Common Diseases in Canada
Although Canada is a country known to have affordable healthcare, it is still prone to its list of common diseases and healthcare problems. In a study run in 2014, the life expectancy at birth was about 81.67 years.  This life expectancy is much higher when compared to the United States rate of about 79.56 years.

This difference gets influenced by the fact that Canada spends about $6,299 per person on healthcare compared to the U.S., where each individual spends a different amount of money on health care. There are projections that Canada would spend about $228.1 billion in total for 2016, which is a 2.7% increase from 2015.

According to the world atlas in March 2017, these common diseases in Canada were some of the nation’s leading causes of death in 2012:

  • Malignant neoplasms (cancer)
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Influenza and pneumonia
  • Kidney Diseases

With cancer as the number one cause of death, heart disease is the second most common leading cause of death in Canada. Heart diseases claimed more than 48,000 lives in 2012. On top of this, an estimated 2.4 million Canadians (over the age of 20) live with heart disease.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal year, one in ten deaths were attributed to Diabetes, another of the more common diseases in Canada. In addition, people living with diabetes are more likely to be hospitalized with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.

While there is a focus on the leading causes of death in Canada, other common diseases and disorders have seen a rise in Canada as well. Some examples include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Alzheimer’s disease, HIV & AIDS and mental illnesses such as depression.

Autism is now the fastest-growing and most commonly diagnosed neurological disorder in Canada. The prevalence of ASD has increased over 100% in the last ten years, according to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.

In regards to the healthcare system, however, there are varying opinions. While some feel that Canada has the best healthcare system as far as affordable care goes, others feel as though the system is an unmitigated disaster, with people waiting to die due to the time that it may take to receive the care necessary to deal with their illnesses.

The Canadian healthcare system is complex, and as more expenditures result in better health outcomes, it is clear that there is still much to do in order to further reduce the presence of these common diseases in Canada.

Stefanie Podosek

Photo: Google

Canada's Poverty Rate
Although Canada stands as one of the world’s wealthiest nations, with above-average health care and education systems and a strong government, there is one deficit – its unbelievably high poverty rate. In fact, it was estimated in 2009 that 1 in 10 Canadians lived below the poverty line and half of Canadians were subsisting on less than $25,400. This is substantially less than a typical comfortable wage, which is $50,000. For a nation with a GDP of $1.674 trillion, the 17th best in the world, this number is startling. Considering Canada’s wealth, how can they use their financial situation in order to improve the lives of the nation’s poor?

There is no simple solution that can launch the impoverished into a better financial situation. Positive programs must be introduced in order to build a community that is focused on upward mobility and even then the process can be difficult. However, there are some proven methods to help decrease the homeless population and feed citizens who are hungry. The most important avenue towards lowering Canada’s poverty rate is through government assistance programs. As of 2014, Canada spent 15 % of its federal budget on welfare programs that include disability, housing, education, family and pension benefits.

Government aid in Canada is split into two categories: social security programs and social and welfare services. The first, social security, is used as a generic term referring to many different programs from health and education to family assistance, unemployment and old-age benefits. Old age social security benefits are especially helpful in Canada. The country’s Public Pensions System has three efficient components that ensure elderly citizens do not suffer in poverty. The first, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), is a compulsory and earnings-related program that provides income for retired and disabled workers and survivors. This is a very similar system to the United States’ Social Security program. However, the other two components of the Public Pensions system go a step further. Old Age Security (OAS) is nearly universal and is financed from general revenues and paid to almost every Canadian over the age of 65. This provides an extra step to make retirement more comfortable than the income supplied through the CPP.

Finally, the last component of the Public Pensions System tackles poverty head-on. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is a benefit program that pays non-taxable income to low and moderate-income citizens over the age of 65. This guaranteed annual income is vital to keeping the elderly population above the poverty line, and Canada’s poverty rate relatively manageable. However, it could also be useful for the rest of Canada’s working population in the low to moderate-income bracket. Since this program is not financed by tax revenue, it would not hurt the rest of the population, and it would be a way for state and local government to use their revenue to truly help the citizens who are in need. This program only finances workers and retired former workers, so there would also be an incentive for Canadian citizens to work, rather than live off of government welfare.

