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Climate Change and Human Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9809

Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-06-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-06-09
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Climate Change and Human Health Background Climate change is increasingly recognized as a significant threat facing society and has the potential to be one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st Century1. While the damage is being done now, many of the health effects may arise only decades in the future2. Possible impacts could include some or all of the following: * Increased mortality, disease and injuries from heat waves and other extreme weather events; * Continued change in the range of some infectious disease vectors (i.e. 260-320 million more cases of malaria predicted by 2080, with six billion more at risk for dengue fever); * Effects on food yields- increased malnutrition; * Increased flooding in some areas and increased droughts in others, along with other impacts on freshwater supply; * Increases in foodborne and waterborne illnesses; * Warming and rising sea levels adding to displacement and also impacting water supply through salination; * Impaired functioning of ecosystems; * Negative effects on air quality associated with ground level ozone, including increases in cardio-respiratory morbidity and mortality, asthma, and allergens; * Displacement of vulnerable populations (especially in coastal areas)1; and * Loss of livelihoods3. Most of the impacts of climate change will result from amplifying the existing health hazards found in populations4. How susceptible a population is to the effects of climate change is dependent on their existing vulnerabilities (i.e. disease burden, resources etc.) as well as their adaptive capacity5. The World Health Organization has projected that countries that have, and will likely continue to suffer the greatest effects, are those who have contributed the smallest amount to the causes of climate change.6 While the vast majority of climate change deaths will occur in developing countries with systemic vulnerabilities, a recent Health Canada report has noted that Canada is likely to experience higher rates of warming in this century than most other countries in the world. Climate change scenarios predict an increased risk of extreme weather and other climate events for all regions of Canada, with the exception of extreme cold7. Canadians most vulnerable to climate change include seniors, children and infants, socially disadvantaged individuals, and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease8. Those living in cities could be especially vulnerable due to the impact of the heat island effect. However, given their greater access to emergency, health, social, and financial resources, they might also have the greatest adaptive capacity9. The health consequences of climate change have the potential to be more severe in far northern regions. Populations in Canada's north including aboriginals have already begun to see differences in their hunting practices as a result of changing ice patterns10, and the melting of permanent snowpacks11. Changes in ice patterns have also led to increased injuries12. In some places in the North, climate changes have led to greater risks from avalanches, landslides and other hazards13. Further problems are related to the infrastructure in Northern Canada, with some communities already noticing degradation of structures due to the thawing of the permafrost14. Given that much of the Northern infrastructure is already in disrepair, this represents a considerable problem. Geographic isolation, and a lack of resources may further exacerbate the situation15. What CMA has done? Physicians have a critical role to play in advancing public understanding of the potential impact of climate change on health and promoting health protecting responses. The CMA has been working on the issue of climate change and human health for a number of years. CMA was supportive of Canada's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and urged the Government of Canada to commit to choosing a climate change strategy that satisfied Canada's international commitments while also maximizing the clean air co-benefits and smog-reduction potential of any greenhouse gas reduction initiatives. In 2007, a number of resolutions were passed at General Council calling on government to properly plan for the health impacts of climate change and put in place measures to mitigate the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations in Canada's north. In that same year, CMA and the Canadian Nurses Association updated a joint position statement first entered into in 1994 calling for environmentally responsible activity in the health-care sector. Most recently, the CMA has been an integral part of the drafting of the World Medical Association (WMA) policies on health and climate change. The WMA Declaration of Delhi on Health and Climate Change was adopted at its annual General Assembly in New Delhi, India in October 2009, The declaration calls for action in five main areas; advocacy to combat global warming; leadership-help people be healthy enough to adapt to climate change; education and capacity building; surveillance and research; and collaboration to prepare for climate emergencies. This policy is written to complement the WMA declaration. What needs to be done? Climate change may lead to significant impacts on human health. While it is unlikely that these outcomes can be avoided, there are some strategies that can be employed to help limit the negative consequences. Education and Capacity Building There is a need for greater public and health professional awareness and education about climate change in order to gain understanding of the health consequences and support for strategies to reduce green house gases and mitigate climate change effects. CMA recommends: 1. A national public awareness program on the importance of the environment and global climate change to personal health; 2. Encouraging health sciences schools to enhance their provision of educational programs on environmental health; and fostering the development of continuing education modules on environmental health and environmental health practices. Surveillance and Research There are important gaps in our knowledge on the health impacts of climate change as well as the effectiveness of various mitigation and adaptation strategies. Surveillance and reporting functions need to be strengthened to allow for greater accuracy in modeling of future impacts. CMA recommends: 3. That the federal government must address the gaps in research regarding climate change and health by undertaking studies to - quantify and model the burden of disease that will be caused by global climate change - identify the most vulnerable populations, the particular health impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, and possible new protections for such populations; - increase the collection and accuracy of health data, particularly for vulnerable and underserved populations; - report diseases that emerge in conjunction with global climate change, and participate in field investigations, as with outbreaks of infectious diseases; and - develop and expand surveillance systems to include diseases caused by global climate change. Reducing the Burden of Disease to Mitigate Climate Change Impacts How susceptible a population is to the effects of climate change is dependent on their existing vulnerabilities. Therefore, work needs to be done to reduce the burden of diseases and improve upon the social determinants of health for vulnerable populations in Canada and globally. CMA recommends: 4. That the federal and provincial/territorial governments work together to improve the ability of the public to adapt to climate change and catastrophic weather events by - Encouraging behaviours that improve overall health, - Creating targeted programs designed to address specific exposures, - Providing health promotion information and education on self-management of the symptoms of climate-associated illness, - Ensuring physical infrastructure that allows for adaptation; 5. That the federal government develop concrete actions to reduce the health impact of climate-related emissions, in particular those initiatives which will also improve the general health of the population; 6. That the federal government support the Millennium Development Goals and support the principles outlined in the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health report; and Preparing for Climate Emergencies To deal with the future burden of climate change related health issues there is a need to ensure adequate health capacity and infrastructure. Rebuilding of public health capacity globally is seen as the most important, cost-effective, and urgently needed response to climate change16. Domestically, there is a need to ensure adequate surge capacity within the health care system to be prepared for an increase in illness related to climate change effects. There is also a need to strengthen not only the health systems, but the infrastructure (i.e. housing) for vulnerable populations including Aboriginals and those in the North. CMA recommends that the federal and provincial /territorial governments work together to: 7. Strengthen the public health system both domestically and internationally in order to improve the capacity of communities to adapt to climate change; 8. Ensure adequate surge capacity within Canada's health system to handle the increase in climate change related illness; 9. Ensure the health of vulnerable populations is adequate to handle climate change related situations; 10. Develop knowledge about the best ways to adapt to and mitigate the health effects of climate change; 11. Integrate health professionals into the emergency preparedness plans of government and public health authorities so that front-line providers are adequately informed and prepared to properly manage any health emergencies. Advocacy to Combat Climate Change Finally, there is a need to take action to reduce the damaging effects of climate change. The global community needs to come together to reduce the levels of green house gases being released in the atmosphere, and focus on safer more environmentally friendly energy sources. Investments in cuts to greenhouse gas emissions would greatly outweigh their costs, and could help to reduce the future burden of climate change related illness17. CMA recommends: 12. That the government of Canada become a global leader in promoting equitable, carbon neutral economic, industrial, and social policies, and practices that fight global warming and adopt specific green house gas reduction targets as determined by the evolving science of climate change. 13. That health care professionals act within their professional settings to reduce the environmental impact of medical activities and to develop environmentally sustainable professional settings; 14. That all Canadians act to minimize individual impacts on the environment, and encourage others to do so, as well. Conclusions The CMA believes that Canada must prepare now for the potential health threat that climate change poses to its population. While many of these effects will take decades to materialize, certain populations, such as those in Canada's north, or those in low lying coastal areas, are already starting to experience the impact of climate change. A focus on education and health promotion, as well as advocacy for improved public policy and primary health care resources will be a good start in dealing with this issue. Additionally, further research and data collection is necessary to improve our understanding of climate change and the effectiveness of adaptation and mitigation strategies. Finally, the global community needs to act together to address the health and environmental impacts of climate change. By working together, in an international response, strategies can be implemented to mitigate any negative health effects of climate change. Canada's physicians believe that: What is good for the environment is also good for human health. It is past time for those of us in the health sector in Canada to engage fully in the debate and discussions within our own house, as well as in the broader body politic to ensure that protecting human health is the bottom line of environmental and climate change strategies. Bibliography 1 Currently a third of the world's population lives within 60 miles of the shoreline and 13 of 20 biggest world cities located on the coast- more than a billion people could be displaced (Costello et.al., 2009) 1 Costello, Anthony et.al. "Managing the health effects of climate change.' The Lancet Volume 373 May 16, 2009. pp.1693-1733. 2 World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization & United Nations Environment Programme (2003) Climate Change and Human Health- Risks and Responses, Summary. Available at: http://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/en/ccSCREEN.pdf 3 Confalonieri et.al., (2007) Human Health. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Available at: http://www1.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter8.pdf ; Epstein, Paul R. "Climate Change and Human Health." The New England Journal of Medicine 353 (14) October 6, 2005.; Friel, Sharon; Marmot, Michael; McMichael, Anthony J.; Kjellstrom, Tord & Denny Vagero. "Global health equity and climate stabilization: a common agenda." The Lancet Volume 372 November 8, 2008. pp.1677-1683. 4Confalonieri et.al., (2007) Human Health. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Available at: http://www1.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter8.pdf; World Health Organization (2009) Protecting Health From Climate Change: Global research priorities. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789241598187_eng.pdf 5 Health Canada (2001) Climate Change and Health & Well-being: A Policy Primer Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/climat/policy_primer-abecedaire_en_matiere/index-eng.php 6 Campbell-Lendrum, Diarmid; Corvalan, Carlos & Maria Neira "Global climate change: implications for international public health policy." Bulletin of the World Health Organization. March 2007, 85 (3) pp.235-237 7 Seguin, Jacinthe & Peter Berry (2008) "Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity, Synthesis Report." Health Canada Available at: http://www.nbhub.org/hubfiles/pdf/HealthinChangingClimate_Synthesis_english_low.pdf 8 Health Canada (2002) Climate Change And Health & Well-Being: A Policy Primer for Canada's North. Available at: http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/H46-2-02-290E.pdf 9 Seguin, Jacinthe & Peter Berry (2008) "Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity, Synthesis Report." Health Canada Available at: http://www.nbhub.org/hubfiles/pdf/HealthinChangingClimate_Synthesis_english_low.pdf 10 Ibid 11 Health Canada (2002) Climate Change And Health & Well-Being: A Policy Primer for Canada's North. Available at: http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/H46-2-02-290E.pdf 12 Epstein, Paul R. "Climate Change and Human Health." The New England Journal of Medicine 353 (14) October 6, 2005. 13 Seguin, Jacinthe & Peter Berry (2008) "Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity, Synthesis Report." Health Canada Available at: http://www.nbhub.org/hubfiles/pdf/HealthinChangingClimate_Synthesis_english_low.pdf 14 Field, Christopher B. et.al. (2007) North America. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Available at: http://www1.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter14.pdf 15 Health Canada (2002) Climate Change And Health & Well-Being: A Policy Primer for Canada's North. Available at: http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/H46-2-02-290E.pdf 16 World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization & United Nations Environment Programme (2003) Climate Change and Human Health- Risks and Responses, Summary. Available at: http://www.who.int/globalchange/climate/en/ccSCREEN.pdf 17 Campbell-Lendrum, Diarmid; Corvalan, Carlos & Maria Neira "Global climate change: implications for international public health policy." Bulletin of the World Health Organization. March 2007, 85 (3) pp.235-237

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Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that Works, Care that Lasts

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9837

Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-07-13
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-07-13
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
Canada's prized Medicare system is facing serious challenges on two key fronts: in meeting the legitimate health care needs of Canadians and in being affordable for the public purse. The founding principles of Medicare are not being met today either in letter or in spirit. Canadians are not receiving the value they deserve from the health care system. In both 2008 and 2009, the Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index ranked Canada 30th of 30 countries (the U.S. was not included in the sample) in terms of value for money spent on health care. Canadians deserve better. Canada cannot continue on this path. The system needs to be massively transformed, a task that demands political courage and leadership, flexibility from within the health care professions and far-sightedness on the part of the public. It is a lot to demand, but nothing less than one of Canada's most cherished national institutions is at stake. Unwillingness to confront the challenges is not an option. With this report, "Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that Works, Care That Lasts" the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) declares its readiness to take a leadership position in confronting the hard choices required to make health care work better for Canadians. The focus of reform must better serve the patient. The system must adjust to changing needs for care and do so without crowding out other societal needs; many of them determinants of health themselves, such as education and sanitation, and the challenges posed by Canada's geographic, cultural, economic and emerging demographic realities. This report sets out an ambitious but realizable roadmap to ready the system for the future. Its triple aim is to improve the health of the population at large, to improve the health care experiences of patients, and to improve the value for money spent on health and health care. The CMA seeks to spark a spirited discussion among physicians, other health care providers, governments and the public at large so that an urgent effort can be undertaken to put an improved system on a path to sustainability by the time the federal-provincial/territorial Health Accord expires on March 31, 2014. By so doing, a renewed Health Accord will be enabled to maximize value for patients and sustain a strong health care system for future generations. This report is divided into three parts: The Problem; Our Vision; and The Framework for Transformation. It is in this last section that the CMA puts forth a five-pillar transformational plan, including a Charter for Patient-Centred Care, for securing Canada's public health care future. These policy directions have been influenced by our consultations with patients, patient advocacy groups and the public. These initiatives are necessary to support the important work already underway in illness prevention and health promotion, in enhancing capabilities for diagnosis and treatment, and in monitoring system performance. They also represent directions we must take towards preparing for the needs of future generations of Canadians. The CMA, our partner provincial/territorial medical associations and the physicians of Canada are committed to the changes that will allow us to fulfill our objective to provide patients with optimal care within an effective, accountable and sustainable system today and for generations to come. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Medicare has enjoyed the resounding support of Canadians for nearly half a century. But new times bring new challenges to the health care system and so it has been forced from time to time to adapt and evolve. This document is predicated on the belief of the CMA that new demands for adaptation must be addressed starting now, and in a manner consistent with the spirit and principles that have guided Medicare from the beginning. This report is divided into three Parts. The first lays out the underlying problem confronting the system; the second outlines a vision for Canada's health system by modernizing the guiding principles of Medicare, and the third provides the CMA's prescription for improving the system within and beyond the five original principles that are set out in the Canada Health Act (universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability and public administration). Following the main report, Appendix A addresses the issue of health care funding and sustainability. This is meant to inform readers regarding the complexities inherent in the challenge of sustaining health care provision and funding for current and future populations. Part 1: The Problem Canada's health care system is valued by its citizens. At the same time, it is increasingly recognized that the system is inadequate to meet 21st Century needs and is in urgent need of reform. Canadians wait too long for care. Care providers feel overworked and discouraged. There are insufficient mechanisms to monitor system performance. Technical support needs modernizing. Closer examination of how the five Medicare principles are being met reveals a number of concerns. While there is universal coverage for a narrow range of medically-necessary services, access to other essential health care services is inconsistent, both within and across jurisdictions. Exceedingly long waits for necessary medical care is prevalent. Efficiencies in the management of our health care system must also be found as Canada has recently been ranked last out of 30 countries in terms of value for money spent. Part 2: Our Vision There are numerous steps required to transform Canada's health care system so that it becomes highly effective and meets the health needs of Canadians. A first step is to re-examine the five principles of the Canada Health Act and modernize them as they are no longer sufficient to meet current and evolving needs. All Canadians must have timely access to an appropriate array of medically-necessary services across the full continuum of care, independent of their ability to pay. All health care must be patient-centred. Care must be delivered effectively and must be well-coordinated among all care providers. The health care system must be properly resourced to deliver care in a sustainable way that can accommodate our ever-changing health care needs. Part 3: The Framework for Transformation The CMA's Health Care Transformation Plan has three core goals: improving population health, improving the patient experience of health care, and improving the value for money spent on health care. The CMA has created a Framework for Transformation listing the actions needed for change - organized under five pillars: 1. Building a culture of patient-centred care * Creation of a Charter for Patient-centred Care 2. Incentives for enhancing access and improving quality of care * Changing incentives to enhance timely access * Changing incentives to support quality care 3. Enhancing patient access along the continuum of care * Universal access to prescription drugs * Continuing care outside acute care facilities 4. Helping providers help patients * Ensuring Canada has an adequate supply of health human resources * More effective adoption of health information technologies 5. Building accountability/responsibility at all levels * Need for system accountability * Need for system stewardship The CMA recognizes that none of these directions, taken separately, will transform our health care system. Nor do they represent an exhaustive list of steps, as there are many other directions that can be taken to support our vision. This framework does, however, contain the necessary directions toward the more efficient, high-functioning, patient-focused system that Canadians deserve. Summary of CMA Recommended Directions Implementation of these recommendations will require the collaboration of all levels of government and medical and other health organizations. 1. Gain government and public support for the CMA's Charter for Patient-Centred Care. 2. Implement partial activity-based funding for hospitals, whereby facilities are funded based on the number of patients they treat and the types of illnesses they have, to improve timely access to facility-based care. 3. Implement appropriate pay-for-performance systems to encourage quality of care at both the clinician and facility level. 4. Establish an approach to comprehensive prescription drug coverage to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. 5. Begin construction immediately on additional long-term care facilities. 6. Create national standards, with input from both federal and provincial/territorial governments, for continuing care provision in terms of eligibility criteria, care delivery and accommodation expenses. 7. Develop options to facilitate pre-funding long-term care needs. 8. Initiate a national dialogue on the Canada Health Act in relation to the continuum of care. 9. Explore ways to support informal caregivers and long-term care patients. 10. Develop a long-term health human resources plan through a national body using the best available evidence to support its deliberations. Within this plan: a) Increase medical school and residency training positions. b) Invest in recruitment and retention strategies for physicians, nurses and other health care workers. c) Ease the process of integration into our health care workforce for international medical graduates and Canadian physicians returning from abroad. d) Introduce new providers such as physician assistants to the health care workforce and enhance collaborative, team-based care where appropriate. 11. Adopt the CMA's five-year plan to set out clear targets for accelerating the adoption of Health Information Technology (HIT) in Canada. 12. Accelerate the introduction of e-prescribing in Canada to make it the main method of prescribing by 2012. 13. Require public reporting on the performance of the system, including outcomes. 14. Establish an arm's-length mechanism to monitor the financing of health care programs at the federal and provincial/territorial levels. PART 1: THE PROBLEM Summary: Canada's health care system is valued by its citizens. However, not only is our Medicare system failing to meet the five principles - universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness and public administration - originally laid out in the 1984 Canada Heath Act, but those five principles, while still relevant, need to be expanded in scope to serve the current and future health needs of Canadians. Canadians believe that the relief of suffering and the promotion of health and human dignity are vitally important - for philosophical as well as pragmatic reasons. Simply stated, there is a broad recognition that health is a valued "good" allowing all Canadians to flourish as individuals and groups. Notwithstanding this fundamental belief, neither of the imperatives of our health care system - optimizing function and the compassionate relief of suffering and promotion of dignity - is being met for many people. Our population and our health providers encounter these failures on a daily basis. Polls show that most Canadians unwaveringly support the five principles laid out in the 1984 Canada Health Act - universality, accessibility, portability, comprehensiveness and public administration.1 In fact, since Medicare was first introduced - in Saskatchewan in 1962 and throughout the rest of Canada soon afterward - the idea of universal health care has become central to our national identity. Nearly half a century after Medicare was first introduced, however, Canada's health care system is falling short of the demands being placed on it from patients and providers. Canadians well understand that universal health care requires significant public resources to maintain. While the escalating costs of health care are often perceived as the overriding problem, there are other factors contributing to the crisis. Surveys have repeatedly shown that Canadians are highly satisfied with the care they receive once it is delivered. However, the general view among most Canadians is that their health care system is not as well managed as it must be. They are increasingly concerned about the lack of timely access to see their family physician, the long wait times for diagnostic testing, a widespread lack of access to specialists and specialized treatment, and the compromised quality of care in overburdened emergency rooms, or the unavailability of nearby ER facilities altogether. With our aging population, end of life issues are becoming increasingly important, yet many do not have access to expert palliative care. The founding principles of Medicare are not being met today either in letter or in spirit. Canadians are not receiving the value they deserve from the health care system. Issues such as quality of care, accountability and sustainability are now recognized as key aspects of a high-performing health system. "Health" by today's standards is not just the assessment and treatment of illness, but also the prevention of illness, and the creation and support of social factors that contribute to health. Also missing from our current system, but vitally important to proper care, is health information technology (HIT). In this area, Canada is woefully lacking in both resources and coordinated efforts toward a plan of HIT implementation. Before addressing the missing elements in Canada's health care system, a proper diagnosis of the current system requires a closer look at how the health care system fails to deliver on all five founding principles of Medicare. 