Questions proposed by citizens

Although the Fonds de recherche du Québec publishes this content, they are not the authors.

NEW ENGAGE COMPETITION! NEW CITIZEN QUESTIONS!

Here are questions submitted by citizens for the ENGAGE competition of the FRQ.

All questions have been posted in the French version of this page and all English version will be available soon. .

We encourage the research community to consult regularly the questions and form a duo with a citizen to propose a research projet of interest for both of you! Are you interested in contacting the citizen that proposed the question? Just write us at: engagement.gds@frq.gouv.qc.ca

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Environment (ecosystems, pollution, fauna, flora)

Can we evaluate the possibilities for the reuse and recovery of non-recycled plastics that are currently thrown away (plastic bags)?

In 2012, my daughter put together a science fair exhibit on a project to recycle plastic bags into paving stones in Niger and some other African countries. These bags were already considered a real scourge in 2006. It is unfortunate that since that time, it seems that nothing more useful and viable has been done than to collect them and send them to pollute the poorest countries. I think it is important to explore and put forward solutions in Québec to address the issue of plastic pollution, by studying the possibilities for reusing and recovering plastics that are not currently being recycled.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Is it possible that wind farms emit low-frequency sounds that can propagate over long distances and cause a nuisance for local residents?

I live 13 km from the largest wind farm in Canada and since its commissioning I have been hearing vibration-like sounds. I have noticed that these sounds vary depending on the wind and when they are audible, they make a distinctive regular “wou wou wou” … It is impossible to block them out, even with earplugs. These sounds are more present and intense in winter and can be heard over several kilometres. I have done some research, and it seems clear to me that all the characteristics point to low-frequency sounds emitted by wind turbines. However, there is little specific research on this issue, and even less on the possibility of a cumulative effect of these waves in the case of large wind farms.

Hans Moreau

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

What is the composition of dandelion and chicory roots, and how can they best be used for food or consumption?

I think we should develop the cultivation of these roots commonly found in Québec and look at their potential for use in food, particularly those of chicory and dandelion. I am fascinated by the properties of these plant roots, and I would like to explore different ways of growing them, drawing on the soil-free methods used in China and Africa. Understanding the composition of these roots is crucial to thinking about how to integrate them into our diet and consumption, and to developing innovative cultivation methods for their production and supply.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What are the best ways for citizens to promote bird biodiversity?

I worked for the Ministry of the Environment for 20 years, and I am interested in biodiversity and how it can be promoted. The decline in bird populations concerns me. I manage a farm and a vineyard, and to promote biodiversity, particularly that of birds, I have called on the services of Granby Zoo and an environmental advisory group. However, I am wondering about the use of bird nesting boxes in open areas and woodlands: effectiveness, number of broods, survival rate, species, etc. I have about twenty nesting boxes and plan to add more. But do they really help biodiversity? I would like to know what I can do to help preserve bird biodiversity, particularly in terms of choosing and placing nesting boxes and their overall effectiveness. Moreover, since birds live in an ecosystem, what measures can be taken to promote healthy ecosystems capable of supporting greater biodiversity, including that of our winged friends?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Health, quality of life, health system

How does the composition of professional hairdressing products differ from that of drugstore brands, and can these differences, if any, affect the hair health, and overall health, of clients?

I have owned my own hair salon for 13 years now and this is a question that I am often asked by my clients. I have always wanted to know and understand the various ingredients in products, but there has been no training available. I would find it very interesting to compare certain products. There is a lack of knowledge about their composition and their effects, but not only for advising clients. Knowing more about them would help prevent the impact that certain products could have on clients with hair or dermatological conditions, or even medical problems. Does marketing have an impact on consumer choice when there is a lack of information on the product?

Christina Pinard

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Do medical interventions during low-risk births influence attachment and parental involvement?

I see overwhelmed parents all around me, and difficult children in schools with new diagnoses, oppositional disorder, a lack of structure from disengaged parents…? At the same time, I see Québec’s epidural rate at 90%, obstetrical interventions, and antidepressant prescriptions for depression and anxiety.  Every birth is unique and is experienced differently: with or without an epidural, accompanied by a medical team or a midwife, etc. Each of these experiences could have an impact on attachment and the development of the mother-child or parent-child relationship. I would like to see a study of the links between all these things, for the well-being/well-birthing of families. The conclusions could help policymakers in the areas of public health, healthcare, education… Didn’t we say that Québec is crazy about its children?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Can oncolytic viruses be used as a prophylactic for certain cancers?

