In Canada, hockey, the weather, and debating healthcare issues vie for preeminence as our national pastimes. This year's Health Care in Canada report (CIHI 2003) profiles what is changing, and what is not, in Canada's healthcare system. Here, we present a selection of findings related to this year's focus topic: primary healthcare. The accompanying editorial by Decter and Alvarez (page 41) outlines how we might leverage experience from across the country to continue to improve health and healthcare.