1. Universality Studies have consistently shown that poorer, marginalized populations do not access necessary care. Wealthier populations use health care services more frequently than lower-income populations despite higher illness rates in low-income populations. Poorer communities have fewer services to support good health. The most vulnerable populations are least able to access and navigate the health care system. At the same time, these are the people most likely to need health care because the essential determinants of health - housing, education and food security - are often not available to them. Canada's system of universality resonates strongly with Canadians. However, while there is universal first-dollar coverage for insured hospital and medical services, there is uneven coverage of other services also essential to health and quality of life (e.g., prescription drugs and home care). 2. Accessibility The principle of accessibility in the Canada Health Act does not define "timely access" to necessary care. For many patients, the months of waiting for necessary treatment amount to a complete lack of "accessibility." While wait times have been reduced for a limited number of surgical procedures, many Canadians are still waiting far too long to receive necessary medical care for a wide variety of conditions. For many types of treatments, Canadians wait longer than citizens in most other industrialized countries that have similar universal health systems. Approximately five million Canadians do not have a family doctor, severely restricting access to adequate primary medical care. 3. Comprehensiveness Provincial/territorial health insurance plans must insure all "medically necessary" hospital and physician services. Canadians are entitled to all medically necessary (evidence-informed) services to the greatest extent possible. However, since Medicare was established in the 1960s, care patterns have shifted dramatically - away from being primarily acute care in nature, to broader health needs including prevention, treatment and long-term management of chronic illnesses. In addition, new technologies, treatments and medications that were not foreseen by the original planners of Medicare have been developed to diagnose and treat illnesses. At the time the Canada Health Act was passed, physician and hospital services represented 57% of total health spending; this has declined to 41% in 2008.2 Notwithstanding these changes, there is significant public spending beyond services covered by the Act (in excess of 25% of total spending) for programs such as seniors' drug coverage and home care; however, these programs are not subject to the Act's program criteria and are often subject to arbitrary cutbacks. While a majority of the working-age population and their families are covered by private health insurance, those with lower incomes are less likely to enjoy such benefits. Furthermore, the proportion of Canadians working in non-standard employment conditions (e.g., part-time, temporary or contract work) is increasing and these workers are less likely to have supplementary benefits.3 In addition, while most jurisdictions provide some form of seniors' drug coverage, access to other supplementary benefits post-retirement is most likely highly variable. Some of the more severe gaps in coverage include: * the lack of access to prescription medications for those without private health insurance or who are ineligible for government drug benefit programs; this problem is particularly significant for many residents in Atlantic Canada * the lack of continuing care, including both support for people to stay in their home (home care) or appropriate residential care (e.g., facility-based long-term care) * a lack of adequate mental health services. Mental illness is one of the leading burdens of illness in Canada. Access to mental health services for both children and adults is poor. Psychiatric hospitals are not covered under the Canada Health Act. Many essential services, such as psychological services or out-of-hospital drug therapies, are not covered under provincial/territorial health insurance plans. 4. Portability Canadians should receive coverage while travelling outside of their home province or territory. Portability under the Canada Health Act does not cover citizens who seek non-urgent and non-emergency care outside their home province or territory. Canadians who obtain such care in another province or territory are not covered by their health insurance program unless they receive prior approval (usually for services not available in their home province or territory). This principle is honoured by some jurisdictions but has never been fully implemented in Québec. Québec did not sign bilateral reciprocal billing agreements with the other provinces and territories stipulating that providers would be reimbursed at host-province rates. Consequently, Québec patients who receive medical care outside of their province must often pay cash for medical services received and then apply to recoup a portion of their costs from the Québec health insurance program. 5. Public administration Health care insurance plans must be administered and operated on a non-profit basis. The principle of public administration is often misinterpreted to mean public financing of publicly delivered services. In fact, while Medicare services (medically necessary hospital and physician services) are overwhelmingly publicly financed, most services are privately delivered. Most physicians are independent contractors while most hospitals are private organizations governed by community boards. This misconception of what constitutes public administration has inhibited the development of innovative models for publicly funded, privately delivered services. While Canada's system of Medicare is administered publicly, a case can certainly be made that Canada's health care system is not delivering value for the money spent: Canada is one of the highest spenders of health care when compared to other industrialized countries that offer universal care - Canada is the fifth-highest spender per capita on health care and sixth-highest in terms of spending on health as a percentage of GDP. Canadians spent an estimated $183 billion on health care in 2009, or $5452 per person.2 Of this amount, $3829, or 70%, is spent through the publicly funded system. Health care spending in Canada has increased by 6.8 annually over the past five years and has been increasing faster than the growth in the economy and more importantly faster than revenues at the federal and provincial/territorial levels. Canada's health care system is under-performing on several key measures, such as timely access, despite the large amounts we spend on health care. Experts agree that Canada's current health care system is not delivering the level of care that other industrialized countries now enjoy. The Conference Board of Canada4, the World Health Organization5, the Commonwealth Fund6 and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy7 have all rated Canada's health care system poorly in terms of "value for money" and efficiency. New governance models should be considered to improve both system effectiveness and accountability. FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY In addition to the need for improving the performance of our health system is the issue of fiscal sustainability. In 1998, the Auditor General of Canada, Denis Desautels, was among the first to sound an alarm about sustainability with a report on the implications of the aging population. His report projected that government spending on health as a share of GDP; if increases continued apace at an annual rate of 2% of real growth; could as much as double from its 1996 level of 6.4% to 12.5% by 2031.8 According to the most recent estimates from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), government health spending as a percentage of GDP reached 8.4% in 2009i - a level which has already exceeded the 8.1% estimate for 2011 set out in the high-growth scenario of the 1998 report.2 Most recently, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has again sounded the alarm in his February 2010 Fiscal Sustainability report.9 He projects that total provincial-territorial government health expenditure could rise to over 14% of GDP by 2040-41. This report presents estimates of the fiscal gap (which is defined as the increase in taxes and/or reduction in spending, measured relative to GDP) that is required to achieve sustainability over the long term. Under their baseline scenario, the government would need to increase revenue and/or reduce spending by $15.5 billion annually, starting immediately. Given that most commentators expect the demand for health care services to increase, reduced spending seems unlikely; hence the need to increase revenue is the most likely option. If there is no political appetite or public support for increasing public revenues for health on the basis of universality and risk pooling then we will be faced with choosing among options for raising funds from private sources. A more detailed analysis of health care funding and sustainability is contained in Appendix A. PART 2: OUR VISION Summary: There are numerous steps required to transform Canada's health care system so that it becomes highly effective and meets the health needs of Canadians. A first step is to re-examine the five principles of the Canada Health Act - universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, portability, and public administration - and modernize them to meet current and evolving needs. MODERNIZING THE PRINCIPLES OF MEDICARE Change must be undertaken with the patients' interests at the centre. To the CMA, this means meaningful implementation and modernization of the Canada Health Act. Transformational change will refocus our system so that serves the patient - not the other way around as is so often the case today. Canada must follow the lead of other developed countries with universal health care systems that have succeeded in this fundamental objective. Below are the modernized principles for Canada's health system recommended by the CMA: 1. Universality All Canadians must have access to the full range of necessary (evidence-informed) health care services using a variety of funding options as necessary to ensure universal coverage regardless of ability to pay. This includes meeting the needs of vulnerable populations who may not be able to access services due to a variety of barriers (e.g., geographical, socio-economic and demographic). 2. Accessibility All Canadians must have timely access to the full array of health care services over their life span, from primary care (including health promotion and illness prevention) through institutionally based secondary and tertiary care, to community and home-based services that promote rehabilitation and health maintenance, and to palliation at the end of life. There should be clear, measurable wait-time targets/benchmarks for access to necessary care, with publicly funded alternatives available in situations where timely care is not locally available to patients in need. 3. Comprehensiveness All Canadians must have access to the full complement of health services, with incentives in the system to encourage the prevention of illness and to promote optimum health while addressing the complex causative pathways affecting health and disease (i.e., social determinants of health). A defined set of nationally comparable, publicly funded core services should be available to all Canadians chosen through an evidence-informed and transparent manner. There should be an ongoing monitoring of the comparability of access to a full range of medically necessary health services across the country. 4. Portability All Canadians must be eligible for coverage while travelling within Canada, outside of their home province/territory. This principle must be honored in all jurisdictions, and apply to all levels of necessary care. 5. Public administration Services must be appropriately, efficiently and effectively delivered, with providers and patients working together to determine how that is done. The system must ensure that care is integrated and coordinated among providers and services to maintain continuity of care. From the patients' perspective, care must be well-coordinated among providers and between levels (i.e., physician to hospital, hospital back to home, etc.), supported by a functional and secure electronic health information system. The system should be guided by properly structured incentives to reward efficient provision of timely, high-quality patient care. This would include incentives such as activity-based funding of hospitals (i.e., paying on the basis of services provided), and pay-for-performance measures for health care providers, with competition based on valid measures of quality and efficiency. The system would utilize both public and private service providers, and put uniform requirements and regulations in place for measuring quality.ii The system must be able to demonstrate good value for money. There must be accountability mechanisms and performance measurements in place to ensure responsibility for monitoring and managing system performance (e.g., efficiency and effectiveness) at all levels. Regular public reporting on system performance will be required. Societal health goals and targets focused on outcomes will be set and monitored. Health care providers and the community will be actively involved in system decision-making. 6. Patient-centred The system needs to be patient-centred. Patient-centred care is seamless access to the continuum of care in a timely manner, based on need and not the ability to pay, that takes into consideration the individual needs and preferences of the patient and his/her family, and treats the patient with respect and dignity. 7. Sustainability The system must be properly resourced in a sustainable manner. Funding must be sufficient to meet ongoing health care needs. The system must be resilient; that is, capable of withstanding or accommodating demand surges and fiscal pressures. It must have the capacity to innovate and improve and be able to anticipate emerging health needs. Prospective monitoring and documentation of emerging health needs and the burden of illness must be undertaken on an ongoing basis. Strategies must be developed and implemented to meet those needs properly. PART 3: THE FRAMEWORK FOR TRANSFORMATION Summary: The CMA's Health Care Transformation Plan has three core goals: improving population health, improving the patient experience of health care, and improving the value of money spent on health care. There are numerous steps required to transform Canada's health care system so that it becomes highly effective and meets the health needs of Canadians. The next steps are contained in a Framework for Transformation, organized under five pillars, with specific recommendations for action. 1. Building a culture of patient-centred care * Creation of a Charter for Patient-centred Care 2. Incentives for enhancing access and improving quality of care * Changing incentives to enhance timely access * Changing incentives to support quality care 3. Enhancing patient access along the continuum of care * Universal access to prescription drugs * Continuing care outside acute care facilities 4. Helping providers help patients * Ensuring Canada has an adequate supply of health human resources * More effective adoption of health information technologies 5. Building accountability/responsibility at all levels * Need for system accountability * Need for system stewardship The CMA recognizes that none of these directions, taken separately, will transform our health care system. Nor do they represent an exhaustive list of steps, as there are many other directions that can be taken to support our vision. This framework does, however, contain the necessary directions toward the more efficient, high-functioning, patient-focused system that Canadians deserve. For the transformation plan to succeed, the following key enablers must be in place: * leadership at all levels including strong political leadership * well-informed Canadians who understand the need for, and characteristics of, a high-performing health system * patients, physicians and other providers actively involved in the reform and management of the system * a commitment to sustainability with adequate levels of resources to ensure that services are in place * health information technology in place to improve service delivery, manage care within and between services, and monitor and evaluate organization and system performance * incentives properly aligned to support a variety of funding and delivery models that can meet system goals (e.g., to improve access, to improve quality) * co-ordinated health human resources planning at the provincial/territorial and national levels * a commitment to support continuous quality improvement and evidence-informed decision-making at both the policy and clinical levels. These five pillars contain the directions which the CMA believes are necessary to successfully transform our health care system. Many other reforms have been proposed in Canada and elsewhere but based on international experience, these should receive priority attention. 1. BUILDING A CULTURE OF PATIENT-CENTRED CARE The concept of "patient-centred care" is taking hold in other developed countries which are also in the process of reforming their health care systems. The essential principle is that health care services are provided in a manner that works best for patients. Health care providers partner with patients and their families to identify and satisfy the range of needs and preferences. Health providers, governments and patients each have their own specific roles in creating and moving toward a patient-centred system. Patients have consistently emphasized the importance of being respected, having open communication and confidentiality of personal information, in addition to quality medical care. While building a patient-centred system is clearly better for patients, it is also better for physicians and all health care providers and administrators. In a patient-centred system, physicians are provided the optimal environment to give the best possible medical care. From the perspective of health administrators, recruitment and retention of providers who are satisfied with their work and their environment can have many tangible benefits. For instance, hospitals employing patient-centred care principles have found improvements in patient outcomes in areas ranging from decreased length of stay and fewer medication errors to enhanced staff recruitment.10 It is recognized that health care providers strive to practise patient-centred care. Often the issue is that the system - intended to serve as a network of services - is where patient-centred care breaks down. CHARTER FOR PATIENT-CENTRED CARE An important first step in building a culture of patient-centred care is to establish a Charter for Patient-centred Care. As a vision statement, the Charter is built on a foundation of reasonableness and fairness, while acknowledging resource constraints. Notwithstanding resource constraints, governments have the duty to ensure availability of the resources required to provide high quality care. This Charter is a mutually reciprocal covenant among patients, physicians, other health care providers, funders and organizers of care. Dignity and respect * All persons are treated with compassion, dignity and respect. * Health care is provided in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or stigma of any kind. * Health care services respond to individual needs and give consideration to personal preferences. Access to care (timeliness, continuity, comprehensiveness) * Access to and timeliness of appropriate medical and psychiatric services is determined by health need. * Access to appropriate services is not limited by the patient's ability to pay. * Care is continuous between health care providers and across settings. Safety and appropriateness * Care is provided in accordance with the applicable professional standard of care, by appropriately qualified health care providers, regardless of the location of service. * Care is based upon the best available evidence and is provided in the safest possible environment. * The quality of all health care services is evaluated, monitored and improved proactively. * Care is informed and influenced by lessons learned from any critical incident or adverse event and by patient experiences. Privacy and security of information * Personal health information is collected, stored, accessed, used, disclosed and accessible to patients in accordance with applicable law and professional codes of ethics. * Providers and recipients of care share responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of information in personal health records. Decision-making * Patients participate actively with providers in decisions about their medical care and treatment. * Personal support and assistance with communication is available when required. * Patients may appoint another person (proxy decision-maker) to act on their behalf and to be aware of their personal health information. * Decisions for care are made with full disclosure of all relevant information. * Patients may consent to or refuse any examination, intervention or treatment, and may change or vary their decisions without prejudice. * Individuals may decline to participate in research without prejudice. Insurability and Planning of health services * All parties use health care resources appropriately. * Recipients and providers are informed and are able to be involved directly, or through representatives, in the planning, organization, delivery and evaluation of health care services. * Decisions about the provision and insurability of drugs and all other treatments or services are made in accordance with evidence and best practices. * Government decision-making with respect to the planning, regulation and delivery of health care products and services is transparent. Concerns and complaints * Patients may comment on any aspect of their personal health care and have concerns investigated and addressed without repercussions. * Patients receive timely information and an expression of regret and sympathy if there is any adverse event during their care, regardless of the reason for such event. * Providers speak publicly and advocate on behalf of Canadians for the provision of high quality care. Direction The creation of a Charter for Patient-centred Care, as presented above, is a solid foundation on which to build a culture of patient-centred care. In order for the Charter to work, it needs to have supporting mechanisms to ensure accountability. Metrics must be identified to track the elements of the Charter. The Charter needs to be accepted by governments, providers and patients to have an impact on the health system culture and care. Other examples of activities to promote a culture of patient-centred care may include: * increasing availability of programs to prevent illness * increasing involvement of patients and their families in the delivery of care when desired (e.g., if preferred by the patient, family and friends may be trained to help provide care for patients while in the hospital or community) * soliciting patients' feedback on health care services received, and readiness to make changes based on that feedback * establishing patient and family advisory councils for hospitals or health regions * establishing a process for patients or their family members to quickly and efficiently raise a concern about care * providing patients with information about how to access medical records while in the hospital or in the community Progress to date/Next steps The final report of Saskatchewan's Patient First Review, For Patients' Sake (2009),11 devoted considerable attention to the need to re-orient health care to a more patient-centred system. As Commissioner Tony Dagnone stated in his report, "patient-first must be embedded as a core value in health care and be ingrained in the 'DNA' of all health care organizations". The report recommended the adoption of a Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities for that province. More recently, an advisory committee to the Alberta Minister of Health has also recommended the creation of a Patient Charter for that province.12 Lessons can be learned from the effects of patient charters in other developed countries. The National Health Service in England recently adopted a constitution which establishes its principles and values: sets out the rights to which patients, public and staff are entitled; includes pledges that the National Health Service is committed to achieve; delineates the responsibilities which the public, patients and staff owe to one another to ensure that the National Health Service operates fairly and effectively.13 The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights describes seven charter rights to which patients, consumers, carers and families are entitled and the ways they can contribute to ensuring their rights are upheld.14 Those rights are: access, safety, respect, communication, participation, privacy and a right to comment on care and have concerns addressed. 