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Another International Embarrassment Overshadows the Return to Parliament

The Speaker’s global-headlines-inducing faux pas distracts MPs as the Health Committee moves closer to tabling its report on Children’s Health. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

On the Hill

  • The House of Commons returned for the fall session on Monday, September 18, while the Senate returned on Tuesday, September 19. In the House, the Official Opposition has maintained focus on pinning the recent and unfortunate recognition of Yaroslav Hunka, who served with the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician Division), on the personal failures of the Prime Minister. Ultimately, House Speaker Anthony Rota, who invited the individual and organized the recognition of him in the House, was forced to apologize and resign his position due to the grievous error. MPs will select a new Speaker next Tuesday.
  • At Committee, MPs on the Standing Committee on Health provided drafting instructions to the Clerk for the development of reports on their studies regarding the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board and continued wrapping up the drafting of a report on the Committee’s Study on Children’s Health. MPs also agreed that witnesses for the Committee’s study of Bill C-293, An Act respecting pandemic prevention and preparedness, must be submitted no later than September 29.

Around Government 

  • In recognition of International Pain Awareness Month, newly minted Minister of Mental Health Ya’ara Saks released a statement reiterating the federal government’s commitment to provide resources and support for health providers and people living with pain in managing this complex health condition. That includes working with people living with pain, pain experts, and other key stakeholders, to help better support those living with chronic pain. In 2019, the government established the Canadian Pain Task Force (CPTF). In 2021, the Task Force released its final report, An Action Plan for Pain in Canada, which identified priority actions to make sure chronic pain is effectively understood and treated in Canada.
  • Health Canada announced more than $1.6 million in funding through Health Canada’s Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Fund to The Endometriosis Network Canada and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada to improve awareness of endometriosis, access to vital SRH services, and reduce barriers to care by developing resources for people living with endometriosis and healthcare providers.
  • Health Minister Mark Holland announced more than $2.1 million in funding over three years to the Canadian Home Care Association to improve the quality of home-based palliative care through the eiCOMPASS project. The funding was enabled by Budget 2021’s $29.8 million commitment to fund the government's Action Plan on Palliative Care and help build a better foundation for coordinated action on long-term and supportive care needs.
  • In response to a national data release on opioid- and stimulant-related harms, Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Yves Léger (the co-chairs of the federal, provincial, and territorial Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses) released a statement advocating for a holistic public health approach — including a range of actions across jurisdictions and across the continuum of care, from upstream prevention efforts, to harm-reduction services and supports, to reducing stigma, in addition to access and support for treatment and recovery — to address the crisis. Minister Saks similarly released a statement reinforcing the key pillars of the federal government’s drug policy: prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery, and enforcement efforts to protect communities.
  • Health Canada announced it has authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant for individuals six months of age and older. This follows the approval of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant. Health Canada is currently reviewing a submission from Novavax for its COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant for people 12 years of age and older.

Around the Dominion

  • The Government of Nova Scotia announced that the International Graduates in Demand stream of the province’s Nominee Program is expanding to include paramedics and pharmacy technicians. Adding these occupations to this immigration pathway supports Nova Scotia’s recruitment efforts for healthcare professionals. This stream allows international students who have graduated from a public or private post-secondary institution in Nova Scotia to apply for a work permit and permanent residency in Canada before gaining work experience.
  • The Government of B.C. announced funding of $20 million to expand medical travel support for cancer patients living in rural and remote areas who require access to life-saving cancer care. The Canadian Cancer Society and Hope Air have each received $10 million to expand their travel programs and support cancer patients. Both organizations will have an Oct. 3, 2023, launch date.
  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) has posted proposed bylaw changes for public consultation and feedback which, if approved, will allow physician assistants to practice in emergency departments under the direction and supervision of physicians and will require them to register with the CPSBC.
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