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Kelley Bush
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Kelley Bush
2015-06-18 16:07
Good afternoon. My name is Kelley Bush, and I am the head of radon education and awareness under Health Canada's national radon program.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for inviting me to be here today to discuss radon as a cause of lung cancer and to highlight the work of the Canadian – National Radon Proficiency Program.
Through the ongoing activities of this program, Health Canada is committed to informing Canadians about the health risk of radon, better understanding the methods and technologies available for reducing radon exposure, and giving Canadians the tools to take action to reduce their exposure.
Radon is a colourless, odourless radioactive gas that is formed naturally in the environment. It comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. When radon is released from the ground in outdoor air, it gets diluted and is not a concern. However, when radon enters an indoor space, such as a home, it can accumulate to high levels and become a serious health risk. Radon naturally breaks down into other radioactive substances called progeny. Radon gas and radon progeny in the air can be breathed into the lungs, where they break down further and emit alpha particles. These alpha particles release small bursts of energy, which are absorbed by the nearby lung tissue and lead to lung cell death or damage. When lung cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce.
The lung cancer risk associated with radon is well recognized internationally. As noted by the World Health Organization, a recent study on indoor radon and lung cancer in North America, Europe, and Asia provided strong evidence that radon causes a substantial number of lung cancers in the general population. It's recognized around the world that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and that smokers also exposed to high levels of radon have a significantly increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Based on the latest data from Health Canada, 16% of lung cancers are radon-induced, resulting in more than 3,200 deaths in Canada each year. To manage these risks, in 2007 the federal government in collaboration with provinces and territories lowered the federal guideline from 800 to 200 becquerels per cubic metre. Our guideline of 200 becquerels per cubic metre is amongst the lowest radon action levels internationally, and aligns with the World Health Organization's recommended range of 100 to 300 becquerels per cubic metre.
All homes and buildings have some level of radon. It's not a question of “if” you have radon in your house; you do. The only question is how much, and the only way to know is to test. Health Canada recommends that all homeowners test their home and that if the levels are high, above our Canadian guideline, you take action to reduce.
The national radon program was launched in 2007 to support the implementation of the new federal guideline. Funding for this program is provided under the Government of Canada's clean air regulatory agenda. Our national radon program budget is $30.5 million over five years.
Since its creation, the program has had direct and measurable impacts on increasing public awareness, increasing radon testing in homes and public buildings, and reducing radon exposure. This has been accomplished through research to characterize the radon problem in Canada, as well as through measures to protect Canadians by increasing their awareness and giving them tools to take action on radon.
The national radon program includes important research to characterize radon risk in Canada. Two large-scale, cross-Canada residential surveys have been completed, using long-term radon test kits in over 17,000 homes. The surveys have provided us with a much better understanding of radon levels across the country. This data is used by Health Canada and our stakeholder partners to further define radon risk, to effectively target radon outreach, to raise awareness, and to promote action. For example, Public Health Ontario used this data in its radon burden of illness study. The Province of British Columbia used the data to inform its 2014 changes to their provincial building codes, which made radon reduction codes more stringent in radon-prone areas based on the results of our cross-Canada surveys. The CBC used the data to develop a special health investigative report and interactive radon map.
The national radon program also conducts research on radon mitigation, including evaluating the effectiveness of mitigation methods, conducting mitigation action follow-up studies, and analyzing the effects of energy retrofits on radon levels in buildings. For example, in partnership with the National Research Council, the national radon program conducted research on the efficacy of common radon mitigation systems in our beautiful Canadian climatic conditions. It is also working with the Toronto Atmospheric Fund to incorporate radon testing in a study they're doing that looks at community housing retrofits and the impacts on indoor air quality.
This work supports the development of national codes and standards on radon mitigation. The national radon program led changes to the 2010 national building codes. We are currently working on the development of two national mitigation standards, one for existing homes and one for new construction.
The program has developed an extensive outreach program to inform Canadians about the risk from radon and encourage action to reduce exposure. This outreach is conducted through multiple platforms targeting the general public, key stakeholder groups, as well as populations most at risk such as smokers and communities known to have high radon.
Many of the successes we've achieved so far under this program have been accomplished as a result of collaboration and partnership with a broad range of stakeholder partners. Our partners include provincial and municipal governments, non-governmental organizations, health professional organizations, the building industry, the real estate industry, and many more. By working with these stakeholders, the program is able to strengthen the credibility of the messages we're sending out and extend the reach and impact of our outreach efforts. We are very grateful for their ongoing engagement and support.
In November 2013 the New Brunswick Lung Association, the Ontario Lung Association, Summerhill Impact, and Health Canada launched the very first national radon action month. This annual national campaign is promoted through outreach events, website content, social media, public service announcements, and media exposure. It raises awareness about radon and encourages Canadians to take action. In 2014 the campaign grew in the number of stakeholders and organizations that participate in raising awareness. It also included the release of a public service announcement with television personality Mike Holmes, who encouraged all Canadians to test their home for radon.
To give Canadians access to the tools to take action, extensive guidance documents have been developed on radon measurement and mitigation. Heath Canada also supported the development of a Canadian national radon proficiency program, which is a certification program designed to establish guidelines for training professionals in radon services. This program ensures that quality measurement and mitigation services are available to Canadians.
The Ontario College of Family Physicians as well as McMaster University, with the support of Health Canada, have developed an accredited continuing medical education course on radon. This course is designed to help health professionals—a key stakeholder group—answer patients' questions about the health risks of radon and the need to test their homes and reduce their families' exposure.
The national radon program also includes outreach targeted to at-risk populations. For example, Erica already mentioned the three-point home safety checklist that we've supported in partnership with CPCHE. As well, to reach smokers, we have a fact sheet entitled “Radon—Another Reason to Quit”. This is sent out to doctors' offices across Canada to be distributed to patients. Since the distribution of those fact sheets began, the requests from doctors offices have increased quite significantly. It began with about 5,000 fact sheets ordered a month, and we're up to about 30,000 fact sheets ordered a month and delivered across Canada.
In recognition of the significant health risk posed by radon, Health Canada's national radon program continues to undertake a range of activities to increase public awareness of the risk from radon and to provide Canadians with the tools they need to take action. We are pleased to conduct this work in collaboration with many partners across the country.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to any questions the committee members might have.
Anne-Marie Nicol
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Anne-Marie Nicol
2015-06-18 17:06
You should also have a slide deck from me. It says “Radon and Lung Cancer” on it. I recognize I am the very last person, and I appreciate your persistence. Luckily many people have also spoken to a number of the points that I wish to discuss, so I will go very quickly over the first few slides.
I am an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. I also work at the National Collaborating Centre with Tom and Sarah, and I also run CAREX Canada, which is the carcinogen surveillance system funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. I am here because we prioritized Canadians' exposure to environmental carcinogens and the leading causes of cancer-related deaths from environmental exposures, and radon gas was by far the most significant carcinogen. I admit that when I started my research at CAREX, I had never heard of radon gas either. When I went back into the literature, I realized that over time Canada has actually played a very important role in understanding radon and lung cancer.
The data from many of the studies that were done on uranium miners, at Eldorado and even here in Ontario, has been used to determine the relationship between exposure and lung cancer. We've actually been on the forefront of this issue but very much in an academic context rather than in a public health context.
We've already discussed the fact that the WHO notes that this is a significant carcinogen. I would also like to point out that agencies around the world are coming to the conclusion that radon is more dangerous than they had previously thought. In 1993 we had a certain understanding about the relationship between radon gas and lung cancer. That's doubled. The slope that Tom was talking about used to go like this and now it goes like this. Radon is now known to be much more dangerous than we had originally thought. The reason for that is that radon is actually an alpha-particle emitter.
