While my remarks today will focus on the recognition of foreign credentials, mainly with reference to the medical profession with which I am most familiar, I want to emphasize that this is just one element of assuring a sustainable health workforce in Canada as my colleagues will be amplifying in greater detail.
I want to impress upon Members of the Committee that the CMA does not test, credential, license or discipline physicians, nor is it empowered to act on complaints made by patients - this is the purview of the provincial/territorial licensing bodies. We are not directly involved in provincial or territorial benefit negotiations for physicians - this is the responsibility of our provincial/territorial Divisions. Nor do we control medical school enrolment or conduct clinical research.
What we do, is carry out research and advocacy on short, medium and long term health and health care issues to ensure we can meet the current and emergent needs of Canadians.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL GRADUATES TO CANADA
I would like to begin by dispelling the popular myth that Canada is a "closed shop" to persons with international medical credentials. In fact Canada has always relied on International Medical Graduates to make up a significant proportion of the medical workforce; this proportion has remained fairly steady at about one in four physicians for the past few decades.
(Currently 23%). Our best estimate is that some 400 IMGs are newly licensed to practice in Canada each year. In fact, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, has for the past two years licensed more IMGs that Ontario medical graduates.
A corollary of this myth is that IMGs are unable to access the postgraduate medical training system to complete any supplementary training they might need. In the Fall 2005, of the some 7,800 postgraduate trainees in Canada just over 900 or 12% were IMGs. Many more are participating in special assessment/supervised practice programs in the community.
The fact of the matter is that Canada has historically trained fewer physicians than we need to meet our population needs. This can be clearly demonstrated by looking at relative opportunity to enter medical school. In the most recent year (2005/2006) Canada had 7.1 first year medical school places per 100,000 population. This level is just over one-half of that of the United Kingdom, with its 12.9 places per 100,000 population. While the United States has the same ratio of medical school places per 100,000 population as Canada - it has 1.5 first year postgraduate places per medical graduate and relies on bringing large numbers of IMGs in to fill these places and supplement production in this manner.
Not only is Canadian undergraduate medical education capacity inadequate, but postgraduate medical training capacity is similarly insufficient to meet the demands of training Canadian medical graduates, providing training to IMGs, and permitting Canadians to retrain in specialties. In 2006 of the 932 IMGs registered in the second iteration run by the Canadian Resident Matching Service, just 111 or 12% were successful in obtaining a training position. There is clearly a backlog of IMGs who are eligible to receive the supplementary training they need to become eligible for licensure to practice in Canada should sufficient capacity be available.
For those who are not eligible, opportunities should be provided to achieve credentials in other health professions such as physician assistants or paramedics. A recent pilot project in Ontario was funded to allow IMGs to qualify and work as physician assistants in supervised practice settings.
Against this backdrop, it is no small wonder that Canada ranks 26th out of 29 OECD countries in the ratio of physicians per 1,000 population. For the past decade Canada's ratio has stood at 2.1 physicians per 1,000 population - one-third below the OECD average of 3.0 in 2003.
Over the years, medicine has worked hard to promote national standards for medical education and the practice of medicine in Canada.
Since 1912 the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has been responsible for promoting a uniform standard qualification to practice medicine for all physicians across Canada. This qualification, known as the Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada (LMCC) is obtained by being successful on a two-part Qualifying Examination.
While licensure of physicians is a provincial/territorial responsibility, there is a national standard for portable eligibility for licensure that was adopted in 1992 by the Federation of Medical Licensing (now Regulatory) Authorities of Canada (FMRAC), the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges (now Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada) (AFMC) and the MCC. The basis of this standard is that "in all provinces except Quebec the basis for licensure for most trainees will be the successful completion of the two-part Qualifying Examination of the Medical Council of Canada plus certification by either the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC)". A similar standard is applied by the Collège des médecine du Quèbec.
This standard also applies to IMGs, although the provincial/territorial licensing bodies have the ability to grant exemptions in particular circumstances.
SHORT, MEDIUM AND LONG TERM STRATEGY
The CMA has advocated a short, medium and longer term strategy for integrating more IMGs into the Canadian medical workforce.
In the short term the federal government should provide funding to clear the backlog of qualified physicians and other health professionals eligible to pursue supplementary training.
