Category Archives: General Information

The Globe and Mail: What Canada’s doctors are concerned about with marijuana legalization



As Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government tables its long-awaited marijuana legislation, Canada’s doctors have a message about pot: Just because it will eventually be legal, doesn’t mean it’s safe.

The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Paediatric Society and other organizations representing front-line health-care providers have been busy broadcasting their concerns about the ill effects of cannabis, especially for chronic smokers under the age of 25.

“We’re saying, ‘please keep the public-health focus front of mind as this legislation is unrolled,’ ” said Gail Beck, the clinical director of youth psychiatry at The Royal, a psychiatric hospital in Ottawa. “Lots of people think this is harmless.”


Explainer: Legal marijuana is coming but what does it mean for you?

The medical profession in this country has long had misgivings about medicinal marijuana – namely, that there is not enough solid evidence of pot’s efficacy in treating chronic pain and other ailments to warrant a doctor’s endorsement. But with the advent of legal recreational marijuana, doctors have a different set of worries.



One top-of-mind concern: The potential for addiction to marijuana, especially among teens and young adults. “We know that 1 in 7 teenagers who start using cannabis will develop cannabis-use disorder, which is significant,” said Christina Grant, a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Cannabis use crosses over into disorder territory when it begins to cause dysfunction in users’ day-to-day lives, derailing their commitment to school or work and sowing conflict in their families, said Dr. Grant, the lead author of the Canadian Paediatric Society’s position statement on marijuana, released last fall.

Mental illness

Cannabis has also been linked to certain mental illnesses. The drug’s relationship to depression and anxiety is still up in the air; the science has not established a causal relationship between the two. In other words, it’s not clear if people smoke pot because they are depressed and anxious or are depressed and anxious because they smoke pot.

There is stronger evidence that heavy use of cannabis can lead to psychosis, especially among people who have a family history of mental illness, Dr. Beck said. However, the vast majority of the research involved people who use cannabis daily. The scientific literature is virtually silent on the mental-health effects of smoking pot now and then.

“We don’t know the lower limit that’s safe,” Dr. Grant cautioned. “There’s no evidence to say, yeah, use it once, use it twice and nothing will happen.”

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Webinar Series, REGISTER- Health Promotion for Girls: Gender-Transformative Approaches

Date & Time: Monday June 18Time: 1:00pm ETD / 10:00AM PDT

(11:00am MDT/ 12:00pm CDT/ 2:00 pm ADT/ and 2:30 NDT)


The Presenters

Nancy Poole, Director, Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health
Marbella Carlos, Project Officer, Girls Action Foundation

This webinar will be the first of two webinars on our collaborative work to define, develop curriculum, pilot, and evaluate gender-transformative approaches to health promotion within girls’ programming. This first webinar will focus on promising practices in, and examples of, gender transformative girls’ programming. In the second webinar (to be held in the fall) we will share a new guide on this approach which has been piloted in six communities in Nova Scotia, BC, Ontario and Quebec.

We welcome all individuals and groups who are interested in girls’ group programming and girls health and wellness overall.

To register, please click

The Girls Action Foundation

At Girls Action we are committed to building a movement of active, engaged individuals and organizations across Canada. The Girls Action Foundation’s approach is based on 5 overarching principles: 1. popular education, 2. integrated feminist analysis, 3. gender specific spaces, 4. critical asset based, and 5. social action and change.

With the Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, we have partnered on several projects about integrating health promotion approaches within girls’ empowerment group programming that is grounded in these five principles.

This webinar has been made possible by financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.  The views expressed within will not necessarily represent the view of PHAC.

For more information about this webinar contact Marbella Carlos:

Alberta Abuse Line


If you suspect that an Albertan is being abused or neglected, Alberta has a provincial abuse line. 

Who to call

If you suspect an adult or child is being abused or neglected, help is just a phone call away.

The provincial abuse helpline will connect you to resources, supports, services, and referrals to address your concerns. Callers can remain anonymous.

Call 1-855-4HELPAB (1-855-443-5722)

Hours of operation: 7:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday

Call 911 if someone is in immediate danger.

