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Arsenic in baby food, a better residency match, infectious disease scares in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Health Canada is investigating homeopaths in British Columbia who offer unproven and unapproved treatments. At least four homeopaths have claimed to prevent infectious diseases like smallpox, cholera and polio with nosodes, highly diluted substances made from the tissue, pus, blood or other excretions from a sick person or animal.
  • More medical trainees matched to residency positions this year than last year, which had record numbers of unmatched graduates. According to a medical school administrator, 174 Canadian graduates were unmatched after the first round, down from 222 last year.
  • Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government announced it will create a central agency to oversee the province’s health system, merging the 14 Local Health Integration Networks with six provincial health agencies, including Cancer Care Ontario and eHealth Ontario. The government will also encourage hospitals, long-term care homes, home-care agencies and other health services providers to form “integrated care entities.”
  • Quebec’s College of Physicians voted to allow nurse practitioners to treat common illnesses, such as urinary tract infections, as well as some chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The decision came after the province’s health minister said she wanted to give more autonomy to nurse practitioners to improve access to care.
  • British Columbia will require mandatory registration of vaccination status for all schoolchildren by the fall. A recent measles outbreak in Vancouver spurred calls for mandatory vaccination with medical exemptions, and one online petition gained more than 43,000 signatures.
  • Travelers with measles triggered public health warnings in British Columbia and Alberta, and three children with immune deficiencies who may have been exposed to the virus were isolated. Alberta Health Services also notified 53 people who may have been exposed to a confirmed case of tuberculosis at a Calgary school.
  • The arsenic levels in some rice-based baby foods sold in Canada would see those products pulled from shelves in Europe, a CBC investigation found. Rice-based cereals are often an infant’s first solid food.
  • Manitoba has seen a recent spike in syphilis cases, with 350 last year up from 118 in 2014. Particularly concerning is the increase in cases among women, which led to the infections of more than 10 newborns in the past six months.
  • Some family doctors in British Columbia will require employers to supply a written request for sick notes and may bill employers for the notes. The doctors said unnecessary sick note appointments increase wait times and the spread of illness.
  • Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister proposed dropping provincial trade barriers in exchange for more federal health funding. Pallister said a number of other premiers support the plan.
  • A long stretch of cold weather burst pipes at hospital buildings in Nova Scotia, causing flooding and evacuations. The Nova Scotia Health Authority is investigating if other facilities might be vulnerable to freezing pipes.

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