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​​Budget 2018: What it means for physicians and medical learners

As expected, the 2018 federal budget announced final details on passive investments, within a Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC). While the CMA believes a comprehensive review of the tax system is still warranted, we were encouraged the rules are significantly less restrictive than originally proposed.

READ MORE: Budget analysis by our colleagues at MD Financial Management


The 2018 federal budget also made a number of commitments to improving Canadians’ health, in many areas where the CMA has advocated for action.

Opioids
The CMA has been working to ensure physicians and medical learners have the evidence they need to make informed choices about prescribing opioids. We partnered with other national organizations on the Pan-Canadian Collaborative on Education for Improved Opioid Prescribing, as well as the new Choosing Wisely Canada campaign, Opioid Wisely.  

The federal budget committed $231.4 million over 5 years for added measures to address the opioids crisis including:

  • Funding for multi-year projects that improve access to evidence-cased treatment services
  • Launching a public education campaign to address stigma for those seeking treatment
  • Improving access to public health data and analysis to better understand the opioid crisis
  • Expanding the Substance Use and Addictions Program to develop innovative approaches to treatment and prevention.

This money was in addition to the $13.5 million per year already committed to tackling the opioid crisis.

Cannabis
The CMA has consistently called on the government to adopt a broad public health approach on cannabis, focusing on preventing addiction, providing access to treatment for those who want to stop using, and publicly supporting Canada’s Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.

We have also advocated for packaging that highlights the health risks of cannabis, and stricter regulations for the health products containing cannabis.

With legalization set to happen in 2018, the federal budget committed funding for more research and awareness campaigns, including:

  • $62.5 million over 5 years for public education initiatives
  • $10 million for Mental Health Commission of Canada to help assess the impact of cannabis use on the mental health of Canadians
  • $10 million over 5 years to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to support research on cannabis use in Canada.

Seniors care
A key component of the CMA’s Demand a Plan campaign has been the call for a national seniors care strategy. In advance of the 2018 budget, the CMA also made a series of additional recommendations to the federal Finance Committee on how to improve seniors care, including funding for more residential care facilities, making the new caregiver tax credit refundable, developing explicit principles for home care funding, and convening a study on appropriate use of acute care for the elderly.

The CMA was encouraged to see the federal budget allocate funding towards dementia, and home and community care, including: 

  • $20 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support community-based projects that address the challenges of dementia. This is in addition to $4 million per year in ongoing funding.
  • $75 million in 2018–19 through the Public Health Agency of Canada to support the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project in New Brunswick. The Healthy Seniors Pilot Project will support a range of research initiatives to examine how governments can better support seniors in their home, communities and care facilities.

The budget also contained additional funding for Indigenous Health, including $1.5 billion over 5 years for increased health services to be delivered in Indigenous communities, $173 million for clean and safe drinking water on reserves, and $249 million for increased Health Support for Survivors of Indian Residential Schools and their Families.

Finally, the federal budget detailed the creation of an Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, to be chaired by Dr. Eric Hoskins (former Minister of Health of Ontario). The Advisory Council will conduct an economic and social assessment of provincial and international drug coverage plans, and will recommend options on how to move forward.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.