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A drop in opioid prescriptions, legal cannabis edibles, and cases of vaping-related illness in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • About 220,000 fewer people were taking opioids in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario last year than in 2013, the Canadian Institute for Health Information reported. Some 175,000 fewer people were started on opioids, and doctors prescribed smaller doses for shorter durations to new users.
  • Cannabis edibles became legal in Canada but won’t be on store shelves for at least 60 days while manufacturers and retailers wait for approval from regulators. More than 40 companies have notified Health Canada that they intend to make cannabis edibles, lotions and vape pens under the new regulations.
  • Health Canada may allow e-cigarette companies to advertise the harm-reduction benefits of their products, despite mounting concerns about the long-term risks of vaping. Last fall, in a closed consultation, the regulator proposed promotional statements to industry and health groups.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to ensure that New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government will fund abortions if the federal Liberals are elected on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh promised health transfers to the provinces to improve local health services.
  • Ontario committed $68 million in extra funding for small and medium-sized hospitals. Sixty-six small hospitals will receive a 1% funding boost, and 23 medium-sized hospitals will receive a 1.5% increase.
  • British Columbia confirms its first probable case of vaping-related illness, and New Brunswick health officials reported two more probable cases. There have been more than 1000 cases of vaping-related illness in the United States, including 26 deaths, with the first Canadian diagnosed in Quebec last month.
  • Reports of health care privacy breaches have spiked in Alberta since new mandatory reporting requirements were put in place. The province’s privacy commissioner is investigating 20 incidents and has flagged 70 more as potential offences.
  • The incidence of cervical pre-cancer cells dropped substantially among women in British Columbia who were immunized against human papillomavirus (HPV) in the past 12 years compared to unvaccinated women, according to a new study. However, health officials reported that a third of students eligible for the vaccine have not been fully immunized.
  • Prisoners’ rights advocates urged Nova Scotia to create a dedicated committee to review deaths in custody. They also raised concerns about the level of transparency of proposed committees to review domestic violence-related deaths and deaths of youth in care.
  • More people are using marijuana on Prince Edward Island since the drug became legal a year ago, according to a survey of 4,300 conducted by the province’s chief public health office. However, alcohol remains the most “commonly used problematic substance” in the province, according to the office.

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