Monday, February 28, 2011

A Strong Health Care Systems Helps Build Stong Communities: Ontario's Doctors

Photo Credit: University of Ottawa Heart Institute

TORONTO, February 28, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario's doctors are urging municipal leaders attending the combined Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) and Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) convention in Toronto to speak with Cabinet Ministers and MPP's from all parties to remind them about the importance of a strong and high functioning health-care system in their communities.

Ontario's doctors are again proud sponsors of this year's ROMA/OGRA convention that brings municipal leaders together to discuss issues such as economic development, roads, bridges and infrastructure. However, it is imperative they do not forget about health care. Ontario's doctors reminded delegates that recent polling conducted on behalf of the OMA reveals that 9 in 10 Ontarians believe that health care is the most important issue.

Mark MacLeod, MD, President of the Ontario Medical Association:

"Health care isn't just a cost, it's an investment. If people are healthy and well they are more productive members of society. More importantly, if you have a strong health-care system, employers from around the world will be attracted to invest in Ontario. A strong health care system is the foundation for a strong and vibrant economy."

"Ontario's doctors will continue to be leading advocates when it comes to helping shape the future of our health care system. We are calling on municipal leaders and each of the political parties to commit to making health care a priority in the next election."

Earlier this year, Ontario's doctors released their policy platform in advance of the next provincial election, 'Better Care. Healthier patients. A stronger Ontario.' Every delegate at the convention was provided with a copy of the platform at registration and they are encouraged to share it with their communities. The platform contains 41 recommendations designed to improve patient care and strengthen Ontario's healthcare system. Some specific policy recommendations include:

...Fighting childhood obesity by requiring fast food chains to list calorie contents on menu boards, and by mandating physical activity in our high schools.

...Stopping kids from getting easy access to cheap, illegal cigarettes, by implementing a comprehensive contraband control strategy.

...Ensuring every person in Ontario has an electronic medical record by 2015 and expanding EMRs to 5,000 more physicians;

...Expanding the number of Family Health Teams;

...Implementing a mental health strategy with a focus on our young people whose parents continue to find significant gaps in resources and care options; and

...Reducing the number of ALC patients by increasing long-term care capacity and home support services.

Quick Facts:

...Since 2004, Ontario's doctors have helped over 1.2 million patients find a physician;

...Over 5,000 doctors now manage patients' health information electronically, and more than 5 million Ontarians are covered by an electronic medical record; and

...Today, health care sector spending accounts for 46 cents of every program dollar and could consume nearly 70 cents in 12 years if left unchecked.

"Better care. Healthier patients. A stronger Ontario." can be found at

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One of North America's Largest Telehome Programs Reaches 1,000-Patient Milestone

Photo Credit: University of Ottawa Heart Institute

OTTAWA, February 24, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) is marking a significant milestone by enrolling the 1,000th cardiac patient in one of North America's largest telehome programs, demonstrating a proven approach to managing chronic disease by reducing hospital readmission while improving quality of life.

"An aging population is leading to the rise of complex chronic diseases such as congestive heart failure. Our program empowers heart failure patients, giving them more control over their own health in their own homes and relieves pressure on a congested hospital system," said Christine Struthers, Advanced Practice Nurse (APN), who manages the program.

Heart failure is a collection of heart conditions such as heart attack, an inability of the heart to pump effectively, hypertension (high blood pressure) and other complex illnesses. As a chronic disease, heart failure patients must manage the condition for the rest of their lives under close medical supervision.

Mortality and hospital readmission rates for heart failure are higher than other heart conditions. Earlier research shows that up to half of congestive heart failure patients in Canada are readmitted to hospital. Further, hospitalization and medical visits for congestive heart failure are the second highest of any disease with a length of stay generally of 13 days.

Research at the Heart Institute has shown telehome monitoring at the Heart Institute has cut hospital readmission for heart failure by 54 per cent with savings up to $20,000 for each patient safely diverted from an emergency department visit, readmission and hospital stay.

The Heart institute's five-year-old program enables patients to manage their own health from home with close nursing supervision while lessening the need for emergency attention because of potential medical complications.

"Our telehome program focuses on preventing chronic disease from progressing and helps patients deal directly with their own personal situations whether it is compliance with medication or managing symptoms better," said Struthers.

