customized to their needs with programs designed to support children and youth from 3-17 years of age. For more information, please visit www.strongestfamilies.com.

About Bell Let's Talk
The Bell Let's Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Bell Let's Talk Day alongside significant Bell funding for community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives.

Bell Let's Talk Day 2017 is on January 25, when Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every text message, mobile call and long distance call made by Bell customers; every tweet and Instagram post using #BellLetsTalk; every view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video on Facebook; and every use of the Bell Let's Talk geofilter on Snapchat. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk

Bell Let's Talk now has its own hashtag emoji on Twitter. Now, whenever you type #BellLetsTalk or #BellCause in Twitter, the Bell Let's Talk logo automatically appears at the end of the hashtag.

Bell's donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let's Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges, if any, apply. Bell Let's Talk Day 2016 set new records for engagement with 125.9 million messages of support, and Bell increased its funding for Canadian mental health by $6,295,764.75.

JANUARY 19, 2017

Whole Health Pharmacy Partners and #SickNotWeak Launch New Partnership to Better Serve Mental Health Needs Through Pharmacies

 Whole Health Pharmacy Partners and #SickNotWeak work together to provide better support for patients with mental health needs through pharmacies.

"Our new partnership with Michael Landsberg and #SickNotWeak is exciting, because we know there is a real need for more tools and training in pharmacies to better serve the mental health needs of our communities," commented Dean Miller, CEO of Whole Health Pharmacy Partners. "Between driving awareness, providing more education and resources, and connecting to the #SickNotWeak community, we believe our pharmacies will be better positioned to support mental health needs."

The first initiative in this new partnership is #Here4MentalHealth, which is a program designed to raise awareness of mental health needs within the pharmacy, and the communities they serve. After completing extensive patient and caregiver research, a comprehensive program was developed and includes:

Education day with specialized training from a multidisciplinary team deepening capabilities of pharmacy staff to support patients in their respective communities.
Handouts developed through conversations with patients and caregivers, so the contents are inspired and guided by people who truly understand the experience.
In-store peer-to-peer support through interactive weekly challenges encouraging people to share their tips and perspectives related to the management of their mental health needs.
Mental Health Mondays, wherein pharmacy staff will be wearing #SickNotWeak attire to build awareness for mental health.
Social media campaign highlighting the findings from the patient and caregiver research, and engaging online communities about mental health.
Downloadable support tools for all pharmacists interested in delivering better care for these patients.

The #Here4MentalHealth supports Canada's mental health strategy Changing Directions, Changing Lives, by supporting the recommendation to "Provide access to the right combination of services, treatments and supports, when and where people need them."

Michael Landsberg, the founder of #SickNotWeak, added, "We patients know so much about being on the receiving end of health care. Whole Health Pharmacy Partners came to us and asked how they can do a better job on the giving end. This is rare and amazing. These conversations helped build tools that will make a significant difference in the lives of people who can really use the support."

"Given that most people see their pharmacist more regularly than they see their physician, we think this initiative will make the burden that so many patients feel they carry around, a little bit lighter. And sometimes that little bit of help can make all the difference," says Michael Landsberg.

With one in five Canadians being affected by mental health problems or illness, there is a real need to deliver better care at pharmacy. Especially since patients often overlook the pharmacy as a source of support and help for mental health needs.

Dean Miller added, "We want patients and caregivers to know that the pharmacy is a safe and accessible place to get additional help and support. The uniqueness of the contents for this initiative is that it was effectively developed by patients, for patients, which is not as common as you'd expect. After #Here4MentalHealth launches, we will continue to work with the #SickNotWeak organization to develop more programs which can connect with patients through a deeper understanding of their needs, and what works for them."

About Whole Health Pharmacy Partners
One of Canada's newest and fastest growing pharmacy banners, with stores from British Columbia to Ontario, Whole Health Pharmacy Partners is a like-minded partnership of independent pharmacists, committed to delivering the best possible patient programs and a business model that helps ensure long-term sustainability. Along with over 20 stores already part of the network, hundreds of pharmacists have already expressed interest in this unique new model that offers partners: Long-Term Equity, Transparency, Operational Autonomy, Geographic Exclusivity, and Proven Leadership. For more information visit www.wholehealthpharmacy.ca.

About #SickNotWeak
Founded by Michael Landsberg, #SickNotWeak is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand that mental illness is a sickness, not a weakness. With his decades-long television career, combined with his decades-long battle with depression and anxiety, Landsberg is uniquely qualified to fight back against the stigma that surrounds mental illness. #SickNotWeak hopes to lead by Landsberg's example of approaching the conversation surrounding mental illness in a raw and candid way, mixed with a dash of that Landsberg attitude and humour. For more information visit www.SickNotWeak.com.

Qualicare Family Homecare Launches Give-Back Program in Ottawa

Qualicare Family Homecare is pleased to launch its Give-Back Program. As part of the Give-Back Program, Qualicare offers up to 25 hours of free homecare PSW services or attendant care services to one qualified candidate per month. Give-Back services value at over $750 and offer in-need candidates the care they require but would otherwise not be able to afford.

"With a rapidly growing aging population, proper care for the elderly is an imminent concern for communities across Canada. Due to various day-to-day restraints, many families are unable to provide proper care for their loved ones," said Eddie Chu, Owner of Qualicare Family Homecare. "The Give-Back Program was established as a way to provide the necessary care to those truly in-need in our community."

The submission and recommendation of candidates is open to the public, including healthcare professionals and family members. All information submitted is kept completely confidential, with the option of using a pseudonym for anonymity. Candidates are reviewed on a monthly basis by a third-party selection panel comprised of members from Ottawa's health care community, considering factors such as income, available resources, and the severity of health care and assistance needs.

"Every aspect of Qualicare Family Homecare's work and mission is focused on the importance of proper health management and care for the elderly," said Eddie Chu. "The needs of this population continue to push us to provide the best care possible for you and your loved ones."

Candidate submissions are reviewed by the 15th of each month. Submissions received past the deadline will be reviewed the following month. Final candidate selection takes place at the end of each month and the referral sources will be informed by return email without candidate name disclosure. To recommend a candidate that could benefit from the Give-Back Program, fill out our submissions form or call our office at 613-366-2899. ​

The Heart&Stroke Canvass, one of Canada's oldest fundraisers, is set to come to your door

​In February, volunteer canvassers will be knocking on the doors of Canadians to share life-saving information and raise funds to help protect you and your family from heart disease and stroke. Dr. Roberta Bondar, Canada's first woman astronaut and a neurologist, is encouraging Canadians to generously give to one of Canada's oldest fundraising traditions.

"When you donate to the Heart Month Canvass, you are helping your family, friends and neighbours," says Dr. Bondar, who joined Heart & Stroke last year as Honorary Chair of both Heart and Stroke Months. "The most urgent research challenge we're facing today is a lack of funding. By giving, you are helping fund the next medical breakthrough."

Beginning in 1958 and led by Dr. Wilfred Bigelow in Toronto, Ontario, the person-to-person campaign exceeded its modest goal and went on to raise $320,000 in Ontario. Today, the campaign is a national fundraising tradition, reaching 2 million homes and raising upwards of $10 million. This year, canvassers will be encouraging Canadians to take the Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment— a free, confidential online tool that helps assess risk of heart disease and stroke in just 10 minutes.

"We're very grateful for the support we received from Canadians last year and hope to do it again. More donors means greater impact in preventing disease, saving lives and promoting recovery from heart disease and stroke," added Dr. Bondar.

Join the fight to end heart disease and stroke by donating this Heart Month. For more information about giving to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, please visit heartandstroke.ca/give or call 1-888-473-4636.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen. heartandstroke.ca

JANUARY 17, 2017

Common Heart Drug Repurposed to Treat Rare Cancer in Europe

A drug that's commonly used to treat high blood pressure is being repurposed for a rare tissue cancer in Europe. The medication, named propranolol, was recently granted Orphan Drug Designation by the European Commission (EC).

The designation signifies that the EC supports the use of a drug to treat patients because of its significant benefit to those living with a rare disease -- in this case, soft tissue sarcoma. The cancer affects approximately one quarter of a million people living in Europe, and is generally considered difficult to treat.

"People with soft tissue sarcomas have a very poor survival rate," says Brad Bryan, Ph.D., a biomedical scientist at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso). "Four out of 10 patients with the cancer will die and are in urgent need of new treatment options."

Propranolol's ability to treat angiosarcoma, a very lethal form of soft tissue sarcoma, was originally discovered by Bryan's TTUHSC El Paso lab. In his study, Bryan used cell lines and animal models to show that propranolol could fight angiosarcoma and remarkably reduce the growth of tumors; the results were published in a 2013 PLOS One paper. Later, in a 2015 JAMA Dermatology article, Bryan described treating a patient with angiosarcoma -- who only had months left to live -- and bringing the tumor down to undetectable levels. What's more, the treatment had little to no side effects.
Several scientists across the world have reported similar results since then, testing propranolol on their own patients with the rare cancer.

A 69-year-old woman with metastatic angiosarcoma made a full recovery after being treated with propranolol by Shripad Banavali, M.D., an oncologist at Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai, India and Eddy Pasquier, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Aix-Marseille. The results were published in ecancermedicalscience. After witnessing the patient's improvement, Drs. Banavali and Pasquier were prompted to go even further; just a year later, the two successfully treated seven patients with inoperable angiosarcoma, as described in EBioMedicine.

"What surprised us the most about this new treatment is the fact that we got 100 percent clinical response, which is defined as either tumor regression or stabilization of the disease," says Pasquier. "This is not a cure in the sense that most patients will eventually see their disease progress, but this level of response is still very impressive, especially in this patient population with a very bleak prognosis; we're talking patients whose prognosis was roughly one year, give or take a few months."

The results soon caught the attention of the Anticancer Fund. After gathering research on the drug's effects, the nonprofit foundation -- which is dedicated to expanding the range of treatment options available to cancer patients -- applied to have propranolol approved as an orphan drug in Europe.

"Our ultimate objective is to have propranolol, if proven effective, fully licensed as a new standard of care treatment for angiosarcoma," says Pan Pantziarka, Ph.D., an oncology researcher at the Anticancer Fund. "Bryan's research was important because not only did it demonstrate the validity of this approach in animal models, but it also illustrated the effect of treatment in a patient for whom existing treatments are unlikely to be effective. These two elements were important in making the case for the clinical potential of propranolol in this rare and hard-to-treat cancer."

In an age of soaring cancer drug prices, propranolol offers a glimmer of hope for the checkbooks of some cancer patients.
First developed in the 1960s, today, propranolol is a generic drug, meaning it's available for a relatively affordable price. Current prescription drug therapies for sarcomas can cost patients upwards of $10,000 a month. Propranolol, however, costs about $4 a month.

"Treating soft tissue sarcoma can easily top $100,000 to $200,000," Bryan explains. "While propranolol will certainly not replace these treatments, our data show it improves the ability of the treatments to work -- all at the cost of a generic co-pay."

The Anticancer Fund recently formed the Propranolol for Angiosarcoma Task Force to bring together researchers and clinicians who are interested in further developing propranolol treatment options. Bryan, Pasquier and Dr. Banavali have teamed up with collaborators around the world to share research information, helping to reduce the risk of duplicating efforts, and work cooperatively to prove the efficacy of propranolol in treating soft tissue sarcoma.
The Anticancer Fund has plans to meet with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom to discuss the level of evidence required to take propranolol through to relicensing.

If relicensed, propranolol's drug label could be changed to officially indicate its use in treating soft tissue sarcomas. International health guidelines could also be updated to designate propranolol as an official cancer drug, thereby encouraging physicians to use the new form of treatment.

The 2017 Bell Let's Talk Community Fund is open for grant applications

Bell today announced the launch of the annual $1-million Bell Let's Talk Community Fund for 2017. Grant applications are now being accepted for local mental health initiatives that improve access to care in communities around the country.

"Over the past 6 years the Bell Let's Talk Community Fund has supported 344 grassroots mental health initiatives in communities all around Canada," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "As part of our broader national initiative, the Community Fund takes a localized approach to improving the lives of people who struggle with mental illness in every region. We look forward to supporting many more local organizations doing great work on the front lines in 2017."

Registered charities are invited to apply for a grant up to $25,000 to help fund local mental health programs, and all submitted applications are reviewed by a committee of mental health experts from across Canada. The 2017 application period runs until March 31 and all 2017 grants will be disbursed before December 31, 2017.

"As Minister of Health, I know how important it is that we take action to reduce stigma around mental illness, and improve access to mental health care," said the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health. "I congratulate Bell, its partners and all Canadians who are taking part in Bell Let's Talk. By sharing personal stories and struggles, Canadians are bringing mental wellness into the spotlight and helping to end the stigma by engaging in a national conversation. Remember, there is no health without mental health."

"Madison Community Services supports a large number of refugees who come to Canada," said Madison's Executive Director Jean Stevenson. "As was recognized in the recent Senate Committee on Human Rights Report, post-traumatic stress disorder further complicates what is already a challenging transition for many refugees coming to Canada to make a new life. With the Bell Let's Talk Community Fund grant, Madison is ensuring that refugees with mental health challenges receive the counseling and mental health care they need to make a successful transition to their new country."

To learn more about the Bell Let's Talk Community Fund and to apply for 2017 funding, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

Bell Let's Talk Day is January 25
On January 25, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for each of these interactions at no extra charge to participants:

Every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers.
Twitter: Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk
Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video at Facebook.com/BellLetsTalk
Instagram: Every post using #BellLetsTalk
Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let's Talk Snapchat geofilter
Bell's donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let's Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges. if any, apply.

With Bell Let's Talk Day 2016 setting new records with 125.9 million messages of support, Bell increased its funding for Canadian mental health by $6,295,764.75 last year. With its original anchor donation of $50 million and the results of the first 6 Bell Let's Talk Days, Bell's total funding commitment for mental health now stands at $79,919,178.55, and is expected to surpass $100 million in 2020.


A bold healthcare initiative by the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) is revolutionizing the relationship between healthcare providers, patients and family members – by including families as partners in care. What started as a grassroots movement launched under the banner of Better Together is now sweeping the country; 50 Canadian hospital and healthcare organizations, including the provinces of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are now reviewing or have already adopted family presence policies – including 24/7 visiting hours.

A November 2015 study by CFHI found that fewer than one in three Canadian hospitals had accommodating visiting policies, and even less offered 24/7 access to designated family members. “Despite evidence clearly showing better care and health outcomes, family presence policies were more the exception than the norm in this country,” says Maria Judd, Senior Director, CFHI. “We’re encouraging Canadians to have conversations with their hospitals and healthcare organizations about whether they could identify a loved one to stay by their side around the clock if they so choose.

According to CFHI, research into the benefits of family presence shows: improved patient outcomes and experience of care; fewer medication errors and falls, better informed medical assessments and care planning; reduced lengths of stay, readmissions and emergency department visits.

“Because this innovation was a culture shift for many organizations, we knew that providers, patients and families would have questions,” says Maureen O’Neil, President, CFHI. “Would there be too much noise? Would other patients and staff be bothered? Yet, what we have found is that these concerns haven’t materialized and instead family presence has enabled loved ones to be part of the decision-making process, especially during physician rounds and helping transition from hospital to home.”

“From a few early adopters to a grassroots movement that is sweeping the country, Better Together’s exceptional growth is reaching a tipping point in Canada,” says Stephen Samis, Vice President, Programs, CFHI. “We’re calling on hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations nationwide to take the pledge and begin the process of implementing the family presence policy innovation as a practical step towards delivering more patient and family-centred care.”

In a 2015 poll conducted for CFHI, nine in 10 Canadians supported family presence policies.

“Not being restricted to when we could come was what our family needed,” says Sonia McComb, daughter-in-law of Jim, a former patient at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital. “Having that flexibility really helped us. The nurses never rushed us. They encouraged us to take breaks but we were never asked to leave. It was such a long, hard battle for Jim and the compassion shown to us by everyone at STEGH, and the fact that we didn’t have to work around visiting hours made it easier for all of us.”

“Through focus groups, we heard from a number of patients and family members that restrictive visiting hours were causing hardship,” says Margaret Melanson, Vice President, Quality and Patient Centred Care, Horizon Health Network in New Brunswick. “Specifically, we learned that family members wanted to be a second set of ears, receive discharge education and instruction, and be involved more in the care experience.”

“The Academy of Canadian Executive Nurses (ACEN) is pleased to support the CFHI Better Together initiative. Families across all cultures play a pivotal role in wellness and healing; the recognition and commitment to partnering with families is a wonderful step in ensuring that the care provided integrates the familial context and is truly person centered,” says Lori Lamont, President, ACEN and Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

Better Together is supported by a coalition of 13 leading healthcare organizations, including provincial health quality councils, patient groups and others. This three-year campaign was launched by the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care (IPFCC), a non-profit organization located in the U.S., that seeks to integrate patient- and family-centred care into all aspects of healthcare, working in partnership with patients, families, and healthcare professionals.

To Canadian hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations:

Sign the Better Together pledge and adopt family presence policies at:

Welcome families and loved ones as partners in care and engage them in planning and decision-making based on patient needs and preferences.

CFHI is providing resources to help organizations make this change.
To Canadians:

Start a conversation with your hospital about adopting family presence policies. CFHI and IMAGINE Citizens Collaborating for Health have created tips and resources about having these conversations and being a partner in care that are available here: http://www.cfhi-fcass.ca/WhatWeDo/better-together/resources.

Hospitals in Ontario making the change:

Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, Parkwood Mennonite Home, Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Markham Stouffville Hospital, Norfolk General Hospital, Ross Memorial Hospital, North York General Hospital, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital, Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Centre, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, Humber River Hospital, Headwaters Health Care Centre, The Ottawa Hospital, The Scarborough Hospital, Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance, Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, Arnprior Regional Health, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, North Bay Regional Health Centre, Deep River and District Hospital, William Osler Health System, Kemptville District Hospital, Kingston General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, St. Elizabeth Health Care* (Markham)​

JANUARY 11, 2017

Spine Specialist Global Non-Surgical Back Pain Treatment Makes Historic Start in Canada

Demand for spine health medical attention, especially on back pain, is exploding, and for good reason: Dr. Mark Jagger of Canada embarked on a journey that would forever change his practice and the lives of many patients with spine related injuries and back pain. Out of Dr Jagger's frustrations of not being able to help these people, he began discovering the amazing results of using Laser Enhanced Spinal Decompression treatments and ultimately, the Spine Specialist Table was born.

This Spine Specialist Table offers not just hope but non-surgical treatment for patients suffering from spine injuries, disc issues and back pain. Currently, there are 4 clinics in Canada where people can book their appointment and be attended by a Spine Specialist expert. Now, there's no need for Canadian citizens to go abroad to seek medical attention and appointments to receive treatment.

Dr. Jagger, the inventor of the Spine Specialist Table, is working closely with some of the best doctors in Canada to provide the most complete non-surgical solution possible in the world. Dr. Tiburcio (Alliston, ON), Dr. Samji (Vancouver, BC), Dr. Engineer (Etobicoke, ON), Dr. Jagger (Mississauga, ON) are offering the Spine Specialist Table solution.

"I'm confident to say that being able to be treated on this device has made me feel years younger and has given me back the mobility that I thought I had lost forever."
- Gary L., 77 years old - Retired Health Professional

To book a Back and Neck Pain Assessment with any 4 of our locations or for any other inquiries regarding the Spine Specialist Table, visit http://spinespecialisttable.com/press-release

The Princess Margaret Successfully Achieves Historic Billion Dollar Challenge for Personalized Cancer Medicine

The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation is thrilled to announce the successful achievement of our Billion Dollar Challenge, in partnership with the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at University Health Network. In April 2012, we launched the largest single fundraising campaign in the history of Canadian healthcare to support the creation and delivery of Personalized Cancer Medicine. The goal of the five-year challenge was to secure $500 million through philanthropy and another $500 million through research grants. With the funds we secured and the generosity of our community of supporters, we are now in the early days of delivering on our promise of Personalized Cancer Medicine.

The challenge was completed ahead of schedule. "We are pleased to announce $532 million has been secured in philanthropic support and $520 million has been secured in research grants by the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, for a total of $1,052,000,000," says Glenn Ives, Chairman, Board of Directors at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

"More than 40% of Canadians will hear, 'you have cancer,' in their lifetime," says Paul Alofs, President and CEO of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. "The Princess Margaret has an ambitious vision to Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime. Our passion to lead the way for all Canadians in Personalized Cancer Medicine inspires us and focuses our efforts."

"This is a significant achievement that has enabled the cancer centre to expand its scientific and clinical research in key areas including epigenetics, bioinformatics, drug development, and immunotherapy," says Peter Pisters, President and CEO of UHN. "I would like to congratulate The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and also thank the many supporters who have helped in reaching this goal, which brings us many steps closer to providing more targeted, effective therapies for patients."

Personalized Cancer Medicine is a multi-faceted, integrated approach that involves finding the right treatment, for the right patient, at the right time. With your help, The Princess Margaret is leading the way in creating this new gold standard in cancer care.

"We are grateful to the scientists and researchers who secured grants, through their work at The Princess Margaret. It is because of their dedication and expertise granting agencies chose to support Princess Margaret's discovery research over the past five years," says Rama Khokha, Interim Director of Research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"At The Princess Margaret we are looking to offer tomorrow's treatment today for patients here and across the country. We are grateful for the funds that allow us to make discoveries, lead multiple clinical trials, and share the results with the cancer community around the world," says Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world. Support from The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and all of our funding partners continues to enable the advances needed to reach the potential of personalized medicine. I am incredibly proud of the team of scientists and researchers," says Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research at UHN.

Thank you to our donors, granting agencies, event and lottery participants, volunteers, program partners, sponsors and staff. We count on your continued support to transform Personalized Cancer Medicine in order to Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime.

The National Music Centre celebrates Bell Let's Talk Day

 The NMC programming will contribute to the national day of conversation around mental health. Activities will include a mental health exhibition featuring regional community partners, a lunchtime music therapy presentation with celebrated therapist Jennifer Buchanan, and an evening concert with singer-songwriter and Bell Let's Talk ambassador Séan McCann, an advocate for mental health awareness.

"The power of music to explore, treat and combat stigma around mental health is undeniable, and the National Music Centre is proud to partner with Bell Let's Talk and a host of community partners to become part of this important national discussion," said Andrew Mosker, President and CEO for NMC. "We're also delighted to host Séan McCann as an artist in residence and look forward to him sharing some of his inspiring stories and music with us on January 25."

All daytime programming will be included with admission to Studio Bell on January 25. Community partners will be on site in Canada Music Square, the ground floor of Studio Bell, which is free to the public, to share information about their mental health services. Participating partners include Calgary Counselling Centre, Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region, Guitars for Vets Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

At 7:00 pm, Séan McCann will perform a 90-minute concert featuring the stories behind his songs, a look into his recent artist residency, and incredible music. "I believe that music is strong medicine and that a song can save your life. I am really looking forward to performing at Studio Bell on Bell Let's Talk Day," said Séan. Tickets for the evening event are free and will be released today at 11:00 am MST at studiobell.ca/event/seanmccann.

"Bell Let's Talk is proud to partner with the National Music Centre and Séan McCann to celebrate Bell Let's Talk Day in Calgary," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "Featuring the therapeutic and healing powers of music for those living with mental illness is a wonderful way to participate in the conversation about mental health on Bell Let's Talk Day."

Programming Schedule for Bell Let's Talk Day at Studio Bell

10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Open to the public and community booths in Canada Music Square
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Session with leading music therapist Jennifer Buchanan
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
NMC President's Tour highlighting the healing and restorative power of music
3:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Kimball Theatre presentation "Why does Music make us feel emotions?"
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
NMC & Bell Let's Talk present Séan McCann (doors open at 6:30 pm)

Studies back hospital cleaners' call for increased staffing to prevent hospital infection deaths

With provincial funding for Ontario hospital services falling for years, understaffing is getting worse in hospital environmental services, with reports of layoffs and cuts occurring regularly, a survey of front line cleaning staff has found. Concerns are growing among environmental service workers that Ontario hospitals do not have the capacity and enough cleaning staff to keep bedrails, mattresses, taps, door handles and chairs sterilized and bacteria free.

In the fall of 2016, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) completed a survey of 421 hospital housekeeping staff from over 60 hospitals right across Ontario. Hospital-Acquired Infections: Stop Preventable Deaths, that melds the survey findings with recent public health agency and other research reports, was released in North Bay today.

The survey revealed a disturbing pattern of speed up, working short, high levels of stress and injury at work. A large majority (78 per cent) report that more duties have been added to their work. Accordingly, a large majority (76 per cent) report working at a faster rate. Over half believe the situation is unsafe. As well, 40 per cent of hospital locals report that hospital environmental service hours have been cut, in the last year alone.

70 per cent of housekeeping staff also report working short. This occurs when staff who are off of work for vacation, sick leave, training, or other reasons are not replaced.
Infection can easily spread from patient to patient through personal touch or by touching contaminated shared surfaces. "There just aren't enough cleaning staff to properly clean patient rooms, bathrooms and common areas to prevent infection. Because we are often working short, we are given additional duties and workloads for cleaning staff are enormous. Increasing staffing levels would go a long way to ensuring a safer environment for patients/clients, families, staff, physicians and volunteers," says Nicholas Black a hospital cleaner.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that more than 200,000 patients get infections every year while receiving healthcare in Canada and that more than 8,000 of these patients, more than 3,000 of them Ontario patients, die as a result.

"These are preventable deaths. But government and hospital policies are making this growing threat even worse. Patient safety, and reducing the risk of acquiring and transmitting infection should be the priority, not cutting costs on environmental cleaning," says Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) 1st Vice-President Louis Rodrigues.

Scientists and doctors have raised concerns about the growing resistance to antibiotic treatment of hospital acquired infections. Several recent academic studies corroborate what hospital cleaners are experiencing on the ground. One 2014 study noted that cleanliness in hospitals can be characterized as less than optimal. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents did not judge their hospital to be sufficiently clean for infection prevention and control purposes.

Another 2014 study revealed nearly half of Canadian hospital environmental service managers reported that they had enough personnel to satisfactorily clean their hospital. Only 5.2 per cent strongly agreed there were sufficient housekeeping personnel.

The study concluded environmental services "staffing deficits mean that the cleaning necessary to prevent and control nosocomial infections will not be accomplished with the requisite frequency and thoroughness." CUPE surveys of housekeepers and locals indicate the situation has gotten worse, not better, since the 2014 academic studies through cuts and creeping privatization.

"There is common understanding between the researchers and the environmental cleaning staff in our hospitals that cleanliness must be improved to keep patients safer. The evidence indicates that if this was accomplished, then infection rates would decline and fewer people would die," says Rodrigues.​

10, 2017

Why do some people develop ALS while others do not? Canada joins international research partnership to find answers and better target the disease

 Canada has become the 17th country to join an international research partnership that is working to determine why some people develop ALS while others do not, with numerous Canadian ALS researchers stepping up in a cross-country collaboration that is among the first of its kind in the country.

The ALS Society of Canada (ALS Canada), in partnership with provincial ALS Societies across the country, is spearheading efforts for the Canadian component of Project MinE, a multi-national initiative that gained momentum following the Ice Bucket Challenge. Project MinE will map the full DNA profiles of 15,000 people with ALS and 7,500 control subjects, establishing a global resource of human data that will enable scientists worldwide to better target the disease by understanding the genetic signature that leads someone to develop ALS.

By accumulating such a large amount of data that no one country could achieve alone, it is expected that Project MinE could identify new genetic causes of the disease. The discoveries gained through Project MinE have the potential to significantly accelerate our ability to advance treatment possibilities that could slow down or even stop ALS. Canada's goal is to contribute up to 1,000 DNA profiles to the international effort.

"What's special and powerful about Project MinE is that it brings together different members of the ALS community – researchers, clinicians, and people and families affected by ALS – who are collaborating within Canada as well as internationally to better understand how ALS can be treated effectively," said Tammy Moore, CEO of ALS Canada. "We see Project MinE as a Canadian and global legacy that will help to develop effective treatments for ALS for the first time ever."

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a disease that gradually paralyzes the body, leaving people without the ability to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Eighty per cent of people die within two to five years of being diagnosed with ALS because the disease has no effective treatment or cure. However, ALS research has advanced to a point that many ALS research experts believe effective treatments are now a matter of 'when' not 'if,' and that research discovery is limited only by the amount of funding available to pursue it.

The ALS Society of Canada is directing an initial $150,000 to Project MinE and is seeking funding from the federal government to support Canada's ongoing participation in the initiative, building on the support of the all-party ALS Parliamentary Caucus created in 2016 to support the call for federal research dollars. Federal funding for Project MinE would allow for the stored DNA profiles of people with ALS to be contributed to the project, and it would enable all Canadians living with ALS to contribute a DNA sample to Project MinE if they so choose.

