Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | August 16, 2019

  • More than 1200 Canadian health care and public policy experts called on federal party leaders to commit to implementing national pharmacare. In an open letter, they noted that five separate national commissions have concluded that universal pharmacare would be the fairest, most affordable way to ensure access to medicines in Canada.  
  • Ontario will launch consultations in the fall into regulation of autism therapists, including whether to create a regulatory college. Currently, anyone can hang up shingle as a behavior analyst, and there is no mechanism for reporting complaints about providers. 
  • Shares in medical cannabis producer CannTrust plummeted after Health Canada deemed that a second of the company’s facilities were in violation of regulations. The new violations include, among other things, inadequate quality assurance and improper cannabis storage.
  • Diabetes Canada and the Alberta Pharmacist Association urged the federal government to take proactive steps to protect Canada’s drug supply, particularly the supply of insulin. Changes in laws in the United States allowing Americans to buy medicines in Canada could result in dangerous shortages, they warned.
  • British Columbia’s medical services plan may refuse to cover gendered services like abortions for trans patients if the gender on their health card doesn’t match the one assigned to the billing code for the service. Such cases are rare but may require trans patients to contact Health Insurance BC and answer questions about their gender identity and body to receive coverage. 
  • Health care dominated the Manitoba election debate, with the Progressive Conservatives pledging an additional $2 billion for health care over four years if re-elected. Opposition parties questioned the commitment, noting that the Tories have spent less than promised on health care every year since taking office in 2016.
  • The Saskatchewan Health Authority put out a call for proposals to set up a whistleblower hotline for reporting employees, but withdrew the tender one day later. Officials said the agency is conducting “further internal work on disclosure policies.”
  • Only 7% of Canadians are currently vegetarian or vegan, but 27% are considering switching to a plant-based diet in future, according to a poll by Insights West. The findings come after Health Canada updated Canada’s Food Guide to recommend more plant-based diets.
  • The Northwest Territories is set to vote on an overhaul of the territory’s tobacco laws. In addition to raising the age limit to buy tobacco to 19, the proposed changes include banning smoking in places frequented by children and in cars when young people are present. 
  • Quebec City health officials warned about a dangerous heroin-fentanyl mix linked to at least one death in the city. They urged people using drugs to take extra precautions, including not taking drugs alone and keeping naloxone on hand in case of overdose. 

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