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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | May 25, 2018

  • Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard threatened to slash doctors’ salaries if they don’t show progress toward accepting the minimum number of patients under Bill 20. The province is still far from its goal of ensuring 85% of Quebecers have a family doctor.
  • British Columbia announced $181 million for 200 more general practitioners and $115 million for 200 more nurse practitioners as part of a new primary care strategy. The province will also establish primary care networks in 70% of communities over the next three years.
  • The suicide rate among First Nations women is almost 30 times higher than for non-First Nations women. Indigenous leaders in Saskatchewan are calling for federal funding to implement a suicide prevention strategy and to improve surveillance of suicide deaths.
  • Manitoba announced a mental health and addictions strategy that emphasizes collaborative care and community hubs to bring key services to one location. The strategy also calls for increased access to telehealth services, addictions clinics, and specialist support for primary care providers.
  • Quebec started registering residents for an online health portal where they can access their health data going back five years. Users can access laboratory results, medical imaging tests and a list of medications dispensed at pharmacies.
  • Reports of dozens of hospitalizations in New York linked to synthetic marijuana raised concern about the sale of similar products in Canada. Commonly marketed as potpourri or incense, synthetic marijuana is a compound that mimics the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol but can be many times more potent.
  • Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation in Ontario have “considerably worse” physical and mental health than members of other First Nation communities, likely because of exposure to mercury dumped upstream of the reserve decades ago. There are fewer elders in Grassy Narrows, suggesting premature deaths, and residents who ate more fish as children had higher rates of nervous system disorders.
  • BC’s provincial health officer warned about the “huge potential harms” of a homeopathic treatment for children called CEASE (complete elimination of autism spectrum expression) therapy. Health officials worry the therapy, based on the unproven claim that vaccines cause autism, will cause parents to be wary of immunizing their children.
  • About 90% of Canadians support mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods but are split on whether the health and safety effects of these products are understood. Almost half of Canadians believe they’ve never eaten genetically modified ingredients although it’s estimated they are in three-quarters of food products.
  • A Nova Scotia inquiry will examine the mental health and social services provided to Lionel Desmond, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who fatally shot his family and himself. The inquiry will review whether health and social service providers involved were trained to recognize occupational stress injuries or domestic violence, and whether there were restrictions on the flow of records from Veteran Affairs Canada or National Defence to provincial health personnel.

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