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Category "Op-Ed"

15Sep

Julie Talbot and Julien Arsenault: Universities should reduce academic air travel

by admin

A recent article in the journal Science caused turbulence in academia.

In it, Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, calculated that she had travelled nearly 200,000 kilometres in 2017, mostly to attend conferences. That’s the equivalent to flying five times around the world.

That tally prompted her to question the environmental impact of her professional activities, and to reduce the distance she travelled by plane by 75 per cent the following year.

Although her case is extreme, Cobb is no exception. University researchers are often required to travel to conferences, meetings, committees or to conduct research. A survey we conducted among Université de Montréal professors determined that they travel an average of 33,000 kilometres per year in the course of their professional activities, mostly by air.

Post-doctoral fellows and graduate students also travel as part of their research and to present their results, at a rate of 13,600 kilometres and 5,900 kilometres per person, respectively.

A significant environmental impact

All these kilometres travelled for science leave their mark. Transport contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, which are largely responsible for climate change. Air transport alone contributes nearly two per cent of global annual emissions of carbon dioxide and emits many other pollutants that are harmful to both health and the environment. It is also one of the fastest growing sources of CO2 in the world.

Aviation emissions, for example, increased by more than 75 per cent between 1990 and 2012, and they continue to grow.

At the individual level, the average Canadian emits, through their consumption of goods and services, about 13 tonnes of CO2 per year. However, emissions resulting from the air transport of Université de Montréal professors alone averages 11 tonnes of CO2 annually per person. To stay within the Canadian average, researchers would therefore have to reduce emissions in other areas of their lives, including food, energy consumption and daily transportation to virtually zero — a mission that is almost impossible.

If we compile the CO2 generated by all research-related travel for the Université de Montréal, they are responsible for nearly 40 per cent of all the university’s CO2 emissions. That’s a calculation that takes into account energy consumption on campus, daily staff and student travel and the production of food sold on campus, among other emissions.

The Université de Montréal is not unique. Other universities, such as McGill University or the University of B.C., have done this exercise. The results vary, but one constant remains: research-related travel is frequent and responsible for the emission of a significant amount of CO2.

Why travel so much?

Researchers have several reasons for travelling, but the main reason is related to the presentation of research results: 67 per cent of the trips made by Université de Montréal respondents were to conferences or seminars, while 18 per cent were for research purposes. The rest were for meetings, committees or other gatherings.

These activities are valued by universities and granting agencies, which promote the international reach of research. However, this internationalization is not limited to researchers. Universities are increasingly seeking to recruit foreign students and promote international exchanges among their own students, which also has a significant environmental impact.

Cost-effective travel

The question remains: are all these trips scientifically profitable? The debate was launched earlier this year by UBC researchers, who assessed the scientific productivity of researchers based on the frequency of their air travel. The reasoning is simple: the more researchers travel, the more they expand their networks. The more they disseminate their research, the more successful they are.

The results are surprising: the number of trips made would have very little influence on the productivity of researchers. One hypothesis that could explain these results is that researchers who travel a lot would have less time to do their research and write articles for scientific journals.

Another finding: 10 per cent of the reported trips would have been easy to avoid, since they were trips of less than 24 hours that could have been replaced by video conference or whose distance did not justify air travel.

Are there any solutions?

Some researchers, such as Cobb, have opted for a clear commitment to reduce their travel. Several, in particular, climate experts, are signatories to the No Fly Climate Sci initiative, where they commit to travel less by air, among other things by limiting their attendance at international conferences.

Some institutions have also taken the lead. For example, the University of California at Los Angeles requires a contribution from all researchers travelling by air to offset CO2 emissions from their travel. Others, such as the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England, have established clear rules to promote remote encounters, use another mode of transport where possible and combine different professional activities within the same trip.

At the Université de Montréal, for the time being, there is no policy in place to reduce the environmental impacts of academic travel. Although several researchers interviewed wanted to reduced their emissions, they raised two issues: the difficulty of paying for carbon offsets from their research funds, due to granting agency rules that often do not allow this type of expense and the lack of accessibility to video conferencing systems.

Finally, it must be asked whether all researchers have the same responsibility or ability to reduce their emissions, which raises questions of equity.

For example, researchers from New Zealand or Australia have difficulty finding alternative means of transportation to international destinations. This is also the case for researchers from developing countries who benefit from presenting their results at European or North American conferences. Travel is also essential for researchers at the beginning of their careers who need to expand their network of contacts to secure permanent employment or for those whose research requires a presence in the field.

