FPT Health Ministers’ Meeting (HMM)
October 20, 2017 – Edmonton, AB
Today, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for health concluded their meeting in Edmonton, Alberta.
Ministers held productive discussions on a number of health-related priorities, including efforts to address the overdose crisis, increase the accessibility and affordability of pharmaceuticals, and protect the health and safety of Canadians in relation to legalization and regulation of cannabis.
All jurisdictions continue efforts to implement important reforms and adapt their health care systems to an increased demand for health services and an aging population. All jurisdictions are also committed to improving access to home and community care, and mental health and addiction services.
Meeting with National Indigenous Organizations
Improving Indigenous health outcomes remains a key priority for Health Ministers. Before the commencement of today’s meeting, Health Ministers met with leaders from National Indigenous Organizations to discuss their health priorities and opportunities to address gaps in Indigenous health outcomes. Provincial and territorial Health Ministers continue to work with their local Indigenous organizations.
Opioids and the Overdose Crisis
The overdose crisis continues to grow, with more than 2,800 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada in 2016. Today, Ministers acknowledged that the issue is a national public health crisis and recognized the significant actions that have been undertaken to address it. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate with health professionals, experts, and people with lived and living experience to advance actions that address the crisis. Actions discussed included addressing regulatory and other barriers to treatment, harm reduction measures, exploring new and innovative treatment options and alternative public health policies, sharing data and best practices, and reducing the stigma of problematic substance use. Ministers also discussed expanding federal regulatory exemptions and encouraging innovative measures to prevent overdoses and save lives.
On April 13, 2017, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-45, the proposed Act respecting cannabis and amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the proposed Cannabis Act). This legislation would create a strict framework to control the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada.
FPT governments will continue to play a critical role to ensure the health and safety of Canadians, especially young Canadians. Ministers stressed the importance of early and ongoing public education as the federal initiative to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis moves forward.
Shared Health Priorities – Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions
In August 2017, FPT Health Ministers1 endorsed the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities, in which Health Ministers commit to working together to ensure health care systems continue to respond to the needs of Canadians in home and community care and mental health and addiction services in Canada.
Today, Ministers reinforced that the bilateral agreements will provide appropriate flexibility to support the needs and priorities of different jurisdictions. Health Ministers will work with the Canadian Institute for Health Information to develop a focused set of common indicators to demonstrate meaningful progress. These indicators will also recognize unique northern and remote circumstances.
FPT Collaboration on Pharmaceuticals
Health Ministers remain committed to supporting improvements to Canada’s pharmaceutical systems in the three key areas of affordability, accessibility and appropriate use.
Health Ministers agreed that the current models for access to pharmaceuticals for Canadians are inadequate. Building on the work done to date by FPT governments to improve access to prescription drugs, Ministers instructed their officials to develop evidence-based options—with associated costs, a formulary, and implementation considerations—to pursue greater access to, and affordability of, prescription medications for all Canadians. Quebec is committed to working with other FPT governments to address the challenges of the rising cost of medication, but coverage and drug listing decisions remain its sole responsibility.
Healthy Living (Healthy Eating Strategy, 2017 e-Report on Healthy Weights, Concussions in Sport, and Federal Tobacco Control Strategy)
Adopting healthier behaviours at all ages is a key factor in preventing the onset of chronic health conditions and reducing complications for those already living with a chronic disease. Today, Health Ministers received an update on the federal government’s Healthy Eating Strategy. Ministers discussed complementary efforts in provinces and territories and acknowledged regional concerns. Health Ministers endorsed the 2017 e-Report on Healthy Weights, as well as the Joint Consortium on School Health’s annual report, which outlines work towards common objectives in education and health for children and youth. Furthermore, they received updates on the renewal of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy and efforts to prevent and manage concussions in sport.
Quebec shares the general goals of these initiatives but intends to remain solely responsible for developing and implementing programs for promoting healthy living within its jurisdiction, while continuing to exchange information and expertise with other governments.
Pharmaceutical Industry Transparency
Canadians continue to receive some of the most professional care in the world. Following the example of other jurisdictions, Health Ministers are exploring options to strengthen transparency on the pharmaceutical industry’s provision of payments to health care practitioners and organizations, so that Canadians are aware of these financial relationships and can make informed decisions about their health care.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the most serious global health threats facing the world today. Health Ministers agreed to continue to contribute to the concerted, multi-sectoral efforts to address AMR that are underway, including the development of an action plan to support the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on AMR released earlier this year.
1. Recognizing the Government of Quebec’s desire to exercise its own responsibilities within the health field and to fully assume the planning, organizing and managing of health services, including mental health and addiction services and home and community care, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec agreed on March 10, 2017, to an asymmetrical arrangement distinct from this Statement of Principles and based on the asymmetrical agreement of September 2004. The Government of Quebec will continue to report to Quebecers on the use of all health funding and will continue to collaborate with other FPT governments by sharing information and best practices.