Canada Letter

Canada's Most Fascinating News

Canadian and European health departments are sharing study results on new drugs and treatments online. Transparency advocates elsewhere want the same.

Barbara Mantel

This past March, Canada’s department of health changed the way it handles the huge amount of data that companies submit when seeking approval for a new drug, biological treatment, or medical device — or a new use for an existing one. For the first time, Health Canada is making large chunks of this information publicly available after it approves or rejects applications.

Within 120 days of a decision, Health Canada will post clinical study reports on a new government online portal, starting with drugs that contain novel active ingredients and adding devices and other drugs over a four-year phase-in period. These company-generated documents, often running more than 1,000 pages, summarize the methods, goals, and results of clinical trials, which test the safety and efficacy of promising medical interventions. The reports play an important role in helping regulators make their decisions, along with other information, such as raw data about individual patients in clinical trials.

So far, Health Canada has posted reports for four newly approved drugs — one to treat plaque psoriasis in adults, two to treat two different types of skin cancer, and the fourth for advanced hormone-related breast cancer — and is preparing to release reports for another 13 drugs and three medical devices approved or rejected since March. Continue reading

Canada adds 53,700 jobs in September with wages growing 4.3%

Canada’s labor market posted another strong advance in September and the unemployment rate continued it’s unexpectedly fall.

Bloomberg (paywall) »

Canada posted another surprisingly strong month of job gains in a labor market that is on track for one of its best years on record.

The economy added 53,700 jobs last month, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa, following a gain of 81,100 in August. Canada has now added 358,100 since December, the most in the first nine months of a year since 2002.

The strong print will only reaffirm Bank of Canada expectations that the economy has developed a certain amount of resilience to trade headwinds and global economic uncertainties, giving it ammunition to buck the global trend of lower interest rates.

Kelsey Johnson, writing in Reuters »

The Canadian economy added a stronger-than-expected 53,700 net jobs in September, with all the gains coming in full-time work and largely driven by the services sector, Statistics Canada data showed on Friday, reducing analysts’ expectations for a central bank rate cut this month.

The national unemployment rate fell to a near-record low of 5.5%, from 5.7% in August, while wages for permanent employees rose 4.3% year-over-year. Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a gain of 10,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 5.7%. Canada hit an all-time low jobless rate in May at 5.4%.

The Canadian dollar strengthened to C$1.3225 to the U.S. dollar, or 75.61 cents U.S., after the bigger-than-expected jobs gain.

Canadian Press via CTV News »

Canada’s unemployment rate nudged down to a near four-decade low last month, seemingly shrugging off global signs of an economic slowdown, but with economists warning that the numbers weren’t entirely rosy.

Statistics Canada’s monthly labour force survey showed the country added about 54,000 net new jobs in September, driven largely by gains in full-time work, and dropping the jobless rate nationally by 0.2 points to 5.5 per cent.

The numbers surpassed analysts’ expectations that the country would gain 10,000 jobs in September, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

More » Wall Street Journal (paywall), CBC News

Video » Bloomberg

Very Canadian! » Sandra Oh pokes fun at Canadian stereotypes in Air Canada’s new campaign

The campaign, which marks the airline’s first collaboration with Oh, pokes fun at how Canadians travel and interact with other cultures abroad. While walking through an airport, Oh is seen apologizing to strangers (a widely-regarded ‘Canadian’ trait), playing peacemaker between two fighting siblings by offering them a ready-made poutine, and enjoying Caesars at the bar with a Japanese businessman.

“When you travel with Air Canada, it’s as if you’re travelling like a Canadian,” she says. “No matter where you’re going, whether you’re Canadian or not, travelling like one can bring the world a little closer.”

Mac the Moose gets a new rack and reclaims the ‘World’s Tallest Moose’ title

The Canadian Press via CBC »

The larger rack means Mac is once again the tallest moose statue in the world.

The city discovered in January that Mac was a bit too short for the accolade, because a shiny silver ungulate sculpture in east-central Norway had surpassed him by 30 centimetres.

The revelation resulted in a plan to dethrone the rival by building Mac a bigger rack.

“I think he looks distinguished,” Tourism Moose Jaw’s executive director, Jacki L’Heureux-Mason, said Tuesday.

“No more papier mâché dog.”

The friendly moose feud between Moose Jaw and the Norway town of Stor-Elvdal made international headlines and provided fodder for jokes on late-night talk shows. The Late Show host Stephen Colbert dubbed Mac the papier mâché dog.

Read more at CBC »

Women hit wage parity with men on Prince Edward Island

Kevin Yarr, writing for CBC News »

Women on P.E.I. are now earning the same wages as men, according to a new report from Statistics Canada, but it may be a little early to break out the champagne.

The report found that in 2018, employed women aged 25 to 54 earned an average of $24.18 per hour and men earned $24.33. The 15-cent difference is statistically insignificant, the agency said. In 1998 there was a $1.50 difference in wages.

P.E.I. is the only province with wage parity.

