Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | November 3, 2017

  • Climate change is already harming the health of millions of people, including many Canadians, according to a new report published in the Lancet and an accompanying Canadian policy brief. The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change warns that urgent action is needed to reduce carbon emissions and avert global health catastrophe, as temperatures are projected to rise to levels that will be disastrous beyond our ability to adapt.
  • Health Canada is standing behind a health claim that soy protein reduces the risk of heart disease, even though the United States Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to revoke the claim – a first in the regulator’s history. According to the FDA, numerous studies since 1999 have presented inconsistent findings on the relationship between soy protein and heart disease.
  • Health Canada will receive most of the $526 million the federal government has earmarked for preparing the recreational marijuana industry for legalization in July 2018. Of the total, $432 million will go to Health Canada for licensing, enforcement and public education campaigns.
  • Patients still find it difficult to access the abortion drug Mifegymiso as doctors face logistical barriers to providing the treatment, including onerous after-care requirements. In Ontario, 800 health providers have taken training to prescribe Mifegymiso, but only 12 clinics are actually accepting referrals.
  • Nova Scotia’s family doctor waitlist matched just over 10% of registered patients in its first year, and demand is about to increase with at least six more physicians set to retire by the end of December. Doctors of Nova Scotia estimates about 100000 people in the province don’t have a family doctor, and 37339 are currently on the waitlist.
  • A national report on cardiac care showed higher than average death rates among heart patients in Newfoundland and Labrador. More than 3% of the province’s cardiac bypass patients and 4.7% of those who had aortic valve replacements died within 30 days of surgery, well above the national average of 1.3% in both cases, and higher than any other province.
  • Cape Breton doctors’ reluctance to take on patients with active addictions is forcing some people to travel to Halifax for methadone treatment at their own expense. “So far, we don’t have any doctors here in Cape Breton who are actually willing to or able to take on those stable folks from our specialized opioid treatment program,” said Sharon MacKenzie, acting director for mental health and addictions in the Nova Scotia Health Authority eastern zone.
  • Ontario student groups, colleges and universities are calling on the province to provide free mental health care for post-secondary students, and teach psychological resiliency in elementary and high schools. Ontario’s colleges are spending about $165 million more for on-campus mental health services than they receive from the province, with most of that money coming from their operating budgets.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba panned a bill that would protect health professionals from reprisal if they refuse to provide medical aid in dying, arguing that professional policies already protect objectors. However, Manitoba Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen countered that there are no legal employment protections for objectors and professional policies might change.
  • Physicians in New Brunswick can now issue community treatment orders, which allow people with serious mental health conditions to receive care in the community rather than being admitted to a psychiatric facility. Supervised community care also includes supports for caregivers, who previously had to go through the courts to secure services for people who are unwilling or unable to follow treatment.

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