"Project MinE fills me with great hope as it will make ALS easier to study and has great potential to lead to effective treatments," said Chris McCauley, a resident of Barrie, Ontario who was diagnosed with ALS in 2015. "To me, Project MinE is a great example of using the expertise and technology at our disposal as a society to try to solve a problem and alleviate suffering. I think of others who will come after me and like me, lose the bloom of their health so insidiously. Project MinE could help to make things better for them."

Research expertise for Canada's Project MinE effort is being provided by four of the country's leading ALS geneticists in Québec City, Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal:

Dr. Nicolas Dupré, Neurologist; Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval; Clinician-Scientist, Axe Neurosciences, CHU de Québec - Université Laval, Quebec City

Dr. Ian Mackenzie, Professor at the University of British Columbia; Staff Neuropathologist at Vancouver Coastal Health, and a Consultant Neuropathologist, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver

Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva, Chair in Research on Dementia with Lewy Bodies at Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Disease, and Professor, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Department of Medicine

Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montréal

Each of the participating researchers has led or been part of international consortia that have resulted in some of the most important genetic discoveries in the field. They also represent a geographical balance that would provide a collaborative set of Canadian samples representative of ALS cases across the country. Project MinE represents their first-ever cross-country collaboration.

"In the vast majority of ALS cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown – although research is increasingly demonstrating that genetics play a big role," said Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University in Montréal. "Project MinE is an unprecedented opportunity for the global ALS research community to answer critical questions about the genetic signature of ALS and the biological changes that can trigger its development – in turn making it possible to develop effective treatments."

Other collaborators in Canada's Project MinE effort are the ALS clinics who will collect and in some cases store the blood samples being used for the initiative. Potential ALS clinic partners that have been identified to date are:

the ALS Clinic at the CHU de Québec

the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre's ALS Centre in Vancouver

the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre ALS Clinic in Toronto

the ALS Program at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital

Approximately 1,000 Canadians are diagnosed with ALS each year. At any time, there are approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people living with the disease in Canada, and the average cost to a family is between $150,000 and $250,000. Every day, two to three Canadians die of ALS.

Are you #InItForAlz? Alzheimer Society kicks off Alzheimer Awareness Month with new campaign

Each year, 25,000 Canadians hear the words, 'you have dementia.' But dementia is more than just numbers. Friends, families and members of our communities all experience the personal and social impact of dementia. For our health-care system and economy this means higher demand for services and soaring costs. It's not just their disease. It's ours too.

That's why the Alzheimer Society is asking Canadians to be #InItForAlz and support vital research to eliminate this disease and its impact on Canadians. Through this campaign, the Alzheimer Society also hopes to change the conversation about a disease that continues to be shrouded in silence.

Dementia doesn't discriminate and can affect anyone. It's one of the fastest-growing diseases of our time, but still has no cure or effective treatments. It can only be beat if everyone takes action.

That's why Darren Dreger, a Hockey Insider at TSN, is getting behind #InItForAlz. His 76-year-old step father, Ervin, who lives in Saskatchewan, was recently diagnosed with dementia. "This is a cause that's close to my heart and I'm proud to lend my support to the campaign. We need to get over our uneasiness about dementia and start to recognize and talk about it more openly. Research is a top priority if we're to find a cure for people like my step dad. And, we need to turn research into better resources for caregivers like my mom," says Dreger, who makes his home in Toronto.

You, too, can be #InItForAlz and make a difference right from your computer. Visit alzheimer.ca/initforalz to watch a video about Darren and his family, read the personal stories of other Canadians impacted by dementia, and donate to support research. You can also use the hashtag #InItForAlz to spread the word that "it's not just their disease. It's ours too."

Ontarians Celebrate the First Anniversary of the Ontario Fertility Program

Since its launch in December 2015, the Ontario Fertility Program has enabled thousands of Ontarians living with infertility to fulfill their dream of starting or expanding their families by improving affordability and access to assisted reproductive services. The program, which contributes to the cost of one cycle of in vitro fertilization (IVF) for eligible patients, saw thousands of people register in its inaugural year. As of December 2016, more than 6,500 people had received funding for IVF and related services with the first babies conceived through the program born in October 2016.

"Ontario has shown great leadership with the Ontario Fertility Program and is a successful model for other Canadian provinces when it comes to providing equitable access to IVF," said Danielle Xavier, President of the IVF advocacy group, Conceivable Dreams. "We congratulate all the families who have had a positive experience with the program to date – from those who have welcomed a new addition to their family, to those who have gained a renewed sense of hope for the future."

Patients can receive a funded round of IVF at 18 of Ontario's 51 fertility clinics. Without the help, the treatment can cost upwards of $10,000 per cycle. By implementing a single embryo transfer policy, the program reduces the chance of multiples (i.e. twins, triplets, etc.) born through IVF, making the treatment safer for mothers and their children. Ontario taxpayers will save up to $500 million in associated health costs over the next ten years as a result. The number of live births attributed to the program's first year is currently being monitored by the Ontario government and will be made public in 2017.

"Nearly one in six Ontarians are affected by infertility and I am pleased to see so many people embracing the Ontario Fertility Program as a means for growing their families in its first year," said Health Minister Eric Hoskins. "It is our hope that similar policies and programs will soon also become a reality in other provinces throughout Canada."

In addition to Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick currently provide some form of financial support to assist families seeking IVF. Quebec was the first province to launch a government-funded program but did not set limits on who could seek treatment and was forced to scale back funding significantly in late 2015 to contain escalating costs. Manitoba and New Brunswick currently offer a tax credit and one-time grant to patients respectively.

"Words can't describe how grateful my husband and I are for the opportunity the Ontario Fertility Program has given us to start a family," said Latoya Barham, a Conceivable Dreams Patient Member who completed a funded IVF treatment cycle in July and is currently five months pregnant. "We tried for many years to have a baby and at one point even travelled to Barbados, where fertility treatments are cheaper, to pursue our dream. Just when we thought having a child wouldn't happen for us, we learned we had received a funded cycle – and now we're expecting! This is a gift we'll never forget."

For more information on the Ontario Fertility Program, and an infographic representation of the current status of public funding for IVF in Canada, visit conceivabledreams.org.

Ontario Nurses' Association Calls a Code on Health-care Funding, RN Cuts, Workplace Violence Against Nurses

 The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) is getting loud about the health-care system concerns of front-line registered nurses, calling a code to highlight issues with health-care funding, registered nurse cuts and the violent attacks on registered nurses and allied health professionals.

"ONA has launched public awareness campaigns: Code Blue – to signify our concern that inadequate funding is risking the survival of our publicly funded, publicly provided health-care system, and Code White – to reveal the painful reality of workplace violence against nurses, whenever and wherever they are providing care," said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN.

"In health care, a Code Blue indicates a cardiac arrest," she explains. "We are concerned that years of inadequate funding and the resulting RN cuts are flat-lining patient care. A Code White indicates that violence is imminent or occurring and that nurses – and their patients – are at risk of being injured."

Code Blue and White are being called in movie theatres, on radio and transit and through social media across Ontario.

McKenna says that, "we simply cannot continue to cut our highly skilled front-line RNs, or allow health-care professionals to be beaten, punched, kicked, scratched or stabbed while working to provide the care our patients rely on. As funding remains inadequate and RN positions are cut from hospitals, attacks on nurses rise. The vast majority of ONA's 62,000 members report having experienced physical violence in the workplace."

McKenna notes that there was an 11-per-cent increase in lost-time injuries due to violence in 2015. Injuries due to workplace violence occur eight times more frequently in the health-care sector than in manufacturing and 68 times more than in the construction industry. Ontario cut more than 1,600 RN positions in a two-year period, the loss of more than three million hours of RN care.

McKenna says, "The truth hurts – when nurses aren't safe, their patients and families aren't safe either. We need adequate funding, appropriate RN staffing levels, and accountable leadership among health-care employers. This would go a long way to curing what ails the system."

"The public can answer these codes by speaking out at http://nursesknow.ona.org."

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses

Gift of Life Donor Program Breaks U.S. Record for Organ Donation

 For the ninth year, Gift of Life Donor Program - the non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware – is the nation's leading OPO with its successful coordination of life-saving organs from 540 organ donors, whose generous gifts resulted in 1,412 organs transplanted. This milestone is the first time an OPO has achieved this level of donation (over 500 organ donors) in the history of organ donation and transplantation. In December, Gift of Life also broke the national monthly record, with 62 donors and 167 organs transplanted. Gift of Life's annual donation rate equates to 49 organ donors-per-million-population, ranking it among the highest in the world.
Gift of Life also recovered tissue from 2,575 donors in 2016. These life-saving and enhancing donations may benefit up to 100,000 people, with 1,305 bone donations to improve mobility, skin donations to heal burn patients and heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects. Those donors also provided 4,500 corneas that gave the gift of sight.

"Gift of Life's record-setting year is possible only because of the selflessness of our donors and their families. Their strength and compassion in the face of often unimaginable grief is humbling," said Howard M. Nathan, President & CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program. "Since 1974, we have advocated for donor families, transplant recipients and the thousands of people on the transplant waiting list. We are extremely grateful for the exceptional talent and commitment of our hospital partners – the 15 transplant centers and 131 acute care hospitals in the region – and our incredibly skilled and dedicated staff who work 24/7. They truly give people a second chance at life."

Many of these remarkable stories are shared on Gift of Life's Second Chance Blog. The profiles include a high school senior who is back to starting at varsity soccer after a heart transplant; a family who in the 30 years since their son was a donor have talked to more than 200,000 students about the importance of donation; and the grace of a father of three young children who has been waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant for more than two years.
The legacy of donation continues for generations, with many transplant recipients starting families of their own. In 2016, Gift of Life Institute's Transplant Pregnancy Registry International (TPR) celebrated its 25th anniversary.  Since 1991, TPR has tracked over 4,000 post-transplant pregnancies, sharing information with countless transplant recipients making family planning decisions. The Institute is the international leader in organ and tissue donation education, training close to 9,000 professionals from 37 countries since 2004.

Gift of Life's devotion to the transplant community also includes a "home away from home" for transplant patients and their families. In 2016, Gift of Life Family House staff and volunteers provided more than 8,605 lodging nights of care, 30,244 meals, and 1,677 rides to and from hospitals. Since its founding in July 2011, the Family House has provided more than 36,000 lodging nights and served 141,628 meals.

With ongoing advancement in transplantation, the need for donation grows.  Approximately 22 people die each day in the U.S. waiting for an organ transplant. There are more than 5,600 men, women and children waiting in this region and over 119,000 nationally. While 95 percent of people support donation, less than half are registered, even though it takes fewer than 30 seconds online.   
About Gift of Life Donor Program: 

Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 42,000 organ transplants and an estimated 600,000 tissue transplants. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can enhance the lives of up to 75 others. For more information or to register, visit donors1.org.  

RNAO urges governments to broker health transfers that secure Medicare's future

With the future of Canadian health care at stake, the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) says federal, provincial and territorial governments must come back to the table urgently and negotiate health transfers that will sustain and strengthen the country's health system for today and generations to come.

The provinces, territories and the federal government have been working to draft a new Health Accord, after the previous 10-year agreement expired in 2014. But the two sides have come to an impasse over annual increases to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) from the federal government.

The provinces and territories hoped a new agreement would continue the six per cent annual funding increases established in the previous Health Accord, and have said anything less than 5.2 per cent would not keep up with the most conservative estimates of health costs and related health spending growth over the coming years. The federal government's most recent offer included annual increases of 3.5 per cent, plus time-limited transfers tied to spending on home care and mental health.

RNAO has long insisted the new Health Accord must include six per cent annual increases to the CHT, as well as a national pharmacare program, and targeted funding to strengthen home care, mental health and interprofessional primary care. The association says the federal government's current offer simply isn't enough to keep the health system running effectively, let alone strengthen community care.

"Nurses already work in a health system constrained by financial pressure and budget tightening," says RNAO President Carol Timmings. "Without adequate and reliable funding through the CHT, we won't be able to provide the high-quality care Canadians need and expect. This is a top priority for Canadians and their nurses."

On Jan. 3, Ontario joined six other provinces and all three territories in sending a letter to federal Finance Minster Bill Morneau and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott asking the federal government to come back to the negotiating table. RNAO Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun says it's crucial both sides continue negotiations, and work toward a deal that positions the health system for future success.

"With a federal government that firmly believes in strengthening our not-for-profit health system, and provinces committed to building on shared priorities including home care and mental health by accepting targeted conditions on health funding, the stage is set to capitalize on this pivotal moment in the history of Canadian health care," Grinspun says. "Yet without the right funding, these efforts will fail. RNAO is calling for a minimum of 5.2 per cent annual CHT increase to build the next phase of Medicare."

RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Studies back hospital cleaners' call for increased staffing to prevent hospital infection deaths

With provincial funding for Ontario hospital services falling for years, understaffing is getting worse in hospital environmental services, with reports of layoffs and cuts occurring regularly, a survey of front line cleaning staff has found. Concerns are growing among environmental service workers that Ontario hospitals do not have the capacity and enough cleaning staff to keep bedrails, mattresses, taps, door handles and chairs sterilized and bacteria free.
In the fall of 2016, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) completed a survey of 421 hospital housekeeping staff from over 60 hospitals right across Ontario. Hospital-Acquired Infections: Stop Preventable Deaths, that melds the survey findings with recent public health agency and other research reports, was released in Cornwall today.

The survey revealed a disturbing pattern of speed up, working short, high levels of stress and injury at work. A large majority (78 per cent) report that more duties have been added to their work. Accordingly, a large majority (76 per cent) report working at a faster rate. Over half believe the situation is unsafe. As well, 40 per cent of hospital locals report that hospital environmental service hours have been cut, in the last year alone.

70 per cent of housekeeping staff also report working short. This occurs when staff who are off of work for vacation, sick leave, training, or other reasons are not replaced.
Infection can easily spread from patient to patient through personal touch or by touching contaminated shared surfaces. "There just aren't enough cleaning staff to properly clean patient rooms, bathrooms and common areas to prevent infection. Because we are often working short, we are given additional duties and workloads for cleaning staff are enormous. Increasing staffing levels would go a long way to ensuring a safer environment for patients/clients, families, staff, physicians and volunteers," says Nicholas Black, a hospital cleaner.

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that more than 200,000 patients get infections every year while receiving healthcare in Canada and that more than 8,000 of these patients, more than 3,000 of them Ontario patients, die as a result.
"These are preventable deaths. But government and hospital policies are making this growing threat even worse. Patient safety, and reducing the risk of acquiring and transmitting infection should be the priority, not cutting costs on environmental cleaning," says Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) president Michael Hurley.

Scientists and doctors have raised concerns about the growing resistance to antibiotic treatment of hospital acquired infections. Several recent academic studies corroborate what hospital cleaners are experiencing on the ground. One 2014 study noted that cleanliness in hospitals can be characterized as less than optimal. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents did not judge their hospital to be sufficiently clean for infection prevention and control purposes.

Another 2014 study revealed nearly half of Canadian hospital environmental service managers reported that they had enough personnel to satisfactorily clean their hospital. Only 5.2 per cent strongly agreed there were sufficient housekeeping personnel. The study concluded environmental services "staffing deficits mean that the cleaning necessary to prevent and control nosocomial infections will not be accomplished with the requisite frequency and thoroughness." CUPE surveys of housekeepers and locals indicate the situation has gotten worse, not better, since the 2014 academic studies through cuts and creeping privatization.

"There is common understanding between the researchers and the environmental cleaning staff in our hospitals that cleanliness must be improved to keep patients safer. The evidence indicates that if this was accomplished, then infection rates would decline and fewer people would die," says Hurley.

Canadian Cancer Society gives smokers ridiculous advice to help them quit this New Year

The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on smokers to try something ridiculous in their bid to get – and stay – smoke-free this New Year.
“We hear stories from smokers every day about all of the weird tricks that they or their friends use to stay smoke-free,” says John Atkinson, Director of Smokers’ Helpline. “A lot of them actually have roots in science, but people don’t always realize it at the time. The old saying is often true – if it sounds stupid, but it works, it isn’t stupid.”

1.     Quit. A lot.
It can take a lot of tries to stay quit for good – so try frequently until you quit for good. For help with that, join Smokers’ Helpline’s monthly First Week Challenge Contest at firstweekchallengecontest.ca and you could win $500 by staying quit for just one week.

2.     Celebrate your failures.
Each time you try to quit, you learn more about what works for you and what pitfalls to avoid. So celebrate learning something new for the next time you try to quit.

3.Talk to strangers.
You aren’t the first person to quit smoking, and you won’t be the last, but maybe your friends and family don’t really get it. Smokers’ Helpline Online has an anonymous community where you can talk to other quitters, get support and ask the questions you might think are stupid, but really aren’t stupid at all. Or you can call a quit coach – they may be strangers, but they’re really nice, won’t judge and they’re super helpful!

4.     Make excuses.
Somebody is going to ask you out for a smoke break, or you’re going to get that after-lunch craving. What are you going to do? Start making excuses now so that you have one ready when you need it. And for those stressful situations you can’t excuse yourself from, you can talk to a Smokers’ Helpline Quit Coach to make plans to get through them instead –call toll-free: 1-877-513-5333.

5.     Overshare.
Tell everybody you’re quitting. Post it on Facebook, tell that guy you buy your coffee from – everybody. Public pledges help keep you accountable and allow your friends to support you when you need it.

6.     Take up drinking…
…water, not alcohol. Drinking more water, especially early on, will help during cravings and will speed up the removal of nicotine and other stuff from your system. And yeah, even if quitting is driving you to drink, try to lay off the booze – it’s a pretty common reason people fall off the quit-wagon.

7.Take a hike.
Bundle up, get your boots on, and head outside. Exercise, like walking or running, can help you stay smoke-free and reduce common side effects (like weight gain). If you’ve never been a walker, let alone a runner, you can learn to run and get support while you quit smoking with the Run to Quit program (and maybe win a car). Register at runtoquit.com  

8.Stop planning to quit.
Jumping in with 2 feet and quitting right now can provide more insight than endlessly planning and putting off actually quitting. You learn by doing, and by trying to quit at least once, you’ll have more information to plan for the next time and it may be less daunting because you’ve already done it before. As always, if you like to plan, plan away, it can only prepare you!

9.Use nicotine…
… from Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. They work by bringing down your daily dose of nicotine bit by bit without the other effects of tobacco. It’s a method that can more than double your chances of long-term success, and works with the other tips in this list, too. You can talk to your doctor or pharmacist or call Smokers’ Helpline for free at 1-877-513-5333 to speak to a trained Quit Coach for more information.  If you use NRT and you call Smokers’ Helpline, you’ll triple your chance of making your quit stick.

Easter Seals Kids are UnstoppABLE

About Easter Seals

Easter Seals is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem and self-determination of all Canadians living with disabilities. As Canada's largest local provider of programs, services, issues-leadership and development for the disability community, Easter Seals provincial organizations offer transformative programs and services at the local level.

Building on the abilities of each individual, Easter Seals works to ensure everyone with a disability has access to the equipment, services and recreational opportunities they need to enjoy a high quality of life.

We work with a broad range of individuals: children and adults with physical, intellectual, sensory and learning disabilities resulting from congenital issues or accidents.​
Dave Starrett, President and CEO of Easter Seals Canada, today announced the launch of a new multimedia fundraising and awareness campaign airing on Corus specialty channels and appearing on transit shelters, column ads and interior transit cards across Canada. The national campaign, titled 'Unstoppable', is the first large-scale effort Canadians will have seen from Easter Seals in quite some time.

"Easter Seals has been around for almost 100 years, providing vital support to the disability community," says Starrett. "Although many people recognize the name, very few understand our work to positively impact the lives of kids and their families living with disability."

The Unstoppable campaign features the accomplishments of three young people who have grown up with support from Easter Seals. Brandon Liston is a confident and charismatic speaker thanks to his role as Easter Seals National Ambassador. Zak Madell is a Paralympic wheelchair rugby athlete who, after only one year in the sport, led Team Canada to a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. Victoria Chen is a top student, an accomplished pianist and a former Provincial Ambassador for Easter Seals Ontario.

The campaign creative was developed by Heroes & Villains, in conjunction with Hello Video who produced the video elements and photography. "We were looking for an agency that had a proven track record with fundraising activities," says Starrett, "Heroes & Villains has extensive and successful experience – and they demonstrated they really understood what Easter Seals needs at this time."

Bob Shropshire, Partner at Heroes & Villains, said, "Very few people understand the tremendous work Easter Seals does for kids and adults living with disabilities. We need to tell that story in a compelling way."

"We see these courageous kids and their families face tremendous challenges every day; they often rise to these challenges and become remarkable human beings. They truly are unstoppable, with the right kind of support – that's where Easter Seals steps in," says Lisa McKeen, VP Marketing and Development at Easter Seals Canada.

The media was planned and bought by Cairns O'Neill, who worked with Corus, Astral, Pattison and Outfront to gain additional exposure for Easter Seals through bonusing and PSA placements.

The CMA celebrates 150 years as the national voice of Canadian physicians

 As Canada begins its festivities for the nation's sesquicentennial anniversary, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is kicking off its own celebrations. For 150 years, the CMA has provided leadership and guidance to Canada's physicians and has ensured the public has access to high-quality health care across the country.
  150 years ago, three months after the birth of our country, 146 doctors gathered in Quebec City with the goal of creating a national medical body. Today, the CMA comprises over 85,000 members and continues to be the national voice for the highest standards for health and health care.

The CMA is proud to have made contributions to a wide range of public health issues over the course of its existence. This includes the creation of the CMA Code of Ethics, advocating for mandatory seatbelt legislation in the 1990's and developing policy to reduce tobacco use in Canada, among many other issues. More recently, the CMA has provided the critical physician and patient perspective on the issue of medical aid in dying.

"The 150th anniversary of the CMA represents an opportunity to not only celebrate the immense accomplishments of Canada's physicians but also to look forward to the work that urgently needs to be completed to enhance the health of Canadians," explains Dr. Granger Avery, the CMA's president.

The CMA will continue to work with its partners in 2017 on a number of issues, including the creation of a framework for legalizing marijuana and the establishment of a new Health Accord with a focus on seniors care.

Over the course of 2017, the CMA will be sharing interesting facts from its rich history across various social media channels and at cma.ca/150. The celebrations will continue throughout the year, with the 150th edition of the association's Annual Meeting and General Council in August bringing physicians back to where it all began in Quebec City.

For 150 years, only the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has united the broad expertise of the medical community for the benefit and well-being of all Canadians. The CMA currently represents over 85,000 physicians, comprises 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and is affiliated with over 60 national and international medical organizations.

"Transformative" Donation Enables New Research in Dementia

 An extraordinary and generous donation to Women's Brain Health Initiative (WBHI) by the Robin and Barry Picov Family Foundation is going to support important new research into a devastating brain disease: frontotemporal dementia (FTD). FTD is an umbrella term for a group of rare disorders that tend to affect people at a younger age than Alzheimer's disease, and is marked by behavioral changes or difficulties with speech and movement, and ultimately memory loss.
  WBHI Founder and President Lynn Posluns said that, while the Picovs have been longtime supporters, this donation is transformative. "It's important to us that it's going into FTD research because it's not as well-known as Alzheimer's," said Ms. Posluns. "Their generous gift is a true leadership donation that will significantly advance our understanding of why women are more affected by brain-aging disorders than men."

Robin and Barry Picov said they believe it is crucial to support this kind of research given the sobering reality that rates of dementia are rising sharply in Canada, and that women are disproportionally affected.

"Lynn has given us a tremendous amount of knowledge about ways to protect our brain health and the lack of research focused on women," said Ms. Picov. "We hope this donation helps other Canadians realize the importance of brain health."

Mr. Picov added: "Canada is facing a tsunami with dementia, and as with cancer, more research is necessary to find answers for the various types. If we can't find a cure, at least let's find the resources to help people."

The donation by the Robin and Barry Picov Family Foundation follows the recent announcement by WBHI of the Wilfred and Joyce Posluns Chair in Women's Brain Health and Aging, awarded to Dr. Gillian Einstein at the University of Toronto. It is the first of its kind in the world—a research initiative that will seek to improve our understanding of why women suffer from brain disorders at a higher rate than men.

Women's Brain Health Initiative(WBHI) is a Canadian charitable organization inspired to combat women's brain health disorders through investment in focused, innovative research at leading institutions across Canada. WBHI supports urgently-needed, leading-edge, peer-reviewed research on women's health and brain aging, to improve diagnostic and treatment methods. Ultimately, this research will improve brain health outcomes for women throughout the world. WBHI's awareness and fundraising initiatives include education programs and sales of the iconic Hope-Knot. All monies raised are managed by WBHI in accordance with its board-approved governance policies on investments and distribution of funds. (Charitable No. 80099 3206 RR0001)

 Cuts to cleaning increasing deadly infection risks for Ontario patients

Are Ontario's hospitals, including the Brockville General Hospital clean enough to keep deadly bacteria from infecting already ill and immune-compromised hospital patients? With real provincial funding for hospital services falling for years, concerns are growing that Ontario hospitals do not have the capacity and enough cleaning staff to keep bedrails, mattresses, taps, door handles and chairs sterilized and bacteria free.
Scientists and doctors have raised concerns about the growing resistance to antibiotic treatment of hospital-acquired infections (HAI). "They say the risks are growing and the superbug infections are getting worse. But hospital environmental service staff believe that government and hospital policies are making this growing threat even worse. Patient safety and reducing the risk of acquiring and transmitting infection should be the priority, not cutting costs on environmental cleaning," says Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) president Michael Hurley.

OCHU is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents about 35,000 hospital staff, in Ontario. In November 2016, CUPE surveyed hospital sector members on cuts to environmental cleaning. A study (Hospital-Acquired Infections: Stop Preventable Deaths) that melds the survey findings with recent public health agency and other research reports will be released in Brockville on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 1 p.m. The media conference will be held at the Brockville Public Library, Buell Street Room, 23 Buell Street.

Significant provincial funding cuts have resulted in high hospital bed occupancy levels, overcrowding and a rapid turnover of patients. "All these are factors associated with the spread of hospital-acquired infections," says Nicholas Black, a hospital cleaner speaking at the Brockville media conference Thursday. "Overcrowded hospitals and insufficient staff hampers our efforts to keep up with the cleaning and sterilizing of patient rooms and common areas. Housekeepers fear the cuts create too many opportunities for the spread of infection."

About 10 per cent of adults in Canadian hospitals have a hospital-acquired infection.
"Approximately 3,200 Ontario patients will die from a hospital acquired infection in 2017, while about 2,000 people will die in automobile accidents, making HAI a leading cause of death and one that is largely preventable," says Black.

"Friendship Bench" Program Proves Effective at Alleviating Mental Illness Symptoms

Their offices are simple wooden seats, called Friendship Benches, located in the grounds of health clinics around Harare and other major cities in Zimbabwe.

The practitioners are lay health workers known as community "Grandmothers," trained to listen to and support patients living with anxiety, depression and other common mental disorders.

But the impact, measured in a ground-breaking study, shows that this innovative approach holds the potential to significantly improve the lives of millions of people with moderate and severe mental health problems in countries where access to treatment is limited or nonexistent.

Funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada, the randomised controlled trial was conducted by the University of Zimbabwe, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and King's College London. The study is published today in JAMA, the world's most widely-circulated medical journal.

Six months after undergoing six weekly "problem solving therapy" sessions on the Friendship Benches, participants showed significant differences in severity of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts based on locally validated questionnaires for depression and anxiety: the Shona Symptom Questionnaire (SSQ), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) and the Generalised Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD). The results were striking.

Patients with depression or anxiety who received problem-solving therapy through the Friendship Bench were more than three times less likely to have symptoms of depression after six months, compared to patients who received standard care. They were also four times less likely to have anxiety symptoms and five times less likely to have suicidal thoughts than the control group after follow-up.

50 percent of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of depression compared to 14 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on PHQ). 51 percent of patients who received standard care still had symptoms of anxiety compared to 12 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on the GAD), and 12 percent of patients who received standard care still had suicidal thoughts compared to 2 percent who received Friendship Bench (based on SSQ).

The Friendship Bench intervention was also shown to be well suited to improve health outcomes among highly vulnerable individuals. 86 percent of the study's participants were women, over 40 percent were HIV positive, and 70 percent had experienced domestic violence or chronic illness.

Lead author of the study Dr. Dixon Chibanda, a consultant psychiatrist in Harare, co-founded the Friendship Bench network in response to the appalling shortage of evidence-based treatment for people with mental disorders in Zimbabwe, a problem common throughout Africa.

