August 2015

Health & Safety


Canada’s health agencies ‘deeply concerned’ about illicit fentanyl use

Following a sudden spike in fentanyl-related deaths, the heads of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have released a statement to say they are “deeply concerned” about the illicit use of the painkiller and the rise in overdoses.

Health Canada Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Supriya Sharma, and Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer say they are aware that fentanyl is being created in powder form in illicit labs. There, the drug is often mixed with street drugs in powder form or pressed into pills before being sold on the street.

Health Canada revises asbestos position

According to a release, updated language now acknowledges that "asbestos, if inhaled, can cause cancer and other diseases."

This marks a definitive shift in the treatment of asbestos by the Canadian government, states the CCAW.

"The harmful health effects resulting from exposure to asbestos are an immediate concern for our workers," said Louis Dugay, president of the CCAW in a statement.

Naloxone’s prescription-only status to get Health Canada review

Health Canada has agreed to review the prescription-only status of an antidote used to treat heroin and other opioid overdoses.

A number of provinces have called for naloxone to be easier to access, so people who might one day need it can keep it on hand.

The idea would be to treat naloxone like EpiPens and insulin, the department suggested in a press release, which was issued without fanfare on Friday.

FDA lashes out at drug company for promoting Canadian morning-sickness pill on Kardashian Instagram feed

American authorities have sharply rebuked a Canadian drug company over its part in an unusual melding of celebrity culture, social media and pharmaceutical marketing.

An Instagram post by Kim Kardashian extoling the benefits of the firm’s morning-sickness drug was false or misleading and “misbranded” the pills, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a warning letter disclosed Tuesday.

Cosmetic contact lenses safety to be toughened by Health Canada

Cosmetic or decorative contact lenses will be regulated as medical devices in the same way corrective lenses are, Health Canada says.

People wear cosmetic contact lenses to change the colour or appearance of their eyes.

"These types of lenses have been regulated as consumer products," Health Canada said in a release Wednesday. "However the risks of decorative lenses are identical to the risks of corrective lenses and adverse events causing harm and even permanent damage to the eyes are not uncommon."

Government of Canada expands mental health services and hires new staff to support Military Veterans in Atlantic Canada

Minister O'Toole announced a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to establish and operate an operational stress injury (OSI) clinic in the Halifax area. The new OSI clinic will be part of a network of clinics across Canada which provides full assessment, diagnosis and treatment services for Military Veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), current and former members of the RCMP, and their families, who are living with operational stress injuries. The recruitment process of the clinic mental health specialists has begun and training is to begin immediately after hires are complete. This clinic will initially be established at 40 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in October until the permanent location opens. 


Human Resources


Canada’s policy on gay men donating tissue is ‘discrimination’: Doctor

When Calgary columnist Mike Morrison went to renew his driver’s licence last week, he was asked to join Alberta’s new organ and tissue donor registry. He said it was an easy decision.

“I said yes right away, and signed up to donate because it seemed like such an easy and important thing to do,” said Morrison.

Morrison soon learned he faced restrictions when it came to being a donor. While he can donate organs like his heart, lung or kidney, he isn’t able to donate tissues like his corneas, heart valves or bones as a gay man.

Canadian wages projected to rise 2.5% in 2016

Canadian employers expect to raise wages by an average of 2.5 per cent in 2016, according to an annual survey by human resources firm Morneau Shepell.

That's less than the average 2.8 per cent they had expected wages would rise in 2015, and reflects the deteriorating economic picture in Canada.

"I think with the crash in oil prices and talk of a recession, employers are being more cautious," said Randal Phillips, executive vice president at Morneau Shepell.

A flexible, reliable, national child-care program would bring Canadians together

There has been political debate about Canadian child care for (conservatively speaking) at least 50 or 60 years. Whether it's local, provincial or national, child care is usually debated passionately and intensely on all sides. One of the fundamental questions that has long loomed large in these debates -- and about which there is considerable confusion today is: what is a national child care program anyway?" Despite the considerable experience Canadians have with national social programs such as Medicare, how a national program for early-childhood education and care could be developed, how it would operate and what it could offer is quite contested even in 2015.