In the medium term the federal government needs to work with the provincial and territorial governments and key stakeholders in the development of sufficient health professional education and training opportunities to accommodate:
* Canadians who want to pursue careers as health professionals;
* Currently practising health professionals who require supplementary training or who wish to retrain;
* Internationally trained health professionals who are permanent residents and citizens of Canada who require supplementary training; and
* International trained health professionals, non-residents of Canada who wish to pursue postgraduate training as visa trainees.
In the long term Canada needs to adopt a policy commitment of increased self-sufficiency in the education and training of health professionals in Canada.
In progressing these strategies I would stress the importance of the need for the federal government to engage the national health professional associations, as this is critical in moving the agenda forward. I would cite as one success story the outcomes of the multi-partite Canadian Task Force on Licensure of International Medical Graduates, which brought together federal and provincial/territorial governments and key medical organizations.
Several initiatives are underway in follow-up to its 2004 report. An IMG database is being developed by the Canadian post-MD Education Registry of AFMC, sponsored by the federal government's Foreign Credential Recognition Program. The Physician Credentials Registry of Canada (PCRC) which is being developed under the leadership of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) and the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) will reduce duplication and increase the efficiency of data collection by providing a centralized uniform process to obtain primary source verification of a physician's diploma and other core medical credentials. Several provinces have greatly enhanced their ability to integrate IMGs, including supervised assessment programs in the community. We look forward to seeing results from a similar task force that is underway for nursing.
CANADIAN AGENCY FOR ASSESSMENT AND RECOGNITION OF FOREIGN CREDENTIALS
In conclusion, I would like to offer some ideas for the implementation of the Canadian Agency for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Credentials that was included in the 2006 federal budget.
The Constitution Act 1867 clearly assigns the majority of responsibility for the delivery of health care to the provinces. On this basis, the licensure of physicians and other health professionals should continue to be a matter of provincial/territorial jurisdiction. In the case of medicine however, Canada has been well-served by the national standard for medical licensure that has been promoted by the MCC in concert with the national certification standards that are set by the RCPSC and CFPC.
Based on the foregoing, it is proposed that the broad mandate for the Canadian agency is to promote and facilitate the adoption and awareness of national standards for certification and licensure with clearly articulated procedures for the assessment of the credentials of internationally trained professionals and pathways to licensure to practice in Canada. This might include the following activities:
* promote understanding among educational institutions and professional organizations about the implications of the various international agreements that Canada is party to (e.g., NAFTA, WTO);
* promote a sharing of leading practices between different disciplines;
* facilitate international exchanges with regulatory bodies, within and between disciplines;
* develop an evaluation framework that can assess the extent to which processes for the assessment of foreign credentials are fair, accessible, coherent, transparent and rigorous;
* develop template materials that will help promote international sharing of information about career prospects in Canada for various occupations;
* fund development and pilot projects on the application of information technology solutions; and
* serve as a focal point for federal/provincial/territorial administrative requirements.
I would stress that this will only be effective if representatives from the education and regulatory authorities and the practising community are at the table.
Canadian Medical Association Ottawa, September 21, 2006
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to provide this response to Health Canada's Proposed Order Amending the Schedule to the Tobacco Act (Menthol), as found in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 5, 2016.
The CMA believes that the federal government has an important role in prevention and smoking cessation, particularly among youth, to end smoking within Canada. As early as 2008, the CMA called for the federal government to ban menthol in tobacco products. In 2014, the CMA submitted a brief to Health Canada on the proposal to amend the Tobacco Act to restrict the use of additives in tobacco products. One of the CMA's concerns at that time was that the Act excluded menthol as a flavouring agent in tobacco products.
Therefore, the CMA strongly supports Health Canada's proposed order to prohibit menthol in cigarettes, blunt wraps and cigars. The proposed order has the ability to deter youth from smoking since menthol makes smoking more palatable by masking the harshness of tobacco smoke. This may lead to not only a decline in youth smokers but a decline in the number of smokers in the overall Canadian population as well.
The CMA issued its first warning to the public about the dangers of tobacco in 1954, and we continue to advocate for stronger measures to control smoking. Banning the use of menthol is one step towards achieving this goal.
Jeff Blackmer, MD, MHSc, FRCPC
Vice-President, Medical Professionalism
Canadian Medical Association
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes this opportunity to provide input to the review of the Pan-Canadian health organizations (PCHOs). The CMA has had the opportunity to interact with all of them at one time or another. This review is timely, as there is a burning issue: Canada continues to languish near the bottom of the Commonwealth Fund's 11-country rankings, and the leading edge of the baby boom will reach age 75 in 2021, at which point per capita health care costs in Canada will escalate.
