Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New patient coalition formed to fight health bureaucrats

TORONTO, March 30, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - For the first time in Canadian history patients met formally to voice their concerns about the way healthcare decisions are made.

Over 100 patients from across Canada met in Toronto to discuss the future of healthcare and to put forward solutions.

Todd Janes, from Edmonton, who has been living with diabetes for thirty years said,

"If we're going to move ahead, we need an accountable, transparent system that places the patient on equal footing with their primary healthcare team. There must be a mechanism or structure in place for patients to gain voice or access that is not just reactive to emergency situations."

Janes summed up the frustration many at the meeting felt with the current healthcare policy making process.

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews echoed the same feeling:

"If patients designed a system that reflected their needs, we would have a much more highly integrated system." Matthews challenged patients to be more involved. "It's your system, you own the system, you pay for the system, the system belongs to you."

Evelyn Lukan, a person with arthritis from Halifax, feels that this conference is a step in that direction.

"We've laid out strategies that can be put in place to ensure that the patient will be part of the development of healthcare policy." Lukan commented. "It's been tremendous, to bring so many people together, to realize that everybody is seeking a system that delivers patient-centred care."

The meeting decided to form a new coalition to advocate for patients' rights and to fight health bureaucracy.

John Munroe, a First Nations diabetes advocate from Saskatchewan said,

"In any democratic system, there's always so many systems, and so many people that words often get lost. The most important thing about this Summit is that we're all representing the patients' view, and every patient has a voice. If one patient speaks, it is not heard, but if many patients collaborate together, just imagine what we could do nationally."

The Canadian Patient Summit, the work of over 30 non-profit organizations, brings together more than 100 patients living with chronic medical conditions, caregivers, health professionals and policy makers to share their solutions for engaging patients and caregivers more effectively in the decisions on the future of our healthcare system.

For further information: please visit www.canadianpatientsummit.ca

Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 Ontario Budget notes positive movement in pensions

TORONTO, March 26, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan released details of the provincial government's 2010 budget yesterday. The plan focused on restraint measures and wage freezes for the public sector.

Aon Consulting has prepared a commentary highlighting sections of the budget that affect Pensions, Retirement, Health Care and the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

Of note is the firm's analysis of the Ontario government's efforts to pursue dialogue and movement in the pension system and what plan sponsors may wish to monitor.

Please use this link http://www.aon.ca/pubs/rdy/onbudget.pdf to access Aon Consulting's perspective on the Ontario Budget.

About Aon Consulting Canada

Aon Consulting is one of Canada's leading integrated human capital consulting and outsourcing firms. Our more than 800 Canadian professionals in 12 offices coast-to-coast offer benefits, talent management and rewards strategies and solutions to help clients attract, retain and develop world-class talent. Driven by inspired and independent thinking, Aon Consulting is committed to delivering innovative and personalized business solutions with tangible value to help clients shape their organization into the workplace of the future. For more information, visit http://aon.ca

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Should Cell Phone Towers Be Put on Residential Buildings?

from TreeHugger.com
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

Between the upgrading of existing systems and the licencing of new carriers, the rooftop landscape of Toronto, Canada is changing rapidly as new antennae are added daily. While TreeHugger has discussed the question of cell phone safety many times, we are usually talking about the phone itself, where users have some control, rather than the base stations, where residents in apartment buildings with base stations on the roof do not. Is this exposure dangerous? A recent installation raises some questions.

I was first alerted to the issue when the daughter of a close friend, who lived in the top floor of the nearby building where base stations were installed in December, started complaining. My friend describes her daughter's symptoms:
Symptoms were aching in her upper arms, nausea, couldn't sleep, and generally feeling 'not right'. She was complaining to me about not being able to sleep and not feeling well for about a month before she was aware of the issue of the cellphone. She would actually sleep out in the hallway.

