Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Granger Avery shone the light on the federal government's role in improving health care in a presentation this week to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
The committee, which comprises Liberal, Conservative and NDP Members of Parliament, is holding public consultations to get input on what should be targeted in the next federal budget, usually released in early spring.
"The CMA strongly supports the federal government's commitment to work with the provinces and territories toward a new Health Accord with a long-term funding agreement," Dr. Avery told the committee.
The CMA has submitted six recommendations for meaningful federal action "it contends will ensure Canada is prepared to meet the health care needs of its growing aging population":
- additional targeted funding to the provinces and territories by means of a demographic top-up to the Canada Health Transfer;
- a targeted home and palliative care innovation fund;
- infrastructure investments to improve and provide more long-term care;
- increased coverage for prescription medication;
- more financial support for family caregivers; and
- an exemption for group medical structures from the federal proposal to alter access to the small business deduction.
"We know that jurisdictions are struggling to meet the health care needs of our aging population," said Dr. Avery. "That's why the CMA is recommending new seniors care funding be provided to the provinces and territories by means of a demographic-based top-up to the Canada Health Transfer."
The demographic top-up would deliver needs-based federal funding in addition to the Canada Health Transfer, which currently leaves jurisdictions with older populations at a disadvantage. Rather than open up the funding formula, the federal government could deliver this much-needed funding immediately.
One of the other areas that the CMA has targeted for federal action is, in fact, a hangover from last year's budget: proposed changes to the small business deduction that could have drastic effects on some incorporated physician practices.
"The CMA estimates that this change will affect nearly 15,000 physicians incorporated in group medical structures," Dr. Avery told the committee. "This proposal will hinder medical research, training for the next generation of physicians, and patient access to specialized care."
Last year, the Finance Committee recommended that the incorporation framework for professionals be maintained. Despite the committee's recommendation, Budget 2016 introduced a proposal to alter access to the small business deduction.
Through a survey of members, the CMA has found that if the proposed changes are enacted, over 60 per cent would dissolve their group structure, even though many of these are within academic health science centres and were not formed for commercial or taxation purposes.
Over 1,300 CMA members have sent letters urging the federal government to reverse its plans to alter the small-business deduction. To avoid the unintended consequences, the CMA is strongly urging that the federal government exempt group medical structures from the application of this proposal.
For more information, you can view the CMA's full submission to the committee here.