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
  • Hand of nurse giving patient medication
    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.

  • Repenser le modèle des maisons de soins infirmiers
    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.

PRIVATE, FOR-PROFIT SOLUTIONS
TO FUNDING AND DELIVERY
HEALTH IS MORE THAN HEALTHCARE
  • Blood Transfusion
    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.

  • Groundhog Day
    Let’s not have Groundhog Day in Alberta’s public health care
    By Don Dick and Linda Woodhouse

    Is it Groundhog Day in Alberta? We Albertans seem doomed to wake every day to the same thorny and emotional debate: public health care vs. private health care. It’s a mug’s game but we appear as inexorably caught in it as the weatherman in the movie Groundhog Day, who realizes he is hopelessly condemned to spend the rest of his life in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing day after day after day.

  • Meili_Ontario_(edited)_000012351475Small
    How seriously do Ontario’s political parties take the health and wellbeing of Ontarians?
    By Ryan Meili

    We often hear that, in Canada, health is a provincial responsibility. This is understood as the provinces having autonomy over, and responsibility for, a large portion of the funding and delivery of health care services. But the influence of provincial policies on health outcomes goes far beyond doctors and hospitals, physiotherapists and pharmacies.

  • Couple looking at an ultrasound scan of their baby
    Dads important to baby's development
    By Nicole Letourneau and Gerald Giesbrecht

    It’s almost Father’s Day, a time when many of us reflect warmly on the role our fathers and grandfathers have played in our lives. It’s no secret that dads are important, and that their role as caregivers has, for many families, broadened in the last fifty years. But there’s one period of our development where dads tend to take a back seat — the first nine months, to be precise.

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.

  • Childhood dangers
    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.

  • 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.

SUSTAINABILITY WAITING FOR CARE
  • Améliorer notre système de santé
    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.

  • Wait times
    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
  • 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.

  • Medicine Bottle and Pills Under Spot Light Abstract.
    Canadians need to know more about the drugs we are taking
    By Roojin Habibi and Joel Lexchin

    Why is Health Canada only letting doctors and the public know part of the story about the safety and effectiveness of new pharmaceutical drugs? Inadequate information can be as dangerous as misinformation. Here’s how.

  • Holding baby_000002377078Small
    Postpartum depression is a family affair
    By Nicole Letourneau and Justin Joschko

    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 of it, many nurses and physicians routinely screen mothers for it, and articles in parenting magazines and major newspapers have been written about it.

  • Nicole_Latourneau_Stress_000007790448Small
    How toxic stress is hurting our children
    By Nicole Letourneau and Justin Joschko

    For most parents today, stress is a constant companion. Everyone’s heard of the dangers of high blood pressure, of chronic workaholics having heart attacks at forty, of harried professionals pouring themselves an extra glass of wine (or three) with dinner.

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.

  • 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.

  • Medicine spilling onto table from bottle into dollar sign shape
    David Dodge on why health care costs so much
    By Trudy Lieberman

    We know that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world. But beyond noting that dubious achievement, we seldom ask why. On my recent visit to Canada as a Fulbright scholar, I stopped by to pose that question to one of their leading health care experts, David Dodge, an economist who has served as federal deputy health minister and seven terms as governor of the Bank of Canada.

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