Health & Illness

  • Maternity Rolls

    Pregnancy, Childbirth and Disability

    By Heather Kuttai     April 2010

    Heather Kuttai is a 40-year-old white, heterosexual woman. She is married and is the mother of two children. Living in a quiet, middle-class neighbourhood, her life is, in many ways, seemingly the quintessential picture of what many consider to be traditional. However, her life is not as conventional as it appears: she is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her disability dramatically changes the picture. Much of the writing about the experiences of women and mothers excludes the stories of women with disabilities. Established norms dictate that a mother’s body be “healthy” and “whole.” Because the body with disabilities is often seen for what it cannot do, taking on the role of mother can give the body a different value, status and worth. Heather’s experiences as a woman with a disability experiencing pregnancy and childbirth offers insights into what is already known about women’s bodies. The stories she tells of her life, her pregnancies and giving birth illustrate both her self-awareness and her awareness of our society’s negative perceptions of disability.

  • Race and Well-Being

    The Lives, Hopes and Activism of African Canadians

    By Akua Benjamin, David Este, Carl James, Bethan Lloyd, Wanda Thomas Bernard and Tana Turner     March 2010

    Through in-depth qualitative and quantitative research with African Canadians in three Canadian cities – Calgary, Toronto and Halifax – this book explores how experiences of racism, combined with other social and economic factors, affect the health and well-being of African Canadians. With a special interest in how racial stereotyping impacts Black men and boys, this book shares stories of racism and violence and explores how experiences and interpretations of, and reactions to, racism differ across a range of social and economic variables. Rejecting the notion that Black communities are homogeneous, this book gives a detailed examination of three distinct communities: Caribbean, immigrant African and Canadian Black. The authors also explore how individuals, families and communities can better understand and challenge racism.

  • Deadly Fever

    Racism, Disease and a Media Panic

    By Charles T. Adeyanju     March 2010

    In February 2001, a woman from the Congo was admitted to a hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, with a serious illness of unknown origin. Very quickly, the rumour spread that she was carrying the deadly Ebola virus. Even though it was equally quickly determined that she did not carry the virus, the rumour spread like wildfire throughout the Canadian media. Through a content analysis of four major Canadian newspapers and interviews with journalists, medical practitioners and members of the Black community, Charles T. Adeyanju shows that it was the potent mixture of race, gender and immigration, not a real health problem, that lay at the heart of this public panic.

  • The Socialist Register 2010

    Morbid Symptoms: Health Under Capitalism

    Edited by Colin Leys and Leo Panitch     November 2009

    Health care rights are fought over between commercial forces that seek to make health into a commodity (for those who can pay), and popular forces that seek to reduce gross inequalities and try to make (or keep) health as a public service.

    These essays analyze the global health industry: the corporations that sell pharmaceuticals and insurance and push to expand the consumption of goods and services, making health care everywhere a field of capital accumulation.

  • Raise Shit!

    Social Action Saving Lives

    By Susan C.  Boyd, Donald MacPherson and Bud Osborn     August 2009

    This book tells a story about community activism in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES) that culmi-nated in a social justice movement to open the first official safe injection site. This story is unique: it is told from the point of view of drug users – those most affected by drug policy, political decisions and policing. It provides a montage of poetry, photos, early Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) meetings, journal entries from the Back Alley, the “unofficial” safe injection site, and excerpts from significant health and media reports. The harms of prohibition, and resistance, hope, kindness, awakening and collective action are chronicled in these pages.

    raise shit

    we have become a community of prophets in the downtown eastside rebuking the system and speaking hope and possibility into situations of apparent impossibility

    to raise shit is to actively resist and we resist with our presence with our words with our love with our courage

    by Bud Osborn

  • A Place to Call Home

    Long Term Care in Canada

    Edited by Pat Armstrong, Madeline Boscoe, Barbara Clow, Karen Grant, Margaret Haworth-Brockman, Beth Jackson, Ann Pederson, Morgan Seeley and Jane Springer     March 2009

