Thursday, September 22, 2011

Patient-Centered Care the Defining Feature of the Patient's Medical Home

CFPC releases vision for the future of family practice in Canada: The Patient's Medical Home

OTTAWA, September 21, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) today released "A Vision for Canada: Family Practice: The Patient's Medical Home" that provides goals and recommendations for timely access to medical and health care services for all Canadians through their family practice settings.

"Canadians want timely access to health care, and better coordinated care for all their health care needs," said Dr. Robert Boulay, President of the CFPC. "They want a personal family doctor to provide and coordinate their care. Most people without a family doctor want one, and those with family physicians want timely access to appointments. Patients also want better access to appointments and coordination of information related to care they need throughout the rest of the health care community - be it consultations with other specialists, hospital and emergency department care, long term care, pharmacies, labs, diagnostic imaging, physiotherapy and other treatment centers or services needed in their own homes. The vision of the 'Patient's Medical Home' aims to meet the needs of Canadians for a family practice which will serve as the hub, or home base to provide or arrange and coordinate the range of medical and health care services needed by its patients."

"In keeping with the history of the specialty of family medicine, Patients' Medical Homes are patient-centred, focused on meeting the health and wellness needs of each person and providing enhanced opportunities for participation of patients in both their own care as well as the decisions related to the delivery of services in the practice," said Dr. Calvin Gutkin, CFPC Executive Director and CEO. "With a team of health professionals, nurses and others working together - physically or virtually - with the patient's family physician, Canadians will benefit from timely access to comprehensive, continuing, coordinated care centered on their needs. The CFPC vision is that every person in Canada - whether they live in a rural, suburban or urban community, will have the opportunity to be part of a family practice that serves as their personal medical home."

"It is good news, " said CFPC President Elect Dr. Sandy Buchman "that over the past few years several family practice models incorporating the patient's medical home elements have begun to emerge in different parts of Canada with encouraging early results related to both patient and provider satisfaction. To make this work however will require ongoing system supports, including funding to support the transition from paper records to electronic medical records. The federal-provincial -territorial health accord that ends in 2014 must not only be extended for at least another decade, it must also maintain and augment its commitment to primary care and family practice which are essential to the health outcomes of our population."

The College of Family Physicians of Canada is the voice of family medicine in Canada. Representing over 26,000 family physician members across the country, it is the professional organization responsible for establishing standards for the training, certification and lifelong education of family physicians and for advocating on behalf of the specialty of family medicine, family physicians and their patients. The CFPC accredits postgraduate family medicine training in Canada's 17 medical schools.

Info online at Patient's Medical Home

Speak Your Mind about the 2011 Ontario Provincial Election

New online forum for news, discussion and debate
launches for the Fall election

TORONTO, September 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - With the launch of Speak Your Mind, Ontarians now have an interactive platform that allows them to get informed and join the discussion around the important issues driving the 2011 Ontario provincial election. Speak Your Mind brings together news and opinions from community bloggers from each electoral district, insights from expert commentators, and readers' opinions. This content will be supplemented by editorial coverage from the Toronto Star newsroom.

"Speak Your Mind, convened by the Toronto Star, is for people with varying levels of political awareness and who want to be better informed about their election choices," says Kenyon Wallace, a journalist with the Toronto Star and host of the Speak Your Mind Twitter chats and videos. "This site is for everyone from first time voters who need an understanding of our political system, parties and candidates, to the politically savvy who want a forum to express their opinions. We also hope to reengage lapsed voters and to encourage young voters to become more involved in the election."

At Speak Your Mind visitors will find:

...Coverage from each electoral district by over 200 community correspondents
...Election coverage from Toronto Star journalists
...Expert opinions
...Snapshots of each party, their leaders and their campaign promises
...A candidate leaderboard based on media sentiment
...The Star's "Smell Test", an investigation and verification of the claims made by leaders and candidates
...Polls, discussions, trending topics and more

"People can read or watch the news each day, but Speak Your Mind is interactive, using social media tools, and provides a way for people to get involved in the news as it is happening," says Wallace. "It gives everyone a voice to have their concerns and opinions heard."

About Speak Your Mind (, Facebook, Twitter)

Speak Your Mind is an online forum for commentary, discussion and debate convened by the Toronto Star.

