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Answering the Wake-up Call: CMA’s Public Health Action Plan : CMA submission to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1960
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2003-06-25
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  2 documents  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2003-06-25
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
The public health system in Canada lies at the heart of our community values. It is the quintessential “public good” and is central to the continued good health of our population. When the public health system is working well, few are even aware that it is at work! Only when something goes terribly wrong — like the Walkerton tragedy or when we are faced with a new threat like SARS — is the integral, ongoing role of public health really recognized. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has been warning that our public health system is stretched to capacity in dealing with everyday demands, let alone responding to the latest crises. Canada’s physicians have repeatedly called for governments to enhance public health capacity and strengthen the public health infrastructure throughout Canada. Our public health system is the first — and often the only — line of defence against emerging and ongoing infectious and noninfectious threats to the health of Canadians. But we are only as strong as the weakest link in the emergency response chain of survival. As most health threats know no boundaries, our public health armaments must be in a constant state of “battle readiness.” In today’s climate of SARS, West Nile Virus, mad cow disease and monkey pox, even the thought that the public health system may be stretched beyond capacity strikes fear into the hearts of Canadians. Physicians have always been an integral part of the public health system serving as medical officers of health, community health specialists and other related roles. Indeed public health cannot successfully fulfill its mandate without the cooperation and commitment of front-line clinicians. In this submission, we reflect on the lessons to be learned from our recent experience with SARS and reflect on the longer-term needs of the public health system as a whole. The objectives of the pan-Canadian Public Health Action Plan proposed by the CMA are, first to realize a clearer alignment of authority and accountability in times of extraordinary health emergencies; and, second, to enhance the system’s capacity to respond to public health threats across the country (see recommendations, below, and Appendix 1). To achieve these twin objectives, three broad strategies are presented for immediate attention. They are legislative reform; capacity enhancement; and research, surveillance and communications. Legislative reform (see recommendations 1–3) The country’s response to SARS has brought into stark relief the urgent need for national leadership and coordination of public health activity across the country, especially during a health crisis. The apparent reluctance to act quickly to institute screening at airports, the delay in unifying the practice community for a concerted response and the appalling communications confusion worked against optimum handling of the outbreak — despite the best efforts of health care professionals. This is a wake-up call that highlights the need for comprehensive legislative reform to clarify the roles of governments with respect to the management of public health threats. A renewed and enhanced national commitment to public health should be anchored in new federal legislation to be negotiated with the provinces and territories. Specifically, the CMA recommends an Emergency Health Measures Act, to deal with emergent situations in tandem with the creation of a Canadian public health agency headed by a Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. Capacity enhancement (see recommendations 4–7) The SARS crisis has demonstrated the diminished capacity within the public health system. The Greater Toronto Area (GTA), with one of Canada’s most sophisticated public and acute health systems, has not been able to manage the SARS crisis adequately and carry on other health programs. The acute care system virtually ground to a halt in dealing with SARS. There was little or no surge capacity in Canada’s largest city. We should be grateful that SARS did not first strike a smaller centre in a far less-advantaged region of Canada. A critical element of the public health system is its workforce and the health professionals within the acute care system, such as hospital-based infectious disease specialists and emergency physicians who are the front-line interface. Let there be no doubt that the ongoing efforts of the GTA front-line providers are nothing short of heroic. However, the lack of coordinated contingency planning of hospital and community-based disease control efforts was striking. The overall shortage of critical care professionals and the inability of governments to quickly deploy the required professionals to areas of need contributed to the enormous strain on the public and health care system. Considering the importance of the public health system and its clearly limited capacity to protect and promote the health of Canadians, it is incomprehensible that we do not know how much is actually spent on the system. It is imperative that public health expenditures and capacity, in terms of both physical and human resources, be tracked and reported publicly. The CMA recommends a $1-billion, 5-year capacity-enhancement program to be coordinated with and through the new Canadian public health agency. Research, surveillance and communications (see recommendations 8–10) Canada’s ability to respond to public health threats and acute events, such as SARS, and to maintain its effective public health planning and program development depends on sound research, surveillance and rapid, real-time communications. A concerted pan-Canadian effort is required to take full advantage of our capacity for interdisciplinary research on public health, including infectious disease prevention and control measures. New-millennium challenges require moving beyond old-millennium responses. Enhanced surveillance is an overdue and integral part of public health, performing an essential function in early detection and response to threats of infectious diseases. Mandatory national reporting of identified diseases by all provinces and territories is critical for national and international surveillance. During times of crisis, rapid communication to the public, public health staff and front-line clinicians is of critical importance, but in many jurisdictions impossible. We tested our systems during the SARS outbreak and they came up short. The CMA recommends a one-time federal investment to enhance technical capacity to allow for real-time communication. Conclusion The CMA believes that its proposed three-pronged strategy, as set out in the attached recommendations, will go a long way toward addressing shortfalls of the Canadian public health system. Action now will help to ensure that Canadians can once again be confident that they are protected from any future threat of new infectious diseases. Action now will help Canada regain its position as a leader in public health. We wish the advisory committee well in its deliberations and offer the CMA’s assistance at any time in clarifying the strategies set out in our submission. Recommendations to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health Legislative reform ($20 million / 5 years*) 1. The enactment of a Canada Emergency Health Measures Act that would consolidate and enhance existing legislation, allowing for a more rapid national response, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, based on a graduated, systematic approach, to health emergencies that pose an acute and imminent threat to human health and safety across Canada. 2. The creation of a Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control (CODSC) as the lead Canadian agency in public health, operating at arm’s length from government. 3. The appointment of a Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to act as the lead scientific voice for public health in Canada; to head the Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control; and to work with provinces and territories to develop and implement a pan-Canadian public health action plan. Capacity enhancement ( $1.2 billion / 5 years*) 4. The creation of a Canadian Centre of Excellence for Public Health, under the auspices of the CODSC, to invest in multidisciplinary training programs in public health, establish and disseminate best practices among public health professionals. 5. The establishment of a Canadian Public Health Emergency Response Service, under the auspices of the CODSC, to provide for the rapid deployment of human resources (e.g., emergency pan-Canadian locum programs) during health emergencies. 6. Tracking and public reporting of public health expenditures and capacity (both physical and human resources) by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada, on behalf of the proposed Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control. 7. Federal government funding in the amount of $1 Billion over 5 years to build adequate and consistent surge capacity across Canada and improve coordination among federal, provincial/territorial and municipal authorities to fulfill essential public health functions. Research, surveillance and communications ($310 million / 5 years*) 8. An immediate, sequestered grant of $200 million over 5 years to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to initiate an enhanced conjoint program of research with the Institute of Population and Public Health and the Institute of Infection and Immunity that will expand capacity for interdisciplinary research on public health, including infectious disease prevention and control measures. 9. The mandatory reporting by provinces and territories of identified infectious diseases to the newly established Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to enable appropriate communications, analyses and intervention. 10. The one-time infusion of $100 million, with an additional $2 million a year, for a “REAL” (rapid, effective, accessible and linked) Health Communication and Coordination Initiative to improve technical capacity to communicate with front line public health providers in real time during health emergencies. *See Appendix 2: Estimated cost of implementing recommendations. PURPOSE The CMA prepared this submission in response to an invitation from Dr. Naylor to provide input to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health. We applaud this initiative and welcome the opportunity to present the views of Canada’s medical community to the committee. The CMA’s basic message is that our health protection laws are woefully outdated and the public health system is stretched beyond capacity. This submission draws on our long history of engagement in public health in Canada and our experience both post-September 11, 2001 and with SARS. It builds on the knowledge and experience of our members, national specialist affiliated societies and provincial and territorial divisions. (We acknowledge, in particular, the outstanding efforts of the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians in battling SARS.) In this submission, we examine the lessons to be learned from our experience with the SARS outbreak and reflect on both the immediate and longer-term needs of the public health system as a whole. The objectives of the public health action plan proposed by the CMA are, first, to realize a clearer alignment of authority and accountability in times of extraordinary health emergencies and, second, to enhance the system’s capacity to respond to public health threats across the country, including those posed by preventable chronic disease. INTRODUCTION The public health system in Canada lies at the heart of our community values. It is the quintessential “public good” and is central to the continued good health of the population. When the public health system is working well, few are even aware that it is at work! Only when something goes terribly wrong — like the contamination of the blood supply in the 1980s, the Walkerton tragedy or SARS — is the integral, ongoing role of public health recognized. Our public health system is the first — and often the only — line of defence against emerging and ongoing infectious and noninfectious threats to the health of Canadians. But we are only as strong as the weakest link in the emergency response chain of survival. As most health threats know no boundaries, our public health system must be in a constant state of “battle readiness.” We can ill afford any weakness in our public health preparedness. In today’s climate of SARS, West Nile Virus, mad cow disease and monkey pox, the mere thought that the public health system may be stretched beyond capacity strikes fear into the hearts of Canadians. Physicians have always been an integral part of the public health system serving as medical officers of health, specialists in infectious disease and community medicine (who will not remember the stalwart efforts of Dr. Donald Low on SARS?) and in other related roles. Indeed, public health cannot successfully fulfill its mandate without the cooperation and commitment of front-line clinicians. The CMA has been warning for some time that our system is stretched to capacity in dealing with everyday demands, let alone responding to crises. Canada’s physicians have repeatedly called for governments to enhance public health capacity and strengthen the public health infrastructure throughout Canada. For example, the CMA’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance’s prebudget consultations on October 22, 2001 called for substantial investments in public health and emergency response as a first step to improve the public health system infrastructure and its surge capacity. This submission not only reiterates our previous recommendations, but also outlines specific actions that the CMA believes must be taken to ensure a strong public health system in Canada. The Enduring Impact of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): in February 2003, these four letters sent massive shock waves around the world, causing widespread fear and confusion among health care officials and citizens of many countries. The “fear factor” extended across Canada as people realized the full threat of SARS. Since SARS was first identified in a patient in Toronto in March 2003, 438 probable or suspected cases have been reported to Health Canada and 38 people have died (as of June 23, 2003). However, these numbers do not reflect the full impact of the outbreak. The number of indirect deaths due to system shutdown will never be known. Local public health authorities across the country went on high alert. Those in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) as well as their provincial counterparts diverted almost all of their resources to respond to the crisis. Acute care services were adversely affected as stringent infection-control and screening measures were put into place to control the spread of SARS. In the GTA, the health system — acute and public — was brought to its knees. Over half of the reported SARS cases involved front-line providers as the outbreak largely affected health care settings. Approximately 20 physicians in Ontario contracted SARS and close to 1000 were quarantined. Thousands of nurses and other health care workers also faced quarantine, some more than once. Institutions closed their doors, limiting access to emergency departments, clinics and physicians’ offices. Intensive care units were full and surgeries were cancelled. Front-line health care professionals involved in critical care were stretched to their physical and mental limits. Others found themselves underutilized due to the impact of the infection-control measures on their practice settings. Feast and famine co-existed. Although the outbreak was mainly confined to health care settings, the entire GTA felt the effects. Upwards of 20,000 people entered voluntary quarantine. Businesses were affected. The tourism industry is still reeling. The disruption that SARS caused continues to reverberate through health care systems and economies. In response to urgent requests from both the Ontario Medical Association and Health Canada, the CMA mobilized its membership and assisted in the country’s response to SARS. Everything that could be done was done to facilitate bringing in qualified personnel to relieve those on the front line and make appropriate information available in real time. The CMA has learned its own lessons, both positive and negative. A full chronology of CMA activity is attached as Appendix 3. It has become abundantly clear that Canada’s public health system was ill prepared to deal with the SARS outbreak. If not for the heroic efforts of public health officials, health care providers and research scientists, Canada’s experience would have been much worse. Public health in Canada Public health is the science and art of protecting and promoting health, preventing disease and injury, and prolonging life. It complements the health care system, which focuses primarily on treatment and rehabilitation, sharing the same goal of maximizing the health of Canadians. However, the public health system is distinct from other parts of the health system in two key respects: its primary emphasis is on preventing disease and disability and its focus is on the health needs of populations rather than those of specific individuals. Public health is the systematic response to infectious diseases. It also ensures access to clean drinking water, good sanitation and the control of pests and other disease vectors. Further, it is immunization clinics and programs promoting healthy lifestyles. But it is also there to protect Canadians when they face a public health crisis like SARS. If the public health system is fully prepared to carry out essential services, then communities across the country will be better protected from acute health events. The reality in Canada today is that a strong, consistently and equitably resourced and integrated public health system does not exist. Public health systems across Canada are fragmented — a patchwork of programs, services and resources across the county. In reality, it is a group of multiple systems with varying roles, strengths and linkages. Each province has its own public health legislation. Most legislation focuses on the control of communicable diseases. Public health services are funded through a variable mix of provincial and municipal funding formulae, with inconsistent overall strategies and results, and with virtually no meaningful role for input from health professionals via organizations such as the CMA, or the federal level, in terms of strategic direction or resources. Federal legislation is limited to the blunt instrument of the Quarantine Act and a variety of health protection-related acts. (e.g., Food and Drugs Act, Hazardous Products Act, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Radiation Emitting Devices Act) Some of the laws, such as the Quarantine Act, date back to the late 19th century. Taken as a whole, the legislation does not clearly identify the public health mandate, roles and responsibilities of the different levels of government. In many cases, the assignment of authorities and accountabilities is anachronistic. Moreover, there is little information available on the functioning and financing of Canada’s public health system. There is no “one-stop shopping” for authoritative information on public health issues. In 2001, a working group of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health assessed the capacity of the public health system through a series of key informant interviews and literature reviews. The consistent finding was that public health had experienced a loss of resources and there was concern for the resiliency of the system infrastructure to respond consistently and proactively to the demands placed on it. Significant disparities were observed between “have” and “have-not” provinces and regions in their capacity to address public health issues. The report’s findings are consistent with previous assessments by the Krever Commission and the Auditor General of Canada. In 1999, the Auditor General said that Health Canada was unprepared to fulfill its responsibilities in public health; communication between multiple agencies was poor; and weaknesses in the key surveillance system impeded the effective monitoring of injuries and communicable and non-communicable diseases. In 1997, Justice Horace Krever reported that the “public health departments in many parts of Canada do not have sufficient resources to carry out their duties.” The Challenges Ahead The 21st century brings with it an awesome array of new public health risks and ancient foes. Not all of them can be identified at the present time. New diseases (e.g., SARS, West Nile Virus) will likely continue to emerge. Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, recently noted that SARS is here to stay. Old threats, such as contamination of a community water supply (e.g., Walkerton), can strike quickly if vigilance is relaxed or delegated to third parties. This century will likely bring greater focus on threats from the physical environment. Our social environment is also a source of illness as shown by the recent epidemic trends in obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. A substantial minority of Canadians continue to smoke. In short, there is no lack of public health threats to Canadians. Although for each of these issues, there is a clear role for clinical care, it is the public health system that will identify and monitor health threats and provide interventions to prevent disease and injury and improve health. The system will also be at the front lines in any response to a biological, chemical or nuclear event. The public health system must have the infrastructure to respond to a range of threats to health, including emergencies. The experience with SARS has reaffirmed that we do not have the system flexibility to respond to these events after they have occurred. It is vital that we take steps now “to embrace not just the essential elements of disease protection and surveillance but also new strategies and tactics capable of addressing global challenges.”<1> CMA’S PROPOSED PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN No one policy instrument can possibly address the multiple factors involved in meeting the public health challenge head on. Similarly, no one level of government or constituency (e.g., community medicine) can or should shoulder all of the responsibilities. Although we need to restore public confidence quickly, we must also do what it takes to get it right. Accordingly, the CMA is proffering a three-pronged approach to meet the challenge: * A legislative reform strategy * A capacity enhancement strategy * A research, surveillance and communication strategy. These three broad strategies make up the CMA’s proposed 10-point Public Health Action Plan. Taken together, the CMA believes the Plan, if adopted, will serve us very well in the future. Legislative Reform Our experience with SARS — and the seeming lack of coordination between international, federal, provincial and local system levels — should be a massive wake-up call. It highlights the need for legislative reform to clarify the roles of governments with respect to the management of public health issues and threats. Four years ago, national consultations on renewing federal health protection legislation<2> resulted in a recommendation that * “The federal government must be given, either through legislation or through memoranda of understanding among provincial and territorial governments, the authority it needs to effectively address any outbreak of a communicable disease, where the health risk extends beyond provincial borders. * “Federal health protection legislation should be amended to give Health Canada authority to act quickly and decisively in the event of a national health emergency... if it poses a serious threat to public health; affects particularly vulnerable segments of the population; exceeds the capacity of local authorities to deal with the risk; and involves pathogens that could be rapidly transmitted across national and international borders.” Such legislative reform is consistent with the federal government’s well-recognized responsibility to act to protect public health and safety. It fits well with Health Minister McLellan’s recently announced plans to act now to review and update health protection legislation. The SARS outbreak has provided further experience to support these, and in our view, even stronger recommendations. There is ample historical evidence to support the federal government’s role in the management of communicable disease, a role that dates back to the time of confederation. The quarantine power was the initial manifestation of this authority in 1867 under Section 91 of the British North America Act and it gave the federal government the responsibility for ensuring the containment of infectious diseases. The outbreak of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 further highlighted the need for coordinated national efforts and (at the urging of the CMA and others) resulted in the creation of the federal Department of Health in 1919. It would be reasonable to assume that legislators at the time had an expansive view of the need for centralized authority to deal with pan-Canadian health threats. One hundred and thirty-five years after confederation, we have a highly mobile global community. This mobility and the attendant devastating speed with which diseases can spread demand a national response. Currently, there is tremendous variation in public health system capacity among the various provinces and territories and, more particularly, among municipalities and local authorities. Inconsistencies in provincial approaches to public health matters have resulted in significant disparities between and within the provinces.<3> Health Canada’s mandate as set out in its enabling legislation states that “[t]he powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction relating to the promotion and preservation of the health of the people of Canada.” The CMA believes that it is time for the federal government to take responsibility for public health matters that touch the lives of all Canadians. The legal staffs at CMA, in consultation with external experts, have conducted a detailed review of existing legislation. We have concluded, as Health Minister McLellan recently announced, that there is a long overdue need to consolidate and rationalize current related laws. We also believe there is now public support and a demonstrable need to enhance the powers afforded the federal government. We recognize that the government has put forward Bill C-17, the Public Safety Act and a review of health protection legislation is underway. We believe that amending and updating existing legislation is necessary but not sufficient to address today’s public health challenges. The CMA is calling for the enhancement of the federal government’s “command and control” powers in times of national health emergencies. Specifically we are recommending a three-pronged legislative approach. 1. The CMA recommends The enactment of a Canada Emergency Health Measures Act that would consolidate and enhance existing legislation, allowing for a more rapid national response, in cooperation with the provinces and territories, based on a graduated, systematic approach, to health emergencies that pose an acute and imminent threat to human health and safety across Canada. The existing Emergencies Act gives the federal government the authority to become involved in public welfare emergencies when regions of the country are faced with “an emergency that is caused by a real or imminent... disease in human beings... that results or may result in a danger to life or property... so serious as to be a national emergency.” However, to use this power, the federal government must declare a “national emergency,” which itself has political and economic ramifications, particularly from an international perspective, and mitigates against its use. The CMA believes that this all-or-nothing approach is not in the public’s best interest. The concept of emergency in the context of public health requires a different response from governments in the future. Although we recognize that provincial and municipal governments currently have preplanned sets of responses to health threats, the CMA is proposing new legislation to allow for a rapid federal response to public health emergencies. The proposed Emergency Health Measures Act clarifies the roles and authority of governments and ensures a consistent and appropriate response with sufficient human and financial resources to protect Canadians faced with a public health emergency. Of utmost importance, all Canadians, regardless of their location, can be assured that the response to a health emergency will be delivered systematically by experts who can sustain the effort as needed. The proposed legislation would be founded on a graduated approach that would give the federal government the powers necessary to deal with a crisis, in an appropriately measured way, as it escalates. As the emergency grows, the government could implement stronger measures as required to meet the challenge — in principle, akin to the Unites States’ homeland security levels, which increase as the level of threat increases (see Appendix 4 for a description of the Canadian Emergency Health Alert System). The CMA strongly believes that the federal government must have jurisdiction to act when the ability of the provinces to respond to public health emergencies is so disparate. The inability of one province to stop the spread of virulent disease would have serious implications for the health of residents in the rest of the country. The federal government and the provinces must work together to ensure the safety of all our citizens. 2. The CMA recommends The creation of a Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control (CODSC) as the lead Canadian agency in public health, operating at arm’s length from government. Although some provinces have established centres of public health expertise, considering the breadth of public health issues, the relative population sizes and differences in wealth, it will never be feasible to have comprehensive centres of public health expertise for each province and territory. Even if one achieved this, there would increasingly be issues of economies of scale and unnecessary duplication among centres. This issue is not unique to Canada.1 The CMA is proposing the development of a Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control (CODSC) operating at arm’s length from any level of government. CODSC would have overall responsibility for protecting the health of Canadians. The Office would provide credible information to enhance health decisions and promote health by developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health and health promotion and education activities. CODSC would enable a consistent and coordinated approach to public health emergencies as well as play a key role in the prevention and control of chronic diseases and injuries. It would provide national health surveillance, apolitical scientific expertise, system development including standards and guideline development, development and dissemination of an evidence base for public health interventions, skills training and transfer of expertise (i.e., through secondment of staff) and resources, including funding for core programs, to other levels of the system (e.g., provincial and local). 3. The CMA recommends The appointment of a Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to act as the lead scientific voice for public health in Canada; to head the Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control; and to work with provinces and territories to develop and implement a pan-Canadian public health action plan. Many national or federal–provincial–territorial committees play an important role in recommending public health strategies or actions. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health are two excellent examples. But there is currently no single credible public health authority in whom is vested, through legislation or federal–provincial–territorial agreement, the overall responsibility for pan-Canadian public health issues. Therefore, the CMA is recommending the appointment of a Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. Potential roles for this officer may include: * Serve as the head of the Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control * Serve as the national spokesperson for public health with the independence to comment on critical public health issues * Report annually on the health of the population * Develop, implement and report independently to parliament on public health system performance measures * Lead processes to identify and address gaps in the nation’s public health system. Capacity enhancement The public health system infrastructure is the foundation that supports the planning, delivery and evaluation of public health activities. In March 2001, the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Public Health<3> reported, In the view of respondents the system ‘is lacking in depth.’ This means that a sustained crisis would seriously compromise other programming. While the research does not indicate that the public health system in Canada is strained beyond capacity, there does appear to be agreement that there is a capacity to manage just one crisis at a time. However, just 2 years later, the GTA, an area with one of Canada’s most sophisticated public and acute care health systems, was not able to manage the SARS crisis and carry on any other programs. The Ontario government recognized this state of affairs when, on 12 June, Ontario’s Health Minister Tony Clement said, “I was concerned that if we had one additional large-scale crisis, that the system would crash.” Important public health issues ranging from immunization to suicide prevention went virtually unaddressed, as the public health capacity in Toronto was overwhelmed. In the absence of a mechanism to share resources within the system and a general lack of overall system surge capacity, the city of Toronto and the province competed with each other to recruit trained staff from other health departments. The SARS outbreak has shown there is no surge capacity in Canada’s largest city. The acute care system in Toronto virtually ground to a halt in dealing with SARS. We must ask ourselves what would have happened if SARS had struck first in a smaller centre in a far less-advantaged region of Canada. Clearly Canada is not fully prepared. We should not have needed a crisis to tell us this. The CMA sees several components to rebuilding the capacity of the public health system. Public health human resources For the essential functions of the public health system to be realized, public health agencies need a workforce with appropriate and constantly updated skills. Canada’s public health workforce is extremely thin. There appear to be too few graduate-level public health professionals (i.e., those holding a master’s degree and physicians who are certified specialists in community medicine); those who do exist are not distributed equitably across jurisdictions. The scarcity of hospital-based infection control practitioners and emergency physicians within the acute care system and the lack of integration of hospital and community-based disease control efforts have been particularly striking during the SARS outbreak. The knowledge and skills required for effective public health practice are not static. They continually evolve as new evidence is identified. However, continuing education programming for public health practitioners is woefully underdeveloped in Canada. Health Canada has made some limited progress in this area, but the issue needs to be addressed much more substantively. 4. The CMA recommends The creation of a Canadian Centre of Excellence for Public Health, under the auspices of the CODSC, to invest in multidisciplinary training programs in public health, establish and disseminate best practices among public health professionals. Canada has world-class expertise in public health. However, it does not have the depth of other countries, partly because we do not have a national multidisciplinary school of public health of the calibre of Harvard in Boston, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London. A national school of public health, which might be based on a virtual network of centres nationwide, could * Develop a plan to assess and address the substantial educational needs of new and existing public health staff * Address the coordination of the various academic training programs to meet the needs of the field * Ensure self-sufficiency of our public health workforce. 5. The CMA recommends The establishment of a Canadian Public Health Emergency Response Service, under the auspices of the CODSC, to provide for the rapid deployment of human resources (e.g., emergency pan-Canadian locum programs) during health emergencies. The SARS outbreak clearly demonstrated the need for a pre-planned approach to supporting and augmenting the public health and acute care workforce during a crisis. When health professionals in the GTA were overwhelmed, we were ill prepared to move health professionals in from other jurisdictions to help. Health professional associations like the CMA took the first steps in investigating and overcoming obstacles regarding licensure and insurance. We were taken aback when we found that the Ontario government had unilaterally awarded an exclusive contract to a for-profit company to arrange for emergency relief. The further delay caused by concerns about privacy, confidentiality and harmonizing fees hampered relief efforts. The deployment of health professionals during health emergencies is too important to be left in the hands of for-profit organizations as it was during the SARS experience. An established Canadian Public Health Emergency Response Service, operating on a non-profit basis, would * Maintain a “reserve” of public health professionals who are fully trained and could be deployed to areas of need during times of crisis * Co-ordinate the logistics of issues such as portable licensing, malpractice and disability insurance * Identify funding for staff training and a more equitable distribution of numbers and skills among jurisdictions. Investment in public health Considering the importance of the public health system and its capacity to protect and promote the health of Canadians, it is amazing that we have no reliable or comprehensive information about how much money is actually spent on the system or what public health human resources are available across Canada. This is partially due to the lack of uniform definitions, service delivery mechanisms and accounting practices. Even in the absence of reliable data on public health expenditures, there is ample evidence that the public health system continues to operate under serious resource constraints across Canada. 