Conference of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health

NEWS RELEASE – Conference of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health

NEWS – Edmonton, October 19, 2017

Provincial and territorial (P/T) health ministers met today in Edmonton, Alberta to discuss ongoing collaboration in key areas, including mental health and substance use, the opioid crisis, pharmaceutical drug coverage, innovation and health care funding challenges.

“This meeting provides an excellent opportunity to share information and knowledge, work together on common goals and set a path forward in serving the health care needs of all Canadians,” said Sarah Hoffman, Alberta's Minister of Health, who chaired the meeting. “I'm proud to be hosting these discussions on traditional Treaty 6 territory and look forward to continued collaboration with my colleagues, as we work together to ensure health care delivery across our jurisdictions is responsive to the needs of all Canadians, now and into the future.

Throughout the day, P/T ministers shared their successes and challenges as they continue to transform health care and find innovative solutions to the diverse health demands in each jurisdiction.

Federal, provincial and territorial bilateral agreements

P/Ts are beginning negotiations with the federal government on bilateral agreements, except Quebec which has an asymmetrical agreement, for targeted funding for home and community care and mental health and addictions. Ministers discussed the need to ensure that the agreements provide appropriate flexibility to support the needs and priorities of different jurisdictions. Agreements must allow for the retention of funding for the full term of the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities. Ministers also emphasized that the administrative and reporting requirements must be reasonable and proportional to the targeted funding contribution of the federal government, which is a small fraction of the amount P/Ts spend in these areas.

Mental health and addictions

The P/Ts recognize there is a growing and pressing need to strengthen mental health supports for all Canadians. Ministers agreed there is no health without mental health - ­mental health is as important as physical health - and concluded systems need to reflect this priority.

Health ministers shared information on the progress they have made to improve access to mental health and substance use services in their respective jurisdictions. Ministers agreed to continue to focus on system improvements of the mental health and substance use sector through improved coordination and integration of services at the community level, with an emphasis on prevention, promotion, and early intervention. Ministers also agreed to explore areas for collaboration to ensure systems that are equitable, accessible, high-performing and recovery-oriented. Ministers agree efforts must continue to reduce and eliminate stigma.

They discussed options to ensure health systems are accessible and culturally appropriate. In addition, P/Ts agree to work together to eliminate silos, address gaps, and provide early intervention and prevention.  Increased support from the federal government is key to meeting the growing need for strong mental health and substance use services for families and individuals across the country.

This is an area of great need and additional funding from the federal government is required.

On-going efforts to address opioids

P/T ministers shared information on the strategies being used in their own jurisdictions, including: harm-reduction initiatives such as supervised consumption sites, wide accessibility to naloxone kits; updated physician training on the use of prescription opioids; prevention initiatives; enforcement and supply control; surveillance and analytics; and collaboration between social agencies, health professionals, law enforcement and government.

Ministers agree we need to ensure our systems are focused on the whole person by ensuring there are team-based care processes and culturally appropriate services in place to address pain management needs.

Discussion of the opioid crisis, experienced by many jurisdictions, raised issues concerning use of illegal drugs and the introduction of new substances into the illegal drug supply, as well as problematic prescription drug use and the burden it is having on Canadians, their families and their communities.

P/T ministers will meet with federal health minister Petitpas Taylor tomorrow and have an opportunity to discuss the role the federal governments has in supporting P/T jurisdictions to prevent overdose deaths and support front-line care so they can safely deliver the care required to save lives and address the opioid crisis.

Health equipment procurement

Based on the success of the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA), and as directed by premiers, P/T health ministers have begun to explore collaboration to procure high volume and specialized medical equipment.

Manitoba led discussions on the initial progress of P/Ts to collaborate to procure basic and specialized medical equipment.

Ministers agreed to a framework going forward and will be reporting back to premiers by May 31, 2018.

Transparency regarding pharmaceutical payments to health professionals

Ontario provided an update on consultations, recently introduced legislation and next steps regarding Ontario's work towards improving transparency on medical industry payments provided to health professionals and organizations. Discussions will continue with Health Canada tomorrow.

Ministers agree to continue to strengthen transparency and openness in health care to maintain Canadians' confidence that the care they receive is based on the best clinical evidence, and without undue influence from the medical industry. To further this goal, ministers directed officials to ensure that initiatives like e-prescribing continue to advance, and they are done so in a transparent manner to mitigate any potential conflicts of interest.

Drugs for rare diseases

Ministers also discussed the high cost of drugs for rare diseases and the work being done by the Drugs for Rare Diseases Working Group led by Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA)

The work of the pCPA was commended in lowering drug cost, increasing access to clinically-effective drugs, and aligning jurisdictional efforts and processes in drug negotiations. P/Ts are saving $1.2 billion annually.

Universal access to medicines

Health ministers, as directed by the premiers this summer, agreed to define a national pharmacare plan, including a formulary, costs and timelines.

Québec is committed to working with other Canadian governments to address the challenges of the rising cost of medication, but coverage and drug listing decisions remains its sole responsibility.

Ministers continue to make significant progress on expanding universal access to medicines. Since the creation of the Pharmaceutical Working Group, all jurisdictions have taken steps to improve the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of prescription drugs.

Ministers will engage in discussions about establishing a national pharmacare plan to ensure Canadians have access to the medications that keep them healthy with their federal counterpart during tomorrow's discussion, recognizing the different needs and  systems in place in each P/T, as they prepare a report back to premiers.

Canadian Blood Services

Led by Saskatchewan, P/T ministers (except Quebec) discussed a variety of issues related to Canadian Blood Services, including the organization's proposed 2018-2021 Corporate Plan and a discussion of Canadian plasma supply.

With respect to addressing the issue of Canada's plasma supply, there was a diversity of opinions among the P/Ts in terms of approaches but there was consensus that immediate action is needed to improve and expand domestic plasma collection.

Federal, provincial and territorial health ministers' meeting

The P/T health ministers look forward to productive discussions tomorrow with federal health minister Petitpas Taylor. The agenda focuses on creating more adaptable, innovative, affordable and sustainable health care systems for all Canadians.

Following the meeting, Manitoba will assume the role of chair of the P/T health ministers meeting and co-chair of the federal, provincial and territorial Health Ministers' Meeting.

Media Contacts:

Laura Ehrkamp
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister
Alberta Health