The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is eagerly anticipating a productive outcome of upcoming meetings between Canada's finance ministers, and between the prime minister and premiers. It's clear that investments in health care are urgently needed, along with commitments to reform how we deliver care to Canadians. While individual jurisdictions have announced novel solutions to stabilize their respective health systems, solving our concurrent health systems' crises requires collaboration and coordination across jurisdictions.
We know the problems: Five million Canadians are without a primary care provider. Emergency departments routinely close due to staff shortages. Millions of health services remain undelivered and hundreds of thousands of patients are on surgical waitlists. Physicians and other health care workers are buckling under the weight of burnout. Canadians are, understandably, frustrated.
We need to move toward solutions. The CMA has continued to recommend several steps to stabilize and rebuild health systems, including:
- increasing the Canada Health Transfer to better support provincial/territorial health systems and ensuring that new investment delivers results for Canadians
- establishing a pan-Canadian licensure model to enable the mobility of medical professionals;
- scaling up collaborative team-based care to improve access to primary care;
- investing in healthy working environments for health workers as part of new mental health funding; and
- creating a national health data and human resources strategy to address retention, recruitment, deployment and training of health workers.
Finance ministers are scheduled to meet today in advance of the prime minister and premiers convening on Feb. 7. We’re encouraged that our political leaders are coming together to discuss a path forward. Canadians are waiting for increased investment and critical reforms to ensure the sustainability of our health care systems.
It is time for federal, provincial and territorial governments to deliver on a concrete path forward to stabilize and rebuild Canada’s health care systems. The CMA is prepared to collaborate with governments to build a better future for the health of Canadians.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine
President, Canadian Medical Association