Our letter to First Ministers demands governments work together to fix health care now

CARP sent letters to federal and provincial First Ministers demanding that they bring Canada’s health care up the level of comparable countries by next election.

February 27, 2020

Dear First Ministers:

I am writing to you on behalf of CARP’s 320,000 members. CARP is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians. I am writing to you with an important and time-sensitive demand – fix Canada’s health care system now!

Statistically, Canada spends 10.7 percent of our Gross Domestic Product on health care, which places us 6th among OECD countries with comparable health systems; that’s $264 billion or more than $7,000 per capita, in Canada.  Yet, despite being among the world’s largest spenders, the health outcomes we receive are, by any measure, mediocre to abysmal when compared to that of other OECD countries.  If these dollars were viewed in the same context as a mutual fund, we would have fired the fund manager years ago, as there appears to be no real strategic plan to improve our return on investment, but rather to curtail costs while appeasing public outrage.

But the real evidence lies in the hundreds of calls and emails CARP receives every week from concerned members and citizens who share horrific stories of their experiences with the health care system.  These stories come from every corner of our nation, and consistently underscore the gaps in quality, safety, equity and access that exist within our systems today.

Collectively, you are Canada’s political leaders.  We know that there is a long and storied history of provincial governments and the federal government arguing over how much money and who should provide what share of funding.  Given that Canada is one of the highest spenders in the world for health services, CARP does not believe that this debate should be about more money. Rather the focus needs to be on delivering results – achieving and optimizing for the best possible clinical outcomes, not merely paying for the inputs, maintaining the status quo, and hoping for the best.

We believe that the Canadian health care system needs your leadership to bring Canada to be among the highest performing systems in the world.  CARP requests that as Canada’s First Ministers, and our leaders, you will collectively convene an emergency meeting to reset the direction for the Canadian health care system, and direct your health and your finance ministers to work together so that Canada is in the top five countries in the world for health system performance, and that this is achieved by your next election.


Marissa Lennox
Chief Policy Officer