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Canadians’ Access to Quality Health Care: A System in Crisis : Submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance 1999 Pre-budget consultations

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1987

Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-08-31
Topics
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-08-31
Topics
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
I. INTRODUCTION The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) commends the federal government, in its second mandate, for continuing the public pre-budget consultation process. This visible and accountable process encourages public dialogue in the development of finance and economic policies of the country. As part of the 1999 pre-budget consultation process, the CMA welcomes the opportunity to submit its views to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, and looks forward to meeting with the Committee at a later date to discuss our recommendations and their rationale in greater detail. II. POLICY CONTEXT While the current and future status of our health care system is a top priority for all Canadians, it is evident that their faith in the system’s ability to ensure access to quality care is eroding. In May 1991, 61% of Canadians rated the system as excellent/very good. By February 1998 that rating had slipped to 29% - a dramatic decrease in the confidence level of Canadians in the health care system. 1 Unfortunately, their outlook on the future of the health care system is not much better. Some 51% of Canadians believe that their health care will be in worse condition in 10 years than it is today. 2 It is not surprising that Canadians are losing confidence in the future sustainability of the health care system. They have experienced firsthand the decline in access to a range of health care services (see Table 1): * 73% reported that waiting times hospital emergency departments had worsened, up from 65% in 1997, and 54% in 1996 * 72% reported that waiting times for surgery had lengthened, up from 63% in 1997, and 53% in 1996 * 70% reported that availability of nurses in hospitals had worsened, up from 64% in 1997, and 58% in 1996 * 61% reported that waiting times for tests had increased, up from 50% in 1997, and 43% in 1996 * 60% reported that access to specialist physicians has worsened, up from 49% in 1997, and 40% in 1996 [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 1 (a) [TABLE END] [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Table 1 (b) [TABLE END] Clearly, these findings are significant, and demonstrate the public’s increasing concerns regarding current access to quality health care, as well as the future sustainability of our health care system. Canadians have made it clear that it is not, nor can it be, “business as usual” in attempting to meet their health care needs as we move into the next millennium. Medicare, Canada’s crowning social policy achievement, is in crisis. It is time for the federal government to re-establish its leadership role in this strategic priority area. The CMA has repeatedly placed its concerns about access to quality health care on the public record. Physicians, as patient advocates, have consistently expressed their frustration with the difficulties faced in accessing medically necessary services - only to fall on the deaf ears of the federal government. In surveying Canadian physicians on the front lines, they know the degree of difficulty in accessing services that their patients need: 3 * only 27% of physicians surveyed rated as excellent/very good/good their access to advanced diagnostic services (e.g., MRI) * only 30% of physicians surveyed rated as excellent/very good/good their access to long-term institutional care * only 45% of physicians surveyed rated as excellent/very good/good their access to psychosocial support services * only 46% of physicians surveyed rated as excellent/very good/good their access to acute institutional care for elective procedures These findings are cause for concern. Particularly troublesome is that only 63% of physicians surveyed rated as excellent/very good/good their access to acute institutional on an urgent basis. The cause for this crisis of confidence is clear - the federal government's unilateral and repeated decreases in the rate of increase in transfer payments beginning with Established Financing Programs (EPF), established in 1977, and continuing for the next decade-and-a-half. It culminated, in April, 1996, with the severe and successive cuts in cash transfers for health, post-secondary education (PSE) and social assistance via the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST). The CMA is not alone in its view. In addition to the public, other health groups and the Provincial and Territorial Premiers have expressed serious concern about the sustainability of the health care system and the urgent need for Federal leadership and reinvestment. Following their meeting in August, 1998, the Premiers "re-affirmed their commitment to maintaining and enhancing a high quality universal health care system for all Canadians and observed that every government in Canada but one - the federal government - has increased its funding to health care - the people's priority". 4 Underscoring the Premiers' view was a detailed proposal submitted to the federal government calling for an immediate increase in CHST cash transfers. From Federal Government Acknowledgement to Action At the 1997 Annual General Meeting of the CMA in Victoria, the federal minister of health, Allan Rock, stood before delegates and acknowledged "the very real anxiety that's being felt by Canadians" over the future of the health care system. 5 The minister also conceded that cuts to transfer payments have not been insignificant and have had an impact on the system, a point on which the CMA wholeheartedly agrees. The CMA recognizes that the federal government has made a series of difficult decisions when it comes to its funding priorities in order to restore our country’s fiscal health. However, the time has come to consider the fundamental issue of reinvesting in the health of Canadians. The federal government must move beyond the rhetoric in terms of acknowledging the pain and suffering that the cuts have caused, and move to an agenda of action by showing leadership and making the necessary and overdue re-investments in our health care. At a time when the federal government is beginning to reap the benefits of a fiscal dividend, it must recognize that health care is not simply a consumption good that, once spent, provides no additional benefits. Investments in the health care system provide a substantial and lasting social rate of return in terms of restoring, maintaining and enhancing Canadians health. Furthermore, in an increasingly interdependent and global marketplace, a sustainable health care system must be viewed as a necessary precondition for Canadians to excel, thus strengthening the link between good economic policy and good health care policy in Canada. They should not be viewed as competing against each other or that one must be sacrificed at the expense of the other. The 1998 federal budget ignored Canadians' number one concern and did nothing to bolster their confidence that the system will be there when they or their family need it. In responding to the massive reductions in cash transfers to the provinces and territories, in his February 24, 1998, budget speech, federal finance minister Paul Martin announced that he had increased the floor under cash transfers to the provinces in support of health and other programs from the $11.0 billion to $12.5 billion annually and further that it "will provide provinces with nearly $7 billion more in cash over the 1997/98 to 2002/03 period”. 6 While this was announced as an "increase" these statements are misleading. It must be remembered that this is not “new” money; the $12.5 billion represents nothing more than a partial restoration, which falls $6.0 billion (or 32%) short of the cash floor of $18.5 billion prior to the introduction of the CHST in 1996/97. To date, the cumulative impact of cuts to the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in 1996 and 1997 amounts to a $15.5 billion withdrawal in federal cash from health and social transfers. Their impact is still working its way through the system and being felt in patients' pain and suffering and unfortunately, even death. The CMA has consistently stated publicly that the integrity of the health care system is being jeopardized by reductions to federal cash transfer payments for health. The federal government, however, has failed to respond to these concerns. Unless the federal government reinvests in health care, it will only deepen the crisis of confidence Canadians share about the future sustainability of the health care system. III. HEALTH CARE FUNDING AND THE FEDERAL ROLE The Federal Role When it comes to the health care system, the federal government’s role is aimed at ensuring that Canadians have access to health care services under “uniform terms and conditions”. This derives from the government’s right to exercise its spending power and has been manifested over the past 40 years through a number of cash-transfer mechanisms to the provinces and territories, framed more precisely by the principles of the Canada Health Act (i.e., public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility). Since the inception of national health insurance in Canada, the federal government has played a central role in the funding of health care. Until 1977, the government reimbursed each province 50 cents on each dollar spent in the areas of hospital and medical care insurance. Following a renegotiated formula, government moved from a “cost-sharing” to a “block funding” formula from 1977/78 to 1995/96. Federal-provincial transfers were distributed through a funding mechanism known as Established Programs Financing (EPF). Under EPF, a combination of (basic) cash and tax points were transferred to the provinces for health care and post-secondary education (PSE). While both the tax points and cash components are important in funding health care, there are those who argue that the level of federal cash should be viewed as a true reflection of the government’s commitment to health care. This is significant for two reasons. First, it demonstrates the priority the government places on our health care system, and secondly, the cash component (which can be withheld under the Canada Health Act) can play an important role in preserving and enhancing national standards. 7 The Origins of Federal Cash Withdrawal The genesis for the crisis in confidence about the future of Canada’s health care system can be traced to 1982, when the federal government introduced a series of unilateral decisions which reduced its cash contributions to the provinces and territories for health and other social programs. Figure 1 highlights the changes made to the EPF formula used to fund health and post-secondary education between 1977 and 1995. These unilateral changes, resulted in the withholding of approximately $30 billion in federal cash that would have otherwise been transferred to provincial and territorial health insurance plans (and an additional $12.1 billion for post-secondary education - for a total of $42.1 billion). 8 This dollar amount is of no small consequence when it comes to ensuring that all Canadians have access to quality health care. [FIGURE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Figure 1 [FIGURE END] Into the Mist... Prior to April 1, 1996 the federal government's commitment to insured health services, post-secondary education and social assistance programs could be readily determined since the federal government made separate notional cash contributions to the provinces and territories in each of these areas. 9 Announced in the 1995 federal budget, the creation of the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST), on April 1, 1996, saw EPF merge with the Canada Assistance Plan (CAP). In effect, health, post-secondary education, and social assistance were collapsed into one large cash transfer. At the time, the government claimed that the CHST was “a new approach to federal-provincial fiscal relations marked by greater flexibility and accountability for provincial governments, and more sustainable financing arrangements for the federal government.” 10 In reality, the increased “flexibility and accountability” was accompanied by a $7.0 billion reduction in the cash portion of the new transfer, and introduced a lower level of transparency with respect to where and what proportion the federal government notionally allocated its dollars for health, PSE and the social programs previously funded under CAP. In its 1998 budget, the federal government moved to partially restore CHST funding by establishing a new cash floor of $12.5 billion (see Table 2) - however, this is still $6.0 billion short of the pre-CHST cash floor. To date, the cumulative impact of previous CHST cash reductions in 1996 and 1997 amounts to a $15.5 billion withdrawal of cash from health and social transfers to 1998/99. By 2002/03, it is estimated that $39.5 billion will have been removed from the CHST. This is in addition to the $30 billion withheld from fiscal transfers that would otherwise have gone to the provinces and territories for health between 1982 and 1995. 11 [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [TABLE END] Furthermore, in addition to the current cash floor, the cash entitlement will stagnate at $12.5 billion, as adequate provision has not been made to maintain the value of the cash portion of the transfer. 12 This means the spending power of the cash entitlement will continue to erode as the health care system is forced to meet the changing needs of Canadians based on population growth, aging, epidemiology, new technologies and inflation. With the introduction of the CHST, the disappearance of health, post-secondary education and social assistance into the shadowy mist makes it impossible to hold the federal government accountable with respect to its relative commitment to each of these important policy areas. Using the pre-CHST percentage distribution, the federal government’s current cash allocation to health care stands at roughly $5.0 billion, or 7% of total health care expenditures. This is not surprising considering that the “H” in CHST was added later, only after health organizations protested its absence. Based on the reduced federal cash contribution to health care, it would appear that the government has made a conscious decision to abdicate its responsibility and leadership role in funding health care. While claiming to uphold the integrity of our national health care system, the reality of reduced cash transfers has forced all provinces and territories to make do with significantly fewer federal dollars for health. Federal “offloading” at its best has allowed the federal government to meet (and exceed) its own financial projections; at its worst it has forced the provinces and territories to consider a series of unattractive options: re-allocate program spending from within current budgets; deficit-financed program spending; or reduced program spending. To be clear, from a national perspective, the CMA believes that the single most important reason for the deterioration of the health care system is the significant decline in federal financial support for health care. It is critical that the federal government immediately signal its commitment to Canadians that the health care system is a high priority, and to immediately reinvest in a program that will restore the confidence of Canadians' that the system will be there for them when they need it. Now is the time for the federal government to demonstrate leadership and address the number one concern of Canadians by turning the "vicious cycle" of deficit reduction into a "virtuous cycle" of reinvesting in the health care system. This is not business as usual, and the status quo is not sustainable. IV. A TIME TO RE-ESTABLISH FEDERAL LEADERSHIP IN HEALTH CARE Stabilize the System Canadians, who strongly support a publicly-funded health care system - a conviction shared by the CMA - need to see some leadership from their federal government about how it perceives the future of the health care system unfolding. The failure to re-invest in health care in the last federal budget leaves them confused by the contradiction of seeing the government withdraw funding while at the same time talking about introducing new programs such as home care and pharmacare. Before the federal government can even contemplate future program expansion, it must move quickly to stabilize our current health care system. Canadians have made it very clear where they believe the federal government's spending priorities lie. Seventy-one percent (Angus Reid, November, 1997) want federal cash transfer restored and 81% (Ottawa Sun/Roper, June 1998) of Canadians want the federal government to dedicate more resources to Medicare. The CMA believes strongly that there is an immediate need for a measured, deliberate and responsible approach to re-invest in our health care system. Canadians need to be reassured that the system will be there for them and their families when they need it. To restore access to quality health care for all Canadians, the CMA respectfully recommends: 1. That in order to ensure greater public accountability and visibility, the federal government introduce a health-specific portion of the cash transfers to the provinces and territories. 2. That in addition to the current level of federal cash transferred to the provinces and territories for health care, the federal government restore at a minimum $2.5 billion in cash on an annual basis to be earmarked for health care, effective April 1, 1999. 