Opinions

  • April 2014

  • March 2014

    • Tackling poverty through medical education

      Poverty is a significant public health concern affecting approximately 10% of Canadians. Recommendations to eliminate poverty have focused on areas of income, housing, access to food, and early childhood development. Calls for government action and provision of resources to healthcare professionals have been issued. Notably, educating medical […]

    • Kieran Quinn healthydebate.ca blogger

      Gaps in health care for the chronically ill

      This is a story about Mr. D, a lovely 85-year-old gentleman who I cared for on our General Internal Medicine service. He suffered significant cognitive impairment due to both dementia and the deposition of protein in his brain caused by chronic inflammation (known as cerebral […]

    • Amy Katz

      Diabetes and the trouble with healthier lifestyles

      At the end of January, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) announced almost $10 million in new funding to address type 2 diabetes, with a focus on screening and the ‘promotion of healthier lifestyles.’ There is a lot to celebrate in this […]

    • Heather Murray

      Stranded in the Emergency Department

      It’s a weekend shift in a Canadian Emergency Department. On a stretcher lies a woman in her sixties. She has, just this week, been diagnosed with an advanced cancer. Her symptoms crept up on her, unnoticed or passed off as the result of inactivity during […]

    • Policy implications for the virtualization of health services

      Virtual care (where the provider and patient are separated in space and sometimes in time) is a natural next step in technological innovation for healthcare. Increasing care virtualization has the potential to improve quality of life for patients while increasing the healthcare system’s efficiency but […]

    • Loan deferral during residency: a win-win solution

      It is no secret that Canada suffers from an inequitable distribution of health professionals. A 2012 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information revealed that 18% of Canadians live in rural and remote areas, yet only 8% of doctors live in these regions. The […]

  • February 2014

    • KathyKastner_

      The next generation of ePatients

      As with any parent whose child has a serious health condition, Amy Gleason is actively involved and ever watchful of her 15-year old daughter, Morgan, who has a life-threatening autoimmune condition called Juvenile Myositis. Amy and I are ePatients – the ‘e’ includes: being engaged, […]

    • Shawn Whatley

      When quality trumps service, patients lose out

      The Ontario government deserves applause for tackling global funding for hospitals. “Global budgets provide[d] little incentive for hospitals to focus on efficiency, innovation, improving access, coordinating care across facilities and sectors or improving quality.” In 2012, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced its commitment to […]

    • Amy Katz

      Let’s call heroin deaths what they are: preventable

      ‘Worldwide, overdose is the leading cause of avoidable death among people who use injection drugs.’ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2013 In newspapers, on social media, and on tv, the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is being framed as a tragedy. We […]

    • Rethinking health outcomes in the era of multiple concurrent chronic conditions

      Modern health care is very much concerned with outcomes. The language of outcomes is common  in policy development, clinical work, and research. For example, Health Quality Ontario states that the overall quality aims are: Better outcomes, better experience, better value for money. In the context […]

    • Jeremy Petch Healthy Debate Blogger

      Should Healthy Debate publish anonymous blog posts?

      Hello Healthy Debate community, Since launching the opinions section two years ago, we have published over 200 blogs from a wide range of people, including patients, front-line practitioners and health system leaders. In that time, we have never published an anonymous blog. Our current policy […]

    • Flanders_crop

      A paeditrician’s plea to the anti-vaccinationists

      The global public health success of vaccination is astounding. According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations save the lives of 2-3 million people worldwide each year and prevent millions of others from suffering and disability. Marvelous achievements from the use of vaccinations continue; just this […]

    • Kieran Quinn healthydebate.ca blogger

      Learning to choose wisely

      While on call on the internal medicine service at my hospital, I recently admitted a 47-year old woman overnight, who had increased swelling in her ankles and a fluid collection in her abdomen. After taking a thorough clinical history and performing a complete physical examination, […]

  • January 2014

    • It is time for Canada to ban trans fats

      On November 7th 2013, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced their proposed measures “to completely eliminate artificially produced trans fatty acids (TFAs) from the American food supply”. This measure would prevent food manufacturers from selling products containing artificial TFAs. Just as many Americans made their own New Year’s […]

    • Maureen Taylor

      Physician Assistant regulation: can nurses’ unions have it both ways?

      Physician Assistants are “handmaids” to doctors. PAs were “created by physicians” who were frustrated that nurses no longer tolerate being ordered around by MDs. And that’s just a taste of the negative reaction from some nurses to a recent Healthy Debate article on integration of […]

    • We should compensate living donors for their kidney

      People with end-stage kidney disease have two treatment options: dialysis or transplantation. Dialysis is the process of removing waste and excess water from the blood, by hooking up to a machine that mimics the function of the kidney. Transplantation, however, is the optimal treatment for […]

    • Craig_edited

      An argument against increasing the minimum wage

      Last week, a Healthy Debate column written by Dr. Ritika Goel used a patient narrative to help support her argument that the minimum wage should be increased, from $10.25 to $14 an hour. The patient, Raj, drifted between low-wage jobs as many aspects of his […]

