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Rising health spending, wage negotiation woes, and tourists skipping out on health bills in this week’s top health news stories.

Health News Recap

  • Health spending in Canada is expected to reach $264 billion this year, up 4% compared to last year, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Spending on physicians will rise by 4.4%, outstripping growth in spending on hospitals (3%) and drugs (2.7%).
  • Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals became the fifth drug marker to pull all prescription ranitidine products from the Canadian market as a precautionary measure. Health Canada is investigating levels of the probable carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine in the drugs.
  • Alberta’s Finance Minister introduced legislation that would allow the province to cancel its master agreement with doctors if the two sides can’t negotiate a new deal, and moves decisions to cabinet, behind closed doors. Alberta doctors called the changes heavy-handed and are seeking legal counsel.
  • The Alberta government is also asking arbitrators to impose an average 2% wage cut for public sector workers including nurses, social workers, hospital support staff, laboratory technologists, therapists and toxicologists. In some cases, the province is asking for rollbacks as high as 5%.
  • Ontario’s financial accountability officer projected that hallway health care will get worse over the next two years as wait times for long-term care beds increase. On an average day, about 1000 Ontarians wait for hospital beds in unconventional spaces, the fiscal watchdog reported.
  • Accessing health services is “problematic” for 454,000 Quebecers who cannot speak French, according to a study by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Seven out of 10 anglophones in Quebec know French, but still face daily language barriers, especially in health care, the study found.
  • Health experts warned that British Columbia’s proposal to adopt daylight time permanently will have negative health effects, for example, from reduced exposure to morning light in winter. Premier John Horgan said the overwhelming public opinion supports the change.
  • Saskatchewan committed $10 million for 1,700 extra surgeries to reduce wait times by March 2020. Saskatchewan Health Authority will increase surgical hours in hospitals and the number of procedures done in third-party facilities.
  • Nova Scotia will likely have to cover $1.6 million in unpaid health bills for patients from outside Canada. Halifax emergency departments are treating increasing numbers of tourists from cruise ships, many of whom are uninsured.
  • Patients in Winnipeg wait a median 2.07 hours for emergency and urgent care, according to health officials. Staffing changes at Concordia and Seven Oaks hospitals as part of a recent health service overhaul have contributed to long waits and created confusion about where people should go.

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