Federal Budget Boosts Canada's EMR Backbone



    OTTAWA, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The 2009 Federal Budget and its focus on
economic stimulus will provide some collateral support for improving the
health of Canadians by accelerating implementation of electronic medical
records (EMRs) across the country.
    The federal investment of $500 million to Canada Health Infoway to
encourage greater use of electronic health records will help make that happen.
    In CMA's prebudget submission to Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty,
the CMA identified accelerating EMR development as a key initiative that could
provide not only economic stimulus, but also health stimulus for Canadians.
CMA research found that a $225-million federal investment, matched by
provincial-territorial funds, would create 5000 new jobs over the next 2
years.
    Today's announcement, rightly aimed at supporting the front lines of
health care, will lead to better, more efficient care and will help Canada
shake off its laggard status in terms of the use of EMRs compared to other
countries.
    Notwithstanding the good news concerning support for information
technology, the physicians of Canada are concerned that the federal government
still has not fulfilled its election commitment to address Canada's doctor
shortage. The CMA had urged the government to immediately fund 50 additional
postgraduate training positions. Almost 5 million Canadians do not have a
family doctor, and all too often patients are forced to wait for specialist
care due to physician shortages. Today's budget was a missed opportunity to
announce targeted steps to address Canada's doctor shortage and eventually
realize our goal to be self-sufficient in terms of producing enough physicians
to meet the health care needs of our citizens. Canada's doctors hope the
government will yet act on their election promise.
    Finally, given the dire economic circumstances affecting countries around
the world, the Canadian Medical Association is not surprised that today's
budget focused primarily on measures to stimulate the economy. Going forward,
however, we must remember that the first wealth is health. Initiatives
announced today aimed at improving the health of Canada's aboriginal
population are most welcome. The physicians of Canada continue to urge the
federal government to use all available policy levers at its disposal to
support the health of Canadians and ensure they can get timely access to
quality health care services.

    Dr. Robert Ouellet
    President
    Canadian Medical Association




For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, Media Relations Manager, (800)
663-7336, (613) 731-8610, ext. 1266, cell. (613) 447-0866


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