March 12, 2020 (Ottawa) –HealthCareCAN, the national voice of hospitals and research institutions in Canada, is calling on First Ministers to unite on a clear plan – with enhanced resources – to support frontline response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 is a wake-up call for Canada’s health care system,” said Paul-Émile Cloutier, President & CEO of HealthCareCAN. “Our nation’s political leaders must come together on a plan now to ensure our health care system can respond to emerging threats and meet the needs of our growing and aging population.”
Mr. Cloutier commended the $1-Billion commitment from the federal government to shore up supplies and support research among other things but cautioned that further action will be needed to support frontline health care staff are working flat out to meet the soaring demand for health care services.
Healthcare facilities across Canada were stretched beyond 100% capacity well before COVID-19 arrived in Canada. Health leaders are concerned that the widely expected surge in COVID-19 cases requiring hospital care could easily overtake the system’s capacity to cope.
“Health care providers and facilities on the frontlines have deployed emergency response measures and procedures to deal with the outbreak and are managing, for now,” said Mr. Cloutier. “But health care leaders are openly worried about whether our system has the capacity in terms of hospital beds, medical equipment, supplies and staff to manage a pandemic.”
“While Canada’s doctors, nurses and everyone else in the system are redoubling efforts to provide the best in care during this outbreak, they should be able to count on their federal government for much-needed support to address systemic challenges facing the health care system,” he added.
Health care facilities in Canada are among the oldest public infrastructure in use today with approximately 48% of facilities being over 50 years old. The picture is worse in cities, where 69% of health care institutions are over 50 years old. Canadian hospitals must constantly defer much-needed maintenance due to budget constraints in order to ensure high-quality, frontline care for patients.
“We must absolutely marshal our collective forces to deal with COVID-19 but addressing the short-term crisis should not preclude us from tackling the long-term challenges facing Canada’s health care system,” said Mr. Cloutier. “This is a national issue and a fundamental part of nation-building.”
HealthCareCAN is the national voice of healthcare organizations and hospitals across Canada. We foster informed and continuous, results-oriented discovery and innovation across the continuum of healthcare.
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