African Universities Join Forces To Expand The Continent's Pediatric Workforce
Increasing workforce productivity requires employer and employee commitment to total health
 Since 2008, the University of Cape Town has trained 151 pediatricians, pediatric sub-specialists, and pediatric nurses from across Africa through the African Paediatric Fellowship Programme (APFP). The addition of the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UZKN) to APFP will enable 150 more pediatric specialists to be trained in the next three years, doubling the number of doctors and nurses trained to date.

APFP is the preeminent program dedicated to training African pediatric doctors and post- graduate nurses. Prof. Ashraf Coovadia, Dept. Head, Pediatrics & Child Health at Wits states, "There's a critical shortage of child-health providers in Africa. Without an adequate number of trained experts, it's difficult to make a significant difference in the way a country's health care system can respond to the needs of infants and children." 

 There is less than one pediatrician per 100,000 children in Africa, compared to an estimated 99 pediatricians per 100,000 children in the United States. With support from APFP, these numbers have changed significantly. There were four pediatricians in Malawi in 2009; eight years later, there are now 15 pediatricians including the country's first Neonatologist, and 94 qualified specialist children's nurses. 
Uganda's Cancer Institute adds, "The African Paediatric Fellowship Programme changed my life and changed the outlook for childhood cancer in Uganda. The training I received through APFP equipped me with the knowledge and skills I needed to start the first dedicated pediatric oncology service in Uganda, where today we see approximately 450 children per year."

APFP relies on donor funding to cover tuition, professional fees and living expenses for the fellows during their training. Funders to date include The ELMA Foundation, Harry Crossley Foundation, Vitol Foundation and The Red Cross Children's Hospital Trust. For more information or to support APFP please visit www.TheAPFP.org.
Efforts to increase workforce productivity have focused on upgraded technology, process improvement and better governance. A white paper released by Morneau Shepell suggests that it is now time to tackle the most complex element of improving workforce productivity: ensuring commitments to total health from employers and employees.

Total health: the last piece of the workforce productivity puzzle by Dr. Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer, workforce productivity, Morneau Shepell, explained that workforce productivity (the amount of services or goods a workforce produces within an expressed time and budget) improves when each employee contributes more to the organization's collective effort. The white paper's key premise is that, in order to maximize employee contribution levels, organizations and individuals must work together to improve employee total health.

"There is no silver bullet – no single policy, procedure or program – that will solve the challenge of how to enable every employee to be able to contribute at the top of their game in an effort to improve productivity," said Dr. Howatt. "No two human beings have the same capacity, needs and motivation, making the ability to influence employees complex."

Two-way accountability for total health
The solution, as explained in the white paper, is to focus on total health. The Morneau Shepell approach is based on the principle that improving employee productivity requires proactively influencing four key areas: physical health, mental health, workplace health and life health (healthy finances and relationships) through a two-way accountability model.

"This point of view represents a shift from the traditional model where the expectation is that the employer's role is to fix everything," said Dr. Howatt. "The employer-employee partnership model begins with education and change management so that employees understand why the employer cares about their health, followed by their participation in improving their own health."

Flexible model, tangible results
In order to arrive at a plan for identifying and implementing measures that will drive workforce productivity, the authors of the white paper identified a flexible five-stage approach that can be adapted to an organization's particular needs. The five stages of Morneau Shepell's total health model are:

Define the problem: Frame the employer's current situation, needs and desired outcomes, as well as why it is valuable to take action now.
Investigate: Survey employees to uncover their perceptions, preferably using a survey tool that uses predictive analytics and social science to identify drivers that are impacting workforce productivity.
Develop a strategy: Using the survey results, determine the organization's needs and objectives.
Implement: Outline programs and solutions that support the organization.
Evaluate: Determine the methodology that will be used to measure return on investment.
"The central element of Morneau Shepell's total health approach is dual accountability: employer support leads to employee action," stated Dr. Howatt. "When both an organization and its people focus on improving total health, the result is an increase in workforce productivity and better business results."    


An estimated eight million Canadians may be affected by liver disease, an illness that exhibits little to no symptoms, involves everyone from newborns to seniors, and is rarely tested by doctors during annual checkups.

Recent indicators gathered by the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) show that an increased prevalence of liver diseases including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), chronic hepatitis B & C, and liver cancer are why in just ten years, the statistic that was once 1 in 10, is now 1 in 4.

"The reason we are seeing this increase in liver disease is partially due to lifestyle choices we don't always associate with causing us a tremendous amount of harm," says Gary Fagan, President of the CLF. "From supersizing your meal, to binge-watching a television series, these ordinary activities can seriously compromise the well-being of your liver."

Fast facts of liver disease:

There are over 100 known liver diseases; only one is directly caused by alcohol.
1 in 7 Canadians are obese. 23% of obese Canadians are at risk of developing serious liver damage from fatty liver disease.
NAFLD is the most common liver disease in Canada, affecting over 7 million people.
The virus that causes hepatitis B is 100 times more infectious than HIV, and is the second leading cause of cancer worldwide.
Many Canadians with hepatitis C are not diagnosed until decades after being infected.
Liver diseases such as NAFLD or chronic hepatitis can lead to scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and ultimately, liver failure. The CLF believes the key to shrinking this 1 in 4 statistic is through knowledge.

"The investment of research is a critical step in improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of these diseases," says Fagan. "However, educating the general public without delay about the severity of liver disease and how one may avoid it can literally be the difference in a life or death situation."

March is "Liver Health Month", and the CLF is taking the opportunity to get Canadians familiarized with the facts, risks, and actions they will need to ward off liver disease. In the Check Your Engine campaign, the CLF is comparing the human body to a high-performance vehicle, and the liver as that vehicle's engine. The goal is that this example will resonate with the public and motivate them to avoid the risks associated with liver disease.

The public can view and share our video (English & French) and visit www.liver.ca/CheckYourEngine to receive practical tips, read stories behind those who are affected, and join in the CLF's awareness efforts by posting photos on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #CheckYourEngine.

About the Canadian Liver Foundation
Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention, and treatment of all liver disease. Today, we are bringing liver research to life by promoting liver health, improving public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raising funds for research, and providing support to individuals affected by liver disease.

Shifting from concern to crisis: 1 in 4 Canadians may be affected by liver disease


Canadian living with severe skin condition to shake a lifetime's worth of hands 
Canadian initiative designed to improve hearing goes global
     Global hearing care retailer, Audika, is pleased to announce the worldwide launch of the International Campaign for Better Hearing. The Canadian initiative, first established in 2014, offers anyone over the age of 60 a free hearing test and makes hearing aids accessible to people who otherwise could not afford them. This global launch furthers the company's mission to help more people hear better.

Hearing Loss affects 360 million people worldwide and is the number one cause of years lived with a disability in people over 70, globally.i According to 2017 statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) on deafness and hearing loss, approximately one third of the world's population over 65 years of age is affected by disabling hearing loss.ii In Canada, more than 40 per cent of Canadians ages 20 – 79 have some form of hearing impairment.iii The goal of the International Campaign for Better Hearing and its sponsors is to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected with hearing loss by offering proper assessments through participating hearing care experts. The 'Test your Ears at 60 Years' initiative created by HearingLife promotes the importance of all people above 60 receiving an annual hearing checkup.

"We are so pleased that an initiative first launched by HearingLife in Canada now has the opportunity to improve the lives of those with hearing loss, worldwide," says Gino Chouinard, President of HearingLife. "To date, we have provided more than 200 free hearing aids to Canadians across the country and the response has been overwhelming. You cannot underestimate the far-reaching impact of hearing loss on an individual's life - being able to provide hearing aids to those in need is a win for everyone."

HearingLife established the program's model and for every free hearing test performed as part of the Campaign, a donation of approximately $4 is made by participating clinics. With the funds raised, free hearing aids are provided to nominated clients as part of the giveback program in local communities.

In an effort to put hearing care on the global healthcare agenda, the International Campaign for Better Hearing aims to inform and educate people about hearing healthcare and the consequences of untreated hearing loss. Recent studies have demonstrated links between hearing loss and numerous psychological and cognitive disorders. In 2017, The Lancet Commission on Dementia reported that cognitive decline, depression and dementia are strongly associated with hearing loss.iv This was further reinforced by research, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences this year, which confirmed strong links between hearing status and the risk of disability, dementia, and depression in older adults.v

Untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences with risk factors escalating substantially as the level of hearing loss increases. With early detection, the adverse effects of hearing loss can often be prevented, and the lives of both the individuals suffering from hearing loss and their loved ones can be significantly improved.

"Being part of William Demant Group, a global leader within the hearing aid industry, we have a responsibility to help more people hear better," says Jillian Price, Chief Audiologist at HearingLife. "Hearing is an asset to your quality of life and hearing poorly is a significant liability. We need to get as many people as possible that have hearing difficulties treated with care and expertise. Delivering on our vision will help reduce associated health issues and contribute to creating a happier, healthier and more inclusive society worldwide."

From March 3rd 2018, the Campaign will be live in Australia, Canada, France, UK, Ireland and Portugal. 
An average person will shake 15,000 hands in his or her lifetime – Tanya Mohan will do that in a month by setting out on a cross-Canada mission to raise awareness about atopic dermatitis (AD).

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema characterized by dry, inflamed and itchy skin. It is caused by damaged skin and weakened immune systems due to genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors. The patches of eczema may ooze, become scaly, crusted, or hardened and symptoms can range from mild to severe. While not contagious, it makes a profound impact, with many of those that have it shying away from human contact.

Tanya has lived with atopic dermatitis her whole life, impacting her personal relationships, life choices and self-confidence. Constant scratching has caused cuts and scars on her skin and the symptoms of AD are the reason she has never been able to get a full night's sleep.

"AD is not a disease I can hide, it is always out in the open and always on my mind – there's no escaping the symptoms and visibility," says Tanya Mohan. "I want to raise awareness about how this disease impacts people's lives and, through this challenge, show that Canadians are willing to learn and appreciate the difficulties people with AD face on a daily basis."

According to the Eczema Society of Canada's 2017 Quality of Life report, almost half of those living with AD avoid social activities while 40 per cent steer clear of any intimacy at all.5 That has a deeply negative impact on social lives, romantic relationships, and even employment. In other words: a handshake can make a big difference.
"Many people don't realize that in addition to the physical symptoms of atopic dermatitis, patients can also experience significant impact to their well-being and mental health," explains Amanda Cresswell-Melville, Executive Director of the Eczema Society of Canada. "It can be an extremely debilitating disease that goes well beyond dry, red or itchy skin."

A Lifetime of Handshakes will shed light on the realities that patients face. According to the Quality of Life report, itchiness alone can significantly limit a patient's social, sexual, academic and work life, and leads to sleep loss.6

Tanya and the Lifetime of Handshakes tour travels across Canada as follows:

Ottawa, Ontario
Date: February 20, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM (EST)
Location: 90 Wellington Street

This month, raise awareness about atopic dermatitis by supporting Tanya's mission and goal, and shake her hand. For more information, visit handshakes.ca.

About Sanofi – www.sanofi.ca

Sanofi is dedicated to supporting people through their health challenges. We are a global biopharmaceutical company focused on human health. We prevent illness with vaccines, provide innovative treatments to fight pain and ease suffering. We stand by the few who suffer from rare diseases and the millions with long-term chronic conditions.

With more than 100,000 people in 100 countries, Sanofi is transforming scientific innovation into healthcare solutions around the globe.

Sanofi entities in Canada employ close to 1,900 people. In 2016 we invested $130 million in R&D in Canada, creating jobs, business and opportunity throughout the country.

Follow us on Twitter @SanofiCanada and on YouTube.

Sanofi, Empowering Life

This month, raise awareness about atopic dermatitis by supporting Tanya's mission and goal, and shake her hand. For more information, visit handshakes.ca.


2018 Pre-Budget submission calls for $600 million annual investment to deliver more frontline home care, help ease hospital overcrowding, and meet increased demand for professional home caregivers.

Home Care Ontario, the voice of home care in Ontario™, is calling for more investment, more caregivers and building a system that empowers patients, families and professional caregivers in its 2018 Ontario Pre-Budget submission "Providing More Care for Me and For You."

"The home care system is at a tipping point," said Sue VanderBent, CEO, Home Care Ontario. "People want and need more home care, but patient complexity, an aging population, and government underfunding over the past decade has meant they are actually getting less, and professional home caregivers are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Simply put, we need a new approach that puts home care at the centre of a long-term solution to ensure our loved ones get the quality care they deserve."

The member-based organization notes that Ontario's home care system is stretched too thin after a decade of stagnant funding while demand for home care services have increased at a much faster rate. The result is unprecedented levels of rationing of care, growing wait lists, and caregiver burnout. Home Care Ontario is calling on the government to invest an additional $600 million annually in Ontario's home care system to deliver more frontline patient care. This funding would mean 9 million more personal support worker visits, 5.1 million more nursing visits, and funding to begin to meet the increased demand for therapy and other home care services.

Additional recommendations to strengthen home care and the entire health care system include:

Eliminate the SDCO (Self Directed Care Organization) Agency and work with existing and pre-qualified providers to implement a truly quality-based self-directed care model that achieves its laudable goals;
Work with health system leaders to implement a comprehensive strategy to recruit, retain, and value more professional and skilled home caregivers, and unlock latent service capacity to better utilize existing professional caregivers;
Launch a public awareness campaign through social and online media about the value of hiring trained and qualified caregivers from reputable providers to deliver quality care to patients and help impede the underground economy in home care;
Implement a tax credit or caregiver allowance for those Ontarians who can and do wish to purchase care from reputable, legitimate Ontario home care providers that adhere to safe, and responsible health human resource, occupational safety and accreditation standards; and,
Strengthen the information exchange between all Health Service Providers, including frontline professional caregivers, and acknowledge their HIC status to achieve continuity in approach and seamless, safe care for patients and families.
"Now is the time to act, now is the time for more home care," concluded VanderBent. "It is essential that Ontario invests in more home care to reduce hospital overcrowding, keep seniors in their homes and communities longer, and deliver care more efficiently to free up resources for hospitals and long-term care homes – putting patients first and making the entire health care system stronger."

Ontario's Home Care System at a Tipping Point, More Investment Needed: Home Care Ontario

Ontario government must step in to protect hospital staff and the public in Carillion bankruptcy
 The provincial government is being urged to "seize the moment" and protect patients and hospital staff by ending privatization of contracted out hospital services following the complete collapse of private contractor Carillion.

The united call comes from Unifor and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE), which represent hundreds of staff at William Osler Health System, The Royal Ottawa Hospital, Halton Healthcare and the Sault Area Hospital, that all have service contracts with Carillion. These hospital workers are among the 6000 Canadian workers who are affected by the Carillion liquidation.

"In Britain the hospital staff employed by Carillon have been given guarantees by the British government that they will continue to be paid. The provincial government needs to make the same assurances to the hospital staff working at Carillion's Ontario P3 hospitals. It is also time for these projects to be brought back into the public sector. The folly of private ownership of the hospitals is exposed fully by this bankruptcy," says OCHU president Michael Hurley.

The British government has committed that services contracted with Carillion but funded by the public purse will continue to be provided and advised workers in those industries that they will be paid and to continue to go to work. No such promise however has been made by the Ontario government, leaving in question the future of public services provided by Carillion workers.

UK media are reporting that while the company was imploding Carillion bosses pocketed millions of pounds in bonuses. An inquiry is now called to investigate. Thousands of small businesses are owed money by Carillion and the future of many of them may now be in doubt. Will they be protected?

"Contracting out to these private firms puts public services at risk. This is more than a cautionary tale for our provincial government. These contracted out hospital services must be brought back under public delivery and guarantee that affected workers are paid," says Katha Fortier, Unifor Assistant to the National President.

Ontario's auditor has challenged the wisdom of the provincial government's use of private contractors and private capital infrastructure, estimating that they've cost $8 billion more than had the projects been fully public. The auditor also found that Carillion cost over-runs during the construction of William Osler amounted to more than $200 million.

Just last December, a damning 2017 Ontario auditor's report showed that hospitals are being gouged by P3 contractors for maintenance work not covered under the original P3 contract. Several hospitals are in long-term disputes with P3 maintenance companies over these contracts which often last for 30 years.

OCHU the hospital arm of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario and Unifor together represent nearly 50,000 hospital staff in hospitals across the province.

Medical school admissions practices in Canada more likely to select applicants motivated by status, financial gains, and familial pressure to pursue medicine and may result in bias against applicants from lower income levels, new SortSmart study suggests
Canadian medical schools are meticulous in selecting appropriate applicants as future medical doctors. However, the ability of the current medical school admissions process to select well-suited applicants that genuinely want to pursue medicine without external rewards is under question, according to the Canadian medical school admissions study survey by SortSmart Candidate Selection Inc. ("SortSmart").

"This inability to select applicants based on their intrinsic motivation, has serious consequences because the future of healthcare depends on medical doctors who are internally motivated and find medicine rewarding on its own, rather than those who may be primarily motivated by fortune and fame." Said Dr. Behrouz Moemeni, PhD, CEO at SortSmart. "If we continue to inadvertently select future medical doctors based on their desire to have a lucrative career and/or enjoy high status in society, we will continue to see a rise in complaints about on-the-job professional misconduct, never mind the disservice to all, including patients and the applicants themselves."

Concern over Canadian medical school admissions practices: 68% of medical students and residents are motivated by income security, status, and parental pressure to pursue medicine.

Medical schools are tasked with the critical job of selecting applicants that are more likely to both perform well during medical school and later on as medical doctors.

The admissions process has been traditionally focused on admissions test scores and professionalism with limited ability to assess intrinsic motivation, which is defined as the desire to engage in an activity that is self-rewarding on its own regardless of external rewards.

The findings of the SortSmart study reveal that 68% of medical students and residents are attracted to the profession primarily by the pursuit of a lucrative career, status, and/or because one or more family members are medical doctors. Only 32% are intrinsically motivated to pursue medicine indicating that they were pursuing medicine "to heal and be of service, even it means to volunteer without pay."

Climate of bias: 37% of accepted applicants come from households with income levels in excess of $100,000/year, 64% of whom are Caucasian.

The fairness of admissions practices has come under question over the years with some arguing that admissions practices are skewed in favor of the wealthy while biased against those of visible minority groups and those from lower income levels1,2.

The survey indicates that 49% of respondents are Caucasians followed by Asians at 22% and other visible minorities at 29%.

A troubling finding by the survey was that 71% of those accepted to medical school came from households making over $60,000/year, with an alarming 37% coming from households with income levels in excess of $100,000/year.

The results further showed that 64% of those from income levels of over $100,000/year identified as Caucasian, while only 16% of Caucasians reported to be from families earning below $60,000/year.

On the other hand, 46% of those identifying as visible minorities were from families earning less than $60,000/year while only 24% reported to belong to the category of high earners with income level of above $100,000/year.

Furthermore, higher household income significantly increases the probability of receiving more than one acceptance. Specifically, the percentage of respondents receiving more than one acceptance increased significantly from 30.7% for those whose families earned less than $60,000/year to 45.8% if their family earned more than $60,000/year.

MCAT and admissions consulting services do not contribute to the observed bias in favor of the wealthy.

While the use of MCAT preparation and admissions consulting services is prevalent amongst applicants, use of such services does not correlated with income levels indicating that these services do not contribute to the observed bias in favor of the wealthy.

Evidence of distrust: 68% of students and residents say all admissions assessment scores must be shared with applicants.

When asked to rank the transparency of current admissions assessment tools, the written application was chosen as least transparent most often (24.63%), followed closely by the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) (20.53%), Computer-based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics (CASPer) (19.06%), and reference letters (18.48%).

Conversely, when the respondents were asked to indicate which admissions tests are most transparent, surprisingly, 39.8% of respondents chose the MMI as the most transparent, followed by the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at 28.2%, indicating a divided opinion about MMI amongst future physicians.

However, consistent with the previous results, written applications, reference letters, and CASPer were least often chosen as most transparent (10.76%, 5.23%, and 3.2%, respectively).

Notably, 68% said they don't approve of the common practice of not sharing admissions results with applicants reporting that they believe all admissions assessment scores must be shared with applicants.

Root cause of the problem: 90% believe admissions assessment practices can be improved.

74% of medical students and residents believe that the current admissions practices can be improved and 16% express that there's room for "major improvement".

Optimism about the future in the advent of innovation: 97% would support a new screening tool.

97% of future doctors remain optimistic and are willing to embrace a novel screening tool, if it is proven to be fairer and better at selecting future medical doctors.

The observed trends are ubiquitous in all 17 Canadian medical schools.

The study did not find any notable differences in the reported trends across different medical schools in Canada indicating little difference between current admissions practices across Canadian medical schools.

The silver bullet: selecting for intrinsic motivation can alleviate the bias against those from lower socioeconomic status and visible minorities, while selecting those that are primarily motivated to pursue medicine to serve others.

No correlation was found between cultural background or socioeconomic status and intrinsic motivation, pointing to a promising new way to select applicants.

"While some of the current medical school admissions tools have been reported to be able to predict future medical trainee examination scores, the findings suggest that they are not able to select applicants based on intrinsic motivation, a predictor of future on-the-job performance. This is not surprising, because the ability to predict future academic or professionalism test scores does not equate with the ability to predict future on-the-job conduct. In other words, it is possible to select applicants that are highly professional on paper and score high on retention of scientific facts, who are not necessarily internally motivated to pursue medicine. This could naturally lead to professional misconduct and attrition. On the other hand, when applicants are intrinsically motivated, they would do everything to learn and improve overtime and less likely to get frustrated easily and display signs of professionalism misconduct under pressure because they find medicine self-rewarding on its own. Importantly, a second consequence of current admissions practices is the apparent bias against those from lower socioeconomic status. These findings highlight the need for adoption of a novel candidate selection tool that reliably measures each applicant's level of intrinsic motivation, a factor uncorrelated to wealth or cultural background. Such a tool will not only make the selection process more democratic, fair, and equitable but will result in selection of better-suited applicants with implications in university admissions and employee selection in industry.", said Dr. Moemeni.

About the survey:

The SortSmart survey was completed using Qualtrics survey software with a representative sample of 452 Canadian medical school students and residents. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error +/- 5%, 19 times out of 20.


The Alzheimer Society announced today that while awareness about dementia has increased, stigma and negative attitudes around it continue to persist. The Society is releasing findings of a new survey to coincide with Alzheimer's Awareness Month in January and to kick off its new social awareness campaign – I live with dementia. Let me help you understand ­– to spark conversations and encourage Canadians to see dementia differently.

The Leger-led survey, which questioned 1500 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 65 online, also reveals that 46% of respondents would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia, while 61% of those surveyed said they would face discrimination of some kind. The survey also shows that one in four Canadians believe that their friends and family would avoid them if they were diagnosed with dementia, and only five per cent of Canadians would learn more about dementia if a family member, friend or co-worker were diagnosed.

"These results validate our thinking, that stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people with dementia to live fully with dignity and respect," says Pauline Tardif, CEO at the Alzheimer Society of Canada. "The findings underscore the work we must still do to end stigma once and for all. There is no shame in having dementia. We can't let negative perceptions stand in the way of people with dementia seeking help and support. Life without discrimination is a right for anyone affected by this disease."

To tackle stigma, the Alzheimer Society is letting the experts do the talking—people living with dementia. People like Roger Marple. For this proud father and grandfather, who developed young onset Alzheimer's three years ago at age 57, his diagnosis was a tough pill to swallow. But with time, Roger overcame his initial shock and sadness. He had too many dreams to pursue. "I still do things that have meaning in my life, like getting out, playing golf and travelling. I'll continue to enjoy life for as long as I possibly can to the best of my abilities. Isn't that what we all aspire to do?"

Roger and others invite Canadians to hear their inspiring stories and take a few pointers from them on how to be open and accepting towards people with dementia.

Their stories are featured on a dedicated campaign website, where visitors will also find tips on how to be more dementia-friendly, activities to test their knowledge, and other resources to take action against stigma and be better informed about a disease that has the potential to impact every single one of us.

To help stop stigma and read the full survey, visit ilivewithdementia.ca – and use the hashtag #ilivewithdementia to help spread the word.

Almost 50% of Canadians would not want others to know if they had dementia, says new survey


 Undiagnosed sleep apnea is highly prevalent among hospital patients, and treating it after they're discharged can improve their chances of long-term survival, according to a ResMed-funded (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD) study published in the American Journal of Medicine.

The study screened more than 5,000 hospitalized patients; 18.7 percent were estimated to have sleep apnea. Those who tested positive for sleep apnea were placed on positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy post-discharge. Patients who were adherent to therapy in the first three months had an improved chance of survival over the next 20 months, compared with those not adherent on PAP.

"We have a profound opportunity to identify and help tens of thousands of hospitalized patients who don't know they have a dangerous but treatable sleep condition," said Sunil Sharma, M.D., the study's principal investigator. "These results show just how important a hospital can be in addressing these issues."

"Up to 70 million Americans have sleep apnea, and only a fraction are diagnosed," said ResMed Chief Medical Officer Carlos M. Nunez, M.D. "When a medical condition brings them to a hospital, it's a prime opportunity to see if they also have sleep apnea, which they can then address – and potentially live longer for doing so."

Read the study in the American Journal of Medicine: http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(17)30399-6/abstract

Diagnosing, Treating Sleep Apnea in Hospital Improves Survival, Says Study Published by American Journal of Medicine


Starting January 1st, 2018, under the new OHIP+ program, the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will cover AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® antistatic chambers for children 12 years of age and under. Children prescribed a Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) for their asthma will now be eligible for one (1) chamber per year under this new program. A prescription must be provided by a doctor or Nurse Practitioner in order to be eligible for reimbursement.

About AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® Chambers:

#1 recommended chamber by pharmacists and doctors in Canada1.
Validated with safety and efficacy studies in numerous third party clinical evaluations amongst various patient populations and it is the chamber most recommended by leading MDI pharmaceutical companies2
Antistatic chamber designed to deliver the intended prescribed dose via the MDI, similar to using an MDI with perfect technique3
The only chamber with the Flow-Vu® inhalation indicator for the care-giver to observe effective inhalation. The Flow-Vu® indicator provides real time feedback confirming an effective inhalation and ensures that there are no leakages of ambient air into the space between facemask and face, that could prevent medication delivery altogether. www.aerochamber.com
For Dose Assurance and Improved Clinical Outcomes

A landmark real-world study in more than 18,000 patients has demonstrated superior asthma control with the AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® antistatic Valved Holding Chamber (VHC, or spacer) compared with other chamber devices.4 For those with asthma, particularly children, the choice of device to deliver their medication is an important consideration; even with the same metered-dose inhaler (MDI), not all valved holding chambers perform equally well.5 According to the study, published in Pulmonary Therapy, the AeroChamber Plus* Flow-Vu* antistatic chamber was associated with delayed time to first exacerbation, fewer asthma related emergency department visits, and lower exacerbation-related costs than control chambers.

Chamber Recommendation

It has been reported that patients who use a MDI and chamber have better asthma control.6 Chambers were designed to reduce the oropharyngeal deposition by changing the particle size distribution of the inhaled aerosol, and by holding the aerosol in the chamber until the patient is ready to inhale, which reduces the need for good coordination between inhalation and inhaler actuation.7 Effectiveness of these devices can be adversely affected by the design, including the chamber electrostatic charge, a commonly reported cause of inconsistent medication delivery.8
Canadian Paediatric Society and the Canadian Thoracic Society joint statement on Asthma recommend that Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS) are to be administered by metered-dose inhaler with an age-appropriate valved spacer [chamber]9
The Lung Association has endorsed our product with the following statement: The Lung Association believes that using the AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® VHC with your metered dose inhaler helps to ensure medication is delivered to where it is needed in your lungs.
About Trudell Medical International (TMI)

Trudell Medical International is a global manufacturer located in London, Ontario and our products are sold in over 110 countries. We design, develop, manufacture, and distribute from our London head office which is also home to a Global Aerosol Lab and Research Center. www.trudellmed.com

® trade-marks and registered trade-marks of Trudell Medical International © TMI 2017. All rights reserved.


1 #1 Brand based on independent survey of Pharmacists and Physicians.
2 Study Summary: AeroChamber® Brand of VHC, May 2016.
3 Harkness H et al. Valved Holding Chambers are non-interchangeable: Development of a Universal VHC that provides assurance of drug delivery to patients and health care providers. Presented at Canadian Respiratory Conference, 2012.
4 Burudpakdee C, Kushnarev V, Coppolo D, Suggett J. A retrospective study of the effectiveness of the AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® Antistatic Valved Holding Chamber for asthma control. Pulmonary Therapy. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41030-017-0047-1. Accessed July 14.
5 Nagel MW, Suggett JA. Equivalence evaluation of valved holding chambers (VHCs) with albuterol pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI). Respiratory Drug Delivery Europe; April 25-28, 2017, 2017; Nice, France.
6 Levy ML, et al. Asthma patient's inability to use a pressurized metered-dose inhaler (pMDI) correctly correlates with poor asthma control as defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) strategy: a retrospective analysis. Prim Care Respir J. 2013; 22(4):406-11
7 Lavorini F, Fontana GA. Targeting drugs to the airways: The role of spacer devices. Expert opinion on drug delivery. 2009;6(1):91-102.
8 Mitchell JP, Coppolo DP, Nagel MW. Electrostatics and inhaled medications: influence on delivery via pressurized metered-dose inhalers and add-on devices. Respiratory care. 2007;52(3):283-300.
9 Ducharme, FM et al. Diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers: A Canadian Thoracic Society and Canadian Paediatric Society position paper. Can Respir J 2015;22(3): 135-143

AeroChamber Plus® Flow-Vu® Chamber now covered in Ontario for children 12 years of age and under


 According to new estimates published, between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year, higher than a previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 and based on a robust, multinational survey.

The new estimate, from a collaborative study by CDC and global health partners, appeared last week in The Lancet. The estimate excludes deaths during pandemics.

"These findings remind us of the seriousness of flu and that flu prevention should really be a global priority," says Joe Bresee, M.D., associate director for global health in CDC's Influenza Division and a study co-author.

The new estimates use more recent data, taken from a larger and more diverse group of countries than previous estimates. Forty-seven countries contributed to this effort. Researchers calculated annual seasonal influenza-associated respiratory deaths for 33 of those countries (57 percent of the world's population) that had death records and seasonal influenza surveillance information for a minimum of four years between 1999 and 2015. Statistical modeling with those results was used to generate an estimate of the number of flu-associated respiratory deaths for 185 countries across the world. Data from the other 14 countries were used to validate the estimates of seasonal influenza-associated respiratory death from the statistical models.

Poorest nations, older adults hit hardest by flu

Researchers calculated region-specific estimates and age-specific mortality estimates for people younger than 65 years, people 65-74 years, and people 75 years and older. The greatest flu mortality burden was seen in the world's poorest regions and among older adults. People age 75 years and older and people living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths. Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asian countries had slightly lower but still high rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths.

Despite World Health Organization recommendations to use flu vaccination to help protect people in high-risk populations, few developing countries have seasonal flu vaccination programs or the capacity to produce and distribute seasonal or pandemic vaccines.

Global flu surveillance protects all nations, including U.S.

CDC works with global partners to improve worldwide capacity for influenza prevention and control. CDC has helped more than 60 countries build surveillance and laboratory capacity to rapidly detect and respond to influenza threats, including viruses with the potential to cause global pandemics. These efforts, along with technical support, has helped some partners generate estimates of influenza-associated deaths, which contributed to this global effort.

Global surveillance also provides the foundation for selecting the viruses used to make seasonal flu vaccines each year. This helps improve the effectiveness of flu vaccines used in the United States. Global surveillance also is crucial to pandemic preparedness by identifying viruses overseas that might pose a human health risk to people in the United States.

"This work adds to a growing global understanding of the burden of influenza and populations at highest risk," says CDC researcher Danielle Iuliano, lead author of The Lancet study. "It builds the evidence base for influenza vaccination programs in other countries."

The study authors note that these new estimates are limited to flu-associated respiratory deaths and therefore may underestimate the true global impact of seasonal influenza. Influenza infection can create or exacerbate other health factors which are then listed as the cause of death on death certificates, for example cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or related complications. Additional research to estimate non-respiratory causes of flu-associated deaths are ongoing.

Seasonal flu death estimate increases worldwide

ONA's 'Better Care Starts Here Campaign' Expands Today
Growing number of Canadians continue to benefit from private insurance drug pooling system
 The Canadian Drug Insurance Pooling Corporation (CDIPC) advised today that, in 2016, more than 20,500 Canadians benefited from the private insurance cost-sharing framework. Further, CDIPC's cost-sharing approach benefited over 7,000 mostly small and mid-size employers by helping maintain the affordability of drug benefit plans provided to their employees and their families.

"Canadians are increasingly benefiting from the medical advances offered through the introduction of new drugs which can sometimes be very expensive," notes CDIPC's Executive Director Dan Berty. "The number of these new high-cost drug treatments are continuing to expand at a rapid pace. Without CDIPC's cost-sharing approach, there is no question that a significant number of employers would have had to make changes to their drug insurance plans, potentially leaving employees and their families without access to lifesaving treatments," added Berty.

Through the CDIPC, Canada's life and health insurers voluntarily share the costs of pooling highly expensive and recurring drug treatments in order to shelter fully-insured private drug plans from the full financial impact of high-cost drugs. This proactive approach is helping ensure the sustainability of supplemental benefit plans for Canadians.

Additional information on 2016 CDIPC drug pooling results has been posted to CDIPCs website in the downloadable document called 2016 CDIPC Pooling Results at a Glance.

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) public awareness campaign, Better Care Starts Here, expands today with a new tagline.

"As we enjoy the holiday season, 'Better Care for a Lifetime' will be airing in theatres across the province before the much-anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "It's a timely reminder that not everyone will be home for the holidays, and our dedicated registered nurses are there on the front lines to care for and protect their patients."

ONA's new cinema ad can be viewed here. Also launching are radio ads across Ontario and social media ads. To listen to the radio ads, visit ONA's Nurses Know website where visitors will also find a list of actions that can be taken and information about Ontario's health-care system.

Haslam-Stroud notes that ONA's social media campaign will be on Facebook and, for the first time, on Instagram.

"And as many of us anticipate the opportunity to spend time with friends and family, it's important to remember those who are not as fortunate, and to show gratitude that highly skilled, highly caring registered nurses are on the front lines to provide the quality care our patients need and deserve."

ONA is the union representing 65,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; www.Twitter.com/OntarioNurses


Medavie Health Foundation is partnering with Toronto Rehab Foundation to support ACCELERATION 2.0 (ACtivity, smoking Cessation, healthy Eating, and aLcohol intERvention & motivATION), an evidence-based, e-health solution that will provide at-risk Canadians in Ontario, Québec, and Atlantic Canada with the tools to take control of their health prevention needs and reduce their risk of developing chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes.

Led by Dr. Paul Oh, a leading expert on the role of exercise in rehabilitation, the four-year $750,000 initiative builds on the initial $75,000 investment provided by Medavie Blue Cross in support of the 2013-2016 ACCELERATION chronic disease and lifestyle research study.

Knowing that a growing number of Canadians are seeking fast and convenient ways to access the necessary health information and support required to prevent and/or manage health problems, ACCELERATION 2.0 will use virtual exchange, including online coaching, to address access barriers and help bridge the gap in health disparities in supporting participants to achieve healthy behaviour change.

For more on this prevention initiative, visit medaviehealthfoundation.ca.

Medavie and Toronto Rehab Foundation partner on chronic disease prevention initiative that accelerates healthy living

New study reveals toxic environment of physical and sexual violence against staff in Ontario hospitals
Healthy volunteers take part in #InTheirShoes to better understand the struggles of living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
To help raise awareness of IBD and to mark Crohn's and Colitis Awareness Month, a group of 15 Canadian participants, each with different connections to the condition, experienced what it is like to live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) when they took part recently in a unique simulation over two days.
The experience was made possible by an innovative program developed for Takeda called #InTheirShoes. During the immersive simulation, participants experience what it's like to walk in the shoes of a person living with IBD by participating in a series of challenges that are designed to bring the patient experience to life.
A kit of items to enhance the intensity of certain challenges, live role-playing exercises and challenges that are sent through a mobile app make the experience as real as possible by bringing specific scenarios to life. Each participant was asked to put themselves into the shoes of a patient for the duration of the two-day simulation. Without knowing when it will happen, participants receive instructions to do something a patient typically encounters, such as needing to get to a washroom within a minute, changing plans due to a flare of their disease or suddenly dealing with a call from their doctor's office. 
The experiential learning program transforms academic understanding of the disease into a real-life picture of an IBD patient's experience, creating a true emotional connection to the disease that will help them in their interactions with patients in the future.
"Takeda is committed to putting the patient at the centre of everything we do and with this program we are allowing more people, including our own employees, to understand as much as possible what the life of a person with IBD can be like," said Chatrick Paul, General Manager, Takeda Canada Inc. "It's one thing to understand a condition from hearing or reading about it, but to actually live the things patients who take medicines like ours go through on an hourly basis, even for a brief period, gives a much deeper understanding."
The participants in the simulation have different connections to IBD; for some it was personal and for others it was to gain a different perspective for their work in IBD. They included a nurse practitioner, employees of Crohn's and Colitis Canada, Takeda Canada employees, and several people with close friends or family members living with IBD.
"Our organization is focused on improving the quality of life for people living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. #InTheirShoes gave us a deeper understanding of the associated emotional and physical challenges resulting from these diseases," said Mina Mawani, President and CEO of Crohn's and Colitis Canada who took part with seven other employees. "The experience was very realistic and revealing for me in terms of how disruptive Crohn's and colitis can be to your day-to-day activities – the suddenness of having to deal with a symptom or other aspect of the disease was quite unsettling."
Philip Clarke, Specialty Sales Manager, IBD (Ontario) at Takeda Canada Inc. was one of several Takeda employees who also took part. "I'm glad to have had the opportunity to walk a mile in a patient's shoes," he said. "It was a very challenging but helpful experience that gives me a unique perspective. Simulating living with IBD allowed me to learn first-hand the profound impact IBD can have on day to day life and what patients live through on an ongoing basis."
About #InTheirShoes
#InTheirShoes is an experiential learning program that brings to life Takeda's patient-first mindset. During an immersive simulation, participants experience what it's like to walk in the shoes of a person living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a key area of focus for Takeda. The two-day experience, which was co-created with IBD experts, people living with IBD and healthcare professionals, connects participants with the burden of IBD, bridging the participant into the physical and emotional difficulties of managing IBD. It reflects Takeda's goal as an organization – to promote greater collaboration and increase patient-focus into daily activities as we build a patient-centric culture. #InTheirShoes was developed to inspire employees, caregivers as well as healthcare practitioners, and other stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem and to ideally lead to better outcomes for patients worldwide.
About ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease 
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) are the two most common forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).2Nearly 250,000 Canadians are living with UC or CD. More than 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, typically in patients in their 20s, though it can be diagnosed at any age, including in children.3 IBD has been labelled Canada's "national disease" due to Canada having among the highest rates in the world.4 UC causes the tissue of the large intestine (including the colon and rectum) to become inflamed, form sores and bleed easily. Along with symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, UC can cause severe complications including intestinal bleeding and bowel obstructions. CD may involve inflammation in different parts of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract in different people; however, it most commonly affects the lower part of the small intestine (the ileum) where it joins the beginning of the colon.5 Sometimes a portion of the bowel needs to be surgically removed to bring patients relief.8 The exact causes of UC and CD are not entirely understood, though they are believed to result from an interaction between genes and the body's immune system, with environmental factors possibly playing a role.6
Takeda's Commitment to Gastroenterology 
More than 70 million people worldwide are impacted by gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, which can be complex, debilitating and life-changing.7 Takeda is driven to improving the lives of patients with GI diseases through innovative medicines, dedicated patient disease management support and the evolution of the healthcare environment. Takeda is leading in gastroenterology through the delivery of innovative medicines in areas associated with high unmet needs, such as inflammatory bowel disease, GI acid-related diseases and GI motility disorders. Our GI research & development team is also exploring solutions in celiac disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), as well as scientific advancements through microbiome therapies. With more than 25 years of experience in this area, our broad approach to treating many diseases that impact the GI system and our global network of collaborators, Takeda aims to advance how patients manage their disease.
About Takeda
Located in Osaka, Japan, Takeda is a research-based global company with its main focus on pharmaceuticals. As the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan and one of the global leaders of the industry, Takeda is committed to strive towards better health for people worldwide through leading innovation in medicine. Additional information about Takeda is available at takeda.com.
Takeda Canada, located in Oakville, Ontario, is the Canadian sales and marketing organization of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. Takeda Canada is working towards being an agile, best-in-class specialty healthcare provider. Additional information about Takeda Canada is available at takedacanada.com.

Sexual assaults, a life-altering concussion, shattered faces, fractured bones, lost teeth, bites and brain injury. These are just some of the injuries sustained at the hands of patients by Ontario health care staff who participated in a major new study 'Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff.'

Featured in 'NEW SOLUTIONS: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy (https://cupe.ca/violence-in-healthcare), the study, led by Canadian researchers Dr. Jim Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith affiliated with the University of Windsor and the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, and Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), provides a clearer picture of how workplace violence affected Ontario hospital staff physically, psychologically, interpersonally and financially.

Over a period of several months, the researchers visited every region of the province and completed 13 in-depth group interviews, each lasting 2 to 3 hours with 54 individuals representing a range of health care occupations and years of experience.
"We've learned that violence against health care staff is very widespread. We can't ignore this issue any longer. Just as we cannot ignore domestic assault or discrimination or harassment or sexual assault. And we are wrong to make excuses for violence, or silence those who suffer from it, because it has enormous repercussions for workers' own personal well-being as well as for the care they are able to provide for their patients," says Dr. Keith.

Many of the staff interviewed told the researchers they often work in pain caused by patients' aggression. Those working in emergency departments, psychiatric units, forensics units, and long-term care facilities said that they regularly go into work fearing they will be physically assaulted by those for whom they are providing direct medical and personal care.

Incidents of sexual harassment and assault are so commonplace, they are seldom formally reported. In fact, some health care staff felt they would suffer negative repercussions if they were to speak out about it.

The study concludes that there is a lack of institutional and legislative acknowledgement of the enormity of the problem of violence against health care staff and a corresponding lack of resources, such as adequate staffing, appropriate facilities. Preventative programs, like 'zero tolerance' policies and security measures and ensuring adequate staffing levels, a strategy recommended in much of the literature, was cited and emphasized in every group interview.

"There is a systemic under-reporting of violence in health care settings. So much so that the problem has been effectively concealed from public scrutiny. As a result, there is little public pressure to change the conditions that lead to violence. We know that ending violence against health care workers is not going to have a simple on-off light switch solution. It will require acceptance that there is a huge problem, focus on prevention and an in-depth look at the overall health of our health care system."

Those interviewed also identified the impacts of lingering psychological trauma and raised prevention strategies that included a wide range of post-incident supports, such as psychological counselling and financial supports, such as compensation, adequate time off work, and therapy.

Almost every participant in the study expressed fear that their employer might find out somehow that they had taken part in the study and that they might be disciplined.

"We heard that hospital staff care for patients in Ontario hospitals in a toxic environment of physical and sexual violence. They feel unsupported by their managers and are often blamed for the assaults they have suffered, which compounds their trauma. Health care staff felt unsafe talking about the issue of violence with the hospitals.

Legislated protections would address the fear that study participants expressed about being reprimanded or losing their jobs for reporting or speaking up about the problem of violence," says Hurley.


It's coming up on a year since beloved Canadian actor Alan Thicke died from a ruptured aorta while playing hockey with his youngest son, Carter. The shock of this sudden death was felt deeply by Canadians including Alan's long-time friend, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.

"Janet and I were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of Alan's death," said Gretzky shortly after learning of Thicke's passing. "He was a wonderful man and an amazing father, husband and friend. He loved all sports and in particular the game of hockey. He will be missed by all of us."

"Research shows an increase in cardiac events and deaths during the holidays," says cardiologist Dr. Chi Ming Chow, Heart & Stroke spokesperson. "The culprits include stress, not just emotional but also physical like snow-shoveling, over-indulgence of food and in particular of alcohol which can raise blood pressure. In addition, the cold weather overall has been shown to increase blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart attacks."

Another reason for the increase during the holidays may have been uncovered by a recent study in Melbourne, Australia, where it's summer in December. The study aimed to remove the winter variable with its added risk of flus and other illnesses, and showed an increase in cardiac deaths between Christmas Day and January 7. "Inappropriate delay in seeking medical care may be the cause for this. People travel away from their regular medical facility, or they ignore symptoms so as not to cause a fuss during festive events, even misdiagnosing them as indigestion," says Dr. Chow.

Wayne Gretzky has added his voice to Heart & Stroke's holiday campaign to remind everyone in Canada to be extra vigilant of their heart health during the holidays. "The sudden death of a friend is always a shock, and particularly difficult for families during the holiday time," adds Gretzky. "Everyone should know the emergency signs and call 9-1-1 if they're experiencing cardiac distress."

"While we don't know exactly what caused Thicke's ruptured aorta, it can lead to heart failure," adds Dr. Chow. "Conditions like high blood pressure and atherosclerosis can contribute to both ruptured aortas and heart attacks, and the signs are often similar, including chest pain and nausea."

Signs of a Heart Attack:

Chest Discomfort - Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness
Upper Body Discomfort - Neck, jaw, shoulders, arms back
Shortness of breath
Signs may vary from person to person. They may not always be sudden or severe. Recognize the signs and act right away. For more information on emergency signs and what to do go to: www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/emergency-signs.

About Heart & Stroke
Life. We don't want you to miss it. That's why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don't miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.

Twitter Content
Hockey legend, @WayneGretzky urges Canadians not to play around with their heart health. Visit @TheHSF to learn the signs of a heart attack www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/emergency-signs.

A year since beloved Canadian actor Alan Thicke died from a ruptured aorta, his friend @WayneGretzky urges Canadians to know heart emergency signs. Learn more @TheHSF www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/emergency-signs.

A year after his friend's death, Wayne Gretzky urges Canadians not to play around with their heart health

Ontario PC Platform Release: Innovative Medicines Canada commends commitments on improving drug access
 In response to the launch of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party election platform, Innovative Medicines Canada welcomes the policy commitments aimed at improving access to innovative medicines for patients in Ontario.

Innovative Medicines Canada member companies are bringing new and important treatments to Canada. By increasing support for rare disease drugs, funding take-home oral cancer drugs and allowing patients on ground breaking clinical trials to move to public funding post trial, the Ontario PC platform would make access to new treatments possible.

"Innovative medicines play a critical role in patients' health. Ontario's patients would benefit from these commitments that both improve access to new drugs and support Ontario's robust clinical trials eco-system" said Pamela Fralick, President of Innovative Medicines Canada.

With an election in Ontario just over six months away Innovative Medicines Canada is eager to work with all political parties in developing programs that will have the best standard of care, and support a healthcare system that achieves the best outcomes for patients by providing access to a full range of medicines to meet diverse patient needs.

Innovative Medicines Canada is committed to further improve access to medicines for Ontarians, engage with governments on finding solutions to Canada's vulnerable populations, as well as provide predictability for the government and manufacturers.

As funding cuts fuel violence against health care staff, amending criminal code would be a small gesture, PM urged
 The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) today urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to amend the criminal code to make it a more serious offence to assault a health care worker, as a small step towards discouraging gender-based violence.

The study published this week in New Solutions (Assaulted and Unheard: Violence Against Healthcare Staff) found that funding cuts and understaffing, a lack of respect for the workforce and a workplace culture that normalizes violence as part of the job are among the factors that contribute to the problem of patient/visitor assaults on staff in Ontario hospitals. Almost every participant was afraid to report violence because of fear of reprisal from their hospital.

"Funding cuts by all levels of government are among the factors fueling violence against health care staff, 85 per cent of who are female. Prime Minister Trudeau's recent comments about men's responsibility to end violence against women need to be seen in that systemic context," said OCHU president Michael Hurley.

In a recent poll, 68 per cent of hospital direct care staff said that they were physically assaulted this year; 20 per cent of them more than 9 times; 42 per cent were sexually assaulted or harassed.

"These women work in a toxic environment. If Mr. Trudeau's government won't reverse the funding cuts that are helping to fuel the violence, we ask him at minimum to strengthen the criminal code to send a strong and decisive message that there will be consequences if you assault a health care worker," said Hurley.

The amendment OCHU the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario is asking for would apply to a staff working in hospitals, EMS, long-term care, home care and other community health agencies. It would require a judge to treat an assault against a health care worker more seriously for the purpose of sentencing. This is the case for transit employees, a predominantly male workforce

Last May, nurses Maggie Jewell and Sandra Hillcoat asked Ontario MPPs to support a motion calling on the federal government to amend the criminal code to discourage violent attacks on health care workers.

Time to Act: Over 150 Organizations Across Canada Call on Federal and Provincial Governments to End Unjust Criminalization of HIV
Demand for long-term care beds in Canada could nearly double in little more than 15 years
 Canada could need to build 43,000 new long-term care beds in just the next five years to meet the needs of an aging population without changes to how health care for seniors is being delivered. By 2035, this number could increase to 199,000—nearly double the 255,000 beds available in 2016, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report released today.

"As the baby boomers enter their golden years and begin requiring assistance in their day-to-day lives, there will be a significant and sustained increase in demand for long-term care. Providing adequate long-term care is one of a number of solutions that is more efficient and less costly than one common alternative of housing seniors in hospital beds," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. "Policy makers should prepare for the future needs of an aging population."


Canada could need 43,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years. By 2035, we could need an additional 199,000 beds, nearly double the current level of 255,000 beds.
These new beds would require approximately $64 billion in capital spending, while operating the new beds would require roughly $130 billion between 2018 and 2035.
This investment and spending would have positive effects on the economy. Direct, indirect and induced effects would contribute a total of $235 billion to real GDP over the coming two decades, supporting an average of 123,000 jobs per year, and generating $71 billion in new revenue for governments.
Despite the substantial cost of building and operating these beds, the benefits would outweigh the costs.
Wait-lists for long-term beds are already high. In 2015, nearly 26,500 people were on the wait-list in Ontario, equivalent to about one-third the number of available long-term care beds. In addition, the number of Canadians with the highest demand for long-term care, those aged 75 and up, will be growing rapidly over the coming years. In 2016, there were approximately 721,000 Canadians aged 85 to 94 and about 16 per cent (118,000) were living in a long-term care facility or alternative level of care bed (people who require long-term care but who are living in an acute care bed in a hospital because space is not available at a long-term care facility).

A little more than 15 years from now, the population in this age group will more than double to close to 1.5 million and demand for long-term care beds among this cohort could reach 239,000 without the implementation of new models of care for seniors. Similar trends will also occur in other age groups among the baby boom generation. In all, demand for long-term care is expected to average annual increases of 10,500 new beds from 2017 to 2035 in a business as usual scenario.

These new beds would cost an estimated $64 billion to build and roughly $130 billion to operate. While this represents a significant cost, this increased spending would have some positive impacts on the economy. Spending on construction and equipment for the new beds would support an average of 29,000 jobs a year, contribute $58 billion to Canada's GDP over the forecast period, and generate an additional $18 billion in tax revenues for governments. In addition, the operating spending for the new beds would contribute $177 billion to GDP over the same period, support an average of 94,000 jobs a year and generate an additional $53 billion in tax revenues.

While the capital investments required would be significant, the report concludes that the benefits of building the new beds would outweigh the costs. The additional government revenues earned from the economic activity associated with the construction and operation of the facilities, as well as the savings to the health care system due to the reduction of seniors in hospital beds, would more than make up the costs.

 With World AIDS Day just a few days away, the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization (CCRHC) has released a joint Community Consensus Statement endorsed by over 150 organizations across the country, from the HIV sector and beyond. Developed through several months of cross-country consultation, the statement shows clear consensus against the current overly broad use of the criminal law against people living with HIV and the urgent need for action from federal, provincial and territorial governments.

For the first time, the HIV community and other concerned organizations are calling on the federal government to reform the Criminal Code. They are also calling on federal and provincial Attorneys General to develop sound prosecutorial guidelines to prevent further miscarriages of justice, and for training of police, prosecutors and judges.

A year ago, on World AIDS Day 2016, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould acknowledged that the "over-criminalization of HIV non-disclosure" contributes to stigma and undermines public health, and that the criminal justice system has not caught up to the existing science. Indeed, Canadian scientists have repeatedly expressed their concern about the misuse of the criminal law.

"That was a welcome statement by the Justice Minister," said Chad Clarke, a member of the Coalition who has spoken publicly about the toll on him and his family of being prosecuted and imprisoned. "People living with HIV in Canada continue to be singled out for prosecution and sent to jail for allegedly not disclosing their status to a sexual partner even if they have no intent to harm their partners, take precautions to protect their partner and do not transmit the virus. People are being prosecuted even when there is little or no possibility of transmission."

After a year of study, it is time to act.

The Community Consensus Statement declares that, in accordance with international guidance, criminal prosecutions should be limited to cases of actual, intentional transmission of HIV.

"With more than 200 prosecutions to date, Canada has the third-largest total number of recorded prosecutions for alleged HIV non-disclosure in the world, and one of the highest rates of prosecution in the world. This is simply not acceptable," said Cécile Kazatchkine, senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a member of the Coalition. "People accused of HIV non-disclosure most often face charges of aggravated sexual assault, one of the most serious charges in the Criminal Code. Conviction carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and mandatory designation as a sex offender. This approach has been criticized both domestically and internationally, including by United Nations expert bodies."

"People living with HIV in Canada deserve better and demand better," said Alex McClelland, a member of the Coalition's steering committee and a researcher at Concordia University whose current project documents the first-hand experience of people who have faced charges for allegedly not disclosing their HIV status. "Right now, lives are being ruined by an outdated and stigmatizing approach to criminal justice."

"We can't ignore how the misuse of the criminal law, including sexual assault charges, is harming some of those people living with HIV who are most vulnerable," said Muluba Habanyama, a member of the Coalition who was born with HIV. "It is time that the federal and provincial ministers of justice take action and work with stakeholders—people living with HIV, HIV organizations and service providers, women's rights advocates and scientific experts—to limit the unjust use of criminal law which discriminates against people living with HIV."

The Community Consensus Statement comes shortly before the UNAIDS Executive Director arrives in Ottawa for an official visit in conjunction with World AIDS Day (from November 29 – December 1). UNAIDS has previously recommended much narrower limits on the use of the criminal law than is currently the case in Canada.

The Community Consensus Statement, including the full list of endorsers, is available online.

About the Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization
The Canadian Coalition to Reform HIV Criminalization (CCRHC) is a national coalition of people living with HIV, community organizations, lawyers, researchers and others formed in October 2016 to progressively reform discriminatory and unjust criminal and public health laws and practices that criminalize and regulate people living with HIV in relation to HIV exposure, transmission and non-disclosure in Canada. The Coalition includes individuals with lived experience of HIV criminalization, advocates and organizations from across the country. It includes a steering committee on which a majority of members are people living with HIV.


Twenty-nine Ontario hospitals compare themselves to international peers on surgical quality

A new report by Health Quality Ontario focuses on 29 Ontario hospitals who are participating in an international quality improvement program for surgery. Hospitals in Ontario performed just as well or better than their international peers on key metrics before, during and after surgery. Nearly 700 other hospitals around the world participate in this program.

The report, Quality Surgery: Improving Surgical Care in Ontario also shows areas for improvement.

This international program collects and compares surgical data on 14 indicators. More than data, it also provides hospitals with best practices and programs to reduce the risks of post-treatment complications, and to make every stage of surgery as safe as possible.

"Ontario hospitals are stepping up to deliver on patient safety, showing a clear commitment to reduce complications after surgery and improve care," says Dr. Timothy Jackson, Provincial Surgical Lead at Health Quality Ontario. "They are using high quality data to benchmark performance and identify areas for quality improvement."

All 29 participating Ontario hospitals are performing at expected levels or better than expected on:

C. difficile: a common hospital-acquired infection that affects the colon
Extended ventilation: patients needing ventilation longer than 48 hours after surgery (which can increase the risk of pneumonia)
Unplanned intubations: patients unexpectedly needing a breathing tube during or after surgery
Areas where the majority of the 29 hospitals highlighted in this report are performing as expected or better than expected are:

Mortality: a measure of the overall rate of death during or in the 30 days following surgery (96% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Return to the operating room: patients needing another surgery to address a complication (96% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Pneumonia: breathing devices like ventilators can increase the risk of lung infections (96% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Blood clots (venous thromboembolism or VTE): patients generating blood clots because they aren't as active during recovery and their blood flows more slowly (96% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Heart complications: heart attacks or cardiac arrest because of stress on the heart due to surgery (92% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Hospital readmissions: patients readmitted to hospital due to complications like infections or blood clots (96% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Kidney failure: kidney injury during surgery which can affect the kidney's function or even lead to kidney failure (92% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Sepsis: a life-threatening illness caused by the body's response to infection (85% of the 29 hospitals were as expected or better than expected)
Areas where most of the 29 participating hospitals have the most room for improvement are:

Surgical site infections: different levels of infection setting into the incision or body part involved in the surgery (50% of the 29 hospitals needed improvement)
Morbidity: the overall rate at which patients experience common complications (38% of the 29 hospitals needed improvement)
Urinary tract infections: infections in the bladder and urinary tract that have an increased risk due to catheters (35% of the 29 hospitals needed improvement)
"During their time in the operating room and in the days of recovery that follow, surgical patients are vulnerable and their safety is of prime importance," says Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario. "Hospitals are to be commended for embracing a proven program of data gathering, program enhancements and culture change to improve the quality of care they provide to surgery patients."

The program is already helping to improve care at hospitals like Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital where they have reduced surgical site infections by 50% using the program's data and best practices. For example, a new change implemented by the hospital is that patients must use antiseptic body wash the day before and day of their surgery.

"If you want to make things better, you have to measure them," says general surgeon Dr. Duncan Rozario at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. "Sometimes you need a protocol and program to make real change."

For a closer look at how quality improvement efforts have been implemented at Ontario hospitals, see the full Quality Surgery: Improving Surgical Care in Ontario report for patient stories and surgeon insights at www.hqontario.ca/surgicalquality.


Children at risk after Marijuana legalization

 Pediatricians: Ontario not ready
Call for Public Education, Study of Effects

TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2017 /CNW/ - Ontario's Pediatricians warned today that the upcoming legalization of marijuana poses potentially serious health risks for children and adolescents—and the province is not ready to cope. The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario (PAO) noted that when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, a children's hospital saw a fourfold increase in the number of teenagers coming to emergency rooms or urgent care centres with marijuana intoxication.

While the government of Ontario proposes a public education campaign for young adults, it is equally important to warn children and their parents of the risks of marijuana use, said PAO President Dr. Hirotaka Yamashiro.

"The public needs to understand that marijuana use has been proven to cause serious damage to the developing brains of children," said Dr. Yamashiro. "Parents and caregivers should be taking precautions."

The PAO is calling upon the Minister of Health to develop a targeted public education campaign on the effects of marijuana on children and also to commission studies to explore the impacts after legalization. As preeminent experts in children's health, pediatricians are offering their assistance.

"I already regularly treat children with serious health problems because of marijuana use," said Dr. Sharon Burey, a Windsor pediatrician and Vice President of PAO. "With legalization, many more kids may potentially be exposed in their homes."

Marijuana use during adolescence can cause functional and structural changes to the developing brain, leading to damage. Use in this age group is strongly linked to dependence and other substance use disorders; the start and continual use of tobacco smoking; an increased presence of mental illness; and diminished school performance.1

Marijuana use has been shown to impair functions such as attention, memory, learning and decision-making. These effects can last for days after use.2
"It is the life work of pediatricians to care for our children," said Dr. Burey.

"We hope that the Premier and the Health Minister will listen and act. We are offering our expertise to help. They just need to call."

The Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario represents the province's 1400 pediatricians. As their newly relaunched website says, they are Children's Specialists for Life. http://www.pedsontario.com/


1 Cannabis and Canada's children and youth. Canadian Paediatric Society. Posted: May 3 2017. Available at: www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/cannabis-children-and-youth

2 Marijuana and the developing brain. American Psychological Association. November 2015, Vol 46, No. 10. Available at: www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain.aspx


Joining forces against one of Canada's deadliest cancers

The Pancreatic Cancer Canada Foundation (PCCF) and the Cancer Research Society (CRS) today announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind national research partnership solely committed to the fight against pancreatic cancer. The two-year joint project will raise $2 million in support of PancOne™ - the PCCF's Pancreatic Oncology Network.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate among all major cancers – 93 per cent of patients will die within five years of diagnosis and more than half of those diagnosed will die within weeks. While death rates are declining for many other cancers in Canada, they are increasing for pancreatic cancer patients. By 2020, it will be the second most deadly cancer, after lung cancer. Yet, pancreatic cancer receives less than two per cent of research funding in Canada.

In order to garner attention from Canadians about pancreatic cancer, the PCCF launched the provocative "Assumptions" advertising campaign this November, challenging the common misperceptions that people have about the disease, urging them to learn more about the signs and symptoms, as well as help fund research.

"We needed to stop people in their tracks, help them understand how devasting a pancreatic cancer diagnosis is and compel them to act," said Michelle Capobianco, CEO of PCCF. "Advances in screening, treatment and quality of life have been made in almost every major cancer within the last decade, except pancreatic. We at the PCCF and the CRS are determined to change that with this research partnership – it's time for Canadians to demand better."

PancOne is the first multi-disciplinary research partnership linking established cancer centres across Canada for pancreatic cancer research. The initiative provides a structure where Canada's top researchers and pancreatic cancer organizations can work in collaboration on critical projects while eliminating any duplication, ensuring the fastest possible progress on this deadly disease.

"While the Cancer Research Society prides itself on allocating funding on all types of cancer, we see it as our responsibility to unite against pancreatic cancer in the hopes of finally making some headway against the disease," said Max Fehlmann, CEO of CRS. "Through this research partnership, CRS and PCCF can provide more comprehensive resources to researchers to find ways of improving early detection, pave the way for new drug development and ultimately increase overall pancreatic cancer survival rates."

Currently, there are limited treatment options available to pancreatic cancer patients and for those that do exist, early detection is paramount. Patients diagnosed in time for surgery are more likely to live five years or longer, but most pancreatic patients are diagnosed too late, often at Stage 4 or later.

Pancreatic cancer patients deserve more funding toward early detection and treatments today for a lower mortality rate tomorrow. 


New national survey reveals Canadians are searching for ways to live healthier lifestyles

An overwhelming majority of Canadians (91%) say they are searching for a way to break through to healthier living by overcoming obstacles that include a lack of motivation and time, according to a new national poll conducted by research consultants, Research & Incite, on behalf of POM Wonderful.

According to the survey looking at Canadian attitudes toward health and wellness as well as goals for healthier lifestyles, it revealed that only 29% polled have managed to achieve any of their healthy living goals this year. While nine in 10 Canadians (91%) surveyed want to live a healthier lifestyle, 71% also said that they are seeking better eating habits.

With nearly two thirds failing to accomplish their health goals, incorporating POM Wonderful 100% Juice into a healthy diet is a simple step in the right direction, because it is an excellent source of potassium. Potassium aids in healthy muscle maintenance. Before or after a workout, drink a 250 ml serving to get 640 mg, as much potassium as a medium banana.

"Canadians tend to live fairly fast-paced lives so it's not surprising that many cite time constraints, work-life balance or low motivation as obstacles to making the real changes that they want to achieve," said Abby Langer, a registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition counselling. "Taking a simple approach will lead to progress and build momentum."

Half of those polled said their goals include eating less processed food, eating less fast food (36%) and eating more naturally sourced food (32%). Unfortunately, nearly one in four said they find it challenging to incorporate healthy foods into their diet. The main barriers cited by Canadians on accomplishing their health goals include a lack of motivation (48%), time constraints (32%) and poor work-life balance (24%).

"Healthy eating doesn't need to be complicated – make incremental changes to diet and activity that will add up to better health and enhanced lifestyles," Langer added. "It's an important balance between diet, exercise and well-being. These changes could include walking to work, setting aside time for self care or incorporating healthy beverages like POM Wonderful 100% Juice. POM Wonderful contains no added sugar, colourants or filler juices."

The national survey of more than 1,000 Canadians aged 40 to 65 years was completed between August 24 and September 7, 2017.

CAMH study reveals promising new avenue to explore treatments for Alzheimer's disease
70% of Canadians Would Be Ashamed to Share Health News Openly If HIV+
 Casey House is taking a bold step forward in their ongoing effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS by igniting a conversation around the stigma that people living with HIV/AIDS experience. The new campaign, Break Bread Smash Stigma, comes with the launch of a state-of-the-art facility, a study revealing shocking statistics around Canadians' perceptions of people living with HIV/AIDs, and Canada's first-ever HIV+ eatery.

"Casey House is more than a place that saves lives, we are a place that shines understanding through compassion, and empower our clients to get better," said Joanne Simons, CEO of Casey House. "We make our clients' humanity more visible than their disease."

The Facility
At a press conference in Toronto today, Casey House will unveil their new Hospital marking its evolution from a facility originally founded in 1988 as a hospice, to a global leader in HIV/AIDS care. The opening of this contemporary facility enables Casey House to expand its services to meet its clients' evolving and complex needs, always putting the client first.

Casey House Smash Stigma Study
In partnership with Leger Research Intelligence Group, the Casey House Smash Stigma Study revealed shocking statistics around Canadians' perceptions of HIV/AIDs highlighting the ongoing stigma that still exists. For example, the study found that 79% of millennials agree that if tested HIV+, they would be nervous or ashamed to share the health news openly.

June's HIV+ Eatery
Despite the fact that HIV cannot be transmitted through food preparation or sharing of food, according to the Smash Stigma survey, only half of Canadians would knowingly share food with or eat food prepared by someone who is HIV positive. This misconception inspired Casey House to open the world's first pop-up restaurant run by HIV positive chefs. June's, named after Casey House's founder and prolific Canadian activist June Callwood, will pop up in Toronto from November 7-8 in collaboration with Chef Matt Basile of Fidel Gastro. Chef Basile will work with 14 HIV positive individuals-turned-cooks to develop the menu, train, and cook for patrons when the restaurant opens.

"The stigma around HIV and AIDS is still very real, isolating many patients across the city, the country and the globe," said Kenneth Poon, Casey House client. "I stand proud to be part of this powerful group of 14 HIV positive chefs to boldly break barriers and end the isolation that I have felt and others continue to feel. Through the compassionate care that I received at Casey House, I made it through those darkest days and I am here today, helping others who are living with HIV/AIDS."

Casey House launch of 58,000 square foot, state-of-the art facility, and announcement of first-ever HIV positive eatery, June's.

119 Isabella St. Toronto, ON

October 25, 2017
9:45 a.m.
Follow along here: #smashstigma

Tickets to partake in this one-of-a-kind dining experience are available at: www.juneseatery.ca. June's was created in partnership with Canada's largest independent agency, Bensimon Byrne and is presented by RBC.

In an innovative study, researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered brain changes linked to memory loss in people with Alzheimer's disease. The discovery provides a new focus for exploring ways to treat or prevent dementia, which currently affects more than 560,000 Canadians.

Published today in JAMA Psychiatry, the study shows that the brain's ability to adapt or change – called brain plasticity – is significantly lower in people with early Alzheimer's disease than in healthy individuals of the same age. The research focuses on plasticity in the frontal lobes, the brain region involved in higher thinking activities, such as planning and working memory. Working memory is the type of memory used to store and manipulate information to complete tasks over a short time period, such as doing mental calculations. The findings also reveal that people with reduced plasticity in the frontal lobes also experienced poorer working memory.

"What's exciting is that we clearly demonstrated impairments in brain plasticity in the frontal lobes in people with early Alzheimer's disease, and we showed that impaired brain plasticity is related to impaired function of the frontal lobes, specifically working memory," says Dr. Tarek Rajji, senior author of the study and Chief of the Adult Neurodevelopment and Geriatric Psychiatry Division at CAMH. "This may indicate that impairments in brain plasticity underlie impairments in memory."

The findings are promising because "impaired brain plasticity may be a future target for treatment or prevention of dementia, for which no great treatments exist at present," says Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, lead author of the study and Medical Head of Geriatric Mental Health Inpatient Services at CAMH. Dr. Kumar and Dr. Rajji are both Clinician Scientists in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

Healthy plasticity in the frontal lobes is important because researchers believe this brain region supports the brain's "cognitive reserve," or protection, that offsets poorer functioning in other brain areas that may contribute to the development of dementia. "Individuals with a higher reserve have been shown to develop dementia later in life than those with a lower reserve," says Dr. Kumar.

The research team used an innovative approach, developed by Dr. Rajji and his colleagues in earlier research, to study brain plasticity in the frontal lobes.

In the CAMH-developed approach, the researchers use scalp electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical output generated directly by the frontal lobes in response to two-pronged brain stimulation, referred to as paired associative stimulation (PAS). The participant wears a 64-node cap that transmits the EEG signal, and researchers measure a person's EEG signal before and after stimulation. Changes in this signal are an indicator of brain plasticity in the frontal lobes.

The study included 32 people with Alzheimer's disease and 16 healthy individuals, aged 65 or older. "In both healthy individuals and people with early Alzheimer's disease, we were able to illicit a plasticity response from the frontal lobes, which is positive in that it shows that the brain circuits are still working in people with early Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Kumar. "But plasticity was significantly lower in people with Alzheimer's disease."

Prior to the PAS arm of the study, each participant completed a memory test to assess the ability to recall alphabetic letter sequences. Individuals with impaired plasticity also had poorer recall ability.

