Friday, March 25, 2011

Ontario Doctors say that Health Care Must be a Priority in Ontario

Photo Credit: University of Ottawa Heart Institute

TORONTO, March 25, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - With the provincial budget set to be delivered on March 29, 2011, Ontario's doctors are reminding the government that strategic investments must continue to be made in health care.

Specifically, Ontario's doctors pointed to recent polling conducted on behalf of the Ontario Medical Association, which reveals that: 72 per cent of Ontarians agree that the government should invest additional money to expand Electronic Medical Records; 84 per cent agree that the government should invest in children's mental health programs; and 71 per cent agree that investments should be made to fight childhood obesity.

"It is clear that the future and sustainability of health care is top of mind for voters in Ontario. Ontario's doctors will continue to be leading advocates when it comes to helping shape the future of our health-care system."

"It is difficult to have a discussion about health care without acknowledging that if we want a system that is responsive and meets the needs of patients - it is going to cost more. But if we continue to make strategic investments we know that physicians can provide not just more care, but better care." - Mark MacLeod, MD, President, Ontario Medical Association

Earlier this year, Ontario's doctors released, "Better care. Healthier patients. A stronger Ontario.", which contains 41 recommendations designed to improve patient care and strengthen Ontario's health-care 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.

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

...Putting a plan in place to ensure that every person in Ontario has an electronic medical record;

...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 Alternate Level of Care patients by increasing long-term care capacity and home support services.

At times, Ontario's economic recovery, provincial debt and personal finances have been a focal point for all three parties, but recent polling reveals that patients want health care to be a priority. Specifically, 9 in 10 Ontarians feel that health care is the most important issue and health care is more important by a 2-1 margin over fiscal issues such as jobs, taxes, debt and deficit.

Quick Facts:

...In just six short years over 1.3 million people now have access to family doctor.

...Over 5,900 doctors are now managing over 6 million patients with an electronic medical record.

...More medical school students are choosing family medicine than ever before.

...Wait times for some key surgeries and procedures are down.

...And just last year, Ontario's doctors helped identify some $100 million in savings without impacting patient care.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nurses bringing wait times down: Report from the Canadian Nurses Association

Photo Credit: University of Ottawa Heart Institute

OTTAWA, March 21, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Throughout the country, Canadians are feeling the frustration of long wait times in emergency departments, along with lengthy queues to access specialists, surgeries, diagnostic tests, and long-term and continuing care. A new report from the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) shows how registered nurses (RN) are stepping forward with cost-effective and proactive solutions for reducing and managing wait times across the health system - lowering the economic and human costs associated with waiting for health care.

Registered Nurses: On the Front Lines of Wait Times - Moving Forward explores the complex and interconnected challenges that wait times represent, and highlights a number of nurse-driven solutions that are making a positive difference for individuals, their families and the way our health system functions. Bringing down wait times means minimizing time away from work for patients and their caregivers, with less physical and emotional pain, fewer complications, more timely treatment and faster recovery.

"It has been said that good things come to those who wait - but where health care is concerned, waiting simply amounts to needless suffering and frustration," says CNA president Judith Shamian. "RNs and nurse practitioners are providing solutions to this problem by helping people stay healthy and out of hospital through improved access to care and innovations that reduce bottlenecks in the system. With this report, nurses are showing that they can - and will - do more to reduce and manage wait times."

Some solutions outlined in the report include:

...In Toronto, mobile emergency nurses are reducing wait times at emergency departments by making house calls to long-term care residents - at 21 per cent less than the cost of having assessments completed in an emergency department.

...Nurse practitioners opened a clinic in Sudbury, Ontario - the first of its kind in Canada. NPs are providing comprehensive primary care such as performing physical assessments, treating illnesses and injuries, ordering lab tests, prescribing medication and monitoring patients with chronic illness, to several thousand patients who would otherwise go to an emergency department or walk-in clinic.

...Nurse navigators are acting as patient educators, advocates, care coordinators and system navigators to address complex health needs, such as cancer, heart conditions and chronic diseases, and to help improve patient experiences. This has led to better symptom management, patient follow-up and use of resources, and fewer emergency department visits.

...Nurses are continuing to influence clients in making positive lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, choosing healthier diets and increasing physical activity.