3. That beginning April 1, 2000, the federal government fully index the total cash entitlement allocated to health care through the use of a combination of factors that would take into account the changing needs of Canadians based on population growth, aging, epidemiology, current knowledge and new technologies, and economic growth. The principles outlined in the above recommendations are fundamental and underscore the importance of establishing an accountable (i.e., linking sources with their intended uses) and visible transfer for federal cash that is targeted for reinvestment into health care. While there is ongoing discussion about the mechanism(s) to reinvest in health care, the minimum federal cash restoration of $2.5 billion on an annual basis into the health care system recognizes the high priority of placing health care on a more sustainable financial footing for the future. This figure is separate from the $5 billion notionally allocated to health care via the current CHST, and is calculated on the basis of the recent historical federal cash allocation (approximately 41%) under EPF and CAP (now the CHST) to health care as a proportion of the $6.0 billion dollars required to restore the CHST cash floor to $18.5 billion (1995/96 level). The recommendations also speak to the necessity of having in place a fully indexed escalator to ensure that the federal cash contribution will continue to grow to meet the future health care needs of Canadians, and with the economy. The escalator formula recognizes that health care needs are not always synchronized with economic growth. In fact, it could be argued that in times of economic hardship (i.e., unemployment, stress, anxiety), a greater burden is placed on the health care system. Taken together, the above recommendations are a targeted approach to reinvesting in health care, and serve to re-establish the federal government's leadership role when it comes to the current and future sustainability of our health care system. It also signals that the federal government is prepared to address, in a focused and strategic approach, Canadians' number one concern - access to quality health care. Finally, it is important to note that in principle the above recommendations are consistent with those of other groups such as the provincial and territorial ministers of finance, the Canadian public and other national health organizations, who are not asking for new resources but an immediate restoration of monies that have been taken out of the federal/provincial/territorial transfer envelope over the past three years. Looking to the Future At the same time that the federal government reinvests to stabilize the health care system, it must also consider the broader spectrum of health care services that must be in place to ensure that Canadians do not fall through the cracks. In addition to the re-investment required to stabilize our Medicare system, there is also an urgent need for investments into other components of the health system. In many ways, this suggests that new transitional funding is required to ensure that as the system evolves, it remains accessible, and can do so with minimal interruption of service to Canadians. Proposed by the CMA, the Health System Renewal Fund, is time limited, sector-specific, and strategically targeted to areas that are in transition. Funding is intended to meet defined need and give the federal government sufficient flexibility in how the funds will be allocated, with full recognition for the investment. The CMA respectfully recommends: 4. That the federal government establish a one-time Health System Renewal Fund in the amount of $3 billion to be disbursed over the three-year period beginning April 1, 1999, for the following areas of need: a. Acute care infrastructure support: assist health institutions to enhance the delivery of a continuum of quality patient care by improving their access to necessary services including new technologies, and modernizing health facilities and upgrading infrastructure. b. Community care infrastructure support: to enable communities to develop services to support the delivery of home and community-based care in the wake of the rapid downsizing of the institutional sector. c. Support Canadians at risk: to provide access to pharmacotherapy and medical devices to those in need, who are not adequately covered by public or private insurance (pending the development of a long-term solution). d. Health information technology: to allow the provinces and territories to put in place the transparent, clinically driven health information infrastructure necessary to support the adequate and appropriate management of access and delivery of health care. In implementing the health information infrastructure scrupulous attention must be paid to privacy and confidentiality issues. The Acute Care Infrastructure Support program is designed to ensure that targeted reinvestments are made in the institutional sector such that it has the necessary physical capacity and infrastructure to deliver quality health care. In a world where downsizing has become the accepted wisdom, health care facilities need to be modernized in terms of new technology and equipment to ensure the full continuum of patient care is available. The Community Care Infrastructure Support program speaks to the important need to develop adequate community-based systems before any reforms are introduced in the acute care sector. It also recognizes that community-based programs should not be implemented at the expense of the acute care sector, but rather, should be designed such that both sectors complement one another and add value to the health care system. The Support Canadians at Risk program focuses on those who with inadequate coverage and have compromised access to needed pharmacotherapy and medical devices. Currently, drug coverage is not universal nor is it comprehensive. In many cases, the working poor, those that are self-employed or employed by small businesses do not have drug coverage (nor are they eligible for government sponsored plans). In other cases, co-payments/deductibles of some public plans are so high that individuals must pay out-of-pocket (e.g., $850 deductible, semi-annually, in Saskatchewan, then 35% co-payment) for all necessary prescription drugs. As a result, this patchwork coverage may inhibit Canadians access to quality care and may place additional demands on the acute care sector. Similarly, Canadians may not have access to medical devices covered by the public and/or private plans. The Health Information Technology program speaks to the critical need to develop and implement a transparent and clinically driven information systems that will support better management, measurement and monitoring of the health care system. At the same time, scrupulous attention must be paid to privacy and confidentiality issues. To this end, the CMA has taken a proactive approach in addressing these issues by developing a health information privacy code. Taken together, our recommendations are a powerful and strategic package. They speak to the need to immediately stabilize the health care system - which is in crisis, and the need to look at the broader spectrum of health care services to ensure that Canadians in need do not fall through the cracks. V. REINFORCING GOOD ECONOMIC POLICY WITH GOOD HEALTH CARE POLICY IN CANADA While the system-wide issues related to the federal role in funding health care is clearly of importance to Canada's physicians, there are also other important issues that the CMA would like to bring to the attention of the Standing Committee on Finance. As mentioned earlier in the brief, good economic policy and good health care policy should go hand-in-hand. They should serve to reinforce, not neutralize, one another. They should not be viewed as one gaining at the expense of the other. Viewed in their proper context, they can be balanced such that policy decisions produce outcomes that are fair to all parties. Tobacco Taxation Policy Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature mortality in Canada. The most recent estimates suggest that more than 45,000 Canadians die each year due to tobacco use. The estimated economic cost to society from tobacco use in Canada has been estimated between $11 billion to $15 billion 13. Tobacco use directly costs the Canadian health care system $3 billion to $3.5 billion 14 annually. These estimates do not take into account intangible costs such as pain and suffering. CMA is concerned that the 1994 reduction in the federal cigarette tax has had a significant effect in slowing the decline in cigarette smoking in the Canadian population, particularly in the youngest age groups - where the number of young smokers (15-19) is in the 22% to 30% range and 14% for those age 10-14 15. The CMA congratulates the federal government’s February 13, 1998 initiative which selectively increased federal excise taxes on cigarettes and tobacco sticks. This is a first step towards an integrated tobacco tax strategy, and speaks to the importance of strengthening the relationship between good tax policy and good health policy in Canada. The CMA understands that tobacco tax strategies are extremely complex. Strategies need to consider the effects of tax increases on reduced consumption of tobacco products with increases in interprovincial/territorial and international smuggling. In order to tackle this issue, the government could consider a selective tax strategy. This strategy requires continuous stepwise increases to tobacco taxes in those areas with lower tobacco tax (i.e., Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada). The goal of selective increases in tobacco tax is to increase the price to the tobacco consumer over time (65-70% of tobacco products are sold in Ontario and Quebec). The selective stepwise tax increases will approach but may not achieve parity amongst all provinces; however, the tobacco tax will attain a level such that inter-provincial/territorial smuggling would be unprofitable. The selective stepwise increases would need to be monitored so that the new tax level and US/Canadian exchange rates do not make international smuggling profitable. The selective stepwise increase in tobacco taxes can be combined with other tax strategies. The federal government should apply the export tax and remove the exemption available on shipments in accordance with each manufacturers historic levels. The objective of implementing the export tax would be to make cross-border smuggling unprofitable. The federal government should establish a dialogue with the US federal government regarding harmonizing US tobacco taxes with Canadian levels at the factory gate. Alternatively, US tobacco taxes could be raised to a level that when offset with the US/Canada exchange rate differential renders international smuggling unprofitable. The objective of harmonizing US/Canadian tobacco tax levels (at or near the Canadian levels) would be to increase the price of internationally smuggled tobacco products to the Canadian and American consumers. The CMA's comprehensive tobacco taxation strategy is designed to achieve the following objectives: (1) to reduce tobacco consumption; (2) to minimize interprovincial/territorial smuggling of tobacco products; (3) to minimize international smuggling of tobacco products from both the Canadian and American perspective; (4) to reduce and/or minimize Canadian/American consumption of internationally smuggled tobacco products. The CMA recommends: 5. That the federal government follow a comprehensive integrated tobacco tax policy: a. To implement selective stepwise tobacco tax increases to achieve the following objectives: (1) reduce tobacco consumption, (2) minimize interprovincial/territorial smuggling of tobacco products, and (3) minimize international smuggling of tobacco products; b. To apply the export tax on tobacco products and remove the exemption available on tobacco shipments in accordance with each manufacturers historic levels; and c. To enter into discussions with the US federal government to explore options regarding tobacco tax policy, bringing US tobacco tax levels in line with or near Canadian levels, in order to minimize international smuggling. The Excise Act Review, A Proposal for a Revised Framework for the Taxation of Alcohol and Tobacco Products (1996), proposes that tobacco excise duties and taxes (Excise Act and Excise Tax Act) for domestically produced tobacco products be combined into a new excise duty and come under the jurisdiction of the Excise Act. The new excise duty is levied at the point of packaging where the products are produced. The Excise Act Review also proposes that the tobacco customs duty equivalent and the excise tax (Customs Tariff and Excise Tax Act) for imported tobacco products be combined into the new excise duty [equivalent tax to domestically produced tobacco products] and come under the jurisdiction of the Excise Act. The new excise duty will be levied at the time of importation. The CMA supports the proposal of the Excise Act Review. It is consistent with previous CMA recommendations calling for tobacco taxes at the point of production. Support for Tobacco Control Programs Taxation should be used in conjunction with other strategies for promoting healthy public policy, such as public education programs to reduce tobacco use. The Liberal party, recognising the importance of this type of strategy , promised: "...to double the funding for the tobacco control programs from $50 million to $100 million over five years, investing the additional funds in smoking prevention and cessation programs for young people, to be delivered by community organizations that promote the health and well-being of Canadian children and youth." 16 The CMA applauds the federal government's efforts in the area of tobacco use prevention and cessation - particularly its intent to commit $50 million to public education through the proposed Tobacco Control Initiative. However, a time limited investment is not enough. Substantial and sustainable funding is required for programs in prevention and cessation of tobacco use. 17 A possible source for this type of program investment could be tobacco tax revenues or the tobacco surtax. The CMA therefore recommends: 6. That the federal government commit stable funding for a comprehensive tobacco control strategy; this strategy should include programs aimed at prevention and cessation of tobacco use and protection of the public from tobacco's harmful effects. 7. That the federal government clarify its plans for the distribution of the Tobacco Control Initiative funds, and ensure that the funds are invested in evidence-based tobacco control projects and programs. 8. That the federal government support the use of tobacco tax revenues for the purpose of developing and implementing tobacco control programs. Fair and Equitable Tax Policy? - The Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) When it comes to tax policy and the tax system in Canada, the CMA is strongly of the view that both should be administered in a fair and equitable manner. This principle-based statement has been made to the Standing Committee on a number of different occasions. While these principles are rarely in dispute, the CMA has expressed its strong concerns regarding their application - particularly in the case of the goods and services tax (GST) and the recently introduced harmonized sales tax (HST) in Atlantic Canada. By designating medical services as "tax exempt" under the Excise Tax Act, physicians are in the unenviable position of being denied the ability to claim a GST refund (i.e., input tax credits - ITCs) on the medical supplies necessary to deliver quality health care, and on the other, cannot pass the tax onto those who purchase such services. This is a critical point when one considers the raison-d'etre of introducing the GST: to be an end-stage consumer-based tax, and having not a producer of a good or a service bear the full burden of the tax. Yet this tax anomaly does precisely that. As a result, physicians are "hermetically sealed" - they have no ability to claim ITCs due to the Excise Tax Act, or pass the costs to consumers due to the Canada Health Act. To be clear, the CMA has never, nor is currently asking for, special treatment for physicians under the Excise Tax Act. However, if physicians, as self-employed individuals are considered as small businesses for tax purposes, then it only seems reasonable that they should have the same tax rules extended to them that apply to other small businesses. This is a fundamental issue of tax fairness. While other self-employed professionals and small businesses claim ITCs, an independent (KPMG) study has estimated that physicians have "overcontributed" in terms of unclaimed ITCs by $57.2 million per year. By the end of this calendar year, physicians will have been unfairly taxed in excess of $480 million. Furthermore, with the introduction of the HST in Atlantic Canada, KPMG has estimated that it will costs physicians an additional $4.686 million per year. As it currently applies to medical services, the GST is bad tax policy and the HST will make a bad situation worse for physicians. Last year, the Standing Committee, in its report to the House of Commons stated: "According to the CMA, the GST is fundamentally unfair to physicians and is a deterrent in recruiting and retaining physicians in Canada. This issue merits consideration and further study". 18 The CMA believes that it has rigorously documented its case and further study is not required - the time has come for concerted action from the federal government to alleviate this tax impediment. There are other health care providers (e.g., dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists, chiropractors, nurses) whose services are categorized as tax exempt. However, there is an important distinction between whether the services are publicly insured or not. Health care providers who deliver services privately have the opportunity to pass along the GST costs through their fee structures. It must be remembered that physicians are in a fundamentally different position given that 99% of their professional earnings come from the government health insurance plans: under the GST and HST, "not all health care services are created equal". There are those who argue that the medical profession should negotiate the GST at the provincial/ territorial level, yet there is no province that is prepared to cover the additional costs that are being downloaded onto physicians as a result of changes to federal tax policy. Nor do these governments feel they should be expected to do so. The current tax anomaly, as it affects the medical profession, was created with the introduction of the GST - and must be resolved at the federal level. As it currently stands for medical services, the GST and HST is not a tax policy that reinforces good health care policy in Canada. The CMA view is not unique. The late Honourable Chief Justice Emmett Hall recognized the principles that underpin the fundamental issue of tax fairness by stating: "That the federal sales tax on medical supplies purchased by self-employed physicians in the course of their practices be eliminated". 19 Even though Mr. Hall's recommendation was made prior to the introduction of the GST and HST, the principles outlined above are unassailable and should be reflected in federal tax policy. Canadian physicians work hard to provide quality health care to their patients within what is a publicly funded health care system. Physicians are no different from Canadians in that they, too, are consumers (purchasers). Why then, they ask, has the medical profession been singled out for such unfair treatment under the GST regime? The CMA respectfully recommends: 9. That health care services funded by the provinces and territories be zero-rated. The above recommendation could be accomplished by amending the Excise Tax Act as follows: (1). Section 5 part II of Schedule V to the Excise Tax Act is replaced by the following: 5. "A supply (other than a zero-rated supply) made by a medical practitioner of a consultative, diagnostic, treatment or other health care service rendered to an individual (other than a surgical or dental service that is performed for cosmetic purposes and not for medical or reconstructive purposes)." (2). Section 9 Part II of Schedule V to the Excise Tax Act is repealed. (3). Part II of Schedule VI to the Excise Tax Act is amended by adding the following after section 40: 41. A supply of any property or service but only if, and to the extent that, the consideration for the supply is payable or reimbursed by the government under a plan established under an Act of the legislature of the province to provide for health care services for all insured persons of the province. Our recommendation fulfils at least two over-arching policy objectives: (1) strengthening the relationship between good economic policy and good health policy in Canada; and (2) applying the fundamental principles that underpin our taxation system (fairness, efficiency, effectiveness), in all cases. Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) There are (at least) two fundamental goals of retirement savings: (1) to guarantee a basic level of retirement income for all Canadians; and (2) to assist Canadians in avoiding serious disruption of their pre-retirement living standards upon retirement. Reviewing the demographic picture in Canada, we see that an increasing portion of society is not only aging, but is living longer. Assuming that current demographic trends will continue and peak in the first quarter of the next century, it is important to recognize the role that private RRSPs savings will play in ensuring that Canadians may continue to live dignified lives well past their retirement from the labour force. This becomes even more critical when one considers that Canadians are not setting aside sufficient resources for their retirement. Specifically, according to Statistics Canada, it is estimated that 53% of men and 82% of women starting their career at age 25 will require financial aid at retirement age - only 8% of men and 2% women will be financially secure. In its 1996 Budget Statement, the federal government announced that it froze the dollar limit of RRSPs at $13,500 through to 2002/03, with increases to $14,500 and $15,500 in 2003/04 and 2004/05, respectively. As well, the maximum pension limit for defined benefit registered pension plans will be frozen at its current level of $1,722 per year of service through 2004/05. This is a de facto increase in tax payable. This change in policy with respect to RRSP contribution limits run counter to the White Paper released in 1983 (The Tax Treatment of Retirement Savings), where the House of Commons Special Committee on Pension Reform recommended that the limits on contributions to tax-assisted retirement savings plans be amended so that the same comprehensive limit would apply regardless of the retirement savings vehicle or combination of vehicles used. In short, the principle of "pension parity" was endorsed. Furthermore, in three separate papers released by the federal government, the principle of pension parity would have been achieved between money-purchase (MP) plans and defined benefit (DB) plans had RRSP contribution limits risen to $15,500 in 1988. In effect, the federal government postponed the scheduling of the $15,500 limit for seven years - that is, achieving the goal of pension parity was delayed until 1995. The CMA has been frustrated that ten years of careful and deliberate planning by the federal government around pension reform has not come to fruition, in fact, if the current policy remains in place it will have taken more than 17 years to implement (from 1988 to 2005). As a consequence, the current policy of freezing RRSP contribution limits and RPP limits without making adjustments to RRSP limits to achieve pension parity serves to maintain inequities between the two plans until 2004/2005. This is patently unfair for self-employed Canadians who rely on RRSPs as their sole vehicle for retirement planning. The CMA recommends: 10. That the dollar limit of RRSPs at $13,500 increase to $14,500 and $15,500 in 1999/00 and 2000/01, respectively. Subsequently, dollar limits increase at the growth in the yearly maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE). Under current federal tax legislation, 20% of the cost of an RRSP, RRIF or Registered Pension Plan's investments can be made in "foreign property." The rest is invested in "Canadian" investments. If the 20% limit is exceeded at the end of a month, the RRSP pays a penalty of 1% of the amount of the excess. In its December 1998 pre-budget consultation , the Standing Committee on Finance made the following recommendation (p. 66): "...that the 20% Foreign Property Rule be increased in 2% increments to 30% over a five year period. This diversification will allow Canadians to achieve higher returns on their retirement savings and reduce their exposure to risk, which will benefit all Canadians." A recent study by Ernst & Young, demonstrated that Canadian investors would have experienced substantially better investment returns over the past 20 years with higher foreign content limits. As well, the Conference Board of Canada concluded that lifting the foreign content limit to 30% would have a neutral effect on Canada's economy. The CMA and believes there is sufficient evidence to indicate that Canadians would benefit from an increase in the Foreign Property Rule, from 20% to 30%. The CMA therefore recommends: 11. That the 20% foreign property rule for deferred income plans such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Registered Retirement Income Funds be increased in 2% annual increments to 30% over a five year period, effective 1999. As part of the process to revitalize the economy, greater expectations are being placed on the private sector to create employment opportunities. While this suggests that there is a need to re-examine the current balance between public and private sector job creation, the government, nonetheless has an important role to play in fostering an environment that will stimulate job creation. In this context, the CMA, strongly believes that current RRSPs should be viewed as an asset rather than a liability. With proper mechanisms in place, the RRSP pool of capital funds can play an integral role in bringing together venture capital and small and medium-size businesses and entrepreneurs. In this regard, the CMA would encourage the government to explore current regulatory impediments to bring together capital with small and medium-size businesses. The CMA, recommends the following: 12. That the federal government foster economic development by treating RRSP contributions as assets rather than liabilities and by exploring the regulatory changes necessary to ensure increased access to such funds by small and medium-size businesses. Non-Taxable Health Benefits In last year's federal budget, the CMA was encouraged by the federal government's announcement to extend the deductibility of health and dental premiums through private health services plans (PHSP) for the unincorporated self-employed. The CMA believes that this initiative is a step in the right direction when it comes to improving tax fairness. As well, the federal government is to be commended for its decision to maintain the non-taxable status of supplementary health benefits. This decision is an example of the federal government's serving to strengthen the relationship between good tax policy and good health care policy in Canada. If supplementary health benefits were to become taxable, it is likely that young healthy people would opt for cash compensation instead of paying taxes on benefits they do not receive. These Canadians would become uninsured for supplementary health services. It follows that employer-paid premiums may increase as a result of this exodus in order to offset the additional costs of maintaining benefit levels due to diminishing ability to achieve risk pooling. As well, in terms of fairness it would seem unfair to "penalize" 70% of Canadians by taxing supplementary health benefits to put them on an equal basis with the remaining 30%. It would be preferable to develop incentives to allow the remaining 30% of Canadians to achieve similar benefits attributable to the tax status of supplementary health benefits. The CMA therefore recommends: 13. That the current federal government policy with respect to non-taxable health benefits be maintained. Health Research in Canada At the same time that our health care system has been de-stabilized, so too has the role of health research in Canada. In response, the federal government announced in its 1998 budget that it would increase funding levels for the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC) from $237.5 million (1997/98), to $267 million (1998/99), $270 million (1999/00) and $276 million (2000/01). While this is a step in the right direction, the $134 million over three years represents for the most part a restoration of previously cut funding - only $18 million would be considered new money. Furthermore, when compared against other countries, Canada does not fare well. Of the G-7 nations for which recent data were available, Canada ranks last in per capita spending for health research. France, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom spend between 1.5 and 3.5 times more per capita than Canada. 20 In what is increasingly a knowledge-based world, the federal government must be reminded that a sustained and substantial commitment to health research in required. The CMA therefore recommends: 14. That the federal government establish a national target (either in per capita terms or as a proportion of total health spending), and an implementation plan for health research and development spending including the full spectrum of basic biomedical to applied health services research, with the objective of improving Canada's position relative to other G-7 countries. Brain Drain and Tuition Deregulation In June, 1998, the CMA met with the Standing Committee on Finance to discuss the issue of "brain drain" in Canada. At that time, the CMA expressed its serious concerns over the recent tuition deregulation policy in Ontario and its subsequent impact on the career choices of new medical graduates. Specifically, the CMA officially decries tuition deregulation in Canadian medical schools and believes that governments should increase funding to medical schools to alleviate the pressures driving tuition increases; that any tuition increase be regulated and reasonable; and that financial support systems be in place in advance of, or concomitantly with, any tuition increase. These measures will foster the education and training of a diverse population of health care givers, and will support culturally and socially sensitive health care for all Canadians. As new physicians graduate with substantial and growing debt loads, they will be attracted to more lucrative positions in order to repay their debts - particularly positions in the United States. As a consequence, tuition deregulation policies will have a direct and detrimental impact when it comes to retaining our best and brightest young physicians in Canada. The CMA is currently in the process of developing a position paper on this issue. VI. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS With the future of access to quality health care for all Canadians at stake, the CMA strongly believes that the federal government must demonstrate that it is prepared to re-establish its leadership role and re-invest in the health care system that all Canadians cherish and closely identify with. The CMA therefore makes the following recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance in its deliberations. Stabilize the System 1. That in order to ensure greater public accountability and visibility, the federal government introduce a health-specific portion of the cash transfers to the provinces and territories. 2. That in addition to the current level of federal cash transferred to the provinces and territories for health care, the federal government restore at a minimum $2.5 billion in cash on an annual basis to be earmarked for health care, effective April 1, 1999. 3. That beginning April 1, 2000, the federal government fully index the total cash entitlement allocated to health care through the use of a combination of factors that would take into account the changing needs of Canadians based on population growth, aging, epidemiology, current knowledge and new technologies, and economic growth. Looking to the Future 4. That the federal government establish a one-time Health System Renewal Fund in the amount of $3 billion to be disbursed over the three-year period beginning April 1, 1999, for the following areas of need: a. Acute care infrastructure support: assist health institutions to enhance the delivery of a continuum of quality patient care by improving their access to necessary services including new technologies, and modernizing health facilities and upgrading infrastructure. b. Community care infrastructure support: to enable communities to develop services to support the delivery of home and community-based care in the wake of the rapid downsizing of the institutional sector. c. Support Canadians at risk: to provide access to pharmacotherapy and medical devices to those in need, who are not adequately covered by public or private insurance (pending the development of a long-term solution). d. Health information technology: to allow the provinces and territories to put in place the transparent, clinically driven health information infrastructure necessary to support the adequate and appropriate management of access and delivery of health care. In implementing the health information infrastructure scrupulous attention must be paid to privacy and confidentiality issues. Tobacco Taxation Policy 5. That the federal government follow a comprehensive integrated tobacco tax policy: a. To implement selective stepwise tobacco tax increases to achieve the following objectives: (1) reduce tobacco consumption, (2) minimize interprovincial/territorial smuggling of tobacco products, and (3) minimize international smuggling of tobacco products; b. To apply the export tax on tobacco products and remove the exemption available on tobacco shipments in accordance with each manufacturers historic levels; and c. To enter into discussions with the US federal government to explore options regarding tobacco tax policy, bringing US tobacco tax levels in line with or near Canadian levels, in order to minimize international smuggling. Support for Tobacco Control Programs 6. That the federal government commit stable funding for a comprehensive tobacco control strategy; this strategy should include programs aimed at prevention and cessation of tobacco use and protection of the public from tobacco's harmful effects. 7. That the federal government clarify its plans for the distribution of the Tobacco Control Initiative funds, and ensure that the funds are invested in evidence-based tobacco control projects and programs. 8. That the federal government support the use of tobacco tax revenues for the purpose of developing and implementing tobacco control programs. Goods and Services Tax (GST) 9. That health care services funded by the provinces and territories be zero-rated. Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) 10. That the dollar limit of RRSPs at $13,500 increase to $14,500 and $15,500 in 1999/00 and 2000/01, respectively. Subsequently, dollar limits increase at the growth in the yearly maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE). 11. That the 20% foreign property rule for deferred income plans such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Registered Retirement Income Funds be increased in 2% annual increments to 30% over a five year period, effective 1999. 12. That the federal government foster economic development by treating RRSP contributions as assets rather than liabilities and by exploring the regulatory changes necessary to ensure increased access to such funds by small and medium-size businesses. Non-Taxable Health Benefits 13. That the current federal government policy with respect to non-taxable health benefits be maintained. Health Research in Canada 14. That the federal government establish a national target (either in per capita terms or as a proportion of total health spending), and an implementation plan for health research and development spending including the full spectrum of basic biomedical to applied health services research, with the objective of improving Canada's position relative to other G-7 countries. 1 Angus Reid, February, 1998. 2 Angus Reid, February, 1998. 3 Canadian Medical Association. January 1998 Physician Resource Questionnaire. 4 39th Annual Premiers’ Conference, Saskatoon Saskatchewan, August 5-7, 1998. Press Communique. 5 Rock A. Speech to the Canadian Medical Association’s 130th General Council Victoria, Aug 20, 1997. 6 The Budget Plan, 1998. Building Canada for the 21st Century, February 24, 1998. 7 The tax point transfer refers to the dollar value of ?tax points? that were negotiated with the federal government and the provinces. Specifically, where the federal government reduced personal and corporate income tax rates, the ?tax room? that was created was then occupied by the provinces. This is an important point because even though the federal government collects taxes on behalf of the provinces (with the exception of Quebec), it is argued that the value of the tax point transfer belongs to the provinces and is not considered as a true “federal contribution”. The last time this issue was negotiated was in 1965. 8 Thomson A. Federal Support for Health Care - A Background Paper. Health Action Lobby, Ottawa, 1991. 9 Thomson, A., Diminishing Expectations - Implications of the CHST, [report] Canadian Medical Association, Ottawa. May, 1996. 10 Federal Department of Finance. 11 Thomson A. Federal Support for Health Care - A Background Paper. Health Action Lobby, Ottawa, 1991. 12 Currently, the CHST cash entitlement has an escalator attached to it, however, it is scheduled to begin in 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03, at a rate of GDP- 2% (year 1), GDP-1.5% (year 2), and GDP-1% (year 3). 13 Health Canada, Economic Costs Due to Smoking (Information Sheet). Ottawa: Health Canada, November 1996. 14 Health Canada, Economic Costs Due to Smoking (Information Sheet). Ottawa: Health Canada, November 1996. 15 Health Canada, Youth Smoking Behaviour and Attitudes (Information Sheet). Ottawa: Health Canada, November 1996. 16 Liberal Party, Securing Our Future, Liberal Party of Canada, Ottawa, 1997. p. 77. 17 In California, between 1988 and 1993, when the state was carrying on an aggressive public anti-smoking campaign, tobacco consumption declined by over 25%. Goldman LK, Glantz SA. Evaluation of Antismoking Advertising Campaigns. JAMA 1988; 279: 772-777. 18 Report of the Standing Committee on Finance. December, 1997. 19 Hall Emmett (Special Commissioner). Canada?s National-Provincial Program for the 1980s, p. 32. 20 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD Health Data 97. Paris: OECD, 1997.

