Starbucks partners come together for World AIDS Day

From Starbucks Canada

The impact of AIDS is felt around the globe in communities and homes near and far. An estimated 38.4 million people worldwide are living with HIV as of the end of 2021 and 650,000 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in that same year, according to the UNAIDS. Progress is being made, but still four decades into the HIV response, inequalities persist for the most basic services like testing and treatment. 

This is why the Starbucks Canada Pride, Black, Pan-Asian and Indigenous Partner Networks are teaming up with MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, and, a first-in-Canada national program to raise awareness and action on HIV self-testing. Starbucks partners (employees) can visit to know their status and get access to free and completely anonymous HIV self-testing. 

“It is so special to collectively come together as Partner Networks, a vast and diverse representation of the Starbucks partner population, to raise awareness and action about HIV self-testing that is free and confidential, while also encouraging our partners to take their health into their own hands with such an incredible program like I’m Ready to Know. With World Aids Day around the corner, we wanted to show solidarity and demonstrate how our partners are united with the cause.” 

-Steven Snyder, co-chair of Canada Pride Partner Network

Monkeypox vaccine modelling study provides road map for vaccination

From the Canadian Medical Association Journal press release

A modelling study to explore optimal allocation of vaccines against monkeypox virus (MPXV) provides a road map for public health to maximize the impact of a limited supply of vaccines. The article, published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), confirms that prioritizing vaccines to larger networks with more initial infections and greater potential for spread is best.

“We hope that these insights can be applied by policy-makers across diverse and dynamic epidemic contexts across Canada and beyond to maximize infections averted early in an epidemic with limited vaccine supply,” says Dr. Sharmistha Mishra, MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Unity Health Toronto.

As of November 4, 2022, there were 1444 cases of MPXV in Canada, disproportionately among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). A very limited supply of smallpox vaccines is available and is being prioritized to populations experiencing disproportionate risks.

Researchers modelled two hypothetical cities as interconnected networks with a combined GBMSM community size of 100 000. The team then varied the characteristics of the two cities across a range of plausible settings and simulated roll-out of 5000 vaccine doses shortly after the first detected case of MPXV.

They found that the strongest factors for optimal vaccine allocation between the cities were the relative reproduction number (epidemic potential) in each city, share of initial cases, and city (or network) size. If a larger city had greater epidemic potential and most of the initial cases, it was best to allocate the majority of vaccines to that city. The team varied the reproduction number with a single parameter, but they highlight how many factors could influence local epidemic potential, including the density and characteristics of the sexual network, access to prevention and care, and the underlying social and structural contexts that shape both sexual networks and access.

“Under our modelling assumptions, we found that vaccines could generally avert more infections when prioritized to a larger network, a network with more initial infections and a network with greater epidemic potential,” writes Jesse Knight, lead author and PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Unity Health Toronto. “Our findings further highlight the importance of global vaccine equity in responding to outbreaks, and also in preventing them in the first place,” he says.

The study emphasizes the interconnectedness of regions and that a population-level perspective is necessary.

“Strategic prioritization of a limited vaccine supply by network-level risk factors can maximize infections averted over short time horizons in the context of an emerging epidemic, such as the current global MPXV outbreak,” conclude the authors.

Groundbreaking study reveals how we can overcome mpox epidemic with limited vaccine supply

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From Interesting Engineering

In the early days of a virus outbreak, the way vaccine doses are distributed in different parts of a country amidst their limited supply could play a major role in controlling the infection and the rate at which it spreads. For instance, administering more COVID vaccines in a region with a large population and a high COVID infection rate could result in faster herd immunity than doing the same for an area with a small population and low rate of infection. 

Interestingly, a team of researchers at MAP, Unity Health Toronto, has proposed a mpox vaccine allocation model that aims at delivering the best results with a limited vaccine supply, according to a press release. In their study, the researchers mention that there are 1,444 patients with monkeypox, disproportionately among members of the GBMSM community (gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men). 

