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Let the Budget Tours Begin

In the House 

  • The House of Commons is in the midst of its two-week spring break, allowing ministers to fan out across the country making announcements emanating from Budget 2023. MPs are scheduled to return from the break on Monday, April 17.

At Committee

  • The Standing Committee on Health is on break this week and next. Immediately prior to the break, the committee quickly undertook its clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-252, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibition of food and beverage marketing directed at children), hearing only from departmental officials. The committee is poised to wrap up its study of the Bill when MPs return during the week of April 17.

Around Cabinet  

  • Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett released the Model Practice Standard for MAID. The Model Practice Standard and accompanying documents will help clinicians align their practices with clear guidance and will assist regulators to ensure the protection of the public in the context of complex cases, including where the person’s sole underlying medical condition is a mental illness.
  • During his budget travels, Minister Duclos highlighted the recently re-negotiated Canada Health Transfer, which will help improve access to a family health team or provider, encourage a sustainable health workforce, provide better access to quality mental health services, and ensure patients have access to their own electronic health information. Duclos also highlighted that once fully implemented, the Canada Dental Plan will support up to nine million uninsured Canadians who have an annual family income of less than $90,000 in getting the oral healthcare they need, with no co-pays for those with family incomes under $70,000.

Around the Dominion

  • In Newfoundland, Premier Andrew Furey announced an expanded scope of practice for pharmacists and nurses. Pharmacists will now be able to extend prescriptions for a maximum of one year and provide assessment and prescriptions for more ailments and conditions, while RNs will have the ability to prescribe, including referrals to specialists. Premier Furey concluded a busy week by launching the first Health Care Action update and the Health Care Action website, which will keep residents up to date on progress made and initiatives underway. 
  • In PEI, Dennis King’s Progressive Conservative government was re-elected with a strong majority despite several hiccups and revelations around the poor state of healthcare. Since then, Health PEI has released statements detailing how hospitals and emergency centres will be closed down entirely or for specific procedures, spurring a discussion about the ‘caretaker convention’ of the public service during a writ period as it relates to information about the health system.
  • Alberta’s government is building capacity in the publicly funded healthcare system to support thousands more surgeries and reduce wait times across the province by providing an $80-million increase to add 20,000 more surgeries in 2023-24. The government also announced it is investing $5.3 million over three years to expand eating disorder treatment for youth and young adults in Calgary and $54 million over three years to renovate and upgrade 33 pharmacies at 20 hospitals, cancer centres, and other health facilities in 11 communities across the province.
  • BC became the first province to offer universal coverage of prescription contraceptives, beginning Saturday, April 1, 2023. The initiative, announced in Budget 2023, will see BC PharmaCare cover the full cost of more than 60 commonly used birth-control methods.
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