The following article was published on The Chronicle Herald website and was written by Dr. Granger Avery, President of the Canadian Medical Association.
The Canadian Medical Association and the patients our 85,000 physician-members care for every day are urging Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial political leaders to focus on crafting a new national health accord that will address the evolving needs of our growing and aging population and the disparities that exist between provinces and territories.
The CMA believes a well-crafted new national health accord can help Canada’s publicly funded health-care system better meet the needs of Canadians, while providing greater value for money, as well as enduring sustainability.
The centrepiece of this accord should be a measure the CMA is calling a “demographic top-up”.
It would provide $1.6 billion in federal investment to support the innovation and transformation needed in provincial and territorial health systems to address the health needs of our aging population.
The amount of this investment is carefully thought through. Based on calculations of the Conference Board of Canada, it will provide what each province and territory needs to address the necessary increase in health-care spending associated with an aging population.
Canadians are desperate for action on this issue, shown by the fact that more than 40,000 Canadians have signed their names in support of the CMA’s “Demand a Plan” campaign to urge political action to improve seniors’ care in Canada.
Tens of thousands of people have written letters to politicians and have spoken out at roundtable meetings across the country. Many have also shared their personal – sometimes tragic – stories of how they, or someone they care for, is not getting the health care they need.
After 50 years of Medicare, Canada can and must do better.
The strength of this approach is that it elevates and focuses the discussion on how to improve health care in Canada. It takes us away from the distracting debate about transfers of funds between the levels of government.
It helps us focus upon the one overriding issue: “What can we do to help Canadians?”
Under this approach there are no “losers”. And the winners are Canadians who pay taxes to support our health-care system and count on it to provide the care they need, when and where they need it.
We have heard from Canadians — including the tens of thousands of citizens active on Demandaplan.ca — that they are ready for the next generation of our health care system.
They have told us it is essential that Canada renew and strengthen our 50-year-old system to one that better meets the needs of seniors who are living longer, but with more complex and chronic conditions.
Canadians also understand that if we can give seniors the care they need in their communities, we will free resources for the rest of the system.
With our nation’s leaders meeting in Ottawa today, we have a real chance to turn the page from arguing over handouts and instead to focus on a top-up that will bring real change to health care in Canada, a change that will be brought into our system right now.
Let’s catch up with the rest of the world and help Canadian patients and their families right now.
Canada’s doctors believe our politicians should get on with it. We have no more time to waste.
Dr. Granger Avery is president of the Canadian Medical Association.