Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – May 3, 2024

A provincial health scan for Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of May 3, 2024. Written by Wes McLean.


  • A new computed tomography (CT) scanner at the Swan Valley Health Centre will soon bring key diagnostic services closer to home for residents of the Swan Valley region while expanding local access to health care, Premier Wab Kinew announced here this week. The province provided more than $2 million in capital funding for the purchase and installation of the new CT scanner, as well as renovations of a space at the healthcare facility. This was matched by a contribution of more than $1 million from the Town of Swan River and surrounding communities. The province will also provide funding for the operating costs of the CT scanner, approximately $400,000 per year. 
  • The Manitoba government is growing its physician workforce by funding more training seats for family physician graduates, Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara and Advanced Education and Training Minister Renée Cable announced this week. Manitoba added 17 new first-year residency positions for a total of 173 and every position has been matched to a medical school graduate this year.
  • Premier Wab Kinew and Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara met with more than 120 front-line health-care workers at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Winnipeg earlier this week to hear their concerns, experiences and ideas on the sixth stop of their health-care listening tour. Kinew and Asagwara noted the HSC Winnipeg stop on the healthcare listening tour was their largest attended event yet.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Department of Health and Community Services has provided $550,000 in funding to the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador Division (CMHA-NL) to support mental health and suicide prevention training initiatives. This funding will enable CMHA-NL to continue to partner with Lifewise NL and Richard’s Legacy Foundation for Survivors of Suicide Loss to provide essential training programs across the province. This aligns with the recommendations in Our Path of Resilience: An Action Plan to Promote Life and Prevent Suicide in Newfoundland and Labrador to increase access to evidence-based mental health and suicide prevention training, thereby enhancing community resources and creating more resilient and supportive communities.
  • Stacey Button felt unsupported and overworked as a licensed practical nurse in rural Newfoundland, an experience fraught with so much stress and dejection that she left her home and a full-time job to become a travel nurse. She says she now has job flexibility, is treated with respect and gets paid far more than she did back home. As well, Button says that if the Newfoundland and Labrador government doesn’t make major changes to the public health system, it will be challenging to persuade many other nurses to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial health authority says it plans to gradually reduce its use of private agency nurses over the next two years. Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services said in an emailed statement Thursday it aims to reduce the number of private healthcare staff from around 340 today to around 60 people — which health authority CEO David Diamond says is the pre-pandemic level — by April 2026. “We’re trying to balance the need to remove agency nurses from our system in a systematic way over the next period of time, but also to maintain services, and recognize that it’s not a static figure,” Diamond told reporters Thursday.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia continues to train more medical laboratory technologists, faster. These healthcare professionals are in high demand, and to help address this need, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is increasing the number of seats in its training program to 60, up from 40, this September. The increase at NSCC follows last year’s introduction of a second training program in the province – a hybrid program for up to 40 people through the Province’s partnership with the Michener Institute of Education at University Health Network.
  • First responders now have an official day to recognize their bravery, dedication and service to their communities. May 1 marked the first annual First Responders Day in Nova Scotia. “Our first responders are there for us in some of the most harrowing circumstances we face,” said Premier Tim Houston. “They have a critical role in keeping Nova Scotians safe and supporting them in healthcare, law enforcement and emergency situations. I want to thank them for their unwavering commitment to Nova Scotia.” Premier Houston introduced legislation designating May 1 as First Responders Day on October 12, 2023. It is intended as a day of recognition of the dedication, sacrifices and achievements of professional and volunteer first responders.
  • Nova Scotia’s second medical school campus is on track to open in the fall of 2025 with 30 seats for first-year medical students, with a focus on practising in rural Nova Scotian communities. The Province will fund operations at the Cape Breton University (CBU) site – a partnership with Dalhousie University’s faculty of medicine – for two years. It will also fund five additional medical school seats at Dalhousie starting this fall.
  • The Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia has launched a new anti-harassment campaign after a new survey revealed more than half of respondents have been intimidated or threatened at work over the last year — mostly by their own patients. Allison Bodnar, the association’s CEO, said harassment, intimidation and physical threats against pharmacists have been on the rise in recent years. “We’ve had people throw their prescription bags at peoples’ heads and it’s just impacting our members’ mental health and their physical well-being … and it just needs to stop,” Bodnar told CBC Radio’s Information Morning Sydney on Wednesday.