6. The CMA recommends Tracking and public reporting of public health expenditures and capacity (both physical and human resources) by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada, on behalf of the Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control. In its latest report on health system expenditures, the CIHI states that 6% of total expenditures in 2000 were spent on “public health and administration.”<4> The inclusion of administrative costs in this figure means that public health funding is substantially less than 6% of health system expenditures.2 Federal Government Estimates report that Health Canada allocated $433 million in 2003–2004 for health promotion and prevention activities with spending scheduled to decrease to $308 million by 2005–2006 or by almost 30%. This decrease in spending exemplifies a decade that has seen tremendous fluctuations in spending on public health activities. The situation is alarming when looked at from a current-dollar basis; there was an 8.8% decrease in funding of public health activities between 1994–1995 and 1997–1998. In fact, federal spending on public health on a constant dollar basis did not regain its 1994–1995 level until 2000–2001. Although the late 1990s saw some reinvestment in public health initiatives, the most recent 2003–2004 estimates suggest that, once again, federal investment in public health will decrease dramatically over the next few years. Indeed, public health continues to represent only a small fraction of total federal direct spending on health (9.7% in 2002–2003). At the provincial level, although we cannot distance public health from administration, we know that it fell victim to the brutal climate of fiscal retrenchment of the 1990s, when in real terms provincial–territorial per capita health spending declined for 5 consecutive years after 1991–1992. During this period, public health was further destabilized by regionalization. According to the Survey of Public Health Capacity in Canada most provincial and territorial officials reported reductions in programming as a result of the transfer of funding and responsibility to regional structures. Although Ontario did not regionalize, in 1997 public health funding was downloaded to municipalities, which left public health departments scrambling to find funds to meet existing programs as well as new services that were mandated by the provincial Health Protection and Promotion Act. Whether talking about federal or provincial–territorial jurisdictions, we can no longer afford to have funding for health and safety subject to the vagaries of financial cycles. However, what perhaps is most alarming is the potentially large economic impact of underinvestment in this area. Although the net cost of the SARS outbreak in Ontario is not yet known, recent estimates suggest that it could be as high as $2.1 billion.3 Given this, the proverbial ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure comes to mind suggesting that a relatively modest increase in funding for public health could potentially result in substantial savings in the longer term. 7. The CMA recommends Federal government funding in the amount of $1 billion over 5 years to build adequate and consistent surge capacity across Canada and improve coordination among federal, provincial/territorial and municipal authorities to fulfill essential public health functions. The best way to ensure that the public health system is capable of addressing the range of public health threats, including emergencies, is to significantly increase investment in its capacity. This investment must assist all levels of the system to fulfill essential public health functions, with particular attention to local and regional agencies. The strategic national leadership that we are calling for includes the development of new mechanisms for federal cost sharing of basic public health services and the guarantee of a basic core set of local programs serving everyone in Canada, regardless of where they live. The system also needs to receive targeted funds so that it can do its work smarter and more effectively. Priority areas for this targeted funding should include development of an integrated information system and staff training. Research, surveillance and communications Canada’s ability to respond to emerging public health threats and acute events, such as the SARS outbreak, and to maintain its effective public health planning and program development depends on sound research, surveillance and rapid, real-time communications. 8. The CMA recommends An immediate sequestered grant of $200 million over 5 years to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to initiate an enhanced conjoint program of research with the Institute of Population and Public Health and the Institute of Infection and Immunity that will expand capacity for interdisciplinary research on public health, including infectious disease prevention and control measures. Similar to the efforts in clinical care to support the use of evidence-based practices, interventions in public health must be based on research, evidence and best practices. A national effort should be undertaken to develop and make widely available, on an ongoing basis, a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the evidence base for public health programs. This information would support effective practice, enhance public health research capacity and support other infrastructure elements (e.g., minimum programs and services, performance measurement, system funding). It could also reduce unnecessary duplication of efforts by different public health agencies. We applaud the tremendous work of the unique trans-Canada partnership of 4 CIHR-funded research teams who, in just 11 weeks, discovered the complete DNA sequence of the coronavirus associated with SARS. This is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when our talented research teams work together. The recent announcement by the CIHR of an integrated national strategy for research on SARS reflects the intent of this recommendation for other public health challenges. 9. The CMA recommends The mandatory reporting by provinces and territories of identified infectious diseases to the newly established Chief Public Health Officer of Canada to enable appropriate communications, analyses and interventions. Public health surveillance is defined as the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health data necessary for designing implementing and evaluating public health programs. It is an integral part of the public health system and performs an essential function in early detection and response to threats to human health. Current surveillance systems for communicable and noncommunicable diseases are inadequate to allow public health professionals to detect and react to major health issues. For effective public health management, surveillance must be a continuous process covering a range of integrated data sources to provide useful and timely information. 10. The CMA recommends The one-time infusion of $100 million, with an additional $2 million a year, for a “REAL” (rapid, effective, accessible and linked) Health Communication and Coordination Initiative to improve technical capacity to communicate with front line public health providers in real time during health emergencies. In today’s world, international travel, business and migration can move infectious diseases around the world at jet speed. But during the SARS experience, governments and public health authorities were unable to communicate in real time with health professionals on the front lines. Gaps in the basic communication infrastructure prevent public health agencies from talking with each other in real time, and also hinder exchanges between public health staff, private clinicians and other sources of information about emerging new diseases. In response to requests from both the Ontario Medical Association and Health Canada, the CMA mobilized its communication networks to provide physicians with critical information about public health management of SARS. In less than 48 hours, via email and fax, we reached over 45,000 physicians with authoritative information. Through the good offices of the Canadian Council of Health Services Accreditation, this information was also made available to over 1500 accredited health facilities across Canada. Although necessity caused the limits of the system to be tested, SARS highlighted the fact that we do not have information systems in place to facilitate real-time communication with health professionals. Information is the key to effective response during times of emergency. Information in real time is also essential for effective day-to-day health care to provide, for example, information on adverse drug reactions. CONCLUSION SARS brought out the best in Canada and Canadians’ commitment to one another. It also turned a bright, sometimes uncomfortable spotlight on the ability of this country’s health care system to respond to a crisis, be it an emerging disease, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or a large-scale accident. We must learn from the SARS experience and quickly move to rebuild the infrastructure of a strong public health system. The CMA believes that this 10-point Public Health Action Plan will go a long way toward addressing shortfalls in the Canadian public health system. Action now will help to ensure that Canadians can be confident once again that their governments are doing all they can to protect them from the threat of new infectious diseases. We wish the advisory committee well in its deliberations and offer the CMA’s assistance at any time in clarifying the strategies set out in our submission. APPENDIX 1: THE CMA’S PUBLIC HEALTH ACTION PLAN [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] [TABLE END] APPENDIX 2: ESTIMATED COST OF IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Recommendation Estimated cost over 5 years Legislative and institutional reform 1. Canada Emergency Health Measures Act N/A 2. Canadian Office for Disease Surveillance and Control (CODSC) ? $20 million 3. Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Capacity enhancement 4. Canadian Centre of Excellence for Public Health $100 million 5. Canadian Public Health Emergency Response Service $35 million 6. Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada $35 milliona 7. Surge capacity $1 billionb Research, surveillance and communications 8. Canadian Institutes of Health Research $200 millionc 9. Mandatory reporting Included under 2 and 3 above 10. Enhanced reporting $110 million TOTAL $1.5 billion a. Work is currently underway to break-out public health from the current category of “public health and administration.” b. This is an incremental investment in addition to funding currently available under Health Canada’s Health Promotion and Prevention Strategic Outcome area. c. Funding must be sequestered specifically for new initiatives related to public health. Additional money could also be acquired through funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, which received an additional $500 million in 2002–2003 (announced in the 2003 federal budget) to enhance the Foundation’s support of public health infrastructure. [TABLE END] APPENDIX 3: CHRONOLOGY OF THE CMA’S RESPONSE TO SARS 2002 November 16 * First known case of atypical pneumonia (SARS) occurs in Guangdong province, China 2003 February 11 * World Health Organization (WHO) receives reports from the Chinese Ministry of Health about SARS; 305 persons affected and 5 deaths February 13 * Canadian index case arrives in Hong Kong for a family visit February 18-21 * Canadian index case is a guest at the Metropole hotel in Kowloon February 21 * A medical doctor from Guangdong checks into Metropole hotel in Kowloon. The physician, who became ill a week before staying at the hotel, is considered to be the original source of the infection * This leads subsequently to outbreaks in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada after guests leave the hotel and return home February 23 * Canadian index case returns home to Toronto March 5 * Canadian index patient dies in Toronto, 9 days after the onset of her illness March 12 * WHO issues global alert about SARS March 13 * National and international media reports begin appearing about SARS * The Canadian index patient’s son, Canada’s second SARS victim, dies 15 days after the onset of his illness March 14 * First reports from Toronto about deaths from SARS March 16 * Health Canada receives notice of SARS patients in Ontario and British Columbia; begins regular updates on SARS on its website * Health Canada initiates its pan-Canadian communication infrastructure, based on its pandemic influenza contingency plans March 17 * CMA calls Health Canada to offer assistance and request “real time information.” CMA immediately placed on list of participants in daily pan-Canadian teleconferences. * CMA adds a SARS page to its website home page (cma.ca) with CMA Shortcuts to expert information and daily updates March 19 * CMA alerts all its divisions and affiliates to the Health Canada and CMA SARS web pages * eCMAJ includes SARS updates on its website March 20 * CMA divisions add a link to SARS information for health professionals to their websites * Health Canada requests CMA’s assistance to inform physicians of the public health management guidelines for SARS March 28 * CMA sends an email to 33,000 members (copied to divisions and affiliated societies) to alert them to Health Canada’s SARS public health management documents and SARS web page April 1 * CMA CEO initiates cross-directorate task force and deploys dedicated staff resources. Some other CMA programs deferred/delayed. Task force begins daily staff SARS Working Group meetings * CMA communicates with the Ontario Medical Association on a daily basis April 2 * CMA holds teleconference with divisional communication directors re: SARS April 3 * CMA contacts the British Medical Association to establish whether we can secure a supply of masks from European sources * CMA organizes a teleconference among national health care organizations to discuss SARS developments April 7 * CMA posts electronic grand rounds on SARS for clinicians on cma.ca; * CMA sends email and fax communication to physicians to raise awareness of SARS e-grand rounds on cma.ca * Working with the Mental Health Support Network of Canada, CMA prepares and posts on cma.ca, fact sheets for health professionals and the public on coping with the stress caused by SARS April 9 * CMA hosts second teleconference among national health care organizations to discuss SARS developments April 17 * Electronic grand rounds on SARS updated and promoted through cma.ca April 23 * CMA sends email to membership requesting volunteers for the CMA Volunteer Emergency SARS Relief Network April 24 * CMA consults with the American Medical Association regarding the possibility of US physicians volunteering for the relief network April 25 * CMA CEO sends letter to deputy minister of health about the urgent need to create a national ministerial SARS task force April 30-May 1 * CMA participates in Health Canada-sponsored international SARS conference in Toronto May 6 * Health Canada announces the National Advisory Group on SARS and Public Health, headed by Dr. David Naylor May 12 * Opinion editorial by Dr. Dana Hanson, CMA president, on SARS and public health surge capacity published in The Ottawa Citizen; May 28 * CMA organizes a meeting of national health care organizations to discuss lessons learned from SARS June 3 * CMA receives an invitation to submit a brief to the National Advisory Group on SARS and Public Health June 6 * CMA sends e-mail to targeted segment of its membership (community medicine, public health, infectious disease and medical microbiology) requesting volunteers for the CMA Volunteer Emergency SARS Relief Network June 25 * CMA president outlines the CMA’s Public Health Action Plan during a speech at the Canadian Club in Toronto * CMA submission to the National Advisory Committee on SARS and public health APPENDIX 4: CMA’S PROPOSED HEALTH EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM [TABLE CONTENT DOES NOT DISPLAY PROPERLY. SEE PDF FOR PROPER DISPLAY] Health alert may be declared in: Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 * Any area under federal jurisdiction * Any community or province/territory with a risk of transmission to other provinces/territories or countries * Any community or province/territory with insufficient resources to manage the public health emergency within the capacity of the local public health authorities Definition of the area of concern Voluntary quarantine for individuals or property Increasing surveillance Chief public health officer takes the lead in coordinating the response Regulation or prohibition of travel Facilitating communication Reviewing and updating health emergency procedures Determination of local capacity to lead and respond Coordinating necessary response efforts with national disaster relief agencies, armed forces or law enforcement agencies at the federal–provinical–territorial level Medium to significant limitations of civil rights and freedoms Mandatory surveillance Assessing future resource requirements Deployment of a national response team Medium to significant limitations of civil rights and freedoms Evacuation of persons and the removal of personal property Providing the public with necessary information. Discretionary deployment of the national response team or on request of local authorities Quarantine of individuals and/or property with enforcement by law Implementing interventions, as appropriate, and emergency response actions Regulation of the distribution and availability of essential goods, services and resources Assessing further refinement of actions Restricting access to the area of concern Requisition, use or disposition of property Required consent of governor in council No No Yes Yes Yes Lead response team Municipal or provincial Provincial or national Provincial or national National or international International [TABLE END] REFERENCES 1. Garrett, L. Betrayal of trust: the collapse of global public health. New York: Hyperion; 2000. 2. Health Canada. National consultations, summary report: renewal of the federal health protection legislation. Ottawa: Health Canada; 1999. 3. Federal, Provincial and Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health. Survey of public health capacity in Canada: highlights. Ottawa: The Committee; 2001. 4. Canadian Institutes for Health Information. National health expenditure trends: 1975–2002. Ottawa: CIHI; 2002. 5. Lévesque M. The economic impact of SARS. TD Economics Topic Paper. TD Bank Financial Group; 6 May 2003. Available: http://www.td.com/economics/topic/ml0503_sars.html (viewed: 20 June 2003). 1 Many countries (e.g., United States, United Kingdom, Norway and the Netherlands) have developed critical masses of public health expertise at the national level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, which has a critical mass, great depth of scientific expertise and the tools and fiscal resources to fund public health programs at both state and local levels through demonstration projects, is a sterling example of the effectiveness of such a central agency. 2 A review by the Canadian Institute for Health Information recognizes the problem with current expenditure tracking systems and has recommended separating public health from government administrative costs and prepayment administration in future health system cost estimates. 3 On 6 May, the TD Bank released a paper<5> suggesting that the cost of SARS to the Canadian economy may be between $1.5 and $2.1 billion.