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Chronic Diseases Related to Aging: CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10226

Date
2011-10-17
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-10-17
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
The Canadian Medical Association wishes to commend the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health for undertaking this study of the issue of chronic diseases related to aging. It is a timely issue, since the first members of the Baby Boom generation turned 65 in 2011 and it's predicted that by 2031 a quarter of Canada's population will be 65 or older. Though chronic disease is not exclusive to seniors, its prevalence does rise with age: according to Statistics Canada, about 74% of Canadians over 65 have at least one chronic condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis or depression and nearly 25% have three or more. The proportion is higher among people 85 years old and over. What are the causes of chronic disease? There are many. Some of them are rooted in unhealthy behaviour: smoking, poor nutrition and, in particular, lack of physical activity. Physicians are concerned about rising obesity rates in Canada, for example, because obesity increases one's risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. But there is more to chronic disease than unhealthy behaviour. It is also affected by a person's biological and genetic makeup, as well as by his or her social environment. Lower income and educational levels, poor housing, and social isolation, which is a greater problem for seniors than for other populations, are all associated with poorer health status. Now the good news: chronic disease is not an inevitable consequence of aging. We can delay the onset of chronic disease, and perhaps even reduce the risk that it will occur. Patients who do have existing chronic disease, their conditions can often be controlled successfully through appropriate health care and disease management, so that they can continue to lead active, independent lives. Thus the CMA supports initiatives promoting healthy aging - which the Public Health Agency of Canada defines as "the process of optimizing opportunities for physical, mental and social health as people age." Healthy lifestyles should be encouraged at any age. For example, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, which CMA supports, recommend that people 65 or older accumulate at least two-and-a-half hours per week of aerobic activity such as walking, swimming or cycling. Experts believe that healthy aging will compress a person's period of illness and disability into a short period just prior to death, enabling a longer period of healthy, independent and fulfilling life. For those who are already affected with chronic diseases, treatment is long term and can be very complex. People with diabetes, for example, need a continuous ongoing program to monitor their blood sugar levels and maintain them at an appropriate level; people with arthritis or other mobility problems may require regular physical therapy. For the patient, chronic disease means a long-term management that is much more complicated than taking antibiotics for an infection. People with two or more chronic conditions may be consulting a different specialist for each, as well as seeking support from nurse counsellors, dieticians, pharmacists, occupational therapists, social workers or other health professionals. Often, management requires medication. The majority of Canadians over 65 take at least one prescription drug, and nearly 15% are on five drugs or more, which increases the possibility that, for example, two of those drugs could interact negatively with each other to produce unpleasant and possibly serious side effects. Long-term, complex chronic disease care is in fact the new paradigm in our health care system. About 80% of the care now provided in the United States is for chronic diseases, and there is no reason to believe Canada is greatly different. Hence, it is worth considering what form, ideally, a comprehensive program of chronic disease management should take, for patients of any age. The CMA believes it should include the following four elements: * First, access to a primary care provider who has responsibility for the overall care of the patient. For more than 30 million Canadians, that primary care provider is a family physician. Family physicians who have established long-standing professional relationships with their patients, can better understand their needs and preferences. They can build a relationship of trust, so that patients are comfortable in discussing frankly how they want to treat their conditions: for example, whether to take medication for depression or seek counselling with a therapist. The family physician can also serve as a co-ordinator of the care delivered by other providers. This leads to our second recommended element: * Collaborative and coordinated care. The CMA believes that, given the number of providers who may be involved in the care of chronic diseases, the health care system should encourage the creation of interdisciplinary teams or, at minimum, enable a high level of communication and coordination among individual providers. We believe all governments should support: o Interdisciplinary primary care practices, such as Family Health Networks in Ontario, which bring a variety of different health professionals and their expertise into one practice setting; o Widespread use of the electronic health record, which can facilitate information sharing and communication among providers; and o A smooth process for referral: for example, from family physician to specialists, or from family physician to physiotherapist. The CMA is working with other medical stakeholders to create a referral process tool kit that governments, health care organizations and practitioners can use to support the development of more effective and efficient referral systems. The patient may also need non-medical support services to help cope with disability related to chronic disease. For example, a person with arthritis who wants to remain at home may need to have grab bars, ramps or stair lifts installed there. Ideally, a coordinated system of chronic disease management would also include referral to those who could provide these services. * The third necessary element is support for informal caregivers. These are the unsung heroes of elder care. An estimated four million Canadians are providing informal, unpaid care to family members or friends. About a quarter of these caregivers are themselves 65 or older. Their burden can be a heavy one, in terms of both time and expense. Stress and isolation are common among caregivers. The federal government has taken steps to provide much-needed support to informal caregivers. The most recent federal budget, for example, increased the amount of its Caregiver Tax Credit. We recommend that the government build on these actions, to provide a solid network of support, financial and otherwise, to informal caregivers. * The fourth and final element is improving access to necessary services. Only physician and hospital services are covered through the Canada Health Act, and many other services are not. All provinces have pharmacare programs for people over 65, but coverage varies widely between provinces and many, particularly those with lower incomes, find it difficult to pay for their necessary medications. Seniors who do not have post-retirement benefit plans - and these are the majority - also need to pay out of pocket for dental care, physiotherapy, mental health care and other needed supports. We recommend that all levels of government explore adjusting the basket of services provided through public funding, to make sure that it reflects the needs of the growing number of Canadians burdened by chronic disease. In particular, we recommend that the federal government negotiate a cost-shared program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage with provincial/territorial governments. In conclusion, the CMA believes the committee is wise to consider how we might reduce the impact - on individual patients, the health care system and society - of chronic disease related to aging. Chronic disease management is a complex problem, but warrants close attention as it is now the dominant form of health care in Canada. We look forward to the results of the Committee's deliberations.

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Healthy Living: CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10058

Date
2011-02-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-02-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
I would like to thank the Committee for inviting the Canadian Medical Association to appear on this very important topic. As a family physician in Saskatoon and the past president of the CMA, I can assure you that Canada's physicians have an acute interest in drawing attention to the health consequences of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, and the challenge of obesity. We know that obesity is a contributor to a number of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and liver disease, as well as breast, colon and prostate cancer. We know that over-consumption of salt, sugars, and saturated and trans fats can be a factor in hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and kidney disease. And we know that Canadians have become dramatically less physically fit in recent decades. As a country, we need to espouse a culture of health and wellness, based on good nutrition and physical activity. Finding solutions will require a collaborative, system-wide approach involving all levels of government, the health, education, industry, finance and transportation ministries, and the private sector. We know that if provided with support when young, children can adopt healthy life styles. That is why the CMA continues to call on governments across the country to work with school boards to: * provide at least 30 minutes of active daily physical education for all primary and secondary grades, given by trained educators in the field; * provide access to attractive, affordable, healthy food choices and clearly post the nutrition content of the foods they sell; and * ban junk food sales in all primary, intermediate and secondary schools in Canada. The CMA has advocated policies and regulations for food safety, and promoted healthy eating and physical activity as key components of healthy living and the prevention of disease. The CMA policy statement Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Weights calls for a Canada-wide strategy for healthy living that includes: * information and support for Canadians to help them make healthy choices; * support for health professionals in counselling patients on healthy weight and in treating existing obesity; * community infrastructure that makes healthy living choices easier; and * public policies that encourage healthy eating and physical activity. All Canadians need access to nutritious food at affordable prices. The price of milk, produce and other healthy foods varies greatly in different parts of Canada. In remote areas, they are even more expensive because of high transportation costs. In urban areas, nutritious food may be unaffordable for people on low incomes and unavailable as grocery stores move to the suburbs thus creating "food deserts". Among other strategies, governments should consider: implementing school meal programs; and taking into account the cost of nutritious food when setting social assistance rates. The proliferation of packaged, prepared foods and fast foods has contributed to excess amounts of salt, sugar, saturated and trans fat and calories in our diet. While we welcome the federal government's support for the reduction of trans fats and sodium levels in processed foods, reliance on the food industry to voluntarily reduce these ingredients has not been successful. We believe that regulation is needed to safeguard the health of Canadians. Healthy living begins with an awareness of the impact of food and exercise on health. While individuals must take responsibility for making healthy choices, the CMA believes that governments have an obligation to provide guidance on healthy eating and physical activity that can be easily incorporated into daily lives. We commend the federal and provincial/ territorial governments for their recent Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights. Physicians were also pleased to see the revised Canada's Food Guide in 2007, and the recent update to Canada's Physical Activity Guide. The CMA supports nutrition and caloric labeling on packaged foods to help Canadians make informed food choices. The federal nutrition labeling awareness initiative is useful to consumers but we think information can be simplified. For example, the UK is testing front of pack 'traffic light' coding for fats, salt, sugar and calories. The CMA has also called for a clear display of caloric counts, and sodium, trans-fats and protein levels on restaurant and cafeteria menus. The CMA believes encouragement of active transportation, that is walking and cycling, is a way to increase physical activity. Communities need to make it easier for Canadians to be physically active in their day-to-day life by providing sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly intersections; bike lanes, paths and parking spaces; and trails, parks and green spaces. One area that we believe warrants further study is the use of incentives to promote healthy behaviours. By transferring funds or other benefits to an individual, incentives provide immediate rewards for behaviours that can lead to long-term health gains. An example in Canada is the Children's Fitness Tax Credit, which is intended to help children be more active by off-setting some of the costs incurred by families for sports and leisure programs. Government disincentives largely involve the use of regulation and taxation in order to change individual behaviour. This helps to create an environment in which healthy choices are easier to make. It is impossible to overstate the importance of nutrition and physical activity to our health. Encouraging Canadians to make healthy choices requires a wide ranging, long-term and collaborative approach. The CMA believes this challenge should be met urgently. Canada's physicians are more than ready to work with governments to ensure that Canadians can improve and maintain their health.

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A Healthy Population for a Stronger Economy: CMA pre-budget consultation submission to the Standing Committee on Finance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10224

Date
2011-08-12
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-08-12
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance examines how increasing retirement income saving options, improving access to prescription drugs, and planning for a Canadian Health Quality Alliance to promote innovation in the delivery of high quality health care can enhance our health care system and, in turn, make our economy more productive. Higher quality health care and expanded options for meeting the needs of retired and elderly Canadians will contribute to the ultimate goals of better patient care, improved population health and help our country reach its full potential. Polls show that Canadians are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of their health care system, particularly in terms of their ability to access essential care. The CMA's 2011 pre-budget submission responds to these concerns and supports a healthy population, a healthy medical profession and a healthy economic recovery. Our recommendations are as follows: Recommendation # 1 The federal government should study options to expand the current PRPP definition beyond defined contribution pension plans. Also, the federal government should expand the definition of eligible administrators of PRPPs beyond financial institutions to include organizations such as professional associations. Recommendation # 2 Governments, in consultation with the life and health insurance industry and the public, should establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to be administered through reimbursement of provincial/territorial and private prescription drug plans to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. Recommendation # 3 The federal government should convene a time-limited national steering committee that would engage key stakeholders in developing a proposal for a pan-Canadian Health Quality Alliance with a mandate to work collaboratively towards integrated approaches for a sustainable health care system through innovative practices in the delivery of high quality health care. Introduction Over the past year, the CMA has engaged Canadians across the country in a broad-based public consultation on health care and heard about their concerns and experiences with the system. This exercise was undertaken as part of the CMA's Health Care Transformation (HCT) initiative, a roadmap for modernizing Canada's health care systemi so that it puts patients first and provides Canadians with better value for money. We have heard through these consultations that Canadians do not believe they are currently getting good value from their health care system, a feeling borne out by studies comparing Canada's health care system to those in leading countries in Europe. We also heard that Canadians are concerned about inequities in access to care beyond the basic medicare basket, particularly in the area of access to prescription drugs. While all levels of government need to be involved, it is the federal government that must lead the transformation of our most cherished social program. 1. Retirement Income Improvement Issue: Increasing retirement savings options for Canadians with a focus on improving their ability to look after their long-term care needs. Background The CMA remains concerned about the status of Canada's retirement income system and the future ability of Canada's seniors to adequately fund their long-term and supportive care needs. The proportion of Canadian seniors (65+) is expected to almost double from its present level of 13% to almost 25% by 2036. Statistics Canada projections show that between 2015 and 2021 the number of seniors will, for the first time, surpass the number of children under 14 years of age.ii The CMA has been working proactively on this issue in several ways, including through the recently created Retirement Income Improvement Coalition (RIIC), a broad-based coalition of 11 organizations representing over one million self-employed professionals. The coalition has previously recommended to the federal government the following actions: * increased retirement saving options for all Canadians, particularly the self-employed; * changes to the Income Tax Act, Income Tax Regulations and the Employment Standards Act to enable the self-employed to participate in pension plans; * the approval of Pooled Retirement Pension Plans (PRPP) as a retirement savings program for the self-employed; * changes to the current tax-deferred income saving options (increase the percentage of earned income or the maximum-dollar amount contribution limit for RRSPs); * a requirement that registration to all retirement saving options be voluntary (optional); and * opportunities for Canadians to become better educated about retirement saving options (financial literacy).iii The CMA appreciates that federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers are moving ahead with the introduction of Pooled Registered Retirement Plans (PRPPs). The CMA, as part of the RIIC, has been providing input into the consultation process. However, PRPPs represent only one piece of a more comprehensive retirement savings structure. Recommendation # 1 The federal government should study options that would not limit PRPPs to defined contribution pension plans. Target benefit plans should be permitted and encouraged. Target benefit plans allow risk to be pooled among the plan members, providing a more secure vehicle than defined contribution plans. Also, the administrators of PRPPs should not be limited to financial institutions. Well-governed organizations that represent a particular membership should be able to sponsor and administer RPPs and PRPPs for their own members, including self-employed members. The CMA also continues to be concerned about the ability of Canadians to save for their long-term health care needs. The Wait Time Alliance - a coalition of 14 national medical organizations whose members provide specialty care to patients - reported recently that many patients, particularly the elderly, are in hospital while waiting for more suitable and appropriate care arrangements. Mostly in need of support rather than medical care, these patients are hindered by the lack of options available to them, often due to limited personal income. The CMA has previously recommended that the federal government should study options for pre-funding long-term care, including private insurance, tax-deferred and tax-prepaid savings approaches, and contribution-based social insurance. This remains pertinent. 2. Universal access to prescription drugs Issue: Ensuring all Canadians have access to a basic level of prescription drugs. Background Universal access to prescription drugs is widely acknowledged as part of the "unfinished business" of medicare in Canada. In 1964 the Hall Commission recommended that the federal government contribute 50% of the cost of a Prescription Drug Benefit within the Health Services Program. It also recommended a $1.00 contributory payment by the purchaser for each prescription. This has never been implemented.iv What has emerged since then is a public-private mix of funding for prescription drugs. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has estimated that, as of 2010, 46% of prescription drug expenditures were public, 36% were paid for by private insurance and 18% were paid for out-of-pocket.v Nationally there is evidence of wide variability in levels of drug coverage. According to Statistics Canada, 3% of households spent greater than 5% of after-tax income on prescription drugs in 2008. Across provinces this ranged from 2.2% in Ontario and Alberta, to 5.8% in P.E.I. and 5.9% in Saskatchewan.vi Moreover, there is significant variation between the coverage levels of the various provincial plans across Canada. For example, the Manitoba Pharmacare Program is based on total income, with adjustment for spouse and dependents under 18, while in Newfoundland and Labrador, the plan is based on net family income.vii,viii The Commonwealth Fund's 2010 International Health Policy Survey found that 10% of Canadian respondents said they had either not filled a prescription or skipped doses because of cost issues.ix Moreover, there have been numerous media stories about inequities in access across provinces to cancer drugs and expensive drugs for rare diseases. The high cost of prescription drugs was frequently raised during our public consultations this year. The need for a national drug strategy or pharmacare plan was mentioned by an overwhelming number of respondents, many of whom detailed how they had been affected by the high cost of drugs. The cost to the federal government of a program that would ensure universal access to prescription drugs would depend on the threshold of out-of-pocket contribution and the proportion of expenses that it would be willing to share with private and provincial/territorial public plans. Estimates have ranged from $500 millionx, and $1 billionxi, to the most recent estimate from the provincial-territorial health ministers of $2.5 billion (2006).xii Recommendation # 2 Governments, in consultation with the life and health insurance industry and the public, should establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to be administered through reimbursement of provincial/territorial and private prescription drug plans to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. Such a program should include: * a mandate for all Canadians to have either private or public coverage for prescription drugs; * a uniform income-based ceiling (between public and private plans and across provinces/territories) on out-of-pocket expenditures, on drug plan premiums and/or prescription drugs; * federal/provincial/territorial cost-sharing of prescription drug expenditures above a household income ceiling, subject to capping the total federal and/or provincial/territorial contributions either by adjusting the federal/provincial/territorial sharing of reimbursement or by scaling the household income ceiling or both; * a requirement for group insurance plans and administrators of employee benefit plans to pool risk above a threshold linked to group size; and * a continued strong role for private supplementary insurance plans and public drug plans on a level playing field (i.e., premiums and co-payments to cover plan costs). 3. Innovation for Quality in Canadian Health Care Issue: Development of a proposal to establish a Canadian Health Quality Alliance to promote innovation in the delivery of high-quality health care in Canada. Background There is general agreement that Canada's health care system is no longer a strong performer compared to similar nations. Clearly, we can do better. However, progress has been slow on a comprehensive quality agenda for our health care system. At the national level, there is no coordination or body with a mandate to promote a comprehensive approach to quality improvement. Over the past two decades, health care stakeholders in Canada have gradually come to embrace a multi-dimensional concept of quality in health care encompassing safety, appropriateness, effectiveness, accessibility, competency and efficiency. The unilateral federal funding cuts to health transfers that took effect in 1996 precipitated a long preoccupation with the accessibility dimension that was finally acknowledged with the Wait Time Reduction Fund in the 2004 First Ministers Accord. The safety dimension was recognized with the establishment of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) in 2003. Competence has been recognized by health professional organizations and regulatory bodies through the development of peer-review programs and mandated career-long professional development. While six provinces have established some form of health quality council (B.C., Alta., Sask., Ont., Que., N.B.), there is no national approach to quality improvement beyond safety. Given that health care stands as Canadians' top national priority and that it represents a very large expenditure item for all levels of government, the lack of a national approach to quality improvement is a major shortcoming. In the U.S., the Institute for Healthcare Improvement is dedicated to developing and promulgating methods and processes for improving the delivery of care throughout the world.xiii England's National Health Service (NHS) has also created focal points over the past decade to accelerate innovation and improvement throughout their health system. Canadian advancements in the health field have occurred when the expertise and perspective of a range of stakeholders have come together. The CPSI, for example, was established following the deliberations and report of the National Steering Committee on Patient Safety.xiv It is estimated that it would cost less than $500,000 for a multi-stakeholder committee to develop a proposal for a national alliance for quality improvement, including the cost of any commissioned research. Recommendation # 3 The federal government should convene a time-limited national steering committee that would engage key stakeholders in developing a proposal for a pan-Canadian Health Quality Alliance with a mandate to work collaboratively towards integrated approaches for a sustainable health care system through innovative practices in the delivery of high quality health care. This alliance would be expected to achieve the following in order to modernize health care services: * Promote a comprehensive approach to quality improvement in health care; * Promote pan-Canadian sharing of innovative and best practices; * Develop and disseminate methods of engaging frontline clinicians in quality improvement processes; and * Establish international partnerships for the exchange of innovative practices. Such an alliance could be established in a variety of ways: * Virtually, using the Networks of Centres of Excellencexv approach; * By expanding the mandate of an existing body; or * Through the creation of a new body. REFERENCES i Canadian Medical Association. Health Care Transformation in Canada. Change that Works. Care that Lasts. http://www.cma.ca/multimedia/CMA/Content_Images/Inside_cma/Advocacy/HCT/HCT-2010report_en.pdf Accessed 13/07/11. ii Statistics Canada. Population Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-520-x/2010001/aftertoc-aprestdm1-eng.htm. Accessed 13/07/11. iii Retirement Income Improvement Coalition. Letter to the federal Minister of Finance and the Minister of State (Finance). March 17, 2011. ivHall, E. Royal Commission on Health Services. Volume 1. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1964. vCanadian Institute for Health Information. Drug Expenditure in Canada, 1985 to 2010. Ottawa, 2010. viStatistics Canada. CANSIM Table 109-5012 Household spending on prescription drugs as a percentage of after-tax income, Canada and provinces, annual (percent). http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/pick-choisir?lang=eng&searchTypeByValue=1&id=1095012. Accessed 05/29/11. vii Manitoba Health. Pharmacare deductible estimator. http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/pharmacare/estimator.html. Accessed 07/28/11. viii Newfoundland Department of Health and Community Services. Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP). http://www.health.gov.nl.ca/health/prescription/nlpdp_application_form.pdf. Accessed 07/29/11. ixCommonwealth Fund. International health policy survey in eleven countries. http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Chartbook/2010/PDF_2010_IHP_Survey_Chartpack_FULL_12022010.pdf. Accessed 05/29/11. x Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. The health of Canadians - the federal role. Volume six: recommendations for reform. Ottawa, 2002. xi Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. Building on values: the future of health care in Canada. Ottawa, 2002. xii Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat. Backgrounder: National Pharmaceutical Strategy decision points. http://www.scics.gc.ca/english/conferences.asp?a=viewdocument&id=112. Accessed 23/07/11. xiii http://www.ihi.org. Accessed 29/07/10. xiv National Steering Committee on Patient Safety. Building a safer system: a national integrated strategy for improving patient safety in Canadian health care. http://rcpsc.medical.org/publications/building_a_safer_system_e.pdf. Accessed 23/07/11. xv http://www.nce-rce.gc.ca/index_eng.asp. Accessed 29/07/10.