We are a uranium-rich country. Uranium is in the soil and as it breaks down there is a point at which it becomes a gas. That means it becomes movable within the soil. That gas itself gives off alpha radiation, which is a very dangerous form of radiation that can damage DNA. On the next slide you'll see both direct and indirect damage to DNA. This information is compliments of Dr. Aaron Goodarzi. We actually have a Canada research chair studying this at the moment in Alberta.
The next slide, on radiation and DNA damage, shows that alpha radiation is powerful. It doesn't penetrate very far, so if it hits our skin, it doesn't do as much damage as it does if it gets into our lungs. Our lungs are very sensitive. The lining of our lungs is sensitive and when the cells in them are irradiated, they get damaged. Alpha particles are very destructive. The damage is akin to having a cannon go through DNA. That kind of damage is hard to repair, and as a result the probability of genetic mutations and cancer goes up.
The next slide is on strategies for reducing risk. Just to recap, the kind of damage done by the radiation emitted from radon is significant. The damage is difficult for the body to repair once radon is in the lungs.
The next slide is on education and priority setting. Radon does exist across the country. People have developed radon-potential maps. This one is compliments of Radon Environmental where they've looked at where uranium exists and where the potential for higher-breakdown products is, although we do recognize that every home is different. Also there's a map of the United States to show that we are not alone in this and that the states that are on the border have a similar kind of radon profile to that found in Canada. We know that under our current Canadian strategies, we need to educate not just the public but ourselves. Most public health professionals have never heard of radon. When we do work out in public health units, environmental health inspectors, public health inspectors, and medical health officers are still unaware that radon is dangerous. Many bureaucrats and ministries of health are unaware that radon is dangerous.
Also health researchers are only really beginning to do work in this area across the country. In order to have building codes changed, people need to know why you're changing them. We need testing and remediation training. People need to understand why they're actually doing this kind of work.
Kelley Bush alluded to the fact that they've been tracking awareness among the population. This is done by Statistics Canada. The next slide shows a representative Canadian sample. It's been done since 2007 actually, but these are results for 2009 onward. You can see that about 10% of the population were aware of radon. That's gone up to about 30%. This is the number of people who know what radon is and can accurately describe it. We're still at around 30% of the population who know that radon can cause lung cancer.
Health Canada does recommend that everybody test their homes. The next slide, which is also using data collected by Statistics Canada, clearly shows that very few people have tested their homes. Less than 10% of Canadians across the country have tested their homes. We have had a radon awareness program since 2007, so why aren't people testing? We don't have regulatory requirements, as Kathleen Cooper stated earlier. People need to be aware and motivated to change. It's up to the consumer. We have left it up to the consumer to test their own home.
I believe things like denial, the invisible nature of the gas, and people simply being unaware contribute to this. Test kits are still not that readily available across the country. You can phone and ask where you can find them, but they're not always there. In rural regions it's much harder for people to get access to test kits. People then fear the downstream costs of remediating—i.e., I don't want to go in there because I don't know how much it's going to cost me to fix my basement. In some cases the costs can be somewhat considerable, depending on the structure of the home.
Turning to the next slide, I believe to reduce the lung cancer risk from radon gas we need more leadership. The government can legitimate this as a risk. It's something that people don't know about, and we need to take a stronger role in getting people more engaged in this topic. It's not just Health Canada; it's all levels of government—ministries of health, provinces, municipalities. We need to be training people in the trades so they know what they're doing when they're building those radon-resistant homes, and why. Why is that pipe important? Why is that fan important? Again, we need to build radon out, going forward.
Other countries have shown that providing financial assistance works. People will energy-retrofit their home because they get a rebate, but the energy retrofit does increase radon levels. There is clear evidence that this exists. The tighter your home, the more the radon gas remains in your home. In Manitoba they're doing research to look at that at the moment. In Manitoba, though, you can also now get a rebate through Manitoba Hydro to do radon remediation. Some parts of the country are starting, but we need to be offering some kind of incentive for citizens to do this.
I would also like to put in a plug for workplace exposure, because I do study workplace exposure and radon. There are places in the country where people work underground, or in basements and even ground-level buildings, where radon levels are high. Some of these are federal government workers. We need more testing and remediation for workplaces.
That's it. Thank you.
Christine Whitecross
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Christine Whitecross
2015-05-25 15:45
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the opportunity to appear before you today to provide an update on the progress the Canadian Armed Forces strategic response team is making in dealing with inappropriate sexual behaviour in the forces.
You will remember that the external review authority's report and the action plan developed by the Canadian Armed Forces to deal specifically with Madame Deschamps' 10 recommendations were released to the Canadian public on April 30, 2015.
Let me start by saying that the past 17 working days since the release of the action plan indeed have been very busy. As I stated at the time of the release, inappropriate sexual behaviour is a complex problem that defies quick fixes and band-aid solutions. To successfully address it, our approach centres on identifying and treating its fundamental root causes rather than simply addressing the symptoms. Madame Deschamps' insight and analysis is absolutely pivotal in this approach. So, what has transpired during the last two and a half weeks?
First, we have reaffirmed that the strategic response team's mission is to enhance the operational readiness of the Canadian Forces by eliminating incidents and impacts of inappropriate sexual behaviour to the extent possible.
The goal is a Canadian Armed Forces that upholds a culture of dignity and respect for all. These are core Canadian values that the institution exists to defend in Canada and around the globe. In other words, in the long term we will enhance the fundamental Canadian Armed Forces' culture to the point that inappropriate sexual behaviour will not be tolerated either by targets of such behaviour or by anyone who witnesses it.
In the short term, we will trigger positive shifts in behaviour through increased awareness of acceptable norms, expectations, responsibilities and accountabilities by engaging with both the chain of command and grassroots membership across the organization.
Additionally, the recently formed Canadian Armed Forces strategic response team on sexual misconduct, which I lead, continues to grow and mature. It is noteworthy that this is the first time in the Canadian Armed Forces' history that an entity has been formed for the sole purpose of addressing this important issue. I have assembled a highly capable, multidisciplinary team consisting of civilian personnel, military members and former military members with the appropriate combination of required skills and experience.
We have identified four major lines of effort critical to achieving the objective. As described in our action plan, the first is to understand the problem. The second is to respond effectively to incidents of inappropriate behaviour, including enhancing the process of reporting. The third is to better support victims throughout the process. The fourth is to prevent occurrences from taking place in the first place.
We have already made considerable progress in several of these endeavours. In terms of understanding, my team has carefully examined Madame Deschamps' report and has begun considering how best to address each of her 10 recommendations.
For example, a key recommendation in Madame Deschamps' report was the creation of an independent centre to deal with inappropriate sexual behaviour. She provided us with several examples, including those established in the United States and Australian militaries.
The analysis of an independent centre will be the focal point of the strategic response team's planning and development in the coming weeks. Accordingly, my team and I recently met with American officials on their SAPRO model and Australian officials on their SeMPRO organization. Both consultations were very productive and provided the team with better insight into a field-tested, proven option with the potential to illustrate how a similar construct could be developed to fit the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Department of National Defence.
In addition to these two visits, members of the strategic response team visited the Peel Regional Police and the Canadian Army Command and Staff College to open discussions about educational opportunities. They attended an international workshop in Geneva that brought together a broad spectrum of international experts on the core facets of sexual harassment and sexual assault in organizational environments. They attended a conference on gender-based analysis plus in security and defence operations held in Ottawa. They met with Ambassador Schuurman, the NATO secretary general's special representative for women, peace and security.
