October 2015

Health & Safety

 Health Canada requires doctor to sign confidentiality agreement to see drug data

 Dr. Navindra Persaud has been fighting for four years to get access to thousands of pages of drug industry documents being held by Health Canada.  He finally received the material a few weeks ago, but now he's being prevented from revealing what he has discovered.  That's because Health Canada required him to sign a confidentiality agreement, and has threatened him with legal action if he breaks it.

 Attention to Health and Safety fuels small business growth: studies

 Small Business Week runs from Oct 18 – 24, 2015, and small business owners of all sizes are realizing that one of the simplest and most effective ways to manage risk and fuel growth is to invest in creating a healthy and safe workplace.

 Under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers with more than five workers are required to take measures to ensure a safe workplace. This includes developing and reviewing health and safety policies; communicating employer and employee responsibilities; having a health and safety representative or joint health and safety committee perform inspections and audit the health and safety program; identifying, controlling and informing workers of hazards; and providing training and equipment to enable employees to work safely at all times.

 Public health notice – Outbreak of Salmonella infections under investigation

 The Public Health Agency of Canada is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella infections in eight provinces. At this time, no source has been identified and the investigation is ongoing.  The risk to Canadians is low. Salmonella bacteria are found naturally in the intestines of animals, reptiles and birds. The bacteria are most-often transmitted to people when they eat contaminated foods. Contaminated foods often come from animal sources, like poultry, beef, milk or eggs, but can also include fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Illness can be avoided if safe food handling, preparation, and cooking practices are closely followed.

 Ontario awards prestigious health quality and safety medals

 Today, Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, handed out two Minister's Medals to Honour Excellence in Health Quality and Safety.  The medals are part of an annual recognition program that celebrates the efforts of Ontario's health care providers in improving care for Ontarians. This year, medals were awarded to one team and one individual.  The Virtual Critical Care Unit, winner of the Team Medal, is based at Health Sciences North in Greater Sudbury. The team received a medal for its trailblazing technology to connect 23 hospitals across northeastern Ontario.

 Infected worker at laboratory lacked safety training

 A recent report from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has revealed that a supervisor with the National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg was infected by one of the diseases that he was researching in 2012 – and that the employee had insufficient safety training at the time.

 The report – which has not been released publicly, although the National Post obtained a copy of it before breaking the story on Oct. 4 – was reportedly one of several that the PHAC prepared about lab workers who contract the diseases with which they experiment.

 What is organic and is it worth it?

 Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned with how their food is produced and demand for “organics” is rapidly growing. The Canadian organic market is valued at $3.7 billion per year in sales. Two-thirds of consumers in B.C. and more than three-quarters of Vancouverites are buying organic groceries weekly, making our province one of the strongest consumer markets for organics, according to the Canada Organic Trade Association.


Human Resources

 Public-private partnership fails at mental health-care facility: Union

 Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the many threats to worker safety at Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care — outlined in a Toronto Star story — is another example of how public-private partnerships saddle the government with inferior facilities, usually at a much greater cost to taxpayers.  "The Waypoint fiasco should not be viewed in isolation," said Thomas. "Work conditions at the Toronto South Detention Centre are just as bad. The incompetence seen in the design and construction of these facilities seriously threatens the health and safety of the workers."

 National News: This World Mental Health Day, ask yourself: Could you be a workplace bully?

 "Bullying at work creates a psychologically unsafe work environment filled with fear and anxiety, not just for the target – of whom the Canadian Mental Health Association finds nearly one in two (45 per cent) will suffer stress-related health problems as a result – but also for those around them, who are exposed to this toxic behaviour," Baynton says.

On World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), take a moment to consider what you can do to help stop bullying in the workplace – and if you, in fact, may be a bully.

 My male colleagues are being paid more, and I’m not sure where to turn

 I am a visible-minority female working in middle management at a major Canadian bank. Recently I have come to know about significant pay inequity between myself and my male peers, despite similar experience, the same role and level of expertise. I also have a higher degree of education.