As next steps, the researchers are investigating approaches to enhance plasticity in the frontal lobes. This includes research on brain stimulation alone or combined with brain-training exercises. Says Dr. Rajji, "Our goals now are: In people with early Alzheimer's disease, can we recover plasticity in the frontal lobes, and will this lead to an improvement in memory? And, can we take this one step earlier – in people at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, can we enhance plasticity to prevent the progression toward illness?"

The study was mainly supported by a grant from the Weston Brain Institute, and in part by the Canada Research Chairs program, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, a CAMH fellowship award and in-kind support from CAMH's Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews and @CAMHResearch on Twitter.
Nikki Yanofsky and Measha Brueggergosman join "It's Always Something" line up for Gilda's Club Greater Toronto - Presented by Richardson GMP

Singers Nikki Yanofsky and Measha Brueggergosman have joined the power-packed line-up for Canada's Number One Variety Show, "It's Always Something", Presented by Richardson GMP, an evening of comedy, music and dance for Gilda's Club Greater Toronto to take place on Saturday, November 18th at Sony Centre for The Performing Arts.

Fresh off her acclaimed performance at the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, multi Juno Award nominee Nikki Yanofsky continues to make waves as a premier jazz-pop singer-songwriter. At age 23, she has already collaborated with Herbie Hancock, will.i.am and Wyclef Jean and is produced by the legendary Quincy Jones. Juno Award-winning soprano Measha Brueggergosman is an international performer and numerous award winner, and has been performing both classical and popular music for two decades.

Yanofsky and Brueggergosman join another All-Star cast which to date includes country superstar Dean Brody, Gemini Award-winning actor, comedian and theatrical music icon Sean Cullen, comedian Jeremy Hotz, Juno Award nominee and platinum-selling recording artist Tyler Shaw, legendary singer Ian Thomas, singer-songwriter Tomi Swick, the cast of "The Beaverton" and comedian DeAnne Smith.

As its tradition, more surprise appearances are always guaranteed making "It's Always Something" one of the most unique and must-attend events of the year. All artists are donating their time and talents to Gilda's Club Greater Toronto, a registered charity providing free social and emotional support programs for anyone touched by cancer - kids, teens and adults, along with their family and friends.

All proceeds from "It's Always Something" go to support Gilda's Club, Greater Toronto, named after famed Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner. In its 15 years, the show has raised close to $6 million to fulfill Gilda's wish that "no one should face cancer alone."

Tickets for the evening are as low as $50 and are available by calling The Sony Centre box office at 1-855-872-7669 (SONY), or by visiting www.itsalwayssomething.com


A hard look at Ontario's health system

Measuring Up 2017 – Health Quality Ontario's 11th yearly report on the health of Ontarians and how the health system is performing – shows that people in the province are living longer and are losing fewer years of their lives to premature death.

The report contains other positive findings that show many parts of Ontario's health system are working well or better than before:

More patients are receiving cancer surgery within maximum wait time targets.
More people are getting high-priority MRI and CT diagnostic scans within maximum wait time targets.
Care for residents in long-term care homes is improving.
More people are being screened for colorectal cancer.
People are receiving primary care consistently from the same doctor.
However, Measuring Up 2017 also shows Ontario's health system still faces significant challenges, such as people having to wait too long for certain forms of care, not getting the care they need as they transition between parts of the system, or not having equitable access to care. The report identifies several areas where improvements in access, transitions and equity are needed:

More hospitals beds are occupied by patients waiting for care elsewhere.
Patients are experiencing longer delays when they need to be moved from the emergency department to an inpatient hospital bed.
People with a mental illness or addiction continue to face difficulties in accessing mental health care.
People who live in certain regions or have lower incomes sometimes have poorer access to health care.
Informal caregivers of home care patients are increasingly distressed.
Fewer patients are having surgery within target wait times for hip and knee replacements.
Compared to other provinces and countries, Ontario's performance is mixed. Ontario has the lowest rate of premature mortality of any province in Canada, and performs best or second-best in key aspects of long-term care. However, compared to 10 socioeconomically similar countries, Ontario ranks last in access to primary care appointments on the same day or next day when patients are sick, and in the middle of the pack when it comes to patients' ability to pay medical expenses not covered through private or provincial insurance plans.

"This year's Measuring Up report shows that the work done in Ontario to improve health system performance in key areas such as wait times for cancer patients and resident care in long-term care homes has clearly brought positive results," says Joshua Tepper, president and CEO of Health Quality Ontario. "The report also shows many challenges remain that need to be the focus of ongoing efforts to provide the best health care for all Ontarians."

Measuring Up 2017 also includes stories detailing the personal experiences of patients, caregivers and health care providers to illustrate the real-life impact of the health system on real people.

Quick facts

Findings in areas that are doing well or improving

The rate of potential years of life lost (in deaths before age 75) improved by 17.6% in Ontario between 2003 and 2013, to 4,221 years per 100,000 people, from 5,120. Ontario has the lowest rate of potential years of life lost among Canadian provinces.
The proportion of cancer surgeries completed within provincial maximum wait time targets increased overall between 2008/09 and 2016/17. Depending on the priority level of the surgery, the number of cancer patients who had surgery performed within target ranged from 78% to 93%.
Between 2012/13 and 2016/17, the proportion of patients who had their diagnostic scan completed within the provincial maximum wait time target increased to 82% from 79% for Priority 2 MRI scans, and to 96% from 92% for Priority 2 CT scans.
The proportion of long-term care home residents without psychosis who were given antipsychotic medication fell to 22.9% from 35.0% between 2010/11 and 2015/16, while the proportion physically restrained on a daily basis declined to 6.0% from 16.1%, and the proportion who experienced moderate pain daily or any severe pain fell to 6.1% from 11.9%.
The proportion of Ontarians overdue for colorectal cancer screening decreased to 38.7% in 2015 from 43.6% in 2011.
Among Ontarians who had at least three primary care visits to a physician within the previous two years, 57.3% had high continuity of care from the same doctor, 27.4% had medium continuity, and 15.2% had low continuity, in 2015/16.
Findings in areas that need improvement

An average of 3,961 Ontario hospital beds per day were occupied by patients waiting to receive care elsewhere in 2015/16. Those 3,961 beds were the equivalent of 10 large hospitals.
For patients who were admitted to hospital, the average length of stay in emergency increased 10.9% to 15.2 hours in 2016/17 from 13.7 hours in 2015/16.
Between 2006 and 2015, about a third of people who went to the emergency department for a mental health condition had not received mental health care from a primary care doctor or psychiatrist over the previous two years.
The rate of potential years of life lost was nearly 2.5 times higher in the area of the province with the highest rate – the North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) region – at 7,647 years per 100,000 people, than in the region with the lowest rate – the Central LHIN region – at 3,026 years per 100,000 population, during the 2010-2012 period.
Among urban residents, those who lived in the lowest-income neighbourhoods had the highest rate of being overdue for colorectal cancer screening in 2015, at 46.5%, while those who lived in the highest-income neighbourhoods had the lowest rate of being overdue, at 32.7%.
In the first half of 2016/17, among long-stay home care patients with at least one informal caregiver, 24.3% had caregivers who experienced continued distress, anger or depression in relation to their caregiving role, compared to 21.2% in the first half of 2012/13. That was a 14.6% increase over a four-year period.
In 2016/17, the proportion of patients who had Priority 4 knee replacement surgery within the wait target fell to 80% from 85%, so that 1 in 5 had to wait longer than the maximum wait target of six months. Priority 4 is the category of knee replacement with the greatest number of surgeries.
To read the full report visit: www.hqontario.ca/MeasuringUp2017

About Measuring Up
Measuring Up 2017 is Health Quality Ontario's 11th yearly report to Ontarians on health system performance. Its findings are based on data from a set of about 50 health system indicators, called the Common Quality Agenda, developed in association with health care experts and health system partners such as doctors, nurses, hospitals, local health integration networks and home care providers, as well as patients and their families and caregivers. This year's report highlights findings from 28 indicators.

About Health Quality Ontario
Health Quality Ontario is the provincial advisor on the quality of health care. With the goal of excellent care for all Ontarians, Health Quality Ontario reports to the public on how the system is performing, develops standards for what quality care looks like, evaluates the effectiveness of new health care technologies and services, and promotes quality improvement aimed at sustainable positive change. Visit www.hqontario.ca for more information.


"Ontario hospitals don't want you to know that violence against hospital staff is real and rampant," says union taking public awareness campaign to radio today

 A small investment in a Plexiglass barrier would have prevented a patient from stabbing a Perth/Smiths Falls hospital admitting clerk in the neck. Better alarms would have enabled nurses at Hamilton's St. Joseph's Health Centre to summon help when a patient, asked to take his medication, became violent. A nurse at a Royal Ottawa site was stabbed repeatedly by a previously violent patient and the hospital fined earlier this summer for failing to "reassess the risk of workplace violence" as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"Violence against hospital staff is real and rampant. But preventing workplace violence begins with acknowledging that it's a problem. That's something that, unfortunately, for both staff and patients, Ontario hospital employers have refused to do in recent contract negotiations," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU), the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario.

Today, the union begins a major campaign in support of its 27,000-member central hospital bargaining group's demands for concrete steps towards ending the crisis of violent attacks against hospital staff by patients and family members. Radio, television and social media advertising, media conferences by hospital staff disabled in attacks at work, the release of a major study in partnership with a university, and an escalating campaign of actions by its members will unfold over the next few months.

The union broke off contract talks on September 21, when the hospitals "refused to agree that we share a common goal of a workplace free of violence. The hospitals also refused to agree to post signs to indicate that violence in the hospitals would not be tolerated. And the hospitals refused to write a letter to the government asking for an investment to make hospitals' staff safer from violent assault," says Hurley.

Despite all the evidence that staff are working in an environment where physical, sexual and verbal aggression are too frequently experienced, Hurley says, "The hospitals won't budge on even the most fundamental issues and that is just unacceptable. We cannot allow this to continue. Our members have given us a resolute mandate to push the hospitals as far as we have to until we conclude an agreement that makes real progress on violence."

The union has welcomed the statement of the minister of health, who, when asked in the Legislature recently about hospital sector bargaining and the issue of violence specifically, indicated that the government would invest to make the workplace safer, if it were asked.

OCHU/CUPE is calling on the provincial government to amend both the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Public Hospitals Act to provide protection for employees who report or speak out about workplace violence. These proposed amendments are necessary, the union says, after North Bay Regional Health Centre fired a nurse in 2016 who spoke up about the general problem of violence.

To listen to OCHU/CUPE's radio advertising, read amendments to legislation and other important information about violence in hospitals, please go to: www.epidemicofviolence.ca.

"The hospital workforce is mostly female. So, the hospital employers' attitude is even more concerning. We continue to remind them that hospitals that are dangerous for staff to work in are also dangerous for patients. Increased staffing, in areas like psychiatry, and improved alarm, flagging and reporting systems, are all needed," says Sharon Richer, OCHU Secretary-Treasurer.

Sitting and Sleeping Fueling Canada's Pain Crisis: 90 Per Cent Suffer from Daily Pain
Cervical cancer is most often found in women who do not get regular Pap tests
 October 16 to 20 is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging women to stay up-to-date with regular Pap tests. It is estimated that in 2017, about 710 women in Ontario will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 150 women will die from the disease. The Ontario Cervical Screening Program (OCSP) recommends that women ages 21 to 69 get screened for cervical cancer every three years if they are or have ever been sexually active.

"Most cervical cancers are found in women who have never been screened or have been screened less often than recommended by Ontario's cervical screening guidelines. This is why screening is so important," said Dr. Joan Murphy, Clinical Lead, OCSP, Cancer Care Ontario. "We see screening participation start to decline after age 50 even though the risk of cervical cancer remains, so women should continue to get screened until at least age 69."

Cervical cancer can affect anyone with a cervix who has ever been sexually active. It is recommended that women ages 21 to 69 have regular Pap tests, even if they:

Feel healthy and have no symptoms;
Are no longer sexually active;
Have only had one partner;
Are in a same-sex relationship;
Have been through menopause;
Have no family history of cervical cancer; and/or
Have received the HPV vaccine.
"Cervical cancer can be successfully prevented with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, regular screening, and appropriate and timely follow-up of abnormal results," said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Regular screening is the best way to find early changes and prevent cervical cancer."

HPV infections are common, and up to 80 percent of sexually active men and women will have an HPV infection in their lifetime. HPV is passed from one person to another through intimate (i.e., skin to skin) sexual contact. While there are many types of the virus, only specific strains of HPV put a woman at risk for cervical cancer. HPV infections can result in an abnormal Pap test and infections commonly go away without causing any harm. If a cancer-causing HPV infection persists, it can lead to cervical cancer even among women in their 50s and 60s. Regular screening every three years can detect abnormal cells, which when treated, can prevent cancer from developing.

Women ages 21 to 69 are encouraged to speak with their healthcare providers about getting screened for cervical cancer. For more information, visit www.cancercare.on.ca/cervicalcancerscreening or the Federation of Medical Women of Canada to find a Pap test clinic being offered in your community during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. To learn more about HPV immunization in Ontario visit: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/ms/hpv/.

 Canadians are suffering from daily muscle and joint pain, many turning to potentially harmful painkillers as a first step to treating their discomfort. Though various non-pharmacological options are proven effective in managing and potentially eliminating pain, too few Canadians are exploring these treatments, citing a host of barriers. Healthcare teams must become more integrated to address these challenges and to help reduce the use of unnecessary medications nationwide.

Released today, All Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid Crisis, a report commissioned by the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) and provincial chiropractic associations for World Spine Day, found that almost 90 per cent of Canadians suffered from muscle or joint pain in the last 12 months. Known as musculoskeletal (MSK) pain for its impact on the body's muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments, the most common types affecting people across the country are low back pain (54 per cent), headaches (50 per cent), knee pain (35 per cent), shoulder pain (34 per cent) and neck pain (34 per cent).

Financial barriers, lack of awareness leave Canadians frustrated, overmedicated and in unnecessary pain
MSK pain impacts almost all aspects of daily life. With the exception of headaches, roughly half of Canadians experience all types of pain every day or week, with sleeping (57 per cent), lifting heavy items (53 per cent) and sitting (49 per cent) cited as the leading causes.

Understandably, almost 60 per cent are frustrated living with such imposing ailments, and 11 per cent have never sought any kind of professional help. If ignored or treated improperly, pain risks becoming chronic.

As spine, muscle and nervous system experts, chiropractors can help Canadians better manage their MSK pain while also reducing the use of unnecessary painkillers. Nearly all Canadians who have used a chiropractor to help with their muscle and joint pain deemed it helpful (90 per cent), and at least 80 per cent who have used other treatments, such as massage therapy, strength training, yoga/Pilates or physiotherapy, say these methods also provide relief.

However, Canadians are challenged by several hurdles preventing them from pursuing such options, namely financial barriers (29 per cent), as well as issues with private insurance, and a lack of knowledge about/doctors not recommending non-pharmacological options (each 12 per cent).

Despite better options for pain management, more than five million turning to opioids and painkillers
Unsure of how to find a real solution, dangerous stop gaps are becoming Canadians' Band-Aid of choice. Almost 80 per cent have taken medication to manage their MSK pain, including turning to opioids (14 per cent) and other prescriptions (13 per cent). Many who take opioids as directed will become dependent, and as many as one in eight Canadians taking an opioid for chronic pain will become addicted. Notably, Canada is the second-highest consumer of prescription opioids in the world, with more than 2,800 opioid-related deaths reported nationwide last year.

"Though MSK pain is challenging because it's so individualized, Canadians must understand they don't have to rely on opioids; there are a range of safe and effective options to consider," explained Dr. David Peeace, Chair, Canadian Chiropractic Association. "By addressing the barriers with the support of an integrated healthcare team, including chiropractors, Canadians can better manage their pain and decrease the use of opioids and painkillers as the first line of treatment nationwide."

Chiropractors empower Canadians to make better pain management choices
The report also revealed that 85 per cent of Canadians who paired painkillers with chiropractic care said that working with a chiropractor reduced their need for medication. In fact, 90 per cent of those who have used a chiropractor to help with their muscle and joint pain believe that it improved their overall quality of life more than other methods.

"People have become accustomed to medicating or simply compensating for their pain, and are unclear about the full range of treatment options available to help improve their everyday life," continued Peeace. "Chiropractors can help evaluate and treat a person's pain using their strong diagnostic skills, and often first prescribe manual therapies or exercises – instead of painkillers – that allow patients to lead active, healthy lives at any age."

Women more likely than men to suffer from, and get help for, headaches, neck, upper back and hip pain
The report also uncovered several gender trends, including:

Women are more likely than men to experience headaches (55 per cent vs. 44 per cent); neck pain (39 per cent vs. 29 per cent); upper back pain (25 per cent vs. 18 per cent), and hip pain (23 per cent vs. 17 per cent).
Women are significantly more likely than men to experience pain due to a heavy backpack or purse (33 per cent vs. 17 per cent).
Women are significantly more likely than men to report having sought professional help from a chiropractor within the last 12 months because they've seen one before and are familiar with treatments (45 per cent vs. 28 per cent).
Though they experience the most pain, these trends suggest that women typically seek a more well-rounded approach to health care.

About All Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid Crisis
All Pain, No Gain: Shining a Light on Canada's Back Pain and Opioid Crisis, a survey of 1,505 Canadians aged 18 and over, was completed online between August 14 and August 22, 2017 using Leger's online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. LegerWeb has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month – and has a retention rate of 90 per cent.

About the Canadian Chiropractic Association
The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) is a national, voluntary association representing Canada's 8,500 licensed doctors of chiropractic. Approximately 4.5 million Canadians use the services of a chiropractor each year. The CCA advocates on behalf of members and their patients to advance the quality and accessibility of chiropractic care in Canada and to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the healthcare system. For more information on the CCA or for a referral to a doctor of chiropractic, please visit www.chiropractic.ca or contact your provincial association.


Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette named Honorary Chair for Heart & Stroke Canvass

Two days before figure skater Joannie Rochette competed at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, her mother Thérèse died from a heart attack. Joannie summoned up all her courage and decided to go ahead with the competition, winning a bronze medal and inspiring millions of people with her unwavering strength and grace.

"I was in shock and devastated," says Joannie. "My mother was just 55 years old, and she was the heart of our family. I dedicated my win to her, for the memories of all the years we spent together and the sacrifices she made to help me get to the Olympics."

Today, Joannie is studying to become a doctor. In spite of a demanding schedule, she didn't hesitate when asked by Heart & Stroke to become Honorary Chair for Heart & Stroke Canvass. "I know that heart disease and stroke together are the #1 killers of women globally, yet not enough of us recognize the signs and know what to do. My mom was one of them and I want to help change this," she added.

For six decades, Canadians have been giving their time to help save lives by joining Heart & Stroke Canvass. What began as a modest door-to-door campaign in Kingston, Ont., by local doctors, has grown to nearly 90,000 who join to volunteer across all provinces in Canada, with a goal to raise $10 million annually for research, health promotion and advocacy.

"We're excited and grateful that Joannie Rochette has joined us to raise the profile of Heart & Stroke Canvass," says Yves Savoie, CEO of Heart & Stroke. "Joannie has experienced what far too many people in Canada have gone through - the sudden loss of a loved one to heart disease. Her support means a great deal to us as we raise funds to help save lives."

Heart & Stroke Canvass funds research to achieve more medical breakthroughs. Volunteers also help family members, friends and neighbours by sharing life-saving health information, either in person or online. This year, Heart & Stroke will distribute information to help people recognize the signs of a heart attack, including how women may experience signs differently. The Canvass takes place during February which is Heart Month, except in the province of Quebec, where it takes place from now until June.

Join Joannie and help save lives from heart disease and stroke this year. Volunteer opportunities include canvassers, area captains and zone leaders. To learn how you can volunteer, visit heartandstroke.ca/help or call 1-888-473-4636.

About Heart & Stroke
Life. We don't want you to miss it. That's why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don't miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.

The Movember Foundation Celebrates 10-Years of Moustachery in Canada with Support from Corporate Partners

The Movember Foundation, the only global charity focused solely on men's health, is announcing their line-up of corporate partners for Movember 2017. The annual Movember campaign is globally recognized for its fun, disruptive approach to fundraising and getting men to take action for their health. This year, 8 corporate partners will also join Movember in celebrating their 10-year fundraising anniversary in Canada and ultimately help the Foundation have an everlasting impact on the face of men's health.

Corporate partners increase visibility of the causes supported by the Movember Foundation, raise critical funds through internal participation and marketing efforts, and create remarkable experiences for the Movember community. Now in its 10th year of fundraising in Canada, the Movember Foundation has raised more than $839 million and funded more than 1,200 world-class men's health projects in 21 countries for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

"Our corporate partners play a crucial role in our campaign, helping us speak to key audiences to drive awareness and raise funds for men's health," says Ken Aucoin, Canadian Country Director at the Movember Foundation. "We are honoured to have these organizations support us for our 10-year anniversary in Canada and be the difference during our 2017 campaign."

Moores has come on board this year as The Movember Foundation's major Canadian partner. Supporting partners include Babsocks, Bite Beauty, Xbox, SAXX, and Gentleman's Collection, while Promotional Partners include SKYN, Johnson & Johnson, and G Adventures.

A full list of Movember's partners can be found online at the Friends of Movember page, and collaborative merchandise can be found at Movember's online store.

Everyone can help stop men dying too young by donating or raising critical funds for men's health. Sign up at Movember.com and fundraise by:

Growing a Moustache
Taking the Move Challenge and get active
Hosting an event
Making a donation
For more information, visit Movember.com and connect with Movember on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

MOORES - Major
"Moores Clothing for Men, a subsidiary of Tailored Brands, Inc (NYSE: TLRD), is proud to partner with the Movember Foundation to promote awareness and raise funds for men's health. Moores is the leading national retailer of men's business attire with a full selection of suits, sport coats, slacks, formalwear, sportswear, outerwear, dress shirts, footwear, and accessories. In support of charitable initiative that benefits their customers, Moores is committed to a $100,000 donation in support of Movember. Sign up at Movember.com to receive a free custom shirt with the purchase of a custom suit. Just show your Movember "Mo Space" page or your Movember confirmation email in-store to receive your free custom shirt. For additional information on Moores Clothing for Men, please visit mooresclothing.com"

Xbox - Supporting
For the 4th year in a row Xbox is partnering with the Movember Foundation in Canada and is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Movember during the hairiest month of the year.

If you get the chance to pop by the Movember House, make sure to check out the incredible Xbox One Lounge and try your hand at the world's most powerful console: the Xbox One X. With 40% more power than any other console, gamers will be able to experience immersive true 4K gaming.

Be sure to follow @XboxCanada for more updates and activity throughout the month of Movember

SAXX – Supporting
For years SAXX has been proud to partner with Movember to raise awareness and funds for men's health, something that has always been at the heart of the company. As one of the fastest growing men's underwear brands due to their patented Ballpark Pouch™, SAXX is out to better the lives of men one pair at a time. SAXX will offer their 'Bravery Takes Balls' campaign and their seasonal Movember collection, featuring their best-selling everyday pair, the Vibe in moustache prints. For every limited-edition pair sold, $2 will be donated to the Movember Foundation to help continue the funding of critical men's health research. You can purchase a pair at www.saxxunderwear.com

BITE Beauty – Supporting
For the third year in a row, Bite Beauty has teamed up with the Movember Foundation to create custom Mauve(ember) shades exclusively available at Sephora.com. This year the collection is available in both the coveted Multistick and Amuse Bouche Liquified Lipstick formulas. Use the Multistick to create a Mauvember Monochromatic look by applying buildable, blendable and breathable colour to eyes, lips and cheeks. Add a semi-glaze finish to your lips with the Amuse Bouche Liquified Lipstick. To purchase yours Mauvember lipstick of choice, visit Sephora.com

Inspired by her father's winning battle with prostate cancer, BITE Beauty founder, Susanne Langmuir wanted a fun, easy and meaningful way for women (the Mo'Sistas) to support the men in their lives facing health issues. BITE's custom blended mauve shades are a way for women to proudly participate, spark conversation and ultimately raise funds for mens' health during the month of November. For every

Mauvember product sold, 100% of BITE's proceeds will go to the Movember Foundation, that's $14 of every purchase in support of men's health.

Gentleman's Collection – Promotional
Gentleman's Collection is excited to be the official wine partner for the Movember Foundation in Canada, the US, and Australia. Lindeman's Gentleman's Collection is a decidedly fine range of wines for the discerning "Gentleman who is", and the "Gentleman who aspires to be". Gentleman's Collection have proudly donated over $50,000 to Movember in an effort to promote global awareness around men's health. They will continue to aggressively raise funds globally within parent company Treasury Wine Estates, as well as their broad network of partners and consumers for this important cause. Follow their exciting Movember digital campaign throughout October and November and share your comments with #GentlemansCollectionMo.

Johnson & Johnson
Caring for the world, one person at a time, inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace innovation—bringing ideas, products and services to life to advance the health and well-being of people around the world. We believe in collaboration, and that has led to breakthrough after breakthrough, from medical miracles that have changed lives, to the simple consumer products that make every day a little better. Our over 125,000 employees in 60 countries are united in a common mission: To help people everywhere live longer, healthier, happier lives. This Movember we are proud to be supporting the Movember Foundation by donating $1 for every picture that is shared through Donate A Photo. It's that easy, share a photo using the Donate A Photo app and you can help us change the face of men's health. Don't miss your chance to participate this Movember.

G Adventures – Promotional
G Adventures and Movember are teaming up yet again to offer up TWO incredible adventures as prizes for Movember Canada participants. There's an amazing planet out there, and it can't wait to meet you.

The first trip is an amazing eight-day Peruvian cultural and historical adventure for two, with an epic tour through to Machu Picchu. Take a scenic train to the famous site and enjoy free time to explore its corners. Roam the Sacred Valley, which is surrounded by incredible views of the Andes. As the leading operator in the region, be assured we'll leave no stone unturned. Sign up at ca.Movember.com and raise $20 by October 20th to be automatically entered! Terms and conditions apply.

The second trip is an eight-day island hopping adventure in Thailand, where you'll hop aboard bikes, tuk tuks, or local boats to get around and see rice paddies, monasteries, and local businesses, soak in this tropical paradise by relaxing under swaying palm trees, snorkelling the crystal-clear warm waters and meeting the friendly locals..

For more information on G Adventure's check out https://www.gadventures.com


Many Ontario women still not getting screened for breast cancer

 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging women between the ages of 50 and 54 to talk with their healthcare providers about getting screened regularly with a mammogram. Among Ontario women who had a mammogram through the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) in 2013, 81 percent returned within 30 months for another mammogram (i.e., retention). This is a decrease from the 83 percent who returned in 2012. Retention was lowest in women ages 50 to 54 (77 percent), which means there are still many eligible women who could benefit from regular breast cancer screening.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Ontario women. It is estimated that about 10,100 Ontario women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 1,900 women will die from the disease in 2017. However, in women between the ages of 50 and 69, one death is prevented for every 721 women who get screened regularly with mammograms over a period of time (approximately 11 years). In Ontario, over two million women ages 50 to 74 are eligible to be screened by the OBSP.

"Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates out of all of the cancers in Ontario," said Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice-President, Prevention and Cancer Control at Cancer Care Ontario. "Studies show that regular mammograms lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74. Screening mammography can find breast cancers when they are small, less likely to have spread and more likely to be treated successfully."

The OBSP provides high-quality breast screening throughout Ontario to two groups of women, and recommends that:

Most women ages 50 to 74 be screened every two years with mammography.
Women ages 30 to 69 who are at high risk of getting breast cancer be screened once a year with a mammogram and breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (or, if MRI is not medically appropriate, screening breast ultrasound).
"Getting regular screenings for breast cancer is the best way to find and diagnose the disease early, and treat it successfully," said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Please schedule regular screenings to increase the likelihood of early diagnosis and successful treatment."

As of July 2016, over 1.7 million women ages 50 to 74 had a mammogram through the OBSP, resulting in more than 6.8 million mammograms completed. More than 35,000 breast cancers were found, most of which were in early stages (i.e., were small and had not spread to other areas of the body).

Talk with your healthcare provider today about getting screened for breast cancer with regular mammograms. To learn more visit www.cancercare.on.ca/bcam.


One third of Canadians use Mobile Apps to Track Health: Study 
OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance reports on record numbers
  Nancy Huyck, who lives with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), is part of the 24 per cent of Canada's OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI) held its annual general meeting and released its annual report for 2016/17, reporting on a year of record numbers and renewed priorities.


Complaint volumes increase by 23.2% across Canada, marking a historic high
Increase in complaints from Quebec (+36.2%), Prairie provinces (+25.6%) and British Columbia (+ 24.4%)
Public contacts exceed 87,000
Edmonton office established as a part of western expansion strategy
"We discovered many things about ourselves this past year: we are small yet influential; we are experts in our field; we are strategic; and we are ready to redefine our future," said Chair Dr. Janice MacKinnon at the meeting on September 14, 2017. "The launch of OLHI's new case management and reporting system (CMRS) and website provides us with an opportunity to take a fresh look at how we do business today and moving forward."

Among OLHI's business plans for the future is increasing visibility outside Central Canada. This past year, complaint volumes rose in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. To build on this momentum, OLHI established a physical presence in Edmonton in Q4 with a new office.

For fiscal 2016/17, OLHI received 2,632 complaints, with 57.5% of these relating to denied claims. Disability, life and employee healthcare & dental, together, made up 83.9% of all product complaints. Web visits rose by 19.1% over last year, reaching nearly 85,000.

"OLHI is successful because of stakeholder support and the respect we receive as an independent, impartial organization," said Brigitte Kent, Acting Executive Director. "This allows us to meet our benchmark of closing 80% of all complaints within 120 days."

Looking ahead, OLHI will continue to measure effectiveness and efficiency, identifying best ways to utilize the CMRS and accelerate service without sacrificing quality. OLHI will also complete its third Independent Review and begin work on ensuing recommendations.

For more detail on OLHI's operations, including case studies and statistics, the full 2016/2017 Annual Report is available at http://olhi.ca/news-publications/annual-report/.
Thirty-two per cent of Canadian adults consult health apps on their mobile devices, but only 28 per cent of those in poor health do so. Meanwhile, 24 per cent of Canadians use smart connected devices to track health conditions or well-being, according to a new study funded by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and conducted in partnership with HEC Montréal and CEFRIO.

"The findings of the study demonstrate the opportunity Canadians have to be proactive in their overall wellness through the use of mobile apps and smart connected devices such as watches, wristbands or other wearables." said Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway.

The study examined results from a national survey of 4,109 Canadian adults, which sought to understand consumer use patterns for mobile apps and smart devices to monitor health and well-being. It is the first internationally comparable study of its kind, and the largest ever, world-wide.

"Results from the Diffusion of Mobile Health Apps and Smart Connected Devices in Canada study can be used to set the national baseline for future studies in mobile health apps and smart connected devices," said Guy Paré, Research Chair in Digital Health, HEC Montréal. "The study findings can also be used to help the health IT community better understand the current market in Canada to determine practical next steps for the industry."

The study found that Canadians using mobile apps or smart connected devices to track their health or well-being are typically:

Younger adults between the ages of 18 and 30 (41 per cent);
Employed (59 per cent);
University educated (55 per cent);
Make an annual family income of more than $80,000 (46 per cent);
Not currently living with a chronic illness or condition (only 28% of Canadians that use mobile apps or smart connected devices to track their health or well-being report having a specific chronic illness or condition).
"Forty-two percent of users monitoring their health with smart connected devices and mobile apps find that they are better prepared to meet with their physician. It is in the interest of the Canadian health system to rapidly put in place the necessary frameworks in order to take advantage of this connected and informed user base and thus enhance the patient-doctor relationship," said Jacqueline Dubé, President and General Manager, CEFRIO.

Canadians who use smart connected devices. Every morning, she uses equipment that measures and transmits her blood pressure, weight and oxygen levels to her care team so they can intervene early and avoid her making a trip to the hospital.

"I'm used to showing up at the emergency room or being admitted every couple of months," she said. "But I haven't seen the inside of a hospital or even a walk-in clinic since I started receiving in-home monitoring last spring."

About Canada Health Infoway

Canada Health Infoway helps to improve the health of Canadians by working with partners to accelerate the development, adoption and effective use of digital health across Canada. Through our investments, we help deliver better quality and access to care and more efficient delivery of health services for patients and clinicians. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit organization funded by the federal government.

Look out world, here comes the Canadian Patient Safety Institute

 The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is stepping onto the world stage as a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization.

The WHO has officially designated CPSI as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Patient Safety and Patient Engagement to carry out activities in support of WHO programs internationally. Of the more than 800 WHO Collaborating Centres from 80 countries worldwide, including 31 from Canada, CPSI holds the distinction of being the only one in Canada with a focus on both patient safety and patient engagement.

Over the course of the next four years, CPSI will lend policy, strategic and technical advice and consultation on various WHO initiatives, as well as support for the development, adaptation, spread, and evaluation of patient safety tools and resources at a global level.

According to CPSI CEO Chris Power, not only will this agreement allow for Canadian expertise to spread internationally, it also raises the bar for patient safety and patient engagement domestically by giving greater prominence to the safety and quality of Canadian healthcare – something that benefits every Canadian.

"The Canadian Patient Safety Institute has a long-standing collaborative relationship with the WHO Patient Safety Programme internationally, and has been a catalyst in developing collaborative partnerships across the country," says Power.

"We have benefited from the support of the WHO and their members in the development of Canadian products and services, and indirectly we have provided Canadian support to assist transitional and developing countries. We are excited about this opportunity to advance safer care through patient safety and patient engagement, both locally and globally."

Maryann Murray, a member of Patients for Patient Safety Canada, who also recently addressed the World Health Assembly's side event at the annual meeting to share her experiences leading to her daughter's death, says CPSI's designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre, has the potential to do a lot of good.

For instance, Five Questions to Ask about Your Medications, a prime example of a Canadian tool developed by patients and providers on how to have a conversation about safe medication use, is now available in more than 20 languages.

"By sharing knowledge and resources, we contribute to the development of universal products and tools that will assist in significantly reducing medication harm around the globe," says Murray.

Dr. Neelam Dhingra-Kumar, Coordinator, Patient Safety and Quality Improvement, WHO headquarters, Geneva, echoes Maryanne Murray's sentiments, and believes this is a win for all involved.

"Patient engagement is a core strategy for advancing universal health coverage, safe and quality health care, service coordination and people-centredness," says Dr. Dhingra-Kumar. "Canada is recognized as a world leader in both patient safety and patient engagement so we believe that this collaboration will help improve lives around the world."

For more information about the WHO Collaborating Centre designation, visit the WHO website.

About Canadian Patient Safety Institute
The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to raise awareness and facilitate implementation of ideas and best practices to achieve a transformation in patient safety. Funded by Health Canada, CPSI reflects the desire to close the gap between the healthcare we have and the healthcare we deserve. www.patientsafetyinstitute.ca


Canadian health groups respond to Philip Morris International's $1 billion research fund: Government action needed to block tobacco industry interference in public health issues

Canadian health organizations responded to the announcement yesterday that Philip Morris International had pledged $1 billion to a new purpose-built foundation by calling on the Canadian government to immediately restore public funding for tobacco control and to ensure that the costs of reducing tobacco use are passed on to the tobacco industry.

"In this recent ploy, Philip Morris is using the same bag of tricks it invented in the 1950s, to create its own research bodies in order to manipulate the research environment and delay effective measures to reduce smoking," explained Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. [1] "We risk repeating the tragedy of past decades unless the government moves quickly to ensure that the new challenges of e-cigarettes and so-called reduced risk products are addressed by reliable and uncontaminated research."

"A year has passed since we provided Health Canada with proposals for ways to protect public health from tobacco industry interference in research and policy" said Melodie Tilson, Director of Policy for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. [2] "Since that time, we have seen no action on any of our 20 recommendations, nor any indication that these are a priority of Health Canada. Recent events and the industry's abuse of science as a front for tobacco marketing [3] have increased our concerns that Canada is vulnerable to tobacco industry interference."

"The most recent intrusion of the tobacco industry into research funding is all the more dangerous in the context of massive cuts to tobacco control funding by the previous government, and the failure of the new government to restore resources for independent activities," said Cynthia Callard, Executive Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. "External policy research was abandoned by Health Canada in 2012. The failure of the new federal government to restore this important work has left little national-level capacity for independent response to industry-funded disinformation." [4]

"The federal government should apply the polluter-pay principle to public health by levying a regulatory charge on tobacco manufacturers," explained Flory Doucas, Co-Director and Spokesperson for the Quebec Coalition on Tobacco Control. "We have previously made this recommendation as a way to require the industry to internalize some of the costs they impose on society." Like many other health groups, the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada have recommended that Canada follow the example of the United States and France in imposing licencing fees on the industry. [5]

Tobacco control organizations are calling on the Minister of Health and parliamentarians to move quickly to implement these measures.

"Over the past months, Philip Morris International and other multinational tobacco companies have stepped up their efforts to re-invent their markets, their public image and their influence on government. Canadians deserve a federal government that will respond quickly and effectively to these new challenges," said Michael Perley, Executive Director of the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco.

[1] A history of these events can be found in documents provided to the Quebec Superior Court during the CQTS/Blais and Létourneau class action trials. See paragraphs 1342 to 1595 of the Plaintiffs' Notes and Authorities.

[2] Canada's Implementation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. A Civil Society Shadow Report. September 2016

[3] L'Economiste. Philip Morris International: Le cigarettier parie sur les produits de substitution. http://www.leconomiste.com/article/1017271-philip-morris-international-le-cigarettier-parie-sur-les-produits-de-substitution

[4] Tobacco Info. Harper government guts Federal Tobacco Control Strategy. Big Tobacco wins big with $15 million cut from tobacco control budget.

[5] Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and Coalition Québécoise pour le contrôle du tabac. Pre-Budget Submission 2018.


Alzheimer Society of Toronto announces return of The Spirit of John

Now in its third year, The Spirit of John returns for another incredible night of celebrating John Mann, lead singer of Spirit of the West, and the power of music for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Toronto's Dave Bidini will host the event which will take place at the Mod Club, 722 College Street. Spirit of the West will be performing along with many other musicians, including: Josh Finalyson and Andy Maize (Skydiggers), Chris Tait (Chalk Circle), Kevin Kane (Grapes of Wrath), Martin Tielli (Rheostatics), Tom Wilson and Danny Michel.

All concert proceeds go to support the Alzheimer Society of Toronto's Music Project which provides personalized playlists and iPods for people with dementia in Toronto. Concert-goers will also be participating in the second annual Fund-A-Need to raise enough money to supply music to 400 people with the disease.

John was only 51 when he was diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer's three years ago. Since then, he's helped raise awareness about music therapy for people living with dementia. Now that John's own disease has progressed, it's our turn to play the music. John's set list for the evening will be custom made by his friends and family. Each song will be performed by a special guest with the house band.

The Spirit of John concert is in partnership with J. Walter Thompson Worldwide. Doors open at 7:00 pm and performances start at 8:00 pm. To purchase your tickets, visit: www.alz.to/soj

About the Alzheimer Society of Toronto

The Alzheimer Society of Toronto provides free counselling and education to people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, their families and caregivers. They deliver specialized training and professional development for frontline health-care providers, and public education and awareness events to increase accessibility to dementia information.

About J. Walter Thompson Worldwide
J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, the world's best-known marketing communications brand, has been making pioneering solutions that build enduring brands and business for more than 150 years. Headquartered in New York, J. Walter Thompson is a true global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries, employing nearly 10,000 marketing professionals. The agency consistently ranks among the top networks in the world and continues a dominant presence in the industry by staying on the leading edge—from hiring the industry's first female copywriter to developing award-winning branded content today. For more information, please visit www.jwt.com and follow us @JWT_Worldwide.


Alzheimer Society Research Program provides $3.4 million boost to dementia research

The Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) is pleased to announce it has awarded $3.4 million to Canadian researchers through this year's research competition to help create a brighter future for Canadians who are impacted by or at risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

This year's awards and grants support 24 applicants from across the country who are working towards finding new prevention and treatment strategies, enhancing patient care, and finding a cure.

Recipients include:

Jennifer Walker, First Nations University of Canada: Jennifer is collaborating with local researchers to study the increasing rate of dementia among First Nations in Saskatchewan. Her work will help inform and improve dementia care services in Indigenous communities.

Heather Cooke, University of British Columbia: Heather seeks to better understand how incivility and bullying among long-term care workers influences dementia care. The results will help improve staffing practices and policies and enhance the quality of life for both residents and staff.

Jannic Boehm, Université de Montréal: Jannic's goal is to develop a "peptide" that will penetrate the blood-brain barrier and access neurons in the brain. If successful, this tool could be used to help maintain and promote brain function in people with Alzheimer's disease.

Matthew Parsons, Memorial University, St. John's: Matthew's research will investigate when and where toxic proteins in the brain, the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, begin to impair brain cells and disrupt the formation of memories. He hopes these findings will ultimately lead to new treatments.

"Research funding is critical for advancing scientific discoveries and producing breakthroughs that enable people with dementia to live well and bring us closer to a cure," says Nalini Sen, Program Director. "We're proud of our Program and to be able to provide opportunities to many of Canada's bright and talented minds."

The Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) is a national leader in dementia research aimed at supporting and developing capacity in the areas of biomedical, clinical and health services research. Funding applications undergo an extensive peer-review process led by respected researchers as well as people with lived experience of dementia. The ASRP is a collaborative initiative of Alzheimer Societies across Canada, key partners and generous individual and corporate donors. Since its inception 30 years ago, the Program has invested $53 million in dementia research.

For an inside look at the ASRP and to hear directly from some of our researchers about their discoveries, watch our video at https://youtu.be/rqfQnFHOZk8. More information is also available at www.alzheimer.ca/research.



Stroke in pregnant women three times higher than in non-pregnant women: study

Stroke in women during pregnancy is three times higher than stroke in non-pregnant woman of the same age, according to a Canadian study published today in the International Journal of Stroke, which reveals that roughly 30 out of 100,000 women will experience a stroke during the pregnancy period. The highest risk occurs during the periods just before or following birth.

The systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the incidence of stroke during pregnancy and the six weeks following birth. It looked at all international studies published between 1990 and January 2017 reporting on stroke incidence during pregnancy. Eleven studies met the stringent inclusion criteria.

Stroke during delivery was reported in three studies. Mortality was reported in 10 studies.

"Pregnancy can affect vascular risk factors, like diabetes or blood pressure, but many people don't recognize there is an increased risk of stroke," says study co-author Dr. Rick Swartz, stroke neurologist; medical director North East GTA Regional Stroke Program, director of the Stroke Research Unit at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and assistant professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto. "Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in adults and when stroke occurs as a complication of pregnancy, the impact on the mother, child and families can be devastating."

Despite advances in stroke treatment, prevention and care, stroke remains a major cause of maternal death and a devastating cause of maternal morbidity around the world. Given the profound impact of stroke on women of childbearing age, their families and health systems, it is vital to have accurate rates of stroke in and around pregnancy to facilitate both clinical decision-making and health system planning.

What precisely increases stroke risk in pregnant women requires more study. However, early findings suggest hormonal changes and certain conditions like preeclampsia may increase risk. The condition — a sudden onset of very high blood pressure can be potentially life-threatening for moms-to-be and their babies if left untreated. High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for stroke but it can be managed.

There may also be geographic differences between countries that may reflect factors including genetics, health-care systems and other not-yet identified reasons. The meta-analysis identified a potential trend of lower event rates in some countries; seemingly those with more universal pre-natal care.

"All pregnant women are at a low, but increased risk of stroke," says study co-author Dr. Patrice Lindsay, director of stroke, Heart & Stroke. "While all pregnancy-related stroke risk cannot be eliminated, there are things women can do to decrease their risk, including following a healthy diet, being physically active and smoke-free, managing blood pressure and stress and limiting alcohol consumption."

The study found that pregnancy increases the risk of stroke for a number of reasons, including: pregnancy-related high blood pressure disorders (chronic hypertension, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia) and their complications (renal damage, HELLP syndrome), blood and blood clotting changes in the third trimester and post-partum periods, hyperemesis (persistent severe vomiting which can lead to dehydration) resulting in increased concentration of cells and solids in the blood, and changes to cerebral vasculature.

Regular follow up with one's physician throughout pregnancy is especially helpful to monitor stroke risk factors such as pre-eclampsia, blood pressure and blood sugar, and to discuss any symptoms of concern.

While there was minimal evidence surrounding recurrence rates in subsequent post-stroke pregnancies, Dr. Lindsay notes that women who have had a previous stroke can get pregnant and should work closely with their healthcare providers to ensure that their risks and prevention needs are addressed. Future research is needed to address this gap.

Geneviève was six months pregnant when the unexpected happened
Everything changed for 26-year-old Geneviève Morel just before midnight on March 31, 2013, when she experienced a stroke. "Lightning exploded in my head," says Geneviève. In shock, her partner Jonathan dialed 9-1-1. She was diagnosed in the emergency department with a cerebral hemorrhage, which was growing at an alarming rate.

She was 24 weeks pregnant.

Both lives were in danger: Hers and the baby's. Thankfully, both she and the baby survived five hours of emergency surgery. The surgery saved her life, however the stroke was severe, and left her with some physical limitations, including being paralyzed on her left side. Her unborn baby seemed unharmed. "His little heart was still beating. That was all that mattered," says Geneviève.

Throughout the rest of her pregnancy, Geneviève realized her life was changed forever, as she underwent therapy, relearning how to perform simple tasks such as sitting, feeding herself and dressing.

Three months after the stroke, she was overjoyed when a healthy baby Nathan entered the world. The next few months were full of obstacles and difficult days, as Jonathan took on the role of caring for both a newborn as well Geneviève, and she began a new outpatient rehabilitation program.

The cause of Geneviève's stroke remains unanswered. Today, her recovery continues to improve: "Even though I have partial paralysis, I have high hopes for the future. I volunteer in a community resource centre in Laval for families at risk, and I am working on a career as a support aide specializing in physical conditioning and self-esteem."

Canadian recommendations for healthcare providers
Specialists providing obstetrical or stroke care may encounter women with a past stroke wanting to get pregnant, or women like Geneviève who have a stroke during or immediately after a pregnancy. How should these cases be managed? Currently there is limited evidence to guide healthcare professionals in these medical decisions.

In a second phase of this work, the study authors will release a medical consensus statement on Monday at the Canadian Stroke Congress – providing recommendations to guide healthcare professionals on preventing and treating woman with stroke prior to, during, and right after pregnancy.

"Ensuring the health of the mother is needed to ensure the health of baby," says Dr. Swartz. "Organized approaches to the management of this high-risk population, informed by existing evidence and the expertise of stroke and obstetrical specialists are essential."

Ongoing trials from both stroke and obstetrical literatures are continually monitored and reviewed as part of the Heart & Stroke stroke best practice process, and the consensus statement will be updated as new evidence becomes available.

The study authors say further research on stroke in pregnancy and the impact of geographic variations in risk factors and outcomes, improvements in data capture and data quality for stroke in pregnancy, and rational approaches to treatment in the absence of randomized trial data are urgently needed.

All Canadians should also know the FAST signs of stroke and to react to them as a medical emergency:

FACE – is it drooping?
ARMS – can you raise both?
SPEECH – is it slurred or jumbled?
TIME to call 9-1-1 right away
Study authors
Richard Swartz (Sunnybrook), Megan L Cayley (Sunnybrook), Norine Foley (Western University), Noor Niyar N Ladhani (Sunnybrook), Lisa Leffert (Harvard University), Cheryl Bushnell (Wake Forest Baptist Health), JA McClure (workHORSE Consulting Group), and Patrice Lindsay (Heart & Stoke)

Heart & Stroke, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart & Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, Sunnybrook Department of Medicine, University of Toronto Department of Medicine

Stroke facts

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function.
62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
Each year, more than 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.
80% of people survive stroke.
Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute after stroke.
More than 400,000 Canadians live with long-term disability from stroke and this will almost double in the next 20 years.
Stroke can happen at any age. Stroke among people under 65 is increasing and stroke risk factors are increasing for young adults.
Heart & Stroke
More moments. More life. That's why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. Powered by donors and volunteers, we fund life-saving research and help Canadians lead healthier lives. (heartandstroke.ca)

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care for the 1.2 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada's premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically-ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries.

Canadian Stroke Congress
Co-hosted by Heart & Stroke and the Canadian Stroke Consortium, the Canadian Stroke Congress is a uniquely Canadian forum for experts to share the latest research findings, exchange ideas, and make the connections which will change the future of stroke. It brings together researchers, neurologists, nurses, rehabilitation specialists, policy makers, health system decision makers – and many others – in an unprecedented opportunity to improve the brain health of Canadians. (strokecongress.ca)


Join us for the Sixth Annual 5km Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness in 20 cities across Canada on Sunday, September 24, 2017

Lace up your sneakers and join the Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) for the sixth annual 5km Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness supported by Neutrogena® on Sunday, September 24, 2017. Help raise awareness and funds for melanoma patient support programs, prevention efforts and increased awareness with 20 walks across Canada and a virtual walk. To register to walk or for more information, visit www.melanomanetwork.ca.

"The annual Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness raises funds for national patient support programs and prevention efforts for this potentially fatal form of skin cancer," states Annette Cyr, Founder and Chair of the Board of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "With thousands of Canadians being diagnosed with melanoma each year, education and prevention is key. The first Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness was held in 2011. Each year, new locations are added and in 2017, there are now 20 walk sites across Canada as well as a virtual walk."

St Johns, Newfoundland
Quidi Vidi Lake Park
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Fairbanks Centre – Shubie Park
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Ellenwood Provincial Park
Summerside, Prince Edward Island
Summerside Boardwalk
Windsor, Ontario
Assumption Park, Riverdale Trail
Kitchener, Ontario
Huron Natural Area
Hamilton, Ontario
Confederation Beach Park
London, Ontario
Thames Park
Mississauga, Ontario
Erindale Park
Toronto, Ontario
Sunnybrook Park
Kingston, Ontario
Rotary Park
Ottawa, Ontario
Andrew Haydon Park
Montreal, Quebec
Mount Royal Park, Pavilion du Lac-aux-Castors
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Assiniboine Park Conservatory
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Meewasin Park
Calgary, Alberta
Sandy Beach Park, Elbow River
Edmonton, Alberta
Hermitage Park
Vancouver, British Columbia
Horseshoe Bay Park
Kamloops, British Columbia
Riverside Park
Courtenay, British Columbia
Courtenay Riverway – Marina Park
Virtual Walk
** local time

"Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness raises awareness about the importance of protecting against harmful UV rays from the sun and artificial sources as well as checking your skin regularly and seeing a dermatologist for anything of concern," adds Annette. "Melanoma is a devastating disease that can be prevented by taking sun protection measures, including using sunscreen daily and wearing sun-safe clothing. It all starts with awareness."

Melanoma is one of the top seven most frequent occurring cancers in Canada and is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in youth ages 15-29. You are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have one or more of the following characteristics: prolonged exposure to UV radiation including outdoor sun and artificial UV radiation (tanning beds, sun lamps); severe blistering, sunburns before the age of 20; a family history of melanoma; more than 50 moles on your body; moles with unusual shape or colour; skin that tends to burn; fair or freckled skin; red or blonde hair and blue eyes; or a weakened immune system.

"Roughly 7,300 (4,000 males and 3,300 females) Canadians will be newly diagnosed with melanoma in 2017," states Toronto-based Dr. Paul Cohen, Dermatologist and Director, Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "This isn't a small number, yet most people don't believe they're at risk. Melanoma can affect anyone regardless of sex, age or race. Educating Canadians on the importance of preventive measures and early detection are crucial to reducing melanoma."

As the walk co-ordinator for the Vancouver Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness, 33-year old Carly Smith is passionate about youth education and melanoma and has spoken at the University of British Columbia about melanoma prevention. Carly has been diagnosed with melanoma three times. Each time she noticed the melanoma through a self-exam and went to her doctor for a biopsy to get a diagnosis. The melanoma was removed with a local incision and she did not require radiation.

"Melanoma is one of the cancers we can see early on," says Carly. "I have red hair, blue eyes, used tanning beds and did not use sunscreen when I was younger. Everything you should not do. I am now an advocate on the importance of prevention and early detection. It is important to check yourself regularly and notice if there are any changes to your moles. Had I not been diligent when I noticed the melanoma on my back and on my hip and gone to the doctor, the diagnosis could have been very different."

Montreal native Carol H will be taking part in this year's Strides for Melanoma Walk for Awareness on Mount Royal. This will be her third consecutive walk, having raised over $8,000 in previous years. She has had melanoma twice, at relatively young ages. In each case, her melanoma was found early, removed surgically, and did not require radiation or chemotherapy.

"I have hundreds of moles and am followed closely by my dermatologist, with appointments every 3 months," says Carol. "I am thankful for a proactive, diligent dermatologist. She saved my life, twice. Since the second diagnosis in 2013, they have removed at least 10 more moles, taking out a couple a year. Waiting for the pathology reports is stressful, but, thankfully, they have been negative. I now stay out of the sun, wear sunglasses and a hat, and carry sunscreen with me. I even have an app on my phone to check the UV; if it is high, I take all precautions. I don't attend outdoor events and get angry with people who still grill themselves under the sun. Ultimately, I am happy to be alive and pale versus dead and tanned."

When she was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago, 30-year old melanoma survivor Ashley Chlebo's world was turned upside down. She was wearing a sundress at a family outing at a winery and her sister noticed a mole on her back that did not look right. Although they have a family history of skin cancer, nobody in her family had melanoma. Ashley made an appointment with her doctor, part of the mole was removed and sent to the lab for a biopsy. When the results came back that it was cancerous, she was sent to a dermatologist and some additional moles were removed as a precaution and tested, but were not melanoma.

"I was never a sun worshipper, but I did have several burns," states Ashley. "The diagnosis had a profound effect on me as I have a young son and I want to be there to see him grow up. I work in the landscape industry, when I am consulting with a client on their project, I make sure I am wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. This is my fourth-time walking in the Strides for Melanoma in Mississauga to help raise awareness."

Melanoma can be a deadly form of cancer, but if diagnosed early, it is often treatable. It is one of few cancers that is preventable and is visible to the naked eye.

About Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC):
The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) provides support services, information and programs for individuals whose lives have been changed by melanoma. MNC provides the leading national voice for melanoma patients in Canada for early detection and improved treatment access and works diligently to prevent more Canadians from developing melanoma through public awareness and youth and adult education on sun safety. For more information, please visit www.melanomanetwork.ca. Charitable Registration number: 854913050RR0001


Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto: Understanding Ties Us Together

Toronto's largest AIDS service organization, ACT – The AIDS Committee of Toronto, will be hosting the 29th annual Scotiabank AIDS Walk on Sunday, September 10, 2017. Over 400 supporters will gather at Barbara Hall Park in support of ACT programs and services for people living with HIV and communities at high-risk of infection.

This year, participants will take their message through Queen's Park, along a brand new route. Onstage entertainment will precede and follow the Walk at Barbara Hall Park, including performances by drag queens Sofonda Cox, Vicki Lix and Jada Hudson, the fantastic DJ Sumation and Forte Gay Men's Chorus. Toronto drag queen Scarlett Bobo will host this year's show.

The sponsors of the Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto in 2017 include: Scotiabank (national sponsor), Samuel, Son & Co Limited, The Co-operators Group, Porter Airlines, 104.5 CHUM FM, Gay Living, INspired Media Inc. and Starbucks Coffee Canada.

The #TiedTogether theme of the National AIDS Walk campaign uses the concept of red shoelaces in various configurations to reinforce the powerful idea of unity and togetherness as a way to combat the spread of HIV, and the stigma that often accompanies it.

"With the support of the community, together we can accomplish our goal of zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths," says John Maxwell, executive director at ACT.

Despite remarkable progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV since the mid-1990s, new infections occur in Toronto every day and stigma continues to impact people living with the virus, and is a root cause of new transmissions. Over 75,000 people are living with HIV in Canada with an estimated 19,000 living in Toronto.

Last month, Ontario's Office of the Independent Police Review Director found evidence of misconduct by a Toronto police officer videotaped in January making AIDS-phobic remarks about a man while he was being forcefully held on the ground. Police later apologized for the behaviour of their officers and for the officer's comment that "he's going to spit in your face and you're going to get AIDS." Also last month, ACT discovered a Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto flyer with homophobic and AIDS-phobic insults scribbled on it.

"The events of this past year show that HIV is still a relevant issue today," says John Maxwell, Executive Director at ACT. "It is our responsibility to continue to educate the public on the science of HIV transmission and all the available options to protect against infection."

About ACT – The AIDS Committee of Toronto

Since 1983 ACT has developed programs and services that respond to the changing needs of the communities it serves. ACT provides support services that empower men, women and youth living with HIV and communities at high risk of transmission to achieve self-determination, informed decision-making, independence, and overall well-being. We do this through programs such as counselling, information provision, social support activities and programs that help people with HIV return to work.

Scotiabank AIDS Walk Toronto

Barbara Hall Park

519 Church Street

Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9

Sunday, September 10, 2017

10:00 a.m. – Registration opens

11:30 a.m. – Opening ceremonies begin

12:00 p.m. – AIDS Walk leaves Barbara Hall Park

1:15 p.m. – Post-Walk entertainment at Barbara Hall Park

2:30 p.m. – Closing remarks

Max Domi Set to Light It Up for Canadians Living with Diabetes

 Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada, in partnership with professional hockey player Max Domi, today announced the launch of the Light it Up campaign, designed to raise awareness of the new CONTOUR® NEXT ONE blood glucose meter and App system and help Canadians better manage their diabetes. For the third consecutive year, Domi is working with Ascensia to share his incredible story, so that it can inspire and educate Canadians about living with diabetes.

"I have been living with diabetes for almost my entire life and thanks to my family, healthcare professionals and the right tools, I have never let diabetes stand in the way of crushing my goals," says Domi. "I want all Canadians - adults and kids – living with diabetes to feel empowered to take control and not let diabetes be a barrier to their success. Partnering with Ascensia has given me the opportunity to share my story and connect with individuals from all walks of life to make a difference."

As part of the Light it Up campaign, Domi made a surprise visit on August 24 to one of Diabetes Canada's D-Camps called Camp Discovery, a center located in London, ON and run by Diabetes Canada that is specifically designed for children living with diabetes, for some interactive activities, fun diabetes education and autograph signing. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of 12, Domi is active on and off the ice and is a passionate leader in the diabetes community, motivating Canadians with diabetes to achieve their dreams and live remarkable lives.

"We couldn't be happier to be part of the Light it Up campaign with Max," says Rick Blickstead, President and CEO, Diabetes Canada. "Having Max visit Camp Discovery was an amazing event for the young people and an unforgettable experience. We hope that having Max share his story will inspire them to feel confident about managing their diabetes and reaching for the stars."

There are more than eleven million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes and every three minutes another Canadian is diagnosed.1 Chances are, diabetes affects you or someone close to you.

The launch of the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter and CONTOUR® Diabetes App, marks a new approach to diabetes management. The system features a wireless-enabled smart meter that links to a mobile device via Bluetooth®. The intuitive CONTOUR® Diabetes App collects, stores and analyzes patient blood sugar levels received from the meter. It also features smartLIGHT technology using coloured lights to quickly indicate if a reading is above, below or within target range to help individuals better manage their condition.

"When we designed the new CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter and app with smartLIGHT technology, we were inspired by Max and the many other Canadians living with diabetes," says Russ Newsome, Region Head of North America, Ascensia Diabetes Care. "He is a true champion for the cause and we are thrilled to continue our partnership and show how these intuitive tools can help all Canadians with diabetes get more insightful blood glucose results, without comprising ease of use and accuracy."

The CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter results go beyond the minimum industry accuracy standards2 and is the most accurate system developed by Ascensia Diabetes Care. The captured blood glucose results can be easily reviewed and shared effortlessly with healthcare professionals online; helping patients make more informed decisions and create better management plans.

To supplement the Light it Up campaign, Ascensia will also be working with regional spokespeople living with diabetes to share their story and educate Canadians across the country. To watch the Light it Up campaign video for the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter, please visit youtube.com/watch?v=oIdzVU-9ZoQ.


1 http://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/types-of-diabetes

2 Current regulations based on Health Canada recognized ISO 15197:2013 standard requires results within ±15% range, specifically: ≥95% of results must fall within ±0.83 mmol/L for blood glucose concentrations <5.55 mmol/L and within ±15% for blood glucose concentrations ≥5.55 mmol/L.

About Ascensia Diabetes Care

Ascensia Diabetes Care is a global specialist diabetes care company, dedicated to helping people living with diabetes. Our mission is to empower people living with diabetes through innovative solutions that simplify and improve their lives. We use our innovation and specialist expertise in diabetes to develop high quality solutions and tools that make a positive, daily difference for people with diabetes.

Home to the world renowned CONTOUR™ portfolio of blood glucose monitoring systems, our products combine advanced technology with user-friendly functionality that help people with diabetes to manage their condition. We are committed to continued research, innovation and development of new products and solutions. As a trusted partner in the diabetes community, we collaborate closely with healthcare professionals and other partners to ensure our products meet the highest standards of accuracy, precision and reliability, and that we conduct our business compliantly and with integrity.

Ascensia Diabetes Care was established in 2016 through the sale of Bayer Diabetes Care to Panasonic Healthcare Holdings Co., Ltd. Ascensia Diabetes Care products are sold in more than 125 countries. Ascensia Diabetes Care has around 1,700 employees and operations in 33 countries.

For further information, please visit the Ascensia Diabetes Care website at: www.contournextone.ca


Two brothers set off on cross-Canada drive in support of Ronald McDonald Houses

 For many families with sick children, travelling to a hospital far away from home can be a long journey. Last week, Alex Wong and his brother Mark began their own long journey in support of the 25,000 families each year who stay at Ronald McDonald Houses across the country to be close to their sick child.

The trip was conceived while Alex was volunteering at the RMHC House in Vancouver, BC. There, he met Brooke Malakoff, a young teenager with cancer. Though she was far away from home and facing an incredibly difficult battle, Alex was inspired by her positive outlook and moved by her continuing passion for giving back to the community.

Tragically, Brooke lost her battle with cancer. Her spirit of generosity however lives on in Alex, and in her memory he and his brother hope their cross-country drive will make a difference for the thousands of families like hers who have benefited from the support and care of RMHC.

"Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House was a life-changing experience," says Wong. "I hope Mark and I can inspire people across the country to take part in more community initiatives and to give back in the spirit of community."

A tribute to families

Having started in Victoria, BC, Alex and Mark are driving across Canada to St. John's, Newfoundland. But they won't just be raising $20,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, the national foundation of support for RMHC Houses and Family Rooms coast-to-coast. They're also planning on visiting all 15 of the Houses and 16 Family Rooms along the way, paying tribute to the staff, volunteers, donors and—most of all—families.

"We are deeply grateful to Alex and his brother Mark," says Cathy Loblaw, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities. "Together they're showing us the meaning of families helping families and are inspiring each of us to help RMHC families across Canada."

Every year, Canada's Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms help families find the comfort and care they need while their sick child is being treated at a nearby hospital.

"What I learned from Brooke was that it's up to all of us to keep pushing ourselves to better our communities," continues Wong. "We can't always be at home, but by making a difference one family at a time, we can help build the feeling of home wherever we are."

To follow Alex's journey, visit RMHC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RMHCCanada/

To donate in honour of Brooke and the 25,000 families across Canada who find a home at RMHC, please visit https://www.rmhccanada.ca/fundraiser/360.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada (RMHC Canada)
RMHC Canada is the national foundation of support for Canada's 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles across the country. Collectively, these programs support over 25,000 families each year, providing access to quality health care and enabling family-centered care. All, by keeping families close – one family at a time.

The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country provide a home for out-of-town families whose children are being treated at a nearby hospital, while the 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms offer families a place to rest and recharge right inside the hospital. Completing our circle of support are 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, mobile health units that bring medical care to underserved communities in Alberta.

As our founding and forever partner, and RMHC's largest donor, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, their franchisees and guests, generously provides over $10 million annually to help support the RHMC network of programs for families with sick children across Canada. For more information, visit: www.rmhc.ca.

Max Domi Set to Light It Up for Canadians Living with Diabetes

 Ascensia Diabetes Care Canada, in partnership with professional hockey player Max Domi, today announced the launch of the Light it Up campaign, designed to raise awareness of the new CONTOUR® NEXT ONE blood glucose meter and App system and help Canadians better manage their diabetes. For the third consecutive year, Domi is working with Ascensia to share his incredible story, so that it can inspire and educate Canadians about living with diabetes.

"I have been living with diabetes for almost my entire life and thanks to my family, healthcare professionals and the right tools, I have never let diabetes stand in the way of crushing my goals," says Domi. "I want all Canadians - adults and kids – living with diabetes to feel empowered to take control and not let diabetes be a barrier to their success. Partnering with Ascensia has given me the opportunity to share my story and connect with individuals from all walks of life to make a difference."

As part of the Light it Up campaign, Domi made a surprise visit on August 24 to one of Diabetes Canada's D-Camps called Camp Discovery, a center located in London, ON and run by Diabetes Canada that is specifically designed for children living with diabetes, for some interactive activities, fun diabetes education and autograph signing. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of 12, Domi is active on and off the ice and is a passionate leader in the diabetes community, motivating Canadians with diabetes to achieve their dreams and live remarkable lives.

"We couldn't be happier to be part of the Light it Up campaign with Max," says Rick Blickstead, President and CEO, Diabetes Canada. "Having Max visit Camp Discovery was an amazing event for the young people and an unforgettable experience. We hope that having Max share his story will inspire them to feel confident about managing their diabetes and reaching for the stars."

There are more than eleven million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes and every three minutes another Canadian is diagnosed.1 Chances are, diabetes affects you or someone close to you.

The launch of the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter and CONTOUR® Diabetes App, marks a new approach to diabetes management. The system features a wireless-enabled smart meter that links to a mobile device via Bluetooth®. The intuitive CONTOUR® Diabetes App collects, stores and analyzes patient blood sugar levels received from the meter. It also features smartLIGHT technology using coloured lights to quickly indicate if a reading is above, below or within target range to help individuals better manage their condition.

"When we designed the new CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter and app with smartLIGHT technology, we were inspired by Max and the many other Canadians living with diabetes," says Russ Newsome, Region Head of North America, Ascensia Diabetes Care. "He is a true champion for the cause and we are thrilled to continue our partnership and show how these intuitive tools can help all Canadians with diabetes get more insightful blood glucose results, without comprising ease of use and accuracy."

The CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter results go beyond the minimum industry accuracy standards2 and is the most accurate system developed by Ascensia Diabetes Care. The captured blood glucose results can be easily reviewed and shared effortlessly with healthcare professionals online; helping patients make more informed decisions and create better management plans.

To supplement the Light it Up campaign, Ascensia will also be working with regional spokespeople living with diabetes to share their story and educate Canadians across the country. To watch the Light it Up campaign video for the CONTOUR® NEXT ONE meter, please visit youtube.com/watch?v=oIdzVU-9ZoQ.


1 http://www.diabetes.ca/about-diabetes/types-of-diabetes

2 Current regulations based on Health Canada recognized ISO 15197:2013 standard requires results within ±15% range, specifically: ≥95% of results must fall within ±0.83 mmol/L for blood glucose concentrations <5.55 mmol/L and within ±15% for blood glucose concentrations ≥5.55 mmol/L.

About Ascensia Diabetes Care

Ascensia Diabetes Care is a global specialist diabetes care company, dedicated to helping people living with diabetes. Our mission is to empower people living with diabetes through innovative solutions that simplify and improve their lives. We use our innovation and specialist expertise in diabetes to develop high quality solutions and tools that make a positive, daily difference for people with diabetes.

Home to the world renowned CONTOUR™ portfolio of blood glucose monitoring systems, our products combine advanced technology with user-friendly functionality that help people with diabetes to manage their condition. We are committed to continued research, innovation and development of new products and solutions. As a trusted partner in the diabetes community, we collaborate closely with healthcare professionals and other partners to ensure our products meet the highest standards of accuracy, precision and reliability, and that we conduct our business compliantly and with integrity.

Ascensia Diabetes Care was established in 2016 through the sale of Bayer Diabetes Care to Panasonic Healthcare Holdings Co., Ltd. Ascensia Diabetes Care products are sold in more than 125 countries. Ascensia Diabetes Care has around 1,700 employees and operations in 33 countries.

For further information, please visit the Ascensia Diabetes Care website at: www.contournextone.ca


Two brothers set off on cross-Canada drive in support of Ronald McDonald Houses

 For many families with sick children, travelling to a hospital far away from home can be a long journey. Last week, Alex Wong and his brother Mark began their own long journey in support of the 25,000 families each year who stay at Ronald McDonald Houses across the country to be close to their sick child.

The trip was conceived while Alex was volunteering at the RMHC House in Vancouver, BC. There, he met Brooke Malakoff, a young teenager with cancer. Though she was far away from home and facing an incredibly difficult battle, Alex was inspired by her positive outlook and moved by her continuing passion for giving back to the community.

Tragically, Brooke lost her battle with cancer. Her spirit of generosity however lives on in Alex, and in her memory he and his brother hope their cross-country drive will make a difference for the thousands of families like hers who have benefited from the support and care of RMHC.

"Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House was a life-changing experience," says Wong. "I hope Mark and I can inspire people across the country to take part in more community initiatives and to give back in the spirit of community."