2. PROVIDING INCENTIVES TO ENHANCE ACCESS AND IMPROVE QUALITY OF CARE Canadians have consistently identified timely access as Canada's most pressing health issue. Many other health systems around the world have been successful in dealing with timely access and now are examining the quality of care being delivered. This direction looks at changing incentives to accomplish two related objectives: improving timely access and supporting quality care. A. Enhance timely access Most provinces have taken steps to improve timely access to certain components of their health system. For instance, the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative has set a target for specialty wait times to be no longer than three months within the next four years.15 At the physician level, several initiatives are underway across Canada. In late 2009, the Primary Care Wait Time Partnership involving the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the CMA released its final report entitled, The Wait Starts Here.16 The report identifies several strategies for improving timely access to primary care. Efforts are also underway in some jurisdictions, such as in Manitoba, to improve the referral process from family physician to specialist (i.e., the timeliness and the appropriateness of referrals). Activity-based funding - an idea raised in the Kirby Commission's final report17 - is another strategy to improve timely access at the facility level. Activity-based funding is a reimbursement mechanism that pays hospitals for each patient treated on the basis of the complexity of their case. A reimbursement level is set for each type of case then applies to all hospitals within the jurisdiction. It is also known as service-based funding, case-mix funding or patient-focused funding. As such, funding is viewed as "following the patient" since the hospital is paid only if the service is provided, resulting in increased productivity and in some instances, competition among hospitals to treat patients. Financing of hospital services in most industrialized countries involves some portion of activity-based funding. Canada, although it has been a pioneer in the methodology that underlies activity-based funding, has had limited application for funding purposes. Most hospitals in Canada receive their funding in the form of a global budget that is usually based on historical funding levels. As a result, a well-performing hospital emergency room does not receive any additional funding for seeing more patients. Direction Canada should move toward partial activity-based funding for hospitals to improve hospital productivity. It is almost impossible to decrease wait times and reward productivity without this change in funding. While some countries have implemented 100% activity-based funding, other countries have shown that productivity can increase when even 25% of hospital funding is allocated in this manner. Progress to date/Next steps A number of provinces have taken steps to introduce activity-based funding for facility-based care. The government of British Columbia announced that it will provide "patient-focused funding" for the province's 23 largest hospitals.18 Ontario already has some limited activity-based funding for its hospitals and the government has announced that it will introduce patient-based payment for hospitals on April 1, 2011 as part of a multi-year implementation plan.19 Alberta announced in 2009 that it would be adopting a form of activity-based funding for long-term care facilities that started April 1, 2010 and for hospitals the year after.20 While not yet in place in Québec, the adoption of activity-based funding was recommended in the 2008 Castonguay report.21 Much of the work involved in supporting the adoption of partial activity-based funding has already been undertaken by CIHI and its well-developed Case Mix Group program supported by case-costing data from BC, Alberta and Ontario. B. Support quality care Timely access is one dimension of quality. But there are many other dimensions of quality including safety, effectiveness, appropriateness and acceptability. More recently in Canada, attention is now focused on incentives to improve quality in the processes of care to achieve better outcomes. Incentives for providers Pay-for-performance involves the use of an incentive payment to reward a hospital or physician provider for achieving a target for the quality of patient care. This may be linked to processes or outcomes of care and could be related to the attainment of a specified threshold and/or percentage improvement. Performance incentives may also be linked to the structure of health care delivery as well as the process of that delivery. 22 It is important to note that pay-for-performance, which refers to incentive payments for achieving quality targets, is not the same as activity-based funding, which is a reimbursement mechanism that pays hospitals for each patient treated on the basis of the complexity of their case. Performance incentives can be targeted at both group output provided by a team of providers (nurses, physical therapists, physicians, etc.) as well as individual members of the team. The incentives may also be targeted at measuring the process involved in delivering the desired health care output. Canada will likely follow the lead of other countries in increasing the focus on the outputs and outcomes of the health care system. The promise of pay-for-performance programs is that they can improve access, quality and accountability. Pink et al. 23 have tried to synthesize the international experience with pay-for-performance and its implications for Canada. Based on this assessment they offer four key considerations: 1. Pay-for-performance could potentially be used to target individual providers, provider groups/organizations, or health regions. 2. The selection of quality measures should consider provincial/territorial health goals and objectives, measures included in existing report cards, evidence and the ability to risk-adjust and the extent of provider acceptance. 3. Development of pay for performance should consider factors that are within the scope of control of providers, use positive incentives over disincentives and consider size/timing and perceived fairness of awards. 4. Program evaluation should consider the impact on patients and providers, quality measurement and how payments are used to improve quality. In addition, they cite the need to address enablers/barriers including information technology, consultation, implementation costs and resistance. Direction Implement appropriate pay-for-performance systems. Adopt principles that secure equity and efficiency in pay-for-performance programs in Canada that will ensure the best outcomes for patients, physicians and the health care system at large. Progress to date/Next steps Pay-for-performance has already started in a number of provinces as seen in the table below. Examples of pay-for-performance programs already in effect in Canada [SEE PDF FOR CORRECT DISPLAY OF TABLE INFORMATION] Province Type of program Nova Scotia Family Physician Chronic Disease Management Incentive Program Ontario Cumulative Preventive Care Bonuses for achieving specified thresholds of preventive care for their patients in five areas: influenza vaccine, pap smear, mammography, childhood immunizations and colorectal cancer screening Manitoba Physician Integrated Network has a Quality Based Incentive component24 Alberta Performance and Diligence Indicator (PDI) Fund for Family Physicians: The PDI Fund provides payments to family physicians who meet specific indicators in the care of their patients. The PDI program "will provide payments to individual family physicians, in and out of primary care networks, who meet specific performance and/or diligence indicators that deliver substantive clinical value"25 British Columbia Full Service Family Practice Incentive Program: this includes an obstetrical care bonus payment and an expansion of the Full Service Family Practice Condition Payments that were introduced in 2003. The condition-based bonus payments are related to the monitoring patients' course of care according to BC Clinical Guidelines for diabetes, congestive heart failure and hypertension26 Pay-for-performance programs will continue to expand in Canada. Governments and insurance companies are introducing pay-for-performance incentive programs throughout the industrialized world with the goal of improving health care delivery efficiencies and especially to improve patient care. These are lofty goals because measuring improvements in patient care is complicated. It is vital that physicians, patients and the health care system establish principles that can guide them to make the best decisions concerning pay-for-performance. The scope of the program and what is measured will surely evolve. Full-scale adoption requires an electronic medical record (EMR) to be in place. Incentives for patients At a macro level, public policies can be instituted to encourage healthy behaviours and environmental improvements (e.g., water quality standards). At the individual level, consideration should be given to empowering patients through the use of patient incentives. A rapidly emerging dimension of pay-for-performance is the use of incentives directed at the patient for health maintenance and healthy behaviours. Hall has reported that a number of US employers are offering tangible rewards to employees such as cash, merchandise, vacation days, and reductions in health care premiums or deductibles.27 These incentives are targeted variously at: * activity (e.g., completing a health risk assessment) * achievement (e.g., quitting smoking, lowering Body Mass Index) * adherence (e.g., remaining tobacco-free for 12 months) Positive incentives are used to promote healthy behaviours by transferring funds or alternate benefits to an individual. They work by providing immediate rewards for behaviours that usually provide only long-term health gains. Positive incentives have been shown to be effective in promoting singular, discrete behaviours, such as vaccinations, screening programs, and attending follow-up appointments. An example of an existing Canadian federal government incentive is the children's fitness tax credit. This credit is intended to promote physical activity among children by off-setting some of the cost incurred by families for sports and leisure programs. In Germany, bonuses for healthy behaviours are integrated into the health system. They are offered for both primary and secondary prevention, including check-up programs, achieving healthy weights, smoking cessation, memberships in sports clubs, and other health-promoting activities. The bonuses take the form of points that can be redeemed for items, including sports equipment, health books or reduction in insurance premiums, or in some cases cash. There are also bonuses, in the form of a reduction in co-payments, for adhering to the treatment plan and participating in special care plans.28 Negative incentives or disincentives by governments largely involve the use of regulation and taxation in order to change individual behaviour. This helps to create an environment in which healthy choices are easier to make. For example, the taxation of tobacco, alcohol or unhealthy foods (such as those high in fat, salt or sugar) are commonly cited interventions. Taxes on tobacco products have been highly effective in reducing use. Studies linking cost to consumption of high-sugar content beverages demonstrate a strong link between higher prices and reduced consumption.29 3. ENHANCING PATIENT ACCESS ALONG THE CONTINUUM OF CARE The continuum of care may be defined as the array of health services, regardless of the age of the recipient, ranging from primary care (including health promotion and illness prevention), through institutionally based secondary and tertiary care for acute medical situations, to community- and home-based services that promote health maintenance and rehabilitation for people with chronic problems, and finally to palliation at the end of life. There is a strong realization that Canada's Medicare system covers a decreasing portion of this continuum. An example of where deficits exist is mental health. The CMA's 2008 annual meeting (General Council) tackled the issue of improving access to mental health services as part of a greater effort led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The CMA is currently working toward the several resolutions that were adopted, but there are two other areas that are in urgent need of attention. Crucial to improved care is (A) universal access to comprehensive prescription drug coverage and; (B) improving access to continuing care (long-term care, home care and palliative care/hospice). Physicians currently spend a significant amount of time assisting patients to obtain access to necessary prescription drugs. Physicians and families are also heavily engaged in time-consuming efforts to place patients in long-term care facilities or secure assistance in the home. Improving access for Canadians in these two areas would help create a more patient-centred health care system, and enhance efficiency for providers. CMA approved a new policy on Funding the Continuum of Care in December 2009 that identifies a number of overall principles to enhance the continuum of care: * optimal management of the continuum of care requires that patients take an active part in developing their care and treatment plan, and in monitoring their health status * the issue of the continuum of care must go beyond the question of financing and address questions related to the organization of the delivery of care and to the shared and joint responsibilities of individuals, communities and governments in matters of health care and promotion, prevention and rehabilitation * support systems should be established to allow elderly and disabled Canadians to optimize their ability to live in the community * strategies should be implemented to reduce wait times for accessing publicly funded home and community care services * integrated service delivery systems should be created for home and community care services * any request for expanding the public plan coverage of health services, in particular for home care services and the cost of prescription drugs, must include a comprehensive analysis of the projected cost and potential sources of financing for this expansion A. Universal access to prescription drugs Prescription drugs represent the fastest-growing item in the health budget, and the second-largest category of health expenditure. It is estimated that less than one-half of prescription drug costs were publicly paid for in 2008.2 Moreover, Canada does not have a nationally coordinated policy in the area of very costly drugs that are used to treat rare diseases. The term "catastrophic" has been used by First Ministers and in the National Pharmaceutical Strategy to describe their vision of national pharmaceutical coverage. As defined by the World Health Organization, catastrophic expenditure reflects a level of out-of-pocket health expenditures so high that households have to cut down on necessities such as food and clothing and items related to children's education. From the CMA's perspective, the goal is comprehensive coverage for the whole population, pooling risk across individuals and public and private plans in various jurisdictions. Direction Governments, in consultation with the life and health insurance industry and the public, should establish a program of comprehensive prescription drug coverage to be administered through reimbursement of provincial/territorial and private prescription drug plans to ensure that all Canadians have access to medically necessary drug therapies. Such a program should include the following elements: * a mandate for all Canadians to have either private or public coverage for prescription drugs * uniform income-based ceiling (between public and private plans and across provinces/territories) on out-of-pocket expenditures on drug plan premiums and/or prescription drugs (e.g., 5% of after-tax income) * federal/provincial/territorial cost-sharing of prescription drug expenditures above a household income ceiling, subject to capping the total federal and/or provincial/territorial contributions either by adjusting the federal/provincial/territorial sharing of reimbursement or by scaling the household income ceiling or both * group insurance plans and administrators of employee benefit plans to pool risk above a threshold linked to group size * a continued strong role for private supplementary insurance plans and public drug plans on a level playing field (i.e., premiums and co-payments to cover plan costs) Furthermore the federal government should: * establish a program for access to expensive drugs for rare diseases where those drugs have been demonstrated to be effective * assess the options for risk pooling to cover the inclusion of expensive drugs in public and private drug plan formularies * provide adequate financial compensation to the provincial and territorial governments that have developed, implemented and funded their own public prescription drug insurance plans * provide comprehensive coverage of prescription drugs and immunization for all children in Canada * mandate the CIHI and Statistics Canada to conduct a detailed study of the socio-economic profile of Canadians who have out-of-pocket prescription drug expenses, in order to assess barriers to access and to design strategies that could be built into a comprehensive prescription drug coverage program Progress to date/Next steps Provinces and territories have begun to establish public programs of income-based prescription drug coverage. Québec was the first, starting in 1997, and it remains the only province to mandate universal coverage - that is, citizens must have either public or private coverage. Alberta is the most recent to move in this direction, with a seven-point pharmaceutical strategy that was introduced in 2009.30 Overall, however, there is significant variation between the coverage levels of the various plans across Canada. For example, the Manitoba Pharmacare Program is based on adjusted total income (line 150 of the Income Tax return). For families with incomes above $75,000 the deductible is set at 6.08% of total family income.31 In Newfoundland and Labrador, the ceiling on drug costs is set at 10% of net family income (line 236 of the Income Tax return).32 There is wide variation in the burden of out-of-pocket expenditure on prescription drugs in Canada. In 2006 there was almost five-fold variation in the percentage of households spending more than 5% of net income on prescription drugs between PEI (10.1%) and Ontario (2.2%).33 There is some concern about access to cancer drugs, particularly those that are administered outside of hospital. The Canadian Cancer Society has recently reported that of the 12 cancer drugs approved since 2000 that are administered outside a hospital or clinic, three-quarters cost $20,000 or more annually.34 In 2009, Ontario Ombudsman André Morin issued a report critical of the Ministry of Health's decision to limit public funding of the colorectal cancer drug Avastin to 16 cycles.35 Subsequently the government announced that it would cover the cost beyond the 16 cycles if medical evidence from a physician indicates that there has been no disease progression.36 Most, if not all, key national health stakeholders (hospitals,37 pharmacists,38 nurses,39 brand name pharmaceuticals,40 life and health insurance industry41 plus the health charities) have adopted policy statements on catastrophic coverage. There seems to be an unprecedented consensus among health stakeholders on this issue. The most likely window of opportunity to urge the federal government to take action in this area will be the renegotiation of the Health Accord that is set to expire on March 31, 2014. B. Continuing care Continuing care includes services to the aging and to the disabled of all ages provided by long-term care, home care and home support.42 Because continuing care services are excluded from the Canada Health Act, they are, for the most part, not provided on a first-dollar coverage basis. As this kind of care moves away from hospitals and into the home, the community or into long-term care facilities, the financial burden has shifted from governments to the general public. Furthermore, there is tremendous variation across the country in the accessibility criteria for both placement in long-term care facilities and for home care services. According to Statistics Canada's most recent population projections, the proportion of seniors in the population (65+) is expected to almost double from its present level of 13% to between 23% and 25% by 2031.43 While the impact of an aging population on our health care system must not be overlooked, the continuing care needs of the disabled population at all ages must also be appropriately addressed. In the 2004 Health Accord, the provinces and territories agreed to publicly fund two weeks of acute home care after hospital discharge, two weeks of acute community mental health care and end-of-life care.44 Outside of these areas, the types of services offered and funding models vary widely. Continuing care in Canada faces three key challenges: 1. Lack of capacity and access: There is tremendous variation among regions in the levels of public funding for facility-based long-term care. Part of the reason is the lack of national standards for home care services, which results in a wide range of the types of services available, their accessibility, wait times and eligibility for funding. The widespread scarcity of long-term care facilities and home care services has had deleterious consequences: emergency departments are being used as holding stations while admitted patients wait for a bed to become available, surgeries are being postponed, and the care for Alternate Levels of Care patientsiii is compromised in areas that may not suit each patient's specific needs. Major investment is required in community and institutionally based care. 2. Lack of support for informal caregivers: Much of the burden of continuing care falls on informal (unpaid) caregivers. More than one million employed people aged 45-64 provide informal care to seniors with long-term conditions or disabilities45 and 80% of home care to seniors is provided by unpaid informal caregivers.46 3. Lack of funding for long-term care: It is impractical to expect future requirements for long-term care to be funded on the same "pay-as-you-go" basis as other health expenditures. While there is general agreement that, wherever possible, residents should contribute at least a partial payment toward the cost of accommodation at a long-term care facility, the calculation for these charges is inconsistent across the country. Direction Ensure that all Canadians have affordable and timely access to all elements of any continuing care they require. The CMA recommends the following actions: * Construction should begin immediately on additional long-term care facilities. With the senior population projected to increase to around 24% of the population by 2031, and with 3.5% of seniors currently living in these facilities, in order to simply maintain the same occupancy rates, we will need roughly 2,500 additional homes by then. The Building Canada Fund is an ideal source of initial infrastructure funding. * The federal government should work with the provinces and territories to create national standards for continuing care provision in terms of eligibility criteria, care delivery and accommodation expenses, using the Veterans Independence Plan as a starting point. * The federal government should make long-term care insurance premiums tax deductible, introduce a Registered Long-term Care Plan and/or consider adding a third special provision for the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) that is similar to the Lifelong Learning Plan and the Home Buyers' Plan, which will allow working adults to draw from their RRSP, without penalty, to pay for their long-term care or home care needs; and consider adding a third payroll tax for continuing care purposes. * Governments initiate a national dialogue on the Canada Health Act in relation to the continuum of care. * Governments should adopt a policy framework and design principles for access to publicly funded medically necessary services in the home and community setting that can become the basis of a "Canada Extended Health Services Act". * Governments and provincial/territorial medical associations review physician remuneration for home- and community-based services. * Governments undertake pilot studies to support informal caregivers and long-term care patients, including those that a) explore tax credits and/or direct compensation to compensate informal caregivers for their work b) expand relief programs for informal caregivers that provide guaranteed access to respite services in emergency situations c) expand income and asset testing for residents requiring assisted living and long-term care d) promote information on advance directives and representation agreements for patients Progress to date/Next steps Many other groups have released reports on this issue, including the Canadian Healthcare Association's 2009 reports on home care and long-term care. Among many other recommendations, both of these reports call for the introduction of national minimum standards for care and additional support for caregivers.47, 48 New Brunswick announced an ambitious long-term care strategy in early 2008 and the province has invested $167 million in long-term care facilities since 2007. There are plans to open 318 nursing home beds over the next three years, with plans to open a total of 700 in the next 10 years.49 The federal government should use New Brunswick as an example to encourage all other provinces and territories to follow suit. In its final report released in April 2009, the Special Senate Committee on Aging made 32 recommendations; eight of them specifically address health care for seniors in terms of care provision, accommodation and affordability.50 As with improving access to prescription drugs, the most likely window of opportunity to press the federal government to take action in the area of continuing care will be the renegotiation of the 2004 Health Accord that is set to expire on March 31, 2014. 