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Opioid advertising, health management cuts, and a clampdown on concierge clinics in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • The federal government increased restrictions on opioid advertising. Under new rules, all pamphlets, ads and marketing materials for opioids must contain only statements approved by Health Canada and convey both risks and benefits.
  • Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, urged doctors to combat misinformation about vaccination. According to Tam, “how we talk to parents who have questions about vaccines can have a direct effect on improving their confidence and supporting them in getting their children vaccinated.”
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario dismissed complaints lodged by gun advocates in a targeted campaign against a Toronto trauma surgeon who advocated for gun control. The college deemed the complaints “frivolous” and “vexatious” and won’t investigate further.
  • An Ontario judge granted tobacco companies creditor protection, allowing them a temporary reprieve from paying more than $15 billion to 100,000 Quebec smokers harmed or addicted to their products. The Quebec Council on Tobacco and Health won two class actions against the companies in 2015.
  • More British Columbia residents are getting vaccinated against measles this year, possibly in response to recent outbreaks. The Fraser Health Authority more than doubled the number of vaccines it gave out between February 25 and March 3, and Island Health more than tripled the doses it administered, compared to the same period last year.
  • Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced plans to clamp down on extra billing and concierge medical clinics in the province. The government is proposing to ban these clinics from block billing or charging membership fees for priority access to health services.
  • Ontario will cut management-level health jobs as part of merging 20 provincial health agencies into one. Premier Doug Ford says senior positions in the local health integration networks will be axed but frontline jobs will be protected.
  • The Quebec government faced pushback on its bill to ban smoking in all public places and increase the legal age of cannabis consumption from 18 to 21. Both Montreal’s mayor and police chief said the proposed ban would be impossible to enforce, especially among renters who may not be allowed to smoke at home.
  • Fewer British Columbia teens were binge drinking or sexting last year, but more say they experienced mental health problems, discrimination and harassment, abuse and dating violence. The percentage of teens who had anxiety or panic attacks increased from 8% in 2013 to 19% in 2018, and those who said they had depression rose from 10% to 15% over the same period.
  • Bedsores are on the rise in Nova Scotia hospitals, despite provincial efforts to improve reporting and treatment. There were 26 cases of hospital-acquired bedsores reported in the latest quarter, up from just 10 in the first quarter and 6 in the second quarter last year.

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