They further reveal that the availability of vaccines for the GBMSM population having disproportionate risks of mpox is very limited. So they have developed an effective vaccine allocation strategy that could curb the infection in such a case. 

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Une étude révolutionnaire révèle comment surmonter l’épidémie de variole simienne avec un approvisionnement limité en vaccins

Tiré de Interesting Engineering

Dans les premiers jours d’une épidémie de virus, la façon dont les doses de vaccin sont distribuées dans les différentes régions d’un pays dans un contexte d’approvisionnement limité pourrait jouer un rôle majeur dans le contrôle de l’infection et de la vitesse à laquelle elle se propage. Par exemple, l’administration d’un plus grand nombre de vaccins contre la COVID-19 dans une région à forte population et à taux d’infection élevé pourrait entraîner une immunité collective plus rapide que si l’on faisait de même dans une région à faible population et à faible taux d’infection.

Selon un communiqué de presse, une équipe de chercheurs du MAP, Unity Health Toronto, a proposé un modèle de distribution du vaccin contre la variole qui vise à obtenir les meilleurs résultats avec un approvisionnement limité. Dans leur étude, les chercheurs mentionnent qu’il y a 1 444 patients atteints de la variole simienne, de manière disproportionnée parmi les membres de la communauté GBMSM (homosexuels, bisexuels et hommes ayant des rapports sexuels avec des hommes).

Ils révèlent en outre que la disponibilité des vaccins pour la population GBMSM présentant des risques disproportionnés de variole est très limitée. Ils ont donc mis au point une stratégie efficace d’attribution de vaccins qui pourrait enrayer l’infection dans un tel cas.

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Canada has more family doctors than ever. Why is it so hard to see them?

From The Globe and Mail article

The medical clinic in Greater Victoria doesn’t open its doors until 8 o’clock, but two dozen people were already lined up outside in the predawn chill on a recent October morning. Reg Green, the first person in line, had been there since 5:45 a.m. He needed a doctor to review his blood pressure medication and didn’t want to lose a day’s work at his window cleaning business. The first time he went to the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre two weeks earlier, he said, he waited more than four hours to get a shoulder injury examined. This time, he got up extra early. “I was out of there by 8:30, so that’s all right.”

Mr. Green says he has been searching for a family doctor since his “flew the coop” four years ago and moved back to England. Finding a doctor in Victoria who is taking new patients is just about impossible. Only one clinic in the entire city has openings, Beta Therapeutics, according to the website Its sole family doctor began charging patients a monthly fee of $110 for his services on Nov. 1, which has alarmed proponents of public health care.

With nearly no options, a growing number of people in the B.C. capital rely instead on walk-in medical clinics and long delays have become a staple of their care. In 2021, Victoria patients waited two hours and 41 minutes on average to see a doctor – the longest of any city in Canada, says a study by Medimap, a technology company that partners with about 1,200 clinics across the country to provide updates on waiting times.

Access to primary care is getting worse in many parts of the country, according to statistics collected by The Globe and Mail and interviews with dozens of medical experts and patients.

The mismatch between the numbers on paper and what is actually happening on the ground reflects a broader problem plaguing Canada’s health care system.

The country will continue to lack that data for the foreseeable future. This month, provinces and the federal government came to an impasse in discussions about funding a pan-Canadian health data system, which would have tracked health workers and defined the tasks performed by family doctors.

“Part of the reason why we are where we are right now is that we haven’t been able to do proper health human resource planning,” said Tara Kiran, a family physician and researcher at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. “We lack the data to do that. And we haven’t understood how people are practising in real life.”

Number of family doctors stopping practice in Ontario doubled early in pandemic, study shows

From OHA Health Systems News

By: Jennifer Stranges, Unity Health Toronto

The number of Ontario’s family physicians who stopped working doubled during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to previous years – accounting for more than 170,000 patients losing access to a primary care provider – according to a new study.

