Canadian Primary Healthcare Policy: The Evolving Status of Reform

by Mable, Ann L.; Marriott, John | Jan 16, 2012
Full Report (PDF, 579 KB)  

Key Messages

The key findings for decision-makers on the current state of Canadian primary healthcare (PHC) policies, and the perceptions thereof, offer insights for renewed direction and action.

  • All jurisdictions have maintained some focus on PHC policy. Although the extent and complexity of PHC application varies, the glass is half-full, not half-empty.
  • The combined information that can be found about PHC at the federal, provincial and territorial levels provides a foundation of PHC policy direction that could be built upon for a more cohesive PHC strategy across Canada.
  • The many links between current PHC activity and work done under prior national initiatives confirm the continuity and legitimacy of direction that, in turn, strengthen the foundations for current PHC reform.
  • The system would benefit from renewal of an overarching framework for PHC reform across Canada to provide guidance and a reference point for aligning with principles and objectives and understanding progress.
  • Different PHC delivery models, elements and capacity building—many showing considerable innovation—have emerged in jurisdictions across Canada. Their successes should be showcased and problems addressed from a high level to recognize good work and relieve pressures on the ground.
  • Given the diverse activity under way and issues of clarity about and between primary healthcare and primary care, there is a perception by key informants of a lack of coherence in reform across Canada.
  • Continued tensions between old and new ways of care delivery are affecting PHC reform progress at all levels and require resolution if reform is to achieve desired goals.
  • Despite good work under way, the situation is not well served by the unsatisfactory state of data, lack of interoperable information systems and insufficient available research across the country.