Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | June 22, 2018
  • Canada became the second country to legalize recreational marijuana use. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said legal pot sales will begin October 17 to give provinces time to implement rules and retail systems.
  • Nearly 4000 Canadians died from apparent opioid-related overdoses in 2017, up 34% since 2016, according to Health Canada. About a third of those deaths were in British Columbia, where 1422 people died from opioid-related overdoses; Ontario was second with 1263 deaths and Alberta third with 759.
  • The federal government announced it will severely restrict marketing of opioids and is seeking public input on the plan until July 18. Health Canada also intends to reclassify the opioid painkiller tramadol as a Schedule 1 narcotic, increasing restrictions on prescribing the drug to combat abuse.
  • Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor appointed ALS researcher Dr. Michael Strong as the new president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Strong’s research has shed light on the process by which proteins accumulate and destroy nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.
  • An Ontario nuclear plant will become one of the first large-scale commercial producers of the medical imaging isotope molybdenum-99, securing Canada’s supply. The announcement comes months after the closure of a Chalk River reactor, which once produced about 40% of the world’s supply of medical isotopes.
  • Manitoba announced a new blueprint for streamlining health care, with a first wave of changes including the restructuring of organizations and departments under a “shared health” umbrella to be completed in the next 15 months. However, the plan lacks details about how the province would achieve a proposed $60 million in savings.
  • The number of medically assisted deaths in Canada increased by 30%, to 1523, in the latest six-month reporting period over the previous six months. Cancer was an underlying condition in 65% of the assisted deaths.
  • Health Canada is seeking a contractor to engage social media celebrities to warn teenagers about the risks of vaping as part of a national vaping awareness program. The search for a contractor to develop and implement the program comes a month after the federal government passed a law legalizing and regulating vaping.
  • A British Columbia hospital reported a steady rise in birth tourism, mainly from China, with the number of babies born to non-resident mothers increasing from 18 in 2010 to 384 last year. Birth tourism now accounts for about 20% of deliveries at Richmond Hospital.
  • The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine once again has full accreditation status after improving its physician training program. The program was put on probation in 2013.

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