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ARCHIVED - Canada Health Act Annual Report 2008-2009

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The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of Health
Health Canada

ISBN: 978-1-100-14053-7
Cat.: 091118

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Health Canada would like to acknowledge the work and effort that went into producing this Annual Report. It is through the dedication and timely commitment of the following departments of health and their staff that we are able to bring you this report on the administration and operation of the Canada Health Act:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services
  • Prince Edward Island Department of Health
  • Nova Scotia Department of Health
  • New Brunswick Department of Health
  • Quebec Department of Health and Social Services
  • Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Manitoba Health
  • Saskatchewan Health
  • Alberta Health and Wellness
  • British Columbia Ministry of Health Services
  • Yukon Health and Social Services
  • Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services
  • Nunavut Department of Health and Social Services

We also greatly appreciate the extensive work effort that was put into this report by our production team: the desktop publishing unit, the translators, editors and concordance experts, and staff of the Regions and Programs Branch, Health Canada.

Introduction

Canada has a predominantly publicly financed and administered health care system. The Canadian health insurance system is achieved through 13 interlocking provincial and territorial health insurance plans, and is designed to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis, without direct charges at the point of service.

The Canadian health insurance system evolved into its present form over more than five decades. Saskatchewan was the first province to establish universal, public hospital insurance in 1947 and, ten years later, the Government of Canada passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act (1957) to share in the cost of these services with the provinces and territories. By 1961, all the provinces and territories had public insurance plans that provided universal access to hospital services. Saskatchewan again pioneered in providing insurance for physician services, beginning in 1962. The Government of Canada adopted the Medical Care Act in 1966 to cost share the provision of insured physician services with the provinces and territories. By 1972, all provincial and territorial plans had been extended to include physician services.

In 1979, at the request of the federal government, Justice Emmett Hall undertook a review of the state of health services in Canada. In his report, he affirmed that health care services in Canada ranked among the best in the world, but warned that extra-billing by doctors and user fees levied by hospitals were creating a two-tiered system that threatened the accessibility of care. This report, and the national debate it generated, led to the enactment of the Canada Health Act in 1984.

The Canada Health Act, Canada's federal health insurance legislation, defines the national principles that govern the Canadian health insurance system, namely, public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. These principles are symbols of the underlying Canadian values of equity and solidarity.

The roles and responsibilities for Canada's health care system are shared between the federal and provincial/ territorial governments. The provincial and territorial governments have primary jurisdiction in the administration and delivery of health care services. This includes setting their own priorities, administering their health care budgets and managing their own resources. The federal government, under the Canada Health Act, sets out the criteria and conditions that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health insurance plans for them to qualify for their full share of the cash contribution available under the federal Canada Health Transfer.

On an annual basis, the federal Minister of Health is required to report to Parliament on the administration and operations of the Canada Health Act, as set out in section 23 of the Act. The vehicle for so doing is the Canada Health Act Annual Report. While the principal and intended audience for the report is parliamentarians, it is a readily accessible public document that offers a comprehensive report on insured services in each of the provinces and territories. The annual report is structured to address the mandated reporting requirements of the Act - its scope does not extend to commenting on the status of the Canadian health care system as a whole.

Health Canada's approach to the administration of the Act emphasizes transparency, consultation and dialogue with provincial and territorial health care ministries. The application of financial penalties through deductions under the Canada Health Transfer is considered only as a last resort when all options to resolve an issue collaboratively have been exhausted. Pursuant to the commitment made by premiers under the 1999 Social Union Framework Agreement, federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed through an exchange of letters, in April 2002, to a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution (DAR) process. The DAR process was formalized in the First Ministers' 2004 Accord. Although the DAR process includes dispute resolution provisions, the federal Minister of Health retains the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act.

For the most part, provincial and territorial health care insurance plans not only meet the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act, in many cases, provincial and territorial laws and regulations restate the principles of the Act.

In 2008-2009, the most prominent concerns with respect to compliance under the Canada Health Act remained patient charges and queue jumping for medically necessary health services at private clinics. Health Canada has made these concerns known to the provinces that allow these charges.

Chapter 1: Canada Health Act Overview

This section describes the Canada Health Act, its requirements and key definitions under the Act. Also described are the regulations and regulatory provisions of the Act and the interpretation letters by former federal Ministers of Health Jake Epp and Diane Marleau to their provincial and territorial counterparts that are used in the interpretation and application of the Act.

What is the Canada Health Act?

The Canada Health Act is Canada's federal legislation for publicly funded health care insurance. The Act sets out the primary objective of Canadian health care policy, which is "to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."

The Act establishes criteria and conditions related to insured health services and extended health care services that the provinces and territories must fulfill to receive the full federal cash contribution under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).

The aim of the Act is to ensure that all eligible residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary services on a prepaid basis, without direct charges at the point of service for such services.

Key Definitions Under the Canada Health Act

Insured persons are eligible residents of a province or territory. A resident of a province is defined in the Act as "a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes his home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include a tourist, a transient or a visitor to the province."

Persons excluded under the Act include serving members of the Canadian Forces or Royal Canadian Mounted Police and inmates of federal penitentiaries.

Insured health services are medically necessary hospital, physician and surgical-dental services (performed by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital is required for the proper performance of the procedure) provided to insured persons.

Insured hospital services are defined under the Act and include medically necessary in-and out-patient services such as accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level and preferred accommodation if medically required; nursing service; laboratory, radio-logical and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biologicals and related preparations when administered in the hospital; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; medical and surgical equipment and supplies; use of radiotherapy facilities; use of physiotherapy facilities; and services provided by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital, but does not include services that are excluded by the regulations.

Insured physician services are defined under the Act as "medically required services rendered by medical practitioners." Medically required physician services are generally determined by physicians in conjunction with their provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

Insured surgical-dental services are services provided by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital setting is required to properly perform the procedure.

Extended health care services as defined in the Act are certain aspects of long-term residential care (nursing home intermediate care and adult residential care services), and the health aspects of home care and ambulatory care services.

Requirements of the Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act contains nine requirements that the provinces and territories must fulfill in order to qualify for the full amount of their cash entitlement under the CHT. They are:

  • five program criteria that apply only to insured health services;
  • two conditions that apply to insured health services and extended health care services; and
  • extra-billing and user charges provisions that apply only to insured health services.

The Criteria

1. Public Administration (section 8)

The public administration criterion, set out in section 8 of the Canada Health Act, applies to provincial and territorial health care insurance plans. The intent of the public administration criterion is that the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans be administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority, which is accountable to the provincial or territorial government for decision-making on benefit levels and services, and whose records and accounts are publicly audited. However, the criterion does not prevent the public authority from contracting out the administrative services necessary for the administration of the provincial and territorial health care insurance plans.

The public administration criterion pertains only to the administration of provincial and territorial health insurance plans and does not preclude private facilities or providers from supplying insured health services as long as no eligible resident is charged in relation to these services.

2. Comprehensiveness (section 9)

The comprehensiveness criterion of the Act requires that the health care insurance plan of a province or territory must cover all insured health services provided by hospitals, physicians or dentists (i.e., surgical-dental services that require a hospital setting) and, where the law of the province so permits, similar or additional services rendered by other health care practitioners.

3. Universality (section 10)

Under the universality criterion, all insured residents of a province or territory must be entitled to the insured health services provided by the provincial or territorial health care insurance plan on uniform terms and conditions. Provinces and territories generally require that residents register with the plans to establish entitlement.

Newcomers to Canada, such as landed immigrants or Canadians returning from other countries to live in Canada, may be subject to a waiting period by a province or territory, not to exceed three months, before they are entitled to receive insured health services.

4. Portability (section 11)

Residents moving from one province or territory to another must continue to be covered for insured health services by the "home" jurisdiction during any waiting period imposed by the new province or territory of residence. The waiting period for eligibility to a provincial or territorial health care insurance plan must not exceed three months. After the waiting period, the new province or territory of residence assumes responsibility for health care coverage. However, it is the responsibility of residents to inform their province or territory's health care insurance plan that they are leaving and to register with the health care insurance plan of their new province or territory.

Residents who are temporarily absent from their home province or territory or from Canada, must continue to be covered for insured health services during their absence. This allows individuals to travel or be absent from their home province or territory, within a prescribed duration, while retaining their health insurance coverage.

The portability criterion does not entitle a person to seek services in another province, territory or country, but is intended to permit a person to receive necessary services in relation to an urgent or emergent need when absent on a temporary basis, such as on business or vacation.

If insured persons are temporarily absent in another province or territory, the portability criterion requires that insured services be paid at the host province's rate. If insured persons are temporarily out of the country, insured services are to be paid at the home province's rate.

Prior approval by the health care insurance plan in a person's home province or territory may also be required before coverage is extended for elective (non-emergency) services to a resident while temporarily absent from his/her province or territory.

5. Accessibility (section 12)

The intent of the accessibility criterion is to ensure that insured persons in a province or territory have reasonable access to insured hospital, medical and surgical-dental services on uniform terms and conditions, unprecluded or unimpeded, either directly or indirectly, by charges (user charges or extra-billing) or other means (e.g., discrimination on the basis of age, health status or financial circumstances).

In addition, the health care insurance plans of the province or territory must provide:

  • reasonable compensation to physicians and dentists for all the insured health services they provide; and
  • payment to hospitals to cover the cost of insured health services.

Reasonable access in terms of physical availability of medically necessary services has been interpreted under the Canada Health Act using the "where and as available" rule. Thus, residents of a province or territory are entitled to have access on uniform terms and conditions to insured health services at the setting "where" the services are provided and "as" the services are available in that setting.

The Conditions

1. Information (section 13(a))

The provincial and territorial governments shall provide information to the Minister of Health as may be reasonably required, in relation to insured health services and extended health care services, for the purposes of the Act.

2. Recognition (section 13(b))

The provincial and territorial governments shall recognize the federal financial contributions toward both insured and extended health care services.

Extra-billing and User Charges

The provisions of the Canada Health Act, which discourage extra-billing and user charges for insured health services in a province or territory, are outlined in sections 18 to 21. If it can be confirmed that either extra-billing or user charges exist in a province or territory, a mandatory deduction from the federal cash transfer to that province or territory is required under the Act. The amount of such a deduction for a fiscal year is determined by the federal Minister of Health based on information provided by the province or territory in accordance with the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations (described below).

Extra-billing (Section 18)

Under the Act, extra-billing is defined as the billing for an insured health service rendered to an insured person by a medical practitioner or a dentist (i.e., a dentist providing insured surgical-dental services in a hospital setting) in an amount in addition to any amount paid or to be paid for that service by the health care insurance plan of a province or territory. For example, if a physician was to charge a patient any amount for an office visit that is insured by the provincial or territorial health insurance plan, the amount charged would constitute extra-billing. Extra-billing is seen as a barrier or impediment for people seeking medical care, and is therefore contrary to the accessibility criterion.

User Charges (Section 19)

The Act defines user charges as any charge for an insured health service other than extra-billing that is permitted by a provincial or territorial health care insurance plan and is not payable by the plan. For example, if patients were charged a facility fee for receiving an insured service at a hospital or clinic, that fee would be considered a user charge. User charges are not permitted under the Act because, as is the case with extra-billing, they constitute a barrier or impediment to access.

Other Elements of the Act

Regulations (section 22)

Section 22 of the Canada Health Act enables the federal government to make regulations for administering the Act in the following areas:

  • defining the services included in the Act's definition of "extended health care services";
  • prescribing which services to exclude from hospital services;
  • prescribing the types of information that the federal Minister of Health may reasonably require, and the times at which and the manner in which that information may be provided; and
  • prescribing how provinces and territories are required to recognize the CHT in their documents, advertising or promotional materials.

To date, the only regulations in force under the Act are the Extra-billing and User Charges InformationRegulations. These regulations require the provinces and territories to provide estimates of extra-billing and user charges before the beginning of a fiscal year so that appropriate penalties can be levied. They must also provide financial statements showing the amounts actually charged so that reconciliations with any estimated charges can be made. (A copy of these regulations is provided in Annex A.)

Penalty Provisions of the Canada Health Act

Mandatory Penalty Provisions

Under the Act, provinces and territories that allow extra-billing and user charges are subject to mandatory dollar-for-dollar deductions from the federal transfer payments under the CHT. In plain terms, this means that when it has been determined that a province or territory has allowed $500,000 in extra-billing by physicians, the federal cash contribution to that province or territory will be reduced by that same amount.

Discretionary Penalty Provisions

Non-compliance with one of the five criteria or two conditions of the Act is subject to a discretionary penalty. The amount of any deduction from federal transfer payments under the CHT is based on the gravity of the default.

The Canada Health Act sets out a consultation process that must be undertaken with the province or territory before discretionary penalties can be levied. To date, the discretionary penalty provisions of the Act have not been applied.

Excluded Services and Persons

Although the Canada Health Actrequires that insured health services be provided to insured persons in a manner that is consistent with the criteria and conditions set out in the Act, not all Canadian residents or health services fall under the scope of the Act. There are two categories of exclusion for insured services:

  • services that fall outside the definition of insured health services; and
  • certain services and groups of persons are excluded from the definitions of insured services and insured persons.

These exclusions are discussed below.

Non-insured Health Services

In addition to the medically necessary hospital and physician services covered by the Canada Health Act, provinces and territories also provide a range of programs and services outside the scope of the Act. These are provided at provincial and territorial discretion, on their own terms and conditions, and vary from one province or territory to another. Additional services that may be provided include pharmacare, ambulance services and optometric services.

The additional services provided by provinces and territories are often targeted to specific population groups (e.g., children, seniors or social assistance recipients), and may be partially or fully covered by provincial and territorial health insurance plans.

A number of services provided by hospitals and physicians are not considered medically necessary, and thus are not insured under provincial and territorial health insurance legislation. Uninsured hospital services for which patients may be charged include preferred hospital accommodation unless prescribed by a physician, private duty nursing services and the provision of telephones and televisions. Uninsured physician services for which patients may be charged include telephone advice, the provision of medical certificates required for work, school, insurance purposes and fitness clubs, testimony in court and cosmetic services.

Excluded Persons

The Canada Health Actdefinition of "insured person" excludes members of the Canadian Forces, persons appointed to a position of rank within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and persons serving a term of imprisonment within a federal penitentiary. The Government of Canada provides coverage to these groups through separate federal programs.

As well, other categories of residents such as landed immigrants and Canadians returning to live from other countries may be subject to a waiting period by a province or territory. The Act stipulates that the waiting period cannot exceed three months.

In addition, the definition of "insured health services" excludes services to persons provided under any other Act of Parliament (e.g., refugees) or under the workers' compensation legislation of a province or territory.

The exclusion of these persons from insured health service coverage predates the adoption of the Act and is not intended to constitute differences in access to publicly insured health care.

Policy Interpretation Letters

There are two key policy statements that clarify the federal position on the Canada Health Act. These statements were made in the form of ministerial letters from former federal ministers of health to their provincial and territorial counterparts. Both letters are reproduced in Annex B of this report.

Epp Letter

In June 1985, approximately one year following the passage of the Canada Health Act in Parliament, then-federal Minister of Health and Welfare Jake Epp wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts to set out and confirm the federal position on the interpretation and implementation of the Act.

Minister Epp's letter followed several months of consultation with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The letter sets forth statements of federal policy intent that clarify the Act's criteria, conditions and regulatory provisions. These clarifications have been used by the federal government in assessing and interpreting compliance with the Act. The Epp letter remains an important reference for interpreting the Act.

Marleau Letter-Federal Policy on Private Clinics

Between February 1994 and December 1994, a series of seven federal/provincial/territorial meetings dealing wholly or in part with private clinics took place. At issue was the growth of private clinics providing medically necessary services funded partially by the public system and partially by patients and their impact on Canada's universal, publicly funded health care system.

At the September 1994 federal/provincial/territorial meeting of health ministers in Halifax, all ministers of health present, with the exception of Alberta's health minister, agreed to "take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada."

