Saturday, July 27, 2013

Canada's Provinces and Territories Realize Real Savings in Healthcare through Collaboration

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario, July 26, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - The quality and sustainability of Canada's health care systems are being improved through the work of the Council of the Federation's Health Care Innovation Working Group. Over the past year, the working group has achieved a number of successes, including lowering the cost of pharmaceutical drugs:

...Effective April 1, 2013, participating provinces and territories set a price for the six most common generic drugs, resulting in $100 million in savings annually.

...Negotiations with suppliers have been completed for 10 brand name drugs and an additional 17 drugs are presently under negotiation. In total, joint work on these 27 drugs will result in approximately $60-70 million savings annually.

In addition to pharmaceutical drugs, the two other significant priority areas for the working group over the next year are appropriateness of care and seniors care. Premiers asked the working group to examine opportunities within the team-based model framework to increase the important role paramedics and pharmacists play in the provision of front line services.

There is mounting evidence that some patients receive treatments that may not be best suited for their actual needs. That results in less effective care for patients and wastes precious healthcare resources. Spending on diagnostic imaging in Canada has increased significantly and now exceeds an estimated $2.2 billion annually. According to the Canadian Association of Radiologists, 10% to 20% of these tests may be unnecessary. Eliminating unnecessary tests could save $220 million each year.

To make sure Canadians are getting the most out of their health care systems, all participating provinces and territories agreed to adopt guidelines as appropriate for their jurisdictions for the use of medical imaging in minor head injuries, lower back pain and headaches. The working group will look at appropriateness of care in other areas.

Most seniors prefer to stay in their own home for as long as they can. Experience shows that this approach is not just better for seniors - it's better for our health care systems. The working group will look at successful efforts to prioritize homecare over long-term care institutionalization and identify two to three innovative models for provinces and territories to consider adapting.

In addition, Premiers spoke about the important issue of dementia. As our population ages, it is increasingly becoming an area of concern for provinces and territories. Premiers are determined to increase awareness, address the challenges and provide opportunities to improve early diagnosis and treatment. Premiers directed the Health Care Innovation Working Group to examine issues related to dementia, including identifying best practices for early diagnosis. Central to this is raising awareness of the early warning signs and various methods of intervention.

Premiers thanked Premier Ghiz and Premier Wall for leading health ministers for the last 18 months and also thanked health providers for their ongoing engagement.

Premiers Wynne, Redford and Pasloski will co-chair the Health Care Innovation Working Group going forward. The Premiers agreed to extend the mandate of the working group for a further three years. Québec indicated that it intends to continue to contribute to the work of the Health Care Innovation Working Group through sharing information and best practices.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ontarians Spread the Word to Inspire Organ and Tissue Donor Registration

Personalized Campaigns on Drive More Than 50,000 Visits to Online Registry including the 40 donors from Boomers Info Kiosk - Thank You!

TORONTO, July 24, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - In April 2012, Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) launched an online program to allow Ontarians to share their experience and support for organ and tissue donation. Over the last 15 months, almost 1,000 individual and organizational campaigns have been set up to inspire Ontarians to register their consent. New data available today at shows that as of June 30, 2013, 2.7 million Ontarians have officially declared their intention to save a life through organ donation, an increase of 304,909 since March 2012.

"Thank you to the 2.7 million Ontarians that have registered their consent for organ and tissue donation and the more than 304,000 who signed up this past year. You are giving hope to the more than 1,400 people who are waiting for their gift of life," says Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "I hope today's results encourage more Ontarians to join this growing movement to help save more lives across our great province."

Donor registration rates vary widely across Ontario. In the GTA, where rates have traditionally been significantly lower than in the rest of the province, every community has reported an increase over the last three months.

"The increase in donor registrations is encouraging, but we can and must do better," says Ronnie Gavsie, TGLN President and CEO. "At a 23 per cent registration rate, Ontario sits well below the U.S. registration rate of 45 per cent."

Quick Facts:

...As of June 30, 2013, there were 1,468 people in Ontario waiting for the gift of a life saving organ transplant.

...Northern Ontario has the highest rates of registration in the province, with three suburbs of Sudbury (Hanmer, Lively and Garson) reporting donor registration rates of over 50 per cent. Woodbridge, Concord and Scarborough are the only communities in Ontario with registration rates below 10 per cent.

...Women and younger Ontarians lead the way in organ and tissue donor registration. The registration rate among women is 25 per cent compared to a registration rate of 21 per cent among men. The registration rate among Ontarians between 20 and 39 years of age is 29 per cent, the highest compared to all other age groups.

