By Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | Sep. 16, 2016
- Quebec will abolish all extra fees for publicly funded health care, with new rules coming into effect in January 2017. The change will not apply to doctors’ notes, medical procedures that are not covered by Quebec’s public health insurance, such as laser eye surgery, or transporting biological samples to and from laboratories.
- British Columbia defended restrictions on private health care from a constitutional challenge that some have called the biggest threat to Medicare of this generation. The government and interveners in the case argued that limits on how patients pay and doctors bill for private care are necessary to ensure access for all under the public system, regardless of ability to pay.
- Health Canada issued new labelling rules for acetaminophen in an effort to prevent accidental overdoses and liver damage, disappointing some physicians who had hoped the regulator would lower the maximum daily dose. Instead, Health Canada now requires clearer warnings about dosing, mixing the drug with alcohol, and using it for more than five days in a row.
- The percentage of students in grades 6 to 12 who are smokers dropped to 3% in 2014-15, down from 4% in 2012-13, according to the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. More students used marijuana, with 17% of those in grades 7 to 12 reporting getting high in the past year.
- An Alberta-based medical marijuana producer launched a mobile application that allows patients registered with the company to purchase the drug using their phone or tablet and receive same-day delivery in parts of the province. Although Health Canada forbids marijuana producers to advertise, a spokesperson said the regulator “does not have any concerns” about the app.
- Manitoba is considering lifting a ban on cosmetic pesticides that was introduced in 2015 to reduce people’s exposure to glyphosate, a product the World Health Organization says probably causes cancers. Health advocates protested against such an early review of the legislation, arguing that ban was supported by a three year consultation and evidence of neurological impacts on children and pregnant women.
- Ontario became the first jurisdiction in Canada to make the Herpes zoster vaccine free for seniors. The government will invest $68 million over three years to publicly fund the vaccine, which studies show is highly effective in preventing shingles when people are vaccinated between age 65 and 70.
- Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins said doctors in the province have “created a wall blocking the ability to reach an agreement” on a new contract by demanding binding arbitration before talks resume. More than 63% of doctors voted last month to reject an agreement that would have provided a 10% boost to the physician services budget over four years, and there’s no sign of a return to negotiations.
- New Brunswick and Nova Scotia came under fire for poor reporting of deaths from drug overdose . NB officials have promised to release a report with up-to-date figures soon, while NS officials said the province may start publicly reporting overdose deaths.
- Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage plan won’t be ready until next year, despite promises that the plan would be ready in the summer. The plan will pay up to eight doctors a salary for one year to rotate through practices in underserved areas of the province.
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