Friday, March 30, 2012

English-speaking Seniors Form Provincial Advocacy Group


MONTREAL, March 29, 2012 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - A provincial advocacy network for English-speaking seniors took another step forward as volunteers formed an executive committee that will work towards incorporation and finding sources of funding. The creation of the new group was announced during a community-wide priority setting conference in Montreal this weekend.

Under the motto: "For Seniors… By Seniors", the group now christened as Seniors Action Quebec plans to provide a provincial voice that will influence program and policy change to address the needs of Quebec's English-speaking seniors at a grassroots level.

A recent newspaper report noted that Quebec has more seniors than youth today, and the trend also holds for the province's English-speaking communities. And while many of Quebec's 132,485 English-speakers over the age of 65 remain active, their access to services is hampered because they're the age group with the lowest level of bilingualism.

Since 2009 the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) has been working to help establish a provincial organization to advocate for English-speaking seniors. What began with "Blazing Trails for Healthy Active Living, An Action Plan for English-speaking Seniors" a report that was funded through a federal grant, was followed up with provincial funding for a series of networking activities that included a forum in the spring of 2011 and a conference on National Seniors Day, October 1.

From those two events a core group of volunteers was created to follow up on the main goal from the action plan, forum and conference - that is to found a provincial network of seniors that will address the needs and challenges that require effective advocacy to influence significant changes needed to ensure that English-speaking seniors in Quebec can access all the services they need in English.

This past weekend the core group of volunteers elected an executive committee consisting of community activists David Cassidy, a retired social worker; Anne Usher, a retired nurse; and Ruth Pelletier, a former consumer advocate. Members of the network, which aims to be province-wide, hail from many regions of the province Quebec including the Gaspé, the Outaouais, Montreal, Laval and the South Shore.

Speaking to a conference of more than 175 participants who were setting priorities for the English-speaking community last weekend, Chairman David Cassidy said the creation of a network will be a win for seniors and for the community. "We are grateful to the QCGN for its ongoing support and are grateful for continued support as we grow into a powerful voice for English-speaking seniors whose voice has been muted up till now," he said, noting the continue working with the QCGN and work towards becoming a full member.

Offers of support came immediately from many conference delegates including Mrs. Sheila Goldboom, who was the co-chair of the provincial consultation on the living conditions of seniors in 2007. The seniors action group has also met with like-minded organizations in the French-speaking community and plan to partner on common issues.

Top on the agenda for Seniors Action Quebec will be support to the research project recently announced by the Government of Quebec through its support for seniors program Soutien aux initiatives visant le respect des aînés (SIRA). The three-year participatory action-based research project will involve seniors in identifying their needs and challenges, doing research on them, and disseminating the results of the research as a means to enact change.

To contact Seniors Action Quebec, email Ruth Pelletier at

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Canadians Living with Diabetes Get the STAR Treatment

Introducing STARsystem - a revolutionary web-based platform providing support for people with diabetes to self-manage

LAVAL, Quebec, March 29, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Diabetes management is entering a new era with the Sanofi STARsystem support platform and the new first-of-its-kind iBGStar meter. Now, with STARsystem, at any time of day people living with diabetes can access personalized education, an action plan to help optimize their health, health coaching and much more. What's more, with only a couple swipes of an iPhone, Canadians living with diabetes can monitor their blood glucose levels and email their data to their doctor*.

"The whole goal of diabetes management is so that we can enjoy our life today and well beyond our senior years. This requires a combination of healthy living, a positive attitude, and a strong support system of resources. Help can come in so many ways. It's about how you like to learn, where do you go for information, who can help motivate you, and, of course, blood glucose monitoring to help you help yourself," says pharmacist and certified diabetes educator Susie Jin.

STARsystem was designed to address the unmet needs of Canadians living with diabetes and helps empower them by providing tailored support and advice on five key areas:


"Through STARsystem, each user gets a personalized assessment that directs them to tailored resources and provides a custom achievable curriculum that guides them towards reaching their wellness goals," says Hugh O'Neill, President and CEO of Sanofi Canada. "A personalized dashboard even helps track progress along the way. It's like having a diabetes support team right in your pocket."

STARsystem is free for iBGStar and BGStar users and is the only diabetes management system that comes with free health coaching sessions (90 minutes of one-on-one health coaching by phone and 6 months of unlimited online support), a proven positive influence for people living with diabetes.

For more information and to become a STARsystem member, visit

What is iBGStar?

iBGStar is the first blood glucose monitor in Canada that seamlessly connects to an iPhone or iPod touch, allowing users to view and analyze their results in real-time as well as access the STARsystem.

iBGStar highlights:

...First meter to seamlessly connect to an iPhone or iPod touch
...Allows people to view and analyse their results in real-time
...Easy to use Diabetes Manager App tracks blood glucose, carbohydrate intake and insulin dose for on-the-go monitoring
...People can share their data via email*

What is BGStar?

For non-iPhone users, BGStar is a sleek, compact and discrete blood glucose monitor. BGStar users can access STARsystem online.

BGStar highlights:

...Simple to use with large backlit, easy-to-read display
...Large memory capacity, holds over 1,865 tests for instant review
...Ability to add mealtime tags to view pre and post mealtime averages and other personalized features
...Is free for the consumer with purchase of 100 BGStar test strips

About Sanofi

Sanofi, a global and diversified healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, rare diseases, consumer healthcare, emerging markets and animal health. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi companies in Canada include sanofi-aventis Canada Inc. (pharmaceuticals), Sanofi Pasteur (vaccines), Sanofi Consumer Health (health and beauty), Genzyme (rare diseases) and Merial (animal health). Together they employ more than 1,700 people, mainly in the greater Montreal and Toronto areas. In 2010 Sanofi companies invested $159.2 million in R&D in Canada, creating jobs, business and opportunity throughout the country.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Later Retirement by Babyboomers to Ease Economic Pain of Population Aging: C.D. Howe Institute

TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Over the coming two decades people are likely to stay in the workforce much longer - by about five years - according to a report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In "Later Retirement: The Win-Win Solution," author Peter Hicks finds there will be a strong trend towards later retirement by babyboomers as a result of social and economic pressures, without any policy action by government to raise retirement levels. Delaying work-retirement transitions by five years would have large, positive economic and fiscal effects, the author reports, reducing pressures on growth, government finances and pension funding. Other gains in social well-being appear likely, if harder to quantify.