While about 25 percent of the country's primary care patients suffer from depression, anxiety and other common mental disorders, Zimbabwe (population 15 million) has only 10 psychiatrists and 15 clinical psychologists.
"Common mental disorders impose a huge burden on all countries of sub-Saharan Africa," says Dr. Chibanda. "Developed over 20 years of community research, the Friendship Bench empowers people to achieve a greater sense of coping and control over their lives by teaching them a structured way to identify problems and find workable solutions."

With CDN $1 million in funding from Grand Challenges Canada earlier this year, the Friendship Bench has since been scaled to 72 clinics in the cities of Harare, Gweru and Chitungwiza (total population 1.8 million). Through collaborating with a Médecins Sans Frontières psychiatric program in Zimbabwe, the Friendship Bench is working to create the largest comprehensive mental health program in sub-Saharan Africa.

To date, over 27,500 people have accessed treatment.

"In developing countries, nearly 90 percent of people with mental disorders are unable to access any treatment," says Dr. Peter A. Singer, Chief Executive Officer of Grand Challenges Canada. "We need innovations like the Friendship Bench to flip the gap and go from 10 percent of people receiving treatment, to 90 percent of people receiving treatment."

"In many parts of Africa, if you are poor and mentally ill, your chances of getting adequate treatment are close to zero," says Dr. Karlee Silver, Vice President Programs at Grand Challenges Canada. "In Zimbabwe, that's changing thanks to the Friendship Bench, the first project with the potential to make mental health care accessible to an entire African nation."

In 2017, the team will focus on expanding the model to reach other vulnerable populations, including youth and refugees. In partnership with the Swedish NGO SolidarMed, the team intends to expand implementation of this model in Masvingo province and subsequently in the refugee centres of the eastern highlands on the border with Mozambique.

"The Friendship Bench team, working with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health, has been able to substantially scale up services for some of the most deprived people in the community," says Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the World Health Organization. "By supporting the uptake of mental health innovations like the Friendship Bench, Canada is helping to turn the tide in the global mental health challenge."

The study, published today in JAMA and supported by Grand Challenges Canada, was conducted from September 2014 to June 2015, and involved:

Identifying participants at 24 primary care clinics in Harare, divided into an intervention group (287 participants) and a control group (286). Total participants: 573.
Participants were all at least 18 years old (median age 33);

All had been assessed at 9 or higher on a 14-level "Shona Symptoms Questionnaire" (SSQ-14), an indigenous measure of common mental disorders in Zimbabwe's Shona language (http://bit.ly/2h2SQch). Changes in depression were measured using the PHQ-9 scale.

Excluded were patients with suicidal intent (those who were clinically depressed with suicidal thoughts and a plan for suicide), end-stage AIDS, were currently in psychiatric care, were pregnant or up to 3 months post-partum, presented with current psychosis, intoxication, and/or dementia (such patients were referred to a higher level clinic in Harare).

The control group received standard care (nurse assessment, brief support counselling, medication, referral to see a clinical psychologist and/or a psychiatrist, and Fluoxetine if warranted) plus education on common mental disorders.

Intervention group participants met on a wooden bench on the grounds of municipal clinics with trained, supervised lay health workers, popularly known as "grandmothers," (median age 53) who provided problem solving therapy with three components -- "opening up the mind, uplifting the individual, and further strengthening."

The 45-minute sessions took place weekly for six weeks, with an optional 6-session group support program available

The "grandmothers" used mobile phones and tablets to link to specialist support. They also used a cloud-based platform that integrated the Friendship Bench project's training, screening, patient referral and follow-up components

After three individual sessions, participants were invited to join a peer-led group called Circle Kubatana Tose, or "holding hands together," which provided support from men and women who had benefitted from the Friendship Bench earlier. At these weekly meetings, people shared personal experiences while crocheting purses made from recycled plastic materials, the latter being an income-generating skill for participants.
About Grand Challenges Canada

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact® in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we support innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation -- we call this Integrated Innovation®. Grand Challenges Canada focuses on innovator-defined challenges through its Stars in Global Health program and on targeted challenges in its Saving Lives at Birth, Saving Brains and Global Mental Health programs. Grand Challenges Canada works closely with Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Global Affairs Canada to catalyze scale, sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

A place where the spirit of the season doesn't rely on sights and sounds

 Colourful Christmas lights, which adorn the city streets, sparkling freshly fallen snow, and the warm sound of carolers… These are just a few of the many sights and sounds that enhance the spirit of the season.

For those with a limited range of senses, like combined vision and hearing loss, the holiday season can be filled with silence and darkness.

Making Christmas meaningful was a challenge for John's family. Born several months premature, John was only given a fifty percent chance of survival. He spent his first 3 months in an incubator, fighting for his life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Doctors said John could have a number of birth defects including vision and hearing loss. At age two, John was assessed as deafblind.

Deafblindness is a combined loss of hearing and vision to such an extent that neither the hearing nor vision can be used as a means of accessing information, communication and mobility. In fact, 95 percent of what you learn comes from your eyes and ears.

Although deafblind and unable to speak, John enjoyed the holiday season during his childhood, sitting on Santa's knee, and feeling the textures of his long white beard and red velvet suit with curious little hands.

Growing up, John attended school for the deaf and blind. But, after high school, there was a void in his life. John's brothers had already moved away from home, and his parents wanted the same independence for him.

According to his Mom, Anne, "He became bored and depressed at home"… "Then, one life-changing day, I discovered DeafBlind Ontario Services".

In November of 2010, John moved into one of DeafBlind Ontario Services' residential locations in Jackson's Point. With the help of Intervenors, specially trained professionals who act as the "eyes" and "ears" of the individual who is deafblind, John was able to choose his own activities, learn valuable life skills, and gain work experience as a volunteer at a local restaurant.

However, John was eager to live more independently and take ownership of the place that he calls home. This dream was realized in the Spring of 2015, when John moved into his own apartment along with a roommate.

To communicate, John uses Facilitated Typing, where an Intervenor physically assists him by holding his hand or arm to use an augmentative communication system (either an iPad or Dynavox). He then uses one finger to type words on the keyboard. When asked about his apartment, John told his Intervenors "I am happy" and "I feel like a grown up like my brothers".

Over the years, John has always enjoyed bright and colourful Christmas lights. As a kid, he would sit mesmerized by the tree. Today, he says that Christmas lights are still one of his favourite things about the holidays, and that they make him feel "happy". He enjoys going on drives with his Intervenors, looking at the different holiday displays in the neighbourhood with a smile on his face. This year, John is looking forward to spending time over the holidays with his family and exchanging presents.

Founded in 1989, DeafBlind Ontario Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals who are deafblind increase their independence and improve their quality of life through specialized services. With residential locations and community services programs across the province, their services extend into a wide range of communities in Ontario.

This holiday season, you can help make a difference in the life of an individual who is deafblind, like John. visit www.deafblindontario.com to learn more. 
Information Update - Health Canada reviewing potential negative effects of general anesthetics and sedatives on young children and fetuses
 Health Canada is reviewing the safety of certain drugs used for general anesthesia and sedation in children under the age of three, or in pregnant women during their third trimester. This follows a recent communication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning the public that repeated or lengthy use of general anesthetics and sedatives in these groups may have potential negative effects on the development of children's brains.

"General" anesthetics and sedatives are administered by highly trained specialists in healthcare settings so that the patient is unconscious and does not feel pain during surgery, procedures or tests. General anesthetics are usually given by injection into a vein, or inhaled. The risk being communicated does not involve "local" or "regional" anesthetics, which are used to numb specific areas or regions of the body.

As noted in the FDA communication, studies in young animals have shown that anesthetics can be harmful to the developing brain. Some studies of children who have undergone anesthesia suggest that there may be long-term effects on learning and behaviour, while other studies have not shown a link. It is difficult to know whether these effects were due to the drugs or other reasons, such as the medical condition for which the anesthesia was needed. According to the FDA, recent human studies suggest that a single, relatively short exposure to general anesthetics and sedatives in infants or toddlers is unlikely to have negative effects on behaviour or learning.

Health Canada is currently reviewing this safety issue and collaborating with other foreign agencies. We are assessing all available information, including scientific literature and new international developments, to determine whether the current labelling accurately reflects the scientific knowledge that has been obtained from animal studies.

The department will continue to update Canadians, including health professionals, as the review is completed, and will take action, as needed, to optimize the benefits and reduce the risks associated with anesthetics and sedatives in children and pregnant women.

Anesthetics and sedatives are essential to preventing pain during surgery and other procedures or tests. They play a vital role in critical and sometimes life-saving procedures that should not be delayed. When making any decisions on the necessity and timing of a procedure, health professionals and patients should weigh the risks and benefits. Pregnant women, parents and caregivers should discuss any questions or concerns about the use of sedatives, general anesthesia and/or the necessity of a procedure with their healthcare professional.
Christmas Miracle for an Ontario family
An Ontario family has had their wish come true with help from Muscular Dystrophy Canada (MDC), our partners and a caring Fire Fighter. Despite what they had been told, Bri Reynolds, will be heading home to spend Christmas Day with her husband and children.

"This is a day we only dreamed of," says Lucan Reynolds, Bri's husband. "Bri has faced so many obstacles and her only wish this Christmas was to spend the holidays with our three children (Loriann – 11, Leah – 10, and Lorenzo – 7). I can not tell you how much this means to our family and how happy our children are to have their mom home for Christmas. Thank you MDC for making this miracle happen."

Bri has two types of muscular dystrophy, Becker and Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD) and has spent more than 100 days at Lakeridge Health at the Rouge Valley site ICU unit. The family has faced financial hardship caring for Bri, and Lucan had to leave his job to care for his wife and family. On November 30th, the story of Bri and her family ran on the local news. The family, who is dealing with the realities of muscular dystrophy, shared their very personal story and their one wish - to be together for the holidays.

Chris McAuley, a local volunteer Fire Fighter with the Scugog Township Port Perry Firefighters' Association, who for 4 years has worked with MDC, contacted the Ontario MDC team asking what they could do to help. The Township of Scugog Fire and Emergency Services Fire Fighters have been supporting MDC since 1984, and as an active volunteer Fire Fighter and the MDC Chairperson, Chris has a deep connection with MDC and knew we could help the Reynolds family this holiday season.

"The heart of Muscular Dystrophy Canada is helping families affected by neuromuscular disorders to receive the services and supports they need to live longer and better lives. Families like the Reynolds family are an inspiration to us. They are a reminder that we must continue to support Canadians affected by neuromuscular disorders. Because of the generosity of our donors and volunteers, we are able to deliver programs and services, like navigating systems, implementing sustainable solutions, and funding assistive devices, to families in need. We continue to invest in ground-breaking research and advocate for individuals and families. We are delighted that we have been able to intervene and with the support of our partners, to make this wish come true," said Stacey Lintern, Vice President of Mission.

This miracle happened because many people chose to help – Special thanks to our partners, vendors, Lakeridge Health Rouge Valley site ICU team, Central East CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) and the Vent Pool through the Assistive Devices Program. Because of all of you, Bri's husband Lucan and children: Loriann, Leah and Lorenzo will receive their Christmas wish and have their mother home for the holidays.

"Thank you partners, vendors and Vent Pool through the Assistive Devices Program who played a key role in addressing barriers and putting a plan into place that would accommodate the family's wish for Bri to spend the holidays with her family. The spirit of generosity and kindness gave this family a holiday they will never forget," continues Lintern.

About Muscular Dystrophy Canada
Muscular Dystrophy Canada's mission is to enhance the lives of those affected with neuromuscular disorders by continually working to provide ongoing support and resources while relentlessly searching for a cure through well funded research.

To learn more about Muscular Dystrophy Canada – please visit www.muscle.ca or call our toll-free number at 1-866-MUSCLE-8 (1-866-687-2538).

Vaughan Mills is on Track to Raise $150,000 for SickKids Foundation

There is still time to GIVE the Gift of Giving

Vaughan Mills is delighted with the response to its Love Lock Wall, a unique component to its fundraising efforts for SickKids Foundation. Shoppers have been giving back all holiday season by locking in their love and dedicating their donation to the growing Love Lock wall display. 100% of the proceeds from the love padlocks and Santa's photo package purchases will be donated to SickKids Foundation.
To date the mall has raised over $125,000. "We are optimistic that we will reach our goal for SickKids and believe that achieving this ambitious target has been possible because of the kindness and generosity of our shoppers," said Maria Bevacqua, Marketing and Tourism Director, Vaughan Mills. "Such beautiful moments occur at the Love Lock Wall, from tears of joy to sorrow. And Katie Zeppieri,

Campaign Ambassador welcomes it all, as it is not just a wall it is a celebration of love, compassion and healing," says Bevacqua.
The Love Lock donation makes a unique and sentimental holiday gift for that special someone. At the Love Lock kiosk, located at the Sport Court (Entry 4A) visitors can purchase their padlock: 1 for $15 or 2 for $25. Best & Friend Tag/chain set are $18. With each donation, everyone receives a commemorative 'keypsake', a necklace and charm to keep or gift as a symbol of their heartfelt donation.

The campaign has provided a forum for sharing through Vaughan Mills Social Media Channels -- Instagram: @vaughan_mills, Twitter: @vaughan_mills, Facebook: Vaughan Mills. Love Lock stories are being shared on Instagram using the hashtag #VMLoveLockStories.
Vaughan Mills has also produced a series of videos featuring SickKids Ambassadors to support the Give campaign.
Canadians' Want Access to Better Home Care
 Canadians believe that home, not a hospital or long-term care facility, is the best place to recover from an illness or injury, manage long-term conditions, and live out ones' final days.

During a six-month consultation process, conduced by the Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), patients, family caregivers, government representatives, health care administrators, health and home care providers shared ideas and ways to make this a reality. Their ideas and actions are captured in the recently released Better Home Care: A National Action Plan (www.thehomecareplan.ca).

The Better Home Care Plan answers the question: "What actions can the federal government lead in collaboration with provinces and territories to make home care more effective and accessible?"

The response is 16 specific actions that can be achieved over the next three years through provincial and territorial collaboration and targeted federal investments in home care. The federal government's proposal of $6 billion for home care, with $1 billion set aside for home-care infrastructure, will accelerate this work. Several priority actions that can immediately be advanced are:

Undertake an 18-month consultation to develop principle-based home care standards (based on Harmonized Home Care Principles) to provide clarity for patients and families, set norms for high quality care and establish provider competency and skills.
Facilitate the establishment, monitoring and reporting of two to three national indicators for equitable access to quality home care.
Build capacity in the home care sector to identify, spread and scale integrated, community-based practices for individuals with chronic complex needs, and end-of-life care. Support home care teams to implement and test change ideas.
Accelerate the use of virtual care and telehomecare and support jurisdictions to integrate home care data into electronic records.
The health system must respond to community needs and changes to patterns of care. We have an opportunity to bring about successful transformation. Together we can make patient-centred accountable care, integrated community-based care and sustainable care are reality.

For more information see: http://www.thehomecareplan.ca
Family Caregivers Support Federal Government's Proposed Investment in Home Care
Carers Canada is encouraged by the Federal Government's strong commitment to home care with their proposed investment of $6 billion. The targeted funding would make a significant impact on the health and well-being of carers (family caregivers) who provide over 70 per cent of home support services for individuals with chronic, long-term conditions.

There are over 8 million Canadians who have taken on a caring role for a loved one, family or friend. The aging population, growing dependency ratio, cost constraints and rising demand on our health care system, and changing family units are increasing the likelihood that an individual will assume the role of family caregiver.

As our population ages, the number of older adults with a frailty who want to stay in their own home is increasing. Carers – family, friends and neighbours – are stepping up to provide care and fill the gap in our publicly funded health care system. For many carers, this can mean juggling their work, personal and caring responsibilities, often at the cost of their emotional, physical and financial status.

"Providing care can be enriching and rewarding. But carers must have access to necessary support so they are not stretched to the breaking point." stated Anthony Milonas, COO CBI Health Group and Signatory Partner of Carers Canada. "Home care programs are designed to complement the care provided by carers – to provide them with the relief and support they rightfully deserve."

A family caregiver's support and compassion enables care recipients to avoid unnecessary hospital visits or premature admission to long-term care facilities. The federal government's commitment to more and better home care through targeted investments will support to the millions of Canadians who play a vital role in enabling seniors to remain safely at home with dignity and quality of life.

Carers Canada encourages all governments to work together to meeting the needs of our aging and vulnerable populations, along with their carers.
Investment in Home Care will Modernize Our Health Care System
The Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) congratulates the federal government on their vision and commitment to better home care in Canada. Today, the federal government set the stage for transformational change in our health care system. Their offer to invest $6 billion for home care, with $1 billion of that money set aside for home care infrastructure, will have a positive impact on the lives of Canadians across the country.

The number of Canadians receiving home care has doubled over the past decade to over 1.8 million. The current demand for home care services is outpacing the available funding and resources. "There is an urgency for action and resources to ensure more and better home care services for Canadians," said Réal Cloutier, CHCA President. "With the targeted funding for home care, individuals will be able to receive appropriate services so they can recover from an illness or injury, manage long-term conditions, and live out ones' final days in their own homes."

Home care is a priority for Canadians - for policy-makers, funders, health care providers, patients and their caregivers. Provincial and territorial governments have made public commitments to enhancing home care, but to achieve transformational change and modernize our health care system, governments need a coordinated and well-resourced plan.

"The majority of public health care dollars are spent on hospital and physician services with a meagre 4 per cent devoted to home care. This lack of funding and resources result in unnecessary hospitalizations, premature admissions to long-term care facilities and ultimately, wasted health care dollars," stated Nadine Henningsen, CHCA Chief Executive Officer.

The federal government's recognition that fundamental change is needed to address the future health needs of Canadians is a vision that members of the CHCA embrace. New innovative service models enable care to shift from institutional and professional settings to a patient's home, where they can safely receive care and be more engaged in the self-management of their conditions.

The CHCA welcomes the opportunity to work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments to ensure home care is a key part of an integrated approach to health and wellness.
Should the RPCU have paid $1500 for a receipt confirmation for its letter to Prime Minister Trudeau about health transfers?
The Regroupement provincial des comités des usagers (RPCU), which represents users of the Québec health and social services network, has still not received a receipt confirmation for its letter of October 6, 2016, to Prime Minister Trudeau, asking him to follow through on the health transfer commitments made in the last election campaign.

"Should the RPCU have had to pay $1500 for access to Prime Minister Trudeau in order to discuss health care transfers with him?" asked Pierre Blain, Director General of the RPCU. "The Liberal Party of Canada made promises to the users of the Québec health and social services network in the last election campaign. We expect it to follow through on these promises."

The Canadian and provincial ministers of finance and health are meeting today in Ottawa to discuss health transfers. According to the information available, the federal Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bill Morneau, has proposed to stick with the former Harper government's policy and keep the transfers at 3%.

Originally, the federal government financed nearly 50% of health care expenditures. Now, that number is down to about 20%. "We sincerely believe that the federal government should finance 25% of health care expenditures in Canada," stated Claude Ménard, President of the RPCU. "Offering less means making the users alone bear the increased cost of maintaining the care and services required by the federal health care law," he added.

With the ageing of the population, the RPCU believes that health care transfers should be at least 5% per year. This would make it easier to meet needs such as home care, mental health care, better access to family doctors and shorter waiting lists for emergency care and surgery. "The federal government has to negotiate with the provinces in good faith. Québec's demands are reasonable and should be heard," Mr. Blain concluded.

Mylan Launches the First Generic for EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector as an Authorized Generic 

 Mylan N.V. today announced the launch of the authorized generic for EpiPen® (epinephrine injection, USP) Auto-Injector at a wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) of $300 per epinephrine injection, USP two-pack, which is more than 50% lower than the WAC of EpiPen 2-Pak® Auto-Injectors. The authorized generic, which will reach pharmacies starting next week, has the same drug formulation and device functionality as EpiPen Auto-Injector, a product that has been on the market for nearly 30 years, and is administered in the same way.

Patients and healthcare professionals can learn more at MyGenericEAI.com.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch commented, "Americans are rightfully concerned about rising drug prices, and now more than ever patients and families across this country are standing at the pharmacy counter struggling to pay for their medications. While it is important to understand the outdated and complex system that determines what someone pays for medicine in the U.S., hardworking families don't need an explanation, they need a solution. This is why we took decisive action with our EpiPen product and have launched the first generic version at half the WAC price. This unprecedented action, along with the enhancements we made to our patient access programs, will help patients and provide substantial savings to payors.

"Unfortunately, families will continue to face sticker shock for medications and may be forced to make difficult choices until the pharmaceutical pricing system is reformed to address the increasing shift of costs directly to consumers. Pharmaceutical pricing is too far removed from the patient at the pharmacy counter and not designed for today's increasingly consumerized healthcare system. Every day, escalating out-of-pocket costs impact a new patient population; however, this broader systemic issue will not be solved in a meaningful and sustainable way by our industry's one-off, reactive responses. This is an issue that will impact virtually every family on a high deductible plan, regardless of what medicine they are taking. That is why it is critical that all industry participants and government leaders come together to seize the opportunity to make fundamental changes to the system to ensure access to medicine.

"Making quality medicines and making them accessible to patients has been our mission since Mylan began in West Virginia more than 55 years ago. As one of the world's largest generics companies, our medicines filled one out of 13 of all prescriptions in the U.S. last year – the equivalent of 21 billion doses – which is more than Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca, J&J, Sanofi and GSK combined. We will continue to do our part to fight for changes that will make a difference in the lives of patients and remain deeply committed to serving patients in the severe allergy community by working to ensure that everyone who needs an EpiPen has access to one."

The authorized generic will be available starting next week through retail channels. Mylan will maintain its commitment to the severe allergy community and will have a salesforce of approximately 275 representatives selling the product. To further increase access to treatment, Mylan has launched an additional patient purchase option at $300 per two-pack. Mylan also is offering a savings card for eligible patients with commercial health insurance, providing up to $25 off the out-of-pocket cost for the authorized generic. Additionally, Mylan will continue to offer its patient assistance program to support uninsured and underinsured patients. More information about these programs can be found on Mylan.com/EpiPenAccess.

The authorized generic for EpiPen Auto-Injector is available in 0.15 mg and 0.3 mg strengths.

International Group Supports Global Efforts To End Dental Mercury Usage

 Last week, three EU institutions (the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union) reached a provisional agreement to ban dental amalgam fillings for children under 15 and pregnant and breastfeeding women as of July 1, 2018. These actions in Europe are being supported by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a non-profit group that encourages worldwide efforts to end dental mercury.

"Mercury is toxic, and its use in all silver-colored dental fillings has been linked to environmental harm, as well as increased risks of Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, infertility, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and many other adverse health conditions. Viable alternatives to these fillings have existed for decades. It's crucial for all of the world to follow Europe's lead and take action to restrict dental mercury, and even more efficiently, to end its use entirely," explained Dr. Tammy DeGregorio, IAOMT President.

The IAOMT has collected hundreds of research studies about the health and environmental hazards of dental mercury and has used this scientific literature to create resources for dentists, medical practitioners, policymakers, and the public.

Dental amalgam mercury is still used on approximately 45% of dental patients worldwide, including in the USA, and hundreds of millions of people have these mercury-containing fillings in their mouths. Many patients are unaware that their silver fillings are made of 50% mercury, and patients are also often shocked to learn that this mercury can harm the environment, as well as potentially create health risks for dental patients and their fetuses and breast-fed children.

Some consumers have their mercury fillings removed due to device failure, medical reasons, or personal preference. However, removing amalgam fillings without safety measures can pose a threat to the environment, dental patients, dentists, and others due to mercury releases. For this reason, the IAOMT has developed a scientifically-supported Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) that utilizes dental amalgam separators, water irrigation, high-volume suction, mercury-filter masks, and other rigorous safety measures.

The IAOMT also created "The SMART Choice" to explain what the SMART protocol is, why it's important, and how patients can find dentists with training in SMART. The grassroots campaign encourages communication between patients and dentists about safe mercury amalgam filling removal. 

Long wait times make destination healthcare attractive to Canadians

Wait times for medical procedures are at a 20-year high in Canada. Accessing private medical treatment for non-emergency procedures IS a viable option for Canadians. Safe, high-quality, private care is available to Canadians immediately at an affordable price.

"Canadians are becoming frustrated with unreasonably long wait times and lack of access to the care they need," states Nicola Banks, founder of Health City Canada, the Canadian office for Health City Cayman Islands. Health City Cayman Islands sees an average of 20 Canadian inquiries every week and have performed many joint replacement surgeries on Canadian patients, all of whom are back home and recovering well. "Patients should be aware that there are private options available outside of Canada and that suffering is not acceptable," adds Banks.

The practice of Destination Healthcare – also referred to as Medical Tourism – is becoming a fast-growing global industry. In the past year alone, the number of Canadians who left the country to receive medical treatment is in the tens of thousands. The accreditation standards and practices continue to evolve, empowering potential patients to seek affordable, high-quality care.

"The fact that we are only 6 days into corresponding with each other, and have made a determination and scheduled a surgery date, is way beyond our expectations," says the daughter of a current patient.

Health City Cayman Islands, a state-of-the-art accredited hospital, set up a dedicated Canadian office in 2016 to better serve the Canadian marketplace. "Our priority is to inform Canadians of their options when they feel there are none," says Banks. "Many inquiring patients are frustrated to the point of feeling desperate." As cited in a recent report by the Fraser Institute, long wait times can have a significant negative impact, beyond merely frustration for patients, such as increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

"In a perfect world, we would be able to meet the demands of Canadians needing surgery here in Canada in a timely manner," said Canada-based anaesthesiologist Dr. Cynthia Horner. "Given our current climate, this is becoming more difficult and Canadians are choosing to look for other options."

Based on the philosophy that a patient's medical journey starts – and continues – at home, Banks and her Canadian team of physicians are dedicated to optimize continuity of care for Canadians, and inform Canadians on how to access high-quality, affordable healthcare in a timely and safe manner.

The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada applauds the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation

 The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (Neighbourhood Pharmacies) applauds the federal government's Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation (Task Force) for recognizing the need to preserve the system of medical cannabis separate from the recreational system.

In its report released today, the Task Force clearly noted Neighbourhood Pharmacies' proposition that medical cannabis is a serious drug and that Canadians expect that strength and packaging standards applied to prescription medications be applied to cannabis.

"We're looking forward to meeting with provincial pharmacy regulatory authorities, the pharmacy community and lawmakers to shape retail rules," said Justin J. Bates, Chief Executive Officer, Neighbourhood Pharmacies. "We will continue to advocate for patient centric regulations that bring those using medical cannabis into the circle of care."

Neighbourhood Pharmacies is also pleased to see recommendations that retail sales should prohibit co-location of alcohol or tobacco with cannabis sales and that there should be limits to maintain appropriate distances from schools.

Consistent with our submission to the Task Force, we emphasize the importance of immediately including pharmacists and pharmacies in the current regulations to ensure that the highest level of safeguards and patient care are delivered. Over the coming months Neighbourhood Pharmacies will be encouraging federal and provincial lawmakers to enact legislation and regulations that ensure Canadians use medical marijuana as intended, and avoid adverse events.

"Collectively members of Neighbourhood Phamacies are a central part of Canada's health system, and a significant contributor to our economy – contributing $12.5 billion in economic value to Canada's healthcare system annually," continued Bates. "This is essential in preventing adverse drug reactions, operating an efficient supply chain, providing innovative drug therapies and lower-cost generic drugs, as well as compounding and compliance packaging to ensure patients take the right medications at the right time."

Pharmacies across Canada are uniquely placed to help the Government deliver on its commitment to legalize, regulate and restrict the use of cannabis in a safe and responsible manner.  

Study finds poorer cancer survival among First Nation adults in Canada

 A new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention has found that First Nations in Canada have significantly poorer five-year survival from cancer than non-Aboriginals.

The study is the first nationwide effort to analyze cancer survival rates for First Nation cancer patients. The findings are consistent with those of provincial studies conducted by Cancer Care Ontario, and they reinforce the urgent need for interventions to improve health outcomes for First Nations and to develop data systems and infrastructure that will help us monitor progress.

Using four national administrative databases, study authors from Cancer Care Ontario, the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario and Statistics Canada estimated cancer survival in First Nations across Canada from 1992 to 2009 and compared it to survival among non-Aboriginal Canadians.

"The burden of cancer among First Nations, Inuit and Métis people has been understudied for decades, but there's a particular lack of information about survival," says Dr. Loraine Marrett, Senior Scientist, Cancer Care Ontario. "This study enhances our understanding of disparities across the country and will help measure our progress in narrowing the survival gap."

