While governments continue to debate how to fund health care in Canada, an in-depth analysis of federal, provincial and territorial budgets illustrates that there are areas of common interest that could serve as a starting point to rebuilding health systems in Canada.
The analysis shows that all 13 provinces and territories are prioritizing health care, budgeting an average increase of 4.4% in health spending, five times higher than the overall average budget increase. Prepared by Deloitte for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the report also found that governments across Canada have prioritized funding and resources in common areas such as mental health, increasing system capacity and care for older adults. The report, Measures to Address Health System Challenges: Review of Canadian, Provincial and Territorial 2022 Budgets, highlights potential funding and reform measures related to rebuilding health care.
“As Canadians from coast to coast to coast go without timely access to health care and exhausted providers struggle to keep up with demand, governments continue to debate who’s responsible for paying for health systems,” says Dr. Alika Lafontaine, CMA president. “What’s being lost in this discussion is that health care is about people: the people who need care and those who provide it. This new analysis shows that governments have more in common with respect to their health system goals than they may realize. We believe it’s time for the federal and provincial/territorial governments to work together to redefine health care in Canada.”
Unprecedented health crises across Canada today include overcrowded and closed emergency departments, a shortage of physicians, nurses and other health providers, collapsing primary care, and a backlog of procedures. It is in that context that the CMA is calling on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to convene an emergency meeting and to work together to create a long-term sustainable path to stabilize health systems and define a new future of health care by assessing how it should be funded and how progress and results can be measured.
“We must use the lessons from our past to work toward a new era of intergovernmental collaboration to resolve health system issues once and for all,” adds Dr. Lafontaine. “Simply injecting more money into broken systems will not resolve the concurrent and growing crises we’re seeing. To effectively coordinate and collaborate across the 13 provincial and territorial health systems, we need to see political will. We have shared problems; we should seek shared solutions. What we decide today will not only determine the sustainability of health systems, but their very survival.”
This fall, the CMA is convening key stakeholders and the medical profession for discussions on mapping out the future of health care in Canada. Solutions are available now to address immediate and longer-term pressures within the health system. The CMA remains committed to improving the health care system and ensuring Canadians can access the care they need.