"The trend towards later retirement will significantly reduce, although not entirely offset, the much-discussed negative macro-economic and labour-market effects of population aging," says Peter Hicks a former federal Assistant Deputy Minister. "This suggests that compensating policy reforms are still needed but can be less draconian than has often been thought to be necessary."

While there is no immediate crisis to be addressed, a key reform will be to gradually increase the standard age of pension eligibility, says Hicks, in order to bring it more in line with increases in longevity. For example, it makes no sense to continue with a standard age of 65 for public pension eligibility when the average retirement age will soon be 68. Fortunately, the needed changes are not large. They can be introduced gradually, with little risk of negative side effects. Such reforms should involve gradually raising the age band at which one could receive C/QPP. Similar changes to the Old Age Security (OAS) would provide consistency in signals about retirement ages.

A well-designed reform process could help re-connect pension policy with the emerging social, labour market and demographic realities that are shaping our lives and our society, he concludes.

For the report go to:

Ontario Budget - Nurses condemn attack on vulnerable persons to rein in spending

TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The province's so-called plan to keep spending in check will end up hurting vulnerable Ontarians the most, according to the nurses' association.

Members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) say the "double whammy of freezing the minimum wage and social assistance rates isn't just bad social policy - it's bad health policy," says Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun. "Asking those who can least afford it to live with less is unconscionable," adding "nurses want to know what happened to Premier McGuinty's bold strategy to reduce poverty?"

RNAO says these moves and delaying the planned increases to the Ontario Child Benefit program will only hurt those who need help most. "The Premier seems to have forgotten his promise not to leave anyone behind," says Grinspun, adding that these cuts will result in higher health-care costs, as there is overwhelming evidence linking poverty with increased illness and premature death.

Nurses say expecting people to live on less than $20,000 per year stands in stark contrast to the salaries of hospital executives which the province says it will cap. "Rather than freezing salaries - ranging from $400,000 to $800,000 - the government should create a new normal where exorbitant compensation is prohibited," adds Grinspun.

Not all is grim in the budget, nurses say. David McNeil, RNAO's president, says "measures to improve same-day and next-day appointments as well as after-hours care with primary care providers, including nurse practitioners and physicians, are sound investments to prevent health complications and misuse of hospital ERs."

RNAO is also pleased that the McGuinty government ignored advice from economist Don Drummond to experiment with for-profit delivery, and instead is opting to expand the use of not-for-profit community-based clinics to perform routine procedures. McNeil says "the evidence clearly shows that not-for-profit clinics have better health outcomes and cost less."

Nurses understand the province wants to reduce the deficit. RNAO says the decision to delay a planned cut on corporate income taxes is welcome news, and the government should start a serious conversation on fair taxation to pay for public services.

Meanwhile, the best way to bring the deficit under control is not with deep cuts to social programs, but by improving integration between social programs and health services, as well as and within health itself. For example, RNAO points to existing duplication between Community Care Access Centres, hospital discharge co-ordinators and home care agencies. "This is unnecessary duplication that costs taxpayers money and could be better spent on direct care for patients at home. We have 4,300 primary care nurses who are eager and ready to take on the care co-ordination role," says Grinspun.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Only are Single Cup Coffee Pods A Ridiculous Waste of Materials, They Are A Worse Waste of Money

photo credit: Andres Nieto Porras/CC BY 2.0

by Lloyd Alter - Design / Sustainable Product Design

We never tire of complaining about single serve coffee pods that are claimed to be "recyclable" but are just a waste of aluminum and plastic, and are piling up in landfills across America. That is the environmental cost, but Smart Planet notes that there is a real financial cost too. The price of convenience of the pod coffee is as much as fifty dollars a pound. The New York Times did the math:

For example, the Nespresso Arpeggio costs $5.70 for 10 espresso capsules, while the Folgers Black Silk blend for a K-Cup brewed-coffee machine is $10.69 for 12 pods. But that Nespresso capsule contains 5 grams of coffee, so it costs about $51 a pound. And the Folgers, with 8 grams per capsule, works out to more than $50 a pound. That’s even more expensive than all but the priciest coffees sold by artisanal roasters, the stuff of coffee snobs.

Cheap coffee can be found for about eight bucks a pound; the Fair Trade shade grown stuff I buy is about sixteen bucks. Paying over three times that is just ridiculous. But apparently people under 40 don't notice because they think about coffee pricing differently than their parents; from Oliver Strand's article in the Times:

“Americans under the age of 40 are thinking about coffee pricing in cups,” said Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. “If you asked my mother how much coffee cost, she would have told you that the red can was $5.25 a pound and the blue can was $4.25. If you ask people in their 20s and 30s, they’ll say coffee is $1.75 to $3.75 a cup.”

Next to Tasmanian ice cubes, coffee pods are about the most wasteful product I can think of, costing four times as much to make lousy coffee. Yet their sales are growing like mad, almost doubling in the last year to 7% of all the coffee made in America. Go figure.

Friday, March 23, 2012

44 per cent of Canadians are uncertain about seizure first aid

Purple Day founder dispels myths about epilepsy

HALIFAX, March 22, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - This year, Purple Day for Epilepsy founder Cassidy Megan wishes to correct how seizure first aid is portrayed on television and practiced on the street. A new poll commissioned by the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance and conducted by Harris/Decima reveals that when asked what they would do if they saw someone experiencing a seizure, only five per cent of Canadians indicated they think they would stay calm and only four per cent think they would speak to the person reassuringly. These facts convinced Cassidy, a Halifax teen who lives with epilepsy, to stay focused on education and dispelling myths about Canada's second most common neurological disorder.