...Ontario has made it very simple to register consent to organ and tissue donation: online at, in person at a ServiceOntario centre or by regular mail, download a copy of the consent form at

...One donor can save up to eight lives and enhance the lives of up to 75 more through the gift of tissue.

Trillium Gift of Life Network is a not-for-profit agency of the Government of Ontario responsible for planning, promoting, coordinating and supporting organ and tissue donation for transplantation across Ontario and improving the system so that more lives can be saved.

Canada's Demographic Challenge: A Population Growing "Younger" - C.D. Howe Institute

TORONTO, July 24, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - The real demographic challenge for Canadian policymakers is adapting to a population growing "younger," after taking increased life expectancies into account, says a report released today by the C.D. Howe Institute. In "The Main Challenge of Our Times: A Population Growing Younger," authors Marcel Boyer and Sébastien Boyer propose an alternative approach to population aging, which measures years to live instead of years since birth.

Since 1950, Canadian life expectancy, on average, has increased. For example, a 65-year-old in 2010 had the same life expectancy as a 59.5 year-old in 1950.

"Canadians are experiencing increases in longevity and are willing to work longer than previous cohorts," said Marcel Boyer. "Public policy should aim to provide Canadians with the instruments to better manage retirement decisions."

While the issue of an aging society is normally viewed from the perspective of the number of years since birth - a population's age distribution - the authors turn this approach on its head. They focus on years to live, tracking the increases in longevity for different age cohorts since 1950. A 35-year-old had a remaining life expectancy of 38.6 years in 1950 but 46.8 years in 2010, showing a difference of 8.2 years. The real-1950 age of such a person in 2010 is therefore 35 minus 8.2, or 26.8 years. Similarly, members of 60-plus age groups may feel they still have much to contribute to the labour force, and governments should adapt policies to this reality.

The forthcoming generation of elderly will be more educated, which may allow more flexibility and therefore lay the ground for double-career paths, say the authors. A significant percentage of 50-plus workers, say surveys, would like to embrace an "encore career." In a double-career path, people would have the opportunity to complete one career, start cashing their pension from it, if they so chose, as they study and train for their second career. Then they would continue working, stop pension withdrawals and restart pension contributions.

"New and more flexible labour market arrangements will be necessary," said Sébastien Boyer, "if continued labour force participation after ages 60 to 65 is deemed desirable for the individual involved and society."

The report provides recommendations for policy changes, including measures to allow the flexible use of pension and retirement funds and the facilitate second-career paths. Examples:

...Encourage phased-in retirement with changes to tax and pension rules. These steps could permit workers to work and receive pension benefits while contributing to a pension plan;

...Reduce the clawbacks on earned income for Guaranteed Income Supplement recipients, which provide strong disincentives to work;

...Adjust employment insurance programs to better cater to the needs of workers with a long history of service who are laid off late in their careers, in particular for those wishing or willing to switch careers;

...Ensure flexible severance pay rules that reduce the financial disincentive to leave a job and find a new one.

For the report click here

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Few Canadians know their eyes need UV protection on cloudy days

TORONTO, July 17, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Wearing sunglasses on a sunny day is second nature for most Canadians, but few realize that their eyes are susceptible to UV damage even in cloudy weather.

"The sun's UV rays are still present on cloudy and overcast days thereby increasing your risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and other serious eye conditions," says Dr. Keith Gordon, CNIB's vice president of research. "The best line of defense is prevention - and wearing quality, UV-protective sunglasses is vital in safeguarding your eyes from future damage."

To protect your eyes from the dangers of UV radiation, CNIB recommends all Canadians:

...wear sunglasses with at least 99 per cent protection from UVA and UVB rays year-round, even on cloudy days;

...if you require vision correction, wear contact lenses that provide UV protection and pair them with quality sunglasses for an added layer of defense;

...wear a wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap when outside; and

...stay out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest. Practicing proactive vision care and wearing UV-protective sunglasses is especially important for children.

Annually, children are exposed to three times more UV rays than adults because they tend to spend more time outdoors. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that up to 80 per cent of UV damage occurs before age 18.

"The lenses in young people's eyes are less capable of filtering UV compared to adult eyes, which is why it's so important for parents to instill in their children the habit of diligently wearing sunglasses from a very early age," says Dr. Gordon.

