CMA President on Canada’s Healthcare Crisis

As health professionals and advocates continue to sound the alarm over Canada’s collapsing healthcare system, the newly appointed president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) says it’s not too late to fix the problem.

“There are many opportunities to make a big difference and even if things are collapsing. We can work things out if we work together,” Dr. Alika Lafontaine told CTV’s Your Morning on Sept. 22.

Lafontaine, the first CMA president of Cree, Anishinaabe, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry, says his background has helped him focus on issues for BIPOC, which are often overlooked in healthcare.

“As a First Nation, Metis and Pacific Islander, they’ve all shaped the way I see patients and I think it helps me create space and see things that people might not always see,” he said.

Together with his brother, Lafontaine created the ‘Safe Space’ app, made for indigenous patients in BC to anonymously report racism in healthcare. He said initiatives like this could help some of Canada’s health crisis.

The CMA recently released a report highlighting current health care funding at all levels of government. Across the board, provinces and territories share the same priorities, including staff recruitment, reducing surgical backlog, accessible healthcare for all communities and innovative solutions such as virtual care.

“One of the things about health is you don’t really think about it unless you need it,” he said. “For those of us who are in the middle of it, we see what’s happening and when patients come in to receive care, they realize it’s taking a lot longer and sometimes they can’t even get to the places they need. to get into the system.”

Lafontaine says this is an ongoing problem as staff shortages continue to affect hospitals across the country. Statistics Canada reported an increase in the number of job openings in the healthcare sector in the first quarter of 2022, with the number of job openings increasing by more than 90 percent from the 2020 data.

To solve this problem, Lafontaine says governments at all levels should not only prioritize training for new health professionals and initiatives to retain current staff, but also create an easier path for foreign workers to become certified. in Canada.

“One of the things I often see when working in emergency situations is people get overwhelmed and thus paralyzed thinking about what they could do,” he said. “We just have to move forward, do the things that we know will work and things will eventually fit back together.”

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