The Heart Institute started in 2005 with 20 monitoring systems for patients to take home after discharge. Today, 158 monitors are available for distribution in nearly every hospital in the region. Patients transmit vital medical data, such as weight and vital signs, daily to the Heart Institute. Data indicating a potential problem or need for more information is flagged by nurses, who call patients immediately.

About UOHI

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is Canada's largest and foremost cardiovascular health centre dedicated to understanding, treating and preventing heart disease. We deliver high-tech care with a personal touch, shape the way cardiovascular medicine is practiced, and revolutionize cardiac treatment and understanding. We build knowledge through research and translate discoveries into advanced care. We serve the local, national and international community, and are pioneering a new era in heart health. For more information, visit

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TVO Launches New Digital Public Archive

Explore four decades of historic TVO gems at

Toronto, February 23, 2011, Canada News Wire - TVO is pleased to announce the launch of its new digital Public Archive, a free online resource that unlocks four decades of made-at-TVO educational programming that stands the test of time.

The centerpiece of TVO’s 40th anniversary celebrations, TVO’s Public Archive is full of rare moments in television history including:

...popular Saturday Night at the Movies host Elwy Yost’s conversations with film legends of the 70s and 80s;

...insights from some of the greatest minds in science and technology like Richard Dawkins, John Polanyi, Carl Sagan and Steve Wozniak;

...interviews with political leaders including every Ontario Premier since John Robarts;
rare moments with Canadian icons like Mordecai Richler, Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence and John Candy;

...and Canadian heroes like Jane Jacobs, June Callwood and Roberta Bondar.

Lisa de Wilde, TVO CEO

“The launch of our Public Archive is one of TVO’s most ambitious projects to date. We’re delighted to both enrich the availability of smart online Canadian media content and re-introduce some of the programs that have made TVO such an important part of life in Ontario.

Everything we do at TVO is about engaging people in ideas and issues that are shaping our province and our world. We view our Public Archive as an ‘archive of ideas’ that adds historical context to the political, cultural, social and economic themes we are exploring today.”

TVO’s Public Archive features beloved TVO programs that have defined TVO over the years. It launches with over 375 programs and segments that would take more than five days to watch. The site includes episodes of Polka Dot Door, Today’s Special, Prisoners of Gravity, Imprint, Realities, Studio 2, the interviews portion of Saturday Night at the Movies, The Education of Mike McManus, Between the Lines and more. It also includes the new “Think Again” podcast series where programs are re-cut and re-mixed, examining important issues and placing them in context of the world today. New content will be added to the Public Archive regularly.

TVO’s Public Archive is a valuable resource for researchers, filmmakers, writers, bloggers and anyone who wants to learn more about the cultural history that has made Ontario what it is today. Visit to explore content by program title, year, guest, subject or playlist.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Quotes Of The Day: Critics Of Ontario's Cancellation Of Offshore Wind Speak Out

by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

When writing Ontario Cancels Offshore Wind Projects, Blames "Lack of Science", we noted that:

"Clean energy investors are shaking their heads. One I spoke with said that this will make it impossible to raise money for green energy projects; in such a climate of uncertainty, nobody will invest."

Now the Globe and Mail rounds up comments from people in the industry:

John Kourtouff of Trillium Power:
"This destroys Ontario's credibility globally," he said. "Nobody will touch Ontario for many years in renewables."

"I was surprised and somewhat shocked, because the government has steadfastly supported its Green Energy Act since its introduction," Mr. Keating [of BlueEarth Renewables] said. Now, there is "increased risk" that other changes might be made to the rules, he said. "It sends a bad signal."

"They are destroying the entire industry," Mr. Kourtoff said. "This isn't a moratorium, this is a St. Valentine's Day massacre of the offshore wind industry in Ontario."

More in the Globe and Mail

More on Wind Power in Ontario:

Ontario Cancels Offshore Wind Projects, Blames "Lack of Science"

Ontario Premier Says No to NIMBY

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guelph Hosts Canadian First: Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit

Former Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, American Ambassador among Attendees

GUELPH, Ontario, February 18, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The University of Guelph will welcome the world Feb. 25 to 27 for the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit. Attendees will include the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti and former governor general and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and David Jacobson, American ambassador to Canada.

