Saturday, February 25, 2012

Poll says: Canadian drivers continue to use cell phones while behind the wheel

OTTAWA, February 23, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - In a new Road Safety Monitor (RSM) poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) it was found that more than a third (36.3%) of Canadian drivers admitted to using their cell phones while behind the wheel in the last seven days, up from 20.5% in 2001. The report, based on a public opinion poll conducted in September 2011, investigates trends in cell phone use while driving over the last decade.

One explanation for the increase from 2001 to 2011 in the number of Canadians who admit to using their cell phones while driving is the increased accessibility and affordability of cell phones and the popularization of hands-free devices and accessories. However, any time spent focused on non-driving related tasks while behind the wheel puts drivers and other road users at risk.

"Available research generally estimates that driver distraction is a factor in 20% - 30% of road crashes," explains Robyn Robertson, TIRF President and CEO. "Self-reported data from our survey showed that over a quarter of all survey respondents had to brake or steer to avoid being in a collision because they were distracted by something inside or outside their vehicle in the last month. Taking your eyes and attention off the road for even a few seconds can increase crash risk."

Despite the increase in the number of Canadians in 2011 admitting to using their cell phones while driving compared to the number in 2001, more drivers are admitting to using their phones for shorter periods of time. A majority of drivers (65.2%) who reported using their cell phone while driving said that they used it for 10 minutes or less in the past week. In 2001, only a little more than half (57.5%) of the 20.5% of those who used their cell phone while driving said they used their device for 10 minutes or less in the past week. Consistent with this increase, there has been a decrease in those using their cell phones for more than 30 minutes in the past week.

"In 2001, almost 20% of respondents who said they had used their cell phone had used it for more than thirty minutes the previous week," explains Ms. Robertson. "It is encouraging to see this shift and that drivers are becoming more conscientious about restricting cell phone use. Now we need to see increases in the number of people not using their phone at all while driving."

Thanks to public polls, observational studies and laboratory testing, researchers know much more about distracted driving than we did in 2001. However there are still many aspects of the problem that institutes like TIRF would like to examine further. These include the influence of new provincial laws, the effectiveness of various education efforts, and the collection of more detailed collision data. As a co-host with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) of the Driven to Distraction Conference on March 1st in Toronto, TIRF hopes to identify opportunities to start to fill these knowledge gaps with the help of enforcement, government, industry, and community groups.

"In 2005, TIRF and CAA held their first international conference on distracted driving. Since then research has continued to inform our understanding of the problem," notes Robertson. "More importantly, governments, industry and community groups have been very active in implementing a variety of educational, prevention and enforcement strategies. The upcoming conference is the perfect venue to bring together all parties and share their experiences on the implementation of strategies in the last five years."

About the poll. These results are based on the Road Safety Monitor (RSM), an annual public opinion poll developed and conducted by TIRF. A total of 1,208 Canadians completed the poll in September and October of 2011. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.8%, 19 times out of 20. This report was made possible by financial support from Transport Canada and the Brewers Association of Canada.

A copy of the full report is available at

About TIRF. Established in 1964, TIRF's mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety research institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit them online at

For more information on the Driven to Distraction Conference, conference registration and webcast, please visit

Friday, February 24, 2012

Canadian Cancer Society Applauds New $40 Million Federal Government Caregiver Tax Credit

An Important First Step To Relieve Financial Burden on Families of Gravely Ill Patients

TORONTO, February 23, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Cancer Society and other Canadian organizations came together today to applaud the federal government for its new Family Caregiver Tax Credit. The tax credit, which came into effect on January 1, allows family caregivers taking care of an ill family member to claim an enhanced amount for a dependant under one of the existing dependency-related tax credits.

The new tax credit could translate into as much as $300 per family for 2012.

The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating on behalf of caregivers for more than 10 years and in fact launched a campaign during the last federal election to remind all politicians of this issue.

"The Canadian government has taken an important first step towards supporting family caregivers, the invisible backbone of Canada's healthcare system," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. "Family caregivers give so much to support their loved ones and it's unacceptable that they also have to deal with financial difficulties at such a difficult time".

