Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – October 7 – 13, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of October 7 - 13, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.

Manitoba

  • Manitoba – Premier-Designate Wab Kinew and his cabinet will be sworn-in to office on Wednesday, October 18th.
  • Brandon University’s new Breast Cancer Cell and Molecular Research Laboratory hopes to detect breast cancer earlier in younger women using a blood test. Currently, there is no FDA-approved diagnostic blood test for early breast cancer detection, says Dr. Mousumi Majumder, Brandon University Biology professor and Canada Research Chair in Genotoxicology. She wants to change that.
  • During a nurse’s night shift in Virden, Man., multiple ambulances arrive carrying people who need mental health, cardiac and trauma treatment, but she feels the hospital is understaffed to care for the number of patients they’re taking in. “There’s a lot of fear to come to work, and that’s never been the case,” the nurse, who CBC has agreed not to identify due to concerns she has over repercussions for speaking out. “It’s heavy, heavy care.”

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • A family care team in the Coast of Bays region is now accepting patients, which is part of a series of new teams being added throughout the province to increase access to primary care. To date, the number of people rostered with family care team has risen from approximately 28,000 people in March 2023 to more than 49,000 in September 2023. In addition, the number of full-time health care professionals, including clerical and managers, employed with family care teams has grown from approximately 100 in April to 196 in September.
  • The Provincial Government is establishing a family care team in Grand Falls-Windsor to increase access to health care for residents in the region. The advancement of family care teams is an important element in the Provincial Government’s plan to reimagine health care, and to help meet the health care needs of residents closer to home. The new family care team will be located at the Killick Clinic in the Lynken Building at 129 Lincoln Road, Grand Falls-Windsor, which will accommodate 21 staff members including two physicians, a nurse practitioner, a physiotherapist, an occupation therapist, a psychologist, and other health professionals and medical office assistants.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s Association of Allied Health Professionals says their negotiations with the provincial government on a new collective agreement have reached an impasse. Association president Gordon Piercey says talks broke down during a Tuesday evening meeting. “We decided that we were very far apart on a number of key issues,” Piercey said Wednesday. The association represents about 800 workers in more than 20 healthcare fields, including audiologists, dietitians, pharmacists, mental health counsellors and social workers. Negotiations have been ongoing for a year, according to a press release from the association.

Nova Scotia

  • The Province is cementing its commitment to universal mental health and addictions care for all Nova Scotians through legislative changes introduced today, October 13. Amendments to the Health Services and Insurance Act allow the minister of Addictions and Mental Health to establish insured service programs to deliver mental health and addictions care as part of a publicly funded healthcare system.
  • Nova Scotians who experience significant stress over time as a result of their employment will be able to submit a claim to the Workers’ Compensation Board. A bill tabled in the legislature today, October 13, would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act to allow gradual onset stress to be considered an injury eligible for compensation.
  • The Province is creating consistency across healthcare professions in Nova Scotia and making it easier to respond to future changes in their fields. The Regulated Health Professions Act, introduced today, October 12, will eventually replace 21 acts currently in place for self-regulated healthcare professions. The Naturopathic Doctors Act and the Medical Professional Corporations Act will be repealed.
  • The Province is updating legislation that holds opioid companies accountable for their actions and provides the government options to try to recover past and future healthcare costs due to opioid-related diseases, injuries or illnesses. Amendments to the Opioid Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act introduced today, October 12, make consultants subject to potential legal action and align definitions and formulas in the act with legislation in other provinces and territories.
  • Professional and volunteer first responders will soon have a day that recognizes their bravery and unwavering commitment to protecting people and their communities in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Today, October 12, Premier Tim Houston introduced new legislation to recognize these everyday heroes for their ongoing dedication to keeping Nova Scotians safe, as well as their critical day-to-day roles in healthcare, law enforcement and emergency services.

New Brunswick

  • Jennifer Russell has resigned as New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health. She was unavailable for an interview, but confirmed she will be leaving her position “later this fall.” “I look forward to sharing more details about my plans in the near future,” she said in an emailed statement. She also confirmed her candidacy for the position of president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association.
  • Ambulance New Brunswick has reversed course on a change that meant some southeast New Brunswick fire departments were no longer routinely dispatched to serious medical calls. “We’re very, very happy that the service is back,” Memramcook Mayor Maxime Bourgeois said in an interview. The change in January affected 12 fire departments, mainly in the Moncton region, that opted and trained to respond to medical calls involving life-threatening situations. Those dispatches ended initially without explanation in January. Fire chiefs and community leaders said it was a dangerous change because of how long it can sometimes take for an ambulance in their communities.
  • Three people died in New Brunswick from COVID-19 during the last week of September, according to the province’s latest respiratory watch report. There were 35 hospitalizations, including five people admitted to an intensive care unit, in the week of Sept. 24 to Sept. 30. The majority of those hospitalized were 65 or older. The number of deaths that week is up from the previous week, as is the number of ICU admissions. 

Prince Edward Island

  • Health ministers from across the country wrapped up two days of meetings in Charlottetown Thursday and their federal counterpart says he is taking five “concrete” priorities home to Ottawa as a result of it. Federal Health Minister Mark Holland listed those items in a communique after groups representing doctors and nurses demanded the ministers leave the gathering “with a clear commitment to urgent action.” The strategies listed in the communique were:
    • A focus on retention, by creating a nursing retention tool kit for provinces;
    • A new examination of healthcare training and supply demands in Canada, with a focus on supporting Indigenous people interested in health careers;
    • A reduction in the time it takes for internationally educated health professionals to begin working in Canada, by allowing them to begin the credential process overseas. There will also be a 90-day standard for provincial professional colleges to recognize those credentials once the workers are here;
    • Progress on labour mobility to allow health workers to work anywhere in the country, starting with doctors this year and nurses in future years;
    • A new “Centre of Excellence for the Future of the Health Workforce” to improve the sharing and availability of workforce data and planning to better understand Canada’s future healthcare needs. That way when there are staffing crunches, provinces can see it coming and prepare.
  • Health P.E.I. has brought back masking requirements for staff as COVID-19 cases surge on the Island. Masking is now mandatory for all staff working directly with patients, Health P.E.I. CEO Michael Gardam said in an email to staff Thursday. Staff at Health P.E.I. facilities are being instructed to wear a mask if they’re within two metres of any patient, and must follow extra precautions when caring for patients diagnosed with COVID-19, influenza or similar illnesses.
  • Hundreds of patients of Harbourside Health Centre in Summerside will be without a primary healthcare provider for the next few months as Health P.E.I. searches for more doctors and nurse practitioners. “While most patients will be accommodated immediately, a total of approximately 700 patients will not have an in-person health-care provider right away, as they are gradually assigned to new health-care providers,” the agency said in a news release Thursday. 

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