About the Toronto Star and

The Toronto Star, founded in 1892, is read in print and online ( by 3.0 million readers. The Toronto Star is a division of Star Media Group, which includes, Torstar Syndication Services, The Grid, Sway and The Canadian Immigrant. Star Media Group also includes the jointly owned Metro free daily newspapers in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Winnipeg and London, Ont., and the Chinese language newspaper Sing Tao. Star Media Group is a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of Torstar Corporation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Canada's first social network and online resource for families and friends of people with diabetes

Announcing Diabetes Care

TORONTO, September 20, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 20 people every hour of every day receive the often-shocking news: "you have diabetes". For both patients and families alike, it's a diagnosis that can lead to confusion, fear, and so many questions. How will they manage their own care? How can they ensure a healthier future?

There are so many diabetes-related websites and social media conversations, it can be difficult to find answers amid all the rumours and opinion. But now, a unique online community will enable Canadians to share their experiences with each other and gain valuable insight and practical tips from health care professionals.

Diabetes Care Community, Canada's first social network and resource for families of those living with someone with diabetes, is launching on September 15th, 2011. Diabetes affects lives, not only of the more than three million Canadians living with this condition, but also of the estimated three million more family and friends who play a key role as their caregivers. Now they have an online community to help them support and motivate their loved ones to better manage their condition.

"Diabetes Care Community has been created to connect Canadians with high quality information and expert advice from leaders in the field of diabetes", says Shelley Diamond, Pharmacist and President of the Diabetes Care Community Inc., "as well as to provide an area where members can connect to exchange experiences and support one another. There are a few diabetes social network sites in the U.S., but this is the first in Canada. The difference is that Diabetes Care Community uses Canadian reference values and refers to Canadian diabetes products which the user will be able to identify with."

Diabetes Care Community is guided by a six member advisory board [profiles attached]. Says board member Gail MacNeill, Manager, Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes in Toronto, "Online social networking provides people living with chronic diseases and their supporters a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and provides support to one another, yet the quality of the information in some of these digital arenas may not be credible. We will ensure that Diabetes Care Community provides our audience with reliable and trustworthy information through our expert bloggers as well as leadership from the advisory board, while providing people an area to connect through a separate channel within the site."

Site content include blogs from six leading health care professionals - two physicians, a nurse, a dietitian, a pharmacist and a social worker - writing about healthy eating, physical activity, emotional support, medication, 'Staying on Track' and 'What's New'.

The Diabetes Care Community focus is on families of people living with diabetes, yet it will appeal to all people involved in diabetes care - people with diabetes, their support network, and health care providers. The website also features a comprehensive list of available Canadian diabetes products through the Canadian Diabetes Product Directory.

If you are interested in learning more about this exciting new health care resource visit


Ian Blumer

Ian Blumer is a diabetes specialist in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Blumer is a member of the executive of the Canadian Diabetes Association. He is the recipient of the Canadian Diabetes Association Special Dedication Award. He is a director of the Charles H Best Diabetes Centre and has a teaching appointment with the University of Toronto. He is the author or co-author of 8 books including Diabetes for Canadians for Dummies, Diabetes Cookbook for Canadians for Dummies, Celiac Disease for Dummies, and has recently published his first novel. His books have been translated into French and Chinese. Dr. Blumer's web site is

Alice Cheng

Dr. Cheng is a member of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She completed medical school, internal medicine and Endocrinology training at the University of Toronto and has completed the Master Teacher Program offered through the Department of Medicine. She has served on the Expert Committee for the 2003 Canadian Diabetes Association clinical practice guidelines and the Steering and Expert Committees for the 2008 revision, along with the Dissemination & Implementation committee. She is serving as Chair for the 2013 CDA clinical practice guidelines. In addition to guideline development, Dr. Cheng has co-written several textbook chapters on dyslipidemia, diabetes and other endocrine topics and is actively involved in continuing medical education.

Shelley Diamond

Shelley Diamond graduated from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto. Following graduation she pursued a pharmacy residency at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where she worked as a clinical pharmacist for 10 years in general pediatric medicine and subsequently started the Drug Use Evaluation Program at the hospital. Since 1995, Shelley began her own independent pharmacy consulting company where she has consulted to Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaw Corporations Limited and several other pharmaceutical companies. Shelley's work has involved developing and marketing patient and pharmacist education programs in the areas of children's health, asthma and diabetes and she has published articles in this area as well.

Joanne Lewis

Joanne Lewis is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, working as Outreach Facilitator with the Toronto Central Diabetes RCC. Her responsibilities include coordination of diabetes services in the Toronto area. Joanne has previously worked with collaborative and multidisciplinary diabetes education teams in both community and hospital settings. Her focus for the past 17 years has been in diabetes self-management education. Joanne has developed and facilitated education programs for health professionals at The Michener Institute and is a faculty member of the Ontario Pharmacists Association in their Nutrition, Cardiovascular and Diabetes programs. She has served as an advisor and reviewer for several organizations, including the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario and the Canadian Journal of Diabetes. Joanne has presented at national and international diabetes conferences and workshops.

