Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | Dec. 16, 2016
- The federal government introduced a bill to create a new national drug strategy that would reinstate harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy. If passed, the bill would repeal complicated conditions for opening supervised drug consumption sites and the lead responsibility for drug policy would transfer from the justice department to Health Canada.
- The number of Canadians with medical marijuana prescriptions has tripled since September 2015 to nearly 100 000 according to Health Canada statistics. The trend has coincided with increasing promotion by licensed marijuana producers, including industry-sponsored education for physicians.
- A federal task force issued recommendations on the legalization of marijuana, including that the federal government should restrict sales to people age 18 and older, and personal possession should be limited to 30 grams. The report also suggested legislators impose limits on advertising cannabis similar to current restrictions for alcohol and tobacco.
- Ontario proposed a new 10-year health funding plan that would see the federal government increase payments to the provinces by 5.2% each year in exchange for commitments on shared priorities. The federal Liberals have promised to spend $3 billion on mental health and home care on top of annual transfers to the province, and Ontario suggested those monies could be rolled together to top up the annual increase in health funding to provinces, which will soon be cut to 3%.
- The Ontario Medical Association rejected a new three-year contract proposed by the province. The government offered to increase the physician services budget by 2.5%, boost pay to family doctors by an extra $185 million and reduce fees to physicians who bill more than $1 million annually.
- The number of Albertans receiving medical assistance to die has doubled in the past two months, bringing the total this year to 60. The province had been averaging two to four assisted deaths per week from June to September, but that rate has since increased to about three to five per week.
- Quebec physicians and pharmacists demanded real-time access to data on opioid prescriptions collected by the province and private insurers. The Collège des médecins du Québec and the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec argued that the data would help them spot overprescribing and unsafe dispensing sooner to prevent drug abuse and deaths.
- More than half of McGill University medical students say they have been mistreated by faculty, more than a year after McGill’s program was put on probation for problems related to students’ learning experiences. A survey commissioned by faculty also showed that 35.5% of students feared reprisal for reporting mistreatment, up from 28% last year.
- Saskatoon, Calgary and Winnipeg earned “A” grades in a new healthy city ranking by the Conference Board of Canada. Vancouver, Quebec City, Ottawa-Gatineau, Halifax, Edmonton and Toronto earned “B” grades for their performance on 24 measures of health and wellbeing. Montreal ranked last with the only “D” grade due to higher rates of smoking and lower rates of immunization.
- The Liberal government announced a total ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. The ban will include construction materials and brake pads that currently use the cancer-causing material.
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