While these social security programs provide benefits for all and are helpful at helping Canadians rise above the poverty line, the government’s social welfare or “personal” services are also available. These services operate under the assumption that, in order to ensure that Canada’s poverty rate continues to stay low, communities need to invest in their fellow citizens. Community-based services include daycare, home-delivered meals and even counseling. Through these programs, the government has developed the tools necessary to lower the poverty rate and keep its citizens happy and healthy. From healthcare to unemployment benefits, there are resources in place for Canadians at any time of their lives.

While Canada’s poverty rate is still relatively high, there is room for positive growth. If the government continues to invest in its citizens and Canadians invest in each other, there is a great chance that the poverty rate will continue to drop, and Canada will become an example for the rest of the world.

Rachael Blandau

Photo: Google

Feminist Foreign PolicyAccording to its website, the Swedish government gives gender equality high priority when it comes to foreign aid. Swedish leaders believe fighting for women’s rights is an essential step in establishing a secure and sustainable world. Consequently, they have launched a feminist foreign policy action plan to remove obstacles for women and girls in developing countries.

Since 2015, the nation has revisited and revitalized the initiative regularly. Goals for 2017 focus on increasing rights for female migrants and refugees; creating economic freedom for women via legislation; reducing violence against women; capitalizing on women’s potential to suppress conflict and encouraging sexual and reproductive rights.

A statement on the Government Offices of Sweden’s website details plans to service these goals. Leaders plan to allocate funds through relevant stakeholders, who will utilize aid to combat human rights abuses, endorse women’s financial and judicial empowerment and enact laws that provide women the same rights that men have.

Funds will also benefit initiatives to break down cultural associations between masculinity and violence, encouraging men to act as peacemakers in their homes and communities, as well as bolster movements to provide open access to contraceptives.

Canada has recently adopted a similar feminist foreign policy plan. Like Sweden, Canada recognizes that significant improvements in global poverty over the past few decades have not provided equal benefit to both men and women. To foster equal opportunities, Canada will strategically invest foreign aid in efforts seeking to improve women’s access to resources that can raise them from poverty.

A statement on the Government of Canada website acknowledges the challenges for women in developing countries. The difficulty lies in intersections of deeply-rooted inequality, conflict and consequences of climate change. The statement also highlights that with enough support, women can better help their families and communities.

Human dignity, security, climate action and inclusive governance comprise the core values of Canada’s plan. Their ultimate goal is to reduce poverty and promote economic advancement by empowering women to participate readily in politics, the workforce and their communities.

Canada’s statement also includes plans to involve men and boys by disputing the norms that reinforce gender-based injustice. They also provide an intersectional scope that includes the interests of people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, identities and abilities.

While timeworn power structures cause disproportionate struggles for destitute women and girls, leaders around the globe are eager to eradicate the imbalance. Feminist foreign policy is an essential step toward this goal.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Flickr

As of 2015, Canadians have a life expectancy of 82 years. However, the nation still struggles with various diseases. Here are the five most common diseases in Canada:

Cancer (Malignant neoplasms)

Cancer is currently one of the top diseases in Canada. In 2013, the latest available year for such information, Statistic Canada’s website reported that cancer was responsible for 75,112 deaths for both men and women. Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer for Canadians. According to the World Atlas, this is due to Canadians’ high tobacco/alcohol use and high-fat diets (which also increase the likelihood of developing pancreatic cancer).

On June 20, the Canadian Cancer Society reported that nearly 50 percent of Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime. The report goes on to say that, “excluding non-melanoma skin cancer,” approximately 206,200 Canadians are expected to face a cancer diagnosis.

Heart Disease

Heart disease killed 49,891 Canadians in 2013. In addition to poor diet, little exercise and the popularity of consuming tobacco, income is also a factor. On a scale from 0-10 percent, lower-income Canadians were 4.9 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease than those making the most income.

Stroke (Cerebrovascular diseases)

In 2013, strokes also claimed 13,400 Canadian lives. Strokes are caused by an inconsistent blood flow to the brain. A large amount of sodium in instant meals and fast food brings about hypertension, high blood pressure and, eventually, a stroke. Due to the average Canadian’s diet, this explains why strokes are one of the top diseases in Canada.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (CLRDs)

CLRDs caused 11,976 deaths in 2013. These diseases restrict the flow of oxygen to the lungs (asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, etc.). Bad air quality and smoking leads to the development of some CLRDs.

