Big changes coming to Healthy Debate

Dear Healthy Debate community,

We have been working quietly on some big changes to the site over the last few months, and we’re finally read to unveil them! Over the coming weeks we are re-launching the website with a new look, lots of interactive features and a new design for mobile devices. But before we get to discussing those, I’d like to share our biggest announcement…

Healthy Debate to launch in Alberta May 2nd

I am pleased to announce that Healthy Debate is expanding its coverage of health care issues to Alberta.

For the last two years, Healthy Debate has focused largely on health care issues in Ontario, although much of our content is of relevance across Canada and internationally.

We believe, however, that Canada’s provinces have much to learn from each other, and that Canadians would benefit from more dialogue about their provincial health systems in order to better appreciate both their strengths and their weaknesses.

In order to expand our focus beyond Ontario, we are very excited to add seven new Alberta based editors to the Healthy Debate team. These editors are all experienced health system leaders from a range of backgrounds, including nursing, medicine, management, policy and education.

Our new Alberta editors are (you can read their detailed bios on the Our Team page):

Bob Bear – Former Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer of Capital Health.

Jeanne Besner – Former Chair of the Health Council of Canada.

Greta Cummings – Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta.

Jill Konkin – Associate Dean for Community Engagement at the University of Alberta.

Chip Doig – Former President of the Alberta Medical Association.

Roger Palmer – Former Deputy Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness.

Verna Yiu – Executive Vice President and CMO of Quality and Medical Affairs at AHS.

Beginning on May 2nd, many Healthy Debate articles will provide analysis of issues facing both provinces. We will continue to provide analysis of some Ontario and Alberta-specific issues, as well as some pan-Canadian issues, but we will frequently be looking at these issues with an eye to what these two provincial health systems can learn from each other.

Healthy Debate is a platform to become informed about your health care system, but also a place to make your voice heard. We hope that many Albertans will submit Opinion pieces, to provide a Western perspective on health system issues.

This expansion to Alberta was made possible by a grant from Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (you can learn more about our funding on our Funding page).

New interactive features

Healthy Debate is not just a news site. From the beginning, our goal has been to foster thoughtful, respectful dialogue about Canada’s health care system. With this in mind, we’ve introduced several new features to make it easier than ever to jump into the debate.

One of the big changes is that we have added live web chat functionality to Healthy Debate. Starting in May we’ll be hosting live chats, with Healthy Debate editors and featured guests. These chats are an opportunity to engage directly in dialogue with patients, practitioners, influencers and decisions makers about key health care issues. We’ll start off by doing one of these chats each month, with the subject based on one of our articles or opinions. We’ll have Healthy Debate editors on each chat, as well as featured guests. Anyone can join these chats by visiting the site, and transcripts from past chats will be available in an archive. Joining a chat is easy – you’ll be able to log in either as a guest, or with your Facebook or Twitter account.

The first chat will be about the closing of obstetrical wards in rural Canada. It will take place on May 17th, at 10:00am Mountain Time; 12:00pm Eastern Time.

Making it easier to comment

The biggest thing we’ve heard from our community over the last two years is that you hate the “Captcha” – the hieroglyphics that you have to decode in order to leave a comment. While we can’t take this feature out completely or the site would be filled up with spam, we’ve added a “Remember Me” function. When you leave a comment, you now have the option to let the site remember you, so that you never have to enter your name or fill out the Captcha again. We hope this will make commenting on stories a much less painful process.

We’ve made a number of other tweaks to the commenting system, including making it easier to reply to an existing comment, as well adding “Featured Comments” that will display at the top of the page to give readers a snapshot of the unfolding debate.

For all our Twitter followers (and there are a lot of you!), we’ve added a Twitter feed to the sidebar of the main page, so that other readers can share in the dialogue on social media.

New website design

We’ve had a lot of feedback on our website design over the last two years, and we’re pleased to be launching a new design that addresses a lot of the shortcomings of the old site.

Right away, you’ll see we’ve done away with the old vertical columns, and now have a lot more content displayed.

You’ll find our latest article in the big featured box at the top, with recent articles in a row below that. There are arrows on the right and left of the “Recent articles” section that you can use to scroll to see more content.

“Recent Opinions” now appear right below recent stories. You can the scroll arrows on the side to browse through all of our recent opinions.

We heard from a lot of people that they would like a quick way to find out which articles are generating the most discussion on the site. In response, we’ve added “Popular Debates” right below the opinions section. This section displays the five articles and opinions that are getting the most attention, either through comments, views or sharing on social media.

We also wanted to be able to share some of our older content with you, especially when one of our articles or opinions could shed some light on breaking news. You’ll find a handpicked selection of older content under “Editor’s picks”, right below our Popular Debates. We’ll update this section every week.

We’ve also given Lisa Priest’s Personal Health Navigator its own section. You’ll find all of Lisa’s new articles at the bottom of the main page, right below Editor’s Picks.

We’ve completely rebuilt the search feature on the site, so it’s now much easier to find what you may be looking for. We’ve also fixed the “tags” system, so if you want to find a story related to the one you are reading, just click one of the tags at the top to see a list of related stories. Give it a try!

New mobile site design

Next week we’ll be rolling out a mobile version of Healthy Debate. This new design will make it much easier to read and comment on your mobile phone. Look for this new feature late next week!

We’re very excited about these changes, and hope they enhance your experience on Healthy Debate. If you have any feedback about the new site or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for being part of the Healthy Debate community.  We look forward to continuing the debate!

The comments section is closed.

  • Paula McColgan says:

    Congratulations Andreas – to you and the HealthyDebate team!! Always a thought-provoking read. It looks fantastic!!

  • Gerry Goldlist says:

    I appreciate the cookie so I don’t have to try to decipher those weird letters. I usually got them wrong and sometimes even lost a whole “well thought out comment” by clicking on the wrong button. Very frustrating. I really like the change.

    Also, the threads of Replies seem much easier to follow.

  • val says:

    wonderful news – “health debate” coming to Alberta. Looking forward.

  • Maya says:

    That’s great news! As a long time follower of Healthy Debate, I’m really looking forward to this changes. Hopefully in the future, it can cover my home province Saskatchewan where medicare began!

  • Chris Carruthers says:

    Great developments. Expanding outside of Ontario is important. Health care will be faced with increasing challenges and this will be an excellent forum to discuss them. Also will help to remember and support our goal is to have a national health system not many individual provincial systems. This forum can take the lead.


  • Jeff Letourneau says:

    Looking forward to an Alberta perspective on these issues. Hopefully more provinces can be added down the road. I can think of a few potential editors from Saskatchewan that would be welcome additions to these debates.

    • Jeremy Petch says:

      Thanks, Jeff! We definitely hope that the Alberta expansion will be a success, and that we can build on it to grow Healthy Debate into a national forum that captures and respects the provincial nature of most health care delivery in Canada. While we’re not yet ready to expand our feature articles to provinces like Saskatchewan or British Columbia, our Opinions section is open to submissions from anywhere in the country, so if you or your colleagues would like to contribute, please don’t hesitate!

  • Steve P says:

    I really enjoy the new interactive web design. The content has always been informative and I’m excited to see its coverage expand. Top notch.

  • Anthony Lucic says:

    %featured%Love the new site!%featured%

  • David says:

    New look is very promising. %featured%More use of social media and online chats should promote more engagement and discussion.
    Keep up the good work!%featured%

  • Tom Auger says:

    %featured%The site looks awesome! Congratulations on your vision and determination to keep evolving and improving HealthyDebate!%featured%


Andreas Laupacis

Editor-in-chief Emeritus

Andreas founded Healthy Debate in 2011. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ)

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