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A Healthy Population for a Stronger Economy: The Canadian Medical Association's Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance's pre-budget consultations

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10228

Date
2011-10-18
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-10-18
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee. Over the past year, the Canadian Medical Association has engaged in a wide-ranging public consultation on health care and heard from thousands of Canadians about their concerns and experiences with the system. This exercise was undertaken as part of the CMA's Health Care Transformation initiative, a roadmap for modernizing our country's health care system so that it puts patients first and provides Canadians with better value for money. The CMA found there is a groundswell of support for change among other health care providers, stakeholders and countless Canadians who share our view that the best catalyst for transformation is the next accord on federal transfers to provinces for health care. That said, while looking ahead to what we would like to see in the next health care accord, we have identified immediate opportunities for federal leadership in making achievable, positive changes to our health care system that would help Canadians be healthier and more secure and help ensure the prudent use of their health care dollars. During our consultation, we heard repeated concerns that Canada's medicare system is a shadow of its former self. Once a world leader, Canada now lags behind comparable nations in providing high quality health care. Improving the quality of health care services is key if Canada is ever going to have a high performing health system. The key dimensions of quality, and by extension, the areas that need attention are: Safety, Effectiveness, Patient-Centeredness, Efficiency, Timeliness, Equitability and Appropriateness. Excellence in quality improvement in these areas will be a crucial step towards sustainability. To date, six provinces have instituted health quality councils. Their mandates and their effectiveness in actually achieving lasting system wide improvements vary by province. What is missing, and urgently needed, is an integrated, Pan-Canadian approach to quality improvement in health care in Canada that can begin to chart a course that will ensure that Canadians ultimately have the best health and health care in the world. Canadians deserve no less and, with the resources at our disposal, there is no reason why this should not be achievable. The CMA recommends that the Federal Government funds the establishment, and adequately resources the operations, of an arms length Canadian Health Quality Council with the mandate to be a catalyst for change, a spark for innovation and a facilitator to disseminate evidence based quality improvement initiatives so that they become embedded in the fabric of our health systems from coast to coast to coast. Canadians are increasingly questioning whether they are getting value for the $190 billion a year that go into our country's health care system... with good reason as international studies indicate they are not getting good value for money. Defining, promoting and measuring quality care are not only essential to obtaining better health outcomes, they are crucial to building the accountability to Canadians that they deserve as consumers and funders of the system. We also heard during our consultation that Canadians worry about inequities in access to care beyond the hospital and doctor services covered within medicare, particularly when it comes to the high cost of prescription drugs. Almost 50 years ago, the Hall Commission recommended that all Canadians have access to a basic level of prescription drug coverage, yet what we have now is a jumble of public and private funding for prescription drugs that varies widely across the country. Last year, one in 10 Canadians either failed to fill a prescription or skipped a dose because they couldn't afford it. Universal access to prescription drugs is widely acknowledged to be part of the unfinished business of medicare in Canada. Our second recommendation, therefore, is that governments establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to be administered through reimbursement of provincial/territorial and private prescription drug plans to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. This should be done in consultation with the life and health insurance industry and the public. In the 21st century, no Canadian should be denied access to medically necessary prescription drugs because of an inability to pay for them. Our third and final recommendation relates to our aging population and the concerns Canadians share about their ability to save for their future needs. We recommend that the federal government study options that would not limit PRPPs to defined contribution pension plans. Target benefit plans should be permitted and encouraged as they allow risk to be pooled among the plan members, providing a more secure vehicle than defined contribution plans. As well, the administrators of PRPPs should not be limited to financial institutions. Well-governed organizations that represent a particular membership should be able to sponsor and administer RPPs and PRPPs for their own members, including self-employed members. The CMA appreciates that governments are moving ahead with the introduction of Pooled Registered Retirement Plans. However, we note that PRPPs represent only one piece of a more comprehensive saving structure. We also continue to be concerned about the ability of Canadians to save for their long-term health care needs. Many patients, particularly the elderly, are in hospital waiting for more suitable care arrangement. These patients are hindered by a lack of available options, often because they lack the means to pay for long-term care. They and their families suffer as a result, and so, too, does our health care system. While not in this pre-budget brief, the CMA holds to recommendations we have made in previous years that the federal government study options to help Canadians pre-fund long-term care. In closing, let me simply say that carrying out these recommendations would make a huge and positive impact, soon and over the long term, in the lives of literally millions of Canadians from every walk of life. Thank you for your time. I would be happy to answer your questions.

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Improving Accountability in Canada's Health Care System: The Canadian Medical Association's Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10230

Date
2011-10-19
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-10-19
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The CMA appreciates the opportunity to appear before this committee as part of your review of the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care. An understanding of what has worked and what hasn't since 2004 is critical to ensuring the next accord brings about necessary change to the system. Overview of 2004 Accord On the positive side of the ledger, the 2004 accord provided the health care system with stable, predictable funding for a decade - something that had been sorely lacking. It also showed that a focused commitment, in this case on wait times, can lead to improvements. However, little has been done on several other important commitments in the Accord, such as the pledge that was also made in 2003 to address the significant inequity among Canadians in accessing prescription drugs. Along with the lack of long-term, community and home-based care services, this accounts for a major gap in patient access along the continuum of care. We also know that accountability provisions in past accords have been lacking in several ways. For instance, there has been little progress in developing common performance indicators set out in previous accord. i The 2004 accord has no clear terms of reference on accountability for overseeing its provisions. Vision and principles for 2014 What the 2004 accord lacked was a clear vision. Without a destination, and a commitment to getting there, our health care system cannot be transformed and will never become a truly integrated, high performing health system. The 2014 Accord is the perfect opportunity to begin this journey, if it is set up in a way that fosters the innovation and improvements that are necessary. By clearly defining the objectives and securing stable, incremental funding, we will know what changes we need to get us there. Now is the time to articulate the vision- to say loudly and clearly that at the end of the 10-year funding arrangement, by 2025, Canadians will have the best health and health care in the world. With a clear commitment from providers, administrators and governments, this vision can become our destination. As a first step to begin this long and difficult journey, the CMA has partnered with the Canadian Nurses Association, and together we have solicited support from over 60 health care organizations for a series of "Principles to Guide Health Care Transformation in Canada." These principles define a system that would provide equitable access to health care based on clinical need; care that is high quality and patient-centred; and that focuses on empowering patients to attain and maintain wellness. They call for a system that provides accountability to those who use it and those who fund it; and that is sustainable - by which I mean adequately resourced in terms of financing, infrastructure and human resources, and measured against other high-performing systems, with cost linked to outcomes. Based on our experience working within the provisions of the 2004 accord, we would like to suggest three strategies to ensure the next accord leads to a sustainable, high-performing health care system. They are: a focus on quality; support for system innovation; and the establishment of an accountability framework and I will touch briefly on each one. Focus on quality First, the crucial need to focus on improving the quality of health care services. The key dimensions of quality, and by extension, the areas that need attention are: safety, effectiveness, patient-centredness, efficiency, timeliness, equitability and appropriateness. Excellence in quality improvement in these areas will be a crucial step towards sustainability. To date, six provinces have instituted health quality councils. Their mandates and their effectiveness in actually achieving lasting system-wide improvements vary. What is missing and urgently needed is an integrated, pan-Canadian approach to quality improvement in health care that can begin to chart a course to ensure Canadians ultimately have the best health and health care in the world. Canadians deserve no less and, with the resources at our disposal, there is no reason why this should not be achievable. The CMA recommends that the federal government fund the establishment and resource the operations of an arms-length Canadian Health Quality Council, with the mandate to be a catalyst for change, a spark for innovation and a facilitator to disseminate evidence-based quality improvement initiatives so that they become embedded in the fabric of our health systems from coast to coast to coast. To help expand quality improvement across the country, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim provides the solid framework. Our health care systems will benefit inordinately from a simultaneous focus on providing better care to individuals and better health to populations, while reducing the per-capita cost. There is ample evidence that quality care is cost effective care. This approach, when adopted and applied as the pan-Canadian framework for any and all structural changes and quality improvement initiatives, will not only serve patients well, but will also enhance the experience of health care providers on the front lines. System innovation The second strategy revolves around system innovation. Innovation and quality improvement initiatives are infinitely more likely to be successful and sustained if they arise out of a commitment by frontline providers and administrators to the achievement of a common goal. We need to shift away from compliance models with negative consequences that have little evidence to support their sustainability. Innovative improvements in health care in Canada are inadequately supported, poorly recognized, and constrained from being shared and put into use more widely. This needs to change. The 2014 accord, with a focus on improving Canadians' health and health care, can facilitate the transformation we all seek. Building on the success of the 2004 Wait Times Reduction Fund and the 2000 Health Accord Primary Health Care Transition Fund, the CMA proposes the creation of a Canada Health Innovation Fund that would broadly support the uptake of health system innovation initiatives across the country. A Working Accountability Framework And, third, there needs to be a working accountability framework. This would work three ways. To provide accountability to patients - the system will be patient-centred and, along with its providers, will be accountable for the quality of care and the care experience. To provide accountability to citizens - the system will provide and, along with its administrators and managers, will be accountable for delivering high quality, integrated services across the full continuum of care. And to provide accountability to taxpayers - the system will optimize its per-capita costs, and along with those providing public funding and financing, will be accountable for the value derived from the money being spent. We have done all of this because of our profound belief that meaningful change to our health care system is of the essence, and that such change can and must come about through the next health accord. Therefore I thank this committee for your efforts on this important area. I would be happy to answer your questions. Appendix A Issues identified in 2004 Accord and Current Status [NOTE: see PDF for correct dispaly of table] Issue Current Status Annual 6% escalator in the CHT to March 31, 2014 Has provided health care system with stable, predictable funding for a decade. Adoption of wait-time benchmarks by December 2005 for five procedural areas Largely fulfilled. However, no benchmarks were set for diagnostic imaging. The Wait Time Alliance is calling for benchmarks for all specialty care. Release of health human resource (HHR) action plans by December 2005 Partially fulfilled. Most jurisdictions issued rudimentary HHR plans by the end of 2005; F/P/T Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources issued a paper on a pan-Canadian planning HHR framework in September 2005. First-dollar coverage for home care by 2006 Most provinces offer first-dollar coverage for post-acute home care but service varies across the country for mental health and palliative home care needs. An objective of 50% of Canadians having 24/7 access to multidisciplinary primary care teams by 2011 Unfulfilled: Health Council of Canada reported in 2009 that only 32 per cent of Canadians had access to more than one primary health care provider. A 5-year $150 million Territorial Health Access Fund Fulfilled: Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI) funding extended until March 31, 2014. A 9-point National Pharmaceuticals Strategy (NPS) Largely unfulfilled: A progress report on the NPS was released in 2006 but nothing has been implemented. Accelerated work on a pan-Canadian Public Health Strategy including goals and targets F/P/T health ministers (except Quebec) put forward five high-level health goals for Canada in 2005, although they were not accompanied by operational definitions that would lend themselves to setting targets. Continued federal investments in health innovation Unknown-no specificity in the 2004 Accord. Reporting to residents on health system performance and elements of the Accord P/T governments ceased their public reporting after 2004, and only the federal government has kept its commitment (at least to 2008). Formalization of the dispute advance/resolution mechanism on the CHA Done but not yet tested. i P/T governments ceased their public reporting after 2004, and only the federal government has kept its commitment (at least to 2008).Government of Canada. Healthy Canadians: a federal report on comparable health indicators 2008. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/alt_formats/hpb-dgps/pdf/pubs/system-regime/2008-fed-comp-indicat/index-eng.pdf. Accessed 06/21/11.

