February 2015

Health & Safety

Government of Canada passes new regulations to enhance the level of protection for workers handling hazardous materials in the workplace

Today, the Government of Canada finalized new regulations related to the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) for workplace hazardous chemicals.

Chemicals used in Canadian workplaces are produced and sold around the world. Employers and workers rely on the labels and material safety data sheets (SDSs) packaged with these chemicals to know how to handle them safely. The purpose of the GHS is to apply a system of classification for workplace chemicals and safety information requirements that is globally accepted. It is meant to replace or reduce the differences for hazard classification and communication that exist in countries around the world. A key objective of the GHS is to create a system that will allow Canadian and U.S. requirements to be met through the use of a single label and SDS for each hazardous product.

Canada’s largest Health & Safety Conference returns

Canada's largest and longest running health and safety conference and trade show, Partners in Prevention 2015, returns April 28 and 29, 2015 at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.  Partners in Prevention 2015 includes two days of celebrated keynote speakers, cutting-edge sessions, workshops and professional development courses.  With the theme, Where Discoveries Begin, Partners In Prevention 2015 will feature over 60 presentations, professional development courses, e-learning labs and over 400 booth and interactive experiences on the Trade Show floor.

Canadian research confirms safety of new stroke treatment

An international study led by Canadian researchers has confirmed the safety and efficacy of one of the most significant new treatments in decades, one that could dramatically improve outcomes for the 15 million people who suffer a stroke each year.

The clot retrieval procedure, known as endovascular treatment (ET), dramatically reduces disability and deaths in patients who have suffered an acute ischemic stroke. Such strokes are caused by a sudden blockage in an artery that deprives the brain of oxygen and glucose, and can lead to debilitating brain injuries.

Health Canada dragging its feet on drug safety: Editorial

Once again Health Canada’s role as a consumer protection agency is being called into question over concerns that contaminated drugs may be on store shelves.

The agency faced accusations last fall that it was not standing up for consumer safety after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed drug ingredients from Toronto-based Apotex’s facilities in Bangalore, India, unsafe and banned them.

Instead of initially identifying and banning the drugs itself, Health Canada simply asked Apotex to stop importing them. It did not remove the drugs from market, nor did it alert the public as the FDA did in the U.S., by posting its inspection findings online. Further, when the drug company simply ignored its request, Health Canada did nothing.

Science shows HPV vaccine has no dark side

The HPV vaccine was created to prevent an infection that causes cancer. That is pretty exciting. After all, Terry Fox’s arduous marathon a day was to raise money for a cancer cure. Did he even imagine that we would have a vaccine to prevent cancer?

Given the power of HPV vaccine to prevent disease and death, a long Toronto Star article that appears to suggest that the HPV vaccine causes harm is troubling and disappointing. Although the article states in the fifth paragraph that “there is no conclusive evidence showing the vaccine caused a death or illness,” its litany of horror stories and its innuendo give the incorrect impression that the vaccine caused the harm.

Human Resources

Canada: The employer case for effective disability management

In the last couple of years, employers and organizations have seen their costs associated with employee absenteeism skyrocket.  Absenteeism in the workplace can take many forms, ranging from intermittent absences, employees off for minor illnesses or injury or lengthy absences.  The million dollar question for employers is how it should go about containing and managing such costs, particularly in an economic climate of financial restraint.  To avoid increasing costs, more employers and organizations have begun to implement disability management programs and processes.

An effective disability management program is a process that is specifically designed to facilitate the employment of persons with a disability or injury through a coordinated effort involving several stakeholders, including human resources, management and the employee with a disability or injury.

Janet Smylie: Put an end to racism in the ER

Universal access to medical care and the right to live free from racial discrimination are two underlying principles that are highly integrated into the fabric of Canadian society. A challenge to either is bound to incite heated debate. Calling an individual or group “racist” is highly insulting and predictably rejected by those on the receiving end. The recent response to accusations of racism in Winnipeg is a good example.