Almost 60% of Canadians unhappy at work: Survey

Most Canadians don’t like their jobs. A recent survey shows that 59% of Canadians polled are unhappy at work. However in contrast, 34% of respondents said they “love” their job.

Concerning work life balance, 63% of Canadians are happy with their situation however seven in 10 Canadians (68%) said they sometimes feel burnt out at their job. Mark Bania, managing director for CareerBuilder Canada said burnout is an accepted part of the working world.

“Burnout is natural and happens to even the most dedicated workers at the best of employers. For most workers, however, it’s a passing phase. But when employees start to feel as if they are burnt out all the time, that can start to affect their work and in some cases, the business overall.”

Human resources advisor: Employers should ensure staff unplug on vacation

It appears a majority of working Canadians don't mind handling work-related matters on their own time -- except during vacations, according an online survey published Thursday.

The Randstad human resources advisory firm says 59% of the adult Canadian employees surveyed in April and May said they didn't mind handling work-related matters on their own time.

That number dropped to 40% when it came to vacations, although Randstad says there was a big difference between the sexes -- with men much more likely than women to say they choose to do work during their holidays.




Public health IT system defective, way over budget, says B.C. AG

B.C.'s auditor general is blaming a lack of leadership inside the Health Ministry for massive cost overruns and thousands of defects plaguing the province's public health IT system.

In a damning report issued Thursday morning, Auditor General Carol Bellringer slammed the ministry for mismanaging the project, resulting in a 420 per cent cost overrun for the $115 million project.

She notes that when finally delivered by the contractor IBM in 2010, the Panorama public health IT system was plagued with more than 12,200 defects.

On access to abortions, Canada has a long way to go

In the U.S., as Republican presidential candidates jockey for public attention, women’s access to crucial reproductive health services has been caught in the crossfire.

Planned Parenthood, which provides women across North America with services ranging from contraception to STI testing to cancer screening to abortions, has found itself at the centre of a political firestorm after an anti-abortion group released a series of manipulative videos designed to vilify the organization.

The challenge of bringing health care services to remote First Nations communities

The Challenge When Laurie Ducharme took over as director of operations at the Four Arrows Regional Health Authority in 2005, she had a vision to change health care in the First Nations Island Lake communities of Garden Hill, Wasagamack, Red Sucker Lake and St. Theresa Point in northern Manitoba that are collectively known as Four Arrows.

In 2011, health officials were unable to categorize nearly 52 per cent of deaths in the Island Lake community because of a lack of facilities to document them. Statistics from 2012 indicate that premature deaths, digestive disorders, respiratory infection, teenage pregnancy and mortality rates were higher for Island Lake people than Manitobans in general.

Canadian-made Ebola vaccine works, study finds

It appears the world finally has an effective Ebola vaccine.

A new study reported Friday that a vaccine designed by scientists working at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg induces a quick and highly protective response against the virus.

This is the first time an experimental Ebola vaccine has been shown to protect people against the deadly disease.

Health human resources plan needed

The loss of dozens of registered nurses (RNs) to the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is a disturbing preview of Ontario health care.

As President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA), I believe it is absolutely absurd that our highly sought-after RNs are being forced to find work in the U.S. when our hospitals, public health units, CCACs and long-term care facilities right here at home are suffering from a shortage of RNs.

Ontario is in the midst of a slow exsanguination of RNs that is now threatening to become a hemorrhage.

Ambulance services should be integrated into Canada’s Health Act, group says

"Ultimately, we'd like to see paramedic or ambulance services — whether that be land, air or community — be integrated and be part of the Canada Health Act and therefore it would fall under the same common principles that the rest of the health-care system does — that it's universal and that it's equitable," Chris Hood said.

That's not the case right now, which is why an Alberta mother is on the hook for a hefty air ambulance bill after she went into labour in Ontario two months early. Amy Savill faces a bill of about $30,000 after her water broke while she was on holiday in Ontario and was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in Sudbury.