Innovation, not just money, needed to fix health-care system: Philpott
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott addresses the Canadian Medical Association's General Council 2016, in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday August 23, 2016. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 23, 2016 5:37PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 23, 2016 6:27PM EDT
VANCOUVER -- The problems facing Canada's health-care system will not be solved by just spending more money, Health Minister Jane Philpott said Tuesday as she promised the country's doctors the federal government is committed to finding innovative solutions.
Ongoing talks about a new health agreement with the provinces and territories is an opportunity to set health care on a new course, she told the Canadian Medical Association's annual meeting in Vancouver.
She said solutions can be found in encouraging better collaboration between family doctors and specialists, using digital technology to keep records and share information, and giving greater priority to the social factors that affect health, particularly among Aboriginal Peoples.
Philpott drew applause from association members at the meeting when she said social inequity is the biggest barrier to improving the health of Canadians.
"The most perverse inequity is among aboriginal communities," she said.
"It's far past time for us to do something about this."
Other countries, including Britain and Australia, are getting better health-care outcomes than Canada while spending less per capita and as a percentage of GDP because they have done a better job of co-ordinating care, Philpott said.
She also highlighted the need to strengthen primary care, telling the audience that countries with systems rooted in primary care provided by general practitioners have the best outcomes at the lowest costs.
She said negotiations on a new health-care agreement are an opportunity to "trigger" the innovation needed to fix the system, telling the doctors that those who think Canada is stuck with its current system are wrong.
"This is small thinking. You and I know we need to think big if this is going to change," Philpott added.
The association has identified securing the resources needed to care for the country's aging population as a pressing need in a new health accord. It has developed several recommendations it would like to see in a new agreement, including more funding for provinces with larger populations of seniors, coverage of prescription drugs, and funding for long-term care, home care and caregivers.
Philpott said suggestions that the aging population will overwhelm the system is one of the myths facing health care in Canada.
She said part of the solution can be found in Ontario, where the province spends $55 a day to provide a person with care in their home. With seniors and their families preferring treatment at home, more needs to be done to achieve that goal, she said, adding that despite the cost efficiency only about five per cent of provincial health budgets goes to fund home care.