Canadian Medical Association

Our health care systems are ailing. The infrastructure designed to serve the health care needs of Canadians is failing. Physicians face this issue every day. They hear from the patients and families they serve — stories of crowded hospitals, long wait times and a lack of access to appropriate care.

It is time to change the narrative in each and every jurisdiction.

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has heard from Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They want health care systems they can count on, not only today, but down the road. Not only for themselves, but for their loved ones. Especially for their aging parents. To make that happen, it will take national leadership to increase funding to the provinces and territories.

In the federal election, health care rapidly climbed the ranks of priorities for voters, and the government responded by making commitments to invest in primary care — the backbone of our health care systems. Now is the time for premiers to unite and keep the federal government to their word, because high-performing health care systems accessible by all Canadians depend on a robust primary care system.

The CMA continues to lead the national conversation on tangible solutions that connect patients to the care they expect, when and where they need it.

Staying true to the pan-Canadian approach of investing in primary care, we are asking the federal government for a targeted $1.2 billion of federal funds as an extra infusion into the Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF) to help jurisdictions achieve their own primary care reform objectives. The goal is simple — to ensure that the care provided across Canada meets the needs of patients, today and in the future.

This fund builds on the success of the multi-jurisdictional envelope launched in 2000. The original fund resulted in large-scale sustained change in primary care delivery models in three jurisdictions — Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.

With this more substantial PHCTF, all jurisdictions will benefit. Unification behind this infusion of funds into primary care will lead to a healthier Canada.

It will allow jurisdictions to achieve better health outcomes by shifting from episodic care to an approach of continuous care. This will allow for the consistency of a team-based approach to connect family physicians, nurses, social workers and other health professionals to provide comprehensive primary care for their patients.

Without this funding, our seniors will continue to feel the brunt of our health care system failures. That is why the CMA is also urging the government to implement a demographic top-up to the Canada Health Transfer. The top-up is based on the proportion of older persons in a province or territory. It will free up hospital beds, build better community care models and ensure all seniors get the best care possible.

Canadians want to see the federal government deliver on its election promise of funding more primary care reform and taking better care of the nation’s aging population.

On behalf of the patients we serve and in the interests of all Canadians, we ask that the premiers of each province and territory work together to make our health care systems worthy of all our citizens.

Dr. Sandy Buchman, CMA President