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By Barbara Sibbald | CMAJ | Sept. 2, 2016

  • As the number of opioid-related deaths rises, six chemicals used to produce the potent drug fentanyl are declared illegal by Health Canada. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than morphine. Vancouver Coastal health says 86% of drugs tested at the safe injection facility InSite over a four-week period contained fentanyl.
  • Seven mental health workers in northern Ontario claim they have been pushed out of their jobs by what they describe as bullying and harassment by supervisors over a three-year period. The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority serves patients across the James Bay coast, including Attawapiskat where a series of suicide attempts recently led the local council to declare a state of emergency.
  • Lost productivity due to workers’ depression and anxiety costs the Canadian economy nearly $50 billion annually, according to a report from The Conference Board of Canada. A large proportion of working Canadians aren’t getting their mental health care needs met, according to the board. Mental illness accounts for about 30% of short- and long-term disability claims, at an additional cost of up to $33 billion annually.
  • Two First Nation’s men born days apart in 1975 at the same northern Manitoba hospital, learn they were apparently switched at birth. DNA evidence confirmed that David Tait Jr. and Leon Swanson were raised by one another’s families. This is the second such case at Norway House Indian Hospital identified in under a year. Health Canada is offering free DNA testing to people who suspect they have been switched at birth at the hospital.
  • Brian Day will argue that restrictions on private care are unconstitutional at the British Columbia Supreme Court beginning Sept. 6. Day owns Cambie Surgery Centre, which specializes in arthroscopic surgery and allows patients to pay out-of-pocket rather than wait for care in the public system. Opposing him is the BC Medical Services Commission and BC health ministry.
  • The Ontario Medical Association asks for binding arbitration in its ongoing contract dispute, but will have to first form a public-sector union and disclose salaries, says the provincial health minister. Doctors voted down a deal which would have raised the physician services budget by 2.5% a year.
  • The Central Health Authority is ordered by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to hold another hearing into reinstating hospital privileges for Dr. Todd Young. The Springdale doctor was suspended for 19 months and fined $20 000after admitting to a three-year relationship with a former patient. When he returned to work, he was told he could not admit patients to hospitals run by Central Health, or treat them inside the facilities.
  • University of Toronto professor, Dr. Brian Hodges is awarded the 2016 Karolinska Institutet Prize for Research in Medical Education. Hodges’ research focus on the nature of competence, has led to scientific advances and practical changes in the training of health professionals worldwide. The international award includes $73 000.
  • Canadian surgeons are urging people to toss out wire-bristle barbecue brushes because of the difficulty in removing wires that get stuck in people’s throats. The thin, sharp wires, which can attach to grills or food, are sometimes swallowed and damage the throat and epiglottis.
  • A gay activist filed a federal human rights complaint over Canada’s policy requiring gay men to wait a year between having sex and donating blood. In June, Health Canada reduced the waiting period from five years to one. Christopher Karas says the new policy is discriminatory and outdated.


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