Diane Marleau, the federal Minister of Health at the time, wrote to all provincial and territorial ministers of health on January 6, 1995, to announce the new Federal Policy on Private Clinics. The Minister's letter provided the federal interpretation of the Canada Health Act as it relates to the issue of facility fees charged directly to patients receiving medically necessary services at private clinics. The letter stated that the definition of "hospital" contained in the Act includes any facility that provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. Thus, when a provincial/territorial health insurance plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a private clinic, it must also pay the facility fee or face a deduction from federal transfer payments.

Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process

In April 2002, then-federal Minister of Health A. Anne McLellan outlined in a letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process, which was agreed to by provinces and territories, except Quebec. The process meets federal and provincial/territorial interests of avoiding disputes related to the interpretation of the principles of the Act and, when this is not possible, resolving disputes in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

The process includes the dispute avoidance activities of government-to-government information exchange; discussions and clarification of issues as they arise; active participation of governments in ad hoc federal/ provincial/territorial committees on Act-related issues; and Canada Health Act advance assessments, upon request.

Where dispute avoidance activities prove unsuccessful, dispute resolution activities may be initiated, beginning with government-to-government fact-finding and negotiations. If these are unsuccessful, either minister of health involved may refer the issues to a third-party panel to undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations.

The federal Minister of Health has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister will take the panel's report into consideration.

A copy of Minister McLellan's letter is included in Annex C of this report.

Chapter 2: Administration and Compliance

Administration

In administering the Canada Health Act, the federal Minister of Health is assisted by Health Canada staff in the Regions and Programs Branch and by the Department of Justice.

Health Canada works with the provinces and territories to ensure that the principles of the Act are respected and always strives to resolve issues through consultation, collaboration and cooperation.

The Canada Health Act Division

The Canada Health Act Division at Health Canada is responsible for administering the Act. Members of the Division located in Ottawa and their colleagues in regional Health Canada offices fulfill the following ongoing functions:

  • monitoring and analysing provincial and territorial health insurance plans for compliance with the criteria, conditions and extra-billing and user charges provisions of the Act;
  • disseminating information on the Act and on publicly funded health care insurance programs in Canada;
  • responding to inquiries about the Act and health insurance issues received by telephone, mail and the Internet, from the public, members of Parliament, government departments, stakeholder organizations and the media;
  • developing and maintaining formal and informal contacts and partnerships with health officials in provincial and territorial governments for information sharing;
  • developing and producing the Canada Health Act Annual Report on the administration and operation of the Act;
  • conducting issue analysis and policy research to provide policy advice;
  • collaborating with provincial and territorial health department representatives through the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (see below);
  • working in partnership with the provinces and territories to investigate and resolve compliance issues and pursue activities that encourage compliance with the Act; and
  • informing the Minister of possible non-compliance and recommending appropriate action to resolve the issue.

Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (IHIACC)

The Canada Health Act Division chairs the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee and provides a secretariat for the Committee. The Committee was formed in 1991 to address issues affecting the interprovincial billing of hospital and medical services as well as issues related to registration and eligibility for health insurance coverage. It oversees the application of interprovincial health insurance agreements in accordance with the Canada Health Act.

The within-Canada portability provisions of the Act are implemented through a series of bilateral reciprocal billing agreements between provinces and territories for hospital and physician services. This generally means that a patient's health card will be accepted, in lieu of payment, when the patient receives hospital or physician services in another province or territory. The province or territory providing the service will then directly bill the patient's home province. All provinces and territories participate in reciprocal hospital agreements and all, with the exception of Quebec, participate in reciprocal medical agreements. The intent of these agreements is to ensure that Canadian residents do not face point-of-service charges for medically required hospital and physician services when they travel in Canada. However, these agreements are interprovincial/territorial and signing them is not a requirement of the Act.

Compliance

Health Canada's approach to resolving possible compliance issues emphasizes transparency, consultation and dialogue with provincial and territorial health ministry officials. In most instances, issues are successfully resolved through consultation and discussion based on a thorough examination of the facts. Deductions have only been applied when all options to resolve an issue have been exhausted. To date, most disputes and issues related to administering and interpreting the Canada Health Act have been addressed and resolved without resorting to deductions.

The Canada Health Act Division and regional office staff monitor the operations of provincial and territorial health care insurance plans in order to provide advice to the Minister on possible non-compliance with the Act. Sources for this information include: provincial and territorial government officials and publications; media reports; and correspondence received from the public and other non-government organizations. Staff in the Compliance and Interpretation Unit, Canada Health Act Division, assess issues of concern and complaints on a case-by-case basis. The assessment process involves compiling all facts and information related to the issue and taking appropriate action. Verifying the facts with provincial and territorial health officials may reveal issues that are not directly related to the Act, while others may pertain to the Act but are a result of misunderstanding or mis-communication, and are resolved quickly with provincial/ territorial assistance, such as eligibility for health insurance coverage and portability of health services within and outside Canada.

In instances where a Canada Health Act issue has been identified and remains after initial enquiries, Division officials ask the jurisdiction in question to investigate the matter and report back. Division staff discuss the issue and its possible resolution with provincial officials. Only if the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the Division after following the aforementioned steps, is it brought to the attention of the federal Minister of Health.

Compliance Issues

For the most part, provincial and territorial health care insurance plans meet the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act. However, some issues and concerns remain. The most prominent of these relate to patient charges and queue jumping for medically necessary health services at private clinics.

The Act requires that all medically necessary physician and hospital services be covered by the provincial and territorial health insurance plans, whether the services are provided in a hospital or in a facility providing hospital care. There are concerns about queue jumping and charges to insured persons at private surgical clinics in British Columbia, for services that are covered under its provincial health insurance plan. Patient charges and queue jumping at private diagnostic clinics also remains an issue in some provinces where private clinics are charging patients for medically necessary services and allowing them to jump the queue for insured health services.

During 2008-2009, the outstanding concern under the Canada Health Act of patient charges for medical supplies, or "tray fees," in Manitoba was resolved when Manitoba Health and Doctors Manitoba agreed to the incorporation of tray fee tariffs into the Manitoba Physician's Manual effective April 1, 2009.

History of Deductions and Refunds Under the Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act, which came into force April 1, 1984, reaffirmed the national commitment to the original principles of the Canadian health care system, as embodied in the previous legislation, the Medical Care Act and the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act. By putting into place mandatory dollar-for-dollar penalties for extra-billing and user charges, the federal government took steps to eliminate the proliferation of direct charges for hospital and physician services, judged to be restricting the access of many Canadians to health care services due to financial considerations.

During the period 1984 to 1987, subsection 20(5) of the Act provided for deductions in respect of these charges to be refunded to the province if the charges were eliminated before April 1, 1987. By March 31, 1987, it was determined that all provinces, which had extra-billing and user charges, had taken appropriate steps to eliminate them. Accordingly, by June 1987, a total of $244,732,000 in deductions were refunded to New Brunswick ($6,886,000), Quebec ($14,032,000), Ontario ($106,656,000), Manitoba ($1,270,000), Saskatchewan ($2,107,000), Alberta ($29,032,000) and British Columbia ($84,749,000).

Following the Canada Health Act's initial three-year transition period, under which refunds to provinces and territories for deductions were possible, penalties under the Act did not reoccur until fiscal year 1994-1995. As a result of a dispute between the British Columbia Medical Association and the British Columbia government over compensation, several doctors opted out of the provincial health insurance plan and began billing their patients directly. Some of these doctors billed their patients at a rate greater than the amount the patients could recover from the provincial health insurance plan. This higher amount constituted extra-billing under the Act. Including deduction adjustments for prior years, dating back to fiscal year 1992-1993, deductions began in May 1994 and continued until extra-billing by physicians was banned when changes to British Columbia's Medicare Protection Act came into effect in September 1995. In total, $2,025,000 was deducted from British Columbia's cash contribution for extra-billing that occurred in the province between 1992-1993 and 1995-1996. These deductions were non-refundable, as were all subsequent deductions.

In January 1995, then federal Minister of Health, Diane Marleau, expressed concerns to her provincial and territorial colleagues about the development of two-tiered health care and the emergence of private clinics charging facility fees for medically necessary services. As part of her communication with the provinces and territories, Minister Marleau announced that the provinces and territories would be given more than nine months to eliminate these user charges, but that any province that did not, would face financial penalties under the Canada Health Act. Accordingly, beginning in November 1995, deductions were applied to the cash contributions to Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador for non-compliance with the Federal Policy on Private Clinics.

From November 1995 to June 1996, total deductions of $3,585,000 were taken from Alberta's cash contribution in respect of facility fees charged at clinics providing surgical, ophthalmological and abortion services. On October 1, 1996, Alberta prohibited private surgical clinics from charging patients a facility fee for medically necessary services for which the physician fee was billed to the provincial health insurance plan.

Similarly, due to facility fees allowed at an abortion clinic, a total of $284,430 was deducted from Newfoundland and Labrador's cash contribution before these fees were eliminated, effective January 1, 1998.

From November 1995 to December 1998, deductions from Manitoba's CHST cash contribution amounted to $2,055,000, ending with the confirmed elimination of user charges at surgical and ophthalmology clinics, effective January 1, 1999. However, during fiscal year 2001-2002, a monthly deduction (from October 2001 to March 2002 inclusive) in the amount of $50,033 was levied against Manitoba's CHST cash contribution on the basis of a financial statement provided by the province showing that actual amounts charged with respect to user charges for insured services in fiscal years 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 were greater than the deductions levied on the basis of estimates. This brought total deductions levied against Manitoba to $2,355,201.

With the closure of a private clinic in Halifax effective November 27, 2003, Nova Scotia was deemed to be in compliance with the Federal Policy on Private Clinics. Before it closed, total deductions of $372,135 were taken from Nova Scotia's CHST cash contribution for its failure to cover facility charges to patients while paying the physician fee.

In January 2003, British Columbia provided a financial statement in accordance with the Canada Health Act Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations, indicating aggregate amounts actually charged with respect to extra-billing and user charges during fiscal year 2000-2001, totalling $4,610. Accordingly, a deduction of $4,610 was taken from the March 2003 CHST cash contribution.

In 2004, British Columbia did not report to Health Canada the amounts of extra-billing and user charges actually charged during fiscal year 2001-2002, in accordance with the requirements of the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. As a result of reports that British Columbia was investigating cases of user charges, a $126,775 deduction was taken from British Columbia's March 2004 CHST payment, based on the amount Health Canada estimated to have been charged during fiscal year 2001-2002.

Deductions were taken from the March 2005 CHT payments1 to three provinces as a result of charges to patients which occurred during 2002-2003. A deduction of $72,464 was taken from British Columbia on the basis of charges reported by the province for extra-billing and patient charges at surgical clinics. A deduction of $1,100 was taken from Newfoundland and Labrador as a result of patient charges for a magnetic resonance imaging scan in a hospital, and a deduction of $5,463 was taken from Nova Scotia as a reconciliation of deductions that had already been made to Nova Scotia for patient charges at a private clinic.

On the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada, deductions were taken from the March 2006 CHT payments to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges at surgical clinics that occurred during fiscal year 2003-2004, in the amount of $29,019. A one-time positive adjustment in the amount of $8,121 was made to Nova Scotia's March 2006 CHT payments to reconcile amounts actually charged in respect of extra-billing and user charges at a private clinic, with the penalties that had already been levied based on estimates reported for fiscal 2003-2004.

In March 2007, a deduction was taken from the CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges at surgical clinics that occurred during fiscal year 2004-2005, in the amount of $114,850, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada. A deduction was also taken from the March 2007 CHT payment to Nova Scotia in respect of extra-billing during fiscal year 2004-2005 in the amount of $9,460, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada.

A $42,113 deduction was taken from the March 2008 CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges that occurred during the fiscal year 2005-2006, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada, and in March 2009, a $66,195 deduction was taken from the CHT payment to British Columbia in respect of extra-billing and user charges that occurred during the fiscal year 2006-2007, on the basis of charges reported by the province to Health Canada.

Since the passage of the Canada Health Act, from April 1984 to March 2009, deductions totalling $9,085,694 have been applied against provincial cash contributions in respect of the extra-billing and user charges provisions of the Act. This amount excludes deductions totalling $244,732,000 between 1984 and 1987 and subsequently refunded to the provinces when extra-billing and user charges were eliminated

Chapter 3: Provincial and Territorial Health Care Insurance Plans in 2008-2009

The following chapter presents the 13 provincial and territorial health insurance plans that make up the Canadian publicly funded health insurance system. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate clearly and consistently the extent to which provincial and territorial plans fulfilled the requirements of the Canada Health Act program criteria and conditions in 2008-2009.

Officials in the provincial, territorial and federal gov- ernments have collaborated to produce the detailed plan overviews contained in Chapter 3. While all provinces and territories have submitted detailed descriptive information on their health insurance plans, Quebec chose not to submit supplemental sta- tistical information which is contained in the tables in this year's report. The information that Health Canada requested from the provincial and territorial departments of health for the report consists of two components:

  • a narrative description of the provincial or territorial health care system relating to the criteria and conditions of the Act, which can be found following this chapter; and
  • statistical information related to insured health services.

The narrative component is used to help with the monitoring and compliance of provincial and territorial health care plans with respect to the requirements of the Canada Health Act, while statistics help to identify current and future trends in the Canadian health care system.

To help provinces and territories prepare their submissions to the annual report, Health Canada provided them with the document Canada Health Act Annual Report 2008-2009: A Guide for Updating Submissions (User's Guide). This guide is designed to help provinces and territories meet the reporting requirements of Health Canada. Annual revisions to the guide are based on Health Canada's analysis of health plan descriptions from previous annual reports and its assessment of emerging issues relating to insured health services.

The process for the Canada Health Act Annual Report 2008-2009 was launched late spring 2009 with bilateral teleconferences with each jurisdiction. An updated User's Guide was also sent to the provinces and territo- ries at that time.

Insurance Plan Descriptions

For the following chapter, provincial and territorial officials were asked to provide a narrative description of their health insurance plan. The descriptions follow the program criteria areas of the Canada Health Act in order to illustrate how the plans satisfy these criteria.

This narrative format also allows each jurisdiction to indicate how it met the Canada Health Act require- ment for the recognition of federal contributions that support insured and extended health care services, as well as outline the range of extended health care services in their jurisdiction.

Provincial and Territorial Health Care Insurance Plan Statistics

In 2003-2004, the section of the annual report con- taining the statistical information submitted from the provinces and territories was simplified and stream- lined following feedback received from provincial and territorial officials, and based on a review of data quality and availability. The format was further stream- lined for the 2006-2007 report and that format has been retained since. The supplemental statistical information can be found at the end of each provin- cial or territorial narrative, except for Quebec.

The purpose of the statistical tables is to place the administration and operation of the Canada Health Act in context and to provide a national perspective on trends in the delivery and funding of insured health services in Canada that are within the scope of the federal Act.

The statistical tables contain resource and cost data for insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental by province and territory for five consecutive years ending on March 31, 2009. All information was pro- vided by provincial and territorial officials.

Although efforts are made to capture data on a consistent basis, differences exist in the reporting on health care programs and services between provincial and territorial governments. Therefore, comparisons between jurisdictions are not made. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the quality and completeness of the data they provide.

Organization of the Information

Information in the tables is grouped according to the nine subcategories described below.

Registered Persons: Registered persons are the number of residents registered with the health care insurance plans of each province or territory.

Insured Hospital Services within Own Province or Territory: Statistics in this sub-section relate to the provision of insured hospital services to residents in each province or territory, as well as to visitors from other regions of Canada.

Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory: This sub-section presents out-of-province or out-of-territory insured hospital services that are paid for by a person's home jurisdiction when they travel to other parts of Canada.

Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada: Hospital services provided out of country represent residents' hospital costs incurred while travelling outside of Canada that are paid for by their home province or territory.

Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory: Statistics in this sub-section relate to the provision of insured physician services to residents in each province or territory, as well as to visitors from other regions of Canada.

Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory: This sub-section reports on physician services that are paid by a jurisdiction to other provinces or territories for their visiting residents.

Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada: Physician services provided out of country represent residents' medical costs incurred while travelling out- side of Canada that are paid by their home province or territory.

Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory: The information in this subsection describes insured surgical-dental services provided in each province or territory.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Introduction

The majority of publicly funded health services in Newfoundland and Labrador are delivered through four regional health authorities. They focus on the full continuum of care including health promotion and protection, public health, community services, acute and long-term care services.

