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Wait times, ER walk-outs, and controversy over nursing recruitment in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • About 30% of Canadians are waiting longer than recommended for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery. Prince Edward Island saw some of the largest increases, with wait times for hip replacements rising 18% and knee replacements rising 41% from 2016 to 2018.
  • Nova Scotia announced an additional $200 million for health care as part of its 2019–20 budget. The commitments include additions of $10 million for collaborative care teams, $8.4 million for pharmacare, $16.8 million for home care, and $11.7 for mental health supports.
  • Alberta Health reported a record 746 deaths related to opioids in 2018, up from 701 in 2017. However, the number of deaths dropped off in the last quarter of the year, with 159 people dying compared to 180 in the last three months of 2017.
  • British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province will examine the public funding of a charity with a history of spreading anti-vaccination claims. A CBC investigation found that the province has granted $42,8500 to the Health Action Network Society since 2007.
  • The New Brunswick Medical Society says the number of people leaving emergency rooms after waiting for hours without seeing a doctor is increasing. As many as 18% of people leave the Moncton ER after waiting up to seven hours, and a third of those patients require medical care that cannot be managed elsewhere.
  • Tweets from the Manitoba government to recruit nurses, showing women in scrubs getting facials and doing yoga, sparked a backlash from nurses in the province. Nurses called the tweets demeaning and tone-deaf given how many are working double shifts to cover nursing shortages.
  • Changes to Ontario prescription drug coverage on April 1 mean young people with private insurance through their parents will no longer have access to free birth control. Sexual health providers said some teens may avoid filling prescriptions for fear of their parents finding out.
  • Competition between financial institutions for physician business is heating up since Scotiabank acquired MD Financial from the Canadian Medical Association. CIBC and TD recently introduced suites of services for health professionals.
  • Medical students and opposition politicians in Saskatchewan called for universal coverage of the abortion pill Mifegymiso. Minister of Health Jim Reiter said he would review the situation but claimed that low-income women are “likely covered under a variety of plans.”
  • Manitoba’s ombudsman said he is satisfied with the province’s response to the death of Brian Sinclair, an Indigenous man who died after waiting 34 hours in an emergency room. The ombudsman will no longer follow progress on eight outstanding inquest recommendations.

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