Federal Budget Boosts Canada's EMR Backbone

Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:33pm EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

The 2009 Federal Budget and its focus on economic stimulus will provide
some collateral support for improving the health of Canadians by
accelerating implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) across
the country.

    The federal investment of $500 million to Canada Health Infoway to
encourage greater use of electronic health records will help make that

 In CMA's prebudget submission to Federal Finance Minister
Jim Flaherty, the CMA identified accelerating EMR development as a key
initiative that could provide not only economic stimulus, but also health
stimulus for Canadians. CMA research found that a $225-million federal
investment, matched by provincial-territorial funds, would create 5000
new jobs over the next 2 years. 

    Today's announcement, rightly aimed at supporting the front lines of
health care, will lead to better, more efficient care and will help
Canada shake off its laggard status in terms of the use of EMRs compared
to other countries.

    Notwithstanding the good news concerning support for information
technology, the physicians of Canada are concerned that the federal
government still has not fulfilled its election commitment to address
Canada's doctor shortage. The CMA had urged the government to immediately
fund 50 additional postgraduate training positions. Almost 5 million
Canadians do not have a family doctor, and all too often patients are
forced to wait for specialist care due to physician shortages. Today's
budget was a missed opportunity to announce targeted steps to address
Canada's doctor shortage and eventually realize our goal to be
self-sufficient in terms of producing enough physicians to meet the
health care needs of our citizens. Canada's doctors hope the government
will yet act on their election promise.

    Finally, given the dire economic circumstances affecting countries around
the world, the Canadian Medical Association is not surprised that today's
budget focused primarily on measures to stimulate the economy. Going
forward, however, we must remember that the first wealth is health.
Initiatives announced today aimed at improving the health of Canada's
aboriginal population are most welcome. The physicians of Canada continue
to urge the federal government to use all available policy levers at its
disposal to support the health of Canadians and ensure they can get
timely access to quality health care services. 

    Dr. Robert Ouellet


    Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association
Lucie Boileau
Media Relations Manager
800-663-7336 or 613 731-8610 ext. 1266
cell. 613-447-0866

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