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From the Editor: Spring 2012

What are you willing to do to bring about meaningful change?

April 12, 2012  By Maria DiDanieli

What are you willing to do to bring about meaningful change?

We, in Canada, are witnessing changes evolving in how health care will be funded and administered in our country. The provinces, having been issued restricted fiscal provision for health care, were also told recently that the federal government might opt out of renewing the national Health Accord. The purpose of an Accord is to provide a standardized mandate for provincial accountability parameters in health-care spending. Effectively, then, the Harper government has determined that health care will now be up to the individual provinces. The federal government will continue to help fund health care but at reduced levels, compared to previously, and with no particular strings attached. This has raised a number of concerns including: Will privatization run amok? Will certain groups, such as seniors, aboriginals, etc., see their health care compromised?

In the midst of the debates and controversies that have ensued, two points seem to have become universally agreed upon. The first is that the provinces will not be able to sustain their current health-care spending strategies. The other point is that the current system is not actually producing healthier Canadians – that is, it’s not working! In other words, changes will have to be made not just in the level of spending but, also, in where the money will go.

In the wake of these revelations, interesting themes seem to be crystallizing. Some of these are reflected in Ontario’s “Drummond Report”  (Public Service for Ontarians: a Path to Sustainability and Excellence):

  • “The CIHI’s Health Care in Canada 2010 report discusses a number of examples of inefficiency in the Canadian health care system…these [inefficiencies] are classic symptoms of a system built for acute care at a time when the needs have shifted more to chronic care…” ; and
  • “Every citizen is a stakeholder, of course, and should pay attention to and preferably take part in any debate. But we must also hear from health care providers of all stripes…”

The present milieu of relative uncertainty might, then, be rife with opportunity for change that reflects the current needs and wishes of all Canadians and the inclusion of a wider scope of disciplines into the dialogue. Or, as Halifax NDP MP Megan Leslie has said, “…[this] offers us such an incredible opportunity to re-imagine medicare, to lay out our vision of medicare for the future.”

I’m intrigued by the prospect of an enhanced role of disciplines such as massage therapy in our health care. Could this signal an opportunity for the profession to heighten public and political awareness of its potential to have a positive, cost-effective impact on Canadian health care? Individual massage therapists could work at the grass roots level, by encouraging their patients to lobby in the profession’s favour.  They could also appeal to their representative bodies to interface with government, the public and other health-care disciplines, to educate all stakeholders on the benefits of massage in a number of situations being supported through a growing evidence base. 

I revert, then, to my opening question and invite you and your profession to ponder it in the context of the current stage in the evolution of our health-care system. How you address this question, at this point in time, may carry repercussions for your practice, your profession and your fellow Canadians in the years to come.

Bien à vous,

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