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This article was published 25/4/2012 (2763 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The 16-year-old women’s contribution program of Health Canada is the latest casualty of federal budget cuts.
Since 1996, the program has funded six women’s health research programs including the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence in Winnipeg. Next April, the $2.95 million in annual research funds available will disappear.
Prairie centre spokeswoman Carla Simon said it’s not clear what will happen once the federal funds dry up.
"I’m extremely concerned," said Simon. "I would expect there will be less research conducted on women’s health issues."
Since 1996, programs funded under the women’s contribution program have produced more than 300 research reports.
The centre focuses on policy-oriented research and analysis of social and other factors that contribute to women’s health in the Prairies with a specific focus on poverty, aboriginal women’s health and health in rural and remote communities.
Some of the specific research underway right now include sodium consumption among low-income women, the economic costs of obesity, midwifery in Manitoba and the consequences of being overweight during pregnancy.
Steve Outhouse, communications director for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, said the department’s priority is front-line health services. Health Canada needed to make more than $200 million in cuts from its budget as part of a government-wide cost-cutting endeavour.
"This program was started when there wasn’t a lot of this type of research going on," said Outhouse.
He said the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has nearly $33 million in open funding available for gender health research and said the programs currently funded through the Women’s Contribution Program are encouraged to apply for that.
The Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence has about a dozen full-time staff. Most of the research is done through affiliated universities including the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.
Simon said the centre does get some funding from other sources so isn’t entirely sure what will happen. But she said the best case scenario still will mean there will be less research going on into health issues specific to Prairie women.