Op-Eds

Health care is a provincial responsibility. A national role in health care would have been incomprehensible to our founders, as health care was delivered locally in 1867 by caregivers who physically visited their patients. This delivery method has changed dramatically in recent times, creating a legitimate national role for the federal government to push forward the modernization of health care in Canada, and globally. The modernization of clinical practice has many dimensions: digital health, national licensure, virtual care, and best practice and quality indicators are among them. Fundamentally, the rise of information technology makes it possible for clinicians to standardize and improve their practice and, in some instances, has...
The Ontario government is reorganizing health care, from the Health Ministry to the doctor’s office. To meet the goals of reducing wait times, constraining costs and ensuring patients have access to high-quality health care, the government should address fundamental challenges in primary care and how family doctors are paid. Ending hallway medicine was one of the signature campaign promises of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives when they were elected. To this end, the government proposed a health care system reorganization, featuring a network of Ontario Health Teams with responsibility for supplying “integrated” health care to all residents. Patients and health professionals are waiting to hear what the government will do with...
The final report of the federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which was chaired by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, recommends a universal pharmacare program with Ottawa covering all incremental costs. We offer a second opinion. There are better, cheaper ways to achieve the same goal. The council’s proposal would begin by covering 136 essential medicines as of 2022. As many observers have repeatedly warned, a one-size national program would not mesh well with existing provincial drug programs, nor with the provincially managed and funded doctor and hospital services that run alongside them. Because provincial tax-funded drug programs have varying levels of coverage and costs, the advisory...
If you were expecting the Liberals to launch a much-anticipated national pharmacare plan as part of its election-year budget, you were likely sorely disappointed. Despite the release of the interim report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare earlier this month, and various politicians making various noises about the possibility of such an ambitious proposal, there was almost no new information in the budget about pharmacare, other than new funding that would land years from now. And with important questions left unanswered, provinces and private-insurance companies continue to endure much uncertainty about what the future holds. Here’s what the budget does provide for: $35 million over 4 years, starting...
Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s decision last fall to put the retailing of cannabis in the hands of the private sector was a good one. The province recently held a lottery to determine who would operate as a cannabis retailer. The use of a lottery, as opposed to an auction or a “preferred suppliers” rule, to allocate retail outlets can be defended on two grounds. One is that the government did not wish to give excessive retail power to existing cannabis interests with deep pockets, or to other retailers such as Walmart or a pharmacy chain. An auction would likely have resulted in a concentration of retail power akin to the concentration of production power that exists at present. That concentration of production power already places the...