A tribute to families

Having started in Victoria, BC, Alex and Mark are driving across Canada to St. John's, Newfoundland. But they won't just be raising $20,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada, the national foundation of support for RMHC Houses and Family Rooms coast-to-coast. They're also planning on visiting all 15 of the Houses and 16 Family Rooms along the way, paying tribute to the staff, volunteers, donors and—most of all—families.

"We are deeply grateful to Alex and his brother Mark," says Cathy Loblaw, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities. "Together they're showing us the meaning of families helping families and are inspiring each of us to help RMHC families across Canada."

Every year, Canada's Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms help families find the comfort and care they need while their sick child is being treated at a nearby hospital.

"What I learned from Brooke was that it's up to all of us to keep pushing ourselves to better our communities," continues Wong. "We can't always be at home, but by making a difference one family at a time, we can help build the feeling of home wherever we are."

To follow Alex's journey, visit RMHC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RMHCCanada/

To donate in honour of Brooke and the 25,000 families across Canada who find a home at RMHC, please visit https://www.rmhccanada.ca/fundraiser/360.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada (RMHC Canada)
RMHC Canada is the national foundation of support for Canada's 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles across the country. Collectively, these programs support over 25,000 families each year, providing access to quality health care and enabling family-centered care. All, by keeping families close – one family at a time.

The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country provide a home for out-of-town families whose children are being treated at a nearby hospital, while the 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms offer families a place to rest and recharge right inside the hospital. Completing our circle of support are 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, mobile health units that bring medical care to underserved communities in Alberta.

As our founding and forever partner, and RMHC's largest donor, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada, their franchisees and guests, generously provides over $10 million annually to help support the RHMC network of programs for families with sick children across Canada. For more information, visit: www.rmhc.ca.


Canadian Concussion Collaborative identifies characteristics of good concussion clinics

 The Canadian Concussion Collaborative (CCC) is releasing a guide to help parents and their children choose a good concussion clinic.

Signs or symptoms of a concussion can include headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and sensitivity to light or noise. For about 9 in 10 people with concussions, symptoms heal gradually after 7 to 10 days, but those with continuing symptoms may need a personalized care plan.

Finding a good concussion clinic that offers management and treatment can be confusing.
4 Characteristics of a Good Concussion Clinic suggests the questions to ask a clinic to make sure you're receiving high quality care that is supported by current guidelines.

"The guide provides important questions to ask and outlines the best approach to concussion care and management," says Dr. Pierre Frémont, Chair of the CCC and professor at the department of rehabilitation in sports medicine general practice at Université Laval.

The four key characteristics to keep in mind when selecting a concussion clinic are:

Medical doctor: Clinics should have timely access to physicians with experience in treating concussions who can do the initial assessment, direct care and provide final medical clearance.
Team of licensed health care professionals: Clinics should have access to licensed professionals from several health care disciplines. They can provide complimentary expertise and work with the medical doctor to design a personalized treatment plan.
Adhere to the most up-to-date standards of care: Recommended standards of care are updated every few years by groups of experts, and are shared via documents like the international Consensus statement on concussion in sport.
Tools, tests and recommendations used: Clinics should perform tests recommended in the most current international Consensus statement on concussion in sport to evaluate different components such as symptoms, mental functions and balance. Pre-season baseline testing is not recommended for children and adolescents.
"Good care and treatment is essential to a positive recovery from a concussion. Being able to identify a good concussion clinic that follows best practices provided by licensed health professionals is an important first step," adds Dr. Frémont.

The mission of the CCC is to create synergy between health organizations concerned with concussions in order to improve both the education about concussions, and the implementation of best practices for their prevention and management.

The CCC is composed of members from the following organizations:

Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine
Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians
Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
Canadian Athletic Therapists Association
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
Canadian Chiropractic Association
Canadian Medical Association
Canadian Neurosurgical Society
Canadian Paediatric Society
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
Canadian Psychological Association
College of Family Physicians of Canada
National Emergency Nurses Association
Ontario Medical Association Sport & Exercise Medicine Section
Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation
Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences (Canada)

For more information please visit http://casem-acmse.org/education/ccc/ 


A Closer Look at Dry Eye

(Family Features) Dry eye is a common and progressive condition affecting millions of Americans that can prevent them from doing the things they love, whether that's reading, watching movies or doing leisure activities like hiking or bike riding. Fortunately, dry eye symptoms can be treated with remedies such as over-the-counter eye drops.


Dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors. The first is the production of tears, which plays an important role in eye health by spreading across the cornea, keeping eyes lubricated and helping push away potentially harmful debris. Dry eye can occur when you don't produce enough tears, or the tears you do produce either evaporate rapidly or are of poor quality.

Numerous demographic and environmental factors can also contribute to dry eye, as well as the use of digital devices, air conditioning, heat blowers and fans. Certain health conditions like diabetes, thyroid-associated diseases and immune system disorders can also play a role, along with extended contact lens use, refractive eye surgery and certain medications.


The symptoms of dry eye can run the gamut from being a minor inconvenience to having a major impact on your daily life and favorite activities. The five key symptoms of dry eye include: dryness, irritation, grittiness, burning and stinging. Other indications may include itchiness, tired eyes, blurred vision, excess tears and redness.


One way to help restore moisture to the tear film and reduce the effects of dry eye is with a fast-acting, over-the-counter eye drop like Rohto Dry-Aid, formulated with Liquidshield™ technology, which works on all three layers of the tear film to mimic a stable, natural tear, while providing soothing relief for up to 12 hours.

"Dry eye sufferers can enjoy their daily lives with Rohto Dry-Aid, which delivers all-day relief from irritating and distracting dry eye symptoms in a refreshing, non-blurring eye drop," said Erick Estrada, Senior Director of Marketing at The Mentholatum Company, which makes Rohto Dry-Aid.
If your dry eye symptoms persist and you find yourself using lubricant eye drops several times a day, consult your eye doctor as this may be an indication you have chronic dry eye.

Learn more about dry eye and potential treatment options at rohtoeyedrops.com.

My Cat Makes Me Happy: New UNICEF Canada report reveals Canada's kids say health and belonging most important to their well-being

 A new UNICEF Canada report released today highlights what Canada's youth consider critical to their well-being. Among the insights, holistic health and a sense of belonging top the list.

In My Cat Makes Me Happy, UNICEF Canada outlines the findings of workshops held across Canada to learn directly from youth what well-being means to them, and to gain a better sense about what it's like to grow up in Canada.

Canada currently ranks 25th out of 41 rich nations in overall child well-being. When compared against 21 indicators related to progress towards the global Sustainable Development Goals for children and youth, Canada ranks in the middle – a place it has held for more than a decade. Child homicide, suicide and bullying, in particular, are all at alarmingly high levels.

"Right now, Canada isn't the best place in the world for children to grow up in. In fact, it's not even in the top 20," said Alli Truesdell, UNICEF Canada's Youth Participation Lead. "We need to better understand why that is and do more to become the country that truly reflects our shared Canadian values."

Key findings

According to the youth report, health (34.5 per cent) and relatedness (18.2 per cent) top the list of factors most important to child and youth well-being, followed closely by equity (12.8 per cent), education and employment (12.3 per cent), youth engagement (12.3 per cent), affordable living conditions (6.7 per cent) and access to spaces and a healthy environment (3.3 per cent).

Canada's youth weigh in

Liam, 17, participated in one of the youth workshops.

"You need to dig deeper to understand what matters to youth more precisely," he said. "You can't just focus on the basics."

Olivia, 16, stressed the need for change.

"There's so much room for improvement," she said. "It starts with taking initiative; it starts with taking action."

Relationships and belonging are key for Canada's kids

"What we heard from Canada's youth is that objective measures alone—like young people's physical health, how they are doing in school and how much time they spend online - will not capture whether young people are doing well," said Truesdell. "In wealthy countries, we need to be measuring things far beyond basic needs, though these are not very fairly distributed. For young people, well-being is much broader. Just as important as their physical health and school grades are the quality of their relationships, and access to safe spaces where they feel respected and like they belong. When we take the time to talk with young people, we learn some surprising things. We heard time and again how much pets make kids happy and relieve stress."

UNICEF to launch national movement to make Canada the best place to grow up in

UNICEF Canada is working to develop a Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being, one of the key initiatives of its soon-to-launch One Youth movement. One Youth will also host a Design Studio to work with children and youth to develop and test innovative solutions to the challenges they identify, and encourage public engagement around the challenge.

"We want Canada to become the best place to grow up in by 2030," said Truesdell. "One of the ways to get there is by continuing to involve children and young people in our work to develop new ways to measure child well-being, that are more in line with what children and youth are actually telling us about their own lived experiences as well as the evidence we have about what supports well-being. Some communities are very good at doing that, but the data is very limited."

One Youth is set to launch this fall. To learn more, visit www.unicef.ca/oneyouth


Protect public blood system by outlawing for-profit plasma collection: OPSEU​

 The federal government is jeopardizing the health of blood recipients in Canada by its failure to draft legislation that would make private, for-profit plasma collection clinics illegal, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) said today.

The union issued its call following news today that Canadian Blood Services (CBS) advised Health Canada seven months ago that its polling revealed that seven of 10 young Canadians, aged 18 to 34, would opt to be paid for donating plasma over the current practice of voluntary donations in a public system. Despite the warning from CBS that pay-for-plasma clinics could draw donors away from the public collection system, Ottawa went ahead and granted permission for a private clinic to open for business in Moncton, N.B., in May.

"I find those numbers very troubling," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "They suggest that unless the federal government takes action now to shut down these private clinics and prohibit more from opening, we're at risk of losing donors who represent the backbone of our future, national public blood system.

"I'm also calling on Premier Wynne and Health and Long Term Care Minister Eric Hoskins to make the case to their federal counterparts to strengthen our public collection system by refusing to license any additional private clinics."

OPSEU represents more than 2,000 CBS workers in Ontario. Sean Allen, chair of the union's CBS sector, said the reluctance of Ottawa to prohibit for-profit, plasma-collection clinics, represents creeping privatization that will ultimately weaken Canada's national public blood system.

"The evidence from the U.S. and Hungary, countries where payment for plasma is commonplace, shows that donors are moving away from donating to the public system," said Allen. "We mustn't allow the same to happen in this country."

Thomas noted that 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the final report of the Krever Inquiry into tainted blood. The chief finding of the report was that Canada must maintain a thoroughly public blood system.

"Let's not neglect the memory of 1,200 Canadians who needlessly died from contaminated blood products by handing over parts of the system to profiteers," he said.


CanGift and Diabetes Canada announce 2017 official charitable partnership​

 The Canadian Gift Association (CanGift) and Diabetes Canada are thrilled to announce their 2017 official charitable partnership.
Diabetes is an invisible epidemic. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed. Diabetes Canada supports the 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes today. CanGift has partnered with Diabetes Canada to provide an extensive venue for its Product Donations Program that sees 100 per cent of net proceeds helping to fund diabetes education, world-leading Canadian research, and programs such as camps across Canada where kids meet and are inspired by each other to manage their diabetes well with the help of health-care personnel.

"We are proud to partner with Diabetes Canada in doing our part in the fight to end diabetes," says Anita Schachter, president and CEO, Canadian Gift Association. "Merchandise donated by our members raises funds to continue much-needed research and helps send kids with diabetes to camp."

Participants of CanGift Fairs are able to donate excess inventory and other merchandise to help end diabetes. Items are then diverted from landfills and free up valuable storage space.

"It is important to us that we not only raise funds for diabetes, but that we do so in a way that makes a positive difference to the environment by diverting items from our landfills," says Janelle Robertson, vice president and general manager, Diabetes Canada. "Diabetes Canada is excited to work with CanGift in this unique partnership."


August is the International Month of Hope for Huntington's Disease

WeHaveAFace.org released a video statement declaring August the International Month of Hope. WeHaveAFace aims to broaden global awareness of Huntington's disease and Juvenile Huntington's disease. We must do everything we can to help find treatments or a cure for this disease. By embracing and utilizing various state-of-the-art technologies: international videos, films, radio, mobile application, electronic publications, and mainstream social networks, we will continue to reach our peers in the Huntington's community, as well as educating the general public.

WeHaveAFace is the premier multimedia advocacy organization for Huntington's disease and Juvenile Huntington's disease. The Board of Directors, Advisors, Advocates of WeHaveAFace are unpaid volunteers. The decision to remain as an unpaid, volunteer-only organization was to ensure that our priorities remain focused on allocating 100% of donations to our Huntington's and Juvenile Huntington's community via education, resources, and financial needs. It is also our mission to directly fund Huntington's and Juvenile Huntington's disease research.​

The inspiration to declare August as the month for Hope came from Kevin Jess, Director of Patient Advocacy for WeHaveAFace Canada. "This declaration is for everyone, not just those in the HD community", says Mr. Jess. "I noticed a fair amount of hopelessness within the Huntington's community due to a lack of treatments, but more importantly hopes were being dashed by what appears to be too many seemingly failed attempts at finding help for loved ones stricken with this disease. Our campaign is meant to strengthen hope in everyone. Hope for a treatment and for a cure. Without hope, we have nothing!"

Mr. Jess sees great hope today for many who suffer with HD. "Never before have we witnessed the volume of clinical trials for treatments aimed at the root cause of Huntington's Disease. When we work together to bring about awareness we are fighting with passion and we will win!"

Huntington's disease (gene found in 1993), is a hereditary, degenerative, and terminal brain disease for which there is no current treatment or cure. Huntington's disease is caused by a genetic defect on chromosome 4. Huntington's disease is also abbreviated—HD, or Juvenile Huntington's disease—JHD, is an autosomal dominant disease. This means that only one parent must have the mutated gene for a child to inherit the disease. Huntington's does not skip generations. This disease slowly diminishes the affected individual's ability to walk, talk, and reason. In time, the person with HD relies completely upon others for their personal care. HD affects the lives of entire families — emotionally, psychologically, socially, and economically.

HD affects males, females, and knows no ethnic and racial boundaries. Many of us within the international community describe the symptoms of JHD/HD as having, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's, Bipolar disorder, and Schizophrenia – all at the same time. Simply, Huntington's disease is more than a physical disease! Every child of a person with Huntington's disease has a 50/50 chance of inheriting the fatal gene. Often, the individual with HD might seem to be (or act) "drunk" to the on-looker, due to the physical attributes of the disease.

Juvenile Huntington's disease (JHD) affects younger individuals. Upwards of 10 percent of known cases of Huntington's disease is the Juvenile form. Individuals who suffer with JHD experience seizures and many other horrific attributes of this disease, however the onset of physical and emotional symptoms happens earlier in life. Diagnosis of JHD usually happens when symptoms manifest before the age of twenty.

Youth Drug Prevention Efforts Save Society $315 Million Per Year According to a New Study by McGill University and Drug Free Kids Canada

Drug Free Kids Canada (DFK) today released the results of a study it commissioned to evaluate the lifetime cost to society of a pre-teen or teenager who suffers from drug addiction. The study found that the cost per youth can be quantified at $450,000, resulting in a $315 million social return on investment based on the approximately 700 youth that benefit from the prevention efforts of Drug Free Kids Canada each year.

The study developed by the McGill School of Business Not-for-Profit Consulting Group was commissioned earlier this year. It evaluated the measurable cost to society of youth addiction which includes health care, law enforcement and the loss of productivity.

The study further analyzed the impact of drug education prevention messages created and disseminated by DFK Canada over the past six years. It concluded that each year by targeting parents and encouraging them to talk to their kids about drugs, the total reduction in drug abuse by teens attributable to DFK was ~700 kids.

"Demonstrating the value to society of investing in prevention has always been a difficult exercise" says Drug Free Kids' Executive Director Marc Paris. "That's why this study is so important as it clearly shows that it is better to invest in prevention strategies up-front rather than deal with the heavy cost of addiction later."

The study also revealed that Drug Free Kids Canada is a highly efficient organization. The partnerships that it has developed over the years with their 60+ media partners, various advertising agencies and research firms has allowed them to generate $39 in in-kind services for every dollar donated.

The costs of substance use disorder (SUD) extend far beyond the measurable dollars and cents but also in the toll it takes on individuals and families. Angie Hamilton, co-founder of Families for Addiction Recovery says, "when a child has SUD the entire family is affected. Siblings can feel like they have become invisible as parents mourn the loss of a child who is alive but whom they no longer recognize. The whole family needs to recover together."

Paul Allison, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Raymond James Ltd. and DFK's new Chair of the board who recently replaced Dick Pound says, "I was very impressed by the organization which has such an impressive national impact with very limited resources – $700 in the hands of DFK can save a teenager from a life of addiction."

Crohn's and Colitis Canada awards nine research grants, supports researchers improving IBD care

Crohn's and Colitis Canada is pleased to announce its Grants-in-Aid and Innovations in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Grant recipients. Seven Grants-in-Aid have been awarded to advance prevention, treatments, health policy and to ultimately find cures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Two researchers have been awarded Innovations Grants, which fund novel approaches to IBD research.

"Funding research is at the foundation of our mission to find the cures for Crohn's and colitis, and it's having a huge impact," says Mina Mawani, President & CEO of Crohn's and Colitis Canada. "Crohn's and Colitis Canada is one of the top charity funders of Crohn's and colitis research in the world, and that research is leading to improvements in treatment and care."

Grants-in-Aid of Research and Innovations Grants are awarded every year to researchers whose proposals have a clear connection to improved care for those affected by Crohn's or colitis. Recipients hail from across the country and are determined to better the lives of the 250,000 Canadians living with these chronic diseases.

2017 Grants-in-Aid of Research Award Recipients:

Dr. Deanna Gibson (co-investigators: Dr. Sundeep Singh, Dr. Kevan Jacobson, and Natasha Haskey), University of British Columbia. Dr. Gibson will study the effect of the Mediterranean diet on patients with ulcerative colitis. This is an important step towards addressing the lack of evidence-based nutrition guidelines available for IBD patients.

Dr. Brian Coombes (co-investigator: Dr. Jonathan Schertzer), McMaster University. Dr. Coombes will study how diet and certain medicines influence patient susceptibility and colonization by adherent-invasive Escherichia coli, a bacterium linked to Crohn's disease.

Dr. Pere Santamaria (co-investigator: Dr. Derek McKay), University of Calgary. Dr. Santamaria is testing a previously developed nanomedicine that selectively targets disease-causing immune responses seen in colitis.

Dr. Simon Hirota, University of Calgary. Fibrosis, the thickening and scarring of connective tissue, is a frequent complication of IBD. Dr. Hirota is trying to understand how a protein called pregnane X receptor (PXR) regulates fibrosis, and whether it can serve as a target for treating intestinal fibrosis in patients with chronic inflammation.

Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen, (co-investigators: Dr. Deborah Marshall and Dr. Maida Sewitch), University of Toronto/Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Nguyen will study inconsistencies between doctor and IBD patient treatment priorities, while also examining areas where communications between the two can be improved.

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut, (co-investigators: Dr. Anne Griffiths, Dr. Anthony Otley, Dr. David Mack, Dr. Jennifer Stinson and Dr. Kevan Jacobson), The Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Kohut will be looking at how peer mentorship can help young IBD patients cope with the physical and mental health challenges caused by their disease.

Dr. Reena Khanna (co-investigator: Dr. Guangyong Zou), University of Western Ontario. Dr. Khanna will be developing more clinically and scientifically relevant measures to assess disease activity in IBD clinical trials.
2017 Innovations in IBD Grant Recipients:

Dr. Humberto Jijon (co-investigator: Dr. Paul Beck), University of Calgary. Dr. Jijon will be using a recently developed method to identify specific gut bacteria and sequencing their RNA to identify which species may be the primary triggers of inflammation.

Dr. Yasmin Nasser, University of Calgary. Studies suggest that the makeup of the gut microbiota may play a role in chronic pain. Dr. Nasser will be using antibiotics to alter the microbiota in the gut of mice and examine changes in pain signals to identify parts of the microbiome that are linked to pain.
For more information about the selection process and Crohn's and Colitis Canada, visit: http://crohnsandcolitis.ca/Research/Information-for-researchers. 


Patient Views on Similar Biologic Medicines: "No Forced Change"

"No forced change." That was the response of an overwhelming majority of patients who responded to a nationwide survey on biosimilar medicines. Over 90% said they had the right to make an "informed choice" and strongly rejected "automatic substitution" of their current biologic drug with a biosimilar, which is "similar but not identical" to the original drug.

Biologic medicines are a relatively new category of medicines. They made from living cells, like bacteria, yeast, or plant and animal cells and are used to treat a large variety of diseases like diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and many rare disorders. Because these are large and complex drugs, it is not possible for another manufacturer to make an exact copy, but they may receive approval for a "highly similar" version that has been demonstrated to work "similar" to the original and to cost less.

But not all patients are convinced that they will work exactly the same. About 80% of the 588 survey respondents, half of whom were taking biologics, felt they would not have the same effectiveness in treating their disease. As importantly, they believed the biosimilars could have different unwanted side effects. Side effects are significant because biologic medicines are made from living organisms and more likely to cause allergic or immune reactions. In the words of one patient, "It has taken me almost two years to anticipate how I will react when I get an injection. I don't want to have to start all over."

"Given the many biosimilars that are coming and the potential cost savings, one of the purposes of the survey was to learn what information influences patient willingness to use a biosimilar," said Durhane Wong-Rieger, Chair of the Consumer Advocare Network. Most compelling was the fact that biosimilars are subject to "head-to-head" clinical trials with the original biologic. Conversely, a major barrier for 75% of respondents was the possibility of a biosimilar being available based on extrapolation, that is, without a direct clinical trial. The ability to track the effects of each drug were very important to 60% of respondents. However, a lower cost was important to only 20% of patients with more than 80% saying patients should have the right to an original biologic, even if it were more expensive.

Of greatest concern was the possibility of being "switched" from the current medicine to a biosimilar without their consent or the knowledge of the physician. This is a common practice in Canada with "automatic substitution" of a generic version of the prescribed "brand name" medication by the drug plans or at the pharmacy. As noted by many respondents, "Biosimilars are not identical generic copies. It would be unethical to switch and the patient to experience a outcome without knowing what might have caused it."

The bottom line is that patients want to be sure that the biologic medicines they are taking have been tested for their condition, they have a choice as to which biologic is prescribed, and what they are prescribed is what they get.

The survey was conducted by the Consumer Advocare Network in May and June 2017 with responses representing all disease areas, including arthritis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, cancers, and rare disorders. Additional results will be presented in a webinar at the end of August.

Putting the "Treat" in Treatment: Kids at Children's Miracle Network Member Hospitals Across Canada to Benefit from Dairy Queen's Miracle Treat Day

 On August 10, Dairy Queen Canada invites Canadians across the country to help put the "treat" in treatment and join in Miracle Treat Day. As part of the 15th annual national fundraising event, participating Dairy Queen stores across the country are committing net proceeds from sales of all Blizzard Treats to support local Children's Miracle Network member hospitals.

Almost 5,000 children enter a Children's Miracle Network hospital for treatment every day. In recognition and support of these courageous youth and their families, Dairy Queen employees, volunteers and celebrities will unite on Miracle Treat Day to raise funds to benefit local children's hospital foundations.

"Miracle Treat Day is an incredible time when local communities across Canada are united in the common goal of raising money to help kids in their own backyards," says Ameera Virani, Director, Corporate Partnerships, Children's Miracle Network. "We are so thankful for the collaboration we see year after year from Dairy Queen and children's hospitals across the country."

Since the partnership between Dairy Queen and Children's Miracle Network began in 1984, Dairy Queen has become a top contributor with $125 million raised to-date in support of sick and injured children across North America.

"Serving our community is as important to us as serving the delicious food and treats that we create every day", says Candida Ness, Senior Director of Marketing, Dairy Queen Canada. "We are proud to work towards ensuring that the kids in all of the communities in which we serve have access to the best possible medical care."

For a full list of participating stores, click here, and for more information about Miracle Treat Day, visit MiracleTreatDay.ca or follow along on social media with #MiracleTreatDay.

PWA's Friends For Life Bike Rally to depart Toronto for Montréal to raise critical funds for Toronto People With AIDS Foundation

 A remarkable "village" of riders and crew will begin a six day, 600km journey from Toronto to Montréal on Sunday, July 30, as part of the 19th annual PWA's Friends For Life Bike Rally presented by Scotiabank.

The Bike Rally features two ride options, both leaving Toronto's Allan Gardens Sunday morning.

The 6-Day Ride is a 600km ride with over 200 riders and support crew traveling to Montréal, arriving the afternoon of Friday, August 4.
The 1-Day Ride will have over 50 riders traveling 110kms, arriving in Port Hope Sunday afternoon.

As the Bike Rally rolls through communities across Ontario and southwestern Quebec, local elected officials, community organizations, businesses, and other AIDS Service Organizations will become a part of the "Bike Rally Village", by raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, greeting and cheering participants and raising funds for PWA. Family members, friends, and past Bike Rally participants who are permanent or summer residents in many of these communities will also be out cheering on riders.

Scotiabank returns for its ninth year as presenting sponsor of the Bike Rally.

Photo opportunities will be available during departure ceremonies and as riders and crew leave on their life-changing journey.

PWA's Friends For Life Bike Rally
Allan Gardens, Carlton Street and Sherbourne Street, Toronto
Sunday, July 30, 2017
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Departure Ceremonies Schedule

8:00 a.m.
Departure ceremonies begin with group photos
8:30 a.m.
9:00 a.m.
Departure - Riders and crew will depart Allan Gardens, North on Homewood Avenue to
Wellesley St. E., East on Wellesley St. E. to Parliament St., North on Parliament St. to
Bloor St. E., to Danforth Avenue and leaving the city's downtown core.

The Bike Rally will travel through the following communities:

Sunday, July 30: Toronto, Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Bowmanville, Newcastle, Port Hope;
Monday, July 31: Port Hope, Cobourg, Colborne, Consecon, Picton, Adolphustown;
Tuesday, August 1: Adolphustown, Bath, Amherstview, Kingston;
Wednesday, August 2: Kingston, Gananoque, Mallorytown, Brockville, Maitland, Prescott, Johnstown;
Thursday, August 3: Johnstown, Cardinal, Iroquois, Morrisburg, Long Sault, Cornwall, Lancaster; and,
Friday, August 4: Lancaster, Rivière-Beaudette, Coteau-du-Lac, Notre Dame de I'Île Perrot, Beaconsfield, Dorval, Montréal.

About PWA's Friends For Life Bike Rally

PWA's Friends For Life Bike Rally offers a 6-day, 600 km bike ride from Toronto to Montréal and a 1-day 110km bike ride from Toronto Port Hope. Now in its 19th year, the Bike Rally is the sustaining fundraiser for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA) supporting its ability to provide critical services and support to individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto. To learn more, visit www.bikerally.org.

About the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA)

Established 30 years ago, PWA is Canada's largest direct support service agency of its kind for people living with HIV/AIDS. PWA engages people living with HIV/AIDS in enhancing their health and well-being through practical and therapeutic support services and broader social change, and inspires them to live into their dreams and discoveries. PWA aims to enhance awareness, resilience, strength and knowledge among the members of its immediate community and in the broader social world. To learn more, visit www.pwatoronto.org.


Ontario Sharps Collection Program Offers Safe Disposal of Used Medical Devices​

Ontario's community pharmacies have become the collection point of choice for those who need to dispose of their used needles, syringes, lancets and alike, says the Health Products Stewardship Association (HPSA) which oversees the Ontario Sharps Collection Program.

The 'Take Back' program offers those managing chronic illnesses a convenient, province-wide network of nearly 4,000 participating pharmacies for their used devices. In an assessment of the program's awareness among diabetics in the province, 64 per cent said they used their local pharmacy to dispose of these devices, up from 44 percent when the program started in 2013. Most of the remainder polled, however, admitted they still put these devices in the garbage.

"It is vitally important to keep these used devices out of the garbage where they can pose a danger to young children and pets in the home and a danger to wildlife at landfills," said Ginette Vanasse, HPSA's Executive Director.

When the pharmacist receives the used medical sharps, HPSA arranges for the collection and safe disposal of them in accordance with strict guidelines and regulations, she said.

"Our 'Take Back' service is available free of charge. When an approved sharps container is dropped off, a new container is provided to safely dispose of sharps at home until it can be dropped off at a participating pharmacy. It is safer than keeping them in a drawer or repurposed container."

In 2016, 273 tonnes of used medical sharps were collected and safely disposed of through the Ontario Sharps Collection Program. The association also oversees the Ontario Medications Return Program for the return of unused or expired medications. HPSA manages similar 'Take Back' programs in British Columbia, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.



Canadians' Strong Health Literacy Scores Tied to Good Health Status, But Navigating Health System Remains a Challenge​

According to a new survey by Consumer Health Products Canada (CHP Canada), Canadians with higher health literacy scores tend to enjoy better health. Overall, the health literacy of Canadians compares well with Europeans in terms of health knowledge and disease prevention, though Canadians struggle more with navigating the healthcare system, while finding it a little easier to judge their different treatment options.

On International Self-Care Day, the findings suggest that Canadians are well positioned to practice responsible self-care in their daily lives. "The strong association between high health literacy and good health shows how important this issue is to Canadians," says Karen Proud, President of CHP Canada.

The survey was based on an approach developed by the European Health Literacy Project and looked at knowledge of healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion, while also exploring information processing and health related decision making. Respondents were then grouped together into four segments, characterizing their health literacy as either excellent, sufficient, problematic or inadequate. Overall, 73% of Canadians fell into the "excellent" or "sufficient" categories, compared to 61% of Dutch, 60% of Irish, 56% of Poles and 54% of Germans.

However, the survey also shows that, like Europeans, Canadians can find it challenging to judge the reliability of health information other than the information they get from their doctor or pharmacist. Canadians also struggle in other areas:

23% of Canadians find it "fairly difficult" or "very difficult" to find out where to get professional help when they are ill, compared to only 5% of Dutch, 9% of Irish, 13% of Germans and 14% of Poles;

54% of Canadians found it "fairly difficult" or "very difficult" to judge when to seek a second opinion from another doctor, compared to 46% of Dutch, 45% of Germans, 38% of Irish and just 25% of Poles.
Other Statistics on Canadians and health literacy:

89% of Canadians use their doctor for health advice vs 67% for pharmacists;

53% of Canadians find it difficult to judge the reliability of information on health risk in the media;

36% of Canadians find it difficult to find information on how to manage health problems like stress and depression;

35% of Canadians find it difficult to judge different treatment options;

34% of Canadians find it difficult to judge which health screenings they should have.
"On International Self-Care Day, we are encouraging Canadians to continue to practice responsible self-care and it begins with health literacy, the foundation of the seven pillars of self-care," says Ms. Proud.

What is Self-Care?

We all practice self-care by doing the following things for ourselves and our families:

Get a good night's sleep

Get regular physical activity

Not smoking

Eat a healthy diet

Brush our teeth

Apply sunscreen

Take a nutritional supplement, if needed

Treat minor ailments like allergies, coughs and colds, headaches and heartburn with home remedies or OTC medications, used as directed

Treat minor scrapes and bruises
What can YOU do when it comes to self-care?

Discuss your self-care options with your doctor or pharmacist at your next visit;

Look for credible sources of health information such as provincial and federal government health portals, websites associated with accredited health institutions or professions, and other evidence-based sources;

Always read and follow the label directions when using consumer health products;
A previous survey by CHP Canada highlighted that if 1/7 of Canadians practiced more self-care, 500,000 Canadians who currently don't have access to a family doctor could get one.

TELUS Health empowers Canadians to better manage their medications

TELUS Health today announced that Pharma Space, its technology service that helps patients manage their prescriptions through features like scheduling online reminders and automatic refills is now being accessed by more than 300,000 customers. For these customers, Pharma Space helps to ensure adherence to medication treatment plans and reduces unnecessary trips to the pharmacy.

A 2014 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that two-thirds of Canadians over the age of 65 have five or more different prescriptions, and one-quarter take 10 or more prescription drugs. Pharma Space provides patients with the flexibility to better manage these prescriptions as well as their online drug profile anytime, anywhere from a mobile phone, tablet or computer. The online system also allows patients access to information they need about the medications they're taking, including potential side effects.

"Patients expect to have the technology they need at their fingertips to be proactive with the management of their own health. Pharma Space enables patients to play a larger role in managing their own medications," said Paul Lepage, President, TELUS Health. "Consumer-focused digital health tools can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of all Canadians. When doctors and pharmacists embrace digital technology it can ensure patients stick with treatment plans and lead to better health outcomes."

Through the Pharma Space service, prescription refill reminders help patients remember to renew prescriptions, which results in better adherence to drug treatment plans. Easier medication management by way of automated refill requests for the duration of the prescription are possible with simple online requests directly from Pharma Space to a pharmacist's dispensing system. Patients can also get organized for doctor's appointments through easily accessible medication lists and ease the pain of tax returns by printing prescription summaries at tax time.

Caregivers can use Pharma Space to access the profiles of family members under their care and provide better support particularly for those who are either too young or ill to manage it themselves. For pharmacists, integrating Pharma Space into their pharmacy management software increases efficiencies and allows for better care coordination and information flow among healthcare providers.

Pharma Space is currently available through participating pharmacies. Patients are encouraged to speak with their pharmacist to discuss TELUS Pharma Space availability.

"Pharma Space simplifies medication management for the patient as well as us, the pharmacists" said Grégoire Arakelian, pharmacist and Costco-affiliated pharmacy owner, Montreal, Quebec. "The automatic refills and scheduled reminders decreases pressure on pharmacists by enabling us to plan our workday, thus freeing up additional time to serve patients visiting the pharmacy."


The Lancet Commission: One Third of Dementia May Be Preventable​​

 In a report presented today at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC 2017) in London, The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care reported that more than one third of global dementia cases may be preventable through addressing lifestyle factors that impact an individual's risk. These potentially modifiable risk factors have been identified at multiple phases across the life-span, not just in old age.

The Lancet Commission's report was simultaneously published in The Lancet and presented at AAIC 2017.

Also at AAIC 2017, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) announced inaugural research grants to investigate health disparities in Alzheimer's disease.

"Today's findings are extremely hopeful," said Maria Carrillo, PhD, chief science officer at the Alzheimer's Association. "At an individual level, many people have the potential to reduce their risk of cognitive decline, and perhaps dementia, through simple, healthful behavior changes. At a public health level, interventions based on this evidence could be extremely powerful in managing the global human and economic costs of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias."

The Alzheimer's Association offers 10 Ways to Love Your Brain, including practical guidance to reduce your dementia risk based on the latest research.

The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care
The Lancet Commission brings together 24 international experts to consolidate the huge strides that have been made in our knowledge and understanding of dementia risk factors, treatment and care, and the emerging knowledge as to what we should do to prevent and manage dementia. The Commission conducted a new review and meta-analysis; based on which they extended current models of risk by including hearing loss and social isolation. Incorporating potentially modifiable risk factors from across the life-span, they proposed a novel life-course model of risk, highlighting the opportunity for prevention.

Among their key recommendations are:

Be ambitious about prevention. Interventions for established risk factors may have the potential to delay or prevent one third of dementias.
Treat cognitive symptoms. To maximize cognition, people with Alzheimer's dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies should be offered cholinesterase inhibitors at all stages, or memantine for severe dementia.
Individualize dementia care. Good dementia care spans medical, social and supportive care; and should be tailored to unique individual and cultural needs, preferences, and priorities.
Care for family carers. Family carers are at high risk of depression. Effective interventions reduce the risk and treat the symptoms, and should be made available.
Plan for the future. People with dementia and their families value discussions about the future and important upcoming decisions.
Manage neuropsychiatric symptoms. Management of the neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia - including agitation, low mood or psychosis - is usually psychological, social, and environmental, with drug treatment reserved for more severe symptoms.
Consider end of life. A third of older people die with dementia, so it is essential that professionals working in end-of-life care consider whether a patient has dementia as they may be unable to make decisions about their care or express their needs and wishes.
Focus on Prevention
The Lancet Commission launched a novel life-span-based model of dementia risk, showing interventions that may maximize cognition, decrease distressing associated symptoms, reduce crises, and improve quality of life. The team estimate the contribution of each of the risk factors to the overall incidence of dementia, at the population level. The combined evidence to date shows that roughly 35 percent of all cases of dementia are attributable to nine potentially modifiable risk factors. Many of the risk factors occur at particular life stages but some, such as smoking and hypertension, are likely to make a difference at all life stages. The nine modifiable risk factors include:

Early life - Education to a maximum of age 15
Mid-life - Hypertension; Obesity; Hearing loss
Later life - Depression; Diabetes; Physical inactivity; Smoking; Low social contact
Risk factors that are more common account for a higher percentage of population risk. For instance, the authors estimate that eight percent (8%) of all dementia cases could be associated with poor early school education; and five percent (5%) could be associated with smoking. While the mechanism linking education, hypertension, diabetes and smoking to dementia is relatively well understood, the recognition of hearing loss as a potential risk factor is still new, and the research is at an earlier stage.

The Commission's report delivered recommendations for targeted public health strategies that the researchers expect will significantly lower the global burden of Alzheimer's and other dementias. For example:

The authors strongly recommend vigorously treating hypertension in middle aged and older people without dementia to reduce dementia incidence.
Other recommended interventions include more childhood education, getting regular exercise, maintaining social engagement, stopping smoking, and management of hearing loss, depression, diabetes, and obesity.
The authors stated that, due to lack of data, the study did not include dietary factors, alcohol use, visual impairment, air pollution and sleep.

"While public health interventions will not prevent, or cure all potentially modifiable dementia, intervention for cardiovascular risk factors, mental health, and hearing may push back the onset of many people for years," said Professor Gill Livingston, MD, from University College London and lead author of The Lancet Commission. "Even if some of this promise is realized, it could make a huge difference and we have already seen in some populations that dementia is being delayed for years. Dementia prevalence could be halved if its onset were delayed by five years."

According to the Commission's report, worldwide dementia prevalence could be reduced by more than 1 million cases with a 10 percent reduction in the prevalence of seven principal health and lifestyle factors. An intervention that delayed dementia by a year might decrease the number of people living with dementia globally by 9 million in 2050.

"Overall, there is good potential for prevention and, once someone develops dementia, for care to be high-quality, accessible, and give value to an underserved, growing population. Effective dementia prevention and care could transform the future for society and vastly improve living and dying for individuals with dementia and their families. Acting now on what we already know can make this difference happen," said Lon Schneider, MD, from the University of Southern California and co-author of the Commission.

Advancing health disparities research in Alzheimer's - National Institute on Aging inaugural grants
According to the Alzheimer's Association 2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, African-Americans are about twice as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites, and Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer's or other dementias as older whites. Yet, these populations are underrepresented in Alzheimer's and dementia research.

The NIA has identified a clear need to diversify research cohorts and improve methods and tools for conducting health disparities research related to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Two funding opportunities were created to encourage research that examines disparities in Alzheimer's disease using diverse cohorts of subjects. At AAIC 2017, NIA will announce the inaugural grant recipients and their projects, and highlight the new information expected to be generated because of these awards.

"Aging research using a framework that incorporate factors at multiple levels needs to be conducted with study populations that have robust demographic diversity," said Carl V. Hill, PhD, MPH, Director of the NIA Office of Special Populations. "When cohorts are diverse, new pathways that link environmental, sociocultural, behavioral and biological factors can be identified. This is our hope for these research awards."

According to the funding opportunity announcements, health disparities populations include: Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Populations, and Rural Populations. Additional populations may include: Disability Populations, and Sex and Gender Minorities.

About Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC)
The Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world's largest gathering of researchers from around the world focused on Alzheimer's and other dementias. As a part of the Alzheimer's Association's research program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community.
AAIC 2017 home page: www.alz.org/aaic/
AAIC 2017 newsroom: www.alz.org/aaic/pressroom.asp

About the Alzheimer's Association
The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's. Visit alz.org or call +1 800.272.3900.

Gill Livingston, MBChB, PhD; Lon S. Schneider, MD, MS. The Lancet International Commission on Dementia Prevention and Care. (Funder(s): University College London, Alzheimer's Society UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Alzheimer's Research UK)
Carl V. Hill, PhD, MPH and Rachel Whitmer, PhD, chairs. Advancing Health Disparities Research with the National Institute on Aging (NIA). (Funder: U.S. National Institute on Aging)


Cancer as a Chronic Disease: The Past, the Present and the Future of Cancer Research​

 There are over 20 million cancer survivors alive in the world today. Most of these people have been treated for earlier stage cancers with various combinations of therapies, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, and most of them will never experience a recurrence of their disease.
A growing number of cancer survivors are living with advanced or metastatic cancers. These patients are unlikely, or unable by current therapies, to be cured of their disease. Yet, like diabetes or chronic renal disease, they increasingly have a chronic condition that can be well managed for prolonged periods of time.

Dr. Schwartzberg will touch on three fundamental points in the treatment and research of cancer as a chronic disease:

The traditional models of care and research
Clinical research of cancer as a chronic disease
Oncology research in emerging markets

By focussing on emerging markets, Dr. Schwartzberg will draw on his research experience in the USA and compare it to the research opportunities he's identified in the Asia-Pacific region. In this emerging market, cancer rates are increasing, largely as a result of the growing middle class, the control of other causes of early mortality such as infection, and adoption of a western lifestyle.

Dr. Schwartzberg will highlight how currently, Australia, for example, has a very high rate/population of cancer incidence when compared to Western Europe and North America. China and Southeast Asia have moderate incidences, roughly half of that of Australia, but in light of the large population, the absolute number of cancer patients is tremendous at approximately three million cases and 2.2 million deaths per year. India has one million cases and 700,000 deaths per year.
With cancer research drawing greater value from their treatment of cancer as a chronic disease and increasing instances of cancer in emerging markets such as the Asia-Pacific, this webinar is not to be missed and would be informative for sponsors interested in discovering the latest advances in cancer research in both traditional and emerging markets.

Dr. Schwartzberg will discuss:

The emergence of cancer as a chronic disease

How cancer as a chronic disease impacts the future of oncology trials

Cancer in emerging markets

The role of scientific leadership in cancer trials

Join the live broadcast on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 1pm EDT. To learn more or register visit: Cancer as a Chronic Disease:
The Past, the Present and the Future of Cancer Research
Xtalks, powered by Honeycomb Worldwide Inc., is a leading provider of educational webinars to the global Life Sciences community. Every year thousands of industry practitioners (from pharmaceutical & biotech companies, private & academic research institutions, healthcare centers, etc.) turn to Xtalks for access to quality content. Xtalks helps Life Science professionals stay current with industry developments, trends and regulations. Xtalks webinars also provide perspectives on key issues from top industry thought leaders and service providers.

To learn more about Xtalks visit http://xtalks.com
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What happens when people with autism go to emergency

A study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) of 284 teens and adults with autism has found that almost one in four (22.2 per cent) had been to an emergency department at least once in the past year.

"Practically every week I hear about someone on the spectrum who is in crisis and gets involved with emergency services," says lead author Dr. Yona Lunsky, Clinician-Scientist in Adult Neurodevelopment Services and Director of the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities (H-CARDD) Program at CAMH.

The study authors suggest that the rate of emergency department visits could be brought down if there were better supports for people with autism in the at-risk groups and better training of emergency department staff to deal with the complex challenges people with autism present.

"Because the strongest predictor of future emergency visits is previous use, that first visit is an opportunity to put a plan into place," says Dr. Lunsky. "How can families be more prepared before they go to the hospital and how can hospitals be more equipped to support them when they come?"

The study, just published in BMJOpen, found three main predictors of future emergency department visits:

Having had an emergency visit in the year prior to the study period

Elevated family distress at the start of the study period

Two or more negative life events just before the start of the study period
Other variables like age, gender and autism severity did not predict future emergency visits, highlighting the need to consider how to support all teens and adults with autism, and not just certain subgroups.

"If we ask them, we can identify which families are most distressed. If they aren't already visiting their local emergency department, this study tells us that it is likely they may do so soon," says Dr. Lunsky. "So what can we do now to address their distress and prevent an emergency from occurring?"

The study looked at both medical and psychiatric emergencies and found that different issues predicted each type of emergency. According to the authors there can sometimes be overlap between the two.

"It may seem like a psychiatric emergency where the patient is getting very angry and acting out, but there could be an underlying medical condition that is not being treated," says Dr. Lunsky. "Or it could start out as a medical emergency, but the hospital process is so stressful it becomes a psychiatric emergency. Sometimes it's not entirely clear whether it's one or the other."

Some practical steps for patients and their families recommended by Dr. Lunsky include bringing a health information passport detailing the person with autism's medical history and triggers, and having emergency department clinicians conduct an "exit interview" prior to discharge and connecting to community supports for ongoing care.

There are also many resources that have been developed for emergency departments to help them improve the care of their patients with autism and other developmental disabilities.


Feinstein Institute Identifies Potential Cause for Lupus​

 Leading rheumatologist and Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Betty Diamond, MD, may have identified a protein as a cause for the adverse reaction of the immune system in patients suffering from lupus. A better understanding of how the immune system becomes overactive will help lead to more effective treatments for lupus and potentially other autoimmune diseases. These findings were published in Nature Immunology.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to lose the ability to differentiate between foreign agents and healthy tissue. It becomes hyperactive and attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation and damage to joints, skin, and internal organs. Previous studies have shown that a polymorphism or variation in the gene PRDM1 is a risk factor for lupus. PRDM1 enacts the production of a protein called Blimp-1. In this study, Dr. Diamond and her team were looking to examine how Blimp-1 regulates the immune system.

"A healthy immune system is able to identify organisms that are not normally in the body and activate cells like T-Cells to attack them," said Dr. Diamond. "In the case of patients with an autoimmune disease like lupus, the immune system has started to identify healthy cells as something to target. Our study found that a low level of or no Blimp-1 protein in a particular cell type led to an increase in the protein CTSS which caused the immune system to identify healthy cells as something to attack – particularly in females."

In an animal model, Dr. Diamond's team was able to show that females with reduced production of Blimp-1 caused an increase in CTSS, a protein that helps the immune system see microbes, or a microorganisms that causes disease. This resulted in an immune system which attacked healthy cells. Male animals with the reduced production of Blimp-1 showed no change in their immune system. Though more study is required to confirm that the risk gene PRDM1 could lead to a hyperactive immune system in human females, this is a significant discovery to better understanding the causes and potential treatments for lupus.


Nutrition International and UNFPA partner to improve women and adolescent girls' health​​

 Nutrition International and UNFPA, the United Nations Populations Fund, announced today at the Family Planning Summit 2020 in London, a partnership to provide services integrating family planning and nutrition to improve women and adolescent girls' health.

As part of its Nutrition Leverage and Influence for Transformation (N-LIFT) initiative, funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, Nutrition International will invest up to $2 million (CAD) to incorporate nutrition components into existing UNFPA sexual and reproductive health services.

The partnership hopes to increase the benefits to women and girls reached by UNFPA family planning services by offering a range of nutrition interventions.

"Access to essential family planning and nutrition increases the potential of adolescent girls to grow, learn, earn and lead," said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's Minister for International Development and La Francophonie. "Finding innovative ways to better reach them with essential services is key to ending intergenerational cycles of poor health, malnutrition and poverty."

"Integrating nutrition into family planning programming makes sense, because they mutually reinforce each other," says Luz Maria De-Regil, Director of Global Technical Services and Chief Technical Advisor, Nutrition International. "We are excited about this new partnership with UNFPA because integrating those two components will be truly game changing for hundreds of thousands of women and girls, and potentially millions more."

This investment will initially focus on integrating nutrition and family planning in Nigeria and Senegal. Leveraging UNFPA family planning and maternal health services, the partnership has the potential to scale up to reach 15 million women and girls annually.

Through this partnership, Nutrition International and UNFPA will:

Reach women and girls in Nigeria and Senegal with the integration of iron and folic acid, nutrition education and counselling services into existing UNFPA family planning platforms;

Leverage UNFPA family planning and maternal health services delivered through government-run clinics and civil society organizations;

Generate evidence for future scale up through UNFPA programmes; and

Support global efforts to reduce iron deficiency anemia, low birth weight, and neural tube defects, and increase access to reproductive health services.

"We are pleased to collaborate with Nutrition International to leverage our global thought leadership and programming to increase our impact on the health of women and adolescent girls, who are among the world's most underserved populations," said Gifty Addico, who heads the UNFPA Supplies Programme. "By working together to use existing platforms to reach these vulnerable groups in new ways, we will save even more lives and help achieve FP2020 and the world's Sustainable Development Goals."

With an anchor investment provided by the Government of Canada, N-LIFT is a business model created by Nutrition International to help build innovative partnerships and promote co-investments to scale up nutrition reach and resources so that more women, girls, and young children have access to proven nutrition solutions.

About Nutrition International

Founded in 1992, Nutrition International is a global organization dedicated to delivering proven nutrition interventions to those who need them most. Working in partnership with countries, donors and implementers, our experts conduct cutting-edge nutrition research, support critical policy formulation, and integrate nutrition into broader development programs. In more than 60 countries, primarily in Asia and Africa, Nutrition International nourishes people to nourish life. www.NutritionIntl.org

About the United Nations Populations Fund

UNFPA delivers a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled. www.unfpa.org


FACIT supports cancer research translation and invests in three talented Ontario start-ups​

 A program p a very serious concern," says Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of HeFACIT has announced the first three investments under its new Prospects Oncology Fund for proof-of-concept development of breakthrough cancer technologies. Ontario start-ups Radialis Medical of Thunder Bay, KA Imaging of Kitchener, and DNAstack of Toronto are the first to receive capital from this new fund, illustrating the strength and breadth of the cancer research network in the province. FACIT's strategy is to bridge the gap in capital and expertise often experienced by early stage companies, and better position innovations to reach patients.

Radialis Medical, a spin-off from Lakehead University, is building a Positron Emission Mammography system that is faster, more sensitive and more comfortable than systems currently in the clinic. KA Imaging, from the University of Waterloo, is developing a multi-spectral digital X-ray panel that can be retrofit to existing machines. The new panel promises a lower-cost and lower-radiation alternative to CT scans for lung cancer screening. DNAstack is a start-up integral to the Beacon and Matchmaker Exchange Projects of the Global Alliance for Genomics & Health, an international coalition dedicated to sharing genomic and clinical data to advance human health. DNAstack's proprietary software allows researchers to securely locate, analyze and share genomic data from fragmented and siloed sources found worldwide. Together these technologies are representative of the next wave of innovation in cancer care.

The non-dilutive funding provided by FACIT to these companies will help to develop their nascent technologies in Ontario. Support of these start-ups also aligns with FACIT's Prospects Fund as a key gateway to oncology innovation opportunities in the province. The Fund plays a critical role in helping to de-risk early stage innovations and increase favourable exposure to FACIT's larger network of commercial partners and investors. "We're thrilled to partner with these Ontario entrepreneurs and their oncology medical innovations through the Prospects Oncology Fund," said David O'Neill, Vice-President Business Development of FACIT. "Through access to risk capital, these exciting technologies can now accelerate their path toward commercial validation. Congratulations to all the strong applicants and in particular these awardees in their fight against cancer."

About the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT)
Established by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) as a strategic partner to accelerate commercialization of oncology innovations, the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT) leads these innovations from the lab to the marketplace to benefit patients, researchers, investors and the Ontario economy. For more information, please visit the website at facit.ca or email [email protected]

About Radialis Medical
Radialis Medical of Thunder Bay, Ontario is developing a next-generation, low-dose Positron Emission Mammography (PEM) imaging system to enhance physicians' ability to detect and treat pre-invasive breast cancer. Unlike earlier systems, Radialis' PEM technology features solid-state detectors arranged in a large 2-D array that covers the entire breast surface. This enables faster, more sensitive and higher resolution imaging than earlier systems. It is also more comfortable for patients since the breast is immobilized rather than compressed. Prospects funding from FACIT will support the design and assembly of Radialis' first clinical imaging system, which will be used for data collection to submit to regulatory agencies prior to marketing approval. More information can be found at http://rezniklab.lakeheadu.ca/tag/radialis-medical/.

About KA Imaging
KA Imaging of Kitchener, Ontario is developing a digital panel that improves the quality and accuracy of chest X-rays by creating multi-spectral (sometimes called dual-energy) X-ray images. KA Imaging's dual-energy chest X-ray panel will use different X-ray energies to highlight different structures, such as bone versus soft tissue, without motion artifacts. This promises better detection and visualization of lung tumours than conventional X-ray imaging, and at much lower radiation doses than CT scans which are known to increase cancer risk. KA Imaging's chest X-ray panel is designed to retrofit into existing systems, thereby reducing cost and expanding the availability of dual-energy imaging for lung cancer screening. Prospects funding from FACIT will support the building of a large size prototype and testing on lung models. More information can be found at http://www.kaimaging.com/.

About DNAstack
DNAstack of Toronto, Ontario is a bioinformatics company developing software to enable researchers, clinical labs and pharmaceutical companies to easily self-administrate public and private data sharing networks. This is of particular relevance to the rapidly growing field of genomics as applied to human health research and healthcare. Using current systems, it is extremely difficult to identify and share information with other organizations having relevant patient data. DNAstack's unique and proprietary software combines federated data discovery with automatable algorithms that operate on data networks while preserving patient privacy. Prospects funding from FACIT will support commercial development of the software and piloting the system with select customers in the public and private sectors. More information can be found at https://www.dnastack.com.

Announcing Free Cannabis Wellness Tracker Smartphone App

Canada House Wellness Group Inc. "Canada House", together with its three operating divisions, Marijuana For Trauma "MFT", Knalysis Technologies "Knalysis" and Abba Medix "Abba" is very pleased to announce that its Knalysis Technologies Division has just released their FREE Knalysis Wellness Tracker Application which helps patients monitor how well their cannabis treatments are working to relieve their symptoms. It can be downloaded from the Apple store for iPhones and iPads or from Google Play for Android phones and tablets. Just search for "Knalysis Wellness Tracker".

This great technology goes way beyond the anecdotal. It actually quantifies how effective cannabis products are for each individual at treating their specific symptoms! For the first time, the great tools we use in our own clinics are now available to everyone in the industry.

Keeping track of one's treatments, moods and general physical condition throughout the day, allows the trained professionals at our Marijuana For Trauma clinics to identify the cannabis prescription tweaks needed to find each client's "sweet spot". This sweet spot is where a client regains his or her physical, mental and emotional balance earlier lost by trauma and harmful "pharmaceutical cocktails".

Tracking and reporting on what products and strains are relieving the specific symptoms from which patients are suffering is essential to our objective of helping each of our 10,000 clients to optimal mental and physical health.
This Wellness Tracker Application rounds out Knalysis' fully customizable, cloud-based, suite of technology which already includes its Data Analytics Web Portal and its Cannabis Patient Management software, which can be seen at www.knalysis.com.

The data from the app is integrated with the Analytics Web Portal, allowing growers, clinics, clinical trials, and dispensaries access to product-efficacy data in their own branded version of the Portal. Patient information can also be passed into the Cannabis Patient Manager to allow cannabis coaches and practitioners to optimize treatment plans with their patients. Learn more about our eco-system of solutions at www.knalysis.com.

Available in the App Store and Google Play, search by "Knalysis", download the Knalysis Wellness Tracker app, and start tracking your treatments today!


CAMH Achieves Highest Standing for its Electronic Medical Record - HIMSS Stage 7​

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has become the first Academic Health Science Centre and second hospital ever in Canada to be awarded the highest international rating for its electronic medical record.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a non-profit organization that assesses the effectiveness of hospital Information Technology systems around the world, has given CAMH a Stage 7 designation - the highest possible rating. Stage 7 represents a near paperless clinical environment with technology that supports optimized patient care.

Until today there were only approximately 300 hospitals with the Stage 7 designation, representing less than 5% of hospitals world-wide.

"We take great pride in being a global leader in healthcare information technology," said CAMH President and CEO Catherine Zahn. "As a hospital that delivers care to patients with highly acute and complex conditions, it is vitally important that all our clinical staff have medical records at their disposal at all times. Better, faster and easier access to information means better patient care."

CAMH has transformed its clinical practice through the use of technology by launching a new electronic medical record called I-CARE, implementing protocols for computer-assisted medication administration and introducing electronic whiteboards to provide timely and most relevant information for patient care.

"Achieving Stage 7 marks our commitment to leveraging technology and data to achieve the highest quality and safest care for our patients," says Damian Jankowicz, VP, Information Management at CAMH.

As part of the Stage 7 validation, the HIMSS team visited a number of inpatient units and departments to view firsthand how CAMH clinicians use the electronic medical record to support patient care. "The key question posed by HIMSS was about the impact our IT transformation had on client care," says Senior Portfolio Manager Heather Sulkers. "We were not only able to demonstrate tremendous reduction in potential medication errors but also many other ways our enhancements to electronic medical record keeping are helping produce better outcomes for the wide variety of illnesses we treat at CAMH."

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please follow @CAMHnews on Twitter


Addictions program that reduces emergency room visits for opioid overdose and improves patient experience is spreading across Ontario​

 A program providing better and faster care to people living with opioid and alcohol addictions has spread to seven communities across Ontario. Early results show that hospitals in these communities are seeing fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and patients are having significantly improved experiences because of new follow-up treatment programs and expanded community supports.

There were 3,200 opioid-related emergency department visits in Ontario in 2014 alone, according to The Ontario Drug Policy Research Network, with about half of those patients being admitted into hospital. Also, according to a recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Ontario had over 24,200 alcohol-related hospitalizations in 2015-2016.

A first-of-its-kind project, Mentoring, Education, and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care-Hospital Integration (META:PHI) is addressing these issues by developing rapid-access addiction medicine clinics that integrate care received in emergency departments and hospitals, primary care, and front-line community services such as withdrawal management centres and shelters. Patients can now seamlessly transition from emergency departments to a rapid-access clinic and then, once stable, to a primary care provider.

Patients reported an improved experience in their care, that their addiction was addressed, and that they felt less stigma when receiving care – something patients living with addiction report often feeling.

"Rapid-access addiction medicine clinics that open as part of the META:PHI project provide immediate access to lifesaving treatment," says Dr. Meldon Kahan, META:PHI Project Lead and Medical Director of Substance Use Service, Women's College Hospital. "We are now in the midst of an opiate crisis across the country, and this treatment model offers us a realistic and effective response to this crisis."

Developed by Dr. Kahan, along with his team and the leadership at Women's College Hospital, META:PHI was born out of the necessity for more accessible, evidence-based addiction care. With support from Adopting Research to Improve Care (ARTIC), META:PHI has extended its reach to 861 patients, who have received treatment in rapid-access clinics and benefited from improved care in hospitals and primary care clinics in Ottawa, Sudbury, London, Owen Sound, Sarnia, St. Catharines and Newmarket.

ARTIC is a joint program of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) and Health Quality Ontario. Its mandate is to accelerate the spread of proven care.

"META:PHI is having a real impact on the lives of patients and their families," says Karen Michell, Executive Director of CAHO. "An integrated, more supportive approach is helping to change the way Ontario's health system treats people living with addictions and ARTIC has played a key role in spreading the program's success across the province."

Reducing emergency department visits

People struggling with opioid or alcohol addiction often don't have a coordinated plan for recovery. Their fragmented care finds many in and out of treatment centres or in an emergency department following an overdose. Once discharged, people are not always referred to ongoing treatment, or may wait months to begin a program.

Results from META:PHI show that by providing patients with faster access to more supportive treatment, delivered in a more integrated way, hospital emergency visits related to opioid or alcohol addictions decrease.

At Health Sciences North in Sudbury, for example, clinicians measured the number of times patients supported through META:PHI visited the emergency department 90 days before and after their first rapid-access clinic appointment and found a 63 per cent reduction in emergency department visits. Measuring the same way, Sarnia's rapid-access clinic saw a 45 per cent reduction in emergency department visits.

According to 9 Million Opioid Prescriptions, a report by Health Quality Ontario, nearly two million people in Ontario fill prescriptions for opioids every year — translating into one in every seven Ontarians, or 14 per cent of the province's population.

"Opioid use is on the rise in Ontario and addiction is a very serious concern," says Dr. Joshua Tepper, President and CEO of Health Quality Ontario. "META:PHI aims to provide access to quality care while reducing the pressure on hospital emergency departments that are seeing more opioid-related overdoses."

By early 2018, the ARTIC-supported META:PHI clinics estimate that they will have treated more than 2,000 patients. Each year, that number should continue to grow as the clinics build capacity and continue to spread. With funding from the Toronto Central LHIN, META:PHI will expand two existing rapid access clinics and open five new ones in the Toronto area in the next 18 months.

ARTIC's proven model brings evidence-based care faster and more consistently to more people in Ontario. Supported by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, ARTIC provides project teams with funding and active support over approximately two years to ensure successful implementation and sustainability of health care interventions across more Ontario health care providers.

Another example of an ARTIC spread project is Depression and Alcoholism – Validation of an Integrated Care Initiative (DA VINCI). While depression and alcohol use often go hand in hand, they are traditionally screened and treated separately. DA VINCI, originally established at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is the first program in Canada to implement a way to systematically screen and treat both together. Successfully implemented across eight additional health care organizations, the program saw reductions in depression and drinking in those who completed the program.

To learn more about ARTIC and its programs and how it's improving quality of care across Ontario, please visit the websites of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario or Health Quality Ontario.

About CAHO
The Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario represents Ontario's 23 research hospitals that play a unique and vital role in the province's health care system. Collectively, we provide advanced patient care services, train the next generation of health care professionals, and conduct leading-edge research to discover tomorrow's care today. On the foundation of this work, we generate the expertise and evidence to drive change as system leaders, building a healthier, wealthier, smarter Ontario. For more information, visit www.caho-hospitals.com.

About Health Quality Ontario
Health Quality Ontario is the provincial advisor on the quality of health care. With the goal of excellent care for all Ontarians, Health Quality Ontario reports to the public on how the system is performing, develops standards for what quality care looks like, evaluates the effectiveness of new health care technologies and services, and promotes quality improvement aimed at substantial and sustainable positive change. Visit www.hqontario.ca for more information.

INSTI HIV Self Test Receives Global Fund Classification for Procurement

 bioLytical Laboratories, a world leader in rapid infectious disease tests, is pleased to announce that its INSTI HIV Self Test has been designated by the Global Fund as eligible for procurement by purchasing entities entitled to access Global Fund and UNITAID resources.

The INSTI HIV Self Test is now eligible for procurement by organizations accessing Global Fund and/or UNITAID funding for their HIV self-test pilot programs that empower individuals to take control of their own health.

"We are very pleased to be awarded this designation by the Global Fund's Expert Review Panel" said Livleen Veslemes, Chief Operating Officer of bioLytical Laboratories. "In anticipation of significant global demand for a blood-based self-test, we placed a second automated bottling line into service earlier this year to augment the test device production equipment which is designed to produce 1 test per second. We are also investing further into process scale-up, facility optimization, warehouse expansion and evaluating automation of packaging to meet projections from international markets while maintaining the highest product quality standards."

The Global Fund's Expert Review Panel for Diagnostics is a mechanism to expedite access to innovative diagnostic products for one year. During this period, bioLytical will pursue World Health Organization prequalification along with approval from another stringent regulatory agency, such as CE marking, of its self-test version for low and middle income countries (LMICs).

Being a market leader in point-of-care HIV tests in major markets across Europe and North America, healthcare providers trust the INSTI brand because it delivers the accurate information and provides instant results for their patients. The INSTI product range is built on a strong foundation of peer-reviewed science and regulatory approvals and supported by over 14 years of expertise, quality, and innovation in medical diagnostics.


Opioid Overdose Antidote NARCAN™ Nasal Spray Now Carried by Nearly 400 Organizations across Canada​

One year after its introduction in Canada to help combat the opioid crisis, tens of thousands of first responders and hundreds of government agencies and community organizations have come to rely on NARCAN™ naloxone Nasal Spray to treat overdose victims in emergency situations.

NARCAN™ Nasal Spray has been shipped to every province and territory, including:

All front-line RCMP officers across Canada
More than 75 regional or municipal police services, including all 11 municipal police services in British Columbia and more than half of all forces in Ontario
More than 50 Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) locations
Police and fire services throughout Atlantic Canada
Municipal governments, hospitals, schools and recovery treatment centres nationwide
Tomorrow, Adapt Pharma Canada, makers of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray, marks the one-year anniversary of the introduction of NARCAN™ (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray 4 mg under a special federal Interim Order.1

"As one of the largest homeless support organizations in Canada, we've seen the heartbreaking impact of opioid addiction and overdoses," said Shayne Williams, Executive Director of the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which provides housing and support to eleven communities in the B.C. Lower Mainland. "NARCAN™ Nasal Spray has been an important addition this year to the emergency tools available to our staff, who find themselves regularly rescuing vulnerable people."

NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is a ready-to-use, needle-free device that requires no assembly and no medical training and is available without a prescription.2 While not a substitute for appropriate medical care, NARCAN™ Nasal Spray delivers a dose of 4mg of naloxone in a concentrated 0.1 ml spray to temporarily reverse an overdose in emergency situations.2

"The opioid epidemic and the human toll it is taking on communities and families is tragic," said David Renwick, General Manager of Adapt Pharma Canada. "Naloxone in the right hands at the right time can help treat overdose victims in emergency situations. We remain committed to supporting those on the frontline of this crisis and the incredible work they are doing for their communities."


No Butts About It. We Are Stronger Together - Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and Colon Cancer Canada joining forces to put patients first​

The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and Colon Cancer Canada are pleased to announce that effective June 30, 2017 they have amalgamated and will now be known as Colorectal Cancer Canada. The amalgamation was highly anticipated by the colorectal cancer community and together they will continue to ensure that colorectal cancer awareness and education, support for patients, and advocacy on their behalf will be a top priority in cancer care across the country. Colorectal cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Canada for men and women combined.

"By joining forces, we will advance cancer care for patients with stronger educational programs and better patient support. We will continue to increase our efforts for equal and timely access to effective treatments to improve patient outcomes," says Barry D. Stein, President and CEO of the newly amalgamated organization. "The traditions and quality work that have been the hallmark of our two organizations will positively impact the colorectal cancer community to the benefit of patients across the country."

"We are thrilled to take this important step forward. Together, we will be better able to support patients, families and their caregivers and we will continue to assist patients and empower them to advocate for themselves. Patients and their families are faced with many issues when diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer and our combined programs will ensure that we can better address their needs," says Co-Founder Bunnie Schwartz of Colon Cancer Canada.

Colorectal Cancer Canada will continue to initiate innovative programs such as endangeredbutts.ca to highlight colorectal cancer awareness, promote prevention through provincial and territorial screening programs through creative means such as The Giant Colon Tour and their Foods That Fight Cancer program. They will continue to provide patient support though programs such as the Wendy Bear program and their educational Cancer Coaching programs. Colorectal Cancer Canada will continue to be in the forefront of the Canadian and Global patient community by dynamically representing the values of patients and their families on fundamental health and access issues as they evolve.

"Colorectal Cancer Canada is a patient organization, led by individuals who have either been touched directly or indirectly by colorectal cancer. Consequently, we have a vested interest in doing our best for cancer patients and to seek new opportunities to accomplish this goal," says Craig Langpap, Chairman of the Board of Directors. "This is great news for patients, donors, and all partners that support our work to prevent colorectal cancer and help all those touched by the disease. Furthermore, we will speak with one voice to advocate for new avenues of treatment and access to clinical trials in Canada."

"Awareness and understanding of this disease is an important factor enabling individuals to prevent and better cope with it," said Michael Kalmar, Director. "This opens a new chapter in our efforts to combat colorectal cancer and I am more optimistic than ever that we can help prevent it, cure more individuals through early diagnosis and help prolong the lives of those already affected by it."

Colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable, yet it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths overall for men and women in Canada. Though highly preventable and curable when detected early, an estimated 26,100 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016. One in 14 men and one in 16 women are expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. While it affects all individuals, young or old, male or female, the disease is commonly found in individuals 50 years and older. However, many young people are touched by early onset of the disease. Colorectal cancer has been rapidly increasing in patients under 50 and Colorectal Cancer Canada will address this special need through their Never Too Young program.

Colorectal Cancer Canada is the country's leading non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and educating Canadians about colorectal cancer, supporting patients and their families and advocating on their behalf. For up-to-date information on colorectal cancer call us toll-free 1.877.50.COLON (26566) to order free copies of helpful educational materials.

Canadians Living with Multiple Myeloma Need Access to Therapies Now

Multiple myeloma, commonly referred to as myeloma, is an incurable cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. Every day, seven Canadians are diagnosed with this increasingly prevalent but relatively unknown disease. Although there is no cure, myeloma is treatable and with a number of innovative therapies that have become available in recent years, patients are living longer and more productive lives. However, myeloma is characterized by cycles of disease control and relapse. In most cases, treatment will eventually lose its effect. Therefore, access to new treatments is vital for patients with limited options. Thousands of Canadians depend on it.

In 2016, Health Canada approved three new drugs for the treatment of myeloma: carfilzomib (Kyprolis®) on January 15th 2016; daratumumab (Darzalex®) on June 19th 2016 and ixazomib (NinlaroTM) on August 8th 2016. Although Health Canada approval is a necessary first step in accessing new treatment options, it is the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review (pCODR) that recommends whether a new drug should be funded by public drug plans. Alarmingly, none of these innovative Health Canada-approved treatments are being funded by any of the provincial public drug plans. In the last 12 months, pCODR has issued negative reimbursement (funding) for both daratumumab (Darzalex®) and ixazomib (Ninlaro®). Despite having received a positive pCODR recommendation on June 21st 2016, carfilzomib (Kyprolis) is still awaiting negotiation decisions with the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA), the body that negotiates drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies before they are funded by provincial drug plans.

