4 April 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that all ten provinces and three territories have agreed to establish Patient Wait Times Guarantees by 2010.
"During the last federal election campaign, I and my party made a clear and unequivocal commitment to Canadians," said the Prime Minister. "We promised to sit down with the provinces to develop Patient Wait Times Guarantees, and today, I’m proud to announce, we’re delivering."
Canadians will be guaranteed timely access to health care in at least one of the following priority areas, either cancer care, hip and knee replacement, cardiac care, diagnostic imaging, cataract surgeries or primary care. These areas have been selected by each province and territory based on their priorities, capacity and different starting points.
Today’s announcement will be supported by Budget 2007, which set aside $612 million for the Patient Wait Times Guarantee Trust, $30 million for wait times pilot projects, as well as $400 million for Canada Health Infoway, the independent, non-profit corporation through which Ottawa has been helping advance the use of health information technology across the country.
"Our investment in Infoway will help transform paper records into bits and bytes so patients and their doctors have access to this essential data whenever and wherever they need it," said Prime Minister Harper. "This will have a profound impact on the efficiency of our healthcare system and that, in turn, will help the provinces and territories implement a comprehensive set of Patient Wait Times Guarantees."
Today's announcement complements a number of previously launched pilot projects toward achieving timely access to better care. These include three projects that are designed to test guarantees for prenatal and diabetes care in selected First Nations communities, while a fourth is a national paediatric pilot project to address wait times for children in need of surgery.
"When a government makes an investment in the health of people, it’s making an investment in the country’s future. The Patient Wait Times Guarantees we have negotiated with the provinces and territories mark yet another step forward in our government’s commitment to building a stronger, safer, better Canada for all of us," concluded the Prime Minister.