In short, the environmental impacts of academic travel are known. So are the solutions. It is now up to institutions to determine how to adapt their realities to these impacts and to researchers to adopt measures put in place.

Julie Talbot is an associate professor of geography at the Université de Montréal. Julien Arsenault a doctoral student of geography at the Université de Montréal. This op-ed was distributed by The Conversation.

 

13Sep

Ross Chilton: Untapped talent pool is key to British Columbia’s future

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Persephone Brewing Co. CEO Brian Smith in the brewery’s hop yard in Gibsons in 2016. The company grows hops for its beer and has several acres dedicated to eggs and vegetable crops as part of a social enterprise that employs people with developmental disabilities. (Simon Hayter/PNG FILES)


Simon Hayter / PNG

All British Columbians deserve a meaningful job. We all want to be happy and proud of our workplace culture. We want our employers to thrive and succeed.

That is why it is good news that more and more B.C. businesses are employing people with intellectual disabilities. September is Disability Employment Awareness Month and Community Living B.C. has found that in 2019 more than 5,000 adults living with intellectual disabilities are now reporting an income. That’s up from 2,200 in 2013, although it still represents only 25 per cent of people who Community Living B.C. serves. This is an issue we continue to address with our partners through our Community Action Employment Plan.

This progress is thanks to the hard work of many, including change-driven business champions such as those in the B.C. network called the President’s Group. It’s due to visionary service agencies like those in the B.C. Employment Network. And it’s because of individuals who live with disabilities who are changing perspectives about what is possible.

Positive, dramatic change — the kind that moves businesses and communities from good to great — happens when we become aware of the biases that hold us back. When we see what people, businesses and communities can do, rather than what they can’t. When we see possibilities, rather than limits.

Daynna is the mother of a son who lives with autism and receives services from Community Living B.C. Last year, she was thrilled when a B.C. software company saw the potential of her son. “Soon after, we got the call: Tyler had a job! A paying job!,” recalled Daynna. “This was so amazing for Tyler and our whole family. It was hard to hold back the tears.” Inclusive hiring has the power to transform the future for individuals and their families.

It can also have a dramatic change our workplaces. The facts show that employees who live with disabilities are dedicated, loyal and perform as well as their colleagues. They foster a learning culture, enrich staff connections and improve workforce skills. They help create better, happier workplaces.

And according to accessibleemployers.ca, inclusive workplaces are two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets, six times more likely to be innovative and six times more likely to effectively anticipate change. How can that be? It’s because companies that see possibilities are the companies that succeed.

Employment is a key element of the government’s poverty reduction strategy and there are resources to help B.C. companies make it happen. The government provides services and supports through Work BC and Community Living B.C. funded agencies for those looking for work and for employers seeking to hire inclusively. Programs like Ready Willing and Able and networks of leading B.C. businesses like the President’s Group, provide other resources and mentors.

This is important, because there are still large numbers of people who live with disabilities whose talents remain untapped. With clear evidence of their potential, and many helping hands, what’s holding us back? We have it within us to drive dramatic positive change for people, businesses and entire communities. It’s just a matter of seeing the possibilities.

Ross Chilton is CEO of Community Living B.C., the provincial Crown corporation that funds supports and services for adults with developmental disabilities, as well as individuals who have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and who also have significant difficulty doing things on their own.

2Sep

Dr. Muffy Greenaway: We need to make mental-health conversations part of daily school activity

by admin

The beginning of a new school year brings excitement and anticipation — the joy of spending more time with friends, seeing a favourite teacher, or sometimes just something to replace the boredom that comes with the end of summer.

For many students, however, the start of school fills them with dread and anxiety as school has been a place of discomfort and discontent, where anxiety surges, depression deepens and irritability is heightened.

They say misery loves company but this is not what I’ve seen or heard. When kids and teens are struggling with metal-health issues, the kids around them tend to distance themselves. They are left further disconnected when they most need their peers to lean in.

I have been working in the field of child and youth mental health for 15 years as a psychiatrist. I have sat with families in crisis during my days at B.C. Children’s Hospital, listening as the fear and heartbreak pours out of them because their child has mental-health issues that have brought them to the hospital. I have sat with hundreds of kids and teens in my practice at Three Story Clinic, listening to the quiet and desperate stories of youth struggling with anxiety, depression, addictions and social isolation.