We will discuss major unmet needs, make some general observations and offer two recommendations. References are provided in the bibliography.
National focal point for quality: Our impression is that none of the PCHOs is pursuing a comprehensive approach to quality improvement (QI) consistent with the framework set out by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its 2001 report Crossing the Quality Chasm. The framework is built around the need for health care to be safe, effective, patient-centred, timely, efficient and equitable. To our knowledge Accreditation Canada is the only national organization that has adopted such a framework, but their QI mandate is to set standards and accredit health care organizations although it could potentially play an expanded role. The Canadian Patient Safety Institute has done an excellent job of highlighting the importance of patient safety, but that is only one of the six dimensions outlined in the IOM framework.
Work needs to be done in Canada to address each of the other five dimensions. In terms of effective care, although the concept of evidence-based medicine was pioneered in Canada, we do not have a national developer of guidance to clinicians like the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It is noted that there are some localized efforts in this area, such as Alberta's Toward Optimized Practice program, and the CMA Infobase maintained by CMA Joule contains some 1,200 clinical practice guidelines. Patient-centred care will be discussed below. Since the expiry of the 2004 Health Accord and the Wait Times Reduction Fund (WTRF), which the CMA spent years trying to get on the policy agenda, timely access to care has fallen out of the spotlight. The Wait Time Alliance did its best to promote the expansion and adoption of wait time benchmarks beyond the five treatments initially included in the WTRF, with very limited success. It is no surprise that according to the Commonwealth Fund's 2016 survey of 11 countries, Canadians faced the longest waiting times for a specialist appointment. In terms of efficiency there has been a rapid uptake of the Choosing Wisely Canada initiative by medical organizations, but the campaign could benefit from resources to conduct a thorough evaluation of its impact. The dimension of equitable care will be considered below as part of the discussion of social determinants of health. At least six provinces have established health quality councils, and if they had a national focal point for their efforts they could cross-pollinate their expertise and learnings with respect to all six of the Institute of Medicine's dimensions of care.
National patient voice - While it is encouraging to see the emphasis on patient and family-centred care among the PCHOs, the lack of an organized national patient voice is a key gap. Previously the Consumers' Association of Canada provided an articulate patient/consumer voice on health issues, and indeed it was one of the seven charter members of the Health Action Lobby in 1991. However, the association's ability to speak in this capacity was greatly diminished after its federal funding dried up in the 1990s. At present there are various patient groups sponsored by health charities and industry but they tend to focus on specific interests. Patients Canada, an organization established in 2011, is showing promise, but with annual expenditures of just under $130,000 in 2014 it is insufficiently resourced to function as a national patient voice representing all regions of the country. There is a need for an independent go-to focal point that can speak on behalf of patients on national issues and that can help national health organizations with their advocacy and policy development initiatives. With better resources, Patients Canada might be able to play this role.
Health equity - Given the impact of health inequalities in Canada they have a relatively low profile on the national scene, aside from the inequity between the health status of Canada's Indigenous Peoples and that of the general population. For example, Mackenbach and colleagues estimated that socio-economic inequalities accounted for 20% of health care costs in the European Union in 2004. There is little reason to imagine that the situation in Canada would be much different, but health inequalities have not been a preoccupation of the PCHOs. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has done some good work in helping the federal government to meet its commitments in regard to the World Health Organization's 2011 Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health and it also funds the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, but these efforts have little profile outside of the public health community. The pronounced socio-economic gradient across virtually all causes of morbidity and mortality tends to be overlooked in the pursuit of strategies to address individual diseases. PHAC's Health Inequalities Data Tool shows that that the Canadian crude mortality rates for circulatory system disease and lung cancer in the lowest income quintile for census metropolitan areas are 1.6 and 1.7 times the rates in the highest income quintile, respectively. There are groups in Canada such as the Wellesley Institute and Health Providers Against Poverty that focus on health equity issues, and Canada should look at the leadership role being played by Sir Michael Marmot's Institute of Health Equity at University College London in England.
