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Minister Khera Launches Consultations on the Canada Disability Benefit Regulations

MPs prepare for Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement upon their return from break week as Minister Kamal Khera launches consultations on the Canada Disability Benefit Regulations. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

On the Hill

  • The House of Commons is on break this week. When MPs return, they will be treated to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement, which is to be read on Tuesday, November 21.
  • When MPs return, the Standing Committee on Health will meet to begin its study on Women’s Health, and continue consideration of a draft report on its study of Children’s Health.

Around Government 

  • Upon the return of Parliament next week, the government will have just 20 sitting days to put forward their long-promised pharmacare legislation. Pharmacare has been the subject of much drama of late, with NDP partisans voting to force Leader Jagmeet Singh to draw a red line through the Supply and Confidence Agreement with the Liberals if they are not going to deliver the single-payer universal system that the NDP has been asking for. Now, Singh has disclosed that the NDP rejected the first draft of the legislation proposed by the Liberals, noting it was insufficient to maintain their support. Health Minister Mark Holland, however, has continued to pour cold water on a single-payer universal system given the substantial cost associated with it. Regardless, he’s remained steadfast in the government’s hope to table legislation by the end of the year.
  • Canadian officials met with their American and Mexican counterparts for the seventh meeting of the North American Drug Dialogue where they focused on trends in drug trafficking, and public health harms associated with illegal drug use and overdoses. The officials agreed to enhance cooperation to promote a comprehensive strategy to address overdoses; strengthen substance use prevention strategies from a mental health approach; increase data sharing; and deepen public safety partnerships.
  • Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities Kamal Khera announced the launch of the Canada Disability Benefit Regulations Online Engagement Tool where the government is seeking feedback from Canadians on the design of the regulations for the new disability benefit. The tool can be accessed through the website until December 21, 2023. There will also be additional opportunities to provide input after the formal publication of the draft regulations, which is expected to take place sometime in 2024.

Around the Dominion

  • The Government of New Brunswick announced a new partnership between Horizon Health Network and a Fredericton-based ophthalmology clinic, which aims to increase access to cataract surgical services. The province expects the move to reduce the patient wait-list and help meet the national benchmark wait time of 112 days.
  • The Government of Ontario announced over $108 million to expand Ornge Air Ambulance’s fixed-wing fleet with four additional state-of-the-art planes, bringing the fixed-wing Ornge fleet to 12. Since December 2022, they have also replaced Ornge’s existing and aging eight-plane fleet to ensure consistent access to urgent care.
  • In Alberta, the COVID-19 review panel led by former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning issued a final report calling for rule changes to ensure that politicians (the premier and cabinet) have final decision-making authority in future health crises. Most notably, the report recommends putting the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) in charge of future public health emergencies, given its orders are subject to cabinet approval. The rationale provided by the review panel is that what may start as a public health emergency ends up having consequences far beyond the realms of just health. The report also called for it to be forbidden to halt in-person school for kids, unless a pathogen proves to be most harmful to children. The panel also urges AEMA be open to considering “alternative scientific narratives and hypotheses.”
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