A Family Doctor for Every Canadian

The NDP highlights the necessity to improve on the current number of Canadians with a family physician and is willing to lead in the area, however no specifics exist at this time.

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The Conservative government has helped to improve access to family doctors through recruitment and retention programs; the focus is on monetary incentives. The CFPC wants everyone in Canada to have a family doctor to provide the continuous, lifelong care that best keeps patients healthy.

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The Liberal Party underlines the importance of every Canadian having a family physician and aims to address this issue working collaboratively with provinces and territories. No details on achieving this have been provided.

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The Green Party stresses that every individual across the country should have access to high-quality care, including a family doctor for every Canadian. Their platform seeks to address this by recruiting and retaining more family doctors, especially in rural areas.

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Support for the Patient’s Medical Home

The NDP supports the principle of hub-like community health centres underscored by the Patient’s Medical Home model. A consultative approach is stressed even though no concrete commitments are provided.

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The Conservative government has not dedicated funding or provided the necessary support to practices following the PMH principles. This results in significant provincial variation in degree of adoption and approach. No further plans were announced.

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The Liberal Party commits to supporting an integrated primary care system that is multidisciplinary, patient-centered, and manages chronic disease within community, home, and long-term care.

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The Green Party supports the principles of the Patient's Medical Home, and advocates for federal funding to ensure the Canadians receive timely and comprehensive care centred around their health needs. Their platform suggests increasing dedicated federal funding to better support the principles of the Patient's Medical Home.

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Timely Access

An increase in dedicated funding through the return to the 2004 Health Accord levels is earmarked as a way to improve timeliness of access. The NDP has pledged $500-million to improve access to medical care. $300-million of the funding will be dedicated to helping build or expand 200 clinics, while the remaining $200 million will be used for recruitment grants for doctors, nurse practitioners and other health providers, to be directed by the provinces.

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Timely access was one of the Conservative government’s five national commitments in the 2006 election. Currently, there is no national wait times strategy. This strategy should address regional and population differences and be expanded beyond the initial five wait time areas (cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements, and sight restoration) to cover a variety of treatments.

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Importance of timely access to universally accessible health care is strongly emphasized by the Liberal party. There is a commitment to collaborate with the provincial and territorial partners; however it is unclear whether it will include specific investments or initiatives to bolster access.

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The Green Party supports the transition to electronic medical records, and increased federal funding to train and recruit more health professionals to reduce wait times, but lacks a concrete strategy with measurable goals.

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National Immunization Strategy

The NDP aims to achieve better immunization results through an integrated approach focused on community health centres. The strategy of integration is not provided at this point.

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The Conservative Party currently has no national immunization strategy implemented or planned. Immunization is a well-established preventive health measure, but in Canada the coverage and schedules for routine immunizations are not standardized across the provinces and territories.

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The Liberal Party of Canada supports full immunization for Canadians with vocal support from the party’s leader. The proposed strategy to achieve this goal remains unclear.

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The Green Party's platform states that it will call for national immunization standards and strategies coordinated across provinces and territories.

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National Pharmaceutical Strategy

The NDP has committed $2.6-billion over four years to work with the provinces and territories to bring down the cost of prescription medication. The NDP acknowledges the importance of this area, while recognizing that its plan will not bring about full implementation of universal comprehensive public drug coverage during the next four years. The NDP states that it’s funding goal will be to bring down the cost of medication by an average of 30 percent within the next four years, while moving in collaboration with the provinces and territories towards universal coverage over the longer-term.

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In 2004, with the launch of the National Pharmaceutical Strategy, Canada’s first ministers agreed that every Canadian should be able to get the drugs they are prescribed without suffering undue financial hardship. There is still no universal national pharmaceutical program in place.

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The Liberal Party supports federal collaboration with provincial and territorial partners to negotiate better prices for prescription medications, and will reduce drug prices by purchasing them in bulk. They also plan to support and disseminate research and best practices to reduce unnecessary over-prescribing, and decrease adverse drug reactions.

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The Green Party platform calls for the implementation of a federal pharmacare program to ensure that all Canadians have access to a universal prescription drug plan.

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Support for Electronic Records

The importance of switching to electronic format is reflected in the NDP plans. In addition there is a focus for Canada Health Infoway on integration of systems in different environments into a streamlined whole.

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Through the government’s support, Canada Health Infoway was able to ensure that a majority of physicians in Canada now use electronic medical records. However, much more can be done in this area including information management standards and progress towards use of EMR data to define population needs.

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The Liberal Party acknowledges the role of electronic records as a necessary component of modernizing Canadian health care system and sees these as a key driver for innovation in health. No concrete initiatives regarding electronic records enhancement are proposed.

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The Green Party supports the full modernization of health information systems to better coordinate care, reduce wait times, and ensure medical records are kept securely. Details on how this would differ from current approach are not clear, however.

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National Home Care Program

The NDP has previously stated that a robust home care system is an integral part of their seniors’ strategy. Their proposed approach involves community-based care and is integrated with other social services. The NDP plan to spend $1.8-billion over four years to improve senior care. The initiative would include expanding home care for 41,000 seniors, creating 5,000 more nursing beds and improving palliative care services.

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Access to home care, the range of services available, and costs of these services vary greatly depending on where we live. The creation of a national home care program can level these differences. The Family Caregiver Tax Credit will be beneficial to providing tax relief to individuals and their families, however this support should be expanded significantly to underline the crucial role of family caregivers.

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Home care is seen by the Liberal Party as a way to produce better health outcomes at lower cost, freeing up hospitals for provision of acute and emergency care. There is a commitment to develop long-term care infrastructure as well as build up community-based services in collaboration with the provinces and territories. Over the next four years, the Liberals plan to invest $3 billion to support additional and improved home care services. The party will also expand access to Employment Insurance Compassionate Care Benefit, so that it is available for more than end-of-life care.

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The Green Party supports the expansion of home care and assisted-living services properly funded to support those with chronic care needs. Their platform does not provide information on a specific action plan or initiative to adopt a National Homecare Program.

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