The provincial government appoints Boards of Trustees to the regional health authorities who serve in a voluntary capacity. These authorities are responsible for delivering health and community services to their regions, and in some cases, to the province as a whole. Regional authorities interact with the public and community partners to determine health needs. The regional authorities receive their funding from the Department of Health & Community Services and are accountable to the Minister. The Department of Health and Community Services provides the regional authorities with policy direction, financial resources and monitors programs and services.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 20,000 health care providers and administrators provide health services to 505,000 residents (based on 2006 census).

In March 2009, the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador released the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing and appointed a team to review the recommendations. Significant steps have been, and will be taken to address issues related to this testing issue including enhanced data management and planning for an accreditation system for laboratories and diagnostic imaging services. As well, a comprehensive report from a task force on adverse health impacts will assist in looking at necessary actions in this area.

Budget 2008-2009 included significant investment in health care and continues to commit significant financial resources to the operation of the health care sector. A total capital investment in the health sector of $133.5 million for fiscal 2008/09 included $79 million for new and redeveloped infrastructure projects including planning and site selection for a new hospital in Corner Brook and renovations and redevelopment of several facilities in the province. Investments of $52 million for new health equipment include funding of $10.9 million for 12 new digital mammography units throughout the province.

Two important new Acts were passed in June 2008. The Personal Health Information Act establishes rules to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information and will provide individuals with the right to access their own information. It is targeted for proclamation in 2010. The Registered Nurses Act (2008) provides new governance structures and disciplinary procedures for nurses and nurse practitioners. It will increase public protection and place greater accountability on these two professions through the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In Budget 2008-09, government also made investments in several health workforce planning initiatives including $6 million in new and enhanced measures to support pathologists and oncologists, $4 million to expand the number of spaces for NL medical students at Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine and $2.1 million to promote the recruitment and retention of nurses. A $3.3 million investment by the government added seven new prescription medications to the provincial formulary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) and easier access for three additional groups of medications.

In February 2009 the government unveiled a new air ambulance for the province at a cost of $7.8 million.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Health care insurance plans managed by the Department include the Hospital Insurance Plan and the Medical Care Plan (MCP). Both plans are non-profit and publicly administered.

The Hospital Insurance Agreement Act is the legislation that enables the Hospital Insurance Plan. The Act gives the Minister of Health and Community Services the authority to make Regulations for providing insured services on uniform terms and conditions to residents of the province under the conditions specified in the Canada Health Act and Regulations.

The Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) empowers the Minister to administer a plan of medical care insurance for residents of the province. It provides for the development of regulations to ensure that the provisions of the statute meet the requirements of the Canada Health Act as it relates to administering the Medical Care Plan.

The Medical Care Plan facilitates the delivery of comprehensive medical care to all residents of the province by implementing policies, procedures and systems that permit appropriate compensation to providers for rendering insured professional services. The Medical Care Plan operates in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) and Regulations, and in compliance with the Canada Health Act.

There were no legislative amendments to the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) or the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act in 2008-09.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Department is mandated with administering the Hospital Insurance and Medical Care Plans. The Department reports on these plans through the regular legislative processes; e.g., Public Accounts and the Estimates Committee of the House of Assembly.

The Department will be tabling its 2008-2009 Annual Report in the House of Assembly in Fall 2009 as well as those of the four regional health authorities.

The Department's Annual Report highlights the accomplishments of 2008-2009 and provides an overview of the initiatives and programs that will continue to be developed in 2009-2010. The report is a public document and is circulated to stakeholders. It is available on the Next link will take you to another Web site department's website at: www.health.gov.nl.ca/health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Each year, the Province's Auditor General independently examines provincial public accounts. MCP expenditures are now considered a part of the public accounts. The Auditor General has full and unrestricted access to MCP records.

The four regional health authorities are subject to Financial Statement Audits, Reviews and Compliance Audits. Financial Statement Audits are performed by independent auditing firms that are selected by the health authorities under the terms of the Public Tendering Act. Review engagements, compliance audits and physician audits were carried out by personnel from the Department under the authority of the Newfoundland Medical Care Insurance Act (1999). Physician records and professional medical corporation records were reviewed to ensure that the records supported the services billed and that the services are insured under the MCP.

Beneficiary audits were performed by personnel from the Department under the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999). Individual providers are randomly selected on a bi-weekly basis for audit.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Insurance Agreement Act and the Hospital Insurance Regulations 742/96 (1996) provide for insured hospital services in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Insured hospital services are provided for in and out-patients in 15 hospitals, 22 community health centres and 14 community clinics. Insured services include: accommodations and meals at the standard ward level; nursing services; laboratory, radiology and other diagnostic procedures; drugs, biological and related preparations; medical and surgical supplies, operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; rehabilitative services (e.g., physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and audiology); outpatient and emergency visits; and day surgery.

The coverage policy for insured hospital services is linked to the coverage policy for insured medical services. The Department of Health and Community Services manages the process of adding or de-listing a hospital service from the list of insured services based on direction from the Minister. There were no services added or de-listed in 2008–2009.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation for insured physician services is the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999).

Other governing legislation under the Medical Care Insurance Act includes:

  • the Medical Care Insurance Insured Services Regulations;
  • the Medical Care Insurance Beneficiaries and Inquiries Regulations; and
  • the Medical Care Insurance Physician and Fees Regulations.

Licensed medical practitioners are allowed to provide insured physician services under the insurance plan. A physician must be licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador to practice in the province. In 2008-2009, there were 1,037 physicians registered in the province.

An insured service is defined as one that is: listed in section 3 of the Medical Care Insurance Insured Services Regulations; medically necessary; and/or recommended by the Department of Health and Community Services. There are no limitations on the services covered, subject to these criteria.

For purposes of the Act, the following services are covered:

  • all services properly and adequately provided by physicians to beneficiaries suffering from an illness requiring medical treatment or advice;
  • group immunizations or inoculations carried out by physicians at the request of the appropriate authority; and
  • diagnostic and therapeutic x-ray and laboratory services in facilities approved by the appropriate authority that are not provided under the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act and Regulations made under the Act.

Physicians can choose not to participate in the health care insurance plan as outlined in subsection 12(1) of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999), namely:

  1. Where a physician providing insured services is not a participating physician, and the physician provides an insured service to a beneficiary, the physician is not subject to this Act or the regulations relating to the provision of insured services to beneficiaries or the payment to be made for the services except that he or she shall:
    1. before providing the insured service, if he or she wishes to reserve the right to charge the beneficiary for the service an amount in excess of that payable by the Minister under this Act, inform the beneficiary that he or she is not a participating physician and that the physician may so charge the beneficiary; and
    2. provide the beneficiary to whom the physician has provided the insured service with the information required by the minister to enable payment to be made under this Act to the beneficiary in respect of the insured service.
  2. Where a physician who is not a participating physician provides insured services through a professional medical corporation, the professional medical corporation is not, in relation to those services, subject to this Act or the regulations relating to the provision of insured services to beneficiaries or the payment to be made for the services and the professional medical corporation and the physician providing the insured services shall comply with subsection (1).

As of March 31, 2009, there were no physicians who had opted out of the MCP.

Ministerial direction is required to add to or to deinsure a physician service from the list of insured services. This process is managed by the Department in consultation with various stakeholders, including the provincial medical association and the public. There were no services added or deleted during the 2008-2009 fiscal year to the list of insured physician services.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

The provincial Surgical-Dental Program is a component of the Medical Care Plan (MCP). Surgical-dental treatments provided to a beneficiary and carried out in a hospital by a licensed oral surgeon or dentist are covered by MCP if the treatment is specified in the Surgical-Dental Services Schedule.

All oral surgeons or dentists licensed to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador and who have hospital privileges are allowed to provide surgical-dental services. The dentist's license is issued by the Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Board. In 2008-09, there were 25 dentists with hospital privileges registered in the province.

Dentists may opt out of the Medical Care Plan. These dentists must advise the patient of their opted-out status, stating the fees expected, and provide the patient with a written record of services and fees charged. There is currently one opted out dentist.

Because the Surgical-Dental Program is a component of the MCP, management of the Program is linked to the MCP process regarding changes to the list of insured services.

Addition of a surgical-dental service to the list of insured services must be approved by the Department.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Hospital services not covered by MCP include: preferred accommodation at the patient's request; cosmetic surgery and other services deemed to be medically unnecessary; ambulance or other patient transportation before admission or upon discharge; private duty nursing arranged by the patient; nonmedically required x-rays or other services for employment or insurance purposes; drugs (except anti-rejection and AZT drugs) and appliances issued for use after discharge from hospital; bedside telephones, radios or television sets for personal, non-teaching use; fibreglass splints; services covered by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission or by other federal or provincial legislation; and services relating to therapeutic abortions performed in non-accredited facilities or facilities not approved by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The use of the hospital setting for any services deemed not insured by the Medicare Plan are also uninsured under the Hospital Insurance Plan. For purposes of the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999), the following is a list of non-insured physician services:

  • any advice given by a physician to a beneficiary by telephone;
  • the dispensing by a physician of medicines, drugs or medical appliances and the giving or writing of medical prescriptions;
  • the preparation by a physician of records, reports or certificates for, or on behalf of, or any communication to, or relating to, a beneficiary;
  • any services rendered by a physician to the spouse and children of the physician;
  • any service to which a beneficiary is entitled under an Act of the Parliament of Canada, an Act of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, an Act of the legislature of any province of Canada, or any law of a country or part of a country;
  • the time taken or expenses incurred in travelling to consult a beneficiary;
  • ambulance service and other forms of patient transportation;
  • acupuncture and all procedures and services related to acupuncture, excluding an initial assessment specifically related to diagnosing the illness proposed to be treated by acupuncture;
  • examinations not necessitated by illness or at the request of a third party except as specified by the appropriate authority;
  • plastic or other surgery for purely cosmetic purposes, unless medically indicated;
  • testimony in a court;
  • visits to optometrists, general practitioners and ophthalmologists solely for determining whether new or replacement glasses or contact lenses are required;
  • the fees of a dentist, oral surgeon or general practitioner for routine dental extractions performed in hospital;
  • fluoride dental treatment for children under four years of age;
  • excision of xanthelasma; circumcision of newborns;
  • hypnotherapy;
  • medical examination for drivers;
  • alcohol/drug treatment outside Canada;
  • consultation required by hospital regulation;
  • therapeutic abortions performed in the province at a facility not approved by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • sex reassignment surgery, when not recom mended by the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry;
  • in vitro fertilization and OSST (ovarian stimulation and sperm transfer);
  • reversal of previous sterilization procedure;
  • surgical, diagnostic or therapeutic procedures not provided in facilities other than those listed in the Schedule to the Hospitals Act or approved by the appropriate authority under paragraph 3(d); and
  • other services not within the ambit of section 3 of the Act.

The majority of diagnostic services (e.g., laboratory services and x-ray) are performed within public facilities in the province. Hospital policy concerning access ensures that third parties are not given priority access.

Medical goods and services that are implanted and associated with an insured service are provided free of charge to the patient and are consistent with national standards of practice. Patients retain the right to financially upgrade the standard medical goods or services. Standards for medical goods are developed by the hospitals providing those services in consultation with service providers.

Surgical-dental and other services not covered by the Surgical-Dental Program include the dentist's fee and the oral surgeon's or general practitioner's fees for routine dental extractions in a hospital.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador are eligible for coverage under the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) and the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act. The Medical Care Insurance Act (1999) defines a "resident" as a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include tourists, transients or visitors to the province.

The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiaries and Inquiries Regulations (Regulation 20/96) identify those residents eligible to receive coverage under the plans. MCP has established rules to ensure that the Regulations are applied consistently and fairly in processing applications for coverage. MCP applies the standard that persons moving to Newfoundland and Labrador from another province become eligible on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival.

Persons not eligible for coverage under the plans include: students and their dependants already covered by another province or territory; dependants of residents if covered by another province or territory; certified refugees and refugee claimants and their dependants; foreign workers with Employment Authorizations and their dependants who do not meet the established criteria; tourists, transients, visitors and their dependants; Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) personnel; inmates of federal prisons; and armed forces personnel from other countries who are stationed in the province.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Registration under the MCP and possession of a valid MCP card is required to access insured services. New residents are advised to apply for coverage as soon as possible on arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is the parent's responsibility to register a newborn or adopted child. The parents of a newborn child will be given a registration application upon discharge from hospital. Applications for newborn coverage will require, in most instances, a parent's valid MCP number. A birth or baptismal certificate will be required where the child's surname differs from either parent's surname.

Applications for coverage of an adopted child require a copy of the official adoption documents, the birth certificate of the child, or a Notice of Adoption Placement from the department. Applications for coverage of a child adopted outside Canada require Permanent Resident documents for the child.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Foreign workers, international students, clergy and dependants of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) personnel are eligible for benefits. Holders of Minister's permits are also eligible, subject to MCP approval.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Insured persons moving to Newfoundland and Labrador from other provinces or territories are entitled to coverage on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

Persons arriving from outside Canada to establish residence are entitled to coverage on the day of arrival. The same applies to discharged members of the Canadian Forces, the RCMP and individuals released from federal penitentiaries. For coverage to be effective, however, registration is required under MCP. Immediate coverage is provided to persons from outside Canada authorized to work in the province for one year or more.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador is a party to the Agreement on Eligibility and Portability regarding matters pertaining to portability of insured services in Canada.

Sections 12 and 13 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations (1996) define portability of hospital coverage during temporary absences both within and outside Canada. Portability of medical coverage during temporary absences both within and outside Canada is defined in Departmental policy. The eligibility policy for insured hospital services is linked to the eligibility policy for insured physician services.

Coverage is provided to residents during temporary absences within Canada. The Government has entered into formal agreements (i.e. the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement) with other provinces and territories for the reciprocal billing of insured hospital services. In-patient costs are paid at stan dard rates approved by the host province or territory. In-patient, high-cost procedures and out-patient services are payable based on national rates agreed to by provincial and territorial health plans through the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (IHIACC).

Except for Quebec, medical services incurred in all provinces or territories are paid through the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement at host province or territory rates. Claims for medical services received in Quebec are submitted by the patient to the MCP for payment at host province rates.

In order to qualify for out-of-province coverage, a beneficiary must comply with the legislation and MCP rules regarding residency in Newfoundland and Labrador. A resident must reside in the province at least four consecutive months in each 12-month period to qualify as a beneficiary. Generally, the rules regarding medical and hospital care coverage during absences include the following:

  • Before leaving the province for extended periods, a resident must contact the MCP to obtain an out-of-province coverage certificate.
  • Beneficiaries leaving for vacation purposes may receive an initial out-of-province coverage certificate of up to 12 months. Upon return, beneficiaries are required to reside in the province for a minimum four consecutive months. Thereafter, certificates will only be issued for up to eight months of coverage.
  • Students leaving the province may receive a certificate, renewable each year, provided they submit proof of full-time enrolment in a recognized educational institution located outside the province.
  • Persons leaving the province for employment purposes may receive a certificate for coverage up to 12 months. Verification of employment may be required.
  • Persons must not establish residence in another province, territory or country while maintaining coverage under the Newfoundland MCP.
  • For out-of-province trips of 30 days or less, an out-of-province coverage certificate is not required, but will be issued upon request.
  • For out-of-province trips lasting more than 30 days, a certificate is required as proof of a resident's ability to pay for services while outside the province.

Failure to request out-of-province coverage or failure to abide by the residency rules may result in the resident having to pay for medical or hospital costs incurred outside the province.

Insured residents moving permanently to other parts of Canada are covered up to and including the last day of the second month following the month of departure. Coverage is immediately discontinued when residents move permanently to other countries.

In 2008/2009, the total amount paid by MCP for physician services received by residents in another province or territory was $6,161,000.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Province provides coverage to residents during temporary absences outside Canada. Out-of-country insured hospital in- and out-patient services are covered for emergencies, sudden illness and elective procedures at established rates. Hospital services are considered under the Plan when the insured services are provided by a recognized facility (licensed or approved by the appropriate authority within the state or country in which the facility is located) outside Canada. The maximum amount payable by the Government's hospitalization plan for out-of-country in-patient hospital care is $350 per day, if the insured services are provided by a community or regional hospital. Where insured services are provided by a tertiary care hospital (a highly specialized facility), the approved rate is $465 per day. The approved rate for out-patient services is $62 per visit and haemodialysis is $330 per treatment. The approved rates are paid in Canadian funds.

