Building on Medicare’s strengths
Ontario’s Community Health Centres are committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare.
Our publicly funded, not for profit
health system is built on the belief that as Canadians we must care for one another. Ontario’s Community
Health Centres shares this belief and for this reason are committed to protecting Medicare. What’s
more, we are also putting the second stage of Medicare into action ---a vision Medicare’s founders fostered
for how to continue improving health in this country.
What’s the Second Stage of Medicare all about? It’s not any one policy or practice. The Second Stage of Medicare means a system-wide change. Tommy Douglas described it as a transition from “simply patching people up when they get sick to focussing on keeping people well.”
Financial barriers were addressed in the first stage of Medicare – a publicly financed health insurance system designed to cover costs for doctors and hospitals. The second stage would build on the strengths of the first. Tommy Douglas and Medicare’s other founders envisioned the second stage of Medicare addressing all the “other barriers” standing in the way of improved health and well-being.
With respect to the delivery of Primary Health Care, breaking down those barriers requires change on a variety of fronts:
- focusing on increased access to illness prevention, health promotion and community development programs, making a special effort to connect services to those whose circumstances have made them vulnerable to poor health
- ensuring that local community members are shaping decisions about the services they receive and are active participants in making them happen
The Second Stage of Medicare also means that health care providers advocating for healthier public policy recognize that where people live, work, learn and play has an enormous impact on whether they stay well in the first place.
An array of obstacles has hindered systematic implementation of the Second Stage of Medicare. However, committed policymakers and health care professionals have ensured significant progress has been made. Ontario’s Community Health Centres are part of that effort. The Second Stage of Medicare innovations we are introducing not only improve health but also ensure sustainability of our publicly funded health system, now and in the future.
View a speech by Tommy Douglas talking about how he hoped Medicare would evolve (YouTube).
For more on the Second Stage of Medicare download the Association of Ontario Health Centres' 2007 conference report.