What to expect

  • Anyone can call the abuse helpline to share concerns about alleged abuse or neglect.
  • Be prepared to provide as much detailed information as you can about the alleged abuse or neglect.
  • If you’re calling with concerns about another person, you don’t have to provide your name and contact information. However, it would be helpful in case there are additional questions.
  • After listening to your concern, your call will be directed to the appropriate service or support.
  • If the person you are concerned about already accesses provincial supports, Community and Social Services will follow up with the individual to offer additional help.

Signs of abuse or neglect

Actions causing discomfort, pain or injury.
Examples include hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking.
Actions or statements causing anguish, fear or diminished self-esteem or dignity.
Examples include threatening, intimidating, harassing or humiliating.
Non-consensual sexual contact, activity or behaviour.
Examples include unwanted or inappropriate touching.
Fraud, trickery or theft involving labour, money or property.
Examples include misusing a person’s funds or assets.
Failure to provide the basic level of care, such as food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment.

Not sure?

If you think someone is being abused or neglected, but you’re not sure, call the abuse helpline to discuss your concerns.

If you have reasonable and probable grounds to believe a child is being harmed or is in danger of being harmed, you have an obligation to report it. 

Alberta Supports Contact Centre

The provincial abuse helpline is operated by the Alberta Supports Contact Centre.

Help is available in more than 100 languages.

Hours of operation: 7:30 am to 8 pm, Monday to Friday

The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership: When Can Alcohol Damage the Fetus?

Prenatal alcohol exposure can damage the fetus during the entire pregnancy, but depending on when the exposure occurs determines which organ is affected. Pregnancy can be subdivided into three trimesters, each about twelve weeks long. Important events in fetal development occur during each of these trimesters.

The majority of structural development takes place during the first trimester (the 1st twelve weeks of pregnancy). During the first trimester the musculoskeletal system is formed, along with the internal organ systems (for example, the endocrine system, respiratory tract, digestive tract, and the nervous system). The stage in development when organs are formed is referred to as organogenesis. Prenatal alcohol exposure during the first trimester can cause damage to specific cell populations crucial to organ formation. Some of the most common physical defects include facial abnormalities, small skull circumference, skeletal and muscle problems, and problems with internal organs.

An unfortunate reality is that during the early stages of the first trimester many women do not realize they are pregnant, and if they drink alcohol, they may unknowingly cause structural damage (skeletal and organ) to their unborn child.

Alcohol exposure at during the first trimester is not limited to skeletal and organ damage. Damage to the brain occurs as well, leading to cognitive and behavioral problems.

Alcohol-induced brain damage can occur at any time during pregnancy (and during breast-feeding as well!). During all 3 trimesters (and beyond), the major cells of the brain, the neurons and glia, are formed from stem cells (neurogenesis and gliogenesis, respectively). Then, neurons multiply, grow and establish their branches and connections. The long axons of neurons become surrounded by myelin, which insulates and protects the neurons and allows electrical information to be transmitted along the axon. When a pregnant mother drinks alcohol during periods of neurogenesis, the alcohol actually kills the neural stem cells, reducing neurogenesis. Thus, the fetus can still develop neuronal abnormalities leading to behavioral and learning deficits, without any manifestation of the physical abnormalities described above.

Learn more about neurogenesis and alcohol

Learn more about neurogenesis

module 05 figure 07Figure 5.7 The stages of development of the brain and spinal cord over the 3 trimesters are shown. Alcohol affects brain development during all 3 trimesters.

There is a common misconception that the absence of facial abnormalities means that the child’s exposure to alcohol was minimal and therefore the child has a milder form of FAS. On the contrary, drinking during the second and third trimesters can produce children with severe cognitive and behavioral problems in the absence of facial abnormalities.

Alcohol consumed throughout pregnancy (during all three trimesters), can cause a wide variety of effects on the fetus, ranging from brain damage to musculoskeletal damage and growth retardation. In cases of episodic binge drinking (once in a while), injury to the brain and other organs may be more selective. Damage to specific organs (including the brain) will depend on whether the particular organ is undergoing a significant step in development or a growth spurt at the time when alcohol consumption takes place.

Alcohol exposure at any time during pregnancy can cause damage to the fetal brain.

Not Having a Baby Takes Some Health Planning Too! #FASD #prevention


For both men and women, planning to not have a baby takes some healthy thinking too—especially with 40% of pregnancies unplanned.

