Government Relations Report Issue 51

Summer 2004 CSANews Issue 51  |  Posted date : May 10, 2007.Back to list

Health care in Canada has been front and centre in our daily news since the possibility of a spring/summer election was raised earlier in the new year. Many questions and concerns regarding this issue are foremost in the minds of many CSA members.

Is it time for our leaders to consider recommending parallel health systems whereby those who so choose, can opt for services available from private health providers?

Because of the ever-increasing waiting time for services, is the Charter of Rights, which guarantees life, liberty and security to all, being violated?

Would a parallel system of health services endanger the charter's equality guarantee and the principle of universality embedded in the Canada Health Act?

These and other questions will be addressed by the Supreme Court of Canada in a recent case brought forth by a patient whose rights under the Canada Health Act are being challenged.

One thing seems certain – regardless of which political party is successful in forming the government, an infusion of new capital into the health-care system will not, in itself, solve the problem. The system must be “fixed” before increased funding will have an appreciable effect on overall health services in Canada.

In conjunction with its May 2004 meeting, the CSA board of directors held a special planning session in which it reviewed the current government policies, province by province, that concern the length of time for which an individual is permitted to be absent from his/her home province/territory without losing public health-care coverage. It was discovered, as the rules are currently written, that there is considerable variation from province to province. Similarly, the board of directors ascertained that the quantity of prescription drugs which an individual is allowed to obtain at one time to take on an out-of-province trip also varies greatly from province to province.

From this exercise, the association developed, as an advocacy cause to champion with government, a consistent national minimum standard as it applies to Canadians regarding travelling, as well as taking their prescription medications with them.

The CSA’s proposed national minimum standard includes:

With respect to out-of-province travel:
  • Unlimited and unrestricted travel within Canada, along with 182 days of out-of-country travel in any 12-month period.
  • Up to a two-year sabbatical, upon request and approval of the provincial Ministry of Health.

    With respect to taking prescription medication during periods of travel:
  • Up to a 182-day supply of prescription medication be permitted, as recommended by a physician.

    Over the next couple of months, the association will be communicating this proposed minimum national standard to all levels of government across Canada, as well as following up, where deemed appropriate, with face-to-face meetings with various government officials.