Posts Tagged "medical"


B.C. opens door for medical exemptions to vaccine card in ‘extremely rare’ cases

by admin

Vancouver –

B.C. has now indicated medical exemptions to the incoming vaccine card requirement may be allowed, but only in “extremely rare” cases.

As of Wednesday evening, more than 700,000 people in B.C. had accessed their vaccine card, which will have to be shown as proof at certain non-essential businesses and activities as of Sept. 13. Proof of full vaccination, including being two weeks past a second shot, will be required as of Oct. 24.

When the measure was first announced last month, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there would not be exemptions for people who are not able to get immunized for medical reasons.

“This is a temporary measure that’s getting us through a risky period where we know people who are unvaccinated are at a greater risk, both of contracting and spreading this virus,” she said at the time. “Those rare people who have a medical reason why they can’t be immunized…they will not be able to attend those events during this period.”

The lack of medical exemptions raised concerns for Disability Alliance BC. Co-executive director Helaine Boyd told CTV Vancouver Wednesday they’ve seen social isolation become exacerbated for people with disabilities throughout the pandemic, and “this is just another example.”

“We fully believe that anyone who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated. However, we do think that there is blatant discrimination being made,” she said. “We have heard from some individuals who have tried to get vaccinated, but cannot, because they have not gotten approval from their doctor or their medical professional.”

Boyd said they’d like to see the province work with them and other groups serving marginalized populations to help develop an exemption policy.

“I think it’s completely possible to find a way to navigate between protecting the overall safety of the population while also upholding and protecting the human rights of those affected by this,” she said.

“It is a small amount of people with disabilities who are affected, which in our mind, means that it wouldn’t affect the whole B.C. population and the B.C. government’s goal of protecting the wider population against COVID-19.”

Boyd added her group’s message is distinct from those who have staged protests against the vaccine card.

“We don’t really want our statement to be perverted by the anti-vax movement,” Boyd said. “There are people who have tried to get vaccinated and they can’t because of medical reasons and they don’t have a choice in the matter…whereas those who have been protesting, they do have a choice. They’re just choosing not to be vaccinated.”

In an email to CTV, the Ministry of Health indicated the province now seems to be opening the door to some exceptions.

“There will be an exemption process in place for extremely rare circumstances, involving a person’s doctor and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer,” the ministry said. “However, these instances will be extremely rare.”

The ministry added Dr. Bonnie Henry has said those who are currently unvaccinated, for any reason, the kinds of indoor settings eligible for the vaccine card are “high risk” right now.

The vaccine card measure will mean people will be required to produce proof of vaccination for activities like dining out at restaurants, going to the movies, attending indoor ticketed concerts and sporting events, or working out at a fitness centre or gym. It will not apply to retail or essential services including groceries and health care. The order will be in place until the end of January, with the possibility for an extension. 


COVID-19 update for June 21: Canada to unveil new travel rules | WorkSafeBC says medical workers, teachers have most COVID-19 claims

by admin

Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C.

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Here’s your daily update with everything you need to know on the novel coronavirus situation in B.C. for June 21, 2021.

We’ll provide summaries of what’s going on in B.C. right here so you can get the latest news at a glance. This page will be updated regularly throughout the day, with developments added as they happen.

Check back here for more updates throughout the day. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news delivered to your inbox weeknights at 7 p.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.


As of the latest figures given on June 18:
• Total number of confirmed cases: 146,902 (1,389 active cases)
• New cases since June 18: 109
• Total deaths: 1,740 (1 new death)
• Hospitalized cases: 128
• Intensive care: 48
• Total vaccinations: 4,296,151 doses administered; 823,371 second doses
• Recovered from acute infection: 143,748
• Long-term care and assisted-living homes, and acute care facilities currently affected: 3


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IN-DEPTH:COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus


COVID-19: Here’s everything you need to know about the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Here’s how to get your vaccination shot in B.C.

COVID-19: Look up your neighbourhood in our interactive map of case and vaccination rates in B.C.

COVID-19: Afraid of needles? Here’s how to overcome your fear and get vaccinated

COVID-19: Five things to know about the P1 variant spreading in B.C.

COVID-19: Here are all the B.C. cases of the novel coronavirus in 2021

COVID-19: Have you been exposed? Here are all B.C. public health alerts

COVID-19 at B.C. schools: Here are the school district exposure alerts

COVID-19: Avoid these hand sanitizers that are recalled in Canada

COVID-19: Here’s where to get tested in Metro Vancouver

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool


3 p.m. – Health officials are set to share latest figures on COVID-19 in B.C.

Health officials are expected to update the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths and recoveries across the province.