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Insite: CMA submission regarding Insite supervised injection site and program.

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14129

Date
2011-02-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
  1 document  
Policy Type
Court submission
Date
2011-02-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Text
S.C.C. File No.: 33556 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA (APPEAL FROM THE BRITISH COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEAL) BETWEEN: ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA AND MINISTER OF HEALTH FOR CANADA Appellants (Appellants/Cross-Respondents) —and — PHS COMMUNITY SERVICES SOCIETY, DEAN EDWARD WILSON and SHELLY TOMIC, VANCOUVER AREA NETWORK OF DRUG USERS (VANDU) Respondents (Respondents/Cross-Appellants) —and — ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Respondent (Respondent) —and — ATTORNEY GENERAL OF QUEBEC, DR. PETER AIDS FOUNDATION, VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY, CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK, INTERNATIONAL HARM REDUCTION ASSOCIATION AND CACTUS MONTREAL, CANADIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION, REGISTERED NURSES' ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO AND ASSOCIATION OF REGISTERED NURSES OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, BRITISH COLUMBIA CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, BRITISH COLUMBIA NURSES'S UNION Interveners FACTUM OF THE INTERVENER, CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP 100 Queen Street — Suite 1100 Ottawa, ON KIP 1J9 Guy J. Pratte/Nadia Effendi Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Medical Association 2 TO: Roger Bilodeau, Q.C. REGISTRAR SUPREME COURT OF CANADA AND TO: Robert J. Frater Attorney General of Canada Bank of Canada Building 234 Wellington Street, Room 1161 Ottawa, Ontario KlA OH8 Telephone: (613) 957-4763 FAX: (613) 954-1920 E-mail: robert.fratergustice.gc.ca Counsel for Appellant/Respondent on Cross- Appeal, the Attorney General of Canada Robert J. Frater Attorney General of Canada Bank of Canada Building 234 Wellington Street, Room 1161 Ottawa, Ontario KlA OH8 Telephone: (613) 957-4763 FAX: (613) 954-1920 E-mail: robert.frater@justice.gc.ca Counsel for Appellant/Respondent on Cross- Appeal, the Minister of Health for Canada Joseph H. Arvay, Q.C. Arvay Finlay 1350 - 355 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2G8 Telephone: (604) 689-4421 FAX: (604) 687-1941 E-mail: jarvay@arvayfinlay.com Counsel for Respondent, PHS Community Services Society Jeffrey W. Beedell McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: jeffbeedell@mcmillan.ca Agent for Respondent, PHS Community Services Society 3 Joseph H. Arvay, Q.C. Arvay Finlay 1350 - 355 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2G8 Telephone: (604) 689-4421 FAX: (604) 687-1941 E-mail: jarvay@arvayfinlay.com Counsel for Respondent, Dean Edward Wilson and Shelly Tomic John W. Conroy, Q.C. Conroy & Company 2459 Pauline St Abbotsford, British Columbia V2S 3S1 Telephone: (604) 852-5110 FAX: (604) 859-3361 E-mail: jconroy@johnconroy.com Counsel for Respondent/Appellant on Cross- Appeal, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) Craig E. Jones Attorney General of British Columbia 1001 Douglas Street, 6th floor Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4 Telephone: (250) 387-3129 FAX: (250) 356-9154 E-mail: craigjones@gov.bc.ca Counsel for Respondent, the Attorney General of British Columbia Hugo Jean Procureur general du Quebec 1200 Route de l'Èglise, 2e etage Ste-Foy, Quebec G1V 4M1 Telephone: (418) 643-1477 FAX: (418) 644-7030 E-mail: hjean@justice.gouv.qc.ca Counsel for Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Jeffrey W. Beedell McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: jeffbeedell@mcmillan.ca Agent for Respondent, Dean Edward Wilson and Shelly Tomic Henry S. Brown, Q.C. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 2600 - 160 Elgin St P.O. Box 466, Stn "D" Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Telephone: (613) 233-1781 FAX: (613) 788-3433 E-mail: henry.brown@gowlings.com Agent for Respondent/Appellant on Cross- Appeal, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 70 Gloucester Street Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0A2 Telephone: (613) 566-2058 FAX: (613) 235-4430 E-mail: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Agent for Respondent, the Attorney General of British Columbia Pierre Landry Noel & Associes 111, rue Champlain Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3R1 Telephone: (819) 771-7393 FAX: (819) 771-5397 E-mail: p.landry@noelassocies.com Agent for Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec 4 Andrew I. Nathanson Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 2900 - 550 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 0A3 Telephone: (604) 631-4908 FAX: (604) 631-3232 Counsel for Intervener, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation Ryan D. W. Dalziel Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP 3000 - 1055 West Georgia Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 3R3 Telephone: (604) 641-4881 FAX: (604) 646-2671 E-mail: rdd@bht.com Counsel for Intervener, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Sheila Tucker Davis LLP 2800 Park Place 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2Z7 Telephone: (604) 643-2980 FAX: (604) 605-3781 E-mail: stuckergdavis.ca Counsel for Intervener, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Paul F. Monahan Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 333 Bay Street, Suite 2400 Bay Adelaide Centre, Box 20 Toronto, Ontario M5H 2T6 Telephone: (416) 366-8381 FAX: (416) 364-7813 E-mail: pmonahan@fasken.com Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Scott M. Prescott Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 1300 - 55 Metcalfe Street Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L5 Telephone: (613) 236-3882 FAX: (613) 230-6423 E-mail: sprescott@fasken.com Agent for Intervener, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation Brian A. Crane, Q.C. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 2600 - 160 Elgin St Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1C3 Telephone: (613) 233-1781 FAX: (613) 563-9869 E-mail: brian.crane@gowlings.com Agent for Intervener, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Marie-France Major McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: mane-france.maior@mcmillan.ca Agent for Intervener, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Julia Kennedy Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 55 Metcalfe Street Suite 1300 Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L5 Telephone: (613) 236-3882 FAX: (613) 230-6423 E-mail: ikennedy(&fasken.com Agent for Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Michael A. Feder McCarthy Tétrault LLP Suite 1300, 777 Dunsmuir Street Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1 K2 Telephone: (604) 643-5983 FAX: (604) 622-5614 E-mail: mfeder(qmccarthv.ca Counsel for Intervener, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International Harm Reduction Association and CACTUS Montréal Rahool P. Agarwal Ogilvy Renault LLP 3800 - 200 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario M5J 2Z4 Telephone: (416) 216-3943 FAX: (416) 216-3930 E-mail: ragarwal(iogilvyrenaul1.com Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Nurses Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia Owen M. Rees Stockwoods LLP 77 King Street West Suite 4130, P.O. Box 140 Toronto, Ontario M5K IHI Telephone: (416) 593-7200 FAX: (416) 593-9345 E-mail: owenr~stockwoods.ca Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Public Health Association 5 Brenda C. Swick McCarthy Tétrault LLP 200 - 440 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario KIR 7X6 Telephone: (613) 238-2000 FAX: (613) 563-9386 Agent for Intervener, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International Harm Reduction Association and CACTUS Montréal Sally A. Gomery Ogilvy Renault LLP 1500 - 45, O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP lA4 Telephone: (613) 780-8661 FAX: (613) 230-5459 E-mail: sgomery(qogilvyrenaul1.com Agent for Intervener, Canadian Nurses Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontaro and Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia Dougald E. Brown Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP 1500 - 50 O'Connor S1. Ottawa, Ontario KIP 6L2 Telephone: (613) 231-8210 FAX: (613) 788-3661 E-mail: dougald.brown(inelligan.ca Agent for Intervener, Canadian Public Health Association Marjorie Brown Victory Square Law Office 100 West Pender Street Suite 500 Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 1R8 Telephone: (604) 684-8421 FAX: (604) 684-8427 E-mail: mbrown(avslo.ca Counsel for Intervener, British Columbia Nurses' Union Michael A. Chambers Maclaren Corlett 50 O'Connor Street, Suite 1625 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 6L2 Telephone: (613) 233-1146 FAX: (613) 233-7190 E-mail: mchambers(amacorlaw.com Counsel for Intervener, Real Women Canada 6 Colleen Bauman Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 500 - 30 Metcalfe St. Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5L4 Telephone: (613) 235-5327 FAX: (613) 235-3041 E-mail: cbauman~sgmlaw.com Agent for Intervener, British Columbia Nurses' Union TABLE OF CONTENTS Part I — Statement of Facts ........................................................................................................... .1 A. Overview ......................................................................................................................... 1 B. CMA's Interest in the Appeal ............................................................................................ 1 C. CMA's Position on the Facts ............................................................................................ 1 Part II — Statement of the Questions in Issue ................................................................................3 Part III — Statement of Argument .................................................................................................3 A. Charter Interpretation Must be Guided by Reality, Not Ideology ......................................... 3 B. The Impugned Provisions Infringe Section 7 of the Charter ................................................. 5 (1)Denying Access to Necessary Health care Infringes Section 7 of the Charter.................. 5 (2)The Rights to Life and Security of Patients Have Been Infringed ................................... 5 (3)Drug Addicts Have Not Waived Their Statutory and Constitutional Right to Treatment .................................................................................................................. 6 (4)The Rights to Liberty of the Individual Respondents Have Been Infringed ..................... 8 (5)The Principles of Fundamental Justice Have Not Been Respected ................................. 8 a) The Impugned Provisions Are Arbitrary ..................................................................... 8 b) The Impugned Provisions Are Overbroad ................................................................... 9 C. If There is an Infringement of Section 7, the Law is Not Saved by Section 1 of the Charter ................................................................................................................................ 9 D. Remedy ......................................................................................................................... 10 Part IV — Submissions as to Costs .............................................................................................. 10 Part V — Order Sought ................................................................................................................10 Part VI — Table of Authorities .................................................................................................... 11 Part VII — Statutes, Regulations, Rules ...................................................................................... 13 PART I — STATEMENT OF FACTS A. Overview 1. Fair and equitable access to medically necessary, evidenced-based health care is of fundamental importance to Canadian patients and physicians, as this Court recognized in Chaoulli. 2. Where life and security of a person is at risk because of a medical condition, like drug addiction, the Court's delineation of a government or legislature's constitutional obligations should be guided by facts. Unfounded ideological assumptions about the character of patients must not trump clinical judgment based on the best medical evidence available; otherwise, the life, liberty and security of patients is put at risk arbitrarily, contrary to section 7 of the Charter. 3. The Appellants' position that those addicted to drugs have foregone any right to access medical treatment is antithetical to the raison d'être of the Canadian health care system and inconsistent with the federal government's obligations under section 7 of the Charter. 4. Neither the statutory law nor the Constitution allows the state to deny access to health care because of "lifestyle" choices or presumed waiver of legal or constitutional rights. B. CMA's Interest in the Appeal 5. The Canadian Medical Association ("CMA") is the national voice of Canadian physicians with over 74,000 members across the country. Its mission is to serve and to unite the physicians of Canada and to be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and heath care. 6. Critical to CMA's role is the upholding of harm reduction as one pillar in a comprehensive public health approach to disease prevention and health promotion. Further, the CMA possesses a distinct expertise and broad-based knowledge of many aspects of policy and law concerning harm reduction as a clinically mandated and ethical method of care and treatment. C. CMA's Position on the Facts 7. By Order dated February 17, 2011, the CMA was granted leave to intervene in this Appeal. 2 8. The CMA accepts the facts as stated by the Respondents. 9. This appeal flows from separate actions commenced by some of the Respondents seeking relief that would obviate the need for exemptions granted by the Federal Minister of Health under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the "Act"), S.C. 1996 c. 19. Thus, when within the confines of the Vancouver Safe Injection Site ("Insite"), patient drug users were not liable to prosecution for possession of a controlled substance contrary to section 4(1) of the Act, or staff for trafficking contrary to section 5(1). The initial exemptions, based on "necessity for a scientific purpose", were granted for a term of three years commencing September 12, 2003. They were thereafter extended to December 31, 2007, and then to June 30, 2008. Insite's ability to operate was dependent upon the exemptions. However, no further extensions were forthcoming. 10. In their actions, the Respondents, in addition to the division of powers argument, contended that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act violated section 7 of the Charter, were unconstitutional, and should be struck down. The Respondents were successful before the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal. 11. The Applications Judge found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infringed section 7 of the Charter and declared them to be of no force and effect. 12. On appeal by the Attorney General of Canada and cross-appeal by the Respondents, PHS, Wilson and Tomic, the majority of the Court of Appeal found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act were inapplicable to Insite by reason of the application of the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity. 13. In concurring reasons, Rowles J.A. also found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) engaged section 7 of the Charter and that such application did not accord with the principles of fundamental justice because of overbreadth. 14. The findings of the Applications Judge and Rowles J.A. under the Charter are, the CMA submits, premised on the correct and supported fact that harm reduction is an evidenced-based form of medical treatment for patient drug addicts suffering from the illness of addiction. It is unconstitutional for governments to prevent access to treatment on pain of criminal penalty and deprivations of life, liberty and security of the person on grounds informed by ideological 3 assumptions and not the evidence. PART II - STATEMENT OF THE QUESTIONS IN ISSUE 15. The following constitutional questions, as stated by the Chief Justice on September 2, 2010, are to be determined in this appeal: 1. Are ss. 4(1) and 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.c. 1996, c. 19, constitutionally inapplicable to the activities of staff and users at Insite, a health care undertaking in the Province of British Columbia? 2. Does s. 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.c. 1996, c. 19, infringe the rights guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 3. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 4. Does s. 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19, infringe the rights guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 5. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 16. Questions two to five, which relate to the Charter, are of particular importance for the CMA, and are addressed in more detail below. The CMA submits that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infrnge the rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter and are not justified under section 1. PART III - STATEMENT OF ARGUMENT A. Charter Interpretation Must be Guided by Reality, Not Ideology 17. When determining whether or not impugned legislation infringes the Charter, courts must not play host to political debates, but instead must rise above them by ensuring that public policy passes constitutional muster. Chaoull v. Québec (Attorney General), (2005) 1 S.c.R. 791, at para. 89 (CMA Authorities, Tab 2). R. v. Morgentaler, (1988)1 S.C.R. 30 at 45-46 (CMA Authorities, Tab 13). 18. The Appellants' position is clearly premised on ideological preconceptions with regard to individuals suffering from addictions. Yet, as the history of birth control legislation in Canada shows, a legal framework informed by ideological assumptions about the morality of patients seeking to control their reproduction can violate a person's most fundamental rights. See R. v. Morgentaler, supra at 62 where the Court rejected arguments that it should assess administrative structures in the abstract: "when denial of a right as basic as security of the person is infringed by the procedure and administrative structures created by the law itself, the courts are empowered to act" (CMA Authorities, Tab 13). 4 19. In order for the courts to meet their role in determining whether a particular piece of legislation is constitutional, it must consider Parliament's enactments by relying on the available evidence. In fact, it is well established that a deprivation of the rights to life, liberty or security of the person must be proven by solid evidence. Taylor, M. and Jamal, M., The Charter of Rights in Litigation, loose-leaf (Canada Law Book: Aurora, 2010) at para. 17:15 [CMA Authorities, Tab 20]. 20. The presentation of facts is not a mere technicality, but rather it is essential to a proper consideration of Charter issues: Charter cases will frequently be concerned with concepts and principles that are of fundamental importance to Canadian society. For example, issues pertaining to freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the right to life, liberty and the security of the individual will have to be considered by the courts. Decisions on these issues must be carefully considered as they will profoundly affect the lives of Canadians and all residents of Canada. In light of the importance and the impact that these decisions may have in the future, the courts have every right to expect and indeed to insist upon the careful preparation and presentation of a factual basis in most Charter cases. The relevant facts put forward may cover a wide spectrum dealing with scientific, social, economic and political aspects. Often expert opinion as to the future impact of the impugned legislation and the results of the possible decisions pertaining to it may be of great assistance to the courts. MacKay v. Manitoba, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 357 at 361 [CMA Authorities, Tab 5]. 21. Specifically, with respect to section 7 of the Charter, this Court has confirmed that the task of the courts is to evaluate the issue in "the light, not just of common sense or theory, but of the evidence". The Court dispenses with unsubstantiated theoretical arguments, relying instead on empirical and scientific evidence presented by the parties: In support of this contention, the government called experts in health administration and policy. Their conclusions were based on the "common sense" proposition that the improvement of health services depends on exclusivity (R.R., at p. 591). They did not profess expertise in waiting times for treatment. Nor did they present economic studies or rely on the experience of other countries. They simply assumed, as a matter of apparent logic, that insurance would make private health services more accessible and that this in turn would undermine the quality of services provided by the public health care system. The appellants, relying on other health experts, disagreed and offered their own conflicting "common sense" argument for the proposition that prohibiting private health insurance is neither necessary nor related to maintaining high quality in the public health care system. Quality public care, they argue, depends not on a monopoly, but on money and management. They testified that permitting people to buy private insurance would make alternative medical care more accessible and reduce the burden on the public system. The result, they assert, would be better care for all [...] To this point, we are confronted with competing but unproven "common sense" arguments, amounting to little more than assertions of belief. We are in the realm of theory. But as discussed above, a theoretically defensible limitation may be arbitrary if in fact the limit lacks a connection to the goal. This brings us to the evidence called by the appellants at trial on the experience of other developed countries with public health care systems which permit access to private health care. The experience of these countries suggests that there is no real connection in fact between prohibition of health insurance and the goal of a quality public health system. 