Key study findings:

First Nations diagnosed with cancers of the colon and rectum, lung and bronchus, breast, prostate, oral cavity and pharynx, cervix, ovary or with non-Hodgkin lymphoma or leukemia all had significantly poorer five-year survival than non-Aboriginals. Disparities could not be explained by differences between First Nations and non-Aboriginals in income or where they live (e.g., an urban or rural area).
The largest absolute differences in survival rates between First Nations and non-Aboriginals were for cervical and ovarian cancers, where five-year survival was at least 20 percent higher among non-Aboriginals.

The largest relative differences in survival were for First Nations with prostate and breast cancers, the two most common cancers among men and women respectively.

The disparities identified in this study are likely the result of many factors. There has been little study of the reasons for disparities in survival in Canada however, evidence from indigenous populations in other countries suggest that screening, stage at diagnosis, patients' health at the time of diagnosis and treatment all contribute to differences in cancer survival.

"A number of factors need to be addressed to reduce the burden of cancer and improve survival rates among First Nations, including prevention and screening uptake," says Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario. "More research is needed to determine the exact causes of these disparities and to help inform culturally appropriate health interventions."

The study was supported by a Canadian Institutes for Health Research Open Operating Grant entitled "Cancer incidence and survival in First Nations and Metis adults in Canada: follow-up of the 1991 census cohort." It is also aligned with Cancer Care Ontario's Aboriginal Cancer Strategy III, which highlights research and surveillance, prevention and education as key priorities.

A full copy of the study is available at http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2016/11/23/1055-9965.EPI-16-0706

Visit mycanceriq.ca today to determine your personal cancer risk. To contact an Aboriginal Patient Navigator who can help First Nations and other Aboriginal cancer patients and their families, please visit Cancer Care Ontario's website.

Regional Chemotherapy saves lives of two Toronto men

Christmas came early for Gerald Kopitowski – in July he was given four months to live after being diagnosed with aggressive oral cancer that ravaged his tongue and throat, preventing him from eating and talking, and eventually breathing. He lost 80 lbs. in mere months.

"I'd be dead by now. Wouldn't be seeing Christmas, if it weren't for Dr. Karl Aigner treating me with Regional Chemotherapy," says Gerald. "By the time I got to his clinic in Germany, I was just skin and bones. After only two treatments, the tumour disappeared, my tongue is in place and I can talk and eat my steak again."

Gerald is one of many cancer survivors indebted to the Prof. Dr. med. Karl R. Aigner, a leading German oncologist. Prof. Aigner has been practicing Regional Chemotherapy (RCT) for over thirty years and has experienced remarkable success rates at his private clinic in Burghausen. He uses RCT to target specific tumours, rather than the entire body, leaving healthy cells intact, while reducing side effects in comparison with systemic chemotherapy. See www.regionalchemotherapy.com for more information on RCT.

A new social campaign #damagecancer by Medias Health Inc., a company that represents Prof. Aigner's clinic in North America and beyond, is drawing Canadian attention to this revolutionary treatment in hopes of one day having it here. Michael Shribman, founder and president of Medias Health Inc., has made it his life's mission to enlighten Canadians and the medical community about RCT. In late September 2016 Michael flew Prof. Aigner to Toronto to present on the breakthrough methodology.

"I've seen it work firsthand – it's like a miracle," said Michael, whose sister's stage 4 cancer was treated in Germany by Prof. Aigner. Svetlana Shraibman was given a death sentence here in Canada – today she is still fighting, working and is a happy and active mom to her two young children.

Karmi Posner was also a dead man walking – until he underwent Regional Chemotherapy. Conventional treatment in Canada had failed. In August his surgery in Toronto was cancelled because his tonsil cancer had progressed too far. "They said you may see Christmas, but you won't see summer, and then they sent him home to die," said his wife, Ilona. She just returned from visiting her husband who is being treated by Prof. Aigner at Medias Klinikum, a private hospital in Germany.

"Karmi's had amazing, amazing results! He's expected home soon – you can't get a better Christmas present than that," said Ilona. "It's ridiculous that it (RCT) is not available in Canada. It could help so many people."

And Gerald couldn't be happier with his progress – he is speaking, eating and loving life. "They wanted to cut my tongue out, take flesh from my side to rebuild a new tongue, put in a breathing apparatus and a tube in my side for food – it just didn't sound like good quality of life!"

Gerald's wife, Gail Smith-Kopitowski, had heard about Prof. Aigner's visit to Canada, and desperately reached out to Medias Health Inc. for help to get her husband to the clinic in Germany. Gail's request was expedited by Medias Health as critical, and within three days she and Gerald were on their way to Germany; and soon after Karmi followed.

The clinic is filled with optimism, report patients. Round-the-clock care, professional staff, a state-of-the-art technology, and Prof. Aigner's expertise and kindness make it a place of healing and hope. "Now our life is just beginning thanks to Prof. Aigner," added Ilona. "I am grateful, thankful and hopeful."

Costs of treating patients with psychosis change significantly as they age

Treating psychotic illnesses cost the province of Ontario just under $2.1 billion in 2012, which was about four per cent of the total provincial health budget, according to a new study from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). But even more striking, according to the researchers, is how costs change for patients with psychotic disorders as they age.

Chronic psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are severe and disabling, and are associated with poor psychiatric and medical outcomes. These disorders are considered one of the most costly mental illnesses due to the young age at onset and the need for intensive health care over the patient's lifetime.

"We already knew costs for treating psychotic illnesses were high, but what this study shows is how early patients start incurring long-term care costs. Patients with psychotic illnesses as young as 46 are in long-term care facilities, which is very young," says Dr. Claire de Oliveira, author of the study and Scientist at both ICES and CAMH's Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.

Individuals with chronic psychotic illnesses also have complex medical needs related to their physical health, which accounted for the change in health care costs with age. In younger patients, the majority of health care costs were associated with psychiatric hospitalizations. As patients aged, long-term care and medical hospitalizations accounted for a greater share of total health care costs, suggesting the development of different health care needs over time.

"These findings highlight the need to address both physical and mental health simultaneously in younger patients to avoid more serious conditions from developing, and to manage the comorbidity in older patients," adds de Oliveira.

The study found there were 142,821 patients over the age of 15 with a chronic psychotic illness (roughly 1.2 per cent of the total population) in Ontario in 2012 with an average age of 49. Among this group, most lived in low-income, urban neighbourhoods. Roughly 17 per cent had a psychiatric hospitalization in the year of analysis, with an average of two hospitalizations and average length of stay of 49 days.

The study also found that younger patients with psychosis had five to nine times higher health care costs associated with psychiatric hospitalizations in that year, compared with the health care costs of young people without psychosis (for males 16-25: $10,283; for females 16-25: $7,310 compared to young people without psychosis who on average cost about $1,112 for males and $1,621 for females).

The over 65 age group had the highest costs overall. More than half their health care costs were associated with long-term care and medical hospitalizations (for males 65+: $29,249; for females 65+: $26,788 compared to males 65+: $12,095, females 65+: $12,673 without psychosis).

"Our results suggest that the needs of patients with chronic psychotic illnesses change over time, and that those needs become more complex as people age. This complexity is reflected in the high and diverse health care costs in our older patients," says Dr. Paul Kurdyak, co-author, scientist at both ICES and CAMH, where he is also Medical Director of Performance Improvement and Director of Health Outcomes at The Medical Psychiatry Alliance.

The direct health care costs included costs associated with hospitalizations; emergency department visits; physician services and diagnostics tests; outpatient prescription drugs for individuals covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit program; home care; long-term care; and other care (this includes other ambulatory care, such as same-day surgery/procedures, cancer and dialysis clinics; other hospital-based care, such as rehabilitation and complex continuing care; and assistive devices). It did not include costs for addiction services.

This research is supported in part by the Medical Psychiatry Alliance (MPA), a collaborative health partnership of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Hospital for Sick Children, Trillium Health Partners, the University of Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and an anonymous donor. The MPA's goal is to provide better access to, and coordination of, integrated health care services for patients living with co-existing mental and physical illnesses.

"Estimating the economic burden of chronic psychotic disorders in Ontario: a prevalence-based cost of illness study," was published today in The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics.

Author block: Claire de Oliveira, Joyce Cheng, Jürgen Rehm and Paul Kurdyak.

PM must act to save health care, stop privatization, union says

The Government of Canada must boost funding for health care and use its powers to rein in provinces that want to privatize the system, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

"As Canada's Premiers meet tonight, we are hopeful that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will say two things about health care," said Sara Labelle, Chair of OPSEU's Hospital Professionals Division.

"First, we need the Prime Minister to say that the federal government will offer a commitment that federal transfers to the provinces for health care will increase by six per cent a year for the long term," she said. "The PM needs to walk away from the legacy of Stephen Harper and get us back to funding health care to a standard that is acceptable to all Canadians."

"Second, he needs to tell the provinces that that funding will be tied to their commitment to uphold the principles of the Canada Health Act. That means a publicly run system that doesn't force patients to pay out of pocket for the care they need."

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas commended federal Health Minister Jane Philpott for warning the provinces, on several occasions, to stop turning the public health care system over to the private sector.

"The federal government has shown a willingness to crack down on provinces that defy the principles of the Canada Health Act," Thomas said, "but its power to do so depends entirely on its commitment of funding. Federal funding is absolutely essential to ensuring quality public health care for all Canadians, no matter where they live."

"It is true that provinces have misdirected federal health care funding in the past," Sara Labelle said. "In Ontario, we know that the province has not spent all of its federal funding for health care on health care over the last number of years."

"We fully agree that federal funding should come with strings attached to ensure that it goes to publicly-funded health care, and nothing else."

OPSEU represents 45,000 health care workers in Ontario.

Statement from the Fric Family

​The family of Dr. Elana Fric has asked the Ontario Medical Association to issue the following statement on their behalf:

The family of Dr. Elana Fric would like to express their deepest gratitude for the outpouring of support and prayers at this difficult time.

We deeply appreciate the support that Elana's children and we as a family have received – it has been a kindness for which we are very thankful.

We would also like to express thanks to the many friends, neighbours and colleagues who have shared their memories of Elana as a wonderful person, mother, and physician. We miss her greatly and these memories mean a great deal to all of us today and every day.

We would further like to thank:

The police at 32 Division for their hard work, compassion and professionalism,

The physicians and staff at the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital for their kind words and financial support,

The entire community at the children's school; teachers, children, parents and staff,

The Children's Aid Society for their work to help the children as they attempt to cope with the tragic loss of their mother,

The Ontario Medical Association, including Elana's colleagues in District 11 where she worked, for their support, arranging emergency financial assistance and establishing trusts for Elana's three young children.

Finally we'd like to send thanks to all those who have honoured Elana's memory by donating to:

The Shelter Movers of Toronto: This charity provides safe, respectful moving services at no cost to persons fleeing abusive households.

Canadian Centre for Immigrant and Refugee Health Care: Elana was passionate about global health and equitable care for vulnerable populations, including women and refugees.

We continue to ask for privacy as we work through this difficult time and thank you for your continued respect of this request.  

Canada's nurses serve up new survey findings leading up to premier's dinner meeting on health care

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - December 09, 2016) - Today the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) released new findings from a public opinion poll commissioned to gain further insight into Canadians' attitudes towards health issues since the last federal election.

The questions focused on Canadians' perspectives on access to prescription drugs, the federal government's priorities and the involvement that they should have in health care.

The findings indicated that 77% of respondents support a universal public drug plan to ensure that all Canadians are covered for necessary prescription drugs, and revealed that, in the past year, one in five Canadians have not filled a prescription due to the cost, which supports past survey findings.

"As nurses, every shift, every day we see the impact that not having a national pharmacare program has on our patients, and on our provincial and territorial health care budgets," said CFNU President, Linda Silas.

Respondents also rated health care as the top priority (87%) over a number of policy areas for the federal government over the next five years. Over half of respondents also indicated that they would like to see the federal government increase its involvement in health care in the future.

Canada's nurses release these survey results, leading up to the First Ministers' dinner meeting on health care, scheduled tonight in Ottawa with the federal government. Yesterday, the CFNU also provided all premiers with a new report titled: Down the Drain: How Canada Has Wasted $62 Billion Health Care Dollars without Pharmacare, where noted economist Hugh Mackenzie calculates the disturbing amount Canada has wasted over the past 10 years by not implementing national pharmacare.

"Canadians have to demand more from our governments, and pharmacare is a clear example where public pressure is needed to push politicians to do the right thing," said Silas. "The evidence has all been compiled and delivered into the hands of decision makers -- now we need action."

The survey was conducted November 15-21, 2016, by EKOS Research Associates. In total, a random sample of over 1,000 Canadians responded to the survey.

Geisinger study finds opioids not helpful in treating chronic pain 

​A new study by a pair of Geisinger Health System physicians reports that the use of opioid therapy to treat chronic pain is not only ineffective, it can actually increase the likelihood of more harmful consequences, including death.

Palliative care physicians Mellar P. Davis, M.D., and Zankhana Mehta, M.D., authored the study which provides a review of the current research on chronic opioid therapy. The study was published in the December 2016 edition of Current Oncology Reports.

"When patients are given opioid therapy for chronic pain, there is evidence that it interferes with the body's natural resolution of the pain," said Dr. Davis, who co-chaired the 2015 International Conference on Opioids at Harvard Medical School. "Opioid therapy may put someone at an increased risk for multiple adverse effects. And it actually has the potential of extending the history of their pain."

The authors wrote that the risk of addiction, depression, central hypogonadism – where the hypothalamus and pituitary glands don't function properly – sleep-disordered breathing, impaired wound healing, infections, cognitive impairment, falls, fractures and death increase in patients on chronic opioid therapy.

The Geisinger physicians acknowledge that the use of opioids has been helpful in reducing the intensity of acute pain – sudden pain due to injury that doesn't last long – and in managing pain associated with terminal cancer. But they found that the promotion of opioid therapy to treat chronic pain – defined as lasting more than three months – has been common practice without significant research to judge the safety of the practice.

In addition, Dr. Davis believes opioids have been over-prescribed by physicians because of limited treatment options.

"There are not a lot of pain management centers providing a variety of effective, non-opioid and non-pharmacologic therapies," he said. "In addressing the opioid epidemic in our society, we should be putting our efforts into developing more chronic pain rehabilitation programs versus making opioid packaging tamper-resistant to prevent the crushing, snorting and injecting of prescribed narcotics."

The authors conclude that the management of chronic pain needs to be vastly different than the treatment of acute pain. They urge physicians to take into consideration the significant delayed side effects and adverse health consequences of opioids.

"Opioids are not the answer," Dr. Davis stressed. "Chronic pain rehabilitation, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapies, acupuncture, yoga or tai chi are all better options than opioids."

Dr. Davis will present the findings from his research at the Annual Assembly of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Phoenix, Arizona.

About Geisinger
Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development of innovative care delivery models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®. As one of the nation's largest health service organizations, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also in southern New Jersey with the addition of AtlantiCare, a National Malcolm Baldrige Award recipient. The physician-led system is comprised of approximately 30,000 employees, including nearly 1,600 employed physicians, 12 hospital campuses, two research centers and a 551,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $10.5 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economy. Geisinger has repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or follow the latest Geisinger news and more on Twitter and Facebook

Ontario Chamber of Commerce calls on Government to implement a Health Cabinet with oversight for provincial health-related spending

TORONTO, Dec. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the report, Care in Our Control: Managing Innovation in Ontario's Multi-Payer Health Care System. The report examines why Ontario struggles to capture value for money spent, particularly on health innovations like pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The report recommends a new approach to this challenge by calling on the provincial government to create a Health Cabinet, to break down silos between Ministries in order to improve the way Ontario is investing in health care.

As medical devices and pharmaceuticals become more sophisticated, patient quality of life has the opportunity to greatly improve. However, government continues to struggle to afford new innovations that are entering the market with increasing rapidity. In order to adopt innovation while ensuring the province's system is fiscally sustainable, the government must better understand the value that innovation can bring across the system, to other public services, and to the health and wellness of Ontarians.

"Innovation is not being materialized. Across Canada, there are over 4,000 new medical devices licensed every year and not enough of them are getting to Ontario patients," said Allan O'Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. "Government needs to reform how the value of innovation is being assessed so that the lowest cost option is not the default, in doing so, we're not putting patients first."

Effectively integrating innovative treatments into the current health care system requires collaborative budget decision-making, and an understanding that spending in one area could result in savings in another. In Ontario, being able to measure the value of health care spending in this way means breaking down budget "silos" that exist between government Ministries. Currently, the system lacks structures that allow for the value of innovative treatments to be considered across multiple budgets.

"The formation of a Health Cabinet would help individual ministries understand how decisions within the health care system can impact other public services, and vice versa," added O'Dette. "Ontario is a source of great health innovation, and having a conduit between the ministries responsible for health, social services, research, and economic development would improve our ability to use those innovations for the benefit of all Ontarians.

The OCC's report argues that a Health Cabinet should also facilitate improved public/private relationships by including stakeholders from industry, research and academia. This would help government take advantage of the knowledge and capacity of experts in the health sector while creating a forum for collaboration and partnership across government Ministries that is dedicated to improving patient outcomes, including a specific focus on the challenges of our aging population.

New report shows many Ontarians aren't getting screened for cancer

The number of people newly diagnosed with cancer in Ontario has increased over the last two decades and will continue to rise, largely due to an aging population. Certain cancers can be prevented or detected earlier by regular screening, but according to a new report released today by Cancer Care Ontario, many eligible Ontarians aren't up to date with their screening tests.

The Ontario Cancer Screening Performance Report 2016 evaluates the performance of the province's three organized cancer screening programs: the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), the Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) and ColonCancerCheck (CCC). It highlights cancer screening participation and retention, future program directions and also includes a feature on Ontarians who are overdue for screening.

"Effective cancer screening programs are crucial to reducing the impact of cancer," says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice-President, Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario. "Research has shown that family doctors can influence their patients' participation in cancer screening, which is why we encourage all healthcare providers to speak to their patients about getting screened."

There are a number of geographic and socio-demographic characteristics associated with being overdue for cancer screening, including age, male sex, low neighbourhood income and not being registered with a family doctor. The findings in this report will be used to inform evidence-based and locally relevant strategies to strengthen cancer screening in Ontario.

To support primary care providers, Cancer Care Ontario has developed several innovative tools to assist them with cancer screening in their practices, including the Primary Care Screening Activity Report and the Electronic Medical Record tool. Cancer Care Ontario also sends cancer screening invitation and reminder letters to eligible Ontarians, and as of 2015, physicians can opt in to physician-linked correspondence for the ColonCancerCheck program.

Key report findings are:

Participation in breast cancer screening has remained stable at 65 percent of eligible women since 2011–2012. The proportion of women screened within the Ontario Breast Screening Program has continued to increase, up to 78 percent in 2013–2014.

Participation in cervical cancer screening has declined from 2009-2011 (68 percent) to 2012–2014 (63 percent).

Retention in the OCSP has also declined, from 81 percent among women screened in 2010 to 72 percent among women screened in 2011. These decreases may be related to changes in screening guidelines which extended the recommended screening interval from annually to once every three years.

Older women were less likely than younger women to return for a subsequent Pap test. Retention was lowest in the oldest age group (women ages 60 to 66) at 68 percent.

The proportion of eligible Ontarians who are overdue for colorectal cancer screening has continued to improve (decline) from 50 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2014. We are transitioning to a new screening test for colorectal cancer for average risk individuals (the fecal immunochemical test), which we anticipate will improve screening participation.
A copy of the Ontario Cancer Screening Performance Report 2016 is available at cancercare.on.ca/cancerscreeningreport. 

Regular Use of Ibuprofen May Lower Lung Cancer Risk Among High-Risk Subgroups of Cigarette Smokers

​Regular use of ibuprofen may lower the risk of lung cancer among those with a history of cigarette smoking, according to research presented at the IASLC 17th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) in Vienna, Austria.

It has been established that chronic inflammation appears to increase the risk of lung cancer, and medicines that reduce inflammation have been shown to reduce this risk. However, few prospective studies have examined associations between lung cancer and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

To test whether a common NSAID can reduce the risk of lung cancer, Dr. Marisa Bittoni and her colleagues from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, examined data from 10,735 participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES III.

Baseline data on smoking, NSAIDs and other lifestyle variables were collected for 10,735 participants starting in 1988-1994, and cause-specific mortality status was ascertained through probabilistic record matching using the National Death Index through 2006. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) to quantify associations between NSAID use and lung cancer death, with adjustment for current smoking and other variables.

Over 18 years of follow-up, 269 individuals died from lung cancer, of which 252 (93.6 percent) reported a history of cigarette smoking. Since all but 17 of the 269 fatal lung cancer cases occurred among current or former smokers, estimates of NSAID effects were ascertained from a sub-cohort of 5,882 individuals who reported a history of past or current cigarette smoking.

Bittoni found that prospective data from NHANES III showed that among adults with a history of past or current smoking, ibuprofen intake was associated with a substantial (48 percent) reduction in the risk of dying from lung cancer. Effects of aspirin and acetaminophen were not statistically significant.

"These results suggest that regular use of certain NSAIDs may be beneficial for high-risk subgroups of smokers as a lung cancer prevention strategy," Bittoni said.

The IASLC 17th WCLC is the world's largest meeting dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies, attracting more than 6,000 researchers, physicians, and specialists from more than 100 countries. For more information on the IASLC 17th WCLC, visit: http://wclc2016.iaslc.org/.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University warn of deadly role that air pollution plays in heart disease​

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have produced a new video to warn about how exposure to air pollution, especially toxic particles, can increase the risk of death from heart disease. These findings were presented in the latest video in a series from the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas, a project based at Simon Fraser University that aggregates environmental data and its impact on public health, to present it in a meaningful way online.

The video, The Deadly Impact of Airborne Particles, will be released tonight at the NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina.

With funding from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority's (CIRA) Community Investment Program, researchers have developed a new video to help raise awareness about the risks of environmental toxins. Having access to credible data on environmental hazards can encourage people to advocate for stronger public health measures. By helping people understand the impact of air pollution – which is largely outside of their individual control – the creators of the videos hope people will advocate for changes in their community to reduce levels of pollutants.

The video, The Deadly Impact of Airborne Particles, is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WAhhZsMr0A

Key facts

Air pollution is a mixture of gases and toxic particles. Each of the particles is invisible, but collectively they create a dense, visible smog that is deadly. Most people understand that air pollution causes damage to their lungs, but it is also a major risk factor for heart disease.
Air pollution is causing premature deaths worldwide. During the London Fog of 1952, half as many people died from air pollution than from aerial bombings of London during the World War II. Last month, the Indian government declared a state of emergency relating to air pollution in New Delhi.
Using three cities, Vancouver, London and Beijing, the film illustrates how the per cent of heart disease deaths from air pollution increase as the levels of pollution increase. The video illustrates how three million deaths could be prevented if levels of pollution were lowered to those found in Vancouver.
The Canadian Environmental Health Atlas was initiated in 2009 by a multidisciplinary team at SFU and other Canadian universities to advance knowledge on environmental health. The goal of the project is to make scientific research accessible to Canadians and researchers through interactive tools, videos, maps, and graphics.
CIRA's Community Investment Program provided funding to support this project and aid in the development of online resources to make the data more accessible to Canadians. Through a series of online animated videos, important environmental and health data can be made widely available to Canadians, policy-makers and researchers to help inform decision-making and ultimately improve public health outcomes.
Executive quotes

"Our goal is to help people understand how their environment can have a substantial impact on their health. We all know about the power of diet and exercise in promoting health, but the effects of energy production, urban design, and environmental regulation are also important. A comprehensive public health response will need to include improvements to our urban environment that promote cleaner air.

- Dr. Bruce Lanphear from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University

"The goal of CIRA's Community Investment Program is to provide resources to organizations using digital technology to improve the lives of Canadians. Ensuring access to credible, evidence-based health information is available online aligns well with this objective. The issues explored by the Canadian Environmental Health Atlas are not simple, but Dr. Lanphear and his team are demonstrating the powerful role that plain language, compelling visuals, and clear explanations can have in making research accessible via the web."

- David Fowler, VP of marketing and communications at CIRA

Additional resources

More information on the Atlas, and to stay informed of new research and resource materials, visit them online at ehatlas.ca.

Make Your Miles Count! Donate your Aeroplan Miles to the Air Canada Foundation to help children across Canada​

 This week is the Air Canada Foundation and Aeroplan Miles Matching Week in support of the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program. This program redistributes the Aeroplan Miles donated by Air Canada customers to 15 pediatric hospitals across Canada by providing flights for sick children who need specialized health care not available in their community. Aeroplan will match all miles donated from December 5 and 11, 2016 up to 500,000 Aeroplan Miles.

"This is an amazing opportunity for the Air Canada Foundation to add to our own efforts by accumulating Aeroplan Miles for the Hospital Transportation Program, giving sick children access to advanced medical treatments not available in their community," said Leslie Quinton, Vice-President Corporate Communications at Air Canada and Air Canada Foundation board member. "Each year, hundreds of families count on the program to ease part of their financial burden at a time when they need to focus their attention on the health and well-being of their child. We are grateful to be able to do more because of the generosity of Aeroplan members."

In the past four years alone, over 50 million Aeroplan Miles have been donated to 15 pediatric hospitals with the sole objective of helping sick children obtain the medical care they need.

"Thanks to our members' generosity, every mile donated makes a huge impact to families and communities across the country and we're proud to help our partner, the Air Canada Foundation, make a difference and share in what is truly important to them," said John Boynton, Chief Marketing Officer, Aeroplan.

The Aeroplan Mile Matching Week in support of the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program will be held between December 5 and 11, 2016. To donate your miles, please visit aircanada.com/Foundation and select the "Donate" button located on the top banner.

Aeroplan Members can also automatically donate two per cent of all miles accumulated to the Air Canada Foundation by updating the donation opt-in on their profile page on aeroplan.com. 

Physician colleagues coordinate donations for the family of Dr. Elana Fric​

Members of the medical community have set up a crowdfunding page and trust fund to honour Dr. Elana Fric and assist her family over the coming weeks, months, and years.

On behalf of the Fric family, thank you for honouring the memory of Dr. Fric and supporting her children.


A You Caring crowdfunding page has been set up to help ensure that the immediate needs of Dr. Fric's children are met. All funds collected here will be directly available to the Fric family.

Trust Fund
A trust fund is being put in place to assist with the long-term financial needs of Dr. Fric's children. Donations to this trust fund will be managed by MD Private Trust and will be administered by the Fric family. More information about the trust fund will be available in the coming days.

Memorial Donations

For friends and colleagues looking for additional ways to honour Dr. Fric's memory, donations can be made to The Shelter Movers of Toronto and/or The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care.

Dr. Fric was passionate about global health and equitable care for vulnerable populations including women and refugees.

The Shelter Movers of Toronto (from its website)

The Shelter Movers of Toronto provides safe, respectful moving services at no cost to persons fleeing abusive households in Toronto, Canada. We envision a Toronto where fleeing abuse is easier, better supported and barrier-free for everyone.

The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care (from its website)

Our goal is to make sure that no one has to live without health care. While we treat approximately 60 patients every week at our Centre (that's more than 25,000 people since we opened in 1999) the sad fact is that there are still people living in our community without access to health care.

Ingle International Provides Mental Wellness Support Line to Student Groups Free of Charge​

 Ingle International has extended their multilingual mental health support phone line – a part of their Student Assistance & Wellness Program – to their international student groups free of charge. The extension was provided by the student team to highlight company philosophies on mental wellness service and support: access, inclusivity, strength, and resilience. The counselling services portion of the Student Assistance & Wellness Program has been added effective immediately.

"Building mental wellness student support into our international student group insurance products as a preventative measure has existed at Ingle International since the beginning. However, in this day and age, prevention is not enough. The Student Assistance & Wellness Program closes the gap between prevention and full support. So students can get back to what they enjoy: learning, excelling, and making the most of their time abroad," says Robin Ingle, Chairman of Ingle International.

The Student Assistance & Wellness Program, an additional service to the Comprehensive+ Plan, supports inbound international student groups in Canada dealing with a variety of problems including, but not limited to: homesickness and adjustment stress, depression and anxiety, sleeping and eating disorders, relationship issues, academic stress, addiction and substance abuse, violence related problems, post-traumatic stress and crisis management. The program functions in two ways. First: it provides access to a peer-reviewed health and wellness library, the Canadian Health Care Guide, and mental health articles designed for international students. Secondly: it facilitates a free phone line for mental health support and wellness. Key features of the phone line include:

Toll-free 1-877 helpline easily dialed from anywhere in North America
Qualified and experienced counselling personal with a minimum Masters level education, coupled with 5 years of clinical experience
Choice of counselling platforms: face to face, telephonic, text, video, or secure e-mail
Prompt and efficient interventions in over 180 languages
Services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
Crisis calls handled immediately at intake, non-crisis appointments within 48 hours
Mobile application providing scheduling function, access to expert materials
Ingle International is proud to team up with international student groups for their insurance and mental wellness needs.

