Thursday, February 27, 2014

Forcing retirement savings: there is no need to cut into Canadians' disposable income

MONTREAL, Quebec February 27, 2014 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - In Canada, the current balance between compulsory and private savings is effective in meeting a clear goal, namely reducing poverty among retired people. Canada stands out among industrialized countries with a poverty rate among seniors that is lower than the average and lower than the poverty rate for the Canadian population as a whole.
However, trade unions and provincial governments, including those of Ontario and Prince Edward Island, are calling for expansion of the public plans across Canada, namely the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and the Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). These reforms are not needed and would impose higher payroll taxes, says a new Economic Note published today by the Montreal Economic Institute.
"These reform proposals overvalue the advantages of the public plans and undervalue the advantages of private savings," states Youri Chassin, the study's author. "The public plans create inequities, with winners and losers, whereas private savings belong to us individually. We can even bequeath our savings to others if we don't use them."
Calls for expansion of existing plans are based on the view that household savings are inadequate to maintain living standards upon retirement. But the studies supporting this view have two major methodological weaknesses: they fail to take account of the value of housing and treat retirement at age 65 as a given. In fact, Canadians are better prepared for retirement than it may appear.
"Expansion proposals rely on the government imposing compulsory savings programs," notes Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the Montreal Economic Institute. "Although this 'gift' may be tempting, the price to be paid is lower disposable income for Canadian families during their working lives."
The Economic Note titled "Do Public Pension Plans Need to Be Expanded?" was written by Youri Chassin, an economist at the Montreal Economic Institute. This publication is available on our website.
The Montreal Economic Institute is an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit research and educational organization. Through its studies and its conferences, the MEI stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canadaby proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Canada's Health Care System Reminiscent of Banking in the 80s

New report challenges health sector to catch up with other industries' use of data, evidence and technology to personalize services.
TORONTO, Ontario February 26, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new report from one of the country's most respected health innovation leaders is calling for a radical rethink of Canada's health services industry. Calling for the health sector to learn from others, including the financial services industry, where customers can do their banking online, access their personal health information from anywhere in the world, and get customized services based on their needs, the International Centre for Health Innovation at the Ivey School of Business at Western University laid out a blueprint to modernize and personalize health care in Canada.
"If we are going to bring our health system into this century we need to learn from the practices of other sectors and begin to take advantage of their experiences with customer engagement and service as well as the information and technology that is available to us," said Anne Snowdon, Chair of the International Centre for Health Innovation. "Just as Ford Motors moved away from building only Model T's for everyone, regardless of their different preferences - the health care sector needs to treat patients based on their individual diagnoses, values and goals."
The thought paper investigates the advancement of digital communication technologies and points to increasing evidence that individuals are ready to manage their own health and wellness and are actively seeking out strategies and tools to change the way they access health services. The Centre outlines several steps for governments, health professionals and providers to accelerate the "personalization" of systems, including:
  • Put the patient in charge of their health information and care decisions - not providers.
  • Treat patients, not the disease they have. "One size does not fit all" in diagnoses and treatment.
  • Incent providers for outcomes, not the number of services they deliver.
  • Join the 21st Century and get digitally connected.
  • Engage citizens in decisions about services paid for by government.
"There is great innovation happening right across the country in health care, but it's limited and way behind other sectors," said Snowdon. "These new approaches will improve patient care, outcomes, and save the system money. Most of all, we'll start to empower patients to take ownership of their own health."
You can access the Executive Summary and White paper at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tech-Savvy Seniors in Canada Seeking Digital Tools to Manage Health, According to Accenture Survey

TORONTO, Ontario February 25, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - With Canada's aging population accelerating, there is more focus on the growing number of tech-savvy seniors (60 percent) who are seeking digital options for managing their health services remotely, according to a new Accenture NYSE:ACN survey. Although seniors in Canada want access to healthcare technology, such as electronic reminders (58 percent) and online appointment scheduling (65 percent), research shows only 10 percent of healthcare providers currently offer such capabilities. 
The growing population of seniors in Canada are active online users, as documented by Revera's 2013 report, showing regular Internet use has more than tripled for citizens ages 65 and older over the past decade. Accenture's research shows 29 percent of seniors are self-tracking health indicators, such as weight and blood pressure, and one-in-four track information pertaining to their health history.  
"Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to virtually manage certain aspects of their healthcare services," said Debra Sandomirsky, managing director of Accenture's health business in Canada. "What this means is that health systems need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor's office."  
Three-fourths of seniors (75 percent) surveyed say that access to their health information is important, but only 14 percent currently can access their records. Similarly, more than half of seniors (55 percent) believe it's important to be able to request prescription refills electronically, but, only 14 percent say they can do so today. And, roughly half (46 percent) want to be able to email healthcare providers, but only 7 percent say they currently have that capability.   
"As a growing number of seniors are digitally-engaged, healthcare systems need to consider the role the Internet can play in making healthcare more convenient for patients of all ages at every touch point," Sandomirsky added.  
Accenture conducted consumer research with 9,015 adults across nine countries (AustraliaBrazilCanadaEngland,FranceGermanySingaporeSpain and the United States), including 1,000 citizens seniors (ages 65+) receiving Medicare benefits, assessing their perceptions of using digital tools to manage their own healthcare. Where relevant, these findings were compared to Accenture's 2013 Healthcare Consumer Research and Doctors Survey.
About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 281,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world's most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013. Its home page is

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CMA hitting the road to sound out Canadians on end-of-life issues

