Roger Collier | CMAJ | May 26, 2017

  • The federal government should lead a national effort to address Canada’s growing opioid problem, recommended a report from the Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis. The 13 city mayors on the task force recommended coordinating responses across all levels of government, setting clear targets, sharing information and adopting a “comprehensive and coordinated pan-Canadian action plan which addressed the root causes of the opioid crisis.”
  • Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott attended the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting in Berlin and the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva. At the meetings, Philpott announced that Canada would contribute $1.5 million to the World Health Organization’s Contingency Fund for Emergencies and $1.39 million to support innovations to address the spread of antimicrobial resistance.
  • The Ontario government launched the Interactive Opioid Tool, which displays the most recent information on opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits in the province. More than 700 Ontarians died from opioid doses in 2015 (up 94% since 2003), and more than 400 died in the first half of 2016.
  • There are many problems with how health care in Alberta is organized, overseen and funded, according to a report from The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta. The report recommends moving away from a fragmented system in which information isn’t shared to an integrated approach that provides a continuum of services to patients over time across all levels of the health system.
  • Unvaccinated children are more likely to be stigmatized and shunned by other families, and their mothers are often viewed negatively, according to research from the University of British Columbia. The study, published in Social Science and Medicine, found that mothers who oppose vaccines are judged more harshly than those who have delayed vaccinations for other reasons, such as time constraints or lack of access.
  • Six hospitals in Ontario had average occupancy rates above 100% for acute-care beds over the past five years, reported the Globe and Mail. Including these facilities, there were 89 hospitals with occupancy rates above 85%, which some experts say leaves little room for unexpected surges of patients and makes it more difficult to prevent the spread of infections.
  • The median age of first substance use for Canadians recovering from addictions is 13, and the median age of addiction is 18, according to Life in Recovery from Addiction in Canada, a report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction. More than 90% of those in recovery used alcohol and half said it was their preferred substance, found an online survey of 855 people who self-identified as being in recovery.
  • There was a small reduction in caesarean section rates in 32 Quebec hospitals following an intervention targeting health professionals that involved audits and feedback, according to a study in BMC Medicine. The study found the reduction in caesareans had no adverse effects on maternal or neonatal health and resulted in “important cost savings.”
  • All working Ontarians should receive a week of personal emergency leave, recommended a report commissioned by the Minster of Labour. The report stops short of recommending paid sick leave for all workers, though it acknowledges that “this protection would be beneficial.”
  • Health care has become the top issue on the campaign trail leading up to Nova Scotia’s May 30 provincial election. The incumbent Liberals have promised to invest $34 million to hire mental health clinicians, the Progressive Conservatives announced they would spend $39.7 million to improve mental health services and spend $8 million to build four crisis centres, and the NDP said it would work with doctors to create a new physician payment model and to develop a physician recruitment and retention strategy.

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