Royal College welcomes investments in equitable access to care in Budget 2024

The Royal College welcomes the funding for health care and the health workforce in the federal government’s 2024-25 budget, announced today. 

Equitable access to care and pharmaceuticals

In our submission for the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance pre-budget consultations, we identified equitable access to care as a key issue facing patients in Canada. With specific investments aimed at improving health equity and addressing mental health services in Indigenous and Black communities, as well as with youth, the government’s commitments in this area are positive. We are also pleased to see the investment in the first phase of pharmacare, focused on contraceptives and diabetes medication. The Royal College is poised to continue our collaboration with the federal government and other system partners to build a more equitable and accessible health care system that meets the needs of patients, providers and all people living in Canada.

Indigenous health

The Royal College is encouraged to see that the 2024 federal budget includes specific commitments that propose that Indigenous Peoples and communities across Canada have fair and equal access to health care. Alongside investments to support medically necessary services and virtual care, the government also includes funding dedicated to combatting anti-Indigenous racism in health care and First Nations led self-determination of health services. 

The Royal College is committed to continuing its work with the Office of Indigenous Health and the Indigenous Health Committee, the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC), the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME), and the government to invest in building cultural safety in the health workforce to create a more equitable and sustainable system.

Retention and recruitment of health workforce

The Royal College is encouraged to see the government prioritize the retention and recruitment of the health workforce, particularly in Indigenous and rural communities. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing health human resources (HHR) challenges across Canada, resulting in an HHR crisis. The funding earmarked by the government will help to address the challenges of physician supply and system accessibility, and support a more sustainable health system.

The Royal College continues to work with the federal government to address the retention and recruitment of the health workforce: in December last year, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health for Canada, announced funding of nearly $5 million for the Royal College to substantially expand and expedite one of our three main pathways for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) – the Practice Eligibility Route – and to collaborate with partners to develop a National Plan for Health Workforce Well-Being to help improve health workforce retention for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.

Planetary health

To ensure sustainability of the health system and to create resiliency for future health challenges, planetary health should be a priority for the government. We are pleased to see that the 2024 budget includes additional funding for the National Adaptation Strategy. The Royal College already works closely with our partners to promote and advance planetary health and is ready to continue to collaborate with the government on this important issue.

Quote from Brian Hodges, MD, FRCPC, PhD, President, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

“The Royal College is pleased to see that today’s announcement by the federal government responds to the call to address the need for equitable access to care, specifically in Indigenous communities.

To realize truly equitable access to care, a deep understanding of the needs of Indigenous and Black communities, and other systemically marginalized groups is required and we are encouraged to see that the commitment shared today will help further address these issues.”