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In July 2010 the Ontario Drug Program made changes to generic drug funding from 50% to 25% of branded price, increased dispensing fees, and eliminated professional allowances to pharmacies over 3 years. This represents a regulation change to the 2006 Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act, and the Ontario Drug Benefit Act. The reaction by pharmacists and the generic drug manufacturers was negative, but it is expected that patients will benefit.
Perceived shortages of doctors and nurses on one hand, and changes in immigration policy on the other, have prompted provincial governments to rethink their policy on credentials for international medical graduates (IMGs). The main objective is to ease and accelerate their accreditation in order to put human capital to use in Canada and provide fair treatment to immigrants. Constraints are of an ethical nature (not poaching poorer countries) as well as financial (cost of re-training IMGs).
Canadian federal policy has been to ensure that all Canadians have access to the H1N1 vaccine. In this report, we describe how Canadian federal and provincial governments are responding to the challenges of the 2009 influenza season which has been complicated by the arrival of two influenza strains ("seasonal" influenza and H1N1 influenza) and uncertain information about who is most at risk from H1N1.
Some provinces in Canada are responding quickly to actual and projected budget deficits due to changing economic conditions by making reductions in health care spending. The report describes actions being taken by the Alberta government.
Created in 2001, Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) is the federal agency charged with assisting the provinces to implement electronic health records (EHR). In 2003, Infoway established an objective of providing 50% of Canadians with EHRs by 2010. It is now clear that the goal will not be reached. Infoway and the provinces have encountered a variety of issues which have impeded progress.
The Canadian health care system is under stress in every province because of its continuing expenditure growth. Health expenditures as a percentage of GDP are not the highest among developed countries (France, Germany and the US spend more, but there is growing concern that we may not be spending our money wisely. In 2009, the Health Council of Canada published the first in a series of papers designed to engage Canadians in a discussion of value for money in health care.
Canadian hospitals are having trouble coping with increasing wait times in Emergency Departments (EDs). Recent reports of improvements in hospital operations indicate that quality of care in hospitals could be improved through greater attention to internal hospital processes, especially in the EDs as well as to divert patients from using the ED when other alternatives are equally or perhaps more appropriate
A powerful approach to implementing health policy goals is to align physicians payment incentives to policy-related goals. The Canadian province of Ontario recently negotiated a revised physician services agreement with the Ontario Medical Association, which includes certain primary care reform incentives. This report summarizes the key features of the new agreement.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has released a draft framework for developing a comprehensive mental health system in Canada. The framework sets forth eight goals, among others recognition of the importance of the family in promoting recovery, equitable access to services, recognition of the diverse needs of Canadians, evidence-based actions, measurement and research, elimination of discrimination and stigma. Canadians are being asked to submit comments on the framework.
Canadian provinces have been improving access and quality of community-based care for seniors. A new survey of provincial Ministries of Health indicates progress in implementing best practices in integrated care for seniors such as single/coordinated entry systems, standardized, system-level assessment, system-level case management and involvement of clients and families. However, tools like shared electronic health information systems and effective decision tools are still missing.