This summer, CNIB and its partners The Weather Network, Sundog Eyewear and ACUVUE® brand contact lenses are calling upon Canadians of all ages to wear UV-protective sunglasses whenever outside. If you're a contact lens wearer, consider pairing your shades with UV protective contact lenses for an added layer of defense. For more information on how you can protect your eyes and participate in the movement, visit

About CNIB

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit or call the toll-free CNIB Helpline at 1-800-563-2642.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Journey of Love and Money

Of all age groups, boomer couples (45-64 years of age) are the most compatible with each other's spending behaviour (81 per cent) according to Investors Group poll.

WINNIPEG, July 9, 2013 /Canada NewsWire/ - Financial worries impact three-of-ten Canadian couples (32 per cent) who admit to sometimes, often or always having disagreements about money, the latest Investors Group poll reveals. Additionally, half (50 per cent) admit to knowing other couples who argue about personal finances.

"Apprehensions about essential personal finance matters can be difficult for couples to address openly, sometimes leading to friction," said Christine Van Cauwenberghe, Assistant Vice President, Tax & Estate Planning, Investors Group. "The key to success is to talk frankly and regularly about personal finance issues to find common ground and make solid financial decisions together to plan for the future."

The Investors Group survey included 1,192 Canadians who are married or living common-law who were asked about the spending behaviours of their partners and their approach to personal finance matters.

Spending and saving

Investors Group's survey found that one-in-seven (14 per cent) Canadians try to convince their partners to spend less. However, 26 per cent say they are encouraged to save because their partner is a saver.

Eighteen per cent of Canadians have kept a secret from their partner about how much money they have spent, saved or have hidden. Thirteen per cent of females admit to secret spending, compared to only six per cent of males.

When faced with the uncomfortable news of finding out your partner has spent too much on an item, nearly one-in-five couples (18 per cent) choose to ignore it. Another six per cent confront their partner and suggest they return the item. Six-in-ten couples (59 per cent) bring it to their spouse's attention and express their genuine concern.

"No matter your financial situation, keeping track of spending habits is easiest when you develop a budget together and both agree to abide by it," said Van Cauwenberghe. "That way there are no surprises down the road and this sort of exercise helps develop a comfortable space in which you both can discuss money more often."

Tough love

So what happens if you need to regulate your partner's spending? One-in-five (21 per cent) Canadians say they have used an 'allowance' system to control the spending habits of their partner. Ninety-per cent of Canadians who use this approach are satisfied with the outcome.

Top of mind worries

While every worry does not turn into a disagreement, a majority (60 per cent) of Canadian couples identified saving for retirement as their number one concern. This tops paying off debt (52 per cent) and having enough for day-to-day living expenses (49 per cent).

Despite these top-of-mind concerns, the survey shows a majority of Canadian couples seem to agree on most issues including financial matters such as budgets, major purchases, spending and saving (67 per cent), as well as non-financial issues like extended family (66 per cent), relationship (65 per cent), household tasks (61 per cent) and raising and caring for the children (59 per cent).

Talk it out

When it comes to having important discussions, Canadians vary depending on the subject. Almost half of Canadians couples (48 per cent) feel it is important to have regular discussions about managing their children's activities. Seventy per cent of couples say it's vital to have conversations about general household operations such as daycare, cleaning, maintenance and repairs and 75 per cent say they regularly touch base on their personal saving and spending. Lastly, when discussing family outings and entertainment costs, half of Canadians agree it is important to speak about it while another 49 per cent say it isn't.

Additional highlights

...68 per cent of couples share financial duties and make decisions jointly, whereas 19 per cent like their independence and hold separate bank accounts with defined responsibility for specific expenses.

...Concerns about paying off debt among Canadians peaks at 67 per cent for young couples (age 25-34 years) and at 64 per cent for couples age 35-44 years.

...Paying down the mortgage is a concern for 36 per cent of Canadian couples. Of all age groups, younger Canadians between the ages of 18-24 years are most concerned (64 per cent).

...Gen Y Canadians (age 35-44 years) and younger Boomers (age 45-54 years) are equally worried about saving for retirement (75 per cent) and the most likely to be concerned about this issue.

...Concern about saving for retirement is less worrisome for older Boomers (age 54-64 years) but more than half (54 per cent) are still concerned.

About Investors Group

Investors Group, founded in 1926, is a national leader in delivering personalized financial solutions to Canadians through a network of approximately 4,500 Consultants located throughout Canada. In addition to an exclusive family of mutual funds and other investment vehicles, Investors Group offers a wide range of insurance, securities, mortgage and other financial services. Investors Group is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada's premier financial services companies with approximately $125 billion in total assets under management as of June 30, 2013.