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Policies that advocate for the medical profession and Canadians


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Access to quality health care

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy323
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-09-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC98-23
That access to quality health care must be available to all Canadians, in a manner consistent with provincial/territorial human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-09-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC98-23
That access to quality health care must be available to all Canadians, in a manner consistent with provincial/territorial human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Text
That access to quality health care must be available to all Canadians, in a manner consistent with provincial/territorial human rights legislation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Less detail

Acting on today's and tomorrow's health care needs: Prebudget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14123
Date
2019-08-02
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2019-08-02
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to provide the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance this pre-budget submission. It provides recommendations to address major pan-Canadian challenges to the health of Canadians: improve how we provide care to our growing elderly population; improve access to primary care across the country; increase digital health literacy to take advantage of the benefits of new health information technologies; and better prepare for and mitigate the health impacts of a changing climate on Canadians. Seniors Care Health systems across the country are currently struggling to meet the needs of our aging population. People aged 85 years and over—many of whom are frail—make up the fastest growing age group in Canadai. Provincial and territorial health care systems (as well as care systems for populations falling under federal jurisdiction) are facing many challenges to meet the needs of an aging population. Canadians support a strong role for the federal government in leading a national seniors strategy and working with the provinces to ensure that all Canadians have the same level of access and quality of services, no matter where they live. The 2017 federal/provincial/territorial funding agreement involving $6 billion over 10 years to improve access to home care services is a welcomed building block. But without greater investment in seniors care, health systems will not keep up. To be truly relevant and effectively respond to Canadians’ present and future needs, our health care system must provide integrated, continuing care able to meet the chronic and complex care needs of our growing and aging population. This includes recognizing the increased role for patients and their caregivers in the care process. The federal government must ensure transfers are able to keep up with the real cost of health care. Current funding levels clearly fail to do so. Health transfers are estimated to rise by 3.6% while health care costs are expected to rise by 5.1% annually over the next decade.ii Recommendation: The federal government ensure provincial and territorial health care systems meet the care needs of their aging populations by means of a demographic top-up to the Canada Health Transfer.iii Providing care often comes with a financial cost such as lost income due to the caregiver’s withdrawal from the workforce to provide care. There are also increasing out-of-pocket costs for both caregivers and care receivers for health care-related expenses—privately covered expenditures on home and long-term care for seniors are projected to grow by an average of 5.8 per cent annually—nearly 1.5 times the pace of household disposable income growth. While the federal government offers tax credits that can be claimed by care receivers/caregivers, they are significantly under-utilized. While representing a significant proportion of caregivers, those with low or no income receive little to no federal government support through these programs. Middle-income earners also receive less than those earning high incomes. 4 Recommendation: The federal government create a Seniors Care Benefit that would be an easier, fairer and more effective way to support caregivers and care receivers alike.iv Access to Care Since the mid-1990s, the federal and provincial/territorial governments (FPT) have provided sustained leadership in promoting and supporting the transformation of primary care in Canada. In 2000, the First Ministers concluded the first of three Health Accords in which they agreed to promote the establishment of primary health care teamsv supported by a $800 million Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF) funded by the federal government, but jointly governed. The PHCTF resulted in large-scale sustained change in primary care delivery models in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta with interest in other jurisdictions as well. However, the job is far from finished. Across Canada, access to primary care is challenging for many Canadians with a persistent shortage of family physicians. In 2017, 4.7 million Canadians aged 12+ reported they did not have a regular health care provider.vi Even those who have a regular provider experience wait time issues. There has been widespread interest in primary care models since the development of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s (CFPC) vision document Family Practice: The Patient’s Medical Home (PMH), initially launched in 2011vii and recently re-launched.viii The model is founded on 10 pillars depicted in Figure 1. Figure 1. The Patient’s Medical Home, 2019 The updated model places increased emphasis on team-based care and introduces the concept of the patient’s medical neighborhood that sets out connections between the primacy care practice and all delivery points in the surrounding community. While comprehensive baseline data are lacking, it seems 5 safe to conjecture that most Canadians are not enrolled in a primary care model that would measure up to the model’s 10 pillars. Recommendation: The federal government, in concert with provinces and territories, establish a targeted fund in the amount of $1.2 billion to support a new time-limited Primary Health Care Transition Fund that would build on the success of the fund launched in 2000 with the goal of widely introducing a sustainable medical home model across jurisdictions. This would include the following key elements:
Age-sex-weighted per capita allocation across the provinces and territories;
Joint governance of the FPT governments with meaningful stakeholder engagement;
Respect for the Canada Health Act principles;
Common objectives (e.g., modeled on the CFPC Patient’s Medical Home framework);
Operating Principles specifying eligible/ineligible activities;
Reporting provisions and agreed-upon metrics; and
Sustainability plans. Digital/Virtual Care Canada and most industrialized countries will experience a digital health revolution over the next decade with great potential to improve patient and population health. Digital health can be described as the integration of the electronic collection and compilation of health data, decision support tools and analytics with the use of audio, video and other technologies to deliver preventive, diagnostic and treatment services that promote patient and population health. While most Canadian physicians’ offices and health care facilities are now using some form of electronic record keeping and most households have internet access, there remains a large deficit in using virtual care, both within jurisdictions and across provincial/territorial boundaries. Recently the CMA, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada established a Virtual Care Task Force to identify opportunities for digital health to improve health care delivery, including what regulatory changes are required for physicians to deliver care to patients within and across provincial/territorial boundaries. To take full advantage of digital health capabilities it will be essential for the population to have a functional level of digital health literacy: the ability to seek, find, understand and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem.ix This also includes the capability of communicating about one’s health to health care professionals (e.g., e-consults), self-monitoring health (e.g., patient portals) and receiving treatment online (e.g., Web-based cognitive behavioral therapy).x There are no current data available on health literacy in Canada, let alone digital health literacy. One basic barrier to achieving digital health literacy is access to, and usage of the Internet, which has been termed the “digital divide” (e.g., older Canadians and low income households are less likely to have Internet access).Error! Bookmark not defined. 6 In 2001 the federal government established the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). Its mandate includes informing consumers about their rights and responsibilities in dealing with financial institutions and providing information and tools to help consumers understand and shop for financial products and services.xi In 2014 the FCAC appointed a Financial Literacy Leader who has focused on financial literacy, including activities such as conducting financial capability surveys and the development of a National Strategy for Financial Literacy.xii Considering the anticipated growth of digital/virtual care it would be desirable to understand and promote digital health literacy across Canada. What the federal government has done for financial literacy could serve as a template for digital health literacy. Recommendation: The federal government establish a Digital Health Literacy Secretariat to:
Develop indicators and conducting surveys to measure and track the digital health literacy of Canadians;
Develop tools that can be used both by Canadians and their health care providers to enhance their digital health literacy; and
Assess and make recommendations on the “digital divide” that may exist among some population sub-groups due to a lack of access to information technology and lower digital health literacy. Climate Change and Health Climate change is the public health imperative of our time. There is a high level of concern among Canadians about their changing climate. A 2017 poll commissioned by Health Canada demonstrates a high level of concern among Canadians about their changing climate: 79% were convinced that climate change is happening, and of these, 53% accepted that it is a current health risk, with 40% believing it will be a health risk in the future. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified air pollution and climate change as one of the biggest threats to global health. Health care professionals see first-hand the devastating health impacts of our changing climate including increased deaths from fine particulate matter air pollution and increased heat-related conditions. Impacts are most common in vulnerable populations such as adults over 65 years, the homeless, urban dwellers and people with a pre-existing disease. Canada’s health care system is already treating the health effects of climate change. A lack of progress in reducing emissions and building adaptive capacity threatens both human lives and the viability of Canada’s health system, with the potential to disrupt core public health infrastructure and overwhelm health services, not to mention the economic and social costs. The federal government must provide leadership to deal with the impact already being felt in Canada and around the world. Recommendation: 7 The federal government make strong commitments to minimize the impact of climate change on the health of Canadians by:
Ensuring pan-Canadian and inter-jurisdictional coordination to standardize surveillance and reporting of climate-related health impacts such as heat-related deaths, develop knowledge translation strategies to inform the public, and generate clinical and public health response plans that minimize the health impacts;
Increasing funding for research on the mental health impacts of climate change and psychosocial adaptation opportunities; and
Ensuring funding is provided to the health sector to prepare for climate change impacts through efforts to increase resiliency (i.e., risk assessments, readiness to manage disease outbreaks, sustainable practice). 8 i Statistics Canada. The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2014: Public Health in the Future. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2015. Available: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cphorsphc-respcacsp/2014/chang-eng.php; (accessed 2016 Sep 19). ii The Conference Board of Canada. Meeting the care needs of Canada’s aging population. Ottawa: The Conference Board; 2018. iii Canadian Medical Association. Meeting the demographic challenge: Investments in seniors care. Pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. August 3, 2018. https://policybase.cma.ca/documents/Briefpdf/BR2018-16.pdf iv The Conference Board of Canada. Measures to Better Support Seniors and Their Caregivers. March 2019. https://www.cma.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/health-advocacy/Measures-to-better-support-seniors-and-their-caregivers-e.pdf v Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat. News release – First Ministers’ meeting communiqué on health. September 11, 2000. http://www.scics.ca/en/product-produit/news-release-first-ministers-meeting-communique-on-health/. Accessed 04/22/19. vi Statistics Canada. Primary health care providers, 2017. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/82-625-x/2019001/article/00001-eng.pdf?st=NGPiUkM5. Accessed 04/21/19. vii College of Family Physicians of Canada. A vision for Canada. Family Practice: the patient’s medical home. http://www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Resources/Resource_Items/PMH_A_Vision_for_Canada.pdf. Accessed 04/22/19. viii College of Family Physicians of Canada. The patient’s medical home 2019. https://patientsmedicalhome.ca/files/uploads/PMH_VISION2019_ENG_WEB_2.pdf. Accessed 04/21/19. ix Norman C, Skinner H. eHealth literacy: essential skills for consumer health in a networked world. J Med Internet Res 2006;8(2):e9. Doi:10.2196/jmir.8.2.e9. x Van der Vaart R, Drossaert C. Development of the digital health literacy instrument: measuring a broad spectrum of health 1.0 and health 2.0 skills. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19(1):e27. Doi:10.2196/jmir.6709. xi Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. About FCAC. xii Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. National Strategy for Financial Literacy. Phase 1: strengthening seniors’ financial literacy. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/canada/financial-consumer-agency/migration/eng/financialliteracy/financialliteracycanada/documents/seniorsstrategyen.pdf. Accessed 06/24/19. https://www.canada.ca/en/financial-consumer-agency/corporate/about.html. Accessed 07/01/19.