This is the first time the summit has been held in Canada. Its co-hosts are U of G president Alastair Summerlee and fourth-year student Gavin Armstrong.

The summit is expected to attract hundreds of people— from university students, scholars and government leaders to international activists and politicians.

Highlights include:

Friday, Feb. 25

...A President's Dialogue on " Hunger Has No Boundaries" featuring opening remarks by the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean and David Jacobson, and a public panel discussion, 4 to 6 p.m.;

...Arrival of Joseph Henry, an Alabama University student concluding an 800-kilometre run from Washington, D.C. to the summit; and

...Presentation of an honorary degree to the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 26

...Launch of the new Michaëlle Jean Emergency Hunger Relief Award for students, from any country, who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the fight against hunger in an emergency relief situation. Madame Jean will deliver brief remarks at 9 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 27

...Keynote address by Ramiro Lopes Da Silva, deputy executive director of the World Food Program in Rome, 9 a.m.

Detailed information about the summit is available online at:

Additional information about the President's Dialogue is available online at:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don Cherry unveils defibrillator at Hockey Hall of Fame in memory of 11 year old Chase McEachern

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario hopes this will spur government to take the lead on adopting Bill 41

TORONTO, February 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and hockey legend Don Cherry unveiled a life-saving defibrillator at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was installed in memory of Chase McEachern, an 11-year old boy who passionately advocated for AEDs in public places, before he died of a cardiac arrest in 2006.

In 2005, Chase was diagnosed with a condition known as atrial flutter - when the heart beats hundreds of times a minute. After hearing that hockey greats Jiri Fischer collapsed and Mario Lemieux retired because of irregular heartbeats like his, Chase decided to start a campaign to make AEDs mandatory in hockey arenas and schools everywhere. Chase wrote Don Cherry a letter, asking for his support.

Sadly, on February 9, 2006 before the campaign had a chance to get off the ground, Chase collapsed during gym class, and died a few days later. Working with his family, the Foundation established the Heart and Stroke Chase McEachern Tribute Fund to continue the work that Chase began.

"The McEachern family would like to thank Don Cherry for helping to get out Chase's message of the need for defibrillators in public places, especially arenas and schools," said Dorothy McEachern, Chase's mother. "By making Chase's letter to Don Cherry public on his radio show and Hockey Night in Canada, Mr. Cherry certainly helped achieve a greater awareness of heart conditions among children."

"During the past 5 years since Chase's death, the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund in conjunction with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario has been able to place over 2700 defibrillators in arenas, schools and recreation centres. We are truly grateful," she added.

Each year, approximately 7,000 Ontarians will experience a cardiac arrest with up to 85% of occurring at home or in public places. For every minute that passes without help, a person's chance of surviving drops by 7% to 10%. Research indicates that having an AED at hand is imperative, as defibrillation, when used in conjunction with CPR in the first few minutes can dramatically improve cardiac arrest survival rates by more than 75%.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario is also a strong supporter and advocate of Bill 41, a private member's bill introduced by MPP Ted McMeekin, The Defibrillator Access Act. If passed, Bill 41 would be the first of its kind in Canada requiring AEDs be installed in public spaces which could include schools, fitness facilities and hockey arenas and would be a fitting tribute to Chase's dream of seeing AED's more widely available in the province of Ontario.

"We are hoping that Chase's story will be the catalyst to help pass legislation that could have saved the life of Chase McEachern and numerous others who suffer from similar conditions," said Laura Syron, Vice President, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

The Bill has passed a first and second reading unanimously in May 2010. Since then the Standing Committee on Justice Policy has not met to consider the bill. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario urges the government to pick up this private member's bill and adopt it as legislation.

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New study sheds light on sibling dynamics for brothers and sisters who care for aging parents

The 50-50 RuleSM can help solve sibling conflict

TORONTO, February 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new study that looks at sibling dynamics involved in caring for aging parents sheds new light on issues that often tear families apart. The study, conducted on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care®, found that conflicts can arise when care is not shared equally among brothers and sisters.

Home Instead Senior Care provides companionship and home care services for seniors in their own homes and in seniors' care facilities, and has 29 locations across Canada.

