Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New cough and cold remedies now available for Canadians, offer options for children under six and those with compromised health

Sniffling noses get a new ally with Helixia™

TORONTO, December 11, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - For millions of Canadians ranging from the smallest tykes to our revered elders, cold season brings on a host of challenges when looking for a medication to help alleviate the predictable and uncomfortable symptoms of the common cold.

In 2009, Health Canada changed the cough and cold medication landscape dramatically when they required manufacturers to change the labels on over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to state they are no longer suitable for anyone under the age of six.

Those with compromised health often fare no better. For people living with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic lung disease, certain medicinal ingredients including pseudoephedrine (decongestant) and dextromethorphan (antitussive) can cause side effects or negative interactions with other medications, and are therefore not recommended in this population. These ingredients are found in the top 50 cold remedies.

The introduction of Helixia™ is expected to fill a significant need for Canadians, their physicians, as well as their pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, especially relevant in light of some of the recent drug shortages. Helixia™ is a new line of naturally-sourced, over-the-counter cough and sinus remedies. Of particular note for parents and those struggling with certain chronic conditions, Helixia™ Cough is appropriate for use by children under six as well as adults with certain medical conditions in whom common over-the-counter cough medications are not recommended or difficult to tolerate. Helixia™ Sinus is available for adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older.

Though only recently introduced in Canada, Helixia's efficacy is supported by several clinical studies and its formulations, including the medicinal ingredients Hedera Helix L (the dried ivy leaf extract found in Helixia™ Cough), and Eucalyptol (the eucalyptus oil extract found in Helixia™ Sinus), have been available and used in Europe for more than 20 years.

"We are proud to offer Canadian families a cough and cold remedy that has been trusted around the world for more than two decades", said Elise Vezina, vice president of Pendopharm, a division of Pharmascience Inc., distributors of Helixia™. "We are sensitive to the challenges in alleviating cold symptoms in children under six as well as in those whose added health conditions limit their treatment possibilities. We are confident that Helixia™ will be a welcome option."

By all indications, the availability of Helixia™ will come as a relief to parents of young children who have struggled to soothe their little ones for the past several years. "As a mother it's torture watching my two year old and five year old cough and sneeze and not be able to give them anything to make them feel better," said Jacynthe Audette.

"I see hundreds of patients every cold season and brace myself for the inevitable question 'What can I take to help me feel better?'" said Dr. Blais. "Until now, the only solutions I could offer for the vast majority of my patients were to rest, drink plenty of fluids, use a humidifier, or to take a smaller dose. With Helixia™, and the scientific studies that support its efficacy, I am comfortable recommending this option to many of my patients who have been virtually left to their own devices for the past few years."

Helixia is available at most pharmacies across the country. For more information, visit www.helixia.com.

About Helixia™

Helixia™ is a portfolio of naturally-sourced cough and cold natural health products.

Helixia™ Cough is used as an expectorant to help relieve coughing and loosen mucus and phlegm. It is made from dried ivy leaf extract, is non-drowsy, tastes like honey (although it contains no honey) and is free of sucrose*, gluten, dyes and alcohol, making it an option for all Canadians, as well as an excellent alternative for both small children and many health-compromised individuals.

Helixia Sinus helps relieve nasal symptoms of a cold, including stuffy nose, runny nose, dry nose and inflamed nose and also helps relieve sinus symptoms associated with acute sinusitis and a cold, including sinus pain and pressure, sinus headache, sinus congestion and runny nose. Helixia™ Sinus contains the medicinal ingredient Cineole (Eucalyptol extract).

About Pendopharm

Pendopharm is a rapidly growing specialty pharmaceutical company that is committed to commercializing a portfolio of specialty prescription (Rx) products as well as an established range of over-the-counter (OTC) and behind-the-counter (BTC) products. Dedicated to growth, it actively engages in licensing, developing and marketing late-stage prescription products as well as consumer brands. Its experienced team of people is dedicated to "going the extra mile" to support the medical community, partners and patients.

Pendopharm is a division of Pharmascience Inc., a Canadian privately-owned company. For more information about Pendopharm and its portfolio of products, visit www.pendopharm.com.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario screening tool helps nurses identify abuse against women

TORONTO, December 4, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 450 nurses and other health-care professionals will take part in a webcast this week to learn how to better identify and deal with signs of abuse/intimate partner violence in female patients. The event will take place in Toronto on Wednesday (December 5) on the eve of Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Participants will be reviewing recommendations contained in a clinical practice guideline titled, Woman Abuse: Screening, Identification and Initial Response Best Practice Guideline, which was developed by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) in 2005 and updated this year.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, one of the nurses who led the work on the guideline and its recent update, says the physical and emotional health consequences of violence are profound and enduring.

"RNAO's guideline provides nurses with evidence-based knowledge and strategies to help break the cycle of violence against women. Nurses are well-positioned to screen for potential abuse. They are accessible, they enjoy a high degree of public trust and work in a variety of settings where they interact with female patients,"

says Fitzgerald, who also sits on RNAO's board of directors and works as a sexual assault nurse at Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.

According to the federal government's latest statistics, out of 100,000 women aged 15 and over, 574 reported being victims of dating or spousal violence. The rate for women is four times greater than it is for men. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was established by parliament in 1991 to mark the anniversary of the Dec. 6, 1989 murder of 14 young women at I'Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal. They were killed because they were women.

The RNAO guideline provides recommendations, strategies, and resources for nurses and other health-care professionals to encourage routine universal screening for all women and girls. The guideline contains a questionnaire to help nurses assess if female patients are suffering from abuse and, if so, how severely. For instance, one question asks if you have been kicked, hit, slapped, or physically hurt by your partner or ex-partner within the past year. Another question asks if you have been raped or forced to have any kind of sexual activity by your partner or ex-partner within the past year.

Among the recommendations laid out in the guideline:

...Routine universal screening should be implemented in all health-care settings for all females, ages 12 and older.

...Nurses should foster an environment that encourages women and girls to open up about abuse.

...Nurses should develop screening strategies that reflect the needs of all women taking into account differences based on culture, race, ethnicity, class, religious/spiritual beliefs, age, and/or sexual orientation.

...Nurses should know their legal obligations when a woman/girl reveals she is or was abused.

...All nursing school curricula should incorporate content on abuse against women.

RNAO's Best Practice Guidelines Program is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide range of health-care settings. The 50 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario's health-care system. They are available to nurses and other health-care professionals across Canada.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses 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 or to learn more about this guideline, visit our website at www.rnao.ca You can also check out our Facebook page at www.rnao.org/facebook and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rnao.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Food Bank Use Hits Record High in Ontario Over 412,000 Ontarians accessing Food Banks every month.

TORONTO, December 3, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new report released today by the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) revealed alarming new data: food bank use in Ontario has hit an all-time high, with over 412,000 Ontarians accessing food support and hunger-relief programs every month.

"The face of hunger is changing," says Bill Laidlaw, Executive Director of the OAFB. "The largest group of food bank users are children, with 160,000 kids accessing food banks monthly. What's more, some of the largest growing groups of food bank users are single parent households, the working poor, senior citizens, university students, and recent graduates."

There are many issues that have contributed to this spike in food bank use, which is up from 395,000 in 2011 and 374,000 during the 2008 recession.

"The challenges we've had in agriculture this year, rising food and living costs, the flooding in Northern Ontario, plant closures and layoffs, and funding cuts to social assistance programs have all played a role in the increased need for food assistance," says Laidlaw.

