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Home Policy Articles: Health Care

The administration, funding and management of Canada’s health care system are hugely controversial areas of public policy. Much of the controversy is centred on the responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments to provide funding for the system; other debates focus on privatization, accountability, prescription drug policy, and how to measure the effectiveness of the system. The future of our country’s health care system will rely on sustainable investments and sound policy.

This section of will keep you informed on the latest debates in health care policy in Canada.



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Bad Medicine: Trade Treaties, Privatization and Health Care Reform in Canada popular

Jim Grieshaber-Otto and Scott Sinclair examine a central and recurring theme in Canada’s health care debate: whether private financing and for-profit delivery of health care should play a greater role. They contend that exploring Canada’s international trade-treaty obligations as well as the scope of exemptions for health care under those treaties, add a critical dimension to this important debate.

Elder Care: The Nexus for Family, Work and Health Policy popular

This short paper by Satya Brink seeks to address policy issues surrounding the care of elderly people by family members who are employed outside the home.

Health Care Reforms: Just How Far Can We Go? popular

Philippe H. Trudel, Bruce W. Johnston, and Michel Bédard explore what kinds of health care reforms can occur under existing laws. They also examine how much room the provinces have to manoeuvre under current federal legislation, namely, the Canada Health Act, as well as which laws reform-minded provincial governments could modify.

Will We Rise to the Challenge? Eight Mega Issues Facing Canada popular

This briefing tracks eight key trends that are having a major impact on Canada’s business and public policy environment. Charles Barrett and Anne Golden point to the global economy and the consequences of competition from developing countries. They examine Canada’s relationship with the United States and the competing priorities of defence and trade. They also look at the need for investment in human capital and innovation for Canada to compete on the global stage, as well as the importance of addressing climate change and environmental issues.

2028 or Bust: Ontario's Unsustainable Hospital Spending

This brief Fraser Alert argues that public spending in Ontario hospitals is on an unsustainable financial track.

A Canada Strong and Free

In this policy paper, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and former Reform Party leader Preston Manning argue that Canada is a country of great promise and opportunity. However, they contend Canada is being held back by an absence of national vision and ill-advised public policies.

A Cure Worse than the Illness: Canada’s Proposed Regulatory Framework for Natural Health Products in Light of International Evidence

This article by Cynthia Ramsey examines Canada’s new regulatory framework for natural health products (NHPs), which is proposed by the newly created Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) of the Canadian government. Ramsey analyzes the reasoning behind the need for such a framework, compares the framework to the current regulatory policy, and distinguishes between Canada’s current and proposed policies vis-à-vis those of other countries, including the US.

A Finger on the Pulse: Comparative Models for Reporting the Quality of Hospital Care

Julia Witt argues that reporting on the quality of care that patients receive in Canadian hospitals is the responsibility of governments, hospital boards, and professional accreditation agencies. Although accreditation and ‘quality measurement’ of hospitals are controversial issues, Julia Witt contends that the demand for such measurements is growing.

A Guide to the Benefits, Responsibilities and Opportunities of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

This paper was authored by the British North America Committee (BNAC), a group of leaders from business, labour, and academia in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. In Canada, the BNAC is sponsored by the C.D. Howe Institute.

A Healthy Balance: A Summary Report on a National Roundtable on Caregiving Policy in Canada

This report on a national roundtable , written by Judi Varga-Toth, summarizes discussion about research from the Healthy Balance Research Program on caregivers and organization, empowerment, and health and well-being. The roundtable sought to communicate policy implications of project research to policy makers, to develop ideas and support for a common vision of caregiving in Canada and to develop a Call to Action for caregiving policy in Canada.

A Lethal Guardian: The Canadian Government’s Ban on Prescription Drugs

In this paper, John Graham addresses a controversial policy of the Canadian government: when any new drug is invented and ready for distribution in Canada, the federal government responds by enforcing an automatic ban on its use. The ban is removed for patients who urgently need the drug, and the general ban is lifted only after the manufacturer has paid a user fee and waited for Health Canada to approve the drug. Graham argues this policy is harmful to the health of Canadians because it prevents patients from receiving treatments that might save their lives.

A Patients’ Bill of Rights: A Cure for Canadians’ Concerns About Medicare?

This article by Colleen Flood and Tracey Epps explores the prospect of a patient’s “bill of rights” as a means of addressing some of the issues and concerns associated with health care in Canada, and also as a potential means of surpassing the limitations of current appeal procedures.

