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Some of the most passionate mental health advocates work in women's shelters. Women on the front-lines for addressing mental health needs. Women supporting other women to find safety, stability, and empowerment in their lives -- in a way, sisterhood embodied.
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Given that inequalities emerge early in life - and seem to persist - it is imperative and urgent that Canada invest, develop and sustain a high-quality early child development framework.
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In Canada, men account for three out of every four suicides -- with seven men dying by suicide every day. And the risk is even greater for gay and bisexual men, who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men. Which isn't surprising since they also experience higher levels of harassment, discrimination in the workplace and are more likely to be the victims of violent crime.
Primary care is considered the front door to our health-care system. Whether you're going for a general check-up or have just been diagnosed with cancer, your family doctor makes sure you get the tests, treatment and care you need. But not all family practices in Ontario are created equal.
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Canadian indigenous people have been described as "ghosts of history," spectres lingering in the background, haunting our legacy. This refers to the fact that indigenous people have been ignored to a great extent in Canadian history, yet Canadians are fully aware that indigenous people were here long before the arrival of the Europeans.
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But the biggest barrier to ending poverty is the political orthodoxy we have lived by for the past 40 or more years, grounded in austerity: That good government is small government, that social programs must shrink and that taxes are evil. It is over this period that we have seen the most dramatic rise in poverty rates and income inequality, with a concentration of wealth in the top 1 per cent. It's time for a rethink.
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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.
Research has shown women with disabilities and deaf women face multiple barriers to accessing health care, including cancer screening and treatment. In some cases, health care practitioners focus on the disability itself as a health problem, and ignore the overall health of the patient.
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Women's homelessness is a significant, yet often hidden, crisis facing this country. Research shows that for every person who is absolutely homeless, there are at least three more who fall into the hidden homelessness category.
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For me, figuring out and seeking treatment for my anxiety has been a healing and affirming process. But I often wonder: how would my childhood and teenage years have been different if I had a vocabulary for understanding my anxiety? If my parents, siblings or friends did? If I had early access to therapy or other kinds of treatment -- or even just a way to talk about my anxiety and resulting depression?
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Food insecurity -- the inability to afford sufficient food because of inadequate income -- is a health equity issue. It affects individuals' health in the short term but has long-term impacts: children from food insecure households are more likely to have poor physical and mental health, are more likely to go to the hospital, and have poorer academic performance and cognitive outcomes in later life.
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The evidence is clear. Social factors, like housing, income and wealth, educational background, and race are more powerful determinants of health outcomes than our behaviours, genes, or even the healthcare system itself.
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While the incomes of Canada's wealthiest are increasing, the absolute wealth of our poorest is decreasing. As this gap grows, so too do the differences in people's health risks, care and outcome. The poorer people are in Ontario, the more likely they are to have shorter lifespans, to be overdue for screening tests and to suffer from multiple chronic health conditions.
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The recent Saskatchewan leaders' debate has been criticized as a great deal of shouting with very little substance. This is disappointing, as elections are exciting moments to consider important ideas in the light of what matters most: our health and well-being.
In his letter to the minister, Prime Minister Trudeau tasked Health Minister Philpott with "engaging provinces and territories in the development of a new, multi-year Health Accord with long-term funding agreement." As the health ministers meet in Vancouver, how can they bend the curve toward a less costly and more effective health care system? How can they ensure the funds invested this time around will buy real improvements in health?
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An interview with Clive Weighill - Saskatoon Police Chief and President of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police: Some politicians talk about getting tough on crime. I'm saying you don't just want to get tough on crime, you have to get tough on the issues of poverty, poor housing, disadvantage. People are products of their environment, and if we can't solve those social issues, we're not going to solve the big picture in the end. I firmly believe that we have to work on poverty.
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As a medical student, I learn plenty about complex management of disease once it's started -- but rarely do we learn about what keeps people well in the first place. Aaron Antonovsky was a medical sociologist with a similar curiosity. Based on three components, his research provides a valuable framework for how we should approach public policy making in the area of health and wellness in Canada.
