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7/23/2010: Buried research
It has come to my attention that 3 Canadian provinces have a problem with fully informing the public about gambling issues. One of the ways this is done is through burying or rejecting commissioned research.
In the July 19th edition of Times&Transcript, Mark Anielski writes something I find very interesting:
We tried to estimate the impact of gambling on disease rates, suicide, psychological distress, judiciary costs, substance abuse, family breakdown, depression, social isolation, loss of sense of community, and loss of quality time with family, friends and community.
…We cannot report the findings because Nova Scotia refuses to honour its contractual obligations (we’re not being paid), nor will it release our study. But it is possible, by answering a few questions, to see the impact gambling is having on the well-being of Nova Scotians - and by extension all provinces since each has grown dependent on gambling revenues, especially from VLTs - using publicly released data:
On June 4th, I attended a meeting in Toronto called by a report contributor to Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Unlike the Nova Scotia/Anielski situation above, the 2 researchers were paid in full and the report was present in November of 2009. However, Accountability and Social Responsibility in Ontario’s Legal Gambling Regime was not released to the public. It can be found here.
The meeting was held at the offices of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Dr. Garry Smith and Dan Rubenstein spoke to what was a small group. A Ontario Lottery Corporation representative attended and well as some CAMH staff. Media was invited but unfortunately none attended. So here are two recent reports which were not made available by provincial governments.
Last year a La Presse reporter covering a class action suit in court picked up his ears when he heard the crown citing a 2001 report authored by a man with the same name as his. Yves Boisvert had to go find this researcher who shared his name so he phoned him, introduced himself and they met for coffee.
It turns out in 2000 the Regie des Alcohol ordered a study on slot machines and compulsive consequences which Boisvert and three other researchers completed. In January 2003 the Regie announced they did not want the 2003 report and that if the authors wanted to publish it they could. They did, and there were comments which came as far away as Europe.
Nearly 6 years later researcher Yves Boisvert was called to testify by the crown. He was being asked to testify on the original rejected report. Some titles were changed, and the court submitted document had been truncated to 53 pages with negative findings left out.
Government controls information, media and the public when it buries information or selectively releases it.
This is a sin of omission which is bad for social justice and public health. Since the public pays for research, why can’t they see it?