Dear Premiers and Territorial Leaders,
On July 11 and 12 in Victoria, you will hold your first face-to-face Council of the Federation meeting in more than two years. You have again asked that the federal government raise its contribution to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). This is a demand familiar to Canadians as a regular feature of federal-provincial-territorial relations. In our current context, it has taken on even greater, existential urgency.
As the national voice of healthcare organizations and hospitals across Canada, HealthCareCAN supports your calls for a significant increase in health transfers to the provinces and territories. But the existing formula for determining those transfers has to change drastically. We need an outcome-driven system based on performance indicators tracking impacts on Canadians’ health, with the prioritization of those indicators — be they wait times, access to specialized services, home care, reduction in hospital visits for specific chronic diseases or other metrics — determined by each individual province based on its unique needs. This approach would ensure accountability not only between governments, but also between governments and the people they serve.
As all of you know, the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a crisis. It is the sort of multifaceted, protracted public health catastrophe that happens once in a century. It has been more than a stress test on Canada’s treasured healthcare system; it has been a sustained assault. That assault has revealed strengths: among them, the selflessness of our healthcare workers, the ingenuity of our health researchers, and the depth of our clinical capital. It has also revealed weaknesses, and none of those weaknesses — from decaying infrastructure to lagging digitalization — can be fixed without immediate investment.
Most urgently, Canada is experiencing a health workforce shortage. This shortage pre-existed COVID but has been exacerbated by the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
HealthCareCAN has worked hard with our front-line members to identify key priority areas for short- and long-term federal action to address the growing workforce shortage. We recommend:
- the implementation of a pan-Canadian health workforce planning strategy;
- the establishment of a pan-Canadian health workforce body created collaboratively between Ottawa and the provinces/territories;
- the leveraging of immigration and internationally trained health care workers to address workforce shortages;
- interprovincial/territorial coordination of education and licensing;
- collaboration among provincial and territorial governments, regulators, and educational institutions to train more healthcare workers – particularly from Indigenous and underrepresented communities; and,
- the expansion of mental health and wellness programs for healthcare workers.
On May 9, our submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health for its Study on the Emergency Situation Facing Canadians in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic included a comprehensive list of 20 recommendations to address those challenges. Without immediate reform, healthcare workers will continue to leave the system in droves due to exhaustion, illness and burnout, which will compound the closures of emergency rooms and other health care services, and health outcomes for Canadians will worsen. That is not a rhetorical warning, it’s a statement of fact.
While we welcome the upcoming meeting of the Council, HealthCareCAN has also called for a separate federal-provincial First Ministers Conference dedicated solely to addressing the urgent needs of Canada’s healthcare system.
Meanwhile, as you continue to debate funding percentages, the health system is crumbling around us and Canadians need you to take action, now. If you do not, there is no telling how much worse off our health system, healthcare workers and patients will be when the next crisis hits.
We wish you success in the difficult task before you,
President and CEO, HealthCareCAN
July 26, 2023 (Ottawa) – HealthCareCAN congratulates the new and returning members of the federal cabinet sworn in today and pledges to continue working with all parliamentarians to ensure Canada has a health research ecosystem, and a health system, able to meet the needs of our citizens. This new cabinet must lead the way forward
July 12, 2023 (Ottawa, ON) – HealthCareCAN is deeply disappointed that the Premiers have not released their action plan detailing how they are going to spend the financial investment received via the latest First Minister’s meeting. We would have expected that the leaders to begin the discussion on how they plan to approach that transformation
ERs across Canada likely to face rolling closures, long wait times, doctors, nurses warn – iPolitics interview with Paul-Émile Cloutier, president & CEO
May 1, 2023 (Ottawa) – HealthCareCAN supports graduate and postdoctoral students’ call to action from government as a key component to strengthening the health research ecosystem in Canada. A March 2023 report published by the Advisory panel on the federal research support system reflects numerous recommendations provided by HealthCareCAN during consultations, including an increase in