According to the study, four factors determine if relationships among adult children have deteriorated, and whether or not the quality of care for the parents will be compromised in any way because of it. Those factors are: teamwork, consideration for each other's ability to help out, willingness to help, and the ability to make important decisions together.

The study found that 40 per cent of family caregivers who say their relationships with siblings have deteriorated blame it on brothers and sisters not being willing to help.

"A study like this has never been done before to my knowledge," said Scott Johnson of Home Instead Senior Care. "If you are 50, have siblings, and are assisting with the care of senior parents, this program, and in particular the public education campaign, can help."

Here are some of the findings:

....Among siblings who care for parents, the primary caregiver is a 50-year-old sister caring for an 81-year-old mother or a 50-year-old brother caring for an 81-year-old father, and they've been the family caregiver for 3.3 years.

...Care is often not shared equally. In 41 per cent of families, one sibling has responsibility for providing all or most of the care for Mom or Dad, and in only 3 per cent of families do siblings split the caregiving tasks equally. In all other families, the caregiving tends to be shared based on skill sets and other criteria.

...The sibling who is the primary caregiver reports putting in nearly three times as many hours of care as do their brothers and sisters. On average, the primary family caregiver provides 14 hours of care per week, while other siblings provide five hours of care.

...Caregiving arrangements amongst siblings more often than not involve proximity to the parent, rather than careful consideration about what is in the best interests of the parent. In the survey, 25 per cent say the caregiving arrangement with siblings is based on "proximity or location" while 17 per cent say it is based on "default."

As a result of the findings, Home Instead Senior Care has launched a public education campaign called The 50-50 RuleSM that offers strategies for overcoming sibling differences to help families provide the best care for senior parents. The name, The 50-50 Rule, refers to the average age (50) when siblings are caring for their parents, as well as the need for brothers and sisters to share the care responsibility on a 50-50 basis.

The study, which was conducted by The Boomer Project for Home Instead Senior Care, included 383 adults ages 35-64, with living siblings or stepsiblings, who said they either currently provide care for a parent or older relative, or did provide care in the past 18 months.

Johnson said, in doing the research, Home Instead Senior Care has developed more than a dozen different '50-50 situations,' all of which can lead to problems with siblings. Along with the situations are solutions for how to tackle them. Those situations fall into four groups:

...Money Matters. The economic downturn has taken a toll on many families, straining finances and relationships. Do siblings agree on how to approach money matters when it comes to family caregiving situations?

...What's Yours is Mine. Inheritances and family mementoes generate powerful emotional and financial attachments. What do you do when siblings don't agree on family legacies?

...Communication Breakdown. This can make a bad caregiving situation worse. If you're not talking with your siblings, Mom and Dad may be the ones who suffer.

...Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Distance can drive a wedge between a family caregiver and other family members, but geography doesn't have to divide.

The study found that survey participants were more likely to rate themselves 'excellent' for various caregiving traits than they were their brothers and sisters. When it came to rating oneself as a family caregiver compared to rating siblings, 66 per cent rated themselves 'excellent' while only 28 per cent rated their siblings as such. In terms of communication skills, 46 per cent of respondents rated themselves 'excellent' versus 23 per cent for their siblings. And for the category of 'empathy,' 42 per cent gave themselves an 'excellent,' but only 24 per cent gave it to their siblings.

The 50-50 Rule public education campaign, which is being launched this month, includes a family relationship and communication guide illustrating real-life situations that feature practical advice from Dr. Ingrid Connidis, a leading authority on aging, work-life balance and family relationships.

Says Connidis:

"The ideal situation is when everyone involved knows how everyone else feels. That way you can get things off your chest and avoid any surprises later."

Connidis is a professor of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario in London, has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Toronto, and wrote the book Family Ties and Aging. She says she has studied or seen just about every family scenario one can imagine, and that the No. 1 key to avoiding problems with siblings, where it concerns aging parents, is communication.

"Like all relationships, siblings have a history," Connidis said. "Whatever happened in the past influences what happens in the present. Regardless of the circumstances, most siblings do feel a responsibility to care for parents that is built from love. And that's a good place to start - optimistically and assuming the best."

