Our health care system has been harshly tested throughout the pandemic, and the time has come to fully reimagine the system. We need a health care system that can withstand future upheavals and give everyone involved, health care workers and patients alike, a positive experience.
This is a colossal task, of course, but a necessary one. We have to admit that the present state of affairs is unsustainable. The ordeal that we have all just suffered through should be viewed as an opportunity to finally give the people of Quebec what they deserve: a truly universal health care system that provides quality care where and when it is needed.
Understanding the frustration
Universal health care is a source of pride for Canadians across the country, and taxpayers are well aware that their collective contribution is the reason why people are able to leave the hospital without paying a single cent. So, what happens when people no longer have access to care? They start feeling like they’re paying for a service that they can’t use, or that isn’t delivered in an acceptable amount of time.
The health care system should be responsible for protecting and caring for the public, not the other way around. It is unconscionable that a developed country such as ours potentially jeopardize the health of patients because it’s unable to treat them in a timely manner. We should expect the public to demand more from decision makers when it comes to health care. After all, everyone has fresh memories of the past two years and is eager to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.
Demanding the best
In September 2020, my colleagues at the Canadian Medical Association and I called for a number of measures that we felt were needed to get the health care system back on its feet and make it more resilient.
The crux of the matter in health care is, and has always been, funding. But even all the money in the world can’t buy what’s absolutely necessary—that is, proper planning and forward thinking—to optimize the system and give the people of Quebec the care they need. Perhaps it is time to look at health care funding not as an expenditure, but as an investment. We should never forget that a healthy population is the foundation of a healthy economy.
In May, the Canadian Medical Association will work with experts to explore the best ways to build a health care system that generates value for all stakeholders. This discussion will highlight solutions that, if adopted, would have a positive effect on care in Quebec and Quebecers. Let’s hope that the government will listen to these proposals and build on them to redesign the system.
Dr. Abdo Shabah
Board Member, Canadian Medical Association
This text was initially published in the printed edition of Profession Santé