Many suggest that such complaints are psychosomatic; The fact that she felt ill for a month before she knew the base station was there is interesting. She has now moved out and is feeling much better... more story at TreeHugger.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Older Canadians are wiser at tax time

Younger Canadians miss out on tax credits as their tax knowledge lags

CALGARY, March 8, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Compared to older Canadians, taxpayers under the age of 35 have the lowest awareness of common tax credits and deductions available to them according to a recent survey by Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted for H&R Block Canada.

Nearly 70 per cent of Canadians under 35 experienced a major life change in 2009 such as getting married, starting a family, losing their job or starting a new one. All of these factors can impact a tax return yet 46 per cent of younger Canadians admitted to not understanding the tax implications.

"Only one in three Canadians under 35 said they were more likely to research possible tax deductions or credits, yet many of them could be facing a completely different situation this year," explains Cleo Hamel from the Tax Advisory at H&R Block. "Having a child or starting a new job can significantly change how your tax return is prepared and you need to understand the credits and benefits you are entitled to claim."

For example, new parents can claim the Child Amount and will start receiving the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) which is taxable. First time home buyers can claim the new $5,000 non-refundable credit and may start paying back their Home Buyers Plan (HBP) if they borrowed money from their RRSPs for a down payment.

"The good news is 75 per cent of Canadians know about the Home Renovation Tax Credit but more common credits did not score as well," says Hamel. "While the HRTC only applies to people who own a home and renovated, anyone with T4 income in 2009 can claim the Employment Amount yet only 12 per cent said they were making the claim."

To help Canadians who have tax questions, the Tax Advisory at H&R Block is providing answers online at www.hrbtastalk.ca. The site includes resources and an extensive Q&A section. If taxpayers can't find the information they are looking for, they can have their question answered by an experienced tax professional for free.

This Canadian poll was conducted online by Angus Reid Public Opinion, from February 16 to February 17, 2010 and surveyed 1,007, randomly selected adult Canadians. The margin of error for the total sample is +/-3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nova Scotia limits Pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips

Government's decision on Blood Glucose Strips puts the health of Nova Scotians living with diabetes at further risk

HALIFAX, March 2, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Nova Scotia government's decision to limit Pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips for some diabetes patients places a significant financial and health burden on these Nova Scotians and violates the fundamental principle that patients and their healthcare professionals should be able to determine how to manage treatment.

"This appears to be an attempt by the government to find cost-savings without proper consideration of patients' safety," said Dr. Vincent Woo, Chair, Clinical and Scientific Section, Canadian Diabetes Association. "This will directly lead to increased healthcare costs for the province as the capacity of Nova Scotians to manage this serious disease is reduced. This move is not compatible with the Canadian Diabetes Association's Clinical Practice Guidelines and other international guidelines which specifically recommend that testing protocols be determined by patients in conjunction with their own healthcare professionals."

Dr. Woo was commenting on a recent decision of the Nova Scotia government to limit pharmacare coverage of blood glucose test strips for people living with diabetes who do not use insulin, to a maximum of 100 strips annually. On average Nova Scotians who do not use insulin use 300-400 strips annually.

The government based its decision on a flawed report issued by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH). The Agency has already admitted that its conclusions regarding the effectiveness of blood glucose monitoring should not necessarily apply to all groups of Canadians who do not use insulin to manage their diabetes. Given this fact, the Association does not believe it is at all appropriate for the government to be using this report to restrict access to supplies for these Nova Scotians.

"It is critical that the government put off implementing this decision until further consultation with the diabetes community," said Lisa Matte, Regional Director, Canadian Diabetes Association in Nova Scotia. "If this measure is put in place, there will be serious health complications for thousands of Nova Scotians."

Across the country, the Canadian Diabetes Association is leading the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. We are supported in our efforts by a community-based network of volunteers, employees, healthcare professionals, researchers and partners. By providing education and services, advocating on behalf of people with diabetes, supporting research and translating research into practical applications - we are delivering on our mission. For more information, please visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464)