ARCHIVED - 2003 First Ministers Health Accord

Primary Health Care

What is Primary Health Care?

  • Primary health care refers to the first level of care and the initial point of contact that a patient has with the health system. When Canadians need health care, they most often turn to primary health care services. Examples include visits to family physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, telephone calls to health information lines, seeing mental health workers and advice received from pharmacists.

Why is Primary Health Care Important for Renewal?

  • There is a growing consensus among health providers, including family physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals, that working as partners in a team approach will result in improved access to quality health care services, improved use of resources, reduced demand on the health care system itself and greater satisfaction for both patients and providers.

Benefits for Canadians

  • Timely access to a team of health care providers who work together to address health problems and coordinate patient care.
  • Greater focus on health promotion and better support for their efforts to make lifestyle choices to maintain and improve their health.
  • Primary health care organizations that address the needs of the communities they serve, as well as providing care and services to individual patients.
  • A supportive environment for health care providers which enhances both their professional satisfaction and their own ability to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Progress to Date

  • September 2000 - Canada's First Ministers agreed to work together and in concert with health professionals to improve primary health care and its linkages with other components of the health care system.
  • In support of this, the Government of Canada announced the $800-million Primary Health Care Transition Fund (PHCTF) to offset transitional costs of moving to a more effective and sustainable primary health care system. This fund has already successfully built momentum for primary health care renewal.
  • February 2003 - First Ministers Health Accord; under this Accord the Government of Canada will create a five-year $16 billion Health Reform Fund targeted to primary health care, home care and catastrophic drug coverage. First Ministers agree to make primary health care an integral component of the health care system reforms.

Links to 2003 Accord on Health Care Renewal

  • First Ministers agree that the ultimate goal of primary health care reform is to provide all Canadians, wherever they live, with access to an appropriate health care provider, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. First Ministers expect at least 50% of their residents to have access to this type of system within eight years.
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