Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – February 16, 2024

A provincial health scan for Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of February 10 - 16, 2024.
Written by Wes McLean.

Manitoba

  • Manitoba Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care reminds Manitobans it is not too late to protect themselves against COVID-19 or seasonal influenza by getting vaccinated. It is recommended people get their COVID-19 vaccine by the end of April to help ensure the recommended minimum intervals between doses in anticipation of the fall immunization campaign. 
  • Together, the governments of Canada and Manitoba are working to bring the health-care workers we need to the front lines so we can cut wait times and deliver the best possible care to Manitobans. Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, alongside Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew, announced more than $633 million in funding to improve health care in Manitoba. Through the Working Together agreement, the Government of Canada will provide close to $434 million to support Manitoba’s three-year action plan to improve health care, and approximately $199 million through the Aging with Dignity agreement to support their five-year action plan to improve home, community and long-term care for seniors. 
  • The Manitoba government has appointed a new chair and several new members to the Shared Health Board of Directors, Health, Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Uzoma Asagwara announced today. Dr. Postl (Winnipeg) has been appointed chairperson of the Shared Health board of directors. He is the former dean and vice-provost of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. He replaces Brenna Shearer, who begins a new three-year term as a board member.
  • Winnipeg man ‘in constant pain’ after nearly 3-year wait for jaw surgery. 38-year-old is on the waitlist for jaw joint replacement surgery that can’t be done in Manitoba. In June 2021, McClelland was referred to an Ontario oral and maxillofacial surgeon — a surgeon who specializes in oral surgery, including the mouth and jaw — after a previously removed bone growth returned, causing his jaw to lock. “I asked when my surgery was coming and where I was on the waiting list. No one can give me an answer,” he said.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • A four-day work week is an elusive dream for many people, but not for employees of the Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. This month, the entire team is permanently adopting a four-day work week after a successful six-month pilot. CEO Chandra Kavanagh said the move was inspired by their employees. “It was something that they were tremendously interested in,” Kavanagh said. Throughout the trial run, Kavanagh learned that employees benefited from extra time to spend with family and friends and working on their passion projects and hobbies. 
  • Demolition begins on Grace nurses’ residence, as Abbott downplays the chances of another hospital at the site. The sound of falling concrete is music to people’s ears in St. John’s. Demolition has begun on the Grace Hospital nurses’ residence, more than 20 years after the building was abandoned. Minister John Abbott visited the site to mark the occasion, and he downplayed speculation that the site could be home to another healthcare facility in the future.
  • Eating disorders are a serious mental illness, and according to one advocate, around 20,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador live with one. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported that an estimated one million Canadians met the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, eating disorders — which include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa — have the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness in the country. “It is a serious mental illness that has very, very major physical repercussions,” Eating Disorder Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador executive director Paul Thomey recently told CBC News.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia’s capital budget supports More, Faster: The Action for Health Build plan with investments that include:
    • $301.7 million for the Halifax Infirmary expansion and Cape Breton Regional Municipality healthcare redevelopment project
    • $146.1 million for construction and renewal of other hospitals and medical facilities including projects in Bridgewater, Pugwash, Yarmouth and Amherst and at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax
    • $53.1 million for electronic health records (One Person One Record)
    • $32 million to repair and replace medical equipment
    • $22 million for Nova Scotia Health to repair and replace medical facilities
    • $20.2 million for various initiatives in Action for Health, the government’s plan to transform and improve healthcare in Nova Scotia
    • $17.9 million for a new multi-disciplinary oncology partnership.
  • A new continuing care assistant (CCA) program will be tested this year with the goal of improving training and getting more CCAs to deliver quality care sooner. A six-month training program with an updated curriculum that better reflects the complex care needs of older Nova Scotians will be piloted in April, with a second class in the fall. The current average length of CCA training is eight months.
  • Auditor General Kim Adair released her value-for-money audit of transitional care facilities today, February 13. The audit examined in part whether the Province exercised adequate due diligence in order to obtain value for money in the selection of 21 Hogan Court in Bedford for conversion to a transitional care facility and whether initial procurements complied with provincial procurement policies. The report, a detailed news release in English and French, an infographic and a highlight video can be found on the Office of the Auditor General’s website: https://oag-ns.ca

New Brunswick

  • The Office of New Brunswick’s Child, Youth and Seniors Advocate serves another population that isn’t in its title — vulnerable adults. Vulnerable adults are neither children nor seniors but are in particularly difficult situations, said advocate Kelly Lamrock, who appeared Thursday before a legislature committee to answer questions about his office’s annual report. These adults could include homeless individuals, people with disabilities who require high-level care, and people with mental health challenges or addiction problems. And while Lamrock said he wants to address the challenges faced by vulnerable adults, a lack of funding makes it difficult.

Prince Edward Island

  • UPEI’s medical school will eventually require 135 doctors to devote 20 percent of their work time to teaching, according to a consultant’s report looking at what it will take for Prince Edward Island’s health-care system to support the new facility. The report from Spindle Consulting, released on Friday, projects that without changes in recruitment, retention and doctor complement levels, the province will fall short of having the required number of doctors on hand to participate in teaching duties.
  • Health P.E.I.’s efforts to recruit physiotherapists to work at new primary care clinics are creating challenges for other facilities that rely on them. The association representing Island physiotherapists says there are too few of them working in the province to meet the growing demand. “It’s great that we’ve had the creation of all these new jobs. We advocated for them. We really do think that physio needs to be in primary care,” said Sheila MacMurdo, president of the P.E.I. Physiotherapy Association. 
  • MLAs expressed frustration at the legislature health committee meeting Wednesday, hearing about the number of patients in hospital acute care beds waiting for a space in long-term care. Representatives of Health P.E.I. and the Department of Health and Wellness made a presentation to the committee about what is happening in long-term care in the province and took questions. The MLAs were presented with data that showed the number of days beds in each of the Island’s hospitals were occupied by patients waiting for long-term care. Across the province, about 14 percent of available hospital bed space was occupied in this way.

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