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Public policy

For 22 years, Canada's federal governments have not properly assessed their own budgets and policies to ensure their decisions help both women and men, and do not further widen gender inequality. The aim should be to reduce it.
Not many patients would be happy to hear that there's a lag of about 17 years between when health scientists learn something of significance through rigorous research and when health practitioners change their patient care as a result, but that's what a now-famous study from the Institute of Medicine uncovered in 2001.
Over the last several decades, a wide number of studies from experts inside and outside of Canada have pointed out the gap between the current performance of our health system and the level of performance we should be able to expect.
We aren't arguing about what colour to paint the local hockey arena. It's about the science concerning one of the most dire issues facing humanity. So for starters, how about if we don't ask how to "reconcile" public opinion before knowing what the science says?
As the year draws to a close, it's worth looking back at some of the public policy issues that made headlines over the past 12 months, and that have a good chance of being in the news during the next 12 as well.
The Liberals floated the idea of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) during the election campaign, but scant notice was taken by the media or the business community. But SBIR can be a very powerful catalyst for innovation and we must not allow this idea to be relegated to the policy back burner.
If you asked Canadians why life expectancy in our country continues to rise -- now 79 years for men and 83 for women -- many might attribute the increase to advances in medicine, such as new pharmaceutical research and surgical interventions. Scientists working in labs, in other words. It's not so simple.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau will soon release the government's Fall Economic Statement and the expectation is for more stimulus spending and higher deficits. The surrounding debate in Ottawa has been mostly focused on "how" and "what" of deficit spending and insufficiently on "why" and "when."
Government policy should seek to leverage the federalist tradition. This means more local experimentation, less central planning, and empowering provincial and local governments to advance provincial and local interests in their respective constitutional spheres without federal meddling or pressure to conform.
Sherry's financial needs were not met through payday loans, but made worse by them -- and, as a result, she and her family were caught in a long-term cycle of debt from which they could not escape. Unfortunately, Sherry's form of repeat payday loan borrowing is common and it can sink families into poverty.