Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – July 28-August 4, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of July 28 - August 4, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.


Manitoba – as of last night at midnight, due to Manitoba elections laws, the government is now unable to make formal announcements, and this period is known as the “blackout.” The formal election period will begin in early September.

  • The Manitoba government continues to make investments to secure the retention and recruitment of health-care community and facility support workers across the province through new memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that deliver a number of new incentives and initiatives to improve care for Manitobans, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced this week. These new initiatives include:
    • Wellness incentive: a one-time increase for each support employee’s health spending account of $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees, in addition to current health spending account allowances already in place.
    • Licensure reimbursement: Employees will be reimbursed for professional licence or association membership fees in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 licensure years for eligible employees (those employed with an included employer, employed within the applicable 2023-24 and/or 2024-25 licensure year, and who provide proof of payment for eligible fees).
    • Weekend premium: Employees working hours on weekends will receive an $8.00 premium for eligible worked hours. The weekend premium is retroactive to the first evening shift of Nov. 18, 2022, and will continue until ratification of the next collective agreement.
  • The Manitoba government is launching a six-year, $1.5-billion rebuild of Health Sciences Centre (HSC) Winnipeg’s adult bed towers and upgrades to the Bannatyne campus. It is the largest health capital investment in Manitoba’s history, and it will allow HSC Winnipeg to provide even better and more specialized health services to more Manitoba families. The plan also includes expanded and modernized inpatient areas and a concentrated University of Manitoba health faculty program at the province’s largest teaching hospital. The project can start immediately thanks to the HSC Foundation’s acquisition of the Manitoba Clinic building, Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced Tuesday.
  • The Manitoba government is investing more than $3.3 million to pilot a new home and community care program that will create more choice, independence and flexibility for clients with complex care needs to provide appropriate supports so they can remain in their homes instead of being prematurely transitioned to personal care homes, Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston announced today.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Department of Health and Community Services is reminding the public of the resources available to those seeking mental health and addiction services, as well as the availability of harm reduction resources. Free naloxone kits are publicly available to reverse the potentially fatal effects of an overdose involving opioids such as fentanyl. Residents are encouraged to call 811 or visit Naloxone Kit Distribution Sites for information on where to access free Naloxone kits. The department encourages the public to follow harm reduction guidelines, such as not using alone, reducing the quantity used at one time and always keeping a naloxone kit on hand.
  • In order to modernize ambulance services and create greater efficiency in emergency response operations, ambulances in the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services eastern zone have been equipped with a new electronic Patient Care Record (ePCR) system. The ePCR system replaces outdated paper-based reporting with modern tablet computers. The new system includes the instantaneous creation of clinical reports, and the information collected during emergencies is easily provided to emergency department staff and can be integrated with the patient’s electronic health record, which will improve information sharing and collaboration at hospitals and healthcare facilities. The department anticipates full implementation of ePCR in all regions of the province as part of the transition to an integrated ambulance system throughout 2023 and 2024.
  • Memorial University’s faculty association and a clinical psychologist are warning about the potential collapse of a graduate program that produces psychologists — a profession that’s desperately needed in the public health system.“We are at the point of imminent collapse for the doctoral residency program,” said Lisa Moores, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Memorial University’s student wellness and counselling centre. “Unfortunately, we’ve been sounding the alarm for a few years now and increasingly as we get closer to our re-accreditation visit.” The student wellness and counselling centre’s doctoral residency program has been accredited by Canadian Psychological Association since 2003. But with a re-accreditation visit looming, the centre has just half its permanent faculty complement.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s financial incentive for clinical psychologists haven’t made a marked difference in filling vacancies, according to numbers obtained by CBC News. But the health minister says the province has turned a corner toward filling those gaps and keeping the psychologists they have. Numbers obtained through an access to information request show N.L. Health Services’s eastern region has 23 vacant clinical psychology positions, central has five, western posted six and Labrador-Grenfell has two.

Nova Scotia

  • The Province announced yesterday, August 3, a new physician assistant program at Dalhousie University is expected to begin in January. The two-year master’s program will be open to 24 students. Priority will be given to Nova Scotian applicants who meet the program’s eligibility criteria. This will be the first physician assistant program in Atlantic Canada and one of only four in the country.
  • Nova Scotia’s Health Department has unveiled a new LifeFlight airplane that will transport non-critical patients from Yarmouth and Sydney to Halifax for routine services. Officials with the department say the new plane is meant to reduce wait times by freeing up ambulances that usually drive several hours from one end of the province to the Halifax area. During the unveiling Friday, Health Minister Michelle Thompson said the trip from either end of the province to Halifax can take about five hours by road, while the new aircraft will be able to make those trips in less than an hour.
  • The cooling towers at New Glasgow’s Aberdeen Hospital have been shut off as a precaution, pending test results for legionella. As of Thursday, there have been nine confirmed and 20 possible cases of the bacteria in the New Glasgow, N.S., area. It was confirmed last week at a nursing home and in other parts of the community. In a news release on Thursday, Nova Scotia Health said Public Health identified the cooling towers as a spot where the bacteria could be growing. Lab testing to confirm the source can take several days to weeks, the health authority noted.

New Brunswick

  • Ambulance New Brunswick has reintroduced the use of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and will soon use multi-patient vehicles for non-urgent transfers. “Until now every patient being transferred required an ambulance and two paramedics,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch. “Using EMTs to help handle non-urgent transfers and using multi-patient vehicles will help ensure other ambulances, staffed by paramedics, can respond to emergency calls.” Fitch commented during a site visit to Ambulance New Brunswick’s Gorge Road location in Moncton where he met staff, including EMTs, and viewed a multi-patient vehicle.
  • The province is improving access to insulin pumps for people over the age of 25 with Type 1 diabetes. At an announcement in Moncton on Monday, Health Minister Bruce Fitch said the insulin health program is being expanded. “We recognize the financial hardships families affected by diabetes can face with regards to treatment,” said Fitch. Only those 25 and under who qualified were granted financial help previously for these devices. The change in the program will go into effect on Aug. 15 when anyone can apply for financial aid.

Prince Edward Island

  • Health PEI Home Care Services are now available in French to better support PEI’s Francophone community in the Prince County area. The service officially began June 19, 2023 with funding support from Health Canada. French-language home care has been identified as a key priority by members of the Acadian and Francophone community through the French Language Services Consultation process, as dictated by the French Language Services Act.
  • The maximum daily room rate in public long-term-care homes (manors) is changing from $92.19 to $105.78 per day, to align with private long-term-care rates. The change takes effect August 1 for new residents entering long-term care. Current residents will see the rate change on October 1, 2023 to allow time to adjust to the new rate. Individuals may use this time to apply to the Subsidization Program if their income does not cover the new rate. This adjustment is necessary as Health PEI is required to align the public rate with the daily negotiated with the Private Nursing Home Association, which came into effect in March 2023. 
  • Ten months after launching, P.E.I. pharmacists say a provincial program funding consultations for common ailments at pharmacies is easing pressure on the Island’s health-care system. The province has been covering $25 consultations on more than 35 common ailments within pharmacists’ scope of practice — from urinary tract infections to skin conditions to allergies — through the Pharmacy Plus program since October. Health Department officials said in an email to CBC News 31,000 patients have completed 46,000 assessments through the program.
  • E.I. needs a plan to prevent lung cancer caused by radon and help Islanders understand why they need to test for it, says a regional group of health professionals and officials looking to lower cancer rates attributed to the radioactive gas. Radon is colourless, odourless and has no taste. The gas is found naturally in the environment. Health Canada estimates that about 16 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to radon exposure in homes.

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