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Roger Collier | CMAJ | June 1, 2018

  • The Canadian Medical Association announced the sale of its financial services firm, MD Financial, for nearly $2.6 billion to the Bank of Nova Scotia, though the deal is subject to conditions and won’t close until the fall. MD Financial was founded in 1969 and manages more than $49 billion in assets.
  • Health Canada announced $330 million over five years for a tobacco strategy that aims to reduce tobacco use to less than 5% of the population by 2035. The government is considering many ideas, including health warnings on individual cigarettes.
  • The federal government is investing $30 million over five years in community projects to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and blood-borne infections. Some of the money will go toward harm-reduction projects to prevent the spread of HIV and hepatis C among people who share drug-use equipment such as needles and pipes.
  • A private member’s bill that would decriminalize paying for surrogacy services or donated sperm and eggs was tabled in the House of Commons. The 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act currently prohibits such payments, with penalties of up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison.
  • The government of British Columbia announced a program that would provide mental health supports to people with mental health problems related to last year’s devastating wild-fire season. Natural disasters can cause substantial stress to those affected and lead to unexpected mental health impacts, stated the province’s minister of mental health and additions.
  • New funding to address addictions and increase mental health supports were part of the $2.2-billion budget tabled by Nunavut. Other priority areas for health include operating room upgrades to reduce surgical wait times, counselling and crisis support in schools, and early detection of hearing loss.
  • Intrauterine devices (IUDs) should be the first birth-control option for teenage girls, the Canadian Paediatric Society recommended in a new position statement. The society stated that IUDs are the most effective form of birth control (99%), and doctors should recommend their use to help youth avoid the “personal, health care and social costs” of unintended pregnancies.
  • Rates of sexually transmitted infections (including gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis) continue to rise in Canada. One public health expert speculated that the growth of dating apps that facilitate anonymous sexual encounters may be a factor but acknowledge there is no evidence yet to support that theory.
  • Extensive media coverage of the opioid crisis has had a negative impact on Canadians suffering from chronic pain, according to survey of 1400 patients in Quebec and British Columbia. According to the survey, presented at the annual meeting of the Quebec Association for Chronic Pain, patients are having more difficulty obtaining pain medications and 11% of those refused prescriptions sought opioids online, on the street, from another doctor, or from family or friends.
  • Support services for British Columbia youth leaving government care should be expanded, according the provincial coroner’s review of 200 youth deaths. Young people leaving government care died at five times the rate of the general youth population and had higher rates of death from suicide and drug overdoses.

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