The public education campaign includes a website with information, checklists with tips for assigning care, and presentations on everything from coping with feuding families to how to plan before a crisis hits. The guide and website, located at, will offer a variety of tips and resources for siblings. For more information, visit the site or contact Home Instead Senior Care.

In Canada, there are 29 independently owned Home Instead Senior Care offices. There are 19 in Ontario - 10 in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as in Barrie, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury, London, Windsor, Waterloo and Kingston. Five are in B.C. - Kelowna, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, Victoria and White Rock. There are also locations in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Calgary, Halifax and Charlottetown. Services include companionship, meal preparation, medication reminders, light housekeeping, and escorts for errands and shopping. Home Instead Senior Care services are available at home or in care facilities from a few hours per week up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Founded in 1994 in Omaha by Lori and Paul Hogan, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world's largest provider of non-medical in-home care services for seniors, with more than 900 independently owned and operated franchises providing in excess of 40 million hours of care throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Austria, Italy and Puerto Rico. The Home Instead Senior Care network employs more than 65,000 CAREGiversSM worldwide who provide basic support services - activities of daily living (ADLs), personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, incidental transportation and shopping - which enable seniors to live safely and comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. At Home Instead Senior Care, it's relationship before task, while continuing to provide superior quality service that enhances the lives of seniors everywhere.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Clues About Pollution Hidden in Pages of Old Books

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

Some of the most revealing clues into the state of pollution since the the Industrial Revolution aren't only found within the words and sentences contained in centuries worth of scientific publications -- they're hiding in the very pages themselves, too. According to one chemist studying the history of pollution, testing the paper of aging volumes can paint a more accurate picture of the world's CO2 levels over the past few centuries than current methods, like ice and tree core samples.

For Dan Yakir, an Israeli chemist from the Weizmann Institute of Science, the paper contained in old books and newspapers holds a wealth of information about the pollution as experienced by the trees used to make them. Normally, researchers have looked to tree core and ice samples to map the planet's historic CO2 levels -- but even better clues may have been literally under their noses the whole time.

"Rather than going to forests all over the world to sample trees we went to the local library," says Yakir.

According to the researcher, using books to map out a history of pollution levels since the start of the industrial revolution has one great advantage over traditional methods -- and it's all about quantity. It takes a lot of tree samples to get an accurate reading, and libraries are a virtual treasure trove of testable tree material. Yakir took to his University's library to perform his research, collecting a small page samples from science and nature literature dating back over two centuries... read more story at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Communication needed for medication safety in Canada

National summit to address this important solution to patient safety

TORONTO, February 10, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A national summit was hosted today that will ultimately provide important solutions to improving communication and reducing preventable medication errors at transitions of care.

A 2008 survey by the Commonwealth Fund found that nearly one in ten adult Canadians with health problems reported receiving the wrong medication or the wrong dose from a pharmacy or hospital within the previous two years. The Canadian Adverse Events Study published in 2004 by Ross Baker and Peter Norton, estimated that as many as 24,000 Canadians die annually due to preventable adverse events (of which 24 per cent were related to medication or fluid administration) and identified improved communication and coordination among caregivers as a key driver of efforts to make patient care safer.

The summit was hosted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP Canada), the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), and Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) in collaboration with key stakeholders. Collaboration between ISMP Canada and CPSI and healthcare industry stakeholders has resulted in a consensus on how to optimize communication about medication, also called "medication reconciliation", in Canada.

"Relying only on human vigilance to ensure medication safety is not enough; better communication is vital," says David U, President and CEO, ISMP Canada. "With more than 20,000 commercial drug products in the marketplace, there is a significant and overdue need for a coordinated approach to reliably communicating information at all care transitions."

"Changes in practice need to occur at the national, provincial and local levels to promote a more collaborative and standardized approach to medication traceability to keep Canadian patients safe, while ensuring communication at all levels," says Hugh MacLeod, CEO, CPSI. "In working with ISMP Canada and Infoway and with the success of creating a national summit, we are one step closer to achieving this objective."

"By giving health professionals the information they need to support clinical decisions, drug information systems can help to improve medication safety and effectiveness," says Dr. Jennifer Zelmer, Senior Vice President, Clinical Adoption and Innovation with Canada Health Infoway. "We are all working to make healthcare safer, and the summit provides an opportunity to share experiences and accelerate progress."

