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Advancements on Health Workforce Issues

Minister Holland welcomes the establishment of Health Workforce Canada, and B.C. launches its new Allied Health Strategic Plan. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

On the Hill

  • MPs wrap up the fall session this week with much left to be done when they return from the holiday break on January 29, 2024. Due up in the new year will be legislation to advance pharmacare. Despite the delay of the pharmacare legislation that was promised to come forward this fall, Liberal and NDP MPs have remained positive about ongoing negotiations and the Bill that will come forward.
  • At committee, the Standing Committee on Health continued its study on the Opioid Crisis and its study of Medicago. MPs have until December 15 to submit their witness lists for the study on the opioid crisis.

Around Government 

  • Health Minister Mark Holland unveiled the official rollout for the full $13-billion Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP), expanding the initial interim program that sent rebate cheques directly to eligible families with children under the age of 12. As the program is implemented, coverage will first be extended to seniors and then all children under the age of 18, before being fully implemented for all families earning less than $90,000 by 2025. Oral health care services covered under the CDCP include scaling, polishing, exams, x-rays, fillings, and removable dentures. The CDCP will reimburse eligible expenses, with a co-pay applied on a means-tested basis (40 per cent for family net incomes between $70,000-$79,999, and 60 per cent for family net incomes between $80,000-$89,999).
  • To support the health workforce, Health Minister Mark Holland announced $3.5 million over five years to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) to develop a National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being to help improve retention. Minister Holland also announced $1.49 million to the RCPSC to expand and expedite the specialist Practice Eligibility Route to get more internationally trained health professionals into Canada, quicker.
  • The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) released its latest CompassRx report, focusing on the 2021-22 fiscal year, showing that the 10 highest-cost drugs reimbursed by public drug plans were rare-disease treatments with annual treatment costs of over $250,000.
  • Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan announced the appointments of Tara Peel and Dave Kramer to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Council of Governors.

Around the Dominion

  • In Quebec, Premier François Legault has said talks are at a standstill with the healthcare sector to end ongoing strikes, asserting that the health workers have opposed provincial requests for flexibility. The Common Front, which represents healthcare workers as well as nearly 100,000 teachers, wrapped up its seven-day strike on Thursday and has said it plans to launch an unlimited strike in January if it fails to reach an agreement with the province. Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel remains confident an agreement will be reached by the end of the year.
  • The Government of Saskatchewan announced it is launching a pharmacy care pilot project in Swift Current. Under the pilot project, patients of a local family physician clinic will be able to seek care for management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), underactive thyroid, and Warfarin medication management from a local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy. Patients of a local psychiatrist will also be able to seek care for mental health management at the pharmacy. The pharmacy will also accept appointments or walk-in patients who meet the criteria for the one-year pilot.
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