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Canadians willing to cough up

According to a recent survey by Pollara, Canadians are willing to pay higher taxes and/or user fees to support our ailing Medicare program.

Three quarters of respondents said higher taxes and user fees will be necessary to maintain the system, which almost 60 per cent of Canadians said was in a state of decline. Still, seven out of 10 respondents were happy with the quality of care, which is up slightly over the last poll two years ago.

When presented with a range of options for maintaining the system, respondents were overwhelmingly against "medical savings accounts." Medical savings accounts are an approach to funding that is currently being considered whereby the health care system will only cover medical costs for an individual up to a preset limit annually, after which point costs will have to be covered by either private or government health insurance.

More than 1,200 citizens and 800 health care workers, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists and administrators, were interviewed. The results were presented at the National Leadership Conference in Halifax last week.

Ontario wineries follow B.C.’s footsteps

Ontario wineries are pulling out all the stops in a bid to make their brands competitive at home, following the lead set by B.C. wineries.

In Ontario, local wines currently only comprise about 40 per cent of total wine sales, when in other wine-making regions around the world, such as Italy and France, local consumption is around 75 per cent. By way of comparison, British Columbians consume approximately 49 per cent of the wine produced in the province.

Ontario’s goal is to raise local consumption to 50 per cent by 2007 by heightening customer awareness and by marketing Ontario wine labels as a viable choice for consumers. Ten million dollars for the initiative will come from the Ontario government, and another $10 million from the wineries.

Ontario wants to come up with something similar to the B.C. Wine Institute, a combined effort between the government and winemakers that has helped to foster a local following for B.C. brands through initiatives such as VQA labelling, which assures customers that 100 per cent of grapes were grown in the province.

The Ontario growers are also looking for a slogan to match B.C.’s successful "British Columbia wines. It’s what you bring to the table" campaign.

The first step in the process, however, is to study wine buyers in Ontario to see what makes them tick. Marketing campaigns will then be tailored to appeal to different audiences.

There could also be a few changes to the types of products offered. Wine experts have noticed that cheaper local wines in the $10 to $12 range – from Ontario and B.C. – still can’t compete with imports from Australia and South America in terms of quality.

More on broccoli

Although you’ll still have to bury it with cheese or hide it in a lasagna to get kids to eat it, researchers have discovered more reasons for people to eat broccoli.

Broccoli is rich in vitamins, high in fibre and low in calories. Pound for pound it’s the best source of vegetable nutrition available.

It is already heralded as an excellent source of vitamin C with one average sized stalk weighing one-sixth of a kilogram packing more vitamin C than a kilogram of oranges or 204 apples. In addition, it also provides vitamin A (beta carotene). Together, vitamins C and A are powerful antioxidants, reducing and preventing damage to human cells by "free radical" toxins that contribute to arthritis, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Broccoli is recognized for its ability to block cancer cells before they turn deadly, containing 30 different cancer-fighting substances. It is recognized for helping to prevent colon and rectal cancers and breast cancer.

Other conditions where broccoli is considered beneficial in prevention and treatment include diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity and hypertension.

Now researchers say broccoli may be beneficial in preventing stomach cancers as well.

Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a chemical that lab tests have discovered to kill bacteria, namely helicobacter pylori, that can cause stomach ulcers and cancers.

Regular servings of broccoli contain enough sulforaphane to kill most of these bacteria, even killing strains of heliobacter that are resistant to antibtiotics.

The research was conducted by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland.

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