Whether you’re a man or woman, understanding your birth control options is important when you want to prevent pregnancy, start trying to become pregnant or space your pregnancies. Choosing birth control that fits your life will give you the best protection because you’ll be more likely to use it correctly and consistently. Talk to your healthcare provider about the method of birth control that’s right for you.

There are many methods of birth control. Some prevent pregnancy by stopping the egg from being released (ovulation). Others act as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching and entering the egg.

Using more than 1 birth control method—such as hormonal birth control and condoms—gives the best protection against pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive pills (EC) can be used with all methods of birth control if you think that your first method has failed. Keep reading to learn more about the different kinds of birth control options.

Condom (Male)

A male condom is a thin covering that fits over a hard (erect) penis. It decreases the risk of pregnancy by stopping sperm from getting to and entering the egg. It also decreases the risk of STIs and HIV by stopping semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from being passed between partners. Use a condom to prevent STIs and as a backup form of birth control.

There are many different types of condoms (styles, shapes, and sizes). Most condoms are latex, but there are non-latex ones. All condoms sold in Canada must meet government standards. To learn more about condoms and how to properly use them, go here.

Condom (Female)

A female condom is a soft, plastic (non-latex) sleeve with two flexible rings, one on each end. The closed, inner ring goes inside the vagina to cover the opening of the uterus. The outer ring stays outside the vagina to cover the genitals.

It decreases the risk of pregnancy by stopping the sperm from getting to or entering the egg. It reduces the risk of STIs by stopping semen, vaginal fluid, or blood from being passed between sexual partners. To learn more, go here.

Intrauterine device (IUD)

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, soft, T-shaped device with a nylon string attached to it. A health care provider has to put it in. There are 2 types of IUDs (copper and hormonal). Hormonal IUDs are sometimes called intrauterine systems (IUS). They work in different ways. Depending on the type of IUD, it can help prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years. New research suggests that long-acting methods of birth control such as IUDs work the best for preventing pregnancy over time. To learn more, go here.

Birth Control Pill (“The Pill”)

The pill is taken every day to prevent pregnancy. It contains hormones (estrogen and progestin) that are like a woman’s natural hormones. They stop the ovaries from releasing an egg. You can’t become pregnant if you don’t release an egg. To learn more, go here.

Birth Control Patch (“The Patch”)

The birth control patch is a thin, light brown patch that you wear on your skin. It has to be changed once a week. The sticky part contains hormones (estrogen and progestin) that are like a woman’s natural hormones. These hormones are absorbed through the skin. They stop the ovaries from releasing an egg. You can’t become pregnant if you don’t release an egg. To learn more, go here.

Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (NuvaRing®)

The vaginal contraceptive ring is a soft, 5.5 cm (2 inch), clear, plastic (non-latex) ring that you put in your vagina once a month. It contains hormones (estrogen and progestin) that are like a woman’s natural hormones. They stop the ovaries from releasing an egg. You can’t become pregnant if you don’t release an egg. To learn more, go here.

Hormonal Birth Control – Extended and Continuous Use

Extended use is when you take your birth control product for 2 or more cycles without stopping, then take a planned, hormone-free break. You’ll have your period during this break. This method means that you’ll have fewer periods.

Continuous use is when you take your birth control product without stopping (without taking planned hormone-free breaks). You’ll have fewer or no periods.

Talk to your health care provider for more information. You can also read Hormonal Birth Control for more information.

Progestin-Only Pill (POP)

Progestin-Only Pill (POP), also called the mini-pill, is a pill you take every day to prevent pregnancy. POP contains one hormone (progestin). It doesn’t contain estrogen. POP comes as a 28-day pack (there are hormones in all 28 pills). There are no hormone-free pills. POP prevents pregnancy by:

  • decreasing the cervical mucous and making it thicker
  • making the lining of the uterus thin
  • slowing down the egg in the fallopian tube
  • sometimes stopping an egg from being released

To learn more, go here.

Birth Control Injection (Depo-Provera® or “The Shot”)

The shot contains a hormone (progestin) that is like a woman’s natural hormone. It doesn’t contain estrogen. The hormone stops your body from releasing an egg, makes the lining of the uterus thin, and makes cervical mucous thick. You need a prescription for the injection. It needs to be given every 10 to 12 weeks. To learn more, go here.