6:20 a.m. –  Fraser Health reaches goal of 7,000 immunizations during Vax-a-Thon

A 32-hour, all-night Vax-a-thon proved to be a success in Surrey on the weekend.

Fraser Health, which hosted the COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Guildford Recreation Centre, says it reached its goal by providing 7,000 first doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The clinic, which was open to anyone 12 years and older, ran from 11 a.m. Saturday to 7 p.m. Sunday.


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6:15 a.m. – Canada to unveil travel rules for fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents

Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon have to follow when entering the country.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said last week that “measures” would be announced today that will apply to immunized Canadians, as well as foreign nationals who are permitted entry.

Currently, those without citizenship or resident status can enter the country only if their travel is related to work, school or other essential business, but not for leisure.

As more Canadians get inoculated against COVID-19 and summer weather has people itching to take some long-awaited trips, pressure is building for the Liberal government to begin relaxing some of its border and quarantine rules.

Over the weekend the country hit an important target of having 75 per cent of its eligible population receive one dose and 20 per cent get two, providing the latter group with full protection against COVID-19.

These were benchmarks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top health officials said needed to be met to safely relax pandemic-related health measures.

Those hoping to see some loosening this month were disappointed on Friday when the Liberal government announced its restrictions on non-essential international travel would remain in place at the Canada-U.S. border until July 21.


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– The Canadian Press


10:15 a.m. – WorkSafeBC has already approved more COVID-19 claims this year than in all of 2020

WorkSafeBC approved over 2,000 claims for work-related COVID-19 exposures by June 11 — almost 300 more than were approved in all of 2020.

Claims increased in virtually every industry, with the exception of health care — particularly acute and long-term care, where claims “have been declining for several months,” Samantha Pinto, media relations officer at WorkSafeBC, wrote in an email. Residents and staff of long-term care facilities were among the first to receive vaccinations.

Overall, however, the increase in claims “appears to reflect higher transmission of COVID-19 in B.C. (prior to introduction of the circuit breaker),” Pinto wrote. She noted that in June the government agency started seeing “a significant reduction” in the number of claims filed, “likely a result of the vaccination rollout.”

Claims from teachers and others working in education were second only to health care, with nearly 300 claims registered as of June 11. Nearly 70 per cent of those came from elementary and kindergarten teachers and assistants

– Nathan Griffiths

10 a.m. – China risks isolation in quest for virus origin, Biden aide says

China will risk international isolation if it fails to allow a “real” investigation on its territory into the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.


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Sullivan’s comments follow last week’s call by Group of Seven leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden for another probe into how the virus originated. Biden last month ordered the U.S. intelligence community to “redouble” its efforts to determine where the coronavirus came from and to report back in 90 days.

The goal is to present China with “a stark choice: Either they will allow, in a responsible way, investigators in to do the real work of figuring out where this came from, or they will face isolation in the international community,” Sullivan said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

The U.S. will continue pressing in cooperation with its allies and partners “until we get to the bottom of how this virus came into the world and who has accountability for that.”

China has rejected the theory that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases were reported.

The World Health Organization investigation, which previously sent a mission to China to report on the virus origins, is expected to lead a second probe separately from the U.S. intelligence effort.



Find out how your neighbourhood is doing in the battle against COVID-19 with the latest number of new cases, positivity rates, and vaccination rates:


LOCAL RESOURCES for COVID-19 information

Here are a number of information and landing pages for COVID-19 from various health and government agencies.

B.C. COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool

Vancouver Coastal Health – Information on Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

HealthLink B.C. – Coronavirus (COVID-19) information page

B.C. Centre for Disease Control – Novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Government of Canada – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

–with files from The Canadian Press


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Calgarian to raise money, awareness for Vancouver boy’s medical condition

by admin

Five-year-old Forester Perrin has special needs because of Fragile X syndrome, which means he will need one-on-one support the rest of his life, and raising money now for a registered disability savings plan allows it decades to grow before his mom and dad are gone

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Forester Perrin, who turns six years old on May 22, faces a slew of health challenges, among them being diagnosed with a rare condition called fragile X syndrome, which means a protein needed for normal brain development isn’t there.

About one in 7,000 males (and one in 11,000 females) have been diagnosed with FXS, according to the federal Centre for Disease Control.

Forester was 2½ when he was diagnosed with autism. Diagnoses of ADHD, intellectual disability, and language disorder followed, before his full diagnosis of FXS was confirmed in December 2020.

“Five years old and he has five pretty significant diagnoses,” says Ben Perrin, the boy’s father.

