Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale (left) and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark share a light moment as they prepare to sail on the tall ship Amistad in Lunenburg, N.S., Wednesday. The premiers and aboriginal leaders met as part of the annual Council of the Federation gathering. — Photo by The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders have agreed to buy generic drugs together in an effort to save health care costs.
The premiers released a report Thursday that lists ways of saving money while delivering services they say will make the health system more efficient.
One of the measures they have agreed to implement is to buy three to five generic drugs in bulk.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who co-wrote the report with Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island, said those drugs would be identified in the fall and the provinces and territories would begin buying them next spring.
“We pay a lot more for generic drugs in Canada than, for example, in the U.S.,” Wall told a news conference. “We’ve got to fix that.”
The premiers also agreed to examine clinical practice guidelines throughout Canada to determine whether certain surgeries may be unnecessary, thereby saving the provinces and territories money, Wall said.
He cited the standard of care used to treat foot ulcers related to diabetes, saying if the right standard were adopted it would result in fewer hospitalizations and amputations.
Wall said the report is a response to what he characterized as Ottawa’s lack of interest in improving the health care.
“The federal government stated pretty clearly by what they didn’t say and what they did say that they weren’t perhaps as interested in innovation as we like and the premiers very much are,” he said.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter also accused the federal government of distancing itself from efforts to improve patient care.
“The federal government decided it was going to absent itself from the decision-making around health care and the premiers at that time decided that we were going to take it upon ourselves to provide leadership in this very important area,” Dexter said.
Some premiers fumed after federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced a new health care funding formula late last year that would take effect in 2014.
The scheme calls for current spending levels of six per cent annually until 2017, followed by increases tied to the rate of economic growth. Those increases are expected to be about four per cent annually, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said they will never drop below three per cent.
The federal government has defended the new formula as generous.
HALIFAX — Canadian premiers are reviewing a report today that looks at ways to improve efficiencies in health care, compare best practices and how they can cut costs on the purchase of generic drugs.
Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island and his Saskatchewan counterpart Brad Wall drafted the report, which contains numerous recommendations on how to streamline health-care expenditures.
A source with the P.E.I. government says the document will be released later in the day at the Council of the Federation meetings in Halifax.
It looks at clinical practice guidelines, bulk purchasing of drugs, ways to deliver health care more efficiently, care innovations and the appropriateness of care.
The Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association helped guide the research and report, which the source said has received the approval of all the premiers.
A draft version of the report contains 11 recommendations, according to a source in the health care field, who said there are “major recommendations” on clinical practice guidelines and scope of practice.
The source said the report will recommend standardizing clinical practice guidelines to bring consistency across the country.
The six-month project is the first time nurses and doctors were invited to the table with the premiers to examine health practices, the source said.
The report will also focus on team-based health care after looking at models in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Alberta for efficiencies.
As well, the report is expected to include recommendations on the delivery of emergency care in rural areas and ways to ensure there are enough health practitioners in Canada.