Monthly Archives: September 2019

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), the province’s opioid prescription rates are among the highest in the country.

Now, the regulatory body is taking action with a set of proposed new guidelines for the safe prescription of fentanyl and other opioids.

READ MORE: Alberta college wants doctor feedback on stricter opioid rules draft 

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    The new rules would mean more steps for doctors when they are assessing a patient’s risk of addiction, including possible drug screening and prescribing limitations.

    “Physicians have been, over time, too liberal for a number of reasons, good reasons in large part – and it’s time we do something to correct that,” Dr. Trevor Theman, the CPSA’s registrar, said.

    The college wants the current daily maximum dose dropped to less than half of what it currently is, unless a doctor can justify otherwise.

    “Even patients who are on starting doses of most oral opioids – or transdermal opioids such as fentanyl – are already pretty close to the watchful dose, so there’s not a lot of room,” Dr. Brian Knight, an Edmonton-based anesthesiologist, said.

    Knight also said the new rules would add extra work for already busy family doctors and could possibly discourage them from taking on chronic pain patients.

    The current practice of prescribing requires triplicate prescriptions for anything stronger than codeine. That means the prescription has three copies. One is sent to the pharmacy, one is kept at the doctor’s office and the third is sent to the college and entered into a database. There is no requirement for doctors to check a patient’s history.

    “Our members should be prescribing the lowest dose possible,” Theman said. “If they have patients on really high doses, they should be working to reduce those doses and be looking at other kinds of treatment.”

    READ MORE: Patients prescribed opioids after surgery not likely to become addicted: study

    Patients themselves are speaking out about the possibility of losing access to opioids.

    “It’s got such a bad name right now,” Sam Galm said of the pain medication fentanyl.

    Galm recently weaned herself off a fentanyl patch voluntarily because she was afraid new prescribing rules would block her access to it.

    She is using it to treat her chronic pain.

    “I’m in agony. It’s a never-ending pain.”

    Galm has tried chiropractic, physiotherapy and massage therapy to cope. Opioids were her last resort but since quitting fentanyl, she can barely leave the house.

    But according to the Edmonton Police Service, prescription drugs are a problem.

    “From 2012 forward, the amount of files that I see that involve prescription abuse have increased considerably and … (people) are travelling around or being stopped with literally Ziploc baggies full of assorted pills, selling them on the street,” Det. Guy Pilon said.

    Pilon said many of those drugs are acquired through the health care system whether it’s through a prescription, acquired from someone who doesn’t need the pills anymore or through theft.

    READ MORE: ‘We are in the middle of a crisis’: fentanyl focus of two-day Calgary conference

    But Knight acknowledges most patients on large doses of opioids are highly functional and responsible. He worries about how it might affect the doctor-patient relationship.

    “Any time you’re asking a patient to pee into a bottle, it becomes a punitive aspect to it,” he said. “It’s going to result in a lot of little old ladies for example, with compression fractures, getting urine drug screens. But occasionally, you do catch somebody that you didn’t think was using it.”

    READ MORE: Who pops the most painkillers? How Canada’s opioid use compares with the rest of the world

    The CPSA says patients will not be abandoned.

    “Those patients need to be treated, not abandoned. They need to be treated as responsibly and carefully as possible. For some, that might mean weaning them off. For others, that might mean addiction treatment,” Theman said.

    Members of the public, along with health professionals, are being invited to give feedback about the new guidelines on the CPSA website until Dec. 12.

    For Galm, the decision to stop using opioids was the right thing to do but for others it will not be that easy. Galm recalls a friend who was forced to reduce his medication and, in the end, took his own life.

    “I’m worried that there’s going be more people that take that route, because when you can’t do anything because of pain – what’s the point?”

    With files from Su-Ling Goh

NEW YORK — A woman was crushed to death by a subway train Monday in New York City after another woman pushed her onto the tracks at the bustling station beneath Times Square, police said.

Authorities said the women were on the platform shortly after 1 p.m. and had been seen having some kind of discussion or argument. Then one woman pushed the other, a 46-year-old, in front of a southbound No. 1 train. She died at the scene.