ISMP Canada and CPSI, along with all healthcare partners, share the goal of reducing preventable medication errors that affect patients in both institutional and community settings.

About the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI)

The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is an independent not-for-profit corporation, operating collaboratively with health professionals and organizations, regulatory bodies and governments to build and advance a safer healthcare system for Canadians. CPSI performs a coordinating and leadership role across health sectors and systems, promotes leading practices and raises awareness with stakeholders, patients and the general public about patient safety.

About the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada)

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) is an independent national not-for-profit agency committed to the advancement of medication safety in all healthcare settings. ISMP Canada works collaboratively with the healthcare community, regulatory agencies and policy makers, provincial, national, and international patient safety organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, and the public to promote safe medication practices. ISMP Canada's mandate includes analyzing medication incidents, making recommendations for the prevention of harmful medication incidents, and facilitating quality improvement initiatives

About 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 electronic health record 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 healthcare system for all Canadians.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reader's Digest Launches New Digital Offerings

MONTREAL, February 9, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - With a strong commitment to their multi-brand, multi-platform strategy, Reader's Digest is excited to announce the launch of several new branded digital initiatives in 2011. The re-launch involves new and improved branded websites—, and —all of which are designed to enhance the online experience of users with new channels, new tools and interactive offerings, a series of apps and much more.

"The redesign enables us to present our users and clients alike with a new and improved digital experience," shares Yann Paquet, Vice-President, Digital Media and Strategic Partnerships. "From changes to the visual design and brand identity of to new tools and improved content and channels, we have enhanced user experience and engagement, as well as developed new opportunities for our advertisers."

Some of the new and revamped channels unveiled on and include: Food & Recipes, Health & Well-Being, Home & Garden, Pets, Travel, Jokes & Fun, Games and Contests. And to further demonstrate Reader's Digest's digital growth and commitment, the redesign also launches the release of a series of innovative and exclusive custom apps. An inaugural "Jokes and Fun" app is released today and will be free to users and additional offerings of original apps will follow each month throughout 2011.

"Reader's Digest has continued to respond to the ever-changing and evolving needs of their audiences, both in print and online," adds Tony Cioffi, President and CEO, Reader's Digest Canada. "We are thrilled to present clients with a variety of new digital products and advertising opportunities to help complement their 2011 campaigns and with that, continue leveraging our multi-platform, multi-brand approach."


Reader's Digest is a leading Canadian multi-brand media and marketing company that educates, entertains and inspires, connecting audiences throughout Canada. It publishes five magazines, including Reader's Digest and Sélection, Canada's most read magazines with 7.3 million readers a month. In 2008, it launched Best Health, a healthy lifestyle magazine for Canadian women and More of Our Canada, a companion magazine to the very popular Our Canada magazine. Along with being a premier publisher of books, music and video products, it operates a network of branded websites in Canada, including, and,, . , and .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ontario auto insurers pool injury data ... Mystery of rising costs may be unlocked

TORONTO, February 3, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - by James Daw

Anyone treating injuries from Ontario vehicle collisions must now send reports and bills to auto insurers via the new Health Claims for Auto Insurance system. Data on injuries and treatments is to be analysed, with patients' identities protected.

Some 4,700 clinics and lone practitioners have been ready and waiting to treat injuries caused by vehicle collisions in Ontario, at an ever-increasing cost.

Yet no one has had a way to sum up the millions of pieces of paper they would send to 127 different insurers. No one could even say how more than 60,000 persons a year were injured, how they were treated or how soon they recovered.

Tuesday (February 1) marked a potential milestone for change, however.

A single, paperless and secure system became the mandatory way for clinics and practitioners to pass their patients' information, treatment proposals and invoices to insurers.

The primary goal of the new Health Claims for Auto Insurance system, or HCAI for short, was to improve efficiency. But it will also provide a source of data that could be analysed to improve care, provide explanations and, maybe, control costs.

All Ontario drivers are required to buy a minimum level of accident benefits to pay for treatment of injuries, assistive devices and income support, regardless of fault. The cost of claims for these benefits doubled in Ontario in five years to $3.8 billion by 2009, taking up 39 per cent of total auto premiums. Yet the precise reasons for cost increases of this magnitude remained a mystery.

