Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Canadian Government thinks Dietitians are Useless

Or so it might seem.

Do you work for the Canadian Government? If you do, perhaps you'd like to call your HR department and ask them why it is that the federal government's health care insurance plans don't cover the services of a registered dietitian and while I can't speak for all provinces, neither does the plan for the Province of Ontario's government workers.

That sure seems a bit incongruent doesn't it?

After all, we know that the government worked closely with the Dietitians of Canada in the creation of the Food Guide and putting aside my various condemnations of the Guide's non-evidence based recommendations, doesn't it strike you as odd that while the government might feel dietitians are valuable contributors to counsel Health Canada on nutrition that they don't insist their insurers pay for individual dietetic consultations for their employees?

It's also odd given that the Canadian Government is well aware of the perils of obesity and the role of a healthy diet in the prevention of chronic disease.

David Butler Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer has been heard to state that,

"with the rapid increase in obesity in young people, that this generation currently in childhood will be the first ever to experience poorer health than their parents"
and that,
"by increasing their levels of physical activity, improving eating habits and achieving healthy weights, Canadians can help ensure good health and prevent many chronic diseases, including some cancers, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke."
Tony Clement, our Minister of Health has stated,
"More than ever, Canadians understand the consequences of an unhealthy diet. We know that a bad diet and no exercise can lead to serious conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer."
And it's not as if the government's insurance plan doesn't cover complementary health care and paramedical services. Both the federal and the province of Ontario's plans cover psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, chiropodists, audiologists and naturopaths. I'm told they even shell out for homeopathic consultations, a highly contentious practice desperately lacking in evidence-based results covered elegantly in the Guardian by Dr. Ben Goldacre and with mirth yesterday regarding its use in obesity treatment by Dr. J. on Calorie Lab.

If you'd like to complain to Tony Clement feel free to click on his name to send his office an email.

If you're looking to email David Butler-Jones, while according to his website the Chief Public Health Officer "welcomes your comments and suggestions", his office's website doesn't provide an email address to which to address them. Instead they provide a fill in the blank form to fill out and Dr. Butler-Jones' snail mail contacts. I was however able to find his phone number in the Government directory and so if you'd like to call him to discuss this just buzz (613)954-8524 or fax him at(613)954-8529.

If you work for the Canadian government, please share this post with your colleagues.

Anyone out there up for a petition?

UPDATE: A kind reader has forwarded Dr. Butler-Jones' email. Click his name if you'd like to share your thoughts.

UPDATE 2: Another kind reader has informed me that really the person in charge of these type of decisions is Mr. Vic Toews from the Treasure Board. If you'd like to email Vic Toews simply click his name.