4. HELPING PROVIDERS HELP PATIENTS The fourth pillar of health care transformation speaks to creating necessary resources to support patient-centred care. Two areas that are absolutely essential are: (A) an adequate supply of health human resources; and (B) health information technology at the level in which care is provided or point of care. A. Health human resources Every high-performing health system begins with a strong primary care system in place. Yet roughly 5 million Canadians do not have a regular family physician, and once Canadians do access primary care, they often face long waits to see consulting specialists, and further waits for advanced diagnostics and ultimately treatment. Part of the reason for these delays is the shortage of health care professionals in Canada. An Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of countries with wait times shows that the availability of physicians has the strongest association with lower wait times than any other factor.51 Notably, Canada's physician supply relative to the population is far below the OECD average. Statistics indicate that in 2006 Canada had only 2.15 practising physicians per 1,000 population compared to the OECD average of 3.07.52 With the number of medical graduates similarly low in comparison to the OECD average, Canada cannot expect to make up the difference without some new sources for physicians. Nurses and other health professionals are also in short supply, in Canada and across the globe. The Canadian Nurses Association is projecting a shortage of 60,000 full-time equivalent nurses in Canada by 2022 if no new policies are adopted,53 and Western Europe is also experiencing a significant nursing shortage. The global shortage of health professionals compounds the problem - while Canadian training programs still lack sufficient seats to produce enough new providers to meet current and future demands, Canadian-educated physicians, nurses, technicians, etc, are being lured away by ample opportunities to train and work outside of Canada. Initiatives such as the Nursing Sector Study,54 Task Force Two,55 the 2004 Federal/Provincial/ Territorial 10-year Plan to Strengthen Health Care44 and the 2005 Framework for Collaborative Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Planning56 have all yielded abundant information and recommendations, yet Canada still seems unable to maintain a stable supply of physicians, nurses, technicians or other health care professionals to provide the care and treatment patients need. In its 2008 election platform, the federal government announced that it would contribute funds to the provinces and territories to create 50 new residency positions ($10 million/year for four years), ease repatriation of Canadian physicians living abroad ($5 million/year for four years) and help fund the development of nursing recruitment and retention pilot projects ($5 million over three years). On May 10, 2010, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced funding of $6.9 million for 15 additional family medicine residents in the University of Manitoba's Northern and Remote Family Medicine Program. This is a promising start.57 Collaborative care models - whereby health professionals work together with, and in the best interests of, the patient - can help address some of the gaps in health human resources. Over the past decade there have been three key trends pertinent to collaboration in health care: * the contention/recognition that collaboration is an important element of quality patient-centred care * the growing interest in inter-professional education among health professions * the sustained efforts by governments to foster multidisciplinary teams by creating competitive conditions in primary care through expanding the scope of other non-physician providers Physicians recognize the value of collaboration. The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), the CFPC and the CMA have all released policy documents that identified collaboration with other health professionals as a key role of the physician.58,59,60 The RCPSC has since been working to incorporate these roles and competencies in postgraduate medical training programs across Canada. In 2006, the national boards of ten health professional organizations including CMA and CFPC each ratified the principles and framework for interdisciplinary collaboration in primary health care that were developed by a consortium of staff of these organizations, sponsored by the federal Primary Health Care Transition Fund.61 In an effort to find ways to better distribute the workload and improve access to care, much attention has been turned to the role of physician extenders such as physician assistants. Physician assistants can be trained to work autonomously to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients in a partnership and with the supervision of a licensed physician. In Canada, four programs exist to train physician assistants. The Canadian Forces Medical Services School at the Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario trains Canadian Forces members while civilian physician assistants can train at McMaster University, the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba. After the CMA Board approved the inclusion of the physician assistant profession as a designated health science profession within the accreditation process in 2003, its Conjoint Accreditation Services accredited the Canadian Forces' Physician Assistant Program in 2004. Although this program is currently the only one accredited, the other three schools are undergoing the process. Working smarter, Canada needs to be more systematic about innovations and adoption of health sector resources. There is no national body in Canada equivalent to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in the US, or the National Health Service's Institute for Innovation and Improvement in England, that is charged with promoting innovation in the delivery of health services. In Canada, the $800-million 2000 Primary Health Care Transition Fund and its fore-runner the $150-million 1997 Health Transition Fund were intended to buy transformation in areas linked to primary care. For the most part, this resulted in short-term pilot demonstration projects that ended when the money ran out. Arguably only Ontario and Alberta have achieved lasting results through the development and proliferation of new models of primary care delivery. Direction Ensure Canada's health care system has an adequate supply of human resources. Addressing health human resource shortages is critical to ensuring a sustainable, accessible and patient-centred health care system. The evaluation of and long-term planning for health human resources needs to be performed by a national body using the best available evidence to support its deliberations. Based on the defined need, there are four main mechanisms to address the shortage of health human resources in the Canadian health care system. These are: 1. increase medical school and residency positions to replenish and increase our physician supply for the future 2. invest in recruitment and retention strategies for physicians, nurses and other health care workers 3. ease the process of integration into our health care workforce for international medical graduates and Canadian physicians returning from abroad 4. introduce new providers such as physician assistants to the health care workforce Progress to date/Next steps Immediate specific steps for increasing Canada's supply of health human resources are as follows: 1. Urge the federal government to honour the remainder of its 2008 commitment to fund residency positions, repatriation of Canadian physicians abroad and pilot projects to recruit and retain nurses. 2. Secure comprehensive funding plans for physician assistant compensation. 3. Continue to work with the Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada and provincial/territorial medical associations to monitor the impact of the new labour mobility provision of the Agreement on Internal Trade on the distribution and mobility of physicians. 4. Work with provincial/territorial medical associations to carry out an inventory and assessment of the payment arrangements across Canada that foster the emergence of new practice models based on an interdisciplinary approach and the use of new information technologies. 5. Work with other stakeholders to promote the idea of a national locus for innovation in the delivery of health care. Since it can take ten years or longer to train a new physician depending on specialty, the results of increasing medical school placements and residency positions will not be immediate. However, this plan would ultimately increase the future supply of physicians, and serve as a step toward becoming more self-sufficient in the future. As medical education and postgraduate training extend beyond academic health science centres to the community, and as inter-professional education takes on greater emphasis, educational programs need to ensure quality training experiences. Physicians-in-training require adequate human, clinical and physical resources to train appropriately. Programs must ensure that all new teaching sites are properly equipped to take learners. Training new providers, such as physician assistants, is a medium-term option since it takes fewer years (as few as two depending on the program) to train them. Increasing their numbers within the health workforce and permitting them to share some tasks will allow physicians to devote more one-on-one time with patients. Similarly, integrating international medical graduates and repatriating Canadian physicians currently practising outside the country could be a quicker method of increasing physician numbers than training new physicians, provided that appropriate immigration policies and licensure processes are in place. Removing certain constrains, such as limited operating room times, and providing support for collaborative models of care would allow the health human resources currently available to optimize their ability to practise. These options could see results in the shorter term. B. More effective adoption of health information technologies (HIT) Over the past decade, Canada's ministers and deputy ministers of health have been developing strategies to relieve mounting pressures within the health care sector. In all of these strategies, HIT has been viewed as a foundational component. Five main reasons for implementing HIT have been identified: improved health outcomes (patient safety, wait time reduction), increased accessibility, better integration of health care "silos," cost efficiencies and improved patient-provider satisfaction. Multi-billion dollar investments made in Canada on HIT, however, have not yet resulted in significant benefits to providers or patients. In large measure this is due to the fact that all jurisdictions have taken a top-down approach to their HIT strategies and focused their investment on large-scale HIT systems and architecture, with very little investment being made at the points of care where the actual benefits of HIT will be realized. The majority of health care occurs at the local level. Some 400 million patient encounters take place in Canada each year with most occurring in primary care settings with physicians, clinical teams, in home care and long-term care facilities.62 Patient-physician office interactions outnumber patient-hospital interactions by a ratio of 18 to 1. In Ontario (Diagram 1), just 3,000 out of an average of 247,000 patient visits per day - or 1.2% - are made in hospitals. Diagram 1. Patient visits per day in Ontario (Canada Health Infoway) Compared to a select group of other industrialized countries, Canada ranks last in terms of "health information practice capacity" (i.e., the use of EMRs in primary care practice). According to the most recent Commonwealth Fund study (Figure 1) conducted in 2009, only 37% of Canadian primary care physicians use some form of EMR. That compares to 99% in the Netherlands, 97% in New Zealand, 96% in the UK and 95% in Australia. 63 Direction We need to move from a top-down approach to one that gives all providers, and in particular physicians, the lead role in determining how best to use HIT to improve care, improve safety, improve access and help alleviate our growing health human resource issue. HIT adoption needs to be accelerated, but in a way that focuses on the individual patient and where he or she interacts with the health care delivery system, with the intent of improving quality of care and patient safety. An important priority must be a clear, target-driven plan that meets the needs of Canadian physicians and their patients. The CMA and provincial/territorial medical associations will develop a five-year plan with clear targets for accelerating the adoption of HIT in Canada. This includes working with governments to accelerate the introduction of e-prescribing in Canada to make it the main method of prescribing by 2012. Progress to date/Next steps In February 2009, the federal government announced a $500 million investment in HIT, with specific focus on EMRs and point of care integration, as part of their Economic Stimulus package. Transfer of these funds to Canada Health Infoway was delayed due to concerns over accountability and lack of progress on the electronic health record (EHR) agenda on the part of Infoway and most jurisdictions. The Office of the Auditor General's report on Infoway, and six provincial audits on jurisdictional EHR progress addressed these concerns and the funds were finally transferred in spring 2010. CMA is working to ensure that the bulk of this investment is allocated to physician EMRs, as well as local interoperability solutions and applied research on EMR use and patient tools. How to achieve this goal will be described in detail in the CMA's upcoming five-year strategy for HIT investment in Canada, a plan to connect the delivery points at the front lines of care. Provincially, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Nova Scotia have established EMR funding programs and are the most likely to meet targets and realize the value of HIT. The addition of $500 million federal stimulus funding to this environment will allow the remaining provinces and territories to implement similar programs. The key will be to focus HIT efforts and investment directly at the point of care. The CMA five-year HIT plan takes a grassroots, bottom-up approach and identifies ways to quickly implement local and regional solutions that will deliver short-term, tangible benefits without building un-scalable, expensive point-to-point solutions. The five-year HIT plan in and of itself is not the goal of this undertaking. The key to effectiveness lies in ensuring any HIT plan sets clear benchmarks and targets for reporting progress and demonstrating value of accelerated HIT adoption in terms of patient care - access, quality and safety. The CMA five-year HIT strategy will set out clear targets and metrics for benchmarking progress and demonstrating value. Tracking and reporting on progress against these targets would occur over the following three to five years, with a final report card to be released at the end of this period. 5. BUILDING ACCOUNTABILITY/RESPONSIBILITY AT ALL LEVELS Two key issues confronting the Canadian health care system are (A) the lack of accountability for system quality of care and performance, and (B) the lack of stewardship for the integrity of the public health insurance program and its long-term financial sustainability. A. Need for system accountability The past decade has seen growing demand for accountability for performance and outcomes at all levels of the health care system, which has been impossible to deliver due to a lack of direction, resources or accountability. As a result, Canada's ability to report publicly on the performance of the Canadian health care system has been piecemeal at best. A main stumbling block is the federal/provincial/territorial dynamic, with provinces and territories being primarily responsible for health care. In 2000, First Ministers made a commitment to develop common indicators to report to their citizens and in 2003 they set out some 40 indicators in the areas of timely access, quality, sustainability and health status and wellness. Subsequently, the Health Council of Canada was set up to monitor the 2003 Health Accord, but since 2004 only the federal government has honoured its commitment to produce indicators, and Québec and Alberta do not participate on the Health Council. The December 2008 report of the federal Auditor General criticized Health Canada for a lack of interpretation in its report and on the limited number of indicators specific to the First Nations and Inuit Health, for which Health Canada is responsible.64 Some national organizations and private organizations are reporting on health system performance at the macro level. CIHI has been producing annual wait time reports in the past years. Think tanks that have also reported on health system performance include: the Commonwealth Fund, the Conference Board of Canada (which has ranked Canada as a middle-of-the-pack performer) and the Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index, which has ranked Canada 30th out of 30 countries in terms of value for money spent on health care in both 2008 and 2009 (the US was not included).7 The Wait Time Alliance65 has produced five report cards on wait times, assessing national and provincial/territorial performance on access to elective care. The CMA has been releasing an annual report card as part of the General Council meetings for the past nine years. At the provincial/territorial level, reporting on health system performance varies widely. All provinces and territories have been reporting wait times, albeit in varying degrees and quality, for some elective surgical care. Several provinces have quality health councils which are producing reports on the quality of care being received. The Ontario Health Quality Council has released several reports on the performance of Ontario's health system, reporting on nine attributes of a high-performing health system.66 Many of these reports call for the need to accelerate the adoption of electronic health records to acquire better data and properly assess health system performance. Ontario has been a leader in health care reporting within Canada. Since the early 1990s, the Ontario Cardiac Care Network has been the gold standard for the comparison of cardiac centres on the basis of wait time and crude and risk adjusted mortality and length of stay data.67 In 1997, a research team at the University of Toronto, funded by the Ontario Hospital Association, began developing a hospital report that focused on key areas of hospital activity including patient perceptions of hospitals.68 In 2007, CIHI released Canada-wide Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratios (HSMR) for the first time. The HSMR is the ratio of actual (observed) deaths to expected deaths, and is adjusted for several factors that affect in-hospital mortality.69 Most recently, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council issued its first Quality Insight report which reports at the health region (and, in some cases, hospital) level on 121 indicators in the areas of chronic diseases (asthma, diabetes, post heart attack), drug management and patient experience.70 The quest to improve quality of care is a dominant issue in European health systems. The UK, Denmark and the Netherlands have all implemented mechanisms to monitor the performance of their health system. Accountability and monitoring instruments in place in these three countries include: ratings of hospitals, ratings of doctors and system performance reports. In addition, the UK has organizations devoted to monitoring and improving the quality of its health care system. Public reporting on health system performance enjoys high public acceptability. This was the finding of CMA's consultation process for its health care transformation project. Seventy percent of the public surveyed by Ipsos Reid supported independent reviews of hospitals on quality and performance. National Health Goals were developed by the Government of Canada and approved in a broad consensus by all of the provinces and territories in 2005.71 While there was universal acceptance of these goals at the time, there has been limited action on developing a framework and indicators for monitoring achievements. Comprehensive approaches to population health require coordinated action across governments, supported by a common vision, such as national health goals. The CMA strongly supports the advancement of the National Health Goals agenda and believes that public reporting of supporting indicators reflecting the determinants of health as well as health services and outcomes are an important component of improving the health status of Canadians.72 Direction Improve the accountability of the Canadian health care system by reporting publicly on the performance of the system including outcomes. What is needed is a systemic approach to public reporting that shifts the focus from "blame and shame" to quality improvement. Progress to date/Next steps Based on the foregoing, the most likely opportunity for advancing the idea of increased public reporting in the short term will be to work with existing national and provincial/territorial organizations involved in acquiring and analyzing data related to health system performance. At the federal level, the renegotiation of the Health Accord in the lead-up to March 31, 2014 is the best opportunity to see a heightened commitment to improve public reporting at a coordinated federal-provincial-territorial level. Provincially, Québec's recent budget devoted considerable attention to the issue of system accountability. That government announced the annual publication of health accounts to improve transparency and public awareness on health care spending. The accounts, released with the budget, list health and social services spending and revenues. It also includes a breakdown of health sector resources including the number of physicians and nurses and hospitalization days. B. Need for system stewardship To ensure accountability and responsibility, it will be necessary to establish an arm's-length, independent body to monitor, in a transparent manner, the medium to longer-term prospects of the comparability and financing of health care programs for Canada and the provinces and territories. Since its establishment, Canada's national Medicare program has been a funding partnership between the federal and provincial/territorial governments. Since the mid-1990s, this partnership has been beset by problems, due in part to the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces/territories to administer health programs and to the federal government's unilateral cut to cash transfers of some $6 billion with the implementation of the Canada Health and Social Transfer in 1996. Three broad concerns have been expressed: 1. Lack of accountability of the provincial/territorial governments for use of health transfer funds: at the provincial level, the reports of both the Ménard (2005)73 and Castonguay (2008)21 commissions in Québec called for the establishment of a health account which would provide accountability for how revenues collected for health are used and to inform the public about issues such as financial sustainability of health programs. 2. Canada is a "patchwork quilt" in terms of the continuum of care: there is increasing concern about the wide variation in the level of services provided across the country. The Canada Health Act program criteria only apply to hospital and medical services, and those represent just 41% of total health spending. There is roughly a further 25% of health spending that is public but there is wide variability across jurisdictions with respect to coverage of broader continuum care, such as home care and prescription drugs. For example, Statistics Canada estimates that there was almost five-fold variation in the proportion of households spending more than 5% of net income on prescription drugs in 2006, ranging from 2.2% in Ontario to 10.1% in PEI.33 3. Canada may not be able to sustain Medicare on a "pay-as-you-go" basis: in 1998 the Auditor General of Canada published a report on the implications of the aging population which projected that government spending on health as a share of GDP could as much as double from its 1996 level of 6.4% to 12.5% by 2031 if it increased at an annual rate of 2% real growth.8 In 1998 the Auditor General recommended that the government produce long range financial projections on the basis of status quo policies and alternatives that would be presented to Parliament. In its response, the government indicated that it would continue its fiscal planning on the basis of setting and meeting short-run targets. Clearly we need to be able to look beyond year-over-year budgeting and reporting. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has recently published a report on Canada's emerging "structural deficit" that estimated this shortfall will reach a level of $19 billion in 2013-14.74 The Parliamentary Budget Officer's mandate does not extend to the provincial/territorial governments. While a number of agencies and organizations are doing work related to long-term system sustainability, each is constrained in some manner from carrying out the forward looking cross-jurisdictional analyses that are required. Direction Establish an arm's-length mechanism to monitor the financing of health care programs for the federal and provincial/territorial levels, to assess the comparability of coverage across jurisdictions, to assess value for money and to make recommendations to governments on the sustainability of the current Medicare program and mechanisms to fund additional programs that cover the continuum of care. Progress to date/Next steps At the federal level, the renegotiation of the Health Accord in the lead-up to March 31, 2014 is the best opportunity to see if such a concept could be acceptable at the federal/provincial/territorial level. The CMA met with federal and provincial auditors general on March 16, 2010 to discuss system accountability and sustainability. The auditors general were very interested in this issue and some anticipate examining the matter in the coming months. PART 4: AN ACTION PLAN FOR 2010-2014 With the CMA's ambitious triple aim of improving the health of the population at large, patients' health care experience and value for money spent, the transformation of health care will inevitably be a multi-year and multi-pronged initiative. The first priority has been the release of this document, with its emphasis on adopting a Charter for Patient-centred Care. The final goal is to ensure that the First Ministers' Agreement in 2014 addresses longer-term fundamental issues, such as providing appropriate access to comprehensive pharmaceuticals and continuing care for all Canadians, and implementing a proper accountability framework. As a multi-year initiative, the CMA will pursue the actions described under the health care transformation directions between now and 2013, in time for the negotiation of the next potential Health Accord expected to take effect after the current 2004 agreement expires. As previously mentioned, the directions listed do not represent an exhaustive list. Rather, they are intended to serve as a foundation for change that will build momentum for health care transformation leading to better care. It will be important to demonstrate tangible results - early wins - so that the public, health care providers and system funders can sense the move toward a more patient-focused system and become energized to implement subsequent actions. Summary timeline of key health care transformation deliverables Release of Framework and Charter for Patient-centred Care Summer 2010 IT: Federal support for EMRs 2010 Partial Activity-Based Funding Beginning 2010 Interoperability/e-prescribing 2011-2012 Health human resources - new funding models (physician assistants) 2011 Comprehensive pharmacare/long-term care 2014 Accord Accountability Framework 2014 Accord PART 5: CONCLUSION The policy directions contained in this document, while fundamental, do not represent the entire array of possible choices. This document focuses on the "what" of health care transformation. The "how to" of implementation will require considerable further work, tailored to the needs and circumstances of the various jurisdictions and their populations. Some of the directions in this document are meant to be carried out by government, some by providers, and some by patients. Many, but not all, of the ideas set out in this document will require additional investment by governments. It will not be possible to implement all of these policy directions at the same time. Much of what is outlined here will be put in place at the provincial/territorial level and will be phased in as each jurisdiction deems fit. Provinces and territories must be encouraged to share the lessons they learn as changes are made so that other jurisdictions can build on their successes. Provision must be made for evaluation and mid-course correction to ensure that the proposed directions achieve their intended objectives. The CMA, our partner provincial/territorial medical associations and the physicians of Canada are committed to inspiring change, for the benefit of the patients we serve and in the interests of our members. The aspirations embodied in this document will foster transformation that allows us to accomplish our goals as physicians - to serve the public, provide for our patients' health needs optimally, and to make our health care system more effective, accountable and sustainable now and for the generations to come. APPENDIX A - HEALTH CARE FUNDING AND THE SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGE Highlights: The ability to pay for health care, which is in competition with all the other legitimate uses for public funds, and the ability to maintain a health workforce are both central to the concept of sustainability. While there is ample evidence that health spending continues to outpace other areas of public expenditure and the growth of government revenue, there is no consensus that we need to act on it. The section notes the necessity of raising funds from private sources if there is no political appetite or public support for increasing public revenues for health. Other key points in this section: * Appropriate investments in health care result in improved health, which reduces health care demand in the future by decreasing the burden of illness in the population. Better health and the resultant improved productivity of the population pays economic dividends for the country. * Given our changing population demographics, governments in Canada will face challenges finding new revenue streams to fund appropriate initiatives such as long-term care, home care or enhanced pharmaceutical coverage over the next two decades. * A large unfunded liability will be created as a consequence of the need to address our growing, aging population that is increasingly burdened with multiple chronic illnesses. Only recently have a few jurisdictions recognized the unfairness of saddling this economic burden on future generations. * Overall health spending is consuming a rising proportion of total government program spending. It also is rising faster than the growth in our GDP, so our ability to pay for health care is increasingly in question. Other important societal programs will be increasingly jeopardized in order to pay for health care programs. * Methods to manage the gap between current levels of expenditure and what will be required to maintain and respond to future health care demands include, a) reducing services and therefore reducing expenditures, b) raising taxes and c) developing new sources of revenue (such as patient co-payments, population health premiums and private insurance). * Our system and culture relies on the principle of collective risk-pooling so as to lessen individual burden. To sustain health care for current and future Canadians and to expand the basket of required coverage, given our changing demographic reality, creative approaches