Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 1(3) March 1998 : 7-7.doi:10.12927/hcq..17138

Quarterly Letters: . . . and the Minister Comments

Allan Rock


The federal government's approach to health care, and to the health of Canadians, begins with such core values as compassion, equity and collective responsibility. These values underlie the concept of Medicare: a single-payer, publicly funded health care system that provides access to high-quality, medically necessary health services for all Canadians, based on medical need and not on personal wealth.
The concept of Medicare begins with the premise that partnerships are the key to sustaining, improving and modernizing our health care system. For example, Health Canada and one of its partners, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, have identified health care leaders' key health information priorities through the National Health Needs Assessment. The establishment of standards, which is a first step toward the establishment of national benchmarks, was identified as a priority.

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Health Services provides policy advice to the Conference of Deputy Ministers on the utilization, appropriateness, quality, effectiveness and affordability of health services and related investments in our capacity to deliver them. Health care is in a period of rapid transition, and this has resulted in the development of many new issues and stresses. Changes are occurring because of many factors, including advancements in knowledge, better drugs and less invasive surgeries. These advancements have, in turn, resulted in shorter hospital stays, more treatment being performed on an out-patient basis and hospital closings. The fiscal pressures faced by governments and their need to end the cycle of deficits have also contributed to the pace of change and the increased stresses on the health care system.

In the recent Speech from the Throne, we made a commitment to respond to the expanding need for home care, community care, better access to medically necessary drugs and improvements in Canadian health information systems. These issues have been identified by the National Forum on Health, in consultation with Canadians, as priorities for strengthening and modernizing our healthcare system. Making progress in these areas will allow us to take advantage of new developments in technology and research, address the needs of an aging population and constrain the demand for hospital beds.

By working with the provinces and territories, and by helping to build a consensus, the Government is confident that it can help to reshape our health care system in ways that will address the needs of Canadians in the new millennium. The Government, and I as Minister of Health, have made it clear that the new resources that are needed will be provided on a sustained and sustainable basis.

About the Author(s)

Allan Rock, Minister of Health


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