Saturday, September 29, 2012

Important Food Safety Information for Canadians

TORONTO, September 28, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Canada Beef Inc. wants to remind Canadians of some helpful tips to enjoy Canadian beef. There are important ways consumers can safeguard their health through proper hygiene, effective food preparation, and thorough cooking of ground meats.

"As the organization proudly representing Canada's 83,000 beef farming families, we wanted to share this information to ensure all Canadian families, can continue to enjoy Canadian beef and all food products safely," says Rob Meijer, President, Canada Beef Inc. "The industry is committed to food safety and we continue to look at new and better ways to educate our partners in retail and the foodservice sectors, as well as consumers, about how they can better protect themselves through safe food handling."

Canada has an excellent track record in food safety. Canadian meat processors have developed internationally recognized systems known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plans to control E.coli O157:H7 and other foodborne bacteria. These plans identify potential food safety hazards and monitor the most important production steps (critical points) to ensure these hazards are controlled before the product is sent to market. This recall is showing the system works.

It is important to remember E.coli 0157:H7 can be present in raw meat, poultry, unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, raw greens and vegetables.

Here are some helpful tips for consumers:

... Cook meat to a safe internal temperature. For ground beef it's 71C/160F - use a digital instant read thermometer to know for sure. For detailed cooking instructions for each cut of Canadian beef

... Wash hands before and after handling food and frequently while cooking, especially after handling raw meat and poultry

... Avoid cross contamination of food by washing utensils, plates and cutting boards that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry, in hot, soapy water.

... Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before you prepare and eat them.

... Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly.

... When grocery shopping, add meats and other items that should stay cool, to your cart last and be sure to keep them separate from other items in the cart

Canada Beef Inc. is a proud partner with the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education in communicating safe food handling practices for Canadians and their families. Consumers can visit the Partnership's Be Food Safe website for detailed Cook, Clean, Separate and Chill lessons.

For more information on Canada Beef Inc. visit

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grandmother Walks to Ottawa over Cell Tower Battle

LONDON, Ontario, September 27, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Fifty-seven-year-old Wendy Hoy will arrive in London today, after walking the first 100 kilometres of her province-wide march for Canadians who are concerned about the effects of radiation, including cell towers near their homes.

"Cell towers are a perfect example of involuntary exposure to microwave radiation, and you cannot object if a company puts one up beside your house," said Hoy.

She was ignored after opposing a new cell tower in her neighbourhood in Port Franks, near Sarnia, even though more than 50% of the town signed a petition against it.

"We're helpless. Bell Canada has more power than our municipal council," she said, pointing out that the council was trying to set up a "tower-free zone".

Hoy is speaking out on behalf of Canadians who are sensitive to microwave radiation and cannot live near a cell tower.

Last year the World Health Organization placed radiofrequency radiation from cell towers, cell phones and WiFi on a list of "possible carcinogens." The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for stricter safety limits for microwave radiation due to its potential harm to children. Hoy is walking 800 km from her home in Port Franks to Parliament.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ontario's top professional nursing organization asks Health Minister to reject sale of Shouldice Hospital to for-profit U.S. conglomerate

TORONTO, September 24, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Ontario's top professional nursing organization is calling on the Health Minister to reject the proposed sale of Shouldice Hospital to a large for-profit conglomerate.

Members of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) have consistently called on governments of all political stripes to affirm their commitment to the Canada Health Act and the fundamental principle of a single-tier, not-for-profit health-care system.

That's why RNAO is asking its members to write to Health Minister Deb Matthews to block the proposed sale of Shouldice Hospital, which is based in Thornhill. Centric Health, a rapidly growing health products company, recently announced its intention to purchase the hospital, well-known for the treatment of hernias. Centric is controlled by U.S.-based Global Healthcare Investments and Solutions (GHIS), one of the largest private, for-profit health-care companies in the world.

Shouldice Hospital is family-founded and operated and predates the Canada Health Act. That's why it was "grand-parented" when the act came into effect in 1984 but subject to the understanding that clinics and hospitals in Ontario must be publicly-funded and not-for-profit.

RNAO's Chief Executive Officer Doris Grinspun says more than 1,000 nurses have already written letters protesting the sale.

"Ontarians do not need care that cuts corners to maximize returns for shareholders or companies that provide faster access for those who can afford it while leaving others behind in the queue. This is not only wrong; it is totally unconscionable and unacceptable."