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Protecting the national blood supply from the West Nile Virus : CMA Submission to House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1964
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2003-02-19
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health care and patient safety
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2003-02-19
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health care and patient safety
Text
INTRODUCTION On behalf of its more than 54,000 members, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to provide the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health with recommendations in regard to protecting the national blood supply from the West Nile Virus (WNV). As physicians, we understand both the perceived and actual risks associated with blood-borne diseases and the impact on individuals, families and communities. BACKGROUND WNV has emerged in North America, presenting a threat to public, animal and equine health. The most serious human manifestation of WNV infection is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, many types of birds, horses and some other animals. Most people who become infected with WNV will have either no symptoms or only mild ones. However, on rare occasions, WNV infection can result in severe and sometimes fatal illnesses. Certain people, including seniors, the young and those with weak immune systems, are at greater risk for serious health effects. In 2002, West Nile Virus was documented in five provinces (Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan). Further to this, the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first documented cases of person-to-person West Nile Virus transmission through organ transplantation, blood and blood product transfusion and possibly breastfeeding. It is imperative that the risk associated with the transmission of West Nile Virus through blood transfusions be minimized. We understand that the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is working towards a validated laboratory test which may be available by the next mosquito season and that in the absence of this test there are a number of contingency plans. It appears that the CBS and Hema Quebec are maintaining vigilance and maximizing efforts towards controlling contamination through blood. This is commendable. We believe that these efforts are one component of what is required to maintain the health and safety of Canadians from the spread of known and emerging diseases. A second component is to ensure that communication about WNV to the public is accurate, timely and consistent. Effective risk communication is imperative not only to promote a safe blood supply, but also to manage risk perception associated with a positive test for WNV. A comprehensive approach is required to protect the public from emerging health problems such as the WNV. A strong public health infrastructure is necessary to ensure that governments are able to protect and promote health and to prevent illness. This involves prevention, early detection, containment, communication and information dissemination. STRENGTHENING PUBLIC HEALTH Through its public health infrastructure, society protects and promotes health and works to prevent illness, injury and disability. In today’s world these public health functions require an increasingly specialized and well-trained workforce; sophisticated surveillance, monitoring and information systems; and adequate and continuously available laboratory support. Its ultimate effectiveness, however, depends upon the ability of the system to communicate crucial information and health advice to the right professionals in real time, when they need it. The devastating impact of the failure to effectively communicate essential information is evident in examples as diverse, yet dramatic, as the tragedy of Walkerton and the untimely death of Vanessa Young. In both cases the information health professionals needed to make optimum decisions was not accessible in a reliable and timely manner. Reports indicate that across this country public health workers are stretched to the limit to perform routine work. The public health infrastructure is put to the test further whenever there is a disaster, large or small, in Canada and, not withstanding best efforts, it does not always pass. The public health system is also challenged by the potential for a disconnect in communications between differing jurisdictions that may be found when, for example, First Nations communities under federal jurisdiction overlap areas of provincial/territorial jurisdiction. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax scare in the United States, Canadians must be assured of a rapid, knowledgeable, expert response to emergency public health challenges. Commissioner Roy Romanow suggests in the recent report of the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care that “a portion of the proposed new Primary Health Care Transfer should be targeted to expanding efforts by provinces and territories to prevent illnesses and injuries, promote good health, and integrate those activities with primary health care.” The Fifth Report of the Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Social Affairs, chaired by Senator Kirby, notes that “The major problem with public health programs is that funding is low, and usually unstable or inconsistent. As a result, the public health infrastructure in Canada is under considerable stress and has deteriorated substantially in recent years.” The Senate Committee recommended that the federal government, “ensure strong leadership and provide additional funding of $200 million to sustain, better coordinate and integrate the public health infrastructure in Canada as well as relevant health promotion efforts.” During the First Ministers’ meeting in September 2000, the First Ministers committed to strengthening their investments and commitments to public health, including the development of strategies and policies that recognize the determinants of health, enhance disease prevention and improve public health. They made several commitments towards achieving the goal, including: * Promoting those public services, programs and policies that extend beyond care and treatment and which make a critical contribution to the health and wellness of Canadians; * Addressing key priorities for health care renewal and supporting innovations to meet the current and emerging needs of Canadians; * Reporting regularly to Canadians on health status, health outcomes, and the performance of publicly funded health services, and the actions taken to improve these services. In 1999, the Auditor General found Health Canada unprepared to fulfill its responsibilities in public health; communication between multiple agencies was poor and weaknesses in the key surveillance system impeded the effective monitoring of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and injuries. In 1997, Justice Horace Krever reported that the “public health departments in many parts of Canada do not have sufficient resources to carry out their duties.” RECOMMENDATIONS The capacity of the public health care sector to deliver disease prevention and health promotion programs in Canada is currently inadequate, and its ability to respond varies from coast to coast. This is due to a lack of trained professionals and a lack of operational funds. Enhanced commitments are needed from governments at all levels to ensure that adequate human resources and infrastructure are in place to respond to public health issues when they arise. This includes the expansion of the public health training programs to enhance the resources in this field. The ability of the public health system to respond to these issues has a direct impact on the wellbeing of the people of Canada in a manner as important as the ability of the acute care system to respond to medical emergencies. Therefore the CMA recommends that: The federal government invest in human resources and infrastructure needed to develop an adequate and effective public health system capable of responding to emerging public health issues. The public health system is complex and multifactorial. It is therefore imperative that different departments and sectors coordinate and communicate effectively to coordinate efforts and avoid duplication. The development of an adequate surveillance system and consideration of mandatory reporting of WNV infections in humans is one component of this requirement. In addition to collecting these data, a more extensive communication and dissemination plan should be developed to enhance the impact of skilled professionals, programs and policies. Responsible messaging should be developed in a timely manner, for the public and for individuals who are detected to have (or previously had) a WNV infection. Such messaging must carefully balance public awareness of risk against threats to the CBS/Hema Quebec donor pool and the creation of anxiety in people who need to use blood or blood products. It is essential that the federal government take a leadership role to ensure that the communication tools and information technology necessary to enable a more rapid and informed response to situations such as identification of emerging diseases in the blood supply, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, newly discovered adverse drug reactions, and man-made disasters or bio-terrorism are accessible in real time in all regions of the country. In its pre budget submission, the CMA called on the government to strengthen the public health system to ensure that governments are able to protect and promote health and to prevent illness. This involves the detection of emerging health problems, like West Nile Virus transmission, as well as containment, communication and information dissemination. Therefore the CMA recommends that: The federal government provide a one-time infusion of $30 million for the creation of a R.R.E.A.L (Rapid, Reliable, Effective, Accessible and Linked) Health Communication and Coordination Initiative which would strengthen Canada’s public health infrastructure and enhance coordination and communication amongst all levels of government, public health officials, health educators, community service providers, physicians and organizations such as the Canadian Blood Service/Hema Quebec, Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Medical Association.
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Study on Canada's pandemic preparedness: CMA's Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10010
Date
2010-10-22
Topics
Health care and patient safety
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2010-10-22
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Text
We are very pleased to appear on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association before this Senate committee as part of your study of pandemic preparedness and the H1N1 experience in Canada. Earlier this year, the CMA collaborated with the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the National Specialty Society of Community Medicine to present a picture of lessons learned from the frontlines of the pandemic. Together we represent over 80,000 physicians engaged in all aspects of Canada's health care and public health systems. The report includes recommendations that, if acted upon, would help ensure that a strong foundation is in place to protect Canadians from future health threats. As President of the CMA and a practising physician, I am here to present my association's point of view. Physicians have a unique and critical role to play during public health emergencies. Many people turn to their physician first for information and counseling. Physicians are the first line of defence. This was certainly the case during the H1N1 pandemic. This role was intensified by the confusion created by the great variation in mass vaccination programs across the country. Many physicians felt that their urgent need for clinically relevant information was not well recognized by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Public Health Network and, in some cases, provincial, territorial, regional or local levels. The lack of national leadership on clinical guidance led to delays and the proliferation of differing guidelines across the country. Standard clinical guidance, adaptable to local circumstances, is the norm in medical practice. Nationally disseminated clinical practice guidelines on vaccine sequencing, use of anti-virals and hospital treatment would have created consistent clinical responses across the country. We recommend 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. The CMA also recommends that the Public Health Agency of Canada work closely with the medical specialty societies, as it did successfully with Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology in the development of clinical guidance for the care and treatment of pregnant women. Many physicians and public health workers have complained that multiple levels of government provided similar, but not identical, advice. The differences led to skepticism among both physicians and the public and the inundation of messages led to overload. In situations where scientific evidence is rapidly changing, as was the case during the H1N1 pandemic, we need a national communication strategy, targeted to physicians that can build on communication processes already in place. It is especially important during a health emergency to build on existing systems that work well and can minimize the chances of conflicting messages. It is also important that two-way lines of communication between public health and primary care are established. Embedding primary care expertise into public health planning at all levels would help us avoid problems and improve our response. We believe that the H1N1 immunization process did not adequately engage physicians in planning and delivery. A number of difficulties, such as the impact of bulk packaging, the 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 consultation, interdependence and mutual understanding before the crisis. A number of witnesses have noted the importance of surveillance. There is no doubt that greater use of electronic medical records - or EMRs - in primary care 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. Another aspect of pandemic planning that cannot be ignored is the possibility that physicians themselves might fall ill. Physicians have never hesitated to provide care to patients during times of crisis, but this obligation must be balanced by a reciprocal obligation of society to physicians. Following the SARS outbreak, the CMA prepared Caring in a Crisis, a policy paper that addresses the need to take into account and plan for what would happen when health care providers become part of the statistics of those infected. We urge the committee to consider this challenge in your deliberations. My last point addresses the lack of surge capacity in Canada's health system. To mount a response to H1N1, public health units pulled human resources from other programs and many critical services were delayed, suspended or cancelled altogether. The resources of our critical care infrastructure were stretched to their limits in many hospitals and frontline health care providers were inundated with telephone calls and visits from the worried well and an increase in visits from those with flu symptoms. If H1N1 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. The CMA has been warning of the lack of surge capacity in our health system for over a decade. Canada remains vulnerable to the risks presented by epidemics and pandemics. If we are to be prepared for the next emergency, 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. We therefore very much appreciate the review to Canada's response to the H1N1 pandemic that has been undertaken by this Committee, and we look forward to your report. Thank you.
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Insite: CMA submission regarding Insite supervised injection site and program.

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14129
Date
2011-02-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
  1 document  
Policy Type
Court submission
Date
2011-02-17
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Pharmaceuticals/ prescribing/ cannabis/ marijuana/ drugs
Text
S.C.C. File No.: 33556 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA (APPEAL FROM THE BRITISH COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEAL) BETWEEN: ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA AND MINISTER OF HEALTH FOR CANADA Appellants (Appellants/Cross-Respondents) —and — PHS COMMUNITY SERVICES SOCIETY, DEAN EDWARD WILSON and SHELLY TOMIC, VANCOUVER AREA NETWORK OF DRUG USERS (VANDU) Respondents (Respondents/Cross-Appellants) —and — ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Respondent (Respondent) —and — ATTORNEY GENERAL OF QUEBEC, DR. PETER AIDS FOUNDATION, VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH AUTHORITY, CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK, INTERNATIONAL HARM REDUCTION ASSOCIATION AND CACTUS MONTREAL, CANADIAN NURSES ASSOCIATION, REGISTERED NURSES' ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO AND ASSOCIATION OF REGISTERED NURSES OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, BRITISH COLUMBIA CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, BRITISH COLUMBIA NURSES'S UNION Interveners FACTUM OF THE INTERVENER, CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP 100 Queen Street — Suite 1100 Ottawa, ON KIP 1J9 Guy J. Pratte/Nadia Effendi Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Medical Association 2 TO: Roger Bilodeau, Q.C. REGISTRAR SUPREME COURT OF CANADA AND TO: Robert J. Frater Attorney General of Canada Bank of Canada Building 234 Wellington Street, Room 1161 Ottawa, Ontario KlA OH8 Telephone: (613) 957-4763 FAX: (613) 954-1920 E-mail: robert.fratergustice.gc.ca Counsel for Appellant/Respondent on Cross- Appeal, the Attorney General of Canada Robert J. Frater Attorney General of Canada Bank of Canada Building 234 Wellington Street, Room 1161 Ottawa, Ontario KlA OH8 Telephone: (613) 957-4763 FAX: (613) 954-1920 E-mail: robert.frater@justice.gc.ca Counsel for Appellant/Respondent on Cross- Appeal, the Minister of Health for Canada Joseph H. Arvay, Q.C. Arvay Finlay 1350 - 355 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2G8 Telephone: (604) 689-4421 FAX: (604) 687-1941 E-mail: jarvay@arvayfinlay.com Counsel for Respondent, PHS Community Services Society Jeffrey W. Beedell McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: jeffbeedell@mcmillan.ca Agent for Respondent, PHS Community Services Society 3 Joseph H. Arvay, Q.C. Arvay Finlay 1350 - 355 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2G8 Telephone: (604) 689-4421 FAX: (604) 687-1941 E-mail: jarvay@arvayfinlay.com Counsel for Respondent, Dean Edward Wilson and Shelly Tomic John W. Conroy, Q.C. Conroy & Company 2459 Pauline St Abbotsford, British Columbia V2S 3S1 Telephone: (604) 852-5110 FAX: (604) 859-3361 E-mail: jconroy@johnconroy.com Counsel for Respondent/Appellant on Cross- Appeal, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) Craig E. Jones Attorney General of British Columbia 1001 Douglas Street, 6th floor Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4 Telephone: (250) 387-3129 FAX: (250) 356-9154 E-mail: craigjones@gov.bc.ca Counsel for Respondent, the Attorney General of British Columbia Hugo Jean Procureur general du Quebec 1200 Route de l'Èglise, 2e etage Ste-Foy, Quebec G1V 4M1 Telephone: (418) 643-1477 FAX: (418) 644-7030 E-mail: hjean@justice.gouv.qc.ca Counsel for Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Jeffrey W. Beedell McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: jeffbeedell@mcmillan.ca Agent for Respondent, Dean Edward Wilson and Shelly Tomic Henry S. Brown, Q.C. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 2600 - 160 Elgin St P.O. Box 466, Stn "D" Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Telephone: (613) 233-1781 FAX: (613) 788-3433 E-mail: henry.brown@gowlings.com Agent for Respondent/Appellant on Cross- Appeal, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 70 Gloucester Street Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0A2 Telephone: (613) 566-2058 FAX: (613) 235-4430 E-mail: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Agent for Respondent, the Attorney General of British Columbia Pierre Landry Noel & Associes 111, rue Champlain Gatineau, Quebec J8X 3R1 Telephone: (819) 771-7393 FAX: (819) 771-5397 E-mail: p.landry@noelassocies.com Agent for Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec 4 Andrew I. Nathanson Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 2900 - 550 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 0A3 Telephone: (604) 631-4908 FAX: (604) 631-3232 Counsel for Intervener, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation Ryan D. W. Dalziel Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP 3000 - 1055 West Georgia Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 3R3 Telephone: (604) 641-4881 FAX: (604) 646-2671 E-mail: rdd@bht.com Counsel for Intervener, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Sheila Tucker Davis LLP 2800 Park Place 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6C 2Z7 Telephone: (604) 643-2980 FAX: (604) 605-3781 E-mail: stuckergdavis.ca Counsel for Intervener, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Paul F. Monahan Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 333 Bay Street, Suite 2400 Bay Adelaide Centre, Box 20 Toronto, Ontario M5H 2T6 Telephone: (416) 366-8381 FAX: (416) 364-7813 E-mail: pmonahan@fasken.com Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Scott M. Prescott Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 1300 - 55 Metcalfe Street Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L5 Telephone: (613) 236-3882 FAX: (613) 230-6423 E-mail: sprescott@fasken.com Agent for Intervener, Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation Brian A. Crane, Q.C. Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 2600 - 160 Elgin St Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1C3 Telephone: (613) 233-1781 FAX: (613) 563-9869 E-mail: brian.crane@gowlings.com Agent for Intervener, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Marie-France Major McMillan LLP 300 - 50 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario K113 6L2 Telephone: (613) 232-7171 FAX: (613) 231-3191 E-mail: mane-france.maior@mcmillan.ca Agent for Intervener, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Julia Kennedy Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 55 Metcalfe Street Suite 1300 Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L5 Telephone: (613) 236-3882 FAX: (613) 230-6423 E-mail: ikennedy(&fasken.com Agent for Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Michael A. Feder McCarthy Tétrault LLP Suite 1300, 777 Dunsmuir Street Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1 K2 Telephone: (604) 643-5983 FAX: (604) 622-5614 E-mail: mfeder(qmccarthv.ca Counsel for Intervener, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International Harm Reduction Association and CACTUS Montréal Rahool P. Agarwal Ogilvy Renault LLP 3800 - 200 Bay Street Toronto, Ontario M5J 2Z4 Telephone: (416) 216-3943 FAX: (416) 216-3930 E-mail: ragarwal(iogilvyrenaul1.com Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Nurses Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario and Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia Owen M. Rees Stockwoods LLP 77 King Street West Suite 4130, P.O. Box 140 Toronto, Ontario M5K IHI Telephone: (416) 593-7200 FAX: (416) 593-9345 E-mail: owenr~stockwoods.ca Counsel for Intervener, Canadian Public Health Association 5 Brenda C. Swick McCarthy Tétrault LLP 200 - 440 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, Ontario KIR 7X6 Telephone: (613) 238-2000 FAX: (613) 563-9386 Agent for Intervener, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International Harm Reduction Association and CACTUS Montréal Sally A. Gomery Ogilvy Renault LLP 1500 - 45, O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP lA4 Telephone: (613) 780-8661 FAX: (613) 230-5459 E-mail: sgomery(qogilvyrenaul1.com Agent for Intervener, Canadian Nurses Association, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontaro and Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia Dougald E. Brown Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP 1500 - 50 O'Connor S1. Ottawa, Ontario KIP 6L2 Telephone: (613) 231-8210 FAX: (613) 788-3661 E-mail: dougald.brown(inelligan.ca Agent for Intervener, Canadian Public Health Association Marjorie Brown Victory Square Law Office 100 West Pender Street Suite 500 Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 1R8 Telephone: (604) 684-8421 FAX: (604) 684-8427 E-mail: mbrown(avslo.ca Counsel for Intervener, British Columbia Nurses' Union Michael A. Chambers Maclaren Corlett 50 O'Connor Street, Suite 1625 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 6L2 Telephone: (613) 233-1146 FAX: (613) 233-7190 E-mail: mchambers(amacorlaw.com Counsel for Intervener, Real Women Canada 6 Colleen Bauman Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 500 - 30 Metcalfe St. Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5L4 Telephone: (613) 235-5327 FAX: (613) 235-3041 E-mail: cbauman~sgmlaw.com Agent for Intervener, British Columbia Nurses' Union TABLE OF CONTENTS Part I — Statement of Facts ........................................................................................................... .1 A. Overview ......................................................................................................................... 1 B. CMA's Interest in the Appeal ............................................................................................ 1 C. CMA's Position on the Facts ............................................................................................ 1 Part II — Statement of the Questions in Issue ................................................................................3 Part III — Statement of Argument .................................................................................................3 A. Charter Interpretation Must be Guided by Reality, Not Ideology ......................................... 3 B. The Impugned Provisions Infringe Section 7 of the Charter ................................................. 5 (1)Denying Access to Necessary Health care Infringes Section 7 of the Charter.................. 5 (2)The Rights to Life and Security of Patients Have Been Infringed ................................... 5 (3)Drug Addicts Have Not Waived Their Statutory and Constitutional Right to Treatment .................................................................................................................. 6 (4)The Rights to Liberty of the Individual Respondents Have Been Infringed ..................... 8 (5)The Principles of Fundamental Justice Have Not Been Respected ................................. 8 a) The Impugned Provisions Are Arbitrary ..................................................................... 8 b) The Impugned Provisions Are Overbroad ................................................................... 9 C. If There is an Infringement of Section 7, the Law is Not Saved by Section 1 of the Charter ................................................................................................................................ 9 D. Remedy ......................................................................................................................... 10 Part IV — Submissions as to Costs .............................................................................................. 10 Part V — Order Sought ................................................................................................................10 Part VI — Table of Authorities .................................................................................................... 11 Part VII — Statutes, Regulations, Rules ...................................................................................... 13 PART I — STATEMENT OF FACTS A. Overview 1. Fair and equitable access to medically necessary, evidenced-based health care is of fundamental importance to Canadian patients and physicians, as this Court recognized in Chaoulli. 2. Where life and security of a person is at risk because of a medical condition, like drug addiction, the Court's delineation of a government or legislature's constitutional obligations should be guided by facts. Unfounded ideological assumptions about the character of patients must not trump clinical judgment based on the best medical evidence available; otherwise, the life, liberty and security of patients is put at risk arbitrarily, contrary to section 7 of the Charter. 3. The Appellants' position that those addicted to drugs have foregone any right to access medical treatment is antithetical to the raison d'être of the Canadian health care system and inconsistent with the federal government's obligations under section 7 of the Charter. 4. Neither the statutory law nor the Constitution allows the state to deny access to health care because of "lifestyle" choices or presumed waiver of legal or constitutional rights. B. CMA's Interest in the Appeal 5. The Canadian Medical Association ("CMA") is the national voice of Canadian physicians with over 74,000 members across the country. Its mission is to serve and to unite the physicians of Canada and to be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and heath care. 6. Critical to CMA's role is the upholding of harm reduction as one pillar in a comprehensive public health approach to disease prevention and health promotion. Further, the CMA possesses a distinct expertise and broad-based knowledge of many aspects of policy and law concerning harm reduction as a clinically mandated and ethical method of care and treatment. C. CMA's Position on the Facts 7. By Order dated February 17, 2011, the CMA was granted leave to intervene in this Appeal. 2 8. The CMA accepts the facts as stated by the Respondents. 9. This appeal flows from separate actions commenced by some of the Respondents seeking relief that would obviate the need for exemptions granted by the Federal Minister of Health under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the "Act"), S.C. 1996 c. 19. Thus, when within the confines of the Vancouver Safe Injection Site ("Insite"), patient drug users were not liable to prosecution for possession of a controlled substance contrary to section 4(1) of the Act, or staff for trafficking contrary to section 5(1). The initial exemptions, based on "necessity for a scientific purpose", were granted for a term of three years commencing September 12, 2003. They were thereafter extended to December 31, 2007, and then to June 30, 2008. Insite's ability to operate was dependent upon the exemptions. However, no further extensions were forthcoming. 10. In their actions, the Respondents, in addition to the division of powers argument, contended that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act violated section 7 of the Charter, were unconstitutional, and should be struck down. The Respondents were successful before the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal. 11. The Applications Judge found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infringed section 7 of the Charter and declared them to be of no force and effect. 12. On appeal by the Attorney General of Canada and cross-appeal by the Respondents, PHS, Wilson and Tomic, the majority of the Court of Appeal found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act were inapplicable to Insite by reason of the application of the doctrine of interjurisdictional immunity. 13. In concurring reasons, Rowles J.A. also found that sections 4(1) and 5(1) engaged section 7 of the Charter and that such application did not accord with the principles of fundamental justice because of overbreadth. 