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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | October 19, 2018

  • Canada’s experiment with legalized cannabis began, with doctors and public health experts warning that just because the drug is legal doesn’t mean it’s safe. Among their concerns: accidental ingestion by children, increased risks of oral cancer and upticks in poison control calls and emergency department visits.
  • Ontario passed regulations that will make it the first province to allow direct marketing of vaping products in stores. The previous government planned to ban the display and promotion of e-cigarettes, but the new Conservative government halted the changes, to the dismay of health advocates who say it will normalize and make the products enticing to young people.
  • New Brunswick’s cannabis agency came under fire for glamourizing the drug by including pictures of models in promotional materials and suggesting it be consumed at “the weekly poker game, girls’ night out, or a concert.” According to the office of federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, “Health Canada is looking into this.”
  • Quebec Inuit leaders are calling on the province to train more social workers and psychologists who are Inuit to provide culturally appropriate mental health supports to communities rocked by suicide deaths. There have been at least 13 suicides in Quebec’s Nunavik region since the beginning of the year, with 11 occurring in the small village of Puvirnituq.
  • British Columbia nurses delivered 25,000 postcards to the province’s minister of health calling for greater workplace safety in health care. According to the BC Nurses Union, 26 nurses a month suffer a violent injury at work, accounting for 31% of all injuries from acts of violence.
  • A two-year investigation into a privacy breach found that Alberta Health Services failed to prevent an employee from improperly accessing the private information of more than 12,000 people. Proposed amendments to the Health Information Act would see people who fail to “maintain safeguards to protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security of health information” fined at least $200,000.
  • Manitoba New Democrats are calling for a provincial inquiry after an Indigenous man died while travelling about nine hours by bus to see his doctor for a follow-up after heart surgery. According to NDP Leader Wab Kinew, the case raises questions about the health services provided on reserves by the federal government and Manitoba’s Northern Patient Transport Program.
  • Physicians are seeing an increase in emergency department visits connected to a syndrome related to chronic cannabis use, according to the Ontario Medical Association. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome is marked by severe nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, often starting after one to five years of at least weekly cannabis use.
  • The new Coalition Avenir Québec government appointed Danielle McCann as minister of health and social services. New to politics, McCann is the former head of a regional health agency.
  • Public health officials may be underestimating the prevalence of Lyme disease in Canada, according to a report by a Mount Allison University researcher. Reliance on blood testing to diagnose the disease means the number of cases could be higher than reported nationwide, states the report.
  • Health Canada cautioned Canadians against using decorative contact lens as part of their Halloween attire. Unlicensed lens can cause cuts or scratches to the cornea, allergic reactions, impaired vision, infections and even blindness, according to the regulator.

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