Documents
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Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14079
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Antimicrobials (which include antibiotics) are a precious public resource and an essential tool for fighting infections in both humans and animals. Their importance to human medical, nutritional and economic security cannot be understated. Yet globally, antimicrobials are losing their effectiveness more quickly than new such drugs, treatments and therapies are being identified and introduced to market.1 Over time, this dynamic has eroded the human antimicrobial arsenal, placing the lives and futures of an unacceptable number of people at risk. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites come into contact with antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, antimalarials and anthelmintics, and undergo changes. The drugs are rendered ineffective and cannot eradicate infections from the body. AMR is an international challenge that threatens to reverse over a century of progress in public health, health care and human development attributable to antimicrobial use. Indeed, the effects of AMR are already being felt across Canada’s health care system. Currently, Canada’s dedicated investment in solutions to militate against encroaching AMR in the AMR and antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) fields (both federally and provincially/territorially) can only be viewed as wholly inadequate to address the scope of the problem and the risks it poses for the health of Canadians. Therefore, to: (1) promote awareness of AMR; (2) incentivize investment in AMR mitigation strategies; and (3) support the mobilization of an effective suite of more clinically effective management/treatment practices and policies, the following target audience recommendations are offered.a a All the policy recommendations made in this document are not meant to be interpreted as clinical practice guidelines. Any individual who suspects they may have an infection should promptly consult a physician. 2 Key AMR principle — the “One Health” approach a) The complexity of AMR underscores the need for coordinated action known as the “One Health” approach. The term implies integrated strategies that span the human, animal/agricultural and environmental sectors. Thus, cooperation across a wide variety of stakeholders is necessary to address the collective nature of AMR. These stakeholders include governments, health professionals, private and public partners, and the public at large. b) The One Health approach will require attention and investment in the following domains: (1) surveillance of antimicrobial prescribing and usage; (2) infection prevention and control practices that mitigate the spread of resistant pathogens; (3) stewardship programs and practices that educate health professionals, the public, and the private sector and nudge each into more appropriate patterns of supply and demand; and (4) a program of innovation, research and development focused on diagnostics, vaccines and alternative treatments to reduce reliance on antimicrobials. This includes the development of novel antimicrobials that expand the currently available arsenal. c) Given the global dimensions of AMR, a successful One Health approach will require ambitious investments in global AMR mitigation. Given that health infrastructure and resources are limited in low- to middle-income countries, the impacts of AMR will primarily be felt in those settings. Recommendations 1. Physicians and allied health professionals Should: a) Be aware that AMR is a serious public health crisis. b) Know that various Canadian prescribing aides/guidelines are available to assist physicians in choosing appropriate antibiotics and improving practice (e.g., Choosing Wisely Canada). c) Know that using antibiotics appropriately can help combat AMR and that diagnosis and laboratory testing play a key role. This includes only prescribing antibiotics for conditions that are clinically infectious and of a non-viral nature. Viral infections are the greatest source of antibiotic misuse. d) Consider delayed prescriptions and/or prioritize follow-up for patients when diagnosis is initially undifferentiated or when symptoms worsen, progress or are prolonged. e) Know that prevention of infections through hand hygiene, vaccination and appropriate use of antibiotic prophylaxis is evidence based and effective f) Know that durations of therapy and dosage rates for treating many infections change with time and that you should prescribe antimicrobials for the shortest effective duration (using the narrowest spectrum possible). 3 g) Consider the potential side effects of antibiotics (including C. difficile and allergic reactions) in prescribing and when counselling patients as to their potential side effects. h) Engage in conversations with patients about antimicrobials regarding: i. their appropriate use; ii. their potential risks; iii. when to delay, begin or end an antimicrobial prescription (e.g., delayed prescriptions); and iv. when to seek medical reassessment if symptoms worsen or persist. i) Ask your local hospital or specialty organization about educational initiatives related to antibiotic prescribing. j) Collaborate where possible with colleagues in other prescribing professions to reduce unnecessary antimicrobial use. 2. Patients and the Canadian public Should: a) Be aware that AMR is a significant problem that is linked to the inappropriate use of antimicrobials like antibiotics. Therefore, commit to only taking antibiotics if they are prescribed and only as directed by an authorized health professional. i. Never share, or use, the antibiotics of others as it may contribute to AMR and have serious consequences for your health. b) Consider that your expectations about antimicrobials may unduly pressure physicians, and other prescribers, to provide you a prescription when an antimicrobial would not be appropriate or helpful. c) Engage in a conversation with prescribers about: i. whether an antimicrobial is necessary; ii. the risks associated with taking an antimicrobial; iii. whether there are simpler and safer options to pursue; and iv. when you should take further actions if your symptoms worsen or do not improve. d) Rather than keeping antimicrobials in your medicine cabinet, throwing them in the garbage/toilet or sharing them with family or friends, practise a One Health mindset. Dispose of all unused and expired antimicrobials at your local pharmacy. This will limit the spread of resistance and prevent antimicrobials from finding their way into the environment. e) Help limit resistance by staying up to date with all recommended vaccinations, and practise good hand hygiene. f) If you or a family member have had personal experiences with AMR, consider sharing them with local politicians (provincial/territorial and federal). 3. Governments (federal, provincial/territorial) Should: 4 a) (Including internationally) immediately make substantial, long term, coordinated and directly dedicated financial investments in AMR and AMS. Specific areas to prioritize include: i. AMR and AMS awareness campaigns targeted to the public; ii. campaigns that support health professionals to incorporate AMS principles into their everyday practice; iii. detailed, and integrated, action plans based on clear metrics of success and that address the needs of communities, primary care practitioners, patients and health care organizations (including long-term care facilities); iv. practical surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, purchasing, prescribing and use that maximizes the opportunity to respond to changing landscapes; v. studying in detail the links, and associated risks, between animal health and agricultural practices and human health; vi. scaling up local AMS initiatives at the provincial/territorial and national health care delivery levels; vii. pharmaceutical development pipelines and non-pharmacological treatment options for AMR infections; viii. inexpensive, accurate and timely point-of-care diagnostic tests (usable in the community, at the bedside or in a clinic) to optimize prescribing; and ix. fostering clinical research, development and innovation in the fields of AMR and AMS. b) Scale up coordination between federal and provincial/territorial AMR and AMS activities. c) Hold regular, high-level meetings of ministers of health, agriculture and finance (both federally and provincially/territorially) to discuss the implications of unchecked AMR and how best to mobilize public finances to address it. d) Strongly consider an arms-length, national-level taskforce to address AMR and AMS. e) Strengthen the roles of the chief public health officer and the provincial/territorial chief medical officers in addressing AMR and AMS. f) Undertake a timely review of the Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (CARRS) with an emphasis on: i. scaling up the system; ii. standardizing all AMR reporting metrics across the country; and iii. injecting adequate resources into AMR surveillance and tracking antimicrobial usage rates. g) Establish a permanent review body on infectious disease, including pharmacists, microbiologist and other experts, to evaluate the forthcoming Pan-Canadian Action Plan on AMR and release regular progress reports. 5 4. Health care institutions and organizations Should: a) Implement strategic AMR plans that are coordinated, cross-departmental and adopted institution wide. These should be premised on: i. standardized and comprehensive reporting metrics for AMR and antimicrobial usage; ii. tailored infection prevention and control programs to screen for and effectively prevent new AMR infections; iii. improving public and professional awareness of AMR organization wide; iv. improving conservation measures such as prescribing practices (audit and feedback, incentives programs, etc.); and v. supporting and incentivizing appropriate prescribing of antimicrobials. b) Evaluate whether existing policies and procedures, diagnostics and testing capacities, and multidisciplinary and organizational cultures are strategically geared toward combatting AMR. c) Where possible, develop collaborations with other local health institutions, clinical researchers and community, public and private partners to promote AMS. 5. Accreditation and regulatory bodies Should: a) Regularly review and establish meaningful criteria for accreditation, ethical codes and regulatory practice standards surrounding AMR and AMS so that practitioners and health institutions can be informed, supported and kept up to date on emerging AMR trends, practices and issues. b) Adopt profession-specific mandatory requirements for AMR and AMS (proper credentialing and training, regular updating of knowledge and competence for prescribing antimicrobials, appropriate data collection regarding antimicrobial usage, etc.) as part of credentialing. c) Work to promote, support and enhance existing AMS practices and programs. d) Collaborate with health institutions, professional health associations and other accreditation and regulatory bodies to implement AMS goals/plans. 6. Colleges and faculties for medicine and allied health professions Should: a) Promote and support more educational resources for AMS and AMR, throughout the continuum of education (undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education). i. Topics for these resources should include (1) awareness of AMR and AMS, (2) appropriate diagnostic testing, (3) strategies to minimize antimicrobial use and (4) personal prescribing practices. b) Promote and support research on AMR and the implementation and dissemination of effective AMS strategies. 6 1 Public Health Agency of Canada. Tackling antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use: a pan-Canadian framework for action. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2017. Available: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/publications/drugs-health-products/tackling-antimicrobial-resistance-use-pan-canadian-framework-action/tackling-antimicrobial-resistance-use-pan-canadian-framework-action.pdf (accessed 2018 Aug 10). BACKGROUND TO CMA POLICY Antimicrobial Resistance See also CMA Policy Antimicrobial Resistance PD19-08 OVERVIEW The world is at the tipping point of a post-antibiotic era. “Worldwide, we are relying more heavily on antibiotics to ensure our medical, nutritional, and economic security; while simultaneously causing the decline of their usefulness with overuse and ill-advised use.” It is estimated that the world’s use of antimicrobials increased by 65% between 2000 and 2015 — mainly in low- to middle-income countries. Dr. Margaret Chan, the former head of the World Health Organization (WHO), described antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a slow-moving tsunami for public health. Other experts have characterized AMR as a looming “antibiotic apocalypse,” warning that all countries “will face disastrous consequences if the spread of AMR is not contained.” Others are now calling AMR the “climate change” of health care. According to the UK’s review on AMR, an estimated 10 million people globally will die annually by 2050, and AMR will surpass cancer to become the leading cause of death. AMR occurs when “microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintics). … As a result, the medicines become ineffective and infections persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others.” Microorganisms that develop antimicrobial resistance are sometimes referred to as “superbugs.” “Nightmare bacteria,” as they have been dubbed, are bacterial strains that no conventional antimicrobial can effectively treat; their incidence is on the rise. AMR represents a unique challenge for the medical profession as it is estimated that as many as 50% of current antibiotic prescriptions are either inappropriate or unnecessary. In addition, taking an antimicrobial involves potentially considerable exposure to side effects or risk. At stake are many currently routine, and lifesaving, forms of medical treatment. Critically, these include many medications for currently treatable bacterial infections, and many forms of surgery (including cesarean delivery), radiation therapy, chemotherapy and neonatal care.4 THE UNDERLYING DYNAMICS OF AMR AMR is driven by a complex set of interlocking factors. These include: (1) increased global travel and medical tourism; (2) inappropriate, and unnecessarily high, use of antimicrobials in the agrifood sector; (3) poor medical prescribing practices; (4) inadequate implementation of infection prevention and control measures; (5) lack of knowledge, inappropriate expectations and misuse of antimicrobials on the part of the general public; (6) availability of poor-quality antimicrobials; (7) lack of access to rapid, affordable and accurate rapid diagnostic tools and infrastructure; (8) inadequate and underused surveillance data from AMR surveillance systems; (9) international travel rates; and (10) low commercial interest in, or support for, new antimicrobial research and development. To make progress on AMR, we need to carefully think about how to address its various drivers. Antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) is a term describing coordinated efforts, at any program level, to: (1) promote the appropriate use of antimicrobials; (2) improve patient outcomes; (3) reduce microbial resistance and preserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials; and (4) decrease the spread of infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms. AMS efforts are based on the “One Health” approach. These include: (1) surveillance; (2) conservation of existing AM effectiveness; (3) innovation through research and development; and (4) infection prevention and control. Fundamentally, AMR can be thought of as a collective action problem, similar in character to the problem of climate change.3, While all stakeholders have a role to play in combatting AMR, each has very different resources, abilities and perspectives on AMR. Canada and much of the developed world have the luxury of health infrastructures, finances and regulatory frameworks that can make AMR mitigation possible. But in low- to middle-income countries — places where antibiotics might be the only real health care available — the very discussion of AMS can be perceived as threatening. Simply put, this illustrates the fact that solutions to AMR need to mobilize and leverage a collective strategy that is as broad and as connected as possible. To be successful, these solutions will need to do so in a manner that acknowledges the local reality of health care delivery. Global investment in antimicrobial research and development is underwhelming, a dynamic described as a “drying up” of the pharmaceutical pipeline.8 This is evidenced by the recent large-scale withdrawal of major pharmaceutical companies from antimicrobial research and development, reflecting the lack of profitability in this area. On the pharmaceutical side, there are clear barriers to companies investing in the development of novel antimicrobials. Underlying factors include: (1) 10-year timelines, and an estimated minimum $1 billion price tag for development; (2) high development failure rates for new antimicrobials; (3) the inevitable emergence of resistance to any newly developed antimicrobial; (4) antimicrobials being offered at relatively cheap dosage rates over shorter durations of use; and (5) the need to preserve the efficacy of any antimicrobial’s future use, which limits their economic viability.8 WHAT ARE THE CANADIAN CONTEXTS? AMR is already a major costly public health challenge in both the US and Canada. AMR infections are clearly linked to poorer health outcomes, longer hospital stays and higher mortality rates.3 The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) estimates that roughly 18,000 hospitalized Canadians contract drug-resistant infections per year. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute estimates that 8,000 Canadian patients die annually with an AMR-related infection. It is estimated that close to 23 million antibiotic prescriptions are written annually for patients in Canada, the approximate equivalent to 1.6% of the population being on an antimicrobial on any given day. An action plan in Canada is being developed by PHAC. On the surface, the action plan appears comprehensive in that it outlines a One Health approach.10 However, despite commitments to take comprehensive, measurable action on AMS, Canadian leadership on AMR has historically lagged because of a lack of concrete coordination between PHAC and the provinces and because it has been challenging to implement local initiatives systemically. Previous shortcomings were highlighted in the Auditor General of Canada’s 2015 report and again in a 2017 issue brief by HealthCareCAN.18 Although efforts continue and the action plan is set for release at some point in 2019, concerns remain that: (1) the scope of coordinated efforts with the provinces and territories requires an interest in cooperation that may not exist between the two levels of government; (2) relative to the scope of the problem, sufficient and dedicated resources won’t be allocated; and (3) efforts on the industrial and agricultural fronts may not be sufficiently coordinated with AMR efforts for human health. In the spring of 2018 the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health (HESA) released a report outlining 10 recommendations for action on AMR in Canada. Although the federal government “accepted” most of the committee’s recommendations, no meaningful (and dedicated) AMR funding has been announced in advance of the action plan’s launch. Indeed, the federal government’s response to the HESA report sought to downplay the need for either urgent action or additional resources. This was done by pointing to nominal federal AMR efforts over the span of more than a decade. It should be noted that a small number of excellent localized AMS initiatives exist and have begun yielding promising local AMS results in Canada. AMR and AMS champions such as Choosing Wisely Canada, Do Bugs Need Drugs, and the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada have long argued that with proper resourcing, localized initiatives can be scaled up to a systemic level of application within provincial health care systems. GLOBALLY, WHERE DOES AMR STAND? Urgent action is required at an international level to combat AMR. Although AMR remains a complex public health challenge, the benefits of AMS are clear. The preservation of these precious resources will save lives and can positively affect both quality of care and health care delivery costs.7,14 Globally, many higher income nations and, increasingly, middle-income countries have now developed AMR/AMS action plans. Like the situation in Canada, these emerging and existing global action strategies remain largely unimplemented. Initial cash infusions into the AM drug development pipeline are beginning to emerge.8 Despite this, experts warn that such investments are too short term and wholly inadequate to address the scope of the looming AMR crisis.8, This reflects the many complexities that exist in the implementation of AMR action plans, owing in large part to: (1) a general lack of resources or prioritization; (2) complacency about AMR as a pressing public health concern; (3) difficulties in generalizing local AMS efforts; (4) coordination between sectorial actors; and (5) a lack of tangible AMR metrics and evidence. If AMS gains are to be made in low- and middle-income countries, the impact of limited resources in those settings will need to be considered.13 Realistically these countries will require various forms of monetary incentives and assistance to be able to effectively adopt AMR programs. If such support is not provided, human health rights will be affected and global AMS efforts will be undermined. Finally, there are now well-established calls for an international model, even a treaty, to be implemented on AMR/AMS.12,
Documents
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Canadian Immunization Awareness Program Coalition

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1672
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-03-02
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD98-05-99
That the Canadian Medical Association participate in the Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion as a full member.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-03-02
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD98-05-99
That the Canadian Medical Association participate in the Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion as a full member.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association participate in the Canadian Coalition for Immunization Awareness and Promotion as a full member.