"The Minister has made it clear she wants to shift more procedures out of hospital and into not-for-profit community-based clinics. This principle is outlined in the government's Action Plan for Health Care," says Rhonda Seidman-Carlson, president of RNAO, adding that "now is the Minister's time to put words into action."

Seidman-Carlson says there are examples of non-profit community clinics such as Toronto's Kensington Eye Institute, which provides high-quality eye care through Ontario's Health Insurance Plan.

"We urge the Minister to block this sale and commit to the delivery of health services on a not-for-profit basis."

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, check out their website at Become a friend on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hospital CEO cap a big win for front-line healthcare workers

TORONTO, September 21, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - After years of calling for caps to outrageous hospital CEO pay, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada commends the Government of Ontario for standing up for front-line healthcare workers.

Yesterday, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan proposed legislation to cap the pay of public-sector executives. The measure would affect such employees as hospital, university and electricity utility chief executive officers, many of whom make more than $1 million a year.

Duncan said Thursday the minority Liberal government will limit public sector executives to twice the premier's $208,974 salary — or $418,000 annually — and scrap bonuses for two years. There were about 150 executives in the civil service and broader public sector who made more than $418,000 last year, mainly in hospital administration.

"Frontline healthcare workers welcome the move to cap runaway CEO pay," said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Local 1 Canada, which represents more than 50,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario and is the fastest growing labour organization in North America. "It is vital that these savings from capping executive pay and bonuses be invested in quality healthcare, and in providing relief for overstretched frontline staff."

For more than two years, SEIU Local 1 Canada has been pressuring the Ontario government to put an end to soaring hospital CEO salaries and bonuses in the face of vocal opposition from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), hospital boards, and hospital executives themselves. SEIU had been calling on Ontario to follow the example of other provinces by stepping in to directly set compensation for executives at publicly-funded hospitals, starting with a salary cap.

"This is a tremendous victory for the workers our union represents, and for the quality of our healthcare system," said Stewart. "We're pleased that the McGuinty government has finally heeded our calls to bring some accountability to public spending on healthcare bosses. It's unconscionable to target front-line healthcare workers while allowing double-digit increases in the pay of executives and managers who pocket 40 times what the average caregiver takes home."

Stewart said that instead of unfairly placing much of the burden of reducing the deficit on front-line staff like paramedics and registered practical nurses, the savings realized from capping hospital executive and senior management salaries should be invested in preventive initiatives like mother and baby programs and community-based care, and in supporting front-line workers caring for people.

She says she remains deeply concerned that Premier McGuinty plans to target other front-line staff like paramedics and firefighters, going beyond Ontario's elementary and secondary public school teachers, by imposing contracts through legislation.

"Not only does such legislation undermine the constitutionally-protected right to free association and the democratic process of collective bargaining, it unfairly puts the onus on front-line workers to bear the professional and personal costs of an economic crisis they did not cause," Stewart said. "Now that he's reigning in spending on hospital executive pay, the Premier should get serious about targeting corporations to pay their fair share to help reduce the deficit."

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada represents more than 50,000 healthcare and community services workers in Ontario. SEIU members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province. SEIU Local 1 Canada has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, as well as strengthening standards in patient and client care.

SOURCE: Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Arthritis Prevention and Care Should be an Urgent National Priority says Nationwide Coalition of Patients, Physicians and Partners

Arthritis Alliance of Canada Launches
Framework for Improved Policies and Practices

CALGARY, September 18, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A nationwide coalition of more than thirty groups including patients, health care providers, researchers, care organizations and industry partners today called upon Canadians to designate improved arthritis prevention and care as an urgent national priority. The Arthritis Alliance of Canada (AAC) outlined a plan to address this critical issue facing the country today in Joint Action on Arthritis: A Framework to Improve Arthritis Prevention and Care in Canada, a plan that prioritizes areas of focus that will have the greatest impact on those living with arthritis.

"One in eight Canadians currently lives with some form of arthritis and, within our lifetimes, that number will rise to one in four," said Dr. Dianne Mosher, President, Arthritis Alliance of Canada. "We need to make improved prevention and care of arthritis an urgent national priority on behalf of the 4.6 million Canadians living with this chronic disease. Our new Framework speaks with the loud voice of nearly three dozen experts and involved groups nationwide, offering a clear vision that will deliver results, improve clinical practice, and foster improved collaboration."

