Health centres to Canada's First Ministers: "Collaboration can't wait. Let's achieve Second Stage of Medicare together."
January 13, 2012
On the occasion of the upcoming meeting of Premiers from across the country in Victoria, BC, this week, the Canadian Alliance of Community Health Centre Associations (CACHCA) is calling on the federal government to take its seat alongside the provinces and territories in negotiating a meaningful health accord for Canadians. In the meantime, the association is urging the Premiers to use their time together in Victoria to carry this process forward, focusing on collaboration and priority-setting in health care across the country’s jurisdictions.
Speaking from Halifax, where she directs the North End Community Health Centre, CACHCA Chairperson, Jane Moloney, grounded the association’s recommendations in reference to the spirit of collaboration and common-purpose that gave birth to Medicare fifty years ago.
“It was discouraging to see the federal government recently declare itself irrelevant – no more than a bank machine – in an area as vital to the lives and identity of Canadians as health care,” Moloney noted. “That is certainly not the spirit that sustains Medicare, nor is it a view held by the overwhelming majority of Canadians, including health providers and organizations across the country that are all pleading for federal and provincial leadership in this area.”
“Collectively, we are urging our federal government to sit down with the provinces and territories and to work collaboratively in improving standards for access, quality and person-centred care across Canada. Medicare was birthed through collaboration and common-purpose. Only by renewing commitment to meaningful collaboration, as we did in negotiating the 2004 Health Accord, will we improve health care for Canadians and achieve Tommy Douglas’s vision for the Second Stage of Medicare. It is essential that health transfers to the provinces be coupled with commitments and targets around key areas such as access to community-oriented primary health care services.”
Moloney underscored the longer-term vision for our health system that was recommended by Medicare’s founders and which remains to this day a powerful, but unfulfilled vision. Tommy Douglas and others cautioned Canadians that establishing a publicly-financed and administered health system – solving the insurance and money issue – was only “stage one” of the process. They urged Canadians to begin building toward the “second stage” of Medicare by reforming and improving the actual delivery of services, placing greater emphasis on preventing illness and ensuring more appropriate, timely treatment when it is actually needed.
CACHCA has joined a myriad of other Canadian organizations in urging the provinces and territories not to allow the federal government’s recent decision to sit out health care planning to derail discussions about achieving this vision for Canadians.
“We’re at a crossroad with Medicare and it is more critical now than ever that the provinces and territories commit to common actions and priorities for all Canadians. The federal government has unparalleled potential to move jurisdictions toward positive change, and toward the Second Stage of Medicare. However, until the federal government decides it is ready to play its part, it is imperative that the provinces and territories continue the process themselves, working to identify common priorities, solutions and targets.”
For its part, CACHCA has committed to working with the provinces and territories to identify ways that health system innovations such as community-oriented, person-centred primary health care services can be extended to more Canadians. “Community Health Centres and our association have decades of experience to contribute and we are ready to play our part, working with governments to implement the local health care solutions that Canadians want and deserve. We can all do better, and we’re going to have to work together to do so.”