Editorial – 29-12

By Unleashing Innovation: Excellent Healthcare for Canada

As the Canadian economy continues to slump, the federal government appears to have turned its back on a report that urges the kind of action required to boost this country’s knowledge-based economy. Delivered to Health Canada by the Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation was quietly posted on the department’s website on a Friday afternoon; a corresponding press conference by the minister was cancelled.

The report is an excellent synthesis of the strengths and weaknesses of Canada’s healthcare system with thoughtful recommendations on how it can be improved and leveraged for social and economic gain. So how does one explain its treatment by the Conservative government? Why is the hard work of the panel members — headed by Dr David Naylor — being treated in such cavalier fashion?

As this issue’s lead article explains, the panel did exceed its mandate by recommending new spending for a new health innovation agency. But the report also explaines the rationale for doing so, convincingly, and with respect.

There’s also the frank assessment of Canada’s fractured health care system. Effective action requires a high degree of federal-provincial coordination and collaboration. When is the last time that Ottawa sat down with the provinces to discuss these kinds of issues.

The most likely explanation of the government’s shunning of the report is that it’s an election year. The Conservatives are slumping in the polls don’t want Canadians to be reminded that their stewardship of innovation has been anemic at best.