Gail MacNeill

Gail is a clinical nurse specialist and the manager of the Leadership Sinai Center for Diabetes at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Toronto. She has over 20 years experience in diabetes self-management education and treatment working in hospital, clinic, community and corporate settings. As a Certified Diabetes Educator, Gail has been a passionate advocate for the highest quality education to be available to all. She is the co-recipient of the Bayer Award for Educational Innovation due to her shared research and program entitled "Support the Supporters" and in 2008 Gail was honoured with the Educator of the year award by the Canadian Diabetes Association. Her volunteer work includes being chairperson of the Toronto Chapter of the Diabetes Educator Section and co-chair of the Scarborough chapter of the CDA. Gail is a clinical associate at the University of Toronto.

Gwen Morgan

Gwen Morgan is a Social Worker with over 20 years experience working with people with diabetes, and other chronic illness, in hospital care settings. Gwen specialized in running workshops on stress management and positive coping with diabetes. Along with Gail MacNeill, she received the Bayer Award for the 'Support the Supporters Program'. This was a program that uniquely focused on the families and friends of people who have diabetes, and how they could best support the person with diabetes, while at the same time meeting their own needs for emotional support. Gwen has extensive training in solution-focused, motivational and mindfulness therapies. She teaches mindfulness meditation and facilitates the 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction groups for people living with pain, chronic illness and diabetes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sustainability conference wraps up with a commitment to bring about change

GUELPH, Ontario, September 19, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The second edition of a conference that brought 165 Canadian students together with sustainability experts from business, non-governmental organizations and academia, wrapped up today with a commitment from participants to use their knowledge, skills and passion to build a more sustainable world. IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership was a unique four-day event held in Guelph, Ontario, where students formulated ideas for more sustainable practices geared to ten systems including energy, water, food and transportation.

To help students make an impact in their communities and on their campuses, Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators announced a further $75,000 for The Co-operators Foundation - IMPACT! Fund. This fund has already given $88,685 to support sustainability projects undertaken by alumni of the inaugural conference, held in 2009. The new funding will be available to support both 2009 and 2011 conference alumni.

At the beginning of the conference, it was also announced that IMPACT! alumni will fill 4 of twelve internship positions at the David Suzuki Foundation that are being sponsored by The Co-operators over the next four years.

"The 2009 conference showed us just how driven, committed and innovative these young people are when it comes to sustainability," Bardswick said. "And the new crop of participants this year was equally impressive. We're excited to be able to bring them together, to further their skills and knowledge, and to provide financial support to help them achieve their goals."

More than 850 students applied to the program. Participants were chosen from a variety of fields of study, perspectives and geography to ensure a diverse and multi-disciplinary approach. Prior to coming together at the host University of Guelph, each student completed approximately twenty-five hours of study.

The conference included two inspirational keynote addresses. David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, set the tone by outlining the challenges the younger generation faces in addressing ecological challenges. Jonathan Glencross, an alumnus of the 2009 conference, showed students they can make a difference at their schools and in their communities. His initiative, the Sustainable McGill Project, had the mission of integrating sustainability into the culture, curriculum and operations of the university. The project, which received funding from the IMPACT! Fund, was very successful and led to the creation of McGill's Office for Sustainability, and a Rethink Your Curriculum student engagement initiative.

Other speakers included experts in community engagement, networking and activism, poverty, ethics, business, government and the media relations, innovation and leadership, and people management. More information can be found at

IMPACT! The Co-operators Youth Program for Sustainability Leadership is a partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, The Natural Step Canada, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, Wilfrid Laurier University, Lambton College, Conseil de la coopération de l'Ontario, AIESEC, and the Network for Business Sustainability.

Friday, September 16, 2011

President of Czech Republic to Give Inaugural Economics Lecture

photo credit: Michael Thurm via Flickr

GUELPH, Ontario September 15, 2011 - University of Guelph News Release

A new annual visiting lecture series on international economics has been created by the University of Guelph’s Department of Economics and Finance with support from the College of Management and Economics. The series is intended to stimulate discussion among faculty, students, international economic leaders and the general public on global research and policy issues.

The inaugural Distinguished Visiting Lecture will be delivered by Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m. in the Arboretum Centre. Klaus’s lecture, titled “The Serious Challenges Faced by the European Union,” will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

The talk is free and open to the University community and general public; as space is limited, people are asked to RSVP online.