I have worked with multiple youth-focused health authorities and agencies and have had many meaningful conversations with the principals, vice-principals and counsellors whose role in our children’s lives is to provide an education. Learning can’t happen when mental health is impaired; educators see this daily. We are all in agreement — the need is great and the resources are limited.

So, it was no surprise when I read the McCreary Centre Society 2018 B.C. Adolescent Health Survey. The results speak to what we all already know. Of 38,000 children and teens across 840 schools in 58 school districts who were polled, 15 per cent reported struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD or post-traumatic stress disorder. That is 5,700 students struggling enough to miss school days, pull back from friends and drop all activities.

What caught me off guard was the discussion around “stress.” An experience that we can all relate too, stress makes us tense, edgy, fatigued and weary. As a daily occurrence, it erodes our relationships with ourselves, family, friends and jobs.

According to the report, most students reported feeling stressed and about half feel that they manage their stress poorly. These students are either already struggling with mental-health challenges or are at very high risk of developing them. These are the students that our education and health-care systems need to reach — before crisis or disaster.

The provincial government took an enormous step forward this spring with the creation of A Pathway to Hope, to provide services and accessibility for children, youth and young adults struggling with mental health and addiction under the direction of Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy.

There are many schools and school districts elevating mental-health awareness through activities and programming and we applaud those. Still, many teenagers are lost and alone, unable to reach out and connect to get the help they need. Connection is the cornerstone for developing resiliency — a key protective factor for youth struggling daily with mental-health issues. It is through connection that they can become aware of what they are experiencing, including how to name and manage it and receive help.

When Adam’s Apples Foundation asked me to join its board, I was hesitant. My work was taking a big toll on me. So much need with so few resources and trying to see more children and families was beyond what was healthy for me. So I took a deep breath, ready to say no, but not before listening to what they had to say.

Adam’s Apples had developed a mental-health education program for the children and teens that the health and education systems struggle to help, based purely on the concept of connection as a way to inform, educate and teach.

What began in 2016 with a single bowl of apples strategically placed within a school to offer a healthy snack, quickly evolved to become a key gathering place for students to connect, socialize and converse. As simple as it may seem, the impact of one apple leading to one connection can be the turning point for a youth who is struggling.

From this seed has grown comprehensive programming that holds the Apple Program at its core, while expanding to a mental-health literacy program, developed with the University of B.C., designed to help students gain mental-health knowledge and peer support competencies.

Adam’s Apples Foundation was created to honour the legacy of Adam Hryhorchuk, who passed away from an accidental drug overdose on Sept. 20, 2013, at age 22. Adam had a very special quality: he was genuinely interested in every person he met and he valued people for whom they were — a quality he exhibited throughout his school years. Adam gave a hand-up to kids who weren’t in sync with the crowd. He understood how isolation could impact his peers. He made a difference.

Sadly, while Adam gave so much, he did not take enough for himself. From this tragedy came a deep desire to connect with youth, because as Adam so clearly demonstrated, every person has a story that needs to be heard, even if only for a few minutes a day.

Adam’s mother, Darcy Hibberd, started the foundation to bring her son’s effusive personality and nurturing nature to adolescents in need of guidance and support. Today, with a passionate and respected team of educators, healthcare professionals and business leaders, Adam’s Apples operates in 27 schools and community centres in Burnaby, Delta, Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver, with demand to expand the program, all of which is provided free-of-charge.

The mission of the Foundation — Connecting Youth One Conversation at a Time — is a simple concept and one we need to emphasize in our schools, homes and communities.

There are mental health days and weeks, but this must be a year-round effort — a daily conversation.

I cannot think of a more important purpose than investing in the mental wellness of our next generation. I have sat with hundreds of families in my office but though the efforts of Adam’s Apples, I have indirectly reached thousands.

Dr. Muffy Greenaway is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Three Story Clinic, a clinical instructor at the University of B.C. and a board member of Adam’s Apples Foundation.

6Aug

Susan Inman: Let’s stop ignoring the needs of adults with psychotic disorders

by admin


As someone who has always voted for the NDP, I am concerned about some of this government’s approaches to severe mental illnesses, writes the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia.


Getty Images / PNG

Joy MacPhail, in her recent opinion piece, makes clear how pleased she is with the new provincial plan to improve mental health and addiction services. She believes that this plan, called A Pathway to Hope, can help “improve the well-being of all citizens.”

As the mother of a daughter living with schizophrenia, I disagree. Many unmet needs of adults living with the most severe psychotic disorders are not addressed.