Driving innovation - The Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health is widely recognized for its work evaluating drugs and technologies but it is not in the business of promoting system-wide implementation. The Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation (David Naylor, Chair) recommended the establishment of a Healthcare Innovation Agency and a Healthcare Innovation Fund with the objective of effecting "sustainable and systemic changes in the delivery of health services to Canadians." More recently, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology called for a national conference on robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing that would give rise to working groups and a secretariat with a view to integrating these technologies into health care systems across Canada. One can cite examples where Canada has developed innovative technologies but has not made them mainstream. For example, telemedicine was pioneered by the late Dr. Maxwell House in Newfoundland in the mid-1970s. It is now being used regularly for clinical sessions, but the logical extension to telehome monitoring is barely in its infancy. According to the 2015 Canadian Telehealth Report there were 411,778 telehealth clinical sessions in 2014, but there were just 3,803 patients being monitored through telehomecare. Furthermore. the number of telehealth clinical sessions represents just 0.15% of the 270.3 million physician services reported by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in 2015-16. In contrast, Kaiser Permanente reported in 2016 that 52% of the 110 million physician-member interactions in the previous year took place through virtual means.
One example of the use of a fund to bring about sustainable change was the two-step process that began with the establishment of the $150 million Health Transition Fund following the 1997 report of the National Forum on Health and the $800 million Primary Health Care Transition Fund that was part of the 2000 Health Accord. These resulted in the sustained adoption of new models of primary care delivery in Ontario and Alberta. It is noteworthy that the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is doing interesting work in spreading and scaling up innovative treatment for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The need for a dedicated entity to drive innovation is illustrated by the experience of the Health Care Innovation Working Group, which was struck by the premiers in 2012 and which included the unprecedented participation of professional associations including the CMA. The group released an ambitious report in the summer of 2012, but the effort was run by senior bureaucrats and association staff "off the sides of their desks" and has essentially stalled. Such a body could also play a role in sharing innovations across jurisdictions.
Enhanced analytical capability - Since the demise of the Economic Council of Canada (ECC) in the 1990s Canada's national analytical capability in health care has diminished. The ECC employed health economists like the late Ludwig Auer who undertook detailed analysis of health sector data to examine issues like hospital productivity. CIHI does an excellent job of turning out reports such National Health Expenditure (NHEX) Trends in Canada, but these are not sufficient for an in-depth examination of a $242 billion industry. As journalist André Picard commented on the 2017 NHEX release, "We don't actually know how much we spend on administration, because it is hidden in places like hospital spending ... nor do we know the cost of labour ... we should certainly have a better idea of how much we spend on nurses, physician assistants, personal support workers, laboratory technologists and technicians and so on."
Looking ahead, the widespread adoption of electronic medical records is going to present a major analytical opportunity and challenge. In 2008 PHAC provided a grant to the College of Family Physicians of Canada to establish the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN) and subsequently provided additional funding until 2015. The goal of CPCSSN was to establish a database on eight chronic diseases and neurologic conditions by extracting de-identified patient information from electronic medical records. As of the last update, in October 2016, CPCSSN now includes 11 university-affiliated primary care research networks and almost 1,200 physicians contributing data from 1.5 million patients. A recent report concludes that CPCSSN's diagnostic algorithms show excellent sensitivity and specificity for hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy and parkinsonism. The CMA highlighted CPCSSN in its submission to the Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation as being worthy of ongoing federal support.
We would like to make three general observations. First, the future of the PHCOs should not be decided in isolation. Instead, we believe that the big picture of federal funding for the advancement of health and health care should be considered, including the investments that the federal government is making in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research.
Second, the CMA's engagement with the PCHOs has been haphazard. While we have had the opportunity to participate in consultations and technical and working groups with the PCHOs, these interactions have generally fallen short of what we would consider to be early, meaningful and ongoing engagement.
Third, the PCHOs have developed considerable expertise within their mandates and spheres of activity. They could almost certainly harness their potential to mount a synergistic effort to successfully address pressing national issues that might otherwise seem almost impossible to confront, such as seniors care.
The CMA respectfully offers two recommendations:
1. That the government's implementation plan following the PCHO review include mechanisms to address the following needs:
* for a national focal point that promotes a comprehensive approach to quality health care;
* for a well-resourced national patient voice that advocates for patient- and family-centred health care;
* for greater recognition of the importance of the social determinants of health and health equity;
* for a national mechanism to drive the sustainable adoption of innovative technologies in health care across Canada; and
* for advanced analytical capabilities to conduct in-depth assessments of funding mechanisms and advance the collection and analysis of data generated by electronic medical records.