"Medication approval does nothing for patients if they cannot access life-changing treatment," said Aldo Del Col, Co-Founder and Chairman, Myeloma Canada. "Canadians living with multiple myeloma deserve access to approved treatment options now. Patients can't wait. We will continue to advocate, engage, support research and raise our voices for Canadians living with multiple myeloma to ensure fair and enhanced access to approved treatments in our near-future."

In 2016, Myeloma Canada produced two patient submissions to pCODR for daratumumab, in combination with dexamethasone, and one for ixazomib plus lenalidomide (Revlimid®) and dexamethasone. Despite Priority Reviews from Health Canada, supportive clinical data and patient feedback from Myeloma Canada showing support and need for these approved therapies, pCODR has issued negative reviews for daratumumab and ixazomib, thereby severely limiting patient access.

Myeloma Canada's role is to ensure the patient voice is heard. To do so, Myeloma Canada conducts frequent surveys amongst patients and caregivers in Canada to evaluate disease impact on quality of life, patient needs, treatment expectations and impact of new therapies. Our patient and caregiver survey results were submitted to pCODR as a vital component to their review process to document and define the needs for patients. Myeloma Canada will continue dialogue with pCODR for medication access and will continue submitting feedback as part of their process.

If you are a patient or caregiver and wish to participate in Myeloma Canada surveys for the purpose of providing feedback to pCODR or taking action in our community, click here to join our mailing list.

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma, commonly referred to as myeloma, is a cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. A plasma cell is a type of immune cell that produces antibodies to fight infection. Its cause remains unknown. Every day, 7 Canadians are diagnosed with myeloma, with an average age of diagnosis in the mid-sixties. Despite a growing prevalence, it remains relatively unknown. With the aging population and new and better treatments, the number of patients living with the disease will continue to increase.

Although there is yet no cure, myeloma is treatable, with many patients going on to lead full lives for years after diagnosis. With increasing research and emerging treatments, the overall outlook for patients is improving steadily.

About Myeloma Canada
Myeloma Canada is a non-profit, charitable organization created by, and for people living with multiple myeloma, a relatively unknown cancer of the plasma cells. Exclusively devoted to the Canadian myeloma community, they have been making myeloma matter since 2005. As a patient-driven, patient-focused grassroots organization, Myeloma Canada is dedicated to accelerating access to game-changing therapies for Canadians living with myeloma. Myeloma Canada drives collaborative efforts to unify the voice of the community to effectively shape the Canadian treatment landscape by improving patient outcomes at an unprecedented pace. Empowerment of patients and caregivers through educational programs advances the understanding, treatment and management of the disease; moreover, early awareness programs promote timely diagnosis. The Myeloma Canada Research Network (MCRN) is the first and only platform that fuses national scientific research and advocacy. The MCRN develops and supports Canadian-designed clinical trials nationwide, and collects data for its innovative national database, a key stepping stone in our search for a cure. Myeloma Canada ensures the patient voice is heard by actively engaging the community to take action at all levels, from clinical trial design to patient care. For more information about how Myeloma Canada is putting myeloma on the map please visit www.myeloma.ca 

Canadian generosity in full display at Canadian Blood Services clinics

 Canadian Blood Services is extending thanks to Canadian residents for the tremendous response to its urgent call for 60,000 donors by July 1. However, the need for blood remains.

The national blood inventory is improving but every minute of every day, a patient in Canada needs blood. Donors are needed to continue to answer the call for blood every day throughout the summer.

"We are pleased by the strong support from donors during the month of June," says Mark Donnison, vice president, donor relations. "The outpouring of generosity across the country has, at times, led to longer lines in some clinics. We appreciate the patience of donors and trust they understand that together, we are giving life. Thanks to donors across Canada, the low blood inventory has been replenished but the need for blood remains. In fact, 155,000 donations are now required before Labour Day in September."

Given its short shelf life, the need for blood is constant. For example, cancer patients, accident victims, and people with blood disorders rely on blood transfusions every day.

In addition, summer is historically a challenging time of year for the blood system. Travel, holidays, family activities and changes in routines mean there tends to be fewer donations during the summer months.

"As we head into July and August all blood types are needed, but a particular need remains for O negative blood because it is the only type compatible with all other blood types," says Donnison. "While our supply of O negative blood has increased to a 3.9 day supply, we need to have between a five and eight day supply of blood and blood products to meet anticipated hospital demand."

Canadian Blood Services hopes existing donors will continue to give as much as they can, but new donors are critical to meeting Canada's future blood needs.

To book an appointment today, locate a clinic, check your eligibility and more download the GiveBlood app available on iOS or Android or visit blood.ca.

About Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services manages the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). We operate an integrated, pan-Canadian service delivery model that includes leading an interprovincial system for organ donation and transplantation. Our national scope, infrastructure and governance make us unique in the Canadian healthcare landscape. Canadian Blood Services is regulated as a biologics manufacturer by Health Canada and primarily funded by the provincial and territorial ministries of health. Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization.

YouTube: 18882DONATE


Public Health Notice - Outbreak of Cyclospora infections under investigation​

Why should you take note?

The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with provincial public health partners, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada to investigate locally acquired Cyclospora infections in two provinces. The source of the outbreak has not been identified. Previous outbreaks in Canada and the United States (US) have been linked to imported fresh produce. The investigation is ongoing.

The risk to Canadians is low. Cyclospora is not found in water or food grown in Canada. The parasite is most common in some tropical and subtropical regions such as the Caribbean, South and Central America, South and South East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In Canada, non-travel-related illnesses due to Cyclospora occur more frequently in the spring and summer months. Illnesses among travellers can happen at any time of year. Cyclospora infections can be prevented by ensuring you are consuming fresh produce grown in countries where the parasite is not common, such as Canada, the US and European countries.

What is Cyclospora?

Cyclospora is a microscopic single-celled parasite that is passed in people's feces. If it comes in contact with food or water, it can contaminate food and cause infection in the people who consume it. This causes an intestinal illness called cyclosporiasis. It is unlikely for Cyclospora to be passed from one person to another.

Investigation Summary

In Canada, a total of 20 cases have been reported in two provinces: British Columbia (5) and Ontario (15). Individuals became sick between May and early June of this year. The majority of cases (60%) are male, with an average age of 53 years. The investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing. To date, no multi-jurisdictional outbreaks of Cyclospora have been linked to produce grown in Canada.

The outbreak investigation is active and the public health notice will be updated on a regular basis as the investigation evolves.

Who is most at risk?

People living or travelling in tropical or subtropical regions of the world who eat fresh produce or drink untreated water may be at increased risk for infection because the parasite is found in some of these regions.

Most people recover fully; however, it may take several weeks before an ill person's intestinal problems completely disappear.

What should you do to protect your health?

It can be difficult to prevent cyclosporiasis. This is because washing produce does not always get rid of the Cyclospora parasite that causes the illness. You can reduce your risk by:

cooking produce imported from countries where Cyclospora is found; and
consuming fresh produce grown in countries where Cyclospora is not common, such as Canada, the United States and European countries.
When travelling to a region where Cyclospora is found, such as the Caribbean, South and Central America, South and South East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, you can reduce your risk by:

avoiding food that has been washed in local drinking water;
drinking water from a safe source; and
eating cooked food or fruit that you can peel yourself.
What are the symptoms?

People infected with Cyclospora can experience a wide range of symptoms. Some do not get sick at all, while others may experience more severe symptoms. Few people get seriously ill.

Most people develop the following symptoms within one week after being infected with Cyclospora:

watery diarrhea
abdominal bloating and gas
fatigue (tiredness)
stomach cramps
loss of appetite
weight loss
mild fever
When you eat or drink contaminated food or water, it may take 7 to 14 days for symptoms to appear. If left untreated, you may have the symptoms for a few days to a few months. Most people have symptoms for 6 to 7 weeks.
Symptoms may go away and then return.

If you become ill, drink plenty of water or fluids to prevent dehydration from diarrhea. If you have signs of illness and have reason to believe you have cyclosporiasis, contact your health care provider who may request a laboratory test to confirm the illness. Antibiotics may be given to treat the illness.

What the Government of Canada is doing?

The Government of Canada is committed to food safety. The Public Health Agency of Canada leads human health investigations of outbreaks and is in regular contact with its federal, provincial and territorial partners to monitor and take collaborative steps to address outbreaks.

Health Canada provides food-related health risk assessments to determine whether the presence of a certain substance or microorganism poses a health risk to consumers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducts food safety investigations into the possible food source of an outbreak.

The Government of Canada will continue to update Canadians if new information related to this investigation becomes available.


Fraser Institute News Release: More than 60,000 Canadians left the country for medical treatment in 2016​

An estimated 63,459 Canadians travelled abroad for medical care in 2016 -- up nearly 40 per cent over the previous year, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"More and more Canadians clearly feel they must leave the country to get the medical care they need," said Yanick Labrie, Fraser Institute senior fellow and co-author of Leaving Canada for Medical Care, 2017.

So why are Canadians leaving the country for treatment?

Reasons may include Canada's long wait times. In 2016, according to the Fraser Institute's annual measurement of health-care wait times, patients waited 10.6 weeks for medically necessary treatment after seeing a specialist -- almost four weeks longer than what physicians consider clinically "reasonable."

According to study estimates, more patients (9,454) travelled abroad for general surgeries than any other treatment.

High numbers of Canadians also left the country for urology treatment (6,426), internal medicine procedures such as colonoscopies, gastroscopies and angiographies (5,095) and ophthalmology treatment (3,990).

Among physicians in Canada, otolaryngologists (which include ear, nose and throat specialists) reported the highest proportion (2.1 per cent) of patients travelling abroad for treatment, followed by neurosurgeons (1.9 per cent).

Across Canada, physicians in British Columbia reported the highest proportion of patients (2.4 per cent) leaving, while Ontario saw the largest number of patients (26,513) who left the country for treatment.

In fact, seven of 10 provinces saw an increase in the number of patients leaving the country for treatment, with only Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and New Brunswick experiencing a decline.

"Considering Canada's long health-care wait times, which can result in increased suffering for patients and decreased quality of life, it's not surprising that so many Canadians are travelling abroad for medical treatment," Labrie said.  


Bay Street Unites with The Princess Margaret to Help Conquer Cancer​

When the ball drops on this year's road hockey tournament to raise funds for The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, the Bay Street crowd will be taking their game to the street on September 23.

Officially the world's largest road hockey fundraising event, the 7th annual Scotiabank Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer (RHCC) provides an opportunity for Bay Street rivals to rally around a common goal. In 2015, the event established two official Guinness World Records, and subsequently broke them in 2016, officially making it the largest road hockey fundraising event in the world.

This year, Sean St. John, Executive Vice-President & Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income, Debt and Equity Capital Markets, National Bank Financial and member of the RHCC Board of Governors, is raising the bar for Bay Street with a call to have eight teams participate in this event with a fundraising goal of $160,000.

"Scotiabank is proud to be back as title sponsor of this incredible event," says John Doig, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Scotiabank. "We are thrilled to join our colleague across the street, Sean St. John, and the rest of Bay Street, to help Princess Margaret Cancer Centre conquer cancer in our lifetime. Community hockey is an important part of who we are as Scotiabankers, and it is a privilege to contribute to this fight while playing the game we all love."

Scotiabank Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer is a one-day road hockey event in which teams play five games throughout the day. In addition to some old-fashioned road hockey fun, there will be live bands, a massive sponsor expo, onsite massage therapy and over 50 celebrities supporting the event.

Last year's Bay Street Challenge program included five teams from National Bank, BMO Capital Markets, CIBC Capital Markets, TD Securities and Scotia Capital. The group raised just under $93,000 and distinguished itself as industry leaders in the battle against this disease.

Since its launch in 2011, Scotiabank Road Hockey to Conquer Cancer has raised more than $16 million for research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.

"It's always fun, as an industry, to come together for a great cause" says Sean St. John, Executive Vice-President & Managing Director, Head of Fixed Income, Debt and Equity Capital Markets, National Bank Financial. "This event allows us to play a great team sport with our industry friends while raising funds for a world-class institution that's transforming cancer care for Canadians."

"Every year I'm inspired by the energy and commitment of our volunteers such as Sean St. John, his industry colleagues Brian Archdekin, BMO Capital Markets, and Andrew Fleming, CIBC World Markets, and of course, our many great supporters at Scotiabank. This is an industry committed to conquering cancer and we are eternally grateful," says Shawn Burt, Chief Hockey Officer, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

To get involved: http://www.teamuptoconquercancer.ca/

Dr. Spaner at Sunnybrook Research Institute receives prestigious UFCW Canada Award for Leukemia Research

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada together with its largest philanthropic partner, UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers Canada union), are proud to announce that Dr. David Spaner, MD, PhD, FRCP is the 2017 recipient of the UFCW Canada Award for Leukemia Research.

Dr. Spaner is a clinician-scientist at the Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Hospital and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. He is renowned for his work in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and the goal of his research laboratory is to understand the biology of this cancer and develop better treatments for it. The award, which is tied to a $ 200,000 research grant, celebrates progressive and groundbreaking research in the field of blood cancers.

CLL is the most common adult leukemia in Canada affecting approximately 9,000 people. Dr. Spaner's research project, which spans 2 years, aims to study the best way to block the effects of cytokines (proteins which keep the cancer cells alive) in CLL patients who are being treated with Ibrutinib.

"We are honoured to present this award to Dr. Spaner today at our national Leukemia Gala," says UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema. "UFCW Canada, and UFCW Canada Local Unions and members are passionate about leukemia research because we know these efforts have made such a difference in finding better therapies, and in raising public awareness that this is a battle that can be won – and is being won, thanks to people like Dr. Spaner."

Over the past three decades, the UFCW Canada family has raised over $36 million to support the
life-changing and life-saving efforts of the LLSC. Combining all efforts big and small across Canada, the UFCW Canada family continues to lead as the largest annual source of donations to the LLSC.

"We are delighted with the CLL research and clinical work that Dr. Spaner and Sunnybrook are undertaking to improve the quality of life for this largest group of blood cancer patients," says Shelagh Tippet-Fagyas, President of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. "The grant will support improving the efficacy of Ibrutinib as a treatment, and potentially other leukemia treatments."


Medical Aid in Dying: Two People go to Court to recover their Rights​

  Two Montrealers and their lawyer, Me Jean-Pierre Ménard, announced today the filing of an application for a declaratory judgment in order to declare sections 26 (3) of the Act respecting end-of-life care (hereafter "the Quebec law") and section 241.2 (2) (d) of the Criminal Code as amended by An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical aid in dying) (hereafter "the federal law") unconstitutional and inoperative.

For the plaintiffs, Jean Truchon and Nicole Gladu, this is the first step of a long legal journey through which they hope to recover the rights they lost following the adoption of the federal law and thus possibly receive medical aid in dying at the time they will choose. The plaintiffs both suffer from serious and irremediable health problems, causing persistent and intolerable suffering, and both clearly consent to end their lives. Their situation therefore meets the criteria developed by the Supreme Court of Canada in Carter in February 2015. However, the federal law passed by the Canadian government in response to the Carter decision revoked their right to receive medical aid in dying by adding a new criterion to those already developed by the Supreme Court, namely, the reasonable foreseeability of death. "The purpose of our legal proceedings is not to broaden the parameters of medical aid in dying, but simply to enforce the guidelines established in Carter. It is unfortunate that people with serious and incurable illnesses must go through the courts to enforce rights that were already recognized by the Supreme Court just two years ago," said Me Jean-Pierre Ménard.

The plaintiff Jean Truchon, 49 years old, has been suffering from cerebral palsy since he was born, but nevertheless lived an active and fulfilling life for 45 years. However, in 2012, he lost the use of his left arm, which was his only remaining functional limb. Since then, he is therefore entirely dependent on others for his daily needs and activities. This complete loss of autonomy led him to conclude that this life of dependence is not made for him. "Today I challenge the laws for medical aid in dying for me above all, and for all those who would, like me, desire to put an end to their lives and who are unfortunately caught in their bodies and are dependent on others for their whole life," said Mr. Truchon.

The plaintiff Nicole Gladu, 71 years old, survived an acute form of poliomyelitis during her childhood, which left her with severe weaknesses on the left side of her body, severe scoliosis, and a restricted lung capacity. In spite of everything, she led an accomplished life until she was 40, when she worked as a journalist, unionist, information officer, and director of communications in the private and public sectors in Montreal, Quebec City, and New York. In 1992, she was diagnosed with post-poliomyelitis syndrome and her condition deteriorated gradually. Since then, Ms. Gladu has had to learn to live with new and increasingly important physical limitations. "At 71 years old, I am more concerned about the quality of my life than its prolonging. What I am asking today is to show respect for all those who, like myself, have been faced with death for a long period of time, but not in the same spectacular way people think when they hear 'terminal phase,'" said Ms. Gladu.

In the Carter decision rendered in February 2015, the Supreme Court unanimously concluded that the complete prohibition of medical aid in dying violates the rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter in that it prevents people with serious and incurable illnesses, who experience constant physical or psychological suffering and who are not at the end of life to have access to medical aid in dying. The Court also found that the total prohibition was not justified within the meaning of section 1 of the Canadian Charter and therefore requested the Canadian legislature to provide the conditions set out in the judgment, namely that a capable adult is clearly consenting to end his or her life and is suffering from serious and irremediable health problems (including a condition, illness or disability) that causes him or her persistent suffering that is intolerable to him or her, to die. With respect to this judgment, the plaintiffs qualify for medical aid in dying.

These legal proceedings also apply to the Quebec law because it includes a "end of life" criterion. However, the Quebec law was passed seven months before the Supreme Court rendered its decision in the Carter case and was not subsequently amended.

A copy of the application is available on the Ménard, Martin avocats website at: http://www.menardmartinavocats.com

Ontario Shores Launches New Strategic Plan: We Will Be.

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) is pleased to unveil its next five-year Strategic Plan. Entitled 'We Will Be.', this new plan sets a clear roadmap forward with memorable directions and ambitious goals to advance the organization and the mental health care system.

"It is an exciting time in mental health with significant transformation underway and we have an opportunity to revolutionize the way in which care is delivered," says Barbara Cooney, Board Chair, Ontario Shores. "Our new Strategic Plan outlines our role as a partner, regional provider and innovator as we reach beyond the walls of our organization to improve the quality of patient care across the system."

The new Strategic Directions, Be Bold, Be Inspiring, Be Caring, and Be Extraordinary complement one another to collectively drive the organization forward over the next five years. These directions focus on developing a coordinated mental health and addictions system, creating a culture of innovation, advancing recovery-oriented care, enhancing the health, safety and wellness of its people and setting the highest standards for practice, quality and performance.

"Over the next five years, we will focus our attention, energy and resources towards achieving the strategic directions and goals articulated in our strategy, with the purpose of making a meaningful and lasting impact for our patients, communities, partners, physicians and staff," says Karim Mamdani, President and CEO.

With research and academics being fully integrated throughout the Strategic Plan, Ontario Shores will empower its researchers, clinicians, staff, students and patients along with academic and community partners to harness their collective power, challenge the status quo, impact system change and influence health system evolution and policy for mental health across all domains of the Strategic Plan.

Ontario Shores would like to thank the hundreds of staff, physicians, volunteers, patients, families and partners who provided input into the development of this plan.

The 2017-2022 Strategic Plan can be viewed at the link below:



COPD Patients Struggle with More than Breathing Difficulties​

  A new Health Union national survey, COPD In America 2017, of more than 2,000 individuals diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reveals that patients struggle with a range of issues that go beyond difficulties with breathing.

The survey was released through Health Union's online community, COPD.net, and finds patients struggle with the emotional impact of COPD and often find their healthcare providers are not very helpful in addressing these issues.

COPD is a group of lung conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, where changes in the airways block the normal flow of air in and out of the lungs. More than 65 million people around the world have moderate to severe COPD, including 15 million U.S. adults.

Shortness of breath is the most common symptom and the most difficult symptom to manage, as reported by 84 percent of respondents, yet they also cited many other difficulties and frustrations. Survey respondents report experiencing fatigue and tiring easily (81 percent); being tired or weak when exercising (66 percent); wheezing/noisy breathing (52 percent); and chest tightness, pain or pressure (52 percent).

While many people think COPD is just a lung disease, the diminished oxygen resulting from damage to the lungs can affect every part of the body, explained Leon Lebowitz, respiratory therapist and COPD.net contributor. Fatigue, for instance, is exacerbated by the lack of oxygen, making daily functioning more difficult.

"It is a difficult balancing act. Breathing is the primary issue -- it is what brings people to the Emergency Department," Lebowitz added. "People often come in and say 'if I can breathe, I can deal with everything else.' For a person to adjust, they have to learn to pace themselves. So if they have a bad day, they take it easy, and when it is a good day, they enjoy life."

Another frequently reported yet mysterious symptom is rib cramping.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents stated they experienced this symptom in the previous month. Forty-two percent reported they spoke to their doctor about it, but 69 percent of those said they walked away from the visit without a treatment or solution for the problem.

The survey reveals the emotional impact of COPD can often take a back seat to the physical challenges, but it is often more overwhelming than perceived. For example, 51 percent of respondents reported problems with anxiety or panic disorders, and only 40 percent indicated their doctor was effective in helping them manage it.

"Depression is a real symptom of COPD," said COPD.net patient contributor Michelle Vincent.
"Finding support groups was a huge boost. I like being able to talk to and get to know people who are going through the same things I am. It makes me feel like I'm not alone. I like being able to give back to the community too."

Most respondents said they did not feel confident they could keep the emotional distress caused by COPD from interfering with their lives. In spite of this challenge, only 19 percent say they are currently involved in a COPD support group.

"The results of this survey clearly illustrate why COPD.net has been so successful in providing support to people living with COPD," said Tim Armand, president and co-founder of Health Union. "The world of the COPD patient can seem a lonely, confusing, and isolating place, but here they can find a community that understands, is willing to listen, and provides information they can use in their daily lives."

A summary infographic of the survey results is also available.

The COPD In America 2017 survey was conducted online between February 28 and March 28, 2017. More details about the survey are available upon request.

New "medical cannabis 101" for healthcare professionals program released

 Today, Toronto-based mdBriefCase Group launched a unique online educational program, Medical Cannabis IQ: The Fundamentals, aimed at addressing the growing need for education among healthcare professionals around medical cannabis.

"Cannabis is a powerful tool in the integrative treatment of complex diseases," explained Dr. Caroline MacCallum, physician and topic expert on the program. Cannabis use has been associated with decreased use of other pain and mental health medications. "It can treat multiple medical conditions and symptom clusters concurrently. It thereby reduces polypharmacy, including opioids, and unwanted side effects."

"We cannot, as healthcare professionals, stick our collective heads in the sand when it comes to medical cannabis. With over 160,000 registered clients consuming the product, it's clearly a therapeutic option that a significant number of Canadians are pursuing and experiencing benefit." said Michael Boivin, Clinical Pharmacist. "We hope through this program that our colleagues in various healthcare professions can learn the fundamentals about medical cannabis, its potential role in managing patients, understand some of the popular misconceptions, and appreciate the regulatory framework that exists in Canada."

All Canadian physicians who do not have a restricted license, as well as nurse practitioners in some provinces, are currently eligible to prescribe medical cannabis. "Medical cannabis has huge potential due to the vast variety of medicinal compounds it produces," stated Dr. Chris Spooner, ND. "As a result, it is a complex medicine and health professionals can benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to take full advantage of its therapeutic potential."

The cross-professional nature of the planning committee resulted in the examination of a wide range of topics related to medical cannabis. "This program draws on the experience of an eclectic range of health professions to provide the fundamental knowledge required to accurately counsel patients," concluded Dr. Spooner.

Between October 1st and December 31st, 2016, there were 5,134kg of dried cannabis and 4,109kg of cannabis oil sold by licensed producers in Canada.

To learn more, visit: http://www.advancingpractice.com/p-98-medical-cannabis-iq-the-fundamentals.aspx  

My Midwife: New photo series shows mothers and midwives around the world in the hours after birth​

rom June 18 – 22, more than 4,000 midwives from around the world will gather in Toronto for the International Congress of Midwives. WaterAid will participate in the Congress, and is calling on midwives everywhere to join its Healthy Start campaign advocating for quality healthcare for all by 2030 by ensuring every healthcare facility in the world has clean water, good sanitation and good hygiene.

From providing emotional and medical support during labour, to teaching new parents how to care for their newborns, WaterAid's new photo series reveals how much midwives around the world have in common, no matter where they work. The charity photographed and interviewed new mothers and their midwives in the hours and days immediately after birth about their experiences – from the UK and Canada, to Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Bangladesh.

To view and download photos please click here.

While midwives in modern hospitals fill birthing pools without a thought and benefit from stringent hygiene protocols, those in many areas of the developing world may start their day with a struggle to find enough water to clean floors and bedlinens, wash their hands and offer labouring women a drink.

Yet, whether new mothers delivered in state-of-the-art hospitals or in healthcare centres without clean water, decent toilets and functioning hand basins, all shared the same joy in their new babies, and great appreciation for the midwives who helped bring those babies into the world.

In Canada, first-time mom Colleen, who gave birth to baby Soraia at home said:

"My midwife's medical background put me at ease. I was confident in her skills and her abilities. But also, her demeanour and the way she talks. She's so gentle with everybody. So compassionate. When it was crunch time, she wasn't soft then."

"I have thought about developing countries. It must be really hard, especially with sanitation. They have to carry clean water. They have to go find clean water. They have to boil the water."

In Malawi, first-time mother Ruth, 19, who gave birth to her baby son in the Ngokwe Health Centre in Machinga, said:

"When I was coming here, I brought with me three 'Chitenje' fabrics of which one is to used to cover the baby, and the other two used during and after giving birth, for cleaning myself. I also brought with me a plastic wrapper used during birth to hold the water and blood… This helps to keep the bed clean, as the ward has only two beds.

"Despite facing these challenges, I was happy to have received the best care from our nurse-midwife. She was very helpful all the time. She would come even to check my and my baby's pulse and temperature."

In 2015, 2,100 newborns died each day from sepsis, tetanus, pneumonia or diarrhoea – all infections strongly linked to unhygienic conditions. WaterAid wants to ensure healthcare facilities everywhere have access to clean water and have adequate toilets and are committed to good hygiene practice and promotion. Yet 38% of health care facilities in developing nations do not have a water supply, 19% do not provide adequate sanitation and 35% do not have soap and water to sustain good hygiene practices.

For more information about our participation at the Congress, please see www.wateraid.org/ICM2017.​



Timely Access to Orthopaedic Healthcare – a right for all Canadians​

–Our country’s beloved and beleaguered universal healthcare system was created over 50 years ago. At that time, only 10% of the population was 65 or older. By 2030, this age group will make up 25% of the population. This is also the group that requires the most orthopaedic care – to relieve pain and restore mobility impaired by degenerative conditions. Sadly, our healthcare system at the national, provincial and regional levels has not kept pace with the demand, and our patients do not have timely access to the care they need.

The BC Orthopaedic Association calls on our national and provincial governments – our partners in healthcare -- to help us provide immediate care for all urgent orthopaedic problems and appropriate care within 90 days for all other non-emergency orthopaedic problems.

In our province right now, many innovative approaches and new programs already underway offer solutions to the issues we face in providing the best and most timely care. We have gathered solid data that supports these new initiatives and are happy to share both the quantitative and qualitative research we have done to date.

Orthopaedic healthcare teams need the financial and management resources to deliver the best and most affordable care possible. Centralized, multi-disciplinary in-take clinics have been identified as one of the ways to streamline and speed up the assessment and treatment of orthopaedic issues for most patients. But these innovative models need sufficient hospital resources to make sure all orthopaedic patients can get timely surgical solutions when needed. There are also human resource issues we must all tackle to get the system working optimally.

BC orthopaedic surgeons have created a library of videos detailing their experiences with our healthcare system and what excessive wait times for consultations and surgeries have meant to the well-being of their patients. Click here for the videos.

Call to Action:

To add your voice to the conversation about timely access to care, email the BC Minister of Health at [email protected] or the Federal Minister of Health at [email protected]

For more about timely access to healthcare, see www.bcoa.ca


 Critical need for blood donations in June​​

One-in-two Canadians will need blood at some point in their life; people like Michael Leyva from Kitchener, Ontario who is alive and healthy thanks to the generosity of blood donors.
​National Blood Donor Week is typically a time to celebrate donors across the country. This year, however, Canadian Blood Services is focused on a critical need for blood donations and is urging Canadians to make an appointment right away to donate before July 1.

"Patients across the country need more donors to step forward for life-giving blood donations," says Mark Donnison, vice president, donor relations. "We recently called on Canadians to fill more than 150,000 donation appointments by Canada's 150th birthday to ensure that there is enough blood to meet patient needs throughout the summer. As of today, we're not on track to meet that target, so we are pleading with Canadians to book an appointment to donate and replenish supplies before July 1."

Donors are very busy and have lots of demands on their time. They are oftentimes already active in their communities, managing work, families, friends and many other activities. This sometimes leads to blood donation dropping down the list of priorities. With the launch of National Blood Donor Week, Canadian Blood Services is urging Canadians to put blood donation at the top of their list of things to do.

One-in-two Canadians will need blood at some point in their life; people like Michael Leyva, who was born premature and needed three blood transfusions at two weeks of age to fight a life-threatening infection. Michael celebrated his fourth birthday on Jan. 1, 2017, and is alive and healthy thanks to the generosity of blood donors. Since receiving blood was a priority for Michael, Mark Donnison adds that Canadians can make giving blood a priority for them.

During National Blood Donor Week, and over the summer long weekends, Canadian Blood Services is also offering a limited-edition Canada 150 collector pin to everyone who visits one of its clinics. A digital version of the pin is also available.

How to take part in National Blood Donor Week, June 11 to 17
Legislated by the Government of Canada in 2008, National Blood Donor Week recognizes and celebrates donors for giving life. Events will be held in cities across the country during the week to thank donors for rolling up their sleeves and to encourage new donors to consider making an appointment.

On June 14, World Blood Donor Day, people in Ottawa can learn their blood type alongside Members of Parliament and employees of various partner groups at an outdoor, blood typing event Canadian Blood Services is hosting on Parliament Hill.

In addition to making donations to help hospital patients, people are encouraged to educate others on the demand for more donors by sharing their own blood donation story on social media using the hash tags #givelife and #NBDW2017.

Elected officials will also be participating in clinics across the country, promoting and making blood donations as well as meeting with donors and recipients. Several are scheduled to attend Canadian Blood Services' regional Honouring Our Lifeblood recognition events taking place in 14 communities from June 11 to 17.

Did you know?

Last year, it is estimated Canadian Blood Services helped more than 650,000 patients across the country through the products and services it provides; its support was possible thanks to the generosity of more than 785,000 donors (including blood, organ, stem cell and financial donors).

One in two Canadians will either need blood or know someone who will at some point in their lives.
Across Canada, Canadian Blood Services must collect 16,000 units of blood every week.

To book an appointment today, locate a clinic, check your eligibility and more, download the GiveBlood app or visit blood.ca.


 Giant 7' Tall Teddy Bear Touring Ontario Warning of Health Care Privatization Threat: We Can't "Bear" to Lose Medicare​

 The Ontario Health Coalition is taking a giant7-foot tall teddy bear with the slogan "We Can't Bear to Lose Medicare" to 20 towns from late May to mid -June to raise awareness about the threat of health care privatization. In each town there will be a media event with leafletting and public discussion.

: Health Coalitions are issuing a friendly but serious warning: We Can't "Bear" to Lose Medicare, to raise awareness of the threat of health care privatization. Private for-profit clinics are pushing to privatize services from our local public hospitals. Patients, often elderly, are shocked to find out that private clinics are charging user fees amounting to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for medically-needed care such as cataract surgeries. In provinces such as B.C. and Quebec, private clinics and extra user fees for patients have become a major problem. In B.C. private clinics have even launched a court challenge to bring down the laws that protect patients from user fees. The Ontario Health Coalition will raise funds along the way to help the B.C. Health Coalition intervene in the legal challenge brought by the private for-profit clinics, which threatens public health care all across Canada.

"Canada's public health care system is under threat by private profits-seeking clinics that want to be able to bill OHIP for tests and surgeries and bill patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars as well" said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. "User fees for medically-needed hospital and physician care are unlawful under the Canada Health Act. We are drawing attention to this, explaining to patients their rights, and pushing back against the takeover of non-profit and public hospitals by private for-profit corporations."

Hamilton May 30, 12 p.m. Corner of King & James downtown.
Ottawa June 5, 10:30 a.m. Byward Market, S/W corner of George & William Sts.
Cornwall June 5, 2:30 p.m. N/E corner of Pitt and Second Sts.
Brockville June 6, 9:30 a.m. Outside City Hall King & Market Sts.
Kingston June 6, 12:00 p.m. Outside LaSalle Mews, Princess St. (Outside MP Sophie Kiwala's office).
Cobourg June 6, 7:00 p.m. Northumberland Mall at the N. end of parking lot on the grass (public land 1111 Elgin St.)
Peterborough June 7, 10:00 a.m. Downtown farmer's market, Charlotte St. between George and Aylmer St. N.
Oshawa June 7, 3 p.m. Park across from hospital, 1 Hospital Ct.
Brampton June 8, 12 p.m. In front of Town Hall, 2 Wellington St.
Kitchener June 8, 3:30 p.m. In front of City Hall, 200 King St.
Windsor June 9, 10:30 a.m. outside City Hall, 400 City Hall Sq.
Chatham June 9, 2:30 p.m. King St and the 5th St Bridge.
Wallaceburg June 10, 10:00 a.m. Fountain Park at intersection of Dufferin Ave., James St and McNaughton Bridge.
Sarnia June 10, 1:00 p.m. Waterfront Park, by the bridge.
St. Marys June 11, 10:30 a.m. Outside Town Hall, 184 Queen St. E.
Stratford June 11, 1:30 p.m. Upper Queen's Park by the Festival Theatre.
Woodstock June 11, 4:30 p.m. Outside City Hall Dundas & Reeve Sts.
St. Catharines June 12, 10:30 a.m. Old Court House Parkette at 101 King St (corner of James & King Sts).
Fort Erie June 12, 2:00 p.m. Douglas Park across Douglas Memorial Hospital -230 Bertie St.
Thunder Bay June 14, 1:00 p.m .- City Hall - 500 Donald St E.


Parkinson's Awareness Has Grown Since Muhammad Ali's Death ​

 The Champ's legacy lives on.

On the first anniversary of Muhammad Ali's death, nearly half of Americans say awareness of Parkinson's disease has increased over the last year – a testament to the enduring power of Ali's long and inspirational fight against the disease, according to a new national survey by the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

And while 90 percent said they most remember Ali for his boxing career, more than 60 percent recall the dignity and grace with which he battled Parkinson's disease over the last three decades of his remarkable life.

Ali, then 42, was diagnosed in 1984 with Parkinson's, a chronic and progressive movement disorder that has no known cause or cure. He died of complications on June 3, 2016 at age 74.

"When Muhammad died, I told people, 'A hundred years from now, no one is going to remember any of us. They're going to remember Muhammad Ali.' This survey makes it clear that his memory has spurred greater awareness of Parkinson's," said Abraham Lieberman, MD, Ali's neurologist and one of the founders of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Phoenix's Barrow Neurological Institute. "While we miss the Champ every day, we can rest assured that he remains at the forefront of the fight against Parkinson's."

Ali's boxing legacy still resonates with Americans over 35 years of age. But those under 35—people born after Ali's last professional bout in 1981—more closely link his name to Parkinson's disease, with 55 percent saying awareness of the disease has increased in the year since Ali's death. Overall, 46 percent of the survey respondents said awareness had increased.

"Parkinson's is not too common among the younger generation," said Holly Shill, MD, director of the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. "This increased awareness is critical to helping the public understand Parkinson's – and it speaks to the ways Muhammad's courageous battle with the disease touched millions of people."

The survey found that one in three Americans know someone afflicted with the disease. According to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation, more than 1 million Americans are afflicted with Parkinson's, and about 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Incidence of Parkinson's increases with age; however, the National Parkinson Foundation reports that more people are being diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's disease. At least 10 percent of Americans living with the disease are under the age of 55.

2-2-2 Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Center Survey 2-2-2

The national online survey of 602 people took place between April 18-26, 2017. It targeted adults 26 and older, with respondents evenly divided among those under 35 years old, 35-54 and 55 and over. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percent.

The survey measured the public's perception of Ali as it related to Parkinson's. Nearly two-thirds of consumers agree that "affection and admiration" for Ali increased after his Parkinson's diagnosis.

Respondents were asked to select from a list of ways in which Ali provided inspiration to others. Courage in the face of adversity (49 percent) and refusing to let his illness define him (45 percent) topped the list.

Ali's fight against Parkinson's lives on at the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. In 2016, the Center had more than 13,000 patient visits with approximately 1,000 new Parkinson's patients and 600 new patients who have other movement disorders.

"His spirit pervades everything that goes on here," Dr. Shill said.

To learn more about supporting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute visit www.supportbarrow.org/SupportMAPC.   


Storytelling: One survivor at a time
“When the doctor told me I had advanced cancer, I was shocked. I had no symptoms, I felt healthy yet I was being told I had maybe only a year to live,” said Lorne Cochrane, 57, of Atmore, Alberta. “It’s been five years now and I’m thankful for advances in medical research that have given me this extra time.”

Lorne got involved in #CancerChanged to help others who receive a similar diagnosis. “It’s important to me to give back to the cancer community and to help others by sharing my story. I feel that hope is so important, especially for those who are facing one of the biggest challenges of their life,” says Lorne. “Well I’m living proof that there is hope, that you can have more time and every extra minute should be celebrated.”

Lorne’s story was personified by documentary photos taken by Amber Bracken, an award-winning photojournalist and recent recipient of a 2017 World Press Award and runner up at Canada’s 2017 National Newspaper Awards for best news photo.

The #CancerChanged campaign includes documentary photographs of people living with advanced cancer in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec taken by award-winning Canadian photojournalists: Amber Bracken; Della Rollins, photojournalist and contributing photo editor at Maclean's magazine; John Lehmann, named photojournalist of the year in 2012 and 2013 by the News Photographers Association of Canada, and in 2014 and 2015 by the Canadian Association of Journalists; and Giovanni Capriotti, an award-winning photographic essayist, editorial photographer and videographer.

Out-Living Expectations
Today, some Canadians like Lorne Cochrane are “out-living expectations” in part due to research and new treatments and are able to celebrate more birthdays, more special moments with family and have more time.1

“This is a time of change and a time of hope. Cancer patients have been dreaming about hope -- and now hope is real.” said Kathy Barnard, Member of CONECTed steering committee and President and Founder of Save Your Skin Foundation, the patient advocacy group that has led the creation of CONECTed. “New advances in cancer treatment have changed the outlook for many cancer patients. This extended phase is what we call “survivorship” and it poses new challenges such as how patients transition from a terminal diagnosis to a redefined ‘normal’ life embracing quality time and hope.”

Kathy knows this firsthand, as she was told that she had terminal cancer 10 years ago. “Today we celebrate survivorship but more support is needed for patients including new ways in which health systems and workplaces must change to support those who are living longer and want to re-integrate,” says Kathy. “The #CancerChanged campaign is just the beginning. We need multiple stakeholders to come together to look into these issues to fully take advantage of the hope that is being offered by a rapid progress of science. Working together, we want all Canadians to have a chance to live longer.”

Making ALS a treatable, not terminal disease​

The first day of June marks the beginning of ALS Awareness Month in Canada. And while more Canadians may be familiar with ALS as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, there remains much more work to do to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease, its terminal outcome, and the great need for better funding. ALS Societies across Canada are 100% funded by donors, whose generosity is essential in funding research to make ALS a treatable, not terminal disease and in providing support to people and families living with the disease.

Receiving an ALS diagnosis is overwhelming, and living with the disease is not an easy journey. ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and Motor Neuron Disease. The 1,000 Canadians who are diagnosed with ALS each year face progressive paralysis as a result of the brain no longer being able to communicate with the muscles of the body. Over time, as the muscles break down, someone living with ALS will lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and eventually breathe. There are approximately 3,000 Canadians living with ALS at any time. There is no cure for ALS, it can affect anyone, and 80 per cent of people diagnosed die within two to five years – though research advances are providing an increasing source of hope.

"There is great reason to be hopeful about the promise of effective treatments for ALS, and the research community is telling us they are a matter of 'when,' not 'if'," says Tammy Moore, CEO of the ALS Society of Canada. "We know this day cannot come soon enough for people and families living with ALS, which is why ALS Societies across Canada continue to invest in ALS research based on best practices in research funding with the greatest potential to make a difference – while also supporting the needs of people and families living with ALS today."

In 2016, approximately $6.2 million was invested in 20 different ALS research grants and awards funded through the ALS Canada Research Program. Of this amount, $3.5 million was contributed by generous donors and partnerships with provincial ALS societies. An additional $2.7 million was matched by the Brain Canada Foundation through the Brain Canada Research Fund (with the financial support of Health Canada) as a result of their partnership with ALS Canada following the Ice Bucket Challenge.

With volunteer-led WALK for ALS events taking place in more than 80 communities across Canada in the coming months, the country's ALS Societies are hopeful that donor generosity will result in a fundraising total close to $4 million. Of the WALK proceeds, 60 per cent are used to provide support to people and families living with ALS while 40% are contributed to the ALS Canada Research Program, which receives additional funding support throughout the year thanks to donor generosity.

To acknowledge ALS Awareness Month, yesterday MPs David Tilson and Judy Sgro made a Member's Statement in the House of Commons. Mr. Tilson, whose father died of ALS, is a member of the all-party ALS Caucus that was formed in late 2016. Chaired by MP Francis Drouin, the ALS Caucus is focused on opportunities related to ALS research and care. Earlier this year, a private member's motion calling on the federal government to play a leadership role in supporting ALS research and awareness was introduced by MP Judy Sgro, who is also a member of the ALS Caucus, and approved unanimously in the House of Commons.

Canadians can get involved in ALS Awareness Month by donating to an ALS Society across Canada, by registering for a WALK for ALS at walkforals.ca and by continuing to raise awareness.

About ALS Societies across Canada
ALS Societies across Canada provide services and support to people and families touched by ALS in their provinces and contribute to the ALS Canada Research Program. The ALS Canada Research Program supports the Canadian ALS research community and uses best practices in research funding to award grants with the greatest potential to make ALS a treatable, not terminal disease. ALS Societies advocate federally, provincially and locally on behalf of people and families living with ALS for better government support and access within the healthcare system. ALS Societies survive on donations and funds raised throughout the year.​



Kiwi.ai Launches Cue, An Artificial Intelligence to Help People Quit Smoking, and Make Smartwatches Useful; Call for Market Study Participants on World No Tobacco Day​

Kiwi.ai, a leader in motion recognition software, is announcing a market study for Cue a way to make people reduce and quit smoking using Android and iOS smartwatches.

Kiwi's CEO Ali Nawab developed the product after several attempts to quit smoking. "Cue helped me reduce smoking by 50% in the first week. It's magical."

"After 24 years of smoking, this has been the only thing to help thus far," says Darrell.
"This app is great, puts you on the road to quitting easily and effectively. I would share this with anyone needing help to quit for good," says Jasmine.

Another user Adrian says, "Cue is a helpful app because it provides positive reinforcement that rewards delaying my next cigarette."

To further test its hypotheses on ways to make it easier for people to quit smoking, Kiwi is seeking participants for a larger market study.

The study is available for individuals around the globe who would like to reduce their smoking and earn points. All their personal data will be kept confidential, and will not be shared without their consent.

Participants earn rewards throughout the study so depending on how quickly you want to quit you could end up with a fair amount of free Lattes, many initial users have earned $100 each in points, and saved over $200 from reduced smoking.

Kiwi, the maker of Cue is an industry leader in motion recognition algorithms, and works with many large and small companies on their wearable technology products. Its customers include IBM Watson and several large customers in health, sports and wellness.

"We made Cue to be the air miles for health, starting with helping people quit smoking," says Founder John David Chibuk.

To find out more information, or to sign-up, visit: cue.kiwi.ai

Multiple unauthorized L-tryptophan and lithium orotate products sold on amazon.ca may pose serious health risks

Health Canada is advising Canadians that multiple unauthorized products labelled to contain L‑tryptophan or lithium orotate were being sold on amazon.ca, and may pose serious health risks. L‑tryptophan (at doses higher than 220 mg per day) and lithium orotate are prescription drugs in Canada and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional.

All drug products sold in Canada, including those sold over the Internet, must be approved for sale by Health Canada. Taking drugs that have not been authorized by Health Canada may pose serious health risks as they have not been assessed for safety, effectiveness or quality.

Prescription drugs should be obtained only from pharmacies that are licensed by the applicable province or territory in which they operate. Consumers who take a prescription drug without being examined and monitored by a health care professional may not receive appropriate treatment. They may also put themselves at risk for harmful drug interactions and dangerous side effects.

Who is affected

Consumers who have bought or used the affected products
Affected products

Unauthorized products labelled to contain L-tryptophan (at doses higher than 220 mg per day) or lithium orotate sold on amazon.ca.
What consumers should do

Individuals taking these products should consult with their health care professional to receive advice on safely discontinuing use of these products, and on appropriate treatment for their medical condition.
Read product labels to verify that health products have been authorized for sale by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). You can also check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada's Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.
Report adverse events to health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1‑866‑234‑2345, or by reporting online, by mail or by fax.
Report complaints about health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1‑800‑267‑9675, or complete an online complaint form.
What Health Canada is doing
As requested by Health Canada, Amazon has removed these products from its website. Health Canada is following up with identified sellers and will take action to remove products from sale and inform Canadians, as appropriate. When Health Canada identifies unauthorized health products being sold online, the Department works with the company to stop the sale of the products and informs Canadians, as appropriate.

L-tryptophan is a prescription medication at doses higher than 220 mg per day. At these prescription doses, this medication should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional because of the higher risk of serious side effects and harmful drug interactions. L-tryptophan is prescribed in Canada for use in combination with antidepressants for patients with depressive disorders. Side effects of L-tryptophan include dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, headache, and sexual problems. In rare cases, serotonin syndrome has been reported when L-tryptophan is taken with other drugs that affect the central nervous system. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially life-threatening reaction with symptoms that include high body temperature, agitation, sweating, rapid heart rate and high blood pressure, muscle rigidity, confusion, and seizures.

Lithium is a prescription drug and is approved for treatment of manic episodes of manic-depressive illness. Common lithium side effects include increased thirst and urination, hand tremors and drowsiness. Severe dehydration has been reported. Intoxication can occur, especially when taken with other medications. Symptoms of intoxication can include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle twitches and lethargy. Patients should take lithium only after receiving a diagnosis and prescription from a health care professional. Otherwise, patients risk inappropriate treatment for their condition and harmful drug interactions or side effects.

EMD Serono Canada Gives Canadians a Deeper Look into Life with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)​

- EMD Serono, Canada, a biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany, is using cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) technology to educate Canadians about Multiple Sclerosis (MS) just in time for World MS Day on May 31st. MS from the Inside Out is a ten minute, interactive VR experience which immerses viewers in an engaging simulated sensory journey, allowing them to better understand the symptoms of MS. Shedding light on symptoms is especially important in Canada, as it has one of the highest rates of MS in the world.1

"This is a big first step for technology integration in the MS space and we're excited about the possibilities it may provide the 100,000 Canadians currently living with the disease," says Gaby Murphy, President and Managing Director, EMD Serono, Canada. "EMD Serono, Canada is committed to furthering education about MS for both people with the disease and their loved ones. This ground-breaking technology has potential to help increase our understanding of MS and further raise awareness of the impact of the disease."

VR is changing the way we understand and communicate issues around the world, and this innovation has become especially important within healthcare. MS from the Inside Out seeks to break down barriers of the invisible aspects of the disease and its complex symptoms.

"The effects of MS can be physical and emotional, and because its symptoms are often invisible, the experiences of those suffering from MS can be difficult for caregivers, family and friends to understand," says Dr. Daniel Selchen, Director, MS Clinic, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto. "Knowing that, raising awareness of MS is critical, and gaining insight into the journey a person living with MS faces allows us to further understand this complex disease."

To coincide with World MS Day, EMD Serono, Canada held an event at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, during which people were able to immerse themselves in the MS VR experience, gaining deeper insights into the impact of the disease. EMD Serono has captured people's experiences with this technology in a video you can view here.

EMD Serono encourages Canadians to help spread the word and raise awareness of MS by viewing and sharing the YouTube video.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative auto-immune disease in which the myelin sheath around the nerves in the brain and spinal cord are inflamed and often damaged.2 It is estimated that approximately 2.3 million people have MS worldwide.3 Canada has one of the highest prevalence rates of MS in the world.4 Currently, there are an estimated 100,000 Canadians living with MS.4 Symptoms of MS can include extreme fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.5 Currently there is no cure, but each day researchers are learning more about what causes MS and are zeroing in on ways to prevent it.6

About EMD Serono, Canada

EMD Serono, Canada, is the Canadian biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. EMD Serono, Canada has integrated cutting-edge science, innovative products and devices, and industry-leading patient support and access programs. EMD Serono, Canada has deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as a robust pipeline of potential therapies in neurology, oncology, immunology and immuno-oncology. Today, EMD Serono, Canada has more than 100 employees across Canada with headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.

About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, Millipore Sigma and EMD Performance Materials.

1 MS Society of Canada. What is MS. Accessed May 16, 2017. Available at https://mssociety.ca/about-ms/what-is-ms
2 Ibid.
3 National MS Society. What is MS. Accessed May 16, 2017. Available at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/MS-FAQ-s
4 MS Society of Canada. What is MS. Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at https://mssociety.ca/about-ms/what-is-ms
5 MS Society of Canada. What is MS. Accessed May 16, 2017. Available at https://mssociety.ca/about-ms/what-is-ms
6 Ibid.​



Iconic Canadian Landmarks, Athletes, Agencies and Consumers Celebrate June as Deafblind Awareness Month​

Several iconic Canadian landmarks will take on a new look as they are lit up in blue to celebrate June as Deafblind Awareness Month across the country. The lighting of the CN Tower kicks things off on June 1, followed by the TORONTO sign and City Hall towers at Nathan Phillips Square, the City Hall building in Vancouver, the Calgary Tower and Montreal's Olympic Stadium on June 12. The lighting of these landmarks will help educate Canadians about the unique dual disability as part of an awareness initiative led by service providers, individuals who are deafblind and supporters who have joined together from coast to coast for a second year.

The Senate of Canada issued a proclamation in 2015 to nationally recognize June as Deafblind Awareness Month. With organizations now working together with a single voice, there is greater opportunity to highlight both the abilities and challenges of the estimated 65,000 Canadians who are deafblind. June is also the birth month of Helen Keller, one of the most internationally recognized people who lived with deafblindness.

"For many Canadians, it is difficult to imagine what it must be like to live with a combined loss of both vision and hearing. Our national awareness initiative is extremely important because Canadians who are deafblind have tremendous potential in their daily lives, as participants in their communities and as employees," said Jennifer Robbins, Chair of the national committee and Executive Director of Canadian Helen Keller Centre (CHKC), which helped found the national coalition. "In just one year, we have made significant progress in educating the public. We hope that our continued efforts will help more Canadians learn that people who are deafblind can live full, active and meaningful lives if they have the right support systems in place."

Perhaps nobody knows this better than 65-year-old Penny Leclair. As a person who is deafblind, she had little or no intervenor support when she lived in British Columbia. An intervenor is a specially trained professional who acts as the eyes and ears of a person who is deafblind, providing accurate information to enable choices, actions, successful communication, navigation in their environment and as much independence as possible.

When Penny moved with her husband to Ontario, a leader in providing intervenor services, it was like a window opening on a new world. "Thanks to my intervenors, I can live an independent and active life that includes walking, swimming and riding a tandem bicycle," says Penny.
Unfortunately, Penny's husband died, leaving her with no family close by. Consequently, she is now being forced to choose between returning to British Columbia, a province that does not provide provincially funded intervenor services, and staying in Ottawa, where intervenors are available to help her live independently. It is precisely these kinds of anomalies that consumers, service providers and supporters are trying to bring to the forefront by working together from coast to coast.

"We hope that our joint efforts to raise awareness will ultimately lead to similar levels of support in all provinces and increased levels of employment for the extremely capable individuals living with deafblindness," adds Ms. Leclair.

Kim Wrigley-Archer, a successful business professional, advocate and accessibility expert, began receiving intervenor services herself in 2007 through an outreach program offered by CHKC in Toronto. An active participant on the organization's Board of Directors since 1998, she made history last year when she became CHKC's first Chairperson who is deafblind.

"Everybody who is deafblind should have the ability and opportunity to make their own choices and build the vital life skills they need to be active, contribute to their communities and thrive," said Ms. Wrigley-Archer. "As more light is cast on the unique challenges facing people who are deafblind, we are confident that they will receive the support they need, no matter where in Canada they choose to live and work."

Awareness Events from Coast to Coast
The national coalition invites members of the media and the public to think about deafblindness and learn about the capabilities of their fellow Canadians through a variety of events happening in communities across the country, including:

TORONTO, ON - June 1, 2017
CN Tower lit in blue to kick off Deafblind Awareness Month

WINNIPEG, MB - June 6, 2017
Tandem Bike Ride at The Forks

HAMILTON, ON - June 6, 12 and 28, 2017
Awareness event at local library

OTTAWA, ON - June 8, 2017 at 12 noon
Senate Reception at Parliament Hill

VANCOUVER, BC - June 11, 2017
Roundhouse Event

TORONTO, ON - June 12, 2017 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
JuneFest, a day of awareness, at Toronto Nathan Phillips Square

The City Hall building in Vancouver, Calgary Tower, TORONTO sign and City Hall towers at Nathan Phillips Square, and Montreal's Olympic Stadium will be lit up in blue

WINNIPEG, MB - June 12, 2017
Launching of Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind 22 Mini Documentary

TORONTO, ON - June 14, 2017 at 7:07 p.m.
Eight-year-old deafblind consumer Alex Graham throws the first pitch as the Toronto Blue Jays take on the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre

PARIS, ON - June 24, 2017
Street Festival

VAUGHAN, ON - June 24, 2017
Deaf Awareness Day at Canada's Wonderland

Please visit the calendar of events for National Deafblind Awareness Month to learn about all the other events happening in your community.


 Unauthorized health products seized from two adult stores in Scarborough may pose serious health risks​

Health Canada is advising Canadians that multiple unauthorized health products seized from two retailers in Scarborough, ON, may pose serious risks to health. Products seized include "poppers" and products promoted for sexual enhancement.

Who is affected

Consumers who have bought or used any of these products.
Affected products
The following unauthorized products are either labelled to contain or have been tested and found to contain the listed ingredients.

Adult Store
2365 Eglinton Ave E
Scarborough ON

Rochfort 10mL
Isobutyl nitrite


Super Panther 7K

Premium X Pulse 2000

Premium Pro Power 3500
Yohimbe bark extract

Hard Rock 3800
Yohimbe bark extract

XXL Ant 3000
Yohimbe bark extract

Black Mamba 2 Premium

Mamba is Hero
Yohimbe, sildenafil, desmethyl carbodenafil and

Master Zone 1500
Sildenafil and tadalafil

Homerama Adult Video
2524 Eglinton Ave E
Scarborough ON



Super Panther 7K

Passion Classic

Titanium 4000
Sildenafil and tadalafil

The following unauthorized products were also seized by Health Canada. The Department previously seized unauthorized products with similar packaging from other retailers because they were either labelled to contain a prescription drug, or tested and found to contain a prescription drug.

Adult Store
2365 Eglinton Ave E
Scarborough ON

Zhen Gongfu
Previous testing of product with similar packaging, identified as containing undeclared sildenafil

Stiff Rock
Previous testing of product with similar packaging, identified as containing undeclared sildenafil

One For Her
Previous testing of product with similar packaging, identified as containing undeclared tadalafil

Rush 10mL
Super Rush 10mL
Blue Boy 10mL
Previously seized products with similar packaging were labelled to contain alkyl nitrites.

Homerama Adult Video
2524 Eglinton Ave E
Scarborough ON

Rush 10mL
Super Rush 10ml
Jungle Juice Gold Label 10mL
Jungle Juice Gold Label 30mL
Jungle Juice Platinum 10mL
Jungle Juice Platinum 30mL
Previously seized products with similar packaging were labelled to contain alkyl nitrites.

What consumers should do

Stop using these products. Consult with your health care professional if you have used any of these products and have health concerns.

Read product labels to verify that health products have been authorized for sale by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). You can also check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada's Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

Report adverse events to health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1‑866‑234‑2345, or by reporting online, by mail or by fax.

Report complaints about health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1‑800‑267‑9675, or complete an online complaint form.

What Health Canada is doing

Health Canada seized the products from the retail locations. Should additional products, retailers or distributors be identified, Health Canada will take appropriate action and inform Canadians as necessary.

"Poppers" is a slang term for products that contain alkyl nitrites. Despite being labelled for various uses such as leather cleaners, room odourizers or liquid incense, these products are inhaled or ingested by consumers for recreational purposes. Alkyl nitrites, such as amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite and isobutyl nitrite, are prescription drugs. Products containing alkyl nitrites may pose serious risks, including death, depending on the amount used, how frequently they are used and how long they are used for, as well as the person's health and the other medications they may be taking. Since it is difficult to control how much is inhaled, people can accidentally overdose. Swallowing these products can lead to serious medical complications and may be fatal. People with certain medical conditions (including recent head trauma, bleeding into the head, glaucoma, or heart disease) and those taking certain medications (particularly drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, and other drugs (such as high blood pressure medications, certain migraine drugs, and high doses of aspirin) or illicit drugs are at particular risk.

Health Canada maintains a list of retail locations across Canada that have been found to be selling "poppers". Canadians can monitor the list for updates in their area.

Sildenafil and tadalafil are prescription drug ingredients. Products containing these ingredients should be used only under the supervision of a health care practitioner. Sildenafil and tadalafil should not be used by individuals taking any kind of nitrate drug (such as nitroglycerine) as it can cause potentially life-threatening low blood pressure. Individuals with heart problems are at increased risk of cardiovascular side effects such as heart attack, stroke, chest pain, high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat. Other side effects include headache, facial flushing, indigestion, dizziness, abnormal vision and hearing loss.

Desmethyl carbondenafil is a substance similar to sildenafil and may pose similar health risks.

Yohimbine is a prescription drug and should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional. Yohimbine is derived from yohimbe, a bark extract. The use of yohimbine or yohimbe may result in serious adverse reactions, particularly in people with high blood pressure, or heart, kidney or liver disease. Side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety, dizziness, tremors, headache, nausea and sleep disorders. It should not be used by children, or pregnant or nursing women.

Dapoxetine is a drug used to treat premature ejaculation and is not authorized for sale in Canada. Side effects include fainting or loss of consciousness, dizziness, changes in blood pressure, blurred vision, seizures, headache, diarrhea and nausea. Dapoxetine should not be used by individuals who have cardiac conditions, liver disease, a history of mania or bipolar disorder, or are taking certain other medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors, antidepressants, and a number of other drugs and herbal products that can interact with dapoxetine.


OICR launches five large-scale Ontario research initiatives to combat some of the most deadly cancers​​​​

Reza Moridi, Ontario's Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, today announced the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is launching five unique, cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional Translational Research Initiatives (TRIs), each focused on a single type of or treatment approach to cancer. With $24 million in funding over two years, the TRIs will bring together world-leading scientists to tackle some of the most difficult to treat cancers and test innovative solutions to some of the most serious challenges in cancer today.

The TRIs build on Ontario's proven strengths in areas such as stem cells, immuno-oncology, pediatric cancers, genomics, clinical trials and informatics. Working together, the province's top scientists and clinicians will accelerate the development of much needed solutions for patients around the globe, with a focus on acute leukemia and brain, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Each TRI includes clinical trials to maximize patient impact.

"In just over 10 years, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research has become a global centre of excellence that is moving the province to the forefront of discovery and innovation in cancer research. It is home to outstanding Ontario scientists, who are working together to ease the burden of cancer in our province and around the world," said Moridi.

"Collaboration and translational research are key to seeing that the innovative technologies being developed in Ontario reach the clinic and help patients," said Mr. Peter Goodhand, President of OICR. "These TRIs represent a unique and significant opportunity to impact clinical cancer care in the province."

"Coupling the leading-edge science produced by these groups with clinical research and evaluation will help ensure that our work is making a real impact in the clinic. Bringing together researchers and clinicians with diverse specialties from across the province will allow that impact to be felt even sooner," said Dr. Craig Earle, Head of Clinical Translation.


Acute Leukemia TRI (led by Drs. John Dick and Aaron Schimmer at the University Health Network (UHN))
Brain Cancer TRI (led by Drs. Peter Dirks and Michael Taylor at SickKids)
Immuno-oncology TRI (ACTION) (led by Drs. John Bell and Marcus Butler at The Ottawa Hospital and UHN)
Ovarian Cancer TRI (led by Drs. Amit Oza and Rob Rottapel at UHN)
Pancreatic Cancer TRI (PanCuRx) (led by Dr. Steven Gallinger at UHN)
The funding announced today will also support Early Prostate Cancer Developmental Projects led by Drs. Paul Boutros and George Rodrigues.

The TRIs were selected by an International Scientific Review Panel, which conducted an extensive evaluation of all submissions based on scientific merit and clinical impact.

"The quality of the proposed TRIs and the scientific and clinical leadership were very highly regarded by all the reviewers," said Dr. Patricia Ganz, TRI Review Co-Chair, and Director of Cancer Prevention and Control Research at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA. "Ontarians can be proud of the world-class research teams assembled for the TRIs and the potential positive impact of their work on patients worldwide."

Camp for a Cause -- Register for CampOut for Cancer!

 Just after the first long weekend of summer, Camp Trillium invites Canadians of all ages to register for a new fundraising event, CampOut for Cancer, which takes place Saturday, October 14, 2017. It's for everyone — kids, families, grandparents and young adults — because you can CampOut for Cancer anywhere!

"We want CampOut Campers to be creative with their night," says Fiona Fisher, Director of Development for Camp Trillium. "We know some participants will CampOut on their living room couch. We're calling them the Couch Potato Campers. Others will CampOut in their backyards, or at their cottage or a favourite campsite. We'd also love to see teams Camping-Out with fun themes in community spaces like school gyms, fire halls or the local Legion."

CampOut for Cancer is supported by celebrity ambassadors, including "Survivorman" Les Stroud, Chef Lynn Crawford and ChefD (Darryl Fletcher). Each ambassador is committed to get the word out about this unique event that will raise much-needed funds for Camp Trillium.

Camp Trillium is Canada's largest year-round recreation and camp program for kids and their families living with cancer. Kids just like Ashlynne from Bowmanville, diagnosed with Wilms Tumor at four years of age. As her family dealt with the trauma of childhood cancer, they embraced Camp Trillium's programs, where discussing things like surgery and chemotherapy is normal. Kids being kids on the ropes course, out canoeing, and singing camp songs also works wonders with the healing process for the entire family.

Join us this Friday, May 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in York Promenade at Union Station, Toronto, for the CampOut for Cancer Launch and meet Barrie the Bear.

About Camp Trillium:
The largest of its kind in North America, the Trillium Childhood Cancer Support Centre offers year-round recreational experiences to bring children living with cancer and their families together. It sends more than 3,100 campers each year to 54 programs taking place in 10 communities throughout Ontario. It is a privately-funded, volunteer based organization.

About CampOut for Cancer:
CampOut for Cancer invites Canadians to create their own CampOut experience on Saturday, October 14, 2017. It's a great way to have fun while fundraising to send children living with cancer and their families to Camp Trillium. Each participant gets to plan where and how they'll CampOut, making this fundraising event ideal for everyone of all ages, no matter where they live or their physical ability.

Register or donate today at campoutforcancer.com.


Addressing global threat of antimicrobial resistance​​

The emergence of so-called "superbugs" is one of the most significant health threats to Canadians, and others around the world. Tackling Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires action on many fronts, including the development of new drugs to treat infections.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today announced $1.39 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to support five research teams whose work will advance innovations in point-of-care diagnostics, with the goal of implementing the best diagnostic tools in health care settings and the right use of antibiotics. This funding is part of the investments the Government of Canada has made over the past year on research to address the emergence and spread of AMR. For example, Health Canada announced earlier this month several changes to the Food and Drug Regulations that will better protect Canadians against the risk of antimicrobial resistance, by better controlling access to veterinary antimicrobial drugs for food-producing animals.

Philpott said, "Addressing AMR requires sustained efforts across multiple sectors and organizations domestically and internationally. It is only through our collective actions, including this investment in diagnostic research, that we will make real progress in mitigating the threat of AMR. The Government of Canada is committed to ongoing collaboration with our partners and to taking action to ensure that antimicrobials will continue to be an effective tool in protecting the health of Canadians."

The Government of Canada has also endorsed the Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, and is currently working with our provincial and territorial partners to finalize a Pan-Canadian Framework on Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use in Canada. The Pan-Canadian Framework will guide collective action in tackling AMR and identify opportunities for action under four pillars: surveillance, stewardship, infection prevention and control, and research and innovation.

AMR is one of the most serious global health threats facing the world today. With no action, it is estimated that by 2050, annual worldwide human deaths attributable to AMR could reach 10 million.
Canada is addressing AMR from a "One Health" lens. This involves coordinating efforts across human and animal health, and agri-food sectors, among others, to help prevent and control AMR.
In Canada, rates of antimicrobial resistant infections are generally stable and in some cases have been on the decline. However, even these reduced rates continue to exceed those of the early 2000s. Canada must be prepared to respond to the threat of AMR to lessen the health risks to Canadians in the face of rising rates of drug-resistant infections around the world.
The overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics contributes to the development of AMR in people and animals. Examples include:
giving antibiotics to people and animals when they are not needed;
taking antibiotics in ways other than how they are prescribed; and
self-medicating or antibiotic sharing.

The Good, the Bad, the Necessary in Rare Disease Studies, New Webinar Hosted by Xtalks

Interest in the development of medicines to alleviate or cure rare diseases has increased due to (1) positive actions taken by global regulatory agencies; (2) advances in the understanding of disease pathophysiology; and (3) tools, such as exome and whole-genome sequencing, to produce more efficacious drugs. With rare diseases, the clinical data needed to support HTA or health insurer assessments are often weak because of the scarcity of study subjects. It is, therefore, essential to establish a robust integrated medical plan for drugs in development that clearly sets out not only the core development data required to prove safety and efficacy but also ensures that other evidence gaps are addressed.
To best achieve this, a clear understanding of why, where, when and how the drug will be used after approval is needed - Quite literally 'begin with the end in mind'. Such a holistic approach will ensure a streamlined, evidence-based development process that maximizes post-approval activities matched to capture the full potential of the product. By anticipating the possible hurdles for the approval and reimbursement of any new rare disease treatment will ultimately lead to earlier access to those patients who may benefit due to a high unmet medical need.
The objectives are to:
Discuss success rates in recent drug launches and look at where launches haven't gone well and where RWE could have played a role in mitigating this
Demonstrate that it is never too early to consider commercialization plans in rare disease drug development
Highlight that an Integrated Medical Plan (IMP) is an essential tool to ensure the different needs of the stakeholders involved (Regulators, Payers, Physicians and Patients) are addressed appropriately
Emphasize on how an IMP significantly increases your chances of drug launch success
Upon completion of this webinar, the attendee should be able to:
Identify why drug launches haven't gone well and the evidence gaps that exist
Recognize when to consider commercialization plans in their rare disease drug development plan
Understand the importance of an Integrated Medical Plan
For more information or to register for this free event visit: The Good, the Bad, the Necessary in Rare Disease Studies
Xtalks, powered by Honeycomb Worldwide Inc., is a leading provider of educational webinars to the global Life Sciences community. Every year thousands of industry practitioners (from pharmaceutical & biotech companies, private & academic research institutions, healthcare centers, etc.) turn to Xtalks for access to quality content. Xtalks helps Life Science professionals stay current with industry developments, trends and regulations. Xtalks webinars also provide perspectives on key issues from top industry thought leaders and service providers.
To learn more about Xtalks visit http://xtalks.com
For information about hosting a webinar visit http://xtalks.com/sponsorship.ashx


 Is it political when only one northern Ontario hospital gets more than 2 per cent base funding? Media conference Wednesday​

Although the provincial budget dangled a 3.1 per cent funding increase for hospitals, from North Bay and Sudbury to Kenora and Thunder Bay and communities in between, the average funding increase for northern hospitals was 2 per cent - with one notable exception.

In north eastern Ontario, $23 million went to 25 hospitals. 12 hospitals in north western Ontario received just over $9 million. Even hospitals with significant deficits saw a bare 2 per cent injection, well below the 3.1 per cent in the April budget. The Sault Area Hospital however has received a 3.8 per cent increase.

"While even that is too low, it's much more than other northern hospitals received in communities where there is no provincial by-election. It does beg the question, if the higher funding for the Sault hospital is political," says Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

Hurley will be in Sudbury tomorrow (Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.) for a media conference (888 Regent Street, Suite 205) to provide an update on plans for a provincial health care rally in the city on June 8. OCHU continues to ask the provincial government for a 5 per cent funding increase for Ontario hospitals.

All northern Ontario hospitals face similar challenges, says Hurley, with higher than average chronic diseases, higher rates of cancer, worse mental health outcomes for children and youth in the north and higher percentage of seniors than the rest of the province. "There are also many more individuals without access to a family physician, lower incomes generally, and a large aboriginal population living without adequate housing or drinking water. All of these factors conspire with geography to punish northern Ontario and are reasons why funding must be increased to at least meet operating costs for northern hospitals."

