Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mental Health First Aid: The New Year's Resolution That May Save a Life

CALGARY, December 22, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada is asking Canadians to make Mental Health First Aid part of their New Year's resolutions for 2012.

"Mental Health First Aid has the same purpose as traditional first aid - to save lives," said Sandy Allen, Program Director, Mental Health First Aid (Canada). "There are more than 47,000 Canadians to date who have taken the training and we encourage everyone who hasn't to make it their New Year's resolution."
Nearly two million Canadians have a diagnosed mental disorder and another 1.6 million have a mental disorder that is undiagnosed. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course that teaches participants how to provide initial help for someone developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.

Participants learn about specific mental health problems including signs and symptoms, risk factors, and how to assist the individual in finding professional help.

"Mental health problems are more common than most people realize, especially depression, anxiety and misuse of alcohol and other drugs," Allen said. "The stigma associated with mental health problems often hinders people from seeking help. MHFA Canada teaches people to react in a calm, confident and appropriate way to provide the best help they can."

"This course changes the way participants see people with a mental illness. After taking the Mental Health First Aid course, people have more confidence in their ability to reach out and assist someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis," said Pam Kollross, Mental Health Promoter, Alberta Health Services, who has been a MHFA Canada instructor for the past four years.

A basic training course is offered as well as a course for people who interact with youth. The cost of the two-day training course varies across the country with an average fee of $150. There are also instructor courses for qualified individuals who want to teach the course. More than 550 Canadians have been trained as MHFA instructors to date.

To find a course in your area, go to

The MHFA program was developed by Professors Anthony Jorm and Betty Kitchener from the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University in 2001. MHFA (Canada) came under the leadership of the Mental Health Commission of Canada in February 2010.

For more information: Call 1-866-989-3985 or email

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is a catalyst for transformative change. Our mission is to work with stakeholders to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems lead meaningful and productive lives. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada. For more information about the MHCC please visit

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prime opportunity to map out Canada's health-care future is now

OTTAWA, December 21, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is calling upon Canada's premiers and health ministers to define a vision for a health-care system that will meet the real needs of Canadians. With federal finance minister Jim Flaherty's announcement this week that health transfers will continue to increase at 6 per cent a year until 2016-2017, Canada's provinces and territories must now put the money to work and shape health-care reform.

"Canada's health-care system has a sound foundation, but it is clear changes within that frame are needed to improve access, efficiency and quality," said CNA president Judith Shamian. "Canada's nurses are looking to provinces and territories for leadership and a focused direction, which are needed now to transform the health-care system into one that fosters the healthiest population possible."

CNA, together with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), developed a set of principles to guide Canada's premiers and health ministers as they map out health-care system transformation. Adopting these principles will strengthen and further develop a publicly funded, not-for-profit system that is sustainable and adequately resourced, and provide universal access to quality, patient-centred care in a timely and cost-effective manner. These guiding principles should be instrumental to Canada's premiers during their Council of the Federation meeting in January 2012, and in subsequent federal and provincial/territorial collaborations.

"Canadians deserve a better return on health-care investments," said Shamian. "The premiers need to refocus their approach to health care and base it on improving health outcomes and the performance of the system. The stage is set for federal and provincial leaders to work together to determine the targets and objectives that health system funding should help us achieve."

Despite an ongoing increase in spending, Canada's health-care system is lagging. In 1982, Canada was ranked 10th among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in infant mortality rates — the overall best indicator of a society's health. By 2008, Canada slipped to 27 out of 34 OECD nations.

To build the best health-care system for Canada and stand out as one of the best globally, the principles set out by CNA and CMA recommend the government develop a pan-Canadian agreement that contains national health indicators linked to expected outcomes, realistic accountability measures for the transfer of funds, and more emphasis on primary care and chronic disease management. CNA urges the federal and provincial/territorial governments to work together, set targets and present solutions that will lead to better health for Canada's population — the true measure of accountability.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada's publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The United Church of Canada's 2011 Christmas Message

TORONTO, December 20, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - The following is the 2011 Christmas message offered by The United Church of Canada's Moderator, Mardi Tindal.

When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would bear the Son of God, "For nothing will be impossible with God," Mary answered, "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

What an amazingly powerful response to God's hope for the world. With Mary's response, Christ was born and the world came to know God's love in new form.

Christmas reminds us that we are people who carry God's hope for the world. We have learned that nothing is impossible when we are ready to answer with Mary, "Here we are, servants of the Lord. Let it be with us according to your word."

In Christmas Hope and Blessings,

Mardi Tindal
The United Church of Canada

Sunday, December 11, 2011

COP17 Closes: Long Live The Process, If Not Our Climate Or Our Future

by Matthew McDermott - December 11, 2011 - Science / Climate Change

The COP17 climate talks in Durban have finally come to a close, some 36 hours later than they were scheduled to and, amazingly, making more progress than this author thought they would have. To the great tragedy of us all this progress still falls amazingly well short of what climate scientists say is needed. But at least this is officially acknowledged now.

The second paragraph of the COP17 document reads (emphasis in original):

Noting with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties' mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2°C of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,

And a few lines later launches into what to do about this: Keep negotiating towards a "protocol, legal instrument or legal outcome" with the work to be completed "as early as possible but no later than 2015" and to come into effect from 2020.

Negotiators also agreed to move forward with the Green Climate Fund, to help nations better adapt to the dangerous climate changes virtually assured by the lack of ambition shown in other parts of the negotiations. Eventually the Fund hopes to raise and distribute $100 billion per year.