The research, led by Unity Health Toronto and ICES and published in Annals of Family Medicine, showed nearly three per cent of Ontario’s practicing family physicians stopped working during the first six months of the pandemic.

The study comes as the healthcare system in Ontario grapples with unprecedented pressures, including staffing shortages and a surge of patients seeking emergency care.

 “Nearly 1.8 million Ontarians don’t have a regular family physician. Our findings suggest things are only going to get worse, which is really concerning because family medicine is the front door to our health system,” said Dr. Tara Kiran, lead author of the study and a family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto.

“The family doctor shortage is difficult for people personally, but also impacts other parts of the system. For example, when people don’t have a family doctor, they are more likely to head to the emergency room,” said Dr. Kiran, who is also a scientist at the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital and an adjunct scientist at ICES.

Researchers used data from ICES, a non-profit research institute, to calculate the ratio of total visits between March 11, 2020 and September 29, 2020 to total visits in the same period in 2019. The analysis included each family physician who had at least 50 billing days in 2019 and counted virtual appointments as well.

MAP premieres ‘Searching for Home’: a companion documentary to the Transitioning Youth Out of Homelessness study

TORONTO – The short film Searching for Home follows Sonia, Devin, and Anthony, three young people participating in the Transitioning Youth Out of Homelessness study led by MAP scientist Dr. Naomi Thulien. Set amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the film is an intimate portrayal of young people on the margins.

Premiering on National Housing Day, the goal of the film is to help spark a national conversation about how Canada can better support youth who are – in many ways – trapped in cycles of poverty and homelessness, through no fault of their own.

All three protagonists of the film are exiting homelessness. Alone at 16, Sonia arrived as a refugee in Canada and immediately entered the shelter system. Now, she’s in college pursuing a practical nursing diploma. Devin is a young artist and university student living on his own after leaving a challenging home situation. Grappling with anxiety and depression, Devin is using his art to heal. Anthony has spent most of his life in foster care, group homes, and shelters. Now, he’s choosing his own path, living in an apartment with his partner and dog.

Alongside the protagonists’ stories, Searching for Home highlights the potential of portable rent subsidies as a novel and promising intervention to help end homelessness. A year of portable rent subsidies can be six times less expensive than an annual shelter stay, and can give people more autonomy and a better shot at success in forging a permanent pathway out of homelessness.

Watch the short film for free at

Listen to an interview with the filmmakers in a special episode of the MAPmaking podcast.

Learn more about the Transitioning Youth Out of Homelessness study.

The next phase of Dr. Thulien’s research will provide youth who are exiting homelessness with portable rent subsidies along with a co-designed (with youth who have experienced homelessness) leadership program and coach. This MAP research is generously supported by Even the Odds (a partnership between Staples Canada and MAP) and the Home Depot Canada Foundation. Learn more

Newcomer kids finding their way in Canada

From New Canadian Media

It is difficult enough for adults to decide to leave their home countries and start a new life in another culture, but imagine how much harder it must be for children who don’t get a choice in moving away from everything they know.

Nov. 20 is World Children’s Day and this year’s theme is equality and inclusion: “Kids will stand up for a more equal, more inclusive world,” UNICEF states in this year’s announcement. The date was first established in 1954 as Universal Children’s Day to focus on awareness and child welfare worldwide. 

Immigrant kids in Canada face several challenges, including culture shock, language barriers and adapting to a strange new life. Many of them are forced to migrate from their homelands due to war, hunger or political unrest.

“Children are extremely resilient. They are adaptable, they have many strengths,” said Shazeen Suleman, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine.

“If we approach children from that perspective, then we can support them in the best way possible.”

Suleman cares for kids who are newcomers to Canada may have medical developmental diagnoses or and mental health issues. She said that in her experience, children never choose to immigrate to a new country — they come because of a decision that an adult in their life has made. 

“What children need to know is that they can be safe, that they are cared for, and that their family is there for them through all these changes,” Suleman said.