National citizens' panel recommends urgent action to expand public drug coverage for all Canadians​

Today, a special panel of citizens convened to make recommendations on the future of prescription drug coverage in Canada calls on the federal government to create a universal public insurance plan for necessary medicines.

At 8:45am, the Chair of the Citizens' Reference Panel on Pharmacare in Canada will testify to the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Health on the process that brought these Canadians together and on the contents of their final report: Necessary Medicines: Recommendations from the Citizens' Reference Panel on Pharmacare in Canada.

"The panelists were surprised to learn that many Canadians do not have adequate drug coverage and that Canadians on average spend considerably more for medically-necessary drugs than most other countries with comparable health care systems," says Peter MacLeod, the Panel's chair. "They believe the government should act and create a national pharmacare system that is equitable and cost-effective."

About the panel
The Citizens' Reference Panel on Pharmacare in Canada is an innovative initiative to provide detailed advice and a clear citizen perspective to health ministers and policy makers.

This summer, 10,000 households were randomly selected by Canada Post to receive an invitation to volunteer. Participants were then randomly selected by Civic Lottery ensuring that the panel broadly matched Canada's demographics and the prevalence of prescription drug coverage.

Ultimately, thirty-five Canadians were randomly selected as representatives from each province and the territories. Together, they travelled to Ottawa to participate in a five-day dialogue, propose recommendations, reach consensus and draft their report.

During their meetings, the panelists learned about Canada's health care system and how prescription drugs are provided here and in other countries. They heard from 20 guest speakers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, brand-name and generic manufacturers, insurers, retailers, patients, public agencies, academics, and former policy makers.

The process was overseen by a committee featuring leading clinicians, senior public servants and health researchers from across Canada.

The recommendations
The Citizens' Reference Panel on Pharmacare in Canada recommends immediate action to address flaws in the current patchwork of public and private drug coverage. They proposed a vision of prescription drug coverage they believed "Canadians could be proud of."

Their recommendations are grounded in core principles they felt represented their values as Canadians: that coverage be universal, patient-centred, accountable to the public, evidence-based, and sustainable.

The panel recommends universal public coverage of medicines listed on a new national formulary. They recommend that this formulary be extensive enough to accommodate the full range of individual patient needs, including rare diseases. They also recommend that all covered drugs would undergo a rigorous evaluation process to ensure both the efficacy and value-for-money of funded treatments.

As a first step towards a comprehensive public drug plan, the panel also calls on the government to move immediately to implement public coverage for a short list of basic, frequently prescribed drugs. This short list would begin the shift towards a comprehensive universal pharmacare system and become the basis for a new national formulary.

The panel also endorses an ongoing role for private insurers in providing supplemental coverage. Under any new system, employers, unions and individuals could continue to purchase private insurance for medications not on the public formulary as well as other para-medical services.

The panel urges the government to fund the program through modest income and corporate tax increases, and urges further consideration of co-payment models provided they do not create an unreasonable barrier for low-income individuals.

"This is a timely and important contribution to a national dialogue on strengthening pharmaceutical coverage," says Dr. Steve Morgan, Professor of health policy at the University of British Columbia, and the panel's lead researcher.

The Citizens' Reference Panel on Pharmacare was principally funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with additional support provided by the Mindset Social Innovation Foundation, the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, Women's College Hospital, the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

"I Didn't Fall In Love With Your Hair" - an anthem for Canadians battling cancer (and those who love them)

Juno and Canadian Country Music Association Award winning country singer Brett Kissel's poignant song about enduring love through a battle with cancer has struck a chord with thousands upon thousands of Canadians who have downloaded the song for friends and family affected by the disease. Released to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, proceeds from sales of the single have been matched by highly regarded Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, W. Brett Wilson.

A total of $53,400 has now been raised via this song to support world-class research and support programs for the Canadian Cancer Society. Close to 1 million impressions were earned through social media, an equally significant measure of the song's incredible emotional and awareness-building impact.

"This song is generating so many inspirational stories back from the brave and beautiful people battling cancer," says Kissel. "This song and the related launch initiative was our way of celebrating and supporting people going through the toughest time in their lives."

In addition to downloading the song, many Canadians shared their own cancer story online, from personal losses of loved ones and co-workers, to praising those who are still in the fight, and celebrating those who have faced cancer and won. Here are a few samples:

"I was diagnosed with leukemia last year. My first question to the doc was, 'Am I going to lose my hair?'"

"My beautiful 3-year-old is battling leukemia. His hair is gone due to the chemo."

"I just lost my wife last Monday to cancer. She was only 34."

"My mom's been cancer free for nearly a year and I've been growing my hair out to donate."

"We just lost a coworker to cancer. She fought it for 25 years. She lost her battle and passed away one day after her 62nd Birthday. She was a beautiful person. Pure goodness right through to her soul."

Wilson, himself a two-time cancer "graduate," added that the song perfectly reflects the roller coaster of emotions that are part of one's cancer journey. "It's a grab the Kleenex and hug the stuffing out someone kind of song," says Wilson, "and it's rightly becoming an anthem for anyone battling cancer, and those who love them."

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. "Telling the cancer story of Brett Kissel's family and so many others, it's not surprising that this song has resonated with so many Canadians," says Kim Rossi, Manager, Major Gifts for the Canadian Cancer Society. "We are very thankful for the support of Brett Kissel, W. Brett Wilson, Warner Music Canada, and to all who downloaded the song."
The Canada-United States Chapter of the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) has awarded three interprofessional grants totaling $50,000.00 (USD) to fund projects that will be carried out in 2017 and have a positive impact on dental caries, an early form of tooth decay which is reversible, for children aged 0-6.

The inaugural grant program aims to bring together groups outside of dentistry, such as pediatrics and primary care, to help underserved communities. Made possible through funding from Colgate-Palmolive, the grants focus on specific populations including communities with high caries needs, populations living in remote areas with limited access to dental care, disadvantaged communities such as those with low incomes and other populations with specialized health care needs.

"The programs funded through this grant are outstanding examples of the interprofessional collaboration being implemented to address oral health," said Alyssa Hayes, BDent, MSc, FRCD(C), Assistant Professor, Dental Public Health, University of Saskatchewan College of Dentistry and Canada-US ACFF Chapter Co-Chair. "Only by working together can we improve the oral health of young children."

Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) Awards Grants to Positively Impact Oral Health of Young Children in Canada and the United States

About the 2016 Winners

Promoting Oral Health in Primary Care:
Closing the Dental Referral Loop (Children's Mercy Kansas City, Kansas City, Mo.) – This program aims to improve the process of dental referrals for children at highest risk. By expanding the role of a dedicated staff member who will help to shepherd identified children through the referral process and coordinate care between patients and providers. Ultimately, by February 2018, the organizers believe that 80% of children at absolute high risk for caries according to the AAP Oral Health Risk Assessment Tool will have a formal dental referral completed.

An Ontario Primary Health Care System to Support a Cavity-free Future (Faculty of Dentistry, University of Toronto and Niagara Region, Public Health, Toronto)
– Through a participatory action research approach, this project aims to build readiness across dentistry, medicine, public health and government to make fluoride varnish (FV) routine primary care practice in Ontario. The project will engage key policy and practice leaders to understand their perspectives on the challenges of adopting FV in primary care. In collaboration with these stakeholders, the project will also develop the strategy that will be necessary to making FV application routing primary care practice in Ontario.

Online Parenting Forums:
Drawing Implications for Caries Prevention from Parents' Perspectives of Childhood Decay and Dental Expertise (University of Calgary) – A research project that seeks to better understand online parenting forums in relation to early childhood caries (ECC). In-person sessions with parents recruited from online forums will focus on how parents use forums, their perceptions of trust and expertise online, and what supportive role health professionals might play on parenting forums. Findings from these sessions will then better inform the role of public health professionals in enhancing ECC prevention efforts.

"Disparities in dental caries experience and access to care exist all across North America," said Margherita Fontana, DDS, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Canada-US ACFF Chapter Co-Chair. "We believe these programs will have a significant short and long-term impact in our understanding of how to reduce these disparities."

For those interested in finding resources on cavity prevention, more information can be found at www.AllianceforaCavityFreeFuture.org. Specific information about the Canada-US Chapter can be obtained by contacting Co-Chair Alyssa Hayes via email (alyssa.hayes@usask.ca) or phone (306-966-1407).

About Caries:

Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have tooth decay.i In fact, dental caries (which includes all stages of tooth decay) is the most common, yet preventable, chronic disease on the planet. The impact of this disease has a profound impact on children in North America. In Canada, an estimated 2.26 million school days are missed each year due to dental related illness.ii In the United States, a child is five times more likely to seek emergency room treatment for dental problems than for asthma, often because they can't see a dentist, are uninsured or can't afford routine dental care.iii

When dental caries occurs, hard tissue in the tooth is damaged by acids that naturally exist in our mouth and help break down foods, which results in tooth decay. Early dental caries can be prevented and controlled if the multiple causative factors, namely a susceptible tooth surface, the presence of cariogenic acid producing bacteria in dental plaque biofilm, and the exposure to ingested carbohydrates and sugars are reduced.

About The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future:

The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future (ACFF) is a worldwide group of experts who have joined together to promote integrated clinical and public health action in order to stop caries initiation and progression in order to move towards a Cavity-Free Future for all age groups. Overall, the group believes that global collaborative action is needed to challenge global leaders and other regional and local stakeholders to learn the importance of caries as a disease continuum and to participate in action toward the delivery of comprehensive caries prevention and management that can positively influence the continuing problem of caries. By working together on a global, regional and local level, the ACFF challenges these stakeholders to stop caries NOW for the opportunity to have a Cavity-Free Future.

The ACFF was built in collaboration with a worldwide panel of experts in dentistry and public health. Given the goal of driving global collaborative action, the ACFF aims also to partner with global leaders and other stakeholders on a regional and local level — including country and community leaders, health and dental health professionals, public policy and education communities, and the public.

Make three minutes matter: CivicAction launches workplace mental health program

 Employers have an easier path to workplace mental health with today's launch of CivicAction's ground-breaking MindsMatter program. Over 150 civic and business leaders from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) gathered today to hear about the program, which includes a free online assessment tool that gives employers customized steps to take and related resources to better support their people's mental health. Employers can join the program at civicaction.ca/mindsmatter today.

The MindsMatter program is a direct response to research CivicAction released earlier this year in partnership with Morneau Shepell and Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA). The research estimates that half of the GTHA's labour force has experienced a mental health issue and over the next decade, current mental health issues could cost our region $17 billion in lost productivity.

"The workplace is where so many of us spend so much of our day, and it can, and should, be a better place to support people's mental health," said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction. "CivicAction invites all employers – regardless of size, sector or where they're at with mental health – to join the MindsMatter program to strengthen our people, our businesses and our economy."
  Through CivicAction's assessment tool, the first of its kind in Canada, employers are given a tailored report that provides three actions and a sampling of resources suggested by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The assessment tool is confidential and takes under three minutes to complete. Employees can go to www.civicaction.ca/mindsmatter for tips on how to better support co-workers.

According to a survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association, 32% of Canadian business leaders are taking action to address workplace mental health, while 42% are interested but haven't taken action due to barriers such as lack of time, resources, or know-how.

"Employers clearly have the appetite to do more to support people's mental well-being," said CivicAction Mental Health Champions Council co-chair Paula Allen, Vice President of Research and Integrative Solutions at Morneau Shepell. Rupert Duchesne, CivicAction Mental Health Champions Council co-chair and Group Chief Executive at Aimia Inc. added, "The MindsMatter program helps employers overcome barriers with a simple, customized roadmap to a healthier, more well-supported workforce."

Standing with CivicAction today were members of the Champions Council and Advisory Group from across sectors and the GTHA, including Bell, CAMH, Facebook, Government of Ontario, Hong Fook Mental Health Association, Muslim Association of Canada, RBC, Sotheby's, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, Sun Life Financial, TD Bank Group, Toronto Region Board of Trade, Toronto Life, and Unifor. They join CivicAction in inviting other GTHA-based organizations to take the assessment, take at least one action, and share their experience using #mindsmatter so others can learn about promising practices.

"Employers have a unique opportunity and responsibility to provide support when someone is experiencing mental health challenges," said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "The Ontario government is pleased to support this initiative, which will give workplaces the tools to support their employees through early interventions, helping to avoid a potential crisis down the road."

About CivicAction: Since 2012, CivicAction has brought together senior executives and rising leaders from all sectors to tackle some of our region's toughest challenges. CivicAction sets a non-partisan agenda, builds strategic partnerships and launches campaigns, programs and organizations that transform our region. To find out more visit civicaction.ca or follow us on twitter at @CivicActionGTHA.

About CivicAction's MindsMatter Program: The MindsMatter program was developed in partnership with over thirty organizations on CivicAction's Mental Health Champions Council and six Advisory Group members representing Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, Mental Health International, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, and the Wellesley Institute. The content for the MindsMatter tool was developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with the financial support of Health Canada. Technology assistance thanks to Morneau Shepell. Branding and creative by PUBLIC Inc. To find out more visit civicaction.ca/mindsmatter #mindsmatter

CivicAction's MindsMatter program would not be possible without the generous support of the Government of Ontario, Bell Let's Talk, Aimia Inc., CGI, Mental Health Commission of Canada, CN, Willis Towers Watson, and probono partners Morneau Shepell, PUBLIC Inc., Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis, and McCarthy Tétrault.

Information Update - Direct-acting antivirals, used for hepatitis C, may reactivate hepatitis B

A recent Health Canada safety review found that patients infected with both hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses who are being treated for hepatitis C with direct-acting antivirals may experience a reactivation of their hepatitis B. Hepatitis B reactivation is the return of an active hepatitis B infection, which can lead to serious complications such as liver failure.

As a result, Health Canada is working with manufacturers to strengthen the prescribing information for these drugs with a new warning about this risk.

Direct-acting antivirals are prescription medicines used to treat and, in most cases, cure chronic hepatitis C virus infections in adults. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C virus infections can lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (liver scarring), liver cancer and death.

 When Health Canada completed its safety review in October 2016 there were no Canadian cases of hepatitis B reactivation. However, 13 international cases were identified. In some cases, the symptoms reported were consistent with moderate to severe hepatitis B reactivation, with one case resulting in liver failure requiring a liver transplant.
Health Canada will continue to monitor and evaluate the risk of hepatitis B reactivation associated with the use of direct-acting antivirals. If new safety information is identified, Canadians will be updated, as required.

The direct-acting antivirals available in Canada are:

Daklinza (daclatasvir)
Epclusa (sofosbuvir, velpatasvir)
Galexos (simeprevir)
Harvoni (sofosbuvir, ledipasvir)
Holkira Pak (dasabuvir, paritaprevir, ombitasvir, ritonavir)
Sovaldi (sofosbuvir)
Sunvepra (asunaprevir)
Technivie (paritaprevir, ombitasvir, ritonavir)
Zepatier (grazoprevir, elbasvir)

What you should do:

Tell your health care professional if you currently have or have ever had hepatitis B, or if you have other liver problems (such as cirrhosis), before starting treatment with direct-acting antivirals.

Talk to your health care professional if you have questions or concerns about using direct-acting antivirals.

Do not stop taking direct-acting antivirals without talking to your health care professional.

Special AIDS Day

Government of Canada announces progress and new investments to eliminate HIV/AIDS as a public health threat

 HIV is a serious but preventable disease that continues to pose a public health risk for Canadians. Today, on World AIDS Day, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced Canada's progress in reaching the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) global targets for HIV – known as the 90-90-90 targets.

Canada strongly supports the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment targets, which aim to ensure that 90% of HIV positive people will know their status, that 90% of people who know their status receive treatment, and that 90% of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Achieving these global targets by 2020 will help to eliminate AIDS as a global public health threat by 2030.

In Canada, based on available data, an estimated 80% of HIV infected persons are diagnosed, 76% of those diagnosed are on treatment, and 89% of those on treatment have suppressed viral loads. This is the first time these estimates have been developed as a national aggregate.

In support of achieving the 90-90-90 targets, Minister Philpott also announced today an investment of over $3.5 million to fund the work of Canadian HIV/AIDS researchers who are engaged in cutting-edge biomedical and clinical research, as well as those working in the communities most vulnerable to HIV infection, including Indigenous communities.

Minister Philpott also announced that the Government of Canada will host a national conference on sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) in February 2017. Stakeholders and provincial and territorial governments will be engaged to identify concrete actions with substantial impacts on HIV and STBBIs in Canada, and contribute towards achieving global targets.

Canada has made great progress in addressing HIV/AIDS over more than three decades of responding to the epidemic; however, there is still work to do. The Government of Canada continues to work closely with the provinces and territories, community organizations and scientific and medical communities to reach the 90-90-90 targets by:

providing HIV screening and testing guidance to health professionals;
engaging with communities to strengthen prevention and access to testing and treatment services; and
enhancing HIV surveillance to monitor progress.

National AIDS Memorial Observes 25th Anniversary with World AIDS Day Events that Inspire Remembrance, Healing and Unrelenting Hope for the Future

 As people from around the world came together to commemorate World AIDS Day, the National AIDS Memorial brought together more than 1,300 friends, loved ones and supporters for two-days of events to pay tribute to the lives lost, inspire remembrance, healing and convey an important message of hope for the future.

The events marked 25 years ago since a small group of San Francisco residents representing a community devastated by the AIDS epidemic gathered in a dilapidated grove in Golden Gate Park to restore it and create a serene place where people seeking healing could gather to express their collective grief through a living memorial, an AIDS memorial. Those efforts helped build a movement, where five years later legislation spearheaded by U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi and signed into law by President Bill Clinton that designated "the Grove" as the national memorial for HIV/AIDS.

Today, nearly 25,000 volunteers ranging from the very young to the elderly have donated more than 150,000 hours to help maintain the Grove, clearing overgrowth, reintroducing native species and planting new trees, plants and shrubs to ensure this treasured memorial continues to provide, in perpetuity, a place of remembrance so that the lives of people who died from AIDS are not forgotten and the story is known by future generations.

"The Grove is a place of both remembrance and renewal with people coming from all over the world to remember those lost and look to the future," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who spearheaded the legislation. "Twenty-five years after this important designation, we still strive for a future in which we end stigma and discrimination, ensure continued research, care and resources, and, at long last, find a cure."

On the eve of World AIDS Day, much of the memorial's ten acres was beautifully illuminated during "Light in the Grove," an event honoring those who have died while also celebrating the spirit of light and life. Guests experienced a candlelight reflection at the Circle of Friends and the evening included special musical and choreographed artistic performances, including a medley of Sylvester's songs performed by the renowned Jeanie Tracy. Alvin Baum of San Francisco received the "Lifetime of Commitment" award for his decades of unwavering philanthropy, activism and leadership in support of HIV/AIDS, LGBT communities and civil liberties.

World AIDS Day ceremonies were held in the Grove's meadow to reinforce the link between the San Francisco community's historical significance in the epidemic and the National AIDS Memorial as a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.

"As we gather in this beautiful meadow, we pay tribute to the lives lost to this pandemic," said John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial. "It was within their struggle and the grief and pain that followed that the Grove was born 25 years ago. Today, we join together to honor their legacy and recognize some of the leaders who have made lasting impacts in the fight against AIDS."

The tribute focused on 'hearts rising' where Jeanne White-Ginder, AIDS activist and mother of the late Ryan White, accepted the Thom Weyand Unsung Hero Award on behalf of the national Hemophilia community, 50% of which perished between 1980 - 2010 due to a tainted blood supply. Paul Kawata, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council also received the National Leadership Recognition Award for his work to building leadership in communities of color to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS.

The National AIDS Memorial, in collaboration with HIV Story Project, also unveiled a series of personal video stories that capture the vast and diverse voices of the epidemic through personal stories by survivors aimed at inspiring future generations. This year, those personal stories focused on the horrific plight of the Hemophilia community and the tragedy and loss caused by a tainted blood supply. A first-ever "Powering Through" panel discussion was also held, bringing together leaders in the national Hemophilia community to discuss the need for a feature in the National AIDS Memorial to commemorate those infected by the blood contamination crisis and the ongoing processing of and healing from the disaster.

"We have to honor and respect those who went through this horrible, horrible epidemic," said White-Ginder. "Too many people we loved were lost and the Hemophilia community needs to come together to share our stories and communicate with one another the sadness and the sorrow, but also the joy that maybe nobody has to live with this again."

Recognizing that today's youth will ensure past generations are never forgotten, ten college students from around the country were awarded scholarships as part of the National AIDS Memorial Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship Award Program to pursue their education and for their active commitment to fighting AIDS and taking on roles of public service and leadership in the community.

The World AIDS Day ceremony concluded with supporters gathering for the reading of the names of those engraved this year into the Circle of Friends, which is now at capacity.

For more information about the National AIDS Memorial Grove, its mission, programs and services, visit www.aidsmemorial.org or call (415) 765-0497. Click HERE to view a special World AIDS Day video with a touching tribute by friends of the Grove. Click HERE or photos and video from Light in the Grove and World AIDS Day events. 

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on World AIDS Day

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on World AIDS Day:

"Let us pause on World AIDS Day to remember the many people in Canada and around the world who have been lost to HIV/AIDS, and to renew our commitment to eliminating this disease in the years to come.

"Today, and every day, we extend our compassion and kindness to everyone who is affected – not only those we have lost, but also those who are still living, including families.

"Tens of thousands of Canadians are living with HIV, and over 36 million people worldwide are HIV-positive. Thanks to major advances in treatment and care, people diagnosed today are able to live with hope in ways not possible in decades past. Still, much work remains to be done to promote education, prevention, treatment, care, and to find a cure.

"During the Fifth Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund, which Canada hosted in Montréal earlier this year, the Government of Canada pledged $804 million to international efforts to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. At home, we are investing in the work of Canadian HIV/AIDS researchers, as well as community-based organizations to prevent new infections and ensure people living with HIV have access to treatment, care and support. We will continue to lead by example and help put an end to this serious, but preventable infection.

"Finally, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to remove stigma and discrimination around HIV. All people living with HIV/AIDS, be they men, women, children, youth or trans persons deserve to be respected, and we must all challenge any negative attitudes or assumptions towards those living with this condition.

"The fight against HIV/AIDS is a winnable one. I encourage all Canadians to support efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS prevention through the UN-led #HIVPrevention campaign. By working together with researchers, activists, civil society, other countries, and the courageous people living with HIV/AIDS around the world, we can bring this global epidemic to an end."

New HIV infections among adolescents projected to rise by nearly 60 per cent by 2030 if progress stalls - UNICEF

New HIV infections among adolescents are projected to rise from 250,000 in 2015 to nearly 400,000 annually by 2030 if progress in reaching adolescents stalls, according to a new report released by UNICEF today.

AIDS remains a leading cause of death among adolescents, claiming the lives of 41,000 adolescents aged 10-19 in 2015, according to the 7th Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS: For Every Child: End AIDS.

"AIDS may not be the death sentence it was just a decade ago, but it's certainly still a threat to millions of adolescents around the world, and will pose a growing threat if we don't act now," says David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "Despite our progress, we can't become complacent. We must maintain the momentum, commitment and funding to protect, diagnose and treat the world's children and youth and end the AIDS epidemic once and for all."

The report proposes strategies for accelerating progress in preventing HIV among adolescents and treating those who are already infected. These include:

Investing in innovation including in locally grown solutions.
Strengthening data collection.
Ending gender discrimination including gender-based violence and countering stigma.
Prioritizing efforts to address adolescents' vulnerabilities by providing a combination of prevention efforts including pre-exposure prophylaxis, cash transfers and comprehensive sexuality education.
Every two minutes an adolescent is infected with HIV, girls particularly vulnerable

"The world has made tremendous progress in the global effort to end AIDS, but the fight is far from over – especially for children and adolescents," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "Every two minutes, another adolescent – most likely a girl – will be infected with HIV. If we want to end AIDS, we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves – and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent."

Globally, there were nearly two million adolescents aged 10 -19 living with HIV in 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region most impacted by HIV, girls accounted for three out of every four new infections among adolescents aged 15-19.

Children often diagnosed and treated too late

Other findings in the report include:

Remarkable progress has been made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Globally, 1.6 million new infections among children were averted between 2000 and 2015.
1.1 million children, adolescents and women were newly infected in 2015.
Children aged 0–4 living with HIV face the highest risk of AIDS-related deaths, compared with all other age groups, and they are often diagnosed and treated too late. Only half of the babies born to HIV-positive mothers receive an HIV test in their first two months, and the average age that treatment begins among children with vertically acquired HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly four years old.
Funding for AIDS response declined since 2014

Despite progress in averting new infections and reducing deaths, funding for the AIDS response has declined since 2014, UNICEF said.

In September, Canada hosted the two-day Global Fund Fifth Replenishment Conference to mobilize, engage and renew world leaders' commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets of ending HIV, TB and malaria by 2030. The conference raised $12.9 billion of which Canada contributed $804 million to continue the significant progress that has been made towards ending these three fatal diseases within our generation.

"Canada has demonstrated leadership through its recent generous support to the Global Fund," says Morley. "We call on Canada to continue leading last mile support on HIV and AIDS and global health challenges, particularly for the most vulnerable children and youth, especially girls."

Minister Wilson-Raybould Issues Statement on World AIDS Day

  World AIDS Day is a time to reflect on the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on Canadians, and to give thanks to the many dedicated people who work to prevent this disease and help people get the care and support they need.

It is also a time to recognize the tremendous medical advances that have been made since the first World AIDS Day was held in 1988. HIV treatment has slowed disease progression to the point that, for many, HIV infection can now be regarded as a chronic, manageable condition.

Still, the over-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure discourages many individuals from being tested and seeking treatment, and further stigmatizes those living with HIV or AIDS. Just as treatment has progressed, the criminal justice system must adapt to better reflect the current scientific evidence on the realities of this disease.

Over the coming months, I intend to work with my provincial and territorial counterparts, affected communities and medical professionals to examine the criminal justice system's response to non-disclosure of HIV status. This could include a review of existing charging and prosecution practices, as well as the possible development of prosecutorial guidelines. I also look forward to working with Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, in his continued efforts to engage Canadians on important issues such as this one.

On World AIDS Day, we should all share in the commitment to reduce stigma and discrimination against those living with HIV or AIDS.

HIV Self-Tests Provide STI Solution Outside Cities

The world's fastest HIV self test has launched for sale online in the UK ahead of World AIDS Day.

The launch follows research from the British HIV Association indicating that of the 28,000 units sold between 2015 and 2016, 75% were from non-metropolitan areas and almost half of users were first time testers.

bioLytical Laboratories, a world leader in rapid infectious disease tests, has developed a new sixty second solutioni in the INSTI® HIV Self Test. The test detects HIV up to two weeks sooner than all other HIV home tests.

The self test provides an estimated 18,000 people in the UK, who are unaware of their positive status1, the opportunity to test without waiting for an appointment or the results. TV's Dr. Christian Jessen, says: "Two of the biggest barriers we face in confronting HIV are awareness and access. Online access to tests and education on the importance of HIV testing are vital this World AIDS Day."

Access to sexual health clinics in the UK has been widely reported2 to affect rural communities over cities, with city residents benefiting from widely available sexual health services as well as primary and secondary care consultancy. Stan Miele, bioLytical's Chief Commercial Officer, says: "We developed the INSTI HIV Self Test for just this reason, to enable individuals to take control of their own schedule when it comes to HIV testing. The test is easy to use and can be conducted in the comfort of your own home offering an instant result."

With one finger prick and a single drop of blood, the INSTI HIV Self Test provides instant results and is over 99% accurate. With other home HIV tests, individuals must wait 15 to 20 minutes (after the test is conducted) for a result to be produced or several days or weeks in the case of laboratory tests.

The INSTI HIV Self Test kit also includes a resource card on where to seek help or for those who have general questions on HIV screening.

The test kit is available now online at www.INSTI-HIVSelfTest.com

Is Complacency the New HIV crisis?​

As Canadians mark the 29th World AIDS Day, a day for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died – a new issue of concern has appeared.

