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Roger Collier | CMAJ | November 9, 2018


  • Legislation in Ontario that would force drug companies to disclose payments to doctors was supposed to come into effect in less than two months but is now in limbo. The Health Sector Payment Transparency Act was passed by the previous Liberal government; the current Progressive Conservative government has not stated whether it will execute or abandon the act.
  • Medical providers in Alberta, including faith-based institutions, should by compelled by the government to provide patients with equitable access to medical assistance in dying, according to the advocacy group Friend of Medicare. An Alberta patient in a publicly funded Catholic health facility was recently forced to undergo an assessment for the service on the sidewalk because the facility refuses to facilitate assisted deaths.
  • Children born in Ontario to women with intellectual or developmental disabilities are 30 times more likely to be taken into protective custody, according to a study in Pediatrics. Separating mothers from newborns can have negative effects on bonding and breastfeeding, note the researchers, who recommend added supports for these women.
  • Homeless people receive proper health care only when they are close to death, according to University of Victoria researchers who followed the lives of 25 homeless people for two years. The researchers’ report recommends better education and training throughout the health care system to address the barriers to care for this vulnerable population.
  • People who use marijuana for medical reasons are worried about shortages since the drug became legal for recreational use. The advocacy group Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana called it “something of a health crisis now” and noted that there are no regulations to guarantee supply for the medical market.
  • Physician assistants are an “untapped resource” in British Columbia and should be recognized as health professionals by the province’s government, according to BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. The province has a shortage of family doctors and physician assistants could provide some of the services provided by physicians if the profession was regulated, argued Weaver.
  • The highest number of “use of force” incidents involving prison inmates with mental illnesses between October 2016 and February 2018 were in facilities in Saskatoon (175) and Edmonton (136), according to the Office of the Correctional Investigator. Overuse of such tactics, as well as segregation, is often an indicator that “clinical staff-to-bed ratios at the facilities are well below acceptable standards.”
  • Physicians in Nova Scotia have raised concerns about a proposal to change how the province regulates nurse practitioners. According to Doctors Nova Scotia, the changes appear to represent a move away from a collaborative model with doctors to more independent practise for nurse practitioners.
  •  The Manitoba government plans to open a treatment facility for people diagnosed with “severe addictions and mental disorders.” These patients often have to leave the province to receive appropriate treatment.
  • The British Columbia government plans to repeal legislation that allows senior-care homes and health care facilities to lay off workers and then hire them back for lower pay. This practice of “contract flipping” has deterred people from seeking work in the health sector.

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