Purple Day for Epilepsy is held each year around the world on March 26, and is dedicated to raising awareness about the disorder. In Canada, Purple Day for Epilepsy could soon be made "official." The House of Commons has expressed unanimous support of Bill C-278 - "the Purple Day Bill" - and, after passing third reading in early March, it currently sits with the Senate. The swift passing of this Bill is a meaningful show of support for the 300,000 Canadians living with epilepsy and their families.

Epilepsy on TV

"One of the things I would like to do for Purple Day this year is change how they show epilepsy on TV," says Cassidy. "It really upsets me that so many programs show epilepsy, and how to deal with it, the wrong way. It frustrates me because it makes all the hard work we are doing to educate people about our disorder even harder. It can also make people feel afraid to tell other people that they have epilepsy."

A study conducted by Dalhousie Medical School researchers, who investigated whether medical television dramas portray proper seizure first aid, concluded that seizure first aid is depicted inappropriately almost half of the time on the most popular shows. When analyzing the seizures depicted on Grey's Anatomy, House, Private Practice, and in the last five seasons of ER, 46 per cent of the dramatized medical responses by the doctor and nurse actors were considered inappropriate.

Seizure first aid

Given the influence of the media, Cassidy is challenging all Canadians who have learned seizure first aid from television medical dramas to educate themselves on what to do if they approach a person experiencing a seizure. Her vision for 2012, which can be viewed at, is supported by the 25 pan-Canadian member organizations of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA).

"Inaccuracies and old myths about seizure first aid have plagued our communities for years" says Gail Dempsey, President of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance. "One percent of Canadians are living with Epilepsy, and ten percent of us will experience a single seizure in our lives. Anyone can have a seizure at any time and in any place. It is essential that we learn how to recognize the various types of seizures and the simple first aid steps that could save a life."

To learn more about seizure first aid, the appropriate way to respond to a person experiencing a seizure and how to recognize the difference between convulsive and non-convulsive seizures, please visit the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance's website at and follow the tips below.

1. Don't panic! You can help!
2. Allow plenty of space
3. Protect from injury
4. Loosen anything tight around the neck
5. Put something soft under the head
6. Turn to the side to prevent choking
7. NEVER put anything in the mouth
8. NEVER restrain
9. Longer than 5 minutes-Ambulance
10. After, offer support and allow rest

About Purple Day March 26

Purple Day for Epilepsy is held each year on March 26 and is dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy. It helps reduce stigma and empowers individuals living with epilepsy to take action in their communities. Purple Day was founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, and named after the internationally recognized colour for epilepsy, lavender. Purple Day was launched internationally in 2009. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation in the United States are the global partners for the Purple Day campaign. UCB Canada Inc. is the exclusive Canadian biopharmaceutical partner for the 2012 Purple Day campaign. For more information, please visit

About the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA) is a Canada-wide network of grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion of independence and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families, through support services, information, advocacy, and public awareness. As the voting member of the International Bureau of Epilepsy (IBE), the CEA is the voice for those living with epilepsy in Canada and internationally. The IBE is the international organization that serves to develop, support and link national epilepsy organizations around the world and exists to improve the quality of life of all people with epilepsy and their families and caregivers. The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance works with the IBE and participates in global initiatives representing those living with epilepsy in Canada.

About the survey

This survey was commissioned by the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance and conducted by Harris/Decima via their telephone omnibus between March 15 to 19, 2012, with a national random sample of 1,002 adult Canadians aged 18 years and over and is considered accurate to within ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Cassidy has inspired Canadians from coast to coast to become Purple Day ambassadors. Their willingness to stand up and share their stories has greatly reduced the stigma associated with epilepsy and has empowered individuals living with the disorder.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ontario Health Study becomes largest single health study in Canadian history

Over 175,000 registered participants complete online questionnaire at

TORONTO, March 16, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 175,000 Ontarians have joined the Ontario Health Study (OHS), the ambitious research effort designed to help scientists understand the complex factors behind heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer's and other common diseases. The milestone makes the OHS the largest single health study in Canadian history, and one of the most important health research efforts in the world.

"The Ontario Health Study is being watched around the globe because of the novelty of its online approach, the significance of its large scale and the diversity of participants," said Professor Lyle Palmer, Executive Scientific Director of the Ontario Health Study. "We will be following individuals over their entire lifespan, giving us the ability to look at the development and progression of common conditions in the general population."

Every Ontario adult aged 18 and over can enroll in the OHS and complete an online health questionnaire at The questionnaire, which takes 30 to 40 minutes to complete, asks participants to provide information about health-related subjects such as personal and family medical history, where they live, and their lifestyle and diet. Approximately 9.5 million Ontarians are eligible to volunteer for the Study.

"The opportunity of the Study is enormous and the larger the pool of participants, the richer our research insights and outcomes will be," said Palmer. "We have exceeded our expectations, but the goal is to recruit one million Ontarians into the Study."

All information provided to the OHS by participants is protected by embedded privacy tools built into the core of the Study's technology, delivering the maximum degree of privacy and ensuring that personal data is "de-identified" and automatically protected. When participants sign up for the Study and complete the online questionnaire, all identifying information, such as their name and address, is separated from the health information provided.

"It is important that we continue to recruit participants from all regions of the province as lifestyle, diet, culture, ethnicity and environmental factors vary greatly from region to region," said Palmer. "This range and diversity is a defining difference in our work and one of the key factors that drew me to the opportunity."

Palmer came to Canada in 2010 to lead the Ontario Health Study, leaving his post as the founding Winthrop Chair in Genetic Epidemiology and the founding Director of the Centre for Genetic Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of Western Australia, where he was also a Professor in the Schools of Medicine & Pharmacology and Population Health.