An omnibus survey conducted by Ipsos in October found that youth 18-29 who were sexually active with one or more partners over the past 12 months were more likely to be at risk for acquiring HIV than the older Canadians in the study (ages 30-54). This is likely as a result of having had multiple partners in the past 12 months, and being unaware of the status of all their partners. Among their beliefs was that good hygiene would prevent becoming infected with HIV, as was the belief that they knew their partner well enough not to think they needed to get tested. More than half of respondents surveyed had never been tested for HIV.i Thus, complacency and a lack of awareness, especially among young sexually active people stands to pose the greatest risk in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

According to 2014 data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, 474 youth between the ages of 15 and 29 were diagnosed with HIV, representing nearly one-quarter (23%) of all new HIV diagnoses that year.ii

"We're seeing the rate of new HIV diagnoses decreasing in Canada. However, there is a real danger of moving backwards in our progress if we become complacent in assessing our own personal risks of infection," said Christopher Bunting, President and CEO of The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR). "Although advances in medical treatment have made a profound impact on outcomes and quality of life, our concern now is that complacency will prevent people from taking the appropriate steps to have safe sex, particularly among population groups that are most affected by HIV."

"This data supports our belief that Canadians must become more aware of the risk factors involved in contracting HIV, and the need to know their HIV status and that of their prospective sexual partners," Mr. Bunting concluded.

"According to the Public Health Agency of Canada the number of people living with HIV in Canada is increasing, not decreasing with 21 per cent of people living with HIV unaware they are infected,"iii said Sara Leclerc, General Manager for ViiV Healthcare in Canada, a company that is 100% devoted to HIV/AIDS. "Statistics like these show that we have a responsibility to promote greater awareness around gaps in understanding of HIV and how it is transmitted so that we can achieve the UN AIDS goal of 90-90-90: 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed – 90% of people diagnosed with HIV on treatment – 90% of those treated for HIV with an undetectable viral load."

Ms. Leclerc continued, "The critical message, no less important today than it was when HIV was first diagnosed over three decades ago, is that HIV transcends gender, sexual orientation, economic status and age. I cannot say it more sincerely or more often – know your HIV status. It is the only way to eradicate AIDS." 

Text With 9-1-1 Service for Canada's DHHSI Community Now Available Nationwide​

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) and its wireless carrier members, in partnership with public safety agencies across the country and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3 with the marking of the national availability of Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1) service for Canada's Deaf, Deafened, Hard of Hearing and Speech Impaired (DHHSI) community.

T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse via text messaging with a DHHSI person during an emergency. When a DHHSI person requires 9-1-1 services, they dial 9-1-1 on their cell phone. There is no need for a caller to speak or hear, as the 9-1-1 call taker should receive an indicator that advises them to communicate with the caller via text messaging. The 9-1-1 call taker then initiates text messaging with the caller to address the emergency.

The service, which began rolling out in March 2014, is now available to the vast majority of Canadians, including in many parts of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, and province-wide in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Some 9-1-1 call centres are still making the necessary upgrades to their systems and will launch the T9-1-1 service in the coming months.

"All Canadians should have the same access to safety services across the country," said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. "This is why I am very pleased to see the launch of nationwide availability of Text with 9-1-1 service for Canada's deaf, deafened, hard of hearing and speech impaired community. This is a great step in breaking down another barrier for persons with disabilities and to improve inclusivity and accessibility in Canada."

T9-1-1 is only available to those in the DHHSI community. A DHHSI person must first register for T9-1-1 with their wireless service provider and must have an eligible cell phone before being able to utilize this service. All information about T9-1-1, including registration details and areas of service availability, can be found at www.TextWith911.ca.

"Canada's wireless industry is extremely proud of the role its technology continues to play in keeping all Canadians safe," said CWTA Chair Garry Fitzgerald. "I encourage all members of the DHHSI community to register for this unique, made-in-Canada and potentially lifesaving service."

Please note that voice calling remains the only way to communicate with 9-1-1 services for a person that is not deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairment. Text messages sent directly to the digits "9-1-1" do not reach emergency services.

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends in Canada. It represents wireless service providers as well as companies that develop and produce products and services for the industry, including handset and equipment manufacturers, content and application creators and business-to-business service providers.

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LifeStyles® Condoms Partners with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation for World AIDS Day "Keep the Promise" Campaign ​

 Ansell, a global leader in protection solutions and the makers of LifeStyles® and SKYN® Condoms, is proud to announce the Company's support of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's "Keep the Promise" campaign, designed to raise awareness for World AIDS Day.

Created by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the Keep the Promise campaign brings together local and national advocates along with spiritual and political leaders to remind elected officials that the fight against HIV/AIDS and for other social justice issues is not yet won. Through midnight on December 1, 2016 LifeStyles Condoms will ask social media fans, followers, and their circles to unite in the worldwide fight against HIV by having users donate their statuses to AIDS awareness. For each status shared on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #KTP2016, the Company will donate a condom, up to 50,000 condoms, to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Education and prevention are crucial aspects for sexual health, and we are proud to once again join forces with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to raise awareness for World AIDS Day," said Carol Carrozza, VP of Sales & Marketing, North America for Ansell. "Now in our third year, we are proud to have donated over 75,000 condoms to AHF, and this year, we hope to further our awareness campaign by increasing engagement with our fans and followers as we continue the fight against HIV/AIDS."

The condom maker will ask participants to craft their own messages using the #KTP2016 hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, and/or share / re-post a graphic from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation or LifeStylesUSA social platforms. Examples include:

Worldwide over 35 million people are living with HIV, but an estimated 19 million of them don't even know it #KTP2016

About 1 in 4 new HIV infections in the U.S. is a young adult aged 13-24 #KTP2016

In the U.S., 1 in 5 gay men living with HIV don't even know it #KTP2016 #WorldAIDSDay

AHF provides cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to more than 639,000 people in 36 countries around the world – help LifeStyles donate up to 50,000 condoms to the cause by sharing #KTP2016 today

"The AIDS Healthcare Foundation will be celebrating World AIDS Day with a free concert and march in Hollywood, CA featuring Patti LaBelle, Common, Jojo, Espinoza Paz and Harry Belafonte. The event will center around our vow to #KeepThePromise on HIV/AIDS funding as the disease continues to claim the lives of thousands around the globe every year," said AHF Digital Media Manager Rachel Mills. "AHF is grateful to receive this condom donation from LifeStyles in support of our quest to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS through education, advocacy and treatment."

For more information about the campaign, visit: www.AIDSHealth.org 

Ontario Health Alliance Launches New Initiative to Track Chronic Disease Risk Factors​

More than half of all Ontarians are living with one or more chronic conditions, which are the leading cause of death in the province. The Ontario Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (OCDPA), a coalition of more than 20 health-related organizations, today launches a multi-year initiative to capture, track and compare risk factors for chronic disease in Ontario.

90% of Canadians 65 and over live with at least one chronic disease or condition, including dementia and depression
79% of all deaths in the province are attributable to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory disease or diabetes
40% of Ontario's health care costs are related to unhealthy behaviours and socioeconomic barriers, costing $134 billion over 10 years
"Certain indicators can help track our province's performance towards improving the health of all people in Ontario," says Dr. Norman Giesbrecht, Chair of the OCDPA Working Group that developed the report. "This framework will let us monitor short-, medium- and long-term changes and identify priority challenges to be addressed."

This new framework gathers existing data on key risk factors for chronic diseases, assembles it in one easy reference and provides a baseline for future measurement. Focusing on unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, high risk alcohol use, and mental illness, it can serve as a key planning tool for government, as well as organizations, researchers and individuals involved in preventing chronic disease.

"Since 2003, the OCDPA has been committed to integrated action on chronic disease prevention," says Dr. Giesbrecht. "This is the first comprehensive Ontario-specific framework that consolidates and compares chronic disease risk factors across the province, helping us better understand where to prioritize and focus our efforts in prevention measures to keep Ontarians healthy."

Through extensive consultation with experts, a total of 52 indicators were identified across these five risk factors. The most recent Ontario data have been assembled and organized into a presentation with key policy implications identified. The OCDPA recognized the importance of identifying a list of indicators and associated measures pertaining to the five risk factors with an emphasis on selecting indicators that are indicative of quality, accessibility and relevance to the Ontario context.

The full report, along with easy to share infographics for each of the risk factors can be found at www.ocdpa.ca.

Global research network hunts the missing link between genetics and environmental factors to unlock the secrets of global diseases such as cancer and diabetes to revolutionise healthcare​

A new global network linking leading research centres across the world has launched today to tackle some of the most pressing global health challenges of our time such as autism, cancer, diabetes and dementia. The International Phenome Centre Network (IPCN) will greatly increase global research capabilities in the field of phenomics. Through comprehensive analysis of biological fluids or tissue samples, phenomics examines how our lifestyles and the environment we are exposed to interact with our genes. It can help explain why some people develop disease when others don't. The network launched at a special presentation at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) in Doha, Qatar.

It is widely recognised that people's genes are not enough to explain how disease develops, and that disease prevention, detection and treatment can be improved by understanding the dynamic interactions between our genes, environments, microbiomes, diets and lifestyles, and their expression in diverse individuals and populations. The mission of the IPCN is to better understand how variation in gene-environment interactions affects disease across the lifespan for different populations. Using robust and harmonized data sets representing the world's diverse populations, this research will inform global public health policies and the development of new therapies.

"The world is facing an unprecedented confluence of environmental and lifestyle factors that are dramatically increasing the risks of chronic disease, and posing the greatest public health challenges seen in modern times. The International Phenome Centre Network is creating internationally harmonised centres of analytical science focused on understanding gene-environment interactions that underpin disease risk, the comparative biology of major diseases, and addressing unmet healthcare and medical needs," said Professor Jeremy Nicholson, Director of the MRC-NIHR National Phenome Centre (NPC) and Head of Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London.

Initiated by the NPC at Imperial College London, the IPCN includes more than a dozen international partners with regional, multi-institutional hubs in Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Since 2012, the NPC has established best-practice laboratory and research methodologies in phenomics, and the new IPCN will share this knowledge around the globe. If research is conducted in the same, harmonized fashion it makes it easier to combine data sets and compare results. This means that larger, more complex studies can be undertaken than would be otherwise possible, and less complex studies completed much faster than an individual centre could do in isolation.

"Phenomic research really is one of the next medical frontiers which can advance our understanding of a whole raft of diseases and conditions," said Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom. "The way we treat autism, cancers, mental health, stroke, obesity, metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes could all be revolutionised by research in this area. It is also really good for work to cross international boundaries to find ways of tackling the biggest global public health challenges facing us today faster."

"In Singapore, we welcome the launch of the International Phenome Centre Network," said Professor James Best, Dean, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University. "Through this partnership, the Singapore Phenome Centre at Nanyang Technological University will have enhanced opportunity to collaborate internationally. By pooling data obtained with harmonised methodology and by sharing ideas, we will better understand the biochemical abnormalities underlying metabolic disorders such as diabetes."

"The WISH program is dedicated to understanding and mapping changes in global health needs and emergent medical and healthcare problems," said Professor the Lord Ara Darzi of Denham, Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. "The IPCN is set to take on many of these healthcare challenges, such as obesity, diabetes, cancers and autism, and to create a technological framework for studying the comparative biology of disease at the global scale."

The founders of the network are Imperial College London with its corporate partners Waters Corporation and Bruker Corporation. Waters and Bruker have developed the mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy technologies which makes advanced, precise, and efficient metabolic phenotyping possible. Metabolic phenotyping involves identifying metabolites present in bodily fluids and tissue samples that provide information on a person's current state of health and physiological function. This in turn provides information on disease and metabolic pathologies.

Canada needs physician assistants!​

 In celebration of National PA Day, Physician Assistants (PAs) are calling on governments across Canada to expand the role of PAs so that Canadians can benefit from better access to care and reduced wait times at a lower cost to the health system.

PAs are currently practicing in most healthcare settings and are improving care and saving the system millions of dollars! A recent report released by the Conference Board of Canada demonstrated substantial cost-saving in utilizing PAs and supported a greater expansion for their role in Canada. "Our analysis found that potential cost savings could be generated by the increased use of PAs across the country in three areas of medical practice: primary care, emergency care services, and orthopaedics. Our results showed that shifting certain physician tasks to PAs could create cost-savings for the healthcare system ranging from $22 million to more than $1 billion between 2017 and 2030, depending on the level of PA productivity", said Thy Dinh, Director of Health Economics and Policy at The Conference Board of Canada.

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants has published a National Report Card comparing how Canadian provinces are faring in comparison to one and another and are asking provincial governments to support the expansion of their role in their respective health systems.

With its origins in the Canadian Armed Forces, PAs have been working in Canada's healthcare system for over 50 years. PAs were introduced into Manitoba in 1999, and today they are integral members of healthcare teams in Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta, with nearly 600 PAs practicing throughout the country. Across Europe, including the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, governments are investing in PAs. In the US, PAs have been practicing for over 60 years, and are among the fastest growing segments of the healthcare workforce; with over 120,000 PAs practicing in virtually every medical specialty.

Approximately 4.5 million Canadians do not have access to a primary care provider, and most have great difficulty in accessing medical care in a timely manner; PAs are part of the solution. Through a collaborative partnership with supervising physicians, PAs work independently within a multidisciplinary patient-centered model of care. In this role, PAs can diagnose and treat patients in a manner that allows for a better distribution of time and resources within the team.

"PAs are helping to address the health human resource challenges that exist across Canada. PAs are instrumental in improving access to safe high quality medical care and reducing wait times for patients", said Chris Rhule, National President, the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. "In many jurisdictions, PAs are the primary point of contact with patients. This allows physicians to increase the number of patients seen and improves access for those Canadians that do not have a primary healthcare provider", said Rhule.


CAPA has undertaken an analysis of the utilization of PAs in different regions across the country and has awarded a score of either Outlook Positive or Needs Improvement based on a series of criteria including: PAs currently practicing in the region; availability of academic PA programs; regulation/licensing of the profession, public support for a greater role for PAs and requirements for certification.

Report card: https://capa-acam.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/National_Report_Card_2016.pdf

Charting a course for tomorrow's medical breakthroughs - Government of Canada invests $12 million in stem cell research​

 The Government of Canada is supporting innovative research projects that have the power to dramatically improve the health of Canadians. Stem cells are being researched for the treatment of many conditions: spinal cord injuries, diabetes, arthritis, ALS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, macular degeneration and even hair loss and skin aging. This research holds great promise for millions of people with chronic diseases.

To support Canada's leading role in stem cell research and regenerative medicine, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, today announced $9 million for projects and clinical trials that will be funded through the Stem Cell Network (SCN). This funding is part of $12 million provided to the network in Budget 2016.

Canada is globally recognized as a leader in stem cell research with respect to patents, publications and collaboration. Regenerative medicine—harnessing the power of stem cells to repair, regenerate or replace damaged cells, tissues and organs affected by disease or illness—has emerged as a promising approach to disease prevention and treatment. In fact, stem cells have long been used to treat leukemia and other blood cancers and have tremendous potential to treat many other chronic, debilitating diseases that affect millions of Canadians every year.

The funding announced today supports 31 projects and clinical trials across Canada that are developing real-world therapies, products and treatments and are contributing to evidence-based policies on regenerative medicine.

Funding to support innovative stem cell research on septic shock, diabetes, brain injury & 3D printing of neural tissues​

 The Stem Cell Network (SCN) with the support of the Minister of Science, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, is pleased to announce funding of $9 million for innovative stem cell and regenerative medicine research that will help translate discoveries into better health and economic growth for Canadians. This funding was made available thanks to a 2016 budget commitment of $12 million over two years by the Government of Canada to further the work of the Stem Cell Network.

SCN is funding a total of 31 goal-directed projects from across Canada that are moving research from lab bench to bedside in areas such as brain injury, kidney disease and breast cancer. SCN researchers are also working to tackle emerging policy issues relevant to the field, such as gene editing and misleading marketing claims. Today's funding is being matched with partner support of $20 million.
"For years, Canadian researchers have been known leaders in regenerative medicine. The funding announced today will support projects that encourage important partnerships between universities, hospitals and businesses so they may collaborate on bold new stem cell technologies and health innovations that will improve the lives of Canadians. Through the Stem Cell Network, I am confident Canadians are gaining a better understanding of this promising research, the results of which contribute to a strong and healthy middle class" The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"We are a nation of leaders and innovators, it is in our DNA," said Dr. Michael Rudnicki, OC, Scientific Director of SCN. "The regenerative medicine research sector is fueled by stem cells and today it is at a tipping point, with the potential to see breakthroughs in our generation. I am thrilled that SCN is able to power the foundation of scientific excellence that exists within Canada's universities, research hospitals and institutes."

In Canada, chronic diseases absorb approximately 67 percent, or two-thirds, of all direct healthcare spending and their burden on the health-care system continues to outpace economic growth. However, the disruptive power of stem cells makes it possible to turn the page in the decades to come.

SCN is flowing funds through three strategic programs:

The Clinical Trials Program will provide $4.214M for 6 trials. A total of 38 investigators (6 Principal Investigators & 32 Co-Investigators) at 12 institutions and 50 trainees will be engaged in these trials, which will determine the safety and efficacy of new stem cell treatments in humans. This is the first time in SCN's history that it has offered support for clinical trials. This program supports phase I/II trials with the potential to be economically viable for health care systems and show a benefit to patients. Funded trials will focus on a spectrum of health issues including treating fatal illnesses such as septic shock, evaluating a stem cell therapy for diabetes, and expanding stem cells from cord blood for efficacious and cost effective transplantation. Researchers will also be working in the areas of acute myocardial infarction, liver transplantation and type 1 diabetes.

The Disease Team Research Agreement Program will provide $3.281M for 8 projects. A total of 41 investigators (8 Principal Investigators & 33 Co-Investigators) at 11 institutions and more than 80 trainees will be engaged. Multidisciplinary teams supported through this program are focused on novel cellular or stem cell-related therapeutic approaches to treat disease. Commercialization is an important component for this program, as projects must demonstrate a path to market or clinic. Research supported from this competition will address treatments for diseases such as arthritis, liver failure, and type 1 diabetes. In addition, support will be provided to further ongoing research that is looking at existing drugs for the regeneration of neural tissue after a brain injury.

The Impact Research Agreement Program will provide $1.54M for 17 projects that span clinical translation, commercialization and public policy. A total of 27 investigators (17 Principal Investigators & 10 Co-investigators) at 15 research institutions will benefit and more than 60 trainees will be engaged. Diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and kidney disease will all be studied. Commercialization topics include 3D printing of neural tissues, and the scalable production of engineered micro tissues.
In the last year, Health Canada has been made aware of reports of four individuals who were switched at birth in Norway House Hospital in the 1970s. The Department takes this issue very seriously and is committed to supporting the individuals and families affected by these traumatic events. The Minister of Health met with the individuals, their families and their representatives to discuss these incidents and to understand the impacts on the men. Health Canada has committed to engaging the services of independent third parties, who will review the circumstances that led to these incidents.

Today, Health Canada can confirm that Dr. David Creery and Ms. Maura Davies have agreed to lead the independent review. Dr. Creery is a Pediatric Intensive Care Physician and the Medical Director of Patient Safety at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, Ontario. He is also an Investigating Coroner for the City of Ottawa. Ms. Davies is the former President and CEO of the Saskatoon Health Region and has extensive experience in delivery of health services and patient safety. Dr. Creery and Ms. Davies will work with a dedicated team to complete the review by early 2017. Additionally, the family doctor of two of the individuals, Dr. Calvin James Bergen, will be assisting with the review and continuing to provide support to the men and their families.

The review team will conduct a thorough examination of available hospital records and will contact key individuals who were involved at that time. This review is intended to clarify the circumstances of the known cases.

On October 7, 2016, Health Canada learned that the RCMP would be initiating an investigation into the same cases in Norway House. While the RCMP's activities are separate from Health Canada's review, the Department will fully cooperate with this investigation.

The Department is confident that Dr. Creery and Ms. Davies – with the support and collaboration of Dr. Bergen – will conduct this review in a manner that is sensitive to and respectful of the affected individuals, their families and communities. The results of this review will be made public.

Statement from Health Canada on Norway House Hospital

Minister of Health Orders Mega-Hospital Merger "By Fiat"​

The Ontario Health Coalition expressed outrage in reaction to news that the Minister of Health is forcing through massive hospital mergers in Scarborough and Durham affecting more than a million residents in the region.

The Coalition is holding a "Day of Action" at Ontario's Legislature on Monday to bring the message directly to politicians at Queen's Park. It is more important than ever, Coalition spokespeople said, to continue the fight. Local residents are invited to get on buses and join car pools to travel into Toronto for the events. The Coalition will continue to advocate to ensure that local hospital services are protected and that local hospitals cannot simply be dismantled by the stroke of a pen by the Wynne government.

"We are outraged at the undemocratic, manipulative process," said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "If towns with hospitals that serve 200,000 people are no longer allowed to have their own hospital, then Ontarians are in real trouble. Current policy requires merged hospitals to eliminate so-called 'duplication.' This means that patients have to travel to one hospital for diagnostics, to another hospital for chronic care, another for palliative care and so on. Mergers mean that patients and families are forced to travel further, and for the increased hardship, Ontario residents are on the hook for $50 million more in merger costs. Plainly put, this is a bad deal."
Yesterday the Minister of Health issued an order that will force mega-mergers of the Scarborough and Durham hospitals that were already merged in earlier rounds of hospital restructuring. Under the Minister's edict, the Centenary hospital will be merged into the Scarborough Hospital (Scarborough General and Scarborough Grace - Birchmount site). The Ajax-Pickering Hospital will be taken over by Lakeridge Health (which covers the hospitals in Port Perry, Bowmanville and Oshawa). Three already-very-large hospital corporations will be merged into two giant hospital corporations.

This marks the first time the Minister of Health has used the extraordinary powers that the Liberal government gave itself in its LHINs legislation to order, by fiat, the dismantling of a local public hospital corporation against the will of the community. Rouge Valley Health (Ajax-Pickering and Centenary hospitals) recently cancelled a special meeting of its membership at which the members would have had the right to vote on the transfer of the hospitals and all their assets. The Ajax-Pickering community has fundraised for and built its hospital since 1958. The Minister's order will force the dismantling of the hospital corporation and the transfer of the ownership of the assets to Scarborough and Lakeridge.

Calling it hospital restructuring "on steroids" with precious few procedural safeguards and no proper health planning, the coalition warned that Ontarians will pay for the bad decisions that are being made now for decades to come if they are not stopped.

"A new wave of mega-hospital consolidation is being pushed by a tier of hospital executives and consultants through backroom agreements," warned William Courneyea, co chair of the Durham Health Coalition. "They are the prime beneficiaries of hospital restructuring and always have been, at the expense of patients and communities. As long as they are the only ones with any real input, restructuring will be forged in their interests and they will continue to make a fortune at the expense of patients and community residents."

The mergers will cost almost $50 million according to the hospitals' own documents filed with the government. There are almost no "efficiencies" to be found, and, according to the hospitals' own financial projections the mergers will take up to 62 years to be paid off, if ever. The $50 million in costs will come out of the hospitals operating budgets. In virtually every instance, the government and hospital executives have responded to questions about the high costs of the mergers and the impacts on operating budgets by putting out manipulative propaganda about capital (renovations and bricks and mortar) projects that were already announced multiple times, have nothing to do with the current operational budgets of the hospitals, and will not offset the $50 million in merger costs to be paid out of funds for current hospital services.

In context, a $17 million cut to the operational budget of the Scarborough Hospital in 2013 meant the closure of 20 surgical beds and 2 entire operating rooms, cuts to 22 hospital departments, closures of entire outpatient clinics including the arthritis clinic that thousands of patients, and the elimination of 200 full-time nurses, health professionals and support staff positions. The $50 million in costs for the mergers amounts to almost 3 times the $17 million cut that Scarborough just went through.

To add insult to injury, according to the hospitals' own documents, those $50 million in costs are going to merger "management teams", consultants, lawyers, millions for laying off and cutting hospital staff, PR and advertising to sell the merger to the public, and to merging telephone and email systems, among others.

"This government should not be so high-handed in their treatment of the public hospitals that Ontarians have built over the last hundred years in our hometowns," noted Trish McAuliffe, co chair of the Durham Health Coalition. "If the government wants to adopt a policy of unprecedented massive hospital restructuring affecting vital services for millions of Ontarians, it has to seek a mandate from the Ontario Legislature to do so. The way this has happened is just wrong."

The Coalition noted that there been no proper process through Ontario's Legislature, including no legislative debate and no public hearings to support a policy of hospital mega-mergers. It warns that hospital consolidations are accelerating without any proper public policy process and without any attention being paid to the extraordinary costs of such restructuring that will take tens millions away from actual health care services. The last round of hospital restructuring cost more than $3.8 billion, according to Ontario's Auditor General and has never delivered on promised administrative savings, but it did result in devastating losses of local hospitals and services across the province.

Cannabis Canada Responds to Veterans Affairs Canada's New Reimbursement Policy on Cannabis for Medical Purposes​

Cannabis Canada Association, the voice of Canada's Licensed Producers, acknowledges the intent of the Veterans Affairs Canada's new reimbursement policy on cannabis for medical purposes and applauds the department's recognition of the need for continued insurance coverage of medical cannabis for Canada's Veterans as this treatment has proven effective to address a host of health issues faced by Veterans, most notably, post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We understand the requirement to manage the budget, and concur with the maxim of 'start low and go slow' with any prescribed medication, including medical cannabis," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada. "We do, however, believe that physicians are the ones who should be deciding appropriate dosages to manage their patients' conditions, and so are glad to note that there will be an exceptional circumstances process for Veterans whose physicians determine they need more than the three grams per day cap, in order to ensure their health and well-being."
In making the announcement, Minister Hehr indicated that the new policy was the result of consultations conducted over the last year and that Veterans Affairs will continue to monitor developments and be flexible, adapting and adjusting as required when new information becomes available. The Association welcomed this commitment, noting the apparent contradiction of the Department referencing the importance of a fair, market value price at the same time as it sets an arbitrary cap on the price per gram that it will reimburse; and pointing to the proposal to cap the price of a gram of cannabis oil at the same price as a gram of dried cannabis bud as being especially problematic, given that the cost to produce a gram of oil is much higher.

"At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: for Canada's Veterans to be able to access the course of treatment prescribed by their medical professionals to ease their symptoms," said Ms Rivet. "The growth in prescriptions is evidence that patients and doctors are showing a preference for cannabis therapy over traditional pharmaceuticals."

Ms Rivet underlined that Canada's Licensed Producers are prepared to play their part to ensure compliance with the new guidelines, and that the Association and its members will continue to work closely with the Government to protect the interests of all patients, including Veterans, as Canada's medical cannabis system continues to evolve.

Recommendations from Ontario nurses would help deliver the true health system change the public deserves

A unique opportunity to improve timely access to quality health care while fundamentally changing the structure of Ontario's health system is under the microscope this week as committee hearings into Bill 41 take place at Queen's Park.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is among 30 organizations appearing before the committee and offering its recommendations on Bill 41, the government's Patients First legislation. The association was among the first to applaud Health Minister Eric Hoskins for his bold vision when he released his Patients First discussion paper last December, but says the legislation as currently written falls short of the promise for real health system transformation.

"We are urging Minister Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne to take this once-in-a-generation opportunity and make the changes that will enable Ontarians to get the care they need in a timely and effective way," says RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun, who is presenting at today's hearings. "RNAO is concerned that left as-is, Bill 41 will perpetuate the current limitations of our health system."
  RNAO's analysis of Bill 41 reveals significant shortcomings that fail to make the structural and service delivery changes that would bring together disparate parts of the health system and foster person-centred care. For example, the bill's definition of a health service provider leaves out most primary care organizations, home care providers and all 36 public health units. "If you want a truly integrated system where one body – the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) – is responsible for planning and funding decisions, then you have to ensure all these important sectors of our health system are included under one umbrella. Otherwise, not much will change, and Ontarians will continue to experience shortfalls in access to care, continuity of care and health system navigation," says Grinspun.

RNAO's submission to the committee recommends the bill be amended to make explicit that the government will create an integrated health system that is anchored in primary care and includes all primary care organizations, public health units and home care providers.

The association is also gravely concerned with language in Bill 41 that positions LHINs as both providers and managers of health services. RNAO's report on system transformation (Enhancing Community Care for Ontarians, 2012) called for the role of LHINs to be expanded to include whole local system planning, funding allocation, monitoring and performance accountability. "But you can't be the captain of the ship and row at the same time," Grinspun says. "That's why we recommend removing all sections of the bill that position LHINs as service providers. That should not be their role, nor will it advance person-centred care."

Carol Timmings, RNAO's president who is joining Grinspun at today's committee hearings, says the association fully supports changes that would eliminate Community Care Access Centres (CCAC), which currently oversee home and supports care services. But the bill misses the mark by fully merging their functions and staff with the LHIN structure. "RNAO is urging that in addition to eliminating the CCACs, the government also avoids the automatic transfer of all CCAC functions, processes and resources to the LHINs. Instead, efforts must be made to transform the funding model in the community away from fee-for-service, as well as tighten the connections between home care and primary care," says Timmings. "We are also urging that the 4,100 RNs who currently work in CCACs as care co-ordinators while employed by the LHINs, be located in primary care, where they can provide a much-needed boost to this vital sector and ensure Ontarians get the continuity of service and health system navigation they need and deserve."

