Halifax – The movement to reform Canada’s health care system has gained a new voice today and a new vehicle. The Canadian Health Care Consensus Group has issued a Statement of Principles and launched a website (www.consensusgroup.ca) to encourage discussion and consensus across Canada.

In the Chaoulli case the Supreme Court last year delivered a clear message – a message that comes as no surprise to the vast majority of Canadians. Talk with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, read the newspapers or listen to the daily news, and health care consistently tops the list of Canadians’ concerns. Talk with provincial, territorial and federal politicians and officials and the need for health reform is a consistent theme.

While there appears to be general agreement that the health system is desperately in need of reform, that’s where the public consensus ends. Over the past decade there have been countless reviews and reports on what should be done to reform the health care system. The prescriptions for action range from major changes in how health care is organized and delivered to variations on the status quo. There have been plans and promises, commitments and compromises. But the reality is Canadians continue to wait too long for many essential services, rising health care costs threaten the sustainability of the health care system, and there are serious concerns about looming shortages of health care professionals.

Unfortunately, debates and discussions on how to reform the health system have been fractious and highly charged. Too often, the focus has been on strongly held opposing views and often unfounded fears that any substantial changes will undermine medicare or the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Enter the Canadian Health Care Consensus Group. Its members are committed to the principle that Canadians must have an affordable, high quality and universally accessible publicly-financed health care system. They also believe that health care in Canada is in need of significant reform, but that reform efforts to date have too often failed to address the true causes of medicare’s manifest decline.

For that reason, members of the Canadian Health Care Consensus Group have come together to provide a platform for bold, reasoned and practical plans for genuine reform of the health system and to demonstrate that there is an emerging consensus among reform-minded observers about the direction that real reform must take. Beyond that, the Group’s goal is to spur action across the country, to cut across the emotional debates, and to offer real solutions that provide better health care for Canadians.

The Canadian Health Care Consensus Group, coordinated by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), includes medical practitioners, former health ministers, past presidents of the Canadian Medical Association and provincial medical and hospital associations, academics, and health care policy experts, all of whom are signatories to the Statement of Principles.

“While much of discussion about future directions in health care has focused on areas of disagreement, the purpose of the Health Care Consensus Group is to explore ideas and define an emerging consensus among prominent policy thinkers about the directions health care reform in Canada should take,” explains AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley.

Within the framework of the vision and principles outlined in the statement, the Consensus Group intends to develop three or four background papers a year outlining specific areas for discussion. Each of the papers developed by the Consensus Group will be widely publicized and available on the Canadian Health Care Consensus Group website (www.consensusgroup.ca <http://www.consensusgroup.ca>). Canadians will have an opportunity to respond to the Statement of Principles and the background papers, indicate their support or disagreement, and engage in discussions with fellow interested Canadians.

The Canadian Health Care Consensus Group drew its inspiration from the UK Health Care Consensus Group, coordinated through Civitas and the US Health Care Consensus Group, coordinated through the Galen Institute.

To read the Statement of Principles, click here

To link to the other two Health Care Consensus Groups, click here

To link to the Canadian Health Care Consensus Group website, click here


Signators available for comment include:

Brian Lee Crowley,
President AIMS (902-499-1998)

Edwin Coffey,
Former President Quebec Medical Association

Tasha Kheiriddin,
Executive Vice President and Acting President,
Montreal Economic Institute

Claude Forget,
Former Minister of Health for Quebec

Ken Nickerson,
Retired Chief Medical Officer, Syncrude

For contact information on the above, please call:

Barbara Pike
AIMS Director of Communications
902-446-3543 – o / 902-452-1172 – cell