—Ottawa, ON, December 2, 2014—
Today, the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) stands in solidarity with fellow members of the Health Action Lobby (HEAL) as HEAL releases a consensus statement calling on the federal government to provide national leadership on health care.
“Psychiatrists agree with HEAL that federal involvement is necessary to secure the future of the health care system,” says Dr. Padraic Carr, President of the CPA. “Federal leadership on healthcare is needed not only in areas of direct federal responsibility such as military members, veterans and federal public servants, but also to foster collaboration with the provinces and territories to improve system performance and accelerate health innovation.”
The consensus statement, Accelerating Innovation and Improving Health System Performance, identifies a number of ways in which the federal government can play a leadership role in health. This includes increased federal-provincial-territorial collaboration, a vision statement for the federal government on health and health care, a performance framework to guide improvements and innovation, an improved mechanism to provide stable funding to the healthcare system, a common set of national health system performance indicators and strategic federal investments related to Canada’s aging population, access to prescription drugs and the acceleration of health innovations.
HEAL proposes that the federal government create a National Health Innovation Fund to support the spread of applied health innovations and names three priority areas: primary health care, health human resources and mental health and addictions.
“There is no doubt that investment in spreading mental health innovation is one essential ingredient toward improved access to mental health services and an improved Canadian health care system overall.” concurs Dr. Carr. “The need is great but it is not being adequately met.” In any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the economy well in excess of $50 billion. Yet only one in three people who experience a mental health problem or illness — and as few as one in four children or youth — report that they have sought and received services and treatment. The creation of a mental health innovation fund was one of the principal requests psychiatrists made of Parliamentarians during a series of meeting on the Hill last April.
The Association also called for more comprehensive mental health indicators, an important component of a common set of national health system performance indicators as requested by HEAL. Currently there are no agreed upon mental health indicators that give a clear picture of how Canada’s mental health system is performing. “Through the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), the federal government can play a significant role in developing more effective tools to measure the performance of the mental health system in Canada,” notes Dr. Carr.
In 2007, the federal government formed the Mental Health Commission of Canada, to be a catalyst for improving the mental health system and accelerating change. The Commission has since created a mental health strategy for Canada and brought together leaders and organizations from across the country and created partnerships to focus on key projects and issues such as the justice system, primary health care, the workplace, housing and stigma. “In the area of mental health, the renewal of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s mandate beyond 2017, is essential to continue this collaborative work,” explains Dr. Carr.
In conjunction with its consensus statement, HEAL released the results of a Nanos survey which found Canadians score health care as a top priority in the next federal election—7.6 on a 10 point scale. “As the next federal election nears, Canada’s psychiatrists urge all federal parties to articulate their position on health care for Canadians, including mental health,” says Dr. Carr.
The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada’s 4,700 psychiatrists and more than 900 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951, the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in the provision of clinical care, education and research.