Health Scan: Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – July 21-28, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of July 21-28, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.


  • The Manitoba government is significantly expanding its Health Human Resource Action Plan, nearly doubling its total investment to approximately $400 million with a number of new incentives and initiatives as part of ongoing efforts to hire 2,000 health-care providers and improve care for patients across the province, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced yesterday.
  • The Manitoba government has contracted with a recruitment firm to recruit 150 physicians to work in the province and has approved regulatory changes that will allow internationally educated doctors to start working sooner, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced earlier this week. The Manitoba government has set a recruitment target of 150 family physicians to provide services in all areas of the province with initial goals of 50 physicians each for Winnipeg, northern Manitoba, and rural communities. Canadian Health Labs has been retained to assist with this focused recruitment drive.
  • The province is reviving a program that gives advanced training to paramedics in rural and northern Manitoba as part of an additional $200-million announced to recruit, train and retain health care workers. Part of the money announced Thursday will allow up to 32 licensed advanced care paramedics to take a refresher course and resume working at that level. It will also add 16 advanced care paramedics seats at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg each academic year, says a backgrounder from the province. The advanced care paramedicine program at the college was suspended in 2020 for a year because there was no job classification for the highly skilled workers in rural or northern Manitoba.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • As a result of a ratification vote held over the last several weeks, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is announcing that a collective agreement has been ratified with the Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland and Labrador (RNUNL). This collective agreement represents 5,800 RNUNL members across the province. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and RNUNL worked together to reach an agreement that is a significant step towards the retention and recruitment of nurses, which will help provide stability in the health care system. Highlights of the agreement include:
    • A two per cent wage increase each year for four years (2022-2026);
    • A one-time employee recognition bonus payment of $2,000;
    • Step changes to ensure competitiveness;
    • Improvements to recruit and retain permanent full-time employees;
    • Increases to travel allowances when travelling on employer business, including meal allowances and various reimbursements for vehicle usage;
    • Flexibility for employees to substitute a statutory holiday such that they may observe a non-Christian faith based holiday;
    • The addition of paid family violence leave, providing the ability for employees to take time away from the workplace;
    • The addition of a mentorship program as a means to support nurses as they adapt to new practice environments;
    • Enhancements to the existing preceptorship program; and
    • Operational improvements to shift scheduling.

Nova Scotia

  • Transgender and gender-diverse Nova Scotians will receive more supportive healthcare under the new, comprehensive Gender-Affirming Care Policy that takes effect today, July 28. The policy aims to ensure high-quality, timely, comprehensive, equitable, culturally appropriate and safe services are provided to transgender and gender-diverse Nova Scotians. It outlines the following for gender-affirming care and procedures:
    • eligibility criteria
    • covered services
    • standards of care
    • assessment, referral and approval processes
    • roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals.
  • Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai met Wednesday, July 26, to sign a letter of intent on working together to improve healthcare. Areas for collaboration include:
    • recruiting and licensing of internationally trained healthcare professionals
    • improving labour mobility within Canada
    • enhancing education and training opportunities for healthcare professionals.
  • Cape Bretoners with intensive psychiatric needs now have more options for care and recovery with the opening of the new mental health and addictions day hospital in Sydney in June. People attending the day hospital, part of Cape Breton Regional Hospital, receive care from an interdisciplinary team of mental health specialists, which include a psychiatrist, nurses, social workers, an occupational therapist, a recreational therapist and a pharmacist. They work together to provide individual psychiatric treatment support and therapeutic group programs.

New Brunswick

  • Pharmacists at six New Brunswick locations will soon be able to help manage and prescribe for certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, as part of a one-year pilot aimed at improving access to primary care. Health Minister Bruce Fitch announced the Pharmacist Care Clinics in Fredericton Wednesday, saying he’s excited about the potential of the further expanded role of pharmacists. Under the pilot, pharmacists at the participating locations will offer chronic disease management for patients who have previously been diagnosed with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cardio-vascular disease by a doctor or nurse practitioner, said Department of Health spokesperson Clarissa Andersen.
  • Horizon Health is offering a bounty program to help attract doctors to the province. In June, the health authority announced a $2,000 award to anyone who can successfully refer a doctor to them. To claim the bounty, a New Brunswicker would have to get the doctor to apply through Horizon’s job bank, then have them fill out a referral form online. The bounty program is an extension of a reward program they started a year ago for registered nurses. Since then, 48 nurses have been hired directly through the program, said Horizon.

Prince Edward Island

  • The emergency department at Western Hospital in Alberton will close early Friday, and remain closed through the weekend. The department will be closed due to a lack of staffing, Health P.E.I. said in a news release Friday morning. It will close at 4 p.m. Friday and not open Saturday or Sunday. That will bring the number of days the emergency department has been affected by closures to 20, including 12 full-day closures. The department will return to its regular hours, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Monday.
  • It may be a while before P.E.I. sees any physician assistants (PAs) actively working in the province. PAs work under the supervision of a doctor and can assess and treat common ailments in areas like orthopedics and emergency medicine. Last month, the provincial government announced changes allowing PAs and associate physicians to be licensed and practice on the Island. But the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants warns that with only around 80 graduates a year from the necessary two-year program, PAs are in short supply.

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