Diabetes (Diabetes mellitus)

Finally, diabetes brings up the rear in the list of top diseases in Canada. It caused 7,045 deaths in 2013 alone. Consuming a large amount of sugar from sodas, sugary beverages and various prepackaged foods can lead to diabetes. Income also heavily influences this disease. Using the same 0-10 percent scale from earlier, those who belong to lower-income groups were found to be 5.1 percent more likely to be living with diabetes than those in the highest income bracket.

Considering all of these factors, there are some steps Canadians can take to prevent developing some of these detrimental diseases. Universal health care and private clinics provide convenient, government-funded medical help. In fact, the country’s healthcare system updates the wait times one should expect if they need to visit any health care facility. However, lifestyle changes are also necessary to treat and prevent these diseases.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr

The 33rd annual World Partnership Walk will be held again this summer in 10 different cities around Canada to help raise money for assistance in the ongoing fight to end global poverty.

All of the money raised during these walks supports Aga Khan Foundation Canada programs that assist in raising people in Africa and Asia out of poverty. The program’s mission is to create “strong, vibrant communities able to lead their own development.”

The Aga Khan Foundation Canada is an international development organization that works to increase access to quality healthcare, education and food security and strives to build stronger communities in Africa and Asia.

The walk was started in Vancouver in 1985 by a group of women who had recently returned from Africa and Asia and wanted to devise a plan to give back to those communities. They convinced 1,000 other Canadians to join them that year and raised $55,000. Since then, this annual event has raised more than $100 million.

The World Partnership Walk website allows each individual to help in whatever way they can and that their schedule allows. Individuals and teams can walk in any of the cities participating — from Toronto to Vancouver — volunteer to work at an event or simply donate.

So far, more than $700,000 has been raised, and the first walk does not start until May 28th. The goal for this year’s walks is set at $8 million. Reaching this amount would be both a huge accomplishment and investment in the global poverty reduction initiative.

Below is the list of cities who are participating this year and the location and dates of their walks:

Montreal – May 28th, Ahuntsic Park at 11 a.m.

Vancouver – May 28th, Stanley Park at 10 a.m.

Victoria – May 28th, the University of Victoria at 10 a.m.

Toronto – May 28th, David Pecaut Square at 10 a.m.

Regina – May 28th, Wascana Park at 10 a.m.

Edmonton – June 4th, Legislature Grounds at 10:30 a.m.

Ottawa – June 4th, City Hall at 11 a.m.

Calgary – June 4th, Prince’s Island Park at 9:45 a.m.

Kitchener-Waterloo – June 4th, Waterloo Public Square at 10 a.m.

London – June 4th, Victoria Park at 11 a.m.

Dustin Jayroe

Photo: Flickr

The drinking water in Canada is generally of excellent quality. The risks to the drinking water supply are minimal. However, the minerals, silt, vegetation, fertilizers and agricultural run-off in the water may pose some health risks.

Canada has a multi-barrier approach to safe drinking water which serves as a guideline for every drinking water system and is used to maintain water quality.

The federal government plays the most important role in scientific research monitoring and leadership on the development of guidelines for water quality in Canada. Seventy-five percent of Canadians are serviced by municipal sewer systems and the remaining 25 percent by septic disposal systems. Despite the best efforts of suppliers, municipal water supplies can sometimes become contaminated and in these cases, precautionary measures such as boiling water before consumption is advised.

Municipal water waste discharges were one of the largest sources of pollution to the water quality in Canada in 2006 and generated 84 percent of the water effluents reported to the National Pollutant Release Inventory.

The water quality in Canada earns an ‘A’ grade for water quality and ranks 4th out of 17 peer OECD countries. Water quality in Canada is mostly affected by industrial effluent, agricultural runoff and municipal sewage pollution.

Sewage treatment continues to improve as more municipalities upgrade their treatment facilities and there has been an increase in the frequency and extent to which drinking water guidelines for nitrate have been exceeded in groundwater across the country.

Data collected from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s water quality index reports that from 2007 to 2009, the freshwater quality was rated marginally fair at 41 percent of the water stations, good at 33 percent of the stations and excellent at 10 percent of the stations, with only 16 percent rated poor.