Perrin teaches law at UBC. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because of a book the one-time criminal-justice adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper published in March criticizing Canada’s prohibition approach to the opioid crisis (he wrote an earlier book exposing slavery in the modern world).


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Unless you have a child of your own who is, say, autistic, it is hard to fathom how lonely parenthood can be.

So when the Perrins’ longtime friend Nigel Goodwin in Calgary volunteered to run, scramble, climb and otherwise compete in back-to-back Spartan races this summer to help raise money for Forester, the couple was over the moon.

Forester with his family’s rabbits, Marshmallow and Cinnamon. Arlen Redekop/PNG
Forester with his family’s rabbits, Marshmallow and Cinnamon. Arlen Redekop/PNG Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Fragile X syndrome places no limits on longevity — there is no reason Forester can’t live to be 82, the normal life expectancy for a male in Canada.

The money raised goes into a registered disability savings plan, which has a maximum allowable limit of $200,000 donated before someone can begin withdrawing from it at age 60. Obviously, getting near that maximum limit sooner rather than later allows compound interest to work its magic over the intervening 54 years.

“We had felt so alone for quite a long time,” Perrin said. “We need help, a lot of help, to support our son, who is an incredible, incredible little guy. When he started getting diagnosed, we were really concerned about what’s going to happen when we’re gone?”

Like most parents, the Perrins biggest fear is they won’t be there when Forester needs them. On their own, they estimate they would need probably 20 years to max out their son’s registered plan.

When the Perrins shared Forester’s story with Goodwin, he wanted to help out in a way that was challenging not just physically, but mentally — something almost unimaginably hard and yet infinitely easier than the challenges Forester faces — and turn that into a vehicle to help out his friends’ boy.


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“Something that would get people’s attention, something I could say, ‘Hey, as hard as this is, it’s nothing compared to what Forester faces,” Goodwin said over the phone from Calgary, where he and Perrin met in high school.

“I’m not an athlete, I’m not a runner,” he added. “I’m training five days a week for this and I do not enjoy it. It is tough.

“But Forester is depending on me, and I’m very fortunate I have a healthy body, healthy mind. I just can’t even imagine what it will be like for Forester to go through his life with this disability.”

Goodwin has run two Spartan races in his lifetime, but not on back-to-back days, and not at 42 years old.

A Spartan race is run over obstacle courses. There are four types, and Goodwin will enter two back-to-back on an August weekend in Red Deer, Alta., running a total of 15 kilometres and overcoming 45 obstacles.

Goodwin has pledged to donors that he will finish both races. If all goes well, he said he would consider raising the stakes next summer and running the Spartan Beast, a half-marathon with 30 obstacles.

“That would require a full year of training and preparation. But if people would sponsor that campaign, I would do it for Forester.”


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.


Samwel Uko sought medical help twice in hours before he was found dead in Regina’s Wascana Lake, family says | CBC News

by admin

Samwel Uko’s uncle says he recently found out his nephew visited the Regina General Hospital not once, but twice on the day he died.

The second time, he was escorted out by security just a couple of hours before he was found dead in Wascana Lake. 

The 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., was in Regina visiting an aunt when he died on May 21.

Justin Nyee, Uko’s uncle from Calgary, said he found out more details about his nephew’s final hours in a phone call with the Saskatchewan Health Authority this week.

Prior to that call, he thought Uko had reached out for medical help once, not twice. 

“We were shocked at first and then we are upset and we are angry because … he went twice,” said Nyee. “Everyone knew this person had a mental health issue, but for whatever reason they decided not to help him. 

“It doesn’t make any sense.”

On the morning of May 21, Uko asked his cousin to take him to the hospital, but he had to be left alone due to COVID-19 measures. Over the course of the next few hours, Uko met with four nurses and one doctor. 

Nyee said the doctor diagnosed Uko with depression, referred him to a mental health clinic, and released him from the hospital at about 10:45 a.m.

‘Red flags’ ignored, says uncle

At 1 p.m., Uko received a call from someone from a mental health clinic who interviewed him until about 2:30 or 3.

Nyee found out that when Uko was asked if he thought about killing himself, he said yes. He even disclosed to the mental health worker that he had made one failed attempt. 

“At the end she decided that his condition was mild … nothing to worry about,” said Nyee. “I told them there were a lot of red flags in his answers. How come she did not pick that up?”

At about 5 p.m., Uko called 911 to say he was having mental health issues and needed help. He was found on the side of the street by police officers. They escorted him to the hospital and stayed with him for about 40 minutes before leaving. 

About 15 minutes after that, the nurse who was talking to Uko called security and he was kicked out of the hospital. 