to managing and funding our health system are necessary. The ability to pay for health care is increasingly in question. The challenge of sustaining our health care system is what makes it imperative to move forward now with health care transformation. Sustainability in health care may be defined as the ability to deliver universal publicly funded health care services without compromising other government programs or the ability of future generations to pay. In 2001 the Honourable Roy Romanow was tasked by the federal government to study and make recommendations in order to "ensure over the long-term the sustainability of a universally accessible, publicly funded health system." The Romanow Commission put forward 47 recommendations in 2002 with a view to "buying change".75 Similarly, the Kirby Commission in its review of the Canadian health care system recommended an additional $5 billion of federal funding per year to restructure and renew Medicare.17 These reports were followed by additional federal funding in the amounts of $34.8 billion and $41.3 billion in the 200376 and 200444 First Ministers' Accords respectively. Eight years later it is evident that, for the most part, these Accords bought time, not change. The directions set out in Part 3 of this report rest on two critical assumptions with respect to sustainability. The first is that there is a business case for quality. That is to say, investments in quality today will pay off in improved health that, in turn, will reduce health care demand and expenditures down the road. The resultant improved productivity from the reduction of illness in the population will generate economic dividends for the country. A second assumption is that timely and appropriate interventions will relieve access bottlenecks currently generating unproductive costs. A study conducted for the CMA in 2008 makes the case: it estimated the cost of excess waiting for four procedures at almost $15 billion.77 Hence, the introduction of activity-based funding for hospitals might not reduce hospital costs in total, but if it increases throughput and timely access there will be offsets in improved quality of life and productivity of the population. Clearly, the gains resulting from these assumptions will not be realized in the short term. All the numbers on sustainability, including the projections by Desautels and Page (highlighted in Part 1), assume the status quo in terms of publicly funded programs. But the current system is hardly sustainable on a quality of care basis, particularly given the demographic changes that will see fewer working-age Canadians supporting more and more elderly citizens weighed down by drug costs and the need, over time, for nursing home care. Given our changing population demographics, governments in Canada cannot avoid the challenge of finding new revenue streams to fund appropriate initiatives, such as long-term care, home care or enhanced pharmaceutical coverage over the next two decades. Since the 1990s, there have been repeated recommendations for expanded public coverage of prescription drugs and home care. Health ministers have estimated it would cost $5 billion for governments to provide "catastrophic" pharmaceutical coverage, meaning no household has to spend more than 5% of net income on prescription drugs.78 In contrast, there has been no national policy discussion about the funding of long-term care. Alberta made an exploratory move in this direction in 2005 when it commissioned Aon Consulting to develop health insurance models for continuing care.79 Aon estimated that in order to pre-fund projected costs to 2050, a flat dollar charge of $779 per capita, indexed at 4% per year, would be required for all Albertans aged 16 or over.80 Similarly, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that long-term care accounted for 1.2% GDP in Canada in 2005 and that, at a minimum, the burden will double to 2.4% by 2050.81 A significant amount of this share will almost certainly be publicly funded. Canada will soon have to grapple with how to finance a more comprehensive - and expensive - system of health and continuing care. This, in turn, raises issues about intergenerational equity, that is to say the fairness with which the costs of the system are distributed between generations. If these escalating costs are not addressed now, future generations will be unfairly, and possibly untenably, saddled with the burden flowing from today's growing elderly population. Academics have developed a technique called generational accounting to measure this effect.82 Hagist has applied generational accounting to estimate the revenue gap for health expenditures in six countries. The revenue gap is the percentage increase in taxes that would have to be applied immediately for both living and future generations to bring current fiscal policy on a sustainable track. The same study also estimated a delayed revenue gap, which is the percentage increase that will be required if increases are postponed until 2050. The results for the six countries are shown in Table 1. [SEE PDF FOR CORRECT DISPLAY OF TABLE INFORMATION] Table 1 Estimates of current and delayed revenue gap for health expenditures Selected countries (% increase) Country Switzerland Austria France Germany UK US Revenue Gap 27.1 13.2 9.0 25.9 23.6 27.0 Delayed Revenue Gap 63.1 28.0 17.4 60.7 47.7 46.9 Source: Hagist, C. Demography and Social Health Insurance. Baden-Baden:Nomos, 2008. As one can see, significant immediate increases in revenues are required in all six countries and much more drastic increases will be required if action is delayed. Klumpes and Tang have also applied generational accounting to the funding of the UK National Health Service. They found that under the base assumption of a 2% real interest rate, future tax payers will need to contribute about ten-fold what 2005 new tax payers did.83 In Canada, Robson has applied similar methods to estimate the "unfunded liability" that will result from an aging population. He estimates that between 2007 and 2050, provincial and territorial health budgets will experience an aggregate liability of almost $1.9 trillion if things continue along as they are.84 Total health spending in Canada reached an historic high of 11.9% of GDP in 2009. While this reflects, in part, the effect of the recession in lowering GDP, health spending grew by 5.5% in nominal terms and 3.3% in real terms over 2008. Table 2 shows the average percentage increases in health and total program spending from 1999 to 2008 and the most recent experience of the provinces and territories as presented in their 2010-11 budgets. Table 2? Health and Program Spending 1999-2008 and Selected Indicators 2010 Provincial Territorial Budgets Province / Territory 1999-2008 Average Annual % Increase in Health Spendinga 1999-2008 Average Annual % Increase in Program Spendinga Health as % Program Spending 2010-11 % Increase in Health Spending 2010-11 over 2009-10 % Increase in Program Spending 2010-11 over 2009-10 % Increase in Revenue 2010-11 over 2009-10 NL 6.2 6.9 37.8 12.4 8.4 3.8 PE 8.4 5.9 37.3 3.9 0.3 2.9 NS 7.2 5.9 46.4 6.8 -0.3 3.5 NB 7.0 4.5 36.7 3.5 1.2 1.8 QC 6.4 5.4 44.7 3.7 2.9 2.9 ONb 7.7 6.0 39.8 6.0 6.5 10.8 MB 6.7 5.4 45.1 5.0 0.8 1.8 SK 7.2 6.6 43.4 6.4 0.6 -0.8 AB 10.2 10.2 44.7 16.6 5.6 1.3 BCc 6.4 3.6 45.6 5.1 4.8 5.8 NT 5.2 4.9 25.2 0.3 5.7 5.0 YT 8.1 7.4 21.9 -7.6 -0.8 8.0 NU 9.3 9.1 24.3 -3.7 1.9 5.9 Average 7.4 6.3 37.9 4.5 2.9 4.1 Data sources available upon request a Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information b Note the budget also contains an estimate that health is 45% of program spending in 2010-11 c Total health spending by function is estimated at 42.1% of all government spending The evidence is incontrovertible that health spending has continuously outpaced other areas of public expenditure. All provinces are expecting further health spending increases in 2010-11 - ranging from 3.7% in Québec to 16.6% in Alberta. In eight out of ten provinces, increases in health spending exceed increases in both total program spending and provincial/territorial revenue. As a percentage of program spending, health stands near or just over 45% in six provinces. Aside from Québec (which is discussed below), few measures have been taken to address the problem. It may well require a province or territory to exceed the psychological barrier of 50% to incite a concerted response. This is suggested by a February 2010 poll done for CMA by Ipsos Reid in which respondents were also asked to estimate the actual, appropriate and maximum proportions of their provincial/territorial budget that are or should be devoted to health. The averages estimated by the public are as follows: * actual current percentage - 38% * appropriate percentage - 47% * maximum percentage - 52%. The prospect of going beyond the 50% threshold of the share of government program spending on health might be likened to the proverbial "crossing the Rubicon," which means following a course of action on which there is no turning back. To follow the 50%+ trajectory under the current parameters of Medicare, taxes will surely have to increase, either through general taxation or a dedicated health premium or some variant thereof. Another option that would still pool risk would be the establishment of a contributory social insurance fund. If, however, there is no political appetite or public support for increasing public revenues for health on the basis of universality and risk pooling then we will be faced with options for raising funds from private sources. These could include co-payments for publicly insured services, private insurance or out-of-pocket payment for uninsured/deinsured services, and deductibles linked to utilization. Québec has been the first among the provinces and territories to acknowledge that the current approach to funding health care is neither sustainable in the long term nor fair to future generations - and to announce measures to address the problem. It has taken three major task forces over the past decade to get to this point. In 2001 the Clair Commission recommended a capitalized (pre-funded) insurance plan to cover loss of autonomy.85 Clair also put forward the idea of the creation of a provincial health insurance corporation apart from the Health Ministry. In 2005 the Ménard Committee again recommended the establishment of an insurance scheme for persons experiencing loss of autonomy, as well as the creation of a health and social services account that would provide transparency and accountability for the sources and uses of funds.73 In 2008 the Castonguay Task Force recommended a dedicated "health stabilization fund" that would be funded in part by a deductible linked to medical visits that would be collected at year-end through the income tax system. Castonguay also recommended a health account.21 In response to these studies, the 2010-11 Québec budget contained the following measures: * starting July 1, 2010 a health contribution (premium) will be introduced, to be collected through the tax system; starting at $25 per adult, this will increase to $200 by 2012 at which time it is expected to raise $945 million * further study of the introduction of a health deductible as proposed by Castonguay * the introduction of an annual health account86 Other jurisdictions will also need to give consideration to options for at least partially pre-funding future health care expenditures. The findings of the February 2010 survey conducted for CMA by Ipsos Reid suggest that Canadians would prefer an option that would assure that funds raised would be dedicated to health care over an option that would simply add additional funds to the consolidated revenue account (Figure 2). In considering such options, however, one must be mindful of the current experience with existing mechanisms that are available to Canadians to accumulate savings. According to Canada Revenue Agency Statistics for the 2007 tax year, one in four (26.4%) Canadians with a taxable return reported making a RRSP contribution.87 The likelihood of making RRSP contributions was strongly correlated with income - 15% or fewer with those with incomes less than $25,000 reported one, rising to greater then 60% among those with incomes of $80,000 or greater. There may be greater uptake with the Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA) that was introduced in 2009. A poll done by Ipsos Reid in June 2009 found that 21% of households had opened a TFSA.88 No research has been done on the salience of saving for future health needs as compared to RRSPs and TFSAs. The CMA's 2006 discussion paper It's About Access: Informing the Debate on Public and Private Health Care provides a comprehensive overview and discussion of the international application and pros and cons of a range of public and private funding options. It also sets out ten policy principles to guide policy decision-making related to the public-private interface. In brief, these are: 1. Timely Access 6. Quality 2. Equity 7. Professional Responsibility 3. Choice 8. Transparency 4. Comprehensiveness 9. Accountability 5. Clinical Autonomy 10. Efficiency89 We believe that these principles will serve to guide a national debate. REFERENCES i Derived as the .7023 public share of the estimate of 11.9% of GDP going to total health expenditure. ii The CMA's 2007 policy statement 'It's still about access! Medicare Plus' sets out comprehensive recommendations for the public-private interface in the delivery and funding of health care. iii Patients who remain in hospital while waiting for placement in long-term care facilities or for home care arrangements to be made. 1 Department of Justice Canada. Canada Health Act (R.S., 1985, c. C-6). www.laws.justice.gc.ca/PDF/Statute/C/C-6.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 2 Canadian Institute for Health Information. National health expenditure trends 1975 to 2009. Ottawa, 2009. 3 Bowlby G. Studies in "non-standard" employment in Canada. www.wiego.org/reports/statistics/nov-2008/bowlby_presentation_2008.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 4 Conference Board of Canada. How Canada performs 2009: A report card on Canada. www.conferenceboard.ca/HCP/Details/Health.aspx. Accessed 06/27/2010. 5 World Health Organization. World health report 2000. Health systems: Improving performance. Geneva, 2000. 6 Commonwealth Fund. Mirror, mirror on the wall. How the performance of the U.S. health care system compares internationally. 2010 update. www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/files/Publications/Fund%20Report/2010/Jun/1400_Davis_Mirror_Mirror_on_the_wall_2010.pdf 7 Eriksson D, Björnberg A. Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2009. Winnipeg: Frontier Centre for Public Policy, 2009. 8 Auditor General of Canada. April 1998 Report. Chapter 6 population aging and information for Parliament: understanding the choices. www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_oag_199804_06_e_9312.html. Accessed 01/26/10. 9 Parliamentary Budget Officer. Fiscal sustainability report. February 18, 2020. www2.parl.gc.ca/sites/pbo-dpb/documents/FSR_2010.pdf. Accessed 04/27/10. 10 Stone S. A Retrospective Evaluation of the Planetree Patient-Centred Model of Care on Inpatient Quality Outcomes. Health Environments Research and Design Journal. 2008;1(4):55-69. 11 Dagnone T. For patients' sake. www.health.gov.sk.ca/patient-first-commissioners-report. Accessed 06/28/2010. 12 Minister's Advisory Committee on Health. A foundation for Alberta's health system. www.health.alberta.ca/documents/MACH-Final-Report-2010-01-20.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 13 Department of Health. The NHS Constitution. www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/@ps/documents/digitalasset/dh_113645.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 14 Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. Australian charter of healthcare rights. www.health.gov.au/internet/safety/publishing.nsf/content/com-pubs_ACHR-roles/$file/17537-charter.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 15 Saskatchewan Health. Sooner, safer, smarter: A plan to transform the surgical patient experience. www.health.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=545d9e1d-6cfe-447d-ac42-3b35f0dc8f5d&l=English. Accessed 06/28/2010. 16 Canadian Medical Association, College of Family Physicians of Canada. The wait starts here. The Primary Care Wait Time Partnership. 2 Dec 2009. www.cfpc.ca/.../PCWTP%20FINAL%20-%20FINAL%20ENGLISH%20(DEC%202009).pdf 17 Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. The health of Canadians - the federal role. Volume six: Recommendations for reform. Ottawa, 2002. 18 British Columbia Ministry of Health Services. B.C. launches patient-focused funding provincewide. News release April 12, 2010. www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2010HSERV0020-000403.pdf. Accessed 06/28/2010. 19 Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Patient-based payment for hospitals. Backgrounder May 3,2010. www.health.gov.on.ca/en/news/release/2010/may/bg_20100503.pdf.Accesed 06/06/2010 20 Duckett S. "Thinking Economically in the health Sector". Presented to the Economics Society of Northern Alberta. 13 Nov 2009. 21 Task Force on the Funding of the Health System. Getting our money's worth. Québec: Gouvernement du Québec, 2008. 22 Donabedian A.Evaluating the quality of medical care. Milbank Quarterly 1966; 44:166-203. 23 Pink GH, Brown AD, Studer ML, Reiter KL, Leatt P. Pay-for-Performance in publicly financed healthcare: Some international experience and considerations for Canada. Healthcare Papers 2006; 6(4):8-26. 24 PIN is a Manitoba Health and Healthy Living primary care renewal initiative that focuses on fee-for-service (FFS) physician groups. Its goal is to facilitate systemic improvements in the delivery of primary care. See: www.gov.mb.ca/health/phc/pin/index.html 25 Alberta Medical Association President's Letter September 16, 2009. See: www.albertadoctors.org/bcm/ama/ama-website.nsf/AllDoc/4C2E247349659BD58725763300532A11/$File/preslet_sept16_09.pdf 26 British Columbia Medical Association. Full service family practice incentive program: frequently asked questions. Vancouver, 2006. 27 Hall B. Health incentives: the science and art of motivating healthy behaviours. Benefits Quarterly 2008; 24(2):12-22. 28 Schmidt H. Bonuses as incentives and rewards for healthy responsibility: A good thing? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2008; 33: 198-220. 29 Andreyeva T, Long M, Brownell K. The impact of food prices on consumption: a systematic review of research on the price elasticity of demand for food. Am J Public Health. 2010 Feb; 100(2):216-22. 30 Alberta Health and Wellness. Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy. www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Pharmaceutical-Strategy-2009.pdf Accessed 11/02/09. 31 Manitoba Health. Manitoba Pharmacare Program. www.gov.mb.ca/health/pharmacare/index.html Accessed 11/02/09. 32 Newfoundland and Labrador Health and Community Services. Enhancements to program make drugs more affordable. April 23, 2007. www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2007/health/0423n01.htm Accessed 11/02/09. 33 Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 109-5012 Household spending on prescription drugs as a percentage of after-tax income, Canada and provinces. 2008. 34 Canadian Cancer Society. Cancer drug access for Canadians. Toronto, 2009. 35 Marin A. A vast injustice. Toronto, 2009. 36 Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. Ontario expands access to cancer drug. News release November 29, 2009. www.health.gov.on.ca/en/news/release/2009/nov/nr_20091129.pdf. Accessed 06/06/2010. 37 Canadian Healthcare Association. Catastrophic pharmaceutical coverage. Ottawa, 2006. 38 Canadian Pharmacists Association. Catastrophic drug coverage - CphA position statement. Ottawa, 2008. 39 Canadian Nurses Association. CNA Presentation to House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Study on Prescription Drugs. September, 2003. 40 Canada's Research Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D). Catastrophic drug coverage. Ottawa, 2006. 41 Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. Towards a sustainable, accessible, quality public health care system. Ottawa, 2009. 42 Canadian Institute for Health Information. Development of National Indicators and a Reporting System for Continuing Care (Long Term Care Facilities). Ottawa, 2000. 43 Statistics Canada. Population projections: Canada, the province and territories, 2009 to 2036. The Daily, Wednesday, May 26, 2010. 44 Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Centre. A 10-year plan to strengthen health care. Available from: scics.gc.ca/cinfo04/800042005_e.pdf Accessed 06/07/2010. 45 Pyper W. Balancing career and care. Perspectives on Labour and Income 2006;7(11):5-15. 46 National Advisory Council on Aging. 1999 and beyond: Challenges of an aging Canadian society. Ottawa, 1999. dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/H88-3-28-1999E.pdf. Accessed 02/29/2010. 47 Canadian Healthcare Association. Home Care in Canada: From the margins to the mainstream. Available from: www.cha.ca/documents/Home_Care_in_Canada_From_the_Margins_to_the_Mainstream_web.pdf. Accessed 06/04/2010 48 Canadian Healthcare Association. New Directions for Facility-Based Long Term Care. Available from: www.cha.ca/documents/CHA_LTC_9-22-09_eng.pdf. Accessed 06/04/2010. 49 Smith L. There is nothing for nothing any longer, especially for seniors. The Daily Gleaner. 21 Oct 2009. Available from: dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/rss/article/830881. Accessed 11/10/2009. 50 Special Senate Committee on Aging. Is Canada ready for an aging population? Senate Special Committee on Aging Identifies Serious Gaps for Older Canadians in Canada's Aging Population: Seizing the Opportunity. Available from: www.parl.gc.ca/40/2/parlbus/commbus/senate/com-e/agei-e/subsite-e/Aging_Report_Home-e.htm. Accessed 06/07/2010 51 Siciliani L, Hurst J. Explaining waiting times for elective surgery across OECD countries. OECD Health Working Papers No 7. Paris, 2003. 52 OECD Health Data 2009, June 2009. 53 Canadian Nurses Association. Tested solutions for eliminating Canada's registered nursing shortage. Ottawa, 2009 54 Nursing Sector Study Corporation (May 2006). Building the Future: An integrated strategy for nursing human resources in Canada, retrieved from www.cna-aiic.ca/CNA/documents/pdf/publications/Phase_II_Final_Report_e.pdf. Accessed 06/09/09. 55 Task Force Two. A physician human resource strategy for Canada: final report. Ottawa, 2006 56 Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources (2005, revised 2007). Framework for Collaborative Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Planning, retrieved from www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/alt_formats/hpb-dgps/pdf/pubs/hhr/2007-frame-cadre/2007-frame-cadre-eng.pdf. Accessed 06/04/2010 57 Health Canada. Government of Canada announces funding to support 15 new family medicine positions for Canada's north. News release. May 10, 2009. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2010/2010_72-eng.php. Accessed 06/29/2010. 58 Frank J (ed.) The CanMEDS 2005 Physician Competency Framework. Ottawa: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; 59 College of Family Physicians of Canada. Four principles of family medicine. www.cfpc.ca/English/cfpc/about%20us/principles/default.asp?s=1. Accessed 06/07/2010 60 Canadian Medical Association. CMA Policy on Scopes of Practice. Ottawa, 2001. 61 Enhancing Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Primary Health Care. The principles and framework for interdisciplinary collaboration in primary health care. www.eicp.ca/en/principles/march/EICP-Principles-and-Framework-March.pdf. Accessed 04/28/10. 62 Sources: CIHI Reports for Physician visits: Physicians in Canada: Fee-for-Service Utilization 2005-2006. Table 1-21. Hospital contacts: Trends in Acute Inpatient Hospitalizations and Day surgery Visits in Canada 1995-1996 to 2005-2006 and National Ambulatory Care Reporting System: Visit Disposition by Triage Level for All Emergency Visits - 2005-2006. 63 Schoen C, Osborn R, Doty MM, Squires D, Peugh J, Applebaum S. A survey of primary care physicians in eleven countries, 2009: Perspectives on care, costs and experiences. Health Affairs 2009; 28(6):1179-83. 64 Auditor General of Canada. 2008 December report of the Auditor General of Canada. Chapter 8 - reporting on health indicators - Health Canada. www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/docs/parl_oag_200812_08_e.pdf. Accessed 06/27/2010. 65 www.waittimealliance.ca 66 www.ohqc.ca 67 www.ccn.on.ca 68 www.hospitalreport.ca 69 Canadian Institute for Health Information. HSMR: A New Approach for Measuring Hospital Mortality Trends in Canada. secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/products/HSMR_hospital_mortality_trends_in_canada.pdf. Accessed 06/09/09. 70 Saskatchewan Health Quality Council. Quality Insight, 2008. www.hqc.sk.ca/download.jsp?oLYnotVGsC60FgKBEcq12DBIzBf0QfLQkUwK4QBZaJtXhmSAKqZibA==. Accessed 06/07/10 71 Public Health Agency of Canada. Health goals for Canada. www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hgc-osc/pdf/goals-e.pdf. Accessed 06/20/2010. 72 Canadian Medical Association. National Health Goals for Canada: A Review of Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities for the Canadian Medical Association. Ottawa 2010 73 Comité de travail sur la pérennité du système de santé et des services sociaux du Québec. Pour sortir de l'impasse : la solidarité entre nos générations. Québec : Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux du Québec, 2005. 74 Parliamentary Budget Officer. Estimating potential GDP and the government's structural budget balance. www2.parl.gc.ca/Sites/PBO-DPB/documents/Potential_CABB_EN.pdf. Accessed 01/26/10. 75 Romanow, R. Building on values: the future of health care in Canada. Ottawa: Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, 2002. 76 Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Centre. 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal. February 5, 2003. www.scics.gc.ca/pdf/800039001_e.pdf. Accessed 04/27/10. 77 The Centre for Spatial Economics. The economic cost of wait times in Canada 2008. www.cma.ca/multimedia/CMA/Content_Images/Inside_cma/Media_Release/pdf/2008/EconomicReport.pdf Accessed 07/06/2010. 78 Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Centre. National Pharmaceutical Strategy decision points. http://www.scics.gc.ca/cinfo08/860556005_e.html. Accessed 04/27/10. 79 Aon Consulting. Health benefit design options for Alberta Health & Wellness: Executive summary 29 March 2006. http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Options-Aon-2006-summary.pdf. Accessed 04/27/10. 80 Aon Consulting. Continuing care. http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/Options-Aon-2006-Care.pdf. Accessed 04/27/10. 81 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Projecting OECD health and long-term care expenditures: what are the main drivers? Economics Department Working Papers No. 477. http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/57/7/36085940.pdf. Accessed 04/28/10 82 Auerbach A., Gokhale J., Kotlikoff L. Generational accounts: a meaningful alternative to deficit acccounting. Tax Policy and the Economy 5. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press and the NBER, 1991. 83 Klumpes P, Tang L. The cost incidence of the UK's National Health Service system. Geneva Papers 2008;33:744-67. 84 Robson W. Boomer bulge: dealing with the stress of demographic change on government budgets in Canada. www.cdhowe.org/pdf/ebrief_71.pdf. Accessed 04/28/10. 85 Commission d'étude sur les services de santé et les services sociaux. Emerging solutions : report and recommendations. Québec : Gouvernement du Québec, 2001. 86 Finances Québec. For a more efficient and better funded health-care system. www.budget.finances.gouv.qc.ca/Budget/2010-2011/en/documents/MoreEfficient.pdf. Accessed 04/27/10. 87 Canada Revenue Agency. Income Statistics 2009 - 2007 tax year. Interim Table 2 - Universe data. www.cra-arc.gc.ca/gncy/stts/gb07/pst/ntrm/pdf/table2-eng.pdf. Accessed 04/28/10. 88 Ipsos Reid. Canadians embracing tax-free savings accounts. October 20, 2009. www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=4557. Accessed 04/28/10. 89 Canadian Medical Association. It's about access: informing the debate on public and private health care. Ottawa, 2006.