5 Chaoulli, supra at paras. 136-149 (see also paras. 115, 117, 136-149, 150, 152 where the Court refers to Statistics Canada studies and evidence from other western democracies) [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. See also Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 at 601-602 [CMA Authorities, Tab 16]. 22. Drug addicts suffer from a medical condition that can be treated. Hence, Insite is designed as a health treatment aimed at reducing the harmful consequences of drug use as well as exposing its vulnerable patients to other health care options. In this context, the federal legislation and government actions at issue amount to a denial of evidence-based medical treatment whose effect is to put the life and security of patients at great risk. 23. Charter interpretation should generally be grounded on fact rather than speculation or ideological assumptions, especially where life and security of the person (i.e., the patient) is at risk because of a medical condition (such as addiction). In such cases, the Court's delineation of the state's constitutional obligations should be guided by evidence-based medicine and independent clinical judgment. Chaoulli, supra at paras. 85, 107 [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. See also Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 441 at 452-454 [CMA Authorities, Tab 7]; Auton (Guardian ad litem of) v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657, at para. 66 [CMA Authorities, Tab 1]. 24. Accordingly, CMA submits that, at the very least, in the health care field where lives are at risk, there must be sound evidentiary basis for legislative and government action that deny medical care. B. The Impugned Provisions Infringe Section 7 of the Charter (1) Denying Access to Necessary Health care Infringes Section 7 of the Charter 25. While the legislature is generally entitled to enact legislation prohibiting drug use or trafficking, this legislation (however well-intended) cannot have the effect of putting the lives of affected persons at risk. This Court has already found in Chaoulli that section 7 of the Charter was infringed when governments impeded timely patient access to care. (2) The Rights to Life and Security of Patients Have Been Infringed 26. Both the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal found that the right to life and security was engaged in the present case. The evidence on these issues was plentiful: 1. Addiction is an illness. One aspect of the illness is the continuing need or craving to consume the substance to which the addiction relates; 6 2. Injection drug use leads to an increased incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B and C, and skin- and blood-borne infections; frequent drug overdoses resulting in significant morbidity and mortality; increased hospital and emergency service utilization; 3. The risk of morbidity and mortality associated with addiction and injection is ameliorated by injection in the presence of qualified health professionals at Insite; 4. User of Insite who are addicted to heroin, cocaine and other controlled substances are not engaged in recreation. Their addiction is an illness frequently, if not invariably, accompanied by serious infections and the real risk of overdose. Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, paras. 87, 89, 135-136, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, pp. 24-25, 34. See also Reasons for Judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal, para. 30, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 65. (3) Drug Addicts Have Not Waived Their Statutory and Constitutional Right to Treatment 27. The Appellants did not really dispute the medical evidence to the effect that addiction to drugs was a disease. They sought instead to justify their position by claiming that drug addicts had "chosen" their lifestyle and were solely responsible for their medical condition. For the following reasons, this "rationale" does not pass constitutional muster. 28. The Appellants assert that the section 7 rights are not engaged as they stem from an alleged "choice made by the consumer", relying on the fact that 95% of the injections in the downtown east side of Vancouver do not take place at Insite. The Appellants do not explain how this assertion demonstrates why addicts are able to make a choice not to inject themselves, given that it only addresses where they inject themselves. In any event, contrary to the Appellants' choice theory, the evidence before the Applications Judge and his findings were to the contrary: the reasons for the addiction and resulting need are based on a complicated combination of personal, governmental and legal factors, some of which lend themselves to choice and others that do not.' Further, the Applications Judge found that it is the illness of addiction, and the failure to manage it, that has led to further illness and death. Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, paras. 65, 89, 142, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, pp. 21, 24-25, 35. See also Reasons for Judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal, para. 39, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 67. Contra the facts in R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571 [Malmo-Levine] [CMA Authorities, Tab 12]. 29. The Appellants' position amounts to a claim that the users of Insite have effectively waived their constitutional rights under section 7. Notwithstanding that the jurisprudence is In fact, the evidence is clear that in the case of the Respondent Tomic, her first experience with illegal drugs was not a personal choice [Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, para. 65, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 21]. 7 unclear as to whether a right under section 7 can actually be waived, it is well established that a waiver or a renunciation of any right under the Charter must be voluntary, freely expressed and accompanied with a clear understanding of the purpose the right was meant to serve and the consequences of declining its protection. There is no evidence whatsoever that the patients of Insite who suffer from addiction, knowingly and unequivocally waived their rights under the Charter, and more specifically their right to access medical treatment. See e.g. Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844, at paras. 71-72; Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551, at paras. 96-102; R. v. Richard, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 525, at paras. 22-26; R. v. L.T.H., [2008] 2 S.C.R. 739, at paras. 41-42; R. v. Clarkson, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 383 at 394-396; Korponay v. Canada (Attorney General), [1982] 1 S.C.R. 41 at 49; Yorkton Union Hospital v. S.U.N. (1993), 16 Admin. L.R. (2d) 272, at para. 44 (C.A.) [CMA Authorities, Tabs 3, 17, 15, 11, 8, 4, 18 respectively]. 30. Indeed, Canadians do not forego their right to health care or to protection from section 7 violations because of their "choice" of lifestyles. The Appellants' position that addicts must take responsibility for the choice they make undermines the raison d'être of the Canadian health care system, namely (as found by the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal) the fundamental right of Canadians to access medical treatment and the ethical and clinical responsibilities of their health care providers. 31. The Appellants' position skirts the clinical question at issue for physicians and their patients: physicians must treat patients as a matter of good medical practice and ethical obligation, whether the patient is believed to contribute to his or her injury or not. In Canada, neither the ethical obligations of physicians to treat patients, nor the patients' legal right to treatment, are subject to a moral assessment of a patient's lifestyle. Behaviours that might be deemed "risky" do not deprive patients of their rights of access to clinically required medical care. 32. Section 31 of CMA's Code of Ethics (relied on by the Court in the past e) provides that all physicians must "[r]ecognize the responsibility of physicians to promote fair access to health care resources". The patients at Insite would be deprived of positive health outcomes if Insite were to close or even continue to operate under the ongoing threat of closure. 33. Adopting the Appellants' approach to Charter interpretation would set an extremely dangerous precedent. Thus, if one were to apply the rationale of "choice" to other medical 2 See e.g. R. v. Dersch, [1993] 3 S.C.R. 768 at 784-785, where the Court refers to CMA's Code of Ethics [CMA Authorities, Tab 9]. 8 contexts, such as chronic disease, patients suffering from diabetes because of contributing factors such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise would, under the same logic, be denied medical care. Indeed, many of the complex elements beyond individual choice such as socio-economic and genetic factors found by the Applications Judge in the case at bar to shape addiction as an ilness are prevalent in other diseases. This approach would be not only unethical and clinically unsound, but unconstitutionaL. (4) The Rights to Liberty of the Individual Respondents Have Been Infringed 34. The courts have recognized that the threat of criminal prosecution and possibility of imprisonment for an offence is suffcient to trigger the liberty interest and scrutiny under section 7. Malmo-Levine, supra at para. 84 ICMA Authorities, Tab 12). R. v. Parker (2000),188 D.L.R. 4th 385, at para. 101 (Ont. C.A.) ICMA Authorities, Tab 14). 35. Vulnerable patients suffering from addiction and the health care providers who provide treatment at Insite suffer violations of their constitutionally guaranteed rights (section 7 of the Charter) because of the threat of prosecution under the Act. The uncertainty associated with a ministerial exemption mechanism for Insite from certain provisions of the Act imposes a great burden on those already labouring under the weight of addiction. Moreover, health care providers are also put at risk in their ability to provide medically necessary and evidence-based health care services in a timely manner to all citizens by the capricious exemption mechanism contained in the Act. (5) The Principles of Fundamental Justice Have Not Been Respected 36. It is well established that a law that is arbitrary or overbroad will constitute a breach of the principles of fundamental justice. The CMA submits that the Applications Judge was correct when he found that the impugned provisions were arbitrary, or if not arbitrary, grossly disproportionate and overbroad. The Court of Appeal agreed that the provisions were overbroad. P. Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 5th ed., loose-leaf (Carswell: Toronto, 2007) at 47-52 to 47-60.1 ICMA Authorities, Tab 19). R. v. Heywood, (1994) 3 S.c.R. 761 at 792-794 ICMA Authorities, Tab 10). Chaoull, supra at para. 127 ICMA Authorities, Tab 2). Rodriguez, supra at 590-591 ICMA Authorities, Tab 16). a) The Impugned Provisions Are Arbitrary 37. A law is arbitrary when it bears no relation to, or is inconsistent with, the objective that 9 lies behind it. In order not to be arbitrary, a limit on the section 7 right requires not only a theoretical connection between the limit and the legislative goal, but a real connection on the facts. Chaoulli, supra at paras. 130-131 [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. 38. In the present case, by prohibiting access to evidence-based, medically necessary care, the government has contributed to the very harm it claims it seeks to prevent, i.e. drug possession and addiction. The best available medical evidence suggests that clinics such as Insite not only protect life, but offer positive health outcomes and care alternatives to vulnerable patients. 39. Moreover, the justification of any denial of access to necessary medical care based on ideology rather than facts is arbitrary since, by definition, it bears no real connection to the facts. b) The Impugned Provisions Are Overbroad 40. It is a well-established principle of fundamental justice that criminal legislation must not be overbroad. If the government, in pursuing a legitimate objective, uses means which are broader than is necessary to accomplish that objective, the principles of fundamental justice will be violated. Heywood, supra at 792-793 [CMA Authorities, Tab 10]. See also Malmo-Levine, supra at paras. 130-131 [CMA Authorities, Tab 12]. 41. A fortiori, that will be true when the state itself has a particular interest in acting to protect vulnerable persons. In the present case, the evidence before the Applications Judge demonstrated that harm reduction has been a component of Canada's drug strategy for many years. In 2002, the House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs rejected the dichotomy between harm reduction and an abstinence-based treatment model. It also specifically considered the creation of a safe injection facility in the downtown east side of Vancouver because it recognized that that community presented a "public health disaster". 42. Hence, while the government may be justified in preventing drug possession and trafficking, it cannot cast a legislative prohibition so widely that it captures persons in need of medical care. C. If There is an Infringement of Section 7, the Law is Not Saved by Section 1 of the Charter 43. Should the Court find that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infringe the rights guaranteed Guy Pratt /Nadia ffend Borden L dner Gervais L 1 0 by section 7 of the Charter, the CMA submits that the provisions cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter as any law that offends the principles of fundamental justice cannot be justified, and more specifically, meet the minimal impairment branch of the section 1 analysis. See e.g. New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46, at para. 99 [CMA Authorities, Tab 6]; Heywood, supra at 802-803 [CMA Authorities, Tab 10]. D. Remedy 44. Fundamental justice requires either permanent exemptions or a declaration that the impugned law, as it applies to users of supervised injection sites, is invalid. The CMA submits that this position is consistent with sound constitutional interpretation of section 7 of the Charter, while protecting the most vulnerable patient populations in accordance with evidence-based medicine and physicians' ethical obligations. PART IV — SUBMISSIONS AS TO COSTS 45. The CMA seeks no costs and asks that none be awarded against it. PART V — ORDER SOUGHT 46. The CMA submits that constitutional questions two and four should be answered affirmatively. Should the Court answer these questions in the affirmative, however, constitutional questions three and five should be answered negatively. 47. The CMA seeks leave of this Court, pursuant to rule 59(2) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, to present oral argument at the hearing of this appeal. Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/83-74, as amended, Rule 59(2) [Part VII of Factum]. ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED THIS 13th DAY OF APRIL, 2011. OTTO1 \ 4423086 \ 7 11 PART VI — TABLE OF AUTHORITIES TAB SOURCES Paras. in factum where cited Cases 1. Auton (Guardian a litem of) v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657 23 2. Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791 17, 21, 23, 36, 37 3. Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844 29 4. Korponay v. Canada (Attorney General), [1982] 1 S.C.R. 41 29 5. MacKay v. Manitoba, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 357 20 6. New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46 43 7. Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 441 23 8. R. v. Clarkson, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 383 29 9. R. v. Dersch, [1993] 3 S.C.R. 768 32 10. R. v. Heywood, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 761 36, 40, 43 11. R. v. L.T.H., [2008] 2 S.C.R. 739 29 12. R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571 28, 34, 40 13. R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30 17, 18 14. R. v. Parker (2000), 188 D.L.R. 4th 385 (Ont. C.A.) 34 15. R. v. Richard, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 525 29 16. Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 21, 36 17. Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551 29 18. Yorkton Union Hospital v. S. UN. (1993), 16 Admin. L.R. (2d) 272 (Sask. C.A.) 29 12 TAB SOURCES Paras. where in factum cited Secondary Sources 19. Hogg, P., Constitutional Law of Canada, 5th ed., loose-leaf (Carswell: Toronto, 2007) at 47-52 to 47-60.1. 36 20. Taylor, M. and Jamal, M., The Charter of Rights in Litigation, loose-leaf (Canada Law Book: Aurora, 2010) at para. 17:15 19 13 PART VII — STATUTES, REGULATIONS, RULES
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, sections 1 and 7
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19, sections 4(1), 5(1), 56
Rules of Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/83-74, as amended, Rule 59 14 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms PART I OF THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 Charte canadienne des droits et libertes PARTIE I DE LA LOI CONSTITUTIONNELLE DE 1982 Rights and freedoms in Canada 1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Life, liberty and security of person 7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Droits et libertes au Canada 1. La Charte canadienne des droits et libertes garantit les droits et libertós qui y sont enonces. Its ne peuvent etre restreints que par une regle de droit, dans des limites qui soient raisonnables et dont la justification puisse se demontrer dans le cadre d'une society libre et democratique. Vie, liberte et securite 7. Chacun a droit a la vie, a la liberte et a la securite de sa personne; it ne peut etre porte atteinte a ce droit qu'en conformite avec les principes de justice fondamentale. 15 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act S.C. 1996, c. 19 Possession of substance 4. (1) Except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III. Trafficking in substance 5. (1) No person shall traffic in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance. Exemption by Minister 56. The Minister may, on such terms and conditions as the Minister deems necessary, exempt any person or class of persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class thereof from the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest. Loi reglementant certaines drogues et autres substances L.C. 1996, ch. 19 Possession de substances 4. (1) Sauf dans les cas autorises aux termes des reglements, la possession de toute substance inscrite aux annexes I, II ou III est interdite. Trafic de substances 5. (1) Il est interdit de faire le trafic de toute substance inscrite aux annexes I, II, III ou IV ou de toute substance presentee ou tenue pour telle par le trafiquant. Exemption par le ministre 56. S'il estime que des raisons medicales, scientifiques ou d'interet public le justifient, le ministre peut, aux conditions qu'il fixe, soustraire a l'application de tout ou partie de la presente loi ou de ses reglements toute personne ou categorie de personnes, ou toute substance designee ou tout precurseur ou toute categorie de ceux-ci. 16 Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada (in force on October 13, 2006) Regles de la Cour supreme du Canada. (en vigueur le 13 octobre 2006) 59. (1) In an order granting an intervention, the judge may (a) make provisions as to additional disbursements incurred by the appellant or respondent as a result of the intervention; and (b)impose any terms and conditions and grant any rights and privileges that the judge may determine, including whether the intervener is entitled to adduce further evidence or otherwise to supplement the record. (2)In an order granting an intervention or after the time for filing and serving all of the memoranda of argument on an application for leave to appeal or the facta on an appeal or reference has expired, a judge may, in their discretion, authorize the intervener to present oral argument at the hearing of the application for leave to appeal, if any, the appeal or the reference, and determine the time to be allotted for oral argument. (3)An intervener is not permitted to raise new issues unless otherwise ordered by a judge. 59. (1) Dans l'ordonnance octroyant l'autorisation d'intervenir, le juge petit : a) prevoir comment seront supportes les &pens supplementaires de l'appelant ou de l'intime resultant de l'intervention; b) imposer des conditions et octroyer les droits et privileges qu'il determine, notamment le droit d'apporter d'autres elements de preuve ou de completer autrement le dossier. (2)Dans l'ordonnance octroyant l'autorisation d'intervenir ou aprês l'expiration du Mai de depOt et de signification des memoires de demande d'autorisation d'appel, d'appel ou de renvoi, le juge peut, a sa discretion, autoriser l'intervenant a presenter une plaidoirie orale a l'audition de la demande d'autorisation d'appel, de l'appel ou du renvoi, selon le cas, et determiner le temps alloue pour la plaidoirie orale. (3) Sauf ordonnance contraire d'un juge, l'intervenant n'est pas autorise a soulever de nouvelles questions.