Better support for family caregivers is an urgent issue because the country's population is aging, and increasingly Canadians will be caring for loved ones who have cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. A 2007 survey showed that 23% of Canadians had cared for a family member or close friend with a serious health problem in the previous year.

"This is very welcome news for families with an ill family member," says Lori Synes-Taraba, who cared for her infant son Brock at home while he went through cancer treatments (Brock is now 14 and doing well). "It's a very stressful and emotional time for families that is made even worse if money is running out."

Nadine Henningsen, President, Canadian Caregiver Coalition, says:
"We are pleased to see the federal government maintaining its commitment to family caregivers by mitigating their financial burden through this program. The intensity and length of care-giving can be significant, with 60 per cent of caregivers providing care for more than three years. Additionally, 41 per cent of Canadians use personal savings to support themselves when caring for loved ones and 22 per cent of these individuals miss one or more months of work."

Other organizations supporting the new tax credit include the Canadian Caregiver Coalition, the ALS Society of Canada, the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Paediatric Society.

For more information about the Canadian Cancer Society's commitment to caregivers and information on the caregiver tax credit, visit

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888 939-3333.

The Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a diverse group of 40 national and provincial organizations from across Canada that works collaboratively to represent and promote the needs and interests of family caregivers with all levels of government, and the community. The vision of the Canadian Caregiver Coalition is a Canada that recognizes and respects the integral role of family caregivers in society and supports this role with the understanding that it is not a substitute for public responsibility in health and social care. ccc-ccan/ca.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One million legal judgments now freely available in a searchable Canadian database

OTTAWA, February 17, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - There are now one million Canadian court and tribunal decisions freely available over the internet, courtesy of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII). It has taken 12 years for this comprehensive online legal resource to reach the one million mark, a total that includes judgments from more than 200 legal sources.

The one millionth judgment loaded into the CanLII database was a judgement from the Supreme Court of Canada.

CanLII is an initiative of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the national umbrella group for Canada's 14 regulators of Canada's 100,000 lawyers and 3,500 Quebec notaries in the public interest. It was launched in 2000 on a test basis to provide efficient and free access to the growing number of judicial decisions and legislative documents available on the internet.

In 2001, the Federation established CanLII as an ongoing, not-for-profit service to support the legal profession's research needs while providing the public with permanent, open and free access to the legal heritage of all Canadian jurisdictions. Now guided by a skilled independent Board of Directors, CanLII has recently released a document establishing its strategic priorities for 2012 to 2014. Under its new plan, CanLII continues the original mission established by the Federation but will also pursue content and technological enrichment for the benefit of its professional and public users.

According to Colin Lachance, President and CEO of CanLII,

"reaching the million mark has involved adding both new and historical judgments to the database". Mr. Lachance adds, "CanLII now grows by more than 120,000 judgments a year, approximately 20 per cent of which are older cases that add depth to our collection."
With an average of 25,000 individual users visiting the site daily, CanLII is clearly achieving the objective of making the law available to an interested public.

"Adding these historical judgments has only been possible because of the generous support and participation of various provincial law foundations, and courts and tribunals across the country" the CanLII President says. "Challenges remain in light of the evolving needs of the legal profession, and the growing public interest in access to legal information as a means of promoting access to justice. We anticipate establishing wider alliances over the coming years with groups and institutions focused on promoting understanding of the law."

The CanLII database is maintained under a services agreement by Lexum Inc., a private Montreal-based company that started out as the LexUM data laboratory of the Université de Montréal. Lexum, a leading Canadian legal technologies provider and publisher of the Supreme Court of Canada judgments since 1992, has been there since the beginning.
"This project started with less than 300 judgments" says Daniel Poulin, President of Lexum Inc. and holder of the Legal Information Chair of the Law Faculty of the Université de Montréal. "We have been looking forward to celebrating this milestone for a long time."

The President of the Federation, John Hunter, Q.C., says from the beginning CanLII existed for the purpose of making Canadian law freely available via the internet.
"CanLII is a non-profit organization created by the Federation and Canada's law societies and it is funded by all members of the legal profession through their law society dues", Mr. Hunter noted.

