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New vaping-related illness, rising concern over antibiotic resistance, and a new federal health minister in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • A case report published in CMAJ described what may be the first documented case of a new form of lung damage from vaping e-cigarettes in a Canadian teen. The patient’s clinical picture suggested possible bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung,” likely from inhaling flavoring agents in e-liquids.
  • Around 400,000 Canadians are likely to die from drug-resistant infections by 2050, according to a report commissioned by the federal government. The report warns that 40% of infections could be resistant to first-line antibiotics by 2050, potentially disrupting Canada’s entire health system.
  • Patty Hajdu, Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, became Canada’s new federal health minister. Hajdu previously served in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet as minister of status of women and minister of labour.
  • Canadians with cancer they blame on exposure to the weed killer Roundup filed three proposed class-action lawsuits against the product’s manufacturer, Bayer and Monsanto. The claims filed in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia allege the German company and its subsidiary knowingly endangered Canadians by selling Roundup, which contains the probable carcinogen glyphosate.
  • An Ontario study called into question the notion that babies are protected from measles infection for much of their first year by antibodies passed on by their mothers. The study of 196 infants found that the vast majority were susceptible to measles at three months and none were immune at six months.
  • Closing arguments began in Dr. Brian Day’s decade-long constitutional challenge of British Columbia’s Medicare Protection Act. Day claims the government can’t legally justify preventing patients from paying privately for quicker access to publicly funded services, an argument that has drawn fierce defense from advocates for public health care, who warn that a two-tier system would benefit only those who can afford to pay and erode care for everyone else.
  • British Columbia’s rate of sudden infant deaths hasn’t improved in the past five years. An average of 23 infants died suddenly while sleeping each year between 2013 and 2018, the same number the province reported in 2014.
  • Proposed legislation to protect health providers’ conscience rights under Alberta’s charter of rights won’t head to legislature until a committee hears more public feedback. Physician groups have panned Bill 207, which would protect providers who refuse to refer patients for services like contraception or abortion, arguing it would impede access to care.
  • A survey of 24,000 Quebec university students found more than half reported high levels of psychological distress while one in five reported symptoms of depression requiring medical attention. The students surveyed were also three times more likely than the general population to say they had suicidal thoughts and twice as likely to say they had attempted suicide.
  • The world’s first free Master of Public Health degree launched on, a university-level training portal founded by Dr. Erica Frank, a professor at the University of British Columbia and member of CMAJ’s Editorial Advisory Board. The full degree is available currently only through institutional partnerships, not individual enrollment.

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