From the category archives:

Canada eh

Campaigns like “Let’s Talk” are all well and good when it comes to ending the stigma and launching a conversation. But it’s not enough to just talk about mental health. We urgently need to fix our system to provide better access treatment, prevention and education.

The Globe and Mail’s #OpenMinds Series has some practical, common-sense solutions that should be implemented:

  • Expanding access to publicly funded therapy
  • Using technology to deliver therapy into the homes of Canadians
  • Teaching the next generation about mental health
  • Giving youth early access to good clinical care
  • Providing affordable housing to those who need it

I agree with all of these. And I’d add a few:

  1. Healthcare is under provincial jurisdiction. But the Federal government DOES have the power to amend the Canada Health Act to include mental health. (No doubt the provinces would push back about it being an unfunded mandate, but studies show that these solutions would actually *save* the government money in the long run.) Amending the Act would rightly recognize the importance of mental health and would pressure provincial governments to provide better access to care across the country.
  2. Resources (funding, support groups, education) for caregivers are notably absent from this list. This is a big gap in our existing system. Being a caregiver is an enormous responsibility, and people with loved ones in their lives battling mental health problems need all the help they can get.
  3. Many people are afraid to seek treatment for mental health problems because they fear losing their jobs if their health issues become known. Both employees and employers need more education about their existing rights. And where loopholes exist in the laws, these need to be amended to ensure that nobody ever has to worry about being fired due to mental illness.
  4. We need to do a better job training police on how to deal with people with mental health issues. There are too many horror stories of people being killed, harmed, or shuffled into the criminal justice system when what they need is treatment, not enforcement.

According to the CAMH, mental illness costs the economy an estimated $51 billion per year, and affects an estimated 1 in 2 Canadians by age 40. Nearly 4000 Canadians commit suicide each year. There’s no doubt that we have a mental health crisis in this country. And it’s in our power to fix.

Let’s do better, Canada.

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BCCLA has written a clear, easy-to-understand guide for Canadians about issues that are far from clear or easy to understand:

The first thing to remember if you’re a Canadian travelling to the United States is that you do not have a free-standing right to enter the US. Many Canadians have been crossing the Canada-US border regularly and without incident for years, but it’s important to remember that US officials have no obligation to let you into the country and can deny you entry for all sorts of reasons that may seem arbitrary and unfair.

[ . . . ]

Until another case comes along, we simply do not know whether the CBSA’s powers include compelling people to provide passwords (though we certainly know that CBSA acts as if they have this power), or whether it is constitutional to arrest someone for refusing (though we know that people have been arrested in these circumstances).

In short: We have very limited privacy at the border, even coming back into Canada. This is an issue that hasn’t been clearly decided by the courts yet. Until then, there are fuzzy guidelines, which may or may not offer some degree of protection. But, if in doubt, leave your devices at home.

And, memo to the federal government: We need to do better. Please address this through legislation, rather than waiting for it to end up in court.

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I admit it: I’m a census nerd

07.21.2016

I’m one of those Canadians who really, really likes the census. I completed it (alas, the short version) within minutes of receiving my card in the mail. Apparently, I’m not the only one: This census reportedly had a 98% response rate, higher than the last two censuses. In fact, so many people were excited that [...]

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Americans: Considering moving to Canada if Trump wins?

03.02.2016

Google searches for “moving to Canada” rose by 1000% after the US primary “Super Tuesday” results: In the four hours around the close of polls across Super Tuesday states, searches for “how can I move to Canada” on Google spiked by 350%. By midnight, the query had risen to more than 1000% its normal search volume. [...]

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Elizabeth May should not be Environment Minister

10.21.2015

There are petitions going around urging Justin Trudeau to appoint Elizabeth May as Environment Minister. I think that’s a terrible idea. Here’s why: After a decade of Stephen Harper’s “war on science”, we finally have a government committed to returning to evidence-based decision making. Trudeau wants to bring back the long form census. He wants [...]

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It’s a Liberal majority!

10.20.2015

Wow. Just wow. Prime Minister Trudeau. It’s been a long time since Canada has heard those words. Before my lifetime, anyway. I dared hope for a Liberal minority. I never in my wildest dreams could have predicted a Liberal majority. The Tories have been turfed out. Stephen Harper has announced he will step down as [...]

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Pollwatch: Dirty tricks as Canadians vote

10.19.2015

#Pollwatch: I’ve been hearing reports of people having difficulty voting, despite being on the voter registration list and showing up with multiple forms of ID. Via the Orwellian-named “Fair Elections Act“, Stephen Harper is trying to make it more difficult for people to vote, and I fear he may be succeeding. Don’t let him get [...]

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John Oliver on Canadian Election: Don’t vote for Harper

10.19.2015

John Oliver is one of my favourite comedian-slash-pundits. Last night, he took on the topic of the Canadian federal election, as only he could: Now, it’s true that this is a bit of a lighthearted treatment of the topic, with plenty of room for moose jokes and Canadian stereotypes. But remember that Oliver is addressing [...]

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Let’s do this, Canada!

10.18.2015

Well, it’s been a really long slog of a campaign. But either way, it all ends tomorrow. So I’ll just leave you with this plea: Please get out and vote — it CAN and WILL make a difference. If you’re not sure where or when to vote, visit www.elections.ca. If you aren’t sure who to [...]

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Pre-election thoughts

10.16.2015

Thoughts heading into the weekend before the election: ‪ Polls showing a Liberal surge are going to help Trudeau‪‬, as anti-Harper voters get off the fence and hop on the bandwagon of the party they perceive as most likely to beat the Tories. Having said that, recent polls don’t reflect the Dan Gagnier resignation over [...]

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