Through the past 12 years, CanLII has also benefited from crucial contributions from federal, provincial and territorial governments and their official publishers who have all made their legislative texts available.

Access to the CanLII service is available at, or through the web site of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada

Monday, February 6, 2012

Canadians Need Better Access to Psychological Services

OTTAWA, February 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today in honour of Psychology Month, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) joined forces to highlight the need to enhance access to mental health services in Canada.

Mental disorders are a leading cause of disability in Canada and represent a significant burden on the economy. It estimated to cost the Canadian economy $51-billion annually. Psychologists are the largest group of regulated and specialized mental health care providers in Canada. Yet Canadians, in particular those in lower and middle income levels, face significant barriers when it comes to accessing psychological services due to their cost.

"The services of psychologists are not funded by provincial health insurance plans which make them inaccessible to Canadians with modest incomes or no insurance" said Peter Coleridge, National Chief Executive Officer, of the CMHA. This is in spite of the fact that some of the most effective treatments for common mental disorders - depression and anxiety - are psychological ones like cognitive behaviour therapy".

The U.K. has invested 400 million pounds over four years to make psychological therapies more accessible, and Australia has also enhanced access to psychologists through its publicly funded health insurance plans" adds Coleridge. "Canada must do the same."

"It is vitally important that we look to the needs of the community when it comes to mental disorders and health promotion and that we respond to those in ways that are effective" said Dave Gallson, Associate National Executive Director of MDSC. "Our research has found that the lack of insured services prevents a majority of individuals with mental illnesses from seeking the support they need."

Next week the Government of Manitoba is hosting a mental health summit with a focus on children and youth. Seventy percent of adults living with a mental disorders experience the causes or onset of their disorders before age 18. Early intervention can make a dramatic difference in the course of a disorder and, ultimately in a person's life.

"Psychological services are proven effective in helping Canadians to manage and overcome psychological problems and disorders," added Dr Karen Cohen, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Psychological Association. "Canada's private health care insurance plans and publicly funded programs don't do enough to ensure Canadians have equal and adequate access to needed psychological service. Canada's governments and employers must do more to ensure all Canadians - regardless of income - can access the psychological care they need."

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Money management help from your most trusted source. You.

WINNIPEG, February 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Imagine, if given the chance, what your future self would tell you to do differently today - perhaps help you avoid blowing your savings on a winter sale, stop you from buying a new car when you really need an RRSP, or prevent you from putting money in a fraudulent investment. Too bad hindsight doesn't work that way. In response to the constant bombardment of advertisements trying to convince you to buy and spend more, The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) has developed Your Future Self, an interactive campaign and contest, which provides information and tips to help you plan financially for your future.

The campaign revolves around, a mock email inbox with a whole lot of messages from Your Future Self. "We want people to use to take ownership of their finances, make informed decisions, and do it in a fun, interactive way," says Don Murray, Chair of MSC. He believes that future financial goals are achieved by thinking about money management now, instead of putting off your decisions.

Ainsley Cunningham, Manager, Education and Communications with MSC, says the website isn't designed to give hard and fast financial rules, or to be punitive in any way for your spending habits. " is designed to encourage quick lessons, provide helpful links to resources and information, and provide clarity around certain financial topics. We've even included a contest to motivate folks to answer some basic financial questions." MSC is hoping to get people's attention, get them to start thinking about what their future self would say to the decisions they make today, and recognize the importance of looking at their finances.

To see the campaign in action and learn more about money management, check out

About The Manitoba Securities Commission

The Manitoba Securities Commission is a special operating agency of the Government of Manitoba that protects and informs investors through educational programming and promotes fair and efficient capital markets throughout the province.

World Cancer Day marked with new Canadian survey results showing increase in colon cancer screening

More Canadians are getting checked, but many still confused about when to do it

TORONTO, February 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - New survey results released to mark World Cancer Day 2012 (February 4th) suggest that awareness initiatives to promote colon cancer screening are working. Half (50 per cent) of Canadians age 50 to 74 polled have been screened for colon cancer, showing a Canada-wide increase when compared to similar data captured in 2009. However more than half (53 per cent) of those polled incorrectly believe that people should only get checked after experiencing symptoms. An estimated 22,200 Canadians were diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 and 8,900 people died of it.

"Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada, but it is also highly treatable if detected early through screening," says the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minster of Health. "This trend towards improved colon cancer screening is therefore extremely encouraging, and exemplifies why our government funded the implementation of a national cancer strategy through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. More than ever cancer care organizations, healthcare providers and other stakeholders from across the country are working together on shared goals for the benefit of more Canadians."

Commissioned by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and its National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network, the Colon Cancer Screening in Canada survey polled 4,050 Canadians aged 45 to 74 years old on their understanding and attitudes towards getting checked for colon cancer. Conducted by Ipsos Reid, the survey builds on results from a related survey conducted in 2009. The survey is part of the nationwide 'Colonversation' campaign, which launched in 2010 and features, an online resource to help all Canadians learn more about the importance of colon cancer screening.

"Screening programs are now in place across the country and great work is being done to encourage Canadians to talk with their family, friends and health care providers about colon cancer and the importance of screening," says Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice-President, Cancer Control, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. "Most importantly there has been an improvement in screening rates over the last two years. But there is still much to be done. Colon cancer screening still needs to become a regular part of people's health routine for people age 50 and older."

Colon Cancer Screening in Canada Survey Highlights

The percentage of Canadians who say they have been checked for colon cancer has increased:

...Half of Canadians age 50 to 74 are up-to-date with their colon cancer screening tests (FOBT and colonoscopy), which is within the past two years for fecal (stool) tests (FOBT/FIT) and past five years for colonoscopy - 50 per cent, compared to 44 per cent in 2009.

Many Canadians are making the mistake of waiting for symptoms before getting checked:

...92 per cent of Canadians know cancer screening is a medical test to detect cancer, but more than half (53 per cent) mistakenly think initial screening should happen only after they notice symptoms.

...Men are more likely than women (58 per cent vs. 49 per cent respectively) to think that screening occurs after symptoms develop.

...At 50 per cent, self-reported screening rates for colon cancer are lower compared to those for other types of cancer:

...77 per cent of women aged 50 to 74 report having had a mammogram in the past two years.

Canadians having 'colonversations':

...The Colon Cancer Screening in Canada survey found that 39 per cent of Canadians aged 50 to 74 have discussed getting tested for colon cancer with a family member, and 30 per cent have had the same discussion with a friend.

...The survey found more Canadians are discussing colon cancer testing with a doctor - about half of Canadians aged 50 to 74 recall having the conversation with a doctor.

...When a discussion with a doctor takes place, colon cancer screening was recommended nearly nine times out of ten.

"I had never been screened for colon cancer, and didn't know anything about it until received a home screening test through Manitoba's ColonCheck screening program," says Mr. Douglas Grant of Winnipeg. "I had no symptoms or pain, but the test looked easy and I could do it at home so I thought, why not?"

The results of the home screening test showed hidden blood in the stool samples, so Mr. Grant had the follow up test, the colonoscopy. "The doctor told me they found a large polyp. If they didn't find it and remove it, it was the type of polyp that could have turned into cancer. I'm glad I did the test."

About Colon Cancer Screening

Getting checked, otherwise known as being screened, for colon cancer is an important method of disease prevention and early detection. Clearly, anyone with symptoms or signs of colorectal cancer needs to discuss the appropriate tests with their doctors. But we now know that screening - a test done when a person has no signs or symptoms of the disease - is also important to prevent deaths from colon cancer. Because colon cancer - also known as colorectal or bowel cancer - often develops from a benign or non-cancerous polyp, it can actually be prevented when these polyps are discovered early and removed.

There are a number of tests that check for colon cancer. Non-invasive stool tests, such as guaiac FOBT and Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT), look for blood released by fragile blood vessels in polyps.

"Screening for colorectal cancer works and people appear to know more about the availability of the at-home screening kit," says Gillian Bromfield, Director, Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society and member of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer's Screening Advisory Group. "The more Canadians participate in the provincial programs, the better chance we have to find and treat these cancers early, which can save lives. These survey findings are truly encouraging."