Uko at his graduation. He had entered his second season with the Langley Rams Junior Football Club in B.C. after playing for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon. (Samwel Uko/Facebook)

There is no record of his second visit to the hospital. The only proof he was there was CCTV footage from the lobby where he was sitting. 

Nyee said he asked the health authority if the situation was handled according to procedure. He was told it wasn’t, he said.

He asked if Uko was fighting, cursing or arguing with hospital staff. Someone from the SHA said Uko wasn’t doing anything, but was escorted out because he could not provide his name.

Uko’s body was found at about 7:30 that night. 

Uko’s care under investigation: SHA

According to Nyee, the SHA is reviewing Uko’s second visit to the hospital. That review is expected to take three to four weeks.

Nyee said his family is going to have a meeting soon and will likely get a lawyer who can represent them in talks with the SHA. 

He said he wants to prevent another Black person from dying because they could not get adequate help. 

“I always try not to interject race into the problem, but yes, this looks to me as if they did not care because he was a Black kid,” said Nyee.

“Nobody is hearing our problems and it’s out there. We face it like anyone else, and bringing this to light helps other people too.”

Today, it’s his nephew, Nyee said. “But we don’t know tomorrow who it’s going to be.… We have to work to avoid that for the next person.”

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Uko’s case is a “critical incident,” defined as “a serious adverse health event including, but not limited to, the actual or potential loss of life … related to a health service provided by, or a program operated by, a health care organization.”

“We again wish to convey our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of this young man,” a spokesperson said in an email to CBC. “This situation is heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

The SHA said it is communicating with Uko’s family as his care is reviewed. The agency would not respond to specific questions on the case because it is under investigation.

Where to get help:


Town Talk: Play recounts Casey Wright’s 19-year medical journey

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Weighing 25 kg and standing 122 cm tall after a stroke and 10 brain-tumour operations, Casey Wright, 19, has had Ben Ratner incorporate his words and videos of his many activities into a play titled Casey and the Octopus.

Malcolm Parry / PNG

SPEAKING UP: Casey Wright was 14 and had had 10 brain-tumour operations by 2015 when moviebiz veteran Danny Virtue announced he would executive-produce a film about him. Now 19, Casey weighs 25 kg, is 122 cm tall, and the movie has become integral to a play based on his own words that was written and directed by Ben Ratner.

Long-time drama teacher Jim Crescenzo is seen with members of the East End Boys Club he founded and that presented the Casey and the Octopus play.

Malcolm Parry /


Presented by East End Boys Club, the one-act Casey and the Octopus ran recently in Templeton Secondary School’s theatre. The club was founded by Octopus co-executive producer Jim Crescenzo who taught two generations of Templeton theatre students. One grad thanked him “for helping me stand on my own two feet, which are strong and no longer let me fall.” Casey Wright’s own feet can be shaky, courtesy of a 2013 stroke that paralyzed his right side and rendered speech impossible. Lengthy therapy restored the latter enough for him to advise audiences: “When you’re climbing that mountain and the clouds part to show you there’s still a long way to go, tighten your boots, take a deep breath, and keep climbing.” His father, Larry, says the “Octopus” in the play’s title refers to what the first brain tumour looked like in medical scans. Casey subsequently refused scar-reducing surgery. “I’m keeping ’em,” he said. “They tell the story of what I am and what I’ve been through.” That is a lot, with more perhaps to come. Nevertheless, he ends the play on his feet and telling audiences: “If I had been ‘normal’ I wouldn’t be standing here talking to you guys. And talking to you is what makes me feel alive. It’s what makes me get out of bed in the morning and keep going.”

Despite his enormous medical travails, natural-showman Casey has had many more life experiences, including sky-diving and honorary RCMP staff-sergeant-major status, than many of his contemporaries.

There’s a word for that: Outstanding.

Casey and the Octopus co-executive producer Danny Virtue says he’s negotiating with broadcasters for a revival of his locally shot TV series, Neon Rider.

Malcolm Parry /


NEXT: Danny Virtue says he’s negotiating a possible return of the 1990-95 Neon Rider TV series he and late actor-business-partner Winston Rekert created for shooting at the Virtue Studio Ranch that also supports physically, mentally and financially challenged children.

Grade 4 Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band members Avrie Hunter and Kevin Maloney played at a Robbie Burns dinner-benefit for the SFU Pipe Band.