Prior to that he was Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Statistical Genomics at the Channing Laboratory, Boston.

"Simply put, the Ontario Health Study is big science capable of advancing scientific knowledge related to how people develop certain diseases, as well as what can be done to prevent them," said Palmer.

More than 320 senior scientists and clinicians at universities, hospitals and research institutes across the province oversee the Study, collaborating on its development and the design of the online health questionnaire. They will also work in partnership on future follow-up questionnaires as the Study follows participants' health over the coming decades.

Surpassing 175,000 participants puts the Ontario Health Study on an upward trajectory for its next phase, set to roll out later this spring.

About the Ontario Health Study

The not-for-profit Study is funded by four organizations: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The Ontario Health Study is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, which is made up of five regional health studies across Canada.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

With a multi-generational workforce, is Gen X getting the squeeze?

In PwC report on workforce performance, this "quiet majority" among key areas of concern

TORONTO, March 15, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Boomers are making up less of the Canadian workforce than they used to and to some surprise, it is the Gen Ys who are benefiting more than the so called "quiet majority" of Gen X workers. That's the finding of a new PwC report called Value Through Your People, prepared for the banking industry, but with circumstances parallel to what is happening in other industries, say the authors.

Says the report,

"With older workers staying on longer—many in senior positions—and younger employees with a hunger for advancement coming up from below, the potential for disaffection in the Generation X ranks is significant."

"The findings show that promotion rates for Gen Ys have held steady at close to 20% over a three year period, while Boomers' promotion rates fell from 5% to 3%. What was not expected, however, is that Gen X promotions rates would fall from over 11% to less than 10% over the same three years studied (2008-2010) during what should be peak years of upward mobility," says Dr. Philip Hunter, a director in PwC's People and Change practice.

Hunter believes that Gen Xers are perhaps being "squeezed" by older workers delaying retirement, and younger, more aggressive Gen Ys intent on rising through the ranks quickly.
"Other contributing factors may include changes to operating models that favour relationship skills rather than management expertise, and career paths characterized by more stringent promotion criteria at more senior levels, which would disproportionately impact Gen Xers," he says.

"Banks and other industries with multi-generational workforces have to be taking a different approach in thinking about career progression, the formal promotions process and changes to their operating model," says Karen Forward, a director in PwC's Financial Services People and Change practice.

Between 2006 and 2010, the ratio of Baby Boomers to Gen Y employees at Canadian banks shrunk from 6:1 to less than 2:1. At this rate, Gen Y will outnumber the boomer generation in Canadian banks within the next three to five years. At the same time, Gen X is by far the largest generational employee group for Canadian banks, comprising a "quiet majority" of between 55% and 60% of the total workforce.

"Banks need to be asking questions such as, 'how does each generation contribute to our organization across our lines of services and corporate functions?' and 'are we helping the different generations to work together?'" says Forward. "Banks will need to look at collaboration tools, skill transfer programs and address the Gen X "squeeze" to keep these key employees engaged," she says.

"The challenge will be making certain that Gen X employees feel valued by providing them with opportunities to not only gain experience from Baby Boomers, but to also share their own expertise and knowledge with Gen Y," adds Hunter.

The report also covers information on retention and loyalty with specific data on Gen Y employees. For example, it shows that voluntary turnover among Gen Ys between 2006-2010 declined from 25% to 16%, which can be partially attributed to the economic volatility over the period, but could also be the result of other factors such as organizations shaping work environments that are more suitable to younger workers.

Another area in the report addresses women in the banking workforce. Women as a percentage of the workforce has held steady at approximately 67% over the past five years. And the percentage of executives who are women has remained relatively unchanged at approximately 25% over the same period. Using a broader Employment Equity Act definition, women in senior banking roles have risen from 2% in 1987 to 32% in 2010, according to the Canadian Bankers Association.

Forward says,
"It is important to recognize that the banking industry has come a very long way with respect to women in leadership, although there are still challenges. One area the banks may wish to consider is that as they respond to regulatory reform and increased importance of risk management, how can they be sure career paths are being defined in such a way to encourage senior women to be well positioned for leadership roles?"

Baby Boomers refer to those born from 1943-1960, GenX from 1961-1981 and Gen Y's from 1982-2000.

PwC's study of workforce composition and performance in the Canadian banking sector included a review of data submitted for calendar years 2006 to 2010. The sample over the time period included large and medium-sized Canadian banks, including the "Big Five." PwC's Saratoga™ human capital effectiveness survey covers over 120 workforce metrics.

Saratoga is the largest and most comprehensive database of HR performance measures. PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada offers this evidence-based service to address your organization's strategic challenges by applying a range of quantitative and qualitative measurement and benchmarking tools. Go to for more information.

Follow PwC on Facebook at

About PwC Canada

PwC Canada helps organizations and individuals create the value they're looking for. More than 5,700 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with close to 169,000 people in 158 countries. Find out more by visiting us at

PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see" for further details.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New survey reveals significant gender gap in post-heart attack health care

Canadian men put their hearts into prevention - yet both sexes fall short when it comes to awareness of secondary heart health risks

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, March 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - When it comes to matters of the heart, it's no secret that men and women can be quite different. In fact, a new survey conducted by Vision Critical on behalf of AstraZeneca Canada Inc. reveals that the gender gap after a heart attack may be wider than we think, with men taking better care of themselves after a heart attack than women.

According to the survey, there was a significant difference in the number of men who made changes to their lifestyle post-heart attack compared to women. In fact, men surpass women by at least 10 per cent when it comes to visiting their doctor, getting their cholesterol/blood pressure tested and taking prescription medication for their heart.

"These survey results are especially surprising, as they contradict the popular belief that women are more proactive when it comes to their health and well-being," says Dr. David Fitchett, an interventional cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "It's important to note, however, that both sexes could use improvement. A heart attack can be very damaging to the heart itself, so making appropriate changes to diet, lifestyle and medication after an event is crucial to maintaining heart health."