Physician services are covered for emergencies or sudden illness and are also insured for elective services not available in the province or within Canada. Physician services are paid at the same rate as would be paid in Newfoundland and Labrador for the same service. If the services are not available in Newfoundland and Labrador, they are usually paid at Ontario rates, or at rates that apply in the province where they are available. The total amount spent by MCP in 2008/2009 for insured physician services provided outside Canada was $240,000.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is not required for medically necessary insured services provided by accredited hospitals or licensed physicians in the other provinces and territories. However, physicians may seek advice on coverage from the MCP so that patients may be made aware of any financial implications.

Prior approval is mandatory in order to receive fund ing at host country rates if a resident of the province has to seek specialized hospital care outside the country because the insured service is not available in Canada. The referring physicians must contact the Department or the MCP for prior approval. If prior approval is granted, the provincial health insurance plan will pay the costs of services necessary for the patient’s care. Prior approval is not granted for out-of-country treatment of elective services if the service is available in the province or elsewhere within Canada. If the services are not available in Newfoundland and Labrador, they are usually paid at Ontario rates, or at rates that apply in the province where they are available.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Access to insured health services in Newfoundland and Labrador is provided on uniform terms and conditions. There are no co-insurance charges for insured hospital services and no extra-billing by physicians in the province.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

As of March 31, 2009, regional health authorities (RHAs) employed approximately 20,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador. This figure is comprised of 7,700 nurses (licensed practical nurses and registered nurses), 750 social workers, 400 medical laboratory technologists, 300 medical radiation technologists, a further 500 health service providers of various occupations, nearly 1000 managers, and approximately 9,000 support staff (housekeeping, laundry, facilities, dietary, etc.). Additionally, there were about 1,040 practicing physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador at that time.

The Department of Health and Community Services works closely with educational institutions within the province to maintain an appropriate supply of health professionals. The province also works with external organizations for health professionals not trained in this province.

Insured hospital services are provided by 37 hospitals and health centres across Newfoundland and Labrador. All facilities provide 24-hour emergency services, outpatient clinics, laboratory and x-ray services. Insured services are also provided in 14 nursing stations. The other services vary by facility and range from general surgery, internal medicine and obstetrics to specialized services such as cardiology and neurology. Quaternary care is not offered in Newfoundland and Labrador and provincial residents travel to other jurisdictions to access services.

The government continued to improve capacity through a $52 million investment in 2008 for new diagnostic and capital equipment including 12 new digital mammography units for health centres throughout the province, an MRI machine in Central Health Region, CT scanners for Clarenville and St. Anthony and an interventional angiography suite for Corner Brook. In addition, planning will begin for the acquisition of a PET scanner in the province.

As of March 31, 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador was within the national benchmarks for cardiac care, vision restoration, and cancer care within 84-100% of the time, demonstrating that the four regional health authorities are providing access to these services within close proximity to the target time frames. Both the volume and demand for joint replacements in NL has steadily increased in recent years. Subsequently, in regions where demand is greatest one can anticipate longer waits for surgery. The proportion of joint replacements performed within the benchmark target ranges from 56-100%.

The government provided $5.8 million in 2008 to improve access to health services, including the expansion of orthopaedic services, the consolidation of clinical & business systems in Central Health Region and the addition of portable oxygen to the benefits list under the special assistance program. An additional $26.7 million was allocated to regional health authorities to offset cost increases from inflation and utilization of current programs.

Targeted recruitment incentives are in place to attract health professionals. Several programs have been established to provide targeted sign-on bonuses, bursaries, opportunities for upgrading, and other incentives for a wide variety of health occupations.

The provincial Primary Health Care (PHC) framework, Moving Forward Together: Mobilizing Primary Health Care, continues to provide direction for remodelling primary health care in Newfoundland and Labrador through a population-health based approach to service delivery, and using a voluntary and incremental approach. PHC services include all the health services delivered in a geographic area (minimum population 6,000 to maximum population of 25,000) from primary prevention through to, and including, acute and episodic illness at the PHC service delivery level.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

The Dental Bursary Program was established to increase the number of dentists practising throughout the province, particularly in rural areas. In 2008-09 the government invested $275,000 for the program's two components: the Rural Dental Bursary Program and Specialist Bursary Program for a total of 11 bursaries.

The number of physicians practicing in the province has been relatively stable, with an upward trend since 2003. The Department is committed to working with regional health authorities to develop a provincial human resource plan for physicians based on the principle of access to services.

As of March 31, 2009, there were 512 general practitioners and 525 specialists in practice, compared with 480 general practitioners and 509 specialists as of March 31, 2008.

The Department has initiated several measures to improve access for insured physician services. Some of these include:

  • funding for the Provincial Office of Recruitment;
  • retention bonuses for salaried physicians based on geography and years of service; and
  • an annual bursary program valued at $1,175,000 for medical residents and students (matched to Family Practice in Canadian Resident Matched Services (CaRMS) willing to commit to provide medical services in areas of need within the province. During fiscal year 2008-2009, 47 bursaries were funded.

5.4 Physician Compensation

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services is the Medical Care Insurance Act (1999).

The current methods of remuneration to compensate physicians for providing insured health services include fee-for-service, salary, contract and sessional block funding.

Compensation agreements are negotiated between the provincial government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA), on behalf of all physicians. Representatives from the regional health authorities play a significant role in this process. The current agreement with the provincial association is due to expire in 2009.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Department is responsible for funding regional health authorities for ongoing operations and capital acquisitions. Funding for insured services is provided to the regional health authorities as an annual global budget. Payments are made in accordance with the Hospital Insurance Agreement Act (1990) and the Hospitals Act. As part of their accountability to the Government, the health authorities are required to meet the Department's annual reporting requirements, which include audited financial statements and other financial and statistical information. The global budgeting process devolves the budget allocation authority, responsibility and accountability to all appointed boards in the discharge of their mandates.

Throughout the fiscal year, the regional health authorities forwarded additional funding requests to the Department for any changes in program areas or increased workload volume. These requests were reviewed and, when approved by the Department, funded at the end of each fiscal year. Any adjust ments to the annual funding level, such as for additional approved positions or program changes, were funded based on the implementation date of such increases and the cash flow requirements.

Regional health authorities are continually facing challenges in addressing increased demands due to inflation and increased workload. Higher patient expectations and new technology is creating new demands for time, resources and funding. Regional health authorities continue to work with the Department to address these issues and provide effective, efficient and quality health services.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Funding provided by the federal government through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and the Canada Social Transfer (CST) has been recognized and reported by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in the annual provincial budget, through press releases, government websites and various other documents. For fiscal year 2008-2009, these documents included:

  • the 2008-2009 Public Accounts,
  • the Estimates 2008-2009, and
  • the Budget Speech 2008.

The Public Accounts and Estimates, tabled by the Government in the House of Assembly, are publicly available to Newfoundland and Labrador residents and have been shared with Health Canada for information purposes.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

7.1 Long-Term Care, Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care

Newfoundland and Labrador has established longterm residential and community-based programs for persons discharged from hospital, seniors, and persons with disabilities. These programs are provided by the regional health authorities. Services include the following:

  • Longterm residential accommodations are provided for residents with high care needs in 21 hospital/health care centres and 19 Long-term care homes. There are approximately 2,779 beds located in these facilities. Residents pay a maximum of $2,800 per month based on each client's assessed ability to pay, using provincial financial assessment criteria. The balance of funding required to operate these facilities is provided by the Department.
  • Persons requiring supervised care or minimal assistance with activities of daily living can avail themselves of residential services in personal care homes. There are approximately 3,605 beds located in 101 homes across the province. These homes are operated by the private for-profit sector. Residents are subsidized to a maximum of $1,644 per month, based on an individual client assessment using standardized financial criteria.

7.2 Home Care Services

  • Home care services include professional and non-professional supportive care to enable people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Professional services include nursing and some rehabilitative programs. These services are publicly funded and delivered by staff employed by the four regional health authorities. Non-professional services include personal care, household management, respite and behavioural management. These services are delivered by home support workers through agency or selfmanaged care arrangements.
  • Eligibility for non-professional services is determined through a client financial assessment using provincial criteria. The monthly ceiling for home support services in fiscal 2008-2009 was $2,707 for seniors and $3,875 for persons with disabilities.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

  • The Air Ambulance Program provides air transport for patients requiring emergency care who could not be transported by a commercial airline or by road ambulance because of urgency or time, or remoteness of location. It can also be utilized for routine/non-emergency patients who cannot be transported by other means. This program uses two fixed-wing aircraft and five chartered helicopters. These helicopters are also used for routine transportation of doctors and nurses to remote communities for clinics. A third fixed wing aircraft is used in Labrador for regional medical services transports, including routine appointments by coastal residents in Happy Valley/Goose Bay, Labrador.
  • Residents who travel by commercial air to access medically necessary insured services that are not available within their area of residence or within the province, may qualify for financial assistance under the Medical Transportation Assistance Program. This program is administered by the Department. Kidney donors and bone marrow/stem-cell donors are eligible for financial assistance, as administered by Eastern Health, when the recipient is a Newfoundland and Labrador resident eligible for coverage under the provincial Hospital Insurance and Medical Care Plans.
  • The Dental Health Plan incorporates a children's dental component, an Income Support component and an Access Plan Enhancement. The children's program covers the following dental services for all children up to and including the age of 12: examinations at six-month intervals; cleanings at 12-month intervals; fluoride applications at 12-month intervals for children aged 6 to 12; x-rays (some limitations); fillings and extractions; and some other specific procedures that require approval before treatment. Services are available to recipients of Income Support or eligible families with low incomes who are 13 to 17 years of age: examinations (every 24 months); x-rays (with some limitations); routine fillings and extractions; emergency examinations, when the patient is seen for pain, infection or trauma. Adults receiving income support are eligible for emergency care and extractions. There is no adult component for the Access Plan Enhancement.
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program (NLPDP) provides prescription drugs and additional drug benefits approved by the Department of Health and Community Services which are listed in the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program Benefits. These approved benefits are supplied as part of the Foundation Plan, 65 Plus Plan, Access Plan and Assurance Plan for eligible residents.
    • The Foundation Plan provides prescription drug coverage for residents of the province who qualify for full benefit coverage under the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. Coverage is also provided for residents in Government subsidized Long-Term Care Facilities, children in care, and youth corrections. The Income Support Component covers the full cost of benefit prescription items, including a set mark-up amount and dispensing fee.
    • The 65 Plus Plan provides prescription drug coverage for residents who are 65 years of age or over, who receive Old Age Security (OAS) benefits and who are in receipt of the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The plan covers defined ingredient cost only for identified benefits. Any additional cost, such as dispensing fees, is the client's responsibility.
  • Ostomy Subsidy benefits are available to those senior citizens who qualify for a drug card under the 65 Plus Plan or Foundation Plan. Government will reimburse eligible senior citizens for 75% of the retail cost of items that are benefits. Eligible seniors are responsible for the remaining costs.
  • The Select Needs Plan provides universal coverage for patients with Cystic Fibrosis and Growth Hormone Deficiency. The Select Needs Plan covers the full cost for identified benefits-disease-related prescription drugs, enzymes, foods, medical supplies, and equipment-supplied through the Health Sciences Central Supply and Pharmacy.
  • The Access Plan provides prescription drug coverage ranging from 30-80% for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who are eligible for and in receipt of a MCP card and whose income falls within the following thresholds:
    • Families with children, including single parents, with net incomes of $30,000 or less;
    • Couples without children with net annual incomes of $21,000 or less;
    • Single individuals with net incomes of $19,000 or less.

  • The Assurance Plan offers protection for individuals and families against the financial burden of eligible high drug costs, whether it be from the cost of one extremely high cost drug or the combined costs of different drugs. Depending on their income level, individuals and families will be assured that their annual out-of-pocket eligible drug costs will be capped at either 5, 7.5, or 10 percent of their net family income.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 569,835 545,160 545,629 506,530 1 514,470
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 36 36 36 36 37
b. chronic care 0 0 0 0 0
c. rehabilitative care 0 0 0 0 0
d. other 0 0 0 14 2 14
e. total 36 36 36 50 2 51
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care 679,024,717 740,235,437 743,680,905 798,018,159 880,628,613
b. chronic care 0 0 0 0  
c. rehabilitative care 0 0 0 0  
d. other 0 0 0 0  
e. total 679,024,717 740,235,437 743,680,905 798,018,159 880,628,613
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 1 1 1 1 1
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 1 1 1 1 1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 264,575 285,475 288,800 307,825 389,375
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 264,575 285,475 288,800 307,825 389,375
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1,711 1,850 1,736 1,910 1,732
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 12,276,510 15,355,713 15,157,341 16,509,144 15,695,411
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 27,577 30,762 34,349 34,159 29,758
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 4,489,143 5,385,716 6,755,412 6,817,250 7,680,172
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 50 54 60 73 90
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 76,981 112,039 92,683 496,719 368,959
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 301 261 345 404 400
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 60,159 24,265 934,295 4 651,841 204,973
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):5
a. general practitioners 460 471 481 480 512
b. specialists 494 500 504 509 525
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. total 954 971 985 989 1,037
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) not available not available not available not available not available
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 4,019,000 4,234,000 4,295,000 4,361,000 4,467,000
b. total payments ($) 175,910,000 180,263,000 182,730,000 189,169,000 199,127,000
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 113,000 136,000 139,000 168,000 136,000
20. Total payments ($). 4,770,000 5,197,000 6,290,000 6,320,000 6,161,000
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 2,400 2,300 2,100 2,300 2,900
22. Total payments ($). 136,000 135,000 130,000 300,000 240,000
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 31 26 27 25 25
24. Number of services provided (#). 3,022 2,633 2,044 885 2,995
25. Total payments ($). 329,000 313,000 123,000 73,000 331,000

Prince Edward Island

Introduction

The Ministry of Health is a system of integrated services whose aim is to protect, maintain and improve the health and well-being of Prince Edward Islanders.

Health services in Prince Edward Island are delivered through a single management model centralized under the Department of Health.

The Ministry is responsible for providing a variety of health services to Islanders to promote and help foster their optimal health, including public health services, primary care, acute care, community hospital and continuing care services. These services are delivered by over 4,500 dedicated professional staff through a large number of facilities and programs across the province. Included are:

  • acute care facilities;
  • community hospitals;
  • provincial manors;
  • an in-patient mental health facility;
  • a provincial addictions treatment facility and community programs;
  • family health centres;
  • public health, home care, community addictions programs;
  • community mental health;
  • the Chief Health Officer; and
  • Vital Statistics and regulatory services.

A Minister of the Crown is ultimately accountable to the rest of government and the citizens of PEI for the Department of Health and its performance and results. The Department is managed by a Departmental Management Committee comprised of the Deputy Minister, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Health Operations, and senior directors whose responsibility it is to direct the overall departmental management and day-to-day operations. A summary of the principal roles of divisions is outlined below.

Acute Care: Provides regional and provincial secondary, specialty services, and in-patient mental health services to residents of PEI. Facilities include Prince County Hospital (PCH), the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and Hillsborough Hospital. Administratively, one Executive Director is responsible for PCH and one Executive Director is responsible for QEH/ Hillsborough Hospital, both of whom are members of the Departmental Management Committee.

Community Hospitals and Continuing Care: Provides acute care services to rural communities and supportive services to adults and seniors in need of continuing care on PEI. Programs and facilities include five rural community hospitals, provincial manors, home care, palliative care, dialysis, and adult protection. Administratively, the Director of Community Hospitals and Continuing Care is responsible for this division and is a member of the Departmental Management Committee.

Medical Programs: Provides for the delivery of medical programs and services which include the provincial Medicare Program, physician services, physician referrals, physician billing assessment and payment, Out-of-Province Liaison Program, emergency medical services, In-Province and Out- of-Province medicare claims. Administratively, the Director of Medical Programs is responsible for this division and is a member of the Departmental Management Committee.

