Roger Collier | CMAJ | December 15, 2017

  • The Framework on Palliative Care in Canada Act (Bill C-277) received Royal Assent and became law. It calls for a cohesive national plan to ensure Canadians in every province have access to high-quality palliative care.
  • Deceased organ donation increased 42% over the past decade, reported the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Canada still has a shortage of organs, however, and 4500 patients are on wait lists for transplants.
  • To “protect the health and well-being” of Ontarians, “particularly children and youth,” the Ontario government will restrict the use of recreational marijuana to private residences. People will not be permitted to use the drug recreationally in public places, at work, or in vehicles.
  • All Quebec residents will soon be able to access their medical records online, announced the province’s health minister. Using a password-protected portal, Quebecers will be able to access their prescription histories, blood test results, medical imaging reports, and other health information.
  • British Columbia hopes to increase survival rates among Indigenous people with cancer through earlier diagnosis and better prevention and screening. Systemic racism deters Indigenous peoples from engaging the health care system, delaying diagnoses and treatment, according to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres.
  • There is little evidence that cannabis has medical benefits, according to the Alberta College of Family Physicians. Physicians and patients should also be aware of possible adverse events, and be informed that benefits will likely be much smaller than anticipated, the college informed clinicians in several advisories.
  • The average retirement age of physicians in British Columbia is 65, and women and rural doctors retire earlier, according to a study in CMAJ. Many physicians (40%) reduced their workloads by at least 10% in the three years preceding retirement.
  • Ontario adolescents are drinking, smoking and using recreational drugs at the lowest rates since the 1970s, according to a survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. One percent of survey respondents, however, reported using illicit fentanyl in the past year, which would extrapolate to 5800 adolescents across Ontario.
  • The abortion pill Mifegymiso will be available in Quebec as of Dec. 15 and will be covered by the province’s insurance plan. To obtain the drug, women must be no more than nine weeks pregnant and must first see a doctor and have an ultrasound.
  • The pertussis outbreak in southern Alberta has been declared over by Alberta Health Services. There were 441 confirmed cases—388 connected with the outbreak—between June 5 and Dec. 7.

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