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Health equity and the social determinants of health: A role for the medical profession

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10672

Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2012-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2012-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Health equity is created when individuals have the opportunity to achieve their full health potential; equity is undermined when preventable and avoidable systematic conditions constrain life choices.1 These conditions are known as the social determinants of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the social determinants of health as the circumstances in which people are born, develop, live and age.2 In 2002, researchers and policy experts at a York University conference identified the following list: income and income distribution; early life; education; housing; food security; employment and working conditions; unemployment and job security; social safety net; social inclusion/exclusion; and health services. 3 Research suggests that 15% of population health is determined by biology and genetics, 10% by physical environments, 25% by the actions of the health care system, with 50% being determined by our social and economic environment.4 Any actions to improve health and tackle health inequity must address the social determinants and their impact on daily life.5 THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH AND HEALTH STATUS Social status is one of the strongest predictors of health at the population level. There is a social gradient of health such that those with higher social status experience greater health than those with lower social status. The social gradient is evident not only when comparing the most disadvantaged to the most advantaged; within each strata, even among those holding stable middle-class jobs, those at the lowest end fare less well than those at the higher end. The Whitehall study of civil servants in the United Kingdom found that lower ranking staff have a greater disease burden and shorter life expectancy than higher-ranking staff.6 Differences in medical care did not account for the differences in mortality.7 This gradient has been demonstrated for just about any health condition.8 Hundreds of research papers have confirmed that people in the lowest socio-economic groups carry the greatest burden of illness.9 In 2001, people in the neighbourhoods with the highest 20% income lived about three years longer than those in the poorest 20% neighbourhoods (four years for men; two years for women).10 Dietary deficiencies, common in food insecure households, can lead to an increased chance of chronic disease and greater difficulty in disease management. It is estimated that about 1.1 million households in Canada experience food insecurity, with the risk increasing in single-parent households and in families on social assistance.11 Studies suggest that adverse socio-economic conditions in childhood can be a greater predictor of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adults than later life circumstances and behavioural choices.12 Effective early childhood development offers the best opportunity to reduce the social gradient and improve the social determinants of health,13 and offers the greatest return on investment.14 Low income contributes not only to material deprivation but social isolation as well. Without financial resources, it is more difficult for individuals to participate in cultural, educational and recreational activities or to benefit from tax incentives. Suicide rates in the lowest income neighbourhoods are almost twice as high as in the wealthiest neighbourhoods.15 This social isolation and its effects are most striking in Canada's homeless population. Being homeless is correlated with higher rates of physical and mental illness. In Canada, premature death is eight to 10 times higher among the homeless.16 The gradient in other social determinants can have an adverse impact as well. A study conducted in the Netherlands estimated that average morbidity and mortality in the overall population could be reduced 25-50% if men with lower levels of education had the same mortality and morbidity levels as those men with a university education.17 Employment status also follows this gradient, such that having a job is better than being unemployed. 18 Unemployment is correlated with increased blood pressure, self-reported ill health, drug abuse, and reductions in normal activity due to illness or injury.19 Unemployment is associated with increases in domestic violence, family breakups and crime. Finally, job security is relevant.20 Mortality rates are higher among temporary rather than permanent workers.21 Canada's Aboriginal people face the greatest health consequences as a result of the social determinants of health. Poverty, inadequate or substandard housing, unemployment, lack of access to health services, and low levels of education characterize a disproportionately large number of Aboriginal peoples.22 The crude mortality rate for First Nations is higher and life expectancy lower than the Canadian average.23 Aboriginal peoples experience higher rates of chronic disease, addictions, mental illness and childhood abuse.24 Aboriginal peoples have higher rates of suicide, with suicide being the leading cause of potential years of life lost in both the First Nations and Inuit populations.25 THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH AND CANADA'S HEALTH SYSTEM These differences in health outcomes have an impact on the health care system. Most major diseases including heart disease and mental illness follow a social gradient with those in lowest socio-economic groups having the greatest burden of illness.26 Those within the lowest socio-economic status are 1.4 times more likely to have a chronic disease, and 1.9 times more likely to be hospitalized for care of that disease.27 Chronic diseases such as diabetes account for 67% of direct health care costs and 60% indirect costs.28 Research has shown that Canadians with low incomes are higher users of general practitioner, mental health, and hospital services.29 People in the lowest income group were almost twice as likely as those in the highest income group to visit the emergency department for treatment. 30 Part of this may be caused by differences in access to care. Low-income Canadians are more likely to report that they have not received needed health care in the past 12 months.31 Those in the lowest income groups are 50% less likely than those in the highest income group to see a specialist or get care in the evenings or on weekends, and 40% more likely to wait more than five days for a doctor's appointment.32 Barriers to health care access are not the only issue. Research in the U.K.33 and U.S.34 has found that compliance with medical treatment tends to be lower in disadvantaged groups, leading to pain, missed appointments, increased use of family practice services and increased emergency department visits, and corresponding increases in cost. In the U.S., non-adherence has been attributed to 100,000 deaths annually.35 Researchers have reported that those in the lowest income groups are three times less likely to fill prescriptions, and 60% less able to get needed tests because of cost.36 These differences have financial costs. In Manitoba for example, research conducted in 1994 showed that those in the lowest income decile used services totaling $216 million (12.2%). In the same year, those in the highest income decile consumed $97 million (5.5%) of expenditures. If expenditures for the bottom half of the population by income had been the same as the median, Manitoba would have saved $319 million or 23.1% of their health care budget. 37 According to a 2011 report, low-income residents in Saskatoon consume an additional $179 million in health care costs than middle income earners.38 To reduce the burden of illness and therefore system costs, Canada needs to improve the underlying social and economic determinants of health of Canadians. However, until these changes have time to improve the health status of the population, there will still be a large burden of illness correlated to these underlying deficiencies. As a result, the health system will need to be adequately resourced to address the consequences of the social determinants of health. AREAS FOR ACTION The WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health identified four categories through which actions on social determinants can be taken. These include: * reducing social stratification by reducing inequalities in power, prestige, and income linked to socio-economic position; * decreasing the exposure of individuals and populations to the health-damaging factors they may face; * reducing the vulnerability of people to the health damaging conditions they face; and * intervening through health care to reduce the consequences of ill health caused by the underlying determinants.39 All of these areas offer possibilities for action by the physician community. The following section provides suggestions for action by the medical profession through: CMA and national level initiatives; medical education; leadership and research; and clinical practice. CMA and national level initiatives Despite the strong relationship between the social determinants of health and health, little in the way of effective action has resulted. CMA and its partners can and should, advocate for research and push for informed healthy public policy, including health impact assessments for government policies. Additionally, targeted population health programs aimed at addressing the underlying determinants should be supported. All Canadians need a better understanding of the health trends and the impacts of various social and economic indicators. Information about the differences in specific health indicators, collected over time,40 is essential to the task of describing underlying health trends and the impacts of social and economic interventions. Data within primary care practices could be assembled into (anonymous) community-wide health information databases, to address this need. CMA recommends that: 1. The federal government recognize the relationship of the social determinants of health on the demands of the health care system and that it implement a requirement for all cabinet decision-making to include a Health Impact Assessment. 2. Options be examined for minimizing financial barriers to necessary medical care including pharmaceuticals and medical devices necessary for health. 3. Federal and provincial/territorial governments examine ways to improve the social and economic circumstances of all Canadians. 4. Efforts be made to educate the public about the effect of social determinants on individual and population health. 5. Appropriate data be collected and reported on annually. This data should be locally usable, nationally comparable and based on milestones across the life course. Medical education Medical education is an effective means to provide physicians with the information and tools they require to understand the impact of social determinants on the health of their patients and deal with them accordingly.41 In 2001, Health Canada published a report in which they stated that the primary goal of medical education should be the preparation of graduates who know how to reduce the burden of illness and improve the health of the communities in which they practice.42 Among the report's recommendations was a call for greater integration of the social determinants in medical curricula.43 Although the CanMEDS framework has been a part of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's accreditation process since 2005, challenges to the integration of these competencies remain.44 The report called for a greater emphasis on providing medical students with firsthand experiences in the community and with distinct populations (service learning),45 which addresses the difficulties in teaching the social aspects of medicine within a traditional classroom or hospital setting.46 Many such programs exist across the country.47 However, these programs are still limited and there is a need to increase the availability of longitudinal programs which allow students to build on the skills they develop throughout medical school. Increasingly residency programs which focus on the social determinants of health are being offered.48 These programs are a means of providing physicians with the proper tools to communicate with patients from diverse backgrounds49 and reduce behaviours that marginalized patients have identified as barriers to health services.50 It also provides residents with physician role models who are active in the community. However, medical residents note a lack of opportunities to participate in advocacy during residency.51 Further, while experiential programs are effective in helping to reduce barriers between physicians and patients from disadvantaged backgrounds, greater recruitment of medical students from these marginalized populations should also be explored and encouraged. Finally, physicians in practice need to be kept up to date on new literature and interventions regarding the social determinants. Innovations which help address health equity in practice should be shared with interested physicians. In particular, there is a need for accredited continuing medical education (CME) and a means to encourage uptake.52 CMA recommends that: 6. Greater integration of information on the social determinants and health inequity be provided in medical school to support the CanMEDS health advocate role 7. All medical schools and residency programs offer service learning programs, to provide students with an opportunity to work with diverse populations in inner city, rural and remote settings, and to improve their skills in managing the impact of the social determinants on their patients. 8. CME on the social determinants of health and the physician role in health equity be offered and incentivized for practising physicians. Leadership and research Within many communities in Canada, there are physicians who are working to address social determinants and health equity within the patient populations they serve. This is done in many cases through collaboration with partners within and outside of the health care system. Providing these local physician leaders with the tools they need to build these partnerships, and influence the policies and programs that affect their communities is a strategy that needs to be explored. Evidence-based research about health equity, the clinical setting and the role of physicians is underdeveloped. Interested physicians may wish to participate in research about practice level innovations, as a means of contributing to the evidence base for 'health equity' interventions or simply to share best practices with interested colleagues. Further, physicians can provide the medical support to encourage the adoption of early childhood development practices for example, which support later adult health. In time, research will contribute to training, continuing medical education and potentially to clinical practice guidelines. Physicians can provide leadership in health impact assessments and equity audits within the health care system as well. Data is essential to identify health equity challenges within a program, to propose and test measures that address the issues underlying the disparities. Formal audits and good measurement are essential to develop evidence-based policy improvements.53 Innovative programs such as those within the Saskatoon Health Region and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto are examples of using these tools to improve access and reduce inequities. CMA recommends that: 9. Physicians who undertake leadership and advocacy roles should be protected from repercussions in the workplace, e.g., the loss of hospital privileges. 10. Physician leaders explore opportunities to strengthen the primary care public health interface within their communities by working with existing agencies and community resources. 11. Physician leaders work with their local health organizations and systems to conduct health equity impact assessments in order to identify challenges and find solutions to improve access and quality of care. 12. Physicians be encouraged to participate in or support research on best practices for the social determinants of health and health equity. Once identified, information sharing should be established in Canada and internationally. Clinical practice In consultation with identified health equity physician champions, a number of clinical interventions have been identified which are being undertaken by physicians across the country. These interventions could be undertaken in many practice settings given the right supports, and could be carried out by various members of the collaborative care team.1 First, a comprehensive social history is essential to understand how to provide care for each patient in the context of their life.54 There are a number of tools that can be used for such a consultation and more are in development.55 However, consolidation of the best ideas into a tool that is suitable for the majority of health care settings is needed. There is some concern that asking these questions is outside of the physician role. The CanMEDS health advocate role clearly sees these types of activities as part of the physician role.56 The 'Four Principles of Family Medicine' defined by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, affirms this role for physicians as well.57 Community knowledge was identified as a strategy for helping patients. Physicians who were aware of community programs and services were able to refer patients if/when social issues arose.58 Many communities and some health providers have developed community resource guides.59 For some physicians, developing a network of community resources was the best way to understand the supports available. As a corollary, physicians noted their work in helping their patients become aware of and apply for the various social programs to which they are entitled. The programs vary by community and province/territory, and include disability, nutritional supports and many others. Most if not all of these programs require physicians to complete a form in order for the individual to qualify. Resources are available for some of these programs,60 but more centralized supports for physicians regardless of practice location or province/territory are needed. Physicians advocate on behalf of their patients by writing letters confirming the medical limitations of various health conditions or the medical harm of certain exposures.61 For example, a letter confirming the role of mold in triggering asthma may lead to improvements in the community housing of an asthmatic. Additionally, letters might help patients get the health care services and referrals that they require. As identified leaders within the community, support from a physician may be a 'game-changer' for patients. Finally, the design of the clinic, such as hours of operation or location, will influence the ability of people to reach care.62 CMA recommends that: 13. Tools be provided for physicians to assess their patients for social and economic causes of ill health and to determine the impact of these factors on treatment design. 14. Local databases of community services and programs (health and social) be developed and provided to physicians. Where possible, targeted guides should be developed for the health sector. 15. Collaborative team-based practice be supported and encouraged. 16. Resources or services be made available to physicians so that they can help their patients identify the provincial/territorial and federal programs for which they may qualify. 17. Physicians be cognizant of equity considerations when considering their practice design and patient resources. 18. All patients be treated equitably and have reasonable access to appropriate care, regardless of the funding model of their physician. CONCLUSION Socio-economic factors play a larger role in creating (or damaging) health than either biological factors or the health care system. Health equity is increasingly recognized as a necessary means by which we will make gains in the health status of all Canadians and retain a sustainable publicly funded health care system. Addressing inequalities in health is a pillar of CMA's Health Care Transformation initiative. Physicians as clinicians, learners, teachers, leaders and as a profession can take steps to address the problems on behalf of their patients. REFERENCES 1 A full review of the consultations is provided in the companion paper The Physician and Health Equity: Opportunities in Practice. 1 Khalema, N. Ernest (2005) Who's Healthy? Who's Not? A Social Justice Perspective on Health Inequities. Available at: http://www.uofaweb.ualberta.ca/chps/crosslinks_march05.cfm 2 World Health Organization (2008) Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health: Executive Summary. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/2008/WHO_IER_CSDH_08.1_eng.pdf 3 Public Health Agency of Canada (N.D.) The Social Determinants of Health: An Overview of the Implications for Policy and the Role of the Health Sector. Available at: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ph-sp/oi-ar/pdf/01_overview_e.pdf 4 Keon, Wilbert J. & Lucie Pépin (2008) Population Health Policy: Issues and Options. Available at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/392/soci/rep/rep10apr08-e.pdf 5 Friel, Sharon (2009) Health equity in Australia: A policy framework based on action on the social determinants of obesity, alcohol and tobacco. The National Preventative Health Taskforce. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/preventativehealth/publishing.nsf/Content/0FBE203C1C547A82CA257529000231BF/$File/commpaper-hlth-equity-friel.pdf 6 Wilkinson, Richard & Michael Marmot eds. (2003) Social Determinants of Health: The Solid Facts: Second Edition. World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/98438/e81384.pdf 7 Khalema, N. Ernest (2005) Who's Healthy?... 8 Dunn, James R. (2002) The Health Determinants Partnership Making Connections Project: Are Widening Income Inequalities Making Canada Less Healthy? Available at: http://www.opha.on.ca/our_voice/collaborations/makeconnxn/HDP-proj-full.pdf 9 Ibid 10 Wilkins, Russ; Berthelot, Jean-Marie; and Ng E. [2002]. Trends in Mortality by Neighbourhood Income in Urban Canada from 1971 to 1996. Health Reports 13 [Supplement]: pp. 45-71 11 Mikkonen, Juha & Dennis Raphael (2010) Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Available at: http://www.thecanadianfacts.org/The_Canadian_Facts.pdf 12 Raphael, Dennis (2003) "Addressing The Social Determinants of Health In Canada: Bridging The Gap Between Research Findings and Public Policy." Policy Options. March 2003 pp.35-40. 13 World Health Organization (2008) Closing the gap in a generation... 14 Hay, David I. (2006) Economic Arguments for Action on the Social Determinants of Health. Canadian Policy Research Networks. Available at: http://www.cprn.org/documents/46128_en.pdf 15 Mikkonen, Juha & Dennis Raphael (2010) Social Determinants of Health... 16 Ibid. 17 Whitehead, Margaret & Goran Dahlgren (2006) Concepts and principles for tackling social inequities in health: Levelling up Part 1. World Health Organization Europe. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/74737/E89383.pdf 18 Wilkinson, Richard & Michael Marmot eds. (2003) "Social Determinants of Health... 19 Ferrie, Jane E. (1999) "Health consequences of job insecurity." In Labour Market Changes and Job Security: A Challenge for Social Welfare and Health Promotion. World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/98411/E66205.pdf 20 Marmot, Michael (2010) Fair Society Healthy Lives: The Marmot Review: Executive Summary. Available at: http://www.marmotreview.org/AssetLibrary/pdfs/Reports/FairSocietyHealthyLivesExecSummary.pdf 21 World Health Organization (2008) Closing the gap in a generation... 22 Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Frequently Asked Questions (Ottawa: Canadian Government Publishing Directorate, 2009) Available at: http://www.ahf.ca/faq 23Health Council of Canada, "The Health Status Of Canada's First Nations, Métis And Inuit Peoples", 2005, Available at:http://healthcouncilcanada.ca.c9.previewyoursite.com/docs/papers/2005/BkgrdHealthyCdnsENG.pdf 24 Mikkonen, Juha & Dennis Raphael (2010) Social Determinants of Health... 25Health Council of Canada, (2005)"The Health Status Of Canada's First Nations, Métis And Inuit Peoples... 26 Dunn, James R. (2002) The Health Determinants Partnership... 27 CIHI/CPHI (2012) Disparities in Primary Health Care Experiences Among Canadians with Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions. http://secure.cihi.ca/cihiweb/products/PHC_Experiences_AiB2012_E.pdf 28 Munro, Daniel (2008) "Healthy People, Healthy Performance, Healthy Profits: The Case for Business Action on the Socio-Economic Determinants of Health." The Conference Board of Canada. Available at: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/Libraries/NETWORK_PUBLIC/dec2008_report_healthypeople.sflb 29 Williamson, Deanna L. et.al. (2006) "Low-income Canadians' experiences with health-related services: Implications for health care reform." Health Policy. 76(2006) pp. 106-121. 30 CIHI/CPHI (2012) Disparities in Primary Health Care Experiences Among Canadians... 31 Williamson, Deanna L. et.al. (2006) "Low-income Canadians'... 32 Mikkonen, Juha & Dennis Raphael (2010) Social Determinants of Health... 33 Neal, Richard D. et.al. (2001) "Missed appointments in general practice: retrospective data analysis from four practices." British Journal of General Practice. 51 pp.830-832. 34 Kennedy, Jae & Christopher Erb (2002) "Prescription Noncompliance due to Cost Among Adults with Disabilities in the United States." American Journal of Public Health. Vol.92 No.7 pp. 1120-1124. 35 Bibbins-Domingo, Kirsten & M. Robin DiMatteo. Chapter 8: Assessing and Promoting Medication Adherence. pp. 81-90 in King, Talmadge E, Jr. & Margaret B. Wheeler ed. (2007) Medical Management of Vulnerable and Underserved Patients... 36 Mikkonen, Juha & Dennis Raphael (2010) Social Determinants of Health... 37 Dunn, James R. (2002) The Health Determinants Partnership... 38 Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership (2011) from poverty to possibility...and prosperity: A Preview to the Saskatoon Community Action Plan to Reduce Poverty. Available at: http://www.saskatoonpoverty2possibility.ca/pdf/SPRP%20Possibilities%20Doc_Nov%202011.pdf 39 World Health Organization (2005) Action On The Social Determinants Of Health: Learning From Previous Experiences. Available at: http://www.who.int/social_determinants/resources/action_sd.pdf 40 Braveman, Paula (2003) "Monitoring Equity in Health and Healthcare: A Conceptual Framework."Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition. Sep;21(3):181-192. 41 Royal College of Physicians (2010) How doctors can close the gap: Tackling the social determinants of health through culture change, advocacy and education. Available at: http://www.marmotreview.org/AssetLibrary/resources/new%20external%20reports/RCP-report-how-doctors-can-close-the-gap.pdf 42 Health Canada (2001) Social Accountability: A Vision for Canadian Medical Schools. Available at: http://www.medicine.usask.ca/leadership/social-accountability/pdfs%20and%20powerpoint/SA%20-%20A%20vision%20for%20Canadian%20Medical%20Schools%20-%20Health%20Canada.pdf 43 Ibid. 44 Dharamsi, Shafik; Ho, Anita; Spadafora, Salvatore; and Robert Woollard (2011) "The Physician as Health Advocate: Translating the Quest for Social Responsibility into Medical Education and Practice." Academic Medicine. Vol.86 No.9 pp.1108-1113. 45 Health Canada (2001) Social Accountability: A Vision for Canadian Medical Schools... 46 Meili, Ryan; Fuller, Daniel; & Jessica Lydiate. (2011) "Teaching social accountability by making the links: Qualitative evaluation of student experiences in a service-learning project." Medical Teacher. 33; 659-666. 47 Ford-Jones, Lee; Levin, Leo; Schneider, Rayfel; & Denis Daneman (2012) "A New Social Pediatrics Elective-A Tool for Moving to Life Course Developmental Health." The Journal of Pediatrics. V.160 Iss. 3 pp.357-358; Meili, Ryan; Ganem-Cuenca, Alejandra; Wing-sea Leung, Jannie; & Donna Zaleschuk (2011) "The CARE Model of Social Accountability: Promoting Cultural Change." Academic Medicine. Vol.86 No.9 pp.1114-1119. 48 Cuthbertson, Lana "U of A helps doctors understand way of life in the inner city." Edmonton Journal Dec 22, 2010. Available at: http://www2.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/cityplus/story.html?id=943d7dc3-927b-4429-878b-09b6e00595e1 49 Willems, S.; Maesschalck De, S.; Deveugele, M.; Derese, A. & J. De Maeseneer (2005) "Socio-economic status of the patient and doctor-patient communication: does it make a difference?" Patient Education and Counseling. 56 pp. 139-146. 50 Bloch, Gary; Rozmovits, Linda & Broden Giambone (2011) "Barriers to primary care responsiveness to poverty as a risk factor for health." BioMed Central Family Practice. Available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2296-12-62.pdf; Schillinger, Dean; Villela, Theresa J. & George William Saba. Chapter 6: Creating a Context for Effective Intervention in the Clinical Care of Vulnerable Patients. pp.59-67. In King, Talmadge E, Jr. & Margaret B. Wheeler ed. (2007) Medical Management of Vulnerable and Underserved Patients. 51 Dharamsi, Shafik; Ho, Anita; Spadafora, Salvatore; and Robert Woollard (2011) "The Physician as Health Advocate... 52 UCL Institute of Health Equity (2012) The Role of the Health Workforce in Tackling Health Inequalities... 53 Meili, Ryan (2012) A Healthy Society: How A Focus On Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy. Saskatoon: Canada. Purich Publishing Limited. pp.36 54 UCL Institute of Health Equity (2012) The Role of the Health Workforce in Tackling Health Inequalities... 55 Bloch, Gary (2011) "Poverty: A clinical tool for primary care "Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto. Available at: http://www.healthprovidersagainstpoverty.ca/system/files/Poverty%20A%20Clinical%20Tool%20for%20Primary%20Care%20%28version%20with%20References%29_0.pdf ; Bricic, Vanessa; Eberdt, Caroline & Janusz Kaczorowski (2011) "Development of a Tool to Identify Poverty in a Family Practice Setting: A Pilot Study." International Journal of Family Medicine. Available at: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijfm/2011/812182/ ; Based on form developed by: Drs. V. Dubey, R.Mathew & K. Iglar; Revised by Health Providers Against Poverty (2008) " Preventative Care Checklist Form: For average-risk, routine, female health assessments." Available at: http://www.healthprovidersagainstpoverty.ca/Resourcesforhealthcareproviders ; Based on form developed by: Drs. V. Dubey, R.Mathew & K. Iglar; Revised by Health Providers Against Poverty (2008) " Preventative Care Checklist Form: For average-risk, routine, male health assessments." Available at: http://www.healthprovidersagainstpoverty.ca/Resourcesforhealthcareproviders 56 Frank, Dr. Jason R. ed. (2005) "The CanMEDS 2005 Physician Competency Framework: Better standards. Better physicians. Better Care." Office of Education: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Available at: http://rcpsc.medical.org/canmeds/CanMEDS2005/CanMEDS2005_e.pdf 57 Tannenbaum, David et.al. (2011) "Triple C Competency-based Curriculum: Report of the Working Group on Postgraduate Curriculum Review-Part 1 58 UCL Institute of Health Equity (2012) The Role of the Health Workforce in Tackling Health Inequalities... 59 Doyle-Trace L, Labuda S. Community Resources in Cote-des-Neiges. Montreal: St Mary's Hospital Family Medicine Centre, 2011. (This guide was developed by medical residents Lara Doyle-Trace and Suzan Labuda at McGill University.); Mobile Outreach Street Health (N.D.) Pocket MOSH: a little MOSH for your pocket: A Practitioners Guide to MOSH and the Community We Serve. Available at: http://www.cdha.nshealth.ca/mobile-outreach-street-health 60 Health Providers Against Poverty (N.D.) Tools and Resources. Available at: http://www.healthprovidersagainstpoverty.ca/Resourcesforhealthcareproviders 61 Meili, Ryan (2012) A Healthy Society: How A Focus...pp.61; UCL Institute of Health Equity (2012) The Role of the Health Workforce in Tackling Health Inequalities... 62 Rachlis, Michael (2008) Operationalizing Health Equity: How Ontario's Health Services Can Contribute to Reducing Health Disparities. Wellesley Institute. Available at: http://wellesleyinstitute.com/files/OperationalizingHealthEquity.pdf

