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Physician billing exposed, new health teams unveiled, and a medical regulation overhaul in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Canadians waited an average 3.9 hours for emergency care in 2018-2019, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Quebec participated in the study for the first time and reported the longest emergency room wait times; the province had 15 of the 20 hospitals with the longest waits in the country.
  • Alberta introduced new legislation to recover health care costs resulting from opioid harms and guide how the province may participate in a national class-action lawsuit against opioid makers and wholesalers. Saskatchewan will introduce similar legislation before the end of the year, joining Alberta, BC and Ontario in the lawsuit.
  • Ontario began replacing the province’s 14 local health integration networks with the first of up to 50 new “health teams.” The new teams will be responsible for integrating hospital and community care, however, it’s up to each team to determine how they will govern service planning and how they will measure success.
  • In Ontario, 518 doctors received more than $1 million in fee-for-service payments in 2017-18, according to a physician billing database compiled by the Toronto Star. In total, Ontario doctors received $7.3 billion in payments from the province’s health insurance plan.
  • An all-party legislative committee in British Columbia proposed major changes to the regulation of health professionals in the province, including reducing the number of regulatory colleges from 20 to five. Overhauling the makeup of college boards, increasing the transparency of complaints processes, and creating an oversight body to audit the colleges, were among the other proposals.
  • Quebec struck a deal with medical specialists to ensure regional coverage in all hospitals for general surgeries and obstetrics. The deal includes creating groups of specialists to step in as needed to provide surgical and obstetric care in underserved areas.
  • Doctors in Nova Scotia will get an 8% raise over four years under a new contract agreement with the province. The contract also provides an additional $2 million for family and emergency doctors, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, and obstetricians and gynecologists, and doubles a rural retention bonus to $16,000 by the end of the contract.
  • An all-party legislative committee in Alberta rejected a controversial bill to increase conscience protections for health workers. Critics of the bill said it would limit access to medical services such as contraception, abortion and assisted dying.
  • The Nova Scotia Health Authority eliminated four vice-president jobs and will create four new leadership positions for each zone of the province. The restructuring aims to reduce bureaucracy in health care decisions, and each zone leader will have their own budgets and the operational authority to respond to local needs.
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association estimated the province will need to hire 243 additional family physicians over the next 10 years. The association called on the province to hire 60 full-time physicians immediately to address current shortages.

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