Provincial Health Scans of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba

Wes McLean provides an overview of recent health-related news for Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the Week of July 14, 2023.


  • Canada’s premiers say they’re going to find ways to work together to address health-care problems felt across the country. Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, the chair of the Council of the Federation, says the premiers are to meet later this year to figure out how they could share resources. She says discussions are to touch on recruitment, retention and training, as each province continues to experience staffing shortages. But the premiers also say Ottawa can play a role in addressing problems.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in collaboration with Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services (NL Health Services), today announced the launch of a Physician Signing Bonus Program. This program is open to physicians who take on positions within NL Health Services, including new Family Care Teams. Eligibility criteria for signing bonuses under this program includes:
    • Physicians who are new to practice (in the final three years of a residency program at a Canadian University); or
    • Physicians new to the province (have lived out of province for a minimum of 24 months); or
    • Physicians new to working with NL Health Services.
  • Update on Provincial Government’s Innovative Initiatives for Improving Access to Health Care and Addressing Surgical Backlogs
    • As of July 4, 2023, 124 joint replacement surgeries (70 hip and 54 knee replacement surgeries) have been completed as outpatient procedures since December 2022, including 101 that have resulted in same-day discharges;
    • Sixty-two patients were transported on eight flights via a same-day fly-in/fly-out service from the health authority’s Western and Labrador-Grenfell Zones for cardiac catheterization procedures in St. John’s; and
    • Sixty-seven orthopaedic surgeries were completed in St. Anthony by the travelling orthopaedic program from St. John’s. This initiative has the potential to book more than 120 patients per year from the provincial waitlist who would otherwise have to wait to get their surgeries in St. John’s.
  • New mobile clinics will bring primary health care to people and communities in the province who require non-urgent care and are unable to access a primary care provider, such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner. The mobile clinics will be housed in a custom-designed vehicle with the required medical supplies and equipment to transport a team of medical professionals – including nurse practitioners, registered nurses, clerical staff, and family physicians – to areas with limited access to primary care.
  • Governments of Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada Partner to Raise Awareness of Dementia and Promote Dementia-inclusive Communities. This funding supports the implementation of Canada’s national dementia strategy, and raises awareness about dementia, with a focus on reducing stigma and encouraging dementia-inclusive communities. This project will create a more dementia-friendly province by building on the Dementia Care Action Plan. The key goals of this initiative led by the government, with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Health Services (NL Health Services) and the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, include:
    • Increasing awareness of dementia;
    • Supporting stigma reduction; and
    • Encouraging dementia-inclusive communities.

Nova Scotia

  • Council of the Federation Meeting Concludes, Premier Houston Becomes Chair. “I am looking forward to advancing the issues that matter most to Nova Scotians over the next year,” said Premier Houston. “I also look forward to welcoming my fellow premiers to the province for a health summit and next year as we work together to create opportunities for all Canadians.”
  • Starting today, July 12, patients will begin receiving treatment at the expanded dialysis unit at the Halifax Infirmary site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre. Six dialysis stations have been added, bringing the total to 18. The new space is more easily accessible, more spacious and can better accommodate inpatients who need dialysis treatment while in hospital.

New Brunswick

  • The provincial government has launched the New Brunswick Addiction and Mental Health Helpline, a free, confidential, bilingual, 24-hour service for those looking to speak to someone about concerns related to mental health and addictions. A team of trained clinicians called care coaches are now available to offer information, support and guidance to people who dial 1-866-355-5550. The care coaches include licensed clinical therapists, social workers, registered nurses and other professionals who have education and experience in social services, mental health and/or addictions.
  • Two of the 13 recommendations made in a report to ensure better protection of seniors in long-term care homes have been fully implemented since that report was released in January 2022. The report, “He Deserved Better: One man’s final days in long-term care,” was released by former Seniors’ Advocate Norm Bossé following the death of 91-year-old Peter DeMerchant. On Thursday, New Brunswick’s current Child, Youth and Seniors’ Advocate, Kelly Lamrock released his recommendation monitoring reporton his predecessor’s original investigation. Other recommendations have been partially implemented and two alternative solutions were offered by the Department of Social Development.

Prince Edward Island

  • Some of the doctors who resigned or retired from the Health P.E.I. system over the past year and a half said the workloads they faced were unreasonable. Others pointed to what they saw as an overly bureaucratic health-care system with too much government involvement. Those feelings are captured in documents made available to CBC News through an access to information request that asked for government reports and emails related to doctor resignations going back to the start of 2022.
  • The move to a province-wide electronic medical records system has gone remarkably well, health officials said at a technical briefing on Thursday. The system allows physicians to share information like prescription records and patient history, plus sends out automated appointment reminders and pre-visit questionnaires. Despite some recent challenges caused by the implementation, including missed referrals, Health P.E.I. says the switch has gone more quickly and more smoothly than anticipated.
  • Mi’kmaw health navigators hope to incorporate Indigenous practices into P.E.I.’s health-care system. New role is aimed at building relationships with Indigenous patients and their families.

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