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Drug shortage fears, an increase in STDs, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise across Canada, with more than 126,700 chlamydia infections and 28,300 cases of gonorrhea in 2017, up from 105,326 and 14,230, respectively, in 2013. Decreasing condom use, the rise of hookup apps, the rollback of sexual health education and increased testing may be contributing to the increase of cases.
  • Canadian pharmacists warned that drug shortages may be worsened by changes to drug purchasing rules in the United States to allow American patients and businesses to buy medications from Canada. Some pharmacists are already experiencing shortages of more than 1000 medications.
  • The federal government committed $20 million to establish a marketplace for health technology companies to sell their products to hospitals and health providers. The investment includes $7 million to establish innovation networks in western Canada and southern Ontario.
  • Systemic vulnerabilities in Ontario’s long-term care system enabled former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer to kill eight seniors over a decade without raising suspicions, according to the final report of a public inquiry into the crimes. Among 91 recommendations, the report calls on the province to increase funding and staffing at nursing homes, limit the use of temp agency nurses, and improve how medication is tracked and stored.
  • Alberta’s government will appeal a court decision that allowed public sector unions, including those representing nurses and health sciences workers, to resume wage arbitration talks. The government claims it needs more time to consider forthcoming advice from a panel examining the state of the province’s finances.
  • Job satisfaction among Winnipeg Regional Health Authority workers has dropped across all positions in after controversial reforms to the health system, according to a survey of 11,500 employees. Overall employee engagement in 2018 was 50%, down 11% from the previous year.
  • The Nova Scotia Health Authority still doesn’t know why its hospital mortality rate is the highest in the country, eight months after the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported rising death rates at Cape Breton hospitals. According to health officials, some deaths may have been mislabeled palliative patients who were expected to die, but these account for only 2% of the total.
  • New Brunswick released a 10-year strategy to address projected nursing shortages. The plan includes recruiting nurses from countries with similar professional standards and increasing incentives for nursing trainees to study in the province.
  • Prince Edward Island has seen a 50% increase in patients with hepatitis C starting treatment in the three months since the province started providing the medication without requiring a blood test and further approvals. Since 2015, nearly half of Islanders living with hepatitis C have received treatment.
  • British Columbia’s ministry of health is not protecting the province’s drinking water adequately, an audit revealed. The ministry is supposed to lead oversight of drinking water but does not know which water systems are at risk and has not developed a strategy to prevent contamination.

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