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Canada to Become First Country to Introduce Health Warnings on Individual Cigarettes

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos unveils the Connecting You to Modern Health Care plan, Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett announces Canada will become the first country to introduce health warnings on individual cigarettes, and PEI Minister of Health and Wellness Mark McLane announces an expansion of the provincial pharmacare program.

On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

In the House

  • Members of Parliament returned to Ottawa this week to begin the final stretch to the end of session. For the government, the priority over the coming weeks is to ensure that nine priority government bills are passed while another at least reaches committee study. Included in the government’s priority bills are plans to approve the federal budget, create the Canada Disability Benefit, strengthen measures to prevent gun violence, and entrench childcare.
  • The Opposition, however, has ensured that the collective focus of the House and media alike is on the question of foreign interference and the need for a public inquiry into the matter. This includes the NDP who, while assuring the public they would not trigger an election until Canadian trust in institutions can be restored, succeeded in passing a motion calling on former Governor General David Johnston to step down as the Prime Minister’s Special Rapporteur on Foreign Interference and to launch a public inquiry led by an individual supported by the House of Commons. This will continue to be the focus of Opposition MPs through the end of session.
  • With members back for the final stretch to the end of session, the Standing Committee on Health resumed its consideration this week of a draft report on its study of children’s health. The report is anticipated to be tabled in the House of Commons within weeks.

Around Cabinet  

  • Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos unveiled Connecting You to Modern Health Care, a major piece of its healthcare modernization agenda, advancing significant aspects of the recently re-negotiated Canada Health Transfer. The plan outlines the Shared Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap, which represents a key milestone to advance the government’s commitment to secure access to electronic health information. The Roadmap, developed by Canada Health Infoway and endorsed by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments (with the exception of Quebec), outlines a long-term vision toward improving health information exchange in Canada to improve health outcomes for everyone.
  • Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett announced that Canada will soon become the first country in the world to require health warnings on individual cigarettes following the enactment of the new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations, which come into force on August 1, 2023.

Around the Dominion

  • In Newfoundland, the government unveiled a new incentive based on geographic location, ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 for Nurse Practitioners who commit to work within a Family Care Team for a one-year term. John McGrath’s appointment as Deputy Minister of Health and Community Services was also announced.
  • In PEI, it was announced that as of June 1, 2023, copays will be expanded for almost 60 per cent of medications regularly used by Island residents and access to the provincial High-Cost Drug Program will be increased. The changes include reducing copays for commonly prescribed, eligible medications to $5 for residents covered under the Seniors Drug, the Family Health Benefit, and the Generic Drug and Diabetes Drug programs, and adjusting the High-Cost Drug Program to remove financial and administrative barriers for low-income Islanders.
  • In Manitoba, it was announced that more than 72,300 total procedures have been funded through the Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force (DSRTF). The Manitoba government established the DSRTF in late 2021 to address waitlists for diagnostic and surgical procedures, and other related services affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In Alberta, Premier Danielle Smith and the United Conservative Party (UCP) were re-elected to a majority government despite losing several seats. At the beginning of the election, the UCP announced that it would continue to support and fund Alberta’s public healthcare system, announcing initiatives encouraging more students to enter the healthcare sector. Smith also made targeted funding announcements to improve mental, women’s, and children’s health, including plans to expand newborn screening to test for more diseases and conditions; support for testing; educational support for children with autism and other complex needs; support for women-focused research, advocacy, and care; and building new mental health facilities.
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