Let Them Eat Welfare

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(Toronto) Women in families who rely on welfare go hungry.

A March 1998 study of 153 female food-bank users with children found that social assistance money does not cover the cost of food.

Even though the women also cut corners, delay paying bills, give up their phones, and sell their possessions, 94% of the women interviewed regularly go hungry, found the University of Toronto Department of Nutritional Sciences study.

A third of the women said their children also went hungry in the past year.

Many had unhealthy body-weights, and suffered from nutritional inadequacies, including low iron and protein. Their diets were also below recommended calcium levels.

Ninety percent of the women studied have household incomes of less than a third of the Statistics Canada poverty-line minimum earnings. Two thirds of the women are single mothers.

Form more information about this report contact: Valerie Tarasuk at valerie.tarasuk@utoronto.ca

Women in Smoke

The most common reasons teenage girls give for smoking are peer pressure and curiosity. Some teenage girls and young women start smoking to deal with stress, using cigarettes as a coping tool. And, young females are more influenced than young males by the smoking behaviour of family and

These are some of the Lessons Learned from the Tobacco Demand Reduction Strategy in their focus on Women and Tobacco. Other lessons look at why young women start to smoke, how to prevent them from using tobacco, and helping them quit.

The publication takes pieces from various studies, like A Way Out: Women With Disabilities and Smoking from the DisAbled Women's Network.

To order the TDRS Women and Tobacco Newsletter, contact:

Office of Tobacco Reduction Programs
Phone: (613) 957-8333
Fax: (613) 952-5188
email: sylvie_lapointe@hc-sc.gc.ca

Health Protection Changes

Health Canada will ask what changes you want to see as it reshapes its health protection strategy.

The way the Health Protection Branch monitors and controls diseases, regulates products, and enforces rules will be discussed at the consultations. These and other areas will be topical as they ask their partners, and organizations and individuals interested in health protection, to identify what needs changing. Questions about the ethics of new technologies are sure to emerge.

Shared Responsibilities, Shared Vision: Renewing the Federal Health Protection Legislation is the paper published by the branch to help raise some of the key issues before the consultations. Once released, the paper will be available from:

Health Canada
Ottawa ON K1A 0K9 Canada
Tel: (613) 954-5995
Fax: (613) 941-5366
It will be found on-line at:

You can contact HPB Legislative Renewal at: (613) 954-4364 or 1-888-288-2098 (toll free)

We need you in our system

The Canadian Women's Health Network is all keyed up to input the name of your organization into our national database. Our database will help us connect you to health services, information, and materials across the country. It'll also help others connect with you. Contact:

Patricia Fader
Clearinghouse Coordinator
Canadian Women's Health Network
Suite 203 - 419 Graham Avenue
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0M3
phone: 1-888-818-9172

PSST! Pat's is also building our national clearinghouse - Send women's health publications, or information on how to order them, to her

Cholesterol Drug Problems

(Vancouver) Breast cancer has been linked to a cholesterol drug over-prescribed to women.

Even though no clinical trial has demonstrated benefits to women or the elderly taking cholesterol lowering drugs, in British Columbia 60% of prescriptions for the drugs went to these groups last year, reported the BC Office of Health Technology Assessment (BCOHTA).

But the BCOHTA was more troubled by findings that women with heart disease who take the cholesterol lowering drug, pravastatin, have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Earlier this year, the organization's national counterpart won the right to publish information about the drug. Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada took them to court, claiming the report would negatively affect the sales of their drug Pravachol (pravastatin), but lost the legal battle to stop its publication.

For more information, contact:

The BC Office of Health Technology Assessment
Effie Pow
Phone: (604) 822-7049
Fax: (604) 822-5690
email: bcohta@chspr.ubc.ca


(Ottawa) After eight years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating an alleged Health Canada cover-up involving breast implants, the Toronto Star reported June 4th.

In 1990 Linda Wilson, who after suffering serious infections had to have both her Même implants removed, wrote to then-commissioner Norman Inkster asking him to investigate why Health Canada exempted Bristol-Myers Squibb's Même implants distributor from having to register the devices and ensure their safety.

Wilson accused Réal Lapperière Inc., the Quebec distributor, of selling the implants without the required registration. "[N]o action has been taken against him for failing to comply with the regulations," she wrote to Inkster in her February 6, 1990 letter.

No one followed up on Wilson's 1990 allegations, Constable Robert Chartrand told the Star.

Eight years later, Chartrand's investigation will look not only at Health Canada's regulation of the Même breast implant, but its regulation of all silicone gel implants, including Dow Corning's devices. Dow Corning's recently agreed to pay $2 billion (U.S.) to women suffering health problems after having their implants.

About 25, 000 women had Même breast implants. Before 1993, when the government banned the devices, around 150,000 Canadian women used silicone gel breast implants.

Dead Deal Walking

The deal that critics say would ruin our health care system, is not dead, just wounded.

The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) did not get signed in April by the world's 29 richest countries negotiating the agreement, but it doesn't mean Canada has seen the last of the MAI.

"To think that is dreaming in Technicolor," said Kathleen Connors, president of the National Federation of Nurses Unions. "They put the pause button on, hope that activists think we got this one won, then continue behind closed doors," said Connors.

It is the mobilization of citizens groups, like the federation Connors represents, that caused serious set-backs for the deal, Canada's International Trade Minister admitted in April.

MAI negotiations continue this fall at OECD headquarters in France.

For Further Info:

The official MAI document appears at: http://www.oecd.org/freedoc.htm
The campaign against the MAI appears at: http://mai.flora.org/ and http://www.canadians.org


The Commonwealth Secretariat Award for Excellence in Women's Health for "Santé et
conditions de vie des femmes" went to Louise Guyon, and not Recherche et intervention sur les substances psychoactives an noted in our last issue.