Government of Canada supports youth through community-based substance abuse prevention program

The Government of Canada is committed to providing support for youth that have been in conflict with the law and who struggle with substance abuse issues.

Matt DeCourcey, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, on behalf of the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced that Partners for Youth Inc. would receive $280,800 through the federal Youth Justice Fund to develop a substance abuse treatment program for youth who are leaving open and closed custody in New Brunswick.

He said, "By supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society, we improve our community and invest in our collective well-being. The work that Partners for Youth is doing will empower these young people to take back control of their lives and rebuild their futures."

The Youth Justice Fund provides grants and contributions to projects that encourage a more effective youth justice system, respond to emerging youth justice issues and enable greater citizen and community participation in the youth justice system.

This pilot project will encourage participants to gain hands-on learning focused on treatment, continued support and intervention related to substance abuse issues. Partners for Youth Inc. will involve youth in the development of a program that is responsive to their cultural needs and sensitive to the trauma that they have endured, while using community supports and services. A key part of this program and its supports will be the mentorship that will be available to all participants.

Over the duration of this three-year project, participants between the ages of 12 and 17 will be supported in their safe transition back into their communities and in maintaining a new substance-free lifestyle.

New Heart & Stroke tongue-in-cheek campaign promotes advertising agency that exclusively targets children​

To rally support for federal legislation intended to restrict food and beverage marketing to all children in Canada, Heart & Stroke's next step in its fight against marketing to kids uses a new (and entirely fictional) advertising agency called "16 and Under" that exclusively creates ads targeting kids.

The campaign launches with a mockumentary, see it here, that holds up an uncomfortable mirror to the many ways in which advertisers target children with their messaging. The goal is to start a social conversation with parents about the seriousness of marketing food and beverages to kids and the need for restrictions to protect kids and support parents in making healthier choices.

"Our mission is to help kids develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits that will follow them into adulthood," says Yves Savoie, CEO, Heart & Stroke. "But the truth is that advertising to children - especially ads for unhealthy food and beverages - is negatively impacting their health. It's time we followed Quebec's lead and banned this kind of marketing directed to kids in all provinces. It's interesting to note that the child obesity rates in Quebec are considerably lower than anywhere else in Canada."

At "16 and Under", agency employees proudly describe the various tactics they devise to successfully target food and beverage products to children, from bright logo designs to catchy jingles.

"We know kids have a lot of influence when it comes to household food choices, but because they're young, they're impressionable and easily influenced, and we wanted to shine a light on these tactics," says Geoff Craig, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Heart & Stroke.

The integrated campaign includes OOH (out of home) digital and social creative, that drive back to Heart & Stroke's landing page 16andunder.ca/16ansetmoins.ca. There, visitors are encouraged to watch and share the digital film, and are provided with alarming statistics on how food and beverage marketing is directly targeting our youth, and how this is affecting their health.

Canadians can also learn more about federal legislation that's currently before Parliament, (and which the campaign supports), calling for a federal restriction on food and beverage marketing to children and youth.

"Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years, and advertising has a role in that," adds Craig. "Marketers know that 90 per cent of food and beverage purchases are driven by kids; they rely on 'persuasion power', also known as the 'nag factor' as kids pester their parents for certain products. This campaign is meant to rally support around the issue for the sake of Canada's kids."

Heart & Stroke
Life. We don't want you to miss it. That's why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so Canadians don't miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery.​


100 Healthy Years - Are Kids Prepared?​

Merck, a leading science and technology company, convened experts from diverse reputable organizations such as UN, UNICEF, UNAIDS, World Obesity Federation and McKinsey at the company's headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, to debate relevant questions such as: What are the most urgent threats to our children's long-term health? What can be done both inside and outside the classroom? And how do schools, parents and communities share responsibility?

As global life expectancy continues to increase, World Health Organization statistics show that the children of today are likely to be the first to live 100 years. But living 100 healthy years – with vitality and mobility – and the challenge of equipping children to do so, was the subject of yesterday's second annual 'Global Consumer Health Debate'.

Uta Kemmerich-Keil, CEO and President of the Consumer Health business of Merck commented: "One thing is for certain: the earlier we start working with kids on how to look after themselves, the better the long-term impacts. If this debate helped strengthen the health education for my own kids here in Germany, as much as children from Brazil to India, then we are getting better at building a global future of healthy adults, able to enjoy a long life to the fullest."

The event released the findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) white paper: "Kids and Old Age". This worldwide study describes the current landscape: What according to parents, educators, policy makers, research institutions, and development actors can be done to better prepare kids for a long and healthy life? Key findings include:

Today's children will be less healthy than today's adults over 65 when they reach that age.
Lifestyle-related problems are likely to contribute to chronic disease in later life and are already causing health problems among children.
Across the five countries surveyed, schools are targeting the main perceived problems, such as lack of exercise, but are ignoring mental health issues.
There is little evidence that such school education programmes are managing to stem rising rates of obesity and mental disorders.
By bringing many actors together, the debate 'joined the dots' between all those responsible for children's health and well-being, and created consensus around collaborative thinking and common goals.

However this debate – and the diversity of actors and opinions – highlighted how our childhood lessons are drawn from far beyond our homes and schools, such as community efforts and policy-level support. The key message is that by working together on complementary efforts that our kids will be better equipped to become tomorrow's healthy adults and elderly.

The international panels included voices as diverse as government representatives of South Africa (Ministry of Basic Education), UN representatives of education, children's and health priorities (UNICEF, Every Woman for Every Child/UN, UNAIDS), Brazilian and Indian community-based organizations (Inmed Brazil, Smile Foundation) having huge impacts on the ground, business consultants to the health industry (McKinsey), and the World Obesity Federation.

The event marked an important milestone in Merck Consumer Health's journey to "Prepare society for a new era of humans living 100 healthy years". This business purpose is at the heart of Merck Consumer Health's WE100® movement, aimed at raising awareness of healthy living, for people of all ages. While the report and the debate helped to focus the global conversation, it seems to be even more crucial to create and take action. WE100 is Merck's commitment to do so.


Canada's Silent Killer Rapidly Increasing in Children​

Hypertension Canada recently published new guidelines in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology for Canadian youth diagnosed with hypertension. The 2017 Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Assessment, Prevention, and Treatment of Pediatric Hypertension are the first of their kind to be implemented in Canada.

"Unfortunately, one in fifty children under the age of 18 now have high blood pressure and we can't ignore the issue because the numbers are increasing," said Nadia Khan, President, Hypertension Canada. "Our goal is to ensure all health care professionals are attuned to the increasing prevalence of hypertension in children, and aware that these guidelines can help them to better identify, treat or refer appropriately their young patients."

Hypertension in Canadian children is associated with childhood obesity and lifestyle factors including sedentary activity patterns in youth. Hypertension in very young children can also be the first clue to other chronic conditions, so Hypertension Canada recommends that all children over the age of 3 have their blood pressure assessed regularly. The new evidence-based guidelines for the prevention and treatment of hypertension in children include ten guidelines specifically addressing health behaviour management, indications for drug therapy in children with hypertension, choice of therapy for children with primary hypertension, and goals of therapy for children with hypertension.

Olivia, a delightful 13-year old girl that enjoys life outdoors in her British Columbia neighbourhood was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. Her mother, Rebecca, was initially surprised by the diagnosis, but is happy to know that new guidelines are now in place to help support children like Olivia.

"It's common to think of hypertension as an older person's concern. I was lucky. I had terrific support to help get the diagnosis and to manage the condition, but that's not everyone's experience," said Rebecca. "By having guidelines in place, it will help those kids that are being missed."

The recommendations aim to guide primary care practitioners and pediatricians in identifying, investigating, and managing hypertension in children and adolescents and also provide recommendations on when referral to experts in pediatric hypertension is appropriate. The guidelines also address health behaviour management, indications for drug therapy in children with hypertension, choice of therapy for children with primary hypertension, and goals of therapy for children with hypertension.

Hypertension or high blood pressure is known as the silent killer, is one of the main risk factors for heart, stroke, kidney and blood vessel diseases, and affects Canadians of all ages. In fact, almost 1 million Canadians are not aware that they have hypertension and many are working-aged men and women.

"A key first step to maintain or achieve healthy blood pressure is to know your numbers," says Dr. Khan. "Measure annually if your blood pressure is normal, and more often if you're working to lower it. Knowing your numbers can save your health."

To mark World Hypertension Day on May 17, Hypertension Canada is asking What's Your Number? and encouraging Canadians of all ages to take the time to get an accurate blood pressure measurement by visiting their health care professionals or one of the participating pharmacies across Canada. 

New Record: 9 million opioid prescriptions filled in Ontario

 IPeople in Ontario filled more than 9 million prescriptions for opioids in 2015/16, up by nearly 450,000 prescriptions from three years earlier, and the opioids being prescribed have shifted toward stronger types like hydromorphone and away from weaker opioids like codeine, a new report has found.

According to 9 Million Opioid Prescriptions, a report by Health Quality Ontario, nearly two million people in Ontario fill prescriptions for opioids every year -- translating into one in every seven Ontarians, or 14% of the province's population.

And despite the increasing awareness publicly and in the physician community regarding the numbers of opioid-related deaths and the prevalence of opioid addiction, the number of people who filled opioid prescriptions in the province has not decreased from three years ago.

"Addiction to opioids is a critically urgent health problem in our province, and nationally," says Joshua Tepper, Health Quality Ontario's President and CEO. "We need to prescribe opioids more safely than we do now, and we also need to provide better access and higher-quality care for people who have an opioid addiction."

Looking at the types of opioids being prescribed in Ontario, the report found the number of people who filled a prescription for hydromorphone – which is approximately five times stronger than morphine – increased by nearly 30% over three years, to almost 259,000 people, from just over 200,000. Over that same time, the number of people who filled a prescription for codeine and codeine compounds – a weaker opioid than morphine – decreased by 7% to more than 912,000 people, from almost 986,000. The number of prescriptions filled for oxycodone and oxycodone compounds, meanwhile, remained almost unchanged over three years, despite the increasingly common knowledge about the harm from opioids.

The number of opioid prescriptions filled varies substantially by region in Ontario, ranging from 38 prescriptions filled per 100 people in the Central Local Health Integration Network region to nearly triple that number – 110 prescriptions filled per 100 people – in the North East region of the province.

In the report, a patient and a health care professional each share their own stories. Christine, a nurse from Ottawa, began taking opioids for pain from injuries she sustained after a car crash. She eventually became addicted to the drugs and began buying them on the street, which sent her into a downward spiral that included time in prison and then being homeless.

"When I came out of incarceration, I ended up in a shelter," Christine says in the report. "I ended up doing other drugs that I never expected to do... it just got worse. You can't just stop."

To help tackle the growing opioid problem, and at the request of the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Health Quality Ontario is developing three sets of quality standards – one will provide guidance to patients and clinicians about what high quality care looks like for adults and adolescents with opioid use disorder and the other two will provide guidance on how to prescribe opioids for management of chronic and acute pain. These standards are being developed in collaboration with patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses, clinicians and organizations across the province. Based on the best available evidence, drafts of the quality standards will be posted to the Health Quality Ontario website with a call for feedback this fall.

Health Quality Ontario will also make practice reports available to family doctors this fall, which will enable them to compare their opioid prescribing to that of their peers and to best practices, and which will provide links to resources and strategies to support improvement.

Governments of all levels are working to support better prescribing practices and reduce easy access to unnecessary opioids to improve prevention, treatment and harm reduction associated with problematic opioid use.

To read the full report visit: www.hqontario.ca/OpioidPrescribing.

Give a LIFT for ALS - Share a Pic, Nominate & Donate​

 'Give a LIFT for ALS' (alslift.org) was recently selected as the winner of a global creative competition aiming to come up with an original idea that could build on the extraordinary success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This is a national ALS awareness campaign with a concentrated effort between Mother's Day and Father's Day, May 15th to June 17th.

ALS is a disease that progressively paralyzes people because the brain is no longer able to communicate with the muscles of the body. So we're going to fight this debilitating disease with a simple physical expression. Take a creative picture of yourself "lifting" something or someone, share it on social media with #ALSLIFT & alslift.org, then nominate three other people to do the same by tagging them in your post. The last step is to donate.

100% of the funds raised from 'Give a LIFT for ALS' will help advance world-leading translational ALS research in Canada. ALS is not incurable – just underfunded. Most ALS sufferers die within 2-5 years, so there's no time to waste. This is a grassroots campaign that's been organized by ALS Canuck, a Canadian Registered Charity managed by patients and families living with ALS in Canada.

Can you help create momentum for our movement? We're seeking support from influential Canadians, celebrities, athletes, politicians and media personalities to inspire public participation. We already have the support of Bell, Rogers, Corus, Belanger Ford & Lincoln, TD, Crowdiate, Captivate, Media City, Weston Wood Solutions, and our U.S. partner. This initiative is already providing so much hope to so many ALS patients and has the potential to raise a lot of money for ALS research, while sparking massive awareness. We believe the campaign can even inspire international participation if we all tap into our networks. Please consider participating, sharing or giving to 'Give a LIFT for ALS'.

In light of Motion 105, we (Canadian PALS & FALS) have formally 'asked' the government of Canada to 'Give a LIFT for ALS' and play a leading role in this grassroots campaign for ALS. We humbly 'ask' the federal government of Canada, to please match (1:1) the funds raised (donations within Canada) from the 'Give a LIFT for ALS' awareness campaign.


Jeffrey Perreault
Co Founder / Dx w ALS June 2014
Adaptive Canuck ALS Foundation
[email protected]


New study suggests that the war on drugs is a leading factor in HIV/AIDS deaths and infection among people who use injection drugs​

 The criminalisation of drugs is a key driver of the global HIV epidemic and a potential barrier to eradicating HIV/AIDS, according to a systematic review published in Lancet HIV by researchers at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Researchers found the effect of criminalisation, including incarceration, street level policing, and drug paraphernalia laws and practices, negatively affected health outcomes for people who inject drugs due to decreased needle and syringe distribution, increased syringe sharing, and an increased burden of HIV.

"This provides an objective evidence base that the so-called global 'War on Drugs' is failing our communities," says Dr. Kora DeBeck, study co-lead and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Policy, SFU and Research Scientist with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. "The unintended consequences of drug prohibition are astronomical and crippling our ability to prevent and respond to HIV/AIDS among other well-documented harms."

Researchers systematically reviewed 106 global, peer-reviewed studies published between January 2006 and December 2014 on criminalisation and HIV prevention or treatment among people who use injection drugs. The vast majority of studies consistently show that drug criminalisation has a harmful effect on HIV prevention and treatment.

"In order to finally achieve an AIDS-Free Generation in high and low income settings alike, we should collectively reform existing legal systems and policies that criminalise drug use by people who inject drugs," says study co-lead and associate professor of epidemiology at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Stefan Baral. "Evidence should guide policy. And the evidence here is clear in that criminalizing drugs takes a toll on those being criminalized and the communities in which they live alike."

UNAIDS identifies criminalization and punitive laws as a primary reason why the level of decline in HIV incidence and mortality taking place globally is not being observed in people who inject drugs.

Worldwide, an estimated 8.4 million to 19 million individuals inject psychoactive drugs. The public health concerns associated with the use of injection drugs include the spread of infectious disease including HIV. About the thirteen per cent of people who inject drugs are thought to be living with HIV, which amounts so roughly 1.7 million people.

About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS is Canada's largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul's Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including government, health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS. By developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses, the BC-CfE helps improve the health of British Columbians.

Canada's top health researchers recognized for their life-changing work

 It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of some of the brightest minds in our country that health research has known such impressive progress. Health research has helped prevent diseases and injuries, enabled medical professionals to deliver vital treatment and care, and has even led to cures that save lives. Canadian health researchers have been responsible for creating indispensable new scientific knowledge and, through their efforts, have touched the lives of Canadians everywhere.

It is only fair that we take some time to acknowledge them in turn.

Today, CIHR is pleased to present our inaugural CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes, which recognize excellence in health research and its translation into benefits for Canadians. The four winners will receive their medals at a recognition ceremony to be held tonight at Rideau Hall.

The recipients of the 2016 CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes for excellence in health research are:

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery

Dr. John Dick - A professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. John Dick is being recognized for his pioneering work as the first scientist to identify cancer stem cells. His research holds the promise for improved treatments and quality of life for cancer patients.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact

The British Colombia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS – For 25 years, the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has been providing care and treatment for those living with HIV, educating health professionals and promoting evidence-based policy to protect people from the virus.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator

Dr. Gregory Steinberg - A professor at McMaster University, Dr. Steinberg's work on understanding, at the molecular level, how obesity causes type 2 diabetes and the role that nutrition and exercise play in maintaining good health, shows enormous promise for the more than 10 million Canadians who have diabetes or are at high risk of developing the disease.

CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation: Patient Engagement

Dr. Charlotte Loppie - Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement and professor at the University of Victoria, Dr. Charlotte Loppie is being acknowledged for her continued dedication to bringing Indigenous peoples into research projects that touch their lives.

Organ transplants in Ontario have increased by 22 per cent in five years​

More lives are being saved than ever before as a result of leading organ and tissue donation practices implemented in Ontario by Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN), Ontario hospitals and other partners.

​In the 2016/17 fiscal year (April 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017):

1,256 people received a second chance at life through transplantation, thanks to the generosity of donors and their families (compared to 1,029 in 2012/13);
354 deceased organ donors (an increase of 90 per cent over the last decade), and 242 living organ donors gave the gift of life;
2,247 tissue donors enhanced the lives of thousands through the gift of eyes, bone, skin, and heart valves; and
Nearly 250,000 people joined the growing list of 3.8 million Ontarians who have registered consent for organ and tissue donation.
Currently, 31 per cent of Ontarians have registered their decision to donate, giving hope to over 1,500 patients waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Trillium Gift of Life Network is working to build a culture of donation in the province, one in which the majority of eligible Ontarians are registered.

To date, only 18 of 170 Ontario communities have met or exceeded the 50 per cent registration rate benchmark. Find out how your community is doing at www.BeADonor.ca/scoreboard.


Register or learn more about organ donation at www.BeADonor.ca;
Donation and transplantation statistics are available by hospital at www.giftoflife.on.ca/en/publicreporting.htm/.
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.


Health Care System Sustainability a Key Concern as Canadians Get Older

Recently released Census data showed that, for the first time ever, seniors now outnumber children in Canada. These changing demographics present a unique challenge to the sustainability of the Canadian health care system that will have pressing implications for public spending, the labour market, and housing and institutional infrastructure.

In 2016, Canada's total health expenditures reached an estimated $228 billion —representing more than 11 per cent of GDP. This figure is estimated to consume between 44 and 55 per cent of provincial and territorial revenues moving forward. Added to unmet needs that currently exist in Canada's health system, pressures to deliver the care Canadians want and expect will continue to increase.

"As the country's aging population rapidly increases, the gap between government budgets and Canada's health care needs continues to widen," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. "But, health care sustainability is more than a funding matter. The road to sustainability must also include disease prevention efforts, health and wellness promotion, and a redesign of elements of the current health system."

Launched in 2011, The Conference Board of Canada's Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) has been examining some of the key challenges facing the Canadian health care system, including aging Canadian seniors, unmet care needs, labour requirements, sedentary behaviour, workplace health and wellness, and health system design to develop forward-looking qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the health system sustainable. CASHC's research compendium, A Road Map to Health System Sustainability, synthesizes key findings from CASHC's extensive research program and provides recommendations for achieving health system sustainability.

Future Care for Canadian Seniors series estimates that 2.4 million Canadians age 65+ will require paid and unpaid continuing care supports by 2026. By 2046, this number will reach nearly 3.3 million. Spending on continuing care for seniors is forecast to increase from $28.3 billion in 2011 to $177.3 billion in 2046. Canada's aging population will affect more than just public and private expenditures and go beyond clinical care. As more and more Canadians retire, labour shortages in specific areas of the health system will become more pronounced. A necessary shift from acute to home, community, and long-term care will also put pressure on existing institutional infrastructure and on caregivers who must reduce their work hours or leave the workforce.

Managing Mobility: Transportation in an Aging Society research found that Canada is ill-prepared to keep an aging population moving and that seniors who cannot meet their transportation needs are at risk of declining health and quality of life.

While the aging population is top of mind, it is not the only threat to the sustainability of the health care system. A rise in chronic diseases among Canadians highlights the need for effective disease prevention and health promotion initiatives. CASHC found that getting just 10 per cent of Canadians with suboptimal levels of physical activity to exercise more and reduce sedentary behaviour would yield a GDP increase of nearly $1.6 billion by 2040 and a cumulative $2.6 billion reduction in health care spending on hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Its Moving Ahead series identifies cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable interventions to improve healthy active living at home, in the workplace, and in educational institutions.

Investments in workplace health and wellness initiatives can have an impact beyond health care system sustainability. Programs for smoking cessation, mental health, and disability management can also directly benefit Canadian employers. One CASHC report revealed that in 2010, the total economic burden of smoking to business and society was $11.4 billion. CASHC's Healthy Brains at Work series drew attention to the impact of mental health on the Canadian economy, with approximately $51 billion per year in lost productivity, health care, and quality of life reductions.

Adequately resourcing a health system that provides the service levels Canadians expect (reduced wait times, more Canadians having a primary care provider, increased mental health services) will require some reconfiguration. The misalignment in Canada's current system is resulting in inefficiencies such as inappropriate hospital admissions and care, medical errors, variations in practice, and clinical waste. As labour demand for the continuing care sector is expected to outpace general labour force growth, designing an efficient and sustainable health system must include finding ways to optimize interprofessional primary care teams, rethink existing institutional infrastructure, and adopt innovative approaches and technologies.

While progress on health reform and health system efficiencies is happening, these changes are not keeping pace with the pressures of growing demand. CASHC's Road Map highlights both the research progress that has been made over the past five years and what work still needs to be done.

"Moving forward, CASHC will play an important role in helping to advance the changes needed to achieve a more sustainable health system," added Thériault.

A Road Map to Health System Sustainability is available on e-Library.


Gala for Crohn's and Colitis Canada raises $1.7 million for research into inflammatory bowel disease​

Benevolence was on show last night at the Gala for Crohn's and Colitis Canada, held in support of the 250,000 Canadians living with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The evening at the Universal EventSpace in Vaughan, Ontario, raised a total of $1.7 million for the charity. One million dollars was raised in just 20 minutes at the "Fund-A-Cure" segment, with the first donation of $100,000 from the Andlauer family immediately matched by a $100,000 gift from the RAP Foundation.

Over 900 donors and guests were in attendance to support everyone impacted by Crohn's or colitis, and enjoy entertainment from eight-time Juno award-winner Jann Arden. The evening also saw Mount Sinai Hospital's Dr. Zane Cohen honoured with a lifetime achievement award for his pioneering work in surgical interventions to treat inflammatory bowel disease.

"The funds raised at our Gala allow us to advance our research projects, provide patient support services, and build awareness campaigns," said Mina Mawani, President and CEO of Crohn's and Colitis Canada. "On behalf of patients, their families, and the scientific community we support, I want to say thank you to the caring people who supported us. The generosity shown at the Gala will make a significant impact."

The Gala's honorary chairs, the Thompson family, shared with the audience the difficulties of life with Crohn's and colitis, as well as their optimism for the future.

"As a parent, it hurts to see your children in pain," said Michael Thompson, who has three sons living with Crohn's and/or colitis. "We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we witnessed at the Gala. We are hopeful that better days are ahead and for a future without the suffering of inflammatory bowel disease."

Gala-generated funds fuel research into finding the cures and advancing treatments for Crohn's and colitis, and programs like youth camps, scholarships, education events, and peer-to-peer support for Canadians affected by these diseases.

Government of Canada invests in better health for premature babies

 Each year an estimated 390,000 babies are born in Canada. Although most of these babies reach the average 40 weeks of gestation normally required for full growth and development, nearly 8 percent are born prematurely – at 37 weeks or less. These premature babies face serious complications and are at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions later in life. Even more serious, preterm birth accounts for two-thirds of infant deaths in Canada.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today announced an investment of $6.45 million from the Government of Canada through the Canadian Institutes of Health (CIHR) to support a major research initiative focused on advancing knowledge in preterm birth research and improving the health outcomes for premature babies. This funding will be matched in part by $4.25 million of in-kind support from hospitals across Canada.

Philpott stated, "Despite significant advances in recent years, premature babies and their families still face significant challenges, in the first days of life and beyond. This research initiative will help healthcare providers improve care for pregnant women and premature babies across Canada."

The funding will support three separate efforts: 1) A new pan-Canadian preterm birth collaborative research network led by Dr. Prakeshkumar Shah at Sinai Health System in Toronto that will be working to improve health outcomes for premature babies; 2) A research team led by Dr. K.S. Joseph at the University of British Columbia and the BC Children's Hospital that is focusing on improving the system of perinatal care for all mothers and their babies including those born prematurely; and 3) Six research projects that will investigate new ways to predict and prevent preterm birth and improve health outcomes for premature babies.

An estimated 390,000 babies are born each year in Canada. Of these, nearly 8 percent are born prematurely – at less than 37 weeks of gestation. The cause of the majority of preterm births is unknown.

Preterm birth may result in serious health complications for the baby and increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions later in the life; it also accounts for nearly two thirds of infant deaths in Canada. In addition, preterm birth has social and financial impacts on families and additional costs for society in terms of healthcare and education.

CIHR's Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health has established a Preterm Birth Initiative to support new and innovative research ideas as well as improvements in the perinatal health care system and patient outcomes.

The Institute has invested $6.45 million to support three elements under its initiative:

A pan-Canadian collaborative preterm birth research network
A research team focusing on improving the perinatal health care system in Canada
Six research projects focused on catalyzing new research approaches to preventing preterm birth and improving outcomes for babies born preterm

This research is being funded under the Preterm ‎Birth Initiative led by CIHR's Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health.

New Hepatitis C Infections Nearly Tripled over Five Years

Over just five years, the number of new hepatitis C virus infections reported to CDC has nearly tripled, reaching a 15-year high, according to new preliminary surveillance data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Because hepatitis C has few symptoms, nearly half of people living with the virus don't know they are infected and most new infections go undiagnosed. Further, limited surveillance resources have led to underreporting, meaning the annual number of hepatitis C virus cases reported to CDC (850 cases in 2010 and 2,436 cases in 2015) does not reflect the true scale of the epidemic. CDC estimates about 34,000 new hepatitis C infections actually occurred in the U.S. in 2015.

Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other infectious disease reported to CDC. The data released today indicate that nearly 20,000 Americans died from hepatitis C-related causes in 2015, and the majority of deaths were people ages 55 and older.

"By testing, curing, and preventing hepatitis C, we can protect generations of Americans from needless suffering and death," said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. "We must reach the hardest-hit communities with a range of prevention and treatment services that can diagnose people with hepatitis C and link them to treatment. This wide range of services can also prevent the misuse of prescription drugs and ultimately stop drug use – which can also prevent others from getting hepatitis C in the first place."

Hepatitis C spreading rapidly in new generations, but boomers bear biggest burden

New hepatitis C virus infections are increasing most rapidly among young people, with the highest overall number of new infections among 20- to 29-year-olds. This is primarily a result of increasing injection drug use associated with America's growing opioid epidemic.

However, the majority (three-quarters) of the 3.5 million Americans already living with hepatitis C are baby boomers born from 1945 to 1965. Baby boomers are six times more likely to be infected with hepatitis C than those in other age groups and are at much greater risk of death from the virus.

While surveillance data do not accurately capture hepatitis C infection rates among infants, other recent CDC studies indicate that hepatitis C virus infections are growing among women of childbearing age – putting the youngest generation of Americans at risk. Hepatitis C treatment not only cures the vast majority of people living with the virus, but also prevents transmission to their partners and children.

Urgent need for expanded testing, treatment, and prevention

Comprehensive approaches are needed to combat the dual epidemics of opioid addiction and injection-related infectious diseases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has brought five specific strategies to fight against the opioid epidemic that will save lives and reduce the impact of injection-related infectious diseases. These are: improving access to treatment and recovery services, promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs, strengthening our understanding of the opioid epidemic through better public health surveillance, providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction, and advancing better practices for pain management. Comprehensive syringe service programs (SSPs) are one of many tools that communities can use to prevent hepatitis and other injection-related infectious diseases. These programs also help link people to treatments to stop drug use, testing for infectious diseases that can be spread to others, and medical care.

Two recent CDC analyses provide data to support communities in expanding access to SSPs, should they decide to implement this tool, where it is consistent with local laws. One study indicates that 80 percent of young people with hepatitis C live more than 10 miles from an SSP. Another study published in today's issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), examines the range of state laws that can influence access to both SSPs and curative treatment for hepatitis C. The study finds that only three states have laws that support full access to both comprehensive SSPs and hepatitis C-related treatment and preventive services for people who inject drugs.

While new medicines can now cure hepatitis C virus infections in as little as two to three months, many people in need of treatment are still not able to get it. HHS recently released the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, 2017-2020 that sets goals for improving prevention, care, and treatment of viral hepatitis and puts the nation on a course toward eliminating new hepatitis infections. The importance of this effort was underscored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which in a recent report concluded that eliminating hepatitis C as a public health threat in the United States is feasible if the right steps are taken.

"Stopping hepatitis C will eliminate an enormous disease and economic burden for all Americans," said John Ward, M.D., director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis. "We have a cure for this disease and the tools to prevent new infections. Now we need a substantial, focused, and concerted national effort to implement the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan and make effective prevention tools and curative treatment available to Americans in need."

For more information from CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom.


The Canadian Ophthalmological Society encourages Canadians to See The Possibilities during National Vision Health Month​​​

Today, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) launched their first public awareness campaign, See The Possibilities in honour of National Vision Health Month in May. The goal of the campaign is to help educate Canadians about eye health and the important role ophthalmologists play in eye health care. Through a series of videos and personal patient stories, the COS will show Canadians first-hand the transformative effect ophthalmologists have on the lives of their patients and encourage Canadians to share their own eye health experiences. While other eye health professionals can correct vision, only ophthalmologists can restore it.

"The role of an ophthalmologist is not well understood by the Canadian public," says Dr. Phil Hooper, MD, FRCSC. "For people who have never experienced eye afflictions, the difference between an optometrist, optician and ophthalmologist may not be clear. The See The Possibilities campaign will help Canadians better understand the work we do for our patients in helping to restore vision."

The patients featured in the campaign are all Canadians whose lives have been impacted by an ophthalmologist for various afflictions and have inspiring stories to tell about their sight restoration. For example, Michael Babcock was only one year old when his ophthalmologist saved his life.

"Dr. Roberts saved my son's vision and helped us discover a brain tumour that would have otherwise gone unnoticed," says Amanda Gavin, Michael's mother. "At six months old Michael was referred to an ophthalmologist after learning he had inward-pointing eye issues. A later assessment revealed his optic nerves were swollen, resulting in an emergency MRI and a seven and a half hour surgery that immediately followed. He's now fully cleared and has made a miracle recovery but he may not be with us today if it hadn't been for the involvement and quick response of the ophthalmologist."

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (eye MDs) who specialize in eye and vision care. As the medical leaders, ophthalmologists are the "quarterback" of the eye health team. Their role is to diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform surgeries and prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Ophthalmologists can also diagnose and treat glaucoma, perform cataract surgery and mitigate damage from macular degeneration. Since ophthalmologists are the primary point of care for eye emergencies, one is always on-call 24 hours a day, every day at any Canadian hospital.

"Ophthalmologists are the future of eye care with many actively involved in scientific research on the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders," explains Dr. François Codère from COS and ophthalmologist at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Ophthalmology University Center. "We're very proud to be launching this campaign in honour of National Vision Health Month to highlight the value and unique role ophthalmologists play in correcting, restoring and preserving vision and maintaining good overall eye health."

The See The Possibilities campaign is also encouraging Canadians to share their own personal stories about what they've experienced to have their eyesight restored or improved to help drive further awareness of the important role ophthalmologists play in eye health care.

Cossette Health and The Colony Project developed the campaign in collaboration with the COS. The campaign will feature a video series and website, media relations and influencer engagement. The focus will spotlight stories from patients whose lives have been impacted by an ophthalmologist. The videos will be shared online and on social media.

By visiting www.seethepossibilities.ca people can find remarkable patient stories, along with new and interesting innovations from Canadian ophthalmologists.

Registered practical nurses essential to hospital care

One of the two classifications of nurses, registered practical nurses (RPNs) will have a tough time celebrating Nursing Week this week.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) has repeated their demands to have all RPNs eliminated from Ontario hospitals, but have masked their agenda in a call for an all-RN workforce. Over 18,000 RPNs work in Ontario hospitals.

"A staff mix based on the needs of patients is not a new concept and RPNs have provided essential care in Ontario hospitals for decades," said Jerry Dias, President of Unifor. "Their curriculum, training and skill set has increased significantly to keep pace with the needs relevant to our entire health care system, and there is no viable reason for this demand except possibly self-preservation."

Assistant to the National President and RPN, Katha Fortier notes that "the RNAO points to 70 years of studies to justify their position, but ultimately with the evolution in roles of the RN and the RPN over the last two decades these studies have little relevance. Both classifications of nurses are regulated and can practice autonomously, and all nurses are trained specifically to recognize when something is beyond their scope of practice, much in the same way a nurse practitioner would know when she or he needs to refer a patient to a doctor."

Fortier adds, "Ultimately, health care is provided with an entire team of caregivers and support staff, all of whom are integral to the system operating in an efficient manner. Unifor recognizes their important contribution, and is committed to defending the practice of RPNs in our hospitals."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.

A staggering 386 tonnes of unwanted medications safely destroyed in 2016

 Canadians and their pharmacists in four provinces have helped safely destroy a staggering 386 tonnes of unused or expired medications in 2016, says the Health Product Stewardship Association (HPSA) which manages medications return programs in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island.

"Our aim is to help Canadians easily dispose of their unwanted medications rather than throwing them down the toilet or into the garbage where they can damage the environment or endanger others," said Ginette Vanasse, Executive Director of HPSA. The industry-funded association has been managing these types of medications return programs in Canada for two decades. The programs are available to residents in these provinces free of charge.

"We understand people's concern about keeping these medications around the house where they may be misused or endanger family members and pets," she said. Fifty-one per cent of households have potentially harmful drugs on hand, reports Drug Free Kids Canada, yet only 11 per cent are kept under lock and key.

"Our recovery and disposal programs are free to use and taking advantage of them is as simple as dropping by to see your nearest pharmacist."

A survey of Canadians by HPSA last year showed that more than 90 per cent of those that use the medications return program were satisfied with their experience.

"This speaks volumes for the 5,354 pharmacists involved. Their role and the trust they have earned with their customers is vital in helping Canadians deal with household pharmaceutical waste in a safe and environmentally responsible manner."

The Health Products Stewardship Association is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association responsible for the safe management and disposal of household medications and sharps devices such as needles, lancelets and alike. It is celebrating its 20th year managing pharmaceutical returns programs this year.

The volumes of medications recovered in the four provinces in 2016 are as follows:

Ontario – 273 tonnes
Manitoba – 15 tonnes
British Columbia – 88.7 tonnes
Prince Edward Island – 4.2 tonnes


 New national prescribing guideline for opioids now available

As prescribers, physicians recognize that opioids can be important therapeutic tools in the treatment of pain as well as the fact that we have a fundamental role in helping to ensure their evidence-based use. We take that role very seriously and Canada's physicians are deeply concerned about the potential harms of opioids.

While opioids have been essential in areas such as palliative and cancer care and have contributed to the alleviation of patient suffering, these valuable clinical tools must be prescribed in an evidence-based manner with proper assessment and monitoring, and as part of a comprehensive therapeutic strategy.

The negative impacts associated with prescription opioids represent a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder response. While there is no quick-fix solution to addressing and no one group can address this issue alone, the CMA is committed to working collaboratively in the search for solutions to Canada's opioid crisis.

To that end, the CMA is working to disseminate the updated national prescribing guideline for opioids as part of a pan- Canadian collaborative of medical organizations. This guideline is also available through an online app and will be supported by other tools such as continuing medical education

Further, we will continue to be engaging our members in determining ways to help protect the safety of Canadians while also ensuring appropriate pain management for those who need it.

While finding solutions to this issue may not be easy, Canada's doctors are committed to working with patients, policymakers, experts and other health care professionals to address this crisis.

Dr. Granger Avery
CMA President

For 150 years, only the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has united the broad expertise of the medical community for the benefit and well-being of all Canadians. The CMA currently represents over 85,000 physicians, comprises 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and is affiliated with over 60 national and international medical organizations.

Evidence highlights danger of cutting RNs in Ontario​

Despite decades of evidence that registered nurses (RN) keep patients safer and make the health system stronger, Ontario continues to put patients at risk by replacing RNs with less qualified care providers.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) reviewed 70 years of health-care research to create the comprehensive 70 years of RN effectiveness database, which is now available to the public. Of the 626 research studies identified by RNAO's scoping review, more than 95 per cent show RNs have a positive impact on a wide variety of health outcomes, including reduced mortality, increased quality of care, increased patient satisfaction, and cost savings. Yet Ontario has the lowest RN-to-population rate in Canada and RN replacement is commonplace.

"A long history of evidence has overwhelmingly shown that RN care improves health outcomes and strengthens health systems. It's remarkable to see all this evidence together," says RNAO President Carol Timmings. "RNs must be fully utilized across our health system, but Ontario is currently falling far short of this goal."

As of 2015, there were 694 RNs per 100,000 people in Ontario, compared to 833 RNs per 100,000 people in Canada. RNAO's 2016 Mind the safety gap in health system transformation: Reclaiming the role of the RN report highlighted how Ontario RNs are being replaced with less qualified health professionals to save money. This has caused the RN share of the nursing workforce to plummet. The report recommended an immediate end to this troubling and dangerous trend.

"The evidence compiled in this database reinforces what RNAO stated in our Mind the safety gap report. It is dangerous and unsustainable for Ontario to be losing RNs," says RNAO CEO Doris Grinspun. "In fact, the evidence is clear we need more RNs if we're going to keep people healthy, safe, and keep our health system running well."

Ontario has undertaken a major shift in how health care is delivered as part of Health Minister Eric Hoskins' Patients' First initiative. But RNAO insists the province can't achieve its health-care transformation goals without a stronger RN presence in the workforce. This includes mandating an all-RN workforce in tertiary and quaternary hospitals, cancer centres and large community hospitals, requiring that all first home care visits be completed by an RN, and legislating minimum RN and nurse practitioner staffing levels in long-term care.

"It's no secret that RNs are foundational to a high performing health system with positive patient, organizational and financial outcomes," Grinspun says. "The provincial government now has extensive and conclusive evidence, and it's up to our elected officials to act so our health system can be strengthened today and for the future."

RNAO is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. For more information about RNAO, visit our website at RNAO.ca or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.   


Thousands of Canadians will benefit from a new training tool for surgeons

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), with the support of Bayer Inc. through an innovation fund, has developed a first-of-its-kind pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) surgery simulator that has the potential to improve the quality of life for thousands of Canadian patients.

This new 3D device will allow doctors, for the first time, to train more effectively to perform surgery in cases of Chronic Thromboembolic Pulmonary Hypertension (CTEPH), a rare and debilitating disease caused by chronic blood clots within the lungs.

CTEPH is underdiagnosed and there are potentially several thousand prevalent cases in Canada. Approximately 80 per cent of CTEPH patients are eligible for PEA surgery with only three centres in Canada performing it.

The PEA surgery simulator addresses an imperative training need for this technically complex surgery for which only a few surgeons in Canada currently have expertise. The first simulator is now in operation at the Toronto Western Hospital, creating a training Centre of Excellence for surgical residents.

"Bayer is honoured to collaborate with the National Research Council to develop this innovative surgery simulator," says Alok Kanti, President and CEO, Bayer Inc. Canada. "Bayer is dedicated to delivering innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for Canadians, and this surgery simulator will do just that for many Canadians with CTEPH."

"The National Research Council developed one more tool to help Canadian doctors better serve their patients," said Roman Szumski, Vice President, Life Sciences, National Research Council of Canada. "Our expertise makes us a unique collaborator for companies developing simulators for doctors and healthcare practitioners to perform complex and challenging medical techniques."

CTEPH may be cured by PEA surgery, which involves a heart-lung bypass, full cardiac arrest and deep hypothermia. The rarity of the disease and the limited field of view during surgery make teaching this technique very difficult. "The simulator may reduce the training time for residents by up to six months," says Dr. Marc de Perrot, world renowned thoracic surgeon at UHN – Toronto General Hospital, who worked in collaboration with NRC and Bayer to develop the simulator. This 3D simulator will provide surgeons with more "practice hours" to fine tune their ability to operate, which will lead to improved patient outcomes.

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Becomes Law in Canada​​​

 Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Many of these deaths are preventable if medical attention is received quickly, but evidence shows that witnesses to an overdose often do not call 911 for fear of police involvement. This is why the Government of Canada has taken action to encourage and protect people who are witnessing an overdose so they can seek help, and ultimately, save lives.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice, announced today that the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received Royal Assent and became law. The Act provides an exemption from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance as well as from charges concerning a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence or parole violations related to simple possession for people who call 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.

Philpott said, "During an overdose, a call to 911 can often be the difference between life and death. We hope that this new law, and the legal protection it offers, will help encourage those who experience or witness an overdose to make that important call, and save a life."

The Act was originally introduced as a Private Member's Bill by MP Ron McKinnon, the original Bill sponsor and Member of Parliament for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. The Government of Canada recognizes the dedication of first responders as key players on the front line in addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past year, the federal government has been building a new approach to drug policy by working collaboratively with communities, provinces, territories and key stakeholders, including addiction experts, the medical community, first responders, Indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations, as well as Canadians with lived experience.

The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based response to Canada's opioid crisis. For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit Canada.ca/opioids.


Parkinson Canada growing its reach thanks to Ontario Trillium Foundation funding​

Parkinson Canada invites Ottawa area residents to attend its public Research Forum and community celebration. During the event, Daphne FitzGerald, Chair of the Board of Parkinson Canada, will welcome special guest Ottawa-Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi, along with James Puddicombe, a volunteer with the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

"It is always rewarding to see the connections grant recipients are able to make with people in need at the community level. When we partner with organizations like Parkinson Canada, we believe that collaboration provides the greatest benefits for our community's families," says Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre, one of the communities that will directly benefit from expanding resources for people with Parkinson's and their families.

In 2016, Parkinson Canada received a three-year, Grow grant of $637,300 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to expand services in the province by adding three new community development positions: Marielle Henderson, based in Thunder Bay serves North West Ontario; Paul Scibetta, based in Brantford, serves Southwestern Ontario and Margaux Wolfe, in Ottawa serves Eastern Ontario.

As many as 40,000 Ontarians live with Parkinson's. This expansion initiative aims to alleviate social isolation and create connections for more than 1,200 people. Even in mid-size communities, ranging from 20,000 to 100,000, access to Parkinson's programs and services may be difficult. By linking individuals with appropriate programs and services, the daily challenges of Parkinson's can be better managed. Now, there is help and hope closer to home.

"People in the communities I reach tell me how much they appreciate the services they receive from Parkinson Canada," says Wolfe. "From support groups to education and research events like today's forum, we are definitely fulfilling a growing need."

Each day in Canada, more than 25 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Across the country, staff and volunteers, serve communities in a similar fashion. If you, or someone you know, are looking for answers or support, connect with Parkinson Canada. We encourage you to reach out and make a connection.

People interested in Parkinson's research and in how discoveries become practical resources to improve their daily life with Parkinson's are invited to hear two noted Canadian researchers Dr. Ron Postuma of McGill University and Dr. Silke Cresswell of the University of British Columbia. Both experts will be speaking at the Parkinson Canada Research Forum on May 5 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Lord Elgin Hotel, 100 Elgin Street in Ottawa.

For more information about the May 5 Research Forum and to register for this free community event, please contact Margaux Wolfe at 1-800-565-3000 ext. 3425 or by email at [email protected] Advance registration is required.

Prominent neurobiologist Dr. Samuel Weiss appointed Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Dr. Roderick McInnes, Acting President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), along with CIHR's Governing Council, announced today the appointment of Dr. Samuel Weiss as the new Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA). This appointment will be effective July 1, 2017.

Since 2004, Dr. Weiss has served as the inaugural Director of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, where he leads a team of 127 faculty members, over 300 neuroscience trainees and 350 professional staff. He is also a tenured professor at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine.

Dr. Weiss is well known for his discovery of neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals in 1992, which suggests that the adult brain can generate new cells. This research has opened the door to potential new treatments for brain diseases and a better understanding of brain cancer. His current work is focused on finding new ways to treat high-fatality brain tumours.

Dr. Weiss has had a long association with CIHR, having been awarded a post-doctoral fellowship by CIHR's predecessor, the Medical Research Council of Canada, in 1983. More recently, he was the co-lead of the Stand Up to Cancer Canada Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team, which received $11.7M in funding from CIHR and other partners to study the cancer stem cells that the drive the growth of tumours.

As the Scientific Director of CIHR-INMHA, Dr. Weiss will work with the Canadian neurosciences, mental health and addiction communities to identify research priorities, develop research funding opportunities, build partnerships and translate research evidence into policy and practice to improve the health of Canadians and people around the world. Finally, as a member of CIHR's leadership team, he will participate in setting and implementing CIHR's strategic direction.

Six Health Care Pioneers Inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

On Thursday, May 4th, six renowned medical pioneers will be recognized as the 2017 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Inductees at a special ceremony in Québec City, hosted by Université Laval and its Faculty of Medicine and sponsored by the Canadian Medical Association and MD Financial Management.

"The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these six individuals as honoured members," says Dr. Bryce Taylor, chair of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF). "Their passion and visionary leadership has improved health in this country, with global impact. Each of these Canadian heroes has earned their place alongside the current 119 Laureates of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame."

"We thank the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for having chosen our University and our Faculty as hosts of this prestigious ceremony, which highlights the remarkable accomplishments of men and women whose work has brought lasting improvement to the health of individuals and populations", adds Dr. Rénald Bergeron, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval.

CMHF Inductees are individuals whose contributions to medicine have led to extraordinary improvements in human health. Their work may be a single outstanding contribution or a career of notable achievements. As trailblazers in their respective fields, these experts underpin Canada's role as a world-class leader in medicine and health sciences. The 2017 Canadian Medical Hall of Fame Inductees are:

Dr. Michel G. Bergeron (Québec City, QC): Visionary, leading figure in the struggle against infectious disease and superbugs resistant to antimicrobials. An inspiration to thousands of students and researchers, Dr. Bergeron's innovative achievements have enhanced health, saved lives, and he established in Québec, one of the largest infectious disease centres in North America.

Dr. Michel Chrétien (Montréal, QC): Internationally recognized physician-endocrinologist and fierce defender of scientific freedom, Dr. Chrétien has built a unified career around his own pro-hormone theory, bridging basic and clinical sciences to secure immediate medical benefits.

Dr. Richard B. Goldbloom (Halifax, NS): One of Canada's foremost pediatricians, recognized globally as a pioneer of family participation in the care of hospitalized children. Known for his compassion for humanity, Dr. Goldbloom is highly acclaimed for his contributions to clinical excellence, pediatric research, education, administration and community service.

The late Justice Emmett Hall (Saskatoon, SK): Tasked with leading the Royal Commission on Health Services in 1961, Justice Hall had a profound and enduring impact on the organization and funding of health care in Canada. Considered a founding father of Canadian Medicare, he worked tirelessly throughout his law career for Indigenous rights, equal access to health care, and the rights of the disabled.

Dr. Michael R. Hayden (Vancouver, BC): Pre-eminent biomedical scientist, innovator and entrepreneur, Dr. Hayden has made substantial contributions to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of major neurodegenerative disorders, most notably the genetic basis of Huntington disease (HD).

Dr. F. Estelle R. Simons (Winnipeg, MB): Internationally renowned physician-scientist focused on pharmacologic management of allergic diseases, including anaphylaxis and asthma. A widely respected mentor, Dr. Simons played an important role in building the specialty of Allergy & Clinical Immunology nationally and worldwide through leadership in her field.

New National Mental Health Coalition Joins CMHA Mental Health Week Campaign​

For this year's annual Mental Health Week, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is using the theme Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health to raise awareness around the issue of long waiting lists. It's a perfect opportunity for Canada's newest, precedent-setting mental health coalition to add its voice to the CMHA campaign. The Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication (CEADM) is calling for changes to Canada's public drug plan system, which currently is preventing many Canadians from getting the treatment they need to get better.

"CEADM was launched yesterday to raise awareness around access to innovative depression medications. It makes sense to join CMHA's Sick of Waiting campaign," says Ann Marie MacDonald, CEADM's Ontario regional co-chair and Executive Director of the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. "Access to treatment should not be limited to those select few with employment benefits, while Canada's most vulnerable — the marginalized, the unemployed, veterans, seniors, single parents, Indigenous peoples — continue to struggle."

CEADM was created by mental health professionals and leaders, advocate, doctors, academics and people with lived experience to:

create awareness and recognition among policy-makers about the complexity of major depressive disorder and the effects of depression on Canadians' overall health;
highlight the inequity/fairness issue for many Canadians who rely on what is a broken public drug plan approval system; and
make better depression care a priority among policy-makers.
"Mental illness including addictions affects the entire country — nearly every Canadian community, family and workplace. One of the biggest challenges facing Canadians with mental health issues is timely access to care, with waiting times an ongoing, and increasing, problem," says Dr. Patrick Smith, a member of CEADM's national leadership team and CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association. "Many Canadians are being denied equal access to the newest innovative medications for depression. Through this new coalition, we echo CMHA's concern about wait lists and the fact that people who are living with mental illness still struggle to get the care and supports they need, with ease and without prejudice."

Three issues are preventing vulnerable Canadians from accessing the latest medications. Depression is complex, with 227 different combinations of symptoms, which means there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to treatment. A wide choice of therapy is critical to be able to find the best option for individual patients when it comes to treating mental illness. And, Canadians who depend on public drug coverage are limited to a range of drugs that are available to treat depression.

"My journey began when I started struggling with severe anxiety at the age of 3 and then continued as I suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts from the age of 16. I am so thankful that I was able to get the help I needed," says Brianne Moore, a member of CEADM as a person with lived experience and peer support advocate. "Joining CEADM gives me an opportunity to continue my advocacy work — and highlight the importance for all Canadians to get the support they need to get better."

Members of Canadians for Equitable Access to Depression Medication to date:

Phil Upshall, National Leadership Team; Mood Disorders Society of Canada

Dr. Patrick Smith, National Leadership Team; Canadian Mental Health Association

Jeff Moat, National Leadership Team; Partners for Mental Health

Ann Marie MacDonald, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Michael Landsberg, Regional Ontario Co-Chair; #SickNotWeak

Laureen MacNeil, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; Canadian Mental Health Association Calgary

Ron Campbell, Regional Alberta Co-Chair; person with lived experience

Dave Grauwiler, Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta

Camille Quenneville, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario

Dr. Sid Kennedy, University Health Network

Pratap Chokka, Chokka Centre for Integrative Health

Bill Gaudette, formerly CMHA; Past Member, Provincial Mental Health Board (Alberta)

Brianne Moore; person with lived experience, Ontario

Jean-François Claude, #TheMensDen; person with lived experience, Ontario


Bladder Cancer Canada marks beginning of Bladder Cancer Awareness Month with "See Red?" video campaign launch​

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month, and to kick it off, Bladder Cancer Canada (BCC) has launched a video to capture the shock Canadians should feel if they see blood in their urine, as it is the most common symptom occurring in more than 80 per cent of cases of the disease.

This year, 8,700 Canadians will be diagnosed with bladder cancer,1 but many will be diagnosed too late.

Building on BCC's "See Red?" awareness campaign, the video intends to make the call-to-action clear: if you see red, see your doctor.

"Even though bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in Canada, there is a low level of awareness about the disease, its signs and symptoms," says Tammy Northam, Executive Director, Bladder Cancer Canada. "New treatment options are becoming available to those with more advanced disease, but it is still crucial to diagnose the disease in its early stages, when possible."

Though around 70-75 per cent of bladder cancer cases are classified as nonmuscle-invasive,2 in which it is contained in the bladder, 20-30 per cent of those patients will eventually progress to muscle-invasive disease,3 in which it has grown into the muscle or spread to other tissues, organs or lymph nodes. If caught early before the cancer spreads, five-year survival can be 70 per cent or as high as 95 per cent.4

That's why it's so important to know the warning signs.

"Our video is meant to educate Canadians about the most common symptom of this disease and prompt people to act on it by speaking to their doctor," says Ken Bagshaw, Chair of the Board of Directors of Bladder Cancer Canada. "As a bladder cancer survivor myself, I know the shock that a person will feel if they see blood in their urine. My hope is that no one who experiences this sign ignores it; rapid action could save their life."

Other symptoms of bladder cancer can include bladder spasms, increased frequency and urgency of urination, and a burning sensation during urination.5

With more than 80,000 Canadians currently living with bladder cancer,6 BCC is as much about supporting existing patients through their cancer journey as it is about spreading awareness. That's why the video also serves as a way to reach patients who are living with bladder cancer, and to help connect them with the larger bladder cancer community.

Key to BCC's efforts is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month – the month of May – which is dedicated to a general awareness of the disease and its signs and symptoms. BCC encourages Canadians to help spread the word by sharing the YouTube video and using the hashtag #yellowhelps.

For more information or support, visit BladderCancerCanada.org.

About Bladder Cancer Canada

Founded in 2009 by bladder cancer survivors, Bladder Cancer Canada is a nationally registered Canadian charity. Supported by a Medical Advisory Board and a Medical Research Board consisting of the top bladder cancer specialists across Canada, Bladder Cancer Canada aims to help bladder cancer patients and their support teams address the day-to-day issues of this disease, increase awareness among the general public and medical community and fund research which pursues the diagnosis, treatment and elimination of the disease.

1 Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, Provincial/Territorial Cancer Registries. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2016. Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/cancer%20information/cancer%20101/Canadian%20cancer%20statistics/Canadian-Cancer-Statistics-2016-EN.pdf?la=en
2 Kassouf, Wassim et al. Canadian guidelines for treatment of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer: a focus on intravesical therapy. CUAJ. 2010-Jun;4(3):168-73.
3 UpToDate. Patient education: Bladder cancer treatment; non-muscle invasive (superficial) cancer (Beyond the Basics). Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/bladder-cancer-treatment-non-muscle-invasive-superficial-cancer-beyond-the-basics
4 National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. Cancer Stat Facts: Bladder Cancer. Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html
5 Bladder Cancer Canada. Facing Bladder Cancer: Bladder Cancer Facts. Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/facing-bladder-cancer/bladder-cancer-facts/
6 Bladder Cancer Canada. Show Canada how #YellowHelps this May. Accessed April 24, 2017. Available at https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/news/BCAM2017

Helping students take control of their breathing for World Asthma Day

In Ontario, more than two million people – including one in five children – now live with asthma, a chronic inflammatory lung disease, which can be fatal.

The Lung Association and its partner, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, have developed an innovative after school program, Play for All, to help tackle the challenge of physical activity among students with asthma.

Students who have asthma often see the disease as a barrier to being physically active. There is growing evidence that shows activity levels among children and youth with asthma are lower than their peers without asthma.

"Poorly controlled asthma can limit a child's ability to play, exercise and sleep – all critical to his or her development. Uncontrolled asthma can also lead to a child withdrawing from physical activity and sport. When asthma is well managed and well controlled, however, children who have asthma should be able to participate fully in all activities," says George Habib, President and CEO of The Lung Association – Ontario.

Open to students from grades 1 to 6, with or without asthma, Play for All combines education on lung health, asthma awareness and the importance of physical activity. Students have a hands-on experience with more than 20 lung health activities over a 12 week period. They also have the opportunity to engage family and friends in what they are learning.

By involving students who do not suffer from asthma, Play for All is able to create empathy among them. Netonia Henry-Grant, a student at Cecil B Stirling School, noticed a friend of hers coughing on the playground one cold day. She remembered that cold weather is an asthma trigger so she lent her scarf to her friend and told her to keep it over her mouth and nose.

Play for All helps students take control of their breathing by teaching self-management skills, promoting physical activity and fundamental movement skills, and offering a safe and supportive exercise environment.

The Lung Association also offers free student asthma management resources that are available online at on.lung.ca or by calling The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864).

About The Lung Association – Ontario
Breathing. It's what unites us. It's what inspires us. And it's what keeps us pushing ahead, whether it's searching for cures to lung diseases, helping people to quit smoking and ensuring that children never start, or fighting for clean air.

The Lung Association is the leading organization working to promote lung health and prevent and manage lung disease. We do this by funding vital research, pushing for improved treatments and better policies, and helping people manage their health.

McHappy Day®: Serving Up Smiles across Canada​

 May 3rd marks a key milestone for McDonald's® Canada as the company celebrates 40 years since the launch of the Canadian-born McHappy Day, a one-day event in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada (RMHC® Canada) and other local children's charities which is now celebrated in 18 countries throughout the world including the United States, Australia, England and Sweden.

Tomorrow, $1 from every Big Mac® sandwich, Happy Meal® and hot McCafé® beverage sold will go towards supporting families of sick children, when they need it most. Every McDonald's restaurant will celebrate in its own unique way, including hosting local celebrities, athletes, media personalities, dignitaries and VIPs to raise donations.

"McHappy Day is a long-standing tradition that was born right here in Canada – and it really is at the heart of who we are and what we do," said John Betts, President and CEO of McDonald's Canada. "We strongly believe in community and giving back to the neighbourhoods where we live and work in. Every year, Canadians across the country come together around the important work of the Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms, and celebrate McHappy Day in all of our restaurants."

In addition to McHappy Day's milestone year, George Cohon, founder of McDonald's Canada, RMHC Canada and McHappy Day, is celebrating a special milestone as well: his 80th birthday.

"McHappy Day is an event that is near and dear to my heart because it raises awareness and funds to help over 30,000 families of sick children stay together during difficult and often unexpected times each year," says Cohon. "When I helped found RMHC Canada, I would never have imagined the RMHC network of programs – the 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Family Rooms and 2 Care Mobiles would grow to this size – one family at a time. I am so thankful and inspired by the kindness and generosity of Canadians from coast to coast."

Canadians can also support families directly through in-restaurant and online fundraising activities including:

Purchasing a McHappy Day Heart in-restaurant
Purchasing fundraising merchandise at participating McDonald's restaurants (such as branded socks, notebooks and pins)
Starting your own Make Fun Matter Campaign at MakeFunMatter.ca
Donating online: rmhc.ca
RMHC Facts:

Last year, the RMHC network of programs in Canada support over 30,000 families, from across 1,800 communities
There are 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles in Canada.
Since the first Ronald McDonald House opened in Canada, over 321,000 families have been cared for at RMHC
Last year, McHappy Day raised over $5 Million!
About Ronald McDonald House Charities® Canada (RMHC® CANADA)

RMHC Canada is the national foundation of support for Canada's 15 Ronald McDonald Houses, 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms and 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles across the country. Collectively, these programs support over 30,000 families each year, providing access to quality health care and enabling family-centered care. All, by keeping families close – one family at a time.

The 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country provide a home for out-of-town families whose children are being treated at a nearby hospital, while the 16 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms offer families a place to rest and recharge right inside the hospital. Completing our circle of support are 2 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, mobile health units that bring medical care to underserved communities in Alberta.

As our founding and forever partner, and RMHC's largest donor, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited, their franchisees and guests, generously provide over $10 million annually to help support the RHMC network of programs for families with sick children across Canada.

For more information visit www.rmhc.ca.

About McDonald's® Canada

In 1967, Canadians welcomed the first McDonald's restaurant to Richmond, British Columbia. Today, McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Limited has become part of the Canadian fabric, serving close to three million guests every day. Together with our franchisees, we proudly employ nearly 90,000 people from coast-to-coast and approximately 85 per cent of McDonald's 1,400 Canadian restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs. Of the almost $1 billion we spend on food, more than 85 per cent is purchased from suppliers in Canada.

For more information on McDonald's Canada visit www.McDonalds.ca.


May is MedicAlert Month - Canadians warned of danger of imitation medical ID bracelets​

To recognize MedicAlert Month this May, Canada's largest membership-based registered charity is urging Canadians to beware of look-a-like medical bracelets when purchasing MedicAlert medical IDs for themselves and/or loved ones.

"One in three Canadians now live with a medical condition that needs to be communicated to an emergency responder during a medical emergency," says Robert Ridge, President and CEO of MedicAlert Foundation Canada. "Whether they're suffering from peanut allergy or a complex heart condition, it's critically important that Canadians wear a medical ID that can help save their life. The danger, of course, arises when someone is wearing a MedicAlert look-a-like bracelet that does not offer 24/7 Emergency Hotline service or globally-recognized medical terminology engraving, so paramedics and hospital staff do not have the comprehensive information they need when seconds count."

Having protected more than 1 million Canadians for over 55 years, MedicAlert is the only medical ID service to provide a 24/7 emergency hotline which relays key medical information to emergency responders within an average of five seconds of a call, in 140 languages. MedicAlert also employs trained medical professionals to analyze health information and propose the critical elements to inscribe on a person's ID, ensuring the identification adheres to the globally-accepted medical standards critically relied upon by emergency responders. By offering clearly labelled medical ID bracelets with the name "MedicAlert" on the front, and providing exclusive Family Notification service, MedicAlert ensures that, no matter where the person is, their loved ones know where they are and can be kept up-to-date during an emergency.

"When assessing someone at the scene of an emergency, one of the first things I look for is a MedicAlert medical ID; it's the medical ID that I trust the most in emergencies," says physician, paramedic and MedicAlert board member, Blair Bigham. "If I don't have the right information, I can't make the right decision. And, because I trust the information MedicAlert provides, I use it to help make the best clinical decision in a life threatening situation."

As part of the organization's charitable mission, MedicAlert Foundation Canada offers a number of life-saving programs:

Look – Read – Call! – Ensuring that emergency professionals across the country are aware of the patient information available on each MedicAlert ID, this training program offers current and future emergency personnel seminars and Training Medical Profiles and sample IDs, helping them provide the right treatment at the right time.

MedicAlert Connect Protect – This one-of-a-kind service gives emergency responders, healthcare providers and police departments quick and secure, 24/7 access to a MedicAlert subscriber's electronic medical profile. Ideal for safeguarding loved ones who may wander, such as those with Alzheimer's or other dementias, and for those living with a medical condition that could require immediate and focused attention in an emergency. MedicAlert Connect Protect is now available in a growing number of communities across Canada (Abbotsford Police, Durham Police, Hamilton Police, Nova Scotia Emergency Health Services, Owen Sound Police, Vancouver Police), with even more partnerships currently in the works.

Membership Assistance provides partial or full financial assistance for MedicAlert IDs and service plans for eligible Canadians who cannot afford MedicAlert protection. MedicAlert never turns away anyone in need of the service.

No Child Without helps ensure that eligible children (aged 4-14) attending public and Catholic schools with medical conditions receive free MedicAlert protection.
Learn more about all of the charitable and educational initiatives run by MedicAlert Foundation Canada here.

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Mental Health Week

 The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Mental Health Week:

"This week, I encourage all Canadians to #GetLoud to raise awareness about mental health, an important, but sometimes invisible, aspect of our general health.

"This year's campaign, led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, asks us to speak up to make sure Canadians get the mental health care they need, when they need it. Mental health is a core part of our well-being, but too often long wait times or limited services stop Canadians from getting the mental health care they need.

"That is why the Government of Canada will provide $5 billion over the next 10 years to provinces and territories to support mental health initiatives. These investments will help improve access to evidence-based interventions and mental health services and care for people across the country. With a particular focus on youth and young adults, this will help as many as 500,000 young Canadians.

"We also know that providing greater access to care and support is just half of the equation. Having access to safe, adequate and affordable housing, and being able to find and keep a good paying job are also part of what makes a difference in people's health. That is why the Government of Canada is making major investments in both housing and employment initiatives. As part of the new $5 billion National Housing Fund, persons with mental health and addiction issues will receive greater support.

"The Government of Canada remains committed to help communities address their unique mental health challenges. To build on Indigenous-led initiatives like the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Framework and the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, Budget 2017 pledges over $200 million over the next five years to increase support for mental health services for First Nations and Inuit. This includes making available, for the first time, the services of traditional healers as part of the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program administered by Health Canada.

"The struggles of mental illness have affected so many of us, including my own family. For everyone who has struggled with a mental illness: thank you for sharing your stories, and for showing that being open is a strength. You are not alone. Today, I join Canadians to celebrate your resilience, and to get loud about the need for timely access to mental health services and support. Together, we can make sure all Canadians have the care and support they need to live full and healthy lives."

Ontario children celebrate Doctors' Day by sharing what their MD means to them

This Vision Health Month, don't look away…​

Every day, Ontario's 29,000 doctors put patients first. From operating rooms to patient's homes, and from busy clinics to emergency departments, Ontario's doctors make a positive difference in the lives of their patients by providing high-quality care when it's needed most.

Today and throughout the month of May, patients, health-care professionals, organizations and government leaders will recognize Doctors' Day by thanking doctors for their dedication to patient care.

To recognize the contributions of Ontario's physicians, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) asked elementary students from across the province to share their thoughts on the idea of "what my MD means to me." Hundreds of children from across the province participated in this year's Doctors' Day campaign by completing a "What my MD means to me" activity sheet and adding a personalized message.

The responses to "What my MD means to me" included:

"My MD is great because he helps me feel better."
"My doctor helps me when I'm sick. She is like part of my family, she's a friend to me."
"My MD is a scientist, he is very smart."
"My doctor to me means a hero who is willing to help anyone in need. He would help me even if it meant he might get sick."
"Doctors are helpful. Doctors help."
"Hearing from our youngest patients on Doctors' Day is very meaningful for us," said OMA spokesperson Dr. Rachel Forman. "Their creative messages of appreciation are a thoughtful way to celebrate and remind doctors why we do what we do."

Ontario's doctors have a long history of advocating for the health and well-being of their patients and the communities in which they practice. Every day, Ontario's doctors treat and provide care to more than 320,000 patients.

"I know I share the sentiments of Ontario's doctors when I say how gratifying it is to be recognized for the passion and energy that we put into our work every day," said Dr. Forman. "Doctor's Day also gives us the opportunity to say thank you our patients for the privilege of caring for them."

To celebrate Doctors' Day, health clinics, hospitals, and other community organizations around the province are invited to recognize the physicians who have made a difference in their communities. During the month of May, Ontarians are also encouraged to thank a doctor that has made a difference in their lives by posting on social media using the hashtag #LoveMyMD.

May 1st was recognized by the provincial government in 2011 as the official day of appreciation for Ontario's doctors. The date was chosen to mark the birthday of Canada's first female physician, Dr. Emily Stowe.

Fast facts about Ontario's doctors:

Number of practising physicians in Ontario: approximately 29,000
Number of specialists: 15,500
Number of general practitioners: 13,500
Number of specialty areas of medicine: 37 ranging from medical oncology to public health
Number of first year students enrolled in medical school in Ontario: 1,000
Number of years to complete medical education: eight to 12 years, plus ongoing, mandatory continuing professional development
Number of patients seen each day: approximately 320,000
More than 50,000 Canadians lose their sight annually and there are alarming predictions that the number is expected to soar to crisis proportions in the next decade as Canada's population ages. The vision health landscape in Canada is rapidly changing and potential provincial policies could further impact your right to sight.

As part of the Eye See You campaign that was established in 2016 as an ongoing effort to inform and empower Canadians about their vision health, the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) is challenging Canadians of all ages during Vision Health Month to 'rethink' our traditional – and out-dated assumptions about the aging process and inevitable functional decline by focusing on ways to preserve or even improve vision as we age. The campaign also aims to highlight current conversations about treatment access and how new policies that restrict the use of approved treatments could have a dramatic impact on a person's vision.

"Today, Canada faces a growing – yet preventable – crisis in vision health which is likely to compromise the functional ability, as well as the social and economic contributions, of older Canadians," says Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General, IFA. "We cannot look away. Now more than ever, we need to resist the urge to simply accept deterioration in our eyesight as an inevitable by-product of aging. Aging doesn't have to mean vision loss or blindness – but Canadians must be informed and advocate for their own eye health and this is what the Eye See You campaign is all about."

More than 5.5 million Canadians live with significant eye disease that could cause vision loss. This number is anticipated to drastically jump due to Canada's aging population, as well as a growing incidence of key underlying causes of vision loss, such as obesity and diabetes. It is predicted that by 2036, Canada will have as many 10.9 million seniors – double the number in 2009.

The personal, social, and economic costs of vision loss can be profound. Approximately half a million Canadians live with significant vision loss that negatively impacts their quality of life. For example, compared to people of the same age without vision problems, people with vision loss are admitted to nursing homes three years earlier, experience twice the number of falls and have three times the incidence of depression, four times as many hip fractures, and twice the mortality rate.

In 2011, the direct and indirect healthcare costs of vision loss in Canada was estimated at $15.8 billion and projected to increase to $30.3 billion by 2032.

"Vision loss is multi-dimensional with far-reaching impacts, this is quite clear," says Louise Gillis, National President, Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). "Through campaigns like Eye See You, the CCB is actively engaged in advocating for our right to sight. The majority of Canadians are unaware of current government initiatives that could restrict the use of effective treatments, solely on the basis of cost. Along with the IFA and retina specialists, we are committed to raising concerns and collaborating with government, to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients."


Through the Eye See You campaign, the IFA encourages Canadians to have an open dialogue with their doctor and learn about potential threats to their vision health, and to support approaches and policies that provide access to approved treatments that are safe and effective.

