Canadians want federal budget to focus on patient access to health care

    OTTAWA, March 19 /CNW Telbec/ - A poll released today by the Canadian
Medical Association (CMA) shows that an overwhelming majority of Canadians
want the federal government to finish the job on instituting a patient wait
time guarantee before shifting efforts to establish a tax-back guarantee.
    "The federal government is focused on getting things done, and the thing
Canadians want done now is a patient wait time guarantee for medically
necessary services," said Dr. Colin McMillan, CMA President. "This guarantee
is critical to ensuring all Canadians receive essential medical treatment
within clinically acceptable waiting times."
    A poll conducted for the CMA by Ipsos-Reid found that, when asked to
choose between a patient wait time guarantee and a tax-back guarantee,
Canadians chose the wait time guarantee by a margin of four-to-one. (78% to
    "This poll shows us that Canadians do not want their governments to
backslide and waste the progress achieved to date on addressing lengthy wait
times for health care services," said Dr. McMillan. "Canadian patients deserve
a wait time guarantee now."
    The poll also found that 86 per cent of respondents said it was "very
important" or "somewhat important" that such a guarantee be created before the
next federal election.
    Similarly, 54 per cent of those polled said that the failure of the
federal government to deliver on a patient wait time guarantee - a key promise
in the last election - would influence their vote.
    The CMA also released its "2007 Federal Budget Checklist" today (see
below), which calls for the establishment of a patient wait time guarantee,
action to address physician shortages and targeted investments for health
information technology systems.

    Did Canadians get a feel-good budget or a feel-healthy budget?

    You be the judge. The Canadian Medical Association has asked government
to improve access to high-quality care:

    - Through a patient wait-time guarantee
    - By addressing the shortage of physicians
    - Through the development of an electronic health record system

    Use this checklist to see if the 2007 Budget has provided funding to:

    - Improve health system capacity
    - Build a national wait-time referral network
    - Provide access to care when wait-time benchmarks are exceeded
    - Expand medical school capacity
    - Attract Canadian physicians back from the U.S.
    - Extend the interest-free status for medical residents' student loans
    - Increase investment in the Canada Health Infoway
    - Target funding for physician office automation
    - Rebate the GST for cost-related delivery of health care services

For further information:

For further information: Steve Wharry, 1-800-663-7336 x2135, (613)
731-8610 x2135, (613) 298-4669 (cell.)

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