The report is available online at

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Space-Based Gas Station Set to Open in 2015

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

In space, no one can hear you scream -- about the soaring prices at the pump, that is. For what will be the very first time, plans for a space-based satellite filling station have been announced, with a launch date set for 2015. It may sound like a bit of unnecessary convenience some 22,369 miles above our heads, but experts say that the gas station will do much more than make Earth a planetary truck-stop. "This is a first-time-ever, huge, huge, huge event," says the director of the Space Protection Program -- and it's sure to make space a little cleaner, too.

It's been an idea tossed around for years -- an orbiting gas station to refuel satellites and spacecraft which could save millions of dollars and reduce the collection of interstellar trash. Presently, satellites that require fuel are filled on the ground, only to become obsolete when their tanks run dry, destined to end up as useless hunks of floating trash, jeopardizing future visits beyond our upper atmosphere.

To help solve this problem, the Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) have developed a one-of-a-kind refueling and service station that promises to cut the clutter when it's set in orbit in 2015. A report from outlines the project's numerous benefits:

The new plan offers the potential not just to extend the lives of working satellites, but to help combat the growing space junk problem. The satellite, called the Space Infrastructure Servicing (SIS) vehicle, is designed not just to transfer more fuel into existing satellites, but to inspect, tow, reposition and make minor repairs to them.

In addition to its tank of fuel, the refueling satellite will carry a robotic arm that can be used to grab onto satellites and tug at stuck solar array panels, for example, or attempt other minor fixes to broken parts...

read more story at

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Online Resouce Helps Patients Make the Most of their Second Chance Following a Heart Attack or Heart Procedure addresses the needs and challenges facing Canadian patients

TORONTO, March 17, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - You have just arrived home from the hospital after having a heart attack… now what? Following a heart attack or heart procedure, many patients are unsure of the steps to take toward a successful recovery., developed by Eli Lilly Canada in partnership with the World Heart Feder ation, is a new online resource designed specifically to guide Canadian heart attack and heart procedure patients through the recovery process, providing information and interactive tools for patients, their families and loved ones.

The Your Heart: New Start website addresses the physical and emotional challenges facing heart attack or heart procedure patients and their caregivers, at various stages of their recovery. As the basis for the website, the Your Heart: New Start international survey found that Canadian patients lag behind their European counterparts when it comes to managing their heart health after a cardiac procedure, and were nearly three times as likely to stop following their doctor-recommended diet and exercise recommendations because they were "feeling better" (20 per cent). Also, more than one in five patients in Canada frequently missed taking their antiplatelet medication to prevent blood clots - the highest proportion among countries surveyed.

"Following a heart attack or other heart procedure, patients must understand when they leave the hospital there are often significant lifestyle changes required for a successful recovery, including taking medication as prescribed," said Jennifer Price, Cardiac Care Nurse, Women's College Hospital. "Online resources, like, provide patients and their families with tailored information and strategies to help in the rehabilitation process and will assist them to follow doctor-recommended instructions, treatments and medications."

In response to these results, offers guidance on what patients can do when they first arrive home from the hospital; what to do when they have been home from the hospital for a week; what to discuss during the first follow-up appointment with their doctor; and how to achieve long-term heart health. provides an engaging and user-friendly online experience for those recovering from a heart attack or heart procedure, falling under the category of acute coronary syndromes (ACS). ACS also includes conditions such as unstable angina. In Canada, ACS is a major health issue, as annually there are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks, and over 17,000 Canadians die each year as the result of a heart attack. Encouraging long-term heart health is important, as cardiovascular disease currently costs the Canadian economy more than $22 billion annually in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

"Whether a patient is enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program, or is monitoring their recovery with the support of friends and family, it is important to consider a comprehensive approach to a patient's treatment following a heart attack or heart procedure," said Jennifer Price. "Lifestyle changes, such as improving one's diet, increasing exercise and quitting unhealthy activities, like smoking, require informative education and support. It is important to address the physiological, psychological and social well-being of the patient in the recovery process as well."

To motivate patients to say on track, offers downloadable checklists that outline the next steps to take, tailored to the stage in their recovery. The website also includes a series of interactive quizzes, entitled "How Heart Smart are You?" allowing patients to assess their knowledge.

