Search for "public health"

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Study Finds Dangerous Lead Levels in Canadian Drinking Water

A year-long investigation conducted by 120 journalists representing nine universities and 10 media outlets, including the Toronto Star and the Institute for Investigative Journalism, found that one-third of 12,000 tests in 11 Canadian cities since 2014 registered lead levels in excess of the national safety guideline of five parts per billion. Voluntary tests were also conducted by homeowners in 32 towns and cities across Canada, with similar results.

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Health Canada Warns of Dangers Linked to E-Cigarettes

Health Canada issued a second warning about the potential dangers of vaping e-cigarettes after two people died in the United States. Hundreds of others have contracted lung disorders. Dr. Nicholas Chadi, a spokesperson for the Canadian Paediatrics Society, said “We’re getting a strong message from the US that we need to be careful about vaping devices and aerosols that come from those devices. We’re still looking for answers, we don’t really know what might be causing these people to get ill, but we do know there are known harms associated with using electronic cigarettes.”

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Study Warns of Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

A study conducted by the Council of Canadian Academies concluded that the number of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment will likely grow from 26 per cent in 2018 to 40 percent by 2050. The report estimates that, over the next 30 years, around 400,000 people will die from these superbugs at a cost to the economy of about $400 billion. The chair of the panel that produced the report, UBC microbiology professor Brett Finlay, said, “This is almost as big, if not bigger, than climate change in a sense because this is directly impacting people. The numbers are just staggering. It’s time to do something now.”

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Vaccination and Vaccine Hesitancy in Canada

Vaccination is the introduction of a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a disease. Vaccine hesitancy is the refusal or delayed acceptance of vaccination due to fears or anxiety about vaccines. It includes a range of concerns such as uncertainty about vaccines’ contents and their safety and the belief that vaccines are responsible for causing other medical conditions (e.g., autism). Other factors include opposition to state control and infringement on individual liberty, suspicions about the pharmaceutical industry and a declining faith in science and medicine. In Canada, as in other wealthy countries, vaccine hesitancy has increased in recent years.

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15 Cases Reported in Vancouver Measles Outbreak

Two more measles cases were confirmed to have originated at two francophone public schools in Vancouver, bringing the total in that cluster to 12. An additional three cases were reported to have been contracted in Asia. BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said that children at public and private schools would be required to show proof of immunization against measles and other diseases beginning in September. Immunization rates at Vancouver public schools were shown to be well below the 90 per cent rate needed to ensure “herd immunity.” (See also Vaccination Rates are Plummeting.)

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Food Insecurity in Canada

Household food insecurity— the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints — is a serious public health problem in Canada. In 2017–18, 1 in 8 households were food insecure. This amounted to over 4.4 million Canadians. Of that number, 1.2 million were children under 18 years. While food banks are a well-known public response to food insecurity, most food insecure households do not use food banks and there is no evidence that food charity is a durable solution. There is wide consensus that governments need to act on food insecurity through income-based interventions.

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Canada Enters Fourth Wave as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, announced that “a fourth wave is underway in Canada and that cases are plotting along a strong resurgence trajectory.” The seven-day average for new cases of COVID-19 increased to nearly 1,300 (a 60 per cent increase from the week before) and the total number of active cases (more than 13,000) had more than doubled since late July. Dr. Fahad Razak, a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said that “from mid-July to mid-August, there’s been a four-fold increase [in cases].” He added that the Delta variant of the virus was far more infectious and was leading to “really explosive growth.”

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Pandemics in Canada

A pandemic is an outbreak of an infectious disease that affects a large proportion of the population in multiple countries or worldwide. Human populations have been affected by pandemics since ancient times. These include widespread outbreaks of plague, cholera, influenza and, more recently, HIV/AIDS, SARS and COVID-19. In order to slow or stop the spread of disease, governments implement public health measures that include testing, isolation and quarantine. In Canada, public health agencies at the federal, provincial and municipal levels play an important role in monitoring disease, advising governments and communicating to the public.

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Eric Lindros Testifies to Parliamentary Committee on Concussions

Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros, whose playing career was cut short by multiple concussions, urged a Parliamentary health committee to create a national protocol for preventing and treating sports-related concussions. He recommended banning hitting in hockey until players are in their mid-teens, ensuring players have months of recovery time every year, and consolidating various protocols across different sports and regions into a unified approach. 

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BC Introduces Aggressive Vaping Regulations

British Columbia introduced Canada’s toughest regulations on vaping products. Under the new rules, the sale of flavoured vaping products will be limited to age-restrictive stores, some flavours will be banned, plain packaging and limits on advertising will be required, and the sales tax on such products will increase from seven per cent to 20 per cent as of 1 January 2020. A study published in the British Medical Journal in June 2019 found that vaping increased 74 per cent among youth in Canada between 2017 and 2018.

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Canada Outpaces US in New COVID-19 Cases Amid Third Wave

For the first time in the pandemic, the rolling seven-day average number of new cases in Canada (206.84 cases per million people) surpassed that of the United States (203.81 cases per million people). The third wave was hitting hardest in Ontario, which reported a record-high 4,456 new COVID-19 cases. In more positive news, COVID-19 was proving to be less deadly than it had been a year earlier.

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Doug Ford Apologizes for Widely Criticized Measures

Ontario premier Doug Ford apologized for measures his government had introduced a week earlier. Many of the new rules, including closing all playgrounds and empowering police to detain people out in public during a stay-at-home order, were criticized as “draconian.” On 26 April, three armed forces medical teams were sent to Toronto to assist health care workers, while hospitals worried about possibly having to start triaging patients.