As the world continues to face the greatest public health crisis in generations, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is urging federal political parties and candidates to make health care an election priority. The next federal government has an opportunity to play a critical role in ensuring an effective COVID-19 pandemic response, supporting the health workforce and building a health care system that works for all Canadians.
“The pandemic exposed devastating systemic gaps in the country’s health care system, and we have all paid the price for that,” says Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president. “This election, Canadians expect political parties to make significant commitments to reset our health systems.”
In anticipation of this vital conversation, the CMA has released Reframing Health, a four-pillar policy roadmap. It calls on all political parties to make the following commitments to Canadians:
- Lead an effective COVID-19 response: Maintaining strong federal leadership is central to Canada’s pandemic response. The federal government must enable increased vaccination rates, develop a vaccine passport system for international travel, deploy a domestic vaccine certificate program, and invest in a safe and sustained return to in-school learning.
- Build a health system for the future: The federal government must deliver increased, long-term, and sustained health funding to the provinces and territories, as well as deploy national standards for long-term care and invest in enhanced home and community care. The government must also transform Canada’s Public Health capacity, commit to addressing the social and structural determinants of health, and implement a plan to address climate change and its growing health impacts.
- Invest in the health care workforce: Health care workers continue to struggle with extreme fatigue and burnout as the pandemic stretched from weeks to months. The federal government must invest in health workforce planning, support nation-wide licensure for medical practitioners, and implement a Primary Care Access Fund to expand access to vital family doctors and primary health care providers. Investments in Canada’s health care workforce planning are needed to improve access to care while ensuring the well-being of health workers.
- Commit to reconciliation and anti-racism: Structural inequities have a direct impact on health outcomes. We urge the next federal government to implement all the Calls to Action set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and lead a nation-wide anti-racism plan.
“We are asking each and every candidate to stand up for health,” says Dr. Smart. “We cannot accept the status quo. Our patients, health workers and communities need better.”
In its capacity as a non-partisan organization focused on advocacy, the CMA will be using the core recommendations outlined above to assess the commitments made by major political parties during this campaign.