The AAC Framework advocates a three-pillar approach to deliver better outcomes for those living with arthritis and reduce the burden of the disease on Canada's healthcare system and the economy:

...Advancing knowledge and awareness - to dispel the myth that nothing can be done to curb arthritis, to improve understanding of the disease, and to enhance and focus research funding on improving prevention and the delivery of arthritis care to Canadians - all the while expanding professional education for healthcare professionals.

...Improving prevention and care - to create the conditions for earlier detection, diagnosis and intervention, to improve access and delivery of care and to encourage understanding of risk factors for arthritis.

...Supporting ongoing stakeholder collaboration - to bring together and better focus the efforts and activities of the arthritis community.

"By establishing improved arthritis prevention and care as an urgent national priority, we can lessen the toll it takes today and tomorrow on the lives of Canadians in every corner and community in our country," said Janet Yale, President and CEO of The Arthritis Society, a member organization of the Arthritis Alliance of Canada. "There is an important and necessary role for all to play in this effort - from patients to health care providers, from government to industry. Our Framework sets the goals and creates the conditions for a great national undertaking that can succeed."

Today's launch builds on last year's release of The Impact of Arthritis in Canada: Today and Over the Next 30 Years report. The Impact Report revealed that arthritis costs the Canadian economy $33.2 billion a year both directly and indirectly in health care costs and lost productivity. Today's launch brings together patients, health care professionals, industry partners, researchers, and institutions, who will work together with government to implement the Framework's initial priorities and outlined actions.

"The Impact Report highlighted the urgency for addressing the increasing burden arthritis plays and will play in years to come. If we do nothing, arthritis will cripple our economy and our healthcare system," said Dr. Claire Bombardier, Co-Scientific Director, Canadian Arthritis Network, and a member of the AAC Executive Committee. "The Framework gives all of us a chance to put a targeted, measurable plan in place that gives us the best shot at alleviating the burden of the disease over the long term."

Arthritis in Canada

Arthritis affects 4.6 million Canadians, and within a generation, more than 10 million (one in four) Canadians are expected to have either osteoarthritis (OA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritis can strike anyone at any time, regardless of age, physical condition or ethnic background and among all causes of disability in Canada, arthritis ranks first among women and second among men.

...There are currently more than 4.4 million people living with OA, and more than 272,000 people living with RA in Canada.

...There will be a new diagnosis of OA every 60 seconds, resulting in almost 30 per cent of the employed labour force having difficulty working due to OA.

...Approximately 1 in 136 workers is suffering from RA. Within a generation, this will increase to 1 in 68 workers.

About the Arthritis Alliance of Canada

The Arthritis Alliance of Canada was formed in 2002 as the Alliance for the Canadian Arthritis Program (ACAP). Its goal is to improve the lives of Canadians living with arthritis by working toward improved access to care and treatment, broadened education of the arthritis community and public and health policy makers, as well as increased arthritis research.

The Alliance includes more than 34 member organizations from across Canada, bringing together arthritis consumers and consumer organizations, arthritis health care professionals, researchers, funding agencies, governments, voluntary sector agencies and industry. While each member organization continues its own work, the Alliance provides a central focus for national arthritis-related initiatives.

To download a copy of the Framework, please visit

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baycrest dementia doctor creates activity book for children

TORONTO, September 12, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A behavioural neurologist at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto has teamed up with an expert in Montessori Methods for Dementia™ to produce an activity book to help young children cope with the devastating condition of early-onset dementia in a parent.

The book engages children, ages five to nine, to follow clues to understanding frontotemporal degeneration (FTD), an early-onset dementia that can strike adults as early as their 50s while they are still working and raising young children. The disease doesn't affect memory at first, but attacks the brain's frontal lobes which are associated with personality traits and language control. An individual with FTD will begin to display odd and disruptive behaviours and become a different person as the condition progressively worsens -which can scare and alarm young children.

Dr. Tiffany Chow, an expert in diagnosing and treating early-onset dementias in the Ross Memory Clinic at Baycrest Health Sciences, saw the need for this educational resource after meeting with patients at family meetings to discuss treatment and planning for FTD and being surprised by how young the patients' children were.