Vaginal Spermicides

Vaginal spermicides are put in the vagina before sex to help prevent pregnancy. They contain an ingredient (nonoxynol 9) that kills sperm. When sperm comes in contact with a spermicide, the sperm dies and a woman can’t become pregnant. Spermicides come as film, foam, gel, cream, or suppositories. Some types of spermicides can be hard to find in Canada. To learn more about spermicides and how to use them, go here.


A diaphragm is disc-shaped, made of latex or silicone, and has a flexible rim. It’s inserted into the vagina before you have sex. It covers the cervix and stops sperm from entering the uterus. A diaphragm must be used with a special type of gel that kills sperm (spermicidal gel). To learn more, go here.


The sponge is a disposable piece of soft foam filled with a chemical that kills sperm (spermicide). It is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and helps prevent sperm from entering the uterus. To learn more, go here.

Fertility Awareness-Based (FAB) Methods

Fertility Awareness-Based (FAB) methods, sometimes called natural family planning, identifies the days of the month when the egg is ready to be fertilized and becoming pregnant is most likely (fertile time). This can be used to:

  • prevent pregnancy—don’t have vaginal intercourse or use another method of birth control during a woman’s fertile time
  • become pregnant—have vaginal intercourse during a woman’s fertile time

To learn more, go here.

Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) (used after the birth of a baby)

Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a temporary method of birth control that can be used up to 6 months after the birth of a baby. Lactation means your body is making breastmilk and amenorrhea means you aren’t having a monthly period. It must be used correctly to work.

Exclusive breastfeeding (this means not feeding your baby anything other than your breastmilk) helps prevent an egg from being released each month. You can’t become pregnant if your body doesn’t release an egg. To learn more about how LAM is used when you are breastfeeding, go here.

Emergency Contraception (EC)

You can use emergency contraception (EC) if you aren’t sure if you’re protected from pregnancy (e.g., condom breaks, forgot birth control), or if you’ve had unprotected sex. EC doesn’t protect against STIs and HIV. It needs to be used right away, but can be used up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. The two methods of EC are emergency contraception pills (ECPs), and the copper intrauterine device (IUD).

The two types of ECP’s are Levonorgesterol ECP (e.g. Plan B®, NorLevo®, Next Choice®, Option 2®) or Ulipristal Acetate ECP (e.g. Ella®).

The copper intrauterine device (IUD) requires a prescription and it is put in by your health care provider.

To learn more, go here.

Tubal Ligation

A tubal ligation is a permanent method of birth control. Surgery is done to close the fallopian tubes (the tubes that the egg travels through). This stops the egg and sperm from meeting. If the sperm can’t reach and enter the egg, you can’t become pregnant. To learn more, go here.


A vasectomy is a permanent form of birth control. The tubes (vas deferens) that carry the sperm from the testicles into the semen are cut and sealed. This means there’s no sperm in the semen, so no sperm to reach and enter the egg. To learn more, go here.

Withdrawal (Pulling Out)

Withdrawal is used during vaginal intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy. Withdrawal is when the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation. Ejaculation can’t happen near the partner’s vagina. If semen is near the opening of the vagina, sperm can reach and enter the egg. To learn more, go here.


Abstinence means different things to different people. Some people make the decision not to do these types of sexual activities. Abstinence to prevent STIs or pregnancy means that you don’t:

  • directly touch your partner’s genitals
  • have vaginal sex (penis to vagina)
  • have anal sex (penis to anus)
  • have oral sex (mouth to penis or mouth to vagina)

If you choose not to have sex, it means that you don’t need to use other forms of birth control and that you’re protected from STIs and HIV. To learn more, go here.

For more information please visit

Teaching Tuesday: Dr. Bruce Perry, Threat Response Patterns

An introduction to variety of adaptive responses that can be used under threat, with a focus on the hyperarousal and dissociative continuum.

Produced by The ChildTrauma Academy & Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D.

Teaching Tuesday: Here Comes Baby – Postpartum Recovery

Watch this video created by Ottawa Public Health and the Monarch Centre that shares some of the physical and emotional changes after giving birth and some tips on what you can do about it.

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