"Auto insurance is the single largest payer of out-patient rehabilitation services…including physiotherapy, chiropractic, occupational and psychological therapy, (which are services) not generally available through public healthcare system," notes one physiotherapist and researcher.

"Until now, there was no standard data collection required," says Viivi Riis, who worked with consultants and employees of the Insurance Bureau of Canada to develop HCAI under the watchful eye of provincial insurance and privacy commissioners.

An earlier version of HCAI launched in 2007 did not prove up to the task. But the redesigned system handled 1.3 million standard forms in 2010 as it was ramped up toward full capacity this month. It weathered a dramatic surge of activity in August before the province imposed a $3,500 cap on spending for most minor injuries.

Riis notes that any initial analysis of HCAI data will only be able to compare the age, gender, postal district and insurer of those injured, the nature of injuries, the number and types of therapists and treatments delivered, how often, for how long and at what cost. (No information that would permit the identification of individual injured persons may pass into the database.)

Later, says Riis, the standard forms may be refined. Practitioners may be asked to describe any pre-existing conditions, physical limitations and treatment goals using numbered codes instead of sentences the can only be examined one at a time.

Pierre Côté, a scientist in the Division of Health Care and Outcomes Research at the Toronto Western Research Institute, foresees the potential to track compliance with treatment guidelines, to monitor patterns of care and possibly to develop a tool to predict how long it will take an injured person to recover in Ontario.

"To achieve these goals, they will have to make sure they are getting high-quality data," he warns.

Independent researchers could potentially ask the ministries of health and labour to assist in cross-referencing anonymous data on auto insurance, workers compensation and public healthcare. "I have done this in Saskatchewan," he said.

It might then be possible to explore questions such as whether there are differences in the healthcare experience and health outcomes of patients in the different healthcare funding streams.

There will be limits to what can be achieved, says Côté. "Using administrative data will not have the richness of a clinical dataset in terms of measuring pain intensity, functional limitations or other things…like levels of depression and health-related quality of life."

Peter Stymiest, chief operating officer of the LifeMark Health chain of private clinics, expects the efficiency of the new system will free up administrative staff for customer service and education.

"We don't expect dramatic cost savings," says Stymiest, whose company offers physiotherapy and other treatments through 38 clinics in Ontario, plus others across Canada. He holds out some hope that analysis of HCAI data will lead to better care.

"The value is really the ability to analyse (treatment) outcome information, the clinical interventions that will lead to determining best practices in Ontario," he said in an interview. "We'll have an Ontario solution to handling common injuries like whiplash…information that is related to our system and the way that we work.

"I think that will be a huge value (to know) what interventions are working, what timelines are reasonable, what outcomes are expected," he added. "I think we will find a lot of people are getting good care at a reasonable cost. At the same time, we are going to see what the exceptions are, and where there are issues."

LifeMark clinics are among the 117 in Ontario accredited by CARF Canada, part of the Tucson-based Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, which compares clinics with internationally recognized organizational and program standards. Stymiest says various insurers have chosen LifeMark clinics as preferred care providers.

But insurers have raised serious doubts about other clinic operators, and several Toronto-area clinics are being sued for allegedly submitting fraudulent claims for assessment and treatment.

Christopher Kiah, president of Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada, says every jurisdiction in North America where auto insurers pay for significant medical benefits on a no-fault basis tends to see rising costs, fraud and abuse.

He expects insurers will gradually recoup their investment in substantial cost of developing the HCAI system through efficiency gains. The added benefit, he says, would come from collecting data that might highlight adverse trends and potential abuse in the system.

James Daw is an award-winning journalist and Certified Financial Planner who worked for 34 years as a reporter and columnist with the Toronto Star. He has joined the Insurance Bureau of Canada with the mandate to continue researching and writing about issues and trends of importance to consumers and businesses in Canada.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Mama Don't Take My Kodachrome Away. Last Roll Processed

by Warren McLaren, Bundanoon, Australia

Paul Simon echoed the sentiments of many photographers when he sang "Mama don't take my Kodachrome away." But for the 75 year old iconic slide transparency film, time is finally up. On 30 December 2010 Dwayne's Photo studio in Kansas processed the world's last roll of Kodak Kodachrome film.

