As a health librarian, I suppose it’s only fitting for me to start us off here with a health information issue. So here we go. That said, this is not really “just” a health information issue – it’s an issue of social infrastructure, government priorities, and the current Conservative* government.
The Canadian Health Network is being shut down at the end of March.
What is the Canadian Health Network? The CHN is a bilingual website that, for the past 8 years, has provided neutral/balanced, quality-assessed information pages and links to information for Canadian health. Use of the CHN has exploded, growing each year since inception, and increasing 70% in the past year alone.
The CHN provides in-depth information on 25 “key health topics” and links to over 20,000 appraised information sources on other topics. Health professionals, librarians, and the public go to CHN for info on diabetes, domestic violence, bird flu, or what to do when someone dies.
The CHN is maintained by cooperative efforts among libraries, government entities, and academic health centers, and trains users in health literacy skills while delivering health information. There is no resource quite like the CHN in the world.
In short, the CHN is a huge Canadian success story, part of the national commitment to health care as a human right.
The federal government, along with many of the provinces, is running a fiscal surplus.
Which begs the question: Why is the government, particularly in times of plenty, pulling the plug on the CHN?
For coverage of the defunding, see also:
Goar, C. (2007, November 16). Conservatives axe health network. Toronto Star. Retrieved November 19, 2007 from: http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/276891 .
*N.B. for the USAmericans in the crowd: In Canada the 2 largest political parties are the Liberals and the Conservatives, roughly analogous to the Democrats and Republicans.