Ian Culbert is the Executive Director of the Canadian Public Health Association.
On behalf of the Canadian Public Health Association, I would like to congratulate the Health Council of Canada for developing this look-back, look-forward approach. CPHA is supportive of the position that is being taken concerning the need to continually improve health care delivery without additional cost, while improving equity.
While providing a thoughtful analysis of the impact of a decade of increased investment in health care spending, the report also raises some important questions about equity and how this fundamental principle is played out across Canada. In the section entitled, “Assessing the impact: Inequities in care and health,” the question of Canadians’ ability to get “access to the care they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live or what they can pay” is probed through an analysis of comparable statistics for various provinces and territories. While it can be recognized intuitively that differences exist, further study is required to identify whether these are true differences or whether they are simply a reflection of the differing priorities and operating considerations of the various provinces and territories. Unquestionable, however, is the devastating inequity related to the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Beyond increased funding for the health care system itself, increasing attention needs to be paid to upstream efforts to prevent disease and injury. Taking action to address the social determinants of health helps keep communities healthy and reduces the need for emergency, acute and chronic care services. If all the players who are part of Canada’s publicly funded health system can work together on the social determinants of health, we will ensure that Canadians achieve the highest possible quality of life.