First Minister's 2004 meeting on the future of health care

Timely access to high quality health care is a shared priority of federal, provincial and territorial governments. The 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care includes strategic commitments directed toward reducing waiting times, especially for cancer care, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration services. For full details, please visit the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care.

To support the reduction of wait times in provinces and territories, the Government of Canada committed to providing $5.5 billion in the Wait Times Reduction Fund. Provinces and territories use this funding to address the priorities of their individual systems, such as training and hiring more health professionals, clearing backlogs of patients requiring treatment, building capacity for regional centres of excellence, expanding ambulatory and community care programs and developing and implementing tools to better manage wait times.

In keeping with commitments under the 10-Year Plan, in December 2005, provinces and territories agreed to a set of common benchmarks, medically acceptable timeframes to wait for a particular health care service based on evidence, to measure progress in reducing wait times. A number of provinces now measure wait times against these common benchmarks in select priority areas when publicly reporting progress on wait times.

Final report of the Federal Advisor on wait times

To complement governments' early work to implement the 10-Year Plan, the Government of Canada appointed a special advisor. Between July 2005 and June 2006, Dr. Brian Postl served as the Federal Advisor on Wait Times, to work with federal, provincial and territorial governments, health care providers and researchers to advance further action to achieve meaningful reductions in wait times by:

  • identifying and continuing to develop consensus on establishing comparable indicators and evidence-based benchmarks;
  • assessing knowledge gaps and finding ways to address them;
  • encouraging the adoption of methods and tools to better manage wait times; and,
  • providing advice on the best way to move forward with further work on wait times.

The Final Report of the Federal Advisor on Wait Times was released in June 2006.

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