Roger Collier | CMAJ | July 26, 2019

  • All provinces must remove barriers to accessing abortion, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, the federal health minister, wrote in a letter to provincial health ministers. Women have reported difficulty in accessing abortion services because of fees and too few prescribers of the abortion pill.
  • The Quebec government proposed regulations that would ban the sale of cannabis edibles in the province. The federal government plans to legalize edibles in October but provinces are free to introduce their own regulations.
  • Health Canada approved the request of Canadian Plasma Resources, a private company that pays for plasma, to allow people to donate plasma twice per week, up from once every six days. The group BloodWatch, which advocates for voluntary blood donation, said it was “deeply concerning” that blood-collection regulations were changed so a company “can make a profit.”
  • The federal health minister wrote a letter to the Ontario government criticizing its decision to eliminate out-of-country health insurance for Ontarians. The change could jeopardize Canadian travellers’ access to necessary medical care and will raise private health premiums, stated Minister Pepitas Taylor.
  • The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recommended allowing the sale of hard liquor in convenience stores alongside beer and wine. Toronto’s medical officer of health has already warned the government that loosening restrictions on alcohol sales will cause new social and health care problems.
  • The Alberta government needs to invest in medical laboratory facilities to alleviate a growing shortage of services, stated the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science. The government recently cancelled the construction of a $595-million superlab in Edmonton.
  • Since British Columbia launched a measles immunization catch-up program earlier this year, the immunization records of 590,748 children have been checked and the number of children fully immunized now stands at 37,525. About 28,000 children in the province received the measles vaccine in the first six months of 2019.
  • Emergency responders in Saskatchewan now have access to an online tool which allows them to take confidential mental health checks. The website also directs first responders to resources, included self-care tools and confidential crisis lines.
  • The Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act in Alberta is under review and some politicians are calling for an end of an exemption given to physicians. The act, which governs the sunshine list that discloses the salaries of publicly funded employees above a set threshold, was passed in 2015 but physician earnings were not included.
  • Pfizer Canada announced a possible shortage of its 0.3mg epinephrine (EpiPen) auto-injector. However, Health Canada announced it has an adequate supply for Canadians and there is an alternative type available (Auvi-Q).

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