Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | Dec. 23, 2016
- Health funding talks between the federal government and provinces ended with no new agreement or promise to meet again. The federal government proposed to increase health funding to provinces by 3.5% annually plus $11 billion over 10 years for mental health and home care, but provincial health ministers rejected the offer and denounced Ottawa’s “take it or leave it” approach to negotiations.
- New Brunswick broke ranks with other provinces to sign a 10-year $229.4-million health funding deal with the federal government after efforts to strike a pan-Canadian agreement failed. British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba health ministers decried the side deal, which allows New Brunswick to upgrade terms if other provinces negotiate a better bargain.
- Health spending in Canada is forecast to increase 2.7% to a total $228 billion or $6299 per person in 2016, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Among the provinces, Manitoba had the fastest growth in health spending in 2016, increasing 5% to $9.3 billion or $7120 per person.
- Dr. Alain Beaudet, president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, announced he will retire from his post and the public service at the end of March 2017. Beaudet spearheaded a controversial reform of CIHR’s open research funding and peer review processes, as well as Canada’s strategy for patient-oriented research.
- Canadian Blood Services suspects that it is losing volunteer donors to paid plasma clinics in Saskatoon. Volunteer donor numbers have dropped in the city since Canadian Plasma Resources opened a facility in February that gives gift cards to donors.
- In British Columbia, 128 people died from illicit drug overdoses in November, the highest recorded number in more than 30 years. BC has recorded a total 755 overdose deaths since the beginning of 2016, a 70% increase over last year.
- Quebec launched a public inquiry into systemic racism against Indigenous people in government services ranging from health care to corrections. There has been growing call for an inquiry since the fall, when an investigation into allegations that provincial police abused Indigenous women in Val-d’Or concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to lay charges.
- Nova Scotia reported a record number of emergency room closures between April 2015 and March 2016. Hospitals in the province were forced to close emergency rooms the equivalent of 938 days, the highest number since 2009.
- Doctors warned that a 1000% increase in the cost of some medical isotopes could limit patient access to tests for cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. They attributed the rapid price increase to the shutdown of isotope production at the National Research Universal reactor at Chalk River this fall.
- The Quebec College of Physicians will review abortion guidelines after a Montreal clinic denied a woman’s request to terminate her pregnancy at 30 weeks when she learned the fetus had abnormalities. The hospital denied her request based on the college’s guidelines, which discourage abortion after 23 weeks except in cases of severe congenital abnormalities or exceptional circumstances.
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