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Lessons from the frontlines: A collaborative report on Pandemic H1N1

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9840

Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-08-26
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2010-08-26
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Lessons from the frontlines: A report on Pandemic H1N1 from Canadian Medical Association, The College of Family Physicians of Canada, National Specialty Society for Community Medicine One year ago, a novel influenza virus claimed its first victim in Mexico, and soon the world was plunged into its first influenza pandemic in 40 years. Although pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) swept across the globe, we were fortunate this time as the virus was far less virulent than first feared. Now that pH1N1 has peaked and faded, it is time to look at what we learned and how it will help us plan for the next national public health emergency. The College of Family Physicians of Canada, the National Specialty Society for Community Medicine and the Canadian Medical Association have joined together to present a picture of lessons learned from the front lines of the pandemic. Together we represent over 80,000 physicians, of whom almost 50,000 are family physicians, engaged in all aspects of Canada's health care and public health systems. Canada's experience with SARS in 2003 was a "wake-up call"; much changed in its aftermath. The creation of the Public Health Agency of Canada led by a chief public health officer and the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network increased Canada's ability to respond to a public health emergency like pH1N1. The Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector, as well as complementary provincial and territorial plans, provides a framework and approach to responding to a pandemic. In many ways, this planning paid off. Canada mobilized quickly in response to the pH1N1 threat. Morbidity and mortality were lower than feared, and 45% of the population was vaccinated. But this response can also be seen as a "dress rehearsal" for a more severe influenza pandemic or some other national public health emergency: a test of our plans and an opportunity to learn from experience, with the time to incorporate these lessons into our strategic planning. Those on the front lines of response understand how health emergencies test our entire system - public health, acute and primary care and the community-based family physician. The success of our response depends on planning and practice, the effectiveness of public health and clinical countermeasures, our health human resources, the surge capacity within our health care and public health systems and our ability to reach the public. One of our greatest challenges in Canada is also to establish a coherent national and provincial/territorial strategy that can be implemented at a local level. Although we believe that Canada's overall response to pH1N1 produced many success stories, there were circumstances that challenged us as health professionals. Both health care and public health need further strengthening, and their separate infrastructures and the interdependence between these structures need attention and bolstering. The following comments focus on two overarching areas that influenced our ability to respond to the pandemic: communications and health system integration. Communications Communication was a consistent source of concern. Channels of communication among the various levels of public health providers were stronger than those for primary care providers, especially family physicians. On 9 Aug. 2009, following the first wave of pH1N1, our leaders wrote to chief public health officer of Canada Dr. David Butler-Jones on behalf of our members to share their thoughts and recommendations on how to improve communications with physicians. Family physicians in particular, but also other front-line health care providers, needed communication that was tailored to the practice setting, resources that were easy to access, and clear messages written in a manner that allowed rapid implementation into clinical practice during health emergencies because the timing of clinical response was critical. We recommended that front-line clinical practitioners be involved in the development of guidelines and the strategies for their dissemination, so that the content could be linked directly to the clinical setting. Family physicians are part of our first line of defence during infectious disease outbreaks. To ensure optimum patient care, they need clinical guidance quickly. Many physicians felt that the urgent need to provide consistent, clinically relevant information was not well recognized by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Public Health Network and, in some cases, provincial, territorial, regional or local levels. It took three months after recognition of the emerging pandemic to publish Interim Guidance for Ambulatory Care of Influenza-like Illness in the Context of H1N1. The current Public Health Network process of federal/provincial/territorial (FPT) consultation and consensus building seemed ill-suited to the acute national need for clinical information on issues such as the use and prescription of anti-viral medications. As provincial authorities and professional medical organizations moved to fill the void, different approaches and recommendations arose independent from one another. Better integration of primary care response by a national organization such as PHAC and the provincial/territorial health ministries could address the needs of clinical practitioners in concert with public health responses. This would also ensure that care directives are translated into user-friendly formats appropriate to clinical settings. We were pleased to be able to work with PHAC in fall 2009 to produce Pandemic H1N1: Fast Facts for Front-line Clinicians. This resource was highly valued by many of our members, and the collaboration demonstrated how health organizations can work effectively with government to contribute their expertise to the development and distribution of appropriate, clinically relevant information. Nevertheless, our critics declared that it was too little, too late. In situations where scientific evidence is rapidly changing, the processes used to distribute information to both front-line public health and clinical professionals must be designed to avoid confusion. Coordinated, unified communication strategies are needed at the national, provincial/territorial and local levels. Regardless of the official source, the information must be consistent. During the pandemic, many physicians and public health workers complained that multiple levels of government provided similar, but not the same advice. The differences led to skepticism, and the inundation of messages led to overload. The bottom line is that clinically relevant and trustworthy information should be provided on a timely basis, even if levels of certainty are fluctuating. Jurisdictions with effective communication to the primary care sector were characterized by cooperation and consultation between the medical community and the provincial, territorial and regional health authorities, both before and during the crisis. We recommend: 1. That the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the provinces and territories, evaluate the effectiveness of pH1N1 communications between public health and physicians and other front-line primary health care providers, and use the finding of this evaluation to research options for future response to a public health crisis. 2. That federal, provincial/territorial public health authorities and health care professionals and their associations work together in the inter-pandemic period to develop a pan-Canadian communication strategy to be used during health emergencies. 3. The establishment of a pan-Canadian centre within the Public Health Agency of Canada - similar to the Centre for Effective Practice - to undertake timely knowledge translation of clinical management guidelines for clinicians during public health crises. Surveillance and electronic communications The national response to infectious disease would have been greatly facilitated if system-wide communicable disease surveillance had been in place to support the sharing of data between public health and the rest of the health care system, particularly at the regional and local levels of pandemic response. Clinicians' practices are highly influenced by illness patterns that develop regionally and locally within their practice populations; thus, surveillance data are useful in determining appropriate treatment. Real-time data were not available to most physicians and when data did become available, they were already several weeks old. Delayed clinical guidelines were not a suitable substitute for timely surveillance information. Expansion of the use of electronic medical records (EMRs) in primary care, with bi-directional links to public health electronic health records (EHRs), could have facilitated surveillance and communications. Family practice clinics with EMRs were able to quickly identify high-risk patients, communicate with them to schedule vaccination appointments and collect the required data for public health. The varied levels of success of public pH1N1 vaccination clinics were further proof of the need to move to standard use of EMRs and EHRs in the health system. Communications can be enhanced through the sharing of data between the public health and primary care systems. EMRs may help resolve the challenge of collecting data from primary care sites. Collaboration among the PHAC, the Canadian Medical Association and the Information Technology Association of Canada's Health Division led to development of a pilot project to demonstrate the use of primary care EMRs as real-time sentinel surveillance tools for public health action to supplement existing surveillance mechanisms. In addition, after a successful two-year pilot project, the College of Family Physicians of Canada is working with the PHAC, in association with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, to conduct surveillance for five chronic diseases using EMRs, local networks across Canada and a national central repository for standardized data. These studies represent the increasingly important role of electronic information in surveillance and the value of collaboration between public health and primary care. We recommend: 4. That the federal and provincial/territorial governments provide EMR funding to enable clinical care and public health authorities to build interconnectedness and allow real-time information collection and analysis. System issues FPT responsibilities The division of responsibility between federal and provincial/territorial authorities for health care and emergency response influences how we respond to public health emergencies. Provincial/territorial governments have a primary role to play in regulating health matters within their boundaries. At the same time, the federal government has responsibilities related to national public safety and health protection. There can be no disputing the legitimacy of federal involvement in public health matters of an interprovincial/territorial nature. Under International Health Regulations, the federal government also has a responsibility to report and monitor public health emergencies of potential harm to other countries. Since Canada's SARS experience, there has been much progress in building FPT cooperation and increasing consultation on public health matters. However, the division of responsibility has led us to a situation where public health and clinical guidance in each province and territory was similar, yet different. Although the Pandemic Influenza Committee and the Special FPT Advisory Committee on H1N1 Influenza strove for consensus at the national level, individual provinces and territories were under no obligation to implement the guidance agreed to at the FPT level. Consultative and collaborative processes at the FPT level created delays in decision-making and directly interfered with the capacity of front-line professionals to respond to the urgent health needs of their patients. This led to a sense of confusion in the media and a loss of trust among the public and health professionals regarding Canada's capacity to respond to pH1N1. System capacity Canada's health system lacks surge capacity and can be sorely tested during a public health emergency, such as the recent experience with pH1N1. The underdeveloped public health infrastructure also means that it is a challenge to handle more than one national crisis at a time. To mount a response to pH1N1, public health units pulled human resources from other programs and many critical ones were delayed, suspended or cancelled altogether. During the first wave of pH1N1, Manitoba experienced a severe outbreak that stretched the resources of its critical care infrastructure to its limits. Front-line health care providers were inundated with telephone calls from the worried well and an increase in visits from those with flu symptoms. If pH1N1 had been the severe pandemic that was expected and for which Canada had been preparing, our health system would have been brought to its knees. In 2008, the Canadian Coalition for Public Health in the 21st Century noted that Canada remains vulnerable to the risks presented by epidemics and pandemics. This vulnerability remains today, and a long-range plan to build our public health capacity and workforce and to address the lack of surge capacity in our health system must become a priority if we are to be prepared for the next emergency. We recommend: 5. That the federal government increase infrastructure funding to provinces/territories to assist local health emergency preparedness planning and response, to reduce variation across the country and to integrate clinical care structures into public health structures at the local level. 6. That the Public Health Agency of Canada review the recommendations of the 2003 report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health (Naylor report) in light of the pH1N1 experience and develop a national action plan to address the persistent gaps. Public health/primary care partnership Family physicians, in particular, understand that primary health care happens at the local level. In fact, so does all public health. During times of public health crisis, it is crucial for public health and primary care to work together, each respecting, supporting and bolstering the efforts of the other. Strengthening local public health and primary care structures and the interface between them would have resulted in improved, shared understanding of each sector's roles and responsibilities during the pH1N1 epidemic, better communications, improved data sharing and, most important, better served populations. Public health measures are directed toward the mitigation of disease through surveillance, research and outbreak management activities, while physicians provide information, education and clinical treatment to their patients. A commitment from both sectors at the local and provincial levels - and the professionals within each sector - to work together in the inter-pandemic period to build on processes that allow sharing of perspectives and information is essential. It is crucial that local public health authorities receive financial resources to increase their ability to collaborate effectively with family physicians, specialist physicians and other front-line providers. A number of the challenges faced by front-line public health workers and front-line physicians during the pH1N1 outbreak could have been lessened if there had been stronger links within the health system. We recommend: 7. That the Public Health Agency of Canada develop a focus on improving the interrelationship between primary care and public health to support collaboration during public health crises. Vaccination A key measure to combat pandemic influenza is mass vaccination. On the whole, Canada mounted an effective campaign: 45% of Canadians were vaccinated, and the proportion was even higher in First Nations communities - a first in Canadian history. Canada was one of the first countries with sufficient vaccine for the population and, with one domestic vaccine supplier, Canada avoided the confusion of multiple formulations as seen in the United States. The outcome was positive, but many public health units were stretched as expectations exceeded the pre-existing constrained resources. Although we recognize that the provinces and territories have quite different approaches to the delivery of their routine immunization programs, there is agreement that the pandemic immunization process did not adequately engage physicians in planning and delivery. A number of difficulties, such as the impact of bulk packaging, manufacturing delays that affected the agreed "sequencing" of patients and the logistics of inventory management, led to friction between front-line public health practitioners and family physicians. These could have been avoided with strengthened interdependence and mutual understanding before this crisis. The great variation in mass vaccination programs between provinces/territories, and even between local public health units, led to public confusion. Recognition of the diversity of primary care settings in which physicians work and bilateral planning in advance of the event is essential, because it is simply not feasible to tailor responses to myriad settings in the heat of the moment. Television broadcasts of long lines of people waiting to be vaccinated contributed to a loss of confidence in the system at a time when public confidence was sorely needed to encourage vaccination. Nationally promulgated clinical practice guidelines had great potential to create consistent clinical responses across the country. Instead, the variation and lack of coordination in providing important clinical information during this crisis eroded the public's confidence in the federal, provincial and territorial response. Ensuring future consistency in clinical approaches will require examination of ethical principles for the allocation of resources, such as anti-virals, vaccines and hospital treatment. Public engagement in the discussion of ethical principles is essential and, as much as possible, the consultative process should be transparent and undertaken in advance. We recommend: 8. That the Public Health Network seek advanced pan-Canadian commitment to a harmonized and singular national response to clinical practice guidelines, including mass vaccination programs, during times of potential public health crisis. Conclusion In 2003, in its submission to the National Advisory Committee on SARS, the Canadian Medical Association noted that the uptake of new information is influenced by many qualitative factors, and that research is needed to determine how best to communicate with individual physicians and other health care providers in emergency situations. Communication processes should be based on sound research and build on existing communication networks and relationships. The College of Family Physicians of Canada has recommended that information networks be strengthened to promote the sharing of the most relevant information among family physicians, other primary care providers and public health at the local level. We believe that PHAC is well positioned to undertake research on how health professionals can best receive information and to catalogue existing communication networks to build them into a well-coordinated national emergency response communication system. We must work together to translate pandemic information into practical messages relevant to front-line providers and employ trusted channels to deliver key messages to our patients and the public. Broad consensus is developing that our experience with the pH1N1 outbreak has shown that one of our greatest needs in preparing for the next public health emergency is for a national communications strategy that involves all levels of government, targets all sectors of our health system and uses the channels with which these targets are most familiar. An effective response to infectious disease outbreaks depends on effective surveillance, data collection and sharing and tracking of clinical interventions. The absence of a national communicable disease/immunization monitoring system is an ongoing problem. In 2003, the report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health recommended that "the [Public Health] Agency [of Canada] should facilitate the long term development of a comprehensive and national public health surveillance system that will collect, analyze, and disseminate laboratory and health care facility data on infectious diseases... to relevant stakeholders." In 2010, Canada still does not have a comprehensive national surveillance and epidemiological system. A pan-Canadian electronic health information system is urgently needed and must become a priority during the inter-pandemic phase, with adequate federal funding and provincial/territorial collaboration. Greater adoption of the EMR in primary care and better public health EHRs with the ability to link systems will augment existing surveillance capacity and should be considered essential to a pan-Canadian system. Many of the challenges front-line health practitioners faced during the pH1N1 were also challenges during the SARS outbreak in 2003. The Naylor report proposed a number of measures to improve Canada's readiness and strengthen public health. Although a great deal of work and effort has gone into building links with and between provinces/territories and the federal government within the public health and the health emergency management system, little has trickled down to the front lines. This is not to devalue the much-improved spirit of FPT cooperation and the important achievements that have been made. Rather it is to suggest that, as the roof is no longer leaking, it is time to focus attention on the foundation - the response at the local level. Embedding primary care expertise in public health planning within the PHAC and at provincial/territorial and local levels will help circumvent problems and improve the effectiveness of our health system to respond to public health emergencies. A dialogue between primary care and the emergency management structures will help the response team understand and value the capabilities within primary care and build them into their planning and response systems. At the end of the day, we need to nurture collaborative relations between public health and primary care. Our shared objective is protecting the health of Canadians, recognizing that, in reality, neither system can be successful in isolation. It is essential that we trust each other's professionalism and expertise and work together to ensure that a strong foundation is in place to protect Canadians from future health threats. We have the will and expertise. We need the resources and a firm commitment to move forward. We have had two "wake-up calls" - SARS and pH1N1. Let's not wait for a third to find that we are not yet prepared. Recommendations 1. That the Public Health Agency of Canada, with the provinces and territories, evaluate the effectiveness of pH1N1 communications between public health and physicians and other front-line primary health care providers, and use the finding of this evaluation to research options for future response to a public health crisis. 2. That federal, provincial/territorial public health authorities and health care professionals and their associations work together in the inter-pandemic period to develop a pan-Canadian communication strategy to be used during health emergencies. 3. The establishment of a pan-Canadian centre within the Public Health Agency of Canada - similar to the Centre for Effective Practice - to undertake timely knowledge translation of clinical management guidelines for clinicians during public health crises. 4. That the federal and provincial/territorial governments provide EMR funding to enable clinical care and public health authorities to build interconnectedness and allow real-time information collection and analysis. 5. That the federal government increase infrastructure funding to provinces/territories to assist local health emergency preparedness planning and response, to reduce variation across the country and to integrate clinical care structures into public health structures at the local level. 6. That the Public Health Agency of Canada review the recommendations of the 2003 report of the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health (Naylor report) in light of the pH1N1 experience and develop a national action plan to address the persistent gaps. 7. That the Public Health Agency of Canada develop a focus on improving the interrelationship between primary care and public health to support collaboration during public health crises. 8. That the Public Health Network seek advanced pan-Canadian commitment to a harmonized and singular national response to clinical practice guidelines, including mass vaccination programs, during times of potential public health crisis.

