FPT Communique: Federal, Provincial, Territorial Health Ministers’ and Ministers Responsible for Mental Health and Addiction
Today, Canada's Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers of Health and Ministers responsible for mental health and addiction concluded a successful meeting in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Ministers held productive discussions on shared priorities, including the health workforce, health data, mental health and addiction, and public health.
All governments are taking action. Governments are making significant investments to improve the health care services Canadians and their families rely on. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working collaboratively on the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan and the shared priorities of expanding access to family health services; supporting our health workers and reducing backlogs; increasing support for mental health and addiction services, and modernizing Canada's health care systems.Footnote * All governments are collaborating based on the principle of mutual respect for each government's roles and responsibilities including exclusive provincial and territorial jurisdiction for the planning, organization and management of their health care systems.
As a country, our health care system is facing the most significant moment of challenge but also of opportunity. Health care system transformation requires all levels of government to come together to support health and mental wellness by investing in the social determinants of health.
Ministers are also working to help Canadians age with dignity, closer to home, with access to home care or in a safe long-term care facility.
The health workforce is the backbone of health care systems and further actions are required to address the challenges health professionals are facing. During their meeting today, Ministers discussed the progress made to date on health workforce challenges and committed to strategies to address ongoing priorities including:
- Health workforce retention through the creation of a Nursing Retention Toolkit that will provide concrete tools and guides to employers to create work environments where nurses feel supported and want to stay in their jobs. Ministers also met with nursing stakeholders in the morning where they heard from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions on the importance of exploring solutions to reduce the reliance on agency nurses by stabilizing the nursing workforce;
- Education and training by improving our understanding of the supply and demand of health workers needed now and in the future. As part of this work, Ministers commit to explore strategies and initiatives to support the inclusion, recruitment and retention of Indigenous Peoples in health human resources. They also reaffirmed their support for the medical residency requirement for family medicine to remain at two years. Ministers reiterated the importance of having the Canadian residency match occur on a more timely basis to ensure the best opportunities for medical graduates who wish to train in Canada;
- Making sure internationally educated health professionals can get to work more quickly in Canada, through streamlining foreign credential recognition, providing new pathways for qualified professionals in the health field, and committing to ethical recruitment from other countries. This includes a commitment from the Government of Canada to continue to take action through federal immigration programs to make it easier for foreign trained health workers to immigrate to and obtain residency in Canada;
- Advancing labour mobility for physicians, nurses, and allied health professionals so they can practice across jurisdictions without significant delays or the need to meet additional requirements; and
- Strengthening health workforce data and planning through a new Centre of Excellence for the Future of the Health Workforce which will make sure planners have the information they need to ensure there are health workers to meet the needs of Canadians now and in the future.
To advance this work, Ministers approved a statement and related commitments on supporting the health workforce.
Digital Health and Health Data
Canadians expect their health information is easily and securely accessible to them and their health care providers through modern and digitally connected health care systems, built with the strongest privacy standards.
Ministers approved a Joint FPT Action Plan on Health Data and Digital Health, which provides a path forward for working together over the coming years:
- Collecting and sharing high-quality and comparable depersonalized information to measure progress being made through common indicators to improve health care for Canadians;
- Adopting common interoperability standards guided by the Pan-Canadian Interoperability Roadmap to better connect health care systems and allow Canadians and their health care providers to securely access electronic health information to improve care;
- Promoting alignment between provincial and territorial health data policies and legislative frameworks for consistent approaches to health information management and stewardship that maintains appropriate privacy protections;
- Advancing common principles for the management of health data through endorsement of a Pan-Canadian Health Data Charter that reaffirms a commitment to a person-centered, ethical approach to health data, public engagement, equity and Indigenous data sovereignty; and
- Collecting and sharing public health data to support Canada's preparedness and response to public health events.
Ministers agreed to continue to work collaboratively to advance the Action Plan, while respecting that differing health information systems and capacities exist across provinces and territories. As these efforts proceed, Canadians can be assured that the collecting and sharing of depersonalized information will ensure safeguards are in place to protect personal information.
Mental Health and Addiction
Canada faces continued challenges related to mental health and addiction, including the overdose and addiction crisis. Ministers responsible for Mental Health and Addiction discussed new, innovative approaches and promising practices that are culturally appropriate being undertaken across the country. They highlighted their ongoing collaboration to support Canadians with mental health and addiction issues, including promotion and prevention, intervention, harm reduction building toward treatment and recovery supports and services in the community. Ministers spoke of efforts to reduce stigma and work to equip Canadians with the knowledge and skills to take care of their mental health. Ministers committed to priorities for FPT collaboration, including supports to individuals with complex needs; building mental health and wellbeing through prevention, promotion and services for children, youth and families; and improving public awareness of mental health concerns and available supports and decreasing stigma.
To ensure people across Canada have access to suicide crisis and emotional distress supports, a new easy to remember three-digit number will be available in Canada on November 30, 2023. The 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline will offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate support 24 hours a day, in English and French, by phone and text. Ministers discussed preparations for a successful launch and implementation of this important pan-Canadian initiative, that will link services already existing in province or territory.
Public Health Priorities
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant and ongoing impact on the health, social and economic well-being of people in Canada. The lessons learned from the pandemic have highlighted the essential strengths of public health and health care systems, and have exposed gaps that need to be resolved.
Ministers committed to continue working together towards a sustainable and integrated approach to public health that will promote health, prevent disease and better protect Canadians against future public health threats.
Canadians deserve health care systems that they can rely on to provide health care for them and their loved ones. Ministers will continue working together to improve health care systems, taking into consideration the social determinants of health, and the health and well-being of all Canadians.
*Manitoba remains in a caretaker period and is not a party to this communiqué.
- Footnote *
Quebec has not signed any agreement with the federal government and is not bound by the conditions related to the document entitled "Working together to improve health care for Canadians". Quebec remains fully committed to exercise its own responsibilities within its exclusive jurisdiction over health care and has not adhered to the pan-Canadian strategies concerning human resources, data and virtual care and mental health and intends to retain its full autonomy with regard to planning, organization and management of its health system. Quebec remains open, however, to share information and best practices with other governments in these areas.
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