# Monday, 29 June 2009
                 
The World Health Organization has updated their list of confirmed cases of the H1N1 influenza outbreak. As of June 24, 2009, 55,867 cases have been confirmed globally, with 238 people dying as a result of infection. Canada has reported 6,457 cases of the swine flu, with 15 confirmed deaths. Within Canada, confirmed cases for the provinces are as follows:
  
PROVINCE CASES DEATHS
British Columbia 243
0
Alberta
605
1
Saskatchewan
626
0
Manitoba
517
2
Ontario
2665
7
Quebec
1660
9
New Brunswick
4
0
Nova Scotia
117
0
PEI
3
0
Newfoundland
27
0
Yukon
1
0
NWT
6
0
Nunavut
258 0

Most of the confirmed cases have been mild, with only 275 people requiring hospitalization. However, there is growing concern over the rapid rate of infection in Canada's aboriginal communities, especially those in remote parts of Manitoba. Out of the 500 reported cases in Manitoba, over 25% are aboriginal. The Inuit community in Nunavut is also experiencing a H1NI outbreak, with over 250 reported cases. Many reserves, which are in isolated parts of Ontario and Manitoba, have been under virtual quarantine for a month after cases of either swine flu or other respiratory illnesses were reported.

Initially it was thought that the H1N1 virus would die out with the warm weather approaching; flu viruses tend to not be prevalent in warm weather as they don't like humidity. It was originally predicted by public health officials that the first wave of infections would decline over the summer, to be followed by a second wave of infections this fall. This is evidently not happening, as infections are still occurring, and are not decreasing in numbers at all. This unprecedented infection pattern has health officials baffled. In June the World Health Organization announced that it was announcing the swine flu a pandemic; this is the first global flu epidemic in over 40 years. Canada is a global leaser in pandemic planning and is continuing to implement our overall pandemic plan for the health sector, The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan.

In response to the current data available, as well as not being to predict the nature of the virus, Canada has begun to implement an aggressive approach to combat this particular virus in order to determine the best way to protect Canadians. With the escalation of the Pandemic Phase 6, the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector. This includes such measure as:
 
  1. Ensuring that the National Antiviral Stockpile can be mobilized quickly so Canadians throughout the country will have access to the treatment they need.
  2. Reviewing the science and the working with the vaccine manufacture GlaxoSmith Kline, in order to begin the process of developing and testing a pandemic vaccine in accordance with their standing contract and ongoing involvement in vaccine development, testing and production.
  3. Managing the National Emergency Stockpile System (NESS) which contains hospital supplies, equipment and other pharmaceuticals which include a stockpile of antiviral medication.
  4. Assessing implementation of community based strategies aimed at mitigating potential impact on the healthcare system and society at large.
  5. Working with national professional organizations and non-government organizations to monitor essential health-related resources, i.e. medical supplies, antiviral, vaccines, sanitizers and antibiotics.
For more information regarding the latest outbreaks of the swine, flu, or what to do if you suspect it may be your area, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada.
posted on Monday, 29 June 2009 14:27:59 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Friday, 19 June 2009
                 
Many Canadians have group health insurance which is provided by their employer. These insurance plans cover health costs which are not covered by the employee's provincial health insurance plan. This can include such expenses as dental care, vision care, prescription medications, etc. Depending on the group health insurance plan your employer provides, expenses such as physiotherapy, chiropractor, and speech therapist can also be covered, either partially or entirely.

Group health insurance is available for any business that has a minimum of 2 employees. This can be an easier and less expensive option to individual health insurance, as there may be less medical questions asked in order to qualify for health and dental benefits. Long term disability may also be included in a group plan; typically there is a 120 day waiting period for this benefit. However, individual long term disability coverage can be acquired with a typical waiting period of between 30 to 90 days, depending on the plan.

LTD insurance insures that a person will have an income if a sudden illness/accident prevents the insured person from working. It is designed to protect against the sudden loss of income, which for most Canadian families, can be financially devastating. Disability insurance pays a monthly benefit while the injured and/or ill person cannot return to work; this differs from critical illness insurance, which pays a lump sum even if the person returns to work.  Disability insurance is available for either long-term or short-term; it also is available on a guaranteed issue basis. Guaranteed issue disability is currently only available to residents of Ontario; however HealthQuotes.ca is working on expanding this coverage for other Canadian residents. Four questions are asked for this coverage:

•    Are you currently disabled?
•    Are you currently hospitalized?
•    Do you have cancer?
•    Are you HIV positive?

If the answer to these 4 questions is no, then enrolment in this LTD coverage is guaranteed, regardless of any other health concerns and/or issues.

Having this type of insurance coverage can be especially important during this tough economic recession. For those families that are living paycheck to paycheck, any loss of income can be disastrous for their financial well-being. An unexpected illness or injury can financially cause a family to suddenly not be able to pay their mortgage, car payments, etc. as well as big expenses such as university tuition.

Closely read your employee benefits package to see whether or not Long Term Disability insurance is included, and if so, how much you are covered for. Examine your monthly expenses and how much money is needed every month to adequately support your family. If you are not fully covered should an accident/illness occur, you may want to purchase more LTD coverage. A consultation with your insurance broker is usually free, so it won’t cost anything to ask questions if you are unsure about what type of health insurance coverage you have, and whether or not it is suited for your current needs.

posted on Friday, 19 June 2009 16:35:05 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
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