Overlooked health priorities as Liberals form new government.

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Authors: Diana Duong and Lauren Vogel
Date: Oct. 18, 2021
From: CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal(Vol. 193, Issue 41)
Publisher: CMA Joule Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,087 words
Lexile Measure: 1570L

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Pandemic preparedness and recovery may have dominated the federal election campaign, but health advocates and policy experts say other pressing health issues also demand attention from the incoming Liberal government.

Re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned to curb COVID-19 by mandating vaccinations for travellers and federal workers, ensuring free access to booster shots, and investing $180 million in ventilation projects and $100 million to study long COVID.

In other commitments, the Liberals pledged to establish a new mental health funding transfer to the provinces, hire 7500 new doctors and nurses and increase debt relief for rural health professionals, and invest $3 billion to improve long-term care and $4 billion to help eliminate health system wait lists.

Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Katharine Smart welcomed the Liberal Party's promises to support vaccine passports and set national standards for long-term care. In the case of long-term care, Smart says chronic underfunding has contributed to a system that's "barely working" under pandemic pressures.

Health human resources

When it comes to health worker shortages, however, Smart says federal action must go beyond hiring more people to strengthening health human resources planning.

She says that includes developing a national health workforce plan and data infrastructure to know "where people are actually needed," while supporting health worker well-being.

The CMA is also calling for the pan-Canadian licensure of medical practitioners so that physicians across the country can mobilize quickly to provide backup during emergencies.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) wants the federal government to establish a dedicated national coordinating body to address health workforce gaps. And given that pandemic burnout is contributing to nurses leaving...

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