The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to see confirmation of the Canada Health Transfer and bilateral funding commitments confirmed in federal budget 2023-24, as meaningful health system reforms are urgently needed.
“We’re encouraged that the federal government has been listening to the collective voices of patients and health care providers who have been calling for greater, targeted investment into health care and foundational changes into how care is delivered,” says CMA president Dr. Alika Lafontaine. “Investments that address worsening patient access to health services and deteriorating working environments for providers have never been more needed.”
The CMA urges the federal government to work collaboratively to implement the recommendations advanced in the Standing Committee on Health’s report Addressing Canada’s Health Workforce Crisis that was tabled earlier this month. The report calls for national licensure for physicians, optimizing scopes of practice for health professionals, educating more health workers in Canada, investing in collaborative teams, and reducing administrative burden present in the system.
The CMA has long called for greater investment into health systems and changes to how care is delivered across Canada. It has advocated for increases to the Canada Health Transfer, federal leadership on pan-Canadian health workforce planning, scaling up team-based primary care, expanding the mobility of health professionals and virtual care, and advancing reconciliation in the health system in addition to increased accountability throughout the health system. Each of these were addressed to some degree in the federal budget. Notably, the budget will hold provinces and territories accountable to advance physician mobility – a remarkable step toward pan-Canadian licensure as advocated by the CMA. The association is prepared to work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments to advance these and other urgent issues to improve health care for all.
“In recent weeks, we’ve seen provincial and territorial governments announce various measures to improve access to care in their respective jurisdictions,” says Dr. Lafontaine. “It gives us renewed hope that change is coming and that patients and providers will see improvements to access and working conditions over time. Investments alone will not restore hope and trust in Canadian health systems. Hope and trust require ongoing, consistent action. Every level of government, along with health stakeholders, must remain at the table to deliver real improvements.”