Earlier today, I presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. I shared my deep concern about the state of Canada’s health systems, which were stressed before the pandemic and have now reached a critical tipping point. Many of my physician colleagues — and the people who work alongside them — are exhausted and facing burnout. They are under immense pressure while they tackle the second wave of this pandemic, which has already claimed too many lives.
Today’s federal economic update should have offered health care providers hope of relief and a glimpse of the federal leadership required to keep our health system afloat. But instead it fell short. While the update tries to address the impact of the pandemic across sectors, it is our health care system that is experiencing some of the most intense pressure points. Based on what we heard today, these crisis points are not being addressed.
We understand that the health of the economy is important as we look to a post-pandemic world. We also need a strong health system with support for those working in it, otherwise the recovery sits on a precarious foundation – one that is stretched far beyond its capacity during this second wave. While the $1 billion allocated to support long-term care is a good start, it nowhere near meets the health care capacity shortfalls across Canada.
Next week, the First Ministers will meet to discuss health care sustainability and funding through the Canada Health Transfer. This is the first such discussion in over 16 years and we believe it represents an opportunity for the federal and provincial and territorial governments to show strong leadership and collaboration to build the health care system that we need – not only during a pandemic but in the future.
The reality is that our health care system is on the verge of crumbling. We remain hopeful that our SOS will be heard so we can focus on taking care of Canadians throughout this pandemic and after. Our health depends on it.
Dr. Ann Collins, CMA President