As we approach 2023, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will enter the new year by continuing to urge federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together to resolve the health systems crisis.
While governments argue over how Canada’s 13 health system should be funded, patients continue to suffer. Nearly five million Canadians do not have a primary care provider. Emergency departments routinely close due to staff shortages. Hundreds of thousands of patients on surgical waitlists and health service backlogs remain. Physicians and other health care workers continue to work overtime as they try to provide care to those who need it most, worsening already existing burnout.
There is no question that provincial and territorial health systems require targeted funding to support fast growing demand and aging populations. Beyond these much-needed strategic investments, rethinking how care is delivered now and into the future to address the many challenges our health systems are facing is critical. The CMA continues to urge governments to collaborate across jurisdictional silos to address the root causes of our health systems crisis.
The CMA has recommended several steps to stabilize and rebuild health systems, including:
- increasing the Canada Health Transfer to better support provincial/territorial health systems;
- establishing a pan-Canadian licensure model to expand the mobility of medical professionals;
- scaling up collaborative primary care to foster integrated care for patients; and
- creating a national health human resources strategy to plan for recruitment and retention of health workers.
We are encouraged that some jurisdictions are taking tangible steps to break down barriers to health care worker mobility and facilitate expedited licensing of internationally trained health professionals. Such efforts must be scaled up considerably if we’re going to make a real difference in the way health care is provided.
It is up to the elected officials at the federal, provincial and territorial levels to heed the repeated calls for action from patients and providers. The CMA remains a ready, willing partner to support the stabilization and rebuilding of our health systems.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine
President, Canadian Medical Association