Dr. Chow joined forces with Gail Elliot, a gerontologist and dementia specialist with DementiAbility Enterprises, Inc., and Atomic Orange Productions (a service provider of interactive toys and games), to create the activity book. The principal cartoon characters are Frank and Tess Detectives - clever names that have the acronym FTD. The book can be downloaded for free from Baycrest Health Sciences' website

"I think children, regardless of age, are distressed by illness in a parent, but with FTD there are completely foreign behaviours or personality changes," said Dr. Chow, a senior scientist and clinician.

"Children can worry that FTD is contagious and that they're going to lose both parents. They also worry they are going to get it, so we need to educate them as quickly as we can with age-appropriate information. Our activity book empowers young caregivers to find positive ways to adapt to their new situation, understand what is causing their parent's peculiar behaviour, and learn simple ways to be helpful to both parents during a very challenging time."

In the activity book, big brother Frank engages his younger sister Tess to play a detective game that will explore how FTD affects the front regions of the brain which handle talking, emotions and behaviours. There are colouring and puzzle activities, such as sequencing tasks and picture searches, which the child and parent with FTD can do together. Each activity has an underlying learning component that teaches the child in a gentle way how FTD is responsible for the changes they are seeing in the affected parent.

"It's important for children to understand there are still things they can do with their mom or dad, regardless of their parent's cognitive status," said Elliot, who is currently training Baycrest frontline care staff to incorporate Montessori methods with clients who are exhibiting challenging behaviours related to dementia. "Children just need to learn new ways of communicating with their parent who has FTD. For example, instead of asking their parent an open-ended question about what the parent would like for dinner, which may be too challenging for the parent to answer, the child could offer the parent two dinner choices."

In Canada there are 500,000 Canadians living with some form of dementia. FTD, while not as prevalent as Alzheimer's disease, represents a majority of early-onset dementia cases.

Dr. Chow says plans are underway to develop similar activity books for children who have a grandparent with Alzheimer's disease. Funding for the FTD activity book was provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Baycrest Alternative Funding Plan Innovation Grants.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Canadians Rally in Support of Suicide Prevention

OTTAWA, September 8, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is the leading cause of injury related fatality in Canada. In 2009 alone, there were about 100,000 years of potential life lost to Canadians under the age of 75 as a result of suicides, and it is estimated that well over 3,000,000 Canadians have been touched by suicide in some way. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death.

This year, communities across Canada will be gathering to remember family and friends who died when despair overcame hope, and to support those who grieve, help those who struggle with living and renew a commitment to building a compassionate and caring society. Scheduled events across the country include memorial walks and runs, remembrance gatherings, candle light vigils, and informational workshops.

In keeping with the theme for this year's World Suicide Prevention Day in Canada, "All Together - Promoting Hope and Resiliency," the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP), the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychological Association and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) stress the importance of bringing people and groups together to promote a collaborative approach to suicide prevention.

The organizations note that there has been a very positive and significant shift in national attention devoted to this important public health issue. In addition to a growing number of courageous testimonials on the effect of suicide on people, families and communities, this past year saw Parliament for the first time become actively engaged in a serious discussion of suicide prevention. A private member's bill to establish a national framework on suicide prevention was introduced by the Hon. Harold Albrecht (Bill C300) and received overwhelming bi-partisan support. It is expected to be passed in the upcoming session of Parliament.

At the same time, organizations and individuals are increasingly recognizing the importance of addressing the issue of suicide across systems, across disciplines and across jurisdictions. Last May, people from across the country met in Ottawa to discuss the creation of a National Collaborative for Suicide Prevention, and there are renewed efforts underway to develop a Canadian Distress Line Network. It is estimated that 90% of people who die by suicide were experiencing a mental health problem or illness, and the release of Canada's first-ever mental health strategy in May provides an opportunity for improving the ability of the mental health system to help to prevent suicide.

Resources that contribute to suicide prevention by helping people believe in the possibility of building a life of dignity, purpose, and hope are increasingly being made available. These include a series of new resources produced by CASP in partnership with Klinic Community Centre in Winnipeg ("Hope and Healing at Work" and "Hope and Healing at Home") which will be launched on September 10th. These and other resources are available on CASP's website

Friday, September 7, 2012

25,000 clinicians to have easier access to vital patient information

Benefits Canadians who receive care in hospital outpatient clinics

TORONTO, September 7, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Improving the patient experience through increased quality of care and efficiencies is the aim of recent investments in Electronic Medical Records (EMR) for outpatient clinics, announced Richard Alvarez, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.

