Having the right mix and distribution of qualified and skilled health care providers is critical to delivering safe and effective health services to Canadians.
As the Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy evolved during its first five years, supporting and promoting the effective use of skills of current and future health care providers became a major focus. Health human resource planning must take into account the design of each jurisdiction's health care system and its chosen service delivery models within the context of the following considerations:
Significant potential exists to improve the utilization of health human resources by clarifying professional roles and responsibilities and implementing more collaborative models of care. Interprofessional collaboration has been linked with greater provider satisfaction, leading to enhanced recruitment and retention, and improved patient safety and outcomes.
Interprofessional collaboration in both education and health care delivery settings can be defined as working together with one or more members of the health care team who each make a unique, professional competency-based, contribution to achieving a common goal. Through interprofessional collaboration, each individual contributes from within the limits of their scope of practice. It is a process for communication and decision making that enables the separate and shared knowledge and skills of different care providers to synergistically influence the care provided through changed attitudes and behaviours, all the while emphasizing patient-centred goals and values. Interprofessional collaboration allows efficient use of health human resources while enhancing performance and the benefit for patients by focusing on the right skills for the right task.
As jurisdictions design their systems to meet population health needs, the types of providers required, their skills and the way they are deployed may change.
The Strategy supports provinces and territories in increasing the supply of health care providers and in developing a health workforce which uses its skills efficiently by:
Achievements from the first five years of the Strategy include:
Released in April 2009, Teams in Action: Primary Health Care Teams for Canadians profiles team-based care and highlights benefits for patients with different health needs and for health professionals from different disciplines working collaboratively and complementarily.
Released in November 2005, Modernizing the Management of Health Human Resources in Canada: Identifying Areas for Accelerated Change makes a range of recommendations including on the organization of the health care workforce to best use its skills.
Publications influencing current HHR policy development include:
Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources
Recent statistics on health providers in Canada:
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) produces data at the national and provincial/territorial levels on different professions making up Canada's health care workforce. Featured reports include information on the supply, distribution and migration of professions such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical laboratory technologists, and medical radiation technologists.
Recent statistics on accessing health providers in Canada (Statistics Canada):
Released in July 2009, Experiences with Primary Health Care in Canada (2008) was jointly funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Health Council of Canada and is based on the responses of more than 11,000 people aged 18 and older.
Released in June 2009, Population with a regular medical doctor, by sex, provinces and territories and Population with a regular medical doctor, by age group and sex (national data from Statistics Canada) provides statistics on Canadians aged 12 and over who reported having a regular medical doctor in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
Released in July 2006, Access to Health Care Services in Canada (2001, 2003, 2005) provides updated results of the experiences of patients waiting for care and is based on 12 months of data for 2005. The Health Council of Canada also partnered with Statistics Canada in 2007 to produce the Canadian Survey of Experiences with Primary Health Care in 2007.