While men seem more proactive in taking care of themselves post-heart attack, the risk of a repeat event for both men and women is high. Although treatment advances have greatly increased chances of survival, approximately 20 per cent of patients hospitalized for heart attacks are re-admitted within six months, and 15 per cent will die within one year. Women in particular are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after suffering a heart attack.

Despite these startling statistics, the survey revealed that 69 per cent of sufferers feel they face the same or less risk than others their age who have not had a heart attack. In reality, approximately one-in-three heart attacks every year are recurrent events, creating a significant burden on patients and the Canadian health care system.

The costs of cardiovascular disease in Canada are extremely high, with more than $20.9 billion spent every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

A Heartfelt Approach to Prevention

The survey also found that while 89 per cent of Canadians overall are taking medication as a result of their heart attack, they don't consider it to be as important as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly or not smoking. Despite this, 15 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women still smoke post-heart attack.

Men also lead the way with treatment compliance, with 93 per cent saying they take a prescription medication for their heart, compared with only 83 per cent of women.

"Newer treatment options are an important part of an overall prevention plan to help Canadians who are at risk of suffering a second heart attack - a plan that also includes lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, keeping physically active and avoiding smoking and alcohol," says Dr. Fitchett. "It's important for both men and women to understand the increased risks after suffering a heart attack, incorporate prevention measures and make informed decisions to better protect their health and prevent a second heart attack."

About Astrazeneca Canada

AstraZeneca is committed to the research, development and manufacturing of valuable prescription medicines. We have an extensive product portfolio spanning six therapeutic areas: gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, infection, neuroscience, oncology and respiratory. AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario, and a state-of-the-art drug discovery centre is based in Montreal, Quebec. For more information, please visit the company's website at

Monday, March 12, 2012

Canadian Cancer Society Urges Federal Leadership on Drug Shortages

National Coordinated Approach Needed to Find Effective Solutions

TORONTO, March 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Cancer Society is calling on Federal Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, to address the increasingly urgent issue of drug shortages in Canada.

"The Canadian Cancer Society is very concerned and disheartened about drug shortages in Canada, including cancer drugs," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. "For patients who are already going through a difficult time, not having access to appropriate drugs is unacceptable."

Drug shortages in Canada have been increasing over the last year. In February, shortages escalated due to a temporary production slow down by Sandoz Canada, a Quebec-based drug manufacturer. The company is implementing changes to address recent concerns raised by the US Food and Drug Administration. Sandoz also temporarily suspended production as a result of a fire in the facility on March 4. It expects to resume production in the near future.

"It's time for the Federal Health Minister to do more now before drug shortages get worse and more patients are affected," says Paul Lapierre, Vice President, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society. "Canada needs effective ways to deal with the current drug shortages, as well as solutions to prevent shortages from happening in the first place."

The Federal Health Minister has taken some steps to address drug shortages, but has said she's prepared to take more action if needed to protect the health of Canadians.

The Canadian Cancer Society urges the Federal Minister of Health to provide leadership to address this critical healthcare issue by:

...ensuring there is mandatory listing of unavailable drugs by drug manufacturers
...developing early warning systems to identify potential drug shortages
...assisting hospitals and provinces in dealing with drug shortages
...putting systems in place to prevent shortages from escalating
...working with other jurisdictions to investigate the root causes of drug shortages and, where possible, taking action to prevent them from occurring

While solving the causes of drug shortages is the primary goal, until this is achieved it is imperative that patients and medical professionals are notified as early as possible of any shortages. They must receive clear information on the reasons for the shortage, the estimated length of the shortage and alternative medications available to them.

"We applaud efforts being made by hospitals, doctors and pharmacists in dealing with drug shortages," says Demers. "But the Federal Health Minister needs to step up her actions so that these healthcare professionals can spend more time treating their patients and less time scrambling to get the drugs they need for treatment. Other countries have taken a more pro-active approach to drug shortages and it's time Canada did the same."

The Society is also recommending that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health investigate the root causes of drug shortages and develop an action plan to prevent future occurrences. It's important that all necessary stakeholders, including patients directly affected by drug shortages, provide their perspective and advice. The committee should also develop recommendations to:

...ensure patients and medical practitioners have advance warning of shortages, are informed of the cause of the shortage and of the expected duration
...prevent shortages from escalating
...ensure patients and practitioners can access safe, effective and comparable alternative medication for the duration of the shortage

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 or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

$27-Billion Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies Launched

An important day for justice, truth and health of Quebecers, according to the Canadian Cancer Society

MONTREAL, March 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - Today, the largest lawsuit ever undertaken in Quebec and Canada was launched in Montreal. Two class actions are being brought before the Quebec Superior Court against tobacco companies in an effort to seek compensation for the victims of their harmful products. This is an important day for health and truth; unfortunately, however, Quebec remains one of the provinces where the proportion of young smokers is highest.

"We applaud the Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health, one of the plaintiffs, for its efforts and hard work over the past 13 years. The trial, which begins today, is historic. It will attempt to establish responsibility with regard to the damage caused to the health of people in Quebec," states Jean-Daniel Hamelin, Director of Public Affairs for the Canadian Cancer Society - Quebec Division. "Our objective is to ensure that the truth comes out and justice is done for the thousands of people who have suffered due to their addiction or who have died as a result of it."

In addition to seeking compensation for the victims of the tobacco industry, the trial provides an excellent opportunity to find out the truth about tobacco companies' knowledge and conduct. Internal and secret documents are expected to be presented as evidence by tobacco manufacturers, thus providing an opportunity to shed light on the many deceptive tactics employed by this unscrupulous industry.

"In Quebec, we've had a longstanding and major problem with tobacco, which has cost tens of thousands of lives. Until now, tobacco companies didn't recognize any responsibility for their products' devastating effects," points out Mélanie Champagne, a tobacco policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society - Quebec Division. "Tobacco manufacturers must be held accountable for their actions, and legal proceedings provide a key opportunity to bring about a fundamental change in this industry's business practices."