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Nutrition Labelling: CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10085

Date
2011-03-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-03-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Thank you very much for inviting the Canadian Medical Association back to this committee as you continue your study on healthy living. A few weeks ago my colleague Dr. Doig was here to talk about the health consequences of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity and the policies CMA has advocated to promote healthy living. Today I would like to expand upon nutrition labelling and health claims on foods, and on the labelling of foods regulated as natural health products. Nutrition facts tables can be an important source of information, but many Canadians have difficulty interpreting them. A 2009 Health Canada review of research on nutrition labelling indicated that: * those with little nutrition knowledge have difficulty using the tables and are unable to relate the information they contain to their own dietary needs; and that * the concept of percentage of daily value is often misunderstood. There has been an increase in the use of health claims on the front of packaging expressed as slogans or logos such as "healthy choice," as well as in disease reduction and nutrient content claims. Studies have shown that foods carrying health-related claims are seen by consumers as healthier choices. But the myriad of different claims can be confusing and may, in fact, draw attention away from the less healthy characteristics of a food, or oversimplify complex nutritional messages. We believe a standard consistent "at a glance" approach to front-of-package food labelling could reduce confusion and help consumers make informed dietary choices. The "traffic light" front-of-pack labelling currently in voluntary use in the UK is an example. The front-of-pack labels on composite processed foods use green, amber and red to indicate low, medium or high levels of the nutrients most strongly associated with diet-related health risks: fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. Also included is calorie count per serving and percentage daily amount information. Research in the UK has shown that consumers generally understand these labels. Shoppers are most likely to use them when buying a product for the first time; to compare different products; when shopping for children; when trying to control intake of certain ingredients such as fat or salt, for health reasons; or when trying to lose weight. Not surprisingly, research in the UK and Canada also shows that those most likely to read nutrition labels are those who are already interested in healthy eating. For this reason, labelling policy must be embedded in a broader nutrition policy that uses multiple instruments to foster education and interest in healthy eating, and helps ensure that Canadians have healthy food choices by, for example, regulating amounts of salt in processed food. In addition, physicians have become quite concerned about a recent tendency toward regulating 'fortified foods 'as Natural Health Products. The Food and Drugs Act effectively prevents products classified as foods from being marketed as having medicinal benefits unless there is compelling scientific evidence that the claims are true and the products are safe. The same strong legislation does not apply to Natural Health Products (NHPs), which are regulated under a different act. This is a concern because a trend is emerging whereby manufacturers of products normally sold as foods fortify their products with approved natural health products such as vitamins or minerals. Examples of these are energy drinks and vitamin-enhanced juice, power bars, gums and candy. The manufacturer can then request federal approval to market the product as a 'health product in food format.' If approved, food labelling requirements no longer apply and health claims that would not be allowed under the Food and Drugs Act can be made. Without proper nutrition labelling, it is difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to make informed food choices. This can be particularly troubling for those with special diets or health concerns. Further, those misled by dubious health claims might be consuming empty calories or high amounts of fat or sodium, with no corresponding benefit. The result is that the health of Canadians may be compromised. The CMA has called on Health Canada to require compelling evidence of health benefits before changing a product's regulatory status from food to natural health product, and nutrition labelling for all foods regulated as a natural health product. Faced with an array of products and health claims, and a barrage of advertising extolling their benefits, Canadians can find it challenging to make healthier food choices. To find our way through to the right choice, we need good nutritional information, and the ability to access and understand this information. Governments and health care providers share a responsibility to help Canadians make choices that will help them achieve and maintain good health. Canada's doctors are partners in healthy living and are ready to work with governments and others toward a healthy population. I welcome your questions.

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Recommended guidelines for low-risk drinking

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10143

Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2011-03-05
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy endorsement
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2011-03-05
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Note: These Guidelines are not intended to encourage people who choose to abstain for cultural, spiritual or other reasons to drink, nor are they intended to encourage people to commence drinking to achieve health benefits. People of low bodyweight or who are not accustomed to alcohol are advised to consume below these maximum limits. Guideline 1 Do not drink in these situations: When operating any kind of vehicle, tools or machinery; using medications or other drugs that interact with alcohol; engaging in sports or other potentially dangerous physical activities; working; making important decisions; if pregnant or planning to be pregnant; before breastfeeding; while responsible for the care or supervision of others; if suffering from serious physical illness, mental illness or alcohol dependence. Guideline 2 If you drink, reduce long- term health risks by staying within these average levels: Women Men 0–2 standard drinks* per day 0–3 standard drinks* per day No more than 10 standard drinks per week No more than 15 standard drinks per week Always have some non-drinking days per week to minimize tolerance and habit formation. Do not increase drinking to the upper limits as health benefits are greatest at up to one drink per day. Do not exceed the daily limits specified in Guideline 3. Guideline 3 If you drink, reduce short- term risks by choosing safe situations and restricting your alcohol intake: Risk of injury increases with each additional drink in many situations. For both health and safety reasons, it is important not to drink more than: Three standard drinks* in one day for a woman Four standard drinks* in one day for a man Drinking at these upper levels should only happen occasionally and always be consistent with the weekly limits specified in Guideline 2. It is especially important on these occasions to drink with meals and not on an empty stomach; to have no more than two standard drinks in any three-hour period; to alternate with caffeine-free, non-alcoholic drinks; and to avoid risky situations and activities. Individuals with reduced tolerance, whether due to low bodyweight, being under the age of 25 or over 65 years old, are advised to never exceed Guideline 2 upper levels. Guideline 4 When pregnant or planning to be pregnant: The safest option during pregnancy or when planning to become pregnant is to not drink alcohol at all. Alcohol in the mother's bloodstream can harm the developing fetus. While the risk from light consumption during pregnancy appears very low, there is no threshold of alcohol use in pregnancy that has been definitively proven to be safe. Guideline 5 Alcohol and young people: Alcohol can harm healthy physical and mental development of children and adolescents. Uptake of drinking by youth should be delayed at least until the late teens and be consistent with local legal drinking age laws. Once a decision to start drinking is made, drinking should occur in a safe environment, under parental guidance and at low levels (i.e., one or two standard drinks* once or twice per week). From legal drinking age to 24 years, it is recommended women never exceed two drinks per day and men never exceed three drinks in one day. 2 Approved by the CMA Board in March 2011 Last reviewed and approved by the CMA Board in March 2019. The above is excerpted from the report, Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking Available: https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019-04/2011-Summary-of-Evidence-and-Guidelines-for-Low-Risk%20Drinking-en.pdf (accessed 2019 March 01).

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