2-day meeting comes at a time when many say Canada’s health situation is in crisis

A woman wearing blue hospital scrubs and a medical masks stands in front of a computer monitor in a hospital.
‘We need to recruit, retain and really look at training more health-care workers,’ says the Canadian Medical Association. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)Health ministers from across the country wrapped up two days of meetings in Charlottetown Thursday and their federal counterpart says he is taking five “concrete” priorities home to Ottawa as a result of it.Federal Health Minister Mark Holland listed those items in a communique after groups representing doctors and nurses demanded the ministers leave the gathering “with a clear commitment to urgent action.”The strategies listed in the communique were:

  • A focus on retention, by creating a nursing retention tool kit for provinces;
  • A new examination of health-care training and supply demands in Canada, with a focus on supporting Indigenous people interested in health careers;
  • A reduction in the time it takes for internationally educated health professionals to begin working in Canada, by allowing them to begin the credential process overseas. There will also be a 90-day standard for provincial professional colleges to recognize those credentials once the workers are here;
  • Progress on labour mobility to allow health workers to work anywhere in the country, starting with doctors this year and nurses in future years;
  • A new “Centre of Excellence for the Future of the Health Workforce” to improve the sharing and availability of workforce data and planning to better understand Canada’s future health-care needs. That way when there are staffing crunches, provinces can see it coming and prepare.

Holland said another priority will be digital health care, which “we’ve been talking about for a long time.” That change could come in the form of a pan-Canadian health data charter, which would give Canadians online access to their medical records.

“This charter emphasizes the importance of putting people at the centre of our health-care system, and ensuring they have access to their own health information,” Holland said.

The two-day conference came at a time when many are saying Canada’s health-care situation is in crisis. As well as the groups representing doctors and nurses, the ministers also heard from other health-care professionals and organizations from across the country.