    Long-term residential care operates in the shadows; too often viewed as a necessary evil best left invisible. This book is takes a different approach. It is about daring to dream about developing alternative forms of long-term, residential care based on an understanding of what exists today and of what is possible in the future. Taking into account the fact that the overwhelming majority of residents and providers are women, the book makes gender a central concern in planning for care that treats both workers and residents with dignity and respect. The chapters do not set out the perfect blueprint for such care. Rather they are thought-provoking essays, based on the research and experiences with care today, intended to stimulate a start in designing long-term care that we would be willing to call home.

  • Real Nurses and Others

    Racism in Nursing

    By Tania Das Gupta     March 2009

    “Most nurses of colour experience everyday forms of racism, including being infantilized and marginalized. Most reported being “put down,” insulted or degraded because of race/ethnicity/colour. A significant proportion of nurses, non-white and white, report having witnessed an incident where a nurse was treated differently because of his/her race/ethnicity/colour.”

    These are only some of the conclusions that author Tania Das Gupta arrived at as a result of her survey of 593 Ontario Nursing Association members. Within the framework of the political economy of health care and drawing from the findings of her research, the author develops an intersectional theoretical framework that helps us understand how racism happens and provides a base from which nurses and other workers can fight racial harassment. This book shows how systemic racism persists in the workplace. It shows how fear, lack of support, management collaboration, co-worker harassment and ineffective institutional responses make it difficult for victims of racism to fight back.

  • Protect, Befriend, Respect

    Nova Scotia’s Mental Health Movement, 1908–2008

    By Judith Fingard and John Rutherford     September 2008

    For one hundred years, the Canadian Mental Health Association and its antecedent organizations have constituted a major force in the campaign to improve the prospects of people living with mental illness. This book traces the evolution of the movement in Nova Scotia in three stages, from one that sought to protect mentally compromised people, to one that befriended those struggling with mental disabilities and spoke out against discrimination, and finally, to one that advocates for the rights of consumers and respects their need to speak on their own behalf. This journey through the social policy regarding mental health focuses on the individuals who fought stigma, institutionalization and marginalization: activists, bureaucrats, health professionals and consumers. Often with strong views and frequently with compassion, they attacked the problems of indifference with dedication and energy. The result is a history not only of a particular organization, but also of a society’s approach toward some of its most vulnerable constituents.

  • Terminal Damage

    The Politics of VLTs in Atlantic Canada

    By Peter McKenna     April 2008

    “This book is assuredly not an anti-gambling screed. What I’m against, and make no doubt about it, is the scourge of the video lottery terminal (VLT), and the fact that not all gambling is created equal. There is a reason why those in the know refer to those electronic devices as ‘killer machines’ and the ‘crack cocaine of gambling’.”–from the Introduction The Atlantic Lottery Corporation promotes its VLT product as a win-win for Atlantic Canada. “Even those who didn’t win a prize enjoyed a moment of fun with a chance to dream…” intones the corporation’s advertising. The truth is that financial stress, marriage break-up, physical and mental health issues, depression, alcohol dependency and suicide go hand-inhand with pathological gambling. In spite of this social scourge, governments turn a blind eye toward the social fallout from gambling. What they do have an eye for is the annual revenue figures derived from gambling. VLTs, by far the most addictive of all gambling activities, are also the biggest cash cow. This book examines why public policy action has been more symbolic than substantive and how VLTs have become increasingly politicized since the early 1990s. It is a clarion call to governments to take action.

  • Big Death

    Funeral Planning in the Age of Corporate Deathcare

    By Doug Smith     January 2007

    Over the last twenty years the corporate death “care” industry, has taken over Canada’s funerals and funeral planning, in preparation for the Golden Age of Death in North America, which will commence in 2016, when the first baby boomer turns seventy.