Malcolm Parry /


WHA HAE: Bard Robbie Burns’ Scots-dialect writings might have claimed that aipples fall not far from the crann. That certainly applies to Terry Lee who led the SFU Pipe Band to six world championships. At the band’s recent Burns fundraising supper, Lee and wife Nancy accompanied piper-son Alastair, 28, who won two gold medals at Kansas City’s recent Winter Storm tourney. Several world champions competed, too. The Lees’ daughter Fiona is a former world champion highland dancer. Terry’s brother Jack is a world’s-top-ten piper and the SFU band’s pipe sergeant. His sons Andrew and John are pipers there, too. Burns’ famed Tam O’Shanter poem had the devil, disguised as a dog, pipe for a witches’ dance. The SFU event saw nothing more diabolical than Kendrick Rutherford piping in the traditional offal-oatmeal-suet haggis.

Terry Lee, who led the SFU Pipe Band to six world championships, and piping-champion-son Alastair attended the band’s Robbie Burns dinner-concert.

Malcolm Parry /


SCRUMMIES: Culinary curiosities bacon sarnie, fly cemetery and sausage butty will accompany English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Cornish and ancient Celtic cultural performances at the British Isles Historic Society’s Heritage Festival on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza Feb. 22.

MonaLisa Healing founder Bif Naked, left, was portrayed with Calvin Ayre whose Bodog Music recorded her and fellow singer Nazanin Afshin-Jam.

Malcolm Parry /


POTSHOT: Seemingly undeterred by hemp’s recent 75 per cent price plunge, cancer-surviving pop-punk singer Bif Naked (real name Beth Torbert) will launch an e-com boutique named at this weekend’s Wellness Show. Extracted from marijuana-cousin hemp, the tincture of cannabidiol (CBD) is reportedly free of high-inducing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Even so, pot activist Jodie Emery will join Naked and fellow singer Mary Zilba on a panel at the show. Naked’s next single, JIM, is due Feb. 14 with an 11th album following. She recorded her second, Superbeautifulmonster, at expat-to-be Calvin Ayre’s city-based Bodog Music where Nazanin Afshin-Jam would wax her debut single, I Dance For You (see YouTube). Iran-born global human-rights activist Afshin-Jam later launched her own foundation, married and had three children with now-Conservative Party of Canada leadership seeker Peter MacKay.

“Princess of Pot” Jodie Emery will join a Wellness Show panel with Bif Naked whose hemp-based tinctures reportedly contain no high-inducing THC.

Malcolm Parry /


ANOTHER SEASON: Still no word on a luxury-hotel chain to succeed Four Seasons and renovate its leased Pacific Centre premises? Ritz Carlton backed out from what became the Trump International Hotel, but likely isn’t a contender. Marriott has reportedly looked aggressively. Ditto Hilton, where luxury-and-lifestyle global group head Martin Rinck oversees strategic development for Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts and other growing divisions. Rinck may actually see the vacated Four Seasons locale from his West Vancouver home.

If we’re lucky, the coronavirus won’tget bad enought to give former emergency physician Daniel Kalla the impetus to write another best-seller about pandemic illnesses.

Malcolm Parry /


ELEVENTH HOUR: The 2003 SARS outbreak saw then-St. Paul’s Hospital emergency-medicine director Daniel Kalla write the bestseller Pandemic. Nine novels later in 2019, his We All Fall Down pictured a recurrence of plague, the medieval Black Death. Perhaps Wuhan, China’s coronavirus will inspire another of his medically incontestable blockbusters.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As ride-hail cars proliferate, real-life taxi drivers may be modifying movie-star Robert De Niro’s question to: “Aren’t you talkin’ to me?”


B.C. to consolidate medical regulatory colleges in effort to modernize healthcare professions

by admin

The B.C. government will look at ways to modernize oversight of various health professions across the province. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Wednesday some of the proposed changes to come.

noipornpan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

A major overhaul of how B.C. health professionals are regulated is coming, the B.C. government announced Wednesday.

The goal is to modernize oversight of the various health professions across the province, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Dix, along with official Opposition health critic Norm Letnick and health critic Sonia Furstenau, shared details of the proposed changes on Wednesday, one of which would be to consolidate many of the regulatory colleges that oversee various areas of healthcare. Currently there are 20 regulatory colleges; the province hopes to reduce this number to five to improve efficiency.

“We want to improve patient safety and public protection by better supporting health-care professionals and the colleges that regulate them,” Dix said.

“These changes will help ensure health professions are regulated more thoroughly and transparently, so that they are providing British Columbians the best care when they need it most.”

A steering committee consisting of Dix, Letnick and Furstenau are now seeking input into the proposed changes.

Those include ensuring colleges prioritize public interest and patient safety, improving effectiveness of regulatory colleges and ensuring boards are appointed based on merit and competence, streamlining the regulation of new professions and increasing transparency in the public complaints and disciplinary process.

The public is invited to share their feedback via an online survey or by email with the subject head “Feedback – Regulating Health Professionals” to

More to come.


