Healthcare lessons during an economic downturn

Dr. Judith Smith describes the approach Canadian governments took in tackling budget deficits while revamping healthcare in the 1990s. While reform was not easy, it was critical to remain optimistic and clearly lay out the vision for the future. Communicating to the public was important along with using relevant evidence and offering viable solutions.

The process itself was fundamental and the Canadian experience is notable in that both the federal and provincial governments had initiatives in place. The reform experience in Canada shows that once these plans are in order and implementation begins, politicians and decision-makers must stand behind their decisions. Certainly, such a process is never easy and it may be years before the benefit of drastic cost-saving initiatives come to fruition or for public actors to receive credit for such measures.

Judith Smith is Head of Policy at the Nuffield Trust.