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For 22 years, Canada's federal governments have not properly assessed their own budgets and policies to ensure their decisions help both women and men, and do not further widen gender inequality. The aim should be to reduce it.
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Not many patients would be happy to hear that there's a lag of about 17 years between when health scientists learn something of significance through rigorous research and when health practitioners change their patient care as a result, but that's what a now-famous study from the Institute of Medicine uncovered in 2001.
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Over the last several decades, a wide number of studies from experts inside and outside of Canada have pointed out the gap between the current performance of our health system and the level of performance we should be able to expect.
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We aren't arguing about what colour to paint the local hockey arena. It's about the science concerning one of the most dire issues facing humanity. So for starters, how about if we don't ask how to "reconcile" public opinion before knowing what the science says?
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As the year draws to a close, it's worth looking back at some of the public policy issues that made headlines over the past 12 months, and that have a good chance of being in the news during the next 12 as well.
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The Liberals floated the idea of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) during the election campaign, but scant notice was taken by the media or the business community. But SBIR can be a very powerful catalyst for innovation and we must not allow this idea to be relegated to the policy back burner.
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If you asked Canadians why life expectancy in our country continues to rise -- now 79 years for men and 83 for women -- many might attribute the increase to advances in medicine, such as new pharmaceutical research and surgical interventions. Scientists working in labs, in other words. It's not so simple.
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Finance Minister Bill Morneau will soon release the government's Fall Economic Statement and the expectation is for more stimulus spending and higher deficits. The surrounding debate in Ottawa has been mostly focused on "how" and "what" of deficit spending and insufficiently on "why" and "when."
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Government policy should seek to leverage the federalist tradition. This means more local experimentation, less central planning, and empowering provincial and local governments to advance provincial and local interests in their respective constitutional spheres without federal meddling or pressure to conform.
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Sherry's financial needs were not met through payday loans, but made worse by them -- and, as a result, she and her family were caught in a long-term cycle of debt from which they could not escape. Unfortunately, Sherry's form of repeat payday loan borrowing is common and it can sink families into poverty.
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In my research on Canadian and American emergency management agencies, I've found significant differences between official disaster strategies and how disaster responses actually unfold. For example, 'lessons learned' and theories of emergency management consistently call for formal coordination of all the organizations involved in disaster response.
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The reality is that Canada's present system is failing to live up to the principle of universality. By subsidizing hospital and doctor costs for all Canadians we have little public monies left over to help low- and middle-income Canadians pay for uninsured services and treatments.
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Under the leadership of the Liberals, our federal government is investing in digital staff and infrastructure (Conservatives have done so as well, but not to this scale and depth). We are catching up to corporations in how they listen to and engage customers to manage issues, drive innovation and build loyalty.
We are a long way off from identifying definitive biomarkers and personalized gene therapies are likely generations away. The hype is big, but our hope is misplaced. The science isn't there yet, and the sooner we stop putting our faith in near-miraculous breakthroughs, the sooner we can realistically survey the options at hand.
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We are transitioning to a new era. A new era in which multicultural communities are what Quebec used to represent to Canada as a whole in terms of influence. They are increasingly the bloc of voters that all political parties constantly think about to placate and please, with good reason.
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Last week the Ontario Court of Appeal in Spence v BMO Trust overturned a lower court's decision to set aside the will of the late Mr. Eric Spence on the ground that the will was discriminatory and thus against public policy. The most astounding aspect of the appeal judgment is that it was necessary in the first place.
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A fresh start begins with a refreshed agenda and here's where conservatives ought to focus their attention in 2016. The role of civil society is too often ignored or undermined by public policy. The expansion of the state in the second half of the 20th century came largely at the expense of civil society. Leviathan grew and civil society contracted.
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The world is littered with women and men who feed on the misery of entire societies, who have grown fat in their spoils and comfortable in their impunity, sheltering behind national jurisdictions and national institutions they have been able to twist to their benefit. But there is a higher law. There is a deeper justice. And we will stand up for it.
For the last 30 years or so, Canadians have repeatedly flagged healthcare as the most important national concern and the issue they want their political leaders to prioritize. Surveys and studies and polls and panels -- there have been plenty -- all come up with the same finding: Canadians care about healthcare.
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Cities and states around the world are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with mobile tech upstart Uber, a company that is rapidly disrupting the traditional taxi business everywhere. Viewed from an impartial distance, it is pretty clear that, whatever it is, Uber is providing a service traditionally provided by taxis. Complicating matters is that many cities have a chaotic and nonsensical approach to regulating public taxis. Before trying to make sense of where Uber fits into the chaos of its taxi ecosystem, cities such as Toronto would be smart to consider why it regulates the industry in the first place.
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Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb have entered unchartered policy territory where ethics debates, grey areas and government relations are the daily norm. While the seeming nuisance of having to deal with all these new policy implications all at once may seem cumbersome, the economic benefits and progress that has been made far outweigh the work.
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While policy should be evidence-informed rather than belief-based, the complexity of health-system change makes it difficult to draw a straight line from one evidence-based improvement to health-system change as a whole. Improving the quality and quantity of evidence-based decision-making is perhaps the greatest challenge in systematically devising policies for bending the cost curve.
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Beyond Quebec, despite the endorsement of the public health and policy community, a Health in All Policies approach has not found the political will necessary for meaningful change. But the past year offers signs of hope, with governments in Canada from across the political spectrum beginning to see the potential.
The typical young Canadian professional's engagement with the oilsands is like this: You pull your smart phone out and skim through your social media feed. You see post after post about the Canadian oilsands and its negative impact on the environment. You see countless re-posts about celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio protesting Canada's poor environmental standards. After a quick read you "like" the post or possibly share it with a short comment to the effect of "This needs to change!" You lock your smart phone and head out the door with a new sense of accomplishment, thinking to yourself "I just effectively contributed to the debate on the oilsands." But what exactly did you really accomplish?
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The real problem is that the public doesn't actually get climate science information from scientists. We get it from government departments and international governmental panels. We get it from a sensationalist media and from politicians. While the IPCC tells us there will be 17 inches of sea rise by 2100, Al Gore scares voters by claiming it will be 20 feet.
On every metric, children from disadvantaged homes face greater challenges to success than their more privileged peers. As a result, they do worse in school, get poorer paying jobs and suffer disproportionately from violence, addiction and mental health issues.
Today I am announcing the launch of the Walter Scott Centre, a Saskatchewan focused think tank named after our first premier.
Canadians who don't regularly track how governments spend money might be surprised to find how myths crop up about government expenditures. Exhibit A is a new report that claims Canada needs even more "industrial policy," more colloquially known as corporate welfare. Governments are less eager to be frank about the cost of corporate welfare, including chronic government failure on collecting on past loans.
The non-profit organization, just like the technology start-up with a disruptive, yet unproven, new innovation, must sell its vision as much as its financial model and its metrics for measuring impact. But by reducing organizational survival to a simple sales-pitch ignores the fundamental truth that not all organizations are created equally.
In its Global Risks 2013 report, The World Economic Forum (WEF) identified income disparity as one of the world's greatest risks. Statistics Canada reports that the income gap between the top 1 per ce...
As a big idea, happiness needs to be taken seriously. As many civil society groups recognize, privileging happiness helps fill a missing "human" gap between the organizational objectives they are advocating and the needs of people on the ground.
Obesity has become a "collective" issue that presumably concerns us all. Just last week, a coalition of health and education experts repeated their call for the Quebec government to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks and so-called "energy drinks."