Details of the report's findings include:

...412,998 individuals, including 159,918 children, accessed Ontario's food banks in March 2012 alone

...174,618 households accessed food banks, this year, for the first time in their lives

...19% of food banks in Ontario do not have adequate supplies to address the growing need in their community

The Ontario Association of Food Banks is continuing to pursue the recommendations for change that it made in its 2011 Hunger Report, including: increased access to affordable healthy food, advocating for a housing benefit for low income individuals, a tax credit for farmers, and a push for the Ontario government to address the root causes of hunger by implementing policy changes that will lead to long-term sustainable solutions, and ultimately make food banks unnecessary.

"Every day there are children going to school without breakfast, adults working through the day without lunch, and seniors going to bed without dinner, simply because they cannot afford food to eat," says Laidlaw. "It is our hope that you will help us by speaking to your local MPPs and asking them to put hunger on the agenda, as well as by supporting your local food bank. In this province, and in this country, hunger and access to healthy food should not be an issue."

The Ontario Hunger Report is a compilation of data collected through the annual HungerCount report of Food Banks Canada. The full report is available online at www.OAFB.ca.

About Ontario Association of Food Banks

The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is a network of 120 food banks and over 1,100 hunger relief programs and agencies across the province. Together, we serve 412,000 individuals, including 160,000 children, every month. The OAFB is committed to reducing hunger through sustainable solutions that ensure the long-term health and success of communities across the province.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Canadian Health Magazine and BestLifeRewarded Announce Collaboration to Incentivize Canadians to Get Engaged in Healthy Activities

TORONTO, November 19, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - BestLifeRewarded® and Canadian Health magazine are pleased to announce their collaboration to drive engagement in healthy living by rewarding Canadians for reading, rating and sharing Canadian Health magazine articles on BestLifeRewarded.com.

Canadian Health magazine is published by CMA Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian Medical Association and has a mandate to provide Canadians with useful health and wellness information. This includes health promotion, disease prevention and disease management to assist Canadians with taking better care of their own health care needs.

BestLifeRewarded.com is an innovative wellness incentive program providing Canadians with the opportunity to earn rewards for engaging in healthy activities. It is the first program to address wellness while "incentivizing" people to take small steps toward healthier living. BestLifeRewarded members collect points for reporting about their healthy activities, learning more about their health, participating in assessments and for using tracking tools. Points earned can be redeemed for 200+ reward items.

Steve Ball, Vice-President of the CMA Media and Publisher of Canadian Health magazine said,

"We are excited about the opportunity to reward Canadians for reading and sharing Canadian Health articles. We are collaborating with the BestLifeRewarded team to expand our digital presence while advancing personal ownership for health. It's a real win-win opportunity."

"Canadian Health magazine is the leading consumer health publication in Canada.", said Susanne Cookson, co-founder of Cookson James Loyalty Inc. "We are thrilled to partner with Canadian Health magazine to drive awareness about the key health issues facing Canadians today. The quality of Canadian Health magazine articles is unparalleled and we love the practical tips that support the busy lifestyles of BestLifeRewarded members."

Visit www.canadian-health.ca or www.BestLifeRewarded.com ("Feature" section) today to read the latest articles and earn healthy rewards for a healthier you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ornge Improves Patient Relations Process

TORONTO, November 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ornge, Ontario's provider of air ambulance and related services, is introducing new measures to better connect with its patients.

"Patients are at the centre of everything we do at Ornge, and we are committed to communicating with them openly and transparently," said Ron McKerlie, Interim President and CEO of Ornge. "If our service does not meet a patient's expectations, they will have a way to express their concerns and to receive a response."

The improvements include a more accessible patient relations section on the Ornge website and a streamlined complaints process that is easier for patients and their families to navigate, including:

...Acknowledging inquiries within 1-2 business days
...Providing a timeline and contact information to patients
...Contacting the patient with the findings to provide clarification and resolution

If a patient or family member has concerns, questions or general feedback about a transport, they can visit the new patients' section of the website to find details of our patient relations process. They can also contact Denise Polgar, Ornge's recently appointed Patient Advocate, who acts as a liaison with patients and families, helps resolve concerns about patient care and service, and advocates for operational improvements based on the Ornge Declaration of Patient Values. The new section of the website also includes results of Ornge's patient satisfaction surveys.

Ornge takes concerns about the transport experience seriously and welcomes the opportunity to work with families to address complaints and to resolve issues. Every complaint about patient care and service delivered by Ornge is shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, which can launch an independent investigation.

These measures build on recent improvements to enhance the quality of service for Ontario patients. In September, Ornge was granted clearance from the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority to fly its helicopters into U.S. airspace. Ornge also recently announced a new scheduled flight service for advanced care patients in the Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie corridor and introduced a new conflict of interest policy.

ABOUT ORNGE

Ornge, a not-for-profit organization, coordinates all aspects of Ontario's air ambulance system, the critical care land transport program, paediatric transport program and the authorization of air and land ambulance transfers between hospitals.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Health Council of Canada weighs in on drug safety in Canada

OTTAWA, November 7, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today the Health Council of Canada is appearing before the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to make recommendations on the post-approval monitoring of prescription pharmaceuticals in Canada.

Health Council representatives include Dr. Ingrid Sketris, Councillor and pharmacist, and John G. Abbott, CEO.

"We're pleased to see the Senate Committee tackle this important issue" said Abbott. "We hope our input can contribute to a better understanding of the need for improved vigilance to protect Canadians once medications are in the marketplace."

The committee will be discussing issues such as (but not limited to) the process to approve prescription drugs, the post-approval monitoring of these drugs, and unintended consequences or adverse reactions associated with prescription drugs. In 2010, the Health Council issued a discussion paper on drug safety called, Keeping an Eye on Prescription Drugs: Keeping Canadians Safe. The paper showed that the number of people exposed to unsafe drugs has been increasing, and that Canadians are often not aware of the risks associated with certain prescription drugs.

"Because drugs are approved based on pre-marketing clinical trials with selected populations and relatively short durations, it is extremely important to continue monitoring to determine the benefit/risk balance after a drug becomes available for sale," said Sketris. "We need to develop a better, more efficient and open way to ensure better patient safety."

The Health Council's paper found that Health Canada has limited authority to deal with post market safety issues. They cannot require companies to conduct post market studies after the product has been approved unless significant new safety issues have been identified. And although they have the authority to order drugs to be withdrawn from the market, they rarely exercise this power or tend to do so slowly. Recent media reports show this to be a continuing issue.

The Health Council paper made a number of recommendations to improve post-market monitoring of drugs in Canada. These will be the subject of discussion at today's senate hearing.

About the Health Council of Canada

Created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal, the Health Council of Canada is an independent national agency that reports on the progress of health care renewal. The Council provides a system-wide perspective on health care reform in Canada, and disseminates information on leading practices and innovation across the country. The Councillors are appointed by the participating provincial and territorial governments and the Government of Canada.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Telecom complaints rise 35 per cent in 2011-2012

Wireless services topped the list of complaints for fourth straight year

OTTAWA, October 25, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canada's Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) reports an increase in telecom consumer complaints in its 2011-2012 Annual Report "We Listen. We Help." "Nearly 11 thousand consumer complaints were filed with us. That represents an increase of 35 per cent over last year," said Commissioner Howard Maker.

For the fourth consecutive year, wireless services topped the list of complaints.

"Once again, we've seen an increase in complaints about wireless services," said Commissioner Maker. "This year 60 per cent of the issues raised in complaints came from wireless service users. Of all the complaints we received, most were related to billing errors or contract disputes."

Billing problems accounted for almost 51 per cent of all the issues raised in complaints. Among the most frequent types of billing complaints were errors regarding customers' monthly plans, issues related to the 30-day notice for cancellation and premium text messaging charges.

