Health Care – A Better System for All Canadians 

All across this nation, Canadians consider the health care system to be the cornerstone of our quality of life. We need to know that we can count on it and that it will be there when we need it.  Health care is, and will always be, a top priority for Canadians. The Liberal Party of Canada echoes this priority and will ensure that our public health care system is an efficient and effective system for all Canadians.  
 
The Liberal Party embraces the five principles of the Canada Health Act – public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability; and, accessibility. In order to truly make this act a reality, we need to work closely with all partners in the health care system – beginning with our provincial and territorial partners.  The future of Canada’s health system depends on this cooperation.
 
The Liberal Plan for Better Health Care
 
Canadians want answers about how to improve the health care system.  Studies, commissions and reports have all repeated the same message – we need to reduce waiting lists for essential services and we need to find better ways to deliver needed health care services.
 
The Liberal Party believes that recent steps taken by Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government are finding answers to these problems.  For instance, key investments in the health care system will help reduce waiting times, lead to faster diagnoses and provide for more doctors and nurses.  All of these actions will lead to more a more efficient system. 
 
In Budget 2004, the Liberal government announced an additional $9 billion dollars to enhance health care in Canada by implementing a National Waiting Times Reduction Strategy, reforming primary health care, creating a National Home Care Program and a National Pharmaceuticals Strategy.  This includes an increase in federal health transfers to the provinces by a total of $3 billion during this fiscal year and next.
 
National Waiting Times Reduction Strategy

When it comes to issues being raised about the health care system, the long waits for needed services is certainly a top concern for many Canadians.  This is why the Liberal Government created the Waiting Times Reduction Strategy. The Liberal Government will work collaboratively with provinces and territories, the medical profession and patient groups to define reasonable and medically appropriate waiting times, and to identify the places where they are unacceptably long.
Teaching hospitals and regional health authorities will also be asked to contribute to the process. A $4 billion Waiting Times Reduction Fund will be available to help provinces and territories eliminate the gap between current performance and appropriate waiting time targets.
The Liberal Party of Canada also believes in the “Five in Five” approach. This is an initiative to achieve major reductions over the next five years for waiting times in at least five key areas: cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements and sight restoration. The $4 billion Waiting Times Reduction Fund will be used alongside provincial and territorial funding to hit the target of eliminating waiting times in these five priority areas.
 
Primary Care Reform

Another area of health care effectiveness that the Liberal Party believes will be of great benefit to Canadians is in the area of Primary Health Care. Primary health care is the first contact that many Canadians have with the health care system. It can be the walk-in clinic, public health unit or family physician.  No matter where the first-contact is, we need to ensure that access to an appropriate care provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is available to all Canadians.
 
The Liberal Party also believes that the successful creation of primary health care will include measures to support the evolution of home and community care services.  We need to have the services closest to the people that need them – it’s really that simple. 
 
Proof of this commitment is in a new $2 billion dollar fund that will be established to assist provinces with the costs of home care services in such areas as post-acute care, palliative care and mental health.
 
The Liberal Party of Canada believes that through initiatives such as these our health care system can and will be made more effective for all Canadians – now and for the future.