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The Health Action Lobby (HEAL) released a discussion paper today calling on governments to recognize the importance of adopting a pan-Canadian approach to health human resources (HHR).

The discussion paper, entitled Core Principles and Strategic Directions for a Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Plan, includes the perspectives of all stakeholders and offers strategic, co-ordinated solutions to Canada’s growing health human resource crisis.

The need for action is underscored by events occurring around the world in marking April 7 as World Health Day by the World Health Organization (WHO). This year’s theme, “Working Together For Health” highlights the growing crisis in HHR affecting health care delivery throughout the world, including Canada.

“The greatest concern of Canadians today is without a doubt the length of time it takes them to access the care they need. The availability of health human resources is a key factor behind lengthy wait times”, explains Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, President of the Canadian Medical Association.

“Health and illness know no politics, posturing or rhetoric,” notes Pamela Fralick, HEAL Chair. “Our desire to address the HHR issue must be equally determined and focused.”

“Governments must show leadership by taking quick and meaningful action now,” Fralick continues. “That means aligning systemic needs, political realities and fiscal priorities to effectively address the HHR issue. It also means allowing the voices of health providers to be entrenched in the ongoing planning and implementation of needed solutions, particularly through their professional bodies.”

Recognizing the need to advance the HHR issue, governments recently developed a planning document, “A Framework for Collaborative Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Planning.” The framework represents a positive step forward in co-ordinating HHR planning in Canada, and HEAL looks forward to further enhancing action on this critical issue by bringing the provider voice into the debate”, Fralick said.

An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted last week for HEAL showed that 91per cent of Canadians support development of a health care workforce plan based on the projected demographic and health needs. Ninety-three per cent indicated that Canada should strive to become self-sufficient in training enough health professionals to meet future needs, with only 36 per cent of respondents confident that Canada will have enough health professionals to meet future demand.

“Governments have committed to ensuring Canadians receive the health services they need. To do that, they must collaborate and plan for tomorrow with the people and groups who know the system best, the ones providing the care”, explains Dr. Marlene Smadu, President-Elect, Canadian Nurses Association. “They must explore new delivery care models with particular emphasis on technology, consider new and enhanced roles for existing providers, and support an environment of life-long learning and skills development.”

“The discussion paper released today expands upon HEAL’s earlier messaging and should advance debate and discussion around a critically needed, coordinated approach to HHR,” Fralick explains. Acknowledging the stage set by the Health Council of Canada and Health, it sets out for discussion purposes 10 core principles and supporting strategic directions within three overarching themes, which HEAL members believe must underpin a pan-Canadian plan for achieving a sustainable health workforce.

The Health Action Lobby (HEAL), a coalition of 30 national health and consumer associations and organizations dedicated to protecting and strengthening Canada's health care system, represents more than half a million providers and consumers of health care. HEAL was formed in 1991 out of concern over the erosion of the federal government's role in supporting a national health care system.

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For further information:
Health Action Lobby (HEAL): Anthony Fuchs, (416) 932-1888, ext. 223