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The “New” War on Drugs

Pierre Poilievre promises to ban decriminalization of illicit drugs while provincial officials warn Toronto against its plan to decriminalize drugs. On that, and more, here is your Syntax Weekly Health Round-Up.

Around the Hill

  • The House of Commons is closed for a constituency week.
  • Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre continued his critique of the federal government and its approval of a B.C. policy shift to decriminalize the use of drugs in public spaces amidst the devastating opioid epidemic. Recently, the federal government approved the province’s request to amend its exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA), meaning drugs were once again prohibited in public spaces. Regardless, during a visit to B.C., Poilievre promised to table a private members’ bill that would prevent exemptions under the CDSA when MPs return from the constituency week.

Around Government 

  • Speaking to media early this week, Health Minister Mark Holland shared his deep concern with the global measles outbreak and its potential impact on Canada. Minister Holland noted that vaccine hesitancy is leading to the comeback of an illness that was rendered almost non-existent. PHAC’s latest published report noted that as of May 4, Canada had recorded 75 cases of measles this year.
  • Health Canada approved new medication to fight HIV. The medicine, Apretude, manufactured by ViiV Healthcare, has been billed as the first long-lasting injectable medicine to prevent HIV.

Around the Dominion

  • In Newfoundland, the government announced it is lowering the age for recommended breast screening from 50 to include women between the ages of 40 and 49. The decision was based on new national guidelines published by the Canadian Cancer Society following a review of evidence and consultation with breast cancer experts and people with lived experience. The province estimates that the policy change will make an additional 34,000 people eligible for the Provincial Breast Screening Program.
  • In Ontario, the provincial government has served warning to Toronto’s municipal government over its application to seek an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) similar to the one that had been provided in B.C. Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones has communicated her “100 per cent” opposition to the move, noting that the provincial government will never support the request. Jones’ comments follow a pledge by Premier Doug Ford to fight the decriminalization request “tooth and nail.” Meanwhile in Ontario, the provincial government announced an investment of $22 million to connect more than 73,000 people to primary care teams in Eastern Ontario. New primary care services in the region will include a new Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic in Ottawa, new Family Health Teams, and new Community Health Centre sites.
  • In Manitoba, the provincial government announced improvements to emergency medical services by adding and training more paramedics, adding more ambulances, and expanding emergency patient transport. The province is also investing to add 16 training seats for advanced care paramedics (ACPs) who will work in rural and northern communities.
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