Op-Eds

With encouraging signs on the COVID-19 health front, and mounting evidence of the costs of containing it, attention has shifted to the world’s economies. This is a global pandemic, and many countries have begun to reopen on their own terms. Here in Canada, governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick have announced plans for lifting some constraints. What can we learn from progress elsewhere? Many jurisdictions we would like to imitate – Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong – are in a class of their own. They imposed targeted travel checks and restrictions early, built capacity exceeding ours to test for exposure to the virus or produce protective equipment, and implemented electronic monitoring or tracing...
“Our business is at an inflection point. We can continue down the path we’ve been on … or we can make the significant and difficult changes necessary, ” said Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors CEO to The Globe and Mail recently, and so it may be with health care after COVID-19. Many crises have been predicted to produce lasting changes to society’s status quo ante, changes subsequently proven minimal to ephemeral, as Andrew Coyne recently noted his column in The Globe. It is just possible, however, likely even, that some long-advocated changes to health care’s organizational structure and ways of working will have been shown to be so effective that they will remain imbedded in the “new normal” when the...
The weekend brought good news and early signs the COVID-19 curve may be flattening. The number of new cases has slowed and the numbers of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and in the ICU have stabilized. Current ICU utilization remains well under the best-case scenario projections, and while it’s still early, it appears likely that we will not have the same surge that overwhelmed New York and Italy. Canada has avoided the fate of other jurisdictions through strong public health measures and physical distancing. Flattening the curve has involved shutting down or moving large portions of our society online: schools, universities, retail, and the justice system. In the healthcare sector non-emergency ambulatory care was halted for two...
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...
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...