Statement Article from  Health Canada

Speaking Notes for the Honourable Dr. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health - Canada 2020 Healthcare Summit: Creating a Sustainable Canadian Healthcare System

Chateau Laurier
Ottawa, ON
December 1, 2015

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Good afternoon. I am delighted to be here with all of you.

I am impressed with your theme and agenda today. As you may know, “Creating a Sustainable Canadian Healthcare System” is at the core of my mandate. So I’m delighted that you’ve given me this opportunity to say hello and to share a few of my own insights as a doctor—and now, as a policy-maker.

It is a huge honour to have been appointed Minister of Health. On one hand it feels like a thoroughly daunting task.

But in another way, it would be right to say that I have spent my whole adult life preparing myself for this position. Naturally, the policy is the first step, which I have dedicated to helping people lead healthy and enriching lives.

The lessons I have learned as a doctor over the last 30 years, both in Africa and in Canada, helped me understand that the achievement of such goals requires more than good medicine. As you know - it requires a strong economy where everyone has a chance to prosper.  It requires a healthy environment. And it requires inclusive policies that give fair access to opportunities for everyone. I understand that the Honourable Deb Matthews spoke earlier today about the impact of income inequality on health. I heartily echo such an emphasis and would venture to suggest that almost every policy decision a government makes will have an impact – directly or indirectly - on the health of the people it serves.

With that in mind, our government has hit the ground running with a very ambitious agenda.

As chair of the Cabinet committee overseeing refugee resettlement, one of my most immediate priorities has been a massive effort to support the resettlement of Syrian refugees, which we announced last week.

I am also charged with the mandate to strengthen Medicare. That means restoring leadership at the federal level, upholding a national vision which defends the basic principles of the Canada Health Act – including universality and accessibility – and working collaboratively with provinces and territories to improve outcomes and quality of care.

Today, there is increased recognition among health policy experts that putting more money in the system is not the answer. Indeed, Canada could do much more to break down barriers to the spread innovation, make better use of existing resources, and improve services and outcomes for patients.

I am interested in your ideas about how we can ensure better integration of services and how new funding models could improve the healthcare system.

In the last 3 weeks, I have spoken with all of my provincial and territorial counterparts and we will be sitting down in January to begin discussions on a new multi-year health accord, with long-term funding. Our goal is to support action on common priorities, such as improving access to home care for Canada’s aging population.

We are also committed to renewing our nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous People—and my department’s ongoing work to improve health services for First Nations is fundamental to achieving this goal. We will also support the implementation of many of the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in cooperation with others across government.

Put simply – our government is committed to improving the health of Canadians— and to that end, we’re working on a broad array of issues—from legalizing and regulating marijuana to keep it out of the hands of children – to regulating trans fats and salt in processed food, improving information about sugar on food labels and changing tobacco packaging.

We have been tasked as well with responding to the Supreme Court’s Carter decision striking down laws against physician-assisted dying. To this end, I will work very closely with my colleague, the Minister of Justice, and with the provinces and territories on this important and complex issue.

Canadians attach importance to their health and are certainly attached to their health care system, expecting it to be there when they need it most.

As Minister of Health, I look forward to meeting with as many of you as I can over the next few months and years. The creation of sustainable health systems could never be accomplished by one individual or even one organization. It requires the vision and determination of society as a collective.  As key partners in our health system, your advice and active contributions will be required to ensure Canada succeeds – both in ensuring the long-term viability of the healthcare system – but also in our ultimate goal of keeping Canadians healthy.

Thank you very much.

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