FPT Communique – Health Ministers’ Meeting (HMM) – June 29, 2018 – Winnipeg, MB

Federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) health ministers concluded a successful meeting today in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ministers held productive discussions on a number of priorities, including opioids and problematic substance use, cannabis and pharmacare.

Meeting with National Indigenous Organizations
This morning, before the commencement of the meeting, provincial and territorial (PT) ministers joined the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor and the Honourable Jane Philpott and leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Métis National Council to discuss their health priorities, including mental wellness and culturally relevant health programs and services.

Health ministers remain committed to working with local and regional First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation partners to improve access to health services and the health outcomes of Indigenous peoples.

Addressing Opioids and Problematic Substance Use

The overdose crisis continues to grow, with nearly 4,000 Canadian lives lost in 2017, the overwhelming majority as a result of fentanyl poisoning.

Ministers agreed that problematic substance use needs to be addressed as a public health issue, and more needs to be done to raise awareness about stigma among the general public, health care practitioners, police and emergency services.

Ministers acknowledged that all jurisdictions have implemented measures and dedicated resources to address problematic substance use and opioids in their respective jurisdictions. Ministers further discussed concerns about increased crystal methamphetamine use as well as the need to increase access to harm reduction services, opioid agonist treatments, supervised consumption sites and overdose prevention services.

Governments will continue to improve access and reduce barriers to treatment options, including through the recently announced Emergency Treatment Fund.

Governments continue to take important steps to support an orderly transition to the anticipated new legal framework for cannabis, and advancing a culturally appropriate public health approach to this significant policy change. Health ministers stressed the need for appropriately coordinated and supported public education and awareness efforts as the federal initiative to legalize, regulate and restrict access to cannabis moves forward. Long-term efforts are necessary to provide Canadians with the best information to make informed choices regarding the use of cannabis, and to protect youth and public health and safety.

Improving access to prescription medications remains a priority of all governments. In recent years, health ministers have taken collective action to improve the affordability, accessibility and appropriate use of pharmaceutical drugs. Building on these efforts, ministers met Dr. Eric Hoskins, Chair of the recently launched federal Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare. Dr. Hoskins briefed ministers on the key issues related to his mandate and the council’s work over the coming year.

Canada Health Act
Federal Health Minister Petitpas Taylor provided an update on federal initiatives concerning the Canada Health Act.

Common Indicators for Shared Health Priorities
In August 2017, FPT health ministers, except Quebec, endorsed the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities i and committed to working together to ensure that health care systems continue to respond to the needs of Canadians in the areas of home and community care and mental health and addiction services.

Today, the health ministers of all provinces and territories, except Quebec, reached another milestone in this process, by approving a set of common indicators. These indicators were developed with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) to measure pan-Canadian progress in the agreed priority areas. CIHI will begin its annual reporting to FPT governments and the public in 2019.

Addressing the challenges of dementia is a priority for health ministers. Ministers, except Quebec, discussed progress toward the development of the National Dementia Strategy, including work of the FPT Coordinating Committee on Dementia. As part of this discussion, ministers discussed the key outcomes from the National Dementia Conference, which took place in May 2018 in Ottawa.

Tobacco Control and Vaping
Tobacco use remains a leading cause of premature death in Canada. FPT governments are committed to building on efforts under way, collectively and within their own jurisdictions, to further reduce this burden on Canadians. New technologies such as vaping products also present challenges, and new approaches are required. Health ministers discussed areas of collaboration to support implementation of federal, provincial and territorial tobacco control strategies.

Pan-Canadian Sexually Transmitted and Blood-Borne Infection Framework for Action
Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI), including HIV and hepatitis C, are largely preventable, treatable and curable in many cases. Still, these infections continue to be a public health concern in Canada. An estimated 65,000 people are living with HIV and up to 246,000 Canadians are living with chronic hepatitis C infection. Health ministers approved a Pan-Canadian STBBI Framework for Action entitled Reducing the Health Impact of Sexually Transmitted and Blood-borne Infections in Canada by 2030. The Framework aims to reduce the incidence of STBBI in Canada; improve access to testing, treatment and ongoing care and support; and reduce stigma and discrimination that create vulnerabilities to STBBI.

Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity
Health Ministers also received A Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living in Canada: Let’s Get Moving (Common Vision) and reaffirmed their support for collective efforts aimed at increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary living in Canada. The Common Vision wasled by the FPT ministersii responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation (SPAR), in close collaboration with officials from the health and public health sectors.

Antimicrobial Resistance and Antibiotic Prescribing
Ministers stressed the importance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the need to take steps to reduce the inappropriate prescribing, dispensing and use of antimicrobials. Ministers also discussed the actions required to increase the visibility and awareness of AMR and antimicrobial use to the Canadian public and received an update on the development of a pan-Canadian action plan on AMR. The action plan will support the implementation of Tackling Antimicrobial Resistance and Antimicrobial Use: A Pan-Canadian Framework for Action, which was released in September 2017.

Ministers also discussed the implications of and next steps stemming from recent federal reports on plasma supply and the review of the pan-Canadian Health Organizations.

Note: Given the transition to a new government in Ontario, the province cannot officially endorse the communiqué.

i The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec agreed on March 10, 2017, to an asymmetrical arrangement distinct from the Statement of Principles and based on the asymmetrical agreement of September 2004.

ii Although Quebec is not opposed to the principles underlying the Common Vision, it has its own programs, action plans, objectives and targets for the promotion of physical activity and healthy lifestyles, all areas that are under Quebec’s responsibility. The Government of Quebec does not participate in federal, provincial and territorial initiatives in those areas, but agrees to exchange information and best practices with other governments.

Thierry Bélair
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada


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