If positive, an internal examination of the colon is recommended (colonscopy). A colonoscopy is done with a thin flexible tube containing a light and a video camera that can be connected to a display monitor. Any polyps or other abnormalities can be biopsied and sent to a laboratory to determine if cancer cells are present.

Encouraging Canadians to have 'colonversations' is a national resource for all Canadians to learn more about the importance of colon cancer screening. The site is part of a nationwide awareness program to help Canadians understand the facts about getting checked for colon cancer. It includes detailed information on risk factors, videos and written instructions about the at home colon cancer screening kits, and links to provincial screening information on screening programs. The Colonversation Campaign is an initiative of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer's National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network.

Visit for more information about colon cancer screening and to find out more about how to get checked in your province.

About the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network

Established by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer in 2007, the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network is building momentum towards a shared approach to colorectal cancer screening across the country. Programs are shared to support improved quality and consistency as each province and territory develops its own screening program, evaluation methods, quality initiatives and outreach. At present, membership includes program staff, provincial and territorial government representatives and representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Medical Association, Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians. Bringing together cancer experts, government representatives, patient and survivor groups, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Cancer Action Network to implement the first pan-Canadian cancer control strategy, the vision is to be a driving force to achieve a focused approach that will help prevent cancer, enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer, lessen the likelihood of dying from cancer, and increase the efficiency of cancer control in Canada. For more information, visit The Partnership is also the driving force behind, an online community linking Canadians to cancer information, services and resources.

Survey Methodology

The Colon Cancer Screening in Canada 2011 survey was conducted from September 8 to 27th, 2011 by Ipsos Reid. The study surveyed 4,050 Canadians aged 45 to 74, with 3,001 interviews conducted by telephone using random digit dialing, and 1,049 recruited via Ipsos Reid's online panel. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of Canadian adults 45-74 been polled. The sample was stratified by region, with quotas set by gender and age to achieve a representative sample of Canadians 45 to 74 within each province/territory. The data were weighted to ensure that the sample's regional and age/sex/education composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Canadian Government invests in personalized medicine

Improving the quality of life of Canadians by developing more effective treatments

OTTAWA, January 31, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Government today announced an important investment that will help Canadians in getting more effective treatments and make the healthcare system more sustainable through personalized medicine. The announcement was made by the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology.

"Our Government is committed to improving the quality of life of Canadians," Minister Aglukkaq said. "The potential to understand a person's genetic makeup and the specific character of their illness in order to best determine their treatment will significantly improve the quality of life for patients and their families and may show us the way to an improved health care system and even save costs in certain circumstances."

Personalized medicine offers the potential to transform the delivery of healthcare to patients. Healthcare will evolve from a reactive "one-size-fits-all" system towards a system of predictive, preventive, and precision care. Areas in which personalized approaches are particularly promising include oncology, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, diabetes and obesity, arthritis, pain, and Alzheimer's disease. In all of these fields, and others, a personalized molecular medicine approach is expected to lead to better health outcomes, improved treatments, and reduction in toxicity due to variable or adverse drug responses. For example, cancer patients would be screened to identify those for whom chemotherapy would be ineffective. In addition to saving on the costs of expensive drug treatments, this personalized treatment would prevent a great deal of suffering, while identifying and initiating earlier treatments that would be more effective.

"I applaud Genome Canada and the CIHR for their leadership in supporting research in personalized medicine," said Minister Goodyear. "Innovative approaches like these lead to significant health benefits, enhance our knowledge within the medical arena and can be commercialized to help so many others worldwide."

Genome Canada is leading the landmark research competition, with significant collaboration from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Cancer Stem Cell Consortium (CSCC). To qualify for funding, researchers must obtain matching funding that at is least equal to that provided through the competition. Matching funding is typically derived from provincial, academic, private sector or international sources.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

Genome Canada is a non-profit corporation employing an innovative business model based on funding and managing large-scale, multidisciplinary, internationally peer-reviewed genomics research projects in areas such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, the environment and human health. For more information, visit

The Cancer Stem Cell Consortium is a not-for-profit corporation that was incorporated in 2007 to coordinate an international strategy for cancer stem cell research and related translational activities. For more information, visit