Additional results from the Your Heart: New Start survey highlight the need for a resource to help patients that have experienced a heart attack or heart procedure better manage their recovery. The survey also found that the majority of Canadian patients would find it very helpful to have more information on ways to prevent a heart attack (72 per cent). More than half of Canadian patients (52 per cent) knew what they should be doing to take care of their health and had trouble following through. The survey was conducted among more than 3,000 heart procedure survivors in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the US and the UK.8

About the World Heart Federation

The World Heart Federation is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It leads the global fight against heart disease and stroke via a united community of 202 member organizations that bring together the strength of medical societies and heart foundations, from more than 100 countries. This includes the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Through their collective efforts, they help people all over the world to lead longer, better, heart healthy lives. For further information visit:

About Lilly

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lilly provides answers - through medicines and information - for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Eli Lilly Canada, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, employs more than 500 people across the country. Additional information about Eli Lilly Canada can be found at

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tribute Caskets

GUELPH, Ontario, March 16, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - A unique funeral product will be introduced to the public this week in Canada under the fitting name of Tribute Caskets. The founders of this organization can be seen pitching this product on Dragons' Den, airing Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. in NFLD) on CBC Television.

Tribute Caskets are made using recycled content fibreboard, non-toxic starch based glues and custom printed in a variety of customized designs. This product's design options are endless - one can view a catalogue and choose a casket that features photos of their lifetime, images of their favorite hobby, a meaningful quote or poem, …virtually any "picture" that tells the story of an individual's unique life.

For many people, a traditional funeral is out of step with how we have lived our lives and want to be remembered. We want more than the standard wooden box or metal casket that our parents and grandparents chose - we want our funeral to tell the story of who we really were; what our life meant, and the legacy we leave behind.

"This product fills a unique need, as consumers increasingly search for a more affordable and environmentally responsible memorial option that truly defines and celebrates the way they have lived their lives." says president, Mike Salisbury.

"Now the time has come for these cultural changes to be represented in our end-of-life decision about our funeral wishes and plans." states Salisbury "Finally there's a new burial/cremation product available that is kind to the environment, and reflects who we are and how we have lived our lives; our interests, passions and personality."

For further information:

Mike Salisbury
Tribute Caskets
(519) 993-1441

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's Time to Step Up the Fight Against Obesity: Ontario's Doctors

TORONTO, March 7, 2011 /CanadaNewsWire/ - March is national nutrition month and Ontario's doctors are sounding the alarm that obesity is an epidemic and are calling on provincial parties to commit to tackling childhood obesity in the next election. Not only do Ontario's doctors want action taken to fight obesity, but recent polling conducted for the Ontario Medical Association reveals that 65% of Ontarians believe investments should be made to combat childhood obesity

Obesity is a proven risk factor for a myriad of ailments and chronic diseases including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease and kidney disease. The rise in these chronic diseases associated with obesity is putting increasing stress on Ontario's health care system. It is estimated that the health impacts of being overweight or obese costs the health system approximately $2.2 to $2.5 billion per year.

"The fact that we are raising a generation of children that may not outlive their parents should be enough incentive for political parties, doctors and other health care professionals to work together and take action to fight this growing problem." Mark MacLeod, MD, President of the Ontario Medical Association

A poor or unhealthy diet is not the only reason for the rise in obesity rates. A recent survey from Statistics Canada revealed a disappointing statistic that just seven per cent of children between five and 17 were getting the recommended hour of exercise per day.

Today, Ontario's doctors are urging provincial parties to adopt any of the following recommendations into their respective platforms for the upcoming provincial election.

Specifically, Ontario's doctors are calling for:

...Legislation that would require calorie contents to listed adjacent the items on menus and menu boards at chain restaurants and school cafeterias;

...An education campaign to help inform Ontarians about the impact of caloric intake on weight and obesity;

...The development of a childhood obesity strategy complete with targets and indicators; and

...Making physical activity/education mandatory throughout high school.

"Obesity is an epidemic that needs immediate action. Ontario's doctors see patients everyday who want to lose weight to improve their health, but don't have the basic information to make healthier food decisions. Caloric labelling on menus is a simple and effective way to help patients make better choices for their own health." Mark MacLeod, MD, President of the Ontario Medical Association

Quick Facts

...26 per cent of Canadian children between the ages of two and 17 are overweight or obese.

...75 per cent of obese children become obese adults.

...59 per cent of Canadians are considered overweight (36 per cent) or obese (23 per cent).