"Protecting our autonomy as we age means being proactive about protecting our vision," explains Dr. Barratt. "When we insist governments and health systems invest the time, expertise, and resources necessary to develop age-related policies and programs that aim to optimize the functional ability and contributions of older Canadians, we help improve the quality of life not only of the individual, but also of their family and the broader community – now is the time to take charge."

Innovation has been a game-changer for patients living with vision loss and blindness. Today, treatments that have been studied for safety and efficacy and approved for use by Health Canada are dramatically improving outcomes for patients. Many retinal conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataracts, and refractive error are treatable if the appropriate treatments are started in a timely manner. Failure to treat with the most effective and safe treatment first can have serious consequences on a patient's sight, long-term.

"Having access to the right treatment for the right patient at the right time is critical to improving vision, preventing blindness and improving quality of life," says Dr. David Wong, MD, FRCSC, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief, Diseases and Surgery of the Vitreous, Retina, Macula and Choroid, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, St. Michael's Hospital. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution for complex ocular diseases. As a result, physicians, in consultation with their patients, need to be able to determine personalised treatment regimens and care plans on the basis of a number of different patient factors – and require access to the best evidence-based and Health Canada approved treatments available."

This Vision Health Month, Canadians are encouraged to visit www.eyeseeyou.care and learn more about emerging issues that could have dramatic impacts on the future of vision health. The Eye See You campaign aims to empower candid conversations between patients and their physicians, as well as with family and friends on social media within their communities – see the entire picture and take action for your right to sight. 


Stanley Cup Playoffs Take a Toll on the Health of Canadians, StubHub Poll Finds

 - A recent MARU/Matchbox survey completed by StubHub, the world's largest ticket marketplace, revealed that 33 per cent of Canadians find watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs stressful. However, the potential impact to fans health doesn't end with the final goal, as one in four Canadians revealed they feel depressed when their team is eliminated from the postseason. In Toronto, the number of fans experiencing the post-elimination blues registered at 31 per cent.

To help keep postseason stress in check, StubHub is giving away a limited number of heart rate monitors via social media to StubHub users in Ottawa and Edmonton as part of its #FansWithHeart campaign so they can keep their health in check as their hometown teams compete for playoff glory.

"The survey reminds us just how much Canadians love hockey and live experiences," says Cameron Papp, Communications Manager for StubHub Canada. "The impact of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Canadians' health is real, and we want to ensure fans are equipped to deal with the potential stress the playoffs bring."

StubHub has teamed up with a number of Canadian doctors, including Dr. David Greenberg in Toronto, to provide fans with tips to relieve playoff induced stress.

"First and foremost, hockey fans need to try to accept that there are events you can't control," said Dr. David Greenberg, St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto. "However, stress can be managed by eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise."

Other tips include:

If you feel overwhelmed, take a break from the game and go for a walk to cool down.
Try to maintain a positive attitude, no matter what the score of the game is.
Take deep breaths and visualize your team scoring the winning goal.
Other highlights from the survey include:

Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is nearly as stressful for Canadians as paying their mortgage. 1 in 2 Canadians (50%) indicate they would feel stressed with their team competing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. 56% of Canadians feel stressed paying their mortgage.

Canadian fans may take actions that negatively impact their health. 1 in 5 Ottawa residents (21%) consume more alcohol than normal as their team competes in the playoffs. 1 in 7 Edmonton residents do the same. 1 in 8 Canadians (12%) lose sleep during the playoffs, especially those living in Toronto (19%).

The playoffs can be a major distraction from work, school, and personal commitments for many Canadians. 3 in 10 Canadians (31%) check score updates regularly during work or school hours, when their team is playing. 1 in 5 (21%) Ottawa residents have cancelled plans with family/friends to watch their team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's CMHA Mental Health Week: May 1-7, 2017

The 66th annual CMHA Mental Health Week begins this Monday, May 1. Canadians are hearing the Canadian Mental Health Association's call to GET LOUD for mental health and they are raising their voices to end discrimination, stigma and shame at mentalhealthweek.ca.

"I think of 'getting loud' as a giant megaphone for mental health. The people we love, and the people we elect need to hear that mental health is an essential part of health, and of health care," says Dr. Patrick Smith, National CEO, CMHA.

From May 1-7 2017, the CMHA Mental Health Week website (mentalhealthweek.ca) is the go-to site for getting loud for mental health. Canadians can join the CMHA Mental Health Week Thunderclap and share their social networks for one momentous message; they can send a letter directly to their own MPs, declaring that they are sick of waiting for mental health to top the agenda. And they can make a donation of any amount to support CMHA's work.

This CMHA Mental Health Week, CMHA is also pleased to partner with singer-songwriter Rob Murphy to present his song, "300 Days." The song tells the tragic story of a young woman who died by suicide while waiting for care.

CMHA Mental Health Week was introduced in 1951 and since then has become a Canadian tradition. It offers Canadians practical ways to maintain and improve their mental health and support their recovery from mental illness. It also provides Canadians a forum to speak up about how mental health affects them and the people they care about.



MS Society urges Members of Parliament to act to improve #LifeWithMS​

 From May 1-3, 2017 representatives from the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and members of the MS community will meet with parliamentarians in Ottawa to launch MS Awareness Month (May). The meetings will focus on getting the government to take action to improve #LifeWithMS.

Canada has the highest rate of MS in the world, making advocacy and action related to MS a top concern for Canadians. Priority topics include policy changes regarding access for people living with MS (implementation of accessibility legislation; affordable treatments; and delivery of home care, supportive housing and age-appropriate/function-appropriate long-term care) and secure employment (flexible employment for those with MS and other episodic disabilities; and improved income and disability supports for those living with MS).

The often unpredictable and episodic nature of MS makes it particularly challenging in maintaining an adequate quality of life. This, along with the challenges of living with a disability, which has both visible and invisible symptoms and the barriers in support programs across all levels of governments, creates immense challenges for Canadian families.

"Every day my life and the lives of countless other Canadians are impacted by multiple sclerosis," says Marilyn Lenzen, who lives with relapsing remitting MS. "There can be a lot holding us back. Many of us living with MS don't have the option of benefiting from new MS treatments, which could slow down the progression of our disease due to a lack of government funded drug coverage. As our MS progresses, our independence is lost. Without sufficient home care options, we're forced to leave our homes for non-age-appropriate long-term care facilities. Our government has the power to improve the current situation by increasing access to treatments, investing in comprehensive home care, and enhancing access through accessibility legislation."

Throughout MS Awareness Month and leading up to World MS Day (May 31), the MS Society also advocates for the importance of accelerating research in the MS community, which continues to lead us to new treatments, better quality of life and one day, a cure.

Parliamentarians are invited to a reception on the evening of Monday, May 1 (5:30pm; Commonwealth Room, House of Commons), to learn more about how the MS Society is accelerating research to improve #LifeWithMS.

At 1pm on Wednesday, May 3, the annual Carnation Pinning Ceremony will take place in the House of Commons foyer where MS Society representatives, members of the MS community and party representatives Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre), Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach) and Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby South) will present carnations, as a symbol of solidarity with Canadians affected by MS, to MPs as they enter the day's session. Following the ceremony, MPs involved in the ceremony will present members' statements calling for support for the cause from fellow parliamentarians.

About multiple sclerosis and the MS Society of Canada

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system comprising the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. It is one of the most common neurological diseases affecting young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Please visit mssociety.ca or call 1-800-268-7582 to make a donation or for more information.

Join the conversation and connect with the MS community online. Find the MS Society on Twitter, Instagram or like our page on Facebook.

Ontario Nurses' Association Members to Mark Canada's National Day of Mourning and Remembrance

​Members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) will pause tomorrow to remember their colleagues who have been made ill, been injured or died on the job during Canada's National day of Mourning and Remembrance.

"ONA is a leader in advocating for improvements in workplace health and safety," notes ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Yet each year, thousands of workers are injured, made ill or killed in the workplace. Statistics show that workplace injuries and violence harm nurses and other health-care workers at a frightening rate."

ONA members will remember their fellow registered nurses – Nelia Laroza and Tecla Lin – who were infected and died of SARS while caring for their patients. They will also pause to remember Lori Dupont, RN, who was murdered by a colleague while she worked in Windsor's Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

"The Day of Mourning is a chance to also renew our commitment to improving workplace safety for all, so that nurses, allied health professionals and every working person is safer on the job," says McKenna. "We are continuing to push for more stringent occupational health and safety laws, and for accountability for workplace safety from employers, CEOs, directors, officers and supervisors. ONA continues to call on the Ministry of Labour to hold these decision-makers accountable for the safety of their employees."

Health-care sector workers are eight times more likely to experience workplace violence than those in the manufacturing industry.

ONA is the union representing 64,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.

Visit us at: www.ona.org; Facebook.com/OntarioNurses; Twitter.com/OntarioNurses 

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month. The Melanoma Network of Canada (MNC) is committed to increasing awareness about the importance of prevention and early detection for this deadliest form of skin cancer. In Canada, melanoma is the seventh most commonly diagnosed cancer with over 6,800 cases this year. It is one of the most common cancers in youth ages 15 to 29 and is the most aggressive skin cancer if not caught early. For more information, visit www.melanomanetwork.ca.

Many high-profile people have been treated for melanoma including former US President Jimmy Carter, Republican Senator John McCain and Hall of Fame Quarterback Troy Aikman. Legendary Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley, Crazy Canuck, alpine ski racer Dave Murray and most recently CBC's The Vinyl Café, Stuart McLean lost their battles with melanoma.

"When in doubt, take it out. If you have a mole that is troubling and you are not sure, ask for a biopsy," says Annette Cyr, Founder and Chair of the Board of the Melanoma Network of Canada. "Over half of initial melanoma is caught by the patient or by a family member. Make sure to check yourself monthly and take a photo on your phone to track any changes in your mole. Melanoma is very treatable if caught early."

Check your skin regularly as melanoma can affect any race, gender or age group. You are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have one or more of the following characteristics: prolonged exposure to UV radiation including outdoor sun and artificial UV radiation (tanning beds, sun lamps); severe blistering, sunburns before the age of 20; a family history of melanoma; more than 50 moles on your body; moles with unusual shape or colour; skin that tends to burn; fair or freckled skin; red or blonde hair and blue eyes; or a weakened immune system.

Know the ABCDE's to spot Melanoma:

A = Asymmetry
One half of the mole does not match the other.
B = Border
The mole edges are ragged, notched, uneven or blurred.
C = Colour
A variety of colours including shades of black, brown, tan, sometimes with blue, grey, red pink or white may be present.
D = Diameter
The mole has grown in size and is larger than 6mm.
E = Evolution
The mole has changed in the past few weeks or months and may be itchy, scaling or bleeding.
"Melanoma is on the rise in Canada," states Dr. Paul Cohen, Dermatologist and Director, Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "Because our winters are so long, many people are spending more time outside when the weather gets nicer and not applying sunscreen often enough. Whatever your skin type or skin sensitivity, there is no excuse to not be able to find a sun screen that suits you."

Dr. Cohen offers the following sun safety tips: seek the shade between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the sun is strongest; avoid tanning and UV tanning booths; cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses; use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day all year long; apply a thick layer of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating; and examine your skin head-to-toe every month and let your doctor know if you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious.

Wear a black ribbon throughout May to show your support for melanoma awareness and prevention.

The Princess Ball Raises $68,000 for Make-A-Wish® Canada​

 The fourth annual Princess Ball in support of Wishes for Olivia was a magical success on April 23rd, raising $68,000 for Make-A-Wish® Canada. Guests and volunteers gathered at the Liberty Grand Governor's Ballroom in Toronto. The family-friendly charity gala carries on the legacy of Olivia Grace White, who died suddenly at the age of 5 from an undiagnosed blood infection in 2012.

Host Stu Jeffries guided guests through the story of Beauty and her Beast while guests dined on a royal feast, were entertained with exciting dance numbers, visits with their favourite princesses, and countless activities.

Funds were raised through ticket sales, sponsorships, a silent auction, and contests on site such as "Belle's Enchanted Rose Garden" where the winner received a mother/daughter matching Pandora bracelet set.

Run by Olivia's mother Jennifer White, Wishes for Olivia was founded in 2013 after Olivia's sudden passing. This enchanted tribute to her is meant to carry on her legacy as such a kind-hearted spirit.

"This year, we wanted to celebrate how smart, quick, and persistent Princesses can be," says Jennifer White, The Princess Ball founder. "Our sponsors, volunteers, and guests have made seven wishes come true this year through Make-A-Wish®. They have provided the power of hope to keep these very special children persistent for years to come."

While some of the wildly popular activities returned to The Princess Ball such as the candy station, face painting, and hair adornment, there were new additions to the roster. Some of the new activities included: Belle's Enchanted Rose Garden, Little Town Flower Market, Belle's Perfumerie, designer popsicles, and a delicious chocolate fountain.

The silent auction and raffle items, donated by local businesses and organizations, highlighted prizes such as a return trip for two anywhere Westjet flies, 4-day tickets to Disney World, a Boom 97.3 prize pack, two Hasbro gift baskets, PANDORA jewellery sets, and much more.

Sponsors and partners for the 2017 The Princess Ball include: Hasbro, PANDORA, Home Trust Company, NagataConnex, Marketers on Demand, Liquid Entertainment, CastleBound Characters, Michelle Fernandes Photography, Photoworks, Tandem Studios, Happy Pops, Melonhead, GlamaGal Tween Spa, Gourmet Craft & Catering, Mabel's Labels, Event Wise, A Petal or Two, and SongBird Marketing Communications.

About Wishes for Olivia Fundraising Organization

Wishes for Olivia is a Not-for-Profit that was started in 2013 by Jennifer and Glenn White. The organization raises money for Make-A-Wish Canada in memory of Olivia Grace White, who died at the age of 5 of an undiagnosed blood infection. Wishes for Olivia participates in a number of fundraising activities throughout the year, including Tough Mudder -- competing as the "Cinder-Hell Yeahs" (annual), various team events/competitions, and, most notably, the annual charity gala The Princess Ball. To date, Wishes for Olivia has raised $280,000 for Make-A-Wish Canada.

For more information visit www.wishesforolivia.org and www.theprincessball.com.


Expanding role of community pharmacists could save Canada's health care system up to $25.7 billion​

 Canada-wide implementation of three pharmacy services could yield cumulative cost savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years, depending on the level of uptake of these services, according to a new report released today by The Conference Board of Canada. Expanding pharmacy services would translate to direct cost savings for governments and prevent chronic disease and premature deaths.

The report, The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada, part of a three-part research series commissioned by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), reviews the health and economic impact of three services that are currently delivered within a community pharmacy setting—smoking cessation, advanced medication review for heart disease and pneumococcal vaccination. The research findings provide ample evidence that expanded pharmacy services improve health outcomes and reduce burdens on the broader health care system.

"This report is good news for a cash-strapped health care system, governments, payers and ultimately all Canadians," said Alistair Bursey, Chair, Canadian Pharmacists Association. "While we have long understood the health benefits of pharmacist care in interventions such as smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease through past clinical practice research, these findings help to bridge the evidence gap to demonstrate the significant value Canada's pharmacists can bring to our health care system."

In addition to health and economic gains, a large return on investment is also expected for all three community pharmacy services. By 2035, for every dollar spent, the direct return could reach up to $2.30 for advanced medication review for heart disease, $9.10 for smoking cessation, and $72.00 for pneumococcal vaccination.

Expanding pharmacy services would improve the health of Canadians through chronic disease management, health promotion and prevention, as well as improve access to health services in rural and remote communities. Pharmacists can also help meet the demands of high-needs and vulnerable populations at reduced cost. Pharmacy care means fewer visits to doctors' offices and emergency rooms, saving health care dollars while also improving health outcomes for patients.

"If given the opportunity, community pharmacists could do more to help meet the growing demand for convenient, accessible, and cost-effective health care services," said Bursey. "The infrastructure for these services already exists; now we must expand pharmacists' scope of practice and remunerate them appropriately to provide this care across the country."

Pharmacists are ideally positioned to provide this care: they have the skills, training and expertise to do even more.
Community pharmacists are regarded as the most accessible and convenient primary care providers, and by capitalizing on their expertise as medication experts and broadening their scope of practice, they could play an even greater role in ensuring the sustainability of our health care system.

Canadian Fertility Consultants, Committed to Healthiest Outcomes Through SET Surrogacy Program

 One year ago, Canadian Fertility Consultants changed its longstanding policy of allowing its clients to decide whether or not to transfer multiple embryos into their Surrogate Mother, increasing the chances of a high-risk, multiple pregnancy.

Canadian Fertility Consultants made the decision to lead the charge within the fertility industry and institute the SET (single embryo transfer) policy for all clients using eggs from a woman under 35 years of age.

This policy change was part of a movement CFC is developing to ensure the protection of its Surrogates and Children born through Surrogacy.
According to the CDC, SET helps women avoid several risks to their own health that are associated with carrying multiples. It also helps families achieve success while preventing some risks known to be associated with giving birth to twins, or what is called "high order multiple births" (three or more children born at the same time). Infants born in multiple births are more often born early, are smaller (low birth weight) and experience more adverse health outcomes than singleton infants. There is consensus among experts that the desired outcome of ART is a healthy singleton infant.

The Government of Canada has long recommended using the SET protocol to increase the chances of a healthy full-term pregnancy; however, the industry has been slow to adopt these recommendations. Canadian Fertility Consultants was the first major Canadian company to make the SET protocol mandatory, and has always been committed to setting the gold standard in surrogacy practices in Canada.

"We would never advise a pregnant woman to skydive, so why would we put her at risk, along with the babies she's carrying? The risks of multiple pregnancies are clear, and we are ensuring that this risk is eliminated through our new SET only program", said Leia Swanberg, CEO of Canadian Fertility Consultants.

CEO Leia Swanberg knew that they may initially lose clients because of this major change in policy; however, the company has remained committed to ensuring the healthiest possible outcomes for her surrogates. Over the last year, the company has seen amazing results, and its surrogates and intended parents have benefited from the SET protocol.

The intention is to protect all parties involved by committing to the safest outcomes possible. The company will stand behind its policy by offering a Discounted Second journey agency fee, and will encourage other industry professionals, such as lawyers and Fertility clinics, to do the same for those who are pursuing two journeys simultaneously.

CFC hopes that fertility clinics and other industry professionals will adopt SET policies of their own, mandating the protection of the women carrying, as well as the families being created.

The Surrogates in the company's program are such amazing women, and deserve to be honored and respected, and this is one way that can be done. The company is always committed to providing its Surrogates with the best medical care, and their safety is always the prime concern.

Canadians Lack Access to Obesity Treatments and Support: Report Card​

Canadians living with obesity are gravely underserved by Canada's public health systems and private benefits plans, according to a report released today by the Canadian Obesity Network (CON-RCO).
The Canadian and American Medical Associations, the World Health Organization, the Canadian Obesity Network and other groups now consider obesity to be a chronic disease, like diabetes and cancer. However, many health systems, as well as private and public payers and policy makers, have yet to embrace this definition and dedicate sufficient resources in support of patients. 
The Report Card On Access To Obesity Treatment For Adults In Canada 2017 identifies substantial shortfalls in access to treatments outlined in Canadian clinical practice guidelines established in 2006, including behavioural interventions, medically supervised weight management using meal replacements, anti-obesity medications and bariatric surgery.
The report makes seven key recommendations to improve Canada's response to obesity, chief among them being the adoption of a true chronic disease approach to provide treatment and ongoing support for those with the disease.
Among the key findings are:
There is a profound lack of interdisciplinary healthcare services for obesity management in Canada.
A very limited number of Canadian physicians are pursuing formal training and certification in obesity management.
Canadians who may benefit from medically-supervised weight management programs with meal replacements are expected to pay out-of-pocket for the meal replacements, in sharp contrast with coverage available for meal replacements used in diabetes, cystic fibrosis and cancer care.
Those who rely on public coverage for prescription drug costs do not have access to the two prescription anti-obesity medications in Canada. Pharmacare programs in all the provinces and territories, as well as federal public drug benefit programs, receive a grade of F.
Less than 20% of the Canadian population with private drug benefit plans have access to these medications.
Nationally, bariatric surgery is available to only 1 in 183 adults (or 0.54%) every year who may be eligible for it. There are vast differences in access to bariatric surgery from one province to the next.
Wait times between referral to bariatric surgery and consultation with a surgical team receive a grade of F in all provinces; wait times between consultation and bariatric surgery receive a C grade in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Alberta, and a B grade in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
"Treating obesity should only be initiated in patients when abnormal or excessive fat accumulation impairs health – in other words, not everyone of a certain weight or waist circumference needs medical interventions," says CON-RCO Scientific Director Dr. Arya M. Sharma. "However, more than 1.5 million Canadians are classified as having Class II or III obesity*, which is associated with negative health outcomes. Clearly, we need to do a much better job of helping them with the tools at our disposal."
Research suggests that obesity can be successfully managed using the interventions outlined in the Canadian guidelines. If left untreated, obesity can result in significant illness, a profound reduction in quality of life, and increased mortality.
Canadians living with obesity struggle with related health issues, rampant weight bias and discrimination and a lack of access to evidence-based management resources, says Marty Enokson, chair of CON-RCO's Public Engagement Committee and an outspoken obesity care advocate.
"We have a long way to go in Canada before we can say we properly support people with obesity, not just with evidence-based medical interventions, but also with the respect and dignity that any person deserves," Mr. Enokson says. "We don't blame people living with cancer, heart disease or diabetes for their disease, and we don't make them fend for themselves in terms of finding help.
"We have some treatments available for obesity, and there are more on the way – we need to be willing to use them, and we need to make them as accessible as possible, as we would for any other chronic illness," he adds.
To view the recommendations, the full report, online summaries and other materials including study methodology, go to: www.obesitynetwork.ca/reportcard.
The Report Card On Access To Obesity Treatment For Adults In Canada 2017 was produced by the Canadian Obesity Network with the support of an unrestricted grant from Novo Nordisk Canada Inc.
The Canadian Obesity Network is Canada's largest professional obesity association for health professionals, researchers, policy makers and obesity stakeholders, with 15,000+ members. www.obesitynetwork.ca
*Class II obesity defined as BMI: 35.00 kg/m2–39.99 kg/m2; Class III obesity is  BMI: ≥ 40.00 kg/m2

Canada's top health researchers recognized for their life-changing work

Canada is home to some of the finest minds working in health research today – researchers who are creating new scientific knowledge, strengthening the health care system and improving the health of Canadians and others around the world.

Today, CIHR is pleased to announce the names of the four outstanding researchers who are the recipients of the inaugural CIHR Gold Leaf Prizes, which recognize excellence in health research and its translation into benefits for Canadians.

Dr. John Dick is the recipient of the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Discovery, in recognition of his pioneering work as the first scientist to identify cancer stem cells. A professor at the University of Toronto, Dr. Dick's research holds the promise for improved treatments and quality of life for cancer patients.

The CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Impact goes to the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, in acknowledgement of the organization's 25 years of providing care and treatment for those living with HIV, educating health professionals, and promoting evidence-based policy to protect people from the virus.

Dr. Gregory Steinberg is the recipient of the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Outstanding Achievements by an Early Career Investigator. A professor at McMaster University, Dr. Steinberg's work on understanding, at the molecular level, how obesity causes type 2 diabetes and the role that nutrition and exercise play in maintaining good health, shows enormous promise for the more than 10 million Canadians who have diabetes or are at high risk of developing the disease.

Finally, the CIHR Gold Leaf Prize for Transformation: Patient Engagement goes to Dr. Charlotte Loppie, for her continued dedication to bringing Indigenous peoples into research projects that touch their lives, with the goal of empowering communities, building research-capacity and tackling the health disparities faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Dr. Loppie is a professor at the University of Victoria.

The winners will receive their medals at a recognition ceremony to be held later this year.  


Emergency opioid treatment NARCAN™ Nasal Spray added to NIHB Program in Canada​

Adapt Pharma Canada, the makers of NARCAN™ (naloxone) Nasal Spray 4mg, applauds the Canadian government for removing barriers to accessing life-saving naloxone, used to treat opioid overdoses. Health Canada has updated medical coverage under the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) to include NARCAN™ Nasal Spray.

The NIHB is a national program that provides coverage to registered First Nations and recognized Inuit for a specified range of medically necessary items and services that are not covered by other plans and programs. Those eligible under the NIHB Program were previously only able to access the naloxone intramuscular injection. Designed with the general public and communities in mind, NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is a ready-to-use, needle-free alternative to other available opioid overdose emergency treatments.

"It is important for Canadians to have access to emergency naloxone treatment in case of an opioid overdose, and adding NARCAN™ Nasal Spray to the NIHB program makes it more accessible to those who need it," said David Renwick, General Manager, Adapt Pharma Canada. "NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is one key component in addressing the national opioid crisis. It's helping police and other first responders across Canada, as well as those in the community who provide emergency treatment to overdose victims."

NARCAN™ Nasal Spray has been available in Canada since July 6, 2016, when the federal health minister executed an Interim Order for the immediate importing and sale of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray. In October of the same year, NARCAN™ Nasal Spray was approved to be sold without a prescription.

Police departments continue to incorporate NARCAN™ Nasal Spray in response to the worsening crisis and the rise of illicit and lethal opioid drugs. Police officers and other emergency personnel, including firefighters, are using NARCAN™ Nasal Spray to temporarily reverse the effects of opioids in emergency situations.1 They are also using it in case of accidental contact with opioids, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl.1 Front-line RCMP officers are equipped with NARCAN™ Nasal Spray, as are more than half of all municipal police departments in Ontario and every municipal department in British Columbia.

Fertility challenges a burden for adolescents and young adults with cancer: new report

 The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) has released a report on Canadian adolescents and young adults (AYAs) – aged 15 to 39 – living with cancer. The report identified fertility as a primary concern for men and women in this group, and that the emotional and financial impact of the inability to become biological parents, as a result of cancer treatment, can be devastating to individuals and their families.

"Loss of fertility as a complication of cancer therapy is important, specifically to adolescents and young adults. Many who survive cancer but find themselves infertile, experience damage to their aspirations and identity, made all the worse if they feel that they weren't made aware of the risks of infertility nor of opportunities to preserve fertility prior to cancer therapy," said Dr. Paul Grundy, Expert Lead of Pediatric, AYA Oncology at the Partnership. "This whole issue dubbed 'oncofertility,' has generally not been given appropriate attention by our healthcare system, perhaps in the face of the more life-threatening diagnosis of cancer, but survivors tell us that these long-term challenges are very important."

Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer: A System Performance Report provides data on the burden fertility clinics would experience if all AYAs with cancer were referred for fertility counselling, and includes insights from AYA cancer patients on fertility concerns following a cancer diagnosis. During treatment for cancer, patients receive therapies that are toxic to the ovaries and testes, and can lead to problems with fertility.1 This is significant for young patients who are all within the reproductive age range.

"The cancer diagnosis was easier to accept than I could have hoped. My reality was that I had the disease and I felt lucky to have treatment options, but the pain I felt when hearing that treatment may leave me infertile is impossible to describe," said Bronwen Garand-Sheridan, cancer survivor. "What was worse was the lack of psychological support provided after receiving this news. Our health system must do a better job of preparing the cancer patient for the news of infertility."

For young women with cancer, procedures such as egg harvesting are intensive procedures to perform in a potentially unwell patients. Egg harvesting can take upwards of two weeks and may delay the start of treatment. It also comes with a significant financial burden averaging more than $10,000.

Key opportunities and challenges outlined in the report include:

Interviews with AYAs diagnosed with cancer identified fertility as a major source of distress prior to treatment.

Fertility preservation is an option for young people with cancer and concerned about their reproductive health, but it is affected by the limited number of specialized in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in Canada.

It is estimated that if all women aged 15-39 with cancer, in Canada, were referred for fertility consultations (e.g., to discuss egg harvesting), fertility clinics could see an increase from 103 patients per clinic per year in Ontario to 230 in Alberta, with all other provinces falling within this range. This would be a burden for clinics which treat all women (including those without cancer).

Data are not available in Canada on how well informed young men and women with cancer are on fertility issues, and on how many are referred to (or actually see) a fertility specialist. These are areas to be explored in future reports.
"Most fertility clinics get very few referrals for AYAs with cancer, suggesting that the majority are not being referred for counselling," said Dr. Anne Katz, Sexuality Counselor at CancerCare Manitoba. "We need to identify gaps in care and steps to be taken to ensure equitable access to fertility preservation counselling and services for young men and women with cancer across the country."

In addition to oncofertility, Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer provides information on incidence rates and trends, and distribution of cancer types among AYAs in Canada. It also includes other unique aspects of the AYA cancer journey including: mental health and psychosocial needs; medical needs during diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship; impact of cancer on employment and professional development; and challenges with AYA involvement in research and clinical trials.

"We are pleased to see this type of research being done looking at the cancer experience of adolescents and young adults in Canada, particularly in the area of oncofertility," said Britt Andersen, Executive Director of the Terry Fox Foundation. "The better we can understand the mental and emotional trauma experienced by this group during their cancer journey, the better we can improve outcomes for these cancer survivors who have many years ahead of them."

A full copy of the report is available at systemperformance.ca.  

Canadian employers bear the economic burden of the poor health of their employees​

In Canada, about $69.4 billion is spent annually on direct and indirect costs for five key modifiable risk factors – physical inactivity, smoking, excess weight, use of alcohol and low vegetable / fruit consumption. Although Canadians know that they need to lead a healthier lifestyle, they continue to get a failing grade when it comes to reducing their risks for chronic disease.

Of this enormous cost attributed to these five modifiable risk factors, approximately 70% are indirect, such as premature death and workplace disability costs. In Canada, this represents a major economic burden for employers.

Of course there are the humanitarian reasons to focus on the reduction of risk factors that can cause premature death and disability, but if that is not convincing enough, then let's look at the economics of it all. Dr. Hans Krueger (President of H. Krueger & Associates Inc. and Adjunct Professor at the UBC School of Population and Public Health) has shown that a 1% year-over-year reduction of these five risk factors would save the Canadian economy over $7 billion in the next five years and a staggering $28.1 billion in the over the next 10 years. "It's difficult to imagine anything else that could produce that kind of return for Canadians," said Rhiannon Traill, President and CEO of the Economic Club of Canada.

Canadian workplaces present an optimal venue to introduce early intervention strategies that reduce the economic and health burden of these modifiable risk factors. Using analytics combined with evidence-informed approaches has to be the focus for not only employers, but the entire health system. "The old argument that prevention strategies provide no immediate payoff is no longer valid. The lion share of the people with these five modifiable risk factors are in our workforce, so we must take immediate action. Although health outcome improvements are a longer-term play, there are turnkey opportunities to drive quick tangible results for employers," said Susanne Cookson, Co-founder at Cookson James Loyalty.

The Economic Club of Canada, the podium of record for economic issues affecting Canada, and Cookson James Loyalty, Canada's leading experts in evidence-informed health behaviour change interventions, are proud to announce a formal strategic partnership to improve the health and wealth of Canadians.

Research is underway to review intervention models that look to demonstrate the impact of small, easy to implement changes for employers that will make a big difference to the bottom line and prevent premature death and disability of their workforce. Starting this October 2017, an annual report card on the economic burden of health in the workplace will be unveiled during Healthy Workplace Month.

Seven of the Most Common Myths about Organ Donation Debunked​

This National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week (April 23 – 29, 2017), Trillium Gift of Life Network is debunking myths about organ and tissue donation and encouraging Ontarians to register consent for donation.

Registration has the power to saves lives and it gives hope to the over 1,500 people in Ontario waiting for a lifesaving transplant today. The reality is that every three days someone will die because of not getting an organ transplant in time. But you can help. With more registered donors, we could prevent deaths on the waitlist.

To break down barriers and promote donor registration, Trillium Gift of Life Network has debunked seven of the most common myths about organ and tissue donation.

MYTH: A signed donor card is all you need to become a donor.

FACT: Because paper donor cards were a less than ideal way to record a donor's consent, Trillium Gift of Life Network began recording consent in a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care database. This ensures that a person's wishes about donation can be shared with loved ones at the appropriate time. Formally register at www.BeADonor.ca.

MYTH: I am too old, no one would want my organs or tissues.

FACT: Age alone does not disqualify someone from becoming a donor. The oldest organ donor in Canada was over 90 and the oldest tissue donor was over 100. There is always potential to be a donor; age should not prevent someone from registering.

MYTH: I cannot be a donor because I have a serious medical condition.

FACT: All potential donors are assessed at time of death for medical suitability, which includes a review of their health history as well as serological testing. It is best not to rule yourself out because there is always potential to save or enhance the lives of others through organ and tissue donation.

MYTH: My religion will not allow for organ donation.

FACT: All major religions support organ and tissue donation or respect an individual's choice. However, if you are unsure of your faith's position on donation, consult with your faith leader.

MYTH: Organ donation will delay and impact my funeral plans.

FACT: Organ and tissue donation will not delay or interfere with funeral plans. Medical suitability testing and a recovery surgery typically take place within 24 to 36 hours of someone's passing. After donation, the family can carry out funeral arrangements as planned, including an open casket funeral, burial, cremation, and so on.

MYTH: Families have to pay for the cost of organ donation.

FACT: Donation does not come at a cost to the family. Organ and tissue donation is a gift. The costs of organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Ontario are covered by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

MYTH: I cannot donate blood, so I cannot be an organ donor.

FACT: The regulations for blood donation are different for organ and tissue donation. Even if you are not able to donate blood, you can still become an organ and tissue donor.

Register today at www.BeADonor.ca or learn more about these myths and find answers to other questions at http://www.giftoflife.on.ca/en/faq.htm.

Did you know?

National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In recognition of this milestone, landmarks will be lit green to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation - including the CN Tower, Toronto City Hall and the 3D Toronto sign.
According to an Ipsos study, as many as 1.8 million Ontarians mistakenly believe they are registered organ and tissue donors. Paper donor cards became obsolete when Trillium Gift of Life Network adopted a registry. Check your status or register your consent at www.BeADonor.ca.


Healthcare professionals and volunteers recognized for demonstrating exceptional patient care​

CUPE files unfair labour practice complaint against Canadian Hearing Society

 Lawyers for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 2073, representing 227 striking workers at the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS), have filed an unfair labour practice complaint at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The workers have been on strike since March 6th.

In its submissions to the OLRB, the union contends the employer has violated the Ontario Labour Relations Act in multiple ways. The Act (legislation governing the rules of engagement in collective bargaining) is clear that where there is a bargaining agent - a union - representing workers, the employer may not attempt to "direct deal" with individual employees. Yet that is exactly what the CHS did on April 7th, when it couriered 227 individual offers to striking workers by Purolator, at their home addresses.
"Repeatedly, the CHS has sought to prolong this strike rather than resolve it," said Barbara Wilker-Frey, CUPE National Representative. "They took over three weeks to come back to the table after the strike began. Once at the table, they refused to make any meaningful compromise toward resolution - even when faced with a major move by the union to address their so-called liability concern. Then, once talks broke down again, they tried to cut individual deals with our members."

The union's complaint outlines that in addition to "direct dealing", the CHS also shared information with striking workers that it never once tabled in negotiations. The CHS also sent out false financial information to employees, which differs from figures used at the bargaining table.

"We wonder how many thousands of dollars the CHS wasted sending these misleading, inappropriate individual letters to our members by same-day courier across the province," said Wilker-Frey. "The money CHS is spending to prolong this strike should be going to provide high-quality services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. We continue to urge them to find a mature way to resolve this dispute. We have met them on their major point. They need to find a way to get to yes. Both parties owe that to the community we serve."

The 227 workers have not had a wage increase in four years. They are counsellors, literacy instructors, audiologists, speech language pathologists, interpreters/interpreter trainers, clerical support, program coordinators, program assistants, and information technology specialists.


The 11th annual Human Touch Awards took place on April 20, 2017, honouring 10 healthcare professionals and volunteers from across Ontario who have made a positive impact in the cancer and kidney care communities. Presented by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Renal Network, the Awards recognized those who have gone the extra mile to truly provide the 'human touch' by offering support, guidance and encouragement, and lifting the spirits of the patients and families they encounter.

This year's award recipients have proven to be champions in person-centred care, making every effort to meet the unique needs of each patient to ensure they receive the best possible care. From making phone calls to experts around the world to appropriately treat a patient with a rare and complex condition, to building a peer support group for young women with cancer or simply offering friendship or a smile, these passionate healthcare professionals and volunteers leave a lasting impression each day.

This year's Human Touch Awards recipients are:

Deborah Bezaire, a firm believer in person-centred care who demonstrates leadership and compassion on a daily basis to improve the overall patient and family experience.
Vera Buckingham, a beloved volunteer who manages the nourishment cart at her local renal program, wholeheartedly delivering coffee and treats every day – even homemade goods.
Julie Chaves, a front desk registration employee who creates a positive setting in an environment that is otherwise stressful, particularly for newly diagnosed cancer patients.
Dr. Jocelyn Garland, an assistant professor of nephrology and tireless patient advocate whose knowledge and expertise enables her to find solutions to treat patients with complex conditions.
Elise Gasbarrino, a cancer survivor who founded an organization that provides support, facilitates connections and empowers young women who are being treated for cancer.
Maggie Genna, the 'captain' at a chemotherapy suite who leads her team with precise attention to detail and efficiency, ensuring the safety of patients is always the top priority.
Craig Lindsay, a former kidney disease patient turned active volunteer who never shies from sharing his personal story to provide hope and inspiration to patients facing similar struggles.
Dr. Michael Lock, a radiation oncologist who is relentless in his search for new evidence and innovations to ensure his patients receive the best and most up-to-date care and treatment.
Debora Prokopich Buzzi, a volunteer patient and family advisor who uses her voice to advocate for fellow patients with the goal of improving the overall patient and family experience.
Nancy Woodcock, a renal dietician who, after over 30 years, still continues to think outside the box to ensure her kidney disease patients receive the best care and achieve optimal results.
Over 80 awards have been given out since the inception of the Human Touch Awards in 2007. The Human Touch Awards were created to highlight the importance of providing emotional support to people with cancer and kidney disease, in addition to the medical treatment they already receive. The Awards also showcase the incredible work taking place across the province each day by committed, dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals and volunteers.

CCO acknowledges the generous support of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Ontario branch and the RBC Foundation, sponsors of the 11th annual Human Touch Awards. The partnerships between CCO, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and other organizations, health professionals, front-line care providers and volunteers make up Ontario's cancer and kidney care programs that are essential to providing and maintaining high-quality healthcare in the province.


Nurse Practitioners in Ontario now able to prescribe controlled drugs and substances​

65% Losing Sleep Over Money; Health Care Costs Lead List of Worries for First Time

65% of Americans are losing sleep because of money, according to a new CreditCards.com report. The most common worry – expressed by 38% of Americans – is health care or insurance bills. 37% lie awake fretting about saving enough for retirement, 34% because of educational expenses, 26% over mortgage/rent bills and 22% due to credit card debt. Click here for more information:


Health care and educational expenses are the only categories in worse shape now than during the Great Recession. Concerns over health care costs have spiked over the past year (up nine percentage points).

In 2007, just prior to the recession, 56% of Americans said they were losing sleep over one of these five topics. During the recession (2009), the figure jumped to 69%. It fell to 62% each of the past two years and ticked up to 65% this year.

Gen Xers are the most concerned about health care expenditures and saving for retirement. Millennials are the most fearful about outlays for education, housing and credit card debt. These issues are cutting into the slumbers of 73% of Gen Xers, 71% of millennials, 59% of Baby Boomers and 48% of the Silent Generation.

People who are losing sleep over money aren't taking it lying down: 82% reported taking at least one step to improve their financial situation over the past year versus 54% of those who aren't losing sleep. The most common action the insomniacs took was to reduce expenses, followed by selling something, signing up for a new credit card and taking on a second job.

"People lose sleep when things feel out of control," said Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com's senior industry analyst. "Take back some of that control by taking action. Even small moves like making a budget, selling something of value or trimming expenses can make you feel empowered and help you sleep more peacefully at night."

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (500) and cell phone (500, including 308 without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source from April 6-9, 2017. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.


Today, on behalf of more than 3,100 nurse practitioners in Ontario and the millions of people they serve, NPAO is thrilled to announce that the Honourable Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) have approved the prescriptive authority for nurse practitioners in Ontario to prescribe Controlled Drugs and Substances (CDS).

At the NPAO conference in September 2016, the Hon. Minister Eric Hoskins made a commitment to Nurse Practitioners and the people of Ontario to put patients first by enabling broad prescriptive authority.

This has been a much-anticipated expansion in scope given that Ontario was the last jurisdiction in North America to grant Nurse Practitioners the authority to prescribe controlled drugs and substances. NPAO has been working on this issue on behalf of NPs and their clients for many years, and we are delighted to see it come to fruition. The change in regulation is pivotal in enabling NPs to work to full scope and put their patients first.

"Every day, Nurse Practitioners play an important role in providing psychiatric care and addiction services to patients, relieving pain and suffering, and delivering palliative and end-of-life care to the people of Ontario. These changes will enable Nurse Practitioners to better provide safe, efficacious and timely care. In addition, Nurse Practitioners in Ontario will now be able to provide medical assistance in dying to those who are eligible."
----Theresa Agnew, CEO, NPAO

"NPAO represents Nurse Practitioners who provide care to clients with seizure disorders, learning disorders, and mental health conditions, and to people experiencing acute and chronic pain. Nurse Practitioners work in Emergency Departments, in hospitals, in long-term care homes and in pain clinics. NPs provide palliative care in the home to those with cancer. These changes will especially help those Ontarians who live in remote and rural areas of the province," states NPAO president, Wendy McKay.

We know that NPs regardless of where they work will continue to deliver excellent care to patients in a wide variety of sectors. NPAO will continue to engage with key stakeholders in the development of educational tools and resources including webinars and guidelines to help ensure safe and effective prescribing of CDS. NPAO is committed to ensuring that Nurse Practitioners are held to the highest standards in the prescribing of controlled drugs and substances.

NPAO is the professional voice for over 3,100 Nurse Practitioners in Ontario. Our mission is to achieve the full integration of Nurse Practitioners in order to ensure accessible, high quality health care for all.

NPs provide service to the people of Ontario across the health care system in variety of settings including community clinics, hospitals, long-term care homes and in patients' homes. NPs practice in inter-professional teams with a broad range of health care providers. NPs independently diagnose illness and health care conditions, prescribe drugs, and order x-rays and laboratory tests for their patients. NPs can also admit, treat and discharge patients in hospitals and long- term care homes.


Study Paints Somber Picture of U.S. Mental Health Status and Access to Care 

 More Americans than ever before suffer from serious psychological distress, and the country's ability to meet the growing demand for mental health services is rapidly eroding.

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center analyzed a federal health information database and concluded that 3.4 percent of the U.S. population (more than 8.3 million) adult Americans suffer from serious psychological distress, or SPD.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducts the National Health Interview Survey on which the research is based, SPD combines feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair people's physical well-being. Previous survey estimates had put the number of Americans suffering from SPD at 3 percent or less.

The findings — believed to be the first analysis of its kind in more than a decade — were published in the journal Psychiatric Services online April 17. More than 35,000 U.S. households, involving more than 200,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 64, in all states and across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups, participate in the yearly survey.

Among the study's other key findings is that, over the course of the surveys from 2006 to 2014, access to health care services deteriorated for people suffering from severe distress when compared to those who did not report SPD.

"Although our analysis does not give concrete reasons why mental health services are diminishing, it could be from shortages in professional help, increased costs of care not covered by insurance, the great recession, and other reasons worthy of further investigation," says lead study investigator Judith Weissman, PhD, JD, a research manager in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone.

Weissman says the situation appears to have worsened even though the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) include provisions designed to help reduce insurance coverage disparities for people with mental health issues. She adds that the new report can serve as a baseline for evaluating the impact of the ACA and in identifying disparities in treating the mentally ill.

Comparing self-reported SPD symptoms across nine years, the NYU Langone research team estimates that nearly one in 10 distressed Americans (9.5 percent) in 2014 still did not have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or counselor, a slight rise from 2006, when 9 percent lacked any insurance. About 10.5 percent in 2014 experienced delays in getting professional help due to insufficient mental health coverage, while 9.5 percent said they experienced such delays in 2006. And 9.9 percent could not afford to pay for their psychiatric medications in 2014, up from 8.7 percent in 2006.

"Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy," says Weissman. "Our study may also help explain why the U.S. suicide rate is up to 43,000 people each year."

She says her group's next research report will detail how underdiagnosis of SPD impacts physician practices and encourages overuse of other health care services.

Senior study investigator and NYU Langone clinical professor Cheryl Pegus, MD, MPH, who also serves as director of general internal medicine and clinical innovation, says physicians, especially in primary care, can play a bigger role in screening people and detecting signs of SPD and potential suicide.

"Utilizing tools at the time of intake on all patients allows us to collect important data and devise strategies for care," says Pegus. "Our study supports health policies designed to incorporate mental health services and screenings into every physician's practice through the use of electronic medical records, and by providing training for all health care professionals, as well as the right resources for patients."

Besides Weissman and Pegus, other NYU Langone researchers involved in this analysis, which took four years to complete and was self-funded by NYU Langone, are Jeannette Beasley, PhD, MPH, RD; Melanie Jay, MD, MS; and Dolores Malaspina, MD, MS, MPH. Additional research support was provided by study co-investigator David Russell, PhD, at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. 

#MakingSchistory: Wormzilla Invades Lake Geneva​

On the eve of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, the Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) has unveiled a giant worm on Lake Geneva. The 25m structure represents the parasitic worm of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) that causes significant suffering and death. Aiming to generate global attention, the GSA is calling for more concerted action to eliminate this disease. Hundreds of millions of people around the world are at risk of schistosomiasis: a silent water borne killer that lurks in freshwater lakes and rivers.

"Schistosomiasis is the biggest killer you've probably never heard of, and that's the problem. We want to bring the suffering that this disease causes to the attention of the world and policy makers as more awareness will lead to greater action. The giant worm on Lake Geneva is part of the #MakingSchistory global awareness campaign. We want to make history and consign schistosomiasis to the past. Together with our partners, the GSA is determined to cut the cycle of transmission & eliminate schistosomiasis," said Dr Johannes Waltz, Global Schistosomiasis Alliance.

The call for more global action to tackle schistosomiasis has been put into focus this year as the Merck-World Health Organization medicine donation programme marks its tenth year. This programme provides free praziquantel to children in Africa. To date 100 million children have been treated.

"We are confident that elimination of schistosomiasis is possible. We have made a lot of progress in the last 15 years but we need to do more. The availability of free treatment has enabled us to break the cycle of misery caused by schistosomiasis, improve the health of a generation of school aged children and protect them from the serious consequences of infection. The next steps will be to provide clean water and better sanitation which are needed to stop the suffering completely," said Professor Alan Fenwick, Professor of Tropical Parasitology, Imperial College London and Founder, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.

Schistosomiasis kills 280,000 people every year in Africa alone. People can become infected with schistosomiasis when they come into contact with contaminated water while washing, playing or working. Infection is especially high in children and can cause anaemia, stomach pain and swelling, diarrhoea, bladder cancer as well as holding back their cognitive development and growth.

About #MakingSchistory

The #MakingSchistory campaign acknowledges the great steps taken in moving towards elimination of schistosomiasis, while recognising the need for stronger concerted efforts to keep fighting this dreadful infection until it is wiped out. As part of the #MakingSchistory campaign, the GSA will also be producing a report sharing real stories of the people involved in the fight to eliminate schistosomiasis - 'The people #MakingSchistory' - to be launched in May.

More information about the campaign can be found at: http://www.MakingSchistory.com.

Grifols Donates 140 Million International Units of Blood Clotting Factors to the World Federation of Hemophilia Humanitarian Aid Program​

Today, Grifols, S.A. announced that it will donate a minimum of 140 million international units (IU) of blood clotting factor medicines (Factor VIII) to the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) Humanitarian Aid Program over the next five (5) years. This announcement is a continuation of the Company's three-year commitment from 2014, bringing the total humanitarian aid commitment to more than 200M IU of Factor VIII over eight years. Grifols' direct contribution to the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program builds on the Company's participation in Project Recovery, which transforms previously unused cryoprecipitate from Canadian blood donors into medicines that treat hemophilia patients in developing countries.

For more than a decade Grifols has been a proud supporter of the WFH and its efforts to improve access to treatment of bleeding disorders around the world. The renewed partnership with WFH reaffirms Grifols' commitment to the global hemophilia community accounting for the Company's most significant contribution to the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program to date. According to the WFH, this donation of Factor VIII medicines will secure a projected average of 10,300 doses to treat approximately 6,000 patients per year in developing countries worldwide through 2021, where access to adequate treatment is often lacking or absent.

"Today, World Hemophilia Day represents ideal timing for Grifols to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to bleeding disorders and the hemophilia community," said Victor Grifols Roura, President of Grifols. "Our philosophy aligns fully with the mission of WFH, sharing a clear passion for providing adequate treatment for all patients regardless of where they live."

Grifols produces plasma-derived medicines to treat rare, chronic diseases such as hemophilia and also develops solutions for the diagnoses of bleeding disorders. The company plans to increase its production of blood clotting factor medicines to specifically meet its donation commitment to this program.

"Since its creation in 1996, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program has benefitted more than 100,000 people in 90 countries. We are grateful for our contributors' commitment and support for our mission, such as Grifols, to improve the diagnosis and access to care for people with bleeding disorders who wouldn't otherwise receive the treatment they need. We have seen time and time again the dramatic positive impact on quality of life that such donations make on patients," said Alain Bauman, CEO, WFH, and Executive Director of WFH USA.

An estimated 400,000 people around the world have hemophilia, yet only 25% receive adequate treatment. Grifols' donation also supports the second decade of WFH's Global Alliance for Progress (GAP) program aimed at increasing the number of patients diagnosed and treated for bleeding disorders, particularly in the world's most impoverished countries.

For more information about WFH, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, go to http://www.wfh.org/.


Canada's Minister of Health gets a healthy dose of hope and happiness​

mobileDOCTOR by guard.me - Introducing Canada's First Telemedicine Program for International Students

 guard.me International Insurance now offers international students direct access to a doctor at the touch of a button, anytime, anywhere, using a mobile device. International students across Canada that are covered by guard.me can now talk to a medical professional over the phone without having to visit a clinic or wait long hours in an emergency room.

The new mobileDOCTOR by guard.me is the first and only telemedicine service of its kind to provide immediate and confidential medical attention to international students 24/7 and in over 140 languages. When unsure if they should go to a clinic or the emergency room, international students can access on-the-spot medical advice, get a referral, or obtain new prescriptions when appropriate.

"The mobileDOCTOR program helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to medical services that are not always available in rural communities," says Keith Segal, president and CEO of guard.me International Insurance. "In urban areas with long wait times, calling mobileDOCTOR can mean speaking to a medical professional in minutes instead of hours. It can also save lives in critical care and emergency situations."

Telemedicine is most beneficial to international students unfamiliar with the healthcare system in Canada who are often unprepared for the long wait times for doctor appointments and emergency room visits. The mobileDOCTOR service lets students call and talk to a nurse or physician about common health concerns such as cold and flu symptoms, infections, rashes and injuries so they can receive proper medical advice without delay. Mobile technology allows healthcare professionals in multiple locations to receive photos, share information and discuss patient issues to provide a high level of care for students.

mobileDOCTOR by guard.me was developed in partnership with Praxes Medical Group, which has over 20 years' experience providing health services for clients in locations around the world.


The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, today visited Saint Elizabeth's corporate office in Markham, Ontario, touring the company's unique 'hope and happiness showcase' and meeting with health care staff, patients and family caregivers.

Led by Saint Elizabeth CEO Shirlee Sharkey, the visit highlighted the important role of home care and social innovation in Canada's health system.

"It was a tremendous honour to host Minister Philpott – her passion for innovation, thoughtful approach and deep commitment to improving care for people and families is clearly evident," said Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth. "We applaud the federal government for taking bold action to strengthen health care through targeted investments in home care, palliative care and support for family caregivers."

"I was pleased to visit Saint Elizabeth today and to engage with providers and patients who know first-hand the value of providing health services that allow Canadians to live independently. By improving home care, including home-based palliative care, we can help modernize our care system so that it can better meet the needs of Canadians. I am proud to be part of a government that is working to provide better health care, not only for aging Canadians but for all Canadians as well," said Minister Philpott.

During a private roundtable, staff, patients and family caregivers spoke to the Minister about new approaches to care at home including:

The use of Intelligent Care™ to deliver greater patient engagement and meaningful interactions with an empowered practice team
New ways to educate and support health care providers, from formal career training to continuing education, skills development, mobile learning and knowledge exchange
Saint Elizabeth's groundbreaking work and community benefit investments to improve access to end of life care
Since it opened in 2016, Saint Elizabeth's 'hope and happiness showcase' has attracted health care leaders, students and innovators from across Canada as well as the United States, the Netherlands, Norway, the Middle East and Australia.


6th Annual Canucks Autism Network Family Festival to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month​

Costs of Treating Pneumonia Will More Than Double by 2025

Due to rising health care costs and an aging population, the number of hospitalized cases and the total cost of treating pneumonia is expected to rise dramatically by 2025, according to a new Conference Board of Canada report.

The Economic Burden of Pneumonia in Canada: A Status Quo Forecast estimates the total number of pneumonia cases requiring hospitalization will nearly double to 49,424 in 2025, up from 24,761 in 2010. Meanwhile, the annual total direct health care cost of treating the disease will reach over $530 million by 2025.

"As the Canadian population continues to grow and age, additional preventative measures, such as vaccines, would provide value by reducing the number of cases over time and improve how disease is managed in hospitals as well as in the community," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada.


The total direct health care cost of pneumonia is expected to increase from $216.2 million in 2010 to $532.2 million in 2025.
Key cost drivers: rising health care costs, an aging population, and increasing incidences of pneumonia.
Incidence rates are forecast to rise nearly 20 per cent among those aged 75 and older over the forecast period.
The largest cost driver for treating pneumonia is the need for hospitalization and the potential complications or illness following hospital discharge. While the average cost per case of pneumonia is forecast to increase for all age groups examined, the highest cost is found among those aged 65 to 69 and is expected to reach $12,619 by 2025. Overall, the total direct health care cost of pneumonia will increase from $216.2 million in 2010 to $532.2 million in 2025.

Age heightens an individual's risk of contracting pneumonia. With the number of Canadians over age 65 set to sharply increase, population growth and demographics alone will be responsible for 58 per cent of the overall cost increase by 2025. The incidence rates of the disease are expected to rise most significantly among those aged 75 and older—at nearly 20 per cent over the forecast period.

To ease the inevitable economic burden the increasing number of cases will create, public health policies have included recommendations to vaccinate children, seniors, and other vulnerable and high-risk populations against common causes of pneumonia.

The research for this briefing was co-sponsored by The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care and Pfizer Canada.


 On Sunday, April 9th, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) will host the 6th Annual CAN Family Festival at Jack Poole Plaza, in celebration of Autism Awareness Month. The CAN Family Festival, emceed by Breakfast Television Host Riaz Meghji, will include live entertainment by Bobs & Lolo and David Morin, a pop-up local artisan market, food trucks, a skate park, face painting, a ball hockey tournament featuring Vancouver Canucks Alumni, and a variety of family-friendly activities and exhibitors.

The event kicks off with the lighting of the cauldron to commemorate April as Autism Awareness Month, followed by a fundraising walk. The CAN Family Festival is open to the public with free admission and is expected to draw over 1,500 attendees, including appearances by:

Trevor Linden, Vancouver Canucks President, Hockey Operations & Alternate Governor, NHL
Kirk Mclean, Vancouver Canucks Alumni
Darcy Rota, Vancouver Canucks Alumni
Paolo Aquilini, Canucks Autism Network Founder
Katy Harandi, Canucks Autism Network President & CEO
"With 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism, and over 11,000 families impacted in BC alone, support from the community is needed now more than ever," says CAN Founder, Paolo Aquilini.

Media are invited to attend at 11:00 a.m. PT. Paolo Aquilini (CAN Founder), Katy Harandi (CAN CEO), and select families living with autism will be available for interviews. Please RSVP to [email protected] and check in at the Media Check-In Tent upon arrival.

The CAN Family Festival, presented by the West Coast Fishing Club Fishing for Kids Tournament and Macquarie Group Foundation, is proudly sponsored by: North Growth Foundation, Vancouver International Airport, OpenRoad Toyota, Kinetic Security, Helijet, Clark's Audio Visual Services Ltd., Cactus Club Coal Harbour, Helly Hansen, Modern Fort, Great West Graphics, Tim Hortons, Trace Mineral Water, RYU Apparel Inc., TapSnap, Triple O's, Breakfast Television Vancouver & City TV, OMNI Television (Official), Miss 604, the Daily Hive, 103.5 QMFM, and The Vancouver Sun.

About the Canucks Autism Network (CAN)
The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) provides year-round sports and recreational programs for individuals and families living with autism, while increasing awareness and providing autism training in communities across British Columbia.

To learn more, please visit www.canucksautism.ca


Minister Philpott highlights significant investments for better access to mental health services​

 Canada's publicly-funded, universal healthcare system is a source of great pride for all Canadians, and that's why the Government of Canada is working hard with provincial and territorial governments to ensure Canadian families have access to the health care services they need. That includes support for mental health, which affects one in three Canadians, and is a critical factor in our overall health and well-being.

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, marked World Health Day at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, by announcing that, as part of Budget 2017, the federal government plans to provide targeted funding of $5 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories to improve access to mental health services. In particular, this investment will lead to better access to and shortened wait times for mental health support to help families, including children and youth under the age of 25. She said, "We often talk about our physical health, but improving our mental health is just as important. It is time our health care system reflects this reality. The Government of Canada has a leadership role to play in improving the health care system, including support for mental health."

With 12 provinces and territories having accepted the federal offer of funding for mental health, the Government of Canada is now focused on working with provincial and territorial Ministers of Health to set common objectives and track progress, in order to ensure accountability to Canadians for this new healthcare spending.

These investments complement federal investments announced in Budget 2017 of $828.2 million over 5 years for improving Indigenous health. This includes an additional $118.2 million over 5 years to improve mental health programing specifically for First Nations and Inuit. The Government of Canada will continue to work with Indigenous partners, provinces and territories, community organizations, mental health experts and other stakeholders to increase public awareness of, and combat the stigma associated with, mental illness.

Together, we will help make Canada's health care system more responsive to the mental health needs of Canadians and will begin to close the gap in the availability of care in this area.

Hakim Optical Gala Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Over 300 guests attended the recent Hakim Optical Gala in Toronto to commemorate the company's Golden Jubilee. The event highlighted the success of the company in Canada, paid tribute to the dedication of all current and past employees and honoured Hakim Optical founder, Karim Hakimi and his passion to his craft.

"I am very proud of my people and those that have stood by me for 30 to 40 years. Today we have 700 trained lensmakers, and have trained over 2,500 people [over the years] -some of them became our competitors while many have stayed with me," Mr. Hakimi said.

Among the dignitaries at the gala included Mr. Hakimi's longtime friend, former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, Toronto City Councillor Shelley Carroll, as well as representatives from the Barbados and Hungarian consulates in Toronto.

"Anywhere you go in Canada you can find a Hakim Optical," says McCallion. "Canada has benefitted from [Mr. Hakimi's] immigration to this country and for the structure [he] built, the economic base [he] built, Canada has been enriched [by his] presence," she added.

Mr. Hakimi also received personalized messages and congratulatory letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Toronto Mayor John Tory, and Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti all who were unable to attend but wanted to recognize his incredible contribution to Canada. Mr. Hakimi was also given official letters recognizing this milestone from the various government bodies who attended.

The gala started off with a cocktail reception and progressed to a seated dinner affair. The night included several speeches from employees, government officials and family members including Mr. Hakimi's daughter and granddaughter. Guests were treated to a heartfelt video which showcased the company's history, work culture, major achievements, and highlighted Mr. Hakimi's latest venture – a resort in Belize.

As the leading Canadian independent optical retailer, Hakim Optical is a privately held operation run solely by Mr. Hakimi. He has devoted the last 50 years to creating one of Canada's best known corporate brands with a simple goal of improving the vision and the ability of people to see better.

For more information, visit www.hakimoptical.ca  

National representatives speak to Senate committee in support of vaping as harm reduction tool​

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) was on Parliament Hill today in support of Bill S-5 – An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-Smokers' Health Act. Representatives from CVA underscored the importance of including e-cigarette-specific amendments to this bill during a presentation before the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI).

Senator Chantal Petitclerc, sponsor of Bill S-5, has said that "this bill strikes a balance between the harms from vaping products if they entice youth to develop a nicotine addiction and the public health benefit if they contribute to reducing tobacco-related death and disease. This is why the government is proposing a flexible regime, one that can be adjusted as the science on vaping products develops." CVA endorses the government's science-based approach.

Ms. Shai Sinnis, CVA Board Member, spoke on behalf of the organization at today's committee hearing about the benefits of electronic cigarettes, namely the progress e-cigarette use has made toward providing a less harmful alternative to smoking. Sinnis also addressed key components of Bill S-5 that should be considered. CVA's sister organization, the Electronic Cigarette Trade Association of Canada, also presented to SOCI.

"Based on our continued review of the growing body of evidence, including qualified literature, studies and research on vaping, the CVA is convinced that vaping is a less harmful choice than smoking," Sinnis stated. "It has the potential to dramatically reduce disease - and ultimately, death - caused by smoking."

The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) is a national, not-for-profit organization established in 2014. The CVA was founded to represent an emerging industry in Canada, the many business people looking to succeed in that industry, and the thousands of Canadians for whom vaping became a life-saving alternative to smoking.


Canadians have more than 1 million potentially unnecessary medical tests and treatments every year​

Looking at selected medical tests, treatments and procedures in Canada, a new report finds that up to 30% of them are potentially unnecessary. Unnecessary tests and treatments waste health system resources, increase wait times for patients in need and can lead to patient harm.

The report Unnecessary Care in Canada, released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and Choosing Wisely Canada, uses data to measure the extent of unnecessary care associated with 8 tests and procedures that span the health system. Choosing Wisely Canada is a national, clinician-led campaign that partners with national clinician specialty societies to develop evidence-based recommendations about tests, treatments and procedures that are unnecessary and offer no value to patients. To date, Choosing Wisely Canada has released more than 200 recommendations.

"By setting a baseline for measuring these several recommendations, we can see that there is room to improve care for patients and eliminate waste," said Dr. Wendy Levinson, Chair, Choosing Wisely Canada, and Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto. "All clinicians want to provide the best quality of care for their patients. With this report, we can now see noticeable regional- and facility-level data that identifies opportunities for improvement and reinforces the concern over resource stewardship across the country."

"Many Canadians experience care that may be unnecessary," said David O'Toole, President and CEO, CIHI. "This report is another step toward ongoing standardization of measures and improved data to identify gaps, track improvements and ultimately improve the quality of — and access to — care for Canadians."

This report also details success stories — from national- and facility-level organizations as well as from individual clinicians across the country — of using the recommendations to identify and reduce unnecessary care.

Highlights from the report include the following:

Almost 1 in 3 low-risk patients with minor head trauma in Ontario and Alberta had a head scan in an emergency department, despite a Choosing Wisely Canada recommendation that this is unnecessary and potentially harmful.

1 in 10 seniors in Canada use a benzodiazepine on a regular basis to treat insomnia, agitation or delirium. A number of Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations highlight the harms of long-term use of these medications.

In Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, 18% to 35% of patients undergoing low-risk surgery had a preoperative test, such as a chest X-ray, ECG or cardiac stress test. Choosing Wisely Canada recommendations highlight that these tests are unnecessary, are potentially harmful and can delay surgery.

For children and youth in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, the rates of low-dose quetiapine (likely used to treat insomnia) increased rapidly to 186 per 100,000 in 2013–2014 from 104 in 2008–2009. Choosing Wisely Canada recommends against the use of this medication in children and youth to treat insomnia.
Regional- and facility-level variations also signal that unnecessary care may be taking place and suggest that there is room for improvement.

Body Weight Fluctuations Linked to More Deaths in People with Coronary Artery Disease

Repeated cycles of weight loss and gain may be linked to higher risk for stroke, heart attack, and death in people with pre-existing coronary artery disease, according to a study published online April, 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Led by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, the study was the first to measure the effect of "weight cycling" on health outcomes in people with pre-existing heart disease. People with the largest weight changes were found to experience 136 percent more strokes, 117 percent more heart attacks, and 124 percent more deaths than those with the smallest shifts in weight.

Those in the high-fluctuation group had weight changes as large as 3.9 kilograms (or roughly 8.6 pounds), while weight varied by around 0.9 kilograms (just under 2 pounds) in the group with the smallest shifts in weight.

"Our findings suggest that we need to be concerned about weight fluctuation in this group that is already at high risk due to coronary disease," says lead study author Sripal Bangalore, MD, director of the cardiovascular outcomes group in the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU Langone.

"Even though this analysis was not designed to find out the causes of increased risk with body weight fluctuations, we need to examine how we can help Americans keep weight off, rather than having it go up and down," says Bangalore, an associate professor of medicine in the Leon H. Charney Division of Cardiology.

The research team reviewed data on 9,509 men and women with coronary artery disease (CAD) who participated in the Treating to New Targets trial, which originally concluded in 2005. Study participants were between the ages of 35 and 75. All had coronary artery disease, high cholesterol levels, and some history of heart problems. Half were being treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs in intensive (versus standard) doses to see if this resulted in fewer deaths. All were monitored for a median of 4.7 years.

The analysis linked shifts in body weight to statistically significant differences in outcomes only in people who were overweight or obese at the beginning of the study, but not for people who started with normal weight. Body weight changes were also strongly linked to an increase in newly diagnosed diabetes, and associations persisted regardless of patients' average body weight and traditional risk factors for heart disease.

The researchers caution that their re-analysis does not show a cause-and-effect relationship between weight cycling and poor outcomes, but only an association. The authors also recognize that they were unable to tell if people lost weight intentionally, unintentionally, or due to illness, or if any eventual heart problems resulted directly from the weight loss, change in weight, or illness.

Dr. Bangalore hopes that the current findings will lead to further study of weight fluctuation in people with coronary artery disease and to the development of related practice guidelines once all the evidence is in.

In the United States, more than 36 percent of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, about half of Americans report they are trying to lose weight, and weight cycling is frequent. Obesity is known to increase the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, as well as for coronary heart disease.

Besides Dr. Bangalore, other researchers involved in the study were Rana Fayyad and David DeMicco from Pfizer Inc.; Rachel Laskey from THOR Specialties; Frank Messerli at the University Hospital Bern, Switzerland; and David Waters at San Francisco General Hospital. The original Treating to New Targets trial is registered online as NCT00327691, and was sponsored by Pfizer.

guard.me joins CAMH in #OneBraveNight at the Westin Harbour Castle Toronto​

This Friday, April 7, employees at guard.me International Insurance will join thousands of Canadians across the country to stay up all night to support those who suffer from mental illness. The annual CAMH #OneBraveNight for Mental Health inspires hope for the one in five Canadians who experience mental health issues every year.

This is the second year in row that the keep.me SAFE program by guard.me has partnered with the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto to support the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Volunteer staff from guard.me will be staying up in the lobby of the hotel from 7 p.m. on Friday until 7 a.m. the following morning. The Westin is providing the group with a full size heavenly bed in the lobby, complementary snack station and hospitality suite for freshening up during the night.

"We are hoping friends and colleagues will drop by the Westin to provide encouragement and share their stories," says Kevin Santos, Social Media Manager at guard.me who will be tweeting and posting about the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. "Or they can support us from home and send us selfies throughout the night that we can share on our keep.me SAFE platforms."

According to mental health experts, people living with mental illness feel most alone and have the least amount of hope when it is dark. Last year, the CAMH #OneBraveNight for Mental Health raised over $830,000 that was dedicated to improving access to care, conducting more research to find better treatments, and building more spaces for healing.

"We have groups of colleagues and students joining us at various locations across Canada," says Wendy Mohammed, who leads the keep.me SAFE program at guard.me "This is our way of increasing awareness and challenging stigma so that students feel comfortable asking for help."

To learn more or to get involved, please contact Bogumila Lapinski Anaya at [email protected] or visit: http://give.camh.ca/site/TR/OBN/OneBraveNight?team_id=2921&pg=team&fr_id=1090


keep.me SAFE by guard.me is Canada's first and only mental health support program for international students that provides 24/7 counselling in their own language and culture by phone, chat and video.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health.

The Westin Harbour Castle is one of Canada's leading hotels, located on the shores of Lake Ontario and steps away from downtown Toronto. 


Ontario Doctors are Losing Out on the Biggest Tax Benefit the Canadian Government Has Made Available to Them​

 On January 1 2017, new tax legislation Bill C-43 took effect causing Ontario doctors to lose one of their most valuable tax savings benefits. But with a few simple steps that benefit can be kept safe.

"There are very few great opportunities for Ontario doctors to reduce their corporate tax bill," says Rino Racanelli, contributing editor at Canadian Money Saver magazine. "Doctors make a huge mistake in keeping excess business funds just sitting in their corporation. What they may not know is that the government can charge them over 35% tax on that money. Money they could be using to help their patients with better equipment and more office staffing. Well there's a much better way for doctors to pay far less tax and put that money right back into their practice."

Rino is a well informed interview, he'll tell your audience:

The enormous mistake doctors make when investing in their business.

A little known strategy that takes business profits and turns them into tax-free retirement income (it takes 5 minutes and filling out 1 sheet of paper).

How one doctor was able to leave his family an extra $800,000 by taking advantage of the new corporate tax rules!

How to transfer corporate assets to your heirs tax-free. (Yes absolutely tax free!)