2. That the federal government challenge the PCHOs and other federal agencies to work with the provincial/territorial governments and stakeholders to develop and implement a national action plan to address the health and health care of Canada's seniors.
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Review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) : CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics - December 13, 2006
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to be here today to participate in your review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, or PIPEDA.
The CMA has had a long-standing interest in privacy-related matters, including enhancing measures to protect and promote the privacy of health information. We welcome the opportunity to share our policies and thoughts on these vital matters.
As a pediatric oncologist from Winnipeg and Chair of the CMA's Committee on Ethics, I come here today with one bottom line: Physicians have always- and continue to - take their patients' privacy very seriously. This is the cornerstone of the special bond between patients and their doctor and has been thus since the time of Hippocrates. In recognition of the importance of privacy, the CMA has produced such documents as the CMA Code of Ethics and the CMA Health Information Privacy Code to guide our more than 64,000 members across the country. These documents existed before the federal government introduced PIPEDA.
It is out of our concern for protecting and ensuring the privacy of medical information that we speak to you today.
There are three specific areas which we would like to raise:
1) Recognition in law of the unique nature of health care;
2) Physician information as "work product"; and
3) Emerging Privacy and Health information issues.
1. Recognition in law of the unique nature of health care
I would like to highlight the importance of recognizing in law the special circumstances of protecting health information. In fact, when PIPEDA was first being debated, CMA posed questions about the scope of the Act and was told that the legislation, originally designed for commerce and the private sector, would not capture health information. We were also told that even if it did, PIPEDA wouldn't change how we practiced medicine.
The passing of PIPEDA generated enough concern and uncertainty that government agreed to delay its application to health for 3 years. For example, PIPEDA failed to clarify the issue of implied consent for the sharing of patient information between health professionals providing care.
For example, when the family physicians says to a patient "I'm going to send you to see an oncologist to run some tests" and the patient agrees and follows that course of action, then clearly there is "consent" to the sharing of their health information with others. As an oncologist I assume there is consent to send the test results to other specialists that I may need to consult in order to advance the patient's care in a timely fashion. This, however, needed to be addressed before PIPEDA was applied to health care.
The delayed application allowed the federal government and health care community to work together and develop a set of guidelines for how PIPEDA would be applied. The resulting PIPEDA Awareness Raising Tools, known as PARTs, contain a series of questions and answers that make up guidelines for health care providers. They answered many of our concerns, provided necessary definitions and allowed for the implied consent model to continue to be used within the circle of care. The CMA applauds the government for this collaborative effort and the resulting guidelines have been used by health care providers ever since.
However, we remain concerned that the PARTs guidelines have no legal status. This limitation creates a degree of uncertainty that the CMA would like this legislative review to see addressed by ensuring the PARTs series of questions and answers are referenced in PIPEDA.
In addition to participating in the PARTS initiative, since PIPEDA's implementation, the CMA has designed practical tools for physicians and patients:
* adopted the CMA policy Principles Concerning Physician Information to address the importance of protecting the privacy of physician information;
* produced Privacy in Practice: a handbook for Canadian physicians to help physicians maintain best practices in the protection of patient health information; and
* created the PRIVACYWIZARD(tm) designed to help physicians record their current privacy practices, communicate these to patients and identify possible areas for enhancement.
2. Physician Practice Information as "Work Product"
I referred earlier to CMA's Policy document on physician information. The CMA strongly believes that physicians have legitimate privacy concerns about the use by third parties of information - such as prescribing and other practice data for commercial purposes. Currently deemed "work product" this information can be collected, used and disclosed without consent.
We feel PIPEDA inadequately protects this information. We recognize that it is information generated out of the patient-physician relationship. We disagreed with findings of the previous Privacy Commissioner that physician prescribing information is not subject to PIPEDA's privacy protection provisions for "personal information". The CMA has consistently advocated that physician prescribing data and other practice information is personal information and appeared as an intervener in a Federal Court review of this issue that was ultimately settled by the main parties.
Also, insufficient regard for the privacy of prescribing and other physician data could have a negative impact on the sanctity of the physician-patient relationship. Patients confide highly sensitive information to physicians with the expectation this information will be kept in the strictest confidence. This expectation exists because they know that physicians are under ethical and regulatory dictates to safeguard their information and that physicians take this responsibilities very seriously. The perceived and indeed actual loss of control by physicians over information created in the patient encounter, such as prescribing data, could undermine the confidence and faith of our patients that we are able to safeguard their health information. This concern is not hypothetical.