Maple Ridge medical marijuana patient fighting her strata’s no-smoking bylaw

by admin

Tammy Gadsby credits medical marijuana for ending her use of serious pharmaceuticals that included a tranquilizer and an opioid.

With marijuana, the 60-year-old Maple Ridge resident said she has been able to better manage her fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety and PTSD than with any other drugs she has tried. Inhaling marijuana produces nearly immediate relief and also helps keep up her appetite, she said.

But smoking the drug now has Gadsby afoul of a recently passed strata bylaw in her condominium development that she said prohibits any smoking or vaping of any substance anywhere on the property. Many strata councils around B.C. have adopted similar bylaws late last year in anticipation of the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Gadsby said her strata has not granted her an exception to the rule, even though she says she holds a family physician-provided prescription and has been a medical marijuana user since 2015. And for Gadsby, it’s a serious enough matter that she said she plans to take it to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“I gave up three prescription medications and just use medical cannabis now,” Gadsby said. “This is the best thing I’ve ever found to deal with all the different issues that I do deal with.”

Grant Inglis, the head of the strata council, said the council — through its lawyer — had requested additional information from Gadsby so that it could make a fair and informed decision about her request for an exemption from the bylaw on medical grounds. To date that information had not been received, he said.

Earlier this month, Eric Mollema, a lawyer representing the strata, sent a letter to a lawyer for Gadsby stating that the strata corporation was obliged to consider exempting her from the bylaw, but that it did require documents first.

‘I gave up three prescription medications and just use medical cannabis now,’ says Tammy Gadsby. ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever found to deal with all the different issues that I do deal with.’

Francis Georgian /


That included written confirmation from a board-certified medical practitioner that Gadsby had a marijuana prescription and that detailed her medical conditions, explained why “traditional medicines” are contraindicative to those conditions and stated why smoking marijuana is the preferred dosing method.

Mollema said he could not comment on the ongoing matter.

For Gadsby, asking for that extent of personal medical information goes too far.

“It goes to a strata. These people are not a medical panel by any means … they are individuals that live in the strata. And you want me to provide you with all of my medical background?”

Paul Mendes, a lawyer who mainly represents strata corporations but who has also represented individual owners, said he could not speak to the specifics of the case. But he said conflicts over no-smoking bylaws can turn into human rights issues.

“For this to be a human rights issue, the owner has to establish that she has a disability. And once she satisfies the strata that she has a disability, the strata then has a duty to accommodate her disability to the point of an undue hardship on the strata.”

In the case of marijuana smoking, the main problem tends to be smell, Mendes said. One thing the strata can consider in such cases is asking an owner to consider vaping or taking edibles rather than smoking combustibles. But if a strata takes the position that there is no way to accommodate, “then it is really a human rights matter,” he said.

What the Human Rights Tribunal would look at is whether the bylaw adversely affects the property owner’s disability. If they have evidence they use medical marijuana for that disability, it would be hard to argue that a zero tolerance policy does not adversely affect them, Mendes said. 

“It’s not a slam dunk for either side on this. It’s really going to depend on the evidence,” he said.


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Some medical waits shrink, but B.C. still has long waits compared to several other provinces

by admin

Health Minister Adrian Dix tours a hip and knee program replacement program on Vancouver Island last year.

Don Craig | B.C. Government / PNG

B.C. performs worse than several other provinces when it comes to meeting recommended waiting times for various medical procedures, including cancer radiation therapy, a federal report released today shows.

Benchmarks are defined as “evidence-based goals each province or territory strives to meet.” They reflect the maximum waiting time that medical experts consider appropriate to wait for a particular procedure.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information report shows that while there are glimmers of improvement in some categories, B.C. generally lags behind a handful of other provinces.

For hip replacements, for example, 67 per cent of patients got their surgery in B.C. within the recommended six months in 2018, compared to 61 per cent in 2016. The national average in 2018, however, was 75 per cent. And in Ontario, 84 per cent of patients got surgery within the time period; in Quebec, 80 per cent.

Long waiting times are generally a function of operating rooms being available for surgeons and other resources like funding, hospital beds, nurses for the operating rooms, recovery and ward beds.

For knee replacements, 59 per cent of B.C. residents got the surgery within the six-month recommended time. That was an improvement over 47 per cent in 2016, but again, lower than the national average of 69 per cent.

For cataract surgery, 64 per cent of B.C. residents got the cataract removal procedure within the recommended wait of four months for high-risk patients. That was slightly worse than in 2016 when it was 66 per cent of patients. The federal average in 2018 was 70 per cent.

For procedures that are especially time-sensitive, B.C. was near the bottom.

