After 40 days working to get health back on the federal agenda, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and its members will be pushing hard to keep it there.
With the election results in, the CMA will be looking to influence the new Liberal minority government and other parties as they work together to fulfill commitments made to health during the campaign — in areas the CMA, its members and the public identified as priorities.
Here’s some of what the CMA recommended and what parties committed to during the campaign:
ACCESS TO CARE
In their election platform, the Liberal Party adopted one of the CMA’s recommendations, promising to ensure every Canadian can access a family doctor or primary care team. The Conservative Party focused on investing in new diagnostic imaging machines, and the Green Party would like to see the Canada Health Accord prioritize a reduction in wait times.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH
The CMA called for more recognition of the link between the climate crisis and Canadians’ health. In their platform, the Green Party encouraged medical associations to train health care professionals to understand and engage with health threats related to climate change, and suggested that Health Canada’s mandate be broadened to include the health risks of climate change.
The Liberals, New Democratic Party (NDP) and Green Party aligned with the CMA’s recommendation to implement national pharmacare, to ensure equitable access to prescription medication across the country. They also recommended bulk drug purchasing among the provinces, territories and federal government to bring down the overall cost of medication.
“When we spoke to Canadians and physicians heading into the election, we heard a lot of worry about what the future holds for health care. We know there are areas of our system that need real attention, and we look forward to the new government showing leadership and following through on their promises to Canadians.” — CMA President Dr. Sandy Buchman
Both the NDP and Green Party promised to create a national seniors and dementia strategy — a recommendation the CMA has been calling for since 2013. The Green Party also adopted another of the CMA’s proposals to account for demographics in the health transfers to the provinces and territories. Several other parties made commitments to improving tax credits for seniors and/or increasing the benefits available to Canadians through the Canada Pension Plan.
Among other recommendations, the CMA called on candidates to address the digital divide in Canada and remove barriers to accessing online services. The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP promised to expand high-speed Internet access — a foundation that would enable the implementation of virtual care and increase access to care for Canadians, particularly those in rural and remote communities.
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH
In alignment with the CMA’s recommendation, the Liberals, NDP and Green Party pledged to ensure more timely and equitable access to mental health services for youth — through creating national standards for access, creating a national mental health strategy or ensuring the Canada Health Accord prioritizes access to these services.
“A high point of the campaign has been partnering with physicians and the public to call for health care change. By combining our efforts and working toward a common objective of better health and a stronger system, we’ve been that much more effective.” — Dr. Buchman
The CMA partnered extensively with its members and the public throughout the 40-day campaign, helping them connect with candidates to advocate for improved care.
Members can stay involved post-election through the CMA Advocacy Caucus, to build a relationship with their newly elected Member of Parliament (by email, phone or face-to-face), join letter-writing campaigns and advance the health issues that matter most to them and their patients.
The public can join the CMA Health Advocates platform to show their support for the CMA’s ongoing health advocacy.