Federal-Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers of Health


FREDERICTON - September 12, 1997 -- In addition to decisions regarding establishment of a new national blood authority, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health have agreed (with the exception of Quebec) at their annual meeting to work together in a spirit of collaboration and openness in sustaining and revitalizing Canada's health system.

The ministers reiterated their commitment to the Canada Health Act and have created several joint working groups to focus on key issues related to the future security of a publicly-funded system.

"Our aim is to make the system better by sharing ideas building on experiences and best practices across the country," said Dr. Russell King, Minister of Health and Community Services for New Brunswick. "These working groups are specifically designed to report to ministers in short time frame and to respond to concerns expressed by Canadians."

"This is a mutually supportive exercise," said Health Minister Allan Rock, who co-chaired today's meeting with Dr. King. "I believe that a more transparent and open approach to many of the issues we are dealing with can only serve to strengthen one of the best health systems in the world."

Working groups will be co-chaired by the two levels of government. Work will begin shortly in five areas:

Scope of the Health System
To examine the long-term sustainability in acute care, long-term care, community care and population health, especially children's issues.

Roles and Responsibilities
To examine roles and responsibilities of both orders of government; to identify opportunities for reducing overlap and duplication; to discuss funding issues.

Physician Services
To examine physician supply issues, especially in rural Canada; and to examine methods of payment.

Pharmaceutical Issues
To examine national pharmacare issues, including the impact of utilization of drugs in Canada.

Interpretation Issues
To consider and develop a protocol for Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments to discuss issues of concern regarding interpretation of the Canada Health Act.

Minister Rock restated his position that final interpretation and enforcement of the Canada Health Act is a federal responsibility. However, he indicated he would like to see a process that formalizes and makes more transparent the steps that should take place with provincial and territorial governments before the federal government makes decisions about violations of the Canada Health Act.

The working groups will complement efforts already under way through the Conference of Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health.

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Monette Haché
Health Canada
(613) 957-1803

Gerald Weseen
Health and Community Services (New Brunswick)
(506) 453-2536


(613) 957-2991