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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | May 11, 2018

  • The federal government will not delay legalization of marijuana despite a Senate committee’s proposal to take more time to consult with Indigenous leaders. The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples stated that the government’s consultations with Indigenous communities were inadequate and mostly happened after legislation was drafted.
  • Medical device companies complained that new safety audit rules from Health Canada will increase compliance costs ten-fold, with some companies receiving quotes up to $50 000 for audits that used to cost a maximum of $5000. They attribute the price hike to a more intensive auditing program that examines how devices are designed, ordered, used and disposed of, as well as how companies handle complaints.
  • A Toronto Star investigation found that doctors with regulatory and criminal sanctions are crisscrossing between jurisdictions to continue practising medicine. Most doctors identified are Canadian-trained, including a children’s kidney specialist convicted in California of possessing child pornography (now working in Quebec), and a family doctor who was jailed and stripped of his US medical licences after being convicted of selling opioids (now working in Ontario).
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society issued a new resource on gender identity in children to help doctors answer common questions posed by parents. The article explains the difference between sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation, and outlines how to support children as their gender development evolves.
  • Most British Columbia hospitals do not have policies to accommodate patients with medical marijuana prescriptions. Patients are sometimes refused treatment or forced to switch to other pain medication because they are not permitted to use the drug on site, even though it is legal to do so.
  • Quebec’s auditor general reported that the province’s target wait times for surgery do not take into account the virulence of certain illnesses, and that the operating centres in two out of three hospitals are obsolete. The audit also found that many patients with cancer wait longer than the province’s 28-day target for surgery.
  • Doctors Nova Scotia issued 10 recommendations for improving palliative care in the province, including ensuring that all primary care physicians have access to multidisciplinary palliative care teams and specialists for support. The association also called for guidelines to facilitate earlier identification of patients who would benefit from palliative care, as well as increased education and compensation for physicians providing the service.
  • One of the largest health care unions in Alberta launched a media campaign to denounce the United Conservative Party’s call for more private care options and more aggressive controls on health spending. The Health Sciences Association of Alberta, representing 25 000 health workers, will run the campaign for the next month and potentially again in the fall in advance of the 2019 provincial election.
  • Health care has become a key issue in the Ontario provincial election, with Premier Kathleen Wynne promising the Liberal government will hire 3500 more nurses if it wins. Wynne also warned that the Progressive Conservative promise to cut government spending by at least $6 billion will not be possible without cuts to health care.
  • The recent capture of a suspect in the Golden State Killer case in the United States using a genealogy website raised questions about the privacy of genetic data closer to home. Health law expert Timothy Caulfield warned that genetic information collected by genealogy companies isn’t necessarily secure and may be used or shared in ways Canadian consumers can’t anticipate.
  • Manitoba’s health minister said plans to slash the number of health bargaining units in the province from 183 to less than 50 will cost up to $250 000 and take up to 18 months. Health workers in each of the province’s five regions will be grouped into seven categories by a government-appointed commissioner, and workers in each category will vote on which union will represent them.

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