OxyContin’s gone, but Canada’s pill-popping problem is worse than ever

Patrick Cain

The top story on the relaunched site today, by the Investigative Data Desk’s Anna Mehler Paperny, is a disturbing look at addictive painkillers:

A year after provincial governments clamped down on the most notorious name in prescription-drug abuse, other, more powerful, less regulated opioids are filling the void – with sometimes fatal results.
OxyContin’s off the market, its tamper-resistant replacement tougher to get. But Canadians are popping more pills than ever: In 2010, for the first time, Canada edged past the United States to become the highest opioid-consuming country, per capita, in the world.

Read the story

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#graphicmonday: Collapsing asbestos exports

Patrick Cain

Our first #graphicmonday on the relaunched site is one of Leslie’s, a Tableau-based interactive on the collapse in asbestos exports. Have a look.

#graphicmondays migrated from the previous site can all be found here.

Click on the image:

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Data/interactives on the relaunched globalnews.ca

Patrick Cain

The whole globalnews.ca group of sites relaunched this morning with a responsive-design system on the front end and WordPress VIP on the back end. It went about as smoothly as these things can. Most of the last week or so was spent on making our interactive projects from the last year or so work in the new system.

Mostly they can be found on the Data Desk Investigations tag page:

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Valentine’s Day interactive

By Leslie Young

We had a lot of fun putting together this interactive on singles, conception dates, and sexually transmitted infections. There are a lot of nice maps and interactive graphics, all wrapped up in a Tableau package.

Aside from being a fun feature for Valentine’s Day, it was also an experiment in using Tableau as a navigation tool for a complex, multifaceted feature.

It was great to find out that you could embed Fusion Tables maps into Tableau. It’s also cool that you can use Tableau to essentially set up a slideshow between elements.

It’s not the neatest tool for navigation though, and it’s really unnecessarily complex to create buttons that let you move between slides. In the end, it was a lot of work. 

I’d try it again, but probably for something a little simpler and with a little more time to prepare.

And yes, we purposely released STI maps on Valentine’s Day – or VD, as some people on my Facebook feed are calling the holiday.

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Interactive: Increasingly, Ontario graduates shun teacher’s college

Patrick Cain

A story/interactive package I’ve been working on for a while went live yesterday – a look at the very depressing job situation for freshly trained Ontario teachers, and how the production of new teachers got badly out of whack with teacher retirements (teacher education was expanded in response to what turned out to be a temporary surge in retirements in the late ’90s, and is just now being scaled back).

In turn, graduates of Ontario universities are showing much less interest in going to teacher’s college. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to blame them.

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Income map #graphicmonday

Patrick Cain

I find myself often referencing income maps, in one way or another, when mapping other things (Toronto’s male-victim homicide map, for example, tracks the city’s low-income neighbourhoods fairly precisely).

So it’s helpful, once in a while, to publish the income maps themselves as a reference point, which brings us to this week’s #graphicmonday.

Since Fusion Tables can display FSA-based maps covering the whole country, it’s now possible to publish a hyperlocal map like this on a national scale, in this case a one-stop-shop map of median family income by postal area. The story also has a list of Canada’s ten poorest and ten richest postal code, in some ways surprising, in some ways not.

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Graphic Monday (On Tuesday)

By Leslie Young

No, we weren’t late posting this week’s Graphic Monday. But, we were a little late posting it to the Tumblr. Sorry!

I hope you’ll enjoy it though. This week, we used some new Statistics Canada data to put together an interactive graphic of the health problems of different Canadian cities. Sudbury and Peterborough, for example, seem to have serious problems with diabetes and high blood pressure.

Click the image below to see it.

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Graphic Monday: Mapping same-sex couples

by Patrick Cain

My colleague Leslie Young for most of January has been putting out our #graphicmonday feature, which is a way of getting value out of a mass of material we have around that’s interesting, but doesn’t fit a conventional story format. (Although it has turned out that some of them did become stories, on second thought.)

Today’s, the first I’ve done, uses data from the 2006 census to map same-sex couples across Canada.. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are mapped specifically, but the underlying map shows any Canadian community from the large town size up.

The 2006 data is the most recent available. In 2011, Statistics Canada asked a question designed to count same-sex households, but the question was poorly designed and didn’t distinguish clearly between same-sex couples and two people of the same sex sharing accomodation. At the last minute (actually the morning of the census release), StatsCan decided not to release the data. My efforts to pry it loose with an access-to-information request were unsuccessful, in the end.

The main surprise in the data was a sharp difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada: gay and lesbian couples segregate much more from each other in Montreal, Hull and Quebec City than in cities elsewhere in the country.

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Open data and the news

By Leslie Young

It’s generally accepted among journalists that in Canada, it’s very hard to get an interesting news story out of the data that governments make available for download on their various “Open Data” sites.

Quite simply, it’s usually very dry material.

Locations of public drinking fountains and city trees might be nice for app developers, but rarely makes for a story that has any impact or tell us something we’d like to know.

So it’s always refreshing to see a fun data set on an open data government site. I recently came across sales data for B.C. Liquor Stores on the Data BC site. Even better, it was broken down by region and drink type. Immediately, I thought that this would make a fun map that people might like to play with.

I downloaded the data set and went looking for population data and geography.

Luckily, this was B.C., so the excellent B.C. Stats site became my source. In my experience, B.C. has in this website the best and easiest-to-navigate source for basic demographic and geographic data in the country. It is much, much easier to find regional populations and boundary shapefiles for B.C. than for Ontario, for example.

On the B.C. Stats site, I was able to find population estimates for those aged 19 and up (I’m assuming everyone’s obeying the law here) as well as the geography files. So I put together a map showing average litres of alcohol purchased per person. Fun!

This is the second map I’ve done using B.C.’s open data. (The first is here.) I really hope other governments take note of the work Data BC is doing, and that Data BC continues to add interesting datasets to its collection.

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Graphic Monday: Canadian arms exports

By Leslie Young

This week’s Graphic Monday feature is an interactive look at some of Canada’s arms exports.

I was surprised to see how many Canadian guns went to Denmark, of all places. Much less surprising is that the U.S. is the biggest recipient of Canadian weapons (at least the ones selected).

This piece uses Statistics Canada data, generously provided and formatted for me by the agency. I tend to have very good experiences with them, as they generally send me a very tailored report based on my usually pretty general question.

This week’s question was, “Where do Canadian guns go?” It was inspired by this CP story about how Canadian merchants can now apply to sell fully-automatic rifles to Columbia. 

Click the image below to see our graphic.


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