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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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Clinical guideline for homeless and vulnerably housed people, and people with lived homelessness experience

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14165
Date
2019-10-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy endorsement
Date
2019-10-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Homeless and vulnerably housed populations are heterogeneous and continue to grow in numbers in urban and rural settings as forces of urbanization collide with gentrification and austerity policies.2 Collectively, they face dangerous living conditions and marginalization within health care systems.3 However, providers can improve the health of people who are homeless or vulnerably housed, most powerfully by following evidence-based initial steps, and working with communities and adopting anti-oppressive practices.1,4,5 Broadly speaking, “homelessness” encompasses all individuals without stable, permanent and acceptable housing, or lacking the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it.6 Under such conditions, individuals and families face intersecting social, mental and physical health risks that significantly increase morbidity and mortality.7,8 For example, people who are homeless and vulnerably housed experience a significantly higher prevalence of trauma, mental health conditions and substance use disorders than the general population.7,9 Canadian research reports that people who experience homelessness face life expectancies as low as 42 years for men and 52 years for women.7 A generation ago, homeless Canadians were largely middleaged, single men in large urban settings.10 Today, the epidemiology has shifted to include higher proportions of women, youth, Indigenous people (Box 1), immigrants, older adults and people from rural communities.13,14 For example, family homelessness (and therefore homelessness among dependent children and youth) is a substantial, yet hidden, part of the crisis.15 In 2014, of the estimated 235 000 homeless people in Canada, 27.3% were women, 18.7% were youth, 6% were recent immigrants or migrants, and a growing number were veterans and seniors.10 Practice navigators, peer-support workers and primary care providers are well placed to identify social causes of poor health and provide orientation to patient medical homes.16,17 A patient’s medical home is “a family practice defined by its patients as the place they feel most comfortable presenting and discussing their personal and family health and medical concerns.”18 Medical care is “readily accessible, centred on the patients’ needs, provided throughout every stage of life, and seamlessly integrated with other services in the health care system and the community” (https://patientsmedicalhome.ca). Primary care providers are also well positioned to mobilize health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and rehabilitation services.19 GUIDELINE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS CPD Clinical guideline for homeless and vulnerably housed people, and people with lived homelessness experience Kevin Pottie MD MClSc, Claire E. Kendall MD PhD, Tim Aubry PhD, Olivia Magwood MPH, Anne Andermann MD DPhil, Ginetta Salvalaggio MD MSc, David Ponka MDCM MSc, Gary Bloch MD, Vanessa Brcic MD, Eric Agbata MPH MSc, Kednapa Thavorn PhD, Terry Hannigan, Andrew Bond MD, Susan Crouse MD, Ritika Goel MD, Esther Shoemaker PhD, Jean Zhuo Jing Wang BHSc, Sebastian Mott MSW, Harneel Kaur BHSc, Christine Mathew MSc, Syeda Shanza Hashmi BA, Ammar Saad, Thomas Piggott MD, Neil Arya MD, Nicole Kozloff MD, Michaela Beder MD, Dale Guenter MD MPH, Wendy Muckle BScN MHA, Stephen Hwang MD, Vicky Stergiopoulos MD, Peter Tugwell MD n Cite as: CMAJ 2020 March 9;192:E240-54. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190777 CMAJ Podcasts: author interview at https://soundcloud.com/cmajpodcasts/190777-guide See related article at www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200199 KEY POINTS
Clinical assessment and care of homeless and vulnerably housed populations should include tailoring approaches to a person’s gender, age, Indigenous heritage, ethnicity and history of trauma; and advocacy for comprehensive primary health care.
As initial steps in the care of homeless and vulnerably housed populations, permanent supportive housing is strongly recommended, and income assistance is also recommended.
Case-management interventions, with access to psychiatric support, are recommended as an initial step to support primary care and to address existing mental health, substance use and other morbidities.
Harm-reduction interventions, such as supervised consumption facilities, and access to pharmacologic agents for opioid use disorder, such as opioid agonist treatment, are recommended for people who use substances. GUIDELINE CMAJ
MARCH 9, 2020
VOLUME 192
ISSUE 10 E241 However, the social and health resources available to homeless and vulnerably housed people may vary based on geographic setting, municipal resources, housing coordination, and patients’ mental health and substance use–related care needs. In addition, many physical and mental health disorders remain undiagnosed or inconsistently treated because of missed opportunities for care, patient mistrust of the health care system or limited access to health services.3 Homeless and vulnerably housed people can benefit from timely and effective health, addiction and social interventions. Our guideline provides initial steps for practice, policy and future research, and is intended to build collaboration among clinicians, public health providers and allied health providers. Values such as trauma-informed and patient-centred care, and dignity are needed to foster trust and develop sustainable therapeutic relationships with homeless and vulnerably housed people.20,21 Scope The purpose of this clinical practice guideline is to inform providers and community organizations of the initial priority steps and effective interventions for homeless and vulnerably housed people. The guideline addresses upstream social and health needs (i.e., housing), as well as downstream health-related consequences of inadequate housing. The target audiences are health providers, policymakers, public health practitioners and researchers. Our guideline does not aim to address all conditions associated with homelessness, nor does it aim to discuss in depth the many etiologies of homelessness, such as childhood trauma, the housing market, or the root causes of low social assistance rates and economic inequality. Rather, this guideline aims to reframe providers’ approach toward upstream interventions that can prevent, treat and work toward ending the morbidity and mortality associated with homelessness. A parallel set of Indigenous-specific clinical guidelines is currently being developed by an independent, Indigenous-led team.22 This process recognizes the distinct rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to develop and strengthen their own economies, social and political institutions; the direct links between historic and ongoing colonial policies and Indigenous homelessness; and the need for Indigenous leadership and participation in research that is about Indigenous Peoples. Recommendations The steering committee and guideline panel members developed and approved recommendations to improve social and health outcomes for homeless and vulnerably housed people. The order of these recommendations highlights priority steps for homeless health care. We list a summary of the recommendations in Table 1 and we present our list of good practice statements in Table 2. These good practice statements are based on indirect evidence and support the delivery of the recommendations. The methods used to develop the recommendations are described later in this document. A summary of how to use this guideline is available in Box 2. Permanent supportive housing
Identify homelessness or housing vulnerability and willingness to consider housing interventions.
Ensure access of homeless or vulnerably housed individuals to local housing coordinator or case manager (i.e., call 211 or via a social worker) for immediate link to permanent supportive housing and/or coordinated access system (moderate certainty, strong recommendation). Evidence summary Our systematic review (Tim Aubry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020) identified 14 trials on permanent supportive housing (PSH).30–43 Several trials across Canada and the United States showed that PSH initiatives house participants more rapidly compared with usual services (73 v. 220 d; adjusted absolute difference 146.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 118.0 to 174.9);30 increase the number of people who maintain stable housing at 2 years (pooled odds ratio [OR] 3.58, 95% CI 2.36 to 5.43);30,40 and significantly increase the percentage of days spent stably housed.41 No trials showed a significant improvement in mental health symptoms compared with standard care.30,31,33,34,41,42 Two studies found that the mental health of PSH participants did not improve as much as that of usual care participants (e.g., mean difference –0.49, 95% CI –0.85 to –0.12).30,31 The At Home/Chez Soi trial showed small improvements in quality of life for high-needs (adjusted standardized mean difference 0.15, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.24)30 and moderate-needs (mean difference 4.37, 95% CI 1.60 to 7.14) homeless participants in patients receiving PSH.41 Youth receiving PSH saw larger improvements in their quality of life during the first 6 months (mean difference 9.30, 95% CI 1.35 to 17.24), which diminished over time (mean difference 7.29, 95% CI –1.61 to 16.18).44 No trials showed a significant improvement in substance use compared with standard care.30,33,41–43 Most trials reported no effect of PSH on acute care outcomes (e.g., number of emergency department visits and percentage of participants admitted to hospital).30,41 However, 2 trials suggest that PSH participants had lower rates of hospital admission (rate reductions of 29%, 95% CI 10 to 44) and time in hospital (e.g., mean difference –31, 95% CI –48 to –14).34,38,45 One trial found no effect of PSH on job tenure, hours of work per week or hourly wage compared with standard care.46 Participants receiving PSH may have increased odds of employment, but this depends on the severity of participant needs.46 One trial found no effect on income outcomes.46 Box 1: Indigenous homelessness Indigenous homelessness is a term used to describe First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals, families or communities who lack stable, permanent and appropriate housing, or the immediate prospects, means or ability to acquire such housing. However, this term must be interpreted through an Indigenous lens to understand the factors contributing to this condition. These factors include individuals, families and communities isolated from their relationships to land, water, place, family, kin, each other, animals, cultures, languages and identities as well as the legacy of colonialism and genocide.11 It is estimated that urban Indigenous people are 8 times more likely to experience homelessness than the general population.11,12 GUIDELINE E242 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 The certainty of the evidence was rated moderate, because blinding of participants and personnel was not feasible in any of the trials we examined as a result of the nature of the intervention. Furthermore, several trials did not employ allocation concealment or blinding of outcome-assessment procedures, which could introduce high risks of detection and performance biases. Income assistance
Identify income insecurity.
Assist individuals with income insecurity to identify incomesupport resources and access income (low certainty, conditional recommendation). Evidence summary We identified 10 trials on income-assistance interventions, including rental assistance,47–56 financial empowerment,47 social enterprise interventions,48 individual placement and support,48,54 and compensated work therapy.52 Our systematic review showed the benefit that income-assistance interventions have on housing stability (Gary Bloch, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont., and Vanessa Brcic, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC: unpublished data, 2020). Rental assistance increased the likelihood of being stably housed (OR 4.60, 95% CI 3.10 to 6.83).56 Rental assistance combined with case management increased the number of days in stable housing per 90-day period compared with case management alone (mean Table 1: Summary of evidence-based recommendations Recommendations and clinical considerations Grade rating* Recommendation 1: A homeless or vulnerably housed person Moderate certainty
Ensure access for homeless or vulnerably housed individuals to local housing coordinator or case manager (i.e., call 211 or via a social worker) for immediate link to permanent supportive housing and coordinated access system. Clinical considerations: Many jurisdictions will provide alternative housing services for specific marginalized populations, for example, Indigenous people, women and families, youth, those who identify as LGBTQ2+, those with disabilities, refugees and migrants. Strong recommendation Recommendation 2: A homeless or vulnerably housed person with experience of poverty, income instability or living in a low-income household Low certainty
Assist individuals with income insecurity to identify income-support resources and access income. Clinical considerations: Consult poverty screening tools when needed (e.g., https://cep.health/clinical-products /poverty-a-clinical-tool-for-primary-care-providers). Conditional recommendation Recommendation 3: A homeless or vulnerably housed person with multiple comorbid or complex health needs (including mental illness and/or substance use) Low certainty
Identify history of severe mental illness, such as psychotic or mood and anxiety disorders, associated with substantial disability, substance use, or multiple/complex health needs.
Ensure access to local community mental health programs, psychiatric services for assessment, and linkage to intensive case management, assertive community treatment or critical time intervention where available. Clinical considerations: Call 211 or consult primary care providers, social workers or case managers familiar with local access points and less intensive community mental health programs. Conditional recommendation Recommendation 4: A homeless or vulnerably housed person currently using opioids Very low certainty
Identify opioid use disorder.
Ensure access within primary care or via an addiction specialist to opioid agonist therapy (OAT), potentially in collaboration with a public health or community health centre for linkage to pharmacologic interventions. Clinical considerations: Encourage all patients taking opioid medication to have a naloxone kit. Though barriers to prescribing methadone and buprenorphine remain, be aware of new regulations that aim to facilitate OAT access and options in your jurisdiction, in particular for buprenorphine. Conditional recommendation Recommendation 5: A homeless or vulnerably housed person with substance use disorder Very low certainty
Identify, during history or physical examination, problematic substance use, including alcohol or other drugs.
Identify the most appropriate approach, or refer to local addiction and harm-reduction/prevention services (e.g., supervised consumption facilities, managed alcohol programs) via appropriate local resources such as public health or community health centre or local community services centre. Clinical considerations: In case of active opioid use disorder, facilitate patient access to OAT. Patients should be made aware of supervised consumption facility locations (Appendix 1, available at www.cmaj.ca/lookup/suppl/ doi:10.1503/cmaj.190777/-/DC1). Conditional recommendation Note: LGBTQ2+ = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and two-spirited. *See Box 2 for definitions. †211 is a special abbreviated telephone number reserved in Canada and the United States as an easy-to-remember 3-digit telephone number meant to provide information and referrals to health, human and social service organizations. GUIDELINE CMAJ
ISSUE 10 E243 difference 8.58, p < 0.004).55 Compensated work therapy was found to reduce the odds of homelessness (OR 0.1, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.3).52 No income interventions showed an effect on mental health outcomes.47,52,55,56 The impact of these interventions on substance use outcomes were mixed. Provision of housing vouchers did not affect substance use over 3 years;55 however, compensated work therapy showed immediate reductions in drug (reduction: –44.7%, standard error [SE] 12.8%; p = 0.001) and alcohol use problems (–45.4%, SE 9.4%; p = 0.001), as well as the number of substance use–related physical symptoms (–64.4%, SE 8.0%; p = 0.001).52 These differences, however, tended to decline with time. No significant effects were found on overall quality-of-life, finances, health and social relations scores. Provision of housing vouchers resulted in higher family-relations score and satisfaction, and quality of housing compared with standard care.55 One trial reported that rental assistance was associated with reduced emergency department visits and time spent in hospital, but this reduction was not significantly different than in the comparator group.56 Individual placement and support was found to improve employment rates only when there was high fidelity to the model (OR 2.42, 95% CI 1.13 to 5.16).54 Financial-empowerment education and provision of housing vouchers had no effect on employment outcomes.47,55 Financial-empowerment education and individual placement and support had no effect on hourly wages.47,54 Provision of housing vouchers had no effect on monthly income.55 The certainty of the evidence was rated low because several trials introduced high risk of detection and performance bias. Furthermore, 1 trial reported low consent rates of 47% and a 1:4 sampling ratio that further limited statistical power.52 As well, participants in the control group wanting to enter income-assistance programs after completing the study had incentives to underreport symptoms, which introduced high risk for measurement bias. Case management
Identify history of severe mental illness, such as psychotic or mood and anxiety disorders, associated with substantial disability, substance use disorders, or multiple or complex health needs.
