BTH Insight Series Ep. 1: City Hall Reform & Health Innovation

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This week’s show is the first episode of the Insight Series, a new BTH series where we discuss seveal different policy areas within the hour.

1) Health Innovation Follow-up:

In the first episode of the season, BTH examined how innovation can help to improve supply management of hospitals and Canada’s health system. Medical error is now the third leading cause of death in North America behind heart disease and cancer. To help us understand how we can improve Canada’s health system, BTH brought in several high-profile guests including Academic Chair of the World Health Innovation Network Dr. Anne Snowdon, former Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness for the Government of Nova Scotia Dr. Peter Vaughan and Rise Asset Development Executive Director Ms. Jodi Butts.

“Working as a small company, an innovative company in the healthcare system, something we have had to embrace is the fact that it’s very slow moving.” – MedChart CEO James Bateman

In a follow-up from that episode, BTH examined health innovation from a start-up’s perspective by interviewing MedChart CEO James Bateman [Interview at 1:46].

“…We see bringing [MedChart’s services and technology] to the government as a valid model for health systems information exchange and getting it implemented within the actual system so that it is free to patients.” – MedChart CEO James Bateman


2) City Hall Reform:

Dr. Gabriel Eidelman is Assistant Professor and Associate Director at the School of Public Policy and Governance, where he teaches courses on urban policy, governance and institutions, and the policy process. is research focuses on cities and urban governance in North America, particularly the politics of land and property development. Gabriel’s work has been published in Cities, Urban Affairs Review, the Journal of Urban Affairs, the Canadian Journal of Political Science, and Politics & Policy.

“Every city in many ways is unique, including the political structures and the rules in place.” – Dr. Gabriel Eidelman, SPPG Associate Director and City Hall Task Force Convenor

Dr. Eidelman recently convened the University of Toronto City Hall Task Force, in which the  School of Public Policy & Governance assembled a group of current and former politicians, public services, academics, journalists and civic leaders, to provide recommendations to improve Toronto City Council’s core decision-making processes and procedures.  [Interview at 22:41].

Click here to view the released report. 


Ian T.D. Thomson, Host, Technical Producer and Executive Producer
Leanna Mora, Technical Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
Can’t Leave the Night by badbadnotgood
As Much As I Ever Could by City & Colour
Where Are You by Chad VanGaalen BY-NC-SA 2.0



Abortion Access Barriers


In 1988, abortion was legalized in R. v Morgentaler, which said that the abortion provisions in place at the time were unconstitutional as they violated a woman’s right to security of person under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Currently, abortion is funded by the Canada Health Act, yet how provinces fund abortion services, where these services are provided geographically, and the barriers women continue to face across the country varies province to province. Common themes do emerge- although abortion is a legal medical procedure, there are women everyday facing barriers when trying to access abortion services.

Over the past year in particular, this issue has reemerged in Canadian media, from the introduction of Mifegymiso to Prince Edward Island finally allowing abortions to be performed in the province after thirty plus years, to the Ontario Attorney General’s announcement of safe access zones. As this show will highlight, Canada still has a long way to go in ensuring equitable access to abortion services across the entire country.

“We want to think about all genders that may need access” – Chelsea Barnett, Communications Coordinator of Planned Parenthood Toronto

On this episode, hosts Leanna Mora and Kayla Ishkanian sit down with Chelsea Barnett from Planned Parenthood Toronto [2:05],  Joyce Arthur from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada [18:12], and Allison Webster from Reproductive Justice New Brunswick [42:20] to discuss what barriers women face in accessing abortion services and what we can do to fix the problem.

“I think it is very important to make sure that everyone is informed about what [Crisis Pregnancy Centre’s] are and what to look out for” – Joyce Arthur, Executive Director of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada


Leanna Mora & Kayla Ishkanian, Hosts & Producers
Ian T.D. Thomson, Technical Producer
Leanna Mora, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
Can’t Leave the Night by badbadnotgood
Venus Fly by Grimes
Piano by Kiesza


Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The New Value Proposition for Health



Performance of North American healthcare systems lag woefully behind other OECD countries. Patient safety is a particular challenge. Every year 70,000 Canadians experience preventable, serious injury while hospitalized and 23 000 of those individuals do not survive that injury. Furthermore, medical error is now the third leading cause of death in North America behind heart disease and cancer. Today we discuss innovative ways that academia, the private sector, and the government are responding to preventable medical errors in order to improve the health system in Canada and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

Ms. Jodi Butts is the Executive Director of Rise Asset Development, a charity that provides small business loans, training and mentorship to individuals with a history of mental health and addictions challenges. She holds a Master’s degree in Canadian History from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She was called to the Bar in 2000 and subsequently co-founded the boutique litigation firm Brannan Meiklejohn Butts LLP. Her practice primarily focused on assisting clients who suffered from health conditions that impacted their relationships with disability insurance carriers, employers and/or health care providers. Jodi left private practice to join Mount Sinai Hospital, where she served for more than eight years in multiple roles, her final being Senior Vice-President Corporate Affairs and Operations. In that role, Jodi was responsible for the Hospital’s capital infrastructure, governance, legal and ethical affairs, as well as corporate and hospitality services. Additionally, she was on the Ontario Supply Chain Panel and is a member of the Advisory Council at WIN. [Interview at 1:30].