I am a second-year nursing student with a passion for oncology. I know that malignant tumors represent a major public health issue, and one day I would like to be able to help improve the management of this complex pathology. Oncolytic viruses were briefly mentioned in my microbiology course this term. As I learned about their ability to specifically target cancer cells, I wondered whether it would be possible to use them as prophylaxis rather than treatment. Would it be possible to administer, at fairly regular intervals, doses of a virus that has been modified to recognize certain types of cancer with known and well-established risk factors? For example, pulmonary adenocarcinoma in smokers. I imagine it must be infinitely more complex than it appears in our popular science books, but I’m still curious to know if this could be a feasible application.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How long does it take for water left on a bedside table to become unfit for consumption?

The taste of a glass of water left on the bedside table changes after a few hours. But beyond that, should we worry about drinking it? This is an ongoing debate in our household, as I have a vague recollection of having read that after a certain number of hours, stagnant water can become “unsafe”, whereas my spouse does not think so. We want reliable information so we can make the best decision for the health of our child and our pets. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of knowledge and consensus about the dangers of drinking stagnant water.  Exploring these situations and acquiring knowledge about elements requiring special attention, such as factors related to the type of container or storage conditions, is essential to prevent health hazards. Thank you!

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Why is the integration of traditional and complementary medicine into our healthcare system not being considered by our governments as a possible solution to the current crisis, even though it has been recommended by the World Health Organization for over ten years?

In 2021, I released a film entitled Chroniques hospitalières in which I describe my experience with the healthcare system. I have been living with a chronic illness since birth. To treat myself and improve my quality of life, I have been combining conventional and complementary medicine for over 35 years.
According to the WHO, the use of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) is on the rise worldwide for a variety of reasons: dissatisfaction with existing services, interest in holistic care and prevention, the desire to take charge of one’s own health, the failure of certain conventional treatments or the aspiration for a better quality of life in the event of a life-threatening illness. People suffering from chronic illnesses seem to be the biggest users of these therapies.
After more than 20 years of observations and data collection on the efficiency of TCM, the WHO concludes that it can contribute to better universal health coverage (UHC) through greater accessibility to care, substantial cost savings and greater autonomy for individuals. I would really like to explore these issues so that they eventually become part of the public discussion.
Organizational and structural reforms come and go without consulting the public. What if we gave them a choice? What if we trusted people’s ability to care for themselves? What if conventional medicine didn’t have to be the first and only line of care offered? It is this need to look at healthcare differently that interests me. Having explored my own story, I would now like to take my reflection to a more social and political level.

Brigitte Lacasse

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

How can available tools such as imaging, molecular biology and psychological testing be better used to diagnose and assess mental health disorders in certain individuals?

The DSM-5 is the guide used to diagnose mental health disorders. Sometimes, however, mental health professionals do not agree on a diagnosis for the same set of symptoms. The consequences of this variation in clinical opinion can be disastrous for the person receiving different or erroneous diagnoses: inappropriate and lengthy treatment, side-effects leading to the onset of other illnesses or disabilities, inability to return to work, financial difficulties, difficulties in relationships with others, distress and suicidal ideation. For several years now, I have been navigating the healthcare system in search of a clear diagnosis in relation to my mental health. At one point in my journey, I found myself with a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression from one psychiatrist, and a diagnosis of dysthymia from another. What’s more, it seems that I’m also on the autism spectrum and that attention deficit disorder and/or obsessive personality disorder could explain my condition. I don’t know which way to turn any more!  So I am wondering how more objective tools such as brain imaging, molecular biology and psychological testing could help eliminate certain hypotheses or confirm others. How can they be accessed and used to improve response to mental health treatments? Many people with problems similar to mine fall through the cracks of the healthcare system because their issues are too numerous and complex. How can we remedy this and have more personalized medical approaches?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

What measures could be taken to help nursing staff deal with delirium in hospitalized patients, both in terms of clinical care for the patient and support for the patient's family and friends?

