Our Commentaries

Our Commentaries

Our expert advisors have written opinion pieces and health articles on important health policy topics, published in leading media outlets across the country. We are making these commentaries and articles available to everyone, free of charge, with a Creative Commons license, so that you may use them in your publication or on your website. See also our Commentaries in French. Download our free eBooks — a compendium of our commentaries: Making Evidence Matter in Canadian Health Policy, and Canadian Health Policy in the News: Why Evidence Matters.

Evidence is important to us, and we are committed to getting the evidence right — even when it can be interpreted in a number of ways. If you feel we have not represented the evidence accurately or fairly in these opinion pieces, please let us know. Browse our Commentaries by category, below, or view them all here.

AGING POPULATION AND
ITS POTENTIAL IMPACT
HEALTHCARE COSTS AND SPENDING
  • Why we need to rethink the nursing home model
    Why we need to rethink the nursing home model
    By Verena Menec

    How many nursing beds are needed in Canada to care for frail, elderly people with high care needs? That’s a question that policy makers across the country are grappling with, given the aging population and especially the rapidly growing number of very elderly people over the age of 85.

  • Drugging seniors at nursing homes is not a solution for funding shortfalls
    Drugging seniors at nursing homes is not a solution for funding shortfalls
    By Nicole F. Bernier

    Those living in a regulated nursing home are likely in the frailest condition of their lives, and approaching the end of life. The individual reasons for entering a nursing home are many, but commonly, residents require intense personal care for an indefinite period of time.

PRIVATE, FOR-PROFIT SOLUTIONS
TO FUNDING AND DELIVERY
HEALTH IS MORE THAN HEALTHCARE
  • Why Canadian medicare should neither ‘go Dutch’ or ‘to the dogs’
    Why Canadian medicare should neither ‘go Dutch’ or ‘to the dogs’
    By Ryan Meili

    First was Sarah Boston’s new book, Lucky Dog, in which she details her personal experience with thyroid cancer and navigating the Canadian health system. Boston, a veterinary oncologist, claims that Canadian dogs often have better access to health care than their human counterparts.

  • Cash for blood products a flawed policy
    Cash for blood products a flawed policy
    By Ryan Meili and Monika Dutt

    In the early 1980s, over 2000 Canadians who received blood transfusions were infected with HIV and as many as 30,000 contracted Hepatitis C. This tragic scandal, and the Krever inquiry that followed, resulted in the overhaul of our blood donation system to ensure the safety of any blood products. This made Canada one of the safest countries for blood transfusion in the world.

  • Pourquoi nos gouvernements doivent s’attaquer dès maintenant à la pauvreté
    Why our governments need to address poverty now
    By John Millar

    Canadians might be surprised to learn that 86 families now hold more wealth than the poorest 11.4 million Canadians. Is this a Canada to be proud of? Hardly. According to many studies, the Canadian poverty rate remains high.

  • Just how many servings of fruits and vegetables should we eat a day?
    Just how many servings of fruits and vegetables should we eat a day?
    By James McCormack

    Many organizations cook up recommendations for the number of fruit and vegetable servings you should eat every day. Well known examples include Canada’s Food Guide which says you need roughly 7-10 servings, the American Heart Association which recommends 8-10 and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests somewhere between five and 13 servings of fruit and vegetables

PATIENT FINANCING OF HEALTHCARE
(THE PATIENT PAYS)
MORE CARE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
  • STABILE_Two-tiered system_000015594708Small
    What problem do we believe private health insurance is going to fix?
    By Mark Stabile

    Canada is about to face its second court challenge over restrictions on private health insurance when Dr. Brian Day’s case appears before the courts in September 2014. It is true that there are examples of jurisdictions that value universal health insurance coverage and also allow private insurance — the UK and Sweden would be two examples.

  • LeeFordJones_Eyesight_000001230998Small
    A vision for kids' eye tests
    By Elizabeth Lee Ford Jones

    When I was five years old, I dropped out of kindergarten. The teacher used to get cross with me for not doing things correctly, such as passing the scissors, handles first, after a demonstration of how to do so at circle time, and I couldn’t handle the stress.