“This is about patient safety, the quality of a patient’s experiences, and the sustainability of the system.” – Jodi Butts, Rise Asset Development Executive Director

Dr. Anne Snowdon is the Academic Chair of the World Health Innovation Network (WIN) at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business and is also the Scientific Director and CEO of the Supply Chain Advancement Network in Health (SCAN Health). She was recently awarded a $1.6 million grant from the federal government for supply chain advancement. Her team works to build collaborative partnerships around the globe to advance innovation across health systems to strengthen performance, economic value, and sustainability. Dr. Snowdon is currently leading over 10 innovation research initiatives across seven Canadian provinces and five countries. She is a member of the Institute for Health System Innovation of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and is a Board Member for Alberta Innovates and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. Dr. Snowdon is a Fulbright Scholar and holds a PhD in Nursing from the University of Michigan. She has published more than 100 research articles, papers and cases, has previously received over $15 million in research funding, holds patents, and has commercialized a highly successful booster seat product for children traveling in vehicles. [Interview at 21:14].

“Policy makers have to create a policy framework that helps leaders move forward to advance the supply chain.” – Dr. Anne Snowdon, WIN Academic Chair

Dr. Peter W. Vaughan, a Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School trained healthcare executive, was the Deputy Minister of Health and Wellness for the Government of Nova Scotia where he consolidated 9 health authorities to the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the IWK Health Centre, redesigned and modernized the Health Ministry, introduced the first province-wide digital personal health record in Canada, and co-led the creation of the Atlantic Health Quality Council. Dr. Vaughan is a well-recognized results-driven serial social entrepreneur in Canadian healthcare. He is considered one of the leading exponents for digital health innovation to improve access to health service, and Quality improvement in Canada. He was a founding board member of Accreditation Canada International and served as CEO of the Canadian Medical Association, President of WebMD Canada, and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Medical Services during the war in Afghanistan (2001-2010). He is an Adjunct Professor for the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie University where he taught Data Access and Flow and foundational courses in advanced analytics. Dr. Vaughan has numerous publications including fiction, nonfiction, and broadcast media, and he has served on numerous healthcare organizations boards and committees. [Interview at 46:18].

Macrina Smart, Co-Host and Producer
Ian T. D. Thomson, Co-Host, Executive Producer & Technical Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
Lose It by Austra
Your Ex-Lover is Dead by Stars

Flickr/CC BY 2.0 [photo not modified]

Child Mortality


Child Mortality is a core indicator for child health and well-being. The toll of children under the age of five over the past two decades is staggering: between 1990 and 2015, 236 million children worldwide died before their fifth birthday. In 2000, the world leaders agreed on one of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, known as the MDG 4 target. However, with the end of MDG era and being unsuccessful to achieve the target, the international community has agreed on the new framework – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The proposed SDG target for child mortality represents is: by 2030, preventable deaths of newborns to be reduced to at least as low as 12 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality to at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births. In order to meet this target, it is imperative to understand the main causes behind child mortality.

Kristen Yee is the Program Officer of Saving Lives at Birth Program at Grand Challenges Canada. Grand Challenges Canada is funded by the Government of Canada and fund innovators for outcome-based innovation to save and improve lives in low and middle-income countries. In her role as a Program Officer, she works to ensure interventions are participatory and entail the perspectives of those such interventions aim to support

Shaun Morris is a clinician-scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and scientist and principal investigator, Child Health Evaluative Sciences, SickKids Research Institute and Centre for Global Child Health. He is also an assistant Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto, cross appointed to the Division of Global Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He completed his medical degree at Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, and his Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Morris’ current research interests include large scale observational studies of childhood morbidity and mortality in South Asia, randomized controlled trials of low cost interventions to save lives and improve neurodevelopment in Asia and Africa, and the epidemiology of globally important infectious diseases in Canada.

Tayyaba Mohsin, Host
Julia Chan, Producer & Technical Producer
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
End of Days by Purple Planet Music
Mach Machine by T. Nautilus

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sex Trafficking in Canada

Toronto has recently been named a ‘major hub’ for human trafficking within Canada. Of all police-reported cases nationwide, 65% occur in Ontario alone. According to a study conducted by the Alliance Against Modern Slavery in 2014, it was estimated that in Canada 71% of human trafficking cases involved domestic sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction, or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit them. Human trafficking is considered a serious criminal offence, and is strictly prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada, which outlines six offenses specific to human trafficking. Sex trafficking is the most prevalent form of modern slavery within Canada. We spoke to policy experts to identify solutions in addressing this problem that affects over 16,000 Canadians.