Following a major spinal cord operation in 2021, my recovery was hampered by post-operative delirium, for which I received a delayed diagnosis and treatment, after numerous calls for help from those around me. I believe I can contribute to research on this subject, through this terrifying experience.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Are Morganella morgani and Klebsiella bacteria, which have been found in the intestines of patients with depressive symptoms, present in the environment and could they contribute to depressive symptoms?

I am very interested in mental health and especially in the potential bacterial causes of depression, having experienced depressive episodes myself, during which antidepressants did not seem to work. I have read a lot about the link between the gut and the brain, including pathogens that can cause depression (such as toxoplasmosis). I have closely followed recent research findings regarding the reduction/disappearance of depressive symptoms in mice whose vagus nerve has been severed (Instituts Pasteur). The link between gut and mood has been demonstrated in recent years. Could it be that depression has its origins in environmental causes such as bacteria present in our environment? If so, where are these bacteria found in the environment and what are the sources of contact? What if we stopped treating depression primarily as a mental illness? The solution might be different, and possibly more effective in some cases. After two years of reading, I wondered how I could further my reflection on the subject, and the Engage Program seemed like a good opportunity to learn more about it.

Marianne Mathis

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Does the presence of community arts have an impact on the quality of care?

The healthcare network is facing major challenges. We need only think of the aging population, the labour shortage, and increasingly complex care needs. Faced with ever-increasing waiting times, healthcare network workers feel powerless. It seems impossible to reduce waiting times in the short term. As a result, our population is forced to spend long hours in drab, aseptic environments. Are there any measures we can take to improve care environments quickly?  Specifically, how can our educational institutions contribute to these public spaces by better mobilizing the creative forces of our students?  Several studies have shown the benefits of art in the healing process. These benefits extend to caregivers, patients and their families. In particular, the WHO unequivocally affirms the positive impact of art in preventing mental illness and age-related physical decline and alleviating neurological disorders (Fancourt, D., & Finn, S. (2019). What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review. World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe).  My name is Simon Tousignant, I am an industrial engineer by training, and I work on process improvement in a hospital environment.  My experience has brought me into contact with people from all walks of life, involved in care trajectories where hope is fragile. I see patients lying on their backs for days on end, staring at a white ceiling. Others require care that lasts for years, day after day, in a cacophony of beeps from dozens of devices that never stop. Thank you for your consideration!

Simon Tousignant

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Are children who are victims of parental alienation more likely to develop mental health problems?

I am a target or alienated parent. My children are victims of parental alienation by the other parent.  I have noticed, in my own children, but also in those of other parents in the same situation, that many young people suffer from severe mental health problems. Can research help us find out whether parental alienation influences the development of children’s psychological health, and if so, how to prevent this increased risk?

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

Materials engineering, technology, computer science

How can we develop and test a biocidal gel to protect wood used in construction against fire, fungi and pests?

Some 50 building fires occur in Québec every day. There are fire retardants and biocides of natural and ecological origin for wood used in construction that could considerably reduce this number. I would like to take part in a program to preventively treat wood destined for construction as it leaves the sawmill (some 100 sawmills cut lumber in Québec), but also to treat lumber in buildings that have already been built, and to test the treatment’s effectiveness, knowing that this natural product does not lose its effectiveness over time; it is naturally penetrating, fireproof, fungicidal and insecticidal. I would also like to urge the Ministry of Housing to advise builders and insurers to have lumber preventively treated before or during construction. I would like to design a biocidal gel with the additional property of penetrating deep into lumber to protect it against fire, wood-decay fungi (dry rot fungus), wood-boring larvae, termites, carpenter ants (a lumber pest), and the emerald ash borer through the treatment of standing trees by certified applicators. The aim of my research is not only to create this penetrating gel, but also to set up a gel manufacturing facility in Québec, so as to be able to create a dozen or so treatment companies—currently non-existent in North America—which could translate into several thousand companies across North America.

Alain Belloy

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Philosophy, law, art

What specific challenges do emerging artists face in Québec, and what actions can be taken to help them establish sustainable careers?