MacPhail focuses on the high rate of hospitalization as evidence of the failure of the current mental health system. It is disappointing that she doesn’t acknowledge the many people with untreated psychotic disorders whose suffering is very visible on the streets of cities and towns throughout the province. Lack of treatment for this population leads to homelessness, victimization, addictions and incarceration.

The article seems to argue that all mental illnesses arise from negative social factors. It is unclear if MacPhail knows that psychotic disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder cannot be prevented. It is also unclear if she knows about anosognosia, the brain-based inability of many people in psychosis to understand that they are ill. This symptom leads people to reject treatment when they most need it.

It is good that increased funding will probably be used to expand B.C.’s too few Early Psychosis Intervention programs. These time-limited programs, unlike much of the rest of the mental health system, are known for educating clients and their families about the illnesses they are living with. I have seen how people who receive adequate psycho-education have a much better chance of understanding, accepting and learning to manage their illnesses.

Most people with schizophrenia can have their psychotic symptoms alleviated by anti-psychotic medications. However, there is widespread and ongoing disability in this population because psychotic disorders often involve significant cognitive losses. B.C.’s many influential anti-psychiatry/anti-medication activists should learn that these losses often appear before the use of any medications.

These cognitive losses include difficulties with concentration, short term and working memory, problem solving, judgement and social skills. These problems can make many of the tasks of daily living, including remembering to take medications and attend medical appointments, very difficult.

All clients and families need, but currently do not have, the chance to learn about these cognitive losses. As well, clients deserve access to the evidence-based cognitive remediation programs that exist in many other countries.

A coalition of representatives from the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, B.C.’s Early Psychosis Intervention programs, the B.C. Psychosis Program and B.C. Psychosocial Rehabilitation put on a sold-out conference in 2017 on Bringing Cognitive Remediation to British Columbia. This group has gone on to submit several proposals for training staff in implementing evidence-based cognitive remediation programs. So far, this government has chosen not to provide necessary funding.

As someone who has always voted for the NDP, I am concerned about some of this government’s approaches to severe mental illnesses. The recent recommendations from the B.C. Ombudsperson, for example, will embed the Community Legal Assistance Society in hospitals to provide advice to all involuntary inpatients. This is an organization fighting to abolish access to involuntary treatments.

Currently, nurses and social workers inform involuntary patients about their rights and about ways to access review panels to ensure that people are not receiving unnecessary treatments. Patients will soon receive advice and legal assistance from an organization that publicly doubts the value of anti-psychotic medications.

Hopefully, the NDP can be persuaded to better meet the needs of people with the most severe mental illnesses. Rather than spending millions of dollars on lawyers, the right kinds of services for this disadvantaged population could be implemented.

A lot of money is about to be spent on various mental wellness programs. Some of these funds should be used to improve mental illness literacy programs. Educating the public about psychotic disorders can increase their ability to help people access and stay engaged in essential services.

Susan Inman was an English and drama teacher at Windermere Secondary School for 24 years. She has a daughter living with schizophrenia.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected]. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].

29Jul

Letters, July 30: Efforts to combat global warming drop in the bucket

by admin


Kira Lynne lives with chronic pain, along with millions of other Canadians.


Francis Georgian / PNG

In spite of the heightened public awareness of global warming and its climate-altering effects to date nothing significant has been done about it.

The City of Vancouver banned plastic straws, which is a farce as it might affect at most 0.0001 per cent of non-recyclable plastic in the system. Banning plastic bags is a good idea but I see it has been struck down by the courts.

The problem is that anything really significant affects someone’s sacred cow.

Banning plastic water bottles would be a really good idea since we all would be better off drinking tap water, but of course that won’t happen since most of the water-bottling business is controlled by large international companies like Coca-Cola who have a lot of economic and political power.

And how about air travel? It’s very polluting and most of it’s a luxury for the wealthy and not essential. Again a political and economic non-starter. Or cruise ships? Get the picture?

Our governments will go on mouthing platitudes and seeking placebo solutions until one day an environmental catastrophe will occur rendering all or a large part of the planet uninhabitable and then it will be too late.

I would like to be optimistic and believe that world leaders will suddenly become enlightened and work together to save the planet, but I see no sign of that happening.

Garth M. Evans, Vancouver

Chronic pain is indeed invisible

An invisible disability, such as chronic pain, is a harsh reality for many.

