"Investing in health is everybody's priority," CMA tells federal government

    TORONTO, Oct. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - In a speech delivered today at the Empire
Club of Canada, Canadian Medical Association President Dr. Brian Day
acknowledged that progress had been made in renewing the health care system
and challenged governments to put health care at the top of their priorities.
"It is vital that we move beyond rhetoric and invest in the health of
Canadians by targeting action and commitment in five key areas," Dr. Day told
close to 200 guests.

    Dr. Day called on the governments to:

    1) Eliminate wait times and access problems

    Building on the establishment of wait-time benchmarks and guarantees,
Dr. Day called for the elimination of waiting periods that exceed ethical and
medical standards. "Waiting patients deteriorate and suffer physical,
emotional and financial hardship," he said. "Canadian and international
studies have proven that wait lists impose a huge financial burden, not just
on the health care system, but on the economy in general. Governments must
finish the job they have started."

    2) Address shortages of health care professionals

    Up to five million Canadians do not have a family physician. Every year,
newly trained Canadian doctors leave the country because of the lack of
resources and operating time within the system. As the population grows and
its average age increases, the demand for doctors, nurses and other health
professionals will rise. This will also happen in the US, where demand for
health care personnel will be enormous. "If we do not offer a proper
environment to our young professionals, where do you think they will choose to
work?" asked Dr. Day.

    3) Ensure our children are the healthiest in the world

    The CMA is asking the federal government to appoint a Child Health
Advisor. Canada ranks 18th of 26 nations in terms of mortality rates due to
unintentional injury, and 26% of our children and adolescents are either obese
or overweight. Approximately 15% of Canadian children and youth live with some
form of mental illness. "We must start to develop meaningful goals and targets
for children's health," said Day. "Preventive measures generate their greatest
rewards when they target children."

    4) Seek to reduce illness associated with pollution and climate change

    Physicians see the impact of environmental degradation in their practices
and communities, and the government needs to create targets for achieving
significant reductions in illnesses associated with problems such as air and
water quality. Dr. Day reminded the federal government that Canadians'
greatest environmental concerns are those that relate to health.

    5) Investing in information technology in the health system

    Canada ranks at the bottom of the G8 countries in terms of access to new
technologies. The small amount Canada spends on IT in its hospitals is a
significant factor with respect to its poor record in avoiding adverse
effects. "Record keeping, communication, data and information sharing will
lead to better, safer and cheaper patient care," Dr. Day said.

    When he assumed the CMA presidency in August, Dr. Day advocated for a
strengthened and renewed health system. "We have to understand that health
spending can be an investment that will pay massive dividends. To our Prime
Minister and to governments across the country I say: the job is not done.
Let's fix our system."

For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, Media relations Manager,
1-800-663-7336, (613) 731-8610 ext. 1266, Mobile: (613) 447-0866

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