As an emerging artist (puppeteer) working in a marginal profession and faced with precariousness, I question myself daily on whether it’s worth persevering. The current economic crisis accentuates this questioning. Can I legitimately hope to practice my artistic profession in 2023? Does my work have any value in society? I see the need to fight every day to convince society that my work has a tangible impact on the world around me. And I’m not the only one.

From an economic point of view, many emerging artists face irregular income and financial insecurity due to the intermittent nature of their artistic projects. This professional instability makes it difficult to meet basic needs such as housing and health. Funding and subsidy opportunities are often subject to fierce competition, creating an additional challenge for access to financial resources. In addition, the visibility of emerging artists is hampered by limited access to exhibition and performance spaces, complicating their professional advancement.

Socially, the recognition of artistic work and the value attributed to artistic careers can vary. Emerging artists in Québec may feel the need to demonstrate the social and cultural value of their work, which can have consequences for their psychological well-being.

Despite these challenges, I know that a dynamic network of organizations, community initiatives and artistic collectives is committed to supporting emerging artists in Québec. Discussions aimed at recognizing artistic contributions, facilitating access to resources and creating a more inclusive cultural ecosystem are underway to improve the socio-economic situation of emerging artists in Québec.

I want to be part of this movement, helping to demystify the status of the “up-and-coming” artist through meticulous research, and to take concrete action for a more fulfilling place in society.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential..

What are the minimum conditions and winning strategies for effective, mutually satisfying collaboration between artists and agents of change working towards greater social justice?

On the one hand, I am concerned about number of social issues (homelessness, lack of housing, food security, etc.) and on the other hand, I am active in the visual arts world, notably as a volunteer guide at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. This fall, I attended a talk with Ken Grossinger following the publication of his book “Art Works: How Organizers and Artists are Creating a Better World Together” and I would be very interested in exploring strategies for collaboration between arts stakeholders and key changemakers working for greater social justice. What experiments have been carried out in Québec, and with what results? What initiatives failed, and why? What strategies remain to be explored? These are my key questions.

Nicole Lemire

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Politics and society

How could the application of resilient thinking and the implementation of a transformative strategy help improve public policies to meet global food challenges and guarantee food security in Québec and Canada by 2030?

Food is probably the most important issue on the planet. Moreover, the global food crisis and food security need to be tackled more effectively if we are to put an end to famine, malnutrition and over-nutrition in Québec and Canada by 2030.

Wishes to keep their name and email confidential.

How can we encourage workforce participation of retirees and reconcile the interests of the organizations that hire them on a part-time basis, in the midst of a labour shortage?

At the age of 61, I decided to retire, after starting a new job following 16 years on a board of directors. The new job required full-time work, 35 hours a week, a hybrid model with remote and in-office work. With the pandemic, after more than two years working exclusively from home, and having reduced my working hours to 21, it was too drastic an adjustment for me to make, and I decided it was time to enter retirement. The factors that demanded the most effort were the performance anxiety of adapting to new technologies at my new employer, the requirement to do more in-office work, and work weeks of over 35 hours with flexibility to work evenings and weekends. On the eve of my retirement, all these demands were destabilizing the quality of life I had created for myself.

So I began my retirement in the autumn of 2022, with a feeling of emptiness, of having nothing left to contribute to society. Despite joining several of the activities I’d dreamed of while working, I wasn’t totally stimulated, I didn’t feel I was evolving. I was afraid of becoming intellectually lazy, and a feeling of incompetence crept over me.

Moreover, despite financial planning with a professional in 2018, there was no indication at the time that inflation, the economic crisis and a wind of recession would blow through our society in 2023. So I decided to find a project I could engage in, at my own pace, with passion.  I wanted to get involved, be stimulated, and grow by investing in a project of interest to me and to society at large. How could I best use my experience as a new retiree, who still had the desire and passion to make an economic and social contribution to the development of our communities and thus feel useful again, keep my brain active, not to mention the factor of financial security, being able to count on some extra income to round out the month.

Having been a manager, I wonder about the duality of meeting my needs as a very part-time worker and the sound management of an employer balancing work schedules, team unity and equity. Yes, we are experiencing a labour shortage; yes, I still have the desire to work, but my quality of life in my sixties, and my physical and mental capacities, are not what they were in my twenties! How can we combine all these factors to provide a favourable environment for my employer and myself without neglecting work design, inclusion and organizational health?  Even with a well-planned retirement, all the global upheavals and soaring inflation are forcing more and more people aged 55 and over to return to the workforce. However, adaptation on both sides, employer and retiree, is necessary to ensure sustainability and healthy productivity.