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Food insecurity, also known as 'food poverty,' can cause significant anxiety over diminishing household food supplies and result in individuals modifying their eating patterns -- adults skipping meals so children can eat or sacrificing quality food choices for cheaper, less healthy options, for example.
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Canada's current patchwork of child care does not meet the needs of Canadian families. The new federal government has shown an understanding of the importance of improving our child care for the health and well-being of children and their parents.
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income splitting primarily benefits middle- and upper-income families, provides relatively little tax relief for low-income families and skirts single parents altogether. Just as importantly, it acts to deter both parents from equal engagement in the workforce and devalues family policies that promote dual engagement.
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What good is it to treat illness if we can only send our patients back to the conditions that helped make them sick to begin with? Our health is strongly influenced by factors such as income, our working environment and affordable housing, over which neither patients nor medical doctors have much control.
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My patient reminded me that day of something that I have always known -- access to housing is not just a matter of rights and justice, it's also a matter of health. When his mental health deteriorates, he can indeed access the hospital care he needs, but if providing him access to housing can help keep him healthier, costs us less, and is the right thing to do, then why not do it for everyone? This federal election, when we vote, we must vote for housing for all, and no matter who is elected, we must call on them to take action immediately.
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A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could report on the status of children. They would ensure all sectors consider children in decision-making. A Commissioner for Children and Young Persons could also provide a framework of accountability for a federal commitment to eliminate child poverty.
Despite a strong economy, Saskatchewan has a deficit in access to safe and affordable housing. The Saskatoon Housing Initiatives Partnership performed a "point-in-time" count of people without a home on a given night and found 405 people. The number from these counts has steadily increased. What's especially disturbing is that 45 of the homeless individuals in this year's count were children. Across Canada, an estimated 235,000 people will experience homelessness in the course of a year, with 35,000 homeless on any given night. Beyond those who are homeless, many Canadians struggle to maintain the housing they have.
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The success of Airbnb and Uber -- two of the largest sharing economy platforms -- stems from their ability to offer lower prices for consumers, lower barriers to entry for service providers, work flexibility, and ease of connecting with renters/users. But what's behind the bargains seems to be posing potential health risks for service providers and service users alike. The sharing economy is not generating what would be considered to be "good" jobs.
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Beloved Canadian children's singer Raffi is touring Canada with a new album after having taken time away to focus on and develop the Centre for Child Honouring. While he was in Saskatoon, we sat down to discuss music and the making of a healthy society.
It surprises most people to know that about one in 200 Canadians is detained or incarcerated in jail or prison every year, and that the average length of stay in these facilities is only a few weeks. Time spent in jail or prison can serve as an opportunity to improve health. But achieving this goal will require a change in attitudes about health care in custody and reforming health care in correctional facilities.
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Recently, I was fortunate to attend the Global Symposium on the Role of Physicians and National Medical Associations in Addressing Health Equity and the Social Determinants of Health held in London, England. I sat down with Dr. Simpson to explore the stories, the evidence and the politics that come into play when doctors are actors for social change.
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Saskatchewan is among a number of regions in Canada, such as Manitoba and even our nation's capital, currently experiencing alarming spikes in the spread of HIV. B.C. has an impressive track record for slowing the spread of HIV/AIDs in the province. The B.C. Centre created a Treatment as Prevention strategy which provides widespread access to HIV testing, care, support and treatment. Keys to the strategy's success have been political commitment, programmatic focus, ongoing innovation coupled with monitoring and evaluation, appropriate resourcing and free services (including fully free antiretroviral therapy (ART)).
There is a growing international movement, supported by the World Health Organization, toward "Health in all Policies," an approach that has been adopted by governments around the world. Here in Canada, Quebec has such a policy, and Newfoundland and Labrador is currently exploring this model.
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There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Canadians living with obesity over the past few decades and it is often cited as a risk factor for other chronic health conditions including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer. This means that obesity is frequently a hot topic in the news. But media stories often miss the mark when it comes to informing Canadians about the complex factors that lead to obesity.
It is perhaps discouraging that the health effects of inequality have not been sufficiently concerning to drive decision-makers to change policies, but a new kind of evidence may make a greater difference. It's not only the people in unequal countries that are sicker, it's their markets as well.