September 2023 Health Report

By Kerry Gibson, Health Convenor

With the cabinet shuffle in the federal government came a new Minister of Health, Mark Holland. Other than a brief stint at the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Minister Holland is a career politician with no significant experience in health care. However, he is seen by recently consulted ministerial colleagues as ambitious, less risk-adverse than his predecessors, and a bit of a bulldog which could potentially be beneficial in setting Canada’s health care system back on track…at least until the next election cycle.

Babylon/Telus, Amwell, and Teledoc (Canada’s top three virtual care providers) continue to lay off employees and show significant losses in the past year as their limited technological offerings fail to live up to quality-of-care standards. The tech companies that do seem to be growing favourably are the ones that offer peripheral products/services to support telemedicine such as system management software, medical personnel agencies, and translation services. However, between venture capital investment flatlining and internal technological capabilities failing to meet compliancy and quality, these start-ups will not have the necessary market or funding to succeed without intervention or a shift in economic climates.

PEI just announced free tuition for licensed practical nursing, paramedicine, and resident care worker students with a two-year return-of-service agreement. BC does offer limited paid employer-sponsored health care assistant/support worker training with no prior experience in the field, but the program has not expanded to include advanced levels of medical training, which does not address the shortfall in medical professionals.

MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) continues to be a topic in the press as health care and social work professionals are being called out for recommending the program to veterans and persons with disabilities as a “viable option” to resolving care and pain concerns. Registration into the program of persons with disabilities has been alarmingly high, as people have lost hope in any quality of life without the care they require. Young mother and quadriplegic/diabetic Rose Finlay registered for the program in protest to being informed that her care support application would take eight months to be assessed. Her struggles have received national attention, with no results other than qualifying to end her life in record time instead of receiving medical support for a set-back in her health. Prior to her current health crisis, Rose lived independently and without financial support, running her own company. With care, she would be able to return to the quality of life she previously enjoyed.