For hip fracture repairs, it is recommended that patients wait no longer than 48 hours. In 2018, 85 per cent of B.C. patients got surgery within the recommended time; the national statistic was 88 per cent.  Alberta was tops at 94 per cent meeting the benchmark. Only Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island had longer waiting times than B.C. on this measure.

On radiation therapy, B.C. had the worst ranking with 93 per cent of patients getting treatment within the benchmark of 28 days. The other provinces reported that 95 to 100 per cent of patients were treated within 28 days.

The B.C. Health ministry says on its website that the number of patients waiting for radiation in 2017/18 rose to a high of 467 and the number of cancer patients who got radiation therapy in 2017 declined substantially to 10,663, from about 13,000 from 2015. It is unclear if far fewer patients required radiation or whether B.C. Cancer can’t offer it to as many patients as in prior years.

In an emailed statement, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the report shows B.C. is on “the right track” to improving surgical care, especially for case types that have the longest waiting times.

“We are seeing improvements throughout the health authorities. For example, Island Health’s rate for hip replacements within the benchmark went from 45 per cent in 2016 to 49 per cent in 2017 and 66 per cent in 2018. The rate for knee replacements was even more stunning: In 2016, 29 per cent; in 2017, 32 per cent and in 2018, 57 per cent.

“We know there is more work to do (and) our surgical and diagnostic strategy is not a one-time effort. It is a multi-year plan that is supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19, and increasing to $100 million in 2019-20,” Dix said, noting that targeted funding should ensure that other surgeries, besides the ones benchmarked, don’t fall behind.

Bacchus Barua, associate director of health policy studies at the conservative think-tank, Fraser Institute, said the CIHI reports shows that many British Columbians still do not receive their treatments within “remarkably long pan-Canadian benchmarks.

“Our own annual survey of waiting times reveals that while the total wait time (between referral from a family doctor to treatment) across 12 specialties has fallen in B.C. between 2016 and 2018, last year’s 23.2-week median wait is nevertheless more than twice as long as the 10.4 week wait time in 1993.

“Wait times are not benign inconveniences. They can, and do, have a real impact on patients’ lives,” he said.

Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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Private medical clinics get year-long reprieve as Victoria delays medicare amendment

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Dr Brian Day says Day said the fact that the cabinet order was passed was proof the medicare amendment was unnecessary in the first place.

Nick Procaylo / PNG

Private diagnostic and surgical clinics have won another reprieve, this time from their nemesis — the provincial government, which would prefer to see them shut down.

It means that doctors providing care to patients seeking expedited treatment at private clinics across B.C. can continue doing so for at least for another year, as long as they don’t double bill both the government and patients.

The government has put off bringing into force a Medicare Protection Act amendment that would have harshly penalized doctors who provided expedited care to patients in private clinics. The decision was in the form of an NDP cabinet order and there was no press release announcing the decision.

The amendment — which allowed for fines and even criminal fraud charges — were supposed to take effect last October and could have forced dozens of clinics to close.

But surgery clinics won an injunction in November that effectively ordered the government not to enforce the amendment until after the marathon trial over medicare that began three years ago, initiated by lead plaintiff Dr. Brian Day, is over sometime this year or next.

The government tried, but was denied, to get leave to appeal the injunction two months ago.

Since the injunction dealt only with private surgery clinics, it left diagnostic clinics offering private MRI, CT and PET scan imaging out. The government had said that on April 1, diagnostic clinics would have to comply with the act.

Dennis Hummerston, senior director of Canada Diagnostic Centre, said diagnostic clinics were planning their own injunction application but then got word about the cabinet order.

The amendment is now scheduled to take effect on March 31, 2020, which means private facilities have at least another year in business. The clinics have always disputed the rationale for “draconian” fines and penalties and maintained the legislation would force them out of business.

Hummerston said he’s not aware of any clinics that have gone out of business but said some have lost administrative staff, technologists and radiologists due to the legal uncertainty.

Stephen May, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said the government changed the date when the Act will take effect because of the medicare trial and the injunction.

“Consistent with the court’s decision to grant an injunction in a similar case, section 18.1 of the Medicare Protection Act will not come in to force until March 31, 2020 — after the expected completion of the Cambie Surgeries trial. This decision respects the court’s prior decision. … (But) we are committed to stop extra billing.”

May said the government has put an additional $11 million into magnetic resonance imaging in the public system to reach a total of 225,000 MRIs in 2018-19.

“This is approximately 35,000 more MRI exams than the previous year. We are ahead of these targets with hundreds of more operating hours added across the province and more MRI machines running 24/7 than ever,” he said.

