August 19, 2010

Pt 1: Veterans Double-Standard - The Conservative Government's decision not to renew the contract of Veteran's Ombudsman Pat Stogran has raised a storm of criticism about Ottawa's commitment to Canada's military veterans. We're asking if today's injured veterans are getting the same level of treatment, help and support as the veterans of past wars. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Electro-Convulsive Therapy - Electro-Convulsive Therapy is extremely controversial. But it's still in use here in Canada and elsewhere. And now, The Canadian Psychiatric Association has re-stated its view that it's a safe and effective treatment for major depression. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Mike Finnerty.

It's Thursday, August 19th.

Conservative MPs say they want to hear the opinions of individual Canadians at committee hearings about the decision to cancel the mandatory long-form census.

Currently, If only there were an easier way to find out what Canadians thought about this. You know, like a survey ... or a questionnaire or something.

This is The Current.

Veterans Double-Standard - Colonel Pat Stogran

Many veterans worry that they're losing one of the best advocates they've ever had. Some believe Colonel Pat Stogran's term as their ombudsman and advocate isn't being renewed precisely because he's been so effective in pressing the government to address their needs.

And some see it as a sign that Canada and Canadians don't value veterans the way we used to. Colonel Stogran is himself a 30-year veteran who served in Bosnia and commanded soldiers in Afghanistan. He was in Charlottetown this morning.

Articles: Ombudsman slams 'deceptive' Veterans Affairs / Ex-soldiers bemoan loss of ombudsman Pat Stogran / Veterans ombudsman loses battle with Ottawa / Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran's Last Hurrah

Veterans Double-Standard - Jean-Pierre Blackburn

Jean-Pierre Blackburn is Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs. He was in his constituency of Saguenay Quebec, this morning.


Electro-Convulsive Therapy

We started this segment with a clip of Jack Nicholson, playing a patient in a mental asylum in a scene from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. In this scene, his character is being forced to undergo Electro-Convulsive therapy, or ECT.

Jack Nicholson won an Oscar for that role. And many psychiatrists say it's a big reason why ECT got such a bad reputation. But despite that, it was administered more than 20-thousand times last year according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Now, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the Canadian Psychiatric Association has updated its position on ECT and says it is a safe and effective treatment for severe mood disorders such as major depression.

But the procedure still has a lot of critics. Sue Clark-Wittenberg is one of them. She underwent Electro-Convulsive Therapy 37 years ago. She was 17. And she had just tried to hang herself. So she was sent to a psychiatric facility and given ECT. Sue Clark-Wittenberg says ECT left her with permanent memory problems. She calls it a form of torture. And so, a couple of years ago, she launched the International Campaign to Ban Electroshock.

But Mary Ellen Villeneuve says that Electro-Convulsive Therapy saved her husband's life. In December of 2003, her husband Andre got pneumonia. And he slid into a major depression. Mary Ellen took Andre to the doctor. They tried medication. But he wasn't getting better. When Andre didn't respond to the medication, Mary Ellen took him to see a specialist in Cornwall, Ontario, about 40 kilometres from their farm. Andre received 14 ECT treatments over the next two months. That was six years ago. And today he's back to himself and feels it's well worth it.

Doctor Murray Enns says that in many cases, ECT is worth it. He's the head of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, and the lead author of the Canadian Psychiatric Association's newly updated position paper on ECT. That paper reiterates the association's earlier finding that ECT is a valid treatment and should remain readily available. Doctor Enns was in Winnipeg. Bonnie Burstow is a senior lecture in psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She's also the co-founder of the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault. Bonnie Burstow was in Toronto.

Article of Interest: Electroshock therapy praised by believers, reviled by detractors

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