Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – September 1-8, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of September 1 - September 8, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.


  • Manitoba’s New Democrats are promising to spend more money on incentives for nurses to work in Manitoba. NDP Leader Wab Kinew promised Thursday to increase the pool of money set aside to recruit and retain nurses by $1 million, partly to recruit nurse practitioners left out of existing incentive plans.
  • The Manitoba Liberal Party has released its full campaign platform, which includes roughly $1 billion in new spending and higher taxes for some income earners and property owners. Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont says the spending is needed to fix health care, education and other services, and is an alternative to the Progressive Conservative and New Democrat plans. Lamont’s promises, if elected on Oct. 3, include a minimum income for seniors aged 60 and over and people with disabilities, medicare coverage for mental health services and bonus pay for all front-line healthcare workers.
  • Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew is promising to open five neighbourhood health clinics if his party is elected on Oct. 3. Kinew says the minor illness and injury clinics would be staffed with a team of emergency room doctors, nurses and technologists. He says the clinics would offer same-day appointments through online booking.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Department of Health and Community Services has filled a new Manager of Physician Relations position, which will help strengthen its relationship with the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA). NLMA members, including individual physicians, clinics, and physician groups with questions regarding the department’s Medical Care Plan (MCP) adjudication can now contact Mr. Gerard Power, the new Manager of Physician Relations, to receive additional information, such as:
    • Timely information on MCP adjudications;
    • Clear reasons for decisions to adjust or reject claims; and
    • Guidance on how physicians can avoid future adjustments.
  • A travelling orthopedics program is expanding to Carbonear General Hospital to complete orthopedic surgeries in the region starting September 25, 2023. The Honourable Dr. Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, made the announcement today in Carbonear with the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Community Services, and Dr. Will Moores, Divisional Head of Orthopaedics, NL Health Services. This builds on the work the travelling team of surgeons has been doing during visits to St. Anthony, which has resulted in patients receiving orthopedic surgery sooner than expected.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s premier says the upcoming Well-Being Week is a time to raise awareness of the ways social factors affect people’s health and quality of life. The leader of the provincial NDP says people are already aware — and what they need is help. Following Andrew Furey’s announcement of Sept. 17-23 as Well-Being Week, NDP Leader Jim Dinn said he attended Wednesday’s event hoping to hear about new initiatives to improve the quality of life for residents of the province. “I didn’t hear that. I heard an announcement of a week,” he said.

Nova Scotia

  • People in West Colchester County now have better access to primary healthcare with a new collaborative family practice in Masstown. The new clinic, which officially opened today, September 8, shares a care team with the West Colchester Community Health Centre in Bass River. The clinic’s care team includes three nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a pharmacist, a social worker and three administrative support staff. A part-time doctor will join the Masstown clinic in January.
  • Halifax resident Andrew Jantzen is trying to receive spinal surgery that could be life-changing. However, they may need to pay out-of-pocket and raise about $80,000 Cdn to pay for the procedure in the U.S. and cover an accessible hotel and other expenses, because a Nova Scotia specialist doesn’t support the diagnosis of a U.S. neurosurgeon. Jantzen was diagnosed with tethered cord syndrome — a neurological disorder which limits the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column— by a professor at Brown University in Rhode Island with expertise in the syndrome. Due to their condition, Jantzen uses a power wheelchair and has a feeding tube. “There’s the potential that … [this surgery] would treat a lot of those symptoms and make it so that I could walk again, that I could use my bladder again,” Jantzen said, “and you know, not need as nearly as much support hopefully as I do now.”
  • The Nova Scotia government is pressing pause on plans to demolish a parking garage at the Halifax Infirmary as part of a major redevelopment of the hospital. The parking structure facing Robie Street was expected to come down this summer, making way for a new acute care tower as part of the massive QEII Health Sciences Centre project. Public Works Minister Kim Masland told reporters Thursday those plans have changed.
  • Some Nova Scotians who need help managing mental health issues are being assessed by psychiatrists within days under a new program introduced by the province’s health authority. The service, launched in April in Nova Scotia Health’s central zone, is focused on early intervention treatment for a range of mental health disorders. The goal of the rapid access and stabilization program, which has seen more than 250 people so far, is to speed up access to specialist mental health care, in light of delays some patients have faced when seeking appointments.

New Brunswick

  • Gordon Hall and Ocean Hall, two new 60-bed nursing homes operated by Shannex, officially opened today in Moncton. Residents first moved into Gordon Hall in June and others will begin moving into Ocean Hall as of next week. Gordon Hall and Ocean Hall are adjacent to each other and connected by an indoor Main Street. This concept promotes independence and a sense of community by allowing residents to enjoy the experience of spending time on a small-town street complete with a hair salon, café, town hall and a multi-purpose room that will serve as a chapel, theatre and community gathering space. The indoor Main Street is a concept that is now in place at a number of Shannex nursing homes.
  • The provincial government has begun working on the development of a lung cancer screening program aimed at high-risk patients. The program is expected to be rolled out provincewide in 2025. New Brunswick has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in Canada, accounting for more cancer deaths than colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. About one in four cancer deaths in New Brunswick, in both men and women, is due to lung cancer. The centralized program will enable healthcare staff to determine who is eligible, communicate results to patients, provide information on smoking cessation programs, and support a pathway to cancer care if required. About 3,200 people per year will be eligible for screening.
  • Auditor General Paul Martin tabled a report today in the legislative assembly, highlighting concerns regarding the lack of pandemic planning and available expertise in nursing home infection prevention and control practices by the Department of Social Development. Nursing homes provide care for one of New Brunswick’s most vulnerable populations. Ninety nursing home residents and one staff person lost their lives as a result of the pandemic (as of March 31, 2022). The audit found instances of non-compliance with required nursing home staffing levels. Furthermore, findings indicate that several areas of non-compliance were noted during inspections; however, enforcement options were limited as the department lacked enforcement mechanisms.
  • The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health was at the bottom of New Brunswick’s COVID-19 pandemic decision-making hierarchy, a new report by the auditor general shows, while third from the top, after cabinet and the cabinet committee on COVID-19, was a group that several MLAs say they knew nothing about.

Prince Edward Island

  • Island seniors who are 65 years or older may now be eligible for up to $6,000 per individual through the Seniors Hearing Aid Rebate Program. The Seniors Hearing Aid Rebate Program helps to meet basic hearing needs in a cost-effective way. In order to access funding, applicants must: 
    • Have an assessment completed by a certified Audiologist in consultation with a family physician or ear, nose and throat specialist who recommends hearing aids. 
    • Provide verification of income (from line 23600) on the most recent Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.
    • Provide confirmation that no other medical funding for hearing aids exists. 
      • If an applicant has coverage for a hearing aid but would be in financial hardship to cover the co-pay, this program may help to cover the difference.
    • Provide verification of assets. 
  • The weather is getting colder in P.E.I., and for Islanders with asthma, it’s time to get ready. Dr. Jason Chan says people with chronic conditions tend to have a tougher time during the flu season as there are additional triggers in the environment that can set off their asthma. “When you have asthma, you tend to hyper-react to everything, so different allergens or things like dust, chemicals perfumes and … germs,” Chan said. Asthma attacks can lead to symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and lots of mucus production.

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