Health Action Lobby (HEAL) warns job not done



    OTTAWA, March 20 /CNW/ - The Health Action Lobby (HEAL) offered a mixed
response to yesterday's release of the Harper Government's second budget. HEAL
applauds the Government's focus on the environment, which has direct links to
the health of Canadians, as well as select social programs. HEAL cautions,
however, that the future well-being and health of Canadians is also critically
dependent upon funding for coordinated health human resource planning aimed at
providing all Canadians greater access to the health services they require to
lead productive, healthy and happy lives.
    HEAL was pleased at funding announcements for a Canadian Mental Health
Commission and the increase to the Canadian Social Transfer which will have a
positive impact on post-secondary education, an important determinant of
health. HEAL also viewed several other allocations as positive steps,
including the modest allocation to Canadian Health Infoway to advance work on
the Electronic Health Record (EHR), and additional, albeit also modest funding
to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
    However, HEAL particularly notes the lack of clearly identifiable funding
for coordinated health human resource (HHR) planning. "Without the people -
health providers - and investments in initiatives to support them, the success
of all health efforts are in jeopardy," explains Pamela Fralick, HEAL Chair
and CEO of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. "Canadians deserve a
coordinated pan-Canadian approach to HHR. They want to see a seamless system -
one which addresses priority issues such as self-sufficiency of providers and
labour mobility concerns. Simply put, they want the right health provider at
the right time in the right place." Over the past two years, federal,
provincial and territorial governments, in consultation with key stakeholders,
have worked hard to create a pan-Canadian HHR strategy. Fralick reflected key
HEAL concerns in the questions, "Where will the funding for these initiatives
come from? Where is the coordinating mechanism which provides cohesion to the
fragmented health initiatives reflected in today's budget?"
    HHR is a pan-Canadian issue - health providers move from province to
territory to province - and this calls for appropriate leadership. While HEAL
values the significant funding increases to health in recent years, and
appreciates the progress made in various areas as a result, it is important
that focus and direction are not allowed to falter. For example, while new
funds were allocated to wait times initiatives - a positive move - guidelines
to direct use of these funds, plus a commitment to ensure HHR issues are
addressed at the same time, appear to be missing. Wait times have an integral
link to HHR issues, and so both must be addressed to truly have an impact on
Canadians' access to priority health services. The budget reflects a lack of
understanding that the job is not yet done. This is disappointing in light of
past budgetary investments in primary health care, wait times and health human
resources (HHR).
    "On behalf of all Canadians, HEAL's members want better guarantees for
patient access to quality health services," says Fralick. "HEAL brings these
urgent health provider issues to Government in order to stimulate further
debate and action on health for all Canadians."

    The Health Action Lobby (HEAL) is a coalition of 34 national health and
consumer associations and organizations dedicated to protecting and
strengthening Canada's health system. HEAL represents more than half a million
providers and consumers of health care in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Natalie Bovair, (416) 932-1888,
ext. 223

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Health Action Lobby

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FEDERAL BUDGET REACTION 2007

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