The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has congratulated the new Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, who will be taking the helm of a vital portfolio for all Canadians and welcomes the Honourable Carolyn Bennett in the new role of Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.
Giving the rationale for its supportive stance, the CMA cited the coronavirus(COVID-19) pandemic which remains a key concern due to the growing health workforce crisis and increasing procedural backlog, both representing significant and growing risks to the sustainability of Canada’s health systems.
The association stated: “The CMA strongly supports the many federal commitments to date to improve the delivery of care in Canada, and yet, even more is needed to support burned out health workers caring for people in Canada. We are pleased to see the addition of the new cabinet role of Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health emphasizing the importance of federal leadership in addressing nation-wide health priorities.
The CMA is eager to collaborate with the new cabinet to address these pan-Canadian health priorities:
Addressing Canada’s health workforce crisis
Canada is experiencing a health workforce crisis. Healthcare workers are burned out, exhausted and demoralized, all of which is exacerbated by the increasing shortage of health human resources. It’s critical to invest in health worker well-being. Many health workers have dealt with extreme working conditions throughout the pandemic and the toll it has taken will be long-lasting. There are no quick fixes, and this crisis has escalated beyond what any province or territory can manage on their own. The CMA looks to the federal government for urgent leadership and investment in the integrated, pan-Canadian health workforce planning necessary to ensure a strong and sustainable health workforce. Federal leadership in nation-wide health workforce planning, including the necessary data infrastructure, will ensure Canadians have timely access to health providers while supporting the well-being of health workers. The number of Canadians without access to a family physician or care team is at a record high, causing trickle-down effects throughout the health system and hinders patients’ ability to receive timely care. The CMA strongly supports the federal commitment to increase access to primary care providers – the foundation upon which an effective and responsive health system is built.
Leading Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic management
As some parts of the country endure devastating effects from the fourth wave, we continue to look to the federal government to maintain its leadership in Canada’s pandemic management. As we have witnessed, support from the federal government has been vital in jurisdictions where systems have neared collapse. The federal government’s role was central to Canada’s vaccination strategy, from securing the critical supply of vaccines to increasing vaccination rates among those who remain hesitant or can’t access vaccines due to structural barriers. Again, we are experiencing a patchwork approach across provinces with the deployment of vaccine mandates and vaccine certification system. The federal government’s leadership with a national, standardized proof of vaccination is a welcome development. The CMA encourages the federal government to continue its effort to ensure remaining jurisdictions adopt this approach.
Increasing federal health funding
With our health systems struggling to meet the needs of people in Canada, new health funding commitments by the federal government are vital to Canada’s economic future. With a depleted workforce and procedural backlogs at all time highs, patients risk experiencing a sub-par health system. We count on the government to translate welcome election commitments into reality as soon as possible to see a $6 billion investment to help address backlogs, $9 billion to improve long-term care, and $3 billion to increase access to vital primary care providers.
Investing in reconciliation and anti-racism
We urge the federal government to lead the development and implementation of a nation-wide anti-racism plan that will address ongoing structural inequities and advance the inclusion of everyone in societal systems and sectors. The CMA is committed to reconciliation and calls for federal investment and action to implement all the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including advancing the inclusion of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in health systems.
The pandemic has merely highlighted and exacerbated what we already knew: our healthcare system needs focus and attention. We, at the CMA, are ready to work with the new Minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health immediately to rebuild a strong healthcare system we can all be proud of.”