In many respects, Canada’s health care system is in crisis. Access to care, long waiting lists for treatment, unnecessary illness, deaths, and error are matters of rising public concern in most, if not all of Canada. Were these problems peculiar to one province alone, they could be attributed to mismanagement, malevolence, or administrative lethargy. They are not. It would appear that these problems have become systemic.
All Canadians, left, right, and center, pride themselves on a “single-tier” health care system that provides care to all based on clinical need. However, the system is now single-tier for price only – not for quality. Some patients, at government expense, have access to timely, multidisciplinary group practices and practices with modern information systems. Many Canadians, especially in our rural areas, cannot even find a family doctor.
Up to this point the debate over the future of our health care system remains very narrowly defined: will the public sector drive the necessary changes, or the private sector? Yet neither the public nor the private sectors have displayed initiative adequate to the task. We believe that the terms of the current health care debate miss a critically important element:
What is the role of communities in the evolution of health care solutions? What is the potential for community ownership of these solutions and their implementation?
This special edition of Making Waves challenges readers to consider why community intervention in the health system makes sense, what form that intervention should and could take, and what public policies are necessary to foster such innovation and self-reliance.
The following organizations supported the publication of this Special Edition: the Canadian Rural Partnership (Government of Canada), Desjardins Financial Security, the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, The Co-operators, Health Connex (Connecting People for Health Co-operative), and the Canadian Co-operative Association. Thank you!