Friday, June 29, 2012

Purple Day now legally recognized in Canada

Act promoting epilepsy awareness receives Royal Assent

HALIFAX, June 29, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - An Act representing a day to increase public awareness about epilepsy, Bill C-278, has received Royal Assent and is now a legally recognized day for epilepsy awareness in Canada. The Bill establishes March 26 as Purple Day, a day each year when Canadians wear purple to promote a greater awareness of epilepsy and support the 300,000 Canadians living with the disorder. Inspired by Cassidy Megan, Purple Day dispels the myths about epilepsy and helps people living with the disorder understand that they are not alone.

Hon. Geoff Regan, M.P. for Halifax West, wrote the Private Member's, Bill C-278 (The Purple Day Act), in late 2008. Since then, Bill C-278 has progressed through the necessary steps in the House of Commons and Senate, to become law.

"The swift passing of this Bill is a meaningful show of support for the 300,000 Canadians living with epilepsy and their families," said Regan.

"I am so grateful that Mr. Regan and Parliament believed in me and Purple Day, and showed the 300,000 Canadians living with epilepsy that they care and that we are not alone," said Cassidy Megan, Purple Day founder. "I also want to thank the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the other member agencies of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance for helping me make my dream come true."

According to a survey titled The Impact of Epilepsy on Canadians, conducted in late 2011 by Leger Marketing, many Canadians living with epilepsy experience social isolation, work barriers and relationship issues. Over half of the survey respondents (56 per cent) say that restricted independence due to epilepsy is their number one challenge. Stigma, discrimination and a lack of awareness about epilepsy is cited by 38 per cent as the number two challenge, along with the impact of the disorder on their social life. The third biggest challenge facing Canadians with epilepsy is maintaining employment, with half saying their job choices are restricted, and just under 40 per cent unable to get a job if they disclose their condition.

"On behalf of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance, I would like to thank Mr. Regan for writing the Private Member's Bill and Parliament for passing this legislation," said Deirdre Floyd, Chair of the Purple Day Campaign and Vice-President of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance. "To my knowledge, this is the only legislation of its kind in Canada. I strongly believe that Purple Day will help to further our national mandate to support public awareness for epilepsy and research for those living with this serious neurological condition."

About Purple Day

Purple Day for Epilepsy is celebrated each year on March 26 and is dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy. It helps reduce stigma and empowers individuals living with epilepsy to take action in their communities. Purple Day was founded in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, and named after the internationally recognized colour for epilepsy, lavender. Purple Day was launched internationally in 2009. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and the Anita Kaufmann Foundation in the United States are the Global Partners for the Purple Day Campaign. For more information, please visit and to view Bill C-278, please visit

About the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance

The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance (CEA) is a Canada-wide network of 27 grassroots organizations dedicated to the promotion of independence and quality of life for people with epilepsy and their families, through support services, information, advocacy, and public awareness. As the voting member of the International Bureau of Epilepsy (IBE), the CEA is the voice for those living with epilepsy in Canada and internationally. The IBE is the international organization that serves to develop, support and link national epilepsy organizations around the world and exists to improve the quality of life of all people with epilepsy and their families and caregivers. The Canadian Epilepsy Alliance works with the IBE and participates in global initiatives representing those living with epilepsy in Canada. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lack of qualified inspectors will place nursing home residents at risk - OPSEU

TORONTO, June 20, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care is sending inspectors out to conduct investigations which they are not educated and trained to do says the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. Nursing home residents are being placed at risk to save money on inspection.

OPSEU says prior to July 2010, when new laws came into force, nursing inspectors would investigate complaints and critical incidents including issues of abuse or activities of daily living, such as continence care, hygiene, behaviour management, wound management or falls. The nursing inspections require a review of clinical records, progress notes, medication records and a resident's medical diagnosis.

The other two types of inspectors, dietary and environmental, would focus their inspections only on issues relating to their area of education and training.

"Now these dietary and environmental inspectors are being asked to evaluate the residents' care records - which are completely out of their scope of practice," says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the 130,000 member OPSEU. "Not only that, but these inspectors have never had any training in how to navigate the various software programs the homes use in order to review the resident health records. They have little idea whether or not what they are looking at is relevant."

Environmental inspectors are certified public health inspectors with expertise in infection prevention and control. They look at such issues as maintenance, housekeeping, infection control, safety, building security and pest control.

Dietary inspectors are registered dietitians with expertise in nutrition care and hydration, food production, menu planning and clinical record reviews related to weights and food and fluid intakes for example.

Meanwhile, the nurses are being asked to do inspections that include issues related to pest control, door security, maintenance and environmental infection control - an area of expertise normally covered by the environmental inspectors.

