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Roger Collier | CMAJ | May 18, 2018

  • The federal government passed legislation to regulate vaping and empower Health Canada to mandate plain packaging for cigarettes. Bill S-5 also restricts lifestyle advertising of vaping products, bans certain flavours, and prohibits sale to minors.
  • Correctional Service Canada is introducing needle-exchange programs for users of injection drugs in two federal prisons. The service, intended to reduce the spread of infectious diseases in prisons, will become available at other institutions next year.
  • British Columbia has increased compensation for doctors who offer medical assistance in dying to make it comparable with other provinces. The fee for the service increased from $200 to $280, and physicians can also charge for medication pick up and travel expenses to rural areas.
  • Some medical students who failed to secure residency positions are turning to the military to get the experience they need to practise medicine. Canada’s Armed Forces is increasing the number of family medicine residency positions it funds from 18 to 32, but successful applicants must commit to practise in the military for four years after their training is complete.
  • Pharmaceutical systems in Canada and the United States are dysfunctional and should be reformed to ensure access to safe, affordable medications, according to a BMJ paper. The paper, by the Canadian Pharmaceutical Policy Reform Working Group, calls for universal coverage without fees, establishing new public agencies to fund drug development and clinical trials, and raising standards for drug approval and safety monitoring.
  • If the challenge to the year-old Genetic Non-Discrimination Act is successful, Canadians may face discrimination based on their genetics, worry some researchers. The province of Quebec is challenging the act, arguing that it infringes on the province’s right to regulate its medical insurance industry.
  • British Columbia’s largest health authority, Fraser Health, launched an anonymous online survey to learn how to improve services for people who use drugs at home alone. Drug use is often hidden but using drugs alone makes it an even riskier activity, according to the health authority’s chief medical officer.
  • The federal government signed an agreement with Saskatchewan to direct how the first installment of their earlier $349-million health care deal will be spent. The agreement states that $158 million will go toward mental health supports, palliative care, and community and home-based care over the next five years.
  • The abortion pill Mifegymiso should be available for free to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, stated the province’s medical students’ society in a letter to the provincial government. The students also called for a new billing code for the drug, in addition to support for physicians and nurse practitioners to prescribe Mifegymiso and for pharmacists to dispense it.
  • A Canadian physician was shot in the leg while providing medical care to Palestinian protestors in Gaza. Dr. Tarek Loubani said he was wearing hospital greens and standing with a group of other medical professionals away from the main protest area.

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