Suzie Paquin

Wishes to keep the email confidential.

Urban studies

Is it possible to use a reward system to make sustainable modes of transportation more attractive and encourage the adoption of sustainable mobility behaviours?

Interest in sustainable mobility is not very high in the Chaudière-Appalaches region and the greater Québec City area, where solo car culture is still firmly entrenched. Moreover, the region’s transportation services are underdeveloped. As a citizen, I find that the authorities aren’t doing enough to help us adopt new modes of travel and that the existing infrastructure is not attractive enough to encourage us to leave our cars behind on a daily basis. I wanted to learn more about the subject and came across two articles that inspired me. The first is “How ‘gamification’ can make transport systems and choices work better for us” (https://theconversation.com/how-gamification-can-make-transport-systems-and-choices-work-better-for-us-57663). The other is entitled “A Hyper-Integrated Mobility as a Service (MaaS) to Gamification and Carbon Market Enterprise Architecture Framework for Sustainable Environment” (Energies 2023, 16(5), 2480; https://doi.org/10.3390/en16052480). The second article talks about “smart cities”, “Mobility as a Service (MaaS)” and “gamification”, describing in detail the data architecture of an integrated system including a gamification module. Essentially, the integration of different modes of transportation such as buses, trains, taxis and car-sharing services into a single system accessible via a single integrated digital platform that rewards users for choosing sustainable modes of transportation or offers discounts to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour. In Chaudière-Appalaches, we already have a platform called Transit that lets you find the best way to get from point A to point B by combining different modes of transportation (bus, walking, cycling, car-sharing, etc.) and which already has a “playful” element (you can personalize your profile, take surveys, etc.) So, I’m wondering if we couldn’t go a step further by adding the “rewards” aspect as an incentive. I would like to work on a project to test such a system and measure the effects of gamification on the adoption of sustainable mobility solutions.

Marie-France Vincent

Wishes to keep their email confidential.

How can adapting street furniture for people with mobility issues improve accessibility and active participation in an urban setting like Québec City’s St-Roch district?

I am a citizen of Québec City who has undergone a number of surgeries in recent years. During my periods of recovery and rehabilitation, I became aware that the distances between places to rest are very great when moving around downtown. It can take almost a kilometre to find the closest public bench.

The population of the St-Roch district is aging, with the highest percentage of elderly people living alone outside specialized housing (senior’s home or condominium for over-55). At the same time, it is widely recognized that access to public space is essential to breaking isolation and promoting the physical and mental health of seniors. But how can I leave home knowing in advance that I do not have the physical capacity to walk a certain distance without being able to rest, catch my breath and get my strength back on a public bench or backrest? In my opinion, this is a real issue on which our public authorities must take action.

In 1978, the Québec National Assembly passed the first law promoting accessibility and integration for people with disabilities. This was amended in 2004 and enacted under the name Act to secure handicapped persons in the exercise of their rights with a view to achieving social, school and workplace integration.

This act stipulates that disabled people must be guaranteed access to public buildings and spaces and must be able to use all the facilities found within them. However, no article refers to the design of public spaces for people with reduced mobility.

Québec City has been designated an Age-Friendly Municipality (AFM) by the Ministère des affaires municipales et de l’habitation du Québec (MAMH). A review of the literature on this designation revealed that no specific standards for physical accessibility are considered when awarding this distinctive and inclusive status.

We recognize that the City of Québec offers mostly integrated leisure, activity and accommodation services, and supports a number of organizations that provide more comprehensive support services for older people.

The St-Roch district is home to the greatest concentration of seniors in Québec City who do not live in a retirement home. It is for this reason that I would like to initiate a research project to address this specific issue, but which could also eventually be applied elsewhere.

Robert Rousse

Wants to keep their email confidential.

Discrimination, inclusion, immigration

(to come)

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Education

(to come)

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Physics

(to come)

Questions proposed by citizens previously

You can also consult the Questions asked in previous editions if you need inspiration to ask your question.