Welcome to HC Link's blog! Our blog will provide you with useful information on healthy community topics, news, and resources, as well as information on HC Link’s events, activities, and resources. Our bloggers include HC Link staff and consultants, as well as our partnering organizations, clients, and experts in the health promotion field.

Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

We look forward to engaging in thought-provoking conversation with you!

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John Ott Explains the difference between Kronos and Kairos time


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Looking Back Before Looking Ahead

By Dianne Coppola

For many of us, December is a frenzy of holiday activity where the days never seem quite long enough to plow through our "to do" lists. I find myself saying things like... "Where did the day, week, month, year go?" Unfortunately, the quick answer is never all that satisfying!

As someone who is committed to lifelong learning and self-improvement, I regularly read books, blogs and e-news bits on leadership, facilitation, and planning. I particularly enjoy Kevin Eikenberry, Chief Potential Officer (isn’t that a great job title?) of the Kevin Eikenberry Group ( and author of Remarkable Leadership.

This week, Kevin wrote about the importance of taking time to reflect on the past year in order to inform planning and goal setting for the coming year. This is an important but often neglected activity for both personal and professional renewal. After all, how can we determine where we want to go if we don’t know where we’ve been, what the journey has been like and what we accomplished?

I encourage you can take a few quiet moments amidst the holiday festivities to reflect on a few of the questions Kevin posed to his readership, before dashing into 2012! I think you’ll find it’s one of the better gifts you can give yourself.
Happy Reflections!

  • What did I accomplish this year?
  • What accomplishment am I most proud of?
  • Knowing what I know now, what would I do differently?
  • How did I contribute?
  • What were my biggest challenges or obstacles?
  • What did I overcome, and how?
  • What did I learn?
  • Who are the most interesting people I have met, and why?
  • What else do I want to reflect on?

Bonus: These questions can also be applied to the organization you work or volunteer with and/or the community partnership you are a member of.

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Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) released the 2011 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) on November 29th, 2011.  Led by Dr. Robert Mann, CAMH Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator on the survey, the OSDUHS is the longest running school survey of adolescents in Canada and one of the longest in the world.  This year, 9288 Ontario students in grades 7 – 12 participated in the OSDUHS survey.  The survey is conducted every two years to measure drug and alcohol use (including tobacco), mental and physical health, along with risk and protective factors.  Results are compared across four regions in Ontario: Toronto, Northern Ontario, Western Ontario, and Eastern Ontario.  This year, the report focused on alcohol, tobacco, illicit and non-medical use of prescription drugs.  Between 2009 and 2011, there was no observed increase in any drug use.  Between 1999 and 2011, drug use, including alcohol, binge drinking, cannabis, opioid pain relievers, cigarettes, appears to have significantly decreased, with no differences for gender and grade levels.  OSDUHS also reported on long-term trends for grade 7, 9 and 11 students only, from 1977-2011.  From this data, the present prevalence of cigarette smoking is at an all time low, with generally low level use of alcohol, binge drinking, and other drugs (similar to early 1990s).  There were reportedly fewer students using drugs and alcohol at an early age. 

Current levels of cigarette, alcohol, cannabis and prescription drugs use were also reported. 

  • Smoking: 9% of students (an estimated 88,000 students) in Ontario smoked, with 4% on a daily basis.  Smoking increased with grade level, and no differences were observed between males and females.  Northern regions reported more smoking than other regions.
  • Drinking: 55% of students (an estimated 551,400 students) reported drinking alcohol last year.  Drinking, like smoking, increased with grade level, and no differences were observed between males and females.  Similarly, students in Northern regions were more likely to drink.  For binge drinking, defined as having five or more drinks on one occasion, 22% of students (an estimated 223,500) reported having engaged in this behaviour at least once during the four week weeks prior to the survey.   
  • Cannabis: 22% of students (an estimated 221,900 students) report cannabis use in past year.  Cannabis use increased with grade level, and both females and males were equally likely to use the substance.  Students in Toronto were the least likely to use cannabis, compared to student in the North, who were most likely to use. 
  • Non-medical use of prescription drugs: about 1% of students (an estimated 12,500 of students) reported using OxyContin, and 14% (an estimated 140,100) reported using any prescription painkillers.  Use increased with grade level, but no significant gender differences were observed.  There were no significant regional variations.

The full report is available for download from CAMH

Look on HC Link for news of an upcoming CAMH webinar in the New Year on the OSDUHS results, including a Q&A session with the OSDUHS research team.

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Past webinar: Moving Forward with Injury Prevention: What Does it Take?

December 7, 2011

1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST

This webinar is now over. Please visit our Slides from Events page for the slides.

This webinar will provide an understanding of injury as a Population Health problem and discuss the approaches to preventing injury.

Phil Groff is the President and CEO of SMARTRISK, a national, not-for-profit, organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. He also serves as Director of the team at SMARTRISK responsible for the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre. Phil has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Toronto with a specialty in Human Neuropsychology and Cognition.

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Past webinar: So What's the Big Deal about Alcohol? An Introduction to Effective Community Alcohol Policy Development


November 29, 2011

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. EST

This webinar is now over. Please visit our Slides from Events page for the slides.

This introductory webinar will review prevalence rates, incidence rates, harms and costs associated with alcohol in Ontario. The importance of a comprehensive, policy-led approach to community alcohol problems will be outlined. Internationally recognized alcohol policy levers will be discussed and how these relate to local community-based or public health initiatives throughout Ontario. A case study will be presented to illustrate local alcohol policy development, from committee development to policy evaluation.

Benjamin Rempel is the Program Manager of the Alcohol Policy Network, Ontario Public Health Association. Currently, his main areas of work consists of research and analysis on the effectiveness of alcohol policies in Ontario, with some of his work published in academic journals. Benjamin is currently completing a Masters in Public Health from the University of Waterloo.

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