14. The findings of the Applications Judge and Rowles J.A. under the Charter are, the CMA submits, premised on the correct and supported fact that harm reduction is an evidenced-based form of medical treatment for patient drug addicts suffering from the illness of addiction. It is unconstitutional for governments to prevent access to treatment on pain of criminal penalty and deprivations of life, liberty and security of the person on grounds informed by ideological 3 assumptions and not the evidence. PART II - STATEMENT OF THE QUESTIONS IN ISSUE 15. The following constitutional questions, as stated by the Chief Justice on September 2, 2010, are to be determined in this appeal: 1. Are ss. 4(1) and 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.c. 1996, c. 19, constitutionally inapplicable to the activities of staff and users at Insite, a health care undertaking in the Province of British Columbia? 2. Does s. 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.c. 1996, c. 19, infringe the rights guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 3. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 4. Does s. 5(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19, infringe the rights guaranteed by s. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 5. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 16. Questions two to five, which relate to the Charter, are of particular importance for the CMA, and are addressed in more detail below. The CMA submits that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infrnge the rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter and are not justified under section 1. PART III - STATEMENT OF ARGUMENT A. Charter Interpretation Must be Guided by Reality, Not Ideology 17. When determining whether or not impugned legislation infringes the Charter, courts must not play host to political debates, but instead must rise above them by ensuring that public policy passes constitutional muster. Chaoull v. Québec (Attorney General), (2005) 1 S.c.R. 791, at para. 89 (CMA Authorities, Tab 2). R. v. Morgentaler, (1988)1 S.C.R. 30 at 45-46 (CMA Authorities, Tab 13). 18. The Appellants' position is clearly premised on ideological preconceptions with regard to individuals suffering from addictions. Yet, as the history of birth control legislation in Canada shows, a legal framework informed by ideological assumptions about the morality of patients seeking to control their reproduction can violate a person's most fundamental rights. See R. v. Morgentaler, supra at 62 where the Court rejected arguments that it should assess administrative structures in the abstract: "when denial of a right as basic as security of the person is infringed by the procedure and administrative structures created by the law itself, the courts are empowered to act" (CMA Authorities, Tab 13). 4 19. In order for the courts to meet their role in determining whether a particular piece of legislation is constitutional, it must consider Parliament's enactments by relying on the available evidence. In fact, it is well established that a deprivation of the rights to life, liberty or security of the person must be proven by solid evidence. Taylor, M. and Jamal, M., The Charter of Rights in Litigation, loose-leaf (Canada Law Book: Aurora, 2010) at para. 17:15 [CMA Authorities, Tab 20]. 20. The presentation of facts is not a mere technicality, but rather it is essential to a proper consideration of Charter issues: Charter cases will frequently be concerned with concepts and principles that are of fundamental importance to Canadian society. For example, issues pertaining to freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the right to life, liberty and the security of the individual will have to be considered by the courts. Decisions on these issues must be carefully considered as they will profoundly affect the lives of Canadians and all residents of Canada. In light of the importance and the impact that these decisions may have in the future, the courts have every right to expect and indeed to insist upon the careful preparation and presentation of a factual basis in most Charter cases. The relevant facts put forward may cover a wide spectrum dealing with scientific, social, economic and political aspects. Often expert opinion as to the future impact of the impugned legislation and the results of the possible decisions pertaining to it may be of great assistance to the courts. MacKay v. Manitoba, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 357 at 361 [CMA Authorities, Tab 5]. 21. Specifically, with respect to section 7 of the Charter, this Court has confirmed that the task of the courts is to evaluate the issue in "the light, not just of common sense or theory, but of the evidence". The Court dispenses with unsubstantiated theoretical arguments, relying instead on empirical and scientific evidence presented by the parties: In support of this contention, the government called experts in health administration and policy. Their conclusions were based on the "common sense" proposition that the improvement of health services depends on exclusivity (R.R., at p. 591). They did not profess expertise in waiting times for treatment. Nor did they present economic studies or rely on the experience of other countries. They simply assumed, as a matter of apparent logic, that insurance would make private health services more accessible and that this in turn would undermine the quality of services provided by the public health care system. The appellants, relying on other health experts, disagreed and offered their own conflicting "common sense" argument for the proposition that prohibiting private health insurance is neither necessary nor related to maintaining high quality in the public health care system. Quality public care, they argue, depends not on a monopoly, but on money and management. They testified that permitting people to buy private insurance would make alternative medical care more accessible and reduce the burden on the public system. The result, they assert, would be better care for all [...] To this point, we are confronted with competing but unproven "common sense" arguments, amounting to little more than assertions of belief. We are in the realm of theory. But as discussed above, a theoretically defensible limitation may be arbitrary if in fact the limit lacks a connection to the goal. This brings us to the evidence called by the appellants at trial on the experience of other developed countries with public health care systems which permit access to private health care. The experience of these countries suggests that there is no real connection in fact between prohibition of health insurance and the goal of a quality public health system. 5 Chaoulli, supra at paras. 136-149 (see also paras. 115, 117, 136-149, 150, 152 where the Court refers to Statistics Canada studies and evidence from other western democracies) [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. See also Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 at 601-602 [CMA Authorities, Tab 16]. 22. Drug addicts suffer from a medical condition that can be treated. Hence, Insite is designed as a health treatment aimed at reducing the harmful consequences of drug use as well as exposing its vulnerable patients to other health care options. In this context, the federal legislation and government actions at issue amount to a denial of evidence-based medical treatment whose effect is to put the life and security of patients at great risk. 23. Charter interpretation should generally be grounded on fact rather than speculation or ideological assumptions, especially where life and security of the person (i.e., the patient) is at risk because of a medical condition (such as addiction). In such cases, the Court's delineation of the state's constitutional obligations should be guided by evidence-based medicine and independent clinical judgment. Chaoulli, supra at paras. 85, 107 [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. See also Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 441 at 452-454 [CMA Authorities, Tab 7]; Auton (Guardian ad litem of) v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657, at para. 66 [CMA Authorities, Tab 1]. 24. Accordingly, CMA submits that, at the very least, in the health care field where lives are at risk, there must be sound evidentiary basis for legislative and government action that deny medical care. B. The Impugned Provisions Infringe Section 7 of the Charter (1) Denying Access to Necessary Health care Infringes Section 7 of the Charter 25. While the legislature is generally entitled to enact legislation prohibiting drug use or trafficking, this legislation (however well-intended) cannot have the effect of putting the lives of affected persons at risk. This Court has already found in Chaoulli that section 7 of the Charter was infringed when governments impeded timely patient access to care. (2) The Rights to Life and Security of Patients Have Been Infringed 26. Both the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal found that the right to life and security was engaged in the present case. The evidence on these issues was plentiful: 1. Addiction is an illness. One aspect of the illness is the continuing need or craving to consume the substance to which the addiction relates; 6 2. Injection drug use leads to an increased incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis A, B and C, and skin- and blood-borne infections; frequent drug overdoses resulting in significant morbidity and mortality; increased hospital and emergency service utilization; 3. The risk of morbidity and mortality associated with addiction and injection is ameliorated by injection in the presence of qualified health professionals at Insite; 4. User of Insite who are addicted to heroin, cocaine and other controlled substances are not engaged in recreation. Their addiction is an illness frequently, if not invariably, accompanied by serious infections and the real risk of overdose. Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, paras. 87, 89, 135-136, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, pp. 24-25, 34. See also Reasons for Judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal, para. 30, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 65. (3) Drug Addicts Have Not Waived Their Statutory and Constitutional Right to Treatment 27. The Appellants did not really dispute the medical evidence to the effect that addiction to drugs was a disease. They sought instead to justify their position by claiming that drug addicts had "chosen" their lifestyle and were solely responsible for their medical condition. For the following reasons, this "rationale" does not pass constitutional muster. 28. The Appellants assert that the section 7 rights are not engaged as they stem from an alleged "choice made by the consumer", relying on the fact that 95% of the injections in the downtown east side of Vancouver do not take place at Insite. The Appellants do not explain how this assertion demonstrates why addicts are able to make a choice not to inject themselves, given that it only addresses where they inject themselves. In any event, contrary to the Appellants' choice theory, the evidence before the Applications Judge and his findings were to the contrary: the reasons for the addiction and resulting need are based on a complicated combination of personal, governmental and legal factors, some of which lend themselves to choice and others that do not.' Further, the Applications Judge found that it is the illness of addiction, and the failure to manage it, that has led to further illness and death. Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, paras. 65, 89, 142, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, pp. 21, 24-25, 35. See also Reasons for Judgment of the B.C. Court of Appeal, para. 39, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 67. Contra the facts in R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571 [Malmo-Levine] [CMA Authorities, Tab 12]. 29. The Appellants' position amounts to a claim that the users of Insite have effectively waived their constitutional rights under section 7. Notwithstanding that the jurisprudence is In fact, the evidence is clear that in the case of the Respondent Tomic, her first experience with illegal drugs was not a personal choice [Reasons for Judgment of the Applications Judge, para. 65, Appellants' Record, Vol. I, p. 21]. 7 unclear as to whether a right under section 7 can actually be waived, it is well established that a waiver or a renunciation of any right under the Charter must be voluntary, freely expressed and accompanied with a clear understanding of the purpose the right was meant to serve and the consequences of declining its protection. There is no evidence whatsoever that the patients of Insite who suffer from addiction, knowingly and unequivocally waived their rights under the Charter, and more specifically their right to access medical treatment. See e.g. Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844, at paras. 71-72; Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551, at paras. 96-102; R. v. Richard, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 525, at paras. 22-26; R. v. L.T.H., [2008] 2 S.C.R. 739, at paras. 41-42; R. v. Clarkson, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 383 at 394-396; Korponay v. Canada (Attorney General), [1982] 1 S.C.R. 41 at 49; Yorkton Union Hospital v. S.U.N. (1993), 16 Admin. L.R. (2d) 272, at para. 44 (C.A.) [CMA Authorities, Tabs 3, 17, 15, 11, 8, 4, 18 respectively]. 30. Indeed, Canadians do not forego their right to health care or to protection from section 7 violations because of their "choice" of lifestyles. The Appellants' position that addicts must take responsibility for the choice they make undermines the raison d'être of the Canadian health care system, namely (as found by the Applications Judge and the Court of Appeal) the fundamental right of Canadians to access medical treatment and the ethical and clinical responsibilities of their health care providers. 31. The Appellants' position skirts the clinical question at issue for physicians and their patients: physicians must treat patients as a matter of good medical practice and ethical obligation, whether the patient is believed to contribute to his or her injury or not. In Canada, neither the ethical obligations of physicians to treat patients, nor the patients' legal right to treatment, are subject to a moral assessment of a patient's lifestyle. Behaviours that might be deemed "risky" do not deprive patients of their rights of access to clinically required medical care. 32. Section 31 of CMA's Code of Ethics (relied on by the Court in the past e) provides that all physicians must "[r]ecognize the responsibility of physicians to promote fair access to health care resources". The patients at Insite would be deprived of positive health outcomes if Insite were to close or even continue to operate under the ongoing threat of closure. 33. Adopting the Appellants' approach to Charter interpretation would set an extremely dangerous precedent. Thus, if one were to apply the rationale of "choice" to other medical 2 See e.g. R. v. Dersch, [1993] 3 S.C.R. 768 at 784-785, where the Court refers to CMA's Code of Ethics [CMA Authorities, Tab 9]. 8 contexts, such as chronic disease, patients suffering from diabetes because of contributing factors such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise would, under the same logic, be denied medical care. Indeed, many of the complex elements beyond individual choice such as socio-economic and genetic factors found by the Applications Judge in the case at bar to shape addiction as an ilness are prevalent in other diseases. This approach would be not only unethical and clinically unsound, but unconstitutionaL. (4) The Rights to Liberty of the Individual Respondents Have Been Infringed 34. The courts have recognized that the threat of criminal prosecution and possibility of imprisonment for an offence is suffcient to trigger the liberty interest and scrutiny under section 7. Malmo-Levine, supra at para. 84 ICMA Authorities, Tab 12). R. v. Parker (2000),188 D.L.R. 4th 385, at para. 101 (Ont. C.A.) ICMA Authorities, Tab 14). 