Weekly Top Stories: Exploring Challenges and Solutions

Published on
April 8, 2024
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
5 min

In this week’s edition, we acknowledge the strides that have been made towards advancing access to essential medications, fostering evidence-based research, and addressing challenges in surgical wait times.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s unveiling of the first phase of a national pharmacare program in Toronto, which includes coverage for contraceptives and prescription diabetes medications, marks a significant moment in the government's pursuit of providing universal pharmacare.

However, challenges persist as the government seeks to expand coverage through bilateral agreements with provinces, encountering resistance from jurisdictions like Quebec. Despite these hurdles, the program remains a focal point of the upcoming federal budget, scheduled for presentation on April 16. Its integration into the budget underscores its significance in the government's agenda and highlights ongoing efforts to improve healthcare accessibility.

Amidst these deliberations, the federal government's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) undergoes a comprehensive review to adapt to evolving healthcare and research landscapes. Stakeholders, including patients, Indigenous communities, researchers, policymakers, and healthcare professionals, gather insights to shape the future direction of SPOR.

As the nation contemplates the future of healthcare research, a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) sheds light on longer wait times for surgeries and medical procedures, including hip and knee replacements, cancer surgeries, and radiation therapy, compared to 2019.

Despite an increase in procedures performed, fewer patients are being treated within recommended time frames. For example, only 66% of hip replacement patients and 59% of knee replacement patients underwent surgery within the 26-week benchmark, a decrease from 75% and 70%, respectively, in 2019. The report highlights significant regional disparities, with Ontario generally having shorter wait times compared to other provinces.

In Alberta, progress is evident in reducing surgical wait times, thanks to investments in the Alberta Surgical Initiative and Budget 2024. Manitoba has seen mixed results, with some wait times increasing despite higher surgery volumes, while excelling in hip replacements and cataract surgeries.

In Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.), Health Minister Mark McLane has acknowledged unacceptable wait times and announced plans to address them, including hiring two new MRI technicians in January 2025. These efforts highlight the need for improved communication and planning within P.E.I.'s healthcare system to reduce patient wait times and ensure access to essential medical services.

Meanwhile, health policy researchers Colleen Fuller and Sharon Batt emphasized the necessity of evidence-based decision-making in crafting Canada's national pharmacare plan in their opinion piece published by The Hill Times. They cautioned against prioritizing new medications and devices over established alternatives without robust evidence of their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Using insulin pumps as an example, they advocated for coverage decisions grounded in the best available evidence to ensure patients receive the most suitable treatments. 

In summary, this week's developments underscore the intricate interplay between policy initiatives, research endeavours, and healthcare delivery.

Looking for a meticulously curated recap of the country’s top stories? Book a free consultation today to learn more.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Thanks for joining our newsletter
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.