The film first appeared back in 1935, taking stills photography market by storm with its long lasting, saturated colours. However Kodachrome's many decades of dominance eventually succumbed to pressure from even more vibrant slide films, like Fuji Velvia, and from consumers moving to the more accessible print film, and eventually to the tsunami which is digital photography.

On the 22nd of June 2009, Eastman Kodak Company announced they were retiring Kodachrome. Steve McCurry, the photographer who shot the famous National Geographic cover of the Afghan Girl (with Kodachrome) was given the last roll of 36 images by Kodak.

Interviewed for The Wichita Eagle, McCurry said,

"I like having something to hold in my hand."
"With digital photography, it's just a hard drive. With Kodachrome, the film is real. You can touch it, put it in a drawer, and come back to it later. It's tangible. It's an object. With digital, the pictures only exist in a hard drive, in a memory chip."

Ironically though NPR reports that Steve also had a digital camera along for his final Kodachrome assignment:

"Every one of the 36 frames on that final roll was precious. "Am I getting the right moment?" he wonders. "Is it in focus? Is the exposure right?" So before he took one of those shots, he used a digital camera to hone in on the perfect exposure.

... read more story at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bill Gates Releases Third Annual Letter, Calling for Sustained Foreign Aid to Boost Global Health and Development

Speaking at Historic Roosevelt House, Gates Outlines Why the World Should Prioritize Vaccines and the Eradication of Polio

NEW YORK, January 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, argues the case for polio eradication and expanded childhood immunization in his third annual letter released today. The letter, a personal account of his priorities, also calls on governments to invest in foreign aid, even in the face of a tough economic climate.

"If societies can't provide for people's basic health, if they can't feed and educate people, then their populations and problems will grow and the world will be a less stable place," Gates writes in the letter. "Whether you believe it a moral imperative or in the rich world's enlightened self-interest, securing the conditions that will lead to a healthy, prosperous future for everyone is a goal I believe we all share."

Gates also emphasizes the need to continue improving U.S. schools, and urges more leadership, innovation and investment for issues like maternal and child health, malaria, HIV/AIDS and agriculture.

Gates focuses on polio eradication as a key example of the value of vaccines. Thanks to a global childhood immunization campaign, polio has been reduced 99 percent, and is on the threshold of becoming only the second disease ever eradicated.

"Getting rid of polio will mean that no child will be paralyzed or die by this disease," said Gates. "Any major advance in the human condition requires resolve and courageous leadership. We are so close, but we have to finish the last leg of the journey."

New donations to polio were announced last week from the U.K. government and from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, which will reduce the gap of $720 million that is needed to fully fund polio eradication efforts through mid-2012. A recent study estimated that eradication could save the world up to $50 billion due to reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity.

Gates released his letter with a speech at the historic Roosevelt House, the former New York home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where the future president recuperated after being stricken with polio at age 39. Roosevelt and his law partner Basil O'Conner later launched the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, whose March of Dimes campaign mobilized the country against polio and raised millions of dollars to support the search for an effective vaccine.

Polio once threatened children worldwide, but there are now just four countries where polio has never stopped circulating - Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Last year saw remarkable progress in Nigeria and India, where polio cases dropped by about 95 percent compared to 2009. But even a few isolated cases can cross borders and spark an outbreak.

Gates emphasizes that achieving polio eradication would energize the global health field by showing the real impact of health investments - particularly investments in vaccines. Last year, Gates called for the next 10 years to be the Decade of Vaccines, a vision of a world ten years from now where the global health community has come together to deliver life-saving vaccines to every child who needs them, and to invest in vaccines that don't yet exist.

"Not everyone can go into the field, or even donate. But everyone of us can be an advocate for people whose voices are often not heard," Gates writes. "I encourage everyone to get involved in working for solutions to the challenges those people face. It will draw you in for life."

About the Annual Letter

...Bill Gates' 2011 annual letter can be found at:

...A live webcast of the "Polio Eradication and the Power of Vaccines" event on January 31, 2011 can be viewed at: at 9:30 am ET / 6:30 am PT

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people--especially those with the fewest resources--have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett