CMA President calls on federal government to act now to protect health

    TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Dr. Robert Ouellet, President of the
Canadian Medical Association, today challenged the new federal government to
act now to protect health in the face of uncertain economic times.
    "Today's wildly unpredictable economic climate must not bring about a
return to the dark days of the 1990s when drastic cuts to health care all but
crippled Canada's health care system," stated Dr. Ouellet. "History must not
be allowed to repeat itself."
    In a speech today to the Club canadien de Toronto, Dr. Ouellet called on
Canadians to press for action.
    "Our political leaders must act now." said Dr.Ouellet. "Difficult times
call for real leadership. Canadians are looking to their federal government to
fulfill its responsibility to provide timely access to high quality health
care services."
    Dr. Ouellet acknowledged that the economy is a key concern for Canadians,
but he pointed out that improving the health care system remains top-of-mind
for Canadians.
    "Obviously Canadians are worried about the country's economic situation
and how it will affect them and their families," said Dr. Ouellet. "Yet
polling done for the CMA during the recent federal election campaign shows
that health care remains tied with the economy as the most important issue
requiring governement action.", added Dr. Ouellet.
    In issuing his challenge, Dr. Ouellet called for action from federal,
provincial and territorial governments to:

    - reduce waiting lists;
    - develop a national strategy that will lead to self-sufficiency in
      doctors and health care professionals;
    - establish a national prescription drug insurance plan;
    - bring in patient-focused funding for hospital services; and
    - recognize, monitor and develop a framework to direct how the private
      sector can play an increased and complementary role in supporting the
      public system.

    The CMA is also about to begin an international fact-finding mission to
examine ideas for health care reform and renewal in several European
countries. The international research will examine reforms undertaken in
England, France, Denmark and other countries that have recently made changes
to their systems to improve timely access for patients.
    "I look to several European countries that had wait lists problems, but
solved them and I ask why can't we do the same for our patients here in
Canada," asked Dr. Ouellet. "We want to learn from their successes, and their
failures, and take action to improve our system for Canadians."

For further information:

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

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