B.C. sues contraceptive patch maker

VANCOUVER – The British Columbia government has launched a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson Inc. for health care costs associated with treating women who suffered from the company’s contraceptive patch. McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. and Janssen-Ortho Inc. were also named as defendants. The lawsuit claims that the users “did not receive any warnings about the increased risk of developing blood clots, pulmonary emboli, strokes, heart attacks or deep vein thrombosis associated with Evra … The government argues that the makers of the patch were negligent in not providing warnings on the labels, inaccurately alerting Health Canada about the potential risks, and not conducting long-term studies of the effects of Evra. In 2006, 43  U.S. women sued the company, which was already facing 400 similar lawsuits. At least 23 women have died from using the contraceptive patch.

Candidate promotes gay village

WINNIPEG – A Winnipeg mayoral candidate said he would create an official gay village in the city if elected. Real estate professional Rav Gill said he would establish a zone of the city, likely in the downtown or Spence neighbourhoods, as the new location of the gay village. He would instate tax incentives to encourage commercial and residential development. Gill said he found inspiration from official gay villages in other cities such as Ottawa and Toronto. “It’s more about lifestyle and entertainment, longer shopping hours you would normally find in this kind of area,” said Gill. “Of course it would be open for everybody.”

Family faces human trafficking charges

HAMILTON – A father, wife, and son charged with human trafficking and fraud briefly appeared in court on Oct. 12. Ferenc Domotor, his wife Gyongyi Kolompar, and their son Ferenc Domotor Jr., after making individual court appearances, were taken back into custody to await bail hearings. Seven other members of the family are still being sought on warrants. RCMP officers allege that at least 19 men promised high-paying jobs were trafficked from Hungary to Hamilton. They were forced to file for refugee status, social assistance (which was allegedly taken from them), and had to work in Domotor’s construction company without pay. They were also allegedly locked in basements under poor conditions. If the human trafficking charges stick, this will be Canada’s first case involving forced labour.

Trafficking expert pans Ontario

TORONTO – A human trafficking expert has criticized Ontario for its inaction in dealing with the issue. Benjamin Perrin is an associate law professor at the University of British Columbia and the author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. He called Ontario the “top destination province in Canada for foreign victims of sex trafficking” and reports in his book that 46 per cent of victims are found in Ontario. Perrin called for a task force targeting sex rings and trafficking gangs, as well as an agency to co-ordinate social services for victims. He said that the decision last month of the Ontario Supreme Court to overturn three prostitution laws would only make the situation worse. Perrin also called on the Ontario government to request that the erotic listings on Craigslist be deactivated in Ontario . Three Ontario cabinet ministers have already written a letter on Sept.14 to the CEO asking for their removal.

Study criticizes euthanasia

OTTAWA – An eReview by researcher Derek Miedema at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada states that legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would make it easier to encourage patients to seek death rather than long-term care and expensive treatment. As health care costs and waiting lists rise, offering euthanasia will seem like the easy and cheaper way out for the health care system. Miedema noted that Barbara Wagner of Oregon, who was prescribed expensive medication for cancer, received a letter from the Oregon Health Plan saying it would not pay $4,000 per month for the treatment, but that it would pay $50 to $80 for drugs that would cause her death. Research also shows that the feeling of being a financial burden encourages patients to seek euthanasia. “With governments billions of dollars in debt, death is a cheaper option in the face of the extraordinary costs of seeking real treatment or even palliative care,” Miedema writes.

Forces captain guilty of mercy killing

OTTAWA – Former Captain Robert Semrau was dismissed from the army and demoted to second lieutenant on Oct. 5 after a court martial declared him guilty of disgraceful conduct for shooting a mortally wounded Afghan insurgent. The prosecution suggested Semrau committed a mercy killing to stop the victim’s suffering. Some military experts are calling on Defence Minister Peter MacKay to overturn the dismissal. According to an editorial in the National Post, “the case highlights a gaping hole in Canadian legislation regarding the termination of lives without malice… hundreds of similar decisions get made behind closed doors in hospitals. Every year, as our population ages, more and more doctors will confront patients at the end of their lives, facing intractable pain.”

N.S. says no to online gambling

HALIFAX – Premier Darrel Dexter said on Oct. 14 that Nova Scotia will not offer an online gambling site. Although the NDP government will purportedly deal with online gambling in a new gaming strategy this year, Dexter said that government-sponsored online gambling is not “consistent with our goal to try to reduce the harm that is done by gaming.” According to Liberal gaming critic Leo Glavine, the NDP government made the announcement to draw attention away from the disagreement within caucus whether to partially fund the Halifax convention centre and the government’s refusal to release a draft report on the socio-economic impact of gambling.

PCs commit to N.B. abortion-funding policy

FREDERICTON – The new Progressive Conservative government in New Brunswick does not intend to change the province’s abortion funding procedures despite a lawsuit from abortionist Henry Morgentaler that has so far lasted seven years. Morgentaler is suing to force the provincial government to pay for abortions in his private abortion facility. New Brunswick will only cover the procedure if the patient has the approval of two doctors and if a specialist in a hospital conducts the abortion. New Premier David Alward, whose party won a majority on Sept. 27, says the province will still contest Morgentaler’s lawsuit. “That was my position before,” he said. “My position hasn’t changed.” The policy has been upheld by both Liberal and Conservative governments since the rule of premier Frank McKenna in the early 1990s. Peter Ryan, executive director of New Brunswick Right to Life told The Interim that “We are please but also hope that the province’s defense will be more vigorous than under the past government.”

Two N.B. hospitals responsible for 99% of publicly funded abortions

BATHURST – The New Brunswick Department of Health is refusing to confirm abortion statistics provided by Bathurst resident Ron Jessulat to The Northern Light. In a letter to the editor published Oct. 9, Jessulat stated that he obtained statistics from the Department of Health that indicated almost all provincially funded abortions in New Brunswick are conducted at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst and the Georges L. Dumont Hospital in Moncton. According to his statistics from May 2009 to April 2010, the hospitals are responsible for 360 out of 364 of the province’s abortions. Chrystiane Mallaley, a communications officer from the department, said that abortions can be done at any hospital, but that the province funds the procedure only when deemed medically necessary by doctors. Jessulat indicates in his letter, though, that he suspects that the two hospitals are breaking provincial policy. “In my opinion, our Medicare is being used to fund what is obviously abortion-on-demand and I strongly object to this abuse of my tax dollars” he said. Four abortions are committed between hospitals in Edmunston and Fredricton. Abortions committed at the Morgentaler abortuary in Fredricton are paid for privately.