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October 28, 2017 12:40 am

Health Care Huddle Will Tackle Many Concerns

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 @ 4:00 AM

Vancouver, B.C. – Provincial Minsters of  Health from across the country  are meeting with their Federal counterpart  in  Vancouver today  for the first of two days of talks and those talks will  cover everything from payments to the legalization of  marijuana.

B.C.’s Health Minister Terry Lake  is co-chairing the  two day session.  He says it’s early days on discussion  of a new Health Care  Accord, but  he welcomes  the Federal Government and its desire to  move forward with a new Health  Accord.  “I think one of the things we’ve talked about is how  you distribute  Federal funding. Do you continue as  happened a couple of years ago on a strictly per capita basis or  do  you recognize the population health needs of  a province?  We’ve argued that should be the case.”

Lake says  the  funding should address the health care needs of a province “And the first thing you look at is the age of the  population.  Wew know that it’s much more expensive to  care for  someone who is 75 than  someone who is  35 and so, the current system does not really take that into account.  You need to look at perhaps the  First Nations population because the health care needs on average are higher,  rural and remote costs are higher.  So there  are a number of  factors there, and I think the basic tenant  should be that  every Canadian  should  have their health care needs  met in some way by the Federal transfers.  Now we can have discussions about  future incremental funding by the  Federal Government following  that kind of scenario, they’ve talked about a home care plan, increasing supports for home care, that certainly would look at mostly a seniors population, so that would make sense to me  that you  look at the number of seniors you have to care for in  home and community settings  when you’re designing a program  like that.”

He says the conversation should look  through a  bigger picture lens “It’s talking about where are we going with health care in Canada?   We know that when  you look at the OECD  countries,  we  don’t really score  all that well as a health system.  British Columbia actually does better than most provinces, but as a country, we’re not  really in the top ranks of the OECD and are we  happy with that?  What can we do together as Canadians , Provinces, Territories, Federal Government, to actually deliver  better health care for Canadians, taking a patient centred approach and achieving  more like top three status among our OECD  partners?”

He  also  says  when it comes to  end of life care,  all  provinces have been working hard  on the issue “We’ve been working  with the College of Physicians and Surgeons here in B.C, working with our Provincial and Territorial partners,  so we’ve certainly got a  ground work that’s been developed, but from my point of view, I think it’s really important  the Federal Government  demonstrate leadership here so that each Province and  Territory can  develop  a regulatory regime that can dove tail  into what the Federal  Government  is going to  do, so that we have systems in each province that look  very similar to each other, rather  than having glaring differences in such  a crucial policy for Canadians.  I should say too that when we are talking about end of life care, we first have to   talk  about excellent palliative care and  having  a  Canadian Palliative care standard I think should be part of the discussion in end of life care as well.”

Then there is the issue of  the legalization of marijuana.  Minister Lake  says  there should be at least some informal discussions on that issue, although  Justice Ministers will  likely be leading  those  discussions, “But from a health perspective,  we want to make sure the Federal Government takes a very strong public health  lens to this  regulatory regime they are creating over the production and retailing of marijuana.  We’ve got a situation  right now where young people are at a very high risk from marijuana that’s out there now  on    ( their) growing and developing brains.  This is an opportunity   to create a system that protects  young people and   so I think we  have to be very careful,  you only get to do this once and so I think we  to  be extremely thoughtful about how we protect young people  in particular, from the effects of   marijuana on a growing brain, while recognizing that people are going  to use marijuana and how are we  going to do that  responsibly.”

As for where  marijuana should be sold,  Lake says  that  may not be tackled  in this round of talks although  there have been suggestions both  for and against  having  it sold in liquor stores ” I think whatever  we do, it has to be highly regulated,  quality control  has to be excellent, and above all, we must protect  young people.”


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