According to the CCS, tobacco control is a critical issue since an estimated 30% of cancer deaths and 85% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking. Also, as mentioned in the lawsuit, smoking is a recognized cause of throat and laryngeal cancer. In addition, smoking may also cause colorectal, pharyngeal, tongue, esophageal, stomach, kidney, bladder, cervical, lower urinary tract, and pancreatic cancer. Moreover, recent data suggest a link between smoking and breast cancer.

The harmful effects of smoking in our lives

...There are still over 1.5 million smokers in Quebec, and unfortunately 28% of youths in the province (aged 20 to 34) are addicted to smoking.

...90 youths in Quebec will take up smoking today - 33,000 this year. For each person who quits smoking or dies, another person takes it up.

...Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death. Every day, 28 people in Quebec die from causes directly linked to smoking - over 10,000 every year. One out of two regular smokers dies from tobacco-related disease.

...In 2011, a third of cancer-related deaths in Quebec were due to lung cancer: 8,500 people in Quebec received a diagnosis of lung cancer and 6,700 died as a result of the disease.

...In Quebec, lung cancer kills twice as many women as breast cancer and nearly four and a half times as many men as prostate cancer.

...Since the early 1990s, the mortality rate for lung cancer has dropped by 29% among men, but it has increased by 40% among women.

...Annual health spending in Quebec on tobacco-related diseases is estimated at over $1 billion; other related social costs - including loss of productivity, prevention programs, and fires - are estimated at approximately $3 billion.

...Smoking-related diseases are responsible for about a third (32.6%) of full-day hospital stays in Quebec's major hospital centres.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything it can to prevent cancer, save lives, and support people living with cancer. To find out more about cancer, please visit our web site at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Centre at 1 888 939-3333.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nanoparticles Change Intestinal Absorption of Nutrients

photo credit: Wikimedia commons/Public Domain

by Christine Lepisto
Science / Natural Sciences

Humans consume 100 trillion nanoparticles a day, according to the press release for a new study on nanoparticle influence on nutrient absorption. As the uses for nanotechnology become more widespread, from sunscreens to socks, we are just starting to learn about the possible effects these miniscule under-regulated particles may have on our health.

A new study shines light on perhaps the scariest news yet: nanoparticles can change the rate at which nutrients are absorbed. If nutrient absorption is affected, it means that toxin absorption could also be affected. In even more disturbing findings, the study shows that nanoparticles caused "remodelling of the intestinal villi" -- changes in the intestinal linings which are critical for passing nutrients from ingested foods through to the bloodstream.

Nanoparticles as Popeye's Kryptonite

Although it has since been shown that Popeye's predilection for spinach is based on an error (spinach has no higher iron content than any other leafy, green vegetable), Popeye was the poster child for for the energy depletion caused by iron deficiency. When Popeye popped a can of spinach, he came roaring back to life.

The first thing researchers from Binghamton University and Cornell University noticed: brief exposure to low levels of 50nm carboxylated polystyrene, chosen because its fluorescent properties make it easy to track, caused iron absorption in the intestine to drop off by 50%.

Or Popeye's Superfriend?

But a strange thing happened when exposure to the nanoparticles continued for longer: "when we extended that period of time, absorption actually increased by about 200 percent. It was very clear -- nanoparticles definitely affects iron uptake and transport," explains Gretchen Mahler, assistant professor of bioengineering at Binghamton University, and lead author of the report in Nature Nanotechnology.

In fact, chronic exposure to the nanoparticle polystyrene caused physiological changes of the villi, small fingers in the intestinal wall that provide a large surface area through which nutrients can be absorbed. Villi became larger and broader, which allowed the iron to enter the bloodstream at a much faster rate.

Beyond Iron

The scientists behind this study plan to extend their research to other minerals such as calcium, copper, or zinc and to fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.

But this study raises perhaps equally important questions: first, how do nanoparticles affect the absorption of toxins? Faster absorption rates could mean that household products which are not fatal to children who accidentally consume them now to become deadly when nanoparticles enter the mix.

Also, if chronic exposure to nanoparticles changes our intestines so that more surface area is available for absorption, will toxins that are currently excreted cause more damage to organs after distribution through the blood, or faster accumulation in body fat? Will bioaccumulation of toxins in our food chain accelerate?

The research provides some breakthrough tools for studying these questions. Again from the press release: "With so many nanomaterials under development and with so much yet to be learned about nanoparticle toxicity and potential human tissue reactivity, Mahler and the team are hoping that their work, particularly the in vitro model, will provide an effective low-cost screening tool."

We hope so too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Task Force on Abuse and Neglect in Long-Term Care Homes Wants to Hear from the Public

Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety Consultations Underway

TORONTO, March 8, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Long-Term Care Task Force on Resident Care and Safety is currently consulting so that it can develop a plan to address incidents of abuse and neglect in long-term care homes - as well as the potential underreporting of these incidents.

The task force is seeking responses to a key set of questions that can be accessed online and by phone. The questionnaire can also be printed, completed and submitted by mail or fax. Submissions will be accepted until March 19, 2012.

All long-term care homes in the province were provided with the consultation questionnaire and promotional materials to help them engage their residents, staff, volunteers and family members to provide their input.

"Abuse and neglect are serious issues," said Dr. Gail Donner, Chair of the Task Force on Resident Care and Safety, and Dean and Professor Emerita, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. "We want to hear from people so the task force can develop an action plan that truly helps prevent incidents of abuse or neglect in long-term care homes and advances a culture of openness and transparency to the benefit of all involved in the provision and receipt of long-term care services," Donner added.

Members of the public are invited to make a confidential submission to the Task Force by:

Visiting: and clicking on 'Your Voice'

Mailing the completed questionnaire to: Long -Term Care Task Force, 1938 Bloor St West, P.O. Box 30026, Toronto, ON M6P 4J2

Calling: 1-866-399-6073 to record your responses

Faxing the questionnaire to (416) 766-8007 between the hours of 8:00am - 8:00pm.

