The Health Council of Canada releases annual report on health care
SASKATOON, SK, May 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Health Council of Canada
releases Progress Report 2013: Health care renewal in Canada, highlighting the progress achieved by governments in five key areas:
wait times, primary health care and electronic health records,
pharmaceuticals management, disease prevention/health promotion and
The report finds that, overall, efforts at reform are not keeping pace
with the changing health care needs of Canadians. There is variability
of access to services across the country.
"Regardless of where you live in Canada, Canadians should be able to
access a primary care provider when care is needed, they should have
timely access to surgeries, and the cost of medications should not
cause undue financial hardship," says Dr. Jack Kitts, Chair of the
Health Council of Canada. "However, because of the variability across
the country, this is not the case."
To achieve better health care for all Canadians, the report calls for
governments to set clear policy goals with clear lines of
responsibility, to continue the spread of innovative practices, and to
support collaborative efforts across all jurisdictions, including the
"Progress is made when comprehensive strategies with clear targets are
put in place," says Dr. Kitts. "And once those strategies are in place,
we need to constantly monitor the performance of the governments and
Canadians need to hold them accountable."
The report points out that Canadian premiers have begun working together
on select initiatives, such as the joint pricing of prescription drugs,
which saves significant health care dollars. The Health Council
recommends this continue, because when governments work together with
common goals, the quality of health care and access to it improve for
Along with the need for accountability and collaboration, the report
also calls for the sharing of innovative practices. "Sharing innovative
practices allows provinces to implement programs we know are making a
difference without having to 'reinvent the wheel'," says John G.
Abbott, CEO of the Health Council of Canada. "The Health Council helps
identify and expand the reach of innovative practices across the
country through our Health Innovation Portal - a database of over 360
An example of an innovative practice highlighted in the report is the
First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, which was
established in 2012 and puts health care delivery and decision-making
in the hands of First Nations people. This shift is the result of
several agreements made between BC First Nations and the provincial and
federal governments, in efforts to close gaps in health status between
First Nations people and other residents of British Columbia.
Key report findings include:
Wait times: In the early years of the health accords, provinces were able to reduce
wait times, however, in more recent years, progress has stalled. In
some priority areas, a smaller percentage of people are receiving care
within benchmarks (e.g., hip/knee replacement surgery saw a decrease of
4% of surgeries performed within pan-Canadian benchmark).
Primary health care and electronic health records: Canadians have not received the promised 24/7 access to primary health
care service. Governments have invested in primary care reform across
the country, but the need for sustainable, system-level change remains.
Although progress has been made overall in implementing electronic
health and medical records, governments must consider mandating their
use to speed up the implementation across Canada.
Pharmaceuticals management: Jurisdictions have collaborated on lowering prescription drug prices,
however, there is still no commitment to a National Pharmaceuticals
strategy, which has led to variations in drug coverage and scopes of
practice by pharmacists across provinces.
Disease prevention/health promotion: Governments have moved forward in developing healthy living strategies,
but there are no targets or methods of consistent evaluation of these
strategies to really measure their impact. Also, there are few examples
of successful whole-of-government approaches that expand beyond the
ministries of health to include finance, transportation, and community
services, among others.
Aboriginal health: The gap between health outcomes of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
Canadians remains wide. Some provinces and territories have started
developing partnerships and collaborative models where Aboriginal
communities and governments work together to close the gap. There is a
need for ongoing commitment from all governments to work with
Aboriginal communities to ensure targets and accountabilities are
defined and met.
Progress Report 2013: Health Care Renewal in Canada also includes jurisdictional profiles on how each province, territory
and the federal government performed within each of the five key areas
assessed in the report. Progress Report 2013 is the third installment in a series of reports that looks at key
health care topics as it relates to the 2003/2004 accords. To access Progress Report 2011 or Progress Report 2012, visit healthcouncilcanada.ca/progress.
About the Health Council of Canada
Created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal, the Health Council of Canada is an independent national agency that
reports on the progress of health care renewal. The Council provides a
system-wide perspective on health care reform in Canada, and
disseminates information on innovative practices across the country.
The Councillors are appointed by the participating provincial and
territorial governments and the Government of Canada.
To read commentary from guest bloggers, including heath care users and
health industry leaders, or to download the full report/appendix visit:
SOURCE: Health Council of Canada
For further information:
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Natalie Pavlenko, Manager, Media Relations, Health Council of Canada
firstname.lastname@example.org, O: 416-480-7082, C: 416-571-8912