New Brunswick

  • Health Minister Bruce Fitch welcomed several internationally educated nurses during a visit to Villa Providence in Shediac today. Villa Providence was one of eight nursing homes to participate in last September’s recruitment mission to Belgium and Morocco, aimed at finding French-speaking internationally educated nurses to work in New Brunswick’s long-term care sector. The mission was the first exclusive one for francophone nursing homes and was modelled on a past mission to the Philippines. The mission to Belgium and Morocco resulted in 140 offers being made by participating nursing homes, including 58 by Villa Providence, which has had 26 employees arrive, with four more coming in the near future.
  • The Higgs government will not push forward this spring with controversial legislation that would have given provincial authorities the power to force a person with severe addiction into treatment. The bill, known as the Compassionate Intervention Act, was promised in last year’s throne speech, and it was expected to be introduced this month. But Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sherry Wilson said in a video statement posted to social media that won’t be happening. “We are 100-per-cent committed to introducing this legislation, but in our discussions and consultations it was clear more time is required to ensure we get this right,” she said.
  • New Brunswick’s online health service eVisitNB has committed “serious breaches” of the Official Languages Act, and the Department of Health has failed in its duty to ensure its third-party provider meets its linguistic obligations, according to two new reports by the official languages commissioner. Shirley MacLean investigated seven complaints, filed between October 2022 and February 2023, alleging deficiencies in French-language services on the eVisitNB platform and the Maple application provided by the private company eVisitNB Inc.
  • Canada’s $13-billion national dental care plan launches this week, but questions still remain for the thousands of New Brunswick seniors who qualify for the program. Some are so confused, that they don’t even know whether to sign up, says Cecile Cassista, the executive director of the Coalition for Seniors and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights. She said many seniors have been told their dentists won’t participate in the program because of perceived problems with the plan. So although they’d like to take advantage of the program, they don’t want to switch to a new dentist. Nor do they want to cancel their private coverage amid so much uncertainty — something they’d have to do in order to qualify for the new program.  
  • The co-chair of Sackville’s Rural Community Action Group says while some improvements have been made to health care in the area, there is still a long way to go. John Higham’s comments come after an announcement from Horizon Health Network earlier in the week that the provincial budget included room for the recruitment of six new healthcare positions for the Tantramar primary health clinic. The positions are a dietitian, a social worker, a patient navigator, a pharmacist, an administrative professional and a part-time respiratory therapist, according to the news release from Horizon.

Prince Edward Island

  • Pharmacists across the Island can now do an assessment and prescribe treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) for people of any age. Previously, Islanders were required to be 19+ for this assessment. The age restriction has been lifted through the practice directive of the PEI College of Pharmacy. “Pharmacy Plus PEI continues to improve access to healthcare for Islanders while allowing our healthcare professionals to practice to the full extent of their skills and education. The removal of the age restrictions for UTIs, will help reduce the number of physician and emergency room visits by accessing this care through community pharmacists. Please speak with your pharmacist for more information regarding an assessment for a UTI” noted Health Minister Mark McLane. Although the age restriction has been removed, not all suspected urinary tract infections can be managed by pharmacists in the community, and you may need to be referred to a physician or a nurse practitioner. Islanders should speak to their pharmacist for more information regarding an assessment for a UTI.
  • Charlottetown-based psychiatrist Dr. Angus Beck is closing his practice after 40 years. His office is informing patients that his practice at McGill Community Mental Health, just off North River Road and McGill Avenue, is closing immediately. In an emailed statement from Health P.E.I., a spokesperson said “Patients of Dr. Beck who have a primary care provider are being referred back to their family physician or nurse practitioner. Those without primary care can access care through Maple or a walk-in clinic.”

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