"We strongly encourage people interested in contributing their views on these issues to participate - it is important for us to consider wide ranging input if we are to develop an action plan that is truly responsive to the needs of residents and care providers," said Dr. Donner.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gaps in care remain for Canadians with chronic disease

What: Disparities in Primary Health Care Experiences Among Canadians With Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions

OTTAWA, March 6, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Despite a tendency to report overall satisfaction with their primary health care, Canadians living with chronic diseases may not be receiving all the care they need. A new report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that while most people with selected chronic conditions—including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease—reported having a primary health care provider, one in five had not seen a care provider in the past 12 months. One in eight reported visiting emergency departments for a condition they perceived as being treatable by their primary health care provider.

Disparities in Primary Health Care Experiences Among Canadians With Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions uncovers barriers and challenges that exist for two groups in particular.

...Lower-income individuals were less likely to report that their primary health care physician involved them in clinical decisions (47% versus 66% of those with higher incomes).

...Women were less likely than men to report receiving all four recommended tests for chronic disease monitoring (46% versus 56%) or to have medication side effects explained (56% versus 65%).

An estimated 6.8 million Canadians age 20 to 74 are affected by these chronic conditions, which result in an estimated 95,000 hospitalizations and almost 13,000 deaths annually. Addressing the gaps in care highlighted in this report could lead to more appropriate care and to a more efficient health care system.

About CIHI

Established in 1994, CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians. Funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments, CIHI is guided by a Board of Directors made up of health leaders across the country. Our vision is to improve Canada’s health system and the well-being of Canadians by being a leading source of unbiased, credible and comparable information that will enable health leaders to make better-informed decisions.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Incredible Lion Photos Taken With High-Tech Remote Control Camera

© William Burrard-Lucas

by Jaymi Heimbuch Technology / Gadgets

Photography is a high-tech industry, especially when photographers try to figure out ways to get closer to dangerous animals without putting themselves in harm's way. Conservation photographer Will Burrard-Lucas has created a high-tech solution that has helped get him amazing images that would otherwise be impossible -- such as lions feasting or Komodo dragons flicking their tongues at the lens. Most recently Burrard-Lucas has made modifications to their "BeetleCam" that provide photographers with even more flexibility for getting images, and these incredible photos of lions show off what is possible.

Brothers Will and Matt devised the BeetleCam in 2009 in order to get close-up photos of African wildlife. It is essentially a remote-controlled car with a DSLR mounted to the top. But after an unfortunate encounter with a lion, it was clear the BeetleCam needed to be armored up. After a few design tweaks, this new version of the BeetleCam is just what the brothers had hoped for, and they took it back out to try it with lions -- and this time they were able to capture winning images.

Will Burrard-Lucas states,

"I have now created a 3rd generation of BeetleCam which has evolved to take into account our experiences from previous trips."

The newest iteration of the BeetleCam can be equipped with flashes, the top can adjust remotely to move the angle of the camera, and you can even zoom or use liveview from a distance.

As for the lions, they provide a bit of adventure as they're modeling for photos. Burrard-Lucas states of a run-in with four cubs,
"They intuitively recognised the front of BeetleCam and would try to circle around to attack it from behind. They also grew bolder whenever BeetleCam retreated, swiping at it with their oversized paws. We were just getting the hang of this new game when disaster struck; BeetleCam’s front left wheel hadn’t been tightened properly and it worked its way off! The cubs instantly seemed to recognise that the buggy was in distress and they closed in...The cubs ran off with it and proceeded to have a highly raucous game as they tried to steal it off each other. We had to wait for over an hour and a half before we were finally able to retrieve the saliva-sodden tire! To our amazement, it had a few punctures but was otherwise undamaged. We slotted it back onto BeetleCam and we were ready to go again!"

That's quite a testament to how much abuse the BeetleCam can take and still be ready to roll for more images.

"Over the course of the next few days, we were able to gain new understanding and respect for the lions we were photographing. We were always mindful that we didn’t want to harass them or intrude on their lives. However, we came to appreciate that lions are incredibly curious cats and full of the bravado that comes from being the Masai Mara’s top predator. This resulted in plenty more raucous games with the youngsters and some wonderful encounters with older individuals, who treated BeetleCam with nonchalant disdain, deliberately ignoring it as it manoeuvred around them," says Burrard-Lucas.

It's a great way to show how a little high-tech tool can be a win-win situation for humans and animals -- we can see some of the most incredible images of wild animals from ground-level angles, and we can do so without disturbing the animals (or just giving them a temporary toy...). It's a fantastic tool for conservation photographers who want to keep space between themselves and their subjects.

Here is a video from the BeetleCam's adventure with the lions:

... view more amazing photos at

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Most Ontarians would go to their pharmacist for immunizations, survey shows

Data backs Drummond report recommendations for expanded scope of pharmacy practice

TORONTO, March 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Almost two-thirds of Ontarians (61 per cent) say they would go to their pharmacist for administration of drugs by injection and inhalation, including immunization, if they knew pharmacists had the appropriate training and were authorized by the government to do so, according to findings from a new Ipsos-Reid survey commissioned by the Ontario Pharmacists' Association (OPA).

During Pharmacist Awareness Week, March 4-11, OPA is urging the province to act on recommendations made in the recently-released Drummond Report, including implementing "changes to the Pharmacy Act to enable an expanded scope of pharmacy practice" and "regulations to permit pharmacists to administer routine injections and inhalations, including immunization."

"Permitting pharmacists to administer routine immunizations is an excellent opportunity to improve Ontario's low vaccination rates while increasing vaccine access," said Darryl Moore, chair of OPA. "Pharmacists in other provinces already have this added responsibility, and have stepped up to help public health authorities to administer vaccines for annual influenza protection. We believe this is a key contribution we can also make in Ontario."