Ensure access to local community mental health programs, psychiatric services for assessment and linkage to intensive case management, assertive community treatment or critical time intervention where available (low certainty, conditional recommendation). Evidence summary Our systematic review examined the effectiveness of standard case management, as well as specific intensive casemanagement interventions, such as assertive community treatment, intensive case management and critical time intervention among homeless and vulnerably housed populations and corresponding level of need (David Ponka, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020). We included a total of 56 citations, of which 10 trials reported on standard case management,51,57–65 8 trials on assertive community treatment,66–73 16 trials on intensive case management74–89 and 5 trials on critical time intervention.90–94 Box 2: How to use and understand this GRADE guideline (www.gradeworkinggroup.org) This guideline supplies providers with evidence for decisions concerning interventions to improve health and social outcomes for people who are homeless or vulnerably housed. This guideline is not meant to replace clinical judgment. Statements about clinical considerations, values and preferences are integral parts of the recommendations meant to facilitate interpretation and implementation of the guideline. Recommendations in this guideline are categorized according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system as strong or conditional recommendations. Strong recommendations indicate that all or almost all fully informed patients would choose the recommended course of action, and indicate to clinicians that the recommendation is appropriate for all or almost all individuals. Strong recommendations represent candidates for quality-of-care criteria or performance indicators. Conditional recommendations indicate that most informed patients would choose the suggested course of action, but an appreciable minority would not. With conditional recommendations, clinicians should recognize that different choices will be appropriate for individual patients, and they should help patients arrive at a decision consistent with their values and preferences. Conditional recommendations should not be used as a basis for standards of practice (other than to mandate shared decision-making). Good practice statements represent common-sense practice, are supported by indirect evidence and are associated with assumed large net benefit. Clinical considerations provide practical suggestions to support implementation of the GRADE recommendation. GRADE certainty ratings High: further research is very unlikely to change our confidence in the estimate of effect. Moderate: further research is likely to have an important impact on the confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate. Low: further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate. Very low: any estimate of the effect is very uncertain. Table 2: Good practice statements to support delivery of care Good practice statement Indirect evidence (reference) 1. Homeless and vulnerably housed populations should receive trauma-informed and personcentred care. 23–26 2. Homeless and vulnerably housed populations should be linked to comprehensive primary care to facilitate the management of multiple health and social needs. 27 3. Providers should collaborate with public health and community organizations to ensure programs are accessible and resources appropriate to meet local patient needs. 28,29 GUIDELINE E244 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 Of 10 trials on standard case management, 10 evaluated housing stability. Only 3 reported significant decreases in homelessness,57,62,63 an effect that diminished over time in 1 trial of a time-limited residential case management in which participants in all groups accessed substantial levels of services.57 A program tailored to women reduced the odds of depression at 3 months (OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.99), but did not show improvements in the women’s overall mental health status (mean difference 4.50, 95% CI –0.98 to 9.98).64 One trial reported higher levels of hostility (p < 0.001) and depression symptoms (p < 0.05) among female participants receiving nurse-led standard case management compared with those receiving standard care.60 Few studies reported on substance use, quality of life, employment or income outcomes. Findings of assertive community treatment on housingstability, quality-of-life and hospital-admission outcomes are mixed. Two trials found that participants receiving the treatment reported fewer days homeless (p < 0.01)71 and more days in community housing (p = 0.006),70 whereas 2 trials reported no effect on episodes of homelessness or number of days homeless.66,73 Further, these interventions showed an added benefit in reducing the number of participants admitted to hospital (mean difference –8.6, p < 0.05) and with visits to the emergency department (mean difference –1.2, p = 0.009).67 Most trials of assertive community treatment reported no significant differences in mental health outcomes, including psychiatric symptoms, substance use, or income-related outcomes between the treatment and control groups. Intensive case management reduced the number of days homeless (pooled standardized mean difference –0.22, 95% CI –0.40 to –0.03), but not the number of days spent in stable housing.78,80,89 In most studies, there was no major improvement in psychological symptoms between the treatment and control groups. However, 1 trial reported significantly greater reductions in anxiety, depression and thought disturbances after 24 months (mean difference change from baseline –0.32, p = 0.007), as well as improved life satisfaction (mean difference 1.23, p = 0.001) using intensive case management.86 One trial reported no significant difference in quality of life.83 Findings on substance use were mixed. Six of the 10 trials reported that intensive case management was associated with improvements in substance use behaviours.74,78,82,84,87,88 Participants receiving intensive case management reported fewer visits to the emergency department (mean difference 19%, p < 0.05) but did not have shorter hospital stays compared with control groups.85 Intensive case management had no effect on the number of days of employment, or on income received from employment; however, income received by participants through public assistance increased (e.g., mean difference 89, 95% CI 8 to 170).78,85 Critical time intervention was beneficial in reducing the number of homeless nights (mean difference –591, p < 0.001) and the odds of homelessness (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.90) during the final 18 weeks of follow-up.91 Participants receiving the treatment were rehoused sooner than those receiving standard care,95 but did not spend more days rehoused.90 Adults receiving critical time intervention showed significant improvements in psychological symptoms (mean difference –0.14, 95% CI –0.29 to 0.01).90 However, findings for children’s mental health were mixed: children aged 1.5–5 years showed improvements in internalizing (ß coefficient –3.65, 95% CI –5.61 to –1.68) and externalizing behaviours (ß coefficient –3.12, 95% CI –5.37 to –0.86), whereas changes for children aged 6–10 years and 11–16 years were not significant.93 There were no significant effects of critical time intervention on substance-use,90 quality-of-life90,92 or income-related outcomes.96 Two trials reported mixed findings on hospital admission outcomes; in 1 study, allocation to critical time intervention was associated with reduced odds of hospital admission (OR 0.11, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.96) and total number of nights in hospital (p < 0.05) in the final 18 weeks of the trial.97 However, another study reported a greater total number of nights in hospital for the treatment group compared with usual care (1171 v. 912).98 The certainty of the evidence was rated low because several trials introduced high risk of detection and performance bias. Opioid agonist therapy
Ensure access to opioid agonist therapy in primary care or by referral to an addiction specialist, potentially in collaboration with public health or community health centre for linkage to pharmacologic interventions (low certainty, conditional recommendation). Evidence summary We conducted a review of systematic reviews on pharmalogic interventions for opioid use disorder.99 Twenty-four reviews, which included 352 unique primary studies, reported on pharmacologic interventions for opioid use disorder among general populations.100–123 We expanded our inclusion criteria to general populations, aware that most studies among “general populations” had a large representation of homeless populations in their samples. We did not identify any substantial reason to believe that the mechanisms of action of our interventions of interest would differ between homeless populations who use substances and the general population of people who use substances. Reviews on pharmacologic interventions reported on the use of methadone, buprenorphine, diacetylmorphine (heroin), levo-a-acetylmethadol, slow-release oral morphine and hydromorphone for treatment of opioid use disorder. We found pooled all-cause mortality rates of 36.1 and 11.3 per 1000 person years for participants out of and in methadone maintenance therapy, respectively (rate ratio 3.20, 95% CI 2.65 to 3.86), and mortality rates of 9.5 per 1000 person years for those not receiving buprenorphine maintenance therapy compared with 4.3 per 1000 person years among those receiving the therapy (rate ratio 2.20, 95% CI 1.34 to 3.61).116 Overdose-specific mortality rates were similarly affected, with pooled overdose mortality rates of 12.7 and 2.6 per 1000 person years for participants out of and in methadone maintenance therapy, and rates of 4.6 and 1.4 per 1000 person years out of and in buprenorphine maintenance therapy.116 Compared with nonpharmacologic approaches, methadone maintenance therapy had no significant GUIDELINE CMAJ
ISSUE 10 E245 effect on mortality (relative risk 0.48, 95% CI 0.10 to 2.39).110 With respect to morbidity, pharmacologic interventions for opioid use disorder reduced the risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV) acquisition (risk ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.63)112 and HIV infection.103 Adverse events were reported for all agents.100,109,119,122 Treatment with methadone and buprenorphine was associated with reduced illicit opioid use (standardized mean difference –1.17, 95% CI –1.85 to –0.49).109 Availability of buprenorphine treatment expanded access to treatment for patients unlikely to enrol in methadone clinics and facilitated earlier access for recent initiates to opioid use.117 The relative superiority of one pharmacologic agent over another on retention outcomes remains unclear; however, use of methadone was found to show better benefits than nonpharmacologic interventions for retention (risk ratio 4.44, 95% CI 3.26 to 6.04).110 The certainty of evidence ranged from very low to moderate, primarily because of inconsistency, high risk of bias and evidence from nonrandomized studies. Harm-reduction interventions
Identify problematic substance use, including alcohol or other drugs.
Identify the most appropriate approach or refer to local addiction and harm reduction/prevention services (e.g., supervised consumption facilities, managed alcohol programs) via appropriate local resources, such as public health or community health centre or les centres locaux de services communautaires (low certainty, conditional recommendation). Evidence summary We conducted a review of systematic reviews on supervised consumption facilities and managed alcohol programs.99 Two systematic reviews, which included 90 unique observational studies and 1 qualitative meta-synthesis reported on supervised consumption facilities.124–126 For managed alcohol programs, 1 Cochrane review had no included studies,127 and 2 greyliterature reviews reported on 51 studies.128,129 Establishment of supervised consumption facilities was associated with a 35% decrease in the number of fatal opioid overdoses within 500 m of the facility (from 253.8 to 165.1 deaths per 100 000 person years, p = 0.048), compared with 9% in the rest of the city (Vancouver).124 There were 336 reported opioid overdose reversals in 90 different individuals within the Vancouver facility over a 4-year period (2004–2008).125 Similar protective effects were reported in Australia and Germany. Observational studies conducted in Vancouver and Sydney showed that regular use of supervised consumption facilities was associated with decreased syringe sharing (adjusted OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.82), syringe reuse (adjusted OR 2.04, 95% CI 1.38 to 3.01) and public-space injection (adjusted OR 2.79, 95% CI 1.93 to 3.87).125 These facilities mediated access to ancillary services (e.g., food and shelter) and fostered access to broader health support.125,126 Attendance at supervised consumption facilities was associated with an increase in referrals to an addiction treatment centre and initiation of methadone maintenance therapy (adjusted hazard ratio 1.57, 95% CI 1.02 to 2.40).125 Evidence on supervised consumption facilities was rated very low to low, as all available evidence originated from nonrandomized studies. There was a lack of high-quality evidence for managed alcohol programs. Few studies reported on deaths among clients of these programs.128 The effects of managed alcohol programs on hepatic function are mixed, with some studies reporting improvement in hepatic laboratory markers over time, and others showing increases in alcohol-related hepatic damage;129 however, this may have occurred regardless of entry into such a program. This evidence suggested that managed alcohol programs result in stabilized alcohol consumption and can facilitate engagement with medical and social services.128 Clients experienced significantly fewer social, health, safety and legal harms related to alcohol consumption.129 Individuals participating in these programs had fewer hospital admissions and a 93% reduction in emergency service contacts.128 The programs also promoted improved or stabilized mental health128 and medication adherence.129 Cost effectiveness and resource implications Permanent supportive housing We found 19 studies assessing the cost and net cost of housing interventions.30,41,45,130–145 In some studies, permanent supportive housing interventions were associated with increased cost to the payers, and the costs of the interventions were only partially offset by savings in medical and social services as a result of the intervention.30,41,131–134,142 Six studies showed that these interventions saved payers money.135,137,139,141,144,145 Four of these studies, however, employed a pre–post design.135,139,141,145 Moreover, 1 cost-utility analysis of PSH suggested that the provision of housing services was associated with increased costs and increased quality-adjusted life years, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of US$62 493 per quality-adjusted life year.136 Compared with usual care, PSH was found to be more costly to society (net cost Can$7868, 95% CI $4409 to $11 405).138 Income assistance Two studies55,146 focused on the cost effectiveness of incomeassistance interventions. Rental assistance with clients receiving case-management intervention had greater annual costs compared with usual care or groups receiving only case management.55 For each additional day housed, clients who received income assistance incurred additional costs of US$58 (95% CI $4 to $111) from the perspective of the payer, US$50 (95% CI –$17 to $117) from the perspective of the health care system and US$45 (95% CI –$19 to $108) from the societal perspective. The benefit gained from temporary financial assistance was found to outweigh its costs with a net savings of US$20 548.146 Case management Twelve publications provided evidence on cost and costeffectiveness of case-management interventions.44,55,67,69,73,75,88,96,147–150 Findings of these studies were mixed; the total cost incurred by clients of standard case management was higher than that of clients receiving usual or standard care61,88 and assertive GUIDELINE E246 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 community treatment,67,147 but lower compared with a US clinical case-management program that included housing vouchers and intensive case management.55 Cost-effectiveness studies using a societal perspective showed that standard case management was not cost effective compared with assertive community treatment for people with serious mental disorders or those with a concurrent substance-use disorder, as it was more expensive.67 For intensive case management, the cost of supporting housing with this program could be partially offset by reductions in the use of emergency shelters and temporary residences.41 Intensive case management is more likely to be cost effective when all costs and benefits to society are considered.41 A pre–post study showed that providing this program to high-need users of emergency departments resulted in a net hospital cost savings of US$132 726.150 Assertive community treatment interventions were associated with lower costs compared with usual care.66,67,73,148,149 We identified only 1 study on the cost effectiveness of critical time intervention that reported comparable costs (US$52 574 v. US$51 749) of the treatment compared with the usual services provided to men with severe mental illness.96 Interventions for substance use We identified 2 systematic reviews that reported findings from 6 studies in Vancouver on the cost effectiveness of supervised consumption facilities;124,125 5 of these 6 studies found the facilities to be cost effective. After consideration of facility operating costs, supervised consumption facilities saved up to Can$6 million from averted overdose deaths and incident HIV cases. Similarly, Can$1.8 million was saved annually from the prevention of incident HCV infection. Clinical considerations Providers can, in partnership with directly affected communities, employ a range of navigation and advocacy tools to address the