The Ministers’ and the Prime Minister brokered a deal behind closed doors on September 16, 2004. Emerging as the main priority for the Ministers was the reduction of wait times and the need to make timely access to care a reality for Canadians. (It should be noted that the federal transfers to Quebec will be used by that government to pursue its’ own strategies.)

Specific action plans have been laid out related to the following issues: reducing wait times and improving access; Strategic Health Human Resource (HHR) Action Plans; Home Care; Primary Care Reform; Access to Care in the North; National Pharmaceuticals Strategy; Prevention, Promotion and Public Health; Health Innovation; Accountability and Reporting to Citizens; and Dispute Avoidance and Resolution.

National Pharmacare Issue:
In the weeks leading up to the meeting, the Premiers challenged the federal government to take leadership on the creation of a National Pharmacare plan. At the end of the three day meeting, the Ministers state: “The founders of Medicare a half-century ago established the principle of equity of access to hospitals and doctors’ services for all Canadians. First Ministers agree that no Canadians should suffer undue financial hardship in accessing needed drug therapies. Affordable access to drugs is fundamental to equitable health outcomes for all our citizens.”

A task force will be set up, directed by the provincial Health Ministers who will establish a Ministerial Task Force to develop and implement the national pharmaceuticals strategy. The Task Force is charged with reporting on progress by June 30, 2006.

Ministerial Task Force for National Pharmaceutical Strategy:

News Release, Prime Ministers’ Office, http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/feature.asp?pageId=2&id=260, accessed September 16, 2004