35. Vulnerable patients suffering from addiction and the health care providers who provide treatment at Insite suffer violations of their constitutionally guaranteed rights (section 7 of the Charter) because of the threat of prosecution under the Act. The uncertainty associated with a ministerial exemption mechanism for Insite from certain provisions of the Act imposes a great burden on those already labouring under the weight of addiction. Moreover, health care providers are also put at risk in their ability to provide medically necessary and evidence-based health care services in a timely manner to all citizens by the capricious exemption mechanism contained in the Act. (5) The Principles of Fundamental Justice Have Not Been Respected 36. It is well established that a law that is arbitrary or overbroad will constitute a breach of the principles of fundamental justice. The CMA submits that the Applications Judge was correct when he found that the impugned provisions were arbitrary, or if not arbitrary, grossly disproportionate and overbroad. The Court of Appeal agreed that the provisions were overbroad. P. Hogg, Constitutional Law of Canada, 5th ed., loose-leaf (Carswell: Toronto, 2007) at 47-52 to 47-60.1 ICMA Authorities, Tab 19). R. v. Heywood, (1994) 3 S.c.R. 761 at 792-794 ICMA Authorities, Tab 10). Chaoull, supra at para. 127 ICMA Authorities, Tab 2). Rodriguez, supra at 590-591 ICMA Authorities, Tab 16). a) The Impugned Provisions Are Arbitrary 37. A law is arbitrary when it bears no relation to, or is inconsistent with, the objective that 9 lies behind it. In order not to be arbitrary, a limit on the section 7 right requires not only a theoretical connection between the limit and the legislative goal, but a real connection on the facts. Chaoulli, supra at paras. 130-131 [CMA Authorities, Tab 2]. 38. In the present case, by prohibiting access to evidence-based, medically necessary care, the government has contributed to the very harm it claims it seeks to prevent, i.e. drug possession and addiction. The best available medical evidence suggests that clinics such as Insite not only protect life, but offer positive health outcomes and care alternatives to vulnerable patients. 39. Moreover, the justification of any denial of access to necessary medical care based on ideology rather than facts is arbitrary since, by definition, it bears no real connection to the facts. b) The Impugned Provisions Are Overbroad 40. It is a well-established principle of fundamental justice that criminal legislation must not be overbroad. If the government, in pursuing a legitimate objective, uses means which are broader than is necessary to accomplish that objective, the principles of fundamental justice will be violated. Heywood, supra at 792-793 [CMA Authorities, Tab 10]. See also Malmo-Levine, supra at paras. 130-131 [CMA Authorities, Tab 12]. 41. A fortiori, that will be true when the state itself has a particular interest in acting to protect vulnerable persons. In the present case, the evidence before the Applications Judge demonstrated that harm reduction has been a component of Canada's drug strategy for many years. In 2002, the House of Commons Special Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs rejected the dichotomy between harm reduction and an abstinence-based treatment model. It also specifically considered the creation of a safe injection facility in the downtown east side of Vancouver because it recognized that that community presented a "public health disaster". 42. Hence, while the government may be justified in preventing drug possession and trafficking, it cannot cast a legislative prohibition so widely that it captures persons in need of medical care. C. If There is an Infringement of Section 7, the Law is Not Saved by Section 1 of the Charter 43. Should the Court find that sections 4(1) and 5(1) of the Act infringe the rights guaranteed Guy Pratt /Nadia ffend Borden L dner Gervais L 1 0 by section 7 of the Charter, the CMA submits that the provisions cannot be justified under section 1 of the Charter as any law that offends the principles of fundamental justice cannot be justified, and more specifically, meet the minimal impairment branch of the section 1 analysis. See e.g. New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46, at para. 99 [CMA Authorities, Tab 6]; Heywood, supra at 802-803 [CMA Authorities, Tab 10]. D. Remedy 44. Fundamental justice requires either permanent exemptions or a declaration that the impugned law, as it applies to users of supervised injection sites, is invalid. The CMA submits that this position is consistent with sound constitutional interpretation of section 7 of the Charter, while protecting the most vulnerable patient populations in accordance with evidence-based medicine and physicians' ethical obligations. PART IV — SUBMISSIONS AS TO COSTS 45. The CMA seeks no costs and asks that none be awarded against it. PART V — ORDER SOUGHT 46. The CMA submits that constitutional questions two and four should be answered affirmatively. Should the Court answer these questions in the affirmative, however, constitutional questions three and five should be answered negatively. 47. The CMA seeks leave of this Court, pursuant to rule 59(2) of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, to present oral argument at the hearing of this appeal. Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/83-74, as amended, Rule 59(2) [Part VII of Factum]. ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED THIS 13th DAY OF APRIL, 2011. OTTO1 \ 4423086 \ 7 11 PART VI — TABLE OF AUTHORITIES TAB SOURCES Paras. in factum where cited Cases 1. Auton (Guardian a litem of) v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 657 23 2. Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General), [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791 17, 21, 23, 36, 37 3. Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844 29 4. Korponay v. Canada (Attorney General), [1982] 1 S.C.R. 41 29 5. MacKay v. Manitoba, [1989] 2 S.C.R. 357 20 6. New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. G. (J.), [1999] 3 S.C.R. 46 43 7. Operation Dismantle Inc. v. The Queen, [1985] 1 S.C.R. 441 23 8. R. v. Clarkson, [1986] 1 S.C.R. 383 29 9. R. v. Dersch, [1993] 3 S.C.R. 768 32 10. R. v. Heywood, [1994] 3 S.C.R. 761 36, 40, 43 11. R. v. L.T.H., [2008] 2 S.C.R. 739 29 12. R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine, [2003] 3 S.C.R. 571 28, 34, 40 13. R. v. Morgentaler, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30 17, 18 14. R. v. Parker (2000), 188 D.L.R. 4th 385 (Ont. C.A.) 34 15. R. v. Richard, [1996] 3 S.C.R. 525 29 16. Rodriguez v. British Columbia (Attorney General), [1993] 3 S.C.R. 519 21, 36 17. Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551 29 18. Yorkton Union Hospital v. S. UN. (1993), 16 Admin. L.R. (2d) 272 (Sask. C.A.) 29 12 TAB SOURCES Paras. where in factum cited Secondary Sources 19. Hogg, P., Constitutional Law of Canada, 5th ed., loose-leaf (Carswell: Toronto, 2007) at 47-52 to 47-60.1. 36 20. Taylor, M. and Jamal, M., The Charter of Rights in Litigation, loose-leaf (Canada Law Book: Aurora, 2010) at para. 17:15 19 13 PART VII — STATUTES, REGULATIONS, RULES
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, sections 1 and 7
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, S.C. 1996, c. 19, sections 4(1), 5(1), 56
Rules of Supreme Court of Canada, SOR/83-74, as amended, Rule 59 14 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms PART I OF THE CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 Charte canadienne des droits et libertes PARTIE I DE LA LOI CONSTITUTIONNELLE DE 1982 Rights and freedoms in Canada 1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Life, liberty and security of person 7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. Droits et libertes au Canada 1. La Charte canadienne des droits et libertes garantit les droits et libertós qui y sont enonces. Its ne peuvent etre restreints que par une regle de droit, dans des limites qui soient raisonnables et dont la justification puisse se demontrer dans le cadre d'une society libre et democratique. Vie, liberte et securite 7. Chacun a droit a la vie, a la liberte et a la securite de sa personne; it ne peut etre porte atteinte a ce droit qu'en conformite avec les principes de justice fondamentale. 15 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act S.C. 1996, c. 19 Possession of substance 4. (1) Except as authorized under the regulations, no person shall possess a substance included in Schedule I, II or III. Trafficking in substance 5. (1) No person shall traffic in a substance included in Schedule I, II, III or IV or in any substance represented or held out by that person to be such a substance. Exemption by Minister 56. The Minister may, on such terms and conditions as the Minister deems necessary, exempt any person or class of persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class thereof from the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest. Loi reglementant certaines drogues et autres substances L.C. 1996, ch. 19 Possession de substances 4. (1) Sauf dans les cas autorises aux termes des reglements, la possession de toute substance inscrite aux annexes I, II ou III est interdite. Trafic de substances 5. (1) Il est interdit de faire le trafic de toute substance inscrite aux annexes I, II, III ou IV ou de toute substance presentee ou tenue pour telle par le trafiquant. Exemption par le ministre 56. S'il estime que des raisons medicales, scientifiques ou d'interet public le justifient, le ministre peut, aux conditions qu'il fixe, soustraire a l'application de tout ou partie de la presente loi ou de ses reglements toute personne ou categorie de personnes, ou toute substance designee ou tout precurseur ou toute categorie de ceux-ci. 16 Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada (in force on October 13, 2006) Regles de la Cour supreme du Canada. (en vigueur le 13 octobre 2006) 59. (1) In an order granting an intervention, the judge may (a) make provisions as to additional disbursements incurred by the appellant or respondent as a result of the intervention; and (b)impose any terms and conditions and grant any rights and privileges that the judge may determine, including whether the intervener is entitled to adduce further evidence or otherwise to supplement the record. (2)In an order granting an intervention or after the time for filing and serving all of the memoranda of argument on an application for leave to appeal or the facta on an appeal or reference has expired, a judge may, in their discretion, authorize the intervener to present oral argument at the hearing of the application for leave to appeal, if any, the appeal or the reference, and determine the time to be allotted for oral argument. (3)An intervener is not permitted to raise new issues unless otherwise ordered by a judge. 59. (1) Dans l'ordonnance octroyant l'autorisation d'intervenir, le juge petit : a) prevoir comment seront supportes les &pens supplementaires de l'appelant ou de l'intime resultant de l'intervention; b) imposer des conditions et octroyer les droits et privileges qu'il determine, notamment le droit d'apporter d'autres elements de preuve ou de completer autrement le dossier. (2)Dans l'ordonnance octroyant l'autorisation d'intervenir ou aprês l'expiration du Mai de depOt et de signification des memoires de demande d'autorisation d'appel, d'appel ou de renvoi, le juge peut, a sa discretion, autoriser l'intervenant a presenter une plaidoirie orale a l'audition de la demande d'autorisation d'appel, de l'appel ou du renvoi, selon le cas, et determiner le temps alloue pour la plaidoirie orale. (3) Sauf ordonnance contraire d'un juge, l'intervenant n'est pas autorise a soulever de nouvelles questions.
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Nutrition Labelling: CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10085
Date
2011-03-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-03-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
Thank you very much for inviting the Canadian Medical Association back to this committee as you continue your study on healthy living. A few weeks ago my colleague Dr. Doig was here to talk about the health consequences of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity and the policies CMA has advocated to promote healthy living. Today I would like to expand upon nutrition labelling and health claims on foods, and on the labelling of foods regulated as natural health products. Nutrition facts tables can be an important source of information, but many Canadians have difficulty interpreting them. A 2009 Health Canada review of research on nutrition labelling indicated that: * those with little nutrition knowledge have difficulty using the tables and are unable to relate the information they contain to their own dietary needs; and that * the concept of percentage of daily value is often misunderstood. There has been an increase in the use of health claims on the front of packaging expressed as slogans or logos such as "healthy choice," as well as in disease reduction and nutrient content claims. Studies have shown that foods carrying health-related claims are seen by consumers as healthier choices. But the myriad of different claims can be confusing and may, in fact, draw attention away from the less healthy characteristics of a food, or oversimplify complex nutritional messages. We believe a standard consistent "at a glance" approach to front-of-package food labelling could reduce confusion and help consumers make informed dietary choices. The "traffic light" front-of-pack labelling currently in voluntary use in the UK is an example. The front-of-pack labels on composite processed foods use green, amber and red to indicate low, medium or high levels of the nutrients most strongly associated with diet-related health risks: fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. Also included is calorie count per serving and percentage daily amount information. Research in the UK has shown that consumers generally understand these labels. Shoppers are most likely to use them when buying a product for the first time; to compare different products; when shopping for children; when trying to control intake of certain ingredients such as fat or salt, for health reasons; or when trying to lose weight. Not surprisingly, research in the UK and Canada also shows that those most likely to read nutrition labels are those who are already interested in healthy eating. For this reason, labelling policy must be embedded in a broader nutrition policy that uses multiple instruments to foster education and interest in healthy eating, and helps ensure that Canadians have healthy food choices by, for example, regulating amounts of salt in processed food. In addition, physicians have become quite concerned about a recent tendency toward regulating 'fortified foods 'as Natural Health Products. The Food and Drugs Act effectively prevents products classified as foods from being marketed as having medicinal benefits unless there is compelling scientific evidence that the claims are true and the products are safe. The same strong legislation does not apply to Natural Health Products (NHPs), which are regulated under a different act. This is a concern because a trend is emerging whereby manufacturers of products normally sold as foods fortify their products with approved natural health products such as vitamins or minerals. Examples of these are energy drinks and vitamin-enhanced juice, power bars, gums and candy. The manufacturer can then request federal approval to market the product as a 'health product in food format.' If approved, food labelling requirements no longer apply and health claims that would not be allowed under the Food and Drugs Act can be made. Without proper nutrition labelling, it is difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to make informed food choices. This can be particularly troubling for those with special diets or health concerns. Further, those misled by dubious health claims might be consuming empty calories or high amounts of fat or sodium, with no corresponding benefit. The result is that the health of Canadians may be compromised. The CMA has called on Health Canada to require compelling evidence of health benefits before changing a product's regulatory status from food to natural health product, and nutrition labelling for all foods regulated as a natural health product. Faced with an array of products and health claims, and a barrage of advertising extolling their benefits, Canadians can find it challenging to make healthier food choices. To find our way through to the right choice, we need good nutritional information, and the ability to access and understand this information. Governments and health care providers share a responsibility to help Canadians make choices that will help them achieve and maintain good health. Canada's doctors are partners in healthy living and are ready to work with governments and others toward a healthy population. I welcome your questions.