A key component of the behavioural and cultural change I alluded to earlier is connecting with the Canadian Armed Forces members at every level of the organization, including at the pointy end, to both increase awareness of the Canadian Armed Forces' response to Madame Deschamps' report, and to inspire open dialogue and personal reflection on the problem of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the forces. This is quite similar to the approach previously employed in shifting internal stigmas and behaviour surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder and operational stress injuries, which we largely succeeded in doing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
With members of my team, I began connecting directly with the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces across Canada starting on May 1, the day after the release of the report. Through a series of town hall meetings, individual question and answer sessions, discussions with the local chain of command, as well as interactions with interested local and regional media, the strategic response team is reaching out to Canadian Armed Forces members and setting the conditions for ongoing dialogue.
I open each session with the acknowledgement that this is a serious problem within the Canadian Armed Forces and that al though no one wants to discuss inappropriate sexual behaviour, it is important to start the discussion. So far, we have been to six bases and wings where I have briefed approximately 5,300 military personnel at 16 general sessions. The questions, comments, concerns, and perspectives in these sessions have brought to light both positive and negative personal experience anecdotes and reinforced two realities: one, the problem is highly complex; and two, while there is a collective will to move the organization forward, there is little consensus as to the gravity of the existing problem.
In the next few months, I look forward to completing the town halls at all 33 bases and wings to ensure that the majority of Canadian Armed Forces members have an opportunity to hear and understand what the team is doing, ask questions and express opinions, and learn about the direction being taken by the Canadian Armed Forces.
Similarly, my team and I will continue our focused consultations with both domestic and international entities that are dealing with a problem similar to ours. This includes military, government, police, and other non-governmental organizations that are able to provide us with applicable insight on best practices and lessons learned.
One of the reasons the Canadian Armed Forces' response to the problem of inappropriate sexual behaviour will be more effective this time is the heightened emphasis on outcome measurement. Even the most elaborate plans and outputs mean little if they do not translate into tangible outcomes and results on the ground. To this end, my team is studying program evaluation methodologies to ensure we are able to measure how effective the changes we implement actually are in practice.
Reporting will go hand in hand with performance measurement. Starting in the fall, I will deliver to the Chief of the Defence Staff my first quarterly report on the Canadian Armed Forces' progress in responding to the problem of inappropriate sexual behaviour. The report will also be released to the Canadian public. We are fully committed to open, transparent dialogue with external stakeholders. Over the past 25 days we have interacted with a total of 88 different media agencies in group and individual engagements. My team and I are committed to standing up and being held to account on this crucial imperative and will continue to be actively engaged with the public, Parliament, and the media.
We have also begun to examine how we can improve the Canadian Armed Forces' approach to training and education in order to shift culture towards enhancing the level of dignity and respect. As well, the team, in conjunction with other Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence personnel, is reviewing existing policy to assess its clarity, coherence, appropriateness, and applicability. As part of this endeavour, all terminology and definitions pertaining to inappropriate sexual behaviour will be thoroughly examined.
Inappropriate sexual behaviour remains a complex problem, one that quick fixes will not solve substantively or sustainably. My team is focused on creating innovative, meaningful change tailored to the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces members and based on best practices and lessons learned from a wide range of sources. This is a no-fail mission for the Canadian Armed Forces that my team and I are completely and utterly committed to.
Thank you.
View James Bezan Profile
General Whitecross, in your presentation you made the comment that trying to deal with the issue and raising awareness was similar to what we've gone through with mental health within the Canadian Armed Forces and how we changed the stigma, how we shifted the culture.
During this parliamentary session this committee spent quite a bit of time studying the care of our ill and injured within the Canadian Armed Forces. One thing that we came across is that we saw change happening for sure at the top end of management within the Canadian Armed Forces, but there were still some problems sometimes with middle management and even among the ranks themselves in how we deal with someone who was suffering from mental health issues.
Do you feel that's going to be a barrier in how we view awareness, education, and training with members of the Canadian Armed Forces as we move forward on sexual misconduct?
Christine Whitecross
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Christine Whitecross
2015-05-25 16:53
The first phase of our approach right now is obviously the town halls, because we have had some success, as you alluded to, in the past—and it's certainly not a similar situation; I'd like to say that first off—with PTSD and OSI, where there was a stigma, there was being afraid to speak to your chain of command, being afraid to speak to your buddies. On that thing, a lot of it, we managed to effect some change based on grassroots and a leadership down, so a bottom-up and top-down approach, to start the discussion to make sure that people are aware that these exist and that we need to be able to be free and open about the discussion. This is one of the ways we are hoping to effect change on this sexualized culture that Madame Deschamps reports.
I would just like to add that there are a number of other areas that we need to also address. One of them is that as we're trying to reinstate trust and confidence in those chains of command where it does not exist, we ensure that people are aware of the policies that they must address. Granted, we're looking at all those policies to see where they need to change, but we need to have a similar address of policies regardless of where they are in the Canadian Armed Forces. That includes the procedures that the chain of command need to deal with. In the discussions, in the identifying of a comprehensive approach in terms of an independent centre, we're also looking at a number of other areas where we're trying to instill confidence back into the chain of command where it's required.
Jonathan Will
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Jonathan Will
2015-03-24 11:06
Thank you, Madam Chair, and distinguished members of the committee.
I'm here with my colleague, Catherine Scott, to speak to you about women in skilled trades and STEM occupations. Over the past few decades, Canadian women have made considerable progress and are world leaders in both educational attainment and labour market performance.
Looking first to education, as of 2013, 56% of new post-secondary graduates were women, outnumbering men at the college, undergraduate, and master's levels. While women continue to trail men in graduation at the doctoral level, this gap is closing. Today women make up just under half of Canada's Ph.D. graduates. Canada is a world leader in female participation in education with the highest rate of post-secondary attainment among OECD countries for 25- to 64-year-old women in 2012.
Women have also made significant advances in the labour market. Over the past 30 years, the overall female employment rate has risen from 48% to 58%. Currently, women account for approximately 48% of all workers in Canada.
Internationally, Canadian women currently have the 5th highest labour force participation rate and the 7th highest employment rate in the OECD. While women have made significant advances, some areas of concern remain.
At the post-secondary level, women continue to be under-represented in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, commonly referred to as STEM. ln 2013 just over 30% of post-secondary students in STEM fields were women. Female under-representation is particularly acute in architecture, engineering and related technologies, and mathematics, computer, and information sciences. Women represent a slim majority in agriculture, natural resources and conservation, physical and life sciences, and technologies.
We also know that some young women are choosing not to pursue STEM fields of study—in other words, science, technology, engineering and math—despite outperforming their male counterparts in high school.
This situation has important economic implications for Canada. STEM skills are essential to productivity-enhancing innovation. If a significant portion of the population is not fully represented in the STEM talent pool, this could negatively affect Canada's ability to innovate and grow.
In addition, earnings in STEM occupations are typically higher than in non-STEM occupations.
ESDC projections show that the occupations expected to be in shortage over the next decade are more likely to have low rates of female participation than non-shortage occupations. Almost half of all occupations projected to be in shortage are male dominated, while only one-quarter are female dominated. The remaining quarter has a relatively equal mix of men and women. STEM and the skilled trades comprise 34% of the projected shortage occupations.
These findings clearly show that supporting employment in high-demand occupations and addressing the under-representation of women can be highly complementary priorities.
At ESDC, a number of recent measures have been taken to support employment in high-demand occupations, including STEM and the skilled trades.
A key means of addressing the under-representation of women is by supporting access to post-secondary education, a requirement for many occupations that represent non-traditional jobs for women.