“We are honoured that Dr. Klaus has taken time out of his busy schedule to come to Guelph,” said Prof. John Livernois, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance. “As a professional economist and one of the longest-serving heads of state in Europe, he is in a unique position to give us insights into what lies ahead for the world economy.”

Livernois added that it’s important for universities to promote discussions and debate about key global issues. “This new lecture series will support critical thinking in all disciplines and encourage people to ponder their own ideas and beliefs as well as those of others. Having a prominent world figure as the inaugural lecturer is a dynamic way to start.”

Klaus is known for forthright views and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. Born in Prague in 1941, he studied economics in Prague, Italy and the United States, and completed a PhD at the Czech Academy of Sciences in 1968.

From 1970 to 1989, he worked as an economist at the Czechoslovak Central Bank and the Czech Academy of Sciences. In 1989, he served as finance minister in the revolutionary government of Vaclav Havel, leading the transition of the Czech economy from state-run central planning to a free-market system.

He co-founded the Civic Democratic Party in 1991 and was elected prime minister a year later. He was elected president of the Czech Republic in 2003 and was re-elected in 2008. In 2009, he served as president of the European Union.

Among numerous international awards, Klaus has received honorary doctorates from 35 universities in Europe, the United States, Canada and elsewhere. He has written 20 books on economics and politics.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baycrest leads Canada in patient safety and quality care, experts confirm

photo credit: molsonblog via Flickr

TORONTO, September 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ -Baycrest has been ranked in the top eight per cent of all Canadian health-care organizations in delivering excellence in care, patient safety and corporate operations by Accreditation Canada, the nation's leading independent surveyor of health-care organizations.

Following a recent and intensive on-site review, where surveyors spent three days examining all aspects of Baycrest's care and operations, the organization not only received Accreditation Canada's highest honour - Full Accreditation - it fulfilled 100 per cent of the required organizational practices.

In addition, Baycrest met an exceptional 99.6 per cent of the 1,400 designated accreditation standards set out by the surveyors- a tremendous achievement, not only in the field of aging, but in the entire Canadian health-care sector.

"Accreditation Canada applies rigour to its review process to ensure organizations are meeting the standards required by Canadians," said Wendy Nicklin, president and CEO of Accreditation Canada. "The success with accreditation at Baycrest shows the remarkable commitment of the leadership and staff to ongoing quality improvement on behalf of the people it serves and the lives it touches."

In addition to this top Canadian ranking, three of Baycrest's innovative programs and services were singled out by Accreditation Canada as "leading" for the country and setting the bar for excellence in a specific health-care field, and contributing to the overall betterment of health care in Canada. They are:

...Baycrest's unique caregiver services, which include a range of evidence-based programs that educate, counsel and connect family caregivers. Research shows that family members provide 80 per cent of care to seniors in the community, but too often are ill-equipped to effectively attend the needs of aging relatives living at home.

...The innovative Acute Care Transition Unit, which provides round-the-clock specialized care to seniors with sub-acute or chronic conditions, reducing emergency room and acute care hospital admissions and providing better access to treatment for seniors. Since 2009, the program has diverted 1,239 emergency room visits and has saved the Ontario health-care system an estimated $9.3 million.

...A specific practice on the Acute Care Transition Unit that reduces the transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, a common and potentially serious infection often acquired in hospitals. Baycrest's leading infectious disease practices have reduced the transmission of MRSA by 89 per cent over the course of a six-month study on the unit.

"Our Accreditation results clearly show that Baycrest's dedication to performance excellence is unrelenting," says Dr. Bill Reichman, president and CEO of Baycrest. "We lead Canada in the provision of high quality care, service and the development of highly specialized, innovative programs focused on aging."

In addition to now being one of Canada's top rated health-care organizations, providing leading practice and a comprehensive system of care for aging patients, Baycrest is also home to the Rotman Research Institute (RRI). The RRI is ranked by an international panel of scientists as the best in the world for its cognitive neuroscience efforts in memory and aging.

"The Rotman Research Institute has firmly established itself as the leading research institution in the field of memory and aging," said Robert T. Knight, chair of the external review panel and director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California-Berkeley. "The scientists at the Rotman are very highly regarded and the senior scientists are among the most distinguished in the world."

Baycrest's Centre for Education and Knowledge Exchange in Aging is home to the greatest number of trainees of any leading institution focused on aging and offers a wide-range of provincial, national and international educational programs for students, staff, clients, families and caregivers, and the general public.

According to Dr. Reichman, this combination of world-class care, research and education makes Baycrest unique not just in Canada but around the world.