root causes of homelessness, which include poverty caused by inadequate access to social assistance, precarious work, insufficient access to quality child care, social norms that allow the propagation of violence in homes and communities, inadequate supports for patients and families living with disabilities or going through life transitions, and insufficient and poor-quality housing stock.151 In addition, providers should tailor their approach to the patient’s needs and demographics, taking into account access to services, personal preferences and other illnesses.152 Providers should also recognize the social and human value of accepting homeless and vulnerably housed people into their clinical practices. The following sections provide additional evidence for underserved and marginalized populations. Women A scoping review of the literature on interventions for homeless women (Christine Mathew, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020) yielded 4 systematic reviews153–156 and 9 randomized controlled trials (RCTs)36,60,92,95,157–161 that focused specifically on homeless and vulnerably housed women. Findings showed that PSH was effective in reducing the risk of intimate partner violence and improving psychological symptoms.158 For women with children experiencing homelessness, priority access to permanent housing subsidies can reduce child separations and foster care placements, allowing women to maintain the integrity of their family unit.158 As well, Housing First programs for families, critical time interventions during times of crisis, and therapeutic communities are associated with lower levels of psychological distress, increased self-esteem and improved quality of life for women and their families.92,155 A gender-based analysis highlighted the importance of safety, service accessibility and empowerment among homeless women. We suggest that providers focus on patient safety, empowerment among women who have faced genderbased violence, and improve access to resources, including income, child care and other social support services. Youth A systematic review on youth-specific interventions reported findings from 4 systematic reviews and 18 RCTs.162 Permanent supportive housing improved housing stability. As well, individual cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to result in significant improvements in depression scores, and family-based therapies are also promising, resulting in reductions in youth substance use through restoring the family dynamic. Findings on motivational interviewing, skill building and case-management interventions were inconsistent, with some trials showing a positive impact and others not identifying significant benefits. Refugee and migrant populations A qualitative systematic review on homeless migrants (Harneel Kaur, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020) identified 17 qualitative articles that focused on the experiences of homeless migrants.163–179 Findings indicated that discrimination, limited language proficiency and severed social networks negatively affected homeless migrants’ sense of belonging and access to social services, such as housing. However, employment opportunities provided a sense of independence and improved social integration. Methods Composition of participating groups In preparation for the guideline, we formed the Homeless Health Research Network (https://methods.cochrane.org/equity/ projects/homeless-health-guidelines), composed of clinicians, academics, and governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders. The Homeless Health Guideline Steering Committee (K.P. [chair], C.K., T.A., A.A., G.S., G.B., D.P., E.A., V.B., V.S. and P.T.) was assembled to coordinate guideline development. Expert representation was sought from eastern and western Canada, Ontario, Quebec and the Prairie provinces for membership on the steering committee. In addition, 5 people with lived experience of homelessness (herein referred to as “community scholars”180) were recruited to participate in the guideline-development activities. A management committee (K.P., C.K. and P.T.) oversaw the participating groups and monitored competing interests. The steering committee decided to develop a single guideline publication informed by a series of 8 systematic reviews. The GUIDELINE CMAJ
ISSUE 10 E247 steering committee assembled expert working groups to operationalize each review. Each working group consisted of clinical topic experts and community scholars who were responsible for providing contextual expertise. The steering committee also assembled a technical team, which provided technical expertise in the conduct and presentation of systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Finally, the steering committee assembled the guideline panel, which had the responsibility to provide external review of the evidence and drafted recommendations. The panel was composed of 17 individuals, including physicians, primary care providers, internists, psychiatrists, public health professionals, people with lived experience of homelessness, medical students and medical residents. Panel members had no financial or intellectual conflicts of interest. A full membership list of the individual teams’ composition is available in Appendix 2, available at www.cmaj.ca/lookup/ suppl/doi:10.1503/cmaj.190777/-/DC1. Selection of priority topics We used a 3-step modified Delphi consensus method (Esther Shoemaker, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020) to select priority health conditions for marginalized populations experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing. Briefly, between May and June 2017, we developed and conducted a survey (in French and English), in which we asked 84 expert providers and 76 people with lived homelessness experience to rank and prioritize an initial list of needs and populations. We specifically asked participants, while answering the Delphi survey, to keep in mind 3 priority-setting criteria when considering the unique challenges of implementing health care for homeless or vulnerably housed people: value added (i.e., the opportunity for a unique and relevant contribution), reduction of unfair and preventable health inequities, and decrease in burden of illness (i.e., the number of people who may have a disease or condition).181 The initial top 4 priority needs identified were as follows: facilitating access to housing, providing mental health and addiction care, delivering care coordination and case management, and facilitating access to adequate income. The priority marginalized populations identified included Indigenous people; women and families; youth; people with acquired brain injury, or intellectual or physical disabilities; and refugees and other migrants (Esther Shoemaker, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020). Each working group then scoped the literature using Google Scholar and PubMed to determine a list of interventions and terms relating to each of the priority-need categories. Each working group came to consensus on the final list of interventions to be included (Table 3). Guideline development We followed the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach for the development of this clinical guideline, including the identification of clinical questions, systematic reviews of the best available evidence, Table 3: Descriptions of priority-need interventions Intervention Description Permanent supportive housing
Long-term housing in the community with no set preconditions for access. Housing may be paired with the provision of individualized supportive services that are tailored to participants’ needs and choices, including assertive community treatment and intensive case management.
This guideline groups the Housing First model (a homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing housing) with permanent supportive housing. Income assistance
Benefits and programs that improve socioeconomic status. This may include assistance that directly increases income and programs that help with cost reduction of basic living necessities.
This guideline also groups employment programs (e.g., individual placement and support, and compensated work therapy) in this category. Case management
Standard case management allows for the provision of an array of social, health care and other services with the goal of helping the client maintain good health and social relationships.
Intensive case management offers the support of a case manager who brokers access to an array of services. Case-management support can be available for up to 12 hours per day, 7 days a week, and each case manager often has a caseload of 15–20 service users.
Assertive community treatment offers team-based care to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness by a multidisciplinary group of health care workers in the community. This team should be available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Critical time intervention supports continuity of care for service users during times of transition. Case management is administered by a critical time intervention worker and is a time-limited service, usually lasting 6–9 months. Pharmacologic interventions for substance use disorder
Pharmacologic interventions for opioid use disorder, including methadone, buprenorphine, diacetylmorphine, levo-a-acetylmethadol and naltrexone.
Pharmacologic agents for reversal of opioid overdose: opioid antagonist administered intravenously or intranasally (e.g., naloxone). Harm reduction for substance use disorders
Supervised consumption facilities: facilities (stand-alone, co-located or pop-up) where people who use substances can consume preobtained substances under supervision.
Managed alcohol programs: shelter, medical assistance, social services and the provision of regulated alcohol to support residents with severe alcohol use disorder. GUIDELINE E248 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 assessment of the certainty of the evidence and development of recommendations.182 We conducted a series of systematic reviews to answer the following clinical question: Should PSH, income assistance, case management, pharmacologic agents for opioid use, and/or harm-reduction interventions be considered for people with lived experience of homelessness? Systematic reviews for each intervention were driven by a logic model. A detailed description of the methods used to compile evidence summaries for each recommendation, including search terms, can be found in Appendix 3, available at www.cmaj.ca/ lookup/suppl/doi:10.1503/cmaj.190777/-/DC1. We sought evidence on questions considering population, interventions and comparisons according to published a priori protocols.183–186 We used relevant terms and structured search strategies in 9 bibliographic databases for RCTs and quasi-experimental studies. The technical team reviewed titles, abstracts and full texts of identified citations, selected evidence for inclusion and compiled evidence reviews, including cost-effectiveness and resource-use data, for consideration by the guideline panel. The technical team collected and synthesized data on the following a priori outcomes: housing stability, mental health, quality of life, substance use, hospital admission, employment and income. Where possible, we conducted meta-analyses with random effects and assessed certainty of evidence using the GRADE approach. Where pooling of results was not appropriate, we synthesized results narratively. In addition to the intervention and cost-effectiveness reviews, the technical team conducted 3 systematic reviews to collect contextual and population-specific evidence for the populations prioritized through our Delphi process (women, youth, refugees and migrants) (Christine Mathew, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020; Harneel Kaur, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020).162 Additionally, we conducted 1 qualitative literature review to capture patient values and preferences, focused on the experiences of people who are homeless in engaging with our selected interventions.20 Drafting of recommendations The steering committee hosted a 2-day knowledge-sharing event, termed the “Homeless Health Summit,” on Nov. 25–26, 2018. Attendees included expert working group members, community scholars, technical team members, and other governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders. Findings from all intervention reviews were presented and discussed according to the GRADE Evidence to Decision framework.187 After the meeting, the steering committee drafted GRADE recommendations (Box 2) through an iterative consensus process. All steering-committee members participated in multiple rounds of review and revision of the drafted clinical recommendations. Guideline panel review We used the GRADE Evidence to Decision framework to facilitate the development of recommendations187–189 (Appendix 4, available at www.cmaj.ca/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1503/cmaj.190777/-/DC1). We used GRADEpro and the Panel Voice software to obtain input from the guideline panel.190 Panellists provided input on the wording and strength of the draft recommendations. They also provided considerations for clinical implementation. We required endorsement of recommendations by 60% of panel members for acceptance of a recommendation. After review by the guideline panel, the steering committee reviewed the final recommendations before sign-off. Good practice statements We developed a limited number of good practice statements to support the delivery of the initial evidence-based recommendations. A good practice statement characteristically represents situations in which a large and compelling body of indirect evidence strongly supports the net benefit of the recommended action, which is necessary for health care practice.191–193 Guideline-development groups consider making good practice statements when they have high confidence that indirect evidence supports net benefit, there is a clear and explicit rationale connecting the indirect evidence, and it would be an onerous and unproductive exercise and thus a poor use of the group’s limited resources to collect this evidence. The steering committee came to a consensus on 3 good practice statements based on indirect evidence. Identification of implementation considerations We completed a mixed-methods study to identify determinants of implementation across Canada for the guideline (Olivia Magwood, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020). Briefly, the study included a survey of 88 stakeholders and semistructured interviews with people with lived experience of homelessness. The GRADE Feasibility, Acceptability, Cost (affordability) and Equity (FACE) survey collected data on guideline priority, feasibility, acceptability, cost, equity and intent to implement. We used a framework analysis and a series of meetings (Ottawa, Ont., Jan. 13, 2020; Hamilton, Ont., Aug. 16, 2019; Gatineau, Que., July 18, 2019) with relevant stakeholders in the field of homeless health to analyze our implementation data. Management of competing interests Competing interests were assessed using a detailed form adapted from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors Uniform Disclosure Form for Potential Conflicts of Interest194 and the Elsevier sample coauthor agreement form for a scientific project, contingencies and communication.195 These forms were collected at the start of the guideline activities for the steering committee, guideline panel and community scholars. All authors submitted an updated form in June 2019 and before publication. The management committee iteratively reviewed these statements and interviewed participants for any clarifications and concerns. A priori, the management committee had agreed that major competing interests would lead to dismissal. There were no competing interests declared. Implementation Our mixed-methods study (Olivia Magwood, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, Ont.: unpublished data, 2020) looking at guideline priority, feasibility, acceptability, cost, equity and intent to implement, identified the following concerns regarding implementation of this guideline. GUIDELINE CMAJ
ISSUE 10 E249 Stakeholders highlighted the importance of increasing primary care providers’ knowledge of the process of applying to PSH programs and informing their patients about the resources available in the community. The major concerns regarding feasibility arose around the limited availability of existing services, such as housing, as well as administrative and human resources concerns. For example, not all primary care providers work in a team-based comprehensive care model and have access to a social worker or care coordinator who can help link the patient to existing services. Furthermore, wait lists for PSH are frequently long. Despite this, all stakeholders agreed that access to PSH was a priority and is a feasible recommendation. Allied health practitioners and physicians do not always agree with their new role in this area. Some feedback suggested pushback from family physicians who have limited time with patients and less experience exploring social determinants of health, such as housing or income. The initial steps outlined in this guideline would come at an opportunity cost for them. Stigma attached to the condition of homelessness was recognized as an important barrier to care for homeless populations. Many stakeholders recognized that successful implementation of these recommendations may require moderate costs to increase the housing supply, income supports and human resources. However, supervised consumption facilities, with their range of benefits, were perceived as cost-saving. Many interventions have the potential to increase health equity, if available and accessible in a local context. Many stakeholders highlighted opportunities to increase knowledge of the initial steps and advocate on a systematic level to increase availability of services. Suggested performance measures We developed a set of performance measures to accompany this guidleline for consideration by providers and policy-makers:
The proportion of adults who are assessed for homelessness or vulnerable housing over 1 year.
The proportion of eligible adults who are considered for income assistance over 1 year.