The Canada student loans program provides financial assistance to post-secondary students with demonstrated financial need through the provision of loans and grants. Women make up 60% of the recipients.
ESDC is also helping young men and women to access post-secondary education through the support it provides to Pathways to Education, an organization with an established record of raising post-secondary enrolment among disadvantaged youth.
ln addition to supporting access to post-secondary education, ESDC has a number of other measures in place to help Canadians develop job-relevant skills and find employment, including in high-demand occupations such as STEM and the skilled trades. ESDC has taken action to directly support job relevant skills development with the introduction of the Canada job grant, which links training directly to employment.
Over $2 billion per year is provided to provinces and territories through the labour market development agreements to help unemployed Canadians quickly find and return to work, including support for women in apprenticeship training. The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening these agreements in consultation with provinces and territories to better align training with labour market demand.
ESDC has also taken steps to improve the quality of information for Canadians with respect to the labour market and apprenticeship.
The Job Bank and Working in Canada Web sites have been consolidated to offer Canadians a convenient single point of access for reliable information on job market trends, occupational profiles and job opportunities.
A new job alert system was launched in 2013 to provide Canadians with job market information up to twice daily.
Economic action plan 2014 invested $11.8 million over two years and $3.3 million per year on an ongoing basis to launch an enhanced job-matching service that is helping to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs in their local area that match their skills.
ESDC is currently developing a web-based career tool to provide Canadians with better information about labour market outcomes by field of study. This will help to ensure that youth are able to make well-informed choices about learning and work. The main portal for learning information,, provides information and interactive tools to help Canadians pay, plan, and save for their post-secondary education.
ln addition to its suite of programs, ESDC has asked the Council of Canadian Academies to study how well Canada is prepared to meet future demand for STEM skills.
These are just some of the ways that my department is helping to ensure that women can reach their potential in Canada's learning institutions and labour market.
My colleague Catherine Scott will now speak to the importance of women's participation in the skilled trades and some of the department's relevant programs and support.
Greg Smith
View Greg Smith Profile
Greg Smith
2015-03-12 10:30
I completely agree.
This tool will allow you to get some of the answer. Part of the real solution is working on the other side, with the employer. The employer has to be educated, and there are groups out there that are spending their resources to help human resource departments be trained to understand those inherent skills that a military person brings and also to understand what their needs are, so that when they bring them into the company they can assimilate them in a way that fits the way a military person thinks about organizational dynamics and can retain that military person.
We've found that when companies do that, they actually have higher retention rates than the rest of the population, by focusing on how to make that connection work for the military. It's very powerful, but it does require a training for the human resources departments as well.
Jill Skinner
View Jill Skinner Profile
Jill Skinner
2014-10-28 16:18
Good afternoon.
While this legislation certainly does address important principles for victims' assistance, the language of rights employed in the new legislation, combined with the requirement that the rights of victims under the act are to be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law, may make it difficult for victims to identify their enforceable legal rights and corresponding remedies.
We suggest that clear, identifiable, enforceable legal rights and the corresponding mechanisms for exercising these rights will go a long way to assisting victims in navigating the criminal justice system. As Benjamin Perrin stated in his paper entitled “More Than Words”, on Bill C-32, “...a 'right' without a remedy in the event of its breach is no right at all.”
Second, responsibilities for implementing victims' rights are directed to “the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system” and not to specific agencies, which may make it difficult for criminal justice partners to identify their respective legal responsibilities. Added clarity in this regard will direct victims to the appropriate agency and, where necessary, will allow them to take up any concerns through the appropriate complaints mechanism.
As indicated, the police are the most common first point of contact for victims and their families and play a critical role in ensuring victims know their rights. The consequences of inadequate or untimely information can be detrimental to a victim. Victims should have rights to timely, relevant, and easy-to-understand information regarding safety, programs and services, and the investigative, court, correctional, and parole process. In keeping with this goal of ensuring that all victims receive the same high-quality resources and supports, funding and support to police and justice partners will be critical in the implementation of the Canadian victims bill of rights.
Firstly, to ensure that victims have access to programs and services, consideration should be given to how accurate and consistent information will be provided to victims, particularly those who live in remote locations. The CACP supports the government's intention, as outlined in budget 2014, to “provide victims with online resources that will help individuals access the federal programs and services available for victims of crime”. In addition, the CACP supports the government's intention to create a web portal that will allow victims of federal offenders to view a current photo of the offender prior to the release.
Secondly, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police requests timely and complete information for law enforcement agencies to create victim response enhancements to be integrated within current training. Chiefs of police look to the Government of Canada to coordinate with a training institution—like the Canadian Police Knowledge Network—and to provide funding to develop education and training modules. Consistent federal funding would expedite the process of implementing the Canadian victims bill of rights within the provinces and territories and ensure these important rights can be implemented as immediately as possible.
Thirdly, in order to implement and deliver effective victim services and thereby increase confidence in our justice system, funding for sufficient resources across the country is imperative. The establishment of a police victims support fund, similar to the former police officers recruitment fund, to this initiative would help to provide the necessary supports.
Furthermore, in creating and funding victim resources and services, chiefs of police stress the importance of recognizing the historical trauma, unique awareness of, and respect for tradition and culture of first nations, Inuit, and Métis groups. The Canadian victims bill of rights should respond to the needs of victims in these groups in a holistic and culturally sensitive way. lt should also consider Canada's multicultural composition, specifically in ensuring access to information in diverse languages, which is critical in ensuring meaningful participation by all victims.
The Canadian victims bill of rights should enshrine core enforceable rights of victims of crime and the effective recognition of and respect for a victim's human rights and should ensure that needs, concerns, and interests of victims are valued and considered in a participatory environment.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police victims of crime committee supports the principles advanced by the Canadian victims bill of rights. Chiefs of police stress the importance of ensuring resources are in place to ensure victims across the country clearly understand their enforceable rights and have timely and accurate access to information and services.
The CACP looks forward to continued participation during the consideration and implementation process of the Canadian victims bill of rights. We recognize that the victim-focused approach of Bill C-32 creates a solid foundation for victims and is the first step in enhancing victims' participatory and service rights throughout the criminal justice process.
Bard Golightly
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Bard Golightly
2014-06-03 8:51
Thanks, Kevin. Those were good comments.
It's a pleasure to be here today. Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to speak.
I had the opportunity on April 29 in Edmonton to participate in a labour market development agreement round table. It was a great session, I thought. From a national perspective, it's interesting that while our country may not indicate it has a labour shortage, if one considers the employment rate, we find that in the residential construction industry we're having a great deal of trouble finding the right people with the right skills at the right time. As well, with the demographic trends moving along—we all know about those—labour shortages of skilled people are predicted to get much worse.
When I travel across the country in my role on the CHBA executive, it's eminently clear to me how different the employment situations are in different regions, and how important it is that our system accommodate and account for those regional differences.
For background, we are a 900,000-job industry generating over $120 billion in economic activity. However, in the next decade we will see approximately 100,000 job vacancies to fill. That means our industry and government need these LMDA dollars to be as effective as possible in getting Canadians employed, and perhaps more importantly, though, not just into jobs but into careers.
Today we offer the following recommendations for your consideration.
Make information on all LMDA-funded programs, provincial and federal, and the results of these programs easily accessible for review and sharing by employers, allowing for as much flexibility as possible in labour market development agreements in order to accommodate the regional and sector-specific needs and opportunities. This is something that I think came up in Edmonton as well.
Second, ensure that all training and support programs are available to trades and occupations working or seeking work in the residential construction industry. This would include promotional efforts funded through LMDAs.
