• Is Canadian health care choosing wisely?

    The Canadian Institute for Health Information estimates that 30 per cent of health care, or nearly 1 million tests and treatments annually, is unnecessary… Choosing Wisely hopes to achieve its goals through grassroots advocacy by publishing a series of practice recommendations for physicians based on international peer-reviewed research… In the past, the medical community has experienced the perils of ignoring large segments of the population in its research initiatives.

  • Stop using mental illness to explain away violence. It’s not that simple

    First of all, a “psychological issue” is not the same as a diagnosed mental illness; nor does a history of psychological/psychiatric illness predispose a person to violence. Expecting psychiatrists or other health professionals to single out people who have the potential to be terrorists and/or mass murderers is preposterous. Health professionals already have the ethical/legal responsibility to identify people who are an imminent risk to harm themselves or others, but broader, predictive profiling would be a dubious exercise at best.

  • Students are not fragile flowers – we must care about their mental health

    The Canadian Mental Health Association ‘s #b4stage4 campaign asks a thought-provoking question: What if we waited until Stage 4 to treat cancer? … We would never allow our medical system to wait that long to treat this disease. We fully expect to have preventive education, screening and early treatment. Now, imagine if the standard of treatment was equal for mental and physical health conditions.

  • It’s time for a smarter approach to drugs

    The harm-reduction approach cannot fully succeed until we stop treating people addicted to drugs as criminals… The war on drugs has driven up the cost of policing, contributed to a national crisis of court delays, compounded racial and class inequities and unnecessarily criminalized people living with physical and mental illness. All that, without delivering any of the promised benefits for public health or public safety.

  • Doctors deserve a better deal, not tax dodges

    … physicians (like lawyers) can access tens of thousands of dollars in RRSP tax shelters beyond the reach of most workers. The lack of physician pensions is a choice they made collectively a half-century ago, when they adamantly refused to be deemed government employees despite earning virtually all their income from public funds in a now archaic fee-for-service model. That income anachronism is debilitating for all sides — patients, doctors and the government.

  • Three Ontario nursing homes ordered to stop new admissions because of substandard care

    Proper staffing of Ontario long-term care homes in general has long been a complaint among workers, families and the residents who suffer from lack of care… the government introduced legislation that, if passed, would create tougher enforcement against nursing homes. The legislation would include hefty fines for corporations, ranging from $200,000 for first time offence and $500,000 for subsequent offences.

  • Price tag on national pharmacare will dissuade Ottawa

    A national pharmacare program could save $4.2-billion a year, according to a new report by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer… But the 93-page report is math-heavy and politics-light… No government in its right mind is going to take on $20-billion a year in additional costs – especially when it involves the federal government absorbing $13-billion in provincial expenses… If Canada is, like most other Western countries, going to embrace pharmacare, it’s going to have to be a national program, not a federal one.

  • Canada should learn from countries that do universal health care differently—and better

    Data from organizations such as the Commonwealth Fund defuse the notion that such wait times are a natural consequence of universal health care. For example, 30 per cent of Canadian patients reported waiting two months or longer for an appointment with a specialist, compared with only three per cent in Germany, four per cent in France and seven per cent in the Netherlands.

  • Universal drug plan could cut more than $4-billion a year: PBO

    The savings would come largely from the impact of bulk purchases of drugs, allowing Health Canada to negotiate better prices for most pharmaceuticals, as well as an increase in the use of generic drugs. However, the plan – which would replace all provincial and private drug plans – would still carry a price tag of more than $19-billion, and the federal government isn’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement to do it.

  • Sunshine act to reveal payments to health-care professionals is welcome

    The legislation has been left purposefully vague on some points so they can be worked out through consultations and then carried out through regulations that are still to be written. On the face of it, that’s fine. But Hoskins should make sure the intent of the legislation — to shed light on possible conflicts of interest — does not get watered down in the process.