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Outcry over public health cuts, roadblocks to cannabis research, and doctors caught using their own sperm in fertility treatments in this week’s top health news.

Health News Recap

  • An administrative backlog at Health Canada is stalling cannabis research. As of Aug. 19, 224 researchers were waiting for the regulator to approve permits to study the drug.
  • The federal government committed $47.5 million toward a territorial addiction and trauma treatment center in Nunavut as part of a broader suicide prevention plan. The government of Nunavut will cover up to 30% of capital costs over five years, and 100% of costs associated with enhanced community programming, including on-the-land healing camps.
  • Consumer genetic testing is uncovering cases of fertility doctors using their own sperm to inseminate patients. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recently revoked the license of an Ottawa physician who inseminated at least 11 women with his own sperm.
  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the Progressive Conservative government will proceed with controversial cuts to public health and child care next year. The plan will see all municipalities pay 30% of public health costs and 20% of the cost of creating new childcare spaces, where previously the province had covered 75% to 100% in some cases.
  • Four hundred and sixty-seven Quebec youth received treatment for screen addiction last year, up from 83 in 2014. The province is planning a forum with parents, officials and experts to develop an action plan to curb the problem.
  • Hospital staff in Alberta are still sometimes unprepared to handle requests for medical aid in dying, according to advocates. The province’s assisted dying lead said part of the problem is that patients aren’t supposed to go to hospital to request the service and should be contacting the province’s Health Link hotline instead.
  • Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang faced criticism for not warning health professionals in the province about an atypical flu strain circulating in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada alerted Strang about the strain in April, recommending that health professionals prescribe antivirals when treating people with flu, but Strang said he didn’t pass the message along because “it was highly unlikely that there was going to be much attention paid” at that point in the flu season.
  • New Brunswick will host public hearings next week on a proposed law to make vaccinations mandatory in public schools and daycares unless children have a medical exemption. A group opposed to vaccination called for non-violent civil disobedience in protest.
  • The Northwest Territories chief public health officer declared a syphilis outbreak. So far this year, there have been 28 cases in the territory, including the first case of congenital syphilis since 2009.
  • Health care continued to dominate debate in the Manitoba election campaign trail. New Democrat Leader Wab Kinew promised to hire more midwives, restore breastfeeding programs in Winnipeg hospitals, and provide free feminine hygiene products in schools if his party is elected in September.

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