Second to billing errors were contract disputes. They accounted for over 27 per cent of all the issues raised in complaints. CCTS often heard from customers who complained they were charged early termination fees and from those who alleged that they were signed up to contracts by their service provider without their consent.

The annual report notes that 90 per cent of the complaints CCTS dealt with were resolved to the customers' satisfaction. It also highlights the large number of complaints that could have been avoided with a little extra diligence on the part of the service provider. In addition, it addresses the Commissioner's view that many of the complaints should have been resolved by the service provider at an early stage, avoiding the need for customer escalation to CCTS.

"We are calling on service providers to increase their level of cooperation with CCTS," said Commissioner Maker. "In particular, we urge service providers to provide more timely and thorough responses to customer complaints filed with CCTS."

Despite processing 10,878 complaints, CCTS was required to issue only 55 Recommendations and 11 Decisions in 2011-12.

"Our focus has been on resolving complaints at the initial stages and this process has really received buy-in from both consumers and providers," said Commissioner Maker.

Since CCTS was established in 2007, it has experienced an impressive growth rate in the number of participating service providers. In its first year, CCTS handled customer complaints for 16 telecommunications service providers. In 2011-2012, CCTS offered its complaint-handling services to customers of 178 service providers and brands across Canada.

In 2011-2012, CCTS put in place a new case management system allowing for more detailed information to be collected and analyzed.

"We are pleased to produce enhanced statistical reporting," said Commissioner Maker. "The highlight is the in-depth statistical detail about the nature of the complaints. We are also providing increased detail about other aspects of our operations, with a view to added transparency and value for customers and service providers."

The 2011-2011 CCTS Annual Report - "We Listen. We help." can be downloaded here: www.ccts-cprst.ca/documents/annual-reports/2011-2012

About the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS) CCTS is an independent organization dedicated to working with consumer and small business customers and participating Canadian telecommunication service providers to resolve complaints relating to most deregulated retail telecommunications services. Since July 2007, CCTS has provided consumers with an independent mechanism for resolution of complaints about deregulated local and long distance telephone services, as well as wireless service and internet access. This includes billing errors, compliance with contract terms and commitments, service delivery, credit management and collections issues. www.ccts-cprst.ca

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

University of Guelph’s Mars Research In the News

GUELPH Ontario October 23, 2012 - University of Guelph In the News

University of Guelph physics professors and researchers are making headlines again with their research on the Red Planet.

The work by professors Ralf Gellert and Iain Campbell and research associate Nick Boyd was featured on Global National news Monday night during the station’s live broadcast from the University of Guelph. (Watch the video here; scroll to 20:50 in newscast).

Global also issued an online news story about the Mars research.

In addition, Boyd, the operations lead for the mission, is featured today in Metro, a Toronto daily newspaper. The Picton native is a Guelph physics grad, a research associate in the department, and is finishing a master’s degree in the School of Engineering.

Gellert, Campbell and Boyd are part of an international group of scientists that developed the new alpha particle X-ray spectrometer (APXS) that is mounted on the arm of Curiosity, a minivan-sized rover that is roaming around Mars.

The APXS is Canada’s contribution to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission. About the size of a soda pop can, it will measure exactly which chemical elements — and how much of each type — are in Martian rock or soil. Scientists hope it will tell us about changes in soil and rock on Mars, and provide clues about the planet’s suitability for life.

During the mission, the Guelph team will support the APXS operations and send instructions for operating the device on the rover. The team will work in a specially equipped room in the MacNaughton Building.

Gellert headed the international team that developed the APXS. Since 2005, he has been the lead scientist for the APXS systems that were mounted on NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) that landed on the red planet in 2004 and later detected evidence of water.

Besides Gellert, Campbell and Boyd the team includes graduate students Glynis Perrett and Scott van Bommel, and post-doc Irina Pradler.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Health Perils in Paradise?

No. 1 in a series of handy travel tips from Medicine.net

Some of the world's most spectacular destinations are also home to some of the world's nastiest bugs. Yellow fever, malaria, and even polio can strike international travelers. Protect yourself by learning which vaccines or health precautions are advised for your destination. To give vaccines time to take effect, see your doctor or travel clinic four to six weeks before your trip.

Polio Booster

If you're planning an African safari, you may need a polio booster. This debilitating disease is still active in many parts of Africa and Asia. The germs can be spread through food, water, and contact with an infected person. Even if you received a polio vaccine as a child, you may need a booster to make sure you're protected against all three types of the virus.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

Along the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls attracts visitors from all over the world. Unfortunately, it also attracts mosquitoes that carry the yellow fever virus. Yellow fever occurs in parts of South and Central America, as well as tropical Africa, and it can be life-threatening. Vaccination is required to visit certain countries, with a booster shot needed after 10 years. Avoiding mosquito bites is important, too.

Malaria Precautions

Malaria is a life-threatening disease carried by mosquitoes. It is most common in sub-Saharan Africa, but also occurs in parts of South Asia and South America. Travelers should ask their doctor about the pros and cons of preventive antimalarial medications. Other strategies include using mosquito repellents (30% - 50% DEET for adults), wearing long sleeves and pants outdoors, and sleeping under insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

Bedbug Detection

Bedbugs are not choosy about their accommodations -- they check into hostels and five-star resorts across the globe. They cause itchy red bites on the face, neck, arms, hands, or other body parts -- but these marks can take up to 14 days to appear. To detect an infestation more quickly, look for tiny bugs in the folds of mattresses or sheets, rust-colored spots on the mattress, and a sweet musty odor.

Water Purification

"Don't drink the water" may be a mantra of international travelers, but there are actually several ways to make local water safe. The most reliable method is to boil it vigorously for a minute. When this isn't possible, you can disinfect water with iodine tablets, but this may not kill all types of parasites. You can also use a portable water filter. If you choose to buy bottled water, make sure the bottles come from a trusted source.

Dehydration Precautions

Adventures in extremely hot and humid climates can put travelers at risk for dehydration. The risk is even greater if you develop traveler's diarrhea. Signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, dry mucous membranes, and urinating less. Sports drinks can help you stay hydrated if you're well, but they are not suitable when you have diarrhea. In that case, you should sip an oral rehydration solution.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cutting through the breast cancer confusion

Canadian Cancer Society finds majority of Ontario women
are still confused about breast cancer screening: Ipsos Reid poll

TORONTO, October 3, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A recent Canadian Cancer Society Ipsos Reid poll found that the majority of Ontario women are confused about what age they should start screening for breast cancer and the best way to get screened.

Of the women surveyed, nearly half (46%) didn't know that mammograms are the best way to check for breast cancer. While 68% of women didn't know that the recommended age to get screened is 50 to 69.

"The results are alarming because there's so much being done to raise awareness," says Rowena Pinto, Vice President, Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. "Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, so not only do we want to bring attention to this critical issue, we want to empower women and stop the confusion."

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the Society is urging women 50 to 69 to get a mammogram every two years. Regular mammography is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early when it's most treatable - it can find a lump that's about the size of an apple seed.

Interestingly, 84% of the women polled in the recommended age group for screening (50 to 69) said that nothing would prevent them from going for a mammogram.

"Knowing that fear or lack of time isn't what's stopping women from getting screened is great news," says Pinto. "That's why we're urging women 50 to 69 to talk to their doctor or contact the Ontario Breast Screening Program to book their mammogram. If more women know when and how to get screened for breast cancer, more lives will be saved."

Women under 50 who have concerns about their breast health should talk to their doctor.

In 2012, in Ontario, an estimated 9,100 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and an estimated 2,000 women will die from it.

