Poverty makes you sick – and costs more

Poverty makes you sick – and costs more

(Click on the title to be taken to our press release).

If we hope to achieve better health for Canadians, we need to think beyond health care and focus on health. To do this, we need to see more integration of social and economic policy with health (and health care) policy. Nutrition, housing, poverty….these and the other social determinants of health drive 20% of all health care spending in Canada. Even if we accept that “health care” is a provincial responsibility (a constitution-driven and somewhat rigid view held by the federal government), surely everyone must concede that the social determinants of health can be positively influenced by every level of government. The social and economic environment in which we live, in fact, can be influenced by everyone and the responsibility for guiding and shaping this should be a core value informing the civic responsibility of every Canadian.

Leadership in health must be nimble, pragmatic, and inclusive. Rigid ideology is for the 20th Century – it’s old, tiresome and passe. We need health leadership that understands that the issue need not be partisan and that there are no villains. There should be no “right wing” and “left wing”; there should be only performance and quality; optimal outcomes and superlative “customer” service.  Canadians deserve value for money. They deserve healthy public policy driven by evidence. They deserve to be the leaders of their own individual health agendas; backed by health care professionals that are there to serve and support them. They deserve timely, quality care. And they deserve excellence in governance, process, and operational leadership.

All of these things are achievable. My very strong view is that the future – and our success – depend on the leadership of the profession, in partnership with patients; and supported by governments and agencies.

Canada’s doctors have never been better prepared to help lead a reform agenda. I am committed to the principles of civic professionalism, noble advocacy, and pragmatic leadership. Together, we can transform the health care system in Canada into one that is truly worthy of Canadians’ confidence and trust. 

 

 

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