Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Liberals say Canada not ready to expand MAID

The federal government is hitting pause on its plans to make medical assistance in dying available to people whose only medical condition is a mental illness — and Health Minister Mark Holland is offering no clues about a new timeline.

Holland says the country is not yet ready to take such a significant step, concurring with a findings of a joint parliamentary committee that released its final report on Monday.

That committee, which reconvened last year to explore whether medical professionals were prepared, concluded that fundamental issues around the controversial expansion have not yet been resolved.

While practitioners of assisted death, medical professionals and regulators have done plenty of preparatory work, the committee heard "significant testimony" from stakeholders that the system was not yet ready.

Russian figure skaters to get Olympic medals ahead of Canada 

Despite the disqualification of Kamila Valieva in a doping case, the Russia figure skating team was set to get bronze medals from the 2022 Beijing Olympics ahead of Canada.

The United States is the new Olympic champion in the team event and Japan gets upgraded to silver from bronze. 

The demoted Russians get third place by a single point ahead of fourth-placed Canada even when stripped of the points star skater Valieva earned on the ice.

Valieva was disqualified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday from all of her events since December 2021 and banned for four years in a doping case that took almost two years to resolve.

Make all health records digital by 2028: report

The Public Policy Forum says Canada's handling of health records is woefully out of date and negatively affecting patient care.   

A report releasedtoday by the non-profit organization calls for health records to be digital and accessible to all members of a patient's care team by 2028. 

It says right now, patient information and referrals can be easily lost between health-care providers, resulting in what can be harmful, even life-threatening, delays.

The report says one of the first steps required is to stop using fax machines to transmit medical information.

It says allCanadians should have a digital medical record that includes electronic referrals and electronic prescriptions.

Manulife-Loblaw deal raises concerns: experts

Some pharmacare policy experts are raising concerns about competition and patient access to much-needed medication after Manulife Financial Corp. announced its coverage of certain prescription drugs will only apply at Loblaw Cos. Ltd. pharmacies.

The new arrangement, details of which were shared with plan holders earlier this month, affects around 260 medications under the insurance company's Specialty Drug Care program. Drugs in this class are meant to treat complex, chronic or life-threatening conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis and hepatitis C.

Manulife said that starting Jan. 22, the program would transition to being carried out "primarily" through Shoppers Drug Mart and other Loblaw-owned pharmacies. The company had previously also covered specialty drugs through national home and community health-care provider Bayshore HealthCare.

Such deals that provide exclusivity, known as preferred pharmacy network arrangements, are common in the U.S. and growing in Canada, said Steve Morgan, an economist and professor of health policy at the University of British Columbia.

First Nation focuses on mental health, 'more joy'

Small, white crosses dot a graveyard just outside Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario. Some graves are marked with white picket fences, flowers have been placed at others. Most have no names or ages, but some do.

A 16-year-old girl rests in one plot, a 13-year-old in another. Suicide brought them both there.

Ten years ago, the remote community, with a population of about 450, declared a state of emergency after four suicides and several attempted suicides by teens.

The state of emergency officially remains, but the community quietly spoke about a small milestone this past summer: no one had killed themselves in Neskantaga in three years. 

Several measures helped get to that point; there are mental-health counsellors who rotate into the community, outdoor activities that help youth connect with traditional practices, and festivals that bring community members together.

The focus on building bonds is important, said Chief Chris Moonias. 

Lionel Desmond inquiry: final report due Wednesday

A provincial inquiry is set to release its final report into what led an Afghanistan war veteran with PTSD to kill his family members and himself seven years ago.

Lionel Desmond bought a semi-automatic rifle on Jan. 3, 2017, and later that day fatally shot his mother, wife and 10-year-old daughter before taking his own life in the family's rural Nova Scotia home.

The killings stunned the province and prompted questions about how such an awful thing could happen.

Now after lengthy delays caused by the pandemic and the replacement of the judge presiding over the inquiry, Canadians will learn the answers when the inquiry's findings are released Wednesday.

Saskatchewan stabbing inquest reaches final stages

Jurors are set to receive instructions from a coroner this morning as an inquest into a mass stabbing on a Saskatchewan First Nation reaches its final stages.

Myles Sanderson killed 11 people and injured 17 others on the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon, northeast of Saskatoon, on Sept. 4, 2022. 

He died in police custody a few days later.

The six jurors heard the final evidence of the inquest Monday and will begin deliberations today on recommendations to help prevent similar deaths in the future. 

Over the last 11 days, the inquest heard how the rampage unfolded from RCMP officers at the scene and health-care officials organizing the response from paramedics and hospitals. 

It has also heard about Sanderson’s life, personal relationships and prison history.

Flood, avalanche risks remain elevated in B.C.

The flood and avalanche risks remain elevated throughout British Columbia's South Coast, where atmospheric rivers continue to bring heavy rains along with unseasonably warm temperatures.

B.C.'s River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood warning for the Squamish River, saying flows had reached somewhere between a two- and five-year return period at a gauge near Brackendale, north of the Squamish town centre.

The warning issued late Monday afternoon also covers tributaries, including the Cheakamus River, which was "expected to exceed bank-full flow."

Lower-level flood watches are in effect across the rest of the province's South Coast, spanning all of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, the North Shore mountains, and parts of the Fraser Valley, including the Sumas River.

The latest Avalanche Canada forecast, meanwhile, shows the danger rating remains "high" throughout the south Chilcotin and Pacific mountain ranges, including alpine areas around Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Garibaldi Provincial Park.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024

The Canadian Press

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