Canada immigration – navigating an increasingly strict compliance regime

Canada, much like the United States, has adopted increasingly protectionist immigration policies that are intended to strengthen the Canadian economy by restricting both temporary resident and permanent residency applications. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) administer and adjudicate Canadian Immigration related applications and are responsible for undertaking enforcement action against non-compliant employers and individuals.

Canoodling by the copier? Stigma of office romance fading

Carrying on a romantic relationship with someone at the office used to be a target for gossip at best, a human resources violation at worst. But that mentality is becoming as dated as the power suit.

Experts say the more-relaxed attitudes of millennials are exerting a greater influence on corporate culture, and the growing expectation of constant digital contact with the office has blurred the lines between professional and personal. People no longer see a problem with sharing commutes and coffee breaks along with chores and childcare.

Why are employees leaving free pension money on the table?

Canadians are forgoing as much as $3-billion annually by not taking full advantage of employer matching contributions within their company defined contribution (DC) pension plans, according to a recent Sun Life Financial report. One has to wonder why employees would pass up free money when there are no strings attached.

Employees in most DC plans have the option of contributing extra, and if they do, the employer makes a matching contribution on their behalf. Sometimes it is a partial match, such as 50 cents for every dollar contributed by the employee, and sometimes it is a full match. Employers offer contribution matching to encourage employees to save more for retirement.

Dr. Anny Sauvageau, former chief medical examiner, sues Alberta Justice

Alberta's former chief medical examiner has launched a $5-million wrongful dismissal lawsuit against Alberta Justice, Justice Minister Jonathan Denis and four senior government bureaucrats.

In a statement of claim filed Tuesday, Dr. Anny Sauvageau makes sensational allegations of political interference in the operations of the medical examiner's office.

The most controversial allegation is that Alberta Justice negotiated a costly new body transportation contract without her approval in order to appease the Alberta Funeral Services Association and curry political favour in rural ridings. She also claims she was ordered not to fire an employee, even though human resources recommended the worker be let go.


Older Canadians’ timely access to health care ranked last by survey

More than half of Canadians 55 and over have to wait at least two days to see their doctors when they are ill, according to a new survey of wealthy countries that ranks Canada dead last when it comes to timely access to health care.

More than 30 per cent of the Canadian respondents had to wait six or more days to see a primary-care provider. Older Canadians also waited longer than their counterparts in 10 other countries to see a specialist and found it more difficult to get the care they needed on nights and weekends, the survey found.

Five ways to control the cost of Canadian healthcare

Canadian economists received a pleasant surprise recently: expenditure growth on public healthcare in Canada finally appears to be slowing down. However, it is unclear if this slowdown is the result of explicit success in sustainably bending the cost-curve or more short-term cost-cutting in response to slower economic growth or future federal health transfers.

So is it a blip on the healthcare horizon or the beginning of a trend?

PM’s charity audit looks for ‘bias, one-sidedness’

Is fighting for the right to buy private health care a charitable act? Apparently it is.

But fighting for the right to die on your own terms is not. It's political, at least according to the logic of the Canada Revenue Agency.

So, when is a charity being political? It's an increasingly perplexing question.

Ambulance fees a roadblock for many who need care

Some Canadians don't call an ambulance when they need one because they are worried about paying the fee, an investigation by CBC's Marketplace reveals.

And the life-saving service has left others with thousands of dollars in bills they can't afford.

Ambulance fees range from $45 in Ontario to more than $500 in parts of Manitoba. In Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, you could also be charged for being transferred by ambulance from one facility to another.

Health-care wait app launched by New Brunswick developers

A team of New Brunswick software developers has come up with a new free app to help Canadians find the quickest place to get health care.

WaitShare, now available at the Apple Store and Google Play, connects users with information provided by other users about wait times at local clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, said Christina Taylor, one of the developers.

Refugee health care case goes back to court

The Conservative government is continuing to violate a Federal Court ruling that affirmed the right of refugee claimants in Canada to access health care services, lawyers are set to argue Tuesday.

The Federal Court hearing in Toronto opens just the latest chapter in the ongoing legal debate over whether those awaiting a decision on their refugee claim ought to have all of their health care costs paid by the Canadian government.