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Improving Accountability in Canada's Health Care System: The Canadian Medical Association's Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10230
Date
2011-10-19
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health systems, system funding and performance
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2011-10-19
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Health systems, system funding and performance
Text
The CMA appreciates the opportunity to appear before this committee as part of your review of the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care. An understanding of what has worked and what hasn't since 2004 is critical to ensuring the next accord brings about necessary change to the system. Overview of 2004 Accord On the positive side of the ledger, the 2004 accord provided the health care system with stable, predictable funding for a decade - something that had been sorely lacking. It also showed that a focused commitment, in this case on wait times, can lead to improvements. However, little has been done on several other important commitments in the Accord, such as the pledge that was also made in 2003 to address the significant inequity among Canadians in accessing prescription drugs. Along with the lack of long-term, community and home-based care services, this accounts for a major gap in patient access along the continuum of care. We also know that accountability provisions in past accords have been lacking in several ways. For instance, there has been little progress in developing common performance indicators set out in previous accord. i The 2004 accord has no clear terms of reference on accountability for overseeing its provisions. Vision and principles for 2014 What the 2004 accord lacked was a clear vision. Without a destination, and a commitment to getting there, our health care system cannot be transformed and will never become a truly integrated, high performing health system. The 2014 Accord is the perfect opportunity to begin this journey, if it is set up in a way that fosters the innovation and improvements that are necessary. By clearly defining the objectives and securing stable, incremental funding, we will know what changes we need to get us there. Now is the time to articulate the vision- to say loudly and clearly that at the end of the 10-year funding arrangement, by 2025, Canadians will have the best health and health care in the world. With a clear commitment from providers, administrators and governments, this vision can become our destination. As a first step to begin this long and difficult journey, the CMA has partnered with the Canadian Nurses Association, and together we have solicited support from over 60 health care organizations for a series of "Principles to Guide Health Care Transformation in Canada." These principles define a system that would provide equitable access to health care based on clinical need; care that is high quality and patient-centred; and that focuses on empowering patients to attain and maintain wellness. They call for a system that provides accountability to those who use it and those who fund it; and that is sustainable - by which I mean adequately resourced in terms of financing, infrastructure and human resources, and measured against other high-performing systems, with cost linked to outcomes. Based on our experience working within the provisions of the 2004 accord, we would like to suggest three strategies to ensure the next accord leads to a sustainable, high-performing health care system. They are: a focus on quality; support for system innovation; and the establishment of an accountability framework and I will touch briefly on each one. Focus on quality First, the crucial need to focus on improving the quality of health care services. The key dimensions of quality, and by extension, the areas that need attention are: safety, effectiveness, patient-centredness, efficiency, timeliness, equitability and appropriateness. Excellence in quality improvement in these areas will be a crucial step towards sustainability. To date, six provinces have instituted health quality councils. Their mandates and their effectiveness in actually achieving lasting system-wide improvements vary. What is missing and urgently needed is an integrated, pan-Canadian approach to quality improvement in health care that can begin to chart a course to ensure Canadians ultimately have the best health and health care in the world. Canadians deserve no less and, with the resources at our disposal, there is no reason why this should not be achievable. The CMA recommends that the federal government fund the establishment and resource the operations of an arms-length Canadian Health Quality Council, with the mandate to be a catalyst for change, a spark for innovation and a facilitator to disseminate evidence-based quality improvement initiatives so that they become embedded in the fabric of our health systems from coast to coast to coast. To help expand quality improvement across the country, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim provides the solid framework. Our health care systems will benefit inordinately from a simultaneous focus on providing better care to individuals and better health to populations, while reducing the per-capita cost. There is ample evidence that quality care is cost effective care. This approach, when adopted and applied as the pan-Canadian framework for any and all structural changes and quality improvement initiatives, will not only serve patients well, but will also enhance the experience of health care providers on the front lines. System innovation The second strategy revolves around system innovation. Innovation and quality improvement initiatives are infinitely more likely to be successful and sustained if they arise out of a commitment by frontline providers and administrators to the achievement of a common goal. We need to shift away from compliance models with negative consequences that have little evidence to support their sustainability. Innovative improvements in health care in Canada are inadequately supported, poorly recognized, and constrained from being shared and put into use more widely. This needs to change. The 2014 accord, with a focus on improving Canadians' health and health care, can facilitate the transformation we all seek. Building on the success of the 2004 Wait Times Reduction Fund and the 2000 Health Accord Primary Health Care Transition Fund, the CMA proposes the creation of a Canada Health Innovation Fund that would broadly support the uptake of health system innovation initiatives across the country. A Working Accountability Framework And, third, there needs to be a working accountability framework. This would work three ways. To provide accountability to patients - the system will be patient-centred and, along with its providers, will be accountable for the quality of care and the care experience. To provide accountability to citizens - the system will provide and, along with its administrators and managers, will be accountable for delivering high quality, integrated services across the full continuum of care. And to provide accountability to taxpayers - the system will optimize its per-capita costs, and along with those providing public funding and financing, will be accountable for the value derived from the money being spent. We have done all of this because of our profound belief that meaningful change to our health care system is of the essence, and that such change can and must come about through the next health accord. Therefore I thank this committee for your efforts on this important area. I would be happy to answer your questions. Appendix A Issues identified in 2004 Accord and Current Status [NOTE: see PDF for correct dispaly of table] Issue Current Status Annual 6% escalator in the CHT to March 31, 2014 Has provided health care system with stable, predictable funding for a decade. Adoption of wait-time benchmarks by December 2005 for five procedural areas Largely fulfilled. However, no benchmarks were set for diagnostic imaging. The Wait Time Alliance is calling for benchmarks for all specialty care. Release of health human resource (HHR) action plans by December 2005 Partially fulfilled. Most jurisdictions issued rudimentary HHR plans by the end of 2005; F/P/T Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources issued a paper on a pan-Canadian planning HHR framework in September 2005. First-dollar coverage for home care by 2006 Most provinces offer first-dollar coverage for post-acute home care but service varies across the country for mental health and palliative home care needs. An objective of 50% of Canadians having 24/7 access to multidisciplinary primary care teams by 2011 Unfulfilled: Health Council of Canada reported in 2009 that only 32 per cent of Canadians had access to more than one primary health care provider. A 5-year $150 million Territorial Health Access Fund Fulfilled: Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative (THSSI) funding extended until March 31, 2014. A 9-point National Pharmaceuticals Strategy (NPS) Largely unfulfilled: A progress report on the NPS was released in 2006 but nothing has been implemented. Accelerated work on a pan-Canadian Public Health Strategy including goals and targets F/P/T health ministers (except Quebec) put forward five high-level health goals for Canada in 2005, although they were not accompanied by operational definitions that would lend themselves to setting targets. Continued federal investments in health innovation Unknown-no specificity in the 2004 Accord. Reporting to residents on health system performance and elements of the Accord P/T governments ceased their public reporting after 2004, and only the federal government has kept its commitment (at least to 2008). Formalization of the dispute advance/resolution mechanism on the CHA Done but not yet tested. i P/T governments ceased their public reporting after 2004, and only the federal government has kept its commitment (at least to 2008).Government of Canada. Healthy Canadians: a federal report on comparable health indicators 2008. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/alt_formats/hpb-dgps/pdf/pubs/system-regime/2008-fed-comp-indicat/index-eng.pdf. Accessed 06/21/11.
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The health status of Aboriginal children

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy8503
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-08-23
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health care and patient safety
Resolution
GC06-11
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the Minister of Health to work with other federal departments, the CMA and others to address the failure of previous federal efforts to raise the health status of Aboriginal children to the national level by developing a differentiated children's health strategy, creating safe environments, developing equitable educational opportunities and creating effective programs to deal with obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and other issues.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-08-23
Topics
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Health care and patient safety
Resolution
GC06-11
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the Minister of Health to work with other federal departments, the CMA and others to address the failure of previous federal efforts to raise the health status of Aboriginal children to the national level by developing a differentiated children's health strategy, creating safe environments, developing equitable educational opportunities and creating effective programs to deal with obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and other issues.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the Minister of Health to work with other federal departments, the CMA and others to address the failure of previous federal efforts to raise the health status of Aboriginal children to the national level by developing a differentiated children's health strategy, creating safe environments, developing equitable educational opportunities and creating effective programs to deal with obesity, diabetes, substance abuse and other issues.
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Child poverty in Canada

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy8525
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-08-23
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC06-21
The Canadian Medical Association requests that the federal government adopt a rigorous strategy to eradicate child poverty in Canada.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-08-23
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Resolution
GC06-21
The Canadian Medical Association requests that the federal government adopt a rigorous strategy to eradicate child poverty in Canada.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association requests that the federal government adopt a rigorous strategy to eradicate child poverty in Canada.
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Motorized dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy8681
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-12-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Resolution
BD07-03-58
The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to prohibit anyone under age 16 from operating motorized dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2013-03-02
Date
2006-12-03
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Resolution
BD07-03-58
The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to prohibit anyone under age 16 from operating motorized dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association calls on governments to prohibit anyone under age 16 from operating motorized dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles.
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Canadian Medical Association Submission on Bill S-209, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (prize fights)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10708
Date
2013-04-15
Topics
Health care and patient safety
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2013-04-15
Topics
Health care and patient safety
Text
In 2010, physician delegates to the CMA's annual General Council voted in favour of a ban on mixed martial arts prize fighting matches in Canada. The CMA's complete policy on head injury and sport, the central concern of physicians with respect to mixed martial arts, is attached as an appendix to this brief. A key recommendation in this policy is that physicians discourage participation in sports in which intentional trauma to the head and body is the objective of the sport, as is the case with mixed martial arts (MMA). Background MMA prize fighting, like commercial boxing, is distinct from healthy sport because the basic tenet is to win by deliberately incapacitating one's opponent through violent bodily assault. Professional fighters train in different martial arts disciplines in order to develop the widest possible set of fighting techniques. Blows delivered by hands, feet, elbows and knees are entirely permissible.1 "Bouts" are won in a number of ways that include deliberate head injury such as knockout (KO) and technical knockout (TKO). Physician and referee stoppage are recognized as a necessary option for the declaration of a winner in order to prevent continued violence.4; 5 Despite the introduction of rules and regulations meant to ensure fighter safety, MMA is a violent sport with a high risk of injury. Publications seem to indicate that the overall injury rate in professional MMA competitions ranges approximately from 23 to 28 injuries per 100 fight participations, which is similar to that found in other combat sports involving striking, including boxing.1; 5; 7 Organizers support the rules because they realize that prize fighting can't be sustained as a business if the fighters are unable to return to the ring. The injuries vary in severity but include many types of head injury: ocular injuries, such as rupture of the bony orbit or of the eye itself; facial injuries including fractures; spine injuries; concussion; and tympanic membrane ruptures.2, 6, 7 Most sanctioned matches end in a submission, judge's decision or referee/physician stoppage, as opposed to KO or TKO. It is important to note that the overall risk of critical injury, defined as a persistent acquired brain injury, permanent blindness, permanent functional loss of limb or paralysis, appears to be low. The ability of referees to intercede and for fighters to voluntarily concede victory to their opponents, as well as the presence of physicians at the ringside, are all thought to play a role in minimizing the risk of critical injury.7 The risk of traumatic brain injury and concussion nevertheless remains one of the chief concerns with respect to MMA. KO rates are thought to be lower in professional MMA events than in similar boxing competitions, but it is not clear why. It is well known that knockouts are the result of brain injury4 and at least one study reported that blunt trauma to the head was a common reason for match stoppage. One study reported a severe concussion rate of 16.5 per 100 fighter participations (3.3% of all matches). 6 Regrettably, as in other combat sports, long-term follow-up of players is insufficient to measure how often head injury leads to permanent brain damage.1, 3 Issues Insufficient research Whether you defend or condemn MMA, the true nature and rate of severe brain injuries is speculative.6 Similarly, the absence of longitudinal studies means that the true long-term health implications of MMA fighting can only be surmised. Risk factors for injury Unsurprisingly, losing fighters are at a considerably greater risk for sustaining injury. It is notable that fighters losing by KO or TKO appear to have a higher overall incidence of injury.4 An increased duration of fighting is associated with an increased incidence of injury.3, 5 However, it remains unclear how age and fight experience contribute to the risk for sustaining injury.2, 3, 4 It appears that fighters with head injury continue to fight and sustain further injury, head injury being more clearly associated with injury than are either inexperience or age. Current situation Despite the sport's growing popularity, professional MMA competitions are currently illegal in Canada. Indeed, section 83(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that only boxing matches, where only fists are used, are legal. However, the governments of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Northwest Territories have regulated/licensed MMA through athletic governing commissions, effectively circumventing the Criminal Code. The legality of the sport in New Brunswick, Alberta and British Columbia currently varies by municipality. CMA Recommendations The CMA recommends that Section 83(2) of the Criminal Code, the ban on mixed martial arts, be maintained in its current form. The CMA recommends that the federal government undertake further research on head injuries and concussion in Canada, including expanding current surveillance tools for the incidence of these injuries. References 1. Bledsoe, G. H. (2009). Mixed martial arts. In R. Kordi, N. Maffulli, R. R. Wroble, & W. A. Angus (Eds.), Combat Sports Medicine (1st ed., pp. 323-330). London: Springer. 2. Buse, G. J. (2006). No holds barred sport fighting: A 10 year review of mixed martial arts competition. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40(2),169-172. 3. Bledsoe, G. H., Hsu, E. B., Grabowski, J. G., Brill, J. D., & Li, G. (2006). Incidence of injury in professional mixed martial arts competitions. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 5(Combat Sports Special Issue), 136-142. 4. Walrod, B. (2011). Current review of injuries sustained in mixed martial arts competition. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 10(5), 288-289. 5. Unified Fighting Championship. (n.d.). Unified rules and other important regulations of mixed martial arts. Retrieved May 28, 2012, from http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/rules-and-regulations 6. Ngai, K. M., Levy, F., & Hsu, E. B. (2008). Injury trends in sanctioned mixed martial arts competition: A 5-year review from 2002 to 2007. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42(8), 686-689. 7. Scoggin III, J. F., Brusovanik, G., Pi, M., Izuka, B., Pang, P., Tokomura, S. et al. (2010). Assessment of injuries sustained in mixed martial arts competition. American Journal of Orthopedics, 39(5), 247-251.
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237 records – page 1 of 24.