Bruce Rivers is the Executive Director of Covenant House Toronto and Special Advisor to the International Forum for Child Welfare. As a highly regarded child welfare expert and advocate, Bruce has over 30 years of experience fighting for the protection of child and youth rights on a global scale. He has held a number of senior executive roles, including 16 years as Executive Director of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. Bruce also served as Director at the local Catholic Children’s Aid, the Chief Executive Officer of Community Living Toronto, and the Executive Director of the Child Welfare Secretariat of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Bruce has been an active member of numerous national and international boards, forums and task forces devoted to research and advocacy. He obtained his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto, and is a sought after speaker.

Michele Anderson is the sex-trafficking specialist at Covenant House and has spent more than 30 years supporting young victims of sexual abuse. Michele’s devotion to this work goes beyond her time with Covenant House as she is also a member of the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network and was a presenter at the Alliance Against Modern Slavery’s Symposium. Michele has contributed to the Ontario Coalition Research Initiative on the “Incidence of Human Trafficking in Ontario” and Justice Canada’s Forum on Forced Marriage. As an anti-trafficking advocate, Michele works collaboratively with numerous community partners, including the Toronto Police Service’s Human Trafficking Enforcement Team. She provided instrumental support to the victims involved in Toronto’s first human trafficking conviction in 2014.

Julia Chan & Macrina Smart, Hosts & Producers
Ian T.D. Thomson & Jonah Kotzer, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Not Dead by Fine Times
More Like You by Brave Shores

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Sexual Assault and the Judicial System

The Canadian criminal justice system continues to fail the many survivors of sexual assault. For survivors, the experience of seeking help from law enforcement and going to court often deepens their existing wounds and trauma. Despite increased attention, sexual assault conviction rates remain meagre: one in five reports of sexual assault are treated as baseless by police, which translates into less than 1% of sexual assaults resulting in a conviction. This compels victims to keep quiet and refrain from reporting and pressing charges. In the rare event that sexual assault cases enter the courts, victims are often treated as mere witnesses to the crime, while the Provincial Crown Prosecutor presses charges on their behalf. The failure of law enforcement and the justice system to meet the needs of sexual assault victims is complex, touching on policy issues that involve problems in measurement and evidence, changing cultural stigmas, and an rural/urban divide in report rates.

Amanda Dale is the Executive Director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic, Canada’s only legal clinic that offers free legal, counselling, and interpreter services to those who identify as women and non-binary survivors of sexual violence. She is deeply devoted to changing the conditions that threaten women’s safety, dignity and equality. Her leadership was pivotal in the Jane Doe Audit of Toronto Police sexual assault investigations and the successful restriction of the use of religious arbitration in the settlement of family law matters in Ontario, amongst many other achievements.

Robyn Doolittle is an award winning author and journalist with Canadian national news publication, The Globe and Mail. She recently co-authored Unfounded: Will the Police Believe You?, a 20-month investigation into the variation in reported sexual assaults deemed “unfounded”—or not believed to be true—by law enforcement across Canada. Robyn’s #1 bestselling book on the troubled personal life of the late former – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, won her critical acclaim and took the inaugural Kobo Emerging Author prize for non-fiction. Robyn began her career at the Toronto Star, covering crime and later municipal politics.

Paula Maurutto is a Professor of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Toronto. Her current research explores legal innovations in Canadian specialized courts, with a particular focus on domestic violence, Aboriginal, mental health, community/wellness and drug courts in six jurisdictions across Canada.

Celine Caira & Julia Chan, Hosts & Producers
Macrina Smart & Richard Tang, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Islands by The XX
Not Dead by Fine Times
How Come You Never Go There by Feist

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Trump: A Canadian Perspective

Since the 45th president of the United States has taken office, there have been unprecedented executive orders, feuds with foreign leaders, and disagreements between the country’s executive and judicial branches. The controversial travel ban targeting 7 countries in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Mr. Trump’s divisive rhetoric, has led to a high degree of anxiety in Canada. Concerns over refugees, a spike in hate crimes, and the fear of a trade war loom large. In this episode, we examine ongoing Canadian reactions to the Trump Presidency.

Dr. Peter Dungan is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Business Economics at the Rotman School of Management, with cross-appointments at the Department of Economics and the School of Public Policy and Governance. He is also the Director of Rotman’s Policy and Economic Analysis Program.

Amira Elghawaby is the Communications Director for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. She is a journalist and human rights advocate. Amira has written and produced stories for various media news outlets, including CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and the Toronto Star.

