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Pharmacare is Back on the Table

Jagmeet Singh demands action on pharmacare and Canada’s Chief Nursing Officer hosts a Nursing Retention Forum to address and improve nursing retention.

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

  • The NDP, led by Jagmeet Singh and Health Critic Don Davies, have increased the pressure on the Liberal government to follow through on another key commitment under the Liberal-NDP Supply and Confidence Agreement by re-tabling the Canada Pharmacare Act, a Bill to implement single-payer universal pharmacare in Canada. The Bill, first introduced by the NDP two years ago, would model the development of a single-payer universal pharmacare program in line with what was recommended by Dr. Eric Hoskins and the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos was noncommittal when responding to questions from the NDP regarding the government’s support of the Bill in Question Period, reiterating that he looks forward to the opportunity to review the Bill.
  • With the Budget Implementation Act now passed through the House, it’s off to the Senate and anticipated to be passed by the time the Senate rises for the summer recess in late June. Meanwhile, the government continues its sprint to the end of session by working to pass several government Bills through to the next stage, including Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould’s Bill to enshrine childcare into law. MPs also held third-reading debate of Liberal MP Patricia Lattanzio’s Private Members Bill C-252, which would prohibit the marketing of prescribed foods directed at persons under 13 years of age.

Around Cabinet  

  • Following a meeting of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, during which they discussed next steps in updating their 2018 breast cancer screening guideline, Minister Duclos announced $500,000 in additional funding to the Task Force to help expedite the update of the breast cancer screening guideline. Throughout the coming months, the Task Force is expected to examine data on trends in breast cancer cases and deaths due to breast cancer, modeling data, including disaggregated data, and studies on breast cancer screening outcomes, as well as patient values and preferences to inform their updated guideline.
  • The federal government hosted a Nursing Retention Forum, led by Canada's Chief Nursing Officer, to discuss the current health workforce crisis including strategies to address and improve nursing retention. Participants met to co-develop a toolkit with evidence-informed practical strategies, such as mental health and wellness supports, that employers and health authorities can implement to support nursing retention within their organizations.

Around the Dominion

  • Atlantic Premiers met in Prince Edward Island to discuss how they can improve healthcare throughout the region and strengthen the economy. The Premiers heard that since the Atlantic Health Accord came into effect on May 1, 87 physicians have opted into the Atlantic Physician Registry, enabling them to work seamlessly throughout the region. The Registry marks the first multi-jurisdiction licencing model in Canada. The Premiers agreed to explore, together with health partners, expanding the Atlantic Registry concept to cover more health professions, reducing administrative burden, improving information and data sharing, and establishing an Atlantic Working Group on International Recruitment.
  • The Manitoba government announced an investment of $2.4 million annually in a newly enhanced program to improve access to mental health assessments and crisis supports in rural and remote areas. The new Rural Emergent Telepsychiatry and Integrated Virtual Ward Program combines two pilot projects — a virtual crisis stabilization unit (vCSU) and emergent telepsychiatry services (ETS) — that were launched in 2021 to provide provincially co-ordinated virtual mental health supports.

Following the announcement of the new Alberta Cabinet, a shakeup in the senior ranks of the public service was similarly announced. Of note, Andre Tremblay has been named Deputy Minister of Health and Evan Romanow has been named Deputy Minister of Mental Health and Addiction. Darren Hedley will serve as Associate Deputy Minister of Health.

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