In the Accreditation report, the surveyors specifically highlighted:

...Baycrest's strength as an academic and research-focused organization;

...Its commitment to quality and safety;

...Its new strategic plan which gives a clear direction for the future of the organization;

...Its commitment to hearing the voices of those it serves;

...Its physical environment;

...Its communication with stakeholders;

...Its community partners who are consistently positive about their relationship with Baycrest;

...Its heritage, which is very important within the organization;

...Its diverse workforce.

Headquartered on a 22-acre campus in Toronto, Ontario and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest is the global leader in developing and providing innovations in aging and brain health.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ontario's health depends on Better Care Faster

TORONTO, September 14, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Better Care Faster, a public awareness campaign launched today by a coalition of concerned health care professionals, patient and advocacy groups, health charities and research-based pharmaceutical companies, calls on all Ontarians to work together to develop solutions aimed at improving Ontario's health care system.

"The population of Ontario is rapidly growing, and the health care needs of our aging citizens are putting an increased demand on our system resources. While we have made significant progress to improve many aspects of our health care system, there remains much more to be done," said Dr. Stewart Kennedy, President of the Ontario Medical Association. "Now is the time to come together to develop collaborative solutions for the continued improvement of our health care system."

As Ontario's population continues to grow and age, Ontario's health care system faces enormous demands for care that will burden the system beyond its current capacity. Ontario's population will grow by almost 35 per cent by 2036,1 and in 10 years almost one in five Ontarians will be over 65, an increase of over 37 per cent since 2005.2 Furthermore, almost 80 per cent of Ontarians over 45 currently have a chronic condition3. The incidence of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, lung disease and dementia will continue to rise as the population ages, putting greater pressure on health care resources.

"As the incidence of chronic disease continues to rise, ensuring Ontarians have timely access to the right care at the right time becomes increasingly important," said Russell Williams, President of Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D). "One element of this campaign is working together to ensure that innovative medicines are made available to people of Ontario who need them most."

The Better Care Faster campaign is a starting point—a place to begin working together to find and implement solutions for our health care system to be ready for the needs of Ontario's growing and aging population in the future. These will include solutions that put innovation to work faster, prevent and manage chronic disease, ensure that patients have access to the medicines they need to manage their health and well-being, and ensure that Ontarians get released from hospital and into the right level of care in their communities sooner.

"Over the past several years we've seen many solutions implemented to address the health needs of Ontarians. However, new information and technology is ever evolving, and so must our efforts to improve the health care system," said George Habib, President and CEO, Ontario Lung Association. "This is why the dialogue sparked by Better Care Faster is so important- to raise pressing health care issues and provide a place to share ideas and information. We welcome all concerned individuals and organizations to join us in developing solutions."

The campaign is brought to the Ontario public by a partnership of concerned organizations including: Arthritis Society, Asthma Society of Canada, CARP, Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), Institute for Optimizing Health Outcomes, Ontario College of Family Physicians, Ontario Lung Association, Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Pharmacists' Association and Nurse Practitioners' Association of Ontario.

Join the conversation. Visit to share your concerns, have your voice heard and discuss solutions for the improvement of our health care system.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Online Party of Canada - A Call for Action

TORONTO, September 13, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canadians are quite literate politically and eager to express their opinions whenever they have a chance, in scientific or ad-hoc polls. Many newspapers, TV stations ask their audience to vote or comment on various topics. But what happens with the results? Sadly, the polls get archived and their results largely dismissed by our politicians.

Online Party of Canada (OPC) proposes a political system based on voting on issues instead of parties or individuals, voters can express their opinions and educate themselves on each issue that never expire, suggest new issues, vote and have their vote counted. This is the foundation of a new, truly democratic political system designed to empower the people by legally forcing the elected officials to respect voters' will.

Canada's current political system is broken, and here's why. As of May this year, we have a 'majority' Conservative government that was elected by only 24% of voters. The Government stance on many major issues is opposite to what the voters want and goes unchallenged despite public outcry and opinion polls. The government moved to eliminate political subsidies leaving the rich donors to decide who's in power. Many journalists haven't heard of Elections Canada's shady Advisory Committee of 19 political parties where one party can veto any improvements of the electoral process. The current political system has brought us election irregularities, the 'Americanization' of our military, outrageous spending, enormous national debt, unemployment, grave social problems and many other issues. With the opposition parties in total disarray and a surprisingly tame National media, Canadians have never been so misrepresented.