Currently in Ontario, 66.8% of women are getting screened for breast cancer. The Canadian Breast Cancer Screening Initiative aims to reach 70%, and the Society hopes to exceed that goal.

Women looking for trustworthy information about breast health or other support services can call the Canadian Cancer Society's confidential Cancer Information Service (1 888 939-3333) and speak to a trained cancer information specialist. The specialist can also provide information about the Society's following services:

...a volunteer-provided transportation program that helps patients get to and from their cancer-related treatment appointments when they have no way of getting there on their own

...an over-the-phone and in-person support program that connects patients and caregivers with trained volunteers who've had cancer or cared for someone with cancer

...an online community (CancerConnection.ca) for patients, survivors and caregivers where they can share support, ideas and advice

...a self-management program for cancer survivors and caregivers that empowers them to acquire the tools they need to make the best of their lives while living with and beyond cancer

...referrals to cancer services in communities throughout Canada

To access information around the clock about breast cancer or the Society's support services, visit www.cancer.ca

Other findings from the poll conducted by Ipsos Reid among Ontario women ages 18 to 69:

...54% believe that a mammogram is the best way to check for breast cancer
...34% believe checking one's own breast is the best way to check for breast cancer
...42% believe that the recommended age for breast cancer screening is between the age of 40 to 49.
...Only 6% of women say that fear prevents them from getting screened

How women can get screened in Ontario

In Ontario, there are two ways of getting a mammogram. The Society recommends that women 50 to 69 can get a referral from their healthcare professional, or call the Ontario Breast Screening Program at 1 800 668-9304 to make an appointment.

Canadian Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines

Whatever your age, you should know what is normal for your breasts. Many women are alive and well today because their breast cancer was detected and treated early.

It's important to know that no screening test for cancer is 100% accurate. For example, a screening test can sometimes show cancer when there isn't, or not show cancer when there is. But overall, screening mammography is the most reliable method of finding breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening guidelines

If you are: 40 to 49 You should talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer, along with the benefits and risks of mammography.

If you are: 50 to 69 You should have a mammogram every 2 years.

Innovative New Defibrillator Offers Alternative for Regulating Heart beat

OTTAWA, October 3, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new ground-breaking technology was recently used at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) where two cardiologists, Dr. David Birnie and Dr. Pablo Nery, implanted a new innovative leadless defibrillator, the subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD), to an 18 year-old patient. Under Health Canada's special access program, this was only the third time this new type of ICD had been implanted in Canada.

Conventional defibrillators, known as transvenous defibrillators, are implanted with wires, called the leads, that snake through veins into the heart. When the defibrillator identifies any dangerous heartbeat, it delivers a shock through the wires to return the heart to its normal rhythm and allows it to get back to pumping blood steadily throughout the body.

Not all patients are suitable for a conventional defibrillator. In some with congenital heart problems, there is no way to advance the leads into the heart through the veins. Also, those wires may pose a danger due to the risk of blood clots or infection. Patients often have to undergo a more complex and invasive surgery to attach the leads to the outer layer of the heart muscle in order to benefit from the use of a defibrillator.

Conventional ICDs use leads that run from the device through major veins to an anchor point in the heart. These transvenous leads can cause problems in the long term. Despite decades of design improvements, leads can malfunction, break or stop working. Known as lead failure, this results in either inappropriate shocks or lack of proper regulation of the heartbeat. What's worse is that failed leads often must be removed, which poses serious risks to the patient.

What makes the new device special is that it is entirely subcutaneous. No part of it actually touches the heart. Instead, an electrode is implanted just under the skin near the heart. The defibrillator is connected to the electrode, and monitors the heartbeat at all times. If needed, it delivers a shock to the heart muscle to restore its normal rhythm.

The goal of the subcutaneous ICD is to potentially reduce or eliminate these problems.

"The subcutaneous ICD provides effective therapy for patients who are either not eligible for or are at high risk with a traditional ICD. Such patients may now be able to receive protection from a subcutaneous ICD without the risks associated with the standard leads," explained Dr. Nery.

That made the 18-year-old recipient of the S-ICD at the Heart Institute a perfect candidate.

"The S-ICD offers advantages for particular patient sub-groups," said Dr. Nery. "This technology is now an alternative for young patients, in part because lead extraction can be avoided down the road."

Another advantage is more aesthetic in nature but, nonetheless, important for young people. A conventional transvenous defibrillator sits on the front on the chest, just under the collarbone, and is easy to see. The S-ICD, in comparison, is implanted to the side, under the patient's arm, and with a much smaller incision than with the transvenous defibrillator. That, said Dr. Nery, is an important consideration for many patients in terms of body image and quality of life.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Affordable Housing a Growing But Invisible Problem: World Habitat Day Survey

photo credit: Imagine Canada via Flickr

TORONTO, October 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, on World Habitat Day, Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council released survey results showing that while 64 percent of Canadians believe housing will be less affordable in the future, few feel affordable housing is a problem in their community.

According to Brett Marchand, National Leadership Council Chair, these results highlight the fact that although Canadians see the warning signs, few appreciate the extent of housing need across the country.

"When housing costs are unmanageable, families are forced to make impossible choices to get by, such as whether they can afford to feed their children breakfast before school or keep the heat on at night," said Marchand. "A lack of affordable housing also restricts low-income families' ability to break the cycle of poverty, which increases the likelihood of long-term reliance on social services."

Affordable housing is defined as a situation where housing costs - rent or mortgage payments and property taxes, and electricity, water, fuel and other municipal services - amount to less than 30 percent of a household's total before-tax income1. The survey found that households in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario were most at risk of exceeding this limit - provinces where Habitat for Humanity expects to cumulatively build upwards of 180 homes this year.

Across Canada, Habitat for Humanity Canada has achieved significant milestones this year. In addition to it shaping up to be a record-breaking year when it comes to the number of affordable homes built nationwide, one of these projects was the organization's first on First Nations settlement land. As part of a five-year goal, the organization is determined to build 1,800 homes by 2016 - the same number it originally took 25 years to achieve.

Among the survey's other findings:

...35 per cent of Canadians bought fewer groceries due to sky-high housing costs - a figure that jumps to 46 percent in the Atlantic provinces.

...More than 1 in 4 Canadians have put off paying bills in order to make rent.

...84 per cent of Canadians believe that the government should do more to address the issue of affordable housing.

"It's important that Canadians understand that housing must stay affordable," Marchand continued. "We can't afford to believe that it's someone else's problem. The problem exists all around us, in every city and in every neighbourhood. Sometimes, it's right next door."

About Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council

Habitat for Humanity Canada's National Leadership Council is a group of influential Canadians brought together by their belief that safe, decent, affordable housing is key to building stronger communities and therefore a stronger Canada. Together they are working to raise the profile of the affordable housing issue by acting as Habitat ambassadors locally and globally.

Habitat for Humanity Canada welcomes these new members to the National Leadership Council:

...Dave Tuccaro, President, Tuccaro Inc. Group of Companies

...Dave Perkins, President & CEO, Molson Coors Canada

...Vi Konkle, President & CEO, The Brick Group

...Avi Kahn, President & General Manager, Hilti (Canada) Corporation

A full list of Council members can be viewed at habitat.ca/showyoursupport.

About Habitat for Humanity Canada

Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, non-profit organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 50,000 volunteers every year and 69 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to break the cycle of poverty in Canada and around the world. For more information on Habitat for Humanity Canada, please visit www.habitat.ca.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Important Food Safety Information for Canadians

TORONTO, September 28, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canada Beef Inc. wants to remind Canadians of some helpful tips to enjoy Canadian beef. There are important ways consumers can safeguard their health through proper hygiene, effective food preparation, and thorough cooking of ground meats.

