Weekly Top Stories: Sharp Decline in Canadian Satisfaction with Government Drug Policy; and Healthcare Worker Strain Across Canada

Published on
January 15, 2024
Written by
Delphic Research
Read time
7 min

This week's edition is packed with the latest insights about the decline in Canadian satisfaction with government drug policy, Ontario Long-Term Care (LTC) funding, and how we grapple with long wait times, hospital overcrowding, and staffing shortages.

It is the first month of 2024, but debates around national pharmacare are still ongoing. Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician, emphasized the importance of collaboration among federal, provincial, and territorial governments to establish a national pharmacare program in Canada. In an opinion piece, he highlighted the need to address barriers that hinder people from accessing medications through public reimbursement plans.

Dr. Dosani acknowledged recent government partnerships, such as the $35 million agreement with Prince Edward Island, as steps towards reducing co-payments, expanding drug coverage, and addressing inequities. However, he stressed the necessity of a unified national formulary and coordinated coverage to guarantee comprehensive access to medications for all Canadians.

Expectations about the program are on the rise, especially now that the Angus Reid Institute revealed data about the growing dissatisfaction among Canadians with their government's response to various key issues, including drug use and addiction policy, from 2020 through 2023.

In 2020, only 30% of Canadians across nine provinces and territories felt their government did a "good" job handling drug use and addictions. This satisfaction level dropped to 21% in 2021 and remained consistent until 2023.

Meanwhile, Ontario has taken a noteworthy step in addressing specific challenges within LTC facilities, which may very well be a response to the pressing issues illuminated by the Angus Reid survey. The Ontario government has allocated an additional $15 million, bringing the total to $35 million through the Local Priorities Fund.

This funding is aimed at supporting long-term care homes in addressing the complex needs of residents, particularly those with conditions like dementia and requiring bariatric care. The primary goals include facilitating appropriate care placement, reducing unnecessary emergency department visits, and minimizing hospital stays.

Stan Cho, Ontario's Long-Term Care Minister, highlighted the importance of expanding specialized staffing, acquiring necessary equipment, and enhancing services across the province to meet the complex needs of residents. Successful projects from the Fund in 2022 involved the purchase of specialized equipment, staff training, and initiatives to prevent hospital admissions for residents with intricate medical requirements.

It is important to recognize that these developments are not only about enhancing services but also addressing the persistent staffing challenges that our healthcare professionals face. Advocates emphasized the need for faster access to cancer care, expressing concerns about compromised outcomes due to increased wait times.

Ontario NDP Health Critic France Gelinas demanded immediate government funding to ensure timely surgeries for cancer patients. Gelinas highlighted the critical impact of staffing shortages in healthcare on patient outcomes, stressing the significance of early detection and prompt surgical intervention, particularly for aggressive cancer types.

In British Columbia, an unprecedented strain on hospital beds is projected, attributed to post-pandemic repercussions coinciding with the peak respiratory illness season. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix pointed out that the challenges stem from the ongoing drug overdose crisis, nursing and family physician shortages, and an aging population.

Dix noted that, despite workforce additions and increased output in surgeries, primary care visits, and diagnostic tests, staffing deficits have led to ER and clinic closures, escalating wait times for surgeries and cancer care, and ongoing challenges in addressing the province's healthcare demands.

Similarly, Montreal's emergency room occupancy reached a staggering 132%, underscoring the persistent strain on Quebec hospitals, with overall emergency room rates averaging at 115%—categorized as "very high.” This can also be connected to a recent Nanos survey conducted among hospital workers in Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley that revealed concerning sentiments among respondents.

Over half expressed dread about going to work, and nearly half contemplated a career change due to soaring stress levels impacting both their professional and personal lives. Chronic staff shortages, exhaustion, and a perception of stagnancy in the situation were identified as significant sources of strain. 

As we step into a new year, it seems like some challenges from the past are sticking around. We hope that this time around, we can really dig into these issues and come up with effective solutions, with a focus on tackling staff shortages. If our goal is to deliver quality healthcare, we must start by ensuring our healthcare providers are also getting the support they need.

After all, taking care of those who take care of us is the first step toward a healthier future.

Curious how our full-spectrum monitoring works? Book a free consultation with Delphic Research today!

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