Let's change this political system we all loathe! OPC's 'Call for Action' invites all politically-inclined Canadians, regardless their political stripe to read, comment, vote on hundreds of issues posted on our website and share the issues via Social Networks. We have opened hundreds of new positions at Federal and Local levels in all Electoral Districts; sign-up to become an OPC Candidate or Local Party Officer!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

48% of Canadians adults could have difficulty reading this sentence

Limited literacy impacts the lives of an estimated 12-million Canadians

MONTREAL, September 8, 2011 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Four out of 10 adult Canadians, aged 16 to 65 or about 12 million Canadians, struggle with limited literacy. Poor literacy skills can lead to a lifetime of economic, social and health insecurities for individuals and their children.

Today is International Literacy Day. The Montreal Children's Hospital along with The Centre for Literacy are highlighting the continuing challenge of literacy in Canada and the link between limited literacy and poor health.

As well, with the help of Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Robert Thirsk, the hospital and The Centre are also paying tribute to iconic Canadian writer and literacy advocate Roch Carrier, author of The Hockey Sweater, by naming the hospital's reading corner in Mr. Carrier's honour.

Literacy and health

Studies show 60 percent of the Canadian population struggles with literacy in the context of health. That is, they cannot identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials to manage their own health care or that of their children. In Quebec, the statistics are even higher. People with poor literacy have trouble finding and understanding health and safety information, are more likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma and are less likely to receive regular health services.

Daily reading has been identified as the single most important factor in improving health literacy.

"It is important that health care professionals address literacy in their practice given that parents take advice from health care professionals seriously," says Jan Lariviere, MCH nurse and literacy advocate. "The Children's along with The Centre for Literacy are working to promote literacy and engage families in reading through Lire/Imagine/Read, a program that helps health care providers integrate literacy into pediatric practice."

Lire/Imagine/Read gives a book to children aged 0 to 5 years old in their mother tongue at select clinics. Parents are given a bookmark and information on the importance of reading for child development. They are encouraged to visit local libraries and or bookstores to continue the habit of reading to their children. The program has volunteers reading to children in waiting areas.

"Even if parents are unable to read well, we encourage them to go through a book with their young child and make up a story to match the pictures. This simple gesture will help lead their child to read and appreciate books," says Linda Shohet, Executive Director of The Centre for Literacy.

Honouring Roch Carrier

To mark International Literacy Day, The Montreal Children's Hospital and The Centre for Literacy are joined by Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Robert Thirsk to dedicate the hospital's reading corner in honour of Roch Carrier.

The Roch Carrier Coin de lecture/ Reading Corner is located on 2B, the hospital's clinic area where over 125,000 children per year come for their doctor's appointments.

"We are delighted to rename our little reading corner after Roch Carrier," says Ms. Lariviere. "Mr. Carrier is an international advocate for literacy and has been a friend and supporter of Lire/Imagine/Read. He has read to children in the hospital and spoken with health professionals about the importance of reading and literacy to health and wellness."

Astronaut Robert Thirsk adds a wider perspective to the dedication. During his 2009 six-month expedition aboard the International Space Station (ISS) Dr. Thirsk brought along a copy of Roch Carrier's book The Hockey Sweater. Dr. Thirsk said he chose the book because it is a family favourite and he believes that reading is an important educational foundation.

During a recent interview, Dr. Thirsk said bringing The Hockey Sweater into space was a no brainer. He fell in love with the story as an adolescent, and introduced it to his three children when they were old enough.

Reading is an important part of his family's, and of his everyday life as well, Thirsk said.

"Astronaut training is a little like drinking from a fire hose," he said, meaning there is a lot of information to take in over a short period of time. "We can't do our job if we don't have reading skills," he said.

Background on Dr. Robert Thirsk from the Canadian Space Agency:

In 2009, Robert Thirsk became the first Canadian astronaut to fly a long-duration expedition aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He and two crewmates launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 27 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. When their Soyuz vehicle docked with the nearly complete Station two days later, the ISS became home for the first time to a permanent crew of six.

As members of the ISS Expedition 20/21 crew, Bob and his five international crewmates performed an unprecedented amount of multidisciplinary research, complex robotic operations, and maintenance and repair work of Station systems and payloads. Following the undocking of his Soyuz spacecraft from the Station and landing back in Kazakhstan on December 1, Robert Thirsk had lived and worked in space for another 188 days during this second voyage to space.

Robert Thirsk is a strong promoter of a Canadian economy based upon exploration and innovation. He encourages young Canadians to build their dreams upon a solid educational foundation and advanced skills.

About Mr. Carrier:

Roch Carrier is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, and a recipient of the Stephen Leacock Medal. He holds honorary doctorates from the Université de Moncton in New Brunswick, York University in Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and Bowling Green University in Ohio.

