Canadian Medical Association

Proposed $1.2B Primary Health Care Transition Fund would support the establishment of sustainable medical home model across the country

Ottawa (October 3, 2019) – Today, leaders from the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and the College of Family Physicians of Canada gathered in Vancouver to call on federal party leaders to commit to establishing a targeted $1.2 billion Primary Health Care Transition Fund.

This time-limited initiative would provide the necessary funding to help establish models of primary care based on the Patient’s Medical Home, a team-based approach that connects the various care delivery points in the community for each patient. These models consist of family physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and other health professionals working as a team to provide comprehensive primary care to patients. This would enable a more comprehensive approach to patient care, ultimately leading to better prevention and health outcomes for Canadians. The Fund will build on the success of its predecessor launched in 2000, which resulted in large-scale sustained change in primary care delivery models in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

Across the country, access to primary care continues to be a challenge for many Canadians. Some key facts include:

  • According to the 2017 Statistics Canada’s Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), almost five million (4.7 million) Canadians over the age of 12 reported that they did not have regular health care provider;
  • Of those who had a regular provider experience wait time issues: only 4 in 10 Canadians who had a regular provider could get an appointment within 48 hours when they needed one.
  • Of those Canadians with a regular health care provider in 2017, just four in 10 (40%) reported that there were one or more nurses working with their family physician/nurse practitioner, and just under one in 10 (9.5%) reported that health professionals other than doctors and nurses such as nutritionists worked in the same office where they obtained their regular care.
  • In November 2018, there were almost 2,000 advertised positions for family physicians, not including part-time and locum;
  • A 2018 Pollara survey found that while nine in 10 (89%) of Canadians with chronic conditions reported that they consulted a physician for their condition, just one in 10 (11%) reported access to a health care professional team.


CNA believes that strengthening primary health care is integral to improving the health of all people living in Canada and the effectiveness of health service delivery. Establishing a Primary Health Care Transition Fund will lead to improved health outcomes through equitable and timely access to services. This in turn will decrease costs to the health system in the future.”

-Dr. Claire Betker, president of the Canadian Nurses

The CFPC is encouraged by the renewed attention to the importance of access to family physicians and interprofessional health teams, as described in our Patient’s Medical Home vision. Financial support for structural reform that ensures the continued implementation of team-based care is crucial, as it will enable the Canadian health system to meet the evolving needs of patients and communities.

-Dr. Paul Sawchuk, CFPC President

Primary care is the backbone of our health care system in Canada, and a national priority in this election. As we know, health care is a shared responsibility between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. It’s time for the federal government to be an equal partner on delivering on the Canadian promise of universal health care so we can move our system forward into the 21st century.

-Dr. Sandy Buchman, CMA president

A commitment to Primary Health Care Transition Fund is a major step forward in continuing to build a network of care across Canada that places people in the centre of care – addressing immediate health needs while connecting to ongoing social and community health services that will support recovery as well as better long-term outcomes.”

-Dianne Heath, Executive Director, British Columbia Association of Social Workers

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