The Senate Standing Committee
on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
tables its report on the Review of the 2004 Health Accord
Ottawa, March 27, 2012 – Canada is no longer seen as a model of innovation in health care delivery and financing, says a report from the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
On January 31, 2011, the Minister of Health requested that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology initiate the second parliamentary review of the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care (10-Year Plan), an agreement reached by First Ministers on September 16, 2004, that focuses on federal/provincial/territorial collaboration in the area of health care reform.
Titled Time for Transformative Change: A Review of the 2004 Health Accord, the report presents the committee’s findings regarding progress towards the implementation of the 10-Year Plan and the Communiqué on Improving Aboriginal Health and identifies further actions that could be taken in support of the objectives outlined in these documents. It reflects the testimony presented by witnesses over the course of 13 hearings and one roundtable discussion, as well as many written submissions received from interested organizations and individuals.
“The committee heard consistent testimony that there is sufficient funding in the health care system to meet the reasonable expectations of Canadians, but that has yet to occur,” said the Honourable Kelvin K. Ogilvie, chair of the committee. “Testimony also revealed that the system is replete with silos, with no overall accountability, and that true innovation is rarely recognized and implemented within the system. This must change.” The chair noted, “It is critical that the additional funding added to the health accord budgets on an annual basis be largely directed to developing and implementing innovative models that actually deliver a modern whole-life health care opportunity to Canadians. Developing flexible models of remuneration within the Health Act will be a critical first step.”
“We must accelerate reforms to meet the expectations of Canadians,” said the Honourable Art Eggleton, the committee’s deputy chair. “We know what reforms are necessary, now we need governments, including the federal government, to step up and create the incentives to propel transformative change.”
The committee’s review revealed that real systematic transformation of health care systems across the country had not yet occurred, despite more than a decade of government commitments and increasing investments. Some of the key themes covered by the committee included: the lack of progress in adapting modern IT capabilities to health in general; the need to invest in long-term care and community-based alternatives like home care; the necessity to put a greater emphasis on prevention; the lack of timely access to primary-care physicians; the focus on acute-care services to the detriment of chronic home care; the need to develop a Health Human Resources Strategy.
Based on these findings, the committee made 46 recommendations it believes will truly transform the way health care professionals do business and will achieve lasting reform. In addition to key recommendations on innovation, accountability, IT and new remuneration models, other recommendations identify the need for: strategies to meet evidence-based wait times; development of muti-disciplinary teams; development of a pan-Canadian Home Care Strategy; integration of home and facility-based long-term, respite and palliative care services; continued investment in Canada Health Infoway Inc.; re-establishing the goal of ensuring 50 per cent of Canadians have 24/7 access to primary health care teams by 2014; development of a national pharmacare program; establishment of a Canadian health Innovation fund; ensuring improvements in Aboriginal health through federal/provincial/territorial multi-year funding agreements and reduction of inter-jurisdictional barriers; and addressing the social determinants of health with a priority focus on potable water, decent housing and educational needs.
“The recommendations outlined in this report include the importance of a holistic understanding of health that sees physical and mental well-being as inextricably linked, with both being equally important to the efficiency and quality of the health care system,” said the Honourable Judith Seidman. “As this concept of health is central to the committee’s findings, it also acts as a framing principle for this report.”
To read the report and recommendations or learn more about the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, go to http://senate-senat.ca/soci-e.asp.
The Senate of Canada is on Twitter: @SenateCA, follow the committee using the hashtag #SOCI.
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