Kira Lynne is courageous to allow her photograph on the front page. In my view, it enhances awareness and I’m grateful. Many have been conditioned to believe that disabilities are visible. I didn’t see her pain. Did you? She presents as young, beautiful and filled with vitality.

When I look in the mirror I don’t see mine either, yet it’s a part of me right now and who I am goes with me everywhere. A seemingly innocuous sudden hit to the head in 2015 has changed the trajectory of my life. I’m unable to work, yet my rehabilitation forces me to go out each day subjecting myself to judgment and skepticism.

All I can say is that when I venture out, like Kira and others, I have so earned that walk in my neighbourhood, the weekend getaway, an afternoon matinee or lunch with a friend.

Debra Dolan, Vancouver

Bike lanes chaos-free after all

Thanks to The Vancouver Sun for the story, “Ten Years of Bike Lanes: Life goes on, chaos free.”

When the lanes were first conceived I can remember numerous naysayers and whiners complaining about gridlock, disruption and chaos that would follow, that were reinforced by dramatic headlines of doom. To read the self-criticism of The Sun on its past articles, now acknowledging things turned out pretty well, is a good reminder of that much of the negative slant we read today about our evolving city isn’t necessarily true.

It might also provide a good reminder to our journalists that feeding fear may sell newspapers but can be entirely misleading.

Let’s hope we remember this when we discuss new initiatives such as the New Vancouver Art Gallery, the removal of the viaducts or the need for more bike lanes.

Examples set by Gordon McIntyre in The Sun continue to inspire journalists to rise above fearmongering and report on actual data and research.

Lisa Turner, Vancouver

Police should target cyclists

So when can we expect the city and police to start focusing on getting cyclists to ride safely and follow the rules of the road?

I followed three bicyclists home last evening after the baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium. None had any lights. All I had of their presence was the occasional faint reflection in their rear reflector. They were moving much more quickly than I was driving because I couldn’t see them consistently. When approaching a stop sign, of course one went right through without stopping.

It’s surprising there aren’t more accidents and injuries with such careless behaviour.

Maureen Charron, Vancouver


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

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25Jul

Joy MacPhail: We need to fix social problems to improve mental health in B.C.

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Premier John Horgan, with Evan Sky makes a mental health program announcement at Mountainside Secondary School in North Vancouver, June 26, 2019. A Pathway To Hope lays out the government’s 10-year vision for mental health and addictions care.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction produced a new plan designed to improve mental health and addictions care, called A Pathway to Hope. The plan is a step in the right direction to improve the well-being of all citizens.

For far too long, problems with the current mental health system in British Columbia have remained unaddressed, leading to devastating consequences.

The ministry reported that B.C. has the country’s highest rate of hospitalization due to mental illness and substance use and that more than 1,500 people died from a drug overdose in 2018. The demand for services far exceeds what is available and there is a clear need for stronger and more accessible mental health programs. As minister of health in the mid-1990s, I acknowledge my share of responsibility for these outcomes. Recognizing these gaps in our current system is a crucial first step to moving forward with effective solutions.

The ministry fittingly recognizes that larger societal factors, such as colonialism and racism, have led to Indigenous peoples having disproportionally poorer mental health outcomes and being overrepresented in social, health and justice services. By engaging First Nations communities to design and deliver mental health services, the plan will begin to reduce the barriers to mental health care that Indigenous peoples currently experience.

Key to the ministry’s plan is the creation of seamless and integrated mental health services, an approach that would strengthen the opportunity for early intervention and ensure the accessibility and appropriateness of needed services. The plan is sound and requires sustained efforts and commitment to implement, but will ultimately ensure that mental health needs are met holistically, regardless of clients’ point of contact with services.

The ministry’s plan calls on organizations, businesses, and academic institutions to collaborate and create shared solutions. At Adler University, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, one of our main goals is to train mental health service providers to work with underserviced and vulnerable populations.

As part of our academic programs, our psychology and counselling students work at dozens of community agencies in the Lower Mainland, providing mental health services to marginalized people. The new Adler Community Health Services in Vancouver will make effective mental health care accessible to more people through our community partners. Additionally, our university is training the next generation of clinicians who can help fill the demand for quality mental health services, especially in underserved communities.

Improving mental health services is just one step we need to take if we truly want all British Columbians to have optimal physical and mental health. Mental health problems don’t develop in a vacuum. The health of individuals is directly related to the health of their communities. This idea was articulated by Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist and namesake of our university, in the late 1800s and it continues to resonate today.