"If Minister Hoskins is serious about putting patients first, sections of Bill 41 must be rewritten to reflect its original intent," Timmings says. "This is a pivotal moment for our health system. We must continue to be bold to affect meaningful change to the health care Ontarians receive."
Win Extraordinary Celebrity Experiences, Shop For Hundreds Of Gifts That Give Back, And Fight AIDS At The (SHOPATHON)RED 
Ahead of World AIDS Day, December 1, the second annual (SHOPATHON)RED launches today, jam-packed with winnable celebrity experiences and hundreds of products that fight AIDS with (RED). It all kicks off tonight on a special ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! (RED) Show, (11.35ET|10.35CT), with surprise guests and special performances from Bono, The Killers, Channing Tatum, Kristen Bell, Julia Roberts, DJ Khaled, Neil Patrick Harris, Halsey, Herbie Hancock and more.

Bono, co-founder, (RED), said; "In the three decades since AIDS started its march across our planet, the world has lost 35 million people to this treatable, preventable disease. Heartbreak and loss to the power of 35 million is unthinkable, as is the fact that 400 babies are still born every day with HIV because their mothers can't get access to a 30 cent pill. So, (RED) is making it easy for everyone this holiday season to be an activist. And by giving (RED) to your friends and family, you're making them activists too."

He added: "As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week in America, I want to say thank you to the American people for all your country has done in the fight against HIV/AIDS. You may not know it, but there are 18 million men, women and children around the world whose lives have been saved because they got the medication they needed, largely thanks to America. Your leadership on AIDS has been heroic and it has always been bipartisan. That is a reason for you to be proud and for all of us to be grateful."

"Thanks to the kindness of some of the biggest stars in the world, we have a great show for a great cause. World AIDS Day is ‪December 1 and I'm honored to be a part of this very special night to benefit (RED)," said Jimmy Kimmel.

Wild and winnable experiences with your favorite celebrities

In partnership with online giving platform Omaze, (SHOPATHON)RED is the only place where fans can enter to win – or gift chances to win – a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences with big stars for as little as a $10 donation to fight AIDS. Experiences include:

Win a chance to have U2 play for just you during a full dress rehearsal!

Join Channing Tatum in Las Vegas for 'Magic Mike Live' and be his personal guest at the exclusive after-party

Have tea with Julia Roberts and Bono… You can even bring your problems and they'll attempt to give you advice!

Hit New York City, have dinner and see a show with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, with (COCA-COLA)RED matching every donation-to-win, up to two million dollars

Hold on tight as you take the jet ski ride of your life and Snapchat with DJ Khaled

Go backstage VIP at The Late Late Show with James Corden, and Carpool Karaoke!

Hangout at the recording studio and have lunch with Liam Payne

See 'Hamilton' and go backstage with Alexander Hamilton himself, Javier Munoz

Be Richard Branson's VIP guest at a mystery Virgin event
Fly to Korea for a VIP experience with K-Pop superstar, G-Dragon

​These experiences and others are available only on Omaze.com/RED, with proceeds going to the fight against AIDS with (RED). Donors can get 1000 chances to win and an exclusive (RED) T-shirt for a $100 donation, or a notebook and 500 chances to win for a $50 donation. All campaigns will also have exclusive merchandise available for purchase, including autographed items. Entries close on January 18, 2017.
Shop (RED) and Save Lives, with Robin Wright and hundreds of stylish products

From today through December, RED.org is stocked with hundreds of stylish products, all of which help fight AIDS. To ease the strain of holiday shopping, Hollywood actress Robin Wright appears in a special (SHOPATHON)RED infomercial, sharing tips on how to fight AIDS… while lying down. Whether its sipping a refreshing (BELVEDERE)RED cocktail on a fake bearskin rug, listening to music on (BEATS)RED headphones, or simply luxuriating in a Pour les Femmes nightgown, Robin brings her unique take on how to shop, recline and fight AIDS all at the same time! The infomercial was produced by Vice and directed by Martin Granger.

From stylish (APPLE)RED accessories to the new LOKAI x (RED) bracelet and even the launch of a striking new (VESPA 946)RED scooter, there are gift ideas for everyone at all price points, with (BANK OF AMERICA)RED as the official payment provider for (SHOPATHON)RED.

Brands featured in (SHOPATHON)RED include aden + anais, Alessi, ALEX AND ANI, Apple, Beats by Dr. Dre, BedHead, Belvedere Vodka, Billecart-Salmon, Bombas, Bucketfeet, Deborah Lippmann, Dyson Inc., Ergo Depot, Fatboy USA, FEED, Fresh, GAP, Girl Skateboards, Global Goods, HEAD, Indego Africa, Kano, Jonathan Adler, Le Creuset, Moleskine, Mophie, Paperless Post, Pour Les Femmes, S'Well, Solange Azagury Partridge, Starbucks, Stephen Webster Ltd., The Giving Keys, Theory11, Tictail, Ubuntu Made, Vespa, Wolfnoir and WTRMLN WTR.

The Killers celebrate a decade of (RED) holiday singles with release of new Christmas album, "Don't Waste Your Wishes", on iTunes

For the last 10 years, The Killers have ushered in the holiday season with a much-anticipated Christmas single via Island Records, with proceeds going to support (RED)'s fight against AIDS. This year, to celebrate (RED)'s 10th anniversary year, The Killers have released "Don't Waste Your Wishes", a Christmas album featuring their ten previous Christmas singles and one brand new song.

The album will include a brand new song, "I'll Be Home for Christmas", which is a moving rendition of the classic track in which Brandon shares his childhood memory of learning the meaning behind the song from his 4th grade teacher, Mr. Hansen. Brandon accompanies Mr. Hansen in a touching duet of the standard. The album is available on iTunes now.

Deborah Dugan, CEO, (RED), said; "It's really extraordinary to see so many brands and talented people come together to fight AIDS this holiday. As (RED) marks a decade in the fight, it seems fitting that this year's (SHOPATHON)RED gives people more ways than ever to shop (RED) and save lives. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, every dollar spent is at least doubled, meaning more impact on the ground in Africa where it's needed most."

"(RED) consistently displays innovative ways to support the fight against AIDS, bringing people and products together, and raising millions to combat this disease. Thank you (RED)!" said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

(RED) thanks the following for generously supporting World AIDS Day 2016: (RED)'s pro-bono media agency, Mediavest | Spark, and ABC, Adspace, AOL, Chiemi Karasawa, Clear Channel, Clique Media Group, Condé Nast, Facebook, Fast Company, Forbes, Getty Images, Huffington Post, iHeart Media, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Martin Granger, Moxie Pictures, National Cinema Media, New Tradition, NowThis, Product Hunt, Screenvision, SheKnows Media, Silvercast, Superior Digital Displays, The New York Times, Time Inc., Twitter, VICE Media, USA Today, Wall St Journal and Wenner Media, and (RED)'s product partners and all of our talented friends and representatives who worked to make this campaign possible.

"Thanks to the kindness of some of the biggest stars in the world, we have a great show for a great cause. World AIDS Day is ‪December 1 and I'm honored to be a part of this very special night to benefit (RED)," said Jimmy Kimmel.

About (RED)
(RED) was founded in 2006 to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. (RED) partners with the world's most iconic brands that contribute up to 50% of profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to the Global Fund. (RED) Proud Partners include: Apple, Bank of America, Beats by Dr. Dre, Belvedere, Claro, The Coca-Cola Company, GAP, NetJets, Salesforce, SAP, Starbucks, Telcel. (RED) Special Edition partners include: aden+anais, Alessi, ALEX AND ANI, Billecart-Salmon, Fatboy USA, Fresh, Girl Skateboards, HEAD, Le Creuset, Live Nation Entertainment, Moleskine, Mophie, Piaggio and Wolfnoir.

To date, (RED) has generated more than $360 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to support HIV/AIDS grants in Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. 100 percent of that money goes to work on the ground – no overhead is taken. Global Fund grants that (RED) supports have impacted more than 70 million people with prevention, treatment, counseling, HIV testing and care services.

About Omaze
Omaze is an experience-driven fundraising platform that leverages the power of storytelling and technology to radically change charitable giving. Since launching in 2012, Omaze has impacted more than 200 charities and received donations from over 175 countries. 
Hockey Hall of Fame Member Doug Gilmour raising funds for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook
Hockey Hall of Fame Member Doug Gilmour is putting his efforts behind an important cause - one that resonates with many Canadians. He's asking fans across North America to help him raise funds for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook. And in return, he's offering up a chance to win a trip to Toronto to hang with him at a Maple Leafs game, as well as some other cool rewards. The campaign is called Courage: Let's Do It For Gordie.

"If there's one thing Canadians love, it's hockey. And The Tragically Hip. We love The Hip. So, when I heard that my friend Gord Downie was facing the biggest challenge of his life, I felt the need to help in the best way I know how: bring together my friends in the hockey community and fans everywhere to support this important cause," said Doug Gilmour.

Doug's online fundraising campaign is unique – for as little as $10 donation, participants will be entered for a chance to win a trip to Toronto for them and a friend to hang out with Doug in a private box at the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Chicago game on March 18, 2017. The winner and guest will receive roundtrip flights and two nights in a 4-star hotel. Via different tiers of donations, fans can access other limited edition campaign rewards, including some exclusive memorabilia from Doug's personal collection and his very own Harley-Davidson.

Donations to Courage: Let's Do It For Gordie can be made on Boon-Town.com - an online fundraising platform that works with athletes and teams to support the causes that matter to them.

"Let's do it for Gordie, for our friends, for our families and everyone who's been affected by cancer in some way," says Doug.

The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research was founded in 2016 by Gord Downie with the mission to give Sunnybrook the tools to help beat brain cancers that are currently unbeatable.

"Donations to the fund allow Sunnybrook to investigate new drugs, surgical techniques and genetic therapies," said Dr. James Perry, neuro-oncologist and head of Sunnybrook's Neurology Program. "Your support will help us conduct groundbreaking research that benefits patients not only at Sunnybrook, but across Canada and around the world."

Boon-Town will accept donations for a chance to win this experience from November 23rd - December 30th, 2016.

For more information about this experience with Doug Gilmour and the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook, please visit www.boon-town.com starting Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

About The Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research at Sunnybrook

Donations to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research will give Sunnybrook the tools to help beat brain cancers that are currently unbeatable. Right now we're investigating new drugs, surgical techniques and genetic therapies. We're using ultrasound to help drugs reach tumours that couldn't be reached before. Your support will help us conduct groundbreaking research that benefits patients not only at Sunnybrook, but across Canada and around the world.

About Boon-Town

Boon-town is a new digital media and fundraising platform. We create content that is focused on good things in the world of sports, and we partner with athletes and teams to raise funds and awareness for causes that are important to all of us. By helping to make a difference, participants are given a chance to win unforgettable experiences and rewards. We're all about using the power of sport to bring everyone together, do good, and have some fun while we're at it.

Veterans Group Marijuana for Trauma Responds to Cutbacks in the Updated Policy on Medical Marijuana Coverage for Veterans
Canada House Wellness Group Inc., the parent company of Marijuana for Trauma ("MFT") is providing this update in response to the Government's recently announced policy changes regarding medical marijuana coverage for veterans.

In response to Veterans Affairs Canada's planned cutback of medical marijuana reimbursements to veterans, MFT has pledged to implement clinical programs and processes to help veterans to continue to receive their medically appropriate prescribed amount of medicine.

These changes, which suggest three grams per day to be the maximum reimbursable dose, contradict what thousands of veterans relying on cannabinoid therapy have found to be effective. In our view, appropriately prescribed dosage amounts, based on individual needs, drastically reduces or eliminates their dependence on many other more harmful prescription medications.

The proposed cutback, from ten to three grams daily, is to take effect May 21, 2017 and is "very disheartening to those who have served their country with the Canadian Armed Forces," says MFT spokesperson and co-founder Mike Southwell, a veteran of 17 years as a military engineer. "A veteran patient consumes an average of six grams of medical marijuana daily and many lives have been restored with this therapy. As an added result, many families are healing and rebuilding their relationships. To compound matters, there is practically no veteran who can afford the gap in coverage that these changes and the associated costs expose them to" said Southwell.

Southwell notes that most veterans have reduced both their dependence on opiate-based medicines and clinical visits to health care professionals for PTSD and pain management, as a direct result of cannabinoid therapy. "This could represent a significant cost savings over prescription medications and with minimal side effects." adds Southwell. "Veterans have become functioning and productive citizens once again, after being injured in the course of their military service. They are vitally interested in continuing their recovery from trauma. The government must reconsider."

Without their appropriate allocation of medical marijuana, veterans are at risk of descending back into harmful and abusive forms of self-medication, predicts Andrew Brown, President of MFT Ontario and a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Forces. "Suicides could increase." he warns. "Veteran Affairs Canada's arbitrary decision appears to be more of a "knee jerk reaction", while at the same time, seemingly ignoring data surrounding the decrease in pharmaceutical complications and related medical expenses. We spare no costs whatsoever in rescuing even one soldier from the battlefield when they are missing, wounded or trapped. When we come home injured, after having served our country, does the value of our lives decrease?"

The bedrock of MFT goes back to the founder's vision of supporting all the needs of veterans in Canada.
MFT hereby commits to all veteran patients that we will do anything in our power to safeguard you from any adverse effect of this decision as we continue our mission to reach every veteran in need of this life-saving medicine.

Canada House Wellness Inc.

Canada House is the parent company of MFT, The Longevity Project Corp., and Abba Medix Corp. The Company's goal is to become a marketplace leader through strategic partnerships, mergers, and acquisitions to create a fully integrated medical marijuana marketplace. For more information please visit www.abbamedix.com, www.mftgroup.ca and www.plantsnotpills.ca.

Patient organization calls on medical cannabis industry to cease unethical pricing practices
On November 16, 2016, Vice News published an article, "Veteran Medical Marijuana Benefits Are Costing Canada a Fortune", on the skyrocketing use and cost of medical cannabis among Canadian veterans. The article uncovered industry practices that artificially inflate pricing for veterans' medical cannabis as well as unethical referral arrangements between veteran clinics and licensed producers.

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) is deeply concerned about the impact of differential pricing for veterans and believes these practices hurts all medical cannabis patients, many of whom continue to struggle with affordability with few cost-coverage options available. We strongly denounce differential pricing based on cost-coverage status and urge both cannabis industry associations, the Canadian Medical Cannabis Council and Cannabis Canada, to enact policies prohibiting these practices.

When done so responsibly, cost-covering medical cannabis can be beneficial for both insurers and plan members. A 2013 survey published in Addiction Research and Therapy found that almost 70% of medical cannabis patients substitute medical cannabis for other prescription drugs, most often opioids. Replacing opioids with cannabis allows patients to limit the risk of addiction and lethal overdose while finding relief of their symptoms. This type of substitution effect is also seen on the Veterans Affairs plan, which has shown a reduction in opioid and benzodiazepine claims as the number of veterans claiming cannabis has increased.

CFAMM is committed to work with patients and insurers to demonstrate the benefits of covering cannabis. Many patients in our insurance education program have established cost-savings while on cannabis compared to their previous insured medications and therapies.

The practices that have occurred in the industry must not dictate the future of medical cannabis coverage. Industry associations should play a role by prohibiting the practice of differential pricing and invest more resources towards demonstrating the positive impact for insurers who cover medical cannabis.

Release secret LHIN report that calls for the closure of ER's in Trenton, Picton and Bancroft, union asks Liberal government
 The Canadian Union of Public Employees is calling on the Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins to release the report developed by the South East LHIN (Local Health Integration Network) which calls for the closure of the emergency rooms in Trenton, Picton and Bancroft hospitals, among other major changes.

"This report is being discussed at a senior level in healthcare institutions across the South East LHIN but it has been kept secret from the public. The report calls for policy changes which would have an enormous impact on Picton, Bancroft and Trenton and on the communities of Kingston, Belleville, Brockville, Perth Smith's Falls and others," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/CUPE. "Such cuts to a hospital system that is the leanest in the developed world and which is acutely stressed by the pressures of years of funding cuts and an aging and growing population are completely unacceptable and will be met with widespread opposition."

"The LHIN spends taxpayers money as its own. The lack of transparency, democracy and accountability of the LHINs are underlined by secrecy of this process in the South East LHIN. The public in the communities in the southeast and the staff who work at these facilities should also see this report. We ask the Minister of Health to provide for an independent and genuine process for the public to talk about these recommendations," says Hurley.

Donors needed this holiday season to give blood and hope to patients
Canadian Blood Services recruitment teams hit the streets today in locations across the country to launch Canadian Blood Services' holiday Give campaign. Volunteers and blood recipients joined staff in select cities to let potential donors know the best gift they can give this holiday season is blood.

Surveys have shown the top reason people do not donate blood is because they have not been asked. Recruitment teams are a way to connect with and encourage people to consider becoming a blood donor.

A total of 100,000 new donors are needed before the end of March 2017 to maintain the national blood supply and meet the needs of Canadian patients who require blood transfusions. So far, since April, 45,000 new donors have come forward while another 55,000 are still needed in the next five months.

There is an even greater need for new donors this season because of new iron eligibility guidelines introduced recently to promote the health and wellness of blood donors. As a result, some donors won't be able to donate as frequently. Canadian Blood Services has also introduced new technology in blood clinics to make giving life easier for donors.

"There's a lot to cheer about at Canadian Blood Services this holiday season," says Mark Donnison, vice president of donor relations. "The move towards a digital environment is resulting in a better overall experience for donors. It also supports Canadian Blood Services' commitment to innovating. As we work to bring new donors in to compensate for changes in eligibility, the digital experience is a great asset."

Canadian Blood Services is counting on eligible Canadians to start a new tradition this holiday season and book a first appointment to donate blood by downloading the GiveBlood app or visiting blood.ca.

As part of the Give campaign the organization has developed a shareable video e-card that highlights how the gift of life makes even the simplest moments possible.

GSK files regulatory submission of candidate vaccine for prevention of shingles in Canada
 GlaxoSmithKline Inc. (GSK) has submitted a New Drug Submission (NDS) for its candidate shingles vaccine, seeking approval for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and its complications in Canadians aged 50 years or over.

Dr. Emmanuel Hanon, Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccines R&D, GSK said: "Shingles is a common and potentially serious condition. It can cause lasting pain and other complications which can severely impact the quality of people's lives. The risk of developing shingles increases with age and experts estimate that up to one in three people will develop the condition over their lifetime. Today's file submission puts us a step closer to making this vaccine available to help protect more people from shingles and the complications associated with it."

The regulatory submission for the candidate shingles vaccine is based on a comprehensive phase III clinical trial program evaluating its efficacy, safety and immunogenicity in more than 37,000 people. This includes the ZOE-50 and ZOE-70 studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2015 and September 2016, respectively.1,2

GSK's candidate shingles vaccine is not currently approved for use in Canada.

CP Touchdowns for Heart scores big this post-season in support of cardiac treatment at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre
 Canadian Pacific (CP) is once again teaming up with the CFL to deliver CP Touchdowns for Heart during the 104th Grey Cup Playoffs. This year, CP is supporting the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre's Mechanical Heart Program. Mechanical hearts provide an immediate lifeline, helping damaged hearts function until a transplant is possible.

CP contributed $5,000 to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre (PMCC), part of University Health Network, for every home team touchdown made during the first and second rounds of the playoffs for a total of $80,000.

CP Touchdowns for Heart will conclude at the 104th Grey Cup on November 27 in Toronto, where every touchdown scored by the Calgary Stampeders and Ottawa REDBLACKS will generate $10,000 to help patients with heart failure at the PMCC, Canada's premier cardiac centre.

"CP Has Heart, our community investment program, is making a significant investment in cardiac care to improve the lives of men, women and children across North America," said Mark Wallace, CP Vice-President Corporate Affairs. "The Peter Munk Cardiac Centre is the site of the largest Mechanical Heart Program in Canada. These incredible devices give patients time for their heart to recover while awaiting a heart transplant."

During last year's Grey Cup run, the CP Touchdowns for Heart campaign raised $180,000 to support a new cardiac screening protocol for women at St. Boniface Hospital. This year's fundraising for the PMCC will help purchase mechanical hearts, or left ventricular assist devices. Often referred to as a "bridge to transplant," this sophisticated, miniature mechanical pump is surgically implanted on one or both sides of the heart. It acts as a temporary assist to keep a diseased or damaged heart functioning until a replacement heart is located.

"An unremitting focus on innovation coupled with leading medical expertise in cardiac-assist device technology like the mechanical heart has enabled our centre to continue to break new ground in this growing area of research and treatment, both in Canada and around the world," said Dr. Barry Rubin, Medical Director, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. "Through the tremendous generosity of CP, CP Has Heart and other philanthropic support, our goal to offer this potential lifeline to even more patients enduring the debilitating effects of heart failure becomes possible."

Go to www.touchdownforpmcc.ca to donate to the Mechanical Heart Program.

Fans can also show their heart in the CP Has Heart Red Zone during the 104th Grey Cup Festival at Roundhouse Park in Toronto on November 25 and 26, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Participate in the following family activities to help raise funds for the PMCC and win CFL prizes:

The Mechanical Heart Gallery - Discover how the Mechanical Heart Program at the PMCC saves the lives of Canadians with heart failure.

CP Touchdowns for Heart - Dive for a catch into a foam pit, score and get a 180-degree photo of your Touchdown for Heart moment.

CP Completions for Heart - Show your quarterback skills! Donate $5 and complete three passes at different targets to be entered into a draw to win a VIP experience at the Grey Cup game. Hit the targets and CP will donate an additional amount on your behalf.

CP Heart House - Eating healthy and being active are simple steps to prevent heart disease. Spin the wheel and complete a short, football themed workout in exchange for a heart healthy treat.

The Little General - Take your picture with CP's mini-train, a ¼ scale model of a General Electric AC4400 locomotive.
Make sure to follow all the action on Twitter and Instagram @CPhasHeart.

BeWarned Makes a Significant Motion in The World of The Deaf and Hard of Hearing
 Available today BeWarned app helps the deaf and hard of hearing detect dangerous sounds, communicate with people, make calls in case of emergency and dance.

"We made an app, that widens the perception of the world by the deaf and hard of hearing," - says Vitaliy Potapchuk, co-founder of BeWarned and legally deaf himself.

After a large-scale beta-testing among the USA residents (88,9% positive reviews) BeWarned worked on recommendations related to features users would like to see in the app. As a result, BeWarned's platform consists of four features:

1. Sound Monitor detects sounds of possible danger in real time. In case of a unsafe situation, it informs the user about it with the help of flashing lights and vibration signals.

2. Connect helps the deaf and hard of hearing communicate in the society. Users can chat with each other via special dialog and create an unlimited number of phrase templates to communicate instantly with a person of interest.

3. Dance lets users feel the rhythm of the songs using vibration, flashing lights and visual equalizer on the screen of the smartphone. This way the deaf and hard of hearing may "experience" the music and dance to it.

4. Emergency Call is useful whenever the user needs to inform their contact person about current emergency.

The app is free of charge for all users. You can download it from AppStore

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bewarned-app-for-deaf-hard/i... and Google Play


BeWarned is a startup that is specialized in developing software and hardware for the deaf and hard of hearing. If you would like further information regarding BeWarned, go to www.getbewarned.com

CMPA urges caution when prescribing opioid medications
 The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) applauds the Governments of Canada and Ontario for convening a two-day summit on the issue of opioid overprescribing and abuse, and urges Canadian physicians to exercise caution when prescribing and administering these medications to treat pain.

Senior executives of the CMPA, which represents Canadian doctors in medical-legal cases, are taking part in the Opioid Summit being held in Ottawa and sharing information on the risks associated with using opioid medications to manage pain. The CMPA has published risk management advice for Canadian physicians on the safe and effective use of opioids in clinical practice, as well as steps that can be taken to mitigate the risks associated with narcotics.

"At the CMPA, we recognize that physicians have an important role to play in reducing the harm caused by these potent medications," said Dr. Hartley Stern, Chief Executive Officer of the CMPA. "We also acknowledge that this is not easy territory for doctors to navigate. Many Canadians suffer from chronic pain and there is a scarcity of proper pain management services in many communities."

Commonly prescribed to manage severe pain caused by everything from bone fractures to cancer, opioid medications such as fentanyl and oxycodone also produce a feeling of euphoria and are highly addictive. The use of opioids to treat chronic pain is leading to growing medical-legal difficulties for Canadian doctors. Between 2010 and 2015, the CMPA handled 151 medical-legal cases involving allegations of patient harm related to opioid prescribing. These cases mostly involved opioids prescribed for chronic pain.

"The medical community needs to take another look at opioids and reconsider the benefits and risks, including their effectiveness in treating pain," said Dr. Gordon Wallace, Managing Director of Safe Medical Care at CMPA. "For many years, the benefits of opioids have been oversold and the risks understated. Although there is certainly a role for the use of opioids, healthcare practitioners need to first consider alternatives to prescribing these drugs."

During the summit, sponsored by Health Canada, the CMPA hopes to advance recommendations to lessen the misuse of opioids and lower addiction rates across the country. These recommendations include the following:

Improved e-prescribing, as well as the establishment of systems that can better record and track the prescribing of opioid drugs. While a national system jointly funded by the federal and provincial / territorial governments would be preferred, enhanced electronic databases at the provincial level would be a positive step forward.

Regularly update national guidelines for the prescribing of opioid medications and ensure that they are available at the point of care.

Greater assistance to physicians to help patients who suffer from chronic pain, as well as those who have become addicted to opioids. This assistance could come in the form of greater access to specialized resources for pain management, as well as better access to addiction treatment options for patients.

A national awareness campaign on the risks of opioid prescription and consumption. Making the general public more aware of the dangers of opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone could help reduce the prevalence of addiction, as well as educate people on the ways in which these drugs should be properly used.

Increased funding for research on the abuse of prescription opioids, as well as for training on effective pain management and safe opioid prescribing practices.

The CMPA is committed to working with stakeholders nationwide to facilitate safe opioid prescribing and improve patient care. Physicians can find detailed information about opioid prescribing on the Association's website at: www.cmpa-acpm.ca. Doctors who have questions about the use of opioids, or specific patient cases, are encouraged to contact the CMPA by telephone at 1-800-267-6522 to speak with a Physician Advisor.

"Working together, Canada's healthcare community can effectively address the opioid crisis," said the CMPA's Dr. Stern. "Effective communication among pharmacists, physicians, patients and families is a critical step in the process."
CPhA recommends priority areas to combat Canada's opioid crisis
In the lead up to the national Opioid Conference and Summit, co-hosted by Minister Philpott and Minister Hoskins, CPhA is calling for a multi-pronged action plan that addresses the root causes of opioid abuse or misuse, ensures appropriate prescribing, and supports addiction management therapy for those struggling with dependency.

CPhA is among a group of experts, stakeholders, and health professionals selected by government who will meet this Friday and Saturday at the federal government's national Opioid Conference and Summit to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the growing problem of opioid misuse and abuse, and associated overdose deaths. CPhA will be bringing forward three priority recommendations to the summit including:

New guidelines to improve the interdisciplinary approach to managing opioid use
Accelerating the implementation of fully integrated electronic drug monitoring systems across the country
Enabling pharmacists to adapt opioid prescriptions
Addressing these three priorities would go a long way toward improving the care pharmacists provide to patients and help to prevent opioid misuse and abuse before it begins. "Allowing pharmacists to adapt opioid prescriptions – for example, tapering a patient's prescription by reducing the quantity where appropriate – means that the profession can do even more to help prevent patients from becoming addicted," said Phil Emberley, Director of Professional Affairs, Canadian Pharmacists Association.

These solutions also protect vital patient access to opioids in situations where these medications are the most effective treatment and highlight the need for a collaborative approach to pain management amongst health care providers. "A fully integrated system would ensure that pharmacists and prescribers have access to the information they need to help patients manage their use of opioids," said Alistair Bursey, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "It would flag inappropriate prescribing and greatly reduce prescription "shopping" which occurs when those who are addicted visit multiple prescribers to obtain the same prescription."

Canadian pharmacists across the country are on the front lines of opioid stewardship. As Canada's most accessible health care provider, pharmacists help identify cases of opioid misuse and abuse, and help patients manage addiction and dependency through counseling and dispensing of opioid replacement therapies.

Election Stress is Toxic for Diabetics
 Even though it's not our country, this period in American politics has created unprecedented stress for millions of Canadians. The emotional hysteria has been relentlessly fed by the candidates and most of the mainstream media over a period of many months. And for many of us it's not over yet: the reality of a Trump Presidency resonates with fear – even existential fear.

