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Colleague to colleague: CMA President, Federal Health Minister share “patient focus”

Collaborating on the development of a new Health Accord and improving home care services for Canadians are two of the top issues that the CMA will be focusing on as the association begins to establish a formal working relationship with the recently-elected Liberal government.

CMA President Cindy Forbes shared these key priorities in her first official meeting with federal Minister of Health − and CMA member − Jane Philpott on Jan. 13. Although Forbes and Philpott met previously during the Speech from the Throne reception in December, this was the first time they formally sat down to discuss common priorities and objectives.

“All Members of Parliament want to serve Canadians, but it was great to sit down with Dr. Philpott and hear how her ingrained commitment to patients has really driven her to serve Canadians at the federal level,” said Dr. Forbes. “I look forward to working closely with her to bring that patient focus to Parliament.”

Apart from confirming the CMA as a key stakeholder in the decision-making process moving forward for the new Health Accord, Forbes also shared the association’s advocacy priorities in advance of the federal budget.

A major issue of concern for the CMA is the need to improve home care services for all Canadians. In its platform for the 2016 federal election, the Liberal party pledged to invest $3 billion over the next four years to prioritize additional and improved home care services for all Canadians. Fulfillment of this pledge was included in Philpott’s mandate letter, specifying that this should include: “more access to high quality in-home caregivers, financial supports for family care, and, when necessary, palliative care.

To this end, the CMA is proposing the creation of a funding mechanism to allocate the government’s financial pledge of $3 billion from the Social Infrastructure Fund. The types of home care services eligible under the fund could include palliative care, telehomecare, respite care, addressing the needs of high users of health care as well as mental health and addiction services.

In the lead up to the federal budget, the CMA will also be continuing to work directly with Canadians – patients and the general public – leveraging their grassroots power through a new letter-writing campaign. Since the beginning of the last federal election, nearly 30,000 Canadians have shown their support by joining the online campaign at www.DemandaPlan.ca.

Another issue that Forbes raised with the Minister was the possibility that the Liberal government might make changes to the Canadian-Controlled Private Corporation framework, which could have a negative impact on the practices of many Canadian physicians. The CMA president conveyed the serious concern that many members have on this issue. The Minister was receptive to CMA’s message.

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