Ariane Litalien is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at McGill University
I was about halfway through my second year as a medical student at McGill University when—for a variety of health-related reasons—life decided I needed to take a break from my studies. I packed up my short white coat, Littmann stethoscope, and practice suturing tools in a square box, wrote “transition to clerkship” in tidy Sharpie letters on the top flap, and started looking for a full-time job.
Like Vancouver and a handful of European countries, Montreal’s public health agency (CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal) was on the verge of opening four supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users across the city. Given my professional experience related to social work and HIV, I decided to apply for a position as an outreach worker. ...continue reading →
Sondos Zayed is a medical student in the Class of 2018 at McGill University
Raised in an impoverished household, Ms. K was married off at a young age to a man decades her senior. As the years passed, the abuse her husband inflicted upon her escalated until she began fearing for her life. She spent years saving money and meticulously planning her escape, though her departure also meant abandoning her family to the mercy of her husband’s wrath. She eventually sought refuge in Québec, Canada.
With no real proof of identity, she was imprisoned for months upon arrival. Once released, with neither connections nor funds, she was directed to the YMCA Residence (which in 2010 had come to an agreement with the ...continue reading →
Trevor Hancock is a professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy
This is not going to make me popular with my beer-drinking Morris-dancing friends, or with a lot of other people I imagine, but we need to put higher taxes on alcohol and implement other proven policies that make it less accessible and less glamorous. This is the conclusion one must come to on reading the report on Alcohol Harm in Canada just released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and a 2015 report by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO). ...continue reading →
Kim Perrotta is Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
A month ago the Financial Post published a commentary entitled “They keep saying shutting down coal will make us healthier, so how come there’s no evidence of it?” written by Warren Kindzierski of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. It seems a sad statement of our times that this article, which muddies the waters with incomplete facts and misleading information about coal plants, air pollution and human health, was published in the middle of an important debate about policies aimed at supporting the phase-out coal plants Canada-wide by 2030. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment feels strongly that publication of the article was irresponsible. ...continue reading →
Did you hear about Chris’s mint condition 1963 Shelby Cobra? Mechanics say he didn’t check the oil for decades, and the engine just seized one day on the way to work. When they opened it up, they say there wasn’t much left. Such a shame really.
Said Nobody. EVER.
Jazlin Mayhue is a researcher in Victoria, BC
Peter Hobza is a family physician in Victoria, BC
Robert O'Connor is a family physician in Victoria, BC
Introducing a new concept...
We all know folks who are not vigilant with preventive health for their body. However, a subset of them wouldn’t drive an irreplaceable million-dollar car until it was destroyed from lack of maintenance. A human’s life and body are irreplaceable, and worth at least a million dollars, when considering the price of an injury causing death. Therefore, it’s logical to help some people think of treating their body as well as a valuable car. ...continue reading →
Jesse Kancir is a resident in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of British Columbia, and former Policy Adviser to Canadian federal Minister of Health, Jane Philpott
Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States is a cause for worry for population and public health. An early policy victim appears to be Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA’s founding policy debates influenced my own interest in public health and health systems as a young medical student so the early steps taken by US Congress to dismantle it have affected me deeply. But it’s not just nostalgia. Concerns are real that Trump’s administration may impact global welfare, yet I’ve been comforted by thinking that a Trump administration highlights several opportunities for progress in Canadian healthcare. In 2017, Canadian healthcare can strive to contrast with negative developments in the US and be the highest expression of our commitment to each other and to a better society. ...continue reading →
This morning I swam at my local YMCA with Canada’s Minister for the Environment and Climate Change. Minister McKenna and I belong to the same Masters Swim Club. I don’t see her as much as I used to….well, I see a great many photos of her on my Twitter and Facebook feeds, but I don’t see her much in the pool. She's a busy lady and last week she attended the ceremony for the signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement on behalf of Canada at UN Headquarters in New York. It was Earth Day – 22 April – and 175 Parties (174 countries and the European Union) signed up to the agreement that day. This number of signatories far exceeded the historical record for first-day signatures to an international agreement. It was joyous occasion in which Canada could and did participate with pride. Like a wedding on a perfect spring day.
But just as a wedding is an ideal thing and marriage a real thing, and confusing the ideal with the real never goes unpunished ...continue reading →
Nicole Kain is a PhD Candidate in Public Health Sciences at the University of Alberta
Cindy Jardine is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta
Autumn 2003: Hurricane Juan claims eight lives, destroys countless buildings and residences causing power outages across the Maritimes, and is recorded as the most damaging storm in Halifax’s modern history.
June 2013: Southern Alberta is pummeled by torrential rains, combined with melting ice that causes rivers to overflow their banks; paralyzing communities and resulting in the loss of four lives and an estimated $6 billion in damages. Hospitals are forced to close, physicians can’t get into their offices due washed out roads - including portions of the Trans-Canada Highway.
I wish I could say what I learned in class prepared me for this conversation, but unfortunately, it did not.
Moments after completing an online module at home titled “Health and Homelessness” for the Community, Population & Public Health course as part of the pre-clerkship curriculum at the University of Toronto, I stumbled across who I thought was a homeless child - a small, skinny figure in a hoodie, with a Tim Hortons cup placed in front.
Most of my life’s work has been in the field of population health promotion – working to improve the health of the population. Thirty years ago the World Health Organisation launched the modern version of health promotion at a landmark conference in Ottawa. I was there as a participant and the author of one of the theme papers (on creating healthy environments).
The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion defined health promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and improve their health”. Three key points stand out here. First, this is a process; as such, there really is no end point, no point at which we say ‘OK, we’ve done that, let’s move on’. No matter how healthy the population is, it can always be healthier.
Moreover, since the mechanisms involved were defined in terms of developing public policies that are good for health, creating physical and social environments that are supportive of health, strengthening community action for health, developing personal skills for health, and re-orienting health care systems to focus more on health, the process is clearly socio-political ...continue reading →