JULY 2008

Assisted suicide bill introduced
MONTREAL — On June 12, Bloc Québecois MP Francine Lalonde introduced Bill C-562, the "right to die with dignity" bill, to legalize euthanasia performed by physicians. Though the proposal, which would exempt doctors from murder charges if certain conditions are met, has little chance of even being put to a vote, it's already come under attack. An earlier iteration of essentially the same law was quashed in late 2005 when the Liberal minority Parliament dissolved.

Feds wishy-washy on harm reduction
QUEBEC CITY — After a BC judge ruled in May that Ottawa couldn't shut down Vancouver's safe-injection site, the Quebec government announced it's considering implementing a slew of safe-injection sites. Federal Health Minister Tony Clement, who's against the Vancouver site, didn't condemn Quebec outright. "Clement's public hedging on Quebec's proposal is further proof that his decision appears to be based on political science and not the real thing," said CMA President Dr Brian Day.

New Brunswick
College only interested in sex: MD
MIRAMICHI — Speaking at the inquiry into dodgy pathology tests at the Miramichi Regional Health Authority by disgraced pathologist Dr Rajgopal Menon, former VP medical and retired pathologist John McKay laid part of the blame with the NB College. The College, he said, is very quick to punish docs for sexual indiscretions, but it's less interested in bad medical practice. Dr McKay added that he warned the Miramichi hospital boss not to hire Dr Menon after hearing tales of his poor performance while he worked in Saint John, but was ignored. The inquiry has wrapped up until September.

Prince Edward Island
Family may leave over FP shortage
KILDARE CAPE — A rural PEI family whose two sons have celebral palsy and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is considering leaving the province because they haven't been able to find an FP. Several days after the family's story broke, Health Minister Doug Currie was crowing that he'd managed to recruit two new FPs to the island. PEI now has 80 physicians in total — more than it's ever had.

Hot Spot
Nova Scotia
ATVs-for-kids scheme galls MDs
HALIFAX — Spending $230,000 on all-terrain vehicles for kids was, in retrospect, "not the appropriate thing to do," admitted Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald. Complaints poured in about the Ministry of Health Promotion project not just from taxpayers but from concerned physicians as well. The ATVs were purchased for "safety programs" for kids 6 to 15, and to study the health benefits of ATV riding. Doctors Nova Scotia and officials at the IWK Health Centre say children under 16 shouldn't use ATVs.

Raise begets jealousy among doctors
ST JOHN'S — Like Joseph's Biblical brothers after he received the famous coat of many colours, Newfoundland doctors are incensed over a particularly generous raise given recently to their pathologist brothers and sisters. The government announced the $73,000 wage increase in late May to attract and keep pathologists after the Rock was shaken by the ongoing breast cancer hormone testing inquiry. The province's medical association says the new raise creates a two-class pay scale.

The North
Craft session teaches safe sex
YELLOWKNIFE, NT — Youth workers and a public health nurse are using crafts and frank talk to get the safe sex message out to Northwest Territories teens. Dildos were made out of wood and clay and condoms were repurposed as prophylactic art at a late June Yellowknife workshop. "People liked the crafts that we did," youth worker Lauren Bulckaert told the Yellowknifer. The territory has a worryingly high teen STI rate, one of the highest in the country. The rate among 15- to 24-year-olds is 11% for females and 6% for males (the rate among men may be higher as many aren't screened regularly), according to a February report.

Compiled by Sam Solomon & Gillian Woodford




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