January 26, 2016Canada’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.
October 15, 2015Since 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.
August 17, 2015Breastfeeding 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.
August 17, 2015For 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!
May 6, 2015On 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.
May 6, 2015Recent 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!
July 15, 2014Summer’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.
April 16, 2014A 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.
April 16, 2014Federal Budget season is in full swing with the recent Budget Speech and the tabling of the Main Estimates. The message from our government is consistent: the federal Budget needs to be balanced before additional economic stimulus, probably tax cuts, can be applied. Several health organizations responded to the Budget by noting that prudent budgets are important, but prudence can include selected investments. In particular, the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century (co-chaired by CPHA) has noted the cost-effectiveness of public health measures.
April 16, 2014The recent deaths of actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cory Monteith have brought media attention to the drug problem in North America. In both cases, the drug of choice appeared to be mixed drug cocktail, involving intravenous heroin use combined with other psychoactive substances.