With that in mind, we need to take a close look at what elements of our communities are contributing to various forms of deteriorating mental health and addictions. By working together to prevent systemic problems, such as trauma, homelessness and economic inequality, we can promote better mental health and wellness for everyone.

Joy MacPhail is chairwoman of the board of trustees of Adler University, which offers graduate-level programs in psychology, counselling and public policy, all with a focus on “positive social change” at campuses in Vancouver and Chicago. She is also a former long-serving NDP B.C. MLA and cabinet minister.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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16Jul

Scott Lear: How to exercise in the summer without heat exhaustion

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Replenishing fluids lost to sweat while exercising in hot weather is key to avoiding heat stroke.


Arlen Redekop / PNG

With a kilometre to go, triathlete Sarah True was pulled from the 2019 Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, Germany, due to heat exhaustion. She was in the lead by seven minutes after having swum, biked and run nearly 225 kilometres. The temperature was 38 degrees C.

With summer comes longer days and sunnier skies. It’s an opportunity to shed our winter clothes and get outside to run, cycle or play pick-up sports with friends. Indeed, summer is when we are most active.

The other thing that comes with summer is heat and humidity. As Europe and North America grapple with recurring summer heatwaves, we all must take care when being active.

When we exercise, our body’s core temperature increases. To combat this, we have a number of cooling methods. The main way our body cools itself is through the evaporation of sweat on our skin. For sweat to evaporate, it needs to absorb heat. That absorption of heat cools us down.

In addition to sweat, blood is diverted to our skin’s surface to cool and recirculate throughout our body. It’s the reason why many of us become flushed in the face when active.

How much each of these two methods contributes to cooling can vary from person to person. Some people are profuse sweaters while others turn red and hardly sweat at all.

The effectiveness of our body’s cooling also depends on ambient conditions. The drier the conditions, the more effective sweat is at cooling us. But in high humidity, the air is saturated with water vapour, causing our sweat to drip ineffectively off our body. In these situations, our body continues to produce more sweat in the hopes of cooling off.

Exercising in hot weather adds stress to our body. Diverting blood to our skin to cool means less blood (and oxygen) for working muscles.

Sweating also reduces the amount of water in our body and if this lost fluid is not replenished, blood volume goes down. This can lead to lower blood pressure and increased heart rate. At the very least, this results in a decrease in performance. At the extreme end, it can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as happened to True.

Symptoms can include exhaustion, fatigue, poor mental functioning (dizziness, confusion, irritability), nausea, vomiting and fainting. If severe heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can lead to long-term disability and even death.

Even though education and awareness has increased over the years, the prevalence of heat exhaustion may be on the rise. And with record high temperatures being broken year after year due to climate change, the environmental exposure and risk may continue to increase.

Those at greatest risk are the very young, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. During Québec’s heatwave in 2018, an estimated 70 deaths were attributed to the heat. Most of the deaths were in these high risk groups.

In addition, outdoor sports that involve wearing or carrying heavy equipment such as football pose an increased risk.

Six tips to avoid heat exhaustion

• Know the weather conditions beforehand.
• Wear sunscreen and light clothing.
• Drink fluids regularly.
• Avoid exercising at peak hours of heat, or exercise in an air-conditioned gym.
• If you’re travelling to a warmer climate, whether in the summer or winter, allow your body to get acclimatized by slowly increasing your activity.
• If you are completing an athletic event during the day and you usually train during the early morning or evening, you should also acclimatize your body to the midday heat.

Scott Lear, a professor of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, writes the weekly blog, Feeling Healthy with Dr. Scott Lear. This oped was distributed by The Conversation.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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28Jun

Chris Lalonde: Governments must find optimal regulatory balance with vaping

by admin


The increasing popularity of vaping among teens has many people concerned.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Across Canada, underage youth are legally restricted from purchasing alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and vapes. But according to recently released survey data, they are using them anyway.

The media headlines say it all. A recent report in the British Medical Journal shows that Canada has experienced a “massive,” “staggering,” and “whopping” increase in teen vaping. Among 16- to 19-year-olds, last-30-days vaping use increased 74 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

The provincial government and the Canadian Cancer Society used the data from the report to publicly demand that the federal government immediately introduce vaping regulations that would restrict nicotine content, device design and flavours. Their failure to do so, the B.C. government implied, would result in B.C. introducing more restrictive provincial regulations.