"As the organization proudly representing Canada's 83,000 beef farming families, we wanted to share this information to ensure all Canadian families, can continue to enjoy Canadian beef and all food products safely," says Rob Meijer, President, Canada Beef Inc. "The industry is committed to food safety and we continue to look at new and better ways to educate our partners in retail and the foodservice sectors, as well as consumers, about how they can better protect themselves through safe food handling."

Canada has an excellent track record in food safety. Canadian meat processors have developed internationally recognized systems known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plans to control E.coli O157:H7 and other foodborne bacteria. These plans identify potential food safety hazards and monitor the most important production steps (critical points) to ensure these hazards are controlled before the product is sent to market. This recall is showing the system works.

It is important to remember E.coli 0157:H7 can be present in raw meat, poultry, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw greens and vegetables.

Here are some helpful tips for consumers:

... Cook meat to a safe internal temperature. For ground beef it's 71C/160F - use a digital instant read thermometer to know for sure. For detailed cooking instructions for each cut of Canadian beef

... Wash hands before and after handling food and frequently while cooking, especially after handling raw meat and poultry

... Avoid cross contamination of food by washing utensils, plates and cutting boards that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry, in hot, soapy water.

... Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before you prepare and eat them.

... Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.

... When grocery shopping, add meats and other items that should stay cool, to your cart last and be sure to keep them separate from other items in the cart

Canada Beef Inc. is a proud partner with the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education in communicating safe food handling practices for Canadians and their families. Consumers can visit the Partnership's Be Food Safe website for detailed Cook, Clean, Separate and Chill lessons.

For more information on Canada Beef Inc. visit www.canadabeef.ca

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grandmother Walks to Ottawa over Cell Tower Battle

LONDON, Ontario, September 27, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Fifty-seven-year-old Wendy Hoy will arrive in London today, after walking the first 100 kilometres of her province-wide march for Canadians who are concerned about the effects of radiation, including cell towers near their homes.

"Cell towers are a perfect example of involuntary exposure to microwave radiation, and you cannot object if a company puts one up beside your house," said Hoy.

She was ignored after opposing a new cell tower in her neighbourhood in Port Franks, near Sarnia, even though more than 50% of the town signed a petition against it.

"We're helpless. Bell Canada has more power than our municipal council," she said, pointing out that the council was trying to set up a "tower-free zone".

Hoy is speaking out on behalf of Canadians who are sensitive to microwave radiation and cannot live near a cell tower.

Last year the World Health Organization placed radiofrequency radiation from cell towers, cell phones and WiFi on a list of "possible carcinogens." The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for stricter safety limits for microwave radiation due to its potential harm to children. Hoy is walking 800 km from her home in Port Franks to Parliament.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ontario's top professional nursing organization asks Health Minister to reject sale of Shouldice Hospital to for-profit U.S. conglomerate

TORONTO, September 24, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario's top professional nursing organization is calling on the Health Minister to reject the proposed sale of Shouldice Hospital to a large for-profit conglomerate.

Members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) have consistently called on governments of all political stripes to affirm their commitment to the Canada Health Act and the fundamental principle of a single-tier, not-for-profit health-care system.

That's why RNAO is asking its members to write to Health Minister Deb Matthews to block the proposed sale of Shouldice Hospital, which is based in Thornhill. Centric Health, a rapidly growing health products company, recently announced its intention to purchase the hospital, well-known for the treatment of hernias. Centric is controlled by U.S.-based Global Healthcare Investments and Solutions (GHIS), one of the largest private, for-profit health-care companies in the world.

Shouldice Hospital is family-founded and operated and predates the Canada Health Act. That's why it was "grand-parented" when the act came into effect in 1984 but subject to the understanding that clinics and hospitals in Ontario must be publicly-funded and not-for-profit.

RNAO's Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun says more than 1,000 nurses have already written letters protesting the sale.

"Ontarians do not need care that cuts corners to maximize returns for shareholders or companies that provide faster access for those who can afford it while leaving others behind in the queue. This is not only wrong; it is totally unconscionable and unacceptable."

"The Minister has made it clear she wants to shift more procedures out of hospital and into not-for-profit community-based clinics. This principle is outlined in the government's Action Plan for Health Care," says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO, adding that "now is the Minister's time to put words into action."

Seidman-Carlson says there are examples of non-profit community clinics such as Toronto's Kensington Eye Institute, which provides high-quality eye care through Ontario's Health Insurance Plan.

"We urge the Minister to block this sale and commit to the delivery of health services on a not-for-profit basis."

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses 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, check out their website at www.RNAO.ca. Become a friend on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hospital CEO cap a big win for front-line healthcare workers

TORONTO, September 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - After years of calling for caps to outrageous hospital CEO pay, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada commends the Government of Ontario for standing up for front-line healthcare workers.

Yesterday, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan proposed legislation to cap the pay of public-sector executives. The measure would affect such employees as hospital, university and electricity utility chief executive officers, many of whom make more than $1 million a year.

Duncan said Thursday the minority Liberal government will limit public sector executives to twice the premier's $208,974 salary — or $418,000 annually — and scrap bonuses for two years. There were about 150 executives in the civil service and broader public sector who made more than $418,000 last year, mainly in hospital administration.

"Frontline healthcare workers welcome the move to cap runaway CEO pay," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada, which represents more than 50,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario and is the fastest growing labour organization in North America. "It is vital that these savings from capping executive pay and bonuses be invested in quality healthcare, and in providing relief for overstretched frontline staff."

For more than two years, SEIU Local 1 Canada has been pressuring the Ontario government to put an end to soaring hospital CEO salaries and bonuses in the face of vocal opposition from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), hospital boards, and hospital executives themselves. SEIU had been calling on Ontario to follow the example of other provinces by stepping in to directly set compensation for executives at publicly-funded hospitals, starting with a salary cap.

"This is a tremendous victory for the workers our union represents, and for the quality of our healthcare system," said Stewart. "We're pleased that the McGuinty government has finally heeded our calls to bring some accountability to public spending on healthcare bosses. It's unconscionable to target front-line healthcare workers while allowing double-digit increases in the pay of executives and managers who pocket 40 times what the average caregiver takes home."

Stewart said that instead of unfairly placing much of the burden of reducing the deficit on front-line staff like paramedics and registered practical nurses, the savings realized from capping hospital executive and senior management salaries should be invested in preventive initiatives like mother and baby programs and community-based care, and in supporting front-line workers caring for people.

She says she remains deeply concerned that Premier McGuinty plans to target other front-line staff like paramedics and firefighters, going beyond Ontario's elementary and secondary public school teachers, by imposing contracts through legislation.

"Not only does such legislation undermine the constitutionally-protected right to free association and the democratic process of collective bargaining, it unfairly puts the onus on front-line workers to bear the professional and personal costs of an economic crisis they did not cause," Stewart said. "Now that he's reigning in spending on hospital executive pay, the Premier should get serious about targeting corporations to pay their fair share to help reduce the deficit."

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada represents more than 50,000 healthcare and community services workers in Ontario. SEIU members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province. SEIU Local 1 Canada has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, as well as strengthening standards in patient and client care.

SOURCE: Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arthritis Prevention and Care Should be an Urgent National Priority says Nationwide Coalition of Patients, Physicians and Partners

Arthritis Alliance of Canada Launches
Framework for Improved Policies and Practices

CALGARY, September 18, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A nationwide coalition of more than thirty groups including patients, health care providers, researchers, care organizations and industry partners today called upon Canadians to designate improved arthritis prevention and care as an urgent national priority. The Arthritis Alliance of Canada (AAC) outlined a plan to address this critical issue facing the country today in Joint Action on Arthritis: A Framework to Improve Arthritis Prevention and Care in Canada, a plan that prioritizes areas of focus that will have the greatest impact on those living with arthritis.

