Canada’s health ministers have a golden opportunity next week to bring hope to Canadians and to 1.3 million health care workers from coast to coast to coast by charting a clear path of tangible action to help stabilize and begin rebuilding our struggling health systems. Patients and caregivers continue to suffer as health care providers burn out and leave their professions, wait lists grow and emergency departments close due to staff shortages.
With all 14 federal, provincial and territorial health ministers expected to meet in Vancouver, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and HealthCareCAN are calling on governments to put aside jurisdictional and partisan arguments, find common priorities and work toward solving the health system crisis that is affecting people in every part of the country.
Today, the CMA, CNA and HealthCareCAN are providing governments with a prescription for hope, including steps that should be taken immediately to begin stabilizing the health system to support workers in their efforts to care for the people of Canada, specifically:
- provide retention incentives, reduce administrative burden and strengthen mental health and well-being supports for health care workers;
- implement a pan-Canadian health workforce planning strategy to gather workforce data and develop solutions to tackle the health workforce shortage and address the factors hindering recruitment and retention;
- scale up models of care to ensure health care workers are enabled to work to their full scope of practice;
- implement pan-Canadian licensure to allow physicians to care for patients where they are needed most;
- invest in the physical and digital infrastructure needed to facilitate integrated, team-based care;
- improve access to primary care by creating a virtual care strategy integrated with comprehensive patient care and by boosting innovation in the system; and
- streamline the immigration and credentialing/licensing processes to help internationally educated health professionals get into the system to fill vacancies.
The CMA, CNA and HealthCareCAN are adamant that governments must take the opportunity next week to address serious health system challenges and ensure that health care providers and organizations can continue delivering the critical health services that people across Canada need. Short- and long-term solutions must be developed to meaningfully address this crisis. The CMA, CNA and HealthCareCAN are ready to engage with health ministers immediately.
“Canadians are beginning to question if their health systems will be there when they need them. Health care workers and patients are united in calling on governments to take the steps necessary to stabilize and rebuild our health systems to ensure their survival. Our prescription for hope means action to achieve meaningful change. Our various health systems are challenged in similar ways across the country; now is the time for collaboration, communication, and coordinated action to begin overcoming those shared challenges.”
- Dr. Alika Lafontaine, President, CMA
“Canada’s health care system is failing people in Canada, and it is no longer working the way it should be. Nursing shortages and the health workforce crisis are having detrimental consequences to the health system. People are quickly losing confidence and they are concerned they won’t be able to access critical health services when they need it. Solving this crisis requires a pan-Canadian approach and collaboration by all levels of government. We need structural reforms and urgent, concrete actions if we are to have a vibrant and sustainable health-care system into the future.”
- Dr. Sylvain Brousseau, President, CNA
“Imagine a hospital teeming with patients, waiting in their rooms and in hallways with no health care providers to care for them. That is becoming Canada’s sad reality and patients and health care providers across the country are looking to their political leaders for urgent action to shore up healthcare and health research in Canada. The gathering of the nation’s health ministers next week in Vancouver is a critical opportunity to demonstrate leadership, bring forward strategic action and chart a collaborative course to build a system that works for providers, patients and Canada.”
- Paul-Émile Cloutier, President & CEO, HealthCareCAN