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Primary care is considered the front door to our health-care system. Whether you're going for a general check-up or have just been diagnosed with cancer, your family doctor makes sure you get the tests, treatment and care you need. But not all family practices in Ontario are created equal.
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Canada's health system needs reform -- although provincial and territorial ministers might think reform is about cost cutting, I would argue that real reform is about putting patients first. As the chair of an organization representing 23 patient groups from across the country, I have seen too many conversations focused on reducing the budget impact of medications through pricing.
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One week before my scheduled operation I was told that I had been bumped for a situation that presented a "higher level of urgency." They had just added almost eight weeks to my wait time for reasons that were opaque, at best, and without logic to me. Why did this happen? In the end, I got no real answers, only rumours about parental leave (nothing sudden or unforeseen about that) and other factors that may or may not have been part of the equation. So, beyond my personal experience, the real question is: Are Canadian wait times for hip replacement justified or could they be shortened?
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Scientific evidence does not support the presumption of Bill 10 that there will be a reduction in bureaucracy with the centralization of decision-making. National and international experience has shown time and time again that the proposed reform will not have the desired effects and, in fact, will make healthcare delivery more complex.
Beyond Quebec, despite the endorsement of the public health and policy community, a Health in All Policies approach has not found the political will necessary for meaningful change. But the past year offers signs of hope, with governments in Canada from across the political spectrum beginning to see the potential.
When Premier Dalton McGuinty went looking for advice, he hired Don Drummond. What he got was an economist who told him to charge more for parking and amalgamate public health boards. What he needed more was an economist to explain how to get Ontario working again.