Every day, too many Canadians struggle to access timely health care. Access is no longer equitable or reliable. Government leaders today have the responsibility to stabilize and rebuild health systems that have been in a downward trajectory for far too long. That is why, as the organization leading a national movement of physicians who believe in a better future of health, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is bringing health care solutions to Winnipeg, where Canada’s premiers will meet next week.
Today, the CMA is releasing a series of ambitious targets that governments can use to drive health system improvements. These targets build on the conditions included in the federal, provincial and territorial bilateral agreements on health. They are key to turning our health care systems around, and they build on solutions the CMA has long been advocating for such as pan-Canadian health workforce planning, scaling up team-based primary care, expanding the mobility of health professionals and virtual care, advancing reconciliation in the health system and increasing accountability and responsibility throughout the health system.
“We can all agree that the status quo is not working. Our health systems won’t change unless we change how we’re trying to solve our many problems,” says CMA President Dr. Alika Lafontaine. “These targets are about action — accelerating effective change to solve the number one issue for all Canadians: access to health care services. To achieve this, we must measure the things that matter most for the patient and provider experience. By gathering and measuring data in ways we never have before in our health systems, we can better understand how to move forward. Measurement drives action. If we can agree on what we need to do differently, governments and health system leaders can clearly map out the key milestones needed to achieve real improvements.”
With the new health system targets, the CMA is calling on governments to work toward improving access to care in several ways, including:
- eliminating hospital emergency department closures within three years;
- increasing the number of net new family physicians to 7,500 over five years and 15,000 over 10 years;
- increasing the percentage of Canadians with a regular primary care provider from 85% to 90% within five years, and to 95% within 10 years;
- reducing median wait times for community mental health and substance use services to two weeks by 2028 and one week by 2033;
- increasing the percentage of priority procedures delivered within medically acceptable wait time benchmarks to 80% within five years and to 90% within 10 years; and
- ensuring that 75% of Canadians can access their own electronic health records within five years, 90% within a decade.
The CMA is also calling on governments to engage Canadians in their respective health care systems, keeping them informed about progress made and improving accountability across the health system.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine will meet with Canada’s premiers during their Council of the Federation meetings in Winnipeg, July 10–12.