The quality of water in Canada is the best it has ever been and is much better today than it was 30 years ago.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

 Poverty in Canada

As a wealthy country with an abundance of natural resources, it may come as a shock that Canada suffers greatly from poverty. Women and children are the two major groups affected by poverty in Canada, as a result of unemployment and other barriers that stand in the way of financial stability.

Poverty in Canada Facts

    1. According to the national report “Let’s End Child Poverty for Good,” the rate of child poverty in Canada increased from 15.8% in 1989 to 19% in 2013. Campaign 2000, a nonpartisan network of 120 organizations against child and family poverty, works with the federal government on the Canada Child Benefit, which will hopefully reduce child poverty by 50% in the next few years.
    2. Child poverty rates are nearly double for indigenous children and new immigrant families, at 40%.
    3. One in seven Canadian children resides in a homeless shelter, which are environments that can lead to higher rates of mental and physical health issues.
    4. Compared to other developed countries, Canada’s poverty rate is higher than most, ranking 23 out of 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
    5. More than 1.5 million women live on a low income, and 21 percent of single mothers raise their children in poverty. The Canadian Women’s Foundation works to advance women’s conditions by finding ways out of poverty and helping them build a solid foundation that includes stable housing, childcare and employment skills.
    6. The child poverty rate is highest in Toronto at 27%, according to the 2014 report, “Divided City: Life in Canada’s Child Poverty Capital.” Montreal follows with 25%.
    7. Two hundred thousand people are homeless in a year, costing the Canadian economy $7 billion each year.

Poverty in Canada is a significant issue, but not one that is impossible to solve. Various organizations dedicated to addressing the problem have helped those who have experienced major setbacks return to normalcy, to the point where they can live sustainable lives and provide for their families.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr

Canada's Global Health InitiativesThis article details a few examples of Canada‘s global health initiatives.

Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research

Founded in 2001, the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research describes itself as a “not-for-profit organization promoting better and more equitable health worldwide through the production and use of knowledge.” The coalition started as an informal network and has since transformed into an important tool in Canada’s health research.

The coalition’s main purpose is to bring together groups of people to communicate and take action regarding global health issues. Members of the coalition include global health researchers, organizations that have an interest in funding global health research, and members of the general public who share the passion of fighting to improve health worldwide. Research challenges are then analyzed within low and middle-income countries.

University of British Columbia

Located in Vancouver, the University of British Columbia has focused on a neglected global diseases initiative. Neglected global diseases are illnesses that are disproportionately present in the world’s poorest areas, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, conditions affecting maternal and child health and various tropical diseases. These illnesses can be classified under this category because they are able to thrive in places that generally have unreliable water supplies, poor sanitation and inadequate access to healthcare facilities.

The university’s initiative is to build a network between the fields of biology, pharmacology, business, social policy, economics and law. These fields are important because together, they are able to examine the underlying causes and social climates that generate poverty and furthermore trigger neglected global diseases. With these social factors in mind, Canada’s global health initiatives and research can become more targeted and efficient. This interdisciplinary approach is highly innovative at a time when social determinants are becoming increasingly intertwined with global health.

G7 Health Commitments

This September, representatives attended the G7 Health Minister’s Meeting in Kobe, Japan. The purpose of this meeting was to bring together health leaders of G7 nations and organizations to discuss how to advance progress regarding global health, particularly regarding the subjects of combating antimicrobial resistance and achieving universal health care coverage.

Leaders were able to reiterate elements of Canada’s health research actions, namely strengthening emergency responses to health crises and addressing the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. The meeting also provided Canadian leaders with the chance to hold additional meetings with health leaders from Japan, France, Germany and the United Kingdom in order to exchange experiences and organize future collaboration in the fight against global health issues.

Overall, one can see that Canada’s health research and commitments are both diverse and robust. The nation has focused itself on working to improve established health concerns as well as creating new strategies to combat them. All of the examples above involve cooperation between different organizations and nations, which is certainly a key factor for being successful in the fight against global health concerns.

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Flickr

environmentally friendly business
A group of friends envisioned an environmentally friendly business. They combined one friend’s knowledge of tree planting with the world’s desire for apparel, which is how Tentree was formed.

For every item purchased from the clothing line, 10 trees are planted. In an article published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the company measures its success not on profits but by how many trees they have planted.