What is not mentioned is that both federal and provincial government vaping legislation already exists that restricts sales to anyone under the age of 18, promotion, display advertising and communication, and limits features like certain flavours and designs thought to be appealing to youth. Is this single set of data in the BMJ report enough to justify the hasty introduction of more draconian regulatory measures that could simultaneously reduce the appeal of these products to adult smokers that rely on vaping to reduce or quit smoking?

What’s more concerning is that the same report shows that teen cigarette smoking in the past 30 days increased by 45 per cent. The use of alcohol by teens in the past 12 months actually decreased by three per cent, but cannabis use went up by 19 per cent.

The important question is which of these numbers should we be worried about? Let’s look a little closer at the actual data.

According to the report, 60 per cent of youth used alcohol and 27 per cent used cannabis in the past 12 months, 16 per cent smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, and 15 per cent vaped.

Cigarette smoking and drinking carry far greater health risks than vaping or cannabis. But apparently, we should be especially alarmed by teen vaping.

If, as health authorities all agree, vaping is safer — not safe, but safer — than smoking cigarettes, then, perhaps, we should think clearly about what we hope to accomplish by battling teen vaping by introducing provincial regulations that go even further than regulations for smoking or drinking.

If what we hope is that teens who already smoke might be tempted to switch to vaping, then the report contains some good news. Among current teen smokers, 44 per cent are also vaping. Even “experimental smokers” are also vaping (29 per cent). Are they on their way to fully switching from cigarettes to vaping (likely, and a good thing), or from dual-use to just smoking (unlikely, and a bad thing)?

But what about teens who have never smoked? Are they being lured into a lifetime of addiction by vaping? Here, at least, the news is rather good from a public-health perspective.

It turns out teens are not very keen on vaping or smoking. Most of them have never vaped, and among those who have tried it (20 per cent), just three per cent have vaped in the past week and only 0.6 per cent vaped on more than 15 of the last 30 days. That’s just 14 teens out of the 2,441 surveyed.

The report shows that the number of teens who never smoked surveyed in 2017, just five, skyrocketed to 14 in 2018. But wait, that’s up from 0.2 per cent to 0.6 per cent — a mind-numbing 200-per-cent increase!

Let’s get serious. Perhaps we should worry more about the 2,227 teens who used alcohol or the 1,425 who smoked cigarettes.

Chris Lalonde is a University of Victoria psychology professor and the academic research adviser for Rights for Vapers, a vaping advocates organization dedicated to the advancement of Canadian-based research on vaping.


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31May

Pat Carney: Helping people with disabilities isn’t just kind — it’s the law

by admin


Seniors using walkers and others struggling with disabilities need others, including policy makers, to help them and be throughtful about their unique needs. (Brian Thompson/POSTMEDIA FILES)


Brian Thompson / Brian Thompson/The Expositor

Recently, I have been using a walker to avoid falling. It’s a different world out there when you use a walker, canes or other mobility devices.

In my mind and dreams I am still agile, moving swiftly and without thought. In reality, I have slowed to a walk. It is dawning on me that limits to my mobility are now my world, a scary one, and I must get used to it. Falls are a leading cause of death and disability among Canadian seniors and are increasing dramatically as baby boomers age.

I am sharing my new world because the federal government has proclaimed May 27 — June 2 as National AccessAbility week, to increase awareness of barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating in society.

The federal Accessible Canada Act is scheduled to become law before Parliament rises in June, requiring public and federally regulated private companies to make their services accessible for Canadians with disabilities. Provinces should follow.

Barriers involve buildings, technology and even attitudes. Here are some I encounter.

Pedestrian crossings are terrifying as warning lights count down the time. Can I make it across?

Sidewalks are minefields of cracks and raised cement slabs. That tiny slope I once crossed in one stride has become a ski hill.

Curbs separating sidewalks from streets seem insurmountable. My Vancouver condo’s fire door is a struggle to open when I cart groceries. So are most store doors.

Many public events effectively exclude the disabled. I didn’t attend a recent Walrus magazine lecture on “Inclusion,” featuring advocate Rick Hansen, because the outside parking lot organizers directed me to was too far away to manage with my walker.

Peoples’ attitudes can be obstacles for the disabled. Struggling to lift my walker to the sidewalk from a rain-soaked gutter, I called for help to a young woman approaching me. “I can’t stop,” she answered as she hurried by. “I am going to a job interview.” Not in customer service, I hope.

A woman behind me in a café line up demanded: “Please move over” as I tottered on my urban poles on an inclined entry. As if I could.

Able-bodied people use handicapped bathrooms. They have a choice. We don’t.

