The Carlington Summit
by Marlene Catterall.
MP, Ottawa West-Nepean.

With the recently announced new Health Action Plan, we have taken an historic step forward in the renewal of our health care system for the 21st century.

The federal government is investing an additional $21 billion over five years through the Canada Health and Social Transfer which provides federal funding for health care, post-secondary education and social services.

In addition the Health Action Plan will help build a healthier Canada with a further $2.3 billion through three funds. One will provide $1billion for high quality medical equipment; another will provide $800 million over four years for primary health care services to increase access to doctors and nurses, and a third will invest $500 million for the innovative use of information technologies.

Primary health care is the first level of contact we have with the health system. For example, the health care providers who check our blood pressure or vaccinate our children provide us with primary health care service. A strong primary health care system is key to keeping us well, diagnosing us when we are ill, and treating or arranging for specialized care if necessary.

We are committed to working with the provinces to ensure that Canadians receive the right services by the right health care provider at the right time, reducing the pressure on emergency rooms across the country. The new plan means better access to doctors, nurses, nutritionists, physiotherapists and social workers. Governments agree to work together to establish interdisciplinary teams of health care providers to provide 24-hour access to health services.

The new plan will shorten the wait for diagnostic and treatment services by providing the provinces with funding for modern equipment, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines through a Medical Equipment Fund. In addition to high tech equipment, federal funding of $1billion will allow hospitals to make other infrastructure improvements, from bedside monitors to assisted lifting devices.

Part of the Health Action Plan is a commitment by Canada's First Ministers to report back to their constituents about what governments are doing to meet their health care goals and commitments. This will help Canadians better understand how well their publicly-funded health care services are being delivered and will help individuals make informed decisions about their own health. Better reporting allows health care practitioners to share best practices. And governments will be able to use this information to plan health care services that best meet the needs of their citizens.

If you would like more detailed information on the aspects of the new Health Action Plan, please let me know. I would also welcome your views on the proposals outlined.

This new Health Action Plan signals a resolve among Canada's leaders to work together and renew this most precious of national programs. Working together, we are committed to providing citizens with the best quality health care services.