Police said witnesses flagged down two police officers standing on the platform and the suspect, identified as Melanie Liverpool, 30, of Queens, was apprehended within minutes. She was later arrested on a murder charge. It wasn’t clear if she had a lawyer who could comment on her behalf.

WATCH: 1 dead, 2 injured in NYC subway shooting

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Authorities have described the suspect as emotionally disturbed.

Police were looking at video surveillance to determine what led to the attack, Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry said.

Subway deaths from pushes are not common, but there have been a few in the past few years. In 2014, Kevin Darden, 34, was charged with killing a 61-year-old immigrant from Hong Kong, Wai Kuen Kwok, by shoving him into the path of a subway train in the Bronx. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is awaiting sentencing.

READ MORE: Man pushed to his death on NYC subway track as wife watches in horror

In 2012, Erika Menendez, a mentally ill woman who had a history of attacking strangers, shoved an immigrant from India off a subway platform in Queens. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. The victim, Sunando Sen, was 46.

Also in 2012, a homeless man, Naeem Davis, was arrested and charged with shoving Ki-Suck Han, a Korean immigrant, into the path of a subway train at a station near Times Square.

A fatal subway push in 1999 led to a state law, known as Kendra’s Law, that allows supervision of certain patients outside of institutions to make sure they’re taking medications and don’t present a public safety threat. It came after the death of Kendra Webdale, who was pushed to her death by a former mental patient.

The most expensive home for sale in Canada is a condo in Coal Harbour.

The $58,888,000 penthouse at Three Harbour Green on Thurlow Street is right at the waterfront and has 360-degree views of the city, ocean and mountains.

It’s just over 8,000 square feet with four bedrooms and five bathrooms, plus two rooftop terraces and a balcony totalling 4,840 square feet. It also has a private seven-car garage.

Built in 2012, the property was last sold in 2014 for $16.6 million, meaning the latest listing price shows an increase of 254 per cent.

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READ MORE: Vancouver home sales plummet nearly 39% in October

Documents show the condo is currently owned by a numbered company called 0996109 B.C. Ltd.

But with the uncertainty in Vancouver’s real estate market at the moment, what are the chances a buyer will step up to the plate with almost $60 million in hand?

The condo is the only property listed at over $50 million in the country, and is one of only seven listed at over $30 million. Plus, there have only been five homes sold for over $20 million in Metro Vancouver in the last two years.

There’s also the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax that will add another $8.8 million to the price tag, if an overseas buyer takes the bite.

READ MORE: Foreign buyers 1.3 per cent of Vancouver sales

But for someone with that kind of money, realtor Tom Gradecak says they’d likely be able to negotiate.

“If someone is looking to spend $50 million on a house, they will probably find a way to buy the home and likely negotiate part or all of the tax with the seller,” Gradecak said.

On the other hand, UBC economist and real estate expert Thomas Davidoff questions the financial aptitude of someone willing to spend that kind of money on taxes.

“Naturally, the 15 per cent foreign buyer tax makes this a more difficult sale, because the number of Canadians willing and able to purchase this property must be small, and no one got rich paying over $9 million dollars in taxes to buy luxuries,” Davidoff said.

READ MORE: Goodbye Vancouver: Foreign buyers now flooding Seattle and Toronto real estate markets

Even if a local buyer could put together a 20 per cent down payment on the condo – $11.7 million – they would still need to find about $118,000 bi-weekly for mortgage payments. That’s $2.8 million a year in payments.

Check out the photos of the pricey pad below:

         

PHILADELPHIA — In the place where America’s democracy took root, with tens of thousands shivering in the cold, Barack and Michelle Obama. passed the torch Monday to Hillary Clinton in an emotional but anxious plea to elect her president.

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Though the book won’t close on his presidency until Inauguration Day, Obama’s frenzied, last-minute push for Clinton was a farewell tour of the nation. As he crisscrossed Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, he waxed nostalgic, told old stories and teared up as he thanked the nation for betting, improbably, on “a skinny guy with a funny name.”

He said he’d been asked recently whether the hope that defined his campaign had somehow survived eight trying years.