Why doing nothing is a doctor's worst option and best option for Canada's tax department.

Ontario government shuts down debate on short-sighted changes proposed in Bill 87

​ Ontario's doctors are concerned that the provincial government is limiting necessary discussion on Bill 87, an omnibus heath-care bill, which makes amendments to 10 different pieces of legislation. As with Bill 41, the government is closing Second Reading debate for Bill 87 early, and after only allowing ten hours to consider significant changes that may have unintended consequences.

"While doctors support the intent of Bill 87 to address the issue of sexual abuse of patients, it also contains many distressing elements that could negatively affect the provision of patient care, as well as Band-Aid solutions that unnecessarily increase red-tape," said Dr. Rachel Forman, Ontario Medical Association spokesperson. "Instead of working with doctors to develop solutions that protect patients and address system challenges, the government continues to operate in a silo."

The results of government acting without the input of stakeholders are slowly being revealed in the implementation of Bill 41 – growing bureaucracy without any additional resources for patient care.

Doctors foresee the government's proposed changes in Bill 87 will weaken the health-care system for patients. Bill 87 fundamentally erodes fairness and natural justice for physicians at the CPSO level, and as a result, may put front-line providers in a position where they are afraid to perform certain aspects of the physical exam because they will not be afforded due process.

"We are also alarmed that the government wants to gain access to the personal health information of individual doctors," said Dr. Forman. "The government has provided no clear purpose for this power or limits on when or how much information they can access. Physicians and other health-care providers are also patients and are entitled to a reasonable expectation of privacy."

Bill 87 introduces administrative changes with unintended consequences, such as more paper-work for doctors for immunization reporting and surveillance, instead of prioritizing a fully operable immunization registry. As well, the introduction of new compliance requirements around 'Specimen Collection Centres' creates unnecessary bureaucracy. These changes will make it harder for doctors to offer specimen collection services (such as blood, urine, saliva) to patients. The introduction of new compliance requirements might make providing the service unsustainable in community clinics.

"Despite the government's disregard for physician expertise regarding the health-care system and patient care, we will continue to advocate for Bill 87 to be stopped so that changes can be made," said Dr. Forman. "Our health-care system won't function properly until doctors can be at the table with government to make the changes necessary to safeguard patients and improve care."

Zika Virus Reported in Pregnant Women in 44 States​

A new government report shows that nearly 1,300 pregnancies from 44 states with possible recent Zika virus infection were reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry in 2016. Most of the women acquired the virus during travel to Zika-affected areas, the report says.

Among the pregnant women with confirmed Zika infection, 1 in 10 had a fetus or baby with birth defects. The highest risk was from confirmed infection in the first trimester -- birth defects were reported in 15 percent of these fetuses or infants.

The report, published today in the journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), includes data on completed pregnancies in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with laboratory evidence of possible recent Zika virus infection reported to the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry from January 15 to December 27, 2016.

"Zika virus is causing a lot of anxiety among my patients and their partners, who are accustomed to traveling for work or to visit family," says Siobhan Dolan, MD, MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and medical advisor to the March of Dimes. "I advise them that preventing infection is the most important thing for themselves and their babies. Protect yourself from Zika before and during pregnancy, and that includes avoiding travel to affected areas. But remember -- it's not forever. Yes, you may miss a family event now, while you're pregnant. But after the baby is born, in a few months, you'll be able to travel safely and with peace of mind."

The March of Dimes coordinates with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to provide up-to-the-minute information in English and Spanish for women, men, and families at ZAPzika.org and nacersano.org/zika. The March of Dimes also answers questions about Zika virus in social media and via email in both English and Spanish. Send email to [email protected] or [email protected]

"We don't yet know the full range of disabilities in babies infected with Zika virus," says Dr. Dolan. "Even babies who don't have obvious signs of birth defects still may be affected. Babies born to women who have evidence of Zika virus during pregnancy need brain imaging and other testing after birth to make a correct diagnosis, and to help us understand how these babies grow and develop."

She noted that the March of Dimes is hosting and promoting "Zika Care Connect," a new website that will launch this month to assist Zika-affected families in finding healthcare professionals around the country who can provide specialized care.

Other March of Dimes activities to protect babies from Zika virus include:

Funding research into a "weak spot" in the structure of a Zika virus protein that may lead to development of the first drug treatment for Zika infection;
Providing continuing education for nurses on "What Every Nurse Should Know" about Zika in both English and Spanish;
Preparing Zika Prevention Kits for newborns in Puerto Rico (including mosquito netting, onesies and prevention tips).
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause damage to the brain, microcephaly (smaller than expected head) and congenital Zika syndrome, a pattern of conditions in the baby that includes brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects. Zika infection during pregnancy also has been linked to miscarriage and stillbirth.

"Vital Signs: Update on Zika Virus-Associated Birth Defects and Evaluation of All U.S. Infants with Congenital Zika Virus Exposure -- U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, 2016" was an early release in MMWR, Vol. 66, April 4, 2017.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit peristats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.   


Tribute Film about Leonard Nimoy Shown at the National Conference on Tobacco or Health​

It has been just over two year since legendary actor, Leonard Nimoy succumbed to COPD. Nimoy smoked for decades and recognized this as the cause of his lung condition though he had quit long before his diagnosis. He spent many years as TV's beloved, Spock, taking viewers on missions to distant galaxies, but his final, and what he considered his most important mission, he embarked upon away from the lights of Hollywood. He spent his final years trying to raise awareness about COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD often goes un-diagnosed until it is too late for treatment to be effective. It is estimated that as many as 13 million people may have COPD and not know it. There is no cure for COPD but the earlier treatment starts, the more successful it is at prolonging life and providing better quality of life. Mr. Nimoy also spoke often to his million plus, Twitter followers about the importance of quitting smoking, or better yet, never starting.

Both as a tribute and to help further his mission, his daughter Julie Nimoy and her husband, David Knight, have created a documentary entitled, Remembering Leonard, His Life, Legacy, and Battle with COPD. It is fitting that one of the first places this film will be shown is at the premier gathering of the United States tobacco control movement, The National Conference on Tobacco or Health. This conference occurs every 5 years and is attended by participants from around the world. Government agencies and government funded organizations gather here to strategize over the best way to get the word out about the health risks of tobacco use. This year's conference will take place in Austin, Texas. Forums will be held on such subjects as how to steer kids away from tobacco use, E-cigarette public education, the smoke-free HUD housing rule, and the problem of tobacco use in Asia, South America, and other developing regions.

One of the struggles is those battling COPD is that they are often required to be on supplemental oxygen infringing on their independence and limiting social contact. Mr. Nimoy led a very busy, active life before his diagnosis. He and his wife had a family getaway in Lake Tahoe which sits at about 6,225 feet above sea level. They enjoyed hosting their large blended family for weekends on the lake and enjoying the beautiful mountain vistas. As his conditioned worsened, being at higher altitudes and travel in general became more challenging. He eventually purchased a portable oxygen concentrator to get away from heavy and cumbersome oxygen tanks. In his later years he was often photographed using the tiny AirSep Focus that he purchased from 1st Class Medical. Caleb Umstead, Founder and President of 1st Class Medical introduced the film at the conference. Following the film Julie and David joined the theater via Skype for a live question and answer session.

1st Class Medical is one of the largest distributors of portable oxygen concentrators in the world. Its employees had a special affection for Mr. Nimoy and his voice on the phone always seemed to generate a certain excitement in the office among Trekkie and non-Trekkie alike. When production of the movie was announced the 1st Class Medical marketing team reached out to Julie Nimoy via her Twitter account asking to be a part of the project. "Mr. Nimoy was diagnosed with a serious, chronic health condition but he had a family, an active social life, and many interests that he wanted to continue to pursue. He is an American icon recognized the world over but his story is not unlike that of the rest of our patients, no matter who they are or where they live. They just want to go on living independent lives and enjoying the things that they have always enjoyed. Mr. Nimoy's most famous quote was 'Live, Long, and Prosper'. That's what we want to help our patients to do and that's why we were 100% on board to help the Nimoy family get this film made to get this important message out."

Throughout the summer Remembering Leonard will be shown at various festivals and events across the nation. Follow them on Facebook for upcoming announcements.

Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation announces up to CAD $ 1 million in funding available to support knowledge mobilization in the field of aging and brain health

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI) officially announced today the launch of its Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program (KMP2). This program is designed to help clinicians, managers, researchers and academia in Canada drive adoption of best and next practices across stakeholder groups in the aging and brain health sector, nationally or across a province. In total, up to CAD $ 1 million in funding will be available through KMP2.

KMP2 is focused on supporting knowledge mobilization and adoption that will address one or more of the four themes listed below, of which the first three are aimed at older adults with dementia:

Reduce unnecessary emergency department visits.

Prevent falls or mitigate injury due to falls.

Provide better management of complex health conditions at home.

Improve brain health or cognitive fitness in older adults.

Applicants must have evidence-based knowledge, proven solutions, next or best practice recommendations that are of interest to older adults, caregivers and healthcare providers. They must be ready to disseminate and drive adoption of their solutions into the aging and brain health sector.

"The Government of Canada is committed to supporting research and innovation to improve the brain health of Canadians, especially older adults living with dementia. Providing new and best practices to health care providers and those who care for loved ones with dementia will help improve the overall health and quality of life of both patients and their caregivers," said the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health.

"Many older adults struggle with health and safety challenges such as chronic disease, falls, and mental health issues," said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. "Our government is pleased to support initiatives like the Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program, which will help improve the quality of life for seniors in Ontario."

"The Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program will provide a significant opportunity for professional healthcare practitioners to share and implement their evidence-based learning with older adults, their circle of care and other healthcare workers. The program is aimed at facilitating behaviour change consistent with evidence, in order to provide improved health outcomes and quality of life for older adults and their caregivers," says Dr. William Reichman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Baycrest Health Sciences.

This funding program is open to applicants employed by an Institution or affiliated with an Institution that qualifies as a Canada Revenue Agency qualified donee or a non-profit organization located in Canada.

KMP2 projects may encompass a range of activities that will create actual products and/or dissemination tools or methodologies; enable the spread and integration of knowledge into practice throughout several organizations; support staff with adopting next practices; and, evaluate the effectiveness of knowledge mobilization activities and outcomes for end users.

Examples of compatible projects may include: (1) authoring, publishing and distributing a book on proven nutritional habits and strategies to improve cognitive health of older adults aimed at a broad audience; (2) documenting and disseminating an evidence-based approach to falls prevention within long-term care facilities across the province and/or; (3) evaluating the effectiveness of a behaviour change strategy to support the adoption of an evidence-based practice to avoid ED transfers for older adults with dementia.

CC-ABHI will support eligible project costs that are directly associated with the dissemination and adoption of knowledge, to a maximum of CAD $250,000 per project. CC-ABHI's funding will be provided directly to the host institution employing the principal Investigators of the qualifying projects. All projects must be completed within a 12 month period.

Eligible applicants must submit a completed application form by 5 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2017. The complete eligibility requirements, selection criteria and additional information about the program are available on the CC-ABHI website.
Funding for the Knowledge Mobilization Partnership Program is provided by the Government of Canada through the Public Health Agency of Canada, by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science, and by the Baycrest Foundation.

About Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CC-ABHI)

The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation is a solution accelerator for the aging and brain health sector, providing funding and support to innovators for the development, testing, and dissemination of new ideas and technologies that address unmet brain health and seniors' care needs. Established in 2015, it is the result of the largest investment in brain health and aging in Canadian history. Spearheaded by Baycrest Health Sciences, CC-ABHI is a unique collaboration of healthcare, science, industry, not-for-profit and government partners. CC-ABHI's objective is to help improve quality of life for the world's aging population, allowing older adults to age safely in the setting of their choice while maintaining their cognitive, emotional, and physical well-being. For more information on CC-ABHI, please visit: www.ccabhi.com.

Massachusetts Police Officers Take Steps to Stop Suicides Among Their Ranks ​

 In 2006, one of the officers who was a member of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (MASS C.O.P.) died by suicide. He was afraid to seek help because he didn't want to lose his badge. With over 700 police officers present at the President's Dinner on Friday, March 31, the MASS C.O.P. President Scott Hovsepian announced that his union, which represents nearly 4,300 police officers in Massachusetts, would be instituting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's anonymous online screening tool, the Interactive Screening Program, a Self-Check Quiz to reach distressed police officers and help connect them to peer support officers and mental health services before a crisis emerges.

"If this can save one life, it is money, time, and energy well spent. You can't put a price on a life. If we had had this program in place, we might not have lost our colleague to suicide in 2006," said Scott Hovsepian, a 23 year police officer for the city of Waltham, MA, and president of MASS C.O.P. "I want police officers nationwide to know that there are tools like the Self-Check Quiz that can help them through the hard times. We are starting with police officers in the Bay State."

Brian Fleming, the owner and operator of Peer Support Services, LLC., held a four-hour training session in early 2017 for some of Massachusetts' police officers about mental health education, alcohol and drug abuse, and how to prevent suicide among their colleagues. After the session, he was approached by Hovsepian about doing more. Luckily, years ago Fleming had helped arrange for another Massachusetts police department to contract with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Interactive Screening Program and so he arranged an introduction for the officers from MASS C.O.P. to meet with staff from AFSP to talk about how the foundation could help the union from losing its members to suicide.

"We are honored to be partnering with MASS C.O.P. to offer the Self-Check Quiz to its members. Police officers are accustomed to servicing others, and this is a way for them to ensure they stay healthy and strong," said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP chief medical officer. "Seeking help for your mental health is the brave thing to do."

The Self-Check Quiz is an online tool offered by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and used by institutions of higher education, workplaces, law enforcement agencies, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to reach distressed people and help connect them to mental health services before a crisis emerges. It is also known as the Interactive Screening Program.

The program expansion to MASS C.O.P. has been made possible by a generous grant from the law firm of Sandulli and Grace.

1.8 Million Ontarians Mistakenly Believe They are Registered Organ Donors

An Ipsos study has revealed that as many as 1.8 million Ontarians mistakenly believe they are a registered organ and tissue donor. April is BeADonor month, and Trillium Gift of Life Network is encouraging Ontarians to check their donor registration status. There are two ways to verify you are registered: visit www.BeADonor.ca to check, or check the back of your photo health card; if the word "donor" is printed, you are registered.

If 1.8 million Ontarians were added to the registry, as many as 45 per cent of the eligible population would be registered. Trillium Gift of Life Network considers this a more accurate representation of the widespread support for organ and tissue donation in Ontario.

For decades, Ontarians proudly signed paper donor cards declaring their intent to donate their organs and tissues after death. At that time, the card was the best available means to make your donation wishes known and, in fact, as many as two million Ontarians still have a donor card.

The challenge with traditional paper donor cards was that they were often not available or located when needed, and families may not have been aware their loved ones had signed one. Paper donor cards became obsolete when the province began recording consent for donation in a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care database. Registration through www.BeADonor.ca or at a ServiceOntario centre is the only guaranteed way of ensuring that your donation wishes are known at end of life and shared with your family.

"When you register, you give an incredible gift to those waiting for a transplant and to your family," says Ronnie Gavsie, President and CEO, Trillium Gift of Life Network. "By providing evidence of your wishes through registration, you relieve your family of the burden of making that decision for you at a very difficult time."

"We've had three consecutive record years of lives saved through the compassion of organ and tissue donors and their families," says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. "It's very encouraging to see growing support for donation in Ontario. As a next important step, Ontarians who believe they are registered should please check online to confirm. To do so, visit www.BeADonor.ca and give hope to the 1,500 people waiting today."

Other highlights from the survey:

Three in 10 (29 per cent) of Ontarians falsely believe you can register as a donor by signing and keeping a paper donor card.
Over 300,000 Ontarians have a donor card stored somewhere not easily accessible, including a safety deposit box, in their car, or with someone else.
Seventy-one per cent of those who believe they are a registered donor have discussed their wishes with their family.


Minister of Health announces Acting President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research​

Today, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced that Dr. Roderick McInnes has assumed the responsibilities of Acting President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Dr. McInnes is an internationally recognized researcher who brings extensive leadership experience to CIHR, having served as the inaugural Scientific Director of the Institute of Genetics, from 2000-2010. She said, "I am very pleased to announce that Dr. McInnes has assumed the responsibilities of Acting President of CIHR. Dr. McInnes' track record of scientific excellence and knowledge of both the Canadian health research landscape and CIHR make him very well suited to take on this important new role. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Alain Beaudet for his service to Canadians and wish him the very best in his retirement from the public service."

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. McInnes is the Director of the Lady Davis Institute of the Jewish General Hospital at McGill University in Montreal, the Alva Chair in Human Genetics, and the Canada Research Chair in Neurogenetics. He is also a Professor of Human Genetics and a Professor of Biochemistry at McGill.

Dr. McInnes replaces Dr. Alain Beaudet, who was appointed as CIHR President in 2008. In this acting assignment, Dr. McInnes will lead the organization until a permanent President is appointed by the government.

The selection process for the next President has begun and will continue over the coming months. Qualified individuals who are interested in applying for this position are invited to visit the Governor in Council appointments website. 

Estimates Show Thousands of HIV Cases Averted in BC through Expanded Harm Reduction and HIV Treatment

A study by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), published in the top-ranking medical journal The Lancet HIV, has found harm reduction and access to HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) averted an estimated 3,204 incident HIV cases in British Columbia between 1996 and 2013. Both evidence-based public health interventions had significant, independent effects on the spread of HIV and the control of the epidemic.

To identify the relative impact of ART and harm reduction, which have both been scaled up in BC since 1996, the authors modeled multiple hypothetical scenarios. Assuming harm reduction services were not scaled up beyond 1996 levels, ART alone is estimated to account for 44% (1,409) of the averted HIV cases across the province. The impact of universal access to ART is likely underestimated, as the study only considered its impact on transmission through needle sharing with its efficacy in reducing HIV transmission set conservatively at 50%.

Assuming ART had no effect at all on HIV transmission through needle sharing, harm reduction services alone—defined in this study as needle distribution and opioid agonist therapy (OAT)—are estimated to account for 77% (2,473) of the averted HIV cases.

"Both harm reduction and access to HIV treatment are keys to curbing the transmission of HIV," said Dr. Bohdan Nosyk, Research Scientist with the BC-CfE and an author on the paper. "As a treatment for addiction, opioid agonist therapy provides benefits in terms of reduction in disease transmission and improvement in quality of life. Our research has linked the treatment to increases in workplace productivity and decreases in crime costs—making a further economic case for its implementation as part of a harm reduction effort."

Access to harm reduction and ART also significantly increases an individual's quality of life years (QALY). OAT, a first-line treatment for opioid addiction that reduces cravings and withdrawal associated with opioid addiction, is linked to substantially greater QALY gains than needle distribution programs.

Over the past 20 years, BC has rapidly expanded access to lifesaving OAT (with methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone) and implemented needle distribution programs. There are over 50 unique service providers of harm reduction services within Vancouver's downtown core alone, covering a spectrum of services such as psychosocial treatment, housing supports and mental health care.

BC and Vancouver are unique within Canada and compared with many jurisdictions worldwide. A global review of interventions to prevent HIV infections among PWID estimates needle distribution programs covered 5% to 8% of injections, and only around 8% of PWID had access to OAT. Globally only 4% of PWID are estimated to have access to ART.

In BC, since the 2013 implementation of the Treatment as Prevention® (TasP®) strategy supported by the provincial government, access to ART has been universally offered upon diagnosis with HIV. On sustained and consistent treatment, an individual living with HIV achieves an undetectable viral load and the chances of HIV transmission drop to negligible. Previous BC-CfE research, based in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, found community viral load was the strongest predictor of HIV transmission among PWID.

"If we are to get to the end of AIDS by 2030, as established in the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Target, we must broadly and universally implement harm reduction hand-in-hand with Treatment as Prevention®," said Dr. Julio Montaner, Director of the BC-CfE. "We know these interventions are mutually supportive and essential to reaching people who inject drugs."

GoodLife Fitness to 'light it up blue' for World Autism Awareness Day​

According to a recent report from the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, at least 41 million children age 5 and under are obese or overweight. At thGoodLife Fitness will illuminate its Home Office building in blue lights this Sunday, April 2, as part of the 'Light it Up Blue' campaign to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

After his daughter Kilee was diagnosed on the autism spectrum disorder at age two and a half, GoodLife Fitness founder and CEO David 'Patch' Patchell-Evans made it his mission to support awareness and research to help Canadians living with autism spectrum disorder, which now affects one in every 68 Canadian children. Patch urges Canadian businesses and individuals to find their own ways to 'light it up blue' for autism awareness.

"My daughter, who is now 21, continues to teach me important lessons about gratitude, perseverance and joy," says Patch, who was awarded the 2007 Canadian Medical Association Medal of Honour for his support of autism initiatives. "On April 2, the world celebrates how far we have come in autism education, research, early diagnosis, and awareness. A lot of hard work is yet to be done, but I am comforted knowing these kids and adults are in the hearts and minds of so many caring people around the globe."

On Friday, March 31, GoodLife Fitness will host a 'Bluetique' event for staff at their Home Office. Associates can donate to autism research and treat themselves to a blue manicure or blue hair chalk to mark the occasion and generate conversations, awareness and support for families and individuals living with autism. Patch kicked off the events, and conversations, this week by painting the 'light it up blue' logo on his face.

To date, GoodLife's CEO has donated $11.5 million to autism-related initiatives. Some of these initiatives include:

Patch co-founded the Kilee Patchell-Evans Autism Research Group with renowned neuroscientist, Dr. Derrick MacFabe.
In November of 2016, the Pacific Autism Family Network opened the GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub, made possible by a $5 million commitment from GoodLife Fitness and a $20 million development grant from the Province of British Columbia. The new facility is the first of its kind and seeks to advance autism research, learning, treatment and supports for families.
Patch highlights the challenges he had when his daughter was first diagnosed saying that, "help was virtually non-existent."

"I applaud Autism Speaks Canada and the many organizations that are working hard to raise awareness for autism spectrum disorder and for the fantastic resources they have created to help educate the public," says Patch.

"The 'Light It Up Blue' campaign celebrates World Autism Awareness Day by encouraging people to spread awareness and increased understanding about autism, leading us all to a more inclusive community. We rely on companies like GoodLife Fitness to lead the way by keeping autism top-of-mind and support families and individuals living with autism spectrum disorder," said Jill Farber, Executive Director, Autism Speaks Canada. "Thank you, GoodLife, for your leadership,"

For Canadians looking to get involved, Autism Speaks Canada offers resources, like social media tools and fundraising materials, to make it easy to participate in the 'Light it up Blue' campaign. The Autism Speaks Canada website offers more information about support those living with autism spectrum disorder.

About GoodLife Fitness
Proudly Canadian since 1979, GoodLife Fitness is the largest fitness club chain in Canada and the fourth largest overall in the world. With over 375 clubs from coast-to-coast, including GoodLife Fitness, Fit4Less by GoodLife and ÉconoFitness Clubs, approximately 13,300 employees and more than 1.3 million members, GoodLife is helping to transform the health and wellness of 1 in 28 Canadians. www.goodlifefitness.com

Taking diabetes prevention across borders

 Sun Life Financial Inc. is proud to announce a $300,000 commitment to the William Osler Health System (Osler) Foundation to launch the Sun Life Financial Osler Global Health Program (Global Health Program) and the Sun Life Financial At Risk Diabetes Clinic (At Risk Clinic) at Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health in Brampton. These unique initiatives will support diabetes screening, treatment and collaborative research to benefit patients in high-risk populations such as Punjab, India and surrounding communities of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

"We're committed to working with Osler to provide enhanced access to diabetes prevention and care initiatives through the Global Health Program and At Risk Clinic," said Lisa Ritchie, Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Life Financial. "At Sun Life, we understand the value in collaborating with local health care organizations to improve access to care; exchange knowledge and skills; and find innovative ways to improve services at home and abroad."

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes prevalence in India is among the top three highest in the world and the region served by Osler has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in Ontario. The Global Health Program will significantly improve diabetes care in the GTA and Punjab, with the biggest impact in India coming through increased access to diabetes education and care for rural villagers through diabetes medical camps. The Global Health Program will also engage nursing students as a way to educate the next generation of health care professionals in Punjab on how to prevent, diagnose and treat diabetes. Closer to home, the impact will be felt through comparative research opportunities into diabetes and other chronic diseases.

"We recognize that diabetes is a huge concern in the region we serve, as well as in India where so many of our patients and their families are from," said Ken Mayhew, President and CEO, Osler Foundation. "We are grateful to Sun Life Financial for their support of both programs. This new partnership will provide improved access to diabetes care that is urgently needed and help fill a gap and reduce the prevalence and severity of the disease."

Sun Life Financial and Osler Foundation also announced today the creation of the At Risk Diabetes Clinic at Osler. Opening in spring/summer 2017, the At Risk Diabetes Clinic will help identify and provide support to individuals at risk of developing or those who have already been diagnosed with prediabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes is likely to develop into type 2 diabetes within 10 years or less. However, with the proper support and access to education and resources, the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes can be stopped. The At Risk Diabetes Clinic will offer dedicated fitness, education and dietary/nutritional support to people and their family members at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including children between the ages of 6 and 18.

Sun Life Financial takes a holistic approach to supporting the well-being of Clients, Employees and communities around the world. Since announcing diabetes as our key business and community giving priority across our global footprint, Sun Life Financial has committed over $17 million to the cause.

National pharmacare is not in the cards - too expensive, politically unlikely - New expert report

 The strength in numbers: at the heart of this 17th edition of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge

 Today, Leucan launches the 17th edition of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge, presented by PROXIM. This year, Leucan is relying on the strength in numbers and is launching the Leucan Executive Challenge.

This initiative of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge encourages business executives to become leaders of their community by hosting a Leucan Shaved Head Challenge in their organizations. Every leader endeavours to raise a minimum of $25,000 with his/her team. "I have the pleasure of initiating this motion through which we set the goal to raise $500,000 to provide financial assistance to families with a cancer-stricken child across Quebec," explains Alain Champagne, CEO of Optimé International. In order to ease the financial burden and cover part of the expenses incurred by childhood cancer, Leucan provides families with welcome grants, among others, so that they can focus on what matters most: their child.

In addition to Mr. Champagne, eight other executives have decided to mobilize their team for Leucan: Mrs. Manon Bergeron, Assisted Operations, Human Resources and Administration Manager at Desjardins - Caisse de la Rive-Nord du Saguenay, Mr. David Bowles, President of the Montérégie regional committee of private schools, Mr. Yvon Charest, President and Chief Executive Officer at iA Financial Group, Mr. Michel Dallaire, Chief Executive Officer at Cominar, Mrs. Danielle Dionne, Human Resources Manager at Extra multi-ressources, Mr. Danny Dufour, CEO of Maxi Metal, Mr. Louis-Philippe LeBlanc-Boucher, Marketing and Customer Experience Director at Olivier Ford & Groupe Olivier, and Mr. Reneault Poliquin, Executive Director, Multiplatform Media Sales Montreal & Eastern Canada at CBC & Radio-Canada Media Solutions. To learn more about the campaign leaders or to encourage them, please visit leaders.tetesrasees.com.

Dominic Paquet, volunteer spokesperson of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge adds that "Taking part in the Challenge as a team is a way to show concretely your support to sick children and their families. It's also a collective commitment proving that, together, we can go much further."

People can also sign up as participants and take on the Challenge at one of the 50 official shaving sites across the province organized by Leucan throughout the year. To register or to encourage a participant, please visit tetesrasees.com.

Leucan wishes to highlight the generosity of PROXIM, the presenting sponsor of the event for a second year; Mia for creating the Leucan earrings of hope for a third year and donating the sales proceeds to the Association; and stand-up comedian Dominic Paquet, proud provincial spokesperson of the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge for a sixth year.

About the Challenge
The Leucan Shaved Head Challenge is a major fundraiser of Leucan that engages the community in a spirit of solidarity to provide services to cancer-stricken children and their families as well as providing financial support to clinical research. It is also a gesture of support for children whose body image is altered when chemotherapy provokes hair loss.

About Leucan
For close to 40 years, Leucan has been supporting cancer-stricken children and their families from the day of diagnosis through every stage of the disease and its side-effects. As a loyal ally of hundreds of families and thousands of members across Quebec, the Association provides specific and personalized services delivered by a qualified team with a cutting edge expertise. Leucan also funds clinical research and the Leucan Information Centre. With its nine offices, Leucan is present throughout Quebec.

 The proposal for a publicly funded pharmaceutical coverage plan is making the rounds again in Canada. Canada is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with a public health-care system that does not include coverage for pharmaceuticals. Advocates for an expansion of the Medicare system to include prescription medication note that it has become common for some lower-income Canadians who lack private drug insurance to leave prescriptions unfilled due to the cost, or miss doses. This affordability problem for lower-income Canadians appears to be getting more serious.

However, a new report from The School of Public Policy and authors Owen Adams and Jordyn Smith, says that despite the best intentions of proponents, national pharmacare is not in the cards anytime soon.

"Perhaps the biggest obstacle for champions of Pharmacare, is that the term can mean so many different things to different people. There is virtually no consensus on what would even be the appropriate Canadian system, particularly in light of how significant a factor private coverage already is in Canada. The matter of how much each level of government, provincial/territorial or federal, would be responsible for funding drugs is a whole other, rather thorny matter," said Adams.

The author notes that despite a vigorous debate, pharmacare is low on the list of changes Canada's want to see in the health care system. The sheer complexity of even defining what a national pharmacare program would look like or what and who it would cover undermines its feasibility. Costs would be very high at a time where the feds and provinces are running massive deficits. And, the fact that the federal government is now negotiating health funding deals with provinces individually, makes the application of any national health initiative a major challenge.

Is pharmacare a possibility according to the author? Perhaps. But not now.

The report can be found online at www.policyschool.ca/publications/


To Floss or Not to Floss? DentalPlans.com's Tips for a Healthy Mouth​

Recent reports have questioned the benefits of certain routine oral health practices, such as flossing. According to the national DentalPlans.com's SmileIndex™ Survey, many misconceptions exist about what is and is not healthy for one's teeth and gums.

"Having good dental hygiene is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth and smile," said Bill Chase, vice president of marketing for DentalPlans.com. "It is important to understand how to properly care for teeth and gums, otherwise you may be doing more harm than good."

Tips for healthy smiles:

Be gentle: Brushing teeth roughly can weaken enamel, causing cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Use a soft brush, and take it easy.

Brush Properly: Hold the brush is at a 45° angle against the gum line and sweep the brush up and away from your gums.

Floss: From dental hygienists and dentists to the Department of Health and Human Services to the American Dental Association have, for decades, recommended daily flossing to keep mouths and teeth healthy. But a recent report from the Associated Press (AP) indicated that there may be no medical benefits associated with flossing. Regardless, removing food debris and bacteria caught between one's teeth is helpful and recommended until truly proven ineffective.

Go to the dentist: Removing tartar is not something that can be done at home, without risking the chance of causing dental damage. Dental hygienists are trained to remove tartar that causes decay and gum infections safely.

Do not wait: People tend to pay out of pocket as dental problems arise, waiting until a costly dental crisis occurs before purchasing a plan. And, dental insurance imposes waiting periods, sometimes of six months to a year, before coverage for expensive dental treatments kicks in. Dental savings plans, an alternative to traditional dental insurance, make dental care more affordable, saving members 10%-60% on most dental care procedures. Learn more at dentalplans.com.

Shortage of physiotherapists limits access for some Canadians

 Growth in the employment of physiotherapists has been keeping pace with the sharp increase in demand for their services. This growth, however, has been largely concentrated in the urban centres of Canada's most populated provinces leaving those on the outskirts underserviced, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada.

"The number of Canadians that have consulted a physiotherapist has been steadily growing over the last few years and demand for these services may be outstripping supply in certain areas of the country. The main challenge going forward is how access to physiotherapy services can be improved for those who need it most," said Greg Sutherland, Principal Economist, Health Economics, The Conference Board of Canada.


At the end of 2014, there were approximately 20,130 physiotherapists employed in Canada.
Nearly all of Canada's physiotherapists (90 per cent) are employed in an urban area.
The unemployment rate among physiotherapists seeking employment in the profession was 0.3 per cent in 2014.
The number of Canadians that have consulted a physiotherapist has been steadily increasing across Canada.
The number of Canadians consulting physiotherapists increased from 8.4 per cent of the adult population in 2001 to 11.6 per cent in 2014. This represents an increase of 3.8 per cent per year. By way of comparison, Canada's adult population has grown by annual average of just 1 per cent since 2001.

Urban areas comprise just 3.6 per cent of Canada's geography and about 82 per cent of the population, but contain 90 per cent of Canada's physiotherapists. The remaining 10 per cent service 90 per cent of the country's land mass, and recruiting physiotherapists to these non-urban centres poses a significant challenge. As a result, patients in these areas have reduced access to the resources necessary to meet their physical therapy needs.

Further analysis reveals that the strongest rates of physiotherapist employment growth are in regions with the smallest increase in consultations. In Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, employment growth above 4 per cent more than exceeds the 3.4 per cent increase in consultations. However, in all other provinces combined, annual employment growth of 2.6 per cent on average is not enough to address the increase of 4.5 per cent in physiotherapy consultations.

From a sustainability perspective, there is not an abundant supply of physiotherapists to satisfy a dramatic rise in demand, especially in rural and remote communities. As of 2014, the unemployment rate for all professions in Canada was 6.9 per cent. With the unemployment rate among physiotherapists around 0.3 per cent, there is no surplus to help alleviate the rising demand and exhausted supply in some areas of the country.

The Market Profile of Physiotherapists in Canada is the second briefing in a three-part series. The first report, The Role of Physiotherapy in Canada: Contributing to a Stronger Health Care System, provides an understanding of the role of physiotherapists within the Canadian health care system. The third and final briefing in this series will forecast the demand for physiotherapy services for seniors, using an approach that integrates the use of rehabilitation services in long-term care and homecare and provide recommendations for action from a variety of perspectives.

The Conference Board of Canada will host the Healthy Canada Conference 2017: Access to Affordable Medicines in Toronto, April 26 – 27, 2017.

New Wellness Tool Brings Awareness of Healthy Living to Kids in Tangible Way​

OAccording to a recent report from the World Health Organization's Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, at least 41 million children age 5 and under are obese or overweight. At the top of the report's 6 main recommendations for governments to help curb this worldwide issue is to promote the intake of healthy foods and physical activity. New business CoCompany's launch of the ThoughtFullBoard – a health and wellness tool designed to facilitate and encourage independent healthy decision-making in kids – will do just that.

Developed by Julie Cole, Co-Founder of Mabel's Labels and Joanne Corner, an NCCP Level 3 Professional Figure Skating Coach, the ThoughtFullBoard uses a team of experts' insights to help families focus on small acts of wellness to create a healthy lifestyle that will last a lifetime.

"Moms are tired of nagging their kids about making healthy choices, getting off their screens and taking responsibility," says Julie Cole, Co-Founder of CoCompany. "The ThoughtFullBoard is a tool designed for parents who aim to inspire independence while establishing healthy habits in their families."

The visual boards help children and parents track different categories of health and wellness throughout the day. Along with icons on the board, the tracking line and HeartStepper Magnets encourage you to track your progress and be aware of your health and wellness.

All products in the ThoughtFullBoard line are developed by a community of parents and experts, including Dr. Sharon Carson, Pediatrician and Sarah Remmer, Registered Dietician & Family Nutrition Expert, who are incredibly passionate about improving kids' wellness and creating positive lifelong habits.

"The boards are really gorgeous and functional, too – so they add beauty to your kitchen space while providing kids with the opportunity to manage their own good choices. Mom is happy with both the design and with kids creating good habits!" Julie Cole says.

To view the ThoughtFullBoard collection, please visit thoughtfullboard.com.

Women's College Hospital brings accessible BRCA genetic testing to Canadians

 Approximately one in 200 Canadians have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation which puts women at a higher lifetime risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, while male mutation carriers are at an increased risk of developing prostate and other cancers. Currently, genetic testing for these gene mutations is only offered to, and covered for, people who meet eligibility criteria based on several factors like a strong family history of cancer. Researchers in the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at Women's College Hospital (WCH) will lead a population-based study called The Screen Project that will offer genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations to Canadians at a cost of $165 USD. U.S.-based Veritas Genetics, the global leader in genetic sequencing and interpretation, will be performing the BRCA genetic testing. The study hopes to determine the feasibility of guided direct-to-consumer population-based genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and also to estimate the number of cancers that would be prevented through such a program.

Hereditary mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are responsible for five to 10 per cent of breast cancers and 10 to 15 per cent of ovarian cancers. Although knowledge about hereditary cancers has improved, referral rates for genetic testing remain low among primary care physicians. A recent study found that only 23 per cent of eligible ovarian cancer patients were referred for genetic assessment. Research on the underutilization of genetics in clinical care shows that the majority of BRCA mutation-carriers in the population will go undetected.

"The technology for identifying BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation-carriers has improved dramatically since their discovery in the mid 1990s. However, we have not yet achieved our potential in preventing breast and ovarian cancers among women using genetic testing," says Dr. Steven Narod, co-principal investigator and the director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH. "Population-based genetic testing is a new approach for widespread testing in Canada that we hope will change that paradigm."

Narod is a co-discoverer of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and the recipient of the 2016 Basser Global Prize for his work on breast and ovarian cancer genetics.

"The Screen Project aims to address the health gaps in eligibility criteria that currently exist by offering this genetic test to any interested Canadian at a more accessible price," says Dr. Mohammad Akbari, co-principal investigator and director of the Research Molecular Genetics Laboratory at WCH. He led the international team discovered RECQL as the latest breast cancer susceptibility gene in 2015.

Individuals who are interested in BRCA genetic testing can participate in the study by registering online at www.thescreenproject.ca. On the registration site, patients will have access to an informational video and educational materials to learn more about hereditary cancer and genetic testing. Once participants have provided the necessary information and consent, they will be directed to Veritas' website to submit payment and have a saliva collection kit shipped to their home. Those who are unable to afford the cost of the test will be eligible for financial assistance. Saliva samples will then be tested at Veritas' laboratory and the results will be reported to the patient within two to four weeks. Individuals who test positive for the BRCA mutation will be contacted by the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit at WCH, while those who receive a negative or inconclusive result will receive a report from Veritas Genetics.

"The current barriers to accessing genetic testing in the healthcare system can prevent or delay people from obtaining knowledge that can significantly reduce their cancer risk," says Nicole Gojska, genetic counsellor at Women's College Hospital. "Several options are available to detect cancers early or reduce the risk of cancer from happening. For example, for women, these options can include intensified screening, taking medications to reduce cancer risks or preventative surgery. As genetic testing for cancer predisposition is becoming increasingly more common in clinical practice, men and women with BRCA mutations may also benefit from tailored cancer treatments."

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing needs to be guided by a medical professional with long-term follow-up and management. All participants who are identified as BRCA mutation-carriers through this study will be offered a follow-up consultation with a WCH genetic counsellor to review their test and discuss the implications of their diagnosis. By providing genetic testing that is equitable and accessible to all Canadians, WCH hopes to demonstrate a new model of care for breast, ovarian and prostate cancer prevention that will close the gaps that exist within the healthcare system.


Mood Disorders Society of Canada Urges Action on Improving Canadians' Access to Life-Saving Medications​

Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) today released a groundbreaking brief recommending action to improve Canadians' access to the medications they need and to strengthen patients' role in the approval of new life-saving medications.

As the brief makes clear, successful treatment of a debilitating illness such as depression — now the leading cause of disability worldwide — can hinge on patients being able to access the right medication. But as MDSC's research for the brief determined, Canadians suffering depression are too often prevented from obtaining the medications that would restore their full functionality and quality of life. People on limited incomes without private health plans, for example, cannot access medications unless they are publicly funded and the right one for them may not fall in that category.

In spite of having faster and broader access to medications, access is also an issue for Canadians with private health plans — where insurers delay in covering new medications or require that patients try less expensive medications first. Canadians may also lose access to their medications when they change jobs, move to another province or territory, or from hospital into the community.

"We must ensure that all Canadians have equitable access to the best medications that will treat their depression and restore wellness," said Phil Upshall, MDSC's Executive Director. "By depriving people of the most appropriate medications for their individual needs that can transform their lives, we are exacerbating the terrible toll depression takes on individuals and families — the hardest-hit being the most vulnerable people in society."

MDSC's brief also demonstrates that the newest and best medications developed for treating major depressive disorder are far less likely to be recommended for public drug plan coverage in Canada than new medications for non-mental health issues. Even when new medications for major depressive disorder (MDD) have been fully approved by Health Canada, they can remain inaccessible to the people who need them.

To help dismantle this barrier to access, MDSC urges that patients themselves be given a much stronger voice in the Canadian Agency for Medications and Technologies in Health. This non-profit, independent body evaluates Health Canada's findings and recommends whether a new medication should be publicly funded by provincial and federal drug plans. As MDSC emphasizes, patients' experiences of taking medications, and living with them, can add a uniquely valuable perspective on the evaluation of new medications and how widely they should be made accessible.

Canadians' financial stress continues to affect their health: Manulife Financial Wellness Index

Two in five Canadians say they are financially unwell, according to the latest Manulife Financial Wellness Index. Those respondents are concerned by debt (82 per cent), not saving for retirement (60 per cent), stressed (67 per cent) due to their financial situation and 83 per cent said they are not financially prepared to protect their loved ones (death, serious illness, disability, having a will, etc).

"We want to help Canadians live better and healthier lives. Looking at people's wellness has traditionally included physical aspects, and in recent years focused more on emotional health," said Sue Reibel, Executive Vice-President and General Manager Institutional Markets, Manulife. "Our findings show that the role of financial wellness, whether good or bad, affects overall wellbeing and is an important contributor to helping Canadians reach positive emotional health."

Financial wellness is based on the way an individual manages their overall financial situation, including budgeting, retirement planning, investing, debt management, financial protection and financial stress. Manulife's research shows that money continues to be the greatest source of stress and it impacts an individual's mental health leading to absenteeism rates and lost productivity. Canadians who consider themselves financially unwell revealed that dealing with money is a factor of stress (81 per cent, often/sometimes) and those who are financially unwell are eight times more likely to have bad stress levels and may be distracted at work (49 per cent, often/sometimes).

Manulife's Financial Wellness Assessment is a quick, easy and free online questionnaire measuring financial wellness. The assessment was launched in 2016 for group retirement customers and is now also available to group benefits customers, helping one in three Canadians to improve their overall financial situation. It provides Manulife group plan customers with a score and a personalized action plan. The Financial Wellness Assessment can be found in the sign in section of their online account.

"This is the first time a financial assessment is available for both group benefits and group retirement customers to help them improve their financial situation. This assessment will help them learn their financial wellness score, and provide them with personalized action plans they can use to potentially reduce their financial worries," said Reibel.

Healthy finances and a healthy lifestyle go hand in hand

Canadians who are financially well are more likely to be successful at managing their health according to the Financial Wellness Index. Those with low levels of financial wellness are almost five times more likely not to engage in any healthy activity. Canadians who say they are financially well are more likely to say that their physical health is excellent (25 per cent) or good (45 per cent), they eat more fruits and vegetables (79 per cent), get more exercise (68 per cent), get regular health checkups (61 per cent) and educate themselves on being healthier (46 per cent).

In addition, employers offering group plans have an impact on the financial wellness and health of their employees. Those who are financially well are more likely to have a group retirement
(65 per cent) and group benefits plan (79 per cent) compared to those who are financially unwell (42 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively). Also, those who have group benefits plans are more likely to score better on the stress index (56 per cent) than those who do not have any plans (48 per cent).

"Employers have an important role to play in their employees' wellness, physically, mentally and financially. Their actions can positively impact the level of engagement and productivity of their teams, which in the long-term can impact their bottom line," added Reibel.

About the Manulife Financial Wellness study

Environics Research Group surveyed 2,024 Canadians, 18 and over, between August 31 and September 7, 2016, asking them about budgeting, retirement, investments, debt, protection and stress. Respondents were equally split along gender lines, average age was 47, and quotas and weighting were used to ensure that results reflected the Canadian reality in terms of age, gender and region.

This survey was designed as an index and is intended to be repeated annually to create an informative track of Canadians' financial wellness over time.

Ontario government underscores commitment to expanded scope of practice for RPNs​

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Health Minister Eric Hoskins showed their support this week for the excellent work of Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) with their attendance at the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) Queen's Park Day.

A group of approximately 60 RPNs were welcomed to Queen's Park Wednesday by Premier Wynne, Minister Hoskins and about 50 Members of Provincial Parliament to highlight the role RPNs play in the province's health care system and to discuss ways to further improve access to timely, high-quality care for Ontarians.

"The Ontario government has sent a strong signal about the vital role Ontario's RPNs play in our health care system," said Dianne Martin, Chief Executive Officer of RPNAO. "We look forward to working with the province on important changes that will enhance the ability of RPNs to deliver safe, evidence-based care in a more timely, efficient manner."

Minister Hoskins underscored the "outstanding" work performed by RPNs across the province on a daily basis and said the government is committed to removing barriers to help improve care for all Ontarians.

"RPNAO has been clear that scope-of-practice changes would help address certain barriers and ensure patients receive faster access to the right care and our government agrees," Minister Hoskins said. "We know that by working together on increasing RPNs' scope, we can further improve access to care for Ontarians and reduce wait times even further."

The visit to Queen's Park was organized by RPNAO and included a reception for MPPs and meetings with government leaders. There are approximately 50,000 RPNs registered to practice in Ontario, the second largest group of regulated health professionals in the province.

"We value the work that each and every one of those RPNs does in this province," said Minister Hoskins.

Understanding the Buzz About Medicinal Marijuana

 The conversation about medicinal marijuana has gone mainstream.

According to Health Canada, an estimated 130,000 Canadians are registered to purchase medicinal marijuana from licensed producers. This volume of users, changes to regulations and prevalent anecdotal evidence has led to increased discussion about medicinal uses of marijuana.

Although Health Canada governs and regulates licensed producers and there are a variety of sources that contain up-to date information on medicinal marijuana, currently there is no single comprehensive source providing medical advice.

For patients living with chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder — or other illnesses that could be supported by the benefits of cannabis — navigating the information can be intimidating or overwhelming, and it can be an added challenge determining if you are getting your information from a reliable source. Being a relatively new field, many people are hesitant, either because of the associated stigma or they just don’t know where to start.

“As is the case with all matters relating to health, it’s crucial for consumers to be armed with information from credible sources so they can make an informed decision about what’s best for their health,” says Laurie Simmonds, President and CEO of Green Living Enterprises. “The Green Living Show is a great forum to discuss alternative health therapies and bring together a group of experts who can help provide clarity.”

The WeedmapsTM Speaker Series at the Green Living Show will feature exhibits and experts from GrowWise Health, Mettrum, Apollo Cannabis Clinic, Summertree Medical Clinic as well as Tokyo Smoke — the first Canadian consumer brand to launch as a licensed cannabis producer in Canada. These experts will be discussing a variety of topics such as the current medicinal regulations, what strains are most effective for specific ailments, the different methods of consumption, using cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, and a cannabis cooking demo.

Dr. Carolina Landolt, a leading Canadian rheumatologist with more than 10 years experience and the founder of Summertree Medical Clinic, is one of the experts who will be speaking at the Show. One of the fundamentals of her practice is demystifying medical cannabis for patients and other physicians.  

“The stigma associated with medical cannabis presents a significant barrier to effective patient care,” says Dr. Landolt. “Medical cannabis is a reasonable option for individuals dealing with conditions such as chronic pain or insomnia, but often patients are afraid to explore this option due to prevailing negative myths and misconceptions regarding medical cannabis. The Green Living Show is a great place to speak directly with practitioners and other experts to get first-hand information.”

If you are looking for alternative therapies to complement your current health regime or are curious about your options, The Green Living Show’s cannabis-centered exhibitors and stage content is the place to help guide you in the right direction.

This April, discover all of these cannabis resources — plus 400 sustainable companies — at the Green Living Show taking place April 7th to 9th, 2017, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For more info on leading a healthier, greener lifestyle, please visit greenlivingshow.ca. ‘Like’ it on Facebook, follow the Green Living Show on Twitter and Instagram @GreenLivingPage.

About WeedmapsTM
WeedmapsTM is the first and most comprehensive directory in Canada and the United States that provides patients with vital information on where and how they can get their legally prescribed medicinal marijuana.

Innovation meets Imagination: New Samsung Space at The Hospital for Sick Children helps bring patients closer to home

 Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. today unveiled the Samsung Space at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), part of its ongoing, multi-year partnership with SickKids that includes making a $1 million-dollar donation to Canada's most research-intensive hospital that is the largest centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. Located on the 9th floor of the hospital, the Samsung Space is an interactive digital environment that will provide a variety of immersive experiences through the Samsung connected ecosystem, bringing visitors closer to what matters to them—whether it's #MissingHome, their family, friends or even their favourite room.

The Samsung Space vision was brought to life by Samsung and the SickKids` Child Life support team. Open six days a week to in-patients at SickKids, children and families are now able to be together in a healing and relaxing environment away from the clinical areas, letting families enjoy time together doing what families usually do – watching TV, playing games, or simply spending time together. The Space also intends to provide a sense of normalcy to patients and families going through a difficult illness or treatment.

"We continue to be inspired by the courageous young patients at SickKids. As part of our continued, meaningful partnership with SickKids, we hope this new Samsung Space can make a difference by providing fun experiences that allow children to be children and help bring them closer to the people, places and moments they miss most," said Mark Childs, Chief Brand Officer, Samsung Canada.

"We are grateful to Samsung Canada for their generous gift which allowed us to transform the space physically as well as hire staff dedicated to developing programming and managing the Space," says Karima Karmali, Director, Centre for Innovation & Excellence in Child and Family-Centred Care, SickKids. "We believe in the value of play in our commitment to children's health and development, and know this inviting, innovative space will help our patients in their healing."

Innovative technology in the Samsung Space includes:

a 75" SUHD Samsung television, with stunning, immersive picture quality to make family movie nights extra special
a variety of Samsung GearVR virtual reality headsets, inviting visitors to explore their imagination and immerse themselves in the Moon, Mars, or places outside our Galaxy
a Samsung Synced Interactive Table, allowing visitors to go 'hands-on' with their favourite apps or games
Samsung Gear360 cameras, Samsung Galaxy View and Galaxy Tab E devices
The Samsung Space is a demonstration of the Samsung global philanthropic Hope for Children program, and joins other partnership initiatives at the hospital. These include bringing 21st century learning tools and Samsung tablets to the students at SickKids` Epilepsy Classroom, SickKids' onsite Samsung laundry pairs that bring the comforts and convenience of home to more families and Samsung employee volunteers. The Samsung Space is the latest example of this continued commitment and meaningful partnership in action. 


Canada's First Music Therapy Clinical Research Study for People with Epilepsy​

With Purple Day almost upon us, Epilepsy Ontario is pleased to announce the beginning of the first research clinical study in Canada to look at the role music therapy can play in seizure reduction.

Thanks to the generous support of the William Donald Willis Fund, Epilepsy Ontario has entered into a formal partnership with the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at Toronto Western Hospital to conduct a two-year clinical research study advancing the work of previous international studies that have found an intriguing link between music – specifically Mozart's K 448 Sonata – and seizure reduction in individuals with intractable Epilepsy.

"As we know, up to 30 per cent of people with Epilepsy do not benefit from drug interventions," says Epilepsy Ontario Executive Director Paul Raymond. "We felt it was important to fund research into alternative therapies that could potentially be beneficial to all people with Epilepsy."

Epilepsy neurosurgeon Dr. Taufik Valiante and post-doctoral fellow Marjan Rafiiee in collaboration with members of the Epilepsy Program at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, lead the Krembil Research Institute study to compare the seizure profiles of individuals with Epilepsy listening to Mozart's K 448 versus the time that they listen to a control music which is a "scrambled" version of the sonata.

Previous Epilepsy music therapy studies using K 448 have found evidence of seizure reduction by as much as 24 per cent, which compares favorably to some of the most commonly used drug interventions.

"This is a bit of a golden age for research into the brain," says. Dr. Valiante. "The technological tools to study the human brain are ever increasing in sophistication and accessibility. These tools are allowing the mystery of the human brain's relationship with music to be explored in a wide variety of clinical settings, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and depression."

In fact, it was an introduction to research into music therapy applications for motor movement rehabilitation in individuals with Parkinson's disease that piqued Dr. Rafiee's interest in Epilepsy music therapy.

"It was shocking to me to be honest," says. Dr. Rafiee. "I started looking at some of the literature and was looking at the numbers, seeing some patients even becoming seizure-free. I couldn't believe I had never heard of this before".

For former Epilepsy Ontario board member Sean O'Malley, who first pitched the idea of funding a music therapy trial, the inspiration was his daughter Rhiannon, who has drug-resistant Epilepsy.

"Ever since she was little, she would crave music at all times, in a way that I came to feel was her own form of self-medication," says O'Malley. "One of her favourite things to do in the world is to go for an hour-long drive with me around the lake we live on and listen to our favourite music. "No matter how hard a day she seems to be having with seizures, that hour always feel like an oasis of relative calm in her brain."

Epilepsy Ontario is dedicated to promoting independence and optimal quality of life for children and adults living with seizure disorders. Through a network of local agencies, contacts and associates across the province, Epilepsy Ontario reaches out to people with epilepsy and their loved ones. We do this by providing: client services including counselling and referrals, information, education and advocacy services.


Weston Brain Institute announces awardees of more than $30 million in grants to fight brain diseases of aging​

 The impact of neurodegenerative disease of aging grows every year, affecting more Canadians and creating an ever-increasing burden on Canada's healthcare system. In an effort to help address this challenge, the Weston Brain Institute today announced the allocation of more than $30 million in funding for Canadian research projects.

"The lack of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, has been called the biggest unmet need in modern medicine," said Alexandra Stewart, Executive Director at the Weston Brain Institute. "The funding we've committed to these incredible Canadian scientists focuses on projects with the potential to make the greatest impact in this field."

The funding is a part of the larger $100 million announced in 2016 by the Weston Brain Institute for high-risk, high-reward translational research projects with the potential to help speed up the development of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases of aging, an area that is significantly underfunded in Canada.

The Institute grants through a number of programs, enabling researchers to receive funding and support based on the stage of the project and funding needed. Today's announcement highlights the more than $30 million directly granted since 2012 toward its Early Phase Clinical Trials, Rapid Response, Transformational Research, and targeted programs. This brings the total funds allocated to date for Canadian researchers to more than $45 million.

The Institute's Scientific Advisory Committee provides guidance to the Institute regarding overall strategy, program development and program design. Grantees are selected by committees composed of these advisors plus additional experts selected based on the applications under discussion. Both these groups are comprised of world-class international researchers.

About the Grants

The Early Phase Clinical Trials Program (up to $1.7m) supports Phase I and IIa clinical trials. This is an innovative funding opportunity whereby applicants have optional access to clinical trials design experts to help improve their study designs. Grantees include:

Dr. John Breitner of McGill University/Douglas Health Research Institute: leading a placebo-controlled randomized phase I/IIa trial to test whether increases in ApoE through administration of probucol (a cholesterol-lowering drug) can have protective effects in people at high risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia.
Dr. Elizabeth Finger of Western University: testing the safety, tolerability, and preliminary efficacy of intranasal oxytocin as a treatment for apathy, indifference, and lack of empathy in patients with frontotemporal dementia.
Dr. Marta Kaminska of McGill University: examining the effects of long-acting levodopa on obstructive sleep apnea in Parkinson's disease patients in a pilot proof-of-concept trial.
Dr. Zahra Kazem-Moussavi of University of Manitoba: investigating the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in treating Alzheimer's disease in a placebo-controlled, randomized, phase IIa clinical trial.
Dr. Stephen Pasternak of St. Joseph's Healthcare Foundation: investigating whether ambroxol, a cough medicine, can reduce Parkinson's disease dementia in a placebo-controlled, randomized phase IIa trial.
Dr. Pedro Rosa-Neto of Douglas Hospital Research Centre: testing in a first-in-human trial the safety and efficacy of a new drug that can potentially cross the blood brain barrier and promote amyloid clearance in early Alzheimer's disease patients.
The Rapid Response Program (up to $200,000) provides seed funding for novel projects. This program runs with the quickest granting process to enable researchers to promptly explore high-risk, high-reward ideas and catalyze future projects. Grantees include:

Dr. Gary Armstrong of University of Montreal: tested whether pimozide, a neuroleptic drug, protects synaptic function in animal models of ALS.
Dr. Isabelle Aubert of Sunnybrook Research Institute: tested using MRI-guided focused ultrasound to deliver a potential amyloid-targeting Alzheimer's drug into the brain of mice.
Dr. Mallar Chakravarty of Douglas Hospital Foundation (2 grants): aimed to enhance treatment of AD by identifying those who are more likely to respond deep brain stimulation; and developing biomarkers that can reliably identify people at risk for Alzheimer's disease through minimally-invasive and automated techniques.
Dr. Howard Chertkow of Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research: investigated the use of salivary tau as a biomarker for early Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Pieter Cullis of University of British Columbia: investigated the use of lipid nanoparticles to carry and deliver biologic therapies for ALS and Huntington's disease.
Dr. Mark W. Erwin of Toronto Western Hospital: transplanting neural stem cells non-invasively to the spinal cord in mice as a potential treatment for ALS.
Dr. Susan George of University of Toronto/Dr. Melissa Perreault of University of Guelph: validating GSK-3 as a potential therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Benoit Gosselin of Laval University: developed an innovative wireless device to monitor an animal's real-time responses to drugs which is now commercially available.
Dr. David Kaplan of Hospital for Sick Children: tested two anti-cancer drugs, bosutinib and ponatinib, to determine if they can be repurposed to prevent neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Iva Kulic of University of British Columbia: validating P2X7 as a therapeutic target to treat Alzheimer's diseases.
Dr. Daniel Levesque of University of Montreal: performing a high-throughput screen to identify compounds that target Nurr1/RXR as potential therapeutics for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Joanne McLaurin of Sunnybrook Research Institute: testing a combined stem cell transplant and Abeta lowering therapeutic intervention in a mouse model to treat vascular contributions to Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Romina Mizrahi of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: tested a novel PET ligand (FEPPA) for neuroinflammation as a biomarker for mild cognitive impairment.
Dr. David Park of University of Ottawa: validated two proteins involved in immune system function, LRRK2-WAVE2, as a therapeutic target in Parkinson's.
Dr. Tarek Rajji of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: conducting non-invasive magnetic brain stimulation in patients with mild cognitive impairment to improve memory.
Dr. Jerome Robert of University of British Columbia: developing bioengineered 3D human brain cell models that could accelerate therapeutic development by serving as an intermediary drug testing platform between animal testing and human clinical trials.
Dr. Ekaterina Rogaeva of University of Toronto (2 grants): developed a novel method to analyze the methylation status of C9orf72 repeat expansions with the goal of developing biomarkers for ALS and FTD.
Dr. Antonio Strafella of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: tested a novel PET ligand (FEPPA) for neuroinflammation as a biomarker for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Peter Stys of University of Calgary: developing a simple and inexpensive blood test for routine screening for early detection of Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Anurag Tandon of University of Toronto: using ultrasound to deliver an immunotherapeutic to clear alpha-synuclein as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Carmela Tartaglia of University Health Network: testing a novel tau-binding PET imaging tracer to diagnose chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired CFL athletes and to differentiate them from Alzheimer's disease patients.
Dr. Julianna Tomlinson of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: developing a new mouse model to speed up the development of treatments for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Beibei Zhao of University of British Columbia: testing the efficacy of a potential therapeutic vaccine for ALS in preclinical studies.
The Transformational Research Program (up to $1.5m) supports high-potential, larger, longer projects with excellent preliminary data. Grantees include:

Dr. Mitchell Albert of Lakehead University: testing Xenon as a new MRI imaging agent to increase the image contrast of brain scans.
Dr. Isabelle Aubert of Sunnybrook Research Institute: combining MRI-guided focused ultrasound technology with gene therapy to reduce amyloid build-up and prevent degeneration in Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Steffany Bennett of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: identifying how a family of fats (sphingolipids) can be used as biomarkers to map disease progression in Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.
Dr. Francois Gros-Louis of Laval University: identifying biomarkers for ALS from patient skin biopsies.
Dr. Philippe Huot of University of Montreal: leveraging new drug combinations to alleviate Parkinson's disease-related psychosis and dyskinesia.
Dr. Kullervo Hynynen of Sunnybrook Research Institute: developing a focused ultrasound helmet to transiently open the blood-brain barrier to deliver drugs to the brain.
Dr. Haakon Nygaard of University of British Columbia: Testing novel compounds that can restore the production of normal progranulin protein as a potential therapy for frontotemporal dementia.
Dr. David Park of University of Ottawa: validated the Pink-Letm1 and the mitochondria-calcium pathway as a therapeutic target for Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Marco Prado of University of Western Ontario: developing an automated, touch screen based rodent attention and memory test to enable higher throughput drug testing.
Dr. Elizabeth Simpson of University of British Columbia: developing promoters that enable delivery of gene therapy to specific neurons and brain regions for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
Dr. A. Jon Stoessl of University of British Columbia: imaging tau accumulation to develop a new diagnostic tool to differentiate between Parkinson's disease and similar diseases.
Dr. Jacques Tremblay of Laval University: developing a gene editing system to correct the disease form of the amyloid gene to treat Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Jackalina Van Kampen of University of Prince Edward Island: characterizing a new mouse model of Parkinson's disease, to be used as a tool for screening disease-modifying therapies.
Dr. Cheryl Wellington of University of British Columbia: modelling traumatic brain injury in mice to develop a biobank of samples of prodromal Alzheimer's disease.
Targeted programs provide support for outstanding translational research in ALS, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Given these diseases share related pathologies, work here is likely to advance research in other neurodegenerative diseases of aging. Grantees include:

Dr. Blair Leavitt of University of British Columbia: developing a new mouse model to investigate therapeutics targeting progranulin for the treatment of FTD.
Dr. Yingfu Li of McMaster University: developing a new technique to identify biomarkers for earlier detection of ALS.
Dr. Mario Masellis of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: identifying genomic and neuro imaging biomarkers using patient data from the GENetic Frontotemporal dementia initiative (GENFI) program.
Dr. Christopher Pearson of Hospital for Sick Children: stabilizing C9orf72 gene repeat expansion by modulating activity of DNA repair proteins as a potential therapeutic for ALS and FTD.
Dr. Janice Robertson of University of Toronto: using computer and mouse models to identify new drug candidates targeting misfolded proteins in ALS.
Dr. Donald Weaver of University Health Network: synthesizing small molecules that can prevent the misfolding of tau protein to treat PSP and FTD.
About the Weston Brain Institute
The Weston Brain Institute is Canada's largest privately funded national initiative aimed at accelerating breakthrough discoveries for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases of aging, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and frontotemporal dementia. The Institute directly supports world-class neuroscience research and focuses on high-risk, high-reward projects, independent of commercial potential, that address the existing translational gap in neurodegenerative research using an innovative fast-track granting model. The Institute is supported by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation in Canada and the United States, and the Selfridges Group Foundation in the rest of the world.

Canadian collaboration to accelerate development of cancer treatments

An innovative collaboration between government, industry, and academia aims to accelerate the development of cancer treatments in Canada. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Toronto-based Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB) have put in place over $1M in collaborative agreements over the past year to produce and test therapeutic antibodies discovered at the University of Toronto (U of T).

Cancer treatment is evolving rapidly toward more effective molecules, including single-domain and bi-specific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, and immunotherapy. These medicines, also called biologics, are able to specifically target cancer cells and in some cases, recruit the body's immune system to help destroy them.

CCAB is a business development and commercialization engine whose mission is to translate UofT's large portfolio of early stage biologics into high-value assets and products. To this purpose, CCAB has partnered with NRC to biomanufacture and test hundreds of antibodies.

Roman Szumski, Vice-president of Life Sciences, NRC said, "It is very gratifying to deploy NRC's biologics expertise, which is over 20 years in the making, to projects that may revolutionize the treatment of cancer. We are thrilled to be working with the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics on accelerating the development of innovative medicines, to improve health outcomes for Canadians."

The collaboration continues to grow and now leverages NRC's three programs in Human Health Therapeutics:

Biologics and Biomanufacturing: producing biologics, testing their ability to fight solid tumours, and determining their biomanufacturability;
Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers: determining if specific antibodies are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, target and fight brain cancer;
Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics: determining if specific antibodies are able to modulate the immune system so that it finds and destroys cancer cells.

The goal of the collaboration is to identify the most promising antibodies, and increase their value by generating data that effectively de-risks each asset. CCAB's objective is to then licence lead antibody candidates to seed newly formed Canadian biotechnology companies. These new Canadian start-ups will, in turn, advance these molecules toward clinical trials in patients. With several biotechnology companies already participating and benefitting from these programs, the collaboration between CCAB and NRC is clearly set to catalyze the country's biotech sector and generate promising new cancer treatments for Canadians.

Truth or Myth? Global Survey for World Oral Health Day Exposes the Truth About our Oral Health Habits

Today on World Oral Health Day, FDI World Dental Federation is myth busting what people around the world believe to be good oral health practices, encouraging them to become better informed and take action. Oral health is integral to our general health and well-being, impacting every aspect of our lives.

To view the Multimedia News Release, please click:


The results from a survey carried out in 12 countries, by YouGov on behalf of FDI, exposed a significant gap between what people believe to be good oral health practices, versus what they actually do. Eight of the countries reported that 50 percent or more of the people surveyed think it is important to brush your teeth straight after every main meal. Brazil, Mexico, Egypt and Poland were the worst offenders of this incorrect oral health practice (84%, 81%, 62% and 60% respectively). FDI recommends waiting at least 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth to avoid weakening tooth enamel.

"These survey results highlight an alarming discrepancy between knowledge and actual good oral health practices," said Dr Patrick Hescot, FDI President. "We want everyone to take control of their oral health this World Oral Health Day and understand that by adopting good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up, they can help protect their mouths. A healthy mouth allows us to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow and convey a range of emotions with confidence and without pain, discomfort and disease. Good oral health matters and translates to a better quality of life."

The majority of countries surveyed incorrectly believe that rinsing the mouth out with water after brushing is important; Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, India and Canada were found to practice this myth the most (77%, 75%, 73%, 67% and 67% respectively). It is actually recommended not to rinse with water straight after brushing to allow maximum exposure to fluoride, which will optimize the preventative effects.

Nearly half the population surveyed in India, South Africa, Brazil and Poland (52%, 49%, 48% and 42% respectively) felt that drinking fruit juice rather than fizzy drinks was important for good oral health. Fruit juice however, can also be high in sugar which can cause tooth decay. FDI recommends keeping consumption of sugary drinks to a minimum as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr Edoardo Cavalle, WOHD Task Team Chair, stated, "Understanding good oral health practices and adopting them early in life, will help to maintain optimal oral health into old age and ensure you live a long life free from physical pain and often emotional suffering caused by oral disease."

Other key findings on oral health practices include:

77 percent of people surveyed agreed that visiting a dentist once per year is good oral health practice, but only 52 percent actually tend to do it
Only 28 percent of respondents identified drinking alcohol in moderation as important for good oral health 


Open 200 permanent beds at Ottawa hospitals to deal with critical bed shortage​​

 With patients in hallways and offices, and occupancy levels at Ottawa hospitals consistently at 100 per cent and some days spiking upwards of 120 per cent, the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU) today called on the province to open at least 200 fully-funded and permanent beds at hospitals, Ottawa-wide. The beds are needed to recover capacity, ensure patient safety and alleviate the now constant strain from insufficient beds at area hospitals.

It's the Liberal government's fixation with a policy of few beds, few staff, very high bed occupancy and too low funding, that's causing serious capacity problems at Ottawa hospitals, OCHU president Michael Hurley says.

Overcrowding and a critical shortage of hospital beds that comes with this Liberal policy, "should not be accepted as the new normal," Hurley stresses. "We should not pretend that this overcapacity is a symptom of a virulent flu season. The issue is that too many beds and staff have been cut while the population has grown and gotten older. There is absolutely no surge capacity in the system and hospital staff from nurses to cleaners are working at an exhausting pace, because they have too many patients to care for."

Data shows that Ontario has the fewest hospital beds of any province in Canada and the fewest staff for those beds. Data shows hospitals in the other provinces are funded at 25 per cent more than Ontario hospitals. Over 18,000 beds have been closed in Ontario over the last few decades despite a growing and ageing population. The result is that, like in Ottawa, many Ontario hospitals are reeling from high bed occupancy rates and in many cases are overcapacity for long periods of time with ad hoc patient beds being put in tub rooms, solariums, offices and emergency department hallways.

One Ottawa hospital is cancelling surgeries and another is asking people, some of who could be very sick to self-diagnose and opt to stay home. In what can only be described as an immense tragedy, a mentally ill inmate was on a waiting list for a bed at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre when he hanged himself earlier this month, in his Ottawa jail cell.

"Ottawa's Liberal MPPs know full-well their government's policy to downsize hospitals is causing harm. It's incumbent on them to act and restore at least 200 permanent beds at Ottawa hospitals," says Hurley.

There are roughly 2000 patient beds between Ottawa's hospitals (Royal Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital, Bruyere, Queensway-Carleton, Montfort and the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Adding 200 permanent beds (about 10 per cent more beds) would bring the hospitals' bed capacity to 2200. A level high enough to deal with the surge in patients.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) maintains in their 2017 pre-budget submission to government that hospitals have made $4.5 billion in budget cuts on behalf of the province. The OHA says the average occupancy has grown to more than 92 per cent at Ontario's hospitals. Studies show that bed occupancies upwards of 85 per cent are associated with greater risks for patients including higher risk of infection. Overcrowding also creates problems handling both emergency and elective admissions.