From 1994 to 1997, Mr. Carrier was director of the Canada Council for the Arts, after which he turned his focus to travel, studying and writing. In 1999, he became Canada's fourth National Librarian, a position he held until 2004. He has been honorary chair of the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD) since 2005.

Several novels written by Mr. Carrier are considered classics and are taught in schools and universities around the world, in both French and English. Some have been translated into foreign languages. He has also written plays that have been produced both in Canada and abroad.

About The Centre for Literacy

The Centre is a Montreal-based research, resource and professional development organization and a national centre of expertise on all aspects of adult literacy and essential skills. The Centre has done pioneering work in health literacy research and action, much of it in collaboration with the McGill University Health Centre. The work includes patient information navigation kits for breast and prostate cancers. The Centre is a partner with The Montreal Children's Hospital on Lire/Imagine/Read.

Researchers Discover Cellular Process that Clears Cholesterol and Could Reverse Major Cause of Heart Attack

OTTAWA, September 8, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Researchers at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) have discovered that an ancient pathway called autophagy also mobilizes and exports cholesterol from cells.

A team led by Yves Marcel, PhD, Director of the HDL Biology Laboratory, UOHI, has shown that autophagy, a pathway preserved during evolution, functions to engulf and digest cholesterol accumulated in artery walls. This process facilitates the removal of cholesterol and may provide an entirely new target to reverse atherosclerosis, the main cause of heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol accumulates in the walls of arteries leading to atherosclerosis, also known as narrowing of arteries and which causes blockages and reduces blood flow to the heart. This often culminates in heart attacks and strokes.

The autophagy pathway, which means self-digestion, developed early in single-cell organisms to allow the clearance of accumulated dysfunctional molecules. "The finding that autophagy also functions to digest and liberate cholesterol from cells and the fact that we know this pathway is regulated offers hope for the development of new drugs that could activate export of cholesterol from the walls of arteries," said Marcel.

"There is an urgent need to understand how cholesterol accumulation in arteries can be reversed," said researcher Mireille Ouimet, who was a major contributor to the study.

Details of the research were published online earlier this summer in the journal Cell Metabolism (Cell Metab. 2011: 13(6):655-67) and illustrate how cholesterol buildup itself triggers autophagy, facilitating the release of cholesterol for transport back to the liver for elimination from the body. It is possible that some patients with CAD have an impaired ability to clear arterial cholesterol by the autophagy pathway, said Marcel.

Marcel's work lends a greater understanding to the underlying biochemical complexities involving cholesterol. Cholesterol is important to cell structure. Problems arise when too much cholesterol is deposited inside the walls of the coronary artery - the origins of coronary artery disease (CAD). Researchers now are investigating how this process is involved in the development of atherosclerosis, a step that could help experts in cardiovascular medicine understand and find a new way to halt the progression of heart disease.

Marcel's research career has focused on lipoproteins - the biochemical mechanism to transport cholesterol and fats through the body. In 1997, he received the highest medal of honour by the Royal Society of Canada for his contribution to medical science including research related to pathways for polyunsaturated fatty acids. This was the McLaughlin Medal, considered one of the country's most prestigious tributes for research excellence.

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, September 7, 2011

Connect with the stars at CBC's new entertainment portal, CBC Live

TORONTO, September 6, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - CBC has launched Canada's newest online entertainment destination: CBC Live ( From film and fashion to people and parties, CBC Live brings the stars to life like never before, connecting Canadians with high-profile personalities and happenings.

"At CBC, we're focused on celebrating the very best in Canadian talent," said Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services. "CBC Live is a great way for Canadians to connect to the entertainment scene in our country online - easy access for the entertainment lover anywhere in Canada."

Launching just in time for the star-studded September season, CBC Live will have a place of prominence at fall events from the Gemini Awards and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to the CCMA Awards and the national Culture Days celebrations. And of course, CBC Live will be the go-to site for the inside scoop on the hottest fall television programming, film premieres and music events. The site has already attracting exciting content, including an exclusive interview with international superstar Russell Crowe.

On September 7, as a kick-off to CBC Live, the site will play host to groundbreaking online companion programming for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards. The live stream features digital host Tom Green, in the "Tom Green Room" beginning at 7 p.m. ET at and will be available On Demand as a digital companion to the 8 p.m. (8:30 NT) television broadcast.

Then, as Canada turns its eyes to TIFF, CBC Live and the stars of CBC will literally roll out the red carpet across Toronto. From September 8 to 18, fans will have the chance to walk CBC Live red carpets like a star - all captured by the CBC Live paparazzi. And surprise appearances by CBC stars will bring the celebrity spirit of CBC Live to life.

