Abstract

This paper discusses findings from a high-level scan of the contextual factors and actors that influenced policies on team-based primary healthcare in three Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. The team searched diverse sources (e.g., news reports, press releases, discussion papers) for contextual information relevant to primary healthcare teams. We also conducted qualitative interviews with key health system informants from the three provinces. Data from documents and interviews were analyzed qualitatively using thematic analysis. We then wrote narrative summaries highlighting pivotal policy and local system events and the influence of actors and context. Our overall findings highlight the value of reviewing the context, relationships and power dynamics, which come together and create “policy windows” at different points in time. We observed physician-centric policy processes with some recent moves to rebalance power and be inclusive of other actors and perspectives. The context review also highlighted the significant influence of changes in political leadership and prioritization in driving policies on team-based care. While this existed in different degrees in the three provinces, the push and pull of political and professional power dynamics shaped Canadian provincial policies governing team-based care. If we are to move team-based primary healthcare forward in Canada, the provinces need to review the external factors and the complex set of relationships and trade-offs that underscore the policy process.