Abstract

Following decades of stagnation, potentially transformative changes in primary healthcare are proceeding in several Canadian provinces. These changes - primarily collaborative and interdisciplinary models of care delivery and quality improvement programs - have been impelled by an improved fiscal climate, increased federal transfers (some earmarked for primary healthcare), pressure generated by the recommendations of the Romanow Commission and the Kirby Committee and growing political and public concern about healthcare access and quality. Transformation has begun, but much remains to be done to address Canada's poor primary healthcare performance relative to other wealthy industrialized countries. Processes are needed at the regional and provincial levels to collectively engage the full range of key stakeholders in providing policy advice and informing the articulation of clear policy direction for primary healthcare. Critical areas for investment include integrated health information systems, quality improvement processes, interdisciplinary primary healthcare teams and group practices, and systematic evaluation of primary healthcare innovations and ongoing system performance.