November 25, 2021
We continue to grapple with the deadly global COVID-19 virus that has caused over 29,000 deaths, crippled our economy and pushed healthcare system to the brink and even past it.
The effects of climate change facilitated raging forest fires across the country last summer and then rampaging flooding in British Columbia this fall.
The death of Joyce Echaquan and the discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites underscored the ongoing impacts of colonialism and systemic racism toward Indigenous Peoples.
It’s difficult not to feel anxious and overwhelmed in the face of it all.
The gaps in healthcare exploited by the COVID-19 pandemic also have people worried that the health system will not be there for them when they need it. Unfortunately, for many, this is not a new feeling.
COVID-19 has consumed so many healthcare resources that, in far too many communities across the country, vital healthcare services and treatments are being rationed and delayed, raising the risk of poor health outcomes or even death.
As our members of Parliament have finally returned to work in Ottawa, the federal government must prioritize working with their provincial and territorial counterparts and Canadians to address these concerns head on by hosting a National Summit on Healthcare in Canada. This sit-down between Prime Minister Trudeau and all provincial and territorial leaders must include a discussion about increasing health transfers for healthcare, but that is but one issue.
Job one must be to finish the fight against COVID-19. That means ensuring that healthcare organizations have the necessary resources to continue dealing with the pandemic while also providing other vital health services such as surgical interventions and other treatments put off due to pandemic demands. It also means ensuring health research institutions have the support they need to continue to make breakthroughs that innovate the delivery of care, protect people from disease and improve health outcomes for all.
In the long run, the focus must be on more than simply ensuring our healthcare system can barely get by. It needs to be about making sure that our healthcare system achieves excellence, treats everyone equitably and not only meets peoples’ needs, but aligns with their wishes on how they want to live and age.
All of this will require more than promises, platitudes and posturing. We call on our leaders across all levels of government to work together to chart a clear course for improving healthcare in Canada.
Recently our national flag flew for months at half mast acknowledging and underscoring our collective failure to Indigenous people in Canada. How do we acknowledge and respond to the precarious situation of our health care system and the need for immediate attention?
Fixing healthcare is not a federal issue. This is a nation-building issue crucial to every person in Canada. To help our leaders get on with the job, here is a short list of priorities:
Strengthen support for health research and innovation: Federal investment in health research pales in comparison to what is invested in many other OECD countries. Canada’s jurisdictional divides and regulatory landscape discourage partnerships and global investment.
Implement a national health workforce planning strategy: Canada does not have enough healthcare workers to meet present, let alone future, demand in the health system. Healthcare is a people business and Canada urgently needs to take a pan-Canadian approach to health human resources planning.
Support better aging: Canada must develop a pan-Canadian approach to improve health and social services for older adults, ensuring they align with their needs and wishes.
Modernize Canada’s healthcare system: The federal government must better support health sector infrastructure, including digital infrastructure and cybersecurity, to streamline the health system, support virtual care, improve access and improve health outcomes.
Healthcare was a major priority during the federal election campaign, but we all know that platform promises mean nothing without action. That is why our new minority federal government must act quickly, decisively, and collaboratively to shore up healthcare in Canada.
This is our wake-up call to protect Canada’s healthcare system and ensure its sustainability. We can’t afford to hit the snooze button as we have done in the past.
President & CEO
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.