Roger Collier | CMAJ | September 15, 2017

  • Health Canada plans to ban the sale of nonprescription codeine, a low-dose opioid. About 600 million tablets were sold in 2015, and the drug has been linked to dependence and abuse, the agency stated.
  • Medical marijuana producers are advocating for access to the retail cannabis market in Ontario when the drug becomes legal next summer. The Ontario government plans to control the recreational market via its liquor control board and set up 150 stores by 2020 in addition to offering online sales.
  • American Senator Bernie Sanders enlisted Canadians to promote the concept of a single-payer universal health care system for the United States. Dr. Danielle Martin, founder of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, spoke at the launch of Sanders’ proposed health care bill, telling the audience that 94% of Canadians “say that our health care system is a source of personal and collective pride.”
  • The minimum age to buy marijuana in Alberta should be 21, proposed Alberta Health Services. “Delaying use is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of harm to the developing brain,” the agency stated in a submission to the Alberta cannabis secretariat.
  • The hospitalization rate for opioid poisoning in Canada has increased 53% over the past decade, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. On average, there are 16 opioid-related hospitalizations every day across the country.
  • There will be a march on Parliament Hill to protest the federal government’s proposed tax changes to corporations, led by The Federation of Medical Women of Canada. Female physicians rely on incorporation tax breaks to “employ their staff and plan their maternity leaves and retirement,” stated the group.
  • The Manitoba government is considering an income-based health care premium like the one in Ontario and some other provinces. Otherwise, the province may be forced to cut health services, warned Premier Brian Pallister.
  • About 30 Canadians attending medical school in the Caribbean were stranded in a classroom for almost a week after Hurricane Irma. The Canadian government eventually sent a plane to retrieve the students, who criticized the slow response on social media.
  • Spending on health care in British Columbia will increase 3.5% to $19.56 billion in 2018-19, according to the provincial government’s budget. Health care premiums, however, will be cut by half and eliminated entirely within four years.
  • Naloxone will soon be available in Quebec pharmacies for free. Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette said the move was a crucial step in preventing more opioid overdose deaths.

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