To review the complete list of recommendations made by Ontario's doctors in "Better care. Healthier patients. A stronger Ontario." visit

Friday, March 4, 2011

Small business asks consumers to help battle high credit card fees by paying with Interac or cash

OTTAWA, March 3, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has launched a major campaign to inform consumers about the high cost of credit card merchant fees and ask them to consider paying with Interac or cash instead. CFIB, the organization responsible for the concept of the Federal Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry, is equipping its 108,000 member-businesses with signs to be placed at cash registers and tables across the country that promote the benefits of those other forms of payment.

"This consumer campaign is the next big step in a two year fight with credit card companies and banks on the rising cost of accepting credit cards," said Dan Kelly, CFIB's senior vice-president of legislative affairs. "Most consumers are unaware that each time their credit card is swiped, the merchant pays between 1.5 to 3 per cent of the sale to the credit card company, while an Interac debit transaction costs less than 12 cents."

"Our aim here is to make consumers aware of the higher processing fees their local merchants have to pay in order to process transactions using credit cards - particularly new higher cost premium credit cards like Visa Infinite or MasterCard World Elite," explained Kelly. "While consumers may enjoy getting extra points for using their credit cards, few realize that these cards cost merchants a fortune - resulting in higher prices to cover those costs."

"We aren't saying not to use credit cards," Kelly clarified. "What we are saying, though, is that we believe consumers may make a different choice given the right information about the impact each form of payment has on their favourite drycleaner or local café. Most Canadians are very supportive of local, independent businesses and may be happy to choose another payment method to help keep costs down."

The Competition Bureau recently found that Canada's credit card costs were among the highest in the world. "CFIB believes that if credit card companies and banks see even a tiny shift in credit card transactions as a result of this campaign, it will cause them to rethink their fee strategy for smaller merchants," Kelly concluded.

More information and copies of the point-of-sale signs are available on CFIB's special credit-debit website This website also contains a video and an explanation of the size and scope of the credit card cost challenge facing merchants in Canada.

As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 108,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"GET CHECKED NOW" Campaign Launched to Help Combat Type 2 Diabetes

Canadian Diabetes Association and Loblaw Companies Limited offer year-long national in-store program

TORONTO, March 1 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Diabetes Association launched "Get Checked Now" - a national public awareness campaign aimed at Canadians 40 and older alerting them to the consequences of being passive about their potential risk for developing type 2 diabetes and leading them to take action against the disease by getting checked now. The Association and Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw) will also offer a national "Get Checked Now" program that will help get Canadians checked for type 2 diabetes and support them in living healthy lives with the disease.

According to a recent Environics Public Opinion Poll commissioned by the Canadian Diabetes Association, 43 per cent of Canadians (people without diabetes) indicate that they have never been tested for type 2 diabetes.1 Based in part on this insight, the "Get Checked Now" awareness campaign features a dramatic story line and compelling images to draw attention to a sign that someone may experience with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes - severe tingling or numbness in the extremities known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. National television and radio public service announcements encourage Canadians to visit for information and, more importantly, to find out where to get checked for diabetes.

"Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions among the Canadian population. Many people with prediabetes or undiagnosed type 2 diabetes may actually display no symptoms. It is critical that we all act now as diabetes is not only costing our healthcare system, but is costing Canadians their life," said Michael Cloutier, president and CEO, Canadian Diabetes Association. "Our campaign sponsors and distinctive collaboration with Loblaw will help Canadians get checked for type 2 diabetes and provide educational resources to help them manage the disease."

Now, Canadians can get a complimentary personalized diabetes risk assessment at participating pharmacies located at Loblaws, Zehrs, Extra Foods, Atlantic Superstore, Real Canadian Superstore and Your Independent Grocer retail stores. This risk assessment takes only minutes and was developed in consultation with the Canadian Diabetes Association and complies with the Association's Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Free copies of a Canadian Diabetes Association and Loblaw co-branded publication called Verve - A Guide to Living Healthy with Diabetes will also be available. Starting in the spring through to the end of the year, Loblaw and the Association will deliver diabetes education sessions at pharmacies in select Loblaw retail stores to help Canadians learn how to manage their diabetes, and to help facilitate a network of individuals living with diabetes.

"Working with the Canadian Diabetes Association is another example of Loblaw's commitment to help Canadians live healthier lives," says Bobbi Reinholdt, senior vice president, Pharmacy, Loblaw Companies Limited. "Our pharmacists can provide personalized diabetes risk assessments at any time, and education on managing diabetes including diabetes medication reviews and, information. Loblaw and its pharmacies aim to support Canadians' healthier lifestyle goals in a one stop shop experience."

