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Crackdowns on unlicensed cannabis and unproven stem cell therapies in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Health Canada ordered three dozen clinics in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec to stop prescribing unproven stem cell and platelet-rich plasma therapies. The clinics claimed to treat numerous conditions, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease, by injecting patients with their own cells.
  • Provincial premiers reaffirmed their commitment to a national pharmacare plan at meetings in Saskatoon. They also called for more federal assistance to respond to natural disasters and the health threats posed by climate change.
  • The federal government urged provincial health and justice ministers to ban conversion therapy. In the meantime, the Liberals said they would explore amendments to the Criminal Code to “prevent, punish and deter” conversion therapy.
  • Medical cannabis provider CannTrust halted sales and warned customers to expect shortages after Health Canada discovered the company was growing cannabis in unlicensed greenhouse rooms. The federal regulator put a hold on 5200kg of dried cannabis until the company complies with regulations.
  • Men in their late thirties were most likely to die from opioid overdoses, according to an Alberta Health review of 653 opioid-related deaths. Most had a history of violence or mental illness; nearly half had contact with the justice system in the five years prior to their deaths.
  • New Brunswick launched a consultation on mandatory immunization at public schools and early-learning and child-care centres. The consultation comes days after the province’s chief medical officer declared the end of a recent measles outbreak.
  • Quebec hospitals will close 553 beds in the coming weeks while health workers are on vacation. According to health officials, a labor shortage is making it difficult to cover staff who are away.
  • A growing number of Manitobans are accessing medical assistance in dying. So far this year, 115 people have requested the service and 59 have received it, up from 39 and 24, respectively, in 2016.
  • Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto fired and accepted the resignations of about 150 employees over alleged benefits fraud. The alleged scam cost the hospital as much as $5 million.
  • A civil rights lawyer is planning a legal challenge to Quebec’s system for allocating permits to physicians to practise in certain areas. Julius Grey claims the province’s method of calculating the number of permits and where to issue them discriminates against Montrealers, 40% of whom don’t have family doctors.

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