Provincial and Territorial Health and Wellness Ministers Focus on Quality and Prevention for Patients and Their Families

News Release

Provincial and Territorial Health and Wellness Ministers Focus on Quality and Prevention for Patients and Their Families

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Provincial and territorial health and wellness ministers are collaborating more than ever to improve the health of all Canadians by strengthening the quality of health care delivery and focusing on preventative care. Ministers are committed to improving care for patients and their families, based on evidence and best value for taxpayer dollars.

"Provincial and territorial ministers are firmly united in their commitment to strengthening health care for patients and families across Canada," said Deb Matthews, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, who chaired the meeting. "Canadians deserve to know that they can access the health care they need, where they need it and when they need it.  As our populations age and demands on health care resources grow, it is all the more critical that we come together to share our successes and plan for the future."

Ministers are delivering on the ambitious work of Premiers through the Council of the Federation Health Care Innovation Working Group: 

  • In recognition of Canada's aging population and growing health care demands, ministers discussed the need for a better continuum of care to support seniors aging at home and in the community. They discussed the need to ensure seniors have high-quality supports to avoid hospitalization or return home after hospitalization, as well as the importance of proper diagnosis and high quality care for seniors with dementia.
  • With appropriateness of care continuing to be a priority for all provinces and territories, ministers are reviewing health care services, with an initial focus on appropriate use of MRIs and CT scans. "We want to do less of the things that do not improve outcomes so we can do more of the things that do improve outcomes for people, based on the evidence," said Matthews.
  • Ministers continue their work regarding pharmaceuticals to achieve better value for money. They renewed their commitment to a pan‐Canadian pricing alliance for brand name drugs to reduce costs. They also agreed to complete an international review of generic drug pricing in order to identify the next ten drugs for future price reductions. This will add to the estimated $100 million in savings that were achieved for six generic drugs earlier this year.

Ministers confirmed that they will continue to work collaboratively with health care providers on these issues.

Provinces and Territories continue to support a joint focus on preventative care for Canadians.  Ministers examined options for further collaboration in the areas of health promotion and healthy living, including reducing sodium in the food supply and increasing access to nutrition information in restaurants to help Canadians make informed choices when dining out.

Ministers conferred on what additional steps need to be taken to ensure more advance notification of drug shortages from manufacturers along with reporting requirements for supply interruptions.

Recognizing the challenges and serious health consequences that mental illness poses for many Canadians, ministers affirmed the importance of an integrated and coordinated approach involving all sectors, to improve mental health services. They agreed to continue to share best practices toward early intervention, treatment and supports and convene a meeting of employers in the coming months. 

Nationally, there is considerable variation in the diseases infants are screened for at birth. Today, ministers agreed to form a short-term working group to share research and best practices and explore areas of pan-Canadian cooperation for newborn screening.

Ministers acknowledged the good work that Canadian Blood Services is doing in delivering high-quality blood products.  Provinces and territories agreed that a strengthened accountability framework is a critical next step for ensuring value for money between Canadian Blood Services and the provincial and territorial governments. Ministers acknowledged the importance of federal engagement and urge the federal government to maintain funding for the national organ and tissue donation and transplantation program.

Ministers agreed to continue developing common indicators and sharing best practices on improving the quality of care and the performance of health systems.

Minister Réjean Hébert indicated that although Québec's government shares the general objectives of the other provincial and territorial governments regarding the health issues discussed during the meeting, it intends, regarding the work that will be undertaken, to limit its participation to sharing information and best practice.

Ministers expressed serious concern over the health of refugees in the wake of the federal government's cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program.  As a result of the federal decision, some vulnerable patients in need of care have found it difficult to access adequate treatment while hospitals and other health care providers have assumed costs that had previously been borne by the federal government.  Ministers will remind the federal government of its responsibility under the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and call on them to reverse the decision to reduce refugee health coverage.

Ministers are encouraging the federal government to work collaboratively with provinces, territories and Aboriginal peoples to improve the health status and outcomes of Aboriginal peoples.

Ministers look forward to productive discussions with federal health Minister Rona Ambrose tomorrow on issues that matter to Canadians. Following the meeting Alberta will assume the role of chair of the provincial and territorial health ministers and co-chair of the federal, provincial and territorial health ministers.

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