Annual Conference of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health


CHARLOTTETOWN -- Health Minister Allan Rock and Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Social Services Mildred Dover, on behalf of federal, provincial and territorial Health Ministers, said that Ministers had a productive meeting on a range of issues, including the sustainability of health and health care systems.

      At their previous meeting in September 1998, federal, provincial and territorial Health Ministers agreed on future directions and key priorities. In Charlottetown, Ministers reviewed action to date on those directions and priorities. They noted concrete progress on several fronts, including:

  • maintaining a financially sustainable, publicly funded health care system;
  • collaboration on health human resource planning;
  • collaborative work on population health approaches to improve the health of Canadians;
  • promoting the development and effective use of information technologies.


      Ministers agreed on the importance of working together to ensure that Canadians have continuing access to quality health care services through Canada's publicly-funded health system. Ministers underlined that access to quality care is linked to both the organization and administration of the health care system as well as to an appropriate supply, deployment and distribution of highly qualified health professionals. Each jurisdiction is considering improvements in the organization of primary care and the impact this will have on health providers as well as the quality of services. Ministers endorsed intensified collaborative work in primary care reform as an essential element to ensuring the sustainability and accessibility of our health care system.

      Discussions on sustaining and improving the health system also included a strong focus on health human resource issues. Provincial and Territorial Ministers noted that they had recently been tasked by Premiers and Territorial Leaders to work in partnership to deal with the issue of supply of health professionals, including doctors and nurses. All Ministers recognize the importance of ensuring the availability of well-trained health professionals to Canadians, regardless of where they live in Canada. Ministers noted that meeting this challenge will involve action on a number of fronts, and that no single, simple measure will suffice in isolation. Simply producing more doctors will not, alone, ensure access. They underlined the importance of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals working in interdisciplinary teams, ideally under alternative delivery and payment models, to more effectively meet the needs of patients. Governments have already taken some steps to address these concerns, and Ministers committed to strengthen their efforts in these areas. In addition, they directed officials to prepare, by early in the new year, options for consideration to strengthen health human resource development and improve the organization and delivery of primary care services.

      To improve collaboration between governments and health care providers, Ministers announced that the federal and provincial co-chairs will convene meetings with representatives of national nursing and medical associations to discuss key issues of mutual concern. The meetings will take place as soon as an appropriate date can be determined, and will involve representatives of the major national nursing and medical professional associations.

      Ministers also received two papers, "Toward Improved Access to Medical Services for Relatively Underserved Populations: Canadian Approaches, Foreign Lessons" and "Improving Access to Needed Medical Services in Rural and Remote Canadian Communities: Recruitment and Retention Revisited."


      Ministers released the "Second Report on the Health of Canadians", which highlights the value of a comprehensive approach to health. Ministers also released "Investing in Early Child Development: The Health Sector's Contribution",* which identifies the health sector's contribution to a children's agenda.

      The Health Ministers endorsed a national strategy for collaborative action on tobacco control in Canada. They noted their intention to work with organizations, community groups and individuals to each develop action plans based on the framework identified in the report entitled "New Directions for Tobacco Control in Canada".

      Ministers reiterated the practical benefits for Canadians of developing improved information systems, noting that reliable information to support timely decision making is important at all levels of the health care system. Ministers endorsed the creation of an Advisory Committee on Health Infostructure to promote collaborative action in this area.


      As a follow-up to last September's discussions on pharmaceutical issues, Ministers released several reports prepared by the federal/provincial/territorial Pharmaceutical Issues Committee. These include the Pharmaceutical Issues Committee Summary Report of Activities, 1998/1999, a report of the Task Force on Pharmaceuticals Prices, and a report of the Task Force on Drug Utilization. The reports are important components of the collaborative work by governments to ensure that drug prices are fair and reasonable and that drugs are prescribed and used appropriately.

      Ministers approved the establishment of a Council on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation in Canada and eleven principles  which will govern its operation upon approval of a business plan this fall. They instructed officials to bring forward options for the plan to implement a co-ordinated, comprehensive and integrated donation and transplantation strategy across Canada.

      Ministers agreed to continue to work collaboratively on the important issues of integration of services including home and continuing care.

      At the close of their meeting, Health Ministers noted that all governments have been working hard, and will be intensifying efforts, to ensure that the health sector will be ready to meet the Year 2000 challenges. Each jurisdiction is pursuing its own systematic approach to deal with these challenges. All governments have been sharing information, strategies and identifying best practices.

      Ministers have asked officials to accelerate within each jurisdiction the development of contingency (back-up) plans to minimize the impact of any potential difficulty in the delivery of essential health care services. As a result of this collaboration, Ministers believe that governments will be well situated to manage a potential Year 2000 challenge.

      "In addition to jurisdictional duties, Ministers also have a clear responsibility to work together to meet the health needs of all Canadians," said Minister Dover. "Our meetings were productive. We released several reports, and established strategic direction in Ministers' key priority areas such as sustainability of the health system, health human resources, and preparing for an aging population."

      "Federal, provincial and territorial Ministers made real progress here on a broad range of health issues," Mr. Rock said. "We will continue working together to ensure that all Canadians have access to high quality health care and that they have the information they require to make well-informed decisions to promote their own health and well-being."

*Quebec has participated in the development of the paper and it agrees with the objectives of the National Children's Agenda. However, Quebec has decided not to participate in this initiative because it wishes to assume full control over social policies and programs in its jurisdiction, notably those involving children and the family. Moreover, Quebec has not signed the social union framework agreement.

- 30 -

Attachments: (See


New Directions for Tobacco Control in Canada - A National Strategy

            Federal/Provincial/Territorial Collaboration on
            Pharmaceutical Issues
            Pharmaceutical Issues Committee Report: Drug Prices and Cost Drivers 1990-1997
            Pharmaceutical Issues Committee Report: Drug Utilization in Canada


Reports: Federal/Provincial/Territorial Pharmaceutical Issues
            Committee: Summary Report of Activities, 1998/1999
            Drug Prices and Cost Drivers 1990-1997
            Drug Utilization in Canada


Principles for a co-ordinated, comprehensive and integrated donation and transplantation strategy for Canada


Media Inquiries:

Derek Kent
Office of Allan Rock
(613) 957-1515

Public Inquiries: (613) 957-2991