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Roger Collier | CMAJ | Jan. 6, 2017

  • Health and finance ministers from 10 provinces and territories sent a letter to the federal government requesting further negotiations on health care funding. The three other provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) have already signed bilateral deals with the federal government.
  • The Council of Canadian Academies is conducting a review of proposals to expand medical assistance in dying to three new patient groups: mature minors, those who have given advance consent and people with mental illness only. Health Canada has given the council two years to complete the review.
  • Negotiations over reimbursement for ultrasounds have become contentious between the Quebec government and the province’s radiologists. As of Dec. 29, private clinics have been required to provide publicly funded ultrasounds, and the health minister said the clinics will not see the “huge profits” they get from private ultrasounds.
  • Living close to heavy automobile traffic may be associated with a modest increased risk of dementia, found a Canadian study published in The Lancet. The study doesn’t prove cause and effect, but one author suggested it was plausible that increased exposure to vehicle pollution could “affect the central nervous system and cause dementia.”
  • Toronto is still waiting for funding from the Ontario government and approval from Health Canada to open three supervised-injection sites. The plan to open the sites, in response to an increase of fentanyl-related deaths, was approved by the city six months ago.

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  • Cases of influenza are on the rise in Canada and some infectious-disease experts are forecasting a rough flu season. There were major spikes in cases over the holidays and many outbreaks at long-term care facilities. People over age 65 have accounted for most flu-related hospital admissions and deaths.
  • Personnel forced to leave the military because of mental or physical health problems should have all their benefits and supports in place before they retire, according to Canadian Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne. He has called for more help from the federal government, following an apparent murder-suicide involving a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Health researchers in Australia are investigating the effectiveness of a Canadian harm-reduction program that provides alcoholics with regulated, hourly doses of wine. The managed alcohol program (MAP) is intended to help alcoholics control their addictions and reduce alcohol consumption in a safe environment.
  • Only a third of 30 Ottawa pharmacies called by CBC News carried naloxone kits, even though pharmacists have been allowed to provide the overdose antidote without a prescription since June of last year. A slow rate of uptake in the first year of the program was anticipated by Ottawa Public Health, according to Ottawa’s chief medical officer of health.
  • Saskatchewan will reduce its 12 health regions to a single health authority by the fall. The government hopes to save money by consolidating accounting, information technology, legal services and other nonmedical services.

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