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Lung disease linked to vaping, nonmedical vaccine exemptions questioned, and more in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • There have been four reported cases of severe lung disease in Canada that may be linked to vaping. Three of the cases are in Ontario (one “probable”, two “possible”) and one in British Columbia (“possible”).
  • For every 20 hospital stays among Canadian youth in 2017–18, one was related to harmful substance use, reported the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The most common substances associated with these hospital stays were cannabis (40%) and alcohol (26%).
  • The US Food and Drug Association announced its first project under a partnership with Health Canada and the Australian Therapeutics Goods Association. The project provides a framework for concurrent submission and review of oncology drugs among the three regulators.
  • Ontario children should not be allowed to attend school if they skip vaccinations for nonmedical reasons, argued Toronto’s medical officer of health. The Ontario government stated that it has no plans to end nonmedical exemptions.
  • A Vancouver medical centre focused on urban Indigenous people will receive $2 million from the government of British Columbia and the First Nations Health Authority. The money will be used to expand primary care services, as the wait list to see a health care provider was 4–5 weeks.
  • There were 1473 deaths related to opioids in Ontario in 2018, up 17% from 2017 (1261 deaths), according to Public Health Ontario. In 2016, there were 867 opioid-related deaths in the province.
  • A British Columbia woman dropped a constitutional challenge to the federal law that limits medical assistance in dying to people whose deaths are reasonably foreseeable. A medical expert for the federal government stated that the woman is in fact eligible because death need not be imminent to be considered reasonably foreseeable.
  • The health gap in Manitoba between First Nations people and other residents is widening, according to a report released by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. First Nations people in the province are three times more likely to have an early death, five times more likely to attempt suicide, and have shorter life expectancies at birth (68 years for boys, compared to 79; 72 years for girls, compared to 83) than other Manitobans.
  • A Catholic hospital in Nova Scotia changed its policy to allow patients access to medical assistance in dying. The hospital is publicly funded but had an exemption from providing assisted dying services under a previous agreement with the provincial government.
  • Alberta residents seeking gender-affirming procedures now need a referral from a psychiatrist, which transgender advocates say will result in longer wait times. Previously, referrals were accepted from other mental health professionals and general practitioners.

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