November 28, 2022
Canada must break down the silos in our health system, adjust our delivery models, modernize physical and digital infrastructure, and support a better flow of data, information, and resources.
As anyone working in health care or trying to access health services in this country right now can attest, Canada’s health system is in crisis.
The pandemic certainly hasn’t helped matters, but the truth is that Canada’s health system has struggled for decades. Governments at all levels and of all stripes continue to promise fixes, but all they end up doing is pouring too few dollars into a system that doesn’t work for providers or patients.
If we want a world-class health system—one that rivals the pride Canadians have in it—then Canada needs to think bigger.
Funding is important, and further investments are needed as we deal with rising costs and inflation, an aging population, and decades of underfunding and under resourcing. But we also need to transform how health care is delivered in this country so that it better meets the needs of people across Canada.
Canadian health care is built on a 65-year-old foundation that provides public coverage for hospital and physician services. While this approach served Canada well when it had a young, healthy population, Canada’s population is much older now, with the number of people aged 65 and up set to make up 23 per cent of Canada’s population by 2031.
Canada is also dealing with multiple health crises. There’s the havoc that COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses are wreaking on our health system and peoples’ health, the ongoing mental health and opioid crises, and a worldwide health workforce shortage.
To truly tackle the challenges that our health system is facing, governments need to boost investments in health care and health research, but they also need to spend health dollars differently. This requires a shift in mindset and a move towards increased collaboration to deliver better health care for people across Canada.
Canada must break down the silos in our health system, adjust our delivery models, modernize physical and digital infrastructure, and support a better flow of data, information, and resources across institutions and jurisdictions.
These are long-standing challenges, but after almost three years of wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic, health-system stakeholders, including governments, are more aligned than ever on the need for change.
The conditions for success seem to be present, and we need to seize this window of opportunity before it closes.
At HealthCareCAN—representing hospitals, health research institutes, and health-care organizations across Canada—we have several ideas that can be acted on right away that will put Canada on track to building a system that works for providers and patients:
- Implement a pan-Canadian health workforce planning strategy to gather better workforce data and address health workforce challenges;
- Streamline the immigration and credentialing processes to help internationally educated health professionals join the system to fill vacancies;
- Invest in physical and digital infrastructure to modernize health care delivery, support virtual care, and improve health data accessibility and use for patients, providers, and researchers;
- Enhance health and social services to support better aging, including more home and community care;
- Deliver the $4.5-billion promised by the federal Liberals to expand mental health and substance use services;
- Drive improved health outcomes and medical innovation by doubling research funding; and
- Increase health transfers to ensure consistent, long-term funding that would enable health system transformation and better care delivery.
Building a world-class health system that meets the needs of providers and patients in the 21st century won’t be easy or inexpensive. But neither is dealing with the status quo of full emergency departments, long wait times, cancelled treatments and growing backlogs, and a health workforce that is exhausted, stressed, and burned out.
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November 28, 2022 Read the story as it originally appears in The Hill Times Canada must break down the silos in our health system, adjust our delivery models, modernize physical and digital infrastructure, and support a better flow of data, information, and resources. As anyone working in health care or trying to access health services
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