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Roger Collier | CMAJ | November 30, 2018

  • Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas said the federal government plans to strengthen oversight of medical devices. Petitpas said she is “deeply concerned” about problems with medical devices uncovered by a global media collaboration.
  • A Supreme Court justice in British Columbia ordered an injunction against provisions in a provincial law that banned private billing for medically necessary health care. The province’s government had planned to enforce the provisions, which carry initial fines of $10,000 for doctors who bill privately for services covered under medicare.
  • The lack of progress on preventing climate change is putting the health of Canadians at risk, according to a report by The Lancet. In about 7142 deaths per year in Canada, and 2.1 million globally, chronic exposure to air pollution is a contributing factor, states the report.
  • Doctors from eight high-paying medical specialties have voted to leave the Ontario Medical Association and form a group called the Ontario Specialists Association. Physicians from lower-paying specialities have lobbied for the physician services budget to be dispersed more fairly.
  • The University of Alberta will eliminate its cap of five medical school positions for Indigenous students who meet eligibility requirements under its Indigenous Health Initiative Program (IHIP). Starting in fall 2019, all qualifying IHIP applicants will be admitted to the medical school.
  • There were almost 135,000 visits to emergency departments in Canada related to pneumonia last year, a jump of 13% over the previous year, reported the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The top reasons for visiting emergency departments, however, were abdominal and pelvic pain, throat and chest pain, and acute respiratory infection, accounting collectively for about a million visits.
  • Medical marijuana should be tax-free and available in pharmacies, according to a group called the Common Initiative, comprising cannabis producers, drug companies, pharmacists and retailers. Easier access to medical marijuana would reduce the risk of people turning to the recreational cannabis market to self medicate, argues the group.
  • Vancouver is set to open its first urgent primary care centre to reduce demand on emergency departments. It will become the fifth such centre to open in British Columbia, which has about 750,000 people without a family doctor.
  • The government of British Columbia and the province’s 44,000 nurses have reached a tentative deal on a contract. The agreement addresses issues such as general wage increases, patient care and health worker safety.
  • Health Canada warned the public about the risks of consuming products containing human placenta, none of which have received federal approval. Suggested health benefits, including prevention of postpartum depression and increased breast milk production, are unproven and risks include exposure to bacteria and viruses in the placenta.

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