Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – November 3, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of October 27 - November 3, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.​

Notice: Meeting of Canada’s Premiers and Health Summit

  • Canada’s Premiers will meet on November 5 to 6 in Halifax.
  • “I look forward to welcoming my colleagues to Nova Scotia. This meeting will allow Premiers to work together on key issues and discuss innovations in health care aimed at improving health care delivery to Canadians,” said Premier Tim Houston, Chair of the Council of the Federation.
  • Premiers’ discussions will focus on key priorities of Canadians including housing, infrastructure, and the health care workforce. On November 6, Premiers will hold a Health Summit to gain insight into how provinces and territories are enhancing health care through innovative and forward-thinking initiatives.
  • Premiers will hold a news conference on the afternoon of November 6.
  • The Council of the Federation comprises all 13 provincial and territorial Premiers. It enables Premiers to work collaboratively, form closer ties, foster constructive relationships among governments, and show leadership on important issues that matter to Canadians.


  • The Manitoba Nurses Union says something has to be done about violent attacks on staff at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre. The union has filed a grievance against Shared Health, the organization that oversees health-care delivery in the province, citing safety concerns for its members. MNU president Darlene Jackson says the union has “bringing this issue to the employer’s attention for a very long time.” Nurses regularly have their vehicles broken into in the staff parkade, and in the past week there have been two violent attacks against staff inside Health Sciences, she said.
  • The Manitoba government recognizes November as Indigenous Disability Awareness Month by raising awareness of the particular barriers faced by Indigenous Peoples living with disabilities, Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine, the minister responsible for accessibility, announced today. The minister noted Indigenous Peoples across Canada experience a disability rate significantly higher than the general population, with one in three First Nations and Métis people and one in five Inuit having a disability. Fontaine said Indigenous Peoples with disabilities face additional barriers in their daily lives because of systemic racism and social discrimination, further affecting the economic and social exclusion they experience.
  • Premier Kinew released additional mandate letters to cabinet ministers this week, and the following priority was identified for the Minister of Housing, Addictions and Homeless and the Minister responsible for Mental Health, the Honourable Bernadette Smith.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • A comprehensive third-party review to identify improvements to long-term care homes and personal care homes in Newfoundland and Labrador has been awarded, and is now underway. The review will include analysis of leading and best practices that support resident-centered care. The Provincial Government has awarded the contract valued at $397,500 to MNP to complete a comprehensive review of the services in Newfoundland and Labrador. This review adds to the work already underway by an expert panel that was launched in February 2023 to improve the quality and availability of long-term care.
  • An excerpt of the statement given in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Health, in relation to Memorial University’s faculty of nursing:
  • A review that will provide the government with recommendations on ways to enhance fertility services, including access to in vitro fertilization (IVF) services, is now underway. A contract valued at $122,435 has been awarded to Thinkwell Research Inc. As part of the contract, Thinkwell Research Inc. will be required to:
    • Complete an analysis of the projected demand for existing fertility services and additional services;
    • Consult with stakeholders, including physician specialists, staff at Newfoundland and Labrador Fertility Services, and others determined by the steering committee;
    • Review best practices and complete a jurisdictional scan of fertility services provided in other parts of Canada; and
    • Recommend opportunities for improvements and provide recommendations with advice on implementation.

Nova Scotia

  • When it comes to recruiting health-care professionals, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston thinks provinces should be looking outside Canada rather than to other provinces and territories. “I’m not a fan of trying to go to another province and trying to recruit some of their health-care professionals,” Houston told reporters at Province House on Friday. “I think there are other places to recruit from,” Houston said he plans to raise the issue during meetings with the rest of the premiers when they are in Halifax on Sunday and Monday. “It’s a big world with lots of qualified people. We want to make sure that we’re recruiting appropriately.”
  • Doctors from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand can now jump a big hurdle to get a licence to work in Nova Scotia. Up until now, foreign doctors wanting to work in Nova Scotia have had to apply to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to have their training evaluated before writing an extensive exam, even if they held valid medical licences in their countries. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia will now allow doctors from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand to skip that part of the process. It’s the first province in Canada to drop the requirement.
  • A new mental health centre operated by Acadia University counselling students has opened to the public with the goal of providing free and equitable access to underserved communities in the Annapolis Valley. The Red Spruce Mental Health Centre soft-launched two locations, one at Willett House on Acadia’s Wolfville campus and one at the Red Door Sexual Health Centre in Kentville, N.S., in September. 

New Brunswick

  • Senior Fredericton physicians are calling on the provincial government to immediately commit to proceeding with the opening of a specialized surgical suite at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. The Greater Fredericton Area Physician Staff Organization has issued a rare public statement, warning that “the costs of inaction are rapidly accumulating.” These costs include a six-week wait for biopsies to diagnose cancer, which delays the start of treatment “beyond acceptable time frames,” according to the statement, signed Monday night by the president and past president of the organization, as well as 10 department heads.
  • COVID-19 has killed at least four more New Brunswickers, but hospitalizations and outbreaks remain “stable,” and new lab-confirmed cases of the virus have decreased, according to figures released by the province Tuesday. “COVID-19 activity remains moderate,” the Respiratory Watch report The four new reported deaths occurred between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21 and were all people aged 65 or older, the report shows. Only confirmed cases who die in hospital are counted as COVID deaths after the province recently changed its definition. The latest deaths raise the pandemic death toll to at least 953.
  • A new program launched this month by the New Brunswick College of Physicians and Surgeons is designed to increase the number of foreign-trained doctors licensed to practise in the province. It’s called the Practice-ready Assessment and Dr. Nicole LeBlanc, deputy registrar of the college, said it’s the result of a collaboration that began in 2018 with the province, the health networks, the New Brunswick Medical Society and medical schools. “It is a program that really provides an alternate route to licensure for internationally trained physicians in family medicine,” LeBlanc said.

Prince Edward Island

  • When emergency room closures and other problems with P.E.I.’s healthcare system arise, the blame often falls on Health P.E.I., says its CEO Dr. Michael Gardam. He said he and other doctors and staff “lie awake at night worrying” about the healthcare system and what will happen if another doctor decides to close their office. So it only makes sense that they take a larger role in solving those issues, Gardam said. “We have all of that stress operationally. The number one tool that we have to make a lot of that go away is to hire more doctors and historically I have not had responsibility for it,” he said.
  • Pressure on Island hospitals eased a little Wednesday after Health P.E.I. warned Tuesday evening that every hospital in the province was over capacity. Health P.E.I. didn’t provide hard numbers on how often all hospitals have been over capacity. But CEO Michael Gardam said, “It certainly does happen, and it’s happening more often now than it would’ve happened five years ago.” “The main reason for that is, that our system hasn’t really grown, but our population has grown by leaps and bounds.

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