Third, ensure that residential trades and occupations are included in the labour market information being used by those designing the LMDA-funded programs. Where apprentices are concerned, this includes, as Kevin mentioned, not only the Red Seal but all provincially designated trades as well.
In addition, it should be noted that our industry employs many people in non-apprenticeable jobs, many of which serve as entry-level positions into the industry and offer long-term career opportunities. In fact, my son is just going through that now. He has now moved into the apprentice program, but he started off in a non-apprenticeable trade and he's building a career out of this.
I'd also like to add that in our Nova Scotia consultation, a common theme stressed around the table was the need to reduce bureaucracy and reduce the barriers that stop individuals from accessing training. For example, a person having to wait six to eight weeks for employment insurance benefits is a barrier to training. A solution could be to bridge that six-to-eight-week gap that apprentices must wait for EI by having the grant dollars assignable to the employer. This would allow the employer to pay the apprentice during regular pay periods since they know the money is coming.
With those goals set out and the information on LMDA-funded programs in hand, we trust that our sector can play a greater role in helping to direct LMDA-funded programming, as well as connecting employers in our sector with various opportunities to help employ even more underemployed and unemployed Canadians. This in turn will help address the pending shortage of skilled workers in our industry.
Thank you.
Andrew Mosker
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Andrew Mosker
2014-05-06 11:09
Good morning, bonjour, and thank you for inviting us to speak to the standing committee today. And thank you for all of the support that the government of Canada has made over the years in fostering, developing, and sharing Canadian music.
I applaud you for wanting to learn more, and for asking the question regarding whether or not the current strategies and investments are working as well as they can, and if they're not, what can be done to adjust, alter, or reinvent them. Regardless, the government of Canada's role at the table is fundamental, as music is a vehicle by which we communicate our values, our identity, and our nationhood.
The facts speak for themselves. Today, we are already an arts nation, a country where ordinary Canadians spend more than twice as much each year attending the arts—of which music is a major component—than all sports in Canada put together. In short, Canada cares about music.
It's no secret that the changes in technology over the past 10 to 15 years have impacted all of us, between the launch of Napster in 2000 and the iPhone in 2007. It is also no secret that these technologies, as well as others, have profoundly affected the music industry, both positively and negatively. Although the impact of these new technologies on the development of music and the music industry is nothing new—it's been happening for centuries, often in transformative ways—its net impact over this period has fundamentally altered the commercial system of the music industry that has been in place for well over 100 years, and much more quickly and adversely than originally anticipated.
I'll describe some of these changes. While digital revenues for music have increased, they have not replaced what has been lost due to the disappearance of physical sales. Revenues paid to creators for the intellectual property created has decreased significantly, forcing musicians to find other ways to earn a livelihood. The public has devalued the economic value of an artistic work. The traditional role of a major record label has been redirected from marketer and incubator mainly to distributor. The presentation of live music is becoming more important for artists to generate revenue than ever in the past.
Despite these changes, we have not seen an erosion of music, but rather quite the contrary, in fact. Music is more ubiquitous and varied than ever, offering more choice for the listener and, I would argue, more opportunities for the musician and the creator to draw upon to expand the creative process. There is an opportunity that we must recognize and celebrate with these changes in technology.
As the seventh largest music market in the world, Canadians have demonstrated their support for music, and we need to continue to build on those successes, but be more innovative in how we continue to nurture our uniquely Canadian voice for the future. It is in this context that I will be making the following recommendations to this committee.
Number one, invest in awareness that celebrates and educates. We believe there needs to be more focus on recognizing and celebrating the contributions that Canadians have made in music, and celebrate it not only nationally within Canada but globally as well. In short, invest a portion of the existing allocation to a national awareness program that educates and celebrates the stories of performers, songwriters, producers, and composers of our country through a myriad of media platforms. The stories of these individuals are often inspirational tales of unique talent, drive, hard work, and competitiveness.
The contribution that Canada has made to music is staggering when you consider our relatively small population and the size of our economy, the 14th largest in the world. For example, since the 1950s we have given the world such artists as Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, The Band, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, The Guess Who, Offenbach, Harmonium, Céline Dion, Arcade Fire, and untold others. These stories are untapped treasures, and my own experience at the National Music Centre has elevated my own awareness that many people don't realize that these artists are, in fact, Canadian.
Number two, brand Canada as a music country, and launch this national awareness strategy to further communicate the impact that the creative industries, and music in particular, have on strengthening Canada's economic position in the world as a place that attracts the brightest and most creative talent to live here and work here. It's taking the success of music tourism and expanding it further as an economic pillar. In the process, this is one way we can continue to develop and celebrate our uniquely Canadian diversity and voice.
Number three, expand hall of fame celebrations in Canada beyond a segment of an annual awards show to an outreach opportunity that tells a broader narrative relating to the inductees' success and what impact they are having on younger artists emerging today. Think of it as successful artists giving back to their community. Celebrating recognition will amplify existing support for production, marketing, and touring opportunities to completely new levels.
Number four, celebrate diversity and broaden support to include the unique multicultural tapestry of Canadian identity. By this, I mean be inclusive. In addition to our aboriginal peoples and our founding peoples from Europe, consider the broader ethnic voices that are a significant part of Canada's population.
Number five, as part of the National Music Centre's offering, our intention is to represent our geographical regions by amplifying their unique stories, not only through the assembling of collections but also by supporting and incubating the unique voices that come from each of these regions.
In the area of incubation and professional development, we offer the following recommendations: Canada's musicians need a hub that is available 365 days a year. Musicians today need to have a holistic understanding of the environment they're working in, from the creative process to the marketing process, and everything in-between.
We need to ask where our professional knowledge is and if we are creating an environment that fosters meaningful collaboration and mentorship. The National Music Centre can potentially help with this. It would not surprise me if many of you had never heard of the National Music Centre prior to this presentation, what our purpose is and why we matter to Canadians, regardless of where they live in Canada.
We're headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. We're a non-profit charitable organization. Our vision is to harness the power of music and use it as a way to catalyze innovation, discovery, and renewal of things that matter to Canadians.
Our mission is to build a home for music in Canada that champions our stories, as a country, through a wide range of programs, including exhibitions that celebrate our history in music, our contributions, our voice, and our identity; education programs for elementary schools that extend beyond traditional music education, that connects core curriculum subjects, including math, science, language arts, social studies, to examples from music. This very successful practice is particularly important for those who might never be exposed to traditional music education; supporting performances of touring Canadian artists across the musical spectrum through live shows that foster, at various stages of an artist's development, their own professional abilities. Finally, inviting an resident incubation programs that nurture the development of new Canadian music for recording artists, composers, as well as performers.
In essence, the National Music Centre is a hybrid organization and has derived its influence from a variety of influences--music, technology, and museums. On an annual basis, today we serve about 75,000 people, mostly in Calgary, and we're now in the process of building a new National Music Centre building, that is currently under construction in Calgary, for which we have already raised $103 million. We're scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2016.
As a nationally focused organization, we have several partnerships, with the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Junos, CARAS, the Canadian Country Music Association, CKUA radio network, Library and Archives Canada, as well as several others.
I've worked and volunteered in many aspects of the music industry over the past 25 years—as a musician, an academic, a promoter, and a broadcaster. I was the first employee at the National Music Centre 16 years ago. I've been fortunate enough to be in a position to shape an entirely new organization for Canada that supports and celebrates our country's national music story through education, as well as serving as a hub for creating, supporting, and celebrating Canadian music.
I think we've been fortunate enough to be in a position to fill a void in Canada at a time when the music industry, as well as museums in general, have undergone a radical shift as a result of the rapidly changing technologies—
David McGovern
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David McGovern
2014-03-06 15:32
Thank you very much.