The proportion of eligible adults using opioids who are offered opioid agonist therapy over 1 year. Updates The Homeless Health Research Network will be responsible for updating this guideline every 5 years. Other guidelines This guideline complements other published guidelines. This current guideline aims to support the upcoming Indigenousspecific guidelines that recognize the importance of Indigenous leadership and methodology that will recognize distinct underlying causes of Indigenous homelessness (Jesse Thistle, York University, Toronto, Ont.: personal communication, 2020). The World Health Organization has developed guidelines to promote healthy housing standards to save lives, prevent disease and increase quality of life.196 Other guidelines specific to opioid use disorder exist,197,198 including 1 for “treatment-refractory” patients.199 In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence has published guidelines for outpatient treatment of schizophrenia and has published multimorbidity guidelines (www.nice.org.uk/guidance). The National Health Care for the Homeless Council in the US has adapted best practices to support front-line workers caring for homeless populations.200 How is this guideline different? This guideline distills initial steps and evidence-based approaches, to both homeless and vulnerably housed people, with the assistance of patients and other stakeholders. It also introduces a new clinical lens with upstream interventions that provide a social and health foundation for community integration. Its initial steps support the vision of the Centre for Homelessness Impact in the UK, which envisions a society where the experience of homelessness, in instances where it cannot be prevented, is only ever rare, brief and nonrecurrent.201 Finally, we hope that our stakeholder engagement inspires and equips future students, health providers and the public health community to implement the initial step recommendations. Gaps in knowledge Evidence-based policy initiatives will need to address the accelerating health and economic disparities between homeless and general housed populations. As primary care expands its medical home models,27 there will be a research opportunity for more traumainformed care202 to support the evidence-based interventions in this guideline. Indeed, clinical research can refine how providers use the initial steps protocol: housing, income, case management and addiction. With improved living conditions, care coordination and continuity of care, research and practice can shift to treatable conditions, such as HIV and HCV infection, substance use disorder, mental illness and tuberculosis.203 Medical educators will also need to develop new training tools to support the delivery of interventions. Curricula and training that support the delivery of interventions, such as traumainformed and patient-centred care, will also be needed.12 Many of the recommended interventions in this guideline rely on collaboration of community providers, housing coordinators and case management. Interdisciplinary primary care research and maintenance of linkages to primary care will benefit from new homeless health clinic networks. Monitoring transitions in care and housing availability will be an important research goal for Canada’s National Housing Strategy and the associated Reaching Home program. Conclusion Homelessness has become a health emergency. Initial steps in addressing this crisis proposed in this guideline include strongly recommending PSH as an urgent intervention. The guideline also recognizes the trauma, disability, mental illness and stigma GUIDELINE E250 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 facing people with lived homelessness experience and thus recommends initial steps of income assistance, intensive case management for mental illness, and harm-reduction and addictiontreatment interventions, including access to opioid agonist therapy and supervised consumption facilities. The successful implementation of this guideline will depend on a focus on the initial recommendations, trust, patient safety and an ongoing collaboration between primary health care, mental health providers, public health, people with lived experience and broader community organizations, including those beyond the health care field. References 1. Frankish CJ, Hwang SW, Quantz D. Homelessness and health in Canada: research lessons and priorities. Can J Public Health 2005;96(Suppl 2):S23-9. 2. 31 days of promoting a better urban future: Report 2018. Nairobi (Kenya): UN Habitat, United Nations Human Settlement Programme; 2018. 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Patient experience in adult NHS services: improving the experience of care for people using adult NHS services — patient experience in generic terms. NICE Clinical Guidelines No 138. London (UK): Royal College of Physicians; 2012. Available: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ books/NBK115230 (accessed 2019 Dec. 12). 153. Jonker IE, Sijbrandij M, Van Luijtelaar MJA, et al. The effectiveness of interventions during and after residence in women’s shelters: a meta-analysis. Eur J Public Health 2015;25:15-9. 154. Rivas C, Ramsay J, Sadowski L, et al. Advocacy interventions to reduce or eliminate violence and promote the physical and psychosocial well-being of women who experience intimate partner abuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;(12):CD005043. 155. Speirs V, Johnson M, Jirojwong S. A systematic review of interventions for homeless women. J Clin Nurs 2013;22:1080-93. 156. Wathen CN, MacMillan HL. Interventions for violence against women: scientific review. JAMA 2003;289:589-600. 157. Constantino R, Kim Y, Crane PA. Effects of a social support intervention on health outcomes in residents of a domestic violence shelter: a pilot study. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2005;26:575-90. 158. Gubits D, Shinn M, Wood M, et al. Family options study: 3-year impacts of housing and services interventions for homeless families. 2016. doi: 10.2139/ ssrn.3055295. 159. Milby JB, Schumacher JE, Wallace D, et al. To house or not to house: the effects of providing housing to homeless substance abusers in treatment. Am J Public Health 2005;95:1259-65. 160. Nyamathi AM, Leake B, Flaskerud J, et al. Outcomes of specialized and traditional AIDS counseling programs for impoverished women of color. Res Nurs Health 1993;16:11-21. 161. Nyamathi A, Flaskerud J, Keenan C, et al. Effectiveness of a specialized vs. traditional AIDS education program attended by homeless and drug-addicted women alone or with supportive persons. AIDS Educ Prev 1998;10:433-46. 162. Wang JZ, Mott S, Magwood O, et al. The impact of interventions for youth experiencing homelessness on housing, mental health, substance use, and family cohesion: a systematic review. BMC Public Health 2019;19:1528. 163. Couch J. ‘My life just went zig zag’: refugee young people and homelessness. Youth Stud Aust 2011;30:22-32. 164. Couch J. ‘Neither here nor there’: refugee young people and homelessness in Australia. Child Youth Serv Rev 2017;74:1-7. 165. Couch J. On their own: perceptions of services by homeless young refugees. Dev Pract 2012;(31):19-28. 166. D’Addario S, Hiebert D, Sherrell K. Restricted access: The role of social capital in mitigating absolute homelessness among immigrants and refugees in the GVRD. Refuge 2007;24:107-15. 167. Dwyer P, Brown D. Accommodating “others”?: housing dispersed, forced migrants in the UK. J Soc Welf Fam Law 2008;30:203-18. 168. Flatau P, Smith J, Carson G, et al. The housing and homelessness journeys of refugees in Australia. AHURI Final Rep No 256. Melbourne (AU): Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited; 2015. 169. Hulín M, Hulínová VA, Martinkovic M, et al. Housing among persons of international protection in the Slovak Republic. Rajagiri J Soc Dev 2013;5. 170. Idemudia ES, Williams JK, Wyatt GE. Migration challenges among Zimbabwean refugees before, during and post arrival in South Africa. J Inj Violence Res 2013;5:17-27. 171. Im H. A social ecology of stress and coping among homeless refugee families. Vol. 73, Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy; 2012:355. Available: http://ovidsp.ovid.com/ovidweb.cgi?T=JS&PAGE=reference&D=psyc9&NEWS= N&AN=2012-99130-061 (accessed 2019 Sept. 1). Login required to access content. 172. Kissoon P. From persecution to destitution: a snapshot of asylum seekers’ housing and settlement experiences in Canada and the United Kingdom. J Immigr Refug Stud 2010;8:4-31. 173. Kissoon P. An uncertain home: refugee protection, illegal immigration status, and their effects on migrants’ housing stability in Vancouver and Toronto. Can Issues 2010;64-7. 174. Mostowska M. Migration and homelessness: the social networks of homeless Poles in Oslo. J Ethn Migr Stud 2013;39:1125-40. 175. Mostowska M. Homelessness abroad: “place utility” in the narratives of the Polish homeless in Brussels. Int Migr 2014;52:118-29. 176. Paradis E, Novac S, Sarty M, et al. Homelessness and housing among status immigrant, non-status migrant, and Canadian-born Families in Toronto. Can Issues 2010. 177. Sherrell K, D’Addario S, Hiebert D. On the outside looking in: the precarious housing situations of successful refugee claimants in the GVRD. Refuge 2007;24:64-75. 178. Sjollema SD, Hordyk S, Walsh CA, et al. Found poetry: finding home — a qualitative study of homeless immigrant women. J Poetry Ther 2012;25:205-17. 179. Walsh CA, Hanley J, Ives N, et al. Exploring the experiences of newcomer women with insecure housing in Montréal Canada. J Int Migr Integr 2016;17: 887-904. 180. Kendall CE, Shoemaker ES, Crowe L, et al. Engagement of people with lived experience in primary care research: living with HIV Innovation Team Community Scholar Program. Can Fam Physician 2017;63:730-1. 181. Swinkels H, Pottie K, Tugwell P, et al.; Canadian Collaboration for Immigrant and Refugee Health (CCIRH). Development of guidelines for recently arrived immigrants and refugees to Canada: Delphi consensus on selecting preventable and treatable conditions. CMAJ 2011;183:E928-32. 182. Guyatt G, Oxman AD, Akl EA, et al. GRADE guidelines: 1. Introduction — GRADE evidence profiles and summary of findings tables. J Clin Epidemiol 2011;64: 383-94. 183. Pottie K, Mathew CM, Mendonca O, et al. PROTOCOL: A comprehensive review of prioritized interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of persons with lived experience of homelessness. Campbell Syst Rev 2019;15:e1048. 184. Magwood O, Gebremeskel A, Ymele Leki V, et al. Protocol 1: The experiences of homeless and vulnerably housed persons around health and social services. A protocol for a systematic review of qualitative studies. Cochrane Methods Equity; 2018. Available: https://methods.cochrane.org/equity/sites/methods.cochrane. org.equity/files/public/uploads/protocol-_the_experiences_of_homeless_and_ vulnerably_housed_persons_around_health_and_social_services.pdf (accessed 2019 Dec. 12). 185. Kpade V, Magwood O, Salvalaggio G, et al. Protocol 3: Harm reduction and pharmacotherapeutic interventions for persons with substance use disorders: a protocol for a systematic review of reviews. Cochrane Methods Equity; 2018. 186. Wang J, Mott S, Mathew C, et al. Protocol: Impact of interventions for homeless youth: a narrative review using health, social, Gender, and equity outcomes. Cochrane Methods Equity; 2018. Available: https://methods.cochrane.org/ equity/sites/methods.cochrane.org.equity/files/public/uploads/youth_narrative _review_protocol.pdf (accessed 2019 Dec. 12). 187. Alonso-Coello P, Oxman AD, Moberg J, et al.; GRADE Working Group. GRADE Evidence to Decision (EtD) frameworks: a systematic and transparent approach to making well informed healthcare choices. 2: Clinical practice guidelines. BMJ 2016;353:i2089. 188. Alonso-Coello P, Schünemann HJ, Moberg J, et al.; GRADE Working Group. GRADE Evidence to Decision (EtD) frameworks: a systematic and transparent approach to making well informed healthcare choices. 1: Introduction. BMJ 2016;353:i2016. 189. Schünemann HJ, Mustafa R, Brozek J, et al.; GRADE Working Group. GRADE Guidelines: 16. GRADE evidence to decision frameworks for tests in clinical practice and public health. J Clin Epidemiol 2016;76:89-98. 190. GRADEpro GDT: GRADEpro Guideline Development Tool [software]. Hamilton (ON): McMaster University; 2015 (developed by Evidence Prime, Inc.). Available: https://gradepro.org (accessed 2019 Feb. 1). 191. Tugwell P, Knottnerus JA. When does a good practice statement not justify an evidence based guideline? J Clin Epidemiol 2015;68:477-9. 192. Guyatt GH, Alonso-Coello P, Schünemann HJ, et al. Guideline panels should seldom make good practice statements: guidance from the GRADE Working Group. J Clin Epidemiol 2016;80:3-7. 193. Guyatt GH, Schünemann HJ, Djulbegovic B, et al. Guideline panels should not GRADE good practice statements. J Clin Epidemiol 2015;68:597-600. 194. Drazen JM, de Leeuw PW, Laine C, et al. Toward more uniform conflict disclosures: the updated ICMJE conflict of interest reporting form. JAMA 2010;304:212-3. GUIDELINE E254 CMAJ
ISSUE 10 195. Primack RB, Cigliano JA, Parsons ECM, et al. Coauthors gone bad; how to avoid publishing conflict and a proposed agreement for co-author teams [editorial]. Biol Conserv 2014;176:277-80. 196. WHO housing and health guidelines. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018. 197. Korownyk C, Perry D, Ton J, et al. Managing opioid use disorder in primary care: PEER simplified guideline. Can Fam Physician 2019;65:321-30. 198. Bruneau J, Ahamad K, Goyer M-È, et al.; CIHR Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse. Management of opioid use disorders: a national clinical practice guideline. CMAJ 2018;190:E247-57. 199. Fairbairn N, Ross J, Trew M, et al. Injectable opioid agonist treatment for opioid use disorder: a national clinical guideline. CMAJ 2019;191:E1049-56. 200. Montauk SL. The homeless in America: adapting your practice. Am Fam Physician 2006;74:1132-8. 201. Teixeira L, Russell D, Hobbs T. The SHARE framework: a smarter way to end homelessness. London (UK): Centre for Homelessness Impact; 2018; Available: www. homelesshub.ca/resource/share-framework-smarter-way-end-homelessness (accessed 2019 Dec. 12). 202. Purkey E, Patel R, Phillips SP. Trauma-informed care: better care for everyone. Can Fam Physician 2018;64:170-2. 203. Homelessness & health: What’s the connection [fact sheet]. Nashville (TN): National Health Care for the Homeless Council; 2011. Available: https://nhchc.org/wp-content /uploads/2019/08/Hln_health_factsheet_Jan10-1.pdf (accessed 2019 June 1). Competing interests: Gary Bloch is a founding member, former board member and currently a clinician with Inner City Health Associates (ICHA), a group of physicians working with individuals experiencing homelessness in Toronto, which provided funding for the development of this guideline. He did not receive payment for work on the guideline and did not participate in any ICHA board decision-making relevant to this project. Ritika Goel, Michaela Beder and Stephen Hwang also receive payment for clinical services from ICHA, and did not receive payment for any aspect of the submitted work. No other competing interests were declared. This article has been peer reviewed. Affiliations: C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre (Pottie, d Wendy Muckle led the Homeless Health Summit. Esther Shoemaker led the Delphi consensus. Olivia Magwood led the reviews on lived experiences and substance use, Tim Aubry led the review on housing, Gary Bloch and Vanessa Brcic led the review on income, David Ponka and Eric Agbata led the review on case management, Jean Zhuo Jing Wang and Sebastian Mott led the homeless youth review, Harneel Kaur led the homeless migrant review, Christine Mathew and Anne Andermann led the homeless women review, Syeda Shanza Hashmi and Ammar Saad led medical student engagement and competency review, Thomas Piggott co-led the GRADE Assessment with Olivia Magwood and Kevin Pottie, Michaela Beder and Nicole Kozloff contributed substantially to the substance use review, and Neil Arya and Stephen Hwang provided critical policy information. All of the named authors engaged in the writing and review, gave final approval of the version of the guideline to be published, and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work. Funding: This guideline was supported by a peer-reviewed grant from the Inner City Health Associates, and supplemental project grants from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Employment Social Development Canada, Canadian Medical Association and Champlain Local Integrated Health Network. Personnel from collaborating agencies provided nonbinding feedback during the preparation of systematic reviews and the guideline. The funders had no role in the design or conduct of the study; collection, analysis and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review or final approval of the guideline. Final decisions regarding the protocol and issues that arose during the guideline-development process were solely the responsibility of the guideline steering committee. Acknowledgements: The authors thank everyone who participated in the development of this guideline, including community scholars, technical team leads, guideline panel members and working group members. Endorsements: Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Public Health Association, Canadian Federation of Medical Students, The College of Family Physicians of Canada, Public Health Physicians of Canada, Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, Canadian Nurses Association Disclaimer: The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the funding agencies. Correspondence to: Kevin Pottie, kpottie@uottawa.ca
Documents
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Concussion in Sport, Leisure, and Occupational Settings

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14023
Date
2019-03-02
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2019-03-02
Replaces
Head injury and sport (2011)