But if you are diabetic excessive stress is itself a serious threat to your health. The long-term chronic stress associated with this election is particularly dangerous. Stress is our body's "fight or flight" response to a perceived threat. If you are walking in the woods and spot what looks like a poisonous snake, your body produces hormones such as cortisol that will ensure you react quickly.

Stress increases your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to provide you with more oxygen. Your muscles constrict so you can move quickly. The arteries in your arms and legs narrow so that if you are hurt, you won't lose a lot of blood. Your blood will clot more quickly in case you are wounded. And your liver pours out more stored sugar so you have the energy to respond.*

But this acute response to a dangerous situation is supposed to be temporary. The snake quietly slithers away and your body returns to its normal state. But this snake – the election and its aftermath – is going to hang around awhile, leading to a state of chronic stress for many people. Chronic stress is particularly dangerous for diabetics because it increases blood pressure, the likelihood of blood clots, and blood sugar level. This damages the blood vessels and leads to circulatory problems.

   Some diabetics add fuel to the fire by reacting to stress with unhealthy lifestyle choices. Farid Ibrahim is a diabetic who manufactures a supplement called Kardovite for heart health and improved circulation. "Speaking from my own experience, the first thing to go out the window for me when I'm under stress are good food choices and exercise." Stress impacts blood sugars directly, but when compounded with poor lifestyle choices it becomes a vicious circle. You end up feeling irritable and unwell, resulting in even more stress hormones flowing through your body.

Here are some strategies for dealing with stress:

Try to live in the moment – you may have heard the phrase "one day at a time". The further out to the future you look, the more fear you feel because of you limited ability to control the outcome. You DO have control over what you are doing right now, whether its playing golf, nursing a baby, or writing lines of code. Whatever it is, do it well and with passion.

If you are Diabetic, practice diligent self-care. Get enough sleep. Exercise – even if it's a few minutes a day of walking. Avoid the temptation to deal with stress by consuming "comfort foods" or alcohol.

Get a hobby or interest: hobbies give us a reason besides work to get out of bed in the morning. Yoga has been shown to help reduce stress and lower blood pressure, but if that's not your thing try something else. Hobbies help to expand your social circle. On that note, having the support of family and friends is critical for dealing with stress – we need to have someone to talk to.

Follow your doctors' treatment protocol, but don't be afraid to ask questions. The best results for diabetics come from collaborating with your doctor. Research the medications you are prescribed so you understand the side effects. Supplements such as Kardovite may help because they improve circulation and contain herbal extracts such as Valerian which manages stress.
Mental health claim rates can be reduced with specific management practices: Salveo Study
Following five years of data analysis, the Salveo researchers have identified five management practices that can help companies lower mental health and disability claim rates in their organizations.

"Regardless of the size of a company, small or large, our research shows that there are specific management practices that can impact mental health claim rates," said Professor Alain Marchand, co-leader of the study at the Université de Montréal. "These practices are proving to be particularly effective in the prevention of mental health problems in the workplace and reducing disability claim costs."

These following practices can help prevent mental health issues, reduce claim costs and improve productivity in the workplace: 1) Job design based on employee skills and interests has a 87% probability of reducing claims; 2) work-life balance opportunities has a 77% probability of reducing claims; 3) employee recognition has a 74% probability of reducing claims; 4) promotion of physical activities has a 69% probability of reducing claims; and 5) implementing strategies to help employees maintain a reasonable workload has a 64% probability of reducing claims.

Since 2011, Professors Alain Marchand and Pierre Durand, co-leaders of the study at the Université de Montréal, with the participation of Université Laval and Concordia University, and in partnership with Manulife, have interviewed over 2,100 workers from 63 organizations of all sizes. They analyzed 63 management practices to identify risk factors triggering mental health disorders and provided employers with recommendations on management practices that could help reduce mental health claim rates.

"The Salveo Study shows how an investment in the health and wellbeing of employees can have a positive impact on their level of engagement and productivity," said Donna Carbell, Senior Vice President, Group Benefits, Manulife. "The Study validates the need for the kind of counsel and expertise that our Health Management Services team and Mental Health Specialists team can offer to help improve physical and mental wellness in the workplace."

Toronto Public Health announces the winners of 2016 condomTO design contest
Toronto Public Health announced the four winners of the 2016 condomTO wrapper designs at an awards ceremony tonight at The Paint Box in downtown Toronto. Hundreds of entries were narrowed down to 10 finalists.

Residents were invited to cast votes online and in person at Metro Hall for the two design categories, a student category for individuals enrolled in a Toronto post-secondary school, and an open category for non-students. The winners of the contest are:
• Open Grand Prize: Diane Adams, a graduate of Seneca College's graphic design program
• Open Runner-up: Serge Leshchuk, a local social media strategist and content creator
• Student Grand Prize: Andrea Por, a student of Advertising and Graphic Design at Humber College
• Student Runner-up: Janine Thomas, a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Design program at York Sheridan

"We are very pleased with the positive response and interest the condomTO design contest received," said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's Acting Medical Officer of Health. "Sexual health is a key part of good health and the more we can get people thinking about this topic, the more we can work together to improve the health of residents. Congratulations to the winners."

Contest winners were selected by an expert panel of judges including leaders in sexual health, art and design, local media and local politics. Toronto Public Health staff reviewed the designs to ensure they aligned with Toronto Public Health's Sexual Health Philosophy and Guiding Principles. The panellists were asked to judge all designs based on the following equally weighted criteria: design quality, civic pride and originality. The top 10 designs, five for each category, received the top scores from the panel.

The creative strategy and contest design were developed by The&Partnership Canada, which will also create a wrapper design for release next year. Other sponsors include ONE® Condoms, providing overall contest management and the related website, and Miami Ad School Toronto, providing design workshops to Toronto youth. 

The winning condom designs and more information about the winners will be available at http://www.condomTO.ca on November 17.

Toronto Public Health promotes and distributes condoms to community agencies and health organizations across the city as part of its sexual health promotion mandate. Condoms are one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies and have been available at Toronto Public Health sexual health clinics since 1983. 

The new condoms will be available in 2017 at Toronto Public Health's sexual health clinics across the city as well as from partner agencies.

About The&Partnership:
The&Partnership is a modern communications agency uniquely built to solve the concerns and frustrations of marketers. The multidisciplinary model operates under a single bottom line, which creates game-changing collaboration and creativity across disciplines, delivering the right answer for today’s client needs. The agency’s capabilities span disciplines including advertising, media, PR, CRM, data/analytics, digital, social, mobile, innovation, content and delivery/production. The&Partnership has 1,500 employees in 56 offices across 25 countries. More information is available at http://www.theandpartnership.com. Follow The&Partnership on Twitter @and_partnership and on Instagram @theandpartnership.

Grandchildren and parents unite to stand up to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in a powerful vocal performance of chart-topping anthem 'Fight Song'
 Just in time for Lung Awareness Month comes a powerful and emotionally-charged rendition of Rachel Platten's inspirational hit 'Fight Song', sung by the children and grandchildren of people living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) as part of a global campaign. They shared a special day of filming together to urge their parents and grandparents to continue to stand up to IPF, by learning more about the disease to help them make more informed decisions, enabling them to live for today and keep fighting their disease.

IPF is a rare, but fatal lung disease,1 which causes progressive scarring in the lungs and affects a person's ability to breathe.2 In IPF, once lung function is lost, it can never be regained. There is no known cause of IPF, and by the time symptoms appear, the lungs have already been damaged.3 As the disease progresses, everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or getting dressed can become difficult, and eventually, oxygen therapy may be needed.4

Seventy-year-old Canadian, Jim Gillies, has been living with IPF for four years and is just one of the many inspiring IPF patients who participated in the campaign. After just a few days of training with a vocal coach, Jim's daughter and grandchildren, along with other family members of people with IPF from Canada and Europe, surprised their parents and grandparents with an inspiring live performance in London, England. The video can be viewed here.

"I felt every emotion watching my daughter and grandchildren perform this song with so many others who have been touched by IPF," says Jim Gillies, husband, father of two and grandfather of four. "It reminds me that every day is precious. To know this disease is eventually going to take you, makes me want to do all I can physically and mentally to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I want to be part of defining this disease, and not have the disease define me. By sharing my story, and by being a part of this, I hope to encourage people to be aware of the symptoms, and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment."

The prognosis of IPF is almost as serious as lung cancer – one of the worst forms of cancer.5 In most cases, it is eventually fatal, however early diagnosis and treatment can slow down the progression of the disease,6 ,7 allowing people to continue to do what they love for longer.

"People living with IPF go through so much and given the significant impact, often those living with IPF are defined by their illness," says Robert Davidson, President and Founder, Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. "That's why this campaign is so important. We want to remind patients that they are not alone and first and foremost they are much loved and supported parents and grandparents. When patients understand they are not alone in their plight but share it with a multitude of others they are encouraged and feel part of a larger family of friends and supporters, empowering them to live life in the moment, strive toward their goals and never surrender."

Classically trained pianist and U.K. TV presenter Myleene Klass accompanied the group for the live performance, hoping to inspire people through music. "As a musician and a mother, I feel privileged to be part of this campaign which has touched the hearts of us all," says Myleen Klass. Music has this amazing ability to lift the soul and make you feel proud and celebratory for all the things you have. So I hope that through the power of music we can inspire people with IPF to embrace living in the moment and continue to live their lives the best way in which they can."

The emotive campaign aims to empower the 15,000 Canadians living with IPF and their families to stand up to this disease, encourage them to have informed conversations with their doctor about their options and generate an understanding of the disease amongst the general public.

About IPF
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) affects an estimated 30,000 Canadians and is responsible for 5,000 deaths each year.8 Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is the most common form of PF. Every year, 6,000 people are diagnosed with PF and this number is expected to increase as the population ages.9 Typical symptoms include: shortness of breath; a dry, hacking cough; loss of appetite; rapid weight loss; extreme tiredness and loss of energy; chest discomfort; coldness in the hands and feet; and memory loss.10

The campaign was developed by Roche and the IPF community and was inspired by the Philips 'Breathless Choir'.

For more information on IPF, visit FightIPF.ca, a new online hub designed to inform and empower patients diagnosed with IPF and their family members.


1 Costabel, Ulrich. The changing treatment landscape in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. European Respiratory Review. 2015;24:65-68.
2 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. What is Pulmonary Fibrosis? Accessed September 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IPF_Guide_2012_Final_V1.1_2015MAY01.pdf
3 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. What Are The Symptoms? Accessed September 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IPF_Guide_2012_Final_V1.1_2015MAY01.pdf
4 Ibid.
5 The Lung Association. Lung Cancer Summit 2014. Accessed September 20, 2016. Available at: http://www.on.lung.ca/document.doc?id=2406
6 Canadian Lung Association. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – Treatment. Accessed on April 19, 2016. Available at http://www.lung.ca/lung-health/lung-disease/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis/treatment.
7 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. What You Can Do. Accessed April 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IPF_Guide_2012_Final_V1.1_2015MAY01.pdf
8 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. What is Pulmonary Fibrosis? Accessed September 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/understanding-pf/what-is-pulmonary-fibrosis/
9 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. How Many People Have It? Accessed September 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IPF_Guide_2012_Final_V1.1_2015MAY01.pdf
10 Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Information Guide. What Are The Symptoms? Accessed September 19, 2016. Available at: http://cpff.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/IPF_Guide_2012_Final_V1.1_2015MAY01.pdf
Sixty-year-old Heart & Stroke gets in shape to fight for the lives of Canadians
The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada today announced its most significant change in more than six decades, to more aggressively tackle what stubbornly remains a leading cause of death and hospitalization for Canadians. Heart & Stroke, as it will now simply be known, has unveiled a new visual identity that is emblematic of a larger transformation to connect more deeply with Canadians and reignite passion for the cause.

Why change

"For more than 60 years, Heart & Stroke has worked tirelessly to produce medical breakthroughs, raise awareness and improve prevention and treatment," says Diego Marchese, Interim CEO and Executive Vice President of Heart & Stroke. "Our efforts have helped to greatly reduce the mortality rate, but it's not enough. One Canadian still dies from heart disease or stroke every seven minutes, and we're now losing ground in the face of new challenges. To meet these challenges we have a responsibility to evolve."

"Our transformation is based on a unifying belief - 'Life. We don't want you to miss it'. That belief is why we're leading the fight against heart disease and stroke," adds Marchese. "Through this transformation, Heart & Stroke is making a renewed commitment to improve outcomes and ensure fewer Canadians miss out on life."

Transformational changes

"We are not the same Heart & Stroke our parents knew," Marchese stresses. That becomes clear when people hear about some of the exciting new initiatives underway at Heart & Stroke, including things like:

A new research strategy that will foster innovative thinking, enable responsiveness to emerging opportunities and open up natural partnerships that together will fuel research success.

A commitment to new areas of focus including advocating for bold children's health policies, erasing the gender bias in heart health and closing the gap in Indigenous health.

Innovative fundraising opportunities such as a just-announced Social Impact Bond, a pioneering collaboration between government, investors and donors that provides a 'pay-for-success' funding model that in this case will tackle hypertension, the number one risk factor for stroke and a leading risk factor for heart disease. This is a first for the Canadian health charity sector.

A new website that will customize and serve up personally relevant information to make it easy for people to manage their own health and recovery, and connect them in groups for emotional support and information.

"The bold, modern logo captures the essence of the organization," says Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Heart & Stroke. "It presents our many mission and fundraising programs, such as Jump Rope for Heart, with a consistent look – Canadians all across the country will know who we are and what we do. It will help us to rally Canadians to solve the problem of heart disease and stroke."

"The strength of Heart & Stroke and every Canadian is interconnected. Communities across the country depend on us and we depend on them. Our mission is to save lives, and failing is not an option," added Marchese. "Today we are making a pledge to re-engage our supporters, volunteers, donors and corporate partners. We are making a commitment to reignite all Canadians' passion for our cause to address our shared health challenges."

Dr. Andrew Krahn, cardiologist

"Canadians don't realize that heart disease and stroke are still leading causes of death and hospitalization, and while much progress has been made, today we face new challenges with an aging population, sedentary lifestyles and an increase in processed foods," says Dr. Andrew Krahn, Chief, UBC Division of Cardiology. "Heart failure for example, which has no cure, is on the rise with 50,000 new cases diagnosed each year. We need to accelerate medical breakthroughs and advance heart and stroke research to make significant headway."

William Jones, 29, cardiac arrest survivor

"When I was an active 17 year old I suffered cardiac arrest during class. A teacher who knew CPR (cardiovascular pulmonary resuscitation) saved my life," says William Jones, now 29 and a longtime Heart & Stroke spokesperson. "If it wasn't for the work that Heart & Stroke has conducted in advocating for, and organizing CPR training and the placement of AEDs (automated external defibrillators), as well as research into cardiac technology which keeps my heart beating properly, countless people like me wouldn't be alive today. I applaud Heart & Stroke on their tireless pursuit to better engage Canadians to save more lives from heart disease and stroke."

For more information, please visit heartandstoke.ca

About the Refreshed Visual Identity

Heart & Stroke has been working to create one consistent brand identity across the organization. The new identity captures the essence of our transformation with a modern, bolder appeal to the hearts and minds of Canadians. The new visual identity helps create an exciting jumping off point for our many mission and fundraising programs to ensure a consistent look, sound and purpose across these channels.

About Heart & Stroke's Novel Research Strategy

The new research strategy, being co-created with the research community, will foster innovative thinking, enable responsiveness to emerging opportunities and open up natural partnerships. It will be inclusive, forward-looking, interdisciplinary – all the ingredients to enable medical breakthroughs, a vibrant Canadian cardiovascular research community and continued better health for Canadians.

About the Social Impact Bond

The Community Hypertension Prevention Initiative (CHPI), announced in October, is a pioneering collaboration between government, investors and donors. This is the first health-focused pay-for-success contract in Canada. CHPI is a community prevention approach that leverages pharmacy, local partnerships and digital technology to increase awareness of high blood pressure and cardiovascular/cerebrovascular (CCVD) risk, and to support healthier lifestyles in order to reduce the onset and prevalence of hypertension.

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don't want you to miss it. That's why Heart & Stroke works to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don't miss out on precious moments.

Over the last 60 years, we have invested more than $1.45 billion in heart and stroke research, making us the largest contributor in Canada after the federal government. In that time, the death rate from heart disease and stroke has declined by more than 75 per cent.
Wait times down in emergency, but still long for some patients
People are seeing doctors more quickly when they arrive in Ontario's emergency departments (EDs) and overall their visits are shorter. This is despite an ever-increasing flow of patients who are becoming collectively older and sicker. Most Ontario residents are also satisfied with the care they receive in emergency.

But emergency departments are under a great deal of pressure. While progress has been made in overall performance, an emergency department could be strained by a bad flu season, or if a hospital nearby has to temporarily close its emergency department.

Those are the findings of Under Pressure: Emergency Department Performance in Ontario, a report released today by Health Quality Ontario, the provincial advisor on health care quality.

The good news includes a 10% drop over the last seven years in the maximum amount of time nine out of 10 patients spent in the ED – to 7.8 hours from 8.7 hours. There was also more than a 16% decrease in the maximum amount of time nine out of 10 patients waited in the emergency department to see a doctor ­– to 3 hours from 3.6.

However, the data also show that urban residents spend longer in the emergency department and wait longer to see a doctor in emergency than people living in rural areas. As well, many of the sickest patients in the province – those who need to be admitted to hospital – have to wait a long time in the emergency department for a bed in an inpatient ward. This is often because patients who should be receiving more appropriate care in other settings such as long term care remain in hospital. This is called alternate level of care and can impact the ability of hospital to move patients from the EDs to an inpatient ward.

"Patients may spend hours and sometimes even days lying on stretchers in emergency examination rooms or hallways," said Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario.

Overcrowding can lead to poor quality of care, increased distress, illness and mortality among patients, and increased risk of medical errors by overworked staff. Under Pressure finds these stressors and others are likely to continue to affect emergency departments for many years to come as the province's population both grows in size and ages overall.

The report shows growth in emergency department visits is outpacing population growth. Over the past seven years, the number of annual visits to Ontario's emergency departments increased 13.4% – more than double the 6.2% increase in the province's population.

Patients are also sicker overall. Visits by more seriously ill or "high-acuity" patients who were not admitted to hospital increased by 44.1%, and visits by patients who were admitted rose 17.5%.

Some of this increase in patient acuity can be attributed to a rise in visits by older patients, who tend to require more complex care. There was a 29.1% increase in visits by people aged 65 and over.

The report also outlines some of the programs and strategies that have been implemented to relieve the pressure on emergency departments in the province. These include the Emergency Room Wait Time Strategy launched in 2008, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's Patients First action plan, and Health Quality Ontario's Emergency Department Return Visit Quality Program.

"Even with the demographic challenges the province is facing, the concerted efforts made by government, hospitals and others to improve the performance of Ontario's emergency departments have brought many positive changes," said Dr. Tepper. "But it's clear that much work still needs to be done to make emergency departments work better for all patients."


More emergency visits are meeting overall provincial targets for length of stay and wait to see a doctor. Between 2008/09 and 2014/15:

The proportion of visits completed within the four-hour target for non-admitted low-acuity patients increased to 89.9% from 84.6%, and the proportion of visits completed within the eight-hour target for high-acuity patients and admitted patients taken together as a group rose to 85.7% from 79.8%

The majority of people in Ontario appear to be satisfied with the emergency care they receive. In a 2014/15 patient experience survey:

72.6% of respondents reported receiving excellent, very good or good care, with the other 27.4% rating their care as fair or poor

Some admitted patients spend a long time in emergency. In 2014/15:

The maximum amount of time nine out of 10 admitted patients spent in emergency – was 29.4 hours

Some patients who are more seriously ill wait longer to see a doctor than less seriously ill patients. In 2014/15:

The maximum amount of time nine out 10 patients waited in emergency to see a doctor was 3.1 hours for admitted patients and 3.2 hours for high-acuity discharged patients, compared to 2.7 hours for low-acuity discharged patients

Urban residents spend more time in emergency and wait longer to see a doctor. In 2014/15:

The maximum amount of time nine out of 10 urban residents spent in emergency was 8.3 hours, compared to 5.6 hours for rural residents

The maximum amount of time nine out of 10 urban residents waited in emergency to see a doctor was 3.1 hours overall for all acuity levels, and 2.6 hours for rural residents

Many patients visit the emergency department for less serious health issues. In 2013:

47% of adult Ontarians reported going to emergency for a condition they thought could have been treated by their primary care provider, if that doctor, nurse practitioner or other provider had been available. This rate was higher for Ontario than for its socioeconomically similar international counterparts, with Switzerland coming in at 36% and France lowest at 24%.

To read the full report visit, www.hqontario.ca/underpressure
$1 million commitment to improve wellness around the globe through diabetes prevention and management​
Today, on World Diabetes Day, Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX: SLF) (NYSE: SLF) is proud to announce a $1 million commitment to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Foundation to launch the Sun Life Financial Diabetes College (SLFDC). As the next step in advancing the Sun Life Financial commitment to holistic health, the goal of the SLFDC is to help improve wellness around the globe through diabetes prevention and management. This online resource is available to people who have been identified as having diabetes or prediabetes.

"We firmly believe that individuals with chronic illness such as diabetes have the power to take charge of their own health through certain lifestyle changes," said Dean Connor, President & Chief Executive Officer, Sun Life Financial. "The SLFDC is a testament to the hard work being done to enhance new programs, new spaces and new research agendas that will stand at the forefront of medical advancements."

The SLFDC officially launches today, with full implementation expected by June 2017. Featuring a curriculum of five interactive modules, content includes such topics as how to prevent, manage and treat diabetes, healthy eating and active lifestyle tips, and information on diabetes complications and medications.

"The SLFDC is an open, accessible resource for anybody who wants to take control of their diabetes," said Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "Through the SLFDC, we're increasing access to physician-verified information and healthy behaviour programs to individuals regardless of barriers such as geography, financial constraints and language."

According to the Sun Life Financial Canadian Health Index, one-in-five Canadians believe they are at risk of developing diabetes, yet the majority has not been screened in the past 12 months. That's why Sun Life Financial is making it easy for clients and employees to take charge of their health with new initiatives across the business, such as: a commitment to expanding the innovation agenda – through digital and other health solutions – in order to respond to clients' needs and changing expectations; the opportunity to review blood test results online to determine risk of developing diabetes after applying for life or critical illness insurance; and partnering with leading organizations such as the Canadian Diabetes Association and Carrot Rewards to launch a pilot program for Group Benefits clients in British Columbia, making it easy to adopt healthy habits to prevent and manage diabetes.

Sun Life Financial takes a holistic approach to supporting the well-being of clients, employees and communities with the end goal of helping to achieve physical, mental and financial resiliency both now and in the future. Sun Life Financial has proudly committed more than $17 million in support of diabetes awareness, prevention, care and research initiatives since announcing support of the cause in late 2012.

Ontario's Doctors take opportunity to share concerns about Bill 41 at Standing Committee​
Ontario's doctors will finally have the opportunity to formally voice their concerns about Bill 41 today. This legislation, which will impose fundamental changes to how primary care is delivered in Ontario, was created without meaningful collaboration with doctors who have experience and knowledge about patient care.

Ontario's doctors have been calling on the government to make substantive changes to the legislation, which is now before committee for just six and a half hours of presentations after debate was cut short in the legislature.

"Instead of a meaningful consultation, the government continues to push through Bill 41," said Dr. Virginia Walley, OMA President. "This is yet another example of this government's inability to work constructively with doctors."

Dr. Stephen Chris, President-Elect of the Ontario Medical Association, is presenting to the Standing Committee on Legislative Assembly today on behalf of the OMA's 29,000 practicing members. Dr. Chris knows firsthand how the proposed changes will make providing patient care more difficult.

"I am very concerned about Bill 41 as it allows politicians and bureaucrats to prioritize their decisions about the health-care system over the care needs of patients," he said. "It gives government the power to over-ride the expertise of physicians and local health care providers in order to ration care and stay within their budget instead of putting the wellbeing of patients first."

Ontario's doctors are also concerned that Bill 41 – as it is currently written – will allow government investigators to access personal health records without patient consent in the name of 'public interest'.

Bill 41 (formerly Bill 210) imposes radical changes on how primary care is delivered in Ontario and is yet another example of government making unilateral alterations to the health-care system without collaborating with doctors. At a time when Health Minister Eric Hoskins is talking about limiting health resources, Bill 41 proposes more expensive bureaucracy.

"Ontario's doctors have a history of constructively working with government to develop solutions that meet the needs of patients and improve the health system in this province," said Dr. Walley. "Ontarians have overwhelmingly expressed that they trust doctors and want them to make decisions about patient care and so we are urging the members of Committee to seriously consider our concerns. Amendments must be made before this bill is passed."

Pneumonia and diarrhoea kill 1.4 million children each year, more than all other childhood illnesses combined - UNICEF
Pneumonia and diarrhoea together kill 1.4 million children each year, the overwhelming majority of whom live in lower and middle-income countries. These childhood deaths occur despite the fact that both illnesses are largely preventable through straightforward and cost effective solutions like exclusive breastfeeding, vaccination, quality primary healthcare and reducing household air pollution.

These findings are included in a new UNICEF report – 'One is Too Many: Ending Child Deaths from Pneumonia and Diarrhoea' – released today.

Pneumonia in particular remains the leading infectious killer of children under five, claiming the lives of nearly a million children in 2015 – approximately one child every 35 seconds, and more than malaria, TB, measles, and AIDS combined. Approximately half of all childhood pneumonia deaths are linked to air pollution, a fact UNICEF said world leaders should keep in mind during ongoing climate change talks at COP22.
​ "We have seen clearly that air pollution linked to climate change is damaging the health and development of children by causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye.

"Two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines, with many falling ill and dying as a result. World leaders meeting at COP22 can help to save children's lives by commiting to actions that will reduce air pollution linked to climate change and agreeing to investments in prevention and healthcare," Ndiaye said.

Like pneumonia, diarrhoea cases among children can, in many instances, be linked to lower levels of precipitation caused by climate change. Reduced availability of safe water leaves children at greater risk of contracting diarrhoeal diseases and suffering impaired physical and cognitive growth.

Nearly 34 million children have died from pneumonia and diarrhoea since 2000. Without further investment in key prevention and treatment measures, UNICEF estimates that 24 million more children will die from pneumonia and diarrhoea by 2030.

"These illnesses have such a disproportionately high impact on child mortality and are relatively inexpensive to treat," said Ndiaye. "Yet they continue to receive only a fraction of global health investment which makes absolutely zero sense. That's why we're calling for increased global funding for protective, preventive and treatment interventions that we know will work to save children's lives."

UNICEF is also recommending increased funding for child healthcare generally and also for that focused on groups of children especially vulnerable to pneumonia and diarrhoea – the youngest and those living in lower and middle-income countries. The report shows:

Approximately 80 per cent of childhood deaths linked to pneumonia and 70 per cent of those linked to diarrhoea occur during the first two years of life;
Low- and lower-middle income countries are home to 62 per cent of the world's under 5 population, but account for more than 90 per cent of child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths globally.

Download the full report, photo and video assets here: http://uni.cf/1QyQApU
"We have seen clearly that air pollution linked to climate change is damaging the health and development of children by causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections," said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Fatoumata Ndiaye.
Bell Let's Talk and True Patriot Love renew mental health partnership supporting Canadian military families​
 Bell and the True Patriot Love Foundation have announced a 4-year extension of their joint Bell True Patriot Love Fund, a renewed $1 million partnership that will continue to support community mental health programs serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, veterans and their families through 2020.

"Bell Let's Talk is very pleased to partner with True Patriot Love to continue our support for the mental health of those who serve our country in Canada's military and the families that support them," said George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. "Military families face unique challenges when it comes to accessing mental health services, and we are proud of the role the Bell True Patriot Love Fund has played and will continue to play in providing specialized programs to them."

Since 2013, the Bell True Patriot Love Fund has distributed $1 million in grants to 61 mental health programs delivered through Military Family Resource Centres and other groups in communities around Canada. Extending the partnership for a further 4 years and another $1 million ensures continued investment in programs that are making a real difference in the lives of military members, veterans and their families. Bell also remains the Presenting Sponsor of the annual True Patriot Love Toronto Tribute Dinner, the largest fundraising event in support of Canada's military, through 2020.

"True Patriot Love thanks Bell Let's Talk for its leading role in supporting mental health care for the Canadian Armed Forces community," said Bronwen Evans, CEO of the True Patriot Love Foundation. "Together we remain committed to seeing positive change fo