According to Statics Canada, the record number of immigrants who arrived in Canada from 2016 to 2021 increased though it was restricted in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. And children of immigrants who have at least one foreign-born parent rose from 26.7 per cent in 2011 to 31.5 per cent in 2021.

Nearly 20% of Toronto family doctors planning to close practices in next 5 years, survey finds

From CBC News Toronto

With Ontario’s health-care system already in crisis, a new study suggests that nearly 20 per cent of family doctors in Toronto will be closing their practices in the next five years.

The research is a major concern for some in the health-care field as it suggests the current problems people have finding a family doctor will only get worse.

“I’m really worried,” said Dr. Tara Kiran, the lead author of the study, which was led by St. Michael’s Hospital along with Unity Health Toronto and published in the journal Canadian Family Physician.

“There are already 1.8 million people in Ontario who don’t have a family doctor. To me, it’s a wake-up call that we really need to work hard to address this issue,” Kiran said.

More than 1,000 family physicians were surveyed in January 2021. A total of 439 respondents answered questions about their future plans, with 77 doctors — or 17.5 per cent — responding that they plan to close their practice within the next five years.

Nearly four per cent of physicians in that group said they plan to close in the next 12 months.

The study found that the doctors who are planning to leave tend to be older, so demographic retirement trends are a factor. But the research also found that many physicians who say they’re on the way out run their own private practices. 

Nearly 20 per cent of Toronto family doctors are thinking about closing their practices in the next 5 years

From CTV News Toronto

A new study found nearly 20 per cent of family doctors in Toronto are considering closing their practices in the next five years.

“I’ve looked, it’s almost impossible to get one,” Storm Sorichetti said as she held her 5-year-old daughter Isaballa.

Sorichetti and her daughter are among the 1.8 million Ontarians without a doctor and using walk-in clinics instead.

“It’s very frustrating,” she says. Adding, “you can never get a full record of either my daughter or myself.”

A recent study published in the journal ‘Canadian Family Physician’ based on a survey of family doctors from 2021 says, “17.5% (of the respondents) were planning to close their existing practices within the next 5 years.”

“Policy makers need to prepare for a growing family physician shortage and better understand factors that support recruitment and retention,” Dr. Tara Kiran, a family doctor and the lead author of the study, said.

“I think we definitely are losing family doctors who are practicing in that traditional cradle to grave office based family practice,” she said.

The most likely to leave were older male doctors, who run a family practice on their own. With many retiring early, and fewer new graduates choosing to take their place.

Kiran says, “If you choose to retire even two or five years earlier than you would, that can actually at a large scale have an impact on the healthcare workforce and as a result an impact on the population who really need family doctors.”

This study did not look into why doctors may choose to close their practice, but another survey done by the Ontario Medical Association suggests that strain brought on by the pandemic may be a contributing factor.

Almost 20 per cent of Toronto doctors are considering closing their practice in the next five years

From The Globe and Mail article

Almost 20 per cent of Toronto family physicians are considering closing their practices in the next five years, according to a new study warning that more residents of Canada’s largest city could soon have trouble finding a doctor.

The findings are based on a survey of family physicians conducted in January, 2021 – at the height of the second wave of the pandemic. Of 439 doctors in Toronto who answered a question about their plans for the future, 77, or 17.5 per cent, said they were thinking of winding down their practice.

“To me, that was a really surprising number,” said Tara Kiran, the lead author of the study, which was published Monday in the journal Canadian Family Physician.

In a related study published in September, Dr. Kiran and her fellow researchers at Unity Health Toronto and the non-profit research institute ICES mined Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) billing data to discover that almost three per cent of the province’s doctors had stopped practising during the first six months of the pandemic, about twice the normal rate.

Which is why Dr. Kiran, a family doctor at St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team in Toronto, was startled to find significantly more doctors were thinking of giving up on office-based primary care.

“Here it was 17 per cent, almost one in five doctors, considering closing their practice,” she said. “If you’d asked me for an estimate before doing the survey, I would not have estimated something nearly that high.”