I'd like to thank the committee for inviting Employment and Social Development Canada to appear before you today on the topic of youth employment.
I'd also like to introduce my colleagues around the table, but we have too many of them, so I won't. They're here to help me if you have questions regarding programs that support youth participation in the labour market.
As the committee is aware, the government announced in Budget 2014 its intention to better align employment programs with the realities of the labour market, and in that context, the committee's study is timely and welcome.
Over the coming decade, approximately 6.2 million people will enter the labour market, three-quarters of whom will come from the school system. Young labour market entrants will therefore contribute the most to labour force growth, well above the contribution of new immigrants.
We also know that over the next 10 years the shift in employment towards occupations requiring higher levels of skills and education will continue, as approximately two-thirds of new jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. A large proportion of these will be in health, engineering, and technology occupations, as well as in certain skilled trades.
The recent recession highlighted the importance of skills and education for youth, as those with higher education levels fared better, while those with lower levels of education were most severely affected.
Canadian youth are investing in their education, and educational attainment is among the highest in the world and growing. At the same time, there is some evidence that qualifications are not optimally aligned with demand. In particular, employers express concerns that too few students are choosing in-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math, and many do not consider skilled trades as a first career choice.
Given growing skills requirements of jobs and pressures of an aging labour force, it is essential that youth have the right skills to make successful transitions in the labour market and to improve their ability to adjust when economic circumstances change.
Addressing skills challenges facing youth has been a long-standing objective of the Government of Canada's policies and programs. Recent efforts, however, have focused on ensuring interventions are better aligned with the needs of employers and the labour market.
More specifically, that has meant enhancing opportunities for Canadian youth to access post-secondary education and supporting careers in the skilled trades; assisting youth transition to the world of work by providing tangible work opportunities in areas of high demand; and ensuring youth have the information they need to make informed career and training choices aligned with the needs of the labour market.
Allow me to highlight some of the Employment and Social Development Canada key initiatives dedicated to supporting these objectives.
The government supports access to education through a number of programs and initiatives. These include, for example, the Canada student loans program. This provides student financial assistance to post-secondary students with demonstrated financial need, through the provision of loans and grants. The education savings program encourages families to save for their children's post-secondary education, using registered education savings plans, RESPs, which allow savings to grow tax free. The Canada education savings grant and the Canada learning bond provide additional incentives, particularly for low- and middle-income families, to save in RESPs.
The government also provides support to Pathways to Education Canada, an organization with an established record of reducing high school dropout rates and increasing post-secondary enrolment among disadvantaged youth. Budget 2013 confirmed that the government will extend support for this initiative.
Apprenticeship training is also an important part of the post-secondary education system.
To further encourage Canadians to consider a career in the skilled trades, Budget 2014 proposed the creation of the Canada apprentice loan by expanding the Canada student loans program. The objective is to provide apprentices registered in red seal trades with access to an estimated $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
This action builds on the existing government incentives for apprentices and employers to encourage apprenticeship training and stimulate employment in the skilled trades.
The apprenticeship grants are designed to encourage more Canadians to pursue and complete apprenticeship programs in the red seal trades.
To support youth transitions in the labour market, the youth employment strategy is the government's flagship program to help youth aged 15 to 30 gain skills and real work experience to transition in the labour market. This program, which invests approximately $330 million annually, is led by Employment and Social Development Canada and delivered by 11 federal departments and agencies.
It has three main streams. Skills Link provides funding for employers and organizations to help youth facing barriers to employment acquire skills and work experience. Summer Work Experience provides wage subsidies to employers to create summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students. This program includes Canada Summer Jobs, which provides funding for not-for-profit organizations as well as public sector and private sector employers to create summer job opportunities for students. All told, approximately 35,000 summer jobs were created in 2013. Finally, Career Focus provides youth with work experience in their field of study to enable more informed career decisions and to develop their skills.
Moving forward, the government is committed to enhancing its supports for the labour market transition of youth. In particular, through budget 2013, the government provided an additional $70 million over three years for the Career Focus stream of the youth employment strategy to support internships for recent graduates, so they get an opportunity to apply their newly acquired skills.
Through budget 2014, the government announced that it would take further steps to align youth employment programs with the evolving realities of the job market, more specifically to promote internships in high-demand fields such as skilled trades, and in science, technology, engineering, and math, so that youth can find work experience and the skills necessary to find and retain jobs.
The Government of Canada also provides support for unemployed and underemployed youth through income support from the employment insurance program and through significant transfers to the provinces and territories. More specifically, the government transfers $1.95 billion annually through the labour market development agreements to support the unemployed who are eligible for employment insurance. Similarly, the government provides $500 million annually through the labour market agreements for training and unemployment supports for those not eligible for EI. Youth represent about 20% and 35% of the clients receiving support under each of these transfers respectively.
Finally, the labour market agreements for persons with disabilities allow provinces to provide targeted programming to improve the employability of persons with disabilities, including youth.
The new Canada job grant to be introduced by July 1, 2014, aims to directly connect skills training with employers, helping to ensure that Canadians, including youth, are developing the skills for available jobs.
Finally, the government plays an important role in providing learning and labour market information to ensure youth have timely and reliable information to make the right choices about learning and work.
For example, through the Working in Canada website and the government provides information on available jobs, labour market outcomes, and educational and training requirements.
In Budget 2013, the government reaffirmed its commitment to improving these tools and announced a reallocation of $19 million over 2 years to provide young Canadians with more information on job prospects and to undertake outreach efforts to promote careers in high-demand fields.
Through its funding of the Red Seal program, the government supports promotional activities to inform industry and tradespeople, as well as high school students and the public at large, about apprenticeships and the benefits of working in the skilled trades. The government also provides significant support to Skills Canada to actively promote careers in the skilled trades to Canadian youth by working with local organizations, educators, and governments.
In conclusion, I would again like to thank the committee for undertaking this timely study. We look forward to seeing its recommendations.
My colleagues and I welcome the opportunity to respond to any questions you may have.
Amy Huziak
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Amy Huziak
2014-03-06 16:01
Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone.
As introduced, I'm Amy Huziak, and I'm the national representative of young workers for the Canadian Labour Congress. With me is my colleague, Angella MacEwen, who is a senior economist with the CLC. On behalf of the 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress, we thank you for the opportunity to present our views.
The CLC brings together workers from virtually all sectors of the Canadian economy, in all occupations, and in all parts of Canada. As a young worker myself, I'm one of more than 876,000 young union members in Canada today. I regularly hear from my peers, both unionized and non-unionized, about the many barriers we're facing in the current labour market. Recessions are always harder on young workers, but we are nearly five years past the end of the last recession and there's still no recovery in sight for young workers.
Comparing the unemployment rate of 15-to-24-year-old young workers to that of 25-to-54-year-old workers gives us some indication of how young workers are faring. In 2012, the unemployment rate for young workers was 2.4 times that of core age workers, its highest value since comparable data became available in 1976.
The unemployment rate for aboriginal young workers was 21.1% in 2010, which is the most recent data we could find. That is 6.5 percentage points higher than the non-aboriginal population. Racialized workers and newcomers also face greater barriers to labour force participation, but it's difficult to know exactly what is going on with this group, as data is scarce and unreliable.
Between October 2008 and January 2014, there was an increase of 100,000 unemployed young workers aged 15 to 29, so that there are now 540,000 unemployed young Canadians. Even more startling, though, is that over 350,000 young workers left the labour force over that period, for reasons such as returning to school or skills training, discouragement, or taking unpaid work to fill that gap. It has been estimated that there are between 150,000 and 300,000 unpaid interns each year in Canada, which is a labour market challenge that no previous generation of workers has had to face.