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Restricting marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and youth in Canada: A Canadian health care and scientific organization policy consensus statement

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10676

Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2012-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2012-12-08
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Restricting Marketing of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages to Children and Youth in Canada: A Canadian Health Care and Scientific Organization Policy Consensus Statement POLICY GOAL Federal government to immediately begin a legislative process to restrict all marketing targeted to children under the age of 13 of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium and that in the interim the food industry immediately ceases marketing of such food to children. PURPOSE OF STATEMENT This policy consensus statement was developed to reflect the growing body of evidence linking the promotion and consumption of diets high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium1 to cardiovascular and chronic disease (hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, obesity, cancer, and heart disease and stroke)— leading preventable risk factors and causes of death and disability within Canada and worldwide. (1-3) (1) For the remainder of the document, reference to foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium will be framed as foods high in fats, sugars or sodium. The current generation of Canadian children is expected to live shorter, less healthy lives as a result of unhealthy eating. (4) Canadians’ overconsumption of fat, sodium and sugar, rising rates of childhood obesity, growing numbers of people with cancer, heart disease and stroke, and the combined strain they exert on the health care system and quality of life for Canadians necessitates immediate action for Canadian governments and policy-makers. Restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages directed at children is gaining increasing international attention as a cost-effective, population-based intervention to reduce the prevalence and the burden of chronic and cardiovascular diseases through reducing children’s exposure to, and consumption of, disease-causing foods. (2,5,6) In May 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO released a set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children (5) and called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising messages that promote foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques. In June 2012, the follow-up document, A Framework for Implementing the Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children, (7) was released. The policy aim should be to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or sodium. WHO (2010): Recommendation 1 What this policy consensus statement offers is the perspective of many major national health care professional and scientific organizations to guide Canadian governments and non-government organizations on actions that need to be taken to protect the health of our future generations, in part by restricting the adverse influence of marketing of foods high in fat, sugar or sodium to Canadian children and youth. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE AND RATIONALE -Young children lack the cognitive ability to understand the persuasive intent of marketing or assess commercial claims critically. (8) in 1989 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that “advertisers should not be able to capitalize upon children’s credulity” and “advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative”.(5) -The marketing and advertising of information or products known to be injurious to children’s health and wellbeing is unethical and infringes on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates that, “In all actions concerning children … the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” (9) - Unhealthy food advertising during children’s television programs in Canada is higher than in many countries, with children being exposed to advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages up to 6 times per hour. (10) - Unhealthy food and beverage advertising influences children’s food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns and has been shown to be a probable cause of childhood overweight and obesity by the WHO. (1,8,11) - The vast majority of Canadians (82%) want government intervention to place limits on advertising unhealthy foods and beverages to children. (12) - The regulation of food marketing to children is an effective and cost-saving population-based intervention to improve health and prevent disease. (13,14) - Several bills have been introduced into the House of Commons to amend the Competition Act and the Food and Drug Act to restrict commercial advertising, including food, to children under 13 years of age. None have yet been passed. (15) - Canada’s current approach to restricting advertising to children is not effective and is not in line with the 2010 WHO recommendations on the marketing of foods and beverages to children, nor is it keeping pace with the direction of policies being adopted internationally, which ban or restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing targeted to children. (16,17) LEGISLATIVE RULING The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that “advertising directed at young children is per se manipulative” Irwin Toy Ltd. v. Québec (AG), 1989 FOOD MARKETING TO CHILDREN: A TIMELY OPPORTUNITY FOR CANADA Childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention are collective priorities for action of federal, provincial and territorial (F/P/T) governments. (3,5,18,19) Strategy 2.3b of the 2011 Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights stipulates “looking at ways to decrease the marketing of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium to children. “(5, p. 31) The 2010 Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada has also identified the need to “continue to explore options to reduce the exposure of children to marketing for foods that are high in sodium" as a key activity for F/P/T governments to consider. (19, p. 31) In their 2010 set of recommendations, the WHO stipulated that governments are best positioned to lead and ensure effective policy development, implementation and evaluation. (6) To date, there has been no substantive movement by the federal government to develop coordinated national-level policies that change the way unhealthy foods and beverages are produced, marketed and sold. Current federal, provincial and industry-led self-regulatory codes are inconsistent in their scope and remain ineffective in their ability to sufficiently reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing, nor have they been adequately updated to address the influx of new marketing mediums to which children and youth in Canada are increasingly subjected. Quebec implemented regulations in 1980 restricting all commercial advertising. (20) Although the ban has received international recognition and is viewed as world leading, several limitations remain, in part due exposure of Quebec children to marketing from outside Quebec, weak enforcement of the regulations and narrow application of its provisions. Accordingly, the undersigned are calling on the federal government to provide strong leadership and establish a legislative process for the development of regulations that restrict all commercial marketing of foods and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium to children. Strong federal government action and commitment are required to change the trajectory of chronic diseases in Canada and institute lasting changes in public health. Specifically: Efforts must be made to ensure that children…are protected against the impact of marketing [of foods with a high content of fat, sugar and sodium] and given the opportunity to grow and develop in an enabling food environment — one that fosters and encourages healthy dietary choices and promotes the maintenance of healthy weight. (7, p. 6) Such efforts to protect the health of children must go beyond the realm of federal responsibility and involve engagement, dialogue, leadership and advocacy by all relevant stakeholders, including all elected officials, the food and marketing sector, public health, health care professional and scientific organizations, and most importantly civil society. The undersigned support the development of policies that are regulatory in nature to create national and/or regional uniformity in implementation and compliance by industry. “Realizing the responsibility of governments both to protect the health of children and to set definitions in policy according to public health goals and challenges — as well as to ensure policy is legally enforced — statutory regulation has the greatest potential to achieve the intended or desired policy impact.” WHO (2012), p. 33 POLICY/LEGISLATIVE SPECIFICATIONS The following outline key definitions and components of an effective and comprehensive policy on unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children and should be used to guide national policy scope and impact. - Age of Child: In the context of broadcast regulations, the definition of “age of child” typically ranges from under 13 years to under 16 years. In Canada, Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act (20) applies to children under 13 years of age. Consistent with existing legislation, this report recommends that policies restricting marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages be directed to children less than 13 years of age at a minimum. While the science on the impact of marketing on children over 13 is less extensive, emerging research reveals that older children still require protection and may be more vulnerable to newer forms of marketing (i.e., digital media ), in which food and beverage companies are playing an increasingly prominent role. (21-23) Strong consideration should be given to extending the age of restricting the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage to age 16. - Unhealthy Food and Beverages: In the absence of a national standardized definition for “healthy” or “unhealthy” foods, this document defines unhealthy foods broadly as foods with a high content of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or sodium, as per the WHO recommendations. (5) It is recommended that a robust and comprehensive definition be developed by an interdisciplinary stakeholder working group. - Focus on Marketing: Marketing is more than advertising and involves: …any form of commercial communication or message that is designed to, or has the effect of, increasing the recognition, appeal and/ or consumption of particular products and services. It comprises anything that acts to advertise or otherwise promote a product or service. (6, p. 9) This definition goes beyond the current legal definition of advertisement outlined in the Food and Drug Act as “any representation by any means whatever for the purpose of promoting directly or indirectly the sale or disposal of any food, drug, cosmetic or device.” (24) - Marketing Techniques, Communication Channels and Locations: Legislation restricting unhealthy food marketing needs to be sufficiently comprehensive to address the broad scope of marketing and advertising techniques that have a particularly powerful effect on children and youth. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: . Television . Internet . Radio . Magazines . Direct electronic marketing (email, SMS) . Mobile phones . Video and adver-games . Characters, brand mascots and/or celebrities, including those that are advertiser-generated . Product placement . Cross-promotions . Point-of-purchase displays . Cinemas and theatres . Competitions and premiums (free toys) . Children’s institutions, services, events and activities (schools, event sponsorship) . “Viral and buzz marketing” (25,26) . Directed to Children: The criteria used by the Quebec Consumer Protection Act (20) to determine whether an advertisement is “directed at children” offers a starting point in developing national legislation regarding child-directed media. The loopholes in the Quebec Consumer Protection Act criteria, namely allowing advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages directed at adults during children’s programming, will necessitate the development of an alternative approach or set of criteria that reflects the range of media to which children are exposed and when they are exposed, in addition to the proportion of the audience that is made up of children. Quebec Consumer Protection Act Article 249 To determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at persons under thirteen years of age, account must be taken of the context of its presentation, and in particular of: a)the nature and intended purpose of the goods advertised; b)the manner of presenting such advertisement; c)the time and place it is shown. ACTION RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Federal Government Leadership 1.1 Immediately and publicly operationalize the WHO set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. In working toward the implementation of the WHO recommendations, the federal government is strongly urged to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework for Implementing the Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Beverages to Children. To this end, the Government of Canada is urged to: 1.2 Convene a Federal, Provincial and Territorial Working Group on Food Marketing to Children to develop, implement and monitor policies to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children. As stipulated within the WHO Implementation Framework: The government-led working group should ultimately reach consensus on the priorities for intervention, identify the available policy measures and decide how they best can be implemented. (7, p.13) 1.3 In developing policies, it is recommended that the working group: - Develop standardized criteria and an operational definition to distinguish and classify “unhealthy” foods. Definitions should be developed using objective, evidence-based methods and should be developed and approved independent of commercial interests. - Develop a set of definitions/specifications that will guide policy scope and implementation. Consistent with the WHO recommendations, the working group is encouraged to apply the policy specifications identified above. - Set measurable outcomes, targets and timelines for achievement of targets for industry and broadcasters to restrict unhealthy food marketing to children in all forms and settings. It is recommended that policies be implemented as soon as possible and within a 3-year time frame. - Establish mechanisms for close monitoring and enforcement through defined rewards and/or penalties by an independent regulatory agency that has the power and infrastructure to evaluate questionable advertisements and enforce penalties for non-compliance.(2) (2) Such an infrastructure could be supported though the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), similar to the authority of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or the Food and Drug Act via the development of an advertising investigation arm. The nature and extent of penalties imposed should be sufficiently stringent to deter violations. Enforcement mechanisms should be explicit, and infringing companies should be exposed publicly. - Develop evaluation mechanisms to assess process, impact and outcomes of food marketing restriction policies. Components should include scheduled reviews (5 years or as agreed upon) to update policies and/or strategies. To showcase accountability, evaluation findings should be publicly disseminated. 1.4 Provide adequate funding to support the successful implementation and monitoring of the food marketing restriction policies. 1.5 Collaborate with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and other granting councils to fund research to generate baseline data and address gaps related to the impact of marketing in all media on children and how to most effectively restrict advertising unhealthy foods to children. (27) 1.6 Fund and commission a Canadian economic modeling study to assess the cost-effectiveness and the relative strength of the effect of marketing in comparison to other influences on children’s diets and diet-related health outcomes. Similar studies have been undertaken elsewhere and highlight cost– benefit savings from restricting unhealthy food marketing. (13,14) 1.7 Call on industry to immediately stop marketing foods to children that are high in fats, sugar or sodium. 2. Provincial, Territorial and Municipal Governments 2.1 Wherever possible, incorporate strategies to reduce the impact of unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children into provincial and local (public) health or related strategic action plans, and consider all settings that are frequented by children. 2.2 Pass and/or amend policies and legislation restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children that go beyond limitations stipulated in federal legislation and regulations and industry voluntary codes. 2.3 Until federal legislation is in place, strike a P/T Steering Committee on Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children to establish interprovincial consistency related to key definitions and criteria and mechanisms for enforcement, as proposed above. 2.4 Collaborate with local health authorities, non- governmental organizations and other stakeholders to develop and implement education and awareness programs on the harmful impacts of marketing, including but not limited to unhealthy food and beverage advertising. 2.5 Call on industry to immediately stop marketing foods to children that are high in fats, sugar or sodium. 3. Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), Health Care Organizations, Health Care Professionals 3.1 Publicly endorse this position statement and advocate to all Canadian governments to restrict marketing of unhealthy foods to children and youth in Canada. 3.2 Collaborate with governments at all levels to facilitate implementation and enforcement of federal/provincial/municipal regulations or policies. 3.3 Wherever possible, incorporate and address the need for restrictions on unhealthy food and beverage marketing to children into position papers, strategic plans, conferences, programs and other communication mediums. 3.4 Support, fund and/or commission research to address identified research gaps, including the changing contexts and modes of marketing and their implications on the nutritional status, health and well-being of children and youth 3.5 Call on industry to immediately stop the marketing of foods high in fat, sugar or sodium. 4. Marketing and Commercial Industry 4.1 Immediately cease marketing foods high in fats, sugar or sodium. 4.2 Amend the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI) nutrition criteria used to re-define “better-for-you products” to be consistent with currently available international standards that are healthier and with Canadian nutrient profiling standards, once developed. BACKGROUND AND EVIDENCE BASE Non-communicable diseases (diabetes, stroke, heart attack, cancer, chronic respiratory disease) are a leading cause of death worldwide and are linked by several common risk factors including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. (1,2,3 28) The WHO has predicted that premature death from chronic disease will increase by 17% over the next decade if the roots of the problem are not addressed. (2) Diet-related chronic disease risk stems from long- term dietary patterns which start in childhood (8,28). Canadian statistics reveal children, consume too much fat, sodium and sugars (foods that cause chronic disease) and eat too little fiber, fruits and vegetables (foods that prevent chronic disease). (3) There is evidence that (television) advertising of foods high in fat, sugar or sodium is associated with childhood overweight and obesity. (6,11) Children and youth in Canada are exposed to a barrage of marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods and beverages through a variety of channels and techniques – tactics which undermine and contradict government, health care professional and scientific recommendations for healthy eating. (10,26) Available research indicates that food marketing to children influences their food preferences, beliefs, purchase requests and food consumption patterns. (8,29) A US study showed that children who were exposed to food and beverage advertisements consumed 45% more snacks than their unexposed counterparts. (30) Similarly, preschoolers who were exposed to commercials for vegetables (broccoli and carrots) had a significantly higher preference for these vegetables after multiple exposures (n=4) compared to the control group. (31) Economic modeling studies have shown that restricting children’s exposure to food and beverage advertising is a cost effective population based approach to childhood obesity prevention, with the largest overall gain in disability adjusted life years. (13,14). Canada has yet to conduct a comparable analysis. Marketing and Ethics Foods and beverages high in fats, sugars or sodium is one of many health compromising products marketed to children. It has been argued that policy approaches ought to extend beyond marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to one that restricts marketing of all products to children, as practiced in Quebec (7,26,32). Article 36 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory, states that, “children should be protected from any activity that takes advantage of them or could harm their welfare and development.” (9) Restricting marketing of all products has been argued to be the most comprehensive policy option in that it aims to protect children from any commercial interest and is grounded in the argument that children have the right to a commercial-free childhood (7, 25,26,32). The focus on restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing was based in consultations with national health organizations whose mandates, at the time of writing, were more aligned with a focus on unhealthy foods and beverages. This policy statement is not opposed to, and does not preclude further policy enhancements to protect children from all commercial marketing, and therefore encourages further advocacy in this area. In order to inform the debate and help underpin future policy direction, further research is needed. Canada’s Food and Beverage Marketing Environment Television remains a primary medium for children’s exposure to advertising, with Canadian children aged 2–11 watching an average of 18 hours of television per week. (26) In the past two decades, the food marketing and promotion environment has expanded to include Internet marketing, product placement in television programs, films and DVDs, computer and video games, peer-to-peer or viral marketing, supermarket sales promotions, cross- promotions between films and television programs, use of licensed characters and spokes-characters, celebrity endorsements, advertising in children’s magazines, outdoor advertising, print marketing, sponsorship of school and sporting activities, advertising on mobile phones, and branding on toys and clothing. (25,26) A systematic review of 41 international studies looking at the content analysis of children’s food commercials found that the majority advertised unhealthy foods, namely pre-sugared cereals, soft drinks, confectionary and savoury snacks and fast food restaurants. (33) In an analysis of food advertising on children’s television channels across 11 countries, Canada (Alberta sample) had the second-highest rate of food and beverage advertising (7 advertisements per hour), 80% of which were for unhealthy foods and beverages defined as “high in undesirable nutrients and/or energy.” (10) Illustrating the influence of food packaging in supermarkets, two Canadian studies found that for six food product categories 75% of the products were directed solely at children through use of colour, cartoon mascots, pointed appeals to parents and/or cross-merchandising claims, games or activities. Of the 63% of products with nutrition claims, 89% were classified as being “of poor nutritional quality” due to high levels of sugar, fat, or sodium when judged against US-based nutrition criteria. Less than 1% of food messages specifically targeted to children were for fruits and vegetables. (34,35) Food is also unhealthily marketed in schools. A recent study of 4,936 Canadian students from grades 7 to 10 found that 62% reported the presence of snack-vending machines in their schools, and that this presence was associated with students’ frequency of consuming vended goods. (36) In another Canadian analysis, 28% of elementary schools reported the presence of some form of advertising in the school and 19% had an exclusive marketing arrangement with Coke or Pepsi. (37) Given children’s vulnerability, a key tenant of the WHO recommendations on marketing to children is that “settings where children gather should be free from all forms of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, and free sugars or sodium.” (6, p.9) and need to be included in development of food marketing policies directed at children. The Canadian public wants government oversight in restricting unhealthy food marketing to children. A nation-wide survey of over 1200 Canadian adults found 82% want limits placed on unhealthy food and beverage advertising to children; 53% support restricting all marketing of high-fat, high-sugar or high-sodium foods aimed directly at children and youth. (12) Canada’s Commercial Advertising Environment Internationally, 26 countries have made explicit statements on food marketing to children and 20 have, or are in the process of, developing policies in the form of statutory measures, official guidelines or approved forms of self-regulation. (38) The differences in the nature and degree of these restrictions is considerable, with significant variation regarding definition of child, products covered, communication and marketing strategies permitted and expectations regarding implementation, monitoring and evaluation. (38,39) With the exception of Quebec, Canada’s advertising policy environment is restricted to self-regulated rather than legislative measures with little monitoring and oversight in terms of measuring the impact of regulations on the intensity and frequency of advertising unhealthy foods and beverages to children. (39) Federal Restrictions Nationally, the Food and Drug Act and the Competition Act provide overarching rules on commercial advertising and (loosely) prohibit selling or advertising in a manner that is considered false, misleading or deceptive to consumers. These laws, however, contain no provisions dealing specifically with unhealthy food advertising or marketing to children and youth. (26) The Consumer Package and Labeling Act outlines federal requirements concerning the packaging, labeling, sale, importation and advertising of prepackaged non- food consumer products. Packaging and labels, however, are not included under the scope of advertising and therefore not subject to the administration and enforcement of the Act and regulations. (26) Such loopholes have prompted the introduction of three private member's bills into the House of Commons to amend both the Competition Act and the Food and Drugs Act. Tabled in 2007, 2009 and 2012, respectively, none of the bills have, to date, advanced past the First Reading. (15) Industry Restrictions The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (Code) and the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children (BCAC) together cover Canadian broadcast and non- broadcast advertising. (23) While both have explicit provisions/clauses to cover advertising directed to children (12 years and younger), neither address or explicitly cover unhealthy food and beverage advertising. Further excluded are other heavily used and persuasive forms of marketing directed to children, including in-store promotions, packaging, logos, and advertising in schools or at events, as well as foreign media. (40) Formed in 2008, the Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI) defines marketing standards and criteria to identify the products that are appropriate or not to advertise to children under 12 years old. Under this initiative, participating food companies (N=19) are encouraged to direct 100% of their advertising to children under 12 to “better-for-you” products. (41) In 2010, the scope of CAI was expanded to include other media forms, namely video games, child- directed DVDs and mobile media. Despite reportedly high compliance by CAI participants, (41) several fundamental loopholes undermine its level of protection and effectiveness, namely: - Participation is voluntary, exempting non- participators such as President’s Choice, Wendy’s and A&W, from committing to CAI core principles. - Companies are allowed to create their own nutrient criteria for defining “better-for-you” or “healthier dietary choice” products. (32) A 2010 analysis revealed that up to 62% of these products would not be acceptable to promote to children by other countries’ advertising nutrition standards. (16) - Companies are able to adopt their own definition of what constitutes “directed at children” under 12 years. (32) Participants' definitions of child audience composition percentage range from 25% to 50%, significantly more lenient than current Quebec legislation and other international regulatory systems. (7,42,43) - The initiative excludes a number of marketing and advertising techniques primarily directed at children, namely advertiser-generated characters (e.g., Tony the Tiger), product packaging, displays of food and beverage products, fundraising, public service messaging and educational programs. (26,27) Provincial Restrictions The Quebec Consumer Protection Act states that “no person may make use of commercial advertising directed at persons under thirteen years of age.” (26) Despite its merits, the effectiveness of the Quebec ban has been compromised. In its current form, the ban does not protect children from cross-border leakage of child-directed advertisements from other provinces. (40) One study found that while the ban reduced fast food consumption by US$88 million per year and decreased purchase propensity by 13% per week, the outcomes primarily affected French-speaking households with children, not their English-speaking counterparts. (44) A more recent study looking at the ban’s impact on television advertising arrived at similar conclusions and found that Quebec French subjects were exposed to significantly fewer candy and snack promotions (25.4%, p<0.001) compared to the Ontario English (33.7%) and Quebec English (39.8%) groups. (40) The ban has further been criticized for having a weak definition of “advertisement”, which allows adult-targeted advertisements for unhealthy foods during children’s programming (37) and having weak regulatory and monitoring structures. (37,40) In assessing the effectiveness of Quebec’s legislation in reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising, it is important to note that the ban was not developed to target or reduce the marketing of foods and beverages specifically, but rather to reduce the commercialization of childhood. (27) Public Policy: The Way Forward Several legislative approaches have been undertaken internationally to restrict unhealthy food and beverage marketing. (7,43,45) While more research is needed with regards to the impact of restricting unhealthy food and beverage marketing on child health outcomes (i.e., obesity), a US study estimated that between 14-33% of instances of childhood obesity could be prevented by eliminating television advertising for unhealthy food. (46) An Australian study found that a restriction on non-core-food advertisement between 7am and 8:30pm could reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising by almost 80%. (47) An evaluation of the UK regulations which restricts television advertising of all foods high in fat, sugar and sodium found that since its introduction there has been a 37% reduction in unhealthy food advertisement seen by children. (25) Restrictions on food marketing are being increasingly advocated internationally. A 2011 International Policy Consensus Conference identified regulating marketing to children as a key policy strategy to prevent childhood obesity. (48) A similar recommendation was made at the September 2011 United Nations high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non- communicable diseases. Restrictions on television advertising for less healthful foods has also been identified as an effective (Class I; Grade B) population-based strategy to improve dietary behaviors in children by the American Heart Association. (49) Within Canada, non-governmental and other health organizations are assuming an equally active role. Among others, the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, the Dietitians of Canada, the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention, the Simcoe Board of Health, the Thunder Bay and District Board of Health and the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Board of Health have issued position papers or statements urging the federal government to implement more stringent regulations on food and beverage marketing to children. (26,42,48) Conclusions The current voluntary, industry self-regulated and ineffective system of restricting the marketing and advertising of foods and beverages fails to protect Canadian Children and thereby contributes to the rising rates of childhood obesity and the likelihood of premature death and disability in our children’s and future generations. Strong federal government leadership and nationwide action from other levels of government and other key stakeholders are needed. Regulation restricting unhealthy food advertising is internationally supported, with a growing evidence base for expanding such regulation to all forms of food marketing. This policy statement offer an integrated, pragmatic and timely response to the national stated priorities of childhood obesity and chronic disease prevention in Canada and supports the F/P/T vision of making Canada, “…a country that creates and maintains the conditions for healthy weights so that children can have the healthiest possible lives.” (4) This policy statement was funded by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) and the Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health (CIHR) Chair in Hypertension Prevention and Control, prepared with the assistance of an ad hoc Expert Scientific Working Group, reviewed and approved by the Hypertension Advisory Committee and endorsed by the undersigned national health organizations. 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