Primary Care: Provides primary health services to citizens of PEI. Programs and facilities include: seven Family Health Centres, Public Health Nursing, and Chronic Disease Prevention. Administratively, the Director of Primary Care is responsible for this division and is a member of the Departmental Management Committee.

Chief Health Office: Provides delivery of programs and services in the areas of Epidemiology and Health Research, Environmental Health, Vital Statistics and Reproductive Care. This office is also responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Public Health Act, supervision of related public health programs and disease surveillance and control.

Recruitment and Retention Secretariat: Provides health human resource planning and undertakes recruitment and retention efforts to meet the current and future needs for physicians, nurses and allied health professionals.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Hospital Care Insurance Plan, under the authority of the Minister of Health, is the vehicle for delivering hospital care insurance in Prince Edward Island. The enabling legislation is the Hospital and Diagnostic Services Insurance Act (1988), which insures services as defined under section 2 of the Canada Health Act.

The role of the Department is to provide sound leadership in innovation and ongoing improvement, quality administration and regulatory services, and delivery of client-centred health services, consistent with provincial communities' needs.

The Department of Health is responsible for service delivery and operates hospitals, health centres, manors and mental health facilities. The Public Service Commission hires physicians, nurses and other health related workers.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

An annual report is submitted by the Department to the Minister responsible who tables it in the Legislative Assembly. The Report provides information on the operating principles of the Department and its legislative responsibilities, as well as an overview and description of the operations of the departmental divisions and statistical highlights for the year.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The provincial Auditor General conducts annual audits of the Public Accounts of the province of Prince Edward Island. The Public Accounts of the province include the financial activities, revenues and expenditures of the Department of Health.

The provincial Auditor General, through the Audit Act, has the discretionary authority to conduct further audit reviews on a comprehensive or program specific basis.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided under the Hospital and Diagnostic Services Insurance Act (1988). The accompanying Regulations (1996) define the insured inand out-patient hospital services available at no charge to a person who is eligible. Insured hospital services include: necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; accommodations and meals at a standard ward rate; formulary drugs, biologicals and related preparations prescribed by an attending physician and administered in hospital; operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; routine surgical supplies; and radiotherapy and physiotherapy services performed in hospital.

The process to add a new hospital service to the list of insured services involves extensive consultation and negotiation between the Department and key stakeholders. The process involves the development of a business plan which, when approved by the Minister, would be taken to Treasury Board for funding approval. The Cabinet has the final authority in adding new services.

As of March 2009, there were seven acute care facilities participating in the province's Insurance Plan. In addition to 432 acute care beds, these facilities house 20 rehabilitative beds as defined under the Hospitals Act (1988), for a total of 452 beds.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation that provides for insured physician services is the Health Services Payment Act (1988). Amendments were passed in 1996. Changes were made to include the physician resource planning process.

Insured physician services are provided by medical practitioners licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The total number of practitioners, including locums, who billed the Insurance Plan as of March 31, 2009, was 389.

Under section 10 of the Health Services Payment Act, a physician or practitioner who is not a participant in the Insurance Plan is not eligible to bill the Plan for services rendered. When a non-participating physician provides a medically required service, section 10(2) requires that physicians advise patients that they are not participating physicians or practitioners and provide the patient with sufficient information to enable recovery of the cost of services from the Minister of Health.

Under section 10.1 of the Health Services Payment Act, a participating physician or practitioner may determine, subject to and in accordance with the Regulations and in respect of a particular patient or a particular basic health service, to collect fees outside the Plan or selectively opt out of the Plan. Before the service is rendered, patients must be informed that they will be billed directly for the service. Where practitioners have made that determination, they are required to inform the Minister thereof and the total charge is made to the patient for the service rendered.

As of March 31, 2009, no physicians had opted out of the Health Care Insurance Plan.

Any basic health services rendered by physicians that are medically required are covered by the Health Care Insurance Plan. These include most physicians’ services in the office, at the hospital or in the patient’s home; medically necessary surgical services, including the services of anaesthetists and surgical assistants where necessary; obstetrical services, including pre- and post-natal care, new-born care or any complications of pregnancy such as miscarriage or caesarean section; certain oral surgery procedures performed by an oral surgeon when it is medically required, with prior approval that they be performed in a hospital; sterilization procedures, both female and male; treatment of fractures and dislocations; and certain insured specialist services, when properly referred by an attending physician.

The process to add a physician service to the list of insured services involves negotiation between the Department and the Medical Society. The process involves development of a business plan which, when approved by the Minister, would be taken to Treasury Board for funding approval. Cabinet has the final authority in adding new services.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dental services are not insured in the Health Care Insurance Plan. Only oral maxillofacial surgeons are paid through the Plan. There are currently two surgeons in that category. Surgical-dental procedures included as basic health services in the Tariff of Fees are covered only when the patient's medical condition requires that they be done in hospital or in an office with prior approval as confirmed by the attending physician.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Provincial hospital services not covered by the Hospital Services Plan include:

  • services that persons are eligible for under other provincial or federal legislation;
  • mileage or travel, unless approved by the Department;
  • advice or prescriptions by telephone, except anticoagulant therapy supervision;
  • telephone consultation except by internists and orthopedic surgeons, provided the patient was not seen by that internist or orthopedic surgeon within 3 days of the telephone consult;
  • examinations required in connection with employment, insurance, education, etc.;
  • group examinations, immunizations or inocula tions, unless prior approval is received from the Department;
  • preparation of records, reports, certificates or communications, except a certificate of committal to a psychiatric, drug or alcoholism facility;
  • testimony in court;
  • travel clinic and expenses;
  • surgery for cosmetic purposes unless medically required;
  • dental services other than those procedures included as basic health services;
  • dressings, drugs, vaccines, biologicals and related materials;
  • eyeglasses and special appliances;
  • chiropractic, podiatry, optometry, chiropody, osteopathy, naturopathy, and similar treatments;
  • physiotherapy, psychology, audiology, and acupuncture except when provided in hospital;
  • reversal of sterilization procedures;
  • in vitro fertilization;
  • services performed by another person when the supervising physician is not present or not available;
  • services rendered by a physician to members of the physician's own household, unless approval is obtained from the Department; and any other services that the Department may, upon the recommendation of the negotiation process between the Department and the Medical Society, declare non-insured.

Provincial hospital services not covered by the Hospital Services Plan include private or special duty nursing at the patient's or family's request; preferred accommodation at the patient's request; hospital services rendered in connection with surgery purely for cosmetic reasons; personal conveniences, such as telephones and televisions; drugs, biologicals and prosthetic and orthotic appliances for use after discharge from hospital; and dental extractions, except in cases where the patient must be admitted to hospital for medical reasons with prior approval of the Department.

The process to de-insure services by the Health Care Insurance Plan is done in collaboration with the Medical Society and the Department. No services were de-insured during the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

All Island residents have equal access to services. Third parties such as private insurers or the Workers' Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island do not receive priority access to services through additional payment.

Prince Edward Island has no formal process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows the Department to monitor usage and service concerns.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Health Services Payment Act and Regulations, section 3, define eligibility for the health care insurance plans. The plans are designed to provide coverage for eligible Prince Edward Island residents. A resident is anyone legally entitled to remain in Canada and who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present on an annual basis for at least six months plus a day, in Prince Edward Island.

All new residents must register with the Department in order to become eligible. Persons who establish permanent residence in Prince Edward Island from elsewhere in Canada will become eligible for insured hospital and medical services on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

Residents who are ineligible for coverage under the Health Care Insurance Plan in Prince Edward Island are members of the Canadian Forces, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), inmates of federal penitentiaries and those eligible for certain services under other government programs, such as Workers’ Compensation or the Department of Veterans Affairs’ programs.

Ineligible residents may become eligible in certain circumstances. Members of the Canadian Forces or RCMP become eligible on discharge or completion of rehabilitative leave. Penitentiary inmates become eligible upon release. In such cases, the province where the individual in question was stationed at the time of discharge or release, or release from rehabilitative leave, would provide initial coverage during the customary waiting period of up to three months. Parolees from penitentiaries will be treated in the same manner as discharged parolees.

Foreign students, tourists, transients or visitors to Prince Edward Island do not qualify as residents of the province and are, therefore, not eligible for hospital and medical insurance benefits.

3.2 Registration Requirements

New or returning residents must apply for health coverage by completing a registration application from the Department. The application is reviewed to ensure that all necessary information is provided. A health card is issued and sent to the resident within two weeks. Renewal of coverage takes place every five years and residents are notified by mail six weeks before renewal.

The number of residents registered for the Health Care Insurance Plan in Prince Edward Island as of March 31, 2009, was 142,305.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Foreign students, temporary workers, refugees and Minister's Permit holders are not eligible for health and medical coverage. Kosovar refugees are an exception to this category and are eligible for both health and medical coverage in Prince Edward Island.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Insured persons who move to Prince Edward Island are eligible for health insurance on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival in the province.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Persons absent each year for winter vacations and similar situations involving regular absences must reside in Prince Edward Island for at least six months plus a day each year in order to be eligible for sudden illness and emergency services while absent from the province, as allowed under section 5.(1)(e) of the Health Services Payment Act.

The term "temporarily absent" is defined as a period of absence from the province for up to 182 days in a 12 month period, where the absence is for the purpose of a vacation, a visit or a business engagement. Persons leaving the province under the above circumstances must notify the Registration Department before leaving.

Prince Edward Island participates in the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement and the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement. The total amount paid under these agreements in 2008/2009 was 31,871,835.

The payment rate currently ranges from $797 at the community hospitals to $806 at Prince County Hospital and $1023 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital per day for hospital stays. The standard interprovincial outpatient rate is $232. The methodology used to derive these rates is as if the patient had the services provided in Prince Edward Island.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Health Services Payment Act is the enabling legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada, as allowed under section 5.(1)(e) of the Health Services Payment Act.

Insured residents may be temporarily out of the country for a 12 month period one time only. Students attending a recognized learning institution in another country must provide proof of enrolment from the educational institution on an annual basis. Students must notify the Registration Department upon returning from outside the country.

For Prince Edward Island residents leaving the country for work purposes for longer than one year, coverage ends the day the person leaves.

For Island residents travelling outside Canada, coverage for emergency or sudden illness will be provided at Prince Edward Island rates only, in Canadian currency. Residents are responsible for paying the difference between the full amount charged and the amount paid by the Department. In 2008-2009, the total amounts paid for in-patient claims was $113,901 and $33,919 for out-patient claims.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is required from the Department before receiving non-emergency, out-of-province medical or hospital services. Island residents seeking such required services may apply for prior approval through a Prince Edward Island physician. Full coverage may be provided for (Prince Edward Island insured) non-emergency or elective services, provided the physician completes an application to the Department. Prior approval is required from the Medical Director of the Department to receive out-of-country hospital or medical services not available in Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Both of Prince Edward Island's hospital and medical services insurance plans provide services on uniform terms and conditions on a basis that does not impede or preclude reasonable access to those services by insured persons.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

Prince Edward Island has a publicly administered and funded health system that guarantees universal access to medically necessary hospital and physician services as required by the Canada Health Act.

Prince Edward Island has two referral hospitals and five community hospitals, with a combined total of 452 beds. Along with nine government manors and one facility for children with disabilities that house 609 (plus 12 respite) long-term care nursing beds, Islanders have access to an additional 439 in nine private nursing homes. The system also operates several addictions and mental health facilities, including the provincial in-patient psychiatric Hillsborough Hospital which has 17 acute care beds and 53 long term care beds.

This past year saw renovations completed to the Emergency Departments at the Prince County Hospital and the Kings County Memorial Hospital. As well, construction has begun on Phase I of a $52 million multi-phase redevelopment plan to upgrade the 25+ year-old Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This multi-phase redevelopment will occur over the next few years and will ultimately result in a major redesign of the emergency department and support services, an addition to the Cancer Treatment Centre, and enhancements to ambulatory care and day surgery, among other improvements.

The public sector health workforce on PEI has approximately 4,500 employees. Through the Health Recruitment and Retention Secretariat, there is ongoing recruitment to address vacancies in the physician complement in this province. This challenge is being met in part by continuing to develop a long-term physician resource plan, by providing salary options to new graduates and existing physicians, and by engaging in more communication with PEI students and medical residents through the Medical Education Program.

Prince Edward Island launched the PEI Family Medicine Residency Program to provide ongoing training opportunities to medical school graduates who are training as a family physician. The intent is to better integrate our medical students so that they will want to stay and practice in the province. Five family medicine residents began their two year training program on the Island during this reporting period.

In addition to the aforementioned programs, other current initiatives include the:

  • Nurse Recruitment Strategy,
  • Provider Registry,
  • Musco-skeletal Injury Prevention Program (Workplace safety),
  • Wait Times Strategy,
  • Youth Addictions Strategy,
  • Clinical Information System interoperable Electronic Health Record,
  • Patient Safety Strategy,
  • Rural Physician Stabilization Initiative, and the
  • Pandemic Planning.

Other new initiatives announced during this period include the:

  • Critical Care and Emergency Nursing Program,
  • Healthy Aging Strategy,
  • Accelerated Nursing Program, and the
  • Palliative Home Care Drug Program.

This year the province released a consultant's report on the comprehensive review of the Prince Edward Island health care system. The Government's vision for health care is One Island Community, One Island Future, One Island Health System. The single goal for this review was: To ensure the sustainability of the health system and provide improved health services to all Islanders. The Government also announced the creation of the Island Health Advisory Council which will consult with Islanders and recommend an appropriate governance model for the health system.

Research indicates that our population is aging and exhibiting a variety of modifiable risk factors relating to physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity. As in previous years, the rate of chronic diseases continues to rise. As the population ages, so too will the number of people affected by chronic disease. A variety of initiatives are in place which directly or indirectly address current and future levels of chronic disease. Examples include primary care redesign, which includes the continued establishment of family health centres; innovations and improvements in the areas of Pharmacare, home care, wait time guarantees being developed and implemented; and the Clinical Information System/Electronic Health Record to improve health care provider access to timely and accurate information. This ongoing work will improve the overall quality of care and health outcomes for patients. Furthermore, models of service delivery and health care provider roles continue to evolve. Increased adoption of collaborative/interdisciplinary approaches as well as enhancements in the areas of ambulatory care (including the multiyear QEH redevelopment project) and primary care will contribute to chronic disease prevention, treatment, and management.

Collaborative strategies focussed on promoting healthier lifestyles include:

  • the Cancer Control Strategy, which includes a partnership with the PEI Cancer Control Committee, which works to reduce the burden of cancer on PEI by identifying priorities, coordinating efforts, monitoring progress and communicating results from the strategy;
  • the PEI Strategy for Healthy Living, which focuses on tobacco reduction and promoting exercise and good nutrition;
  • the PEI Active Living Alliance, which promotes physical activity through a variety of community initiatives; and
  • the Healthy Aging Strategy, which outlines the future of long-term and continuing care on PEI and builds supports for Island seniors who wish to remain independent in their homes and communities as long as desired and possible.

As PEI is primarily a rural province where a large segment of the population resides outside the main service centres, local access to health services, including acute services delivered through community hospitals, is important to small communities. Rural hospitals have historically played an important role in health care delivery and serve vital and central roles in their respective communities. Rural hospitals and other health services delivered in these areas face a number of challenges, such as the recruitment and retention of health care providers and keeping pace with evolving standards of care and quality.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Physician services are provided to PEI residents by permanent general practitioners and specialists working within the physician complement. As of March 31, 2009 there were the following vacancies in the complement: Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Addiction Services, Radiology, Pathology, Physical Medicine, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology and Radiation Oncology, overall totaling 12.9 full-time equivalent vacant positions. Some of these positions are to be filled in the near future by candidates who have been successfully identified and have accepted offers of employment to work on the Island.

Recruitment to find suitable replacements for the remaining vacancies is ongoing.

When vacancies exist within the physician complement, locum physicians provide coverage to ensure continuous service. For highly specialized consultation and treatment services not available on PEI, residents are referred out-of-province. Examples include sub-specialties of cardiac and neurotrama services, oncology, pediatrics, prenatal, orthopedic, and addiction services. The Department of Health funds the delivery of such approved medical services provided to PEI residents by out-of-province physicians.