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Concussions and head injuries are a common occurrence in sport and leisure activities, and frequently occur in occupational settings as well. While the majority of individuals who suffer from a concussion will recover with time, others may be at risk for serious and lasting complications. These include (1) children; (2) previous history of head injury or concussion; (3) prior mental health symptoms; and (4) missed diagnosis and management. This aim of this advocacy and policy document is to improve safety during activity by raising awareness of concussions, and by working to improve the detection and safe management of concussions when they occur. It is not a clinical practice guideline. It should not be perceived as a plea to avoid sports or leisure activities, but rather as a call for safer sporting, leisure, and occupational practices. The documented health benefits that result from establishing an active lifestyle in youth and maintaining it throughout life cannot be overstated. Achieving balance of safe play in sport, leisure and occupational activities while promoting greater physical activity levels for Canadians would have the effect of reducing health care costs in Canada, while promoting a healthier concussion recovery culture for all Canadians. Therefore, to promote better concussion and head trauma awareness and prevention, as well as better management/treatment practices, the following policy recommendations for key target audiences across all levels of sport, leisure, and occupational activity are made. Key Concussion & Head Injury Principles: a) The detection of concussions and head injury should be a shared responsibility and any stakeholder/observer to such an injury should verbally raise their concerns that a concussion may have occurred. i. It is important to understand that individuals with a possible concussion, or head injury, may not be able to recognize that they are suffering from a concussion; ii. It is important to recognize that engrained within popular culture are dangerous notions (e.g., to minimize, ignore, downplay, or play through the pain, etc.) that cause individuals/observers to ignore the real, often hidden, dangers of such injuries. b) Broadly speaking, access to the latest edition of the internationally recognized Concussion Recognition Tool (CRT) should be promoted/available to help identify the signs and symptoms of a possible concussion; c) Any individual who sustains more than a minor head injury should be immediately removed from play, activity, or occupation, and not permitted to return on the same day3 (regardless of whether a concussion is later suspected). i. These individuals should be the subject of observation for developing/evolving concussion symptoms or emergency warning signs (especially within the first 4 hours post-injury, but also up to 48 hours when red-flag symptoms are present). d) Following first aid principles, where an individual displays signs of a serious head or spinal injury, that individual should lie still (not moving their head or neck) until a qualified individual has performed an evaluation; to determine whether emergency evacuation for medical assessment is necessary. e) Any individual with a suspected concussion (especially where red-flag symptoms are present), or more severe traumatic brain injury, should be promptly evaluated by a physician to: i. Either rule-out or confirm a diagnosis via an appropriate medical assessment; and ii. Institute the provision of an age-appropriate follow-up care plan (including progressive return to school, work, and play protocols) if such an injury is confirmed.1 f) Ideally, a physician knowledgeable in concussion management determines when, and how, a concussed individual should progressively return to both cognitive (school or work) and physical activities. g) Following a suspected, or diagnosed concussion, an individual should not return to play, or resume any activity associated with a heightened risk of head trauma, until cleared by a physician to do so.1 Recommendations For: 1. Physicians: Should: a) Where possible, encourage safe play practices in sports, and where appropriate, educate patients about the risks of head injuries (associated with high-risk behavior in sports, leisure and occupational activities). b) Gain/maintain, through relevant continuous medical education, competencies related to the assessment, diagnosis and management of concussion according to most current clinical practice recommendations (e.g., latest edition of the CRT, SCAT, Child SCAT, Acute Concussion Evaluation Tool, etc.). c) Be aware that clinical practice guidelines and assessment tools exist to assist in assessing and treating concussed individuals (e.g., Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Parachute Canada, etc.). d) When assessing a patient with a potential concussion: i. Rule out the presence of more severe traumatic brain and musculoskeletal injury; ii. Assess for any previous concussion history, risk factors and newly arising complications; iii. Educate and instruct parents, athletes and any individual that sustains a concussion about what to do, and what to expect, in the post concussive phase. (This should be based on the most current age-appropriate concussion management guidelines);4 iv. Provide individualized recommendations on how to optimally apply the progressive return-to-school, work, and play strategies with consideration for the specificities of the patient’s usual activities and responsibilities;4 v. Work to provide concussed patients timely access for medical reassessment in the event of worsening or persistent symptoms (including mental health); and vi. In the presence of persistent or worsening symptoms (including mental health), consider what external, evidence based, concussion resources may be necessary as well as referral. 2. Medical Colleges & Faculties: Should: a) Promote/support medical education regarding; awareness, detection/diagnosis; and the appropriate management of concussions, throughout the continuum of medical education (undergraduate, post-graduate, and continuing medical education). b) Support research in concussion prevention, detection, and treatment or management. 3. Athletes in Contact/Collision Sports: Should: a) (Prior to the commencement of the sporting season) be given age-appropriate instruction2 to understand: i. How to identify the signs and symptoms of a possible concussion using the latest edition of the internationally recognized CRT (e.g. Concussion Recognition Tool, or Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT)); ii. The risks associated with concussion (including long term and mental health); especially, the risks of potentially life-threatening complications associated with continued sport participation, while presenting with signs or symptoms of a possible concussion; iii. What to do/expect if a concussion is ever suspected (including for teammates), and the expected role of the athlete and team members; iv. Removal and progressive returns to school, work and play policies/procedures, and the expected role of the athlete in the recovery process; and v. How to foster a healthy sporting culture (that promotes: safe play practices; fosters concussion/injury prevention and reporting; peer-to-peer support; and combat injury stigmatization). b) Have such instruction reinforced periodically throughout the sporting season as needed. c) Be aware of, and seek treatment for, potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 4. Parents with Minors in Contact/Collision Sports: Should: a) Prior to the commencement of a sporting season, request and be open to receiving instruction2 on: i. How to identify the signs and symptoms of a possible concussion using the latest edition of the internationally recognized CRT (e.g. Concussion Recognition Tool, or Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT)); ii. The risks associated with concussion; especially, the risks of potentially life-threatening complications associated with continued sport participation, while presenting with signs or symptoms of a possible concussion; iii. What to do/expect if a concussion is ever suspected for an athlete; iv. Removal and progressive returns to school, work and play policies/procedures, and the expected role of the parent(s) in the recovery process; and v. How to foster a healthy sporting culture that promotes: safe play practices; fosters concussion/injury prevention and reporting; peer-to-peer support; and combats injury stigmatization. b) Have such instruction reinforced periodically throughout the sporting season as needed. c) Be prepared to address potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 5. Individuals Who Sustain a Head Injury Outside of Organized Sports: Should: a) Be aware of possible signs and symptoms of a possible concussion, and immediately withdraw from activity and seek medical assessment a possible concussion is suspected.1 i. Refer to the latest addition of the internationally recognized CRT (Concussion Recognition Tool) for further guidance on signs and symptoms.3 b) Understand the risks associated with concussion; including the risks of potentially life-threatening complications associated with repeated head injury if signs or symptoms of a possible concussion are present. c) In the event of a diagnosis of concussion, judiciously implement the medical recommendations received regarding their gradual return to cognitive and physical activity (including the need for medical reassessment in the presence of persistent symptoms). d) Openly communicate their recovery needs and work with any group or individual who might support them in their recovery process (e.g., employers, family members, school, etc.). e) Be aware of, and seek treatment for, potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 6. Coaches, Trainers, Referees, & First Responders: Should: a) Receive certified emergency first aid training. b) Receive periodic education (ideally annually) on national standards regarding the signs and symptoms, potential long-term consequences, appropriate steps for initial intervention, and immediate management (including: athlete removal-from-play; observation; determining when medical assessment is necessary; and progressive return to school, work and play procedures). c) Be trained in the use of the latest edition of the internationally recognized CRT (Concussion Recognition Tool) – to detect whether an injured individual is suffering from a concussion.2 d) Be knowledgeable and responsible to ensure safety and safe play practices are applied throughout the sporting season. e) Be responsible for fostering a healthy sporting culture (promote safe play practices, foster concussion/injury prevention and reporting, peer-to-peer support and combat injury stigmatization). f) Be prepared to address potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 7. Licensed Health Care Providers Involved as Therapists in Sport Environments: Should: a) Be fully licensed in their professional field and pursue continuing professional development to maintain competencies related to concussion and head injuries. b) Promote the implementation of properly adapted concussion management protocols (that comply with the most current clinical recommendations, based on consideration for the specificities of each sport environment and available resources). c) Work with qualified physicians to initiate/implement tailored medically supervised concussion management protocols that define: i. Mutual and shared health professional responsibilities to optimize the quality, and safety of patient care (within one’s scope of practice); and ii. The optimal corridors for timely access to medical (re)assessment with due consideration for available resources. d) Be prepared to address potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 8. Educational Institutions & Sports Organizations: Should: a) (Especially in the cases involving minors) implement, and keep updated, prevention strategies to include: i. Safety standards that include safe play policies; and ii. Mandatory safety gear/equipment (tailored to individual sport settings). b) Mandatory concussion and head injury protocols that work to: i. Reduce the occurrence of concussions and head injury by promoting: safe play practices; fostering concussion/injury prevention and reporting; peer-to-peer support, and combatting injury stigmatization; ii. Ensure the prompt detection, and standardized early management of concussion and head injuries, by informing all potential stakeholders (in the preseason phase) about the nature/risks of concussion and head injury, and how any such occurrence will be dealt with should they occur; iii. Enshrine into practice removal-from-play, and post-injury observation of athletes; iv. Progressively reintegrate students back into symptom guided educational and physical activities based on the most current recommendations;2 v. Reintegrate injured athletes back into unrestricted training activities and sport once medical clearance has been obtained; and vi. Foster better lines of communication for injury management/recovery between: parents, athletes, coaches, school personnel, therapists and physicians. vii. Address potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 9. Employers (Occupational Considerations) Should: a) Comply with workplace safety laws and implement safety standards to reduce the incidence of head injuries in the work environment. b) Integrate considerations for concussion and head injury in health and safety protocols that work to: i. Reduce the occurrence of concussions and head injury by promoting: safe practices; concussion/injury prevention and reporting; peer-to-peer support, and combats injury stigmatization; ii. Ensure prompt detection and standardized early management of concussion and head injuries by informing potential stakeholders about the nature/risks of concussion and head injury, and how occurrences will be dealt with should they occur; iii. Enshrine into practice/ workplace culture the removal-from-work, and post-injury observation of workers; iv. Progressively reintegrate workers back into symptom guided cognitive and physical activities based on the most current recommendations; v. Reintegrate injured workers with a confirmed diagnosis of concussion, progressively back into work activities only once medical clearance has been obtained; and vi. Foster better lines of communication, and support for, injury management between: employees, employers, medical professionals and insurances. vii. Address the potentially serious mental health issues that may arise post-concussive injury. 10. Governments & Professional Regulatory Bodies: Should: a) Implement comprehensive public health strategies for the Canadian population to: i. Increase awareness that concussions can be sustained in accidents, sports, leisure and occupational contexts; ii. Inform head injuries should be taken seriously; and iii. Explain how and why concussions should be prevented and promptly assessed by a physician where they are suspected to have occurred. b) Define appropriate scopes of practice for all health professionals involved in the field of concussion detection, management, and treatment. c) Work with key stakeholders to develop compensation structures to support physicians to allocate the time necessary to: (1) conduct appropriate assessments to rule out concussions, (2) provide ongoing concussion management, and (3) develop detailed medical clearance plans. d) Work with key stakeholders to develop standardized educational tools for physicians to provide to patients with concussions. i. Ideally this would include contextualized tools for sports teams, schools, and employers. e) Adopt legislation or regulation for educational institutions and community-based sport associations to establish clear expectations/obligations regarding concussion awareness and management for youth in sports (e.g., Ontario’s Rowan’s law). i. To have meaningful impact, such initiatives must also be accompanied by: implementation funding to support the development and implementation of sport specific concussion management protocols; and monitoring/compliance programs. f) Establish a national concussion and sports injury surveillance system (with standardized metrics) to collect detailed head and sport injury related information. Thus, providing the ability to research such injuries in an ongoing and timely manner. g) Provide research opportunities/funding on concussions. Specific examples of research areas to prioritize include: i. Effective prevention strategies for both adults and children in a range of sport, leisure, or occupational environments; ii. The incidence and impact of concussions in children, and how to reduce their occurrence (inside and outside of sport); iii. Address knowledge gaps for concussion identification, management, and medical clearance for physicians not specialized in concussion care; iv. Explore all health professionals’ participation in concussion management providing for respective: competency, expertise, interdisciplinary collaboration, and appropriate roles; v. Evaluate how emerging point of care diagnostics and biomarker testing will be incorporated into sport, leisure and work environments; vi. Continued development of effective, user-friendly, and age appropriate management strategies/tools for physicians regarding concussion identification, management, and medical clearances; and vii. Develop a harmonized understanding of “concussion” and “mild traumatic brain injury” (MTBI) constructs/concepts, so that adults with concussion signs or symptoms, who do not meet the more restrictive MTBI criteria, are properly managed. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, et al. Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport - the 5th International Conference on Concussion in Sport Held in Berlin. Br J Sports Med 2017, 51: 838-847. Parachute Canada. Canadian Guideline on Concussion in Sport. 2017. Available: http://www.parachutecanada.org/injury-topics/item/canadian-guideline-on-concussion-in-sport (accessed 2018 Jul 31). Concussion in Sport Group. Concussion Recognition Tool 5. Br J Sports Med 2017 51: 872. Available: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/early/2017/04/26/bjsports-2017-097508CRT5.full.pdf (accessed 2018 July 31st). (accessed 2018 Jul 31). Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. Guidelines for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury & Persistent Symptoms. Health Care Professional Version. 3rd Ed, Adults (18 + years of age). Toronto: Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation; 2018. Available: http://braininjuryguidelines.org/concussion/fileadmin/media/adult-concussion-guidelines-3rd-edition.pdf (accessed 2018 Jul 31). Concussion in Sport Group. Sport Concussion Assessment Tool – 5th Ed. Br J Sports Med 2017, 0:1-8. Available: https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/bjsports/early/2017/04/26/bjsports-2017-097508CRT5.full.pdf (accessed 2018 July 31). Approved by the CMA Board of Directors March 2019
Documents
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Consequences of decreasing physical activity among Canadians

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy342
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-09-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC98-45
That the Canadian Medical Association warns that Canadians will face medical and psychological consequences as a result of decreasing physical activity.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-09-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC98-45
That the Canadian Medical Association warns that Canadians will face medical and psychological consequences as a result of decreasing physical activity.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association warns that Canadians will face medical and psychological consequences as a result of decreasing physical activity.