Day said the fact that the cabinet order was passed was proof the amendment was unnecessary in the first place.

“The action confirms that there is, and never has been, any health-related rationale for pursuing these amendments. They were merely aimed at prohibiting patients from accessing private options to care for themselves, especially when the actions were taken during the course of a trial aimed at discovering the legality of those prohibitions. It is a perfect example of ideology taking precedence over reason and logic, not to mention ideology trumping the rights of suffering patients.”

Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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Daphne Bramham: First Nations’ solution to a modern, medical crisis

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Ending Canada’s opioid overdose crisis will likely require much more than sophisticated drug therapies. In fact, it might mean following the lead of First Nations health-care providers and transforming how we think about and deliver medical services.

First Nations people are dying of opioid overdoses at three times the rate of the general population. Hidden in that data are Canada’s most-neglected victims — Indigenous women.

Unlike in the general population where men comprise 80 per cent of the victims, Indigenous women are as likely to overdose or die as their brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.

They are eight times more likely to overdose than other women, and five times more likely to die from an overdose.

It’s not really surprising, says Dr. Evan Adams, the First Nations Health Authority’s chief medical health officer. The terrible numbers track other devastating indicators of how their health and longevity diverge from those of other Canadians.

“A lot of First Nations women who have substance-use disorders are exploited women. They are women who are victimized by the sex trade. They’re victimized by their partners,” said Adams, who worked for five years in Vancouver’s notorious Downtown Eastside, the epicentre of Canada’s opioid crisis.

What the opioid crisis highlights for him is the endemic problem of the western medical model, where people go passively to doctors’ offices and say, “Heal me.”

Dr. Evan Adams is the Chief Medical Officer for the First Nations Health Authority.

Jason Payne /


“Our (First Nations) model is that the doctor gives you a chance to get better. But, you make yourself better,” he said. “It’s your family that does most of the work of helping you get better, not that doctor who you visit for 15 minutes every week, if you’re lucky.”

Unlike in the western model, healing and wellness in the traditional Indigenous way involve mind, body and spirit. For First Nations men and women to achieve wellness, Adams said they require much more than medicine.

“They need healers who can do ceremony. Maybe they need love. They need justice.

“How can a woman recover from opioid use disorder when you won’t let her see her children? It’s disgusting,” he said.

The day Adams and I met, the FNHA offices were being “swept” by a group of elders carrying cedar boughs and candles using traditional ceremonies to restore the spirits of the people who work there.

“Some people would say an elder is less trained in opioids than an addictions physician,” Adams said. “But wouldn’t it be nice to have both?”

It’s not that FNHA rejects modern medicine. It continues to expand access to opioid agonist treatments such as methadone and Suboxone, which quell cravings, making it available at all FNHA nursing stations and at four of the nine FNHA-funded residential treatment centres. FNHA reimburses treatment fees charged by private clinics and has spent $2.4 million in grants to 55 communities for harm-reduction programs.

Yet, for Adams and his staff, drug therapies are only a small part of what he calls harm reduction’s suite of services.

The Crosstown Clinic in downtown Vancouver.



“Harm reduction is not just, ‘Let’s make sure you don’t overdose.’ It’s the whole person that you have to treat, not just this one aspect of the person that is craving opioids.”

To incorporate First Nations wisdom into other programs, FNHA created two peer coordinator jobs at the Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside. Its compassion inclusion initiative has engaged another 144 Indigenous people with lived experience across B.C., and its Indigenous wellness team has taught indigenous harm-reduction and wellness programs in 180 communities.

“Opioid use disorder is everyone’s business. It’s yours and it’s mine and it’s everyone around us. It’s not just the domain of physicians with 24 years of training,” he said. “Why can’t Grandma help, or a family member?”

What concerns Adams about the response to the opioid crisis that is heavily grounded in the medical model is that it could widen the gap between his people and mainstream Canadians.

Indigenous people don’t necessarily trust health providers who don’t look like them or where there is no acknowledgment of the historical trauma they have suffered and their unique experiences in the world.

That’s just one more reason why the FHNA, which is unique in Canada, is so adamant that it must transform the way health care is delivered to its people so that they are empowered to help in their own healing within their own circles of trusted friends, family and elders.

This current crisis is rooted in the western medical model. The seeds were sown by an aggressive marketing campaign by Purdue Pharma, which falsely promoted its Oxycodone as being non-addictive. What followed was an epidemic of opioid over-prescription by physicians and other health-care professionals that eventually created a demand for synthetic opioids on the black market.

With so many deaths and no end in sight, this might be the time for all of us to reconsider whether the best responses to this crisis ought to be done within a much broader context of healing and an expanded understanding of what wellness really means.

Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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