But unemployment isn't the only issue that needs to be addressed. One third of young workers are employed part time, and many are in low-wage, temporary, and otherwise insecure employment, with a large contingent located in the retail and service sector, which is notoriously insecure. Too many young workers are underemployed: either unable to secure enough hours of work or lost on the margins of the workforce. We calculate the underemployment rate for young workers aged 15 to 24 to be 27.7% for 2013. This is a significant number, meaning that more than a quarter of young workers are being affected by the situation right now, and it's a significantly higher number than just the straight unemployment rate shows.
This is a big problem for the upcoming generation of workers, as persistent or extended unemployment and underemployment leads to what we call “scarring”, which basically means that it's very difficult to recover the level of wages and labour market outcomes that we would have had otherwise. The IMF says that high levels of youth underemployment contribute to growing income inequality in developed nations such as Canada. They estimate that the wage penalty for unemployed young workers can be as high as 20% compared to peers who are lucky enough to find employment and can be felt for up to 20 years. Scarring effects also extend beyond wages into social exclusion and health outcomes.
In Canada, Professor Philip Oreopoulos from the University of Toronto has estimated that entry level wages are 10% to 15% lower for those who graduate during a recession. The longer the economic recovery, the longer it takes for these wages to catch up. TD Economics estimates this to cost at least 1.3% of the GDP for Canada.
The paid internships announced in the last federal budget will only reach a maximum of 2,500 individuals per year, less than 0.5% of unemployed young workers. This only addresses a fraction of the need and, more importantly, does not address the need for long-term permanent work for young people.
To top off the dismal labour market, our social safety net is failing young workers too. In 2013 only 18% of unemployed young men and 8% of unemployed young women were able to qualify for EI. High entrance requirements for new labour market entrants shut young workers out of employment insurance. Given that a large number of training supports are available only to EI-eligible workers, shutting young workers out of EI also cuts access to valuable training supports.
Recent cuts to LMA funding, which provides training assistance to workers not eligible for EI, further exacerbate this problem.
As we see it, the problem of youth unemployment needs to be addressed from three angles. First, we need an employment strategy that is linked with a training strategy to put young workers on a career path to good jobs, meaning that the work is decently paid, is permanent, and has such benefits as access to a pension.
Second, we need good labour market information to flow between the government, employers, and educational institutions to ensure that young people can make informed decisions about the fields in which they are educated and that institutions can properly advise students.
Finally, we need to strengthen social protections to ensure that young workers have equal access to EI and health care, as well as to a strong Canada pension plan and old age security system when they retire.
There are many phrases that we've been hearing about young workers lately: that young workers are being left behind, that this is the last generation. But the truth is that young workers have a lot to contribute in this economy, and we have to make sure they have the opportunities.
Thank you.
Laura Beattie
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Laura Beattie
2014-03-03 17:18
Yes. I think it's gotten better in four years, but our primary care providers need a lot more education, continuing education. Our medical students, residents, they're not trained. All they hear about is the obesity epidemic. I did prepare a brief. I've got growth charts in there as well to show you. But, yes, I had to find it online. I suspected. Parents go through huge denial, but I knew how serious the illness was. A lot of times doctors, especially primary care providers, if they don't know what to do, they don't do anything. They can't do anything. We need to educate them and we need to give them the education, the tools, to know what to do.
We need standards all over Canada. It depends where you live, it really does. Even in Ontario, it depends. I'm very fortunate that I live in a city that has this. There are some places that don't have it. I know our treatments have improved. Even from when I started, the FBT has changed.
Josée Champagne
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Josée Champagne
2014-02-26 15:42
I would like to begin by thanking you for having me today, as well. It's truly an honour for me to be here. I also want to thank you for conducting a study on eating disorders. This is a very important issue.
For 14 years, I have been the Executive Director of an organization called Anorexia and bulimia Quebec, or ANEB. This is a not-for-profit organization that provides services to individuals with an eating disorder and their families, across Quebec.
Our organization guarantees free, ad hoc and specialized assistance to individuals suffering from eating disorders, and to their loved ones. We provide a help and referral phone line, prevention activities and professional training. Over the past 14 years, I have seen time and time again how important community resources like ANEB are in the continuum of supportive services for individuals suffering from eating disorders.
Eating disorders are very worrisome public health problems in terms of their rising prevalence, but also in terms of their various manifestations, which are largely unknown and often go unnoticed. Those include anorexia, binge-eating disorder and muscle dysmorphia.
These eating disorders, as you have probably heard from many witnesses who came before me, have numerous psychological and physiological repercussions on the person suffering from them. If left untreated, the disorders may result in death. Unfortunately, these types of situations have occurred in recent years.
Despite this extremely alarming state of affairs, there are very few resources specializing in eating disorders in Quebec. The limited resources that do exist are in the public domain. The number of hospital beds available for individuals with eating disorders is very low—about 10 to 12 beds throughout Quebec.
For adults, it takes a very long time to obtain specialized third-line services for eating disorders. People can wait for months, even a year or sometimes longer, depending on the seriousness of their eating disorders. For people in distress, a few days is a long time. You can imagine what a few months, even a year, can be like. The resources available to people suffering from this disease are clearly insufficient.
Faced with those kinds of wait times, some people decide to turn to private resources for specialized assistance. However, those resources can also have considerably long waiting lists and charge a lot of money for their services. So that is not an option for most people suffering from eating disorders.
When it comes to treatment for eating disorders in Quebec, it may sometimes seem that we have a two-tier health care system. We have the private and the public systems. Currently, in Quebec, a number of public resource professionals are trying to compensate for that shortage in order to meet the demand. However, the sad reality is that few professionals know enough about those disorders to be able to respond effectively.
There is another major issue that should be pointed out. Most of the care available is concentrated in large urban centres. People living in the regions have few resources, and often feel isolated and misunderstood. They also feel like that they are the only ones with these kinds of problems.
We know that the number of individuals with an eating disorder will increase—and they will be younger and younger—and that the physical and psychological consequences are serious. There is an increasingly urgent need for action.
All my years with ANEB have made me see that much of the stigma around the illness has persisted. People still often say that all someone has to do is eat, that their disorder is just a whim, that eating disorders affect only girls, that an individual is not anorexic because they are not thin enough, and I could go on.
This lack of understanding of the disease and the misconceptions about it are sometimes even found among health care professionals who are not trained or informed regarding this issue. Patients are sent home if they are not thin enough because, according to the health care personnel, they are not exhibiting clear physical signs associated with undernutrition. Believe it or not, we are still seeing this in 2014.
In addition to the many persisting prejudices, the illness is still taboo, even in 2014. Those people are ashamed to seek help. They are afraid of being judged. The disease is more taboo among men.
What about loved ones and friends? Family members of affected individuals are often resourceless and powerless in the face of the disease. They feel that they lack information about the illness and about the treatment, and that they have little support in their suffering. They do not feel equipped to help their loved one.
Last year, over 750 family members of individuals with an eating disorder called the ANEB phone help line to seek assistance, and over 300 individuals turned to support groups for accurate information.
Following this reflection, we have a few recommendations for the committee.
It would be important to improve accessibility to specialized support services in the community in order to ensure appropriate and quick assistance for individuals waiting for support, but also after treatment.
It would also be important to consolidate the funding of organizations working with this clientele, so that energy can be invested into developing assistance, instead of into looking for funding. That's often what community organizations have to focus on.
In addition, it would be important to increase the number of awareness and information campaigns targeting the illness. More interest in this issue would go a long way in helping reduce the discrimination and stigma people with an eating disorder experience. It would also be a good idea to find known public figures who have suffered from an eating disorder and who would agree to talk about their experience with the disease.