Before moving on to the reaction from environmental groups, let's remember what the IEA recently said about the speed, or lack thereof, in which we are moving away from fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions they create and what that means for the climate.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said that if we don't quickly and significantly move begin moving away from fossil fuels by 2017, "the door will be closed forever" on keeping temperature rise below 4°C.

And let's remember what happens above that degree of average temperature increase (also remembering that an average of 4°C means some places, like southern Europe and North Africa will increase by 8°C): Pretty much all hell breaks loose. We can assuredly kiss coral reefs goodbye, count on crop yield decreases of up to 40% in south, southeast, and east Asia, lock in meter-plus sea level rise by the end of this century, usher in widespread civil unrest resulting from resource shortages. And that's just the start of it, and the best of it, just the top-line stats-driven part of it. For the world's extreme poor, those people in Bangladesh, in low-lying island nations, in much of Africa, it's a death sentence.

Civilization itself might not end (as has been suggested without hint of hyperbole in recent days by commenters on the COP), but it certainly will look far far different, and for the more difficult, than anyone alive today has experienced before.

So, back to reactions.

WWF's Samantha Smith, who heads their global and energy initiative:

Governments did just enough to keep talking, but their job is to protect their people. They failed to do that here in Durban today....It is clear today that the mandates of a few political leaders have outweighed the concerns of millions, leaving people and the natural world we depend on at risk. Catastrophe is a strong world but it is not strong enough for a future with four degrees of warming.

Friend of the Earth International chair and Right Livelihood Award winner Nnimmo Bassey:

Delaying real action until 2020 is a crime of global proportions. An increase in global temperatures of 4°C, permitted under this plan, is a death sentence for Africa, small island states, and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. This summit has amplified climate apartheid, whereby the richest 1% of the world have decided that is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%.

Pablo Solón, former climate negotiator for Bolivia:

It is false to say that a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol has been adopted in Durban. The actual decision has merely been postponed to the next COP, with no commitments for emission reductions from rich countries.

In other words, between now and 2020 any emission reduction commitments are whatever individual nations voluntarily commit to. And we've seen how effective those have been, considering global emissions continue to rise, largely unchecked—as UNEP has amply demonstrated in its Emissions Gap Report.

COP17 may be seen as incremental progress, and plenty of pundits and insider NGOs are spinning it that way, but I have a hard time seeing how this amount of incremental progress does anything but ensure 4°C+ of warming, and the resulting environmental and social disasters it will assuredly bring about, comes to pass.

One final point to remember: At current and projected rates of temperature rise, 4°C may be reached by 2050, and surely by 2070. The time to decisively act was years ago, and the outcome of COP17 means nations don't have to take action until years from now—by which time it will be too late. the full story at

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Longing for Leadership at COP17

TORONTO, December 9, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the United Nations climate change conference (COP17) draws to a close in Durban, South Africa, The United Church of Canada's Moderator, Mardi Tindal, writes in her daily blog that "the longing to see more leadership than politics runs deep here…"

Tindal is attending the COP17 conference as part of an international delegation of church leaders representing the World Council of Churches.

She writes,

"At a religious leaders' press conference this morning a journalist asked me about what is standing in the way of moral leadership from Canada. I said that we as Canadians must convince our minister and our other political leaders that we will follow them when they do the right things; that the political cost of giving climate change leadership is not as great as they might fear."

Tindal and fellow Canadian church leader the Rev. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, met with Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent yesterday to discuss their views on Canada's role in addressing the problem of global climate change.

She writes that there was some reassurance in yesterday's meeting. "The minister understands and accepts the science of climate change and the magnitude of the problem. He spoke of 'real urgency' and 'a disaster in the making.'"

She adds, however, that she left yesterday's meeting feeling no more assured about Canada's willingness to give leadership.

"When asked about the moral and social justice frame within which Canada's position can be understood, the minister's answers were political: 'We're proud of our resources, our regulations, and our shared prosperity.' He spoke of how Canada is 'fulfilling our obligations.' There are many who have good reason to take issue with him on this point," writes Tindal.

Tindal concludes her blog by saying that there is still reason for hope and need for prayer.

"This [South Africa] is the land of miracles where leaders have risen in the confidence that when they do the right things the people will follow. South Africa did not achieve what it has with leaders who fearfully calculated political costs. It is up to us as citizens to make it clear that we will support the moral leadership for which we long."

To read the full text of Tindal's blog, go to

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Caring and compassion are what make Guelph stand out.

Arts and Culture flow through our veins.

We believe that Guelph possess something unique, something that you can't quite feel elsewhere. And with that comes leaders. People in our community who want to make a difference, not just in our city but all across the world.

With our attempt to bring Q with Jian Ghomeshi to town for a live broadcast from The River Run Centre, Guelph has selected a local charity that was founded in Guelph in 2005. It has changed lives right across the globe. All proceeds raised (besides those raised by the CBC) will go to this local cause.

That cause is Bracelet of Hope.

To learn more about Bracelet of Hope, visit

The United Church of Canada's Moderator Mardi Tindal at the Interfaith Rally in Durban for COP17

"A big thank you to Mardi Tindal for having agreed to come to Durban as part of the World Council of Churches delegation to the United Nations conference. She is so good at explaining why churches and Christians are called to speak out and act when creation is threatened, as an expression of their commitment to life, justice and love." from the WCC - World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service.