"Continuing to run our hospital system with no spare bed capacity, indeed at most times, over 100 per cent full, is the opposite of the 'first do no harm' principle that our health system is based on. Experts say capacity over 85 per cent is dangerous. How can patient safety be assured when hospitals are too full, and at between 100 and 120 per cent capacity?" Hurley asks.

Ontario's Financial Accountability Office estimates health care needs about a 5.3 per cent annual increase to meet basic costs, driven higher than inflation by drugs and medical technologies. OCHU is calling for at least a 5 per cent provincial funding increase for hospitals in 2017.

Canadian Blood Services seeks new Board Directors from anywhere in Canada

Five new Board Directors needed - apply by April 21, 2017

 As a result of routine term expirations, Canadian Blood Services now needs five new Board Directors. We invite applications from Canadian citizens from across the country.

The Board of Directors

The Board comprises thirteen members, including the Chair, four Regional Nominees, two Consumer Nominees who have knowledge or experience with consumers of blood or blood products, and six General Nominees who have backgrounds in business, scientific, medical, technical and public health domains. The four Regional Nominees are appointed directly by the Ministers of Health for the provinces and territories of the relevant regions (except Quebec) and are not the subject of this call for Directors.

Available positions

The following five Board positions are scheduled for election in the fall of 2017:

Chair of the Board - Individuals interested in this position must have experience in the role of Chair, preferably with a significant, complex organization.
Consumer Nominee - In addition to Board member responsibilities, the incumbent will be responsible for co-chairing the National Liaison Committee -- a Board advisory committee composed of stakeholders from across the country.

General Nominees (three positions) - Individuals with business, scientific, medical, technical or public health backgrounds are invited. Ideally, candidates with business backgrounds bring senior executive experience, such as that of CEO of a large manufacturing and physical distribution company, and may also have a CPA designation. Candidates with scientific, medical, technical or public health backgrounds bring transfusion and transplantation expertise, perhaps in combination with ethics, public health and/or research expertise.

Previous Board experience, preferably with significant not-for-profit organizations, is highly desirable for all five positions.

Directors are elected for four-year terms and receive honorariums. While most meetings are in Ottawa, Directors are required to travel to Board meetings held in various locations across Canada. Individuals interested in these positions must deal with documents electronically and have ready access to the internet to address Board information on a timely basis.


Canadian researchers join international fight against Zika​

 The spread of the Zika virus, which can cause devastating birth defects, has become a pressing public health issue in many countries. To this day, there is no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Health, announced a $3 million investment for Zika research in May 2016. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), in partnership with the International Development Research Centre, today announced the names of the three teams of Canadian scientists who will collaborate with Latin American and Caribbean researchers to study the Zika virus.

Philpott said, "In collaboration with their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean, these Canadian scientists will help answer some of the many outstanding questions we have about the Zika virus, ultimately providing evidence that will inform public health policy and improve how governments respond to outbreaks of the virus."

Dr. Tom Hobman, from the University of Alberta, and his team will study how the Zika virus changes host cells during infection, with the goal of developing anti-viral therapies that can be used against the virus.

Dr. Keith Pardee, from the University of Toronto, and his team will test a new, low-cost tool to rapidly detect the presence of Zika virus in patients' bodily fluids. The new diagnostic tool is designed to be used in remote, under-resourced locations and will be field tested in Ecuador, Brazil and Colombia. Current tests to diagnose Zika virus are time consuming and prone to false positives due to the possibility of a patient's prior infection with other flaviviruses such as dengue.

Dr. Beate Sander, from Public Health Ontario, and her team will conduct field studies in Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador to better understand how the virus is spread from mosquitoes to humans, predict which areas in the region are most at risk and use computer simulations to assess the most effective intervention methods, including mosquito control measures and vaccine development.

Together, the international teams will create new knowledge to help develop diagnostics for Zika virus infection, understand the pathology caused by the virus, and ultimately prevent its transmission and morbidity.

To date, there have been 481 cases of Zika virus detected in Canada, most of which have been travel related, although the virus can also be transmitted from mother to fetus and sexually transmitted. There are currently no cures for Zika virus infections or vaccines available against the virus. Zika is linked to severe birth defects, like microcephaly, and neurological disorders including Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition in which the body's immune system attacks its nervous system.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy avoid travel to countries or areas in the United States, like Florida, with reported mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Mental Health Commission of Canada Releases Implementation Findings on National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the findings of its three-year Case Study Research Project that tracked 40 Canadian organizations from various industries and sectors as they successfully implemented the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard).

A global first, the Standard is a "made-in-Canada" set of guidelines, tools and resources to help employers promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work.

The Case Study Research Project findings identify promising practices and lessons learned from these organizations, representing 250,000 employees, which implemented the Standard in 2014.

Key findings include:

Ninety-one per cent of the organizations implemented the Standard because it is "the right thing to do". Other reasons included "to protect the psychological health of employees" (84%) and "increase employee engagement" (72%).
Seventy-eight per cent implemented respectful workplace policies and educational initiatives.
Seventy per cent provided early intervention through employee and family assistance programs and services addressing mental health.
Sixty-six per cent enhanced awareness of mental health among employees.
Participating organizations achieved on average 72 per cent compliance with the five elements (commitment and policy, planning, implementation, evaluation and corrective action, management review) in the Standard, a remarkable improvement from 55 per cent compliance at the baseline stage.
In Canada alone, mental health problems and illnesses account for more than one third of disability claims and two-thirds of disability costs. A recent Ipsos poll found the Standard could be a contributing factor to the overall improvement in the psychological health and safety of Canadian workplaces. For example, employees living with depression who work in an organization using the Standard are missing five fewer days each year from work, according to the survey.

"Today, we aren't just saying mental health at work matters," says Michael Wilson, MHCC Board Chair. "We see the results from 40 dedicated organizations from across Canada who rolled up their sleeves and led by example. They have helped put mental health and wellness at the heart of their organizations. Through their efforts a shift is happening on Bay Street and on Main Street. From small, independently owned businesses to the telecommunications giant Bell Canada, we now have a blueprint for successful implementation of the world's first workplace psychological health and safety standard."

"No workplace is immune from mental health challenges, and now no workplace is without the resources to address them," says Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. "The Standard gives every employer the opportunity to examine their mental wellness efforts and the tools they need to improve."

The Case Study Research Project was led by the MHCC with funding support from Lundbeck Canada Inc., Great-West Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnership Program-Disability Component.

CannaConnect Opens First Medical Cannabis Clinic in Toronto's Downtown Core

CannaConnect, Canada's leader in connecting Canadians with their medical cannabis needs, has opened downtown Toronto's first medical cannabis education centre and clinic. Located at 120 Adelaide St. West, people working and living in the area will now have access to one of Canada's premier medical cannabis facilities.

For a free consultation, please contact a CannaConnect representative at [email protected] or call 647-362-7320 toll-free at 888-779-8462.

There are a lot of professionals in Toronto who suffer from ailments such as anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation but due to a lack of proper education they may be suffering needlessly out of fear that they are doing something illegal or that by self-medicating they are unsure of what they are getting. "We want to get the word out that CannaConnect is here to help and that our licensed suppliers maintain the highest level of standards of quality control," said CannaConnect CEO, Lee Grossman.

The use of medical cannabis as a treatment is carefully regulated in Canada. In order to qualify with CannaConnect, a patient must simply provide a medical document such as a doctor visitation note or symptom report indicating that they have seen a Canadian-licensed physician regarding their condition. In accordance with Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), CannaConnect specializes in connecting patients suffering from legitimate medical conditions to a trusted network of physicians/medical professionals and licensed cannabis producers.

"Given the recent media reports on raids of illegal marijuana dispensaries, the opening of our facility downtown Toronto couldn't come at a better time," said Mr. Grossman. "We offer people a legal alternative to getting access to treatment for their existing medical conditions."

CannaConnect's office is located at 120 Adelaide St West, Suite 2500


Dietary kit reduces baby blues, a precursor to postpartum depression​

A dietary supplement kit, created to counter mood-altering brain changes linked to depression, virtually eliminated the "baby blues" among women in a new study at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Postpartum blues are common among women after giving birth. However, when severe, they substantially increase the risk of clinically diagnosed postpartum depression, which affects 13 per cent of new mothers and is the most common complication of child-bearing.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was led by Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, who heads the Neuroimaging Program in Mood & Anxiety in CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

"Developing successful nutrition-based treatments, based on neurobiology, is rare in psychiatry," says Dr. Meyer, who holds a Canada Research Chair in the Neurochemistry of Major Depression. "We believe our approach also represents a promising new avenue for creating other new dietary supplements for medicinal use."

The nutritional kit consists of three supplements. They were carefully selected to compensate for a surge in the brain protein MAO-A, which occurs in the early postpartum phase, and which also resembles a brain change that persists for longer periods in clinical depression. Both findings were discovered in previous brain imaging studies by Dr. Meyer's group.

MAO-A breaks down three brain chemicals that help maintain mood: serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. When these chemicals are depleted, it can lead to feelings of sadness. MAO-A levels peak five days after giving birth, the same time when postpartum blues are most pronounced.

The kit includes tryptophan and tyrosine, which compensate for the loss of the three mood-regulating chemicals, as well as a blueberry extract with blueberry juice for anti-oxidant effects. Dr. Meyer's team had also tested and confirmed that the tryptophan and tyrosine supplements, given in higher amounts than people would normally get in their diet, did not affect the overall concentrations in breast milk.

The current study, administered by research fellow Dr. Yekta Dowlati, included 21 women who received the supplements and a comparison group of 20 mothers who did not. It was an open-label study, meaning the women knew they were receiving nutritional supplements. The supplements were taken over three days, starting on the third day after giving birth.

On day five after giving birth – when the baby blues peak – the women underwent tests to assess the kit's effect on mood. The testing included sad mood induction, which measured the ability to be resilient against sad events. The women read and reflected on statements with sentiments that expressed pessimism, dissatisfaction and lethargy, and then listened to a sad piece of classical music. Before and after this test, researchers measured depressive symptoms.

The results were dramatic. Women who were not taking the supplements had a significant increase in depression scores. In contrast, women taking the dietary supplements did not experience any depressed mood.

"We believe this is the first study to show such a strong, beneficial effect of an intervention in reducing the baby blues at a time when postpartum sadness peaks," says Dr. Meyer. "Postpartum blues are common and usually resolves 10 days after giving birth, but when they are intense, the risk of postpartum depression increases four-fold."

The results support further research to replicate the effects in a larger sample in a randomized, controlled trial, and further assess the kit's ability to reduce both the postpartum blues as well as clinically diagnosed postpartum depression.

Since severe postpartum blues significantly heighten the risk of postpartum depression, this supplement kit is anticipated to be an integral part of a dietary supplement regimen that health-care providers could one day recommend widely to prevent postpartum depression, the researchers say.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world-leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit camh.ca or follow @CAMHnews on Twitter. 

Fraser Institute News Release: Health-care spending more than doubled since 2001; projected to keep growing

Health-care spending by provincial governments has increased by 116 per cent since 2001, and even though increases have slowed recently, health care is projected to consume an even larger portion of program spending over the next 15 years, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Following more than a decade of marked health-care spending increases, Canadians may wonder why historically long wait times and a lack of access to doctors and life-saving equipment remain staples of Canadian health care," said Bacchus Barua, senior economist for health-care studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of The Sustainability of Health Care Spending in Canada, 2017.

The study finds that from 2001 to 2016, health-care spending increased across Canada by 116.4 per cent.

In Alberta, which had the largest increase over the 15-year period, health-care spending grew by a staggering 191 per cent -- almost doubling GDP growth -- followed by Saskatchewan (137 per cent), Manitoba (123 per cent) and Ontario (114 per cent).
By 2031, the study estimates health-care spending will consume 42.6 per cent of all provincial program spending (on average), up from 40.1 per cent in 2016 and 37.6 per cent in 2001.

In fact, over the next 15 years, four provinces are expected to eclipse the 45 per cent mark -- British Columbia (47.2), P.E.I. (47.1), Ontario (45.4) and Nova Scotia (45.3).

And when measured relative to the size of the economy, health-care spending is also on the rise. While provincial health-care spending (in total) represented only about 6.0 per cent of Canada's GDP in 2001, it is projected to grow to 9.3 per cent by 2031.

"As health-care spending continues to grow, and consume a larger share of provincial program spending and the economy, there's either less money available for other important priorities or governments may have to raise taxes and/or run deficits to cover the increasing costs," Barua said.

$3.5 Million to make smoking cessation more affordable for Ontarians

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in collaboration with Lakehead University's Moving on to Being Free program, has been awarded $3.5 million to implement a new and innovative program that seeks to deliver payment cards ("Quit Cards") to over 7,500 smokers throughout Ontario and increase capacity to enhance smoking cessation program delivery to priority patient populations.

The program, powered by the Ottawa Heart Institute's Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (OMSC), aims to improve access to quit smoking medications by offering Quit Cards to hospitalized smokers, which can be used like a gift card at any Ontario pharmacy to purchase up to $450 worth of nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., nicotine patches, gum, inhaler, lozenge and spray). The Quit Cards will be distributed to patients until March 31, 2017 and must be redeemed for nicotine replacement therapy by April 30, 2017. The project is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

"Many smokers identify the cost of smoking cessation medications as a main barrier to quitting," said Kerri-Anne Mullen, Program Manager for the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation Network. "In the past, easy access to no-cost smoking cessation medication on discharge has been limited for participants of hospital-initiated smoking cessation programs in Ontario."

Quit Cards will be distributed to nearly 80 healthcare sites that are part of the OMSC or Lakehead University provider networks and the program will evaluate one and six months smoking abstinence rates among participants.

Patients who receive a Quit Card from a health professional during an initial smoking cessation consultation at a participating hospital or clinic will be enrolled in follow-up support and can access smoking cessation counselling after discharge.

"This important new program helps us offer an effective tool to our patients who smoke that will ultimately increase their chances of becoming smoke-free," says Patricia Smith, Lead for Lakehead University's Moving on to Being Free program. "Quitting smoking can add years to a smoker's life and can prevent the onset or progression of serious chronic illnesses, which is why smoking cessation is the most important intervention we can offer to any patient who smokes."

Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer: Pharmacists Help Address the Opioid Public Health Crisis in Canada

During Pharmacist Awareness Month, I am highlighting the important contribution of pharmacists to addressing the opioid public health crisis.

Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Concern is growing about the impact of this crisis on Canadian youth.

There has been a significant increase in the number of opioid overdoses and an acute rise in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in several provinces in Canada. Both illegally manufactured and prescribed opioids are being sold on the street. Some people have become addicted as a result of over-prescription and have turned to street drugs to manage their addiction. Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. Unfortunately, drug addiction often carries stigma, which in itself can be a serious barrier to care.

Pharmacists are often the first healthcare providers to notice a prescription drug problem in a patient, or over-prescribing by physicians. Pharmacists are a knowledgeable and accessible resource — they provide information about proper use of prescription opioids, and offer services such as taking back old or unused medications and disposing of them safely. Their work helps to prevent opioid misuse, overdoses and deaths from overdose.

I encourage all Canadians to learn about the health risks associated with the use of opioids, the signs and symptoms of a possible overdose, and how to help themselves and those around them who may be using these drugs. Knowing more means you can help prevent opioid misuse and addiction, and potentially save a life.

Use medication properly

Your pharmacist can answer your questions about the risks of drugs, their proper use and alternatives.
Use prescribed opioids exactly as directed. Prescribed painkillers can be dangerous if they are taken incorrectly or misused. Taking opioid medication also comes with a risk of developing an addiction.
Use painkillers only if you absolutely need to.
Keep prescription medication out of the wrong hands

Pharmacies will take back your old and unused medications and dispose of them safely.
Keep your prescription medication safe and secure to prevent medication such as opioids from ending up on the street.
Keep your medication out of the reach of children to avoid serious harm or death.
Don't throw medication in the garbage or flush it down the toilet.
Learn how to administer naloxone

Naloxone is a drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid medications. If you or someone you know is at risk for possible overdose, get a naloxone kit. Naloxone kits are available without a prescription at pharmacies, certain walk-in clinics, community health units and some local non-governmental organizations.
Your pharmacist can provide guidance on the appropriate and safe use and administration of naloxone. The Canadian Pharmacists Association has developed a short video that demonstrates how to administer naloxone.
Learn about drug use

Youth need accurate information to understand the harms and consequences of drug use. Knowing how to address stress and troubled relationships can also help.
Parents may be interested in the guide Talking with teenagers about drugs.
Physicians are encouraged to not over-prescribe opioids as pain medication.
Recognize the symptoms of an overdose

An opioid overdose can be identified by a combination of:
slow or weak breathing;
dizziness, confusion, drowsiness;
cold and clammy skin;
pinpoint (very small) pupils; and
collapse and coma.
Know what to do if you witness someone experiencing an overdose

If you think you are witnessing someone experiencing an overdose:
Call 911 and follow their directions.
If you have a naloxone kit, use it.
Stay with the person until help arrives.
For more information, visit Canada.ca/opioids.  


New Ottawa-Ontario health deal fails patient care: OPSEU​

 Friday's announcement that the federal government and Queen's Park have reached agreement on a new, 10-year funding formula for health care spending is a blow to patient care and opens the door to greater privatization of health services, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said.

"This agreement falls well short of the principles that hold together our publicly-funded health care system, " said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "Based on the numbers released, Ontario will fall behind in meeting demand which will further weaken our publicly-funded Medicare and open the door to greater privatization of health care services.

"The only winners in this deal are the privateers who are plundering our public health care system through privatization of hospital services and long-term care facilities," he said.

In today's announcement, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott pledged Ontario would receive $4.2 billion in transfers from Ottawa over the next 10 years – an increase of about three per cent over the previous health care accord, and about half the amount that health care advocacy groups have been calling for. Additionally $2.3 billion has been earmarked for home care and $1.9 billion for mental health initiatives.

Unlike the previous 10-year health care accord where Ottawa negotiated with the all 10 provinces as a group, this time the Trudeau government walked away from the table in December, 2016, and said it would negotiate one-off deals with each province – a tactic that OPSEU told parliamentarians three months ago was certain to harm patient care.

OPSEU Executive Board Member Sara Labelle, who is also Chair of the union's hospital professionals division, said the deal announced today will only widen the inequality gap for patient services and foster a two-tier health system.

"Access to health care should be based on need and not on the size of your wallet," she said. "We will continue to fight for affordable, universal, accessible health care for all. I fear this agreement will serve to widen the inequality that, unfortunately, marks health care in Canada where people with means will access private care, while the vast majority will be left with an under-funded public system."

Ontario's labour minister called on to end savage assaults on health care staff​

Savage assaults by patients and patients' families on Ontario nurses, personal support workers and other front line hospital and long-term care staff, have left workers with severe facial injuries, broken bones, brain injuries and in several cases, unable to walk. Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress and psychological damage according to the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU)/CUPE which today issued an open letter to the Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, urging him to show leadership and compassion, and adequately safeguard staff in health care workplaces.

"Every day countless hospital and long-term care staff are physically and sexually assaulted at work. When people speak up about this problem they are threatened and, in one recent case, fired. The provincial government is guilty of exposing healthcare staff to harm, turning its back on their beatings and of conspiring with employers and the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to deny them compensation when they are injured. A health care workplace that is unsafe for its staff is also unsafe for the public we care for," says OCHU's president, Michael Hurley.

Since a nursing conference focused on workplace violence in January 2016, OCHU has documented incident after incident of abuse, threats, assaults and sexual harassment, both physical and verbal, within the health care sector. The most recent assault was an attack with a weapon on a hospital worker in Cornwall last month.

The minister is being asked to:

Ensure that hospitals and long-term care facilities are adequately and safely staffed;

Reform the WSIB, which has consistently harassed and denied claims for staff disabled by workplace assaults;

Enact "whistle-blower" protection for workers who report or speak up about workplace assaults or of situations in which violence could occur;

Support an amendment to the federal criminal code criminalizing assault on a healthcare worker;

Ensure that all acts of violence are properly reported and investigated;

Ensure that every workplace has violence-prevention measures including safeguards such as: adequate security, personal monitors, alarms and flagging of potentially violent patients.

"We were disturbed by the study participants' recounting of how pervasive and even 'normalized' violence has become within the health care facilities we studied", says Dr. James Brophy, co-principal investigator along with Dr. Margaret Keith, both affiliated with the University of Stirling of a recent study of violence against hospital staff in Ontario. "They described an almost universal frustration with the role being played by Ministry of Labour and its failure to address the underlying causes of violence. The WSIB was also roundly condemned for its lack of recognition and assistance for those physically and psychologically harmed."

Among Canadian provinces Ontario is almost at the bottom in funding hospitals and long-term care.

"Underfunding has resulted in cuts, staff shortages and patients and residents waiting longer for all types of care. In healthcare where the majority of workers are women we have to see this issue in its larger context, as another example of tolerated violence against women. It's time to end the dirty little secret of violence in healthcare," says OCHU secretary-treasurer, Sharon Richer.

OCHU is demanding that the province ensure that adequate staffing be put in place and that no health care worker be forced to work alone.

OCHU is the hospital division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents over 70,000 health care workers Ontario-wide. To read OCHU's complete letter to minister Flynn, please go to ochu.on.ca.


Researchers hone in on when, where Zika virus attacks​​

 The Zika virus attacks tissues in the nervous system, male and female reproductive and urinary tracts, muscles, joints and lymph nodes, and persists for at least 35 days, according to a study conducted in a nonhuman primate model by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at OHSU in Portland, Oregon.

The research, published today in Public Library of Science Pathogens, furthers understanding of where and at what precise point in time the virus attacks.

"This study helps us better understand how the virus manifests itself so that scientists can develop therapies and vaccines that could work in humans," says study author Daniel Streblow, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology in the OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU School of Medicine. "What is different about this research is that we also were able to look at specific points in time to see where the virus grew in the tissues, not just the blood, so we can identify and target the reservoirs where the virus hides."

The study showed the wide – and persistent – distribution of Zika virus in tissues, including neuronal tissues and the female reproductive tract, that may have important implications for the link between Zika virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome, sexual transmission of the virus and fetal infection and its consequences, most notably microcephaly.

Researchers examined Zika virus infection in seven nonhuman primates (rhesus macaques) at the Oregon National Primate Research Center from March 2016 to August 2016 using a 2015 Puerto Rican Zika virus isolate. The results complement and extend previous work with a detailed analysis of viral tropism -- the cells and tissues of a host that support growth of a particular virus -- in the infected animals at seven, 28 and 35 days post infection.

"We observed that the Zika virus targets a number of neuronal, lymph, joint, muscle and genital/urinary/reproductive tissues at seven days post infection, accompanied by a rash, fever and conjunctivitis, or pink eye, similar to the clinical symptoms described in human infection," says first author Alec Hirsch, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, OHSU Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, OHSU School of Medicine.

Researchers note that what was interesting about this study was that the virus remained persistent in the genital/urinary tract, multiple types of lymph nodes, spleen, joints, heart and the male and female reproductive tract at 28 and 35 days post infection.

These findings also correspond to a similar observation of Zika virus RNA in the genital tract of a human female, and may also explain an instance of female-to-male sexual transmission. In male rhesus macaques, researchers were unable to detect viral RNA in the testes, which was somewhat surprising given the reports of male-to-female Zika virus sexual transmission. They were, however, able to detect viral RNA in the prostate and seminal vesicles, which could be a potential reservoir and mode of sexual transmission. Additionally, the presence of virus in the bladder and urine suggests virus seeding into the semen in the urethra may also be a possible route of transmission. The team notes that further intensive study with regard to sexual transmission is needed.

"Our study significantly advances what is known about the growth of the virus in the host during the early stages and through more than a month post infection, aspects of Zika virus infection not examined by previous nonhuman primate studies," says Streblow.

The OHSU scientists who conducted this study came together in response to the outbreak of Zika virus in the Western hemisphere and the need to understand how the virus was attacking the body. The research team quickly grew to a 20-person cross-section of faculty across the university with expertise in reproductive and developmental science, flaviviruses, vaccine development, immunology, perinatology, pediatric neural development, microcephaly, Guillain-Barré syndrome, placental function, virology and infectious disease.

The research was funded as a pilot project by the Oregon National Primate Research Center.

Cannabis Canada to launch new guidelines and standards to enhance consumer safety and increase transparency​

iCannabis Canada Association, the leading organization of Health Canada Licensed Producers of cannabis, will soon roll out new guidelines and standards aimed at enhancing consumer safety and increasing transparency within the medical cannabis sector in Canada.

Elements of the guidelines and standards will include that Licensed Producer members of the Association must provide, as a requirement of membership, confirmation that their product testing protocols include bacteria, microbial, aflatoxins, heavy metals and pesticides and it is recommended that the results will be published online so these are readily available for consumers.

"Cannabis Canada is committed to working in close collaboration with Health Canada to ensure the safety, efficacy and continuous improvement of the legal medical cannabis industry," said Colette Rivet, Executive Director of Cannabis Canada Association. "Our association has been discussing and working to develop industry-wide guidelines and standards for some time now, so we are in a position to act swiftly to ensure that consumer confidence is restored following recent incidents. The Board of Directors unanimously agreed today that the new standards should be a requirement for 2017-2018 membership. This will be voted on at the April 10th Annual General Meeting.

About Cannabis Canada Association

Cannabis Canada is the leading organization of Canada's Licensed Producers of Medical Cannabis under Health Canada's Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).

The Association's mission is to act as the national voice for our members in their promotion of industry standards; support the development, growth and integrity of the regulated cannabis industry; and serve as a trusted resource on issues related to the safe and responsible use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.

Members of Cannabis Canada share a philosophy of both patient-centric care and improved public health, and are committed to product safety and quality, secure and reliable access and the promotion of the safe and effective use of cannabis. For more information, visit www.cann-can.ca.


$1 billion in savings for Canadians with a simple switch from prescription to over-the-counter for heartburn meds, erectile dysfunction meds and birth control pills says new Conference Board of Canada study​

 One billion dollars could be freed up in the Canadian healthcare system and broader economy by switching just three categories of medication from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC). The savings would come from reduced drug costs, fewer doctor visits, and less time spent away from work, according to a new study by the Conference Board of Canada released today.

Total savings in drug costs: $458 million
Total savings in doctor visits: $290 million (6.6 million fewer doctor visits)
Total savings in labour productivity: $290 million
The Conference Board of Canada report looked at three prescription medication categories. One of these, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for the treatment of frequent heartburn/indigestion, has already seen some medicines switched to OTC status in Canada. The other two, oral contraceptives (OCs) and erectile dysfunction (EDs) drugs, are being examined as potential candidates for switch in other countries or have already been switched to OTC status there.

The largest savings estimated in the study was for the prescription to OTC switch of PPIs like Olex® or Nexium®. When available without a prescription, these medicines allow Canadians to quickly access new treatments for the relief of frequent heartburn or indigestion. The total savings for these switches alone was over $700 million annually. The total savings for the modeled OC and ED switches was $220 million and $106 million, respectively.

The study found that less time spent away from work collectively adds a $290 million boost in economic productivity, while fewer doctor visits frees up valuable time to treat more complex patient needs.

"By far the biggest impact from over 6.6 million fewer doctor visits and hundreds of millions of dollars in drug plan savings is to provincial and federal government healthcare budgets," said Karen Proud, President of Consumer Health Products Canada. "At the same time, all Canadians would benefit from easier access to medicine they need and the reduced burden on our strained healthcare system. Allowing people to choose a trip to the pharmacy instead of missing work to see a doctor just makes sense."

While enabling more Canadians to have easier access to family doctors, switching also lowers the cost of treating these conditions for the Canadians who need it most, as OTC medications are more affordable than prescriptions for people without a drug plan or without full drug coverage. However, Canadians with comprehensive drug plans may pay slightly more for the convenience of choosing an OTC medicine over a prescription.

"Canada lags behind countries like the United States, United Kingdom and Australia by six to seven years when it comes to prescription to OTC switches. What the Conference Board of Canada report shows is that this is costing our healthcare system and our economy billions of dollars," said Gerry Harrington, Consumer Health Products Canada's Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs. "It's time for Canadians to have more self-care choices."


One woman's quest to get us to rethink menopause​

 Shirley Weir is celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th with a campaign to get us to rethink a phase of life that affects 100% of women: menopause, or more specifically perimenopause.

She is calling on advertisers, media, and all of us, to discard some of the traditional language commonly associated with menopause as she says the way we think about menopause is ruining our ability to enjoy it.

"We have a tendency to adopt the negative connotations passed onto us either culturally or generationally," says Weir. "And somewhere along the line, we learned that menopause is something that must be feared or fixed."

Weir is the founder of MenopauseChicks.com where she helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. The first thing she likes to do in every conversation, is ensure people are clear on definitions. Menopause is one day—it is the 12 month anniversary of the last menstrual period, and the average age of menopause is 51.2. Weir was 49 when she reached menopause. Perimenopause is the 5-15 year phase of hormone fluctuations leading up to menopause. This means perimenopause can begin as early as 35. Most people are unaware that women can have experiences (Weir doesn't like the term symptoms as it implies disease, which of course, menopause is not) caused by hormone fluctuations while they still have a period. There is very little research on perimenopause, as the term was only coined in the 1990s.

In her own research, whenever Weir says menopause, the first word to come up for many people typically has a negative connotation. Hot, old, tired, moody and fat are examples.

"Rarely does someone say smart, confident or beautiful," says Weir. "I believe that's because we have been over-conditioned with myths and misconceptions. We are so used to seeing the stereotypical image of the grey-haired, stressed-out lady holding a fan; many of us just assume that's an accurate representation of menopause. And it's one that we literally want to run away from, rather than embrace."

Shirley cites three examples:

An Oprah Magazine (September 2016) article titled "Hooray for Hormones!" tells women they can expect to get fat, hot, lose their memories and lose control of their bladders in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

"I looked at the magazine photos and thought: are these the new profile pictures for menopause?" says Weir. "I'm not telling people to unsubscribe—I'm saying speak up! I'm inviting everyone to speak up whenever someone gets the menopause connotation wrong. This is important if we want to create a future where women no longer feel alone; where they feel comfortable talking about perimenopause and menopause and seeking support"

A CBC radio show promised to help women navigate menopause at work. The tips included: i) dress in layers and ii) get a small fan for your desk.

"This is incredibly insulting and unhelpful," states Weir. "We are smart women. We don't need to be told to dress in layers! We do need compassionate and flexible workspaces though. And education, conversation and a place where both men and women can learn about this these life phases."

Up until recently, the Sigma Canadian Menopause Society (a physician & health care professional group) had one picture in its "consumer" section to illustrate menopause and it was a photo of an 80-something year old woman in a wheelchair being comforted by a nurse. Weir called SIGMA to explain how the picture misrepresented midlife women, and the society replaced the photo the next day. The organization still refused to include the word perimenopause in its literature, to which Weir says is indicative of how complex and confusing the menopause topic is, and how far we still have to go in redefining perimenopause and menopause. This is especially true if medical professionals can't yet agree on what to call one of life's most natural phases.

About Menopause Chicks:
MenopauseChicks.com helps women navigate perimenopause and menopause with confidence and ease. Founder, Shirley Weir is on a mission to connect women to unbiased information, to midlife health professionals—and to each other, through her private online community. As a women's health advocate, Shirley is reframing the menopause conversation from something that has been traditionally viewed as negative, into a milestone worthy of celebration. A well-regarded speaker and writer, Shirley hosted the first-ever "menopause graduation party" in 2016 and was a speaker at TedXGastown Women. Shirley is a 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction nominee and a GroYourBiz fellowship recipient.

Facebook: /MenopauseChicks
Private Online Community: www.facebook.com/groups/MenopauseChicks
Twitter: @MenopauseChicks
Instagram: @MenopauseChicks

Open Letter - Health Ministers Urged to Use New Mental Health Commission of Canada Report to Guide Smart Spending on Mental Health​

The Hon. Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health
The Hon. Brandy Payne, Alberta Associate Minister of Health
The Hon. Terry Lake, British Columbia Minister of Health
The Hon. Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living
The Hon. Victor Boudreau, New Brunswick Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. John Haggie, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Health and Community Services
The Hon. Glen Abernethy, Northwest Territories Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia Minister of Health
The Hon. George Hickes, Nunavut Minister of Health
The Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health
The Hon. Robert Henderson, Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Wellness
The Hon. Dr. Gaétan Barrette, Québec Minister of Health and Social Services
The Hon. Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan Minister of Health
The Hon. Pauline Frost, Yukon Minister of Health and Social Services

Dear Ministers of Health,

We are encouraged by the unique opportunity offered by the Health Accord process and the federal commitment to increase investments in the mental health system for the first time in decades. Prioritizing the mental "wealth" of people in Canada will help us tackle the growing $50 billion dollar economic cost of mental health problems and illnesses.

A new report released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) underscores that making wise investments in evidence-based treatments will help all levels of government improve mental health outcomes, while saving taxpayers' dollars.

Strengthening the Case for Investing in Canada's Mental Health System: Economic Considerations refreshes and updates the work published by the MHCC in 2013, which laid out the compelling economic argument for investing in mental health. Now, the MHCC has gone one step further by examining where investments have the greatest impact, and therefore, provide governments with the strongest likelihood of recouping their spending down the road.

The examples highlighted in Strengthening the Case aren't inflexible or prescriptive. Rather, they point to the kinds of effective spending that can be tailored to the needs of specific populations, spanning prevention, promotion and community-based services. The strategic investment of new money allocated to mental health can translate to savings across the lifespan. This is because many mental health problems and illnesses begin in childhood, when they are mild to moderate in nature, requiring relatively low cost interventions that pay off in the longer term.

By way of example, Ontario's Better Beginnings Better Futures Program saves the healthcare system nearly 25 percent in publicly funded services per person. These savings come from fewer physician visits and reduced social welfare and education costs. We also know that making psychotherapies more available for a greater number of people can save two dollars in the long term for every dollar spent now.

Another means of spending smart is community-based rapid response teams, which can successfully intervene when young people are experiencing suicidal thoughts for half the cost normally incurred by hospitals.

Strengthening the Case is a valuable addition to a growing body of work that supports the implementation of various provincial, territorial and national mental health and addictions strategies. Simple, immediate interventions at the community level can often head-off decades of future spending. In fact, only a tiny percentage of people living with the most serious mental illnesses require highly specialized or intensive care.

Together, we can begin the long-term process, inch by inch, dollar by dollar, of building a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. We can fund services and supports that will help stave off the growing financial cost of mental illness, while investing in better outcomes.

As a former Minister of Finance, and, as my co-author, a former hospital administrator can attest, budgetary decisions should be made with the best intentions and in light of the best available information. It is our hope that this new report will help to inform your decisions, or, in some cases, reaffirm your choices.

Yours in health,

Louise Bradley,

The Honourable Michael Wilson, P.C., C.C
President and CEO,

Mental Health Commission of Canada


Waterloo Public Health Nurses' Employer Looking to Gut Benefits: Strike deadline as early as March 29​

The Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) public health nurses working at the Region of Waterloo are absolutely insulted by their employer's proposals to gut nurses' benefits.

The 131 ONA members – including Public Health Nurses, Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Specialist Registered Nurses – have been seeking a new contract following the expiration of their previous contract last June 30.

Conciliation talks were held on February 28 but ended after the employer tabled these unacceptable concessions.

"Bargaining has been very different this round versus our past experiences with this employer. After seven days at the bargaining table, these highly skilled professionals are insulted, disrespected, disillusioned, and devalued by this employer," said ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "Our dedicated nurses work to ensure that the 575,000 residents of the Region of Waterloo remain healthy and well, yet their employer has been absolutely disrespectful. The employer flatly refused to listen to ONA members' counter-proposal, ending talks."

Mediation is scheduled for March 27. Failing resolution, the nurses may be forced on strike as early as March 29.

They provide services that include chronic disease prevention, monitoring, investigating and controlling infectious disease outbreaks – such as influenza, meningitis, measles, tuberculosis – Sexual Health Clinics, provide blood-borne infection testing and monitoring for such diseases as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and B. They provide harm reduction strategies including needle exchange programs that include naloxone training, dispensing and counselling. Public health nurses provide sexual health services in area high schools and youth clinics. Other supports include pregnancy counselling, prenatal support, and support for high-risk families. They run breastfeeding clinics and partner with multiple community agencies.

McKenna says the nurses "also provide visits to new parents so our youngest citizens get a healthy start to life. In short, the work our nurses do is vital to this community."

ONA members will hold an information picket to educate the public. McKenna urges the community to support the valuable nurses of the Region of Waterloo, who do not want to be forced to withdraw their services.

ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.     


When caught early, colon cancer is more likely to be treated successfully​ 

​March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Cancer Care Ontario is encouraging Ontarians to get checked with a safe and painless take-home test. When caught early, nine out of every 10 people with colon cancer can be cured.

Colon cancer (commonly called 'colorectal cancer' or 'bowel cancer') is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. It is estimated that in 2016, approximately 9,900 Ontarians were diagnosed with colon cancer and approximately 3,200 Ontarians died from the disease. Despite this fact, many people are not getting checked – particularly men.

"Many people don't realize that colon cancer may be present in the body for a long time before it causes physical symptoms. The role of screening is to catch the cancer early because it is highly treatable at that stage," says Dr. Catherine Dubé, Clinical Lead, ColonCancerCheck, Cancer Care Ontario. "For people over 50, getting checked regularly can improve their chances of beating colon cancer. Men between the ages of 55 and 65 would particularly benefit from getting checked."

Cancer Care Ontario recommends that men and women at average risk between the ages of 50 and 74 get checked for colon cancer with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is a safe and painless cancer screening test that checks a person's stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer. An abnormal FOBT result does not necessarily mean that a person has colon cancer, but more testing with a colonoscopy is needed to find out why there is blood in their stool.

Research shows that regular screening using an FOBT, for people who are 50 years of age and older, can reduce deaths from colon cancer. If colon cancer is caught after it has spread to other parts of the body, treating it is harder and less likely to be successful. For people whose colon cancer has spread, as few as one out of eight will be cured.

"When it comes to colon cancer, early detection is key," says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Despite being one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in Ontario's men and women, colon cancer is highly treatable when caught early so it is important for Ontarians between the ages of 50 and 74 to get checked regularly."

Colon cancer can develop when growths on the lining of the colon, called polyps, turn into cancer over time. People between 50 and 74 years of age without a parent, brother, sister or child who has been diagnosed with colon cancer are considered to be at average risk for the disease and should get checked every two years with the safe and painless take-home test, called the FOBT.

Some people who have had polyps removed from their colon, as well as people with inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), may be at increased risk for developing colon cancer and may need to be checked regularly with colonoscopy instead of an FOBT.

Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting checked for colon cancer with a take-home FOBT kit. People without a family doctor or nurse practitioner can get a kit through Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213, community pharmacies and mobile screening coaches.

For more information on colon cancer screening in Ontario, visit cancercare.on.ca/colon.


Optimizing care for patients waiting for cardiac surgery

The University of Ottawa Heart Institute has launched a new program for all patients waiting for coronary artery bypass surgery or heart valve replacement or repair. The program, called Cardiac PreHab, will help those patients to improve their health before a procedure.

Cardiac rehabilitation, a comprehensive program to get patients healthy again after a heart attack, cardiac surgery or other cardiac events, has been shown to save lives. But the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) now wants to find out if patients waiting for non-emergency heart surgery could start improving their health before their procedure, and if this could make their recovery easier and improve their outcomes after surgery.

Portions of the new program have been in place for a while: patients waiting for outpatient procedures who come in for pre-admission appointments have long been connected with services such as smoking cessation, physiotherapy or social work on an ad hoc basis. But the PreHab program now aims to standardize these assessments and referrals, and to make them as comprehensive as possible for all patients waiting for outpatient surgery.

"Rather than letting the waiting period for a procedure be one of inactivity and anxiety, PreHab can use that time to help patients become as ready as possible for their procedure," said Heather Sherrard, Executive Vice President of Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Officer at the Heart Institute. "They may need to quit smoking, their diabetes may need to be better managed, they may be able to improve their diet or level of exercise. The PreHab program can help with all those issues to get these patients as fit and healthy as they can be."

"Patients have a lot of misconceptions about what they should be doing before surgery," explained Jane Brownrigg, Clinical Manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation. "We talk to patients waiting for surgery who say 'My doctor told me to take it easy,' and they've interpreted that as 'Just sit on the couch'. Many think they should go on a diet, she continues, which can actually cause muscle loss-an unwanted side effect before any procedure."

As patients complete PreHab, data will be gathered to evaluate the program and it will be possible to see if patients who come to PreHab are more likely to also register into cardiac rehab. There is a very high rate of enrollment for rehab at the Heart Institute compared to other centres across the country, but still only a little above half of all eligible patients enroll. Increasing that number is vital as rehab reduces morbidity and mortality rates and this new program may contribute to this improvement.

BELLUS Health and The NEOMED Institute Announce an Exclusive Worldwide License Agreement for the Development of a Treatment for Chronic Cough​​

​BELLUS Health, a biopharmaceutical development company advancing novel therapeutics for conditions with high unmet medical need, and The NEOMED Institute (NEOMED), a not-for-profit organization bridging the gap between basic research and the commercialization of new drugs, today announced that BELLUS Health has obtained an exclusive worldwide license to develop and commercialize BLU-5937 (formerly NEO5937) for the treatment of chronic cough. BLU-5937 is a potent, highly selective, orally bioavailable small molecule antagonist of the P2X3 receptor.

Under the terms of the agreement, BELLUS Health will pay NEOMED an upfront fee of CAD $3.2 million, consisting of CAD $1.7 million in cash and CAD $1.5 million with 5,802,177 BELLUS Health common shares. NEOMED will be entitled to receive a royalty on net sales-based revenues. In lieu of milestone payments, a certain portion of all other revenues received by BELLUS Health from BLU-5937 will be shared with NEOMED according to a pre-established schedule whereby the shared revenue portion decreases as the program progresses in development.

"This transaction adds a potentially best-in-class drug candidate to our pipeline that will be a core focus of our drug development efforts going forward," said Roberto Bellini, President and CEO of BELLUS Health. "BLU-5937 targets a clinically validated target, the P2X3 receptor, in the chronic cough pathway, and based on its high potency and selectivity for the P2X3 receptor, we believe it has the potential to become a superior treatment option for the millions of patients who suffer from chronic cough."

The P2X3 antagonist program was initiated by AstraZeneca scientists in Montreal, and assigned to NEOMED in October 2012. BLU-5937 was selected as a drug candidate to advance towards the clinic based on development efforts and extensive pre-clinical work in chronic cough done at NEOMED.

"I am extremely pleased to announce this collaboration with BELLUS Health to further the development of our P2X3 program which was discovered and developed at our Ville St. Laurent R&D facility. NEOMED's mission is to advance innovative Canadian science programs to the point where they can be successfully progressed by a partner. We have strong confidence in the ability of the scientific and clinical team at BELLUS Health to rapidly and efficiently develop this program for the benefit of providing a new and much needed therapeutic option for these underserved patients," declared Donald Olds, President & CEO of the NEOMED Institute.

Chronic cough is a cough that lasts more than eight weeks and is associated with significant adverse social, psychosocial and physical effects on quality of life. It is estimated that, in the United States alone, more than 2.7 million patients suffer from chronic cough that is not controlled by currently available medications.

Jacky Smith, MB, ChB, MRCP, PhD, Professor and Honorary Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, University of Manchester and University Hospital Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, and a leading investigator in the field of chronic cough, said, "Millions of adults suffer from poorly-controlled chronic cough and often experience significant physical, social and psychosocial complications. These complications include sleep deprivation, exhaustion, incontinence, work disruption, social exclusion, anxiety and depression, illustrating this significant unmet medical need. BLU-5937's potency and selectivity for the P2X3 receptor support its promise as an efficacious and safe treatment option for chronic cough patients, with the potential to significantly improve their quality of life."

First diagnostic radiotracer for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease approved in Canada

 Piramal Imaging SA and ISOLOGIC Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals today announce that Health Canada has issued a Notice of Compliance (NOC) to ISOLOGIC Innovative Radiopharmaceuticals for NeuraCeq (florbetaben F18 injection). ISOLOGIC has received marketing authorization from Health Canada for the commercial production and market supply of NeuraCeq in Canada. NeuraCeq is the first diagnostic radiotracer to support the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) that is commercially available in the country. NeuraCeq availability in Canada was previously limited to investigational medicine purposes.

"The commercial availability of NeuraCeq will provide physicians throughout Canada a non-invasive method to more confidently and accurately assess complex and atypical cases of cognitively impaired patients for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," said Doctor Jean-Paul Soucy, Medical Director of PET imaging at the Montreal Neurological Institute. "In the absence of an approved disease modifying treatment, advancing our ability to make an early and accurate AD diagnosis is critically important to providing optimal symptomatic treatment and non-pharmacological measures to manage disease progression and quality of life in these patients."

NeuraCeq has previously received approval from the FDA and several countries in EU and Asia, and is a diagnostic radiotracer that when used in combination with positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, can identify beta-amyloid plaques in the human brain, which are known as an important biomarker for Alzheimer's disease.

"We are confident that our commitment to providing access to this new diagnostic beta-amyloid radiotracers in Canada will have a significant impact on the management of patients suspected of having Alzheimer's disease," said André Gagnon, President and CEO of ISOLOGIC. "In the context of evidence-based medicine, the introduction of NeuraCeq in the marketplace will offer a new clinical evaluation method for patients, physicians and caregivers alike in the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease. It could potentially help identify more efficacious interventions to help prevent, halt or slow down this terrible disease."

"We are very pleased to bring this very important diagnostic imaging tool to new markets like Canada," said Dr. Ludger Dinkelborg, Director of the Board, Piramal Imaging. "Piramal Imaging is proud to have chosen ISOLOGIC as a partner allowing us to continue our strategic endeavours to provide this important solution to Canadian patients."

 Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the publication of an updated edition of its valuable reference, Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, edited by Michel Tibayrenc. This book is aimed at controlling and preventing neglected and emerging worldwide diseases that are a major cause of global morbidity, disability and mortality. Using an integrated approach, the book discusses the constantly evolving field of infectious diseases and their continued impact on the health of populations, especially in resource-limited areas of the world. At the same time, Elsevier announced five additional immunology, virology and microbiology books.

Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Second Edition looks at the worldwide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, increasing antimicrobial resistance, and the emergence of many new bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral pathogens. With contributions from leading authorities, the book includes developments in the field of infectious disease since it was last published in 2010. It demonstrates how the economic, social and political burden of infectious diseases is most evident in developing countries which must confront the dual burden of death and disability due to infectious and chronic illnesses.

Michel Tibayrenc, M.D., Ph.D., has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for more than 35 years. He is a director of research emeritus at the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) Montpellier, France, and the founder and principal organizer of the international congresses MEEGID (molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious diseases). The author of more than 200 international papers, Dr, Tibayrenc has been the head of the unit of research "genetics and evolution of infectious diseases" at the IRD research center for 20 years. With his collaborator, Jenny Telleria, he is the founder and scientific adviser of the Bolivian Society of Human Genetics. Dr. Tibayrenc has won the prize of the Belgian Society of Tropical Medicine (1985), and the medal of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro (2000), for his work on Chagas disease. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal, "Infection, Genetics and Evolution."
The six new immunology, virology and microbiology titles are:

Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Second Edition by Michel Tibayrenc

Autophagy: Cancer, Other Pathologies, Inflammation, Immunity, Infection, and Aging by M.A. Hayat

American Trypanosomiasis Chagas Disease: One Hundred Years of Research, Second Edition by Jenny Telleria and Michel Tibayrenc

The Digestive Involvement in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, Second Edition by Manuel Ramos-Casals, Munther Khamashta, Pilar Brito-Zeron, Fabiola Atzeni and Joan Rodes

The Heart in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, Second Edition by Fabiola Atzeni, Andrea Dorea, Mike Nurmohamed and Paolo Pauletto

The Innate Immune System: A Compositional and Functional Perspective by Tom Monie

In order to meet content needs in immunology, virology and microbiology, Elsevier uses proprietary tools to identify the gaps in coverage of the topics. Editorial teams strategically fill those gaps with content written by key influencers in the field, giving students, faculty and researchers the content they need to answer challenging questions and improve outcomes. These new books, which will educate the next generation of immunologists and virologists, and provide critical foundational content for information professionals, are key examples of how Elsevier is enabling science to drive innovation.


Government of Canada invests in dementia research about Indigenous Peoples​​

Today, Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $1 million for two research projects that will bring new and culturally-adapted approaches to address the needs of Indigenous peoples living with or at risk of developing dementia. He was joined for the announcement by Marc Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt.

Lefebvre said, "This announcement highlights important health research being conducted right here in Sudbury. I'm pleased to see strong collaboration between communities, caregivers, families and individuals living with dementia."

The new investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will fund the work of top researchers at the Health Sciences North Research Institute and Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Dr. Janet McElhaney received $500,000 to use a community-based approach that will combine Indigenous practices with Western technologies to empower caregivers supporting older Indigenous peoples with dementia.

Dr. Jennifer Walker received $500,000 to develop a Canadian Indigenous Cognitive Assessment Tool for widespread use and to lay a foundation for a national study of dementia in Indigenous populations.

"Investing in projects aimed at advancing our understanding of Indigenous Peoples' health is a priority for CIHR. I'm confident that the grant recipients will develop culturally appropriate diagnostic tools and care models for both rural and urban Indigenous peoples. New data will help target the best health care services," stated Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health.

These projects are part of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy, which supports research on the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment approaches to Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, said, "The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health of Indigenous peoples. I commend the outstanding researchers recognized today for taking further action to face the challenge of aging and dementia in First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations." 

Recent Breakthroughs by Endocrinologist André Carpentier - A Novel Look at a Unique Tissue: Brown Adipose Tissue

Up to recently, brown adipose tissue (also known as brown fat) and its impacts on the human body were poorly understood. We long believed that brown adipose tissue was found only in newborns. Now we know that brown fat is present and functional in hibernating mammals, newborns, and even adult humans. And better yet, it could play a useful role in certain weight-control strategies.

Portrait of the new knowledge just recently acquired by the team of Dr. André Carpentier, expert in metabolic molecular imaging.

What is brown fat?

Brown fat is found in the neck, above the collarbone, and near the spine and heart. This adipose tissue is brown because it contains many blood vessels and mitochondria, which are like little furnaces that produce energy from fat and sugar. But how does that happen? Mitochondria of brown fat contain a protein that enables them to generate heat by burning fats directly. Indeed, when the body is exposed to cold, brown fat consumes a significant quantity of energy already stored in its cells as lipid droplets. That is what makes this tissue so unique and critical in fighting the cold.

Dr. André Carpentier, endocrinologist and research professor at the FMSS and the CRCHUS, is an expert in multi-organ metabolic molecular imaging. Molecular imaging makes it possible to locate and display tissues in vivo as well as their functioning and the metabolic interactions between organs.

Exploring a new tissue

André Carpentier and his collaborators have been working on the topic of brown fat for several years. In 2012, his research piqued interest around the world. Indeed, he realized that exposing healthy individuals to cold (18°C) activated their brown-fat furnaces, and that these brown fats harness more than circulating fat and sugar: they literally burn their own fat content.

This research team suspected that brown fat might play an essential role in the process of how body temperature adjusts when an individual is exposed to intense cold, although this had never been demonstrated before.

Demonstrating the physiological role of brown fat in the human body

More recently, André Carpentier's was able to artificially block activation of brown fat when the body was exposed to cold. When this is done, the body tries to defend itself against the cold by increasing shivering! In his study entitled "Inhibition of Intracellular Triglyceride Lipolysis Suppresses Cold-Induced Brown Adipose Tissue Metabolism and Increases Shivering in Humans", his team demonstrated the body's unequivocal reaction: it shivered even more when brown fat activity is abolished. These results were published in Cell Metabolism in Published hard copy in February : Cell Metab. 2017 Feb 7;25(2):438-447

This is the first study to establish directly the physiological role played by brown fat in the human body. Up to now, the only evidence has been indirect observations and correlations.

In fact, through this study in humans, André Carpentier and his research team have demonstrated two things. First, brown fat automatically generates heat from its own fat content, meaning that it uses its fat reserves to keep the body warm. In addition, brown fat has a genuine impact on heat production in the human body. When the body cannot count on using its brown fat to keep warm, it compensates by increasing heat production through muscle action: once brown fat has been neutralized, the body shivers to stay warm.

Published online on January 17, 2017.
Cell Metabolism (www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/home) is a peer-reviewed scientific journal specializing in research on metabolic biology in the fields of cellular biology, molecular biology, physiology, and translational studies. Its 2014 impact factor was 17.565 according to Journal Citation Reports.1

Does brown fat increase energy expenditure?

Still in 2012, André Carpentier cautioned that it would be premature to posit that brown-fat activation could play a role in weight loss or serve as an effective, complementary treatment for obesity or type 2 diabetes. At the time, he had not yet attempted to safely, chronically, and effectively activate brown fat in humans.

Nevertheless, animal models demonstrated that increased metabolic activity of brown fat promoted the breakdown of dietary fat. This, however, had never been tested on human beings. A second study carried out by André Carpentier's research team, whose findings were published in January 2017, made it possible to situate the role of brown fat in humans according to a physiopathological perspective.

For this research study, patients were cold-acclimated at 10°C for two hours a day, five days a week over four weeks.

The research results demonstrated the metabolism of dietary fat by brown fat in the human body. Brown fat, however, only uses 1% of dietary fat, even when activated by cold. This isn't, however, at all disappointing. While it is quite unlikely that brown-fat activation can be used to lower the level of dietary fat circulating after meals, the increased, sustained use of dietary fat could play a role in an integrated strategy to prevent obesity.

The study results have been published in Nature Communications as "Dietary Fatty Acid Metabolism of Brown Adipose Tissue in Cold-Acclimated Men."

Nature Communications (www.nature.com/ncomms) is a bimonthly scientific journal that publishes research articles in all fields of science as communications. Its 2015 impact factor was 11.239 according to Journal Citation Reports.2

Now, effective, safe, and realistic strategies to activate brown fat must be developed with a view to achieving a better energy balance. Indeed, a chronic imbalance of only 50 to 100 kcal per day over years basically accounts for most of the worldwide obesity epidemic. We believe that the safe chronic activation of brown fat could play a role in obesity-prevention strategies and the maintenance of long-term weight loss in obese individuals. Moreover, brown-fat activation could have useful applications in adapting work under extreme cold conditions.
– Dr. André Carpentier

Nature Communications Article : Dietary fatty acid metabolism of brown adipose tissue in cold-acclimated men
Cell Metabolism Article : Inhibition of Intracellular Triglyceride Lipolysis Suppresses Cold-Induced Brown Adipose Tissue Metabolism and Increases Shivering in Humans

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_Metabolism (2015-09-26)
2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Communications (2016-12-09)  


Dr. Guislain Museum and Janssen Seek Nominations for 2017 "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award

The Dr. Guislain Museum in Ghent, Belgium and Janssen Research & Development, LLC ("Janssen"), today announced that they are seeking nominations for the sixth annual Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award. The Award honors an individual, project or organization that has made a remarkable contribution to reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Nominations from people and organizations worldwide can be submitted at www.drguislainaward.org until 16 April, 2017. The Award recipient will receive a $50,000 prize to further efforts that reduce societal stigma associated with mental illness.

"We know that people are often reluctant to seek help for mental illness due to the societal stigma," said Brother René Stockman, general director of the Dr. Guislain Museum. "The Dr. Guislain 'Breaking the Chains of Stigma' Award recognizes exceptional people whose work helps to reduce the stigma that exists about mental illness."

An independent selection committee, comprised of international advocates and renowned authorities in the field of mental health, selects the Award winner. The Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award winner will be honored at a ceremony on World Mental Health Day, 10 October, 2017, in Ghent, Belgium.

Chantharavady Choulamany, MD was selected as the 2016 Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award recipient for her impact on the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness in Lao People's Democratic Republic. As one of two qualified psychiatrists in a country that has more than 6 million people, Dr. Choulamany has dedicated her life to increasing access to mental health services and developing education programs to treat and improve understanding of mental illness. She works with all levels of government, advocating for better treatment services and more trained health professionals, as well as additional funding to support mental health programs.

"At Janssen, we are deeply committed to advocating for people with mental illness," said Husseini K. Manji, MD, Global Therapeutic Area Head, Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, LLC. "We are working with the global mental health community to bring about change so that no one who suffers from a brain disorder is treated differently. This Award importantly recognizes people around the world who are making a difference to break down stigma."

Janssen has an ongoing commitment to advancing neuroscience research, a legacy which dates back to the work of Dr. Paul Janssen (1926-2003). "Dr. Paul" is known as one of the 20th century's most gifted and passionate physicians and pharmaceutical researchers. To honor his legacy, Janssen supports the mental health community and various advocacy organizations and projects. In 2011, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson launched Healthy Minds, a comprehensive initiative that aims to encourage collaboration among biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and public-sector partners to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic solutions for diseases and disorders of the brain.

About the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award
Individuals, organizations or projects from around the world that have made an exceptional contribution in dealing with, or promoting the awareness of, mental health care are eligible* to receive the Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award. The Award is given to an individual(s), organization or project that:

has made an exceptional contribution to mental health care in the broadest sense on a cultural and/or social level;

has provided a genuine contribution to decreasing stigma around mental health conditions;

has promoted attention for mental health care;
and, has done all this with passion, creativity and innovation.

The Dr. Guislain "Breaking the Chains of Stigma" Award honors Dr. Joseph Guislain (1797-1860), a driven activist for patients with mental illness and the first Belgian psychiatrist to provide scientifically based treatment for these individuals. As a passionate advocate for those with mental illness, Dr. Guislain worked tirelessly to stand up for the rights of patients and to help improve their social position. The Dr. Guislain Museum and Janssen jointly sponsor the Award, with funding provided by Janssen. Both organizations have a rich heritage and long-standing involvement in the field of mental illness research, treatment and education.

About The Dr. Guislain Museum

The Dr. Guislain Museum was founded in 1986 in Ghent, Belgium, with both permanent exhibitions addressing the history of psychiatry and outsider art, and a series of changing thematic exhibitions. The Museum features an array of psychiatric photographs, two centuries of comprehensive archives and an extensive library chronicling the history of psychiatry. Comprehensively, the Museum seeks to educate the public and rectify the misunderstandings and prejudice associated with treatment for mental illness. The Dr. Guislain Museum attracts 72,000 visitors each year.

University of Guelph, Bruce Power and Nordion team up for research project using Cobalt-60​

 A high-tech form of insect birth control connected to nuclear power could solve a devastating pest problem for Ontario farmers, says a University of Guelph researcher.

Bruce Power, the world's largest operating nuclear facility located in Tiverton, ON, and Nordion, a global health science company that provides market-leading products used for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, announced today funding and support for a multi-year study led by U of G Professor Cynthia Scott-Dupree on sterilizing pepper weevils using Cobalt-60.

The researchers hope to control pepper weevils, which can burrow into farmed peppers and destroy them from the inside.

"It is very difficult to control these insects when they are hidden inside the pepper," Scott-Dupree said.

According to the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, pepper weevils ruined $83 million worth of crops in 2016 – a figure that does not include the costs of management, suppression initiatives or cleanup of the pest.

Cobalt-60, which is produced in four of Bruce Power's eight nuclear reactors, is used for the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which could be a powerful strategy for controlling the weevil, said Scott-Dupree, of the U of G's School of Environmental Sciences.

"We want to move away from insecticide as much as possible, and SIT provides us another tool in our pest management toolbox," she said. "It fits well with biological control programs that growers already have established in their greenhouses. While no strategy is 100 per cent effective, using nuclear energy to sterilize insects is an environmentally friendly method of controlling these pests. There is no danger of the pepper weevils spreading any radiation following sterilization, so it is also safe for people."

Scott-Dupree, the Bayer CropScience Chair in Sustainable Pest Management at U of G, will send pepper weevils to Nordion, an Ottawa-based supplier of medical isotopes and gamma technologies, which receives its Cobalt-60 from Bruce Power. Gamma radiation from Cobalt-60 will sterilize the insects before they are released to mate normal, unsterilized pepper weevils in greenhouses.

"We will only release pepper weevils that have all the attributes of normal, unsterilized weevils, except that they are sterile," said Scott-Dupree. "When they mate, the eggs will not be viable, no progeny results and the pest population will decrease."

Families and businesses in Ontario rely on low-cost nuclear for 60 per cent of their electricity each year, said Ontario's Minister of Energy Glenn Thibeault, who visited Nordion lab facilities in Ottawa on Feb. 23. The Long-Term Energy Plan recognizes the far-reaching benefits of nuclear energy, whether through low-cost, carbon-free power, jobs, economic benefit, clean air, health care and, as is the case with this collaboration, agriculture.

"As a global leader in nuclear energy, it is exciting to see Ontario's nuclear community joining forces to help researchers discover innovative ways to remove an agricultural pest in an environmentally friendly manner," said Minister Thibeault.

Pioneered in the 1950s, SIT has been successfully used to control the codling moth, a pest of apples, in the Okanagan Valley in B.C. since 1992. Scott-Dupree has also recently conducted research which has found that SIT has potential to control American serpentine leafminer, an insect pest that feeds primarily on chrysanthemums.

Cobalt-60 harvested from Bruce Power's reactors is already used to help sterilize 40 per cent of the world's single-use medical devices and treat brain tumours.

"This innovative research could improve Ontario's agricultural sector by reducing the impact of pests on produce, while also providing a possible gateway to the future of farming," said Mike Rencheck, Bruce Power's President and CEO.

Scott-Dupree and her team plan to determine the optimum radiation dosage that ensures the sterilization of pepper weevils before testing SIT releases in greenhouses.

"The study will take some time, but the potential it has makes it worthwhile," she said.
"It is exciting to think of all the benefits this study could mean for farmers, Ontario's economy and the environment."

Nordion's facilities will be used to sterilize the pepper weevils.

"We are excited to see a technology like SIT, which has had wide and successful application in other areas of the world, help us here in Ontario," said Ian Downie, Vice President of Gamma Technologies at Nordion. "Our partnership with Bruce Power helps us support these kinds of scientific advances using Cobalt-60."

About University of Guelph

Formally started in 1964, the University of Guelph is research-intensive and learner-centred, with campuses spanning urban hubs and rural communities. U of G is known for excellence in the arts and sciences, and for a commitment to developing exceptional thinkers and engaged citizens. U of G has nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students at our campuses in Guelph, Toronto and Ridgetown, including 1,200 international students from more than 100 countries. It now has 122,000 alumni living in 150 countries. Students, faculty and staff study a range of disciplines -- physical and life sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences, business, agricultural and veterinary sciences. Learn more at uoguelph.ca.

The Ontario Brain Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences Pool Their Strengths to Make an Impact on Brain Disorders in Ontario

Brain disorders are chronic, lifelong conditions that heavily impact individuals and their families. Strikingly, brain disorders account for roughly a third of total years lost to death and disability from all diseases globally, more than the combined number for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Considering both the personal and societal tolls of brain disorders, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) have partnered on several initiatives that aim to make a positive impact on brain health in Ontario. These initiatives will be invigorated by the Ontario Government's new $75 million dollar strategy that will support and build on Ontario's strengths in health informatics.

Measuring the Impact of Brain Disorders in Ontario

In 2015, ICES and OBI released a comprehensive report on individual brain disorders throughout Ontario. The report encompasses 13 brain disorders and gives estimates for: how many people are living with each disorder and their population data, such as age, sex, and income; the number of new cases identified each year; and an overview of direct healthcare costs associated with each disorder.

In addition to raising awareness about the growing prevalence of brain disorders, the report data has served as a tool for planning health services and support in Ontario.

Linking Data to Advance Knowledge

OBI collects rich neuroscience research data from its five research programs focused on: epilepsy, depression, cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism.

Data are shared on a common platform called Brain-CODE. This unique resource provides neuroscience researchers with information to help uncover the underlying mechanisms and predict treatment outcomes of brain disorders.

ICES holds the administrative health records of more than 13 million Ontarians; these records are coded to protect privacy and can be linked to various databases. While OBI's data are rich and standardized to facilitate cross-disease comparisons, medical history and demographic information from participants remains limited. To fill this 'broad data' gap, OBI has teamed-up with ICES to provide a comprehensive view of health and health care delivery in Ontario. With a mutual interest in using data to understand brain disorders and their burden on the health care system, OBI and ICES have agreed to collaborate on a secure linkage of their datasets.


The Final Stretch of Immunodeficiency Canada's #PIechallenge Campaign

Immunodeficiency Canada's awareness/fundraising campaign, the #PIechallenge, is still going strong with 3 weeks left. The six-month long campaign ends on March 14th, 2017. The best 3 #PIechallenge submissions will receive incredible prizes from Starbucks and Jimmy's Coffee.

The #PIechallenge is simple: bake a pie, post a photo of it on social media with Immunodeficiency Canada's copy/paste message, tag 3 friends to take on the challenge, and donate $5.00 to the cause. The campaign has raised almost $2,000 already! Who doesn't love Pie?

The campaign is raising funds for individuals with Primary Immunodeficiency. PI occurs in people with immune systems that are either missing or defective. Lack of awareness means that between 70-90% of PI sufferers remain undiagnosed. With early diagnosis, proper care and optimal treatment, individuals with PI can live full and rewarding lives.

Immunodeficiency Canada is a national registered charity. Founded in 1999 by Dr. Chaim Roifman, the non-profit's vision is "To cure Primary Immunodeficiency (PI)". Today Immunodeficiency Canada provides education and research into a cure for PI. The organization also focuses on patient support, such as providing emergency financial assistance for families who have a child with PI in a hospital.

About Immunodeficiency Canada:
Immunodeficiency Canada is a respected Canadian leader in the field of genetic disease of the immune system. A national registered charity (87276 0897 RR0001) working with 16 PI diagnosis and treatment centres across Canada. For a complete listing of programs visit: www.immunodeficiency.ca. 

The glitz, the glam and the cigarettes​

As the red carpet is being rolled out for the Oscars on Sunday, the Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies is asking the province to ensure future movies showing tobacco use are rated for adults – not kids and teens.

Studies show that the more kids and teens see smoking in movies, the more likely they are to start smoking. Overwhelming research demonstrates that thirty-seven per cent of youth smokers in Ontario are recruited to become smokers by seeing smoking in the movies. In our province, 13,000 people die every year as a result of tobacco-related illnesses – the number one cause of preventable death and disease.

"Criteria such as violence, language, sexual activity and psychological impact, including substance abuse, are used to assign a movie rating to movies geared towards children and teens. Smoking, which kills half of its long-term users, needs to be added to the list to help prevent a new generation of young people from smoking," says Lorraine Fry, Co-Chair, Ontario Coalition for Smoke-Free Movies.

The Oscars remind us that kids and teens in Ontario have a much higher exposure to onscreen tobacco imagery than those in the United States, due to different rating systems. This year, out of 15 Oscar nominations in major categories that show smoking, only two of them have an 18A rating in Ontario, while eight are rated R in the US. Not surprisingly, in Ontario, between 2004-2013, 86 per cent of new movies released with tobacco were youth-rated, while it was only 54 per cent in the US.

The Ontario Film Review Board classifies films to provide the public with information to make informed viewing choices for themselves and their children. The OFRB does not currently rate movies with tobacco imagery18A.

"We see the research and we know that 79 per cent of Ontarians are in support of not allowing smoking in movies rated 14A or lower. We also know that it is possible to protect young people from exposure to on screen smoking while allowing filmmakers to include smoking in films rated 18A in Ontario," says George Habib, President and CEO of The Lung Association - Ontario.

Canadian News Media Challenged to See the Whole Picture When Reporting on Obesity

The Canadian Obesity Network, in partnership with Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., is calling on Canadian media to re-examine how people living with obesity are portrayed in news stories and to use non-biased, respectful images.

Often, the media use images to accompany news stories that depict people living with obesity from unflattering angles, focusing on the abdomen or lower body with the head cut out of the frame, and frequently consuming unhealthy food or engaged in sedentary activity.1 Widespread use of these stereotypical "fat-shaming" images can promote weight bias and discrimination, a significant cause of distress in people living with obesity.

"We want to work with the media to encourage a shift from the use of imagery that depicts people living with obesity in a negative light, to one that looks at the whole picture," said Dr. Arya Sharma, Founder and Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network. "These body-focused images can perpetuate negative stereotypes, and don't accurately reflect the whole person; a person who has a life, accomplishments and who is living with a chronic disease versus what many people wrongly assume, a lifestyle choice."

Obesity is recognized by the Canadian Medical Association as a chronic medical disease, which research has shown is caused by a number of risk factors, including genetics, physical activity, diet, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, immigration and environmental factors.2,3 Yet misperceptions persist. One survey found that a majority of Canadians (86 per cent) believe that personal choice about physical activity and food intake is a leading cause of obesity and more than half (55 per cent) believe that people living with obesity lack self-discipline.4

"We know that 'fat-shaming' or criticizing people about their weight or eating habits can cause people who are overweight or living with obesity to eat more calories and gain more weight," said Dr. Michael Vallis, Lead, Behaviour Change Institute. "People are more motivated by positive encouragement, rather than negative stereotyping. Seeing negative stereotypes perpetuated in the media can only hurt efforts made by people living with obesity to achieve successful weight management. These biases also make people with obesity vulnerable to major psychological distress."

Obesity is a condition that is associated with serious comorbidities, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, overproduction or deficiency of fats in the blood, certain types of cancer and a decreased life expectancy. The risk of illness and death increases with the severity of the condition. It is a co