Currently, all 50 U.S. states as well as the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick have authorized trained pharmacists to administer injections, and the result has been increased vaccination rates. In Ontario, hundreds of pharmacists have already completed OPA's Injection and Immunization Certificate Program since its launch last June, in anticipation of the authority to provide these new services.

"By expanding the role of pharmacists and making better use of their expertise, skills and accessibility, we can help improve patient care; take pressure off family physicians, emergency departments and walk in clinics; reduce wait times and hospital stays; and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Ontario's health care system," said Moore. "The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is committed to working with other health care providers and the government to provide the best possible care in the most cost-effective ways."

Ontarians also support allowing pharmacists to treat minor ailments

In addition to immunizations, almost nine in 10 Ontarians (88 per cent) say they would go to their pharmacist for appropriate medications or advice for minor ailments such as dermatitis, psoriasis, cold sores and athlete's foot, if they knew that their pharmacist had appropriate training and was authorized by the government to do so.

"Pharmacists are already capable of assessing and treating many minor ailments. If they are authorized to do so through an expanded scope of practice, patients would receive the care they need, faster; and physicians would have more time to deal with more serious medical conditions," says Moore. "As health care needs increase and become more complex, these services will become even more critical, especially for patients who don't have a physician, such as those in rural or remote areas where the pharmacist may be the only health care provider they see."

According to the survey data, the biggest motivation driving Ontarians to be "more likely" to go to their pharmacist rather than a walk-in clinic or doctor's office for support on minor ailments is convenience: they wouldn't have to make an appointment (77 per cent); wouldn't have to wait in a doctor's waiting room (76 per cent); could visit a pharmacy on evenings and weekends (76 per cent); and their pharmacist would communicate his or her activities to the doctor (75 per cent).

Pharmacists in Ontario are highly regarded and increasingly recognized as the medication management experts of the health care team. They have an in-depth knowledge of hundreds of medications, and are one of the most accessible health care providers, working closely with other health care professionals, patients, and caregivers to advise on potential side effects, interactions, and any necessary adjustments to medications.

"We urge the government to adopt the recommendations in the Drummond report and allow expanded responsibilities for Ontario's pharmacists," said Moore. "Given the increasing numbers of medications, the aging population and the growing list of pharmaceuticals, pharmacists are key to ensuring safe, cost-effective drug therapy for Ontarians."

About the survey

The survey results were based on an Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between December 20 and 21, 2011, on behalf of the Ontario Pharmacists' Association. For this survey, a sample of 803 adults from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data. 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 +/3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

About Ontario Pharmacists' Association

The Ontario Pharmacists' Association is the professional association that represents the views and interests of more than 13,600 pharmacists and pharmacists-in-training across the province. The Association works to inspire excellence in the profession and practice of pharmacy, and to promote wellness for patients. For more information, visit

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Value of Electronic Health Records Extends Far Beyond Patient Care

Embedding Privacy, by Design, Not by Chance

TORONTO, March 2, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Embedding and implementing Privacy by Design (PbD) into electronic health record (EHR) systems being built across Canada will enable us to benefit from the wealth of health information stored on these systems, while protecting patient privacy, according to a new paper released today at the Toronto Board of Trade.

"By incorporating the principles of Privacy by Design into the EHR environment, you can accommodate both individual privacy and access to health information for purposes that benefit society as a whole, such as research purposes — a win-win scenario," said Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

The paper, entitled Embedding Privacy Into the Design of Electronic Health Records to Enable Multiple Functionalities - Win/Win is co-authored by Dr. Ann Cavoukian, and Richard C. Alvarez, President & CEO, Canada Health Infoway. It argues that the current practice of using health information for a range of authorized purposes should continue in the EHR environment, but that this must be done in a way that respects individual rights to privacy while benefitting the health system for all Canadians.

"In addition to their value in direct patient care, information from electronic health records can be used to strengthen public health and other health care decisions," said Alvarez. "When privacy is considered and built in at the outset, it is possible to imagine having accurate population-based information to help predict and prevent waves of infectious disease, to evaluate the safety of different medicines, or to proactively manage diabetes and other chronic conditions."

The paper emphasizes that the use of health information for purposes that go beyond the direct care of a person, such as research and health system planning, is not a new undertaking. It has long been used for such purposes with safeguards in place to protect the privacy of Canadians, including privacy legislation and policies, as well as privacy oversight bodies to monitor compliance.

The paper describes how EHRs will make it easier, faster and less expensive to leverage health information for a range of these types of enormously beneficial purposes. While privacy challenges may arise, the paper describes some tools and guidance available to help resolve those challenges, such as the principles of Privacy by Design, the Infoway-sponsored paper Privacy and EHR Information Flows in Canada: Common Understandings of the Pan-Canadian Health Information Privacy Group, and the practice of routine de-identification of information as a key first step in reducing any associated privacy risks.

"The default approach should be that information is strongly de-identified when used for purposes that extend beyond the delivery of healthcare," said Commissioner Cavoukian.

Research indicates that Canadians have a degree of comfort with using EHR information for such purposes, as long as privacy and security protections are in place. The paper underscores the need for transparency in the way EHR information is managed and safeguarded.

"While key elements are already in place to allow for privacy-protective use of EHR information for public health and other purposes beyond direct patient care," added Alvarez, "there are still issues that need to be considered as we move forward. Identifying these issues was one of the purposes of producing this paper."

About the IPC

The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government of the day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and private sector health information custodians. The Commissioner's mandate includes educating the public about access and privacy issues.

About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government. Infoway jointly invests with every province and territory to accelerate the development and adoption of information and communications technology projects in Canada. Fully respecting patient confidentiality, these secure systems will provide clinicians and patients with the information they need to better support safe care decisions and manage their own health. Accessing this vital information quickly will help foster a more modern and sustainable health care system for all Canadians.