"One in eight Canadians currently lives with some form of arthritis and, within our lifetimes, that number will rise to one in four," said Dr. Dianne Mosher, President, Arthritis Alliance of Canada. "We need to make improved prevention and care of arthritis an urgent national priority on behalf of the 4.6 million Canadians living with this chronic disease. Our new Framework speaks with the loud voice of nearly three dozen experts and involved groups nationwide, offering a clear vision that will deliver results, improve clinical practice, and foster improved collaboration."

The AAC Framework advocates a three-pillar approach to deliver better outcomes for those living with arthritis and reduce the burden of the disease on Canada's healthcare system and the economy:

...Advancing knowledge and awareness - to dispel the myth that nothing can be done to curb arthritis, to improve understanding of the disease, and to enhance and focus research funding on improving prevention and the delivery of arthritis care to Canadians - all the while expanding professional education for healthcare professionals.

...Improving prevention and care - to create the conditions for earlier detection, diagnosis and intervention, to improve access and delivery of care and to encourage understanding of risk factors for arthritis.

...Supporting ongoing stakeholder collaboration - to bring together and better focus the efforts and activities of the arthritis community.

"By establishing improved arthritis prevention and care as an urgent national priority, we can lessen the toll it takes today and tomorrow on the lives of Canadians in every corner and community in our country," said Janet Yale, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society, a member organization of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada. "There is an important and necessary role for all to play in this effort - from patients to health care providers, from government to industry. Our Framework sets the goals and creates the conditions for a great national undertaking that can succeed."

Today's launch builds on last year's release of The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and Over the Next 30 Years report. The Impact Report revealed that arthritis costs the Canadian economy $33.2 billion a year both directly and indirectly in health care costs and lost productivity. Today's launch brings together patients, health care professionals, industry partners, researchers, and institutions, who will work together with government to implement the Framework's initial priorities and outlined actions.

"The Impact Report highlighted the urgency for addressing the increasing burden arthritis plays and will play in years to come. If we do nothing, arthritis will cripple our economy and our healthcare system," said Dr. Claire Bombardier, Co-Scientific Director, Canadian Arthritis Network, and a member of the AAC Executive Committee. "The Framework gives all of us a chance to put a targeted, measurable plan in place that gives us the best shot at alleviating the burden of the disease over the long term."

Arthritis in Canada

Arthritis affects 4.6 million Canadians, and within a generation, more than 10 million (one in four) Canadians are expected to have either osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritis can strike anyone at any time, regardless of age, physical condition or ethnic background and among all causes of disability in Canada, arthritis ranks first among women and second among men.

...There are currently more than 4.4 million people living with OA, and more than 272,000 people living with RA in Canada.

...There will be a new diagnosis of OA every 60 seconds, resulting in almost 30 per cent of the employed labour force having difficulty working due to OA.

...Approximately 1 in 136 workers is suffering from RA. Within a generation, this will increase to 1 in 68 workers.

About the Arthritis Alliance of Canada

The Arthritis Alliance of Canada was formed in 2002 as the Alliance for the Canadian Arthritis Program (ACAP). Its goal is to improve the lives of Canadians living with arthritis by working toward improved access to care and treatment, broadened education of the arthritis community and public and health policy makers, as well as increased arthritis research.

The Alliance includes more than 34 member organizations from across Canada, bringing together arthritis consumers and consumer organizations, arthritis health care professionals, researchers, funding agencies, governments, voluntary sector agencies and industry. While each member organization continues its own work, the Alliance provides a central focus for national arthritis-related initiatives.

To download a copy of the Framework, please visit www.arthritisalliance.ca.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baycrest dementia doctor creates activity book for children

TORONTO, September 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A behavioural neurologist at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto has teamed up with an expert in Montessori Methods for Dementia™ to produce an activity book to help young children cope with the devastating condition of early-onset dementia in a parent.

The book engages children, ages five to nine, to follow clues to understanding frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), an early-onset dementia that can strike adults as early as their 50s while they are still working and raising young children. The disease doesn't affect memory at first, but attacks the brain's frontal lobes which are associated with personality traits and language control. An individual with FTD will begin to display odd and disruptive behaviours and become a different person as the condition progressively worsens -which can scare and alarm young children.

Dr. Tiffany Chow, an expert in diagnosing and treating early-onset dementias in the Ross Memory Clinic at Baycrest Health Sciences, saw the need for this educational resource after meeting with patients at family meetings to discuss treatment and planning for FTD and being surprised by how young the patients' children were.

Dr. Chow joined forces with Gail Elliot, a gerontologist and dementia specialist with DementiAbility Enterprises, Inc., and Atomic Orange Productions (a service provider of interactive toys and games), to create the activity book. The principal cartoon characters are Frank and Tess Detectives - clever names that have the acronym FTD. The book can be downloaded for free from Baycrest Health Sciences' website

"I think children, regardless of age, are distressed by illness in a parent, but with FTD there are completely foreign behaviours or personality changes," said Dr. Chow, a senior scientist and clinician.

"Children can worry that FTD is contagious and that they're going to lose both parents. They also worry they are going to get it, so we need to educate them as quickly as we can with age-appropriate information. Our activity book empowers young caregivers to find positive ways to adapt to their new situation, understand what is causing their parent's peculiar behaviour, and learn simple ways to be helpful to both parents during a very challenging time."

In the activity book, big brother Frank engages his younger sister Tess to play a detective game that will explore how FTD affects the front regions of the brain which handle talking, emotions and behaviours. There are colouring and puzzle activities, such as sequencing tasks and picture searches, which the child and parent with FTD can do together. Each activity has an underlying learning component that teaches the child in a gentle way how FTD is responsible for the changes they are seeing in the affected parent.

"It's important for children to understand there are still things they can do with their mom or dad, regardless of their parent's cognitive status," said Elliot, who is currently training Baycrest frontline care staff to incorporate Montessori methods with clients who are exhibiting challenging behaviours related to dementia. "Children just need to learn new ways of communicating with their parent who has FTD. For example, instead of asking their parent an open-ended question about what the parent would like for dinner, which may be too challenging for the parent to answer, the child could offer the parent two dinner choices."

In Canada there are 500,000 Canadians living with some form of dementia. FTD, while not as prevalent as Alzheimer's disease, represents a majority of early-onset dementia cases.

Dr. Chow says plans are underway to develop similar activity books for children who have a grandparent with Alzheimer's disease. Funding for the FTD activity book was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Baycrest Alternative Funding Plan Innovation Grants.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Canadians Rally in Support of Suicide Prevention

OTTAWA, September 8, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is the leading cause of injury related fatality in Canada. In 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians under the age of 75 as a result of suicides, and it is estimated that well over 3,000,000 Canadians have been touched by suicide in some way. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death.

This year, communities across Canada will be gathering to remember family and friends who died when despair overcame hope, and to support those who grieve, help those who struggle with living and renew a commitment to building a compassionate and caring society. Scheduled events across the country include memorial walks and runs, remembrance gatherings, candle light vigils, and informational workshops.

In keeping with the theme for this year's World Suicide Prevention Day in Canada, "All Together - Promoting Hope and Resiliency," the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychological Association and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) stress the importance of bringing people and groups together to promote a collaborative approach to suicide prevention.