For physicians, so called "work product" information also encompasses practice patterns such as discharge rates, referral rates, billing patterns, hospital length of stays, complaints, peer review results, mortality and re-admittance rates. With the advent of electronic medical records and growth in pay-for-performance and outcome-based incentive programs for physicians, there is an enormous potential for the resulting physician "performance" data or "work product" to be "mined" by other parties and used to influence performance review (traditionally the purview of the medical licensing authorities) as well as decisions around treatment funding and system planning.
The lack of transparency in the sale and compilation of physicians' prescribing and other performance data means that physicians might find themselves to be the unwitting subject and targets of marketing research. We believe practice decisions must be made in the best interest of patients and not the bottom-line interests of businesses and marketers.
CMA therefore recommends a legislative change to include physician information as personal information under PIPEDA. Legislation in Quebec provides an example that is consistent with CMA's approach since it requires regulatory oversight and gives individuals the right to opt out of the collection, use and disclosure of "professional" information.
3. Emerging Privacy and Health information issues
With budgetary and demographic pressures, our health care system is under strain and physicians are striving to deliver timely, quality care to patients, often with competing and multiple demands. Physicians are therefore seeking assurances from law makers that any amendments to PIPEDA will take into account the potential impact on them and their patients. Therefore, we seek assurances that:
* health care is recognized as unique when it comes to the disclosure of personal information before the transfer of a business (one physician transferring his/her practice to another) because it is regulated at the provincial level through the appropriate licensing body. As a general rule, physicians must give notice to the public, whether via a newspaper ad or a notice in the office about the change in practice.
* the federal government will consider the impact of the trans-border flow of personal information on telehealth and Electronic Health Record activities. Communications between patients and physicians via electronic means are likely to increase and to move across geographic boundaries with increasing frequency; and
* the federal government will study the issue of international cross border data flows, particularly among Canadian researchers who receive funding from US drug companies. These arrangements should be governed by Canadian law (PIPEDA) not American (HIPAA or the US Patriot Act).
In closing, the privacy protection of personal health information is a responsibility that my colleagues and I do not take lightly. It is a key pillar of our relationship with Canadians, they not only expect it-they deserve it. I look forward to taking questions from Committee members.
Canadian Medical Association Ottawa, December 13, 2006
Canadians are living longer, healthier lives than ever before. This is due in large part to Canada’s health care system, the people working in it, research and medical school excellence, public and private investments and the many advances that have been made over the decades in medicine. However, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is deeply concerned that Canada’s health care system isn’t keeping up with the health care needs of older Canadians.
When publicly funded health care was created about 50 years ago, Canada’s population was just over 20 million and the average life expectancy was 71. Today, our population is over 30 million and the average life expectancy is 10 years longer. The aging of our population is both an immense success story and the most pressing policy imperative of our time.
Our submission and recommendations focus on seniors care. We believe the ability of our country to meet the health care needs of this segment of our population is indeed of such high priority that we have come to these consultations with this single issue in mind.
While daunting, the task ahead is by no means impossible and will ultimately result in numerous health and financial benefits. By providing the means to expand long-term care and home care capacity, the Government of Canada will improve health care for seniors and others, create new jobs and add billions of dollars annually to the Gross Domestic Product. Furtherbed demand will vary over this period, peaking in 2032 and beginning to decline thereafter. The five-year projection for beds is as follows:
Table 1: Projected shortage in long-term
care beds, 2017–2021
Number of additional
Year beds required
*Note: the figure for additional beds required in 2017 includes 8,420 beds’ worth of demand that is currently unmet, in the form of patients in alternate level of care beds in hospitals.
The Conference Board estimated the cost to construct 10,500 beds (the average number of new beds required per year from 2017 to 2035) at $3.4 billion per year and $63.7 billion in total, on the basis of a cost estimate of $320,000 per bed (all figures in 2017 dollars). These figures include both public and private spending. This forecast does not include the significant investments required to renovate and retrofit the existing stock of residential facilities.
The average number of new long-term care beds needed in Canada every year up to 2035 is 10,500. The Conference Board of Canada estimates the cost of this to be $3.4 billion per year, for a total public and private expenditure of $63.7 billion. This forecast does not include the investments needed to renovate and retrofit existing long-term care homes.
