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A Busy Week for Health Canada  

Health Canada launches fresh consultations on reducing tobacco consumption and issues a call for proposals to support its three-digit suicide prevention and emotional distress line. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up. 

On the Hill

  • The House of Commons and the Senate are adjourned for the summer. The House is scheduled to return on Monday, September 18, while the Senate is scheduled to return on Tuesday, September 19.

Around Government 

  • Health Canada announced a second review of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act to assess the federal legislative response to tobacco use in Canada. This is part of the government’s commitment to reducing the number of people in Canada who smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products to less than five per cent of the population by 2035. Health Canada is accepting feedback (by emailing until November 3, 2023 on the following topics: tobacco use in Canada; addressing enticements to use tobacco; monitoring the tobacco market; public awareness of tobacco-related health risks; compliance, enforcement, and regulated parties; and engaging with Indigenous peoples.
  • Health Minister Mark Holland and Mental Health Minister Ya’ara Saks released a statement in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day. The Ministers noted the various mental health supports available to Canadians, including the Wellness Together Canada portal, and noted that the 9-8-8 line for suicide prevention and emotional distress will launch as of November 30. The government also announced a call for proposals to access $8 million in federal funding to address gaps in equity, diversity, and inclusion within Canada’s distress-line sector.
  • Health Canada announced that it has authorized the use of the Moderna Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant for people six months of age and older.
  • Ministers Holland and Saks announced that as part of the federal government’s commitment to supporting individuals in accessing Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in a fair, safe, and consistent manner, they have welcomed the release of the Canadian MAiD Curriculum developed by the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP). This curriculum is the first nationally accredited, bilingual MAiD education program available to licensed physicians and nurse practitioners across the country and will help achieve a safe and consistent approach to care.
  • During the occasion of Living Donation Week, Health Minister Mark Holland announced key milestones achieved through the Improving Access to living donor kidney transplant (LDKT) in Ethno-racial Minority Communities in Canada (ACTION) project. The project will help improve equitable access to LDKT for patients with kidney failure from marginalized communities in British Columbia and Ontario.
  • Ministers Holland and Saks announced that they had granted British Columbia an amendment to the subsection 56(1) exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act it had previously received. Law enforcement in B.C. will now have the authority to seize drugs and arrest or charge for personal possession of under 2.5 grams in certain locations frequented by children and youth.

Around the Dominion

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dr. Andrew Furey announced enhancements to benefit patients who use the Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP). A new In-Province Flight Voucher Program has been established in partnership with PAL Airlines to support residents in the Labrador-Grenfell Health Zone who have to fly to a larger centre to access specialized insured medical services — they can now apply to MTAP for a fast-track upfront flight voucher. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador also announced that its Department of Health and Community Services has filled a new Manager of Physician Relations position, which will help strengthen its relationship with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA).
  • The Government of Nova Scotia announced it has purchased the former Wheelhouse Motel in Lunenburg with the purpose of converting it into mixed-income housing for healthcare workers who need housing in the area. The site will include 10 to 12 one-bedroom units plus six townhouses suitable for families.
  • The Government of Saskatchewan announced that patients living with seizure disorders or epilepsy now have a dedicated Seizure Investigation Unit to access enhanced monitoring and diagnostic services, located at Saskatoon's Royal University Hospital. The highly specialized and controlled environment allows neurologists and other physicians to monitor brain activity in patients for a certain period.
  • The Government of British Columbia announced it is enhancing access to healthcare in Surrey by breaking ground on a new second hospital and new cancer centre. The second hospital in Surrey will bring 168 more hospital beds, including medical/surgical beds, high-acuity beds and medical oncology beds, and a second emergency department for the community with 55 treatment spaces and access to specialists through virtual technologies.
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