Loblaw is a proud supporter in this year-long national initiative with the Canadian Diabetes Association, which represents one way the Company is offering programs, services and products that can help Canadians live healthier lives.

Reflective of this approach, the Company has just launched its Helping You Live Life Well® event in its banner stores across the country. With 100 new healthier items in the latest President's Choice® Insiders Report® and a spotlight on diabetes health screening and education sessions in select banner stores to an ongoing focus on fresh food offerings and more, Loblaw aims to motivate Canadians to live healthier lives.

Visit to find out more information about the "Get Checked Now" campaign and to locate your nearest pharmacy.

Diabetes in Canada

Today, more than 3 million Canadians live with diabetes of which 1 million live with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. A further 6 million Canadians live with prediabetes and nearly 50 per cent of them will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Nearly one in four Canadians either has diabetes or prediabetes. Prediabetes refers to a condition that, if left unchecked, puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day. Diabetes also threatens the economic prosperity of our nation as it currently costs our healthcare system $12.2 billion annually - a number that is projected to rise to $16.9 billion by 2020. However, as much as diabetes is impacting the Canadian healthcare system, it is shortening people's lives by 5 to 15 years. Diabetes is increasingly costing Canadians their lives, yet people remain desensitized to it.

About the Canadian Diabetes Association

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. Our community-based network of supporters help us provide education and services to people living with diabetes, advocate for our cause, break ground towards a cure and translate research into practical applications. For more information, please visit or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Green Thumb? Try Growing These Three Easy Vegetables

by Colleen Vanderlinden

So you say you don't have a green thumb. You kill every plant you try to grow, including the so-called "unkillable" plants that everyone else on the planet seems to have no problem with. Or you're really busy, and you don't think you have the time to grow a garden.

Surprise: you can grow a perfectly respectable vegetable garden (in the ground or in containers) and eat fresh food from your own yard or balcony all summer long. It's just a matter of picking the right crops.

It's nearly March. Those of us in the northern zones are ordering and starting seeds (finally) and those in the south are gearing up to start planting (if they haven't already). With a little planning, you can grow plenty of food this year. Below are the three easiest vegetables you can grow. With a minimum of time and attention, they'll provide you with salads and snacks throughout the spring and summer, and into the fall.

The Three Easiest Vegetables to Grow

1. Snap Beans (AKA Green beans, string beans)

Snap beans are easy to grow, and require very little in the way of maintenance other than regular watering. They aren't susceptible to many pests or diseases, and germinate easily from seed. Both pole and bush beans are easy, but if you're growing in containers, or would rather not deal with putting up trellises, bush beans are the way to go.Beans grow best in full sun, but will also produce a decent amount of food when grown in partial shade.

... How to Grow Beans

2. Radishes

Radishes are a vegetable that don't seem to get much respect. Most people think the only thing you can do with them is slice them into a salad or add them to a crudite platter. But have you tried eating a radish smeared with butter and sprinkled with coarse salt? Have you tried roasting them as a side dish, or pickling them? There is so much to love about these quick-growing, ridiculously easy to grow root vegetables. The seeds are large enough to sow easily, either in a garden bed or in a container that's at least six inches deep. They grow in sun to partial shade. And as long as you manage to water them before the soil dries out, you'll be rewarded with plenty of crispy, spicy radishes. Just sow more as you need them, and you can grow radishes all season long.

... How to Grow Radishes

3. Cherry Tomatoes

If you're able to provide a little bit of support (a cage or stake) you can grow indeterminate tomatoes fairly easily. However, for the smallest amount of work possible, look for "patio" type tomatoes. These are usually hybrids -- some popular patio varieties include 'Patio' and 'Tiny Tim.' If you prefer heirlooms, look for a small-fruited variety like 'Yellow Pear,' 'Chocolate Cherry,' or 'Red Currant.' Small-fruited varieties are easy to grow because, unlike with larger tomatoes, you rarely have to worry about issues like splitting or blossom end rot. Tomatoes will even be fine with a bit of neglect -- if you forget to water them, it's not a big deal. Some gardeners swear that tomatoes taste better the less water you give them. One or two small-fruited tomato plants will keep you happily harvesting tomatoes throughout the summer until the first frost.

... How to Grow Tomatoes

Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can grow these three easy garden vegetables. Give them a try!... read more story at