Construction of new residential care models and renovation/retrofitting of existing facilities will provide significant economic opportunities for many communities across Canada. The construction and maintenance of 10,500 new residential care beds will yield direct economic benefits that include a $1.4 billion annual average contribution to GDP supporting 14,600 jobs yearly during the capital investment phase and a $5.3 billion annual average contribution to GDP supporting an average of 58,300 jobs annually during the facility operation phase. By comparison, nursing homes and residential care facilities employed about 412,000 people in 2016. These investments would also close the significant gap between the projected residential care bed shortages and currently planned investment. When indirect economic contributions are included, the average estimated annual contribution to Canada’s GDP from the construction and operation of the new beds reaches $12.4 billion, supporting an average of 130,000 jobs annually between 2017 and 2035 (in construction, care provision and other sectors).
This bed projection provides a sense of the immense challenge Canada faces in addressing the needs of a vulnerable segment of its population of older seniors. A recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicated that residential care capacity will need to double over the next 20 years (assuming no change in how care is currently provided), necessitating a transformation in how seniors care is provided in Canada across the continuum of care.13
Efforts to de-hospitalize the system and deal with Canada’s aging population should be part of an overall national seniors strategy. Such a strategy was called for previously by the CMA, other organizations (e.g., the National Association of Federal Retirees), the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance14 and over 50,000 Canadians.15
Fixing seniors care will contribute to the renewal of the entire health system and will improve the productivity of health care delivery across the country. The differing fiscal capacities of the provinces in the current economic climate will mean that improvements in seniors care will advance at an uneven pace. The federal government can provide significant pan-Canadian assistance by investing in residential care infrastructure models.
# of jobs contributions
Capitalinvestment phase Operation phase 14,600 58,300 $1.4 billion $5.3 billion
With indirect contributions 130,000 $12.4 billion
The CMA recommends that the federal government provide targeted funding to support the development of a pan-Canadian seniors strategy to address the needs of the aging population.
The CMA recommends that the federal government include capital investment in residential care infrastructure, including retrofit and renovation, as part of its commitment to invest in social infrastructure.
Caregivers are the backbone of any care system. A 2012 Statistics Canada study found that 5.4 million Canadians provided care to a senior family member or friend. While this care was most often received by a senior in their own residence, 62% of caregivers said the care recipients lived in a home separate from the caregiver’s home.16 Age-related needs are the most common reason for care requirements.17 Caregivers are of all ages; for instance, 27% of caregivers were between the ages of 15 and 29 years.18 One study has forecast that the number of Canadians requiring care will double over the next 30 years.19
Work $5.5 in lost absence: productivity
Personal upwards of or more out-of-a yearpocket: $2,000
A Statistics Canada study found that 56% of caregivers living with the care recipient provided at least 10 hours of care a week. Approximately 22% of caregivers helping a resident in a care facility also provided at least 10 hours of care a week. The chief condition for which care was provided was dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (25%).16
The cost to employers in lost productivity because of caregiving-related absenteeism is estimated at $5.5 billion annually.20 Caregivers also report high out-of-pocket expenses. This is especially true for those living with the care recipient: over 25% spend at least $2,000 annually on out-of-pocket expenses.16
Caregivers require a range of supports including education/training, peer support, respite care and financial assistance. Canadians want governments to do more to help seniors and their family caregivers.21 The federal government’s new combined Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) is a nonrefundable credit to individuals caring for dependent relatives with infirmities (including persons with disabilities). The CCC will be more accessible and will extend tax relief to more caregivers by including dependent relatives who do not live with their caregivers and by increasing the income threshold.
Notwithstanding these changes and the greater flexibility for caregivers to use Employment Insurance benefits, caregivers will require more support. The CMA recommends making the new CCC a refundable tax credit for caregivers whose tax owing is less than the total credit, resulting in a refund payment to provide further financial support for low-income families.
The CMA recommends that the federal government improve awareness of the new Canada Caregiver Credit and amend it to make it a refundable tax credit for caregivers.
The federal government’s commitment to provide $6 billion over 10 years to the provinces and territories for home care, including support for caregivers, is a welcomed step toward improving opportunities for seniors to remain in their homes. As with previous bilateral funding agreements, it will be important to establish clear operating principles between the parties to oversee the funding implementation including support for caregivers.
