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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | June 30, 2017

  • New federal regulations will allow provinces and territories to import drugs not approved by Health Canada in cases of public health emergency, including the current opioid crisis. Health Canada also approved the supervised use of oral and nasal drugs at two safe injection sites in British Columbia in a bid to curb overdose deaths.
  • Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott appointed Dr. Theresa Tam to lead the Public Health Agency of Canada. The pediatric infectious disease specialist has been acting chief public health officer since the retirement of Dr. Gregory Taylor in December.
  • Quebec is centralizing its generic-drug purchasing system, seeking bids from companies for exclusive supply contracts. The move is hoped to save millions in drug costs, but pharmacists will no longer be able to offer a range of generic brands and generic companies say the plan may cause drug shortages.
  • Manitoba will create a new health organization to centralize some functions currently administered by the province’s five regional health authorities, including ambulance services and diagnostic imaging. The new Shared Health Services Manitoba will also take over the operation of the province’s Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Hospital, transplant program and laboratories.
  • Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said he’s willing to wait “forever” to get a better health funding deal from Ottawa. The current deal “is not an accord and should never be referred to as an accord,” he told reporters. “There has never been a negotiation.”
  • Thirty-six abandoned oil and gas wells in urban areas of Alberta are leaking methane, according to an unreleased study by the Alberta Energy Regulator. Nine wells are leaking at levels health officials say pose risks of neurological damage to nearby residents, and six are leaking at levels considered “life threatening.”
  • Dalhousie University medical school in Halifax is screening potential students for character traits such as empathy, integrity and resiliency through a video-based tool. The school overhauled its admissions process for the first time in a decade after the convictions of two students for murder and weapons offences.
  • New Brunswick made public how much it pays its doctors, releasing the names of physicians along with the amounts each received in payments from the province. BC and Manitoba release such information annually, while doctors in Ontario and Newfoundland are asking the courts to prevent similar disclosures.
  • Former Ontario nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to a life prison term with no chance for parole for 25 years for murdering eight patients by injecting them with lethal doses of insulin.  The province will conduct an independent public inquiry into the case, and the College of Nurses of Ontario will hold a disciplinary hearing to uncover why Wettlaufer was allowed to continue working after being fired in 2014 for improperly administering drugs.
  • Don Rae stepped down from the new Saskatchewan Health Authority board of directors after the Saskatoon StarPhoenix uncovered multiple posts on his Facebook account making fun of Mexicans. In a separate incident, Alberta Health Services fired two employees for using a racial slur in a text message.

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