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Privatization of health services, overmedication of children, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • The future of Ontario overdose prevention sites remains unclear, as their permits and funding are set to expire. A review found the sites reduced drug-related deaths and illnesses, but the government argued changes are necessary to address public concerns and focus on rehabilitation.
  • Quebec pediatricians raised alarm over increasing diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and the use of medication to treat behavioral problems. Nearly 14% of Quebec children aged 10–12 and 14.5% of those aged 13–17 use psychostimulants, compared to national rates of 5% and 4.3%, respectively.
  • The head of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia warned that ongoing shortages of common drugs and vaccines are likely to continue. One in four adults in the province has been affected by a shortage in the last three years or knows someone who has.
  • New Brunswick’s home-care system is inadequate for more than 40% of people who need it. The New Brunswick Health Council estimates that 38,000 people in the province require home care, but 12,500 receive no services and another 3500 have only some needs met.
  • A leaked draft bill showed the Ontario government is planning to create a “super agency” to manage and contract out health services in the province. The province’s health minister wouldn’t say whether the government will expand private delivery of health care.
  • Health Canada approved the renewal of a supervised consumption site in Calgary for one year on the condition that it address concerns about needle debris and other safety issues raised by local police. According to police, calls to the area surrounding the site have increased 29%.
  • British Columbians report worsening mental health and increased binge drinking. The percentage of residents reporting positive mental health is projected to drop to 65.5% by 2023, from 70.6% in 2003, and those who binge drink is projected to climb to 18.6% from 13.6%.
  • Patients taking hydrochlorothiazide, a drug commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, may have a fourfold higher risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, Health Canada warned. A safety review found that prolonged use of the medication can make skin more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation.
  • Albert Health will soon launch an app that will give patients access to their lab results, immunization records and medication history. Saskatchewan is also reviewing the results of a recent pilot of an online platform for sharing health information and reminders with patients.
  • There were 1046 suicides in Quebec in 2016, a decrease of 104 from the year before, according to the Quebec Association for Suicide Prevention. The association attributed the decline to better prevention efforts, especially for men.

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