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Roger Collier | CMAJ | Feb. 10, 2017

  • Health Canada announced it will begin random testing of medical marijuana products for the presence of banned pesticides. Producers Organigram and Mettrum voluntarily recalled products late last year for containing the prohibited chemicals myclobutanil, bifenazate and pyrethrins.
  • The Canadian Health Coalition has joined with provincial health coalitions to call on the federal and provincial governments to scrap bilateral deals and return to negotiating a national health accord. In a joint statement, the coalitions said Canada’s health care system needs “federal vision and federal leadership” and that bilateral deals “are no way to build and promote an equitable national vision.”
  • This season’s flu vaccine is 42% effective as estimated by The Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network. The vaccine has performed much better than last year’s version in providing protection from the H3N2 influenza strain, responsible for 95% of flu cases this season.
  • Health Canada authorized three supervised injection sites in Montreal. There are currently two injection sites in Canada, both in Vancouver, though Health Canada is reviewing applications for 10 additional sites.
  • Canadian Blood Services is seeking new blood donors to make up for a drop in supply after implementing a rule limiting the number of times women can donate in a year. As of last December, female donors must now wait 12 weeks between donations, up from eight weeks, as part of guidelines requiring more iron in donated blood.

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  • The executive committee of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), including President Dr. Virginia Walley, has resigned. The executive committee has faced accusations of poor leadership for some time, though it did survive a recent motion calling for its dismissal.
  • The government of British Columbia announced it will invest $25 million to reduce wait times for surgeries. The money will be used to expand operating room hours, with a focus on patients who have been waiting more than 40 weeks for surgery.
  • The number of Quebec residents with a family doctor increased by 1.7%, to 74.4%, between September 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016. If that figure doesn’t rise by year’s end to the 85% target set by the province’s government, physicians may see their pay cut by as much as 30%.
  • There were 343 overdose deaths linked to fentanyl in Alberta last year, an increase of 33% from 2015. Calgary was hardest hit, with149 deaths.
  • Ontario announced an additional $140 million in funding over three years for mental health and addiction services. The money is earmarked for a psychotherapy program, mental health hubs for youth, and supportive housing units.
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