One B.C. Ferries deckhand threatened to leave me ashore at the terminal when I asked to park on the upper deck alongside a B.C. Ferries van, refusing to go into the hold under a lowered ramp, afraid I could drown in the dark if the elevators broke down in an emergency.

Ferries are a challenge. Two of three elevators were not working on a recent voyage. On the return, I was parked by the broken midship elevator, forced to thread my walker through the packed cars, hoping the aft elevator worked. Another passenger cried because she couldn’t get her mother’s wheelchair out of their car.

Still, I am amazed at the kindness of people who volunteer to stow my walker into my car and stop to open doors.

The Shoppers Drug salesperson who picked up a cosmetic item her store didn’t stock and delivered it to my door on her day off.

Our condo janitor, who checks the swimming pool to ensure I am OK. The storekeeper who came to help me out of that soggy gutter. A ferry deckhand who took my keys and parked my car in a safe place.

Friends who pick up groceries and volunteer to drive me to events. HandiDART buses with their helpful drivers. Events that advertise accessibility options. People who are aware that removing barriers enable all Canadians to participate in society.

People who are AccessAbility challenged must speak up. We have the right to “reasonable accommodation” under human-rights laws. We are still ourselves, the people we always were. Others, be aware. Think how you would walk in our shoes. Chances are you will.

Pat Carney, author and retired federal politician, is an arthritis research advocate and lives on Saturna Island.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected] The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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28Dec

Navid Karimi: What most Canadians don’t know about the Canada Health Act, but should

by admin


Universality is a foundational concept of our national health plan.


Ted Rhodes / Calgary Herald

When the Canada Health Act was passed in 1984 by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Health Minister Monique Begin, it contained ambiguities that to this day many Canadians are not aware of and believe the principles it held were the perfect alternative to their costly healthcare.

Canadians don’t know that medical clinics — as well as doctor’s practices — are private businesses, which means doctors can choose when and where they want to work and can simply bill their provincial government for their services they have provided.

According to the Sec. 8 of the act: “The health care insurance plan must be administered by a public authority,” but this puts the province at full control and prevents competition. Although Sec. 8 states this plan ought to be on a non-profit basis, the provinces set their own standards.

Further, Sec. 9 of the act does not oversee which services the provinces will insure and which ones they will not. This eventually makes health care providers charge people for the services that are not covered by their provinces.

Additionally, Sec. 10 of the act states universality and 100 per cent coverage by “the plan,” but again “the plan” is set up by the provinces at their own discretion. The question here is: Was “the plan” supposed to protect the people or merely the health care providers?

Also, this section indicates “the insurance plan of a province must entitle 100 per cent of the insured persons,” but what about those who are not insured or those who can’t get insured? This perhaps leaves hundreds of thousands without any coverage.

Moreover, Sec. 11.a indicates a waiting period of three months for “minimum period of residence in the province,” which disables new immigrants and returning Canadians from universal health care, and sadly enough, to this day, Ontario, B.C and Quebec implement it.

In addition, Canadians planning on travelling abroad should take a look at Sec. 11.c. It indicates if “the health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services.”

This means if any Canadian who gets injured in the U.S., for example, where hospital and doctor fees are outrageous compared to Canada, they are literally on their own. This clearly undermines the “portability” claim of the act and requires immediate action by the federal government.

Lastly, under the “accessibility” section of the act, reasonable access is not clearly defined, which is exactly why those living in the north or far from cities have less access to health clinics or hospitals.

According to the Health Canada statistics released in 2015, nearly five million Canadians, with a national average of 16.8 per cent (20.8 per cent of Aboriginals and 16.1 per cent of non-Aboriginals), did not have a primary care provider. Again, this is conceivably due to inaccessibility to health care providers.

Health Canada statistics released in 2016 showed an estimate of 90 per cent of Canadians with major chronic conditions report taking prescription drugs that are not covered (other than those provided in hospitals) by a universal insurance plan.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2010, out-of-pocket spending made up 34 per cent of private expenditures on prescription drugs, and in 2011, Canadian households spent an average of $476 out-of-pocket on prescription drugs.

This is exactly why Dr. Daniel Martin, a physician in Toronto, advocates for bringing prescription drugs under medicare. If our health act is universal, then why has it failed to acknowledge this concept?

Navid Karimi is a Master’s student and soon to be a PhD student in experimental medicine at the University of British Columbia.


Letters to the editor should be sent to [email protected]. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].


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