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Feds boost loan break to recruit rural doctors, nurses

Minister Holland fast-tracks the government’s legislation to delay further expansion of medical assistance in dying. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

On the Hill

  • In the House of Commons, Health Minister Mark Holland served notice of the government’s intent to invoke closure of Bill C-62, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), No. 2, which would delay further expansion of medical assistance in dying (MAID) until 2027 and establishes the parameters for a parliamentary review of MAID eligibility for persons whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness. Debate on the Bill got underway this week with the Bloc Québécois proposing an amendment to allow provincial governments to establish a framework to allow “advance requests from persons who have an illness that could deprive them of the capacity to consent to care.” With closure, the Bill would move to third reading immediately, with a potential third reading vote before the end of the week.
  • NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh doubled down on his party’s deadline of March 1 for the government to introduce legislation to advance pharmacare, which is a make-or-break deadline for the NDP’s continued support of the government through the supply and confidence agreement. In a press conference, Singh stated clearly the NDP’s expectation that the eventual legislation, which is intended to lay the framework for pharmacare in Canada, do so for a universal, single-payer system.

Around Government 

  • Health Canada announced that now that we’ve moved past the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is transitioning away from Wellness Together Canada, the online tool that was deployed during the pandemic to fill an urgent and acute need for mental health supports. Moving forward, the government will transition access to information on mental health resources, supports, and services to
  • Health Minister Mark Holland joined his B.C. counterpart Minister Adrian Dix to announce a bilateral funding agreement of $733 million with the Province of British Columbia to help seniors age with dignity, closer to home. The funding will help expand home and community care services, improve the availability of palliative and end-of-life care, and improve the quality of long-term care services. The funding is being provided under the $5.4-billion Aging with Dignity agreementthat was negotiated under last year’s health transfer agreements. Details of how the province intends to use the funding can be found here.
  • Employment Minister Randy Boissonnault announced that the federal government is moving forward with increasing loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses working in underserved rural and remote communities. The increase of loan forgiveness by 50 per cent is now in effect. With these changes, up to $60,000 will be forgiven for a family physician or family medicine resident, and up to $30,000 for a nurse or nurse practitioner under the Canada Student Loans program.
  • The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board released a What We Learned Report summarizing feedback from its consultations on the development of new guidelines. The PMPRB will now conduct a review of the submissions received for the What We Learned Report before announcing next steps.

Around the Dominion

  • In Ontario, the government announced investments of over $10.8 million to expand pediatric services in York and across Southwestern Ontario. The investments are part of the province’s $330-million annual boost to pediatric spending. The funding will be used to increase access to rehabilitation services, diagnostics, and continuing care and to increase capacity of emergency departments.
  • In Manitoba, Premier Wab Kinew and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a bilateral funding agreement of over $633 million under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The province will allocate $434 million of the funding to follow through on its three-year action plan to improve healthcare, while $199 million will support its five-year action plan to improve home, community, and long-term care for seniors under the Aging With Dignity portion of the renegotiated CHT.

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