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Canadian Public Health Association

Policy and Advocacy Blog


Risky play is essential for child development

April 7, 2016

As summer approaches and warmer temperatures arrive, you might expect to see kids actively, independently playing outdoors; but they aren’t. In fact, Canadian children spend over 7.5 hours a day being sedentary, while less than 9% of 5-17 year olds achieve the overall benchmark physical activity levels (at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day to achieve health benefits). These levels of activity gave Canadian children a D minus for activity in the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

Sex and seniors: A perspective

January 26, 2016

Baby boomers are the large group of individuals born between 1946 and 1965. In Canada, for the first time, this group comprises a larger percentage of the population (with 16.12% being 65 years and older) compared to youth less than 14 years of age (16.04% of our population). This trend is expected to continue into the mid-2030s, when it is projected that up to 25% of the population will be 65 years and older.

Caregiver burden takes a toll on mental health

January 26, 2016

Canada’s health care system is increasingly reliant on informal or voluntary caregivers (those family members and friends who provide a variety of supports without remuneration) to support the needs of those with chronic illnesses, those with mental illness, and our seniors. These caregivers’ economic contribution in Canada was an estimated $25 billion in 2009, $5 billion of which can be attributed to providing support for those living with mental illness.


E-cigarettes – revisited

October 15, 2015

Since our last update about nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, there has been an explosion of research published and a variety of steps taken by governments. Today’s brief provides a quick summary of a few of those findings and activities.

Breastfeeding: A return on investment

August 17, 2015

Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed newborns and infants, and an important contributor to their health. It provides nutrition, boosts immunity, and fosters maternal–child bonding. Babies who are not breastfed or have been weaned early have an increased likelihood of contracting otitis media, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, diabetes and asthma and of succumbing to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), while mothers who have not breastfed have an increased likelihood of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Out with the smoke, in with the chew

August 17, 2015

For those of a certain age, you may remember when the “boys of summer” had a cheek full of “chaw” and their full attention on the next batter. Many of us assumed that chewing tobacco was a phenomenon unique to baseball that otherwise had passed into obscurity with the mounting evidence about nicotine addiction and chewing tobacco carcinogenicity. Unfortunately, chewing tobacco is still going strong!

Homelessness and public health

May 6, 2015

On any given night in Canada, 35,000 people find themselves homeless. These folks are a combination of youth, adults, elderly, and families with children, and are part of the more than 235,000 Canadians who live on the street at some point during a year. This number continues to rise in spite of the nearly $7 billion spent in 2014 on health care, justice, and social services to address homelessness. Although national data are lacking, cities are seeing increases in shelter use: rates in Greater Moncton increased by 8% between 2013 and 2014, while those in Winnipeg increased by 14% between 2008 and 2011. Vancouver reported the largest homeless population in city history in 2014.

Vaccine hesitancy

May 6, 2015

Recent headlines from across North America make it clear that some vaccine-preventable illnesses are making a comeback. First there was an outbreak of mumps in professional hockey teams, then over 100 cases of measles in 14 US states linked to the California Disneyland theme park, and now unrelated cases in Toronto, southern Ontario and Quebec. The majority of those infected had not been vaccinated against the disease. There was also a report of a vaccine-free day care as well as an Ottawa family of 7 (unvaccinated) children, all of whom contracted whooping cough!


Antimicrobial resistance in animal agriculture – Statement of Concern

July 15, 2014

Summer’s finally here and the scent of barbeque is wafting through neighbourhood backyards. On those ‘ques sizzle our favourite cuts of meat, being lovingly grilled to perfection. Idyllic … but, part of getting that cut of meat to the grill is making sure that the animal is healthy and well taken care of on the farm. To help achieve that goal, most farmers currently use antibiotics to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak and promote growth. This approach is common animal husbandry practice in North America and elsewhere.

E-cigarettes – An update

April 16, 2014

A recent edition of the CPHA Health Digest contained a policy brief concerning the sale of e-cigarettes in Canada. We noted that there were limited data to substantiate any claims about e-cigarettes, including a lack of controlled studies demonstrating their efficacy as smoking cessation products. Since then, advocates against the sale of e-cigarettes remain adamant that the product threatens to re-normalize smoking, especially in youth, and use of e-cigarettes risks undoing years of smoking cessation gains. On the other hand, popular opinion, including many celebrity endorsements, supports their use as smoking cessation aids. There have also been a couple of developments that are worth mentioning.