Annual Conference of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health


TORONTO, October 3, 2013 – Provincial  and territorial health and wellness ministers are collaborating more than ever  to improve the health of all Canadians by strengthening the quality of health  care delivery and focusing on preventative care. Ministers are committed to  improving care for patients and their families, based on evidence and best  value for taxpayer dollars.

“Provincial and territorial ministers are firmly united in their  commitment to strengthening health care for patients and families across  Canada,” said Deb Matthews, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care,  who chaired the meeting. “Canadians deserve to know that they can access the  health care they need, where they need it and when they need it.  As our populations age and demands on health  care resources grow, it is all the more critical that we come together to share  our successes and plan for the future.”

Ministers are delivering on the ambitious work of Premiers through the  Council of the Federation Health Care Innovation Working Group:  

  • In  recognition of Canada’s aging population and growing health care demands,  ministers discussed the need for a better continuum of care to support seniors  aging at home and in the community. They discussed the need to ensure seniors  have high-quality supports to avoid hospitalization or return home after  hospitalization, as well as the importance of proper diagnosis and high quality  care for seniors with dementia.
  • With  appropriateness of care continuing to be a priority for all provinces and  territories, ministers are reviewing health care services, with an initial  focus on appropriate use of MRIs and CT scans. “We want to do less of the  things that do not improve outcomes so we can do more of the things that do  improve outcomes for people, based on the evidence,” said Matthews.
  • Ministers  continue their work regarding pharmaceuticals to achieve better value for  money. They renewed their commitment to a pan‐Canadian pricing alliance  for brand name drugs to reduce costs. They also agreed to complete an  international review of generic drug pricing in order to identify the next ten  drugs for future price reductions. This will add to the  estimated $100 million in savings that were achieved for six generic drugs earlier this year.

Ministers confirmed  that they will continue to work collaboratively with health care providers on  these issues.

Provinces and Territories continue to support a joint focus on  preventative care for Canadians.   Ministers examined options for further collaboration in the areas of  health promotion and healthy living, including reducing sodium in the food  supply and increasing access to nutrition information in restaurants to help  Canadians make informed choices when dining out.

Ministers conferred on what additional steps need to be taken to ensure  more advance notification of drug shortages from manufacturers along with reporting  requirements for supply interruptions.

Recognizing the  challenges and serious health consequences that mental illness poses for many  Canadians, ministers affirmed the importance of an integrated and coordinated  approach involving all sectors, to improve mental health services. They agreed  to continue to share best practices toward  early intervention, treatment and supports and convene a meeting of employers  in the coming months.  

Nationally, there is considerable variation in the diseases infants are  screened for at birth. Today, ministers agreed to form a short-term working  group to share research and best practices and explore areas of pan-Canadian  cooperation for newborn screening.

Ministers  acknowledged the good work that Canadian Blood Services is doing in delivering  high-quality blood products.  Provinces  and territories, except Quebec, agreed that a strengthened accountability  framework is a critical next step for ensuring value for money between Canadian  Blood Services and the provincial and territorial governments. Ministers  acknowledged the importance of federal engagement and urge the federal  government to maintain funding for the national organ and tissue donation and  transplantation program.

Ministers agreed  to continue developing common indicators and sharing best practices on  improving the quality of care and the performance of health systems.

Minister  Réjean Hébert indicated that although Québec’s government shares the general  objectives of the other provincial and territorial governments regarding the  health issues discussed during the meeting, it intends, regarding the work that  will be undertaken, to limit its participation to sharing information and best  practice.
Ministers expressed serious concern over the health of refugees in the  wake of the federal government’s cuts to the Interim Federal Health  Program.  As a result of the federal  decision, some vulnerable patients in need of care have found it difficult to  access adequate treatment while hospitals and other health care providers have  assumed costs that had previously been borne by the federal government.  Ministers will remind the federal government  of its responsibility under the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and  call on them to reverse the decision to reduce refugee health coverage.

Ministers  are encouraging the federal government to work collaboratively with provinces,  territories and Aboriginal peoples to improve the health status and outcomes of  Aboriginal peoples.

Ministers look forward to productive discussions  with federal health Minister Rona Ambrose tomorrow on issues that matter to  Canadians. Following the meeting Alberta will assume the role of chair of the  provincial and territorial health ministers and co-chair of the federal,  provincial and territorial health ministers.