“The answer’s yes,” Obama said outside Independence Mall, not far from the Liberty Bell. He said he was still a believer, “and that’s because of you.”

“In the letters you’ve written me, in the tears you’ve shed for a lost loved one, I’ve seen again and again your goodness and your strength and your heart,” Obama said.

Then the Obamas and the Clintons embraced onstage: The last Democratic president and the current one; the first black president and the woman who, on Tuesday, may break yet another historic barrier.

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton closes with all-star cast as Donald Trump finishes with family

It was left to Michelle Obama, whose visceral speeches this campaign hit a nerve with many Americans, to cast both families as part of a singular American story: One of inclusive opportunity that she hoped would contrast powerfully with the vision of Republican Donald Trump.

WATCH: First lady Michelle Obama asks America to make history once again

She said she marveled at a country where “a girl like me from the South Side of Chicago, whose great-great-grandfather was a slave, can go to some of the finest universities on earth. Where the biracial son of a single mother from Hawaii and the son of a single mother from Hope, Arkansas, can both make it to the White House.”

“Thank you for welcoming us into your communities, for giving us a chance whether you agreed with our politics or not,” Mrs. Obama said, in her own send-off to the nation. She said ensuring Clinton wins the election was “perhaps the last and most important thing that I can do for my country as first lady.”

READ MORE: Where US presidential candidates stand on eve of election day

It wasn’t always this way. In 2008, when Obama defeated Clinton in a grinding primary, there was naked bitterness between the two Democrats that only began to soften when Obama named her secretary of state.

Nearly a decade later, the Obamas need Clinton as much as she needs them, to prevent their legacy from being eviscerated by a victorious Trump. After all, the president told supporters earlier in Ann Arbor, Michigan, all his accomplishments “go out the window if we don’t win tomorrow.”

WATCH: Clinton says America’s best days ahead; clear choice who to vote for

Clinton, too, was meditative about the bruising battles that have led her to this moment.

“I regret deeply how angry the tone of the campaign became,” Clinton said. In a less-than-subtle display of political symbolism, she spoke from behind the presidential seal affixed to the podium from which Obama introduced her.

READ MORE: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton: The most memorable, cringe-worthy moments from the 2016 campaign

The Obamas are keenly aware that whether or not Clinton wins Tuesday, their era is coming to an end, a reality punctuated by both Obamas’ insistence that neither will ever run for office again.

So in a parting gift to Clinton, Obama offered her his campaign mantra — “Fired up, ready to go” — and told rally-goers in New Hampshire how it had been coined by a supporter he’d never met who showed up at an obscure event eight years ago in South Carolina.

“It just goes to show you how one voice can change a room,” Obama said — and then a city, a state and a nation. “And if it can change a nation, it can change the world.”

Changes are coming to BC parks camping reservation system.

Beginning in 2017, the mid-March opening day for reservations will be scrapped and the three month rolling reservation window will be extended.

It now means reservations for the 2017 season can be made four months in advance of an individual campground’s first reservable date.

The changes come after complaints surfaced last year over the reselling of reservations, overbooking, and long weekends being unfairly secured.

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READ MORE: Government says camping spot crisis due to lack of supply

“Every year, we make adjustments. Every year, people find innovative ways to get around that. We hope with the adjustments this year, we will have dealt with any of those new complaints,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak.

Much of the blame has also been directed at tour companies accused of block booking and then reselling the sites to foreign visitors for profit.

READ MORE: Hot demand spurs camping reservation black market in B.C.

To prevent reselling, permit holders will no longer be allowed to change the names on their reservations and at least one of the permit holders must be present during the stay. The province says in 2016, BC Parks is aware of 46 incidents of attempts to resell Discover Camping reservations.

In addition, the province will be implementing a pilot project in certain provincial campgrounds, shortening the 14 day maximum stay policy to seven days in five high-occupancy campgrounds during peak season. Those areas include Martha Creek, Mount Fernie, Porteau Cove, Loveland Bay, and Ellison.

The province is hoping a maximum seven night policy will free up more than 1,000 campsite vacancies.

Demand for BC campsite online reservations has grown more than 91 per cent in the last five years. The changes will take effect January 2017.