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Warnings against kissing rats and reptiles, action on violence against health workers, and medical residents fight discriminatory interview questions in top health news this week.

Health News Recap

  • Health Canada is investigating 92 cases of salmonella across the country linked to pet snakes and rodents, including those used to feed reptiles. Health Canada warned people to avoid kissing reptiles and rodents and to wash their hands and any surfaces or objects used by these animals.
  • Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged federal action to prevent the closure of a New Brunswick clinic due to a lack of provincial funding for out-of-hospital abortions. Before the federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to ensure the province would fund abortions at the clinic.
  • Quebec medical specialists will take a $1.6-billion pay cut under a new three-year agreement. The agreement also includes the creation of a new institute to assess the value of medical “acts” and identify those that should be eliminated from the province’s fee schedule.
  • Alberta will force 26,000 patients on government drug plans to switch from expensive biologics to cheaper biosimilar medications. The change will take effect next summer and is expected to save the province $380 million over the next four years.
  • British Columbia will spend $8.5 million over three years to create an independent agency to tackle increasing workplace injuries among healthcare workers. In Quebec, seven healthcare unions urged similar action, warning that costs associated with violence against health workers have gone up 82% in the past two years.
  • The federation that represents Quebec medical residents is asking the province’s top court to stop healthcare employers from asking discriminatory questions during job interviews. The federation is seeking punitive damages from the provincial ministry of health and Laurentians integrated health and social services centre on behalf of a resident who faced questions about her spouse and plans to have children during a recent interview.
  • Saskatchewan’s syphilis outbreak shows no sign of slowing; as of October, the province counted 277 cases in 2019, up more than 300% from 2016. Health workers have only been able to locate 65% of people who had sexual contact with someone who had syphilis.
  • The fate of some northern medical services under Manitoba’s new provincial clinical services plan remains unknown. The province plans to move 21,000 days of care away from Winnipeg-based facilities to facilities in smaller communities; however, the plan included few firm commitments, leaving service decisions to regional health authorities.
  • Prince Edward Island is reaching out to psychiatrists who left the province in recent years to understand their reasons for leaving. Three of 15 psychiatrist positions on the Island are vacant right now, others are filled by locums working on a temporary basis, and the province’s two child psychiatrist positions are filled remotely by doctors working off the Island.
  • A Yukon man refused to travel for life-saving hemodialysis in order to put pressure on the territory to offer the treatment. Terry Coventry was told he would have to go to a long-term care facility in BC to continue receiving hemodialysis; according to health officials, not enough people in the territory need hemodialysis to justify offering the treatment.

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