Can We Make Our Health Care System Better Without Spending Billions More?

    Health Council of Canada Launches Forum Where All Canadians Can Speak Up

    TORONTO, Feb. 23 /CNW/ - When it comes to health care, are Canadians
getting value for money? Do we care? We should. Health care now accounts for
nearly 40% of provincial budgets.
    Pressure continues for governments to spend more at a time when families
tighten their belts and the global economic uncertainty deepens. We all need
to be assured of the value we receive when health care continues to command
such a large share of Canada's resources. Last year, we spent $172 billion on
health care.
    It's time to ask: Are we funding the right things? Are we getting the
best value for the money we already spend? Are we investing in the programs
and services that will yield the greatest health improvements for Canadians?
We must figure out a way to make our money go further without compromising the
quality of care Canadians have come to expect and need.
    Today, the Council launched a forum designed to engage Canadians in a
national dialogue about value for money, to open a conversation about how to
get 'the biggest bang for the buck' in health care.
    Canadians can join this important discussion at
where they'll find the Council's paper, Value for Money: Making Canadian
Health Care Stronger, released today, as well as an array of interactive
tools. Visitors will be able to debate the issues, post comments, take part in
surveys, watch videos, listen to podcasts, read what other people are saying,
and more.
    Contrary to popular belief, aging and population growth are not the major
causes of the rise in Canada's health care spending. In reality, half of the
increase can be directly attributed to the accelerating use of the system.
Canadians are now using the system more than ever. We have to understand why,
question whether we're getting healthier as a result, and come up with new
ideas for improving efficiency.
    "This is NOT a discussion about cutbacks or service reductions," said Dr.
Danielle Martin, a Councillor with the Health Council of Canada. "Value for
money is about keeping our health care system alive and well. It's about
maintaining and enhancing the system by making smart spending choices."
    Some of those choices will be tough ones, Dr. Martin acknowledged.
    For example, are we using resources well when we see a specialist instead
of a family doctor who could provide the same service? Or when we use a doctor
instead of a nurse or nutritionist who could be just as helpful? Are we using
services well when cataract surgery is performed on people with little loss of
vision? What would be the impact of more prevention and health promotion? How
could we spend our dollars smarter?
    The Council is urging everyone to get involved - from health research
groups, delivery organizations, and advocacy associations to frontline health
professionals and the general public. It will capture and summarize the views,
research, and positions of those who participate in the national dialogue, and
present the findings back to the public and their governments.
    In addition, the Council will release a series of follow-up papers on
specific aspects of value for money throughout the year.

    View the Canada Values Health Video:

    Listen to the Canada Values Health Podcasts:

    About the Health Council of Canada

    Created by the 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal, The
Health Council of Canada is mandated to monitor and report on the progress of
health care renewal in Canada. Councillors were appointed by the participating
provinces, territories and the Government of Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Pierre Lachaine, Health Council of Canada,
Phone: (416) 480-7085, Cell: (416) 779-4532,;
Rachel Sa or Jaclyn Clare, PR POST, Phone: (416) 777-0368, Cell: (416)

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