OTTAWA, Ontario February 19, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will be travelling across the country over the next three months to find out what Canadians think about end-of-life issues in a national dialogue. The first of five town hall meetings will be in St. John's, Nfld., on Thursday.
Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti, CMA President, said today the goal is to engage and hear Canadians' thoughts on physician-assisted dying, palliative care and advance care planning.
"Most of the attention has been focused on the question of physician-assisted dying and we're concerned the end-of-life debate is being oversimplified,'' Dr. Francescutti said. "We need to hear more from Canadians about how their health care system can ensure not only a long, healthy life but also a good death.''
The issue of end-of-life care has been an issue of major public importance, with political leaders such as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne calling for a national dialogue. "I think it raises enormous questions, but I think it's a national discussion," Wynne said last summer. "I think it's going to happen across the country."
In addition to the town hall meeting in St. John's (7-9 p.m. NST) at the Sheraton Hotel on Thursday, the other public town halls, in partnership with Maclean's Magazine and in association with the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, will be held in:
  • VancouverMarch 24.
  • WhitehorseApril 16.
  • Regina, May 7.
  • MississaugaMay 27.
Following the town halls, the CMA will release a summary report on how the public views end-of-life issues to provide guidance in future policy decisions, Dr. Francescutti said.
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 80,000 of Canada's physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 60 national medical organizations. CMA's mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

Monday, February 17, 2014

U of G Prof Receives Canada’s Top Teaching Award

Jacqueline Murray

GUELPH, Ontario February 14, 2014 - University of Guelph News Release - A University of Guelph history professor and director of Guelph’s first-year seminars program has been awarded a 2014 3M National Teaching Fellowship, considered Canada’s top teaching honour.
Jacqueline Murray is U of G’s 15th 3M Fellow. Sponsored by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE), the awards recognize exceptional contributions to teaching and learning.
“Jacqueline is a supreme educator,” said president Alastair Summerlee, who led Murray’s 3M nomination.
Ten new 3M Fellows were named today; nearly 280 Canadian professors have received the awards since 1986. Winners receive a citation and participate in a three-day educational retreat.
“She understands the learning process and uses opportunities effectively to change hearts and minds. Jacqueline believes you must be willing to teach outside your comfort zone, and she serves as a model for interdisciplinary learning for students, faculty and staff. Her impact is remarkable among students and among her colleagues here at Guelph and beyond.”
In letters of support, Murray’s students and colleagues praised her creativity, innovation and use of technology in her classes, and applauded her for helping refine undergraduate learning objectives.
They noted her work with enquiry-based learning in first-year seminars and distance education courses.
Speaking of the award, Murray said: "It’s a tremendous honour to join those dynamic and inspiring teachers, from Guelph and from across Canada, who are part of the 3M Teaching Fellowship.
“The 3M is a symbol that reminds all of us of the primary responsibility of universities to teach the next generation of leaders. Teaching in a way that empowers students is a joyous experience. I am truly privileged to be a teacher at a university that values teaching."
Murray served as dean of the College of Arts from 2001 to 2006.
Appointed as inaugural director of first-year seminars at Guelph in 2011, she has worked to improve and expand the initiative. The seminars are designed to provide an interactive small-group learning experience for new university students. These multidisciplinary courses are based on provocative topics, and their instructors are among the University’s most innovative faculty and administrators.
Following one of Murray’s first-year seminar classes on “Politics, Science and the Environment,” she organized a field trip to Botswana. She and her students walked through the Kalahari Desert with the people of the San.
“I am a passionate believer in the transformative power of education,” Murray said, adding that she grew up in an isolated community on the west coast of British Columbia.
“University provided me quite literally with access to a new world. My experience as a student underlies my approach to teaching and learning: I want to provide students with opportunities to feel the exhilaration of new knowledge – a new historical time period, a new skill, the sheer delight of an unexpected discovery.”
In 2013, Murray was one of five Canadians to earn Innovation Awards for Teaching and Learning from Desire2Learn and STLHE. She won U of G’s John Bell Award for outstanding contributions to university education that same year.
She plans to work with an African colleague on cross-cultural technology and pedagogy.
Murray has made three volunteer trips to Ghana; raises money for education and rights of women and girls in Afghanistan; and supports gay and lesbian groups in Guelph.
As a historian, she studies theology and cultural ideas about gender, sexuality, marriage and family, especially in the Middle Ages. She holds a status appointment at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies.
Murray earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia and an MA and PhD from the University of Toronto. Before coming to Guelph, she was a history professor at the University of Windsor.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This Valentine's Day, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is urging Canadians to show your loved ones you care about their heart health by Texting to Donate.

TORONTO, Ontario February 14, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - February is Heart Month, when more than 140,000 Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteers go door-to-door to ask for public support to save lives, prevent disease and promote recovery from heart disease and stroke. This year, we are thrilled to announce our first Text to Donate campaign for mobile users.
"Anyone with a mobile can help us save lives by simply picking up your phone and pushing a few buttons," said Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation. "Last year alone, there were 165,000 survivors of heart disease or stroke. While this is great news, and certainly cause for celebration, much work remains to be done and a simple text donation will help us continue to create and support survivors."
How to donate:
  • Text 20222 for $5 and write Donate
  • Text 80100 for $10 and write Donate
  • Text 45678 for $20 and write Donate
  • Your donation will appear on your next wireless bill, clearly identified as a donation to Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF).
Heart health tips for all Canadians
This Valentine's Day don't forget the simple habits all Canadians can adopt to lead a heart-healthy life and help prevent heart disease and stroke.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Follow the recommendations in Canada's Food Guide.
  • Be physically active. 30 minutes most days of the week is all it takes to start, and everything counts.
  • Be smoke-free.
  • Manage stress. Identify the source of your stress, talk to friends and family, and take time for yourself.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Women should limit themselves to no more than two drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 10; and men to three drinks a day to a weekly maximum of 15.
Vital Stats
  • Heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death in Canada.
  • Nine in 10 Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
  • The leading cause of hospitalization in Canada is heart disease and stroke.
  • Up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.