Roger Collier | CMAJ | June 16, 2017

  • Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott said she finds it “disturbing” that so many Canadian doctors are “double dipping” by billing the public system and charging patients directly for services, as discovered in a Globe and Mail investigation. Philpott said the government will explore ways to address the issue of illegal double-billing.
  • Canada does a poor job of providing children with access to nutritious food compared to other wealthy nations, according to UNICEF (37th place among 41 countries). Canada ranked 29th for unhealthy weight of children, 31st for teen suicide rate, and 25th for overall children’s well-being.
  • Nurses, doctors and scientists are the most respected professionals in Canada, according to a poll. Ninety-two percent of the 1,257 Canadians surveyed held a positive opinion of nurses, with doctors and scientists both close behind at 89%.
  • Canada pays more for medications for common conditions than many other affluent countries, found a study published in CMAJ. Canada was the only country of the nine studied that didn’t have universal drug coverage, and ranked 2nd in annual per capita spending on medications ($158).
  • Several physician groups are leading a court challenge of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy requiring doctors who morally object to a medical service to refer patients to another physician who can provide it. The Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life object to the policy on the grounds that it violates a physician’s right to freedom of religion and conscience under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • The federal government is working on legislation to restrict the marketing of junk food to children. Health Canada is seeking public input on how to reduce the amount of advertising children see or hear about unhealthy food and beverages.
  • Ontario is expanding access to naloxone kits and hiring more front-line workers to address the opioid crisis. Each board of health in the province will receive extra funding to hire addiction outreach workers and other health care professionals to improve addiction outreach, education and surveillance of opioid overdoses.
  • Quebec’s largest chain of convenience stores, Alimentation Couche-Tard, wants to be involved in the distribution of marijuana and has hired a lobbyist to work on its behalf. A spokesperson for the company, which owns 2000 stores in Canada, said Couche-Tard has a “long history of selling tobacco and alcohol, products that minors are prohibited from buying and that raise public-health issues.”
  • The Ontario Medical Association will vote this weekend on a deal to send contract disputes with the provincial government to binding arbitration. Physicians in Ontario have been without a contract for three years.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Alberta patients rated their experiences with family physicians as positive, according to a survey. They were less happy, however, with access to after-hours care, with 41% reporting it was not available from their physicians.

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