Tentree’s website includes an interactive map which displays where the trees have been planted all over the world. As of September 2016, the company has planted 9,382,290 trees. The following is a list of countries and its respective number of trees planted:

  • Madagascar – 4,936,830
  • Senegal – 1,395,500
  • Nepal – 1,463,290
  • Ethiopia – 724,140
  • India – 135,800
  • Malawi – 225,000
  • Kenya – 149,540
  • Canada – 57,780
  • Haiti – 278,560
  • Cambodia – 10,290
  • United States – 5,000

The website includes information on what individual consumers’ trees accomplish for the world and community. Some important contributions made by trees that are highlighted include lifting water out of the soil, providing food for the local population, supplying oxygen to breathe and removing carbon dioxide from the air.

A village in Madagascar, Mahabana, has seen the largest number of trees planted and the greatest improvement from the program. Tentree started a project in the village with 40 people working to plant trees.

In an interview with Now This, Kalen Emsley, one of the co-founders of the company reports that the project has grown to over 450 people working full time, completely supported by Tentree.

The restoration of the ecosystem of mangrove trees has lead to a return in wildlife, a rebounding fishing industry and people have been able to start selling fruit.

According to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Tentree planted 7,000 trees in the Lac La Ronge Provincial Park along with the government in the province after forest fires ravaged parts of Saskatchewan.

The forest fires burned parts of the park in 2015. Tentree announced their plans to help replant trees at the Saskatchewan Fashion Week. They shipped donations of clothing people who were evacuated in the Fort McMurray wildfire this summer and are beginning to make plans for replanting in that area.

Tentree hopes their environmentally friendly business goes beyond helping the environment. They work with local and global nonprofit organizations to ensure prime results like WeForest, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Eden Reforestation, American Forests and Trees for the Future. They hire people from the local communities to grow, tend and plant the trees.

As stated on the Tentree website: “Every consumer that purchases a Tentree branded piece of clothing is showing their dedication to the values our team shares: environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and the hope for a brighter future.” Tentree hopes to make a lasting community, both locally and globally, with their environmentally friendly business of clothing and tree planting.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

The Happy Birthday Project
In Calgary, job loss, depression, poverty and an economic downturn plague the Canadian nation just as it does so many others. But thanks to two women with a vision, The Happy Birthday Project is ensuring children in Calgary no longer pass their birthdays without a smile.

Crystal Gelsinger and Mandy Watts were two childhood friends and recent mothers. One day in 2012, they stumbled upon an advertisement searching for cake mix donations for families that didn’t have the means to bake a cake for their child’s birthday. The simple ad launched an innovative idea and project that has now brought hundreds of children smiles.

The Happy Birthday Project, now an official non-profit organization, provides the basic supplies to poverty-stricken families to throw a child birthday party.

“We know we’re not going to change their lives, but we hope we can give them a little bit of joy,” Gelsinger told the Calgary Sun.

The organization hands out “party packs,” which consist of birthday cake mix, cake pan or cupcake wrappers, cutlery, plates, cups, decorations, snacks, gift bags, as well as a special gift for the child.

The organization learns about the children before they shop. They find out what each child likes to do, their hobbies and interests, so they are better able to form the perfect, hand-made custom party pack.

According to Gelsinger and Watts, every child deserves to feel special and celebrated on their birthday. Their mission is to bring joy to the lives of children and families facing adversity.

“It just breaks my heart because we all love our children the same but we just don’t all have the same means to provide a birthday cake, a birthday party,” Gelsinger told the paper.

The Happy Birthday Project grew extensively after creation. Once the program reached a certain size, the two women could no longer able to lead it by themselves. The group most recently was taken over by another organization known as Made by Momma.

Since the new organizer’s expansion, 737 birthday packages have been handed out to families in need. The Happy Birthday Project now also throws actual birthday parties at both the nearby party House in Calgary and the Brenda Strafford Centre.

The organization serves the families referred to them through local Calgary social agencies. The families are referred by a social worker, social agency or shelter.

The Happy Birthday Project accepts donations and volunteers. They are looking for delivery drivers, event volunteers, donation drive organizers, craft committee members and special project volunteers.

The organization is also accepting donations for party items. If you have extra unused paper plates, streamers, child-themed gift wrappings, batteries, or scotch tape, they can be donated to this valuable cause. A full list of the needed supplies can be found on their website. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering can visit the organization’s website for more information.

Katie Grovatt

Photo: Flickr