The Government is committed to remaining competitive in the recruitment and retention of physicians. In 2006, the Enhanced Physician Recruitment/Retention and Medical Education Strategy was announced that built on existing initiatives and addresses the financial, professional and lifestyle concerns of today's physicians. These enhancements are targeted towards physicians in training, physicians being recruited to Prince Edward Island, and physicians currently in practice on PEI.

In December 2007, the Government announced the development of the PEI Family Medicine Residency Program. Five first year residents were announced in March 2009, to begin training in Prince Edward Island in July 2009, with five more Residents beginning in July 2010. The program provides tremendous training opportunities and is a key component in helping to ensure an adequate number of family doctors in Prince Edward Island.

5.4 Physician Compensation

A collective bargaining process is used to negotiate physician compensation. Bargaining teams are appointed by both physicians and the government to represent their interests in the process. A new three year Physician Master Agreement between the PEI Medical Society, on behalf of Island physicians, and the provincial government was reached and will be in effect until March 31, 2010. The government continues to make additional investments to address areas that will make the health system more competitive so that it can maintain services and increase the success of recruitment and retention efforts for physicians.

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services is the Health Services Payment Act.

Many physicians continue to work on a fee-for-service basis. However, alternate payment plans have been developed and some physicians receive salary, contract and sessional payments. Alternate payment modalities are growing and seem to be the preference for new graduates. Currently, over 65 percent of PEI physicians are compensated under an alternate payment method (non-fee-for-service) as their primary means of remuneration.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

Payments (advances) to provincial hospitals and community hospitals for hospital services are approved for disbursement by the Department in line with cash requirements and are subject to approved budget levels.

The usual funding method includes using a global budget adjusted annually to take into consideration increased costs related to such items as labour agreements, drugs, medical supplies and facility operations.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Prince Edward Island acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer in its 2008-2009 Annual Budget and related budget documents and its 2008-2009 Public Accounts, which were tabled in the Legislative Assembly and are publicly available to Prince Edward Island residents.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Extended health care services are not insured services, except for the insured chronic care beds noted in section 2.1.

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

Nursing home services are available on approval from provincial admission committees for placement into public manors and licensed private nursing homes. There are currently 18 long-term care facilities in the province, 9 public manors and 9 licensed private nursing homes, with a total of 1,012 long term nursing care beds. Nursing home admission is for individuals who require 24-hour registered nurse (nursing care) supervision and care management. The standardized provincial Seniors Assessment Screening Tool is used to determine service needs of residents for all admissions. The Long-Term Care Subsidization Act provides the framework for the provision of services. Residents in manors and private nursing homes are funded by the Department of Health for basic health-related costs. Residents are responsible for the accommodation (room and board) cost as well as their personal expenses. Residents with a net annual income less than $26,500 may qualify for an accommodation payment subsidy and can apply through the Long-term Care Subsidization Program.

In 2008, the Province subsidized 77 percent of residents in nursing homes. The federal government subsidized approximately 8.2 percent of nursing home residents through Veterans Affairs Canada. The remaining 14.8 percent financed their own care.

In addition to nursing home facilities, the system operates several addictions and mental health facilities, including the provincial in-patient psychiatric Hillsborough Hospital which has 18 acute care beds and 57 long term care beds. There are also 37 licensed community care facilities in Prince Edward Island. As of March 31, 2009, the total number of licensed community care facility beds was 1,088. A Community Care Facility is a privately operated, licensed establishment with five or more residents. These facilities provide semi-dependent seniors and semi-dependent physically and mentally challenged adults with accommodation, housekeeping, supervision of daily living activities, meals and personal care assistance for grooming and hygiene. Care needs are assessed using the Seniors Assessment Screening Tool and are at Level 1, 2 or 3. Residents are eligible to apply for financial assistance under the Social Assistance Act Regulations, Part I. It should be noted that payment to community care is the responsibility of the individual. Clients lacking adequate financial resources may apply for financial assistance under the Prince Edward Island Social Assistance Act.

7.2 Home Care Services

Home Care and Support provides assessment and care planning to medically stable individuals, and defined groups of individuals with specialized needs, who, without the support of the formal system, are at risk of being unable to stay in their own home, or are unable to return to their own home from a hospital or other care setting. Services provided through Home Care and Support include nursing, personal care, respite, occupational and physical therapies, adult protection, palliative care, home and community-based dialysis, assessment for nursing home placement and community support. The Senior's Assessment Screening Tool is used to determine the nature and type of service needed. Professional services in home care are currently provided at no cost to the client. Visiting homemaker services are subject to a sliding fee scale based on an individual's income assessment, which is generally waived for palliative care clients.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

Prince Edward Island has public Adult Day Programs that provide services such as recreation, education and socialization for dependent elders. Individuals who require this service are assessed by regional Home Care staff. The overall purpose of adult day programs, is to allow clients to remain in their homes as long as possible, provide respite for care givers, monitor client’s health and provide social interaction. There are Adult Day Programs located across Prince Edward Island.

The Prince Edward Island Dialysis Program is a community-based service that operates under the medical direction and supervision of the Nephrology team at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax.

There are five hemo-dialysis clinics in the province. This is a publicly funded service. Prince Edward Island also offers a hemo-dialysis service to out-of-province/country visitors from the existing clinic locations. The provision of this service is based on the capacity within the clinics and the availability of human resources to provide this treatment at the time of the request. Cost of the service is covered through reciprocal billing if from another Canadian jurisdiction and by the visitor if from out of Canada.

Significant ambulatory care services are also delivered from the two provincial referral hospitals on an outpatient basis. These services include asthma education, cardio-pulmonary testing and treatment, endoscopy, surgery clinics, nursing clinics, nutrition counselling and oncology.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 143,261 144,159 145,047 146,518 142,305
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2.Number (#):
a. acute care 7 7 7 7 7
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
e. total 7 7 7 7 7
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care 125,118,252 129,976,900 137,365,100 143,254,200 147,295,500
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
e. total 125,118,252 129,976,9001 137,365,1001 143,254,2001 147,295,5001
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,163 2,187 2,003 2,253 2,591
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 15,325,267 16,463,548 17,510,188 19,448,899 20,582,454
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 14,368 15,547 15,675 17,867 18,488
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 2,667,968 3,225,803 3,345,624 4,292,114 5,290,630
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 30 25 35 28 34
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 95,719 69,391 105,268 49,616 113,901
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 93 91 96 137 122
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 16,304 17,084 16,179 27,533 33,919
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 98 113 120 111 133
b. specialists 96 98 108 110 123
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. total2 194 211 228 221 256
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not applicable not applicable 0 0 0
b. specialists not applicable not applicable 0 0 0
c. other not applicable not applicable 0 0 0
d. total not applicable not applicable 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) 2,504,320 1,387,070 9,795,8123 14,490,8763 11,897,4573
b. number of records     1,312,5064 1,137,2864 1,219,7124
c. total payments ($) 40,012,026 40,027,386 56,063,6445 61,974,5815 61,445,7805
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 1,197,935 1,052,167 937,707 887,967 893,281
b. number of records     794,706 749,779 772,057
c. total payments ($) 34,423,393 35,226,215 34,543,095 34,973,359 41,123,808
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 48,928 54,269 73,399 77,992 77,830
Number of Records     681 541 751
20. Total payments ($). 4,122,725 4,674,004 5,221,586 6,035,626 5,998,751
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 627 534 746 562 1,053
Number of Records     681 541 751
22. Total payments ($). 21,849 15,844 27,899 23,979 52,601
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 2 3 3 3 3
24. Number of services provided (#). 410 303 442 364 424
Number of records provided     332 263 381
25. Total payments ($). 96,490 115,918 106,708 95,749 149,794

Nova Scotia

Introduction

The Nova Scotia Department of Health's mission is, through leadership and collaboration, to ensure an appropriate, effective, and sustainable health system that promotes, maintains and improves the health of Nova Scotians. This requires that health care services in Nova Scotia are integrated, community-based and sustainable.

In February 2006, the Government of Nova Scotia created a new Department of Health Promotion and Protection that brought together two areas from the Department of Health, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Public Health branch, with Nova Scotia Health Promotion.

The Health Authorities Act, Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2000, established the province's nine District Health Authorities (DHAs) and their community-based supports, Community Health Boards (CHBs). DHAs are responsible for governing, planning, managing, delivering and monitoring health services within each district and for providing planning support to the CHBs. Services delivered by the DHAs include acute and tertiary care, mental health, and addictions.

The province's thirty-seven CHBs develop community health plans with primary health care and health promotion as their foundation. DHAs draw two thirds of their board nominations from CHBs. Their community health plans are part of the DHAs annual business planning process. In addition to the nine DHAs, the IWK Health Centre continues to have separate board, administrative and service delivery structures.

The Department of Health is responsible for setting the strategic direction and standards for health services; ensuring availability of quality health care; monitoring, evaluating and reporting on performance and outcomes; and funding health services. The Department of Health is directly responsible for physician and pharmaceutical services, emergency health, continuing care, and many other insured and publicly funded health programs and services.

Under the Health Authorities Act, the DHAs are required to provide the Minister of Health with monthly and quarterly financial statements and audited year-end financial statements. They are also required to submit annual reports, which provide updates on implementing DHA business plans. These provisions ensure greater financial accountability. The sections of the Health Authorities Act related to financial reporting and business planning came into effect on April 1, 2001.

In January, 2007, the PHSOR Report was officially released. 103 recommendations came out of the report in order to transform Nova Scotia's health care system, making it more effective, efficient, and sustainable for all Nova Scotians now and in the future. The Government supported all 103 recommendations and released a response document which outlined the Government's commitment to health transformation.

Pursuant to the Provincial Finance Act (2000) and government policies and guidelines, the Department of Health is required to release annual accountability reports outlining outcomes against its business plan for that fiscal year. The 2007-2008 accountability report was released in December 2008.

Nova Scotia faces a number of challenges in the delivery of health care services. Nova Scotia's population is aging. Approximately 14.1% of the Nova Scotian population is sixty-five or over and this figure is expected to nearly double by 2026. In response to the needs of our aging population, Nova Scotia has expanded its basket of publicly insured services to include home care, long-term care, and enhanced pharmaceutical coverage. Nova Scotia also has much higher than average rates of chronic diseases such as cancers and diabetes which contribute to the rising costs of health care delivery in Nova Scotia.

In comparison to other provinces, Nova Scotia has the:

  • second highest rate of primary site cancer incidence for males (560) and the highest rate for females (393) per 100,000 population1
  • highest prevalence of diabetes (5.7)2
  • second highest percentage of the population reporting their health as only fair or as poor (14)3
  • second highest rate of colorectal cancer mortal ity for males (33) and the third highest rate for females (21) per 100,000 population4
  • third highest rate of breast cancer mortality (25) per 100,000 population5
  • third highest percentage of the population reporting their mental health as only fair or poor (5.4)6

Other major cost drivers are a highly competitive labour market for health human resources, the increasing costs of pharmaceuticals and aging facility infrastructure. The health care system accounts for more than 33,900 positions across the province. Health care is a labour-intensive service and is sensitive to fluctuations and cost pressures associated with the labour market and health professional workforce. Highly competitive labour markets continue to drive wage and incentive increases, placing additional demands on health care resources. The lack of health human resources also affects service delivery, such as limiting hours for emergency rooms due to a lack of staff. The distribution of staff to rural areas presents challenges for providing high-quality care. As noted in the PHSOR Report7, data from the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations Pension Plan database shows that of the 11,068 staff in key professional groups today, 2,158 or 20% will be eligible for retirement in 2010. By 2015, that number increases to 4,834 or 44%. Continuing with the same approach to health workforce planning and system delivery is not sustainable and a new, more collaborative approach is required.

Despite these ever increasing pressures and challenges, Nova Scotia continues to be committed to the delivery of medically necessary services consistent with the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Additional information related to health care in Nova Scotia may be obtained from the Next link will take you to another Web site Department of Health website at: www.gov.ns.ca/health

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Two plans cover insured health services in Nova Scotia: the Hospital Insurance Plan (HSI) and the Medical Services Insurance Plan (MSI). The Department of Health administers the HSI Plan, which operates under the Health Services and Insurance Act, Chapter 197, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989: sections 3(1), 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 17(1), 18 and 35.

The MSI is administered and operated by an authority consisting of the Department of Health and Medavie Blue Cross (formerly called Atlantic Blue Cross), under the above-mentioned Act (sections 8, 13, 17(2), 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32 and 35).

Section 3 of the Health Services and Insurance Act states that subject to this Act and the Regulations, all residents of the province are entitled to receive insured hospital services from hospitals on uniform terms and conditions. As well, all residents of the province are insured on uniform terms and conditions in respect of the payment of insured professional services to the extent of the established tariff. Section 8 of the Act gives the Minister of Health, with approval of the Governor in Council, the power to enter into agreements and vary, amend or terminate the same with such person or persons as the Minister deems necessary to establish, implement and carry out the MSI Plan.

The Department of Health and Medavie Blue Cross entered into a new service level agreement, effective August 1, 2005. This new ten-year agreement replaced the 1992 Memorandum of Agreement between Medavie and the Department of Health. Under the agreement, Medavie is responsible for operating and administering programs contained under MSI, Pharmacare Programs and Health Card Registration Services.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Medavie is obliged to provide reports to the Department under various Statement of Requirements for each Business Service Description as listed in the contract.

Section 17(1)(i) of the Health Services and Insurance Act, and sections 11(1) and 12(1) of the Hospital Insurance Regulations, under this Act, set out the terms for reporting by hospitals and hospital boards to the Minister of Health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General audits all expenditures of the Department of Health. The Department of Health has a service level agreement in place with Medavie Blue Cross, effective August 1, 2005. An annual audit is performed on this agreement, including Medicare, Pharmacare and Health Card Registration, which has been recommended by the Auditor General's office.

All long-term care facilities, home care and home support agencies are required to provide the Department with annual audited financial statements.

Under section 34(5) of the Health Authorities Act, every hospital board is required to submit to the Minister of Health by July 1st each year, an audited financial statement for the preceding fiscal year.

1.4 Designated Agency

Medavie Blue Cross Care administers and has the authority to receive monies to pay physician accounts under a new service level agreement with the Department of Health, effective August 1, 2005. Medavie Blue Cross Care receives written authorization from the Department for the physicians to whom it may make payments. The rates of pay and specific amounts depend on the physician contract negotiated between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health.

All Medavie Blue Cross Care system development for MSI and Pharmacare is controlled through a joint committee. All MSI and Pharmacare transactions are subject to a review by the Office of the Auditor General.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Nine District Health Authorities and the IWK Health Centre (Women and Children's Tertiary Care Hospital) deliver insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients in Nova Scotia in a total of 35 facilities.8

Accreditation is not mandatory, but all facilities are accredited at a facility or district level. The enabling legislation that provides for insured hospital services in Nova Scotia is the Health Services and Insurance Act, Chapter 197, Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1989: sections 3(1), 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 17(1), 18 and 35, passed by the Legislature in 1958. Hospital Insurance Regulations were made pursuant to the Health Services and Insurance Act.

In-patient services include:

  • accommodation and meals at the standard ward level;
  • necessary nursing services;
  • laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures;
  • drugs, biologicals and related preparations, when administered in a hospital;
  • routine surgical supplies;
  • use of operating room(s), case room(s) and anaesthetic services;
  • use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services for inpatients, where available; and
  • blood or therapeutic blood fractions.

Out-patient services include:

  • laboratory and radiological examinations;
  • diagnostic procedures involving the use of radio-pharmaceuticals;
  • electroencephalographic examinations;
  • use of occupational and physiotherapy facilities, where available;
  • necessary nursing services;
  • drugs, biologicals and related preparations;
  • blood or therapeutic blood fractions;
  • hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures;
  • day-patient diabetic care;
  • services provided by the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Clinics, where available;
  • ultrasonic diagnostic procedures;
  • home parenteral nutrition, where available; and
  • haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, where available.

In order to add a new hospital service to the list of insured hospital services, District Health Authorities are required to submit a New and/or Expanded Program Proposal9 to the Department of Health. This process is carried out annually by request through the business planning process. A Department-developed process format is forwarded to the Districts for their guidance. A Department working group reviews and prioritizes all requests received. Based on available funding, a number of top priorities may be approved by the Minister of Health.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The legislation covering the provision of insured physician services in Nova Scotia is the Health Services and Insurance Act, sections 3(2), 5, 8, 13, 13A, 17(2), 22, 27-31, 35 and the Medical Services Insurance Regulations.