The organizations note that there has been a very positive and significant shift in national attention devoted to this important public health issue. In addition to a growing number of courageous testimonials on the effect of suicide on people, families and communities, this past year saw Parliament for the first time become actively engaged in a serious discussion of suicide prevention. A private member's bill to establish a national framework on suicide prevention was introduced by the Hon. Harold Albrecht (Bill C300) and received overwhelming bi-partisan support. It is expected to be passed in the upcoming session of Parliament.

At the same time, organizations and individuals are increasingly recognizing the importance of addressing the issue of suicide across systems, across disciplines and across jurisdictions. Last May, people from across the country met in Ottawa to discuss the creation of a National Collaborative for Suicide Prevention, and there are renewed efforts underway to develop a Canadian Distress Line Network. It is estimated that 90% of people who die by suicide were experiencing a mental health problem or illness, and the release of Canada's first-ever mental health strategy in May provides an opportunity for improving the ability of the mental health system to help to prevent suicide.

Resources that contribute to suicide prevention by helping people believe in the possibility of building a life of dignity, purpose, and hope are increasingly being made available. These include a series of new resources produced by CASP in partnership with Klinic Community Centre in Winnipeg ("Hope and Healing at Work" and "Hope and Healing at Home") which will be launched on September 10th. These and other resources are available on CASP's website www.suicideprevention.ca.

Friday, September 7, 2012

25,000 clinicians to have easier access to vital patient information

Benefits Canadians who receive care in hospital outpatient clinics

TORONTO, September 7, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Improving the patient experience through increased quality of care and efficiencies is the aim of recent investments in Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for outpatient clinics, announced Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.

"Giving those who work in busy specialty clinics easier and secure access to patient information gathered from inside and outside the clinic improves care," said Alvarez. "New investments in enhanced electronic medical record systems are helping to make this a reality for 25,000 health care providers across Canada."

Canada Health Infoway, along with the provinces, territories, and health care organizations, are investing in 19 ambulatory (outpatient) EMR projects across Canada, each with the goal of providing authorized clinicians with tools to support activities such as electronic note-taking, review of patient data from previous visits, clinical decision support, ordering of tests and viewing test results.

Almost half of Canadian adults (44 per cent) say that they consulted with a medical specialist in the last year, and many of these visits took place in hospital outpatient clinics. While more than a third of those who had a specialist appointment (37 per cent) say that their specialists always knew important information about their medical history, many report information gaps. EMR systems aim to address this issue. For example, they may enable authorized health providers from different settings to exchange information about a patient's previous care, to quickly access clinical test results, or to see a patient's complete medication history.

"Outpatient care is on the rise in Canada and many patients receive care in more than one place, so it's essential that we streamline how health professionals at outpatient clinics access and use information," added Alvarez. "Less time spent chasing down information means more time that can be spent with patients."

This initiative is part of a $380 million federal investment made in 2010 which has resulted in increased use of EMR systems across Canada.

About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Risky retreats: Canadians more likely to travel without travel insurance

One in three Canadians say travel insurance is an unnecessary expense according to American Express study

MARKHAM, Ontario, Sept. 5, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Most Canadians would never question the need for car insurance, but many are willing to take the risk of travelling uninsured, according to new survey results released today by American Express Canada. The results reveal that over half of those Canadians surveyed are planning to travel in the next six months; however, only 59 per cent will purchase travel insurance prior to taking off on their next trip. This number isn't surprising considering that 30 per cent of Canadians and 42 per cent of those 18 to 34 admit that they have never purchased it.

These results suggest that Canadians are bigger risk-takers than they admit. The study found that 39 per cent of Canadians do not consider themselves to be risk-takers, but the truth is many are taking gambles all the time while travelling, the biggest being forgoing travel insurance. In fact, when it comes to Canadians pre-travel checklist, most prioritized researching things to do at their destination (80%) over purchasing travel insurance (61%).

43 per cent have travelled alone
15 per cent have travelled off resort when it's not advised
1 in 10 say they've travelled to countries with known travel warnings
14 percent have travel to a remote location removed from medical assistance
10 per cent have drove a scooter or motorcycle without a helmet while travelling

"The high percentage of Canadians who choose to opt out of travel insurance when planning a vacation is rather surprising for a nation of people that don't consider themselves to be risk takers," says Jeff Gladwish, Director of Insurances at American Express Canada. "A lot of people don't realize that your provincial health care may not cover your entire medical expenses abroad, leaving you vulnerable while you're away from home."

The study found that most Canadians are naïve when it comes to the cost of the treating medical conditions away from home. A mere two per cent of Canadians would be willing and able to pay $10,000 or more out-of-pocket for medical expenses while travelling, an amount which would likely not cover even the most basic of accidents in many parts of the world.

"You often hear travel horror stories, but you never expect it's going to be you," says Sue Noble, Burlington, Ontario, who was travelling when tragedy struck. Noble's husband was rushed to hospital for an emergency surgery after suffering a severe heart attack. "It was terrifying and the last thing I wanted to worry about was how we were going to pay for it all. Our total cost totalled $300,116. Without travel insurance, our medical bills would have left us broke."

What's deterring Canadians from purchasing travel insurance? Canadians don't know if they're getting a good deal (72%), they think there is too much jargon and don't understand what coverage includes (66%), and that it's too complicated to compare one product to another (65%).

"We understand that there's a lot of confusion about travel insurance in the marketplace, which is why we believe that a 'one size fits all' approach doesn't work," says Gladwish. "Look for flexible plans, like the ones offered by American Express Travel Insurance, to make sure you get coverage that fits your budget and your needs."

For more information visit americanexpress.ca/travelinsurance or call 1-866-292-5234. We welcome all major credit cards including American Express, Visa, and MasterCard.

About American Express Canada

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express charge and credit cards, with outstanding products like the American Express® Gold Rewards Card, the Platinum Card ®, the American Express AeroplanPlus® Gold Card. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

For more information, visit AmericanExpress.ca or connect with us at Facebook.com/AmericanExpressCanada and YouTube.com/AmericanExpressCAD.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Well.ca brings innovation to Canadian e-commerce with unveiling of product subscriptions

Canadian consumers say good-bye to 'oh no' moments with web service that keeps their household shelves stocked with their favourite brands and essentials

TORONTO, August 30, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - After making a big splash with Canada's first Virtual Store, Well.ca is bringing a new level of user experience to its customers, making shopping online easier and more intuitive with product subscriptions.

The Well.ca subscription service allows consumers to subscribe to their favourite products and have them delivered, free, in weekly or monthly intervals. Consumers can stop or edit subscriptions at any time from their profile page which also lets them see all future orders and delivery dates.

"Well.ca is constantly striving to bring the future of shopping to Canada and we think product subscriptions are a big step in that direction," said Ali Asaria, founder and CEO of Well.ca. "With subscriptions and free shipping on every order, Well.ca is the perfect way for busy consumers to make sure they always have their staple kitchen, bath or baby products."

The subscription service is ideal for Canadian shoppers who regularly purchase the same products and allows them to lock in initial special offers from initial purchase for the length of their subscriptions. Data from Well.ca internal sources shows that 25% of customers purchased the same brands and products multiple times each year.

"We are seeing that consumers are really taking advantage of subscriptions to make sure they don't run out of the things they need most," Asaria added. "So far, the most popular subscription items have been personal care products, oral care, vitamins and diapers."

The subscriptions tab can be found front and centre on the newly redesigned Well.ca website which provides a fully optimized experience on any tablet or smartphone. The site also features a full visual refresh that highlights product images and a new floating shopping cart which makes keeping track of purchases easy and efficient.

