Annual Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers of Health

NEWS RELEASE – Provincial/Territorial ministers working towards sustainable health systems

St. John's -- Provincial and territorial health ministers reaffirmed their commitment today to work collaboratively to ensure that Canada's publicly funded health care systems are sustainable. Ministers from across the country met today to consider various health issues of importance to Canadians. As requested by Premiers, health ministers have undertaken to identify and share information, ideas and best practices for managing health care. The Ministers also noted the Premiers' invitation to the Prime Minister to join with them in following through on his commitment to achieve adequate and sustainable fiscal arrangements over the immediate to medium term.

"We will continue to provide support to our premiers who agreed in August 2001 to take on a lead role in the renewal of Canada's health systems," said Julie Bettney, Newfoundland and Labrador's Minister of Health and Community Services, chair of provincial/territorial ministers of health. "Our Premiers will hold a special meeting in January 2002 aimed at advancing interprovincial/territorial initiatives for better managing health costs."

Health ministers discussed elements of sustainability of Canada's health systems, including the potential of collaborative models, more effective utilization, pharmaceutical management and health human resource issues. These and other issues are being discussed with Minister Rock tomorrow.

Ministers pointed out the need for fundamental changes in the provision of health services at the provincial/territorial level, highlighting primary health care reform as one of these new approaches to the delivery of health care. Ministers also discussed the important issue of gene patenting, its impact on the sustainability of the health system and the need for national participation to find a resolution.

Ministers shared information on the many initiatives they have undertaken individually to improve health services to the general public. Many provinces and territories are considering recommendations from recent health consultation processes and commissions, or are currently engaged in their own consultation process.

The provincial/territorial ministers, except Quebec, as members of the Canadian Blood Services, will hold their annual meeting with representatives of the Board of Directors of Canadian Blood Services later this afternoon to discuss past accomplishments and strategic future directions.

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Media contact: Carmel Turpin, Office of Minister Bettney, (709) 685-4624