The Health Services and Insurance Act was amended in 2002-2003 to include section 13B stating that: "Effective November 1, 2002, any agreement between a provider and a hospital, or predecessors to a hospital, stipulating compensation for the provision of insured professional services, for the provider undertaking to be on-call for the provision of such services or for the provider to relocate or maintain a presence in proximity to a hospital, excepting agreements to which the Minister and the Society are a party, is null and void and no compensation is payable pursuant to the agreement, including compensation otherwise payable for termination of the agreement."

Under the Health Services and Insurance Act, persons who can provide insured physician services include: general practitioners, who are persons who engage in the general practice of medicine; physicians, who are not specialists within the meaning of the clause; and specialists, who are physicians and are recognized as specialists by the appropriate licensing body of the jurisdiction in which he or she practises.

Physicians (general practitioner or specialist) must be licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Nova Scotia in order to be eligible to bill the MSI system. Dentists receiving payment under the MSI Plan must be registered with the Provincial Dental Board and be recognized as dentists. In 2008-2009, 2,343 physicians and 29 dentists were paid through the MSI Plan.

Physicians retain the ability to opt into or out of the MSI Plan. In order to opt out, a physician notifies MSI, relinquishing his or her billing number. MSI reimburses patients who pay the physician directly due to opting out. As of March 31, 2009, no physicians had opted out.

Insured services are those medically necessary to diagnose, treat, rehabilitate or otherwise alter a disease pattern. There are no limitations on medically necessary insured services.

No new large-scale services were added to the list of insured physician services in 2008-2009. On an as needed basis, new specific fee codes are approved that represent enhancements, new technologies or new ways of delivering a service.

The addition of new fee codes to the list of insured physician services is accomplished through a committee structure. Physicians wishing to have a new fee code recognized or established must first present their cases to Doctors Nova Scotia, which puts a suggested value on the proposed new fee.

The proposal is then passed to the Fee Schedule Advisory Committee for review and approval. The Committee is comprised of equal representation from Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health. When approved by the Committee, the approved proposed new fee is forwarded to the Department of Health for final approval and Medavie Blue Cross Care is directed to add the new fee to the schedule of insured services payable by the MSI Plan.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Under the Nova Scotia Health Services and Insurance Act, a dentist is defined as a person lawfully entitled to practice dentistry in a place where such practice is carried on by that person.

To provide insured surgical-dental services under the Health Services and Insurance Act, dentists must be registered members of the Nova Scotia Dental Association and must also be certified competent in the practice of dental surgery. The Health Services and Insurance Act is so written that a dentist may choose not to participate in the MSI Plan. To participate, a dentist must register with MSI. A participating dentist who wishes to reverse election to participate must advise MSI in writing and is then no longer eligible to submit claims to MSI. As of March 31, 2009, no dentists had opted out. In 2008-2009, 29 dentists were paid through the MSI Plan for providing insured surgical-dental services.

Insured surgical-dental services must be provided in a health care facility. Insured services are detailed in the Department of Health MSI Dentist Manual (Dental Surgical Services Program) and are reviewed annually through the Acute & Tertiary Care Branch as required by Insured Dental Services Tariff Regulations. Services under this program are insured when the conditions of the patient are such that it is medically necessary for the procedure to be done in a hospital and the procedure is of a surgical nature. Generally included as insured surgical-dental services are orthognathic surgery, surgical removal of impacted teeth and oral and maxillary facial surgery. Requests for an addition to the list of surgical-dental services are accomplished by first approaching the Dental Association of Nova Scotia and having them put forward a proposal to the Department of Health for the addition of a new procedure. The Department of Health, in consultation with specific experts in the field, renders the decision as to whether or not the new procedure becomes an insured service.

Effective February 15, 2005, "Other extraction services" (routine extractions) at public expense were approved for the following groups of patients: 1) cardiac patients, 2) transplant patients, 3) immunocompromised patients, and 4) radiation patients.

Routine extractions for these patients will be provided at public expense when and only when, the following criteria have been met. These patients must be undergoing active treatment in a hospital setting and the attendant medical procedure must require the removal of teeth that would otherwise be con sidered routine extractions and not paid at public expense. It is critical/vital to the claims approval process that the dental treatment plans include the name of the Medical Specialist providing the care and that he/she has indicated in writing in the patient's medical treatment plan that the routine dental extractions are required prior to performing the medical treatment/procedure.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include:

  • preferred accommodation at the patient's request;
  • telephones;
  • televisions;
  • drugs and biologicals ordered after discharge from hospital;
  • cosmetic surgery;
  • reversal of sterilization procedures;
  • surgery for sex reassignment;
  • in-vitro fertilization;
  • procedures performed as part of clinical research trials;
  • services such as gastric bypass for morbid obesity, breast reduction/augmentation and newborn circumcision;10
  • services not deemed medically necessary that are required by third parties, such as insurance companies.

Uninsured physician services include:

  • services eligible for coverage under the Workers' Compensation Act or under any other federal or provincial legislation;
  • mileage, travel or detention time;
  • telephone advice or telephone renewal of prescriptions;
  • examinations required by third parties;
  • group immunizations or inoculations unless approved by the Department;
  • preparation of certificates or reports;
  • testimony in court;
  • services in connection with an electrocardiogram, electromyogram or electroencephalogram, unless the physician is a specialist in the appropriate specialty;
  • cosmetic surgery;
  • acupuncture;
  • reversal of sterilization; and
  • in-vitro fertilization.

Major third party agencies purchasing medically necessary health services in Nova Scotia include Workers' Compensation, Department of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

All residents of the province are entitled to services covered under the Health Services and Insurance Act. If enhanced goods and services, such as foldable intraocular lens or fiber glass casts are offered as an alternative, the specialist/physician is responsible to ensure that the patients is aware of their responsibility for the additional cost. Patients are not denied service based on their inability to pay. The Province provides alternatives to any of the enhanced goods and services.

The Department of Health also carefully reviews all patient complaints or public concerns that may indicate that the general principles of insured services are not being followed.

The de-insurance of insured physician services is accomplished through a negotiation process between the Doctors Nova Scotia and the Physician Services Branch of Department of Health, who jointly evaluate a procedure or process to determine whether the services should remain an insured benefit. If a process or procedure is deemed not to be medically necessary, it is removed from the physician fee schedule and will no longer be reimbursed to physicians as an insured service. Once a service has been de-insured, all procedures and testing relating to the provision of that service also become de-insured. The same process applies to dental and hospital services. The last time there was any significant de-insurance of services was in 1997.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility for insured health care services in Nova Scotia is outlined under section 2 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations made pursuant to section 17 of the Health Services and Insurance Act. All residents of Nova Scotia are eligible. A resident is defined as anyone who is legally entitled to stay in Canada and who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Nova Scotia.

A person is considered to be "ordinarily present" in Nova Scotia if the person:

  • makes his or her permanent home in Nova Scotia;
  • is physically present in Nova Scotia for at least 183 days in any calendar year (short term absences under 30 days, within Canada, are not monitored); and
  • is a Canadian citizen or "Permanent Resident" as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another Canadian province will normally be eligible for MSI on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival. Persons moving permanently to Nova Scotia from another country are eligible on the date of their arrival in the province, provided they are Canadian citizens or hold "Permanent Resident" status as defined by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Members of the RCMP, members of the Canadian Forces and federal inmates are ineligible for MSI coverage. When their status changes, they immediately become eligible for provincial Medicare.

There were no changes to eligibility requirements in 2008-2009.

3.2 Registration Requirements

To obtain a health card in Nova Scotia, residents must register with MSI. Once eligibility has been determined, an application form is generated. The applicant (and spouse if applicable) must sign the form before it can be processed. The applicant must indicate on the application the name and mailing address of a witness. The witness must be a Nova Scotia resident who can confirm the information on the application. The applicant must include proof of Canadian citizenship or provide a copy of an acceptable immigration document.

When the application has been approved, health cards will be issued to each family member listed. MSI registration information is maintained as a family unit. Each health card number is unique and is issued for the lifetime of the applicant. Health cards expire every four years. The health card number also acts as the primary health record identifier for all health service encounters in Nova Scotia for the life of the recipient. Proof of eligibility for insured services is required before residents are eligible to receive insured services. Renewal notices are sent to most cardholders three months before the expiry date of the current health card. Upon return of a signed renewal notice, MSI will issue a new health card.

There is no legislation in Nova Scotia forcing resi dents of the province to apply for MSI. There may be residents of Nova Scotia who, therefore, are not members of the health insurance plan.

In 2008-2009, the total number of residents registered with the health insurance plan was 975,206.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

The following persons may also be eligible for insured health care services in Nova Scotia, once they meet the specific eligibility criteria for their situations:

Immigrants: Persons moving from another country to live permanently in Nova Scotia, are eligible for health care on the date of arrival. They must possess a landed immigrant document. These individuals, formerly called "landed immigrants", are now referred to as "Permanent Residents".

Convention Refugees and Non-Canadians married to Canadian Citizens/Permanent Residents (copy of Marriage Certificate required), who possess any other document and who have applied within Canada for Permanent Resident status, will be eligible on the date of application for Permanent Resident status - provided they possess a letter or documentation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada stating that they have applied for Permanent Residence.

Non-Canadians married to Canadian Citizens/ Permanent Residents (copy of Marriage Certificate required), who possess any other document and who have applied outside Canada for Permanent Resident status, will be eligible on the date of arrival - provided they possess a letter or documentation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada stating that they have applied for Permanent Residence.

In 2008-2009, there were 27,770 Permanent Residents registered with the health care insurance plan.

Work Permits: Persons moving to Nova Scotia from outside the country who possess a work permit can apply for coverage on the date of arrival in Nova Scotia, providing they will be remaining in Nova Scotia for at least one full year. A declaration must be signed to confirm that the worker will not be outside Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days, except in the course of employment. MSI coverage is extended for a maximum of 12 months at a time. Each year a copy of their renewed immigration document must be presented and a declaration signed. Dependants of such persons, who are legally entitled to remain in Canada, are granted coverage on the same basis.

Once coverage has terminated, the person is to be treated as never having qualified for health services coverage as herein provided and must comply with the above requirements before coverage will be extended to him/her - or their dependents.

In 2008-2009, there were 2,130 individuals with Employment Authorizations covered under the health care insurance plan.

Study Permits: Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another country, who possess a Study Permit will be eligible for MSI on the first day of the thirteenth month following the month of their arrival, provided they have not been absent from Nova Scotia for more than 31 consecutive days, except in the course of their studies. MSI coverage is extended for a maximum of 12 months at a time and only for services received within Nova Scotia. Each year, a copy of their renewed immigration document must be presented and a declaration signed. Dependants of such persons, who are legally entitled to remain in Canada, will be granted coverage on the same basis, once the student has gained entitlement.

In 2008-2009, there were 882 individuals with Student Authorizations covered under the health care insurance plan.

Refugees: Refugees are eligible for MSI if they possess either a work permit or study permit.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Persons moving to Nova Scotia from another Canadian province or territory will normally be eligible for MSI on the first day of the third month following the month of their arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability is followed in all matters pertaining to portability of insured services.

Generally, the Nova Scotia MSI Plan provides coverage for residents of Nova Scotia who move to other provinces or territories for a period of three months, per the Eligibility and Portability Agreement. Students, and their dependants, who are temporarily absent from Nova Scotia and in full-time attendance at an educational institution, may remain eligible for MSI on a yearly basis. To qualify for MSI, the student must provide, to MSI, a letter directly from the educational institution, which states that they are registered as full-time students. MSI coverage will be extended on a yearly basis pending receipt of this letter.

Workers who leave Nova Scotia to seek employment elsewhere will still be covered by MSI for up to 12 months, provided they do not establish residence in another province, territory or country. Services provided to Nova Scotia residents in other provinces or territories are covered by reciprocal agreements. Nova Scotia participates in the 'Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement' and the 'Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement'. Quebec is the only province that does not participate in the medical reciprocal agreement. Nova Scotia pays for services provided by Quebec physicians to Nova Scotia resi dents at Quebec rates if the services are insured in Nova Scotia. The majority of such claims are received directly from Quebec physicians. In-patient hospital services are paid through the interprovincial reciprocal billing arrangement at the standard ward rate of the hospital providing the service. The total amounts paid by the plan in 2008-2009, for in and out-patient hospital services received in other provinces and territories was $27,482,997.

Nova Scotia pays the host province rates for insured services in all reciprocal-billing situations.

There were no changes made in Nova Scotia in 2008-2009 regarding in-Canada portability.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Nova Scotia adheres to the Agreement on Eligibility and Portability for dealing with insured services for residents temporarily outside Canada. Provided a Nova Scotia resident meets eligibility requirements, out-of-country services will be paid, at a minimum, on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by Nova Scotia for similar services rendered in this province. Ordinarily, to be eligible for coverage, residents must not be outside the country for more than six months in a calendar year. In order to be covered, procedures of a non-emergency nature must have prior approval before they will be covered by MSI.

Students and their dependants who are temporarily absent from Nova Scotia and in full-time attendance at an educational institution outside Canada may remain eligible for MSI on a yearly basis. To qualify for MSI, the student must provide to MSI, a letter obtained from the educational institution that verifies the student's attendance there in each year for which MSI coverage is requested.

Persons who engage in employment (including volunteer/missionary work/research) outside Canada, which does not exceed 24 months, are still covered by MSI; providing the person has already met the residency requirements.

Emergency out-of-country services are paid at a minimum on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by Nova Scotia for similar services rendered in this province. The total amount spent in 2008-2009 for insured in-patient services provided outside Canada was $1,190,016.

There were no changes made in Nova Scotia in 2008-2009 regarding out-of-Canada portability.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval must be obtained for elective services outside the country. Application for prior approval is made to the Medical Director of the MSI Plan by a specialist in Nova Scotia on behalf of an insured resident. The medical consultant reviews the terms and conditions and determines whether or not the service is available in the province, or if it can be provided in another province or only out-of-country. The decision of the Medical Consultant is relayed to the patient's referring specialist. If approval is given to obtain service outside the country, the full cost of that service will be covered under MSI.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Insured services are provided to Nova Scotia residents under uniform terms and conditions. There are no user charges or extra charges allowed under the plan.

Nova Scotia continually reviews access situations across Canada to ensure equitability of access. In areas where improvement is deemed necessary, depending on the Province's financial situation, extra funding is generally allocated to that need. Based on the previous acceptance of the recommendations of the Provincial Osteoporosis Committee report, which included placing new bone density units in Sydney and Yarmouth and operating the Truro unit at full capacity, an additional five units have been operationalized across the province. In Fiscal 2007/08, the provision of bilateral cochlear implants was approved for both children and adults who meet the requirements. To address the issue of ever increasing orthopaedic wait lists the Department of Health approved a contract with a private surgical facility to carry out minor orthopaedic surgeries. The procedures are done by Capital District surgeons and anaesthetists. The patients are taken from the current public wait lists, there is no queue-jumping and there is no charge for the patients. The facility operates as an extension of the Capital Health Department of Surgery. This is a one year demonstration project that is undergoing a strict evaluation. It is anticipated that in excess of 500 patients will be seen at this facility with the added benefit of freeing up space at Capital Health for more joint replacements.

A Logic Model Evaluation of this pilot project was completed in February 2009. The key findings showed that of the 500 procedures completed the cost per procedure, including the hourly facility fee of $500 was 20-30% lower than the cost in our public facilities. Patient satisfaction rates were above 99%. An additional 235 arthroplasties were completed at the QEll Health Sciences Centre because of the space and financial saving associated with completing the minor surgeries at SSI.11

In addition to this project the Department of Health and Capital Health are embarking on the establishment of an Orthopaedic Assessment Clinic with the involvement of Bone & Joint Decade. This is being undertaken to address the long orthopaedic wait list in the Halifax area. This ongoing project has reduced the wait time from GP referral to Specialist consultation from up to 18 months to 8-12 weeks.12

In addition to the latest diffusion of the four MRIs located in four rural areas (Antigonish, New Glasgow, Kentville, and Yarmouth) to increase rural access and reduce provincial wait times and the replacement of two MRIs at the Capital District Health Authority in Halifax, four new 64-slice computed tomography units have been installed/replaced in Halifax (2) and two rural sites. Further, the Truro Regional Hospital replacement which is expected to open in the 3rd quarter 2010/2011 will be equipped with an MRI suite.