The CMA recommends that the federal government develop explicit operating principles for the home care funding that has been negotiated with the provinces and territories to recognize funding for caregivers and respite care as eligible areas of investment.
The federal government’s recent funding investment in home care and mental health is a recognition that Canada has under-invested in home and community-based care to date. Other countries have more supportive systems and programs in place — systems and programs that Canada should consider.
The CMA recommends the federal government convene an all-party parliamentary international study that includes stakeholders to examine the approaches taken to mitigate the inappropriate use of acute care for elderly persons and provide support for caregivers.
he CMA recognizes the federal government’s commitment to help Canadians be as productive as possible in their workplaces and in their communities. Implementing these recommendations as an integrated package is essential to stitching together the elements of community-based and residential care for seniors. In addition to making a meaningful contribution to meeting the future care needs of Canada’s aging population, these recommendations will mitigate the impacts of economic pressures on individuals as well as jurisdictions. The CMA would welcome the opportunity to provide further information and its rationale for each recommendation.
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Canadian Institute for Health Information. Seniors and alternate level of care: building on our knowledge. Ottawa: The Institute; 2012 Nov. Available: https://secure.cihi.ca/ free_products/ALC_AIB_EN.pdf (accessed 2016 Sep 22).
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5 North East Local Health Integration Network. HOME First shifts care of seniors to HOME. LHINfo Minute, Northeastern Ontario Health Care Update. Sudbury: The Network; 2011. Cited by Home Care Ontario. Facts & figures - publicly funded home care. Hamilton: Home Care Ontario; 2017 Jun. Available: http://www. homecareontario.ca/home-care-services/facts-figures/ publiclyfundedhomecare (accessed 2016 Sep 22).
6 Sponagle J. Nunavut struggles to care for elders closer to home. CBC News. 2017 Jun 5. Available: http://www.cbc. ca/news/canada/north/nunavut-seniors-plan-1.4145757 (accessed 2017 Jun 30).
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8 Alzheimer Society Canada. The Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Partnership: a collective vision for a national dementia strategy for Canada. Toronto: Alzheimer Society Canada; undated. Available: http:// www.alzheimer.ca/~/media/Files/national/Advocacy/ CADDP_Strategic_Objectives_e.pdf (accessed 2016 Sep 22).
9 Public Health Agency of Canada. The Chief Public Health Officer’s report on the state of public health in Canada, 2014: public health in the future. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada; 2014. Available: https://www.canada. ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/migration/phac-aspc/ cphorsphc-respcacsp/2014/assets/pdf/2014-eng.pdf (accessed 2016 Sep 19).
10 Statistics Canada. Population projections: Canada, the provinces and territories, 2013 to 2063. The Daily. Ottawa: Statistics Canada; 2014 Sep 17. Available: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/140917/ dq140917a-eng.htm (accessed 2016 Sep 19).
11 The Conference Board of Canada. A cost-benefit analysis of meeting the demand for long-term care beds. Ottawa: Conference Board of Canada; forthcoming.
12 Lazurko M, Hearn B. Canadian continuing care scenarios 1999–2041. KPMG final project report to FPT Advisory Committee on Health Services. Ottawa: KPMG; 2000. Cited by Canadian Healthcare Association. New directions for facility-based long-term care. Ottawa: The Association; 2009. Available: https://www.advantageontario.ca/ oanhssdocs/Issue_Positions/External_Resources/ Sept2009_New_Directions_for_Facility_Based_LTC.pdf (accessed 2017 Jun 30).
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14 Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Getting ready: for a new generation of active seniors. First interim report. Ottawa: The Senate; 2017 Jun. Available: https:// sencanada.ca/content/sen/committee/421/NFFN/Reports/ NFFN_Final19th_Aging_e.pdf (accessed 2017 Jun 30).
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20 Ceridian Canada. Double duty: the caregiving crisis in the workplace [Blog post]. Ottawa: Ceridian Canada, 2015 Nov 5. Available: http://www.ceridian.ca/blog/2015/11/ double-duty-the-caregiving-crisis-in-the-workplace/ (accessed 2016 Sep 22).
21 Ipsos Public Affairs, HealthCareCAN, National Health Leadership Conference. National Health Leadership Conference report. Toronto: Ipsos Public Affairs; 2016 Jun 6. Available: http://www.nhlc-cnls.ca/assets/2016%20 Ottawa/NHLCIpsosReportJune1.pdf (accessed 2016 Jun 6).