  • Les médicaments aident-ils les enfants ayant un trouble d'hyperactivité avec déficit de l'attention, ou leur nuisent-ils ?
    Are medications helping or hurting children with ADHD?
    By Janet Currie and Mark Stabile

    Over the past twenty years, mental disabilities have overtaken physical disabilities as the leading cause of activity limitations in children. Today, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is three times more likely than asthma to be contributing to childhood disability in the United States.

  • Most medications prescribed to children have not been adequately studied
    Most medications prescribed to children have not been adequately studied
    By Martin Offringa and Terry P. Klassen

    The development of new therapies has provided our health care system with enormous advances, such as insulin for diabetes, antibiotics for infections or chemotherapy for many cancers. Yet these therapies may also cause potential harm, even death, so the benefits have to be carefully weighed against the risks.

SUSTAINABILITY WAITING FOR CARE
  • Why can’t we fix health care? Blame self-interest
    Why can’t we fix health care? Blame self-interest
    By Harvey Lazar

    Almost continuously since the second half of the 1990s, Canadians have pointed to health care as their largest national concern and the issue that should receive the greatest attention from Canada’s leaders. Polls taken over the last decade or so have found that health care is typically the highest priority among voters.

  • mcmurtry_Medicare_000032115436Small
    Why our health system works for Canada
    By Robert McMurtry

    In the past 18 months I have required two major, but unrelated surgeries, experiencing first hand Ontario’s version of Medicare. The two interventions necessitated down-time and an enforced idleness for reflection on life and what it means to be Canadian. I feel blessed.

  • Report card on wait times in Canada omits important developments
    Report card on wait times in Canada omits important developments
    By Don Dick and Linda Woodhouse

    Canadians might have been inclined to take a sedative for an anxiety attack after reading about the Wait Time Alliance’s (WTA) 2014 report card on waits for medical care in Canada. The WTA gives Canada a failing grade on the structural changes it says are needed to have the timely access to care seen in other countries.

  • inpatient bed in hospital
    When more beds aren’t enough
    By Trafford Crump and Erik Hellsten

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

PHARMACEUTICAL POLICY MENTAL HEALTH
  • Enjoy some digital family time together
    Enjoy some digital family time together
    By Nicole Letourneau and Justin Joschko

    We live in a digital age. Technology has become an integral part of how we see, learn about, and interact with the world. From computers at the office, to televisions at home, to smartphones on the bus or in the grocery line, many of us spend over half of our waking lives in front of a screen.

  • Why you can’t see a psychiatrist
    Why you can’t see a psychiatrist
    By Paul Kurdyak and David Goldbloom

    We are talking openly about mental illnesses and addictions now more than ever – and that’s a good thing. Efforts to address the stigma associated with mental illnesses have made it easier for people who have been suffering in silence to seek help.

OBESITY INTERNATIONAL HEALTH SYSTEMS
  • Sharma_Pay as you weigh_Apr_13_11515696
    Pay as you weigh an unfair pricing strategy
    By Arya Sharma

    This week the wires were active with suggestions that people with obesity pay more for airline travel. This discussion was prompted by a Samoan airline announcing that they would begin charging passengers by the pound.

  • Millar__obesity action Feb_2013_5106319
    It’s time for government action on obesity
    By John Millar

    You’ve heard it already: obesity is epidemic in Canada and is contributing to an increased prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic conditions.

  • Pourquoi le Canada devrait éviter de faire concurrence aux États-Unis pour le pire système de santé de tous les pays développés
    Why Canada shouldn’t compete with the U.S. for the worst performing health system in the developed world
    By Colleen Flood

    The latest Commonwealth Study ranked Canada’s health care system a dismal second to last in a list of eleven major industrialized countries. We had the dubious distinction of beating out only the Americans. This latest poor result is already being used by those bent on further privatizing health care.

  • Stethoscope on American Flag with Selective Focus.
    U.S., Canadian health care systems share some challenges
    By Trudy Lieberman

    Both Canada and the United States are historically and practically steeped in fee-for-service medicine, and much of the power to control prices rests in the hands of the medical establishment. While provincial governments have periodic negotiations with medical and hospital groups, and there are global budgets for hospitals that try to constrain costs, the system is relatively expensive.

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