It would be essential to make training programs more accessible to various professionals, so that they could identify eating disorders more quickly and effectively. That training should target far more professionals, as many of them are likely to deal with such cases. I am not talking about only health care professionals, but also professionals working in schools and sports coaches. That number should be increased as much as possible.
It would also be important to provide professionals with more tools, so that they can respond more effectively and appropriately to clients. This would really help reduce waiting lists for third-line services and provide services in the community.
The use of prevention programs in school should be more prevalent. Those programs would be based on research evidence. In addition, peer helpers should be trained to identify young people in schools.
That concludes my presentation. I hope this information will help you in your study on eating disorders among girls and women.
Thank you for listening.
Bonnie Brayton
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Bonnie Brayton
2014-02-26 16:04
Thank you again for allowing me to get back and get my document correctly printed.
I will say that my president took quite a bit of time to review the previous testimonies and certainly that impacted the way that we chose to prepare for today.
As we already heard from NEDIC, the actual face of an eating disorder is heterogeneous: mostly female, but also male; individuals who identify with their assigned sex and gender, and those who don't; racialized individuals; newcomers to Canada and established Canadians; individuals with physical disabilities; individuals with concurrent medical or psychological disorders, such as, diabetes, substance abuse, depression, PTSD, and so on. Individuals from all socio-economic walks of life have eating disorders.
From a feminist lens, we have long been concerned with the messages women and girls receive about body image, sexuality, and in particular, the sexualization of young girls in the media. Conversely, from a feminist-disability perspective, in the quest to present women as strong and capable, the larger movement does not always reflect the face of women and girls with disabilities. We look everywhere but do not see our faces, and often there is no place for us, no model to follow.
In the intervening time we also see the deadly and devastating impacts of Internet pornography and cyberbullying. Women and girls are being exposed to online sexual harassment and stalking. Sex is a commodity, and your stock rises and falls with your appearance.
No exploration of media and eating disorders would be complete without flagging the issues posed by online groups that are involved in trading ideas about how to binge and purge, further reinforcing deadly practices. Additional impacts also come in the media for our virtual invisibility and the way society views mental illness and invisible disabilities, refining our view to the context of disability.
People with mental disabilities tend to come at the bottom of the hierarchy of impairments, below those with physical and learning disabilities, because they are constructed as deviant and possessing a spoiled identity and lacking rationality....
I'm quoting from Beresford.
The media plays a fundamental role in this portrayal focusing on the strange or aggressive behaviour of people categorised as 'mentally ill'. This has real consequences for individuals living with such disabilities because politicians are affected by what is reported and shape policies around mental health accordingly.
Disabled women experience violence and have a unique risk as a result of this.
Many of us recount our experiences, as young children, of having to display our bodies to groups of male doctors in the guise of “medical treatment” without prior knowledge or consent. We may have been asked to strip, to walk back and forth in front of complete strangers so that they could get a better view of what the physical “problem” is, or to manually manipulate our limbs to determine flexibility and dexterity. Today, pictures or videos are taken of us and used as educational tools for future doctors, with little thought given to our needs to have control over what happens to our bodies or who sees us. While the medical profession attempts to maintain control over our bodies, some women with disabilities may attempt to regain control through dieting, bingeing or other methods of body mutilation.It is ableism at play when a doctor asks a woman with a disability to lose weight before she becomes too heavy for her caregivers to lift. And that ableism persists when a woman with a physical disability loses weight, and instead of asking how she did it, congratulates her on her “success.”
Though identified as a serious environmental risk factor for eating disorders, every psychiatrist who testified spoke about the active discrimination faced by women and girls with eating disorders. This discrimination is in clear contradiction to the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, insofar as the right to be assisted in the recovery from injuries posed by their abuse.
DAWN Canada supports the recommendations made by the medical professionals presenting here and those of NEDIC. We offer a discussion of our own.
Recommendation number one. Canada’s approach to eating disorders must be strategic and involve all levels of education, practice, and research. We need to ensure that the intersectional, gender, and disability lenses are also trained on the process of research, practice, education, public awareness, and disability inclusion. Public health measures aimed at prevention and early detection must include physician screening; public health nurse screening; school nurse, mental health, and addiction screening; as well as the intervention and recognition that violence against women and girls is a cause, effect, and risk factor for eating disorders. Women and girls need choice and a continuum of referral points.
Caution is also urged in the area of interventions such as neuro-stimulation and magnetic stimulation. There is promise, but have all the risks been taken into account?
Recommendation number two. There are many references to best practices and evidence-based care but there must be room for innovation, new ideas, and also creative care for women and girls with disabilities for whom current evidence-based interventions are not working.
Recommendation number three. We must ensure that women and girls with disabilities are included in discussions of eating disorders and body image. Our voices, perspectives, and indeed our images are necessary in order to move forward effectively.
Recommendation number four. Treatment programs must include women and girls with disabilities and take into account the intersection of gender, violence, and disability.
The services need to be competent in addressing eating disorders, trauma, addictions, and the medical effects of eating disorders and disabilities of women and girls who present for treatment rather than using intersecting disorders as a rationale for exclusion.
Facilities must be developed using the principles of universal access and information must be made available in alternate formats to ensure that all women have the information they need. Treatment must be holistic, multidisciplinary, and offer a range of choices along a continuum of peer support, community treatment, day programs, brief intervention, and long-term treatment. The interventions must take the developmental level of the woman or girl with a disability into account and be appropriately tailored for their needs.
There's a lot of discussion in the presentation about the concurrent addiction but not much discussion on the appropriateness of addiction treatment modalities in helping manage compulsive aspects of eating disorders. More research is needed to help see if addictions modalities could assist eating disorder treatment.
Remove barriers to mothers with disabilities and eating disorders who need to go to treatment. I give Alberta as an example where, under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, if a child is in care for 200 cumulative days, they move to make the child a permanent guardianship order. If a mother has no other place to care for her children than in temporary foster care, this is a discriminatory measure. We are not sure if this measure is similar in other provinces. In order to provide a structure and framework for therapy, access for determinant of health must be in place.
Justice also has a role to play with mental health diversion and the Elizabeth Fry Society, when people are arrested for stealing to finance binge cycles, as well as ensuring that adequate treatment opportunities exist for women and girls with disabilities.
Women and girls with disabilities must have positive media coverage. Women and girls with disabilities must have access to programming in which they can see their own lives and realities reflected in the Canadian discourse. The CRTC needs to be more active in promoting these measures.
Ever mindful of the slippery slope of assisted suicide—and I bring this forward because it's such an important issue in the Canadian discourse today and such an important issue to people with disabilities—we look at the risk for women with disabilities being valued less for scarce treatment resources because the younger person was perhaps seen as more viable. So she, as a 53-year-old woman, was left for nature to take its course. That's referring to Dr. Woodside's testimony of November 28, 2013.
In countries where euthanasia exists.... The case of Ann G, a 44-year-old woman with anorexia nervosa who died by euthanasia is one in a series of cases that have come out of Belgium, including recent cases, again, as a sidebar, that include the euthanizing of baby girls with spina bifida.
The human family in Canada simply must offer better to all of its citizens, including women and girls with disabilities.
I'm looking forward to preparing a written brief. We had less than a week's notice, so we were not able to prepare it for today, but I wanted to indicate that we would be recommending that the committee also hear from a young woman named Kaley Roosen, who's currently pursuing her Ph.D. at York University. Ms. Roosen's thesis and research is focused on eating disorders and women with physical disabilities. In addition, we will bring some important findings from her research in our written brief.
Thank you.
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