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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | July 6, 2018

  • Provincial health ministers at a summit in Manitoba warned they would oppose a national pharmacare program if the federal government requires it under the Canada Health Act but does not help to pay for it. Concerns were also raised that the federal government wasn’t doing enough to inform young people about the dangers of cannabis.
  • Purdue Pharma stopped marketing opioids in Canada after a call from the federal government for drug companies to suspend all marketing and advertising activities associated with the drugs. Requests from physicians about opioid products will be handled “reactively,” the company stated.
  • Tobacco companies pushed back on differing requirements for plain packaging of tobacco and marijuana products, arguing the rules should be consistent. Health Canada stated that the different risks associated with the products required separate packaging approaches.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reduced the number of people waiting for mental health and addictions services by 35% since implementing a new action plan in the past year. According to the province, the average wait to see a mental health professional in St. John’s dropped from 21 months to 24 days.
  • New Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that the province will no longer offer free prescriptions to children and young adults with private coverage. The government will still cover eligible prescriptions for Ontarians under age 25 without private coverage.
  • British Columbia will levy a new health tax on employers with annual payroll costs above $500,000. The tax will offset the cost of eliminating the province’s medical services plan premiums.
  • Ontario’s incoming Progressive Conservative government paused implementation of regulations to ban smoking or vaping cannabis in a wide range of public places. The proposed changes to the Smoke Free Ontario Act would forbid smoking or vaping medical marijuana in the same places tobacco is banned, but also in areas around restaurants, bars, schools and youth recreational facilities.
  • A heat wave claimed 33 lives in Quebec, mostly older men who lived alone in apartments without air conditioning. There were no heat-related deaths reported in Ontario, despite equally extreme conditions, possibly because of differences in how such deaths are tracked and how many homes have air conditioning.
  • Thirty-four percent of Canadians list workplace stress as a top cause of mental health problems, according to a survey conducted by the Globe and Mail. Most respondents (78%) reported missing work due to mental health concerns, and 34% missed work for two months or more.
  • Alberta health officials warned against proposed changes to Edmonton bylaws that would allow people to smoke cannabis in parks and other public places. No other jurisdiction that has legalized marijuana allows such public consumption, but city officials said a less restrictive bylaw would be cheaper to enforce.
  • The Canada Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Research Network launched a national database to gather information on the disorder from 25 diagnostic clinics across the country. The database will track a range of conditions and risk factors thought to be linked to the disorder.
  • Health Canada’s review of 27 sunscreens, launched after reports last summer of skin reactions linked to some products, identified no serious quality concerns. All products were found to have pH levels close to the skin’s natural level and contained the listed amount of active ingredients, and none contained preservatives known to cause skin reactions.

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