    • Ishani Ganguli healthydebate blogger

      A new mom in medicine

      Months before my life was upended, a doctor friend tried to explain my forthcoming role in terms I’d understand. “Imagine being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “You’re in charge of a single patient, but she is needy as […]

    • Ritika Goel Healthydebate.ca blogger

      Doctor’s orders: raise the minimum wage

      The first time I met Raj, I remember feeling completely helpless in what to offer him. A middle-aged South Asian man with a wife and two kids, Raj had moved to Canada looking for a better life 7 years ago. He came to the clinic […]

    • Sue Robins

      Much ado about the flu vaccine

      This is not a piece that is pro-vaccination or anti-vaccination.  I am writing this as a citizen and consumer of the health system in Canada. I have watched the messaging about the influenza vaccination both in 2009 and now in 2014.  It may be time […]

    • Tom Closson Healthydebate blogger Prevention

      The goldilocks principle and Canadian health care system governance

      Health care system governance is important. CEOs of health care organizations need to report to someone and health care boards fulfill this oversight role. Besides recruiting and hiring a CEO, boards also hold CEOs accountable for achieving outcomes, act as mentors and support CEOs when […]

    • How can we improve doctor and patient accountability in Ontario?

      To get better quality, timely health care, patients and providers must continue to find ways to make a patient’s regular family doctor the customary first option for non-emergency care needs. As it stands, both parties could be doing more to strengthen the patient-doctor relationship, and […]

  • December 2013

    • private drug plans

      Demystifying private drug plans

      There are many pre-conceived notions about private drug coverage in Canada that are really myths. There are also significant differences between public and private drug plan coverage that result in different coverage decisions.  It is important to understand these myths and differences to better understand […]

    • John Greiss Healthy Debate blogger

      Vanessa’s Law a laudable first step towards improving patient safety

      On December 6th, Health Canada announced the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act giving powers to the Minister of Health to force companies to recall or stop the sale of any therapeutic drug product or device marketed in Canada. The tabled legislation comes hot on the heels of an investigative […]

    • Timothy Caulfield healthy debate blogger

      Naturopaths and the creep of pseudoscience

      Sadly, the creep of pseudoscience – as manifested in the provincial legitimization of unproven alternative approaches to health – continues. Ontario naturopaths are pushing hard to become a self-regulating profession, with expanded rights to prescribe drugs and order tests.  Thankfully, the Ontario Medical Association is […]

    • Lab coats

      Is it time for doctors to abandon the white lab coat?

      The doctor’s white lab coat has a long-standing tradition. Some medical schools have created the ‘white coat ceremony’ to welcome new students into the profession. I think it’s time we got rid of these coats. I used to wear one.  When I started clinical work […]

    • Yoni Freedhoff healthydebate blogger

      The Heart and Stroke Foundation owes Canadian parents an apology

      There’s just no way to sugarcoat this. The Heart and Stroke Foundation, and specifically their Health Check program, in their selling of check marks to so called fruit leathers and fruit gummis, is overtly harming Canadian children’s health – a generation which quite literally is […]

    • Farrah Swartz

      A small step towards a health literate Canada

      It was late at night and Leanne (names changed) realized her 2 year old daughter, Meaghan, had a fever after she had been crying through the night. Leanne reached for the infant Tylenol but realized she wasn’t sure whether how much to give Meaghan, who […]

  • November 2013

  • October 2013

    • Alberta’s innovative approach to paying for long-term care

      Alberta’s provincial health authority has recently come under fire by opposition party MLAs and activists alike for closing 77 long-term care beds in Calgary damaged by the June floods. The angry reaction demonstrates the common misperception that a shortage of beds is the major cause […]

    • Postpartum depression is a family affair

      At long last, people are talking about postpartum depression. Dismissed for years as no more than a touch of the baby blues or else unheard of entirely, postpartum depression — or PPD, as it is often known — has become an open subject. Healthcare providers are aware […]

    • Sachin Pendharkar healthy debate blogger

      Working smarter to reduce wait times

      The challenges in providing timely access to health care are becoming increasingly common and cross many disciplines. Whether the conversation is around delays for elective surgery, emergency department overcrowding or long waits for specialist appointments, the frustration is felt by patients, practitioners and healthcare administrators […]

    • Nursing home

      Why do personal items go missing in nursing homes?

      I am addressing this letter to all the caretakers and families in Canada who have family members residing in nursing homes. I want to know if the situations that we are encountering are widespread and if there is anything that we can do to change […]

    • Ishani Ganguli healthydebate blogger

      “Expecting Better” from your doctors during pregnancy

      Of all the pregnancy taboos I’ve heard in my 34 weeks of this surreal, at times ache-inducing, but ultimately incredible state, caffeine has caused me the greatest chagrin. Strangers in line at Coffee Central offered helpfully: “You’ll get decaf, of course.” My four-year-old nephew looked […]

    • Nan Okun healthy debate blogger

      Reflections on a new trend in women’s health care

      I have recently noticed a few websites offering an interesting combination of women’s health services, with traditional obstetrical and gynecological care alongside such services as esthetic or cosmetic procedures. As a woman, I must say I found these websites inviting. They project an image of […]

  • September 2013



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