Weekly Top Stories: Canada Invests $49 Million in Open Science Drug Discovery Network; Federal Government Addresses Substance Use Crisis; Metro Strike Highlights Universal Pharmacare Program Issue

Published on
October 2, 2023
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
6 min

In this week's top stories, we'll delve into how the Canadian government is addressing the substance use crisis, promoting well-being, and tackling key issues. We'll also explore the adoption of ICH guidelines and the Metro strike, shedding light on worker concerns and emphasizing the urgent need for action.

First up, the federal government is allocating a hefty $49 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund to establish the 'Conscience Open Science Drug Discovery Network.' This is a partnership involving 27 key players from non-profits, academia, and industry. They're using an open-science model and AI to speed up drug discovery, tackle pandemic preparedness, rare diseases, and boost Canada's competitiveness. This initiative is expected to attract an additional $150 million in private investment, creating over 100 projects and plenty of new job opportunities.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister of Health Mark Holland and Associate Minister of Health, who also serves as the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Ya'ara Saks, have been actively involved in addressing critical healthcare issues in Canada. Their recent collaboration marked the commencement of Mental Illness Awareness Week, where they highlighted the theme of 'Awareness, Access, and Parity for Mental Health and Substance Use Care in Canada.' During this important event, they emphasized the importance of a compassionate approach to mental healthcare, the integration of mental health into the broader healthcare system, and the pivotal role of readily available mental health resources.

In parallel, Health Canada, led by Minister Ya'ara Saks, has launched a national call for proposals for the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). This program is aimed at combatting the toxic drug and overdose crisis in the country. It comes with an impressive pledge of $144 million in funding, along with an additional $4 million earmarked for projects in Ottawa. What sets it apart is its commitment to a comprehensive approach, actively encouraging submissions from groups that have been disproportionately affected by this crisis.

However, it's worth noting that while these efforts are commendable, some addiction doctors have voiced concerns about the potential impact of the safe supply program on the ongoing opioid crisis. The government is taking these concerns seriously and is committed to addressing this pressing issue to ensure the safety and well-being of affected communities.

In other news, to support these initiatives, Health Canada is adopting the International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) guidelines. This demonstrates the government's commitment to aligning internationally, even in the face of differences with existing guidance documents. Furthermore, the government, alongside Amazon Canada and eBay Canada, has also introduced the Canadian Product Safety Pledge to address the increasing availability of unsafe products in online shopping.  

In light of the Metro strike's impact on workers, all of this news carries significant importance. Nikolas Barry-Shaw, the Trade and Privatization Campaigner for the Council of Canadians, has emphasized how this strike has highlighted the need for universal pharmacare in Canada. During the strike, Metro cut off drug benefits for employees, showcasing the vulnerability of workers without workplace drug insurance. Barry-Shaw argues that a public pharmacare system would ensure drug coverage as a right for all, preventing actions like this and offering other benefits like lower costs and increased job flexibility.

As we wrap up this week's top stories, it's clear that Canada is committed to addressing critical issues with determination and compassion. From investing in cutting-edge drug discovery to prioritizing mental health and substance use care, our nation is taking significant steps forward.

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