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Canada’s Fall Economic Statement Includes Little on Health

PHAC announces the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline is now available to call and text, and the NDP extend the deadline on pharmacare legislation. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

On the Hill

  • Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland followed up on her Fall Economic Statement (FES), which included little specific to health, by tabling a Ways and Means Motion to introduce legislation that will implement the FES. The FES will be a test of the government’s ability to maintain the confidence of the House. While the Liberals’ current polling woes have led many prognosticators to suggest the NDP could back out of the Supply and Confidence Agreement it struck with the Liberals and force an election, current realities for the NDP and Bloc Québécois make it seem more likely we will go the distance to 2025 before an election is called.
  • Meanwhile on the Hill, conversation around the Liberal-NDP Supply and Confidence Agreement also came up in reference to pharmacare. Specifically, the NDP have stated that they are willing to extend the end-of-2023 deadline for pharmacare legislation to be tabled and passed if necessary, though such a move would be predicated on the NDP winning more concessions from the government in the yet-to-be-tabled legislation.
  • At committee, the Standing Committee on Health kicked off its study of Women’s Health, hearing from departmental officials, academics and researchers, and endometriosis advocates. The committee will next meet to continue its study of the Opioid Crisis (December 4 and 11) before returning to its study of Women’s Health (December 6 and 13) ahead of the Christmas break.

Around Government 

  • Minister of Mental Health and Addications Ya’ara Saks announced the launch of an open call for proposals under the Public Health Agency of Canada's new Youth Substance Use Prevention Program focused on supporting communities to build capacity to implement and adapt the Icelandic Prevention Model. The deadline for organizations to submit applications is January 15, 2024. Organizations working closely with schools, or those serving youth populations disproportionately impacted by substance use-related harms, are encouraged to apply for funding.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced that through its collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and its work with partners from across the country, 9-8-8, Canada’s new three-digit suicide crisis helpline, is now available to call or text, in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week to offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate suicide prevention crisis support. The government has provided $156 million over three years to CAMH to implement and operate the 9-8-8 suicide crisis helpline.

Around the Dominion

  • The Government of New Brunswick announced $199.8 million in capital budget investments to improve timely access to high-quality care. The investments will include $107 million for the continuation of major renovations and additions, while an additional $92 million has been allocated for capital improvements and the purchase of equipment. The province also announced that a Fredericton hospital-based pilot project to increase access to primary care was given permanent status. That 12-year pilot saw physician assistants providing care at the facility’s emergency department.
  • The Government of Prince Edward Island launched consultations in advance of its 2024 provincial budget. To participate, a pre-budget consultation survey can be completed in English or French or a submission can be emailed to A virtual consultation will be held on December 4 from 2-4 p.m. over Zoom.
  • The Government of Alberta launched consultations in advance of its 2024 provincial budget. To participate, a pre-budget consultation survey can be completed online, or written submissions can be uploaded to the province’s online portal. Telephone town halls will be held on December 11 and 12.
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