Off the streets, Canadians can stay connected with CBC Live anytime and anywhere they are online - whether by following @CBCLive on Twitter, by ??liking" the Facebook page at or by bookmarking the website itself at

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, Internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages, plus seven languages for international audiences. In 2011, CBC/Radio-Canada is celebrating 75 years of serving Canadians and being at the centre of the democratic, social and cultural life of Canada.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Animated Short Film from Chipotle & Willie Nelson Highlights Sustainable Farms (Video)

Image: Screenshot from video below

by Chris Tackett, Little Rock, Arkansas

I like Chipotle. And, yes, I know it isn't the healthiest option, at least not the way that I order my burrito, but I think they do a much better job than most other corporate chain restaurants when it comes to where they source their ingredients.

A new ad (video below) for their Food With Integrity campaign aims to show how one farmer tries industrial meat production before returning to more sustainable methods.

Here's the description of the video from Chipotle's YouTube page:

Coldplay's haunting classic 'The Scientist' is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled, "Back to the Start." The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

We will always continue to encourage people to eat less meat and learn to cook at home, but that doesn't mean we aren't happy to see a company as big as Chipotle taking steps to move away from supporting industrial meat production. Now if only all the rest would follow their lead...

Visit TreeHugger to see what's new. 30+ fresh, green stories every day!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Improving Canada's Food Regulatory System will Boost Innovation and Economic Growth

OTTAWA, September 1, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canada's system of food policies, laws and regulations is generally working well to protect the health and well-being of Canadians. But well-intentioned regulations have not yet produced an effective system that boosts innovation and stimulates economic growth.

The food sector is one of the most highly controlled sectors of the economy, and the sheer number of government policies, laws and regulations (PLRs) has grown steadily over the years. The Conference Board of Canada's second foundational report for the Centre for Food in Canada, Governing Food: Policies, Laws, and Regulations for Food in Canada, concludes that policy-makers and regulators do their best to balance the competing demands of industry, multiple governments and consumers, but are hamstrung by an overloaded system. The system needs to be modernized; the current architecture has been developed by continual add-ons and consequently is burdensome and confusing.

"There is no quick fix to Canada's system for governing food. The problem is not so much in the actions being taken today, but rather the cumulative weight of existing PLRs and the motivations for them," said Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Organizational Effectiveness and Learning. "Not only are parts of the current PLR system out-of date, multiple levels of government are involved, that sometimes act at cross-purposes to one another. The system can be described as suffering from 'scope creep'."

The Conference Board outlines five key attributes for optimal PLR systems. Optimal systems are:

...Proportionate—they align the regulatory burden with the severity of risk.

...Responsive—they adapt easily to new circumstances, such as food industry innovation.

...Efficient—they achieve regulatory outcomes at low cost.

...Effective— they achieve their regulatory objectives.

...Transparent—they can be understood by all stakeholders.

The PLR system attempts to address a wide variety of public interests, including safety, the environment, health, and economic sustainability. But the more goals it takes on, the more costly and slow moving it becomes—in turn, undermining its overall cost-effectiveness and stifling industry innovation. There are few self-rationalizing mechanisms that allow the system to respond to new demands without adding to the regulatory burden.

The report reviews the Canadian approach to food regulation based on a study of six issues: food additives, genetically modified foods, health benefit claims, country-of-origin labelling, inspection, and international trade.

In the areas of genetically modified foods, country-of-origin labelling, and food additives, the Canadian approach balances regulatory needs with industry sensitivities. However, the approach to health benefit claims, inspection, and international trade is not as effective, creating barriers to innovation in this sector.

Canada's inspection system - which has benefited from the consolidation of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency - is shared among three levels of government and also depends on the quality management processes of food producers throughout the supply chain. A prerequisite to reform is for the food industry and regulators to create more trusting and cooperative relationships - based on their mutual interest in safe food. On the issue of international trade, Canada is in the early stages of liberalizing its agricultural trade. The extent to which further reform is achieved will depend largely on changes to PLRs.

This report points out specific areas where the PLR system could more effectively meet the needs of the agriculture and agri-food sector, as well as government and consumers. A good starting point would be to revise and modernize the Food and Drugs Act, first enacted in 1920. The Growing Forward initiative and the federal Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation are steps in the right direction that should, if properly implemented, go some way toward limiting regulatory overkill.

The modernization of PLRs is likely to be a key element in the Canadian Food Strategy, to be produced in 2013 by the Centre for Food in Canada. The Centre for Food in Canada is a multi-year Conference Board of Canada initiative supported by approximately 25 companies and organizations that have invested in the project.