Health Monitor

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The provincial health system will get a $500 million injection when the government’s interim supply bill is passed.

Bill 3 is expected to pass this sitting, meaning the money will be available over the summer before a complete provincial budget is passed in the fall.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman was one of four ministers discussing details of the supply bill at a press conference June 18. She explained there will be $160 million to reverse cuts in the previous government’s proposed budget, plus an additional $340 million to help accommodate an expected increase of 70,000 additional Albertans needing health-care services in the coming year.

She said the money will be directed both to Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health, but she didn’t provide a more specific breakdown.

When pressed, Hoffman said the revenue source to correspond to these additional expenditures had not yet been established.

“There will of course be some debt financing,” she said, adding full details would be made available in the fall budget.

Recommendations on Alberta’s mental health policy are expected by the end of the year.

Premier Rachel Notley and Liberal Leader David Swann announced June 15 that Swann, a physician, would co-chair a committee to review the current issues with Alberta’s mental-health system with NDP MLA Danielle Larivee, a registered nurse.

“This is a part of the health system that has been neglected for too long – and Albertans struggling with mental illness and their families have paid the price,” Swann said in a media release.

It may soon become easier for Canadians to know what, exactly, they’re buying at the grocery store.

Health Canada announced last week a proposal to revamp the required nutritional information on packaged food products as a way to help people make healthier choices.

Proposed labelling changes include mandating consistent serving sizes and making ingredient lists easier to read, as well as mandating more information about quantity, types and sources of sugar included in products.

Health Minister Rona Ambrose also announced new public education tools such as a new mobile to help create a customized Canada Food Guide to understand serving sizes and what types of food go into a healthy diet.

A free wellness talk this week will explore the connection between sleep and mental wellness, and provide participants ideas on how to get more.

The one-hour talk on June 25 is part of a monthly series of no-cost talks hosted at the River’s Edge Counselling Centre in St. Albert.

Facilitator Ryan Jacobson said the connection between sleep and mental health is complex, but lack of sleep is known to cause cognitive impairment, lower levels of creativity, mood disturbance, decrease social and interpersonal skills and a host of physical health effects as well.

“Fortunately, there are a number of approaches to improve your quality and quantity of sleep, non of which include medication,” he said.

The session is free, but registration is limited. Visit www.riversedgecounselling.com for more information.

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Doug Neuman