A Return to Wage Discrimination: Pay Equity Losses Through the Privatization of Health Care

The BC government’s actions to facilitate health care privatization have reversed more than 30 years of pay equity gains for women in health support occupations. Marjorie Griffin Cohen and Marcy Cohen cite historical statistics, which show that from the 1960s to 2001, the pay equity gains won by women in hospital support work were remarkable, but fair.

A Time to Reap; Re-investing in Alberta's Public Services

This report advocates improving the many public service areas that were subject to budget cuts a decade ago in the interests of improving Alberta's debt. With extensive empirical evidence the study considers the advantageous position of Alberta's economy and financial situation as well as the social conditions that have been created by budget cutbacks. Finally this report points to a lack of accountability of government expenditures and makes recommendations to improve specific public services.

Access Delayed, Access Denied. Waiting for Medicines in Canada

Brett Skinner, Mark Rovere, and Courtney Glen analyze the time that patients must wait between the discovery of a new drug and its availability to Canadian consumers.

Accountability: Why Strings Need to be Attached to Health Care Dollars

Armine Yalnizyan’s article Accountability: Why Strings Need to be Attached to Health Care Dollars argues the federal government should not provide provincial health care funds without guarantees to how those funds will be used. Yalnizyan dismisses ‘no strings attached’ funding and argues that accountability for usage must be a prerequisite for federal health care funding. She claims that accountability demonstrates transparency and a readiness to be responsible to taxpayers. In the case of targeted funds, however, Yalnizyan recognizes the necessity for provincial flexibility, arguing that such funds may be diverted to another health care usage if provincial governments can demonstrate they have met minimum targeted standards. This is a necessity, she claims, for Canada to maintain its public health care system.

Assessing the CAPC/CPNP Joint Management Infrastructure as a Model for FPT Collaboration: Looking Back and Moving Forward

This report by David Hay, Brian Bell, Judi Varga-Toth, and Tatyaba Teplova aims to describe and review the federal/provincial/territorial joint management infrastructure (JMI) that oversees the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) and the Canada Parental Nutrition Program (CPNP). The authors also seek to determine the broader potential of multi-level governance and how it may be used to advance the goals of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The report includes an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities affecting the infrastructure of the CAPC and the CPNP as well as suggestions for new research and steps towards the most effective structure possible.

Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Public Policy Initiative

Anne Makhoul describes the history of AISH in Alberta, including the growing number of participants and its rising costs.

Better Business Means Better Health

This short commentary by Brian Lee Crowley discusses the issue of 'Medical Brain Drain' and the loss of skilled Canadian healthcare workers to the United States.

Beyond Romanow: Why $3.5 Billion is Not Enough

In this Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives publication Armine Yalnizyan argues that the $3.5 billion in health care spending proposed by the Romanow Report does not constitute sufficient funding to implement the Report’s recommendations. While Yalnizyan notes the Romanow recommendations are critical first steps to securing public health care, she maintains that the level of funding proposed will leave many pressing health care needs unanswered. According to Yalnizyan, Canadian health care is in such dire need of increased funding that $3.5 billion will simply be absorbed into the system, leaving no room for substantive policy change. She contends that if funding is not increased to levels beyond the Romanow recommendations, the result will be the ‘passive-aggressive privatization’ of Canadian health care.

Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Study on Prescription Drugs

This brief report by John Graham provides an overview of key points pertaining to the issue of prescription drugs in Canada. Graham’s briefing was provided to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health: Study on Prescription Drugs on behalf of the Fraser Institute. Graham suggests mechanisms for reviewing and controlling the prices of all prescription drugs, mechanisms for approving new drugs and introducing them to the market, and provides international comparisons from which Canada can learn.

California Dreaming: The Fantasy of a Canadian-Style Health Insurance Monopoly in the United States

The stated purpose of Brett Skinner and Mark Rovere’s article is to “warn Americans about the dangerous ideas contained in the Universal Health Insurance bill.”

Can we Afford to Sustain Medicare? A Strong Role for Federal Government

This report, prepared for the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), is intended to be a message from Canadian nurses to all provincial premiers. According to the CFNU, Canada has entered a new era of possibility for public health care: a new federal Parliament; new provincial leaders; a new health accord in the making; and, an unparalleled consensus that change must happen immediately.

Can We Finally Move Forward to Improve Health Care?

In this brief report, Kouri recommends ways to realize this vision for health care in the Province. She argues that residents of Saskatchewan must continue demanding high quality services; she also recommends a reorganization of primary care, and an increased emphasis on community-based care.

Canada Health Act? Or Canada Health Inaction?

This brief report is a technical paper prepared to accompany the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ (CCPA) Alternative Federal Budget 2003.

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