The inspectors say they have to rely heavily on their specialty discipline colleagues for assistance with their inspection reports, to ensure they have captured everything correctly. The inspectors become ultimately accountable for these reports.

"The government is trying to save money by sending inappropriate inspectors out to conduct inspections they are not trained for," says Thomas. "This completely undermines the process."

Last year there were nearly 6,000 complaints and critical incidents the inspectors were asked to investigate. That's on top of the more detailed annual inspections - sometimes referred to as "resident quality inspections" (RQI) which take more than two weeks to complete. With the limited number of inspectors available, many homes will not receive a detailed inspection for years. Most homes in Ontario received their last full inspection prior to 2010.

Last week OPSEU reported the shortage of adequately educated and trained inspectors has led to lengthy delays in investigating these complaints and critical incident reports.

New legislation enacted in July 2010 requires the homes to report many different types of critical incidents such as abuse and injuries - all of which must be investigated. Coupled with increases in complaints regarding resident care issues, the number of inspectors has not kept up with the workload.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Launch of Forest Recovery Canada Ensures a Healthier Future for all Canadians

Forest Loss and Fragmentation Compromising the Health of Canadians
and Contributing to Biodiversity Losses, Prompting the Need
for a National Forest Recovery Program

TORONTO, June 8, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Forest Recovery Canada (FRC), a national tree planting program dedicated to enhancing Canada's environmental health and climate change adaptation through innovative and leading-edge forest restoration practices, was launched today by Trees Ontario.

Forest fragmentation has become increasingly common across the Canadian landscape by way of agricultural land uses, residential and commercial development, road construction, forest fires and invasive species. Loss of forest cover in the settled landscapes of Canada is contributing to an unstable ecosystem resulting in habitat loss, environmental degradation and an inability to adapt to the effects of climate change. With our forests in jeopardy, there is urgency in the need to expand and intensify tree planting and forest restoration initiatives nation-wide.

"Forest Recovery Canada works with partners across the country to identify tree planting opportunities that will establish contiguous and diverse forests that extend beyond the geopolitical boundaries of our cities and provinces," says Rob Keen, CEO of Trees Ontario, during the launch of the ENGO's new national program. "Trees Ontario has experienced incredible success in re-greening Ontario but the need for increased forest cover within settled landscapes is a national matter. Through the development of an extensive network of environmentally conscious individuals, corporations and tree planting agencies, FRC will enhance the resilience of our ecosystems, enabling them to adapt to the effects of environmental change while sustaining a healthier human population."

Video: Forest Recovery Canada has been launched to restore the fragmented landscape in the settled regions of Canada.

Healthy forests play an important role in the foundation of resilient ecosystems. Trees replenish our oxygen, absorb carcinogenic pollutants in our air and purify our lakes and rivers. Healthy and sustainable forests have also proven essential for economic development and diverse employment opportunities. As well, forests and green spaces have been linked to a significant decline in asthma, heart disease, diabetes and stress, decreases in the severity of attention deficit disorders in children, improved rehabilitation, faster hospital recovery rates and longer life spans.

"A growing body of evidence suggests that human mental and physical health is closely associated with the health of our forest ecosystems," says Steve Hounsell, President and Chair of Trees Ontario. "An investment in our natural environment is an investment in our own health and well-being. Poor environmental conditions will not only lead to an unstable ecosystem, but may also increase the incidence of a wide array of illnesses."

Forest Recovery Canada recognizes the relationship between the health of forest ecosystems and human health and the need to expand and intensify tree planting efforts nation-wide. This program aims to build consensus, leverage resources, raise awareness and stimulate action to plant trees and enhance urban and rural ecosystems. Increased forest cover will result in healthy and resilient watersheds that offer valuable natural goods and services essential for sustaining a healthy society and a prosperous economy.

Rob Keen, a Registered Professional Forester, urges all Canadians to join the recovery efforts.

"Canada's forests need us now more than ever. Whether you are a local tree planting agency, a socially responsible corporation or an eco-conscious citizen, you can support Forest Recovery Canada's efforts to restore the health of our environment."

About Forest Recovery Canada

Administered by Trees Ontario, Forest Recovery Canada (FRC) is a national tree-planting program dedicated to innovative and leading-edge forestry practices. FRC works with an extensive network of tree planting organizations and environmentally conscious individuals and corporations to enhance the health of Canada's ecosystems through scientifically based tree planting and forest management practices.

About Trees Ontario

Trees Ontario, working with its partners, is the largest, not-for-profit tree planting partnership in North America. It is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through a range of tree planting activities.

The goal of Trees Ontario is to restore Canada's tree planting capacity by providing funding and planning support for its tree planting partners. These include local Conservation Authorities, Ontario Stewardship Councils, First Nation communities, municipal governments and community volunteer groups.