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Feds urged to follow ‘Canadian way’ to reform health care

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has joined 39 other national health care organizations in calling for a return to the ‘Canadian way’ of addressing national health issues through compassion, consensus and collaboration.

The consensus statement Accelerating Innovation and Improving Health System Performance was issued by HEAL (the Health Action Lobby) to prompt all federal parties to articulate their positions on health care for Canadians, in advance of 2015 federal election. HEAL was created in 1991, and represents more than 650,000 health care providers and consumers of health care, with its major focus of activities the federal role in health and health care.

“To secure the future of the health system, HEAL believes that federal leadership is essential —both in areas where it has a clear responsibility and where it can lead collaboration, innovation and improved system performance along with the provinces and territories,” said Glenn Brimacombe, HEAL co-chair, in releasing the statement.

“We believe the HEAL approach reflects the ‘Canadian way’, one that is deeply rooted in compassion, consensus and collaboration.”

One element of the consensus statement focuses on the need for an innovative approach to addressing the care of seniors, an area of special concern to the CMA.

“We are pleased to see the emphasis in the consensus statement on the need to address the needs of the elderly and the development of strategies to ensure older Canadians can access the appropriate care they require,” said CMA President Chris Simpson.

Overall, he said, “this … statement aligns totally with the CMA’s own health care transformation initiative in urging the federal government to take a leadership role in health.”

The consensus statement identifies various ways the federal government can play a leadership role in improving the health and health care of Canadians. These include accelerating the pace of innovation, improving overall accountability and transparency in system performance and raising the level of collaboration with the provinces and territories, and with providers.

The statement focuses on six issues:

  • improved collaboration between the federal government and the provinces and territories
  • a vision statement for the federal government in health and health care
  • a framework to guide improvements and innovation in health systems and health care delivery
  • options for a financially stable health system
  • the need for strategic federal investments related to Canada’s aging population, access to prescription drugs and the spread of on-the-ground health innovations
  • the development of a common set of national health system performance indicators

The statement calls for combined, time-limited strategic funds to spur system improvements including a National Health Innovation Fund and a Community-Based Health Infrastructure Fund.

As part of the statement, HEAL advocates that the federal government contribute 25 per cent annually to health care funding in Canada. The present federal share of health system funding is estimated to be 23 per cent this year, dropping to 13.3 per cent by 2037 if no changes are made.

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