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Equal treatment for physicians

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1671
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-03-02
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD98-05-93 -That the Canadian Medical Association support the principle of equal treatment for all qualified licensed physicians in Canada, based on training and competence.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
1998-03-02
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
BD98-05-93 -That the Canadian Medical Association support the principle of equal treatment for all qualified licensed physicians in Canada, based on training and competence.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association support the principle of equal treatment for all qualified licensed physicians in Canada, based on training and competence.
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Equity and diversity in medicine

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14127
Date
2019-12-07
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
  3 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2019-12-07
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
The objective of this policy is to provide guidance to physicians and institutions by identifying a set of guiding principles and commitments to promote equity and diversity in medicine (as defined in the Guiding Principles section). We address equity and diversity in medicine to improve circumstances and opportunities for all physicians and learners as part of our efforts to create a more collaborative and respectful culture and practice of medicine. To achieve this, we must redress inequities, bias, and discrimination in learning and practice environments. Individual protection from bias and discrimination is a fundamental right of all Canadians. By embracing the principles of equity and diversity, we can systematically address root causes and reduce structural barriers faced by those who want to enter the medical profession and those practicing medicine. In so doing, we improve their opportunities for advancement, health, and livelihood. The principles of equity and diversity are grounded in the fundamental commitment of the medical profession to respect for persons. This commitment recognizes that everyone has equal and inherent worth, has the right to be valued and respected, and to be treated with dignity. When we address equity and diversity, we are opening the conversation to include the voices and knowledge of those who have historically been under-represented and/or marginalized. It is a process of empowerment—where a person can engage with and take action on issues they define as important. Empowerment involves a meaningful shift in experience that fosters belonging in the profession and draws on community supports. As part of equity and diversity frameworks, inclusion is often articulated to refer to strategies used to increase an individual’s ability to contribute fully and effectively to organisational structures and processes. Inclusion strategies are specific organisational practices or programs focused on encouraging the involvement and participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds to integrate and value their perspectives in decision-making processes. Robust processes for inclusion are a vehicle to achieving equity and diversity. Thus, in this policy, the process of inclusion is understood to be positioned at the nexus of the overarching principles of equity and diversity. Equity and diversity initiatives can be carefully structured to complement and strengthen merit-based approaches. Enhanced support and appropriate methods of evaluation that increase equity of opportunity (for example, equity in training, hiring processes, and in access to resources) provide all physicians and learners with a fair opportunity to cultivate and demonstrate their unique capabilities and strengths, and to realize their full potential. Promoting equity and diversity fosters a just professional and learning culture that cultivates the diverse perspectives within it, reflects the communities physicians serve, and promotes professional excellence and social accountability as means to better serve patients. An increasingly diverse medical population provides opportunities for underserviced populations to receive better access to medical services and bolsters the management of clinical cases through the contribution of different points of view. Evidence indicates that when demonstrably more equity and diversity in medicine is achieved, physicians experience greater career satisfaction, health and wellness, and a sense of solidarity with the profession while patients experience improved care and a more responsive and adaptable health care system. Evidence further indicates that realizing the full potential of human capital is an essential driver of innovation and health system development. This policy is consistent with the CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism and the CMA Charter of Shared Values and strives to be in the spirit of the recommendations relevant to health made in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The policy is informed by a body of evidence described in the accompanying Background document that includes a Glossary of terms. GUIDING PRINCIPLES A clear set of principles and commitments to improving equity and diversity demonstrates that we hold ourselves accountable to recognizing and challenging behaviours, practices, and conditions that hinder equity and diversity and to promoting behaviours, practices, and conditions that will achieve these goals. Achieving equity in medicine Equity refers to the treatment of people that recognizes and is inclusive of their differences by ensuring that every individual is provided with what they need to thrive, which may differ from the needs of others. It is a state in which all members of society have similar chances to become socially active, politically influential, and economically productive through the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people (defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically). Equity in the medical profession is achieved when every person has the opportunity to realize their full potential to create and sustain a career without being unfairly impeded by discrimination or any other characteristic-related bias or barrier. To achieve this, physicians must 1) recognize that structural inequities that privilege some at the expense of others exist in training and practice environments and 2) commit to reducing these by putting in place measures that make recruitment, retention, and advancement opportunities more accessible, desirable, and achievable. To that end, physicians must apply evidence-based strategies and support applied research into the processes that lead to inequities in training and practice environments. Fostering diversity in medicine Diversity refers to observable and non-observable characteristics which are constructed—and sometimes chosen—by individuals, groups, and societies to identify themselves (e.g., age, culture, religion, indigeneity, ethnicity, language, gender, sexuality, health, ability, socio-economic and family status, geography). The barriers to diversity in medicine are broad and systemic. Individuals and groups with particular characteristics can be excluded from participation based on biases or barriers. Even when they are included, they are often not able to use the full range of their skills and competencies. As with improving equity, the benefits of a more diverse medical profession include improved health outcomes, system-level adaptation, and physician health and wellness. To achieve these benefits, the medical profession must become increasingly diverse by striving to create, foster, and retain physicians and learners who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and it must be responsive to the evolving (physical, emotional, cultural, and socioeconomic) needs of patients. Promoting a just professional and learning culture Physicians value learning and understand that it reflects, and is informed by, the professional culture of medicine. A just professional and learning culture is one of shared respect, shared knowledge, shared opportunity, and the experience of learning together. An environment that is physically and psychologically safe by reducing bias, discrimination, and harassment is critical to creating and sustaining such a culture. To achieve this, the profession must strive to integrate cultural safety by fostering and adopting practices of cultural competence and cultural humility. Physicians and leaders across all levels of training, practice, and health settings, and through formal and informal mentorships, must also promote and foster environments where diverse perspectives are solicited, heard, and appreciated. In this way, diverse individuals are both represented in the professional culture of medicine and actively involved in decision-making processes in all aspects of the profession. Fostering solidarity within the profession Solidarity means standing alongside others by recognizing our commonality, shared vulnerabilities and goals, and interdependence. It is enacted through collective action and aims. To show solidarity within the profession means making a personal commitment to recognizing others as our equals, cultivating respectful, open, and transparent dialogue and relationships, and role modelling this behaviour. Solidarity enables each of us to support our colleagues in meeting their individual and collective responsibilities and accountabilities to their patients and to their colleagues. Being accountable to these goals and to each other means taking action to ensure the principles that guide the medical profession are followed, responding justly and decisively when they are not, and continually searching for ways to improve the profession through practice-based learning and experience. Promoting professional excellence and social accountability Engaged and informed research and action on equity and diversity is critical to promoting professional excellence and social accountability in medicine as means to better serve patients. Professional excellence is a fundamental commitment of the profession to contribute to the development of and innovation in medicine and society through clinical practice, research, teaching, mentorship, leadership, quality improvement, administration, and/or advocacy on behalf of the profession or the public. Social accountability is a pillar of the commitment to professional excellence by focusing those efforts on fostering competence to address the evolving health needs of the patients and communities physicians are mandated to serve. For care to be socially accountable, and to achieve professional excellence, physicians must provide leadership through advocacy and through action: advocacy about the benefits of addressing equity and diversity to achieve equitable health outcomes; and actions to be responsive to patient, community, and population health needs through high-quality evidence-based patient care. RECOMMENDATIONS To accomplish equity and diversity in medicine, organizational and institutional changes will be required across many facets of operation and culture including leadership, education, data gathering/analysis, and continuous improvement through feedback and evaluation of policies and programs. To achieve this, the CMA seeks to provide direction on broad action areas that require further specific actions and development measures in specific recruitment, training, and practice contexts. The CMA recommends: All medical organizations, institutions, and physician leaders: A. Take a leadership role in achieving greater equity and diversity by co-creating policies and processes that apply to them, and the individuals therein, in an accountable and transparent manner. This includes: 1. Identifying and reducing structural inequities, barriers, and biases that exist in training and practice environments to create fair opportunities for all physicians and learners; and providing the appropriate platforms, resources, and training necessary to do so to effect change collaboratively. 2. Practicing and promoting cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility. 3. Providing training on implicit bias, allyship, cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility, structural competence, and the value of diversity in improving health outcomes. 4. Ensuring a process is in place to review all workforce and educational policies, procedures, and practices toward considering their impact on equity and diversity. Areas of consideration include (but are not limited to) recruitment, promotion, pay, leave of absence, parental leave, resources and support, and working/learning conditions and accommodations. 5. Ensuring safe, appropriate, and effective avenues exist for those who may have experienced discrimination, harassment, or abuse in training and practice environments to report these events outside of their supervisory/promotional chain. Those experiencing these events should also be able to seek counselling without the fear of negative consequences. 6. Working towards creating and appropriately funding equity and diversity Chairs, Committees, or Offices with a mandate to investigate and address issues in equity and diversity. 7. Promoting and enabling formal and informal mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for historically under-represented groups. B. Encourage the collection and use of data related to equity and diversity through research and funding, and, specifically, review their data practices to ensure: 1. Historically under-represented groups are meaningfully engaged through the co-development of data practices. 2. Data regarding the representation of under-represented groups is being systematically and appropriately collected and analyzed. 3. Information collected is used to review and inform internal policy and practice with the aim of reducing or eliminating system-level drivers of inequity. 4. Findings relating to these data are made accessible. C. Support equity and diversity in recruitment, hiring, selection, appointment, and promotion practices by: 1. Requesting and participating in training to better understand approaches and strategies to promote equity and diversity, including implicit bias and allyship training that highlights the roles and responsibilities of all members of the community with emphasis on self-awareness, cultural safety, and sensitivity to intersectionalities. 2. Studying organizational environments and frameworks and identifying and addressing hiring procedures, especially for leadership and executive positions, that perpetuate institutional inequities and power structures that privilege or disadvantage people. 3. Adopting explicit criteria to recruit inclusive leaders and to promote qualified candidates from historically under-represented groups in selection processes. Additional recommendations for institutions providing medical education and training: 1. Establishing programs that espouse cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility. 2. Encouraging all instructors develop competencies including non-discriminatory and non-stereotyping communication, awareness of intersectionality, and cultural safety. 3. Providing training programs, at the undergraduate level onwards, that include awareness and education around stereotypes (gender and otherwise), intersectionalities, and the value of diversity in improving health outcomes. 4. Providing diversity mentorship programs that aim to support diverse candidates through education and training to graduation. 5. Promoting and funding student-led programs that create safe and positive spaces for students and principles of equity and diversity. 6. Ensuring recruitment strategies and admission frameworks in medical schools incorporate more holistic strategies that recognize barriers faced by certain populations to enable a more diverse pool of candidates to apply and be fairly evaluated. 7. Developing learning communities (such as undergraduate pipelines described in the background document) to promote careers in medicine as a viable option for individuals from historically under-represented communities. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors December 2019
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