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Ontario doctors awarded new contract, measles in Vancouver, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Doctors in Ontario were awarded a 4-year contract that includes average fee increases of 1% and no hard cap on the physician services budget. An arbitrator ruled on the contract, ending years of unsuccessful negotiation between the province’s government and the Ontario Medical Association.
  • At least nine people in Vancouver had contracted measles as of Feb. 15. The outbreak is linked to an unvaccinated child who became infected on a trip overseas.
  • Marijuana products likely to appeal to youth, such as cannabis-laced gummy bears and lollipops, should be banned from sale in Canada, recommended Toronto’s medical officer of health. Other recommendations to keep youth safe included prohibiting marketing of cannabis products in movies and video games or in places frequented by young people.
  • Canadians under age 18 should not use cough and cold products containing the opioids codeine, hydrocodone or normethadone, advised Health Canada. The advisory warns that early exposure to opioids could contribute to problematic substance use later in life.
  • Nurse practitioners in Quebec should be granted more autonomy and be allowed to diagnose and treat certain chronic illnesses, recommended the province’s health minister. The government hopes increasing the scope of practice for nurse practitioners will free doctors to do other work and help alleviate the backlog in the province’s health system.
  • Most Canadians (70%) believe vaccinations for common diseases should be mandatory for school children, according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute. But 29% of respondents said they believed the science on vaccines still isn’t “quite clear.”
  • A “heroin buyers club” that sells regulated heroin to British Columbia residents with opioid addiction could help curb overdose deaths, according to the BC Centre on Substance Use. The centre has proposed providing medical-grade heroin to doctor-assessed members of such a club, which could also offer treatments and other supports.
  • More physical activity and less screen time could help children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to pediatricians in Quebec. Doctors are concerned about the rate of ADHD medication being prescribed to children in the province.
  • Alberta’s privacy commissioner is investigating the security of patient medical information at Alberta Health Services. An analysis by an external security firm last year found “significant risks” in the electronic system used to access medical records.
  • About half of Canadians (28%) are open to the idea of decriminalizing drugs and 66% support supervised-injection sites, according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute. About 1 in 5 respondents said they have a family member or friend with opioid addiction or dependence.

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