Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – August 25-September 1, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of August 25 - September 1, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.

Manitoba

  • If elected next month, the Manitoba New Democrats say they’ll hire 200 paramedics — a pledge that’s receiving support from a group that represents first responders in the province. That plan and a recently announced promise by the NDP to reopen three Winnipeg emergency rooms shuttered by the Progressive Conservative government earned a nod from the advocacy group Paramedic Association of Manitoba. 
  • Wab Kinew says an NDP government would give surgeons at a northeast Winnipeg hospital the license to perform more complex hip and knee surgeries. If elected on Oct. 3, Kinew announced his government would build six step-down units within six months to bolster surgical capacity at Concordia Hospital. These beds would be set aside for patients requiring care after their procedure, where they’d benefit from one nurse to one patient staffing ratio. 

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Provincial Government has announced that an All-Party Committee on Substance Use and Addictions will be created in response to the continued need for prevention, early intervention, treatment and support for those living with mental health, substance use and addiction issues, with an emphasis on youth and young adults. The committee will also closely look at the interrelationship between these issues and other social determinants of health, such as housing, poverty and education.
  • The Provincial Government is now covering the cost of drivers’ medicals for seniors 75 years of age or older in Newfoundland and Labrador. Effective immediately, physicians will now bill MCP directly for this service instead of charging patients. Coverage for age-related driver medical examinations is retroactive to April 1, 2023. Seniors who have been charged for this service will be reimbursed up to the $100 amount of the fee code established by the government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association.
  • One year after Newfoundland and Labrador ushered in a controversial tax that was intended to deter the public from buying sweetened beverages, the government can’t say if it’s had the desired effect. The sugar-sweetened beverage tax was met with pushback from Day 1, from opposition politicians who called it a cash grab and experts who doubted the tax would work. A year later, opponents of the tax, the first of its kind in Canada, are still dubious about its effectiveness.
  • Inmates inside Newfoundland’s notorious, Victorian-era jail say their mental health is deteriorating as they are allegedly locked in their cellblocks for days and denied visits with their families. Jonathan Payne was distraught as he described feeling rodents crawl over his body while he tried to seek relief from the sweltering heat inside Her Majesty’s Penitentiary by sleeping on the concrete floor. He said in a recent phone call from the St. John’s jail that he had only been outside a few times all summer and that staffing shortages had led to cancelled visits with his family — even those scheduled for video.

Nova Scotia

  • Starting Friday, September 1, seniors can apply to the annual Seniors Care Grant program, which helps with expenses that allow them to stay in their homes longer and improve their quality of life. The grant has been increased to $750 and now includes home heating as an eligible service. To qualify, Nova Scotians must be 65 years or older by March 31, 2024, live in a home they own or rent, and have an annual household income of $37,500 or less.
  • Nova Scotia Health suspects there were multiple deaths “associated” with the legionella disease outbreak in New Glasgow this summer. In an email this week, the health authority did not specify an exact number of deaths, and added they “could have been caused by the infection directly, or contributed through worsening of other chronic health issues.” The outbreak in New Glasgow was declared over on Tuesday after several weeks without any new cases. Ten cases were previously confirmed by laboratory testing and 22 were considered probable.
  • The Progressive Conservative government is taking another step to extend operating room hours in Nova Scotia, but it’s not clear if it will cut into a stubborn backlog of surgical cases. A contract the government recently signed with doctors extends a premium already paid for emergency surgeries to scheduled surgeries outside normal hours and on weekends and holidays. The premium would be available for surgeons, anesthesiologists and surgical assistants.

New Brunswick

  • The provincial government is providing financial support to help the University of New Brunswick (UNB) create a three-year bachelor of nursing program in Saint John. The pilot program, launching in September 2024, will complement the university’s current four-year delivery model by offering the regular program in a condensed timeline. The provincial government is providing an initial sum of $412,000 to help the university establish the program. It will provide up to $1,237,500 over a three-year period based on the evaluation of early success and results.
  • The Centre for Hope and Harmony, a new addiction treatment facility managed by the Vitalité Health Network in Campbellton, is now open and treating patients. The centre is part of a $24.5 million effort to improve access to detox programs and concurrent disorder treatments for those who are struggling with addiction. Although located in Campbellton, the centre is available to support patients from across the province. The number of beds used for concurrent disorder treatment services, which is designed to help patients with substance use and/or gambling problems for 35- to 90-day stays, will increase from 12 beds to 18.
  • The provincial government is helping the University of New Brunswick (UNB) launch a new program that will allow some nursing students to complete their studies closer to their home communities. The new program, called Learn Where You Live, will allow licensed practical nurses who are working toward their nursing degree to study and work in Miramichi or Moncton for years three and four of their program. Previously, these students would have been required to attend classes in Fredericton. The university’s faculty of nursing is providing the program in partnership with Horizon Health Network and New Brunswick Community College.

Prince Edward Island

  • E.I. expecting new COVID-19 booster vaccine by mid-September: CPHO. ‘We expect the influenza vaccine to come around the same time, and it may be a really good chance to get both co-administered,’ Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison tells CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
  • Health P.E.I.’s board says it’s moving quickly in the search for a new CEO, but that it still may take a while before someone takes over the role. Chair Diane Griffin said Thursday the board is currently deciding between two different head-hunting firms that will help find a replacement for Dr. Michael Gardam, who is set to leave his role effective March 29. Griffin said the best case scenario would be to have the new CEO by then, but she warned things could extend until the summer.

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