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Roger Collier | CMAJ | April 20, 2018

  • Canada should adopt a universal, single-payer pharmacare system instead of attempting to plug gaps between private and public drug insurance systems, recommended The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health. The committee concluded that “merely addressing coverage gaps will not lead to better health outcomes or better cost control.”
  • There are 115 medical graduates without residency positions this year, a new record high. Last year there were 99 unmatched graduates and 77 the year before. The Ontario government announced $23 million to create new residency positions in Northern Ontario over the next six years.
  • The birth rate in Canada is falling but an increasing proportion of babies are being delivered via caesarean section (28.2% in 2016-17, up from 26.7% in 2007-08). Caesarean section is the most common inpatient surgical procedure in Canada (performed 103 000 times last year), according to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
  • The take-home naloxone program in British Columbia prevented 226 deaths over 10 months in 2016, according to a study in The Lancet Public Health. It is estimated that one death is prevented for every 10 kits used.
  • Nova Scotia will drop geographic restrictions on its incentive program to attract doctors to the province. The incentives, which include tuition relief and bursaries, were previously available only in rural communities.
  • The New Brunswick government announced a new framework for a palliative care strategy. The province will invest an initial $2.5 million in the framework to improve access to end-of-life health services.
  • The number of doctors in Saskatchewan is on the rise but some communities remain underserved. Between 2007 and 2017, there was a 44% increase in the number of physicians practising in the province.
  • At least 37 deaths in New Brunswick in 2017 were linked to opioid overdoses. According to a government report, the data are incomplete and the number of opioid-related deaths is expected to rise as more coroner investigations are completed.
  • The number of inspections of medical clinics in Quebec conducted by the province’s health insurance board dropped by half over two years, reported Radio-Canada (150 in 2017; 298 in 2015). The inspections are conducted to find, among other things, if clinics are charging illegal fees to patients.
  • Pharmacists in Alberta protested government cuts to dispensing fees. The government is attempting to reduce health care spending and said the new funding arrangement with pharmacists will save the province $150 million over two years.

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