While yesterday’s federal budget contained welcomed measures aimed at addressing some of healthcare’s most immediate challenges, it missed an opportunity to more broadly reimagine a system that currently finds itself in crisis.
The CMA welcomes much-needed investments to help provinces and territories clear the backlog of medical procedures caused by pandemic, new programs to support mental healthcare needs, as well as funds to improve the safety of long-term care. These are critically urgent needs that will provide short-term relief, as will the continued federal investments and leadership in managing Canada’s pandemic response, detailed in the budget.
Unfortunately, these measures are simply not enough to tackle the systemic problems that have plagued health care in Canada for decades. As provinces and territories continue to struggle with the ever-increasing cost of providing care, the federal government must follow through on its own promise to work with premiers on revisiting the Canada Health Transfer. Without this collaboration, our healthcare system, which has been put through the ultimate stress test, will struggle to recover.
We are also disappointed that this budget did nothing to address the problems faced by the nearly five million Canadians who must navigate medical issues without consistent access to a family doctor or primary care provider. The federal government has committed on numerous occasions to ensuring each Canadian has access to a primary care professional, but we have yet to see any real commitment to this ongoing issue.
This has been an enormously difficult year for patients and healthcare providers alike as they have been trapped in a system that has been neglected for too long. Small cracks have become gaping holes. Building resiliency for the future must include real commitments to health care. If anything, this pandemic has shown us where the problems are, but we must address them before it’s too late.
Dr. Ann Collins