Health Ministers Must Engage Now in National Dialogue on Health Care

OTTAWA, September 14, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pressing Canada's federal, provincial and territorial health ministers to sharpen their focus and engage with Canadians in a dialogue to develop a strategic plan to ensure the future sustainability of Canada's health care system.

"Canada's health care system is facing serious challenges to its sustainability due to increasing demand and costs," said Dr. Jeff Turnbull, President of the CMA. "The health care system belongs to Canadians and they should have a say in how to make it sustainable."

Last month, the CMA released a new policy document, entitled "Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change That Works. Care That Lasts." The document notes that Canada's health care system faces the dual challenge of meeting the health care needs of Canadians while being affordable and not crowding out all other public spending. In a report released earlier this week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development echoed the CMA's sustainability concerns.

"Canadians want and deserve to be engaged in a more strategic approach that will help to keep them healthy, improve patients' experience of health care and improve the results we get for the money we spend as a nation on health care," said Dr. Turnbull. "That is how we can address the sustainability challenges facing Canada's health care system."

Canada's doctors believe that the time is now for Canada's federal health minister to step up and engage her provincial/territorial counterparts in strategic discussions on health care. Canadians agree, as a poll done by Ipsos Reid for the CMA last month found seven out of 10 (71%) Canadians said the federal government should focus equally on health care and the economy. The poll also showed that (86%) of respondents say they have seen no real action from government to address the challenges of our health care system.

"Canada's doctors and the patients we serve expect their elected representatives to join in discussions about how to transform our system and improve its effectiveness, efficiency and accountability," said Dr. Turnbull. "The time to start the dialogue is now."