"Giving those who work in busy specialty clinics easier and secure access to patient information gathered from inside and outside the clinic improves care," said Alvarez. "New investments in enhanced electronic medical record systems are helping to make this a reality for 25,000 health care providers across Canada."

Canada Health Infoway, along with the provinces, territories, and health care organizations, are investing in 19 ambulatory (outpatient) EMR projects across Canada, each with the goal of providing authorized clinicians with tools to support activities such as electronic note-taking, review of patient data from previous visits, clinical decision support, ordering of tests and viewing test results.

Almost half of Canadian adults (44 per cent) say that they consulted with a medical specialist in the last year, and many of these visits took place in hospital outpatient clinics. While more than a third of those who had a specialist appointment (37 per cent) say that their specialists always knew important information about their medical history, many report information gaps. EMR systems aim to address this issue. For example, they may enable authorized health providers from different settings to exchange information about a patient's previous care, to quickly access clinical test results, or to see a patient's complete medication history.

"Outpatient care is on the rise in Canada and many patients receive care in more than one place, so it's essential that we streamline how health professionals at outpatient clinics access and use information," added Alvarez. "Less time spent chasing down information means more time that can be spent with patients."

This initiative is part of a $380 million federal investment made in 2010 which has resulted in increased use of EMR systems across Canada.

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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Risky retreats: Canadians more likely to travel without travel insurance

One in three Canadians say travel insurance is an unnecessary expense according to American Express study

MARKHAM, Ontario, Sept. 5, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Most Canadians would never question the need for car insurance, but many are willing to take the risk of travelling uninsured, according to new survey results released today by American Express Canada. The results reveal that over half of those Canadians surveyed are planning to travel in the next six months; however, only 59 per cent will purchase travel insurance prior to taking off on their next trip. This number isn't surprising considering that 30 per cent of Canadians and 42 per cent of those 18 to 34 admit that they have never purchased it.

These results suggest that Canadians are bigger risk-takers than they admit. The study found that 39 per cent of Canadians do not consider themselves to be risk-takers, but the truth is many are taking gambles all the time while travelling, the biggest being forgoing travel insurance. In fact, when it comes to Canadians pre-travel checklist, most prioritized researching things to do at their destination (80%) over purchasing travel insurance (61%).

43 per cent have travelled alone
15 per cent have travelled off resort when it's not advised
1 in 10 say they've travelled to countries with known travel warnings
14 percent have travel to a remote location removed from medical assistance
10 per cent have drove a scooter or motorcycle without a helmet while travelling

"The high percentage of Canadians who choose to opt out of travel insurance when planning a vacation is rather surprising for a nation of people that don't consider themselves to be risk takers," says Jeff Gladwish, Director of Insurances at American Express Canada. "A lot of people don't realize that your provincial health care may not cover your entire medical expenses abroad, leaving you vulnerable while you're away from home."

The study found that most Canadians are naïve when it comes to the cost of the treating medical conditions away from home. A mere two per cent of Canadians would be willing and able to pay $10,000 or more out-of-pocket for medical expenses while travelling, an amount which would likely not cover even the most basic of accidents in many parts of the world.

"You often hear travel horror stories, but you never expect it's going to be you," says Sue Noble, Burlington, Ontario, who was travelling when tragedy struck. Noble's husband was rushed to hospital for an emergency surgery after suffering a severe heart attack. "It was terrifying and the last thing I wanted to worry about was how we were going to pay for it all. Our total cost totalled $300,116. Without travel insurance, our medical bills would have left us broke."

What's deterring Canadians from purchasing travel insurance? Canadians don't know if they're getting a good deal (72%), they think there is too much jargon and don't understand what coverage includes (66%), and that it's too complicated to compare one product to another (65%).

"We understand that there's a lot of confusion about travel insurance in the marketplace, which is why we believe that a 'one size fits all' approach doesn't work," says Gladwish. "Look for flexible plans, like the ones offered by American Express Travel Insurance, to make sure you get coverage that fits your budget and your needs."

For more information visit or call 1-866-292-5234. We welcome all major credit cards including American Express, Visa, and MasterCard.

About American Express Canada

American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American Express charge and credit cards, with outstanding products like the American Express® Gold Rewards Card, the Platinum Card ®, the American Express AeroplanPlus® Gold Card. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

For more information, visit or connect with us at and