Humanity, News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Social Programs for a Stronger Canada

This is a link worth reviewing and it also provides you with the option of sending a letter to your Provincial Minister of Social Services:

The Canadian Social Transfer(CST) is the primary source of federal funding in Canada that supports provincial and territorial social programs. Without this federal funding, provinces would be unable to provide essential programs for children, social services, and post secondary education which includes affordable housing, childcare, overall health and wellbeing of everyone. 

“With most provinces and territories adopting poverty reduction plans, it has become clear that Canada requires a national plan. A national strategy would ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their age or where they live, would have equitable access to programs and services to support living with dignity and respect.”

“Since 2006, the respective provincial and territorial Ministers Responsible for Social Services have not met with their federal counterparts to share best practices and develop national strategies for investments in the social determinants of health” notes CASW President, Morel Caissie. “It’s now time to put Canadians first and bring all parties involved in financing and delivering social programs together with renewed our commitment to human rights as enshrined in our Constitution.”

Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

The Best Way to Get Help is to Give It

Now in all honestly, who better than one who works in the helping profession to know the importance of gratitude? I could not resist sharing two links to articles on INC. titled: The Stuff Strong Relationships are Made Of  and The Power of Gratitude, both written by Jeff Haden.

There are wonderful messages of gratitude from writing hand written ‘thank you’ notes to going out of your way to assist a colleague who lost their job find a new job. One does this because one wants to, not because one has to. Gratitude must be sincere.

“Appreciation is the one thing that should never be scaled or automated. If you’re truly grateful why not take the time to personally express your gratitude in a heartfelt, genuine way?”


“Pick a person who has helped you. Pick a person who has made a difference in your life. Pick someone you haven’t thanked or haven’t thanked properly. Then make gratitude a verb. Share it. Deliver it. Express your appreciation, sincerely and openly.”  -Jeff Haden

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

*First Posted at:

Health Conditions/Diseases, News

2013 Canadian Budget

This link is worth reading:

It is very unfortunate that health is not foremost in the minds of the federal government as it is the number #1 concern/priority according to Canadians!

In the coming year, the Canada Health Transfer, the tax money Ottawa gives the provinces for health, will reach $30.3-billion – about 15 per cent of total health spending, and it will grow by 6 per cent a year until 2017. Writing a cheque – or, in this case 13 cheques, one to each province and territory – is bookkeeping. It’s not leadership. Medicare covers all hospital and physician services, but not drugs, which are often essential to good care. It makes no sense and everyone knows it. All provinces have programs to make drugs available to those in need, like seniors, people on social assistance or with expensive health conditions. But the system lacks coherence, and the practical result is growing inequalities in access to health care across the country. Making essential drugs available to all Canadians is the kind of announcement that should be the centrepiece of a federal budget, the kind of move that creates a legacy.

What will it take for the federal government to get more involved? Healthcare needs will only continue to grow and strain an already overloaded healthcare system as the population continues to age. More needs to be done. Although it is up to each province and territory to implement healthcare services, guidance should come from the federal government. I for one am disappointed.

Victoria Brewster, MSW

Health Conditions/Diseases, Healthcare, News

Waitlists in Canadian Healthcare

Perhaps because I work in social services with seniors, I am drawn to any information that focuses on Canadian healthcare. The most recent article I read focuses on the cost of waitlists.

Imagine you have a ‘non-urgent’ health condition, would you want to wait months to see a specialist? If you are in constant back pain, unable to work because of the pain, would you want to be placed on a wait list for months to see a specialist?

The article’s author describes a story of a family member diagnosed with a spinal ailment that has worsened to the point where mobility is severely impaired and the afflicted individual is in constant pain. Continued employment as an agriculture laborer has become impossible. The general physician suspects a spinal fusion is needed and makes a referral to a specialist. Nine months later the patient sees the specialist who confirms the need for surgery and is placed on a wait list which could take 12+ months to occur! This back pain is considered ‘non-urgent’ here in Canada. From the  initial appointment with the general physician to surgery-2 years in total.

In February of 2013, the Organization for Economic Development and Co-operation released a report entitled Waiting Time Policies in the Health Sector. The 13-country survey found that Canada has the longest elective surgery waiting times (an average of all elective surgeries), with 25 per cent of patients waiting more than four months compared with 8 per cent in New Zealand; 7 per cent in France, Switzerland, and the United States; and 5 per cent in the Netherlands and Germany.

Imagine being in constant, chronic pain waiting for ‘elective’ surgery, unable to do anything about it. The government rationalizes that the person will most likely not die waiting for this orthopedic surgery, so it is not deemed necessary, but the individual cannot function as they once did-a significant deterioration in quality of life, as well as a deterioration in the health condition itself occurs costing money to the health and social services system.

Canada is the only country with laws that take away a patient’s right to pay privately for health-care services. The result is the same as it would be for any service for which competition is forbidden: a sclerotic, inflexible system that stifles innovation, takes away freedom of choice, and costs taxpayers and employers dearly.

Is a two-tier system the way to go? Those with the financial means can privately pay for surgery and those who cannot will suffer. It is a tough question to answer, but I can share that there is no justice or equality in a two-tier system. I do believe solutions exist and everyone involved in healthcare or social services  should share solutions, but we need a government that is willing to listen and really address this issue or change will not occur.

Victoria Brewster, MSW

*First published at:

Healthcare, News

The Value of Canadian Health

I came across an article from the Health Council of Canada which announced the shortlist for the fourth annual Health Innovation Challenge. In September of 2012, a challenge was initiated and directed to university students to find innovative practices in Canadian health care, state why the innovations were working and how they could be applied to the rest of Canada. Over 100 students participated submitting 74 essays.

Entries came from students in many disciplines, including nursing, medicine, kinesiology, arts, engineering, indigenous studies, political science, and environmental science. The entry topics were just as diverse, including innovations in aboriginal health, emergency room wait times, rural health care, primary care, and chronic disease.

5 individuals and 5 groups have made the short list and the winners will be announced on April 2nd through the Health Innovation Portal.

Challenges like this are a wonderful opportunity and it gives university students a very unique chance to share their ideas and suggested changes for health care that can benefit all of Canada. This is certainly an important aspect of university, to take what one is learning in the classroom and transfer it to the health care stage and their future professions.

Victoria Brewster, MSW

News, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Recipe for a Happy Day

A client gave me this ‘recipe’ for happiness in life. I wanted to share it with others as I consider the ‘recipe’ words of wisdom.

1 cup of friendly words
2 heaping cups of understanding
4 heaping teaspoons time and patience
A pinch of warm personality
Dash of humor

Measure words carefully.
Add heaping cups of understanding.
Use generous amounts of time and patience.
Cook on front burner, but keep temperature low; do not boil.
Add generous dash of humor and personality.
Season to taste with the spice of life.
Serve in individual molds.

Taken from: Croft, D.J. (1967) Recipes for Busy Little Hands. Palo Alto, California: Author.