Week in Brief: Regulatory News

Vermont eases licensing burdens, medical marijuana doctor loses license in Michigan, Quebec drops vaccine mandate, and more in this week’s regulatory news.

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The Week in Brief is Thentia’s weekly snapshot of regulatory news and what’s happening in the world of professional licensing, government technology, and public policy.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is dealing with what may be Canada’s worst-ever cyberattack, and one that has significant implications for national security. The news came five days after IT problems were discovered in the province’s health-care system, causing the cancellation of thousands of medical procedures from X-rays to chemotherapy, CBC reports. Over 400 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have faced ransomware attacks since the beginning of the pandemic and Ireland’s health-care system dealt with a ransomware attack in the spring. 

Vermont is joining the growing list of states that are easing barriers for individuals moving between states. The Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) is streamlining the licensing process for those who have previously worked in their field in other states for a minimum of three years and are also considered to be in good standing with the states in which they work. Since the Fast-Track Endorsement program was first implemented in the spring, more than 850 licenses spanning 40 different license categories have been issued through the expedited process, including nearly 500 nurses. Read more at Vermont Business Magazine. 

An investigation initiated by the Alaska State Medical Board (ASMB) has revealed that a spate of unqualified Florida doctors have recently applied for emergency licenses in Alaska while being actively sought for recruitment by a Chilean company. At least 14 of the unqualified doctors did receive their licenses although none practiced medicine before the problem was revealed, according to state officials. The medical board says it will reevaluate the state’s emergency licensing protocols to address these issues. Officials investigating the matter say the Chilean company involved was planning to relocate doctors to Alaska by recruiting unqualified physicians and charging additional licensure fees. 

New York City’s new mayor-elect Eric Adams has hinted that he may want to replicate the success of Miami’s CityCoins project as he seeks to make New York a more crypto-friendly place. In a Bloomberg interview, Adams indicated he’s committed to determining what’s preventing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency growth in New York as part of a larger push to make the city more business-friendly. The city has high barriers to entry for licensure of crypto firms and is the home of BitLicense, the gold standard of licensure that also entails an expensive and time-consuming process according to The Block. 

As a number of provinces and states across North America have enacted vaccination mandates for health-care workers, Ontario has bucked the trend by announcing it won’t impose COVID-19 vaccine mandates for health-care staff in the province. Currently, Ontario hospital workers must either get vaccinated or regularly tested for the virus, though many hospitals have advanced stricter policies including mandates. Quebec also announced it is backtracking on a vaccine mandate and will not require sector employees to get vaccinated. Although 97% of Quebec’s heath network workers are vaccinated, 14,000 haven’t had a first dose, and of those, 5,000 are in direct contact with patients, Global News reports. 

A lobby group for foresters in Ireland is asking the country’s Department of Agriculture to intervene in a crisis they say has frozen the forestry industry for over two years and threatens thousands of jobs. According to representatives from forestry businesses, a backlog of licensing applications is preventing nearly 6,000 forestry workers from getting work (in an industry that employs over 12,000 people), and some businesses have been waiting two years for permits to either plant or fell trees. Irish law demands foresters have licenses to plant or fell trees, or build roads to transport logs, according to The Irish Times. 

The appeals court in Michigan affirmed a two-year suspension for a doctor who approved around 22,000 medical marijuana certificates in under 12 months. Experts deemed it wasn’t possible for the doctor to conduct exams, get medical histories, and take all other needed steps, adding he would have to see 60 patients a day, seven days a week, during a 12-month period, according to The Associated Press. 

Also noteworthy: 

• Want to work at a casino? Getting hired might be harder than you think (Washington Times Herald) 

• Requiring 100 per cent of health-care workers to be vaccinated was always unrealistic (Edmonton Sun) 

• Opinion: No, dog trainers and boarders do not need strict licensing (Deseret News) 

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