Nationally there was a $4.13 difference between men ($31.05/hour) and women ($26.92). The biggest wage gap was in Alberta, where it was $6.32, although most of that difference could be explained by the different jobs men and women were doing.

Read more at CBC »

Related » Canadian Gender wage gap narrows – Canada Letter


‘Made in Canada’ study finds that international consumers want more Canadian goods

There is a big opportunity for Canadian brands to capitalize on overseas markets, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers. The survey of 3,521 international consumers in seven key countries found that 96% have a favourable view of Canada.

Other Key findings »

  • Awareness of Canadian products is strong abroad, especially among younger groups.
  • Lack of availability makes it difficult for overseas consumers to choose Canadian brands.

There is an opportunity for businesses in overseas markets to capitalize on increased consumer demand for Canadian brands and products and increase sales.

While 71.5% of Canadian exports went to the United States in 2018, consumer demands are increasingly coming from other markets.

PwC Canada conducted a survey of 3,521 consumers in seven key countries—Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom—on their perceptions of Canada and Canadian goods and brands.

“Consumers in overseas markets aren’t necessarily familiar with Canadian companies. If a brand isn’t doing enough to identify themselves as Canadian, a customer might recognize a brand name without realizing it’s Canadian,” said Anita McOuat, PwC Canada’s National Leader, Technology, Media & Telecom (TMT) and Consumer Markets. “The positive traits associated with being Canadian like trustworthiness, reliability and quality have created a halo effect for Canadian goods. That’s an easy shorthand for brands entering into new markets.”

Two-thirds of respondents were at least generally aware of Canadian products, and awareness tended to be significantly higher amongst younger generations who are more active on digital channels. Overall, 96% of respondents held a positive view of Canada. Of those surveyed, 40% say they’ve visited Canada and only 4% said they had no interest in ever coming to this country.

The top barrier to purchasing Canadian goods, by a wide margin, was that Canadian products aren’t available in their country. According to the Made in Canada report, the current geopolitical environment makes it an ideal time to take a look at readiness for international expansion.

The full Made in Canada report is available from PwC Canada.

More », Business Insider, Strategy


Canadian-born cosmologist James Peebles shares the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics

Canadian-born cosmologist James Peebles and Swiss scientists Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics for shedding light on the evolution of the universe and discovering planets orbiting distant suns.

He was born in St. Boniface, Manitoba, and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Manitoba before moving to New Jersey to attend Princeton University for graduate studies. He is a physics professor at Princeton.

Professor Peebles was awarded half the 9-million-Swedish-crown ($910,000) prize while Mayor and Queloz, from the University of Geneva in Switzerland, shared the other half.

“This year’s Laureates have transformed our ideas about the cosmos,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.

You can read more about Professor Peebles’ discovery in Discovery: Research at Princeton magazine.

More » Nobel Prize, CBC News, CNET

69 days of paddling a kayak from Alaska to Vancouver Island

Owen Enright and four friends spent 69 days this past summer kayaking the challenging, rugged outside passage from Alaska to Vancouver Island.

Clare Hennig, writing for CBC News »

The group covered a few dozen kilometres each day on average, spending a lot of their time fishing and foraging for food as well as paddling.

Every few weeks, the team would stop to replenish their stocks at a set drop-off point but, the rest of the time, they were self-sufficient and isolated.

Being so exposed to the elements and reliant on the natural world made environmental concerns already on Enright’s mind more important to him.

“We’re living in a time where there’s a lot of turmoil between ourselves and the environment and how we’re treating it,” said Enright, who previously worked as a kayak guide and is now going into teaching.

“I’ve always been environmentally conscious but I feel like I have a much larger reason to protect this place now.”

Read and see more of this kayaking adventure at the CBC »


Canadian Gender wage gap narrows

Canadian Press (via BNN Bloomberg) »

A new report by Statistics Canada says that in 2018 women in their core working years earned 13.3 per cent less per hour than men, marking a 5.5 percentage point improvement over the past 20 years.

The report says in 2018 female employees between the ages of 25 to 54 earned $26.92 per hour, which is $4.13 less than their male counterparts.

That means that women earned roughly 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Read more at BNN Bloomberg »

More » Statistics Canada, Canadian HR Reporter, CTV News, Huffington Post

Jim Estill, the Canadian entrepreneur who rescued 300 Syrian refugees

David Silverberg, writing for the BBC »

When Jim Estill saw the horrors of the Syrian Civil War on television, he decided he would do something to help.

A successful Canadian businessman, he vowed to enable Syrian refugees to settle in Canada, simply because “it was the right thing to do”.

This was back in 2015, and although the Canadian government was in the process of setting up an official scheme to take in people fleeing Syria, Jim was frustrated by all the delays.

“I could see the crisis happening in Syria, and I did not think [Western] governments were doing things fast enough,” says the 62-year old.

So Jim decided he would take matters into his own hands – he would spend 1.5m Canadian dollars ($1.1m; £910,000) of his own money bringing Syrian refugees from the Middle East to his home city of Guelph, Ontario, some 60 miles (95km) west of Toronto.

Read more at the BBC »

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