Jonah Kotzer & Ian T.D. Thomson, Hosts & Producers
Dalia Hashim & Ali Nasser Virji, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Shape of You Instrumental by Ed Sheeran
The Body Says No by The New Pornographers

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Food Security Part 2

Food insecurity is a growing issue amongst communities, leaving many Canadians without access to nutritious, affordable, sufficient, and culturally acceptable food. Food insecurity is often linked to poverty, unemployment, education, hunger, as well as environmental pollution. In response, a strategic approach to food is needed to address these issues and an understanding of how the Municipal Government plays a key role in this. In this second episode, we talk to food policy experts Melana Roberts and Jessica Reeve.

Melana Roberts is the chair of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council. She holds an MA in Development Studies from York University, with a focus on Community Development, Agriculture and Community Health Systems, and has experience leading food security, health promotion, and public arts projects in Canada, Ecuador, Guyana, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

Jessica Reeve is the coordinator of the Toronto Food Policy CouncilShe is also a Health Policy Specialist for Toronto Public Health’s Food Strategy Team and has worked in Councillor Joe Mihevc’s office at City Hall where she was the point person on health and food policy. Jessica has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies from York University where she focused on food policy and community advocacy.

Leanna Mora, Host
Luke Adams, Producer
Ahmad Al Ramahi & Katerina Kalenteridis, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Shape of You Instrumental by Ed Sheeran
Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara
Mama by Cat Clyde

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Opioid Crisis in Ontario

Ontario is facing a spike in opioid related overdoses as a result of what many experts outline as an increase in opioid prescribing over the past few decades. Reports have stated that one in eight deaths of Ontarians between the ages of 25 and 34 is related to opioid use, and Toronto has seen a 77 percent increase in overdose deaths in the past decade, rising to 258 in 2014. There have been repeated calls for the government of Ontario to create an emergency plan to actively address the issue of opioid addiction and overdose. Ontario’s first comprehensive opioid strategy was established in October of 2016. The opioid crisis remains a complex health and social issue with devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities.

Tara Gomes is an epidemiologist and a Principal Investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network (ODPRN). Tara is also a Scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences,and an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. Much of Tara’s research has focused on pharmacoepidemiology, drug safety and drug policy research leveraging large, administrative databases, and she has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and over 50 policy reports in this area. She has worked closely with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to develop evidence to inform policies related to opioid use and abuse in Ontario and has served as an expert for the United States Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Transportation in discussions related to opioid policies and regulations.

Dr. Hance Clarke is a Staff Anesthesiologist, Medical Director of the Pain Research Unit, Director of  Pain Services and the Director of Transitional Pain Service at Toronto General Hospital. He is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Anesthesia, has been appointed to the Institute of Medical Sciences and is also a graduate of the Royal College Clinician Scientist Program. Through his work, he has provided significant empirical findings related to opioid use after major surgery. Dr. Clarke published the largest study, based on more than 39 000 patients who had undergone major elective surgery in Ontario, identifying those on opioid use.

Pam Abeysekara & Katerina Kalenteridis, Hosts
Angela Kim, Producer
Celine Caira & Richard Tang, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
I Feel It Coming by The Weekend ft. Daft Punk
Summer Vibes by Derin Falana
Dougou Badia by Amabou and Mariam ft. Santigold

Music/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Food Security

Food insecurity is a growing issue amongst communities, leaving many Canadians without access to nutritious, affordable, sufficient, and culturally acceptable food. Food insecurity is often linked to poverty, unemployment, education, hunger, as well as environmental pollution. In response, a strategic approach to food is needed to address these issues and an understanding of how the Municipal Government plays a key role in this.

Barbara Emanuel is the manager of the Toronto Food Strategy, Toronto Public Health. In 2008, the Board of Health approved the development of a Toronto Food Strategy to pursue and enhance the City of Toronto’s leadership towards a healthier and more sustainable food system, based on a food systems perspective.

Lori Stahlbran is a lecturer in food studies at New College, University of Toronto and teach new one program.She is also the food equity coordinator at New College. She has also been awarded the prize for best PhD paper at the Second International Conference on “Agriculture in an Urbanizing Society: Reconnecting Agriculture and Food Chains to Societal Needs”.

Marzena Gersho is the Communications and National Program Director at Food Banks Canada. Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity by raising funds, supporting foodbanks, and influencing policy through research, awareness raising, and advocacy.

Tayyaba Mohsin & Leanna Mora, Hosts
Luke Adams, Producer
Haris Khan & Steven Lamothe, Technical Producers
Samira Basir, Executive Producer

Music Credits
Treat You Better by Shawn Mendes
Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Bublé
Suga Mama Instrumental by Fifth Harmony

Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0