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Canada's health-care crisis was 'decades in the making,' says CMA


The strain placed on Canadian health care during the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of abating, and the top official of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is warning that improving the system will be a "slow process" requiring sustained investment.

"This is a problem that's been decades in the making," Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of the CMA, said on CTV News Channel. "Many, many of these challenges existed long before the pandemic."

Ross says there's a need to "shift" how health care is provided to Canadians with both historic and sustained investment required -- however she also warns it's key to make sure funding is "optimized" in order to actually close the gaps in the system.

Structural issues across the country

There are currently major issues throughout the health-care system, according to Ross, including more that 6 million Canadians without access to a family doctor, overwhelmed emergency departments and lengthy wait times "for everything."

Ross says "there's many, issues that we need to tackle" that requires decision-makers to set "transparent and accountable" goals with sustained outreach so the public can see a clear link between tax dollar spending and "critical challenges" being addressed.

Canada's leaders, according to Ross, need to "openly set goals" in order to encourage cross-jurisdictional collaboration and "accelerate improvement."

What needs immediate attention?

The issues in the system are deep-seated however, so what should governments focus on immediately? Ross thinks the first focus needs to be stabilizing primary care.

"That's the front door, foundational basis of our health-care system."

Ross says if Canada hopes "to meet the needs of Canadians," improving community care services will have an immediate impact, allowing overburdened emergency departments to being "offload patients" and start to free space for acute care.

Will pharmacare help?

One of the key tenets of the confidence-and-supply agreement between the Liberals and NDP has been pharmacare, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling his government's new bill "a huge step forward," however he's stopped short of promising a full-fledged program.

Ross says the CMA is "looking forward to seeing more details" about the plan, but the organization is pleased to see "movement towards historic investment in health care" and hope it will "actually address some of the critical needs we see."

Amid a need to shift "how health care is provided" in Canada, Ross hopes that the fledgling pharmacare program will address at least one of the gaps in the health-care system that sees some patients falling through the cracks.

"One of those gaps is the affordability of medication." Top Stories

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