Health & Wellness

Coronavirus here to stay?

The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus remain a global emergency even though an expert panel says higher levels of immunity can virus-related deaths. “There is no doubt that we're in a far better situation” than a year ago, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging vulnerable group to be fully vaccinated and ignore “misinformation” about masking and social distancing. [node:read-more:link]

Make-or-break health summit?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that he has invited premiers to Ottawa for a February 7 “working meeting” he hopes will address country-wide health care funding problems. The federal government also is looking for a national accord on data and health information as well as long-term deals which would include specific metrics relevant to individual provincial and territorial needs. [node:read-more:link]

Hesitant about a return to the office?

Any repercussions against federal employees refusing to return to their offices after working from home during the pandemic will be on a case-by-case basis, says Treasury Board President Mona Fortier. She announced last month that all departments must bring workers back to the office at least two to three times a week by the end of March but there has been pushback by public service unions. [node:read-more:link]

Brain injuries under investigation

Military veteran Dennis Manuge, who led a successful class action against Veterans Affairs Canada over disability payments, continues to recover from injuries he suffered while in service. He now is promoting Project Enlist Canada, a partnership with concussion and brain researchers investigating brain degeneration in athletes as well as veterans who are asked to bequeath their brains to the project. [node:read-more:link]

Vaccine mandate lifted in U.S.

U.S. military personnel are no longer required to get COVID-19 vaccinations. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed off on the policy reversal January 10 but said he would “continue to promote and encourage” vaccinations even as the government continues to deal with multiple lawsuits. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. military spouses getting help

Federal legislation designed to make it easier for most spouses of U.S. military personnel military to transfer their professional licences when they move has been signed into law by President Joe Biden. The Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act faculitares reciprocity in all professions except the practice of law. An estimated 132,000 spouses could be affected. [node:read-more:link]

Return-to-work for public service

Treasury Board President Mona Fortier insists that the federal government’s return-to-office mandate, which begins taking effect January 16, is not to be decided in collective bargaining with public service unions. “It’s the right of the employer; it’s the management’s right,” she said December 27. At least two public service unions have called on the government to retract its directive. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. defence budget approved

Signed into law by President Joe Biden, the latest U.S. annual defence authorization bill provides for $817 billion in spending, up $45 billion from what his administration had initially proposed. The measure also repeals the military’s mandatory coronavirus vaccination requirements. [node:read-more:link]

Valcartier compensation deadline looms

January 15 is the deadline for current and former Canadian Armed forces personnel stationed in Valcartier, Quebec, between 1995 and 2000 to apply to join a class-action lawsuit over contaminated water supplies. Claimants are eligible for up to $1,000 for each month they lived at the base where trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic degreasing agent, had leaked into groundwater over several decades [node:read-more:link]

Veterans Affairs agent leaves department

A Veterans Affairs Canada service agent the department says was “responsible” for suggesting that former miliary personnel consider medical assistance in dying is “no longer an employee,” VA Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s office confirmed December 20. The agent had not been at work since four cases came to light last summer. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. military vaccination conundrum

Congress has used its latest Department of Defense budget bill to repeal mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for military personal, a decision with consequences at home and abroad. “This isn’t just our side of the equation,” one DoD official said December 7. “It’s what our partners and people that we would train and work with are asking us to do to enter the country.” Most active-duty personnel have been vaccinated but as the DoD tries to deal with personnel shortages, there is ongoing resistance among potential recruits. [node:read-more:link]

Veterans Affairs under renewed pressure

Former military and RCMP personal are calling for changes to Veterans Affairs Canada, saying it has been too slow in implementing health service changes announced by the government years ago. “Benefits and services are accessible,” said one vet at a December 8 rally in Nova Scotia, suggesting also that privatization of some services in 2021 is part of the problem. “If you’re in the system already, it’s not hard,” Rollie Lawless said. “It’s those trying to get into the system that seems to be the hiccup.” [node:read-more:link]

U.S. military vaccination an issue

The U.S. Administration opposes using the National Defense Authorization Act to repeal a miliary vaccine mandate. A White House spokesman says President Biden agrees with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the mandate should remain in effect. Republicans have threatened to delay the annual budget bill in protest but the Democrat chair of the House Armed Services Committee says a rollback is possible in a compromise NDAA. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian vet confirms suicide offer

A paraplegic Canadian Armed Forces veteran told a parliamentary committee December 1 that a Veterans Affairs Canada counsellor offered her the opportunity and the means for a medically assisted death. “I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you . . . medical assistance in dying,” said Christine Gauthier, who had a training accident in 1989 and had had difficulty in getting a home wheelchair ramp. [node:read-more:link]

Veterans’ MAD advice investigated

The RCMP has been asked to look into reports that a Veterans Affairs Canada caseworker, who has been suspended, told at least four ill military veterans they could opt for a medically-assisted death. Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacCauley confirmed the development to a parliamentary committee November 24, saying that “we expect all . . . employees to interact with veterans with care, compassion and respect and the actions of this one employee is simply disgusting.” [node:read-more:link]

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