 In our mid-year review, I raised the issue with my boss, who said he would look into it. Fast-forward two months. After not hearing anything, I followed up, and he cited budget issues and so on. One more month passed and nothing happened. Should I talk to human resources about this issue?

 Salary negotiations a difficult conversation for both parties

 Very few people look forward to a salary negotiation whether it be as part of a job offer or asking for a raise.   Some would say it is because it has to do with our sense of value, pride or the fact that some simply don't like talking about money. Others firmly believe if they do great work, fair pay will follow.

 Whether negotiating a job offer or a pay raise, research and preparation are important. (Free Images)  Many employers view this as a difficult conversation as well. So we have both parties negotiating in spite of themselves on what can be a very important issue to their relationship.

 BusinessView: New tool to bridge the employment gap for people with disabilities

 A new fall season means back to school and back to work for most people. Even though people with disabilities are graduating from our schools and post-secondary institutions at close to the same rates as the general population, they are two to three times more likely to be unemployed or out of the labour force.

 "Employers frequently overlook this increasingly skilled, stable and underutilized workforce available in their local communities, and business loses"," says Ruth Wright, Director, Human Resources Research, The Conference Board of Canada. "Organizations that are inclusive and accessible to people of all abilities perform better; it's good for their bottom line."



 Federal judge rules Health Minister jumped gun on Apotex

 Health Minister Rona Ambrose acted for an “improper purpose” when, during a political and media firestorm, she banned drug products from Canadian pharmaceutical giant Apotex’s two Indian facilities, a federal court judge has ruled.  The decision, handed down by Justice Michael Manson this week, said Ambrose ignored the company’s right to respond to the government’s concerns before the sweeping regulatory action was taken a year ago. The judge also quashed the ban and told the minister to take back her public statements related to the ban.

 Next in Harper’s war on science crosshairs: Health research

 Rooting around in a dumpster looking for treasure is unseemly and demeaning for anyone. Maybe more so when the dumpster diver happens to be a federal agricultural scientist who is trying to save some choice publications from being destroyed after a federal agricultural library in Lethbridge, Alberta is closed down. Seems pathetic, right?

 Pathos -- a quality evoking pity and sadness -- is the word that surfaces as Canadians see what's happening in Harper's War on Science. In the case of the Lethbridge library, the government said it isn't closing but "modernizing" by digitalizing services, and that it would keep "all materials of business value." But how can we know what research will be saved?

 Prof questions safety of HPV vaccine

 A Montreal social scientist and the federal agency that awarded her almost $300,000 to study the HPV vaccine are facing criticism after the professor condemned the vaccine and called for a moratorium on its use.  Concordia University's Genevieve Rail also said there is no proof that the human papillomavirus directly causes cervical cancer, though a German scientist was awarded the Nobel Prize five years ago for discovering the link.

 Canada’s nurses say, ‘Conservative Party flatlines on health platform,’ with the release of CFNU’s Party Performance Card

 Canada's Nurses have released a party performance card ranking the commitments to health care that each of the major federal political parties have made throughout the course of the election.

 Throughout polls early in this election, voters clearly identified that health care was a top concern. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) highlighted four key areas that needed to be addressed: a safe seniors' strategy, a national prescription drug program, committing to a publicly-funded health care system, and developing a health human resources plan.

 Cyberattacks to cost U.S. health systems US$305 billion over five years: Accenture

 Cyberattacks over the next five years will cost health systems in the United States US$305 billion in cumulative lifetime revenue, suggests a new report from Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company.

 Released on Wednesday, the report, titled The $300 billion attack: The revenue risk and human impact of healthcare provider cyber security inaction,estimates that one in 13 patients – roughly 25 million people – will have personal information, such as social security or financial records, stolen from technology systems over the next five years.

 Flu shots won’t be mandatory for health-care workers in Alberta

 Health officials say there are no plans to impose mandatory flu vaccinations on health-care workers in Alberta this year.

 During the 2014 - 2015 flu season, 64 per cent of Alberta Health Services (AHS) employees were vaccinated, including everyone from frontline workers to administrative staff.