For more information, or to check out the new features, please visit Well.ca

About Well.ca:

Well.ca is the largest health, baby and beauty e-commerce retailer in Canada with offices in Guelph, Toronto and Waterloo. Founded in 2008 by Ali Asaria, Well.ca carries more than 50,000 health, beauty, personal care and household products and offers free shipping to almost all Canadians. Well.ca focuses on giving customers a simple and hassle-free shopping experience and provides a personalized touch to each package shipped. Well.ca was recognized by Deloitte as one of the Technology Fast 50 Companies to Watch and Ali Asaria was a finalist in Ernst and Young's 2011 Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Improvisers-in-Residence Bring Music, Movement to Guelph

GUELPH Ontario August 27, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release - This fall, the University of Guelph will welcome Canadian musician Scott Thomson and dance artist and musician Susanna Hood as improvisers-in-residence. Their three-month sojourn will be sponsored by U of G’s Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) and by Musagetes, a Guelph-based organization involving artists, cultural mediators and public intellectuals.

The ICASP research project is led by Ajay Heble, an English professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies, and artistic director and founder of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival.

“The nature of the residency is different this year,” Heble said. “This time, there is not only music but also dance. And by actually living full-time in Guelph, the improvisers-in-residence will be fully immersed in the environment.”

Thomson and Hood will run workshops, musical dialogue and other performances to foster creative community-building through the arts.

Thomson says his appointment is “both an honour and an enticing challenge.” He spent time studying and working in Guelph between 1994 and 2005.

“It is also a privilege to be able to do this work with my wife and creative partner, Susanna Hood, a singular artist and exceptional performer who is relatively new to Guelph. Together, we hope to cultivate strong links with professional-calibre creative musicians and contemporary dancers in town, and, importantly and excitingly, with amateur dancers and music-makers whom we wish to place at the core of our project.”

The group will develop a multidisciplinary, family-oriented work for presentation in Exhibition Park Oct. 13.

Thomson and Hood will spend seven consecutive weeks in Guelph, allowing them to get to know the community and their local collaborators.

“Collaboration is at the core of the different work that I do as an artist, and it is truly a luxury to be able to do such work over such a relatively extended time frame,” said Thomson.

A trombonist and composer who plays in various musical styles, Thomson helped found the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto and served as a director until 2009. He is known for a series of site-specific works that he calls “cartographic compositions.”

An accomplished dancer and musician, Hood has spent more than 10 years combining voice and movement in sensual performances. Her choreography, compositions and interdisciplinary collaborations have appeared locally, nationally and internationally, both on stage and in film. She has taught improvisation at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre since 2005.

Hood has sung with Toronto’s Woodshed Orchestra for two years. She recently received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for dance from the Canada Council.

“I am greatly looking forward to sharing the post of co-Improviser-in-Residence in Guelph this fall,” Hood said. “The opportunity to connect in such an integral, extended, and hands-on way with so many facets of this vibrant community is a rare gift. It is a particular treat to share this post with my partner in life and art. I am eager to embark on what we both hope will be a mutually inspiring period of creation, shared learning and play with all who participate.”

She will be connecting with several members of Guelph’s dance community whose work she admires, such as the members of the Fall on Your Feet Collective, The Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and Dance Theatre David Earle. Through these ties, Hood aims to spark new creative collaborations with other professional and amateur dance and music-makers.

“I can’t think of a more fitting pair of improvisers to take on this role and to animate our city with the spirit of creativity.” said Heble. “Scott and Susanna have a brilliant game plan, one that will immerse them in the heart of Guelph’s creative community. Building on the tremendous success of our inaugural improviser-in-residence program in 2011, and on ICASP’s rewarding partnership with Musagetes, I know that this ongoing initiative will play a significant role in setting our community abuzz with the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and improvisation.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

University of Guelph Move-in Day Sept. 1: Expect Excitement, Congestion, Road Closures

GUELPH Ontario August 27, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release -The University of Guelph will welcome more than 4,000 new students into its residences on Sept. 1. Some roads leading to the University will be closed, so people not involved in the annual residence move-in day are encouraged to avoid driving near campus.

Gordon Street will be closed between Stone Road and College Avenue from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to help reduce traffic congestion and make it easier for students to move in. As well, access to South and East Ring roads will be limited to use by new students, along with parking lots P31, P13, P17, P18 and P19. Access to the section of South Ring Road that runs behind the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs building will also be restricted to move-in traffic.

The road closures and detours will be clearly marked to assist people driving in the area.

In addition, Student Housing Services is asking that the parking spaces adjacent to the three South Residences (P13 and P14) and Lennox/Addington (P23, P24) be left available for move-in day.

Students have been assigned a scheduled “move-in” appointment time to help make the process go as smoothly as possible. Students and their families are asked to stick to their assigned times, routes and holding locations until they are directed into residence unloading zones.

Once they arrive at their designated unloading zone, volunteers will be on hand to assist them with the move-in process.

Students and parents looking for more information about move-in day can visit the Student Housing Services website at www.housing.uoguelph.ca.

If you have any questions or concerns about the road closures, call Campus Community Police at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52245.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Social Media in the Workplace: Making the Most of "Social Business" Tools

Randstad Canada discusses social media in the workplace
and its growing popularity with employees and employers alike

TORONTO, August 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - As the use of social media in the workplace continues to become a widespread reality in the corporate world, Randstad Canada, the country's Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services says today's leading employers must learn how to harness these "social business" tools, if they haven't already.

Lauralee Guthrie, Digital & Social Media Director, Randstad Canada says many employers are making an investment in social media channels.

"Social engagement is critial to business success and like it or not, business is embracing social media in a big way. Recent data from Forrester Research inidcates that the sales of software used to run corporate social networks will grow 61 per cent a year and will likely become a $6.4 billion business by the year 2016," she says.

Reinforcing the importance of social media in the workplace, are the results of a new poll of Canadian business leaders conducted by Queen's School of Business. The data shows four in ten bosses (39%) believe social media is essential to growing their business but they're unsure of taking the leap, while over one third say they (35%) use it often. The results also show that the majority of executives (72%) say they are planning to invest in social media in the coming year.

Organizations that haven't adopted such tools are now in the minority says Guthrie.

"One of the reasons why employers and workers are using social networks in the office is, in large part, because these channels are increasingly becoming a routine part of how work gets done. There are many advantages to being socially "connected" in the workplace. Well-connected employees are more productive, and instant messaging tools and intranets can help to increase the productivity by which they connect and collaborate," she says.

According to Guthrie, Randstad Canada encourages employees to use social media to keep up with company events, recruit talent and gain a deeper understanding of their customers, and network.

"We've found many ways to integrate social media tools into the fabric of our business. From being active on Twitter, to posting fresh content several times a week on our corporate blog, to sharing videos on our YouTube channel, to setting up LinkedIn groups that bring people with similar interests together, to keeping everyone updated via Facebook. We truly believe in the incorporation of social networking technologies," she says.

"Indeed, we not only encourage our employees to help us engage people online, but we also use instant messaging and the intranet as tools employees can use to share and collaborate with each other internally," says Guthrie.

For employers that are concerned about the risk of problems arising from the use of social media in the workplace, training your staff on policies and practices will set clear guidelines and lessen the risk of misuse, says Guthrie.

"There are legitimate work-related purposes to which these channels are being used. Employees should be trained to do more of this, employers should not make it harder. Social media is here to stay, and whether you embrace it or fend it off, your business will be impacted," she adds. "There is a world of conversation and engagement that's happening right now - with or without you."

About Randstad Canada

Randstad Canada is the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services. As the only fully integrated staffing company in the country, we understand the recruitment needs and demands of employers and job seekers across all levels and industries. Through our insightful knowledge of local markets, employment trends and global network of recruitment experts, we are shaping the Canadian world of work. Visit randstad.ca