The previously approved Positron Emission Tomography Program (PET/CT) became operational on June 13, 2008. Initially, approval funding is to provide a maximum of 1500 scans per year. In addition to the PET/CT project, the province has approved funding for a cyclotron to provide local access to the required isotopes. It is expected that the cyclotron will be operational in the third quarter of fiscal year 2009/2010.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

The Government of Nova Scotia continues to emphasize the provision of sustainable, quality health care services to its citizens.

In 2008-2009, a total of $11.0 million in funding was provided to train, recruit and retain nurses. Since the start of the nursing strategy, at least 80% new graduates have renewed their license to practice in Nova Scotia.

Table 1 provides a breakdown of key health professions that are licensed to practice in Nova Scotia. Not all of these health professionals were actively involved in delivering insured health services.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

In 2008-2009, 2,343 physicians and 29 dentists actively provided insured services under the Canada Health Act or provincial legislation. Innovative funding solutions such as block funding and personal services contracts have enhanced recruitment

The Province has increased the capacity for medical education for both Canadian medical students and internationally educated physicians, coordinates ongoing recruitment activities and has provided funding to create a re-entry program for general practitioners wishing to enter specialty training after completing two years of general practice service in the province.

Table 1: Health Personnel in Nova Scotia13
Health Occupation Registered/Licensed to Practice
Physicians 2,343
Dentists14 528
Registered Nurses 9,655
Licensed Practical Nurses 3,588
Medical Radiation Technologists 551
Respiratory Therapists 252
Pharmacists 1,178
Occupational Therapists 384
Speech-Language Pathologists 190
Chiropractors 112
Opticians 199
Optomotrists 101
Denturists 44
Dieticians 450
Psychologists 495
Physiotherapists 532

5.4 Physician Compensation

The Health Services and Insurance Act, RS Chapter 197 governs payment to physicians and dentists for insured services. Physician payments are made in accordance with a negotiated agreement between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Department of Health. Doctors Nova Scotia is recognized as the sole bargaining agent in support of physicians in the province. When negotiations take place, representa tives from Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health negotiate the total funding and other terms and conditions. The agreement lays out what the medical services unit value will be for physician services and addresses other issues such as Canadian Medical Protective Association, membership benefits, emergency department payments, on-call funding, specific fee adjustments, dispute resolution pro cesses, and other process or consultation issues.

Fee-for-service is still the most prevalent method of payment for physician services. However, there has been significant growth in the number of alternative payment arrangements in place in Nova Scotia.

Over the past number of years, we have seen a significant shift toward alternative payment. In the 1997-1998 fiscal year, about 9 percent of our doc tors were paid solely through alternative funding. In 2008-2009, 27 percent of physicians were remu nerated exclusively through alternative funding. Approximately 66 percent of physicians receive some portion of their remuneration through alternative funding. They can be broken down into three groups:

  1. Academic Funding Plan - (these physicians are mainly located in Halifax at the QEII and the IWK centres). Most of the Academic Specialist groups are on alternate funding arrangements with the exception of Urology, Adult Radiology and Ophthalmology.
  2. Currently there are regional specialist contracts for anaesthesiology, geriatrics, neonatology, pae diatrics, obstetrics/gynaecology, and palliative care.
  3. There are also contract arrangements available to general practitioners in certain rural areas and General Practitioner/Nurse Practitioner contracts that support collaborative practice teams in des ignated areas.

Alternative funding mechanisms include Sessional, Psychiatry, Remote Practice, Facility On-Call and Emergency Room funding. In total, over 65 percent of physicians in Nova Scotia receive all or a portion of their remuneration through alternative funding mechanisms.

In 2008-2009, total payments to physicians for insured services in Nova Scotia were $598,546,450. The Department paid an additional $7,671,840 for insured physician services provided to Nova Scotia residents outside the province, but within Canada.

Payment rates for dental services in the province are negotiated between the Department of Health and the Nova Scotia Dental Association and follow a process similar to physician negotiations. Dentists are paid on a fee-for-service basis. The current agreement took effect April 1, 2008 and will expire on March 31, 2013.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Department of Health establishes budget targets for health care services. It does this by receiving busi ness plans from the nine (9) District Health Authorities (DHAs), the IWK Health Centre and other non-DHA organizations. Approved provincial estimates form the basis on which payments are made to these organiza tions for service delivery.

The Health Authorities Act was given Royal Assent on June 8, 2000. The Act instituted the nine DHAs & the IWK that replaced the former regional health boards. This change came into effect in January 2001, under the District Health Authorities General Regulations. The implementation of community health boards under the Community Health Boards Member Selection Regulations was effective as of April 2001. The DHAs/IWK are responsible (section 20 of the Act) for overseeing the delivery of health services in their districts and are fully accountable for explaining their decisions on the community health plans through their business plan submissions to the Department of Health.

Section 10 of the Health Services and Insurance Act and sections 9 through 13 of the Hospital Insurance Regulations define the terms for payments by the Minister of Health to hospitals for insured hospital services.

In 2008-2009, there were 3,034 hospital beds in Nova Scotia (3.0 beds per 1,000 population). Department of Health direct expenditures for insured hospital services operating costs were increased to $1.4 billion.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

In Nova Scotia, the Health Services and Insurance Act acknowledges the federal contribution regarding the cost of insured hospital services and insured health services provided to provincial residents. The residents of Nova Scotia are aware of ongoing federal contributions to Nova Scotia health care through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) as well as other federal funds through press releases and media coverage.

The Government of Nova Scotia also recognized the federal contribution under the CHT in various published documents including the following documents released in 2008-2009:

  • Public Accounts 2008-2009; and
  • Budget Estimates 2008-2009.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

The Nova Scotia Department of Health's Continuing Care branch offers home care and long-term care services. These services promote independence, fairness, equity, and choice for people with care needs. The Department of Health provides a Single Entry Access to its continuing care services. Nova Scotians can connect with Continuing Care through a single toll-free number.

In 2006, the Department of Health released a broad based, multi-year Continuing Care strategy that will see the addition of long-term care beds and the expansion and enhancement of community and home based services over the ensuing five to ten years.

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

The Department of Health provides residentially-based long-term care services in the following facility types: Nursing Homes & Homes for the Aged which provide a range of personal care and/or skilled nursing care to individuals who require ongoing access to professional nursing services; Residential Care Facilities which provide accommodation, personal care and/ or supervisory care to four or more individuals in a residential setting; and Community Based Options which provide accommodation, personal care and/or supervisory care for three or less residents. Residents who live in nursing homes, residential care facilities and community-based options under the Department of Health's mandate have the costs of their health care services covered by the provincial government. Residents pay the accommodation cost portion of the long-term care services they receive. There is a daily Standard Accommodation Charge for each long-term care facility type. Subject to an income test, some residents may have accommodation costs subsidized through a reduction in the Standard Accommodation Charge. For more information please see: www.gov.ns.ca/health/ccs/ltc.htm

7.2 Home Care Services

Broad-based, provincially funded home care services are available to Nova Scotians of all ages and help individuals to reach and maintain their maximum level of health and to support independent living in the community. Both chronic care services over the longer term and short-term acute services are provided through home care. Home care services can be provided to people who are chronically ill, convalescent, palliative, disabled or to individuals with an acute illness. The services available to individuals through home care include professional nursing care, assistance with personal care, nutritional care, aid with home making activities, home oxygen services and respite care. The program also provides referrals to and linkages with other services such as adult day programs, community based equipment loan programs, volunteer services, meals on wheels and community rehabilitation services. The Department of Health also offers a Self-managed Care service component to assist physically disabled Nova Scotians to increase control over their lives. The Self-managed Care program provides funds to eligible individuals so that they may directly employ caregivers to meet their home support and personal care needs.

In addition to the services outlined above, the following services and programs are provided to Nova Scotians outside the requirements of the Canada Health Act.

Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program - This provincial drug insurance plan helps seniors manage their prescription drug costs. Eligible persons include all residents aged 65 years or older and who do not have prescription drug coverage through Veterans Affairs Canada, First Nations and Inuit Health, or a private drug plan. The program provides access to prescription drugs, and diabetic and ostomy supplies listed as benefits in the Nova Scotia Formulary. Persons using this program are responsible for co-payments of 33 percent of the prescription cost with an annual maximum of $382. General information regarding Next link will take you to another Web site Pharmacare can be found at:www.nspharmacare.ca

Special Funding for Drugs for Specific Disease States - The Province provides special funding for drug therapies for a few specific disease states including cystic fibrosis, diabetes insipidus, cancer and growth hormone deficiency. There are no user charges for this coverage. General information regarding Next link will take you to another Web site Drug Programs and Funding can be found at: www.nspharmacare.ca

Nova Scotia Family Pharmacare Program - This provincial drug insurance plan began in March 2008 and is designed provide prescription drug coverage to Nova Scotians who are at risk of having unmet drug needs because they are uninsured or underinsured. The program is available to all residents of Nova Scotia; however people cannot receive benefits from the Family Pharmacare and Senior's Pharmacare or Diabetes Assistance or Community Services Income Assistance Pharmacare at the same time. There are no premiums to join Family Pharmacare, and the program's co-payment and deductible have yearly maximums that are set depending on a family's annual income. General information regarding Next link will take you to another Web site Pharmacare can be found at:www.nspharmacare.ca

Diabetes Assistance Program - In 2005-2006, $2.5 million was allocated to design and start this program. This program helps cover the cost of most diabetes medications and supplies and is available to Nova Scotians under 65 years of age who have no other drug coverage. General Next link will take you to another Web site information on this program is available at: www.nspharmacare.ca

Emergency Health Services

Pre-hospital and Out of Hospital Emergency Care - Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia (EHS) is responsible for the continual development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of pre-hospital and out of hospital emergency health services in Nova Scotia. EHS integrates various pre-hospital and out of hospital services and programs into one system to meet the needs of Nova Scotians. These services include: EHS ground ambulance system, EHS LifeFlight (the provincial air medical transport system), the EHS Medical Communications Centre, Medical Oversight (Management and Direction), the EHS NS Trauma Program, EHS Atlantic Health Training and Simulation Centre and the EHS Medical First Response program. This integrated provincewide system has been rated in the top 10 percent of systems in North America. Nova Scotia residents are typically levied a user charge of $130.60, to be transported to hospital by ambulance (regardless of distance). There is no charge to the patient for transport from hospital to hospital.

Children's Oral Health program (COHP)

This program has two components: 1) the Insured Services Treatment component provides diagnostic, preventative and restorative services; and 2) the Public Health Services component provides prevention-oriented activities through the application of public health initiatives. Children are eligible for services up to the end of the month in which they turn 10 years of age.

Special Dental Plans

This covers all dental services required, including prosthetics and orthodontics required by persons diagnosed as having a cleft palate cranofacial disorder; as well as in-hospital and office delivered dental services provided to those diagnosed as being severely mentally challenged. Maxillofacial prosthodontic services are also included within this group of services.

Diagnostic, preventive and restorative procedures to residents of the Nova Scotia School for the Blind are provided by the Paediatric Dentistry Program of the IWK Health Centre.

Beneficiaries covered are: patients registered with the Cleft Palate Cranofacial Clinic at the IWK Health Centre; registered students at the School for the Blind; patients with a signed statement to the effect that they are severely mentally challenged and require hospitalization for dental treatment; and those residents requiring the services of a maxillofacial prosthodontist.

Mental Health Services

The IWK Heath Centre and the District Health Authorities (DHAs), provide mental health services to Nova Scotians of all ages. A continuum of services is available across five core program areas: promotion, prevention and advocacy, outpatient and outreach services, community mental health supports, inpatient services and specialty services. These specialty services include: eating disorders, forensic mental health, seniors mental health, early psychosis, concurrent mental health and substance abuse disorders and neuro-developmental disorders for children and youth. Specialty services are located in the more heavily populated areas of the province and are accessible through all DHAs. This continuum of services is publicly funded.

Nova Scotia Addiction Services

In Nova Scotia, the provision of Addiction Services is regionalized. Addiction services are provided through nine DHAs and the IWK Health Centre. These organizations are responsible for coordinating prevention and treatment services related to drugs, alcohol and gambling. In some cases service delivery is provided via a shared service arrangement between two or three DHAs. The provincial Department of Health and the Department of Health Promotion and Protection are jointly responsible for setting provincial directions in substance abuse prevention and treatment, establishing and monitoring provincial standards for addiction services, monitoring the quality of prevention and treatment services across the system, supporting a provincial client data base, and maintaining provincial alcohol and other drug use monitoring and surveillance system. The Departments work to ensure that there is provincial coordination around addiction prevention and treatment issues and support knowledge development and exchange opportunities throughout the province.

Programs and services are offered on out-patient, day or residential basis.

Specific services include:

  • Prevention and community education;
  • Community Based Services, including:
  • Adolescent Services;
  • Driving While Impaired and Ignition Interlock;
  • Nicotine Treatment;
  • Problem Gambling Services;
  • Women's Services;
  • Withdrawal Management;
  • Structured Treatment Program; and
  • Methadone Maintenance Treatment.

Client needs are viewed holistically and services are tailored to meet individual needs. Treatment plans are based on a comprehensive assessment and may include a combination of individual, family and group therapy. Addiction services staff work in partnership with many other community services to ensure that clients are able to access the ranges of services necessary for recovery.

Optometric Benefit

This benefit provides insurance for visual analysis carried out by optometrists. Vision analysis is defined as: "... an examination that includes the determination of: 1) the refractive status of the eye; 2) the presence of any observed abnormality in the visual system, and all necessary tests and prescriptions connected with such determination." Coverage is limited to one routine vision analysis every two years for those under 10 years of age and those 65 and over. Those between 10 and 65 are not covered for routine analyses, but are covered where medical need is indicated.

Prosthetic Services

All insured residents of the province are eligible for financial assistance in acquiring and replacing standard arm and leg prostheses prescribed by a qualified physician and repairs on such prostheses as required. Patients are responsible for all costs over and above stated coverage.

Interpreter Service Program

This program guarantees equal access to government services, offered to the general public, to eligible deaf and hard of hearing residents of Nova Scotia.

Speech and Language Pathology Program

The service options of this program include: 1) one-to-one therapy; 2) small-group therapy; and 3) consultations (e.g. classroom, day-cares, developmental preschools, and residential facilities for individuals with special needs). The Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres provide specialized services such as dysphagia (swallowing) programs and pervasive developmental delay programs at limited locations in the province. There are no user charges. Eligible persons include children from birth to school age and individuals when they leave school through their adult lifespan. Provincial school boards service children in the public school system.

Out of Province Travel and Accommodation:

Nova Scotians can face health challenges that require medically insured services that are not available in the province. In 2009/10 the Department will develop a new out-of-province travel and accommodation policy to help support individuals needing access to care outside of Nova Scotia.

French Language Services Plan:

Through the creation of the French Language Services Act and the development of the French Language Services Regulations, The Department of Health has committed to increasing access to health services for French speaking minority communities. This includes addressing the needs of the Acadian and Francophone communities of Nova Scotia through the development of a French Language Services Plan.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 961,089 963,993 965,044 970,450 975,206
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2.Number (#):
a. acute care 35 35 35 35 35
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
e. total 35 35 35 35 35
3. Payments for insured health services ($):15
a. acute care 1,133,215,533 1,230,549,093 1,301,306,116 1,367,828,540 1,406,145,241
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
e. total 1,133,215,533 1,230,549,093 1,301,306,116 1,367,828,540 1,406,145,241
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 1 1
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. Total 0 0 0 1 1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 016 016
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. Total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,335 2,252 2,154 2,257 2,310
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 15,795,451 16,285,032 14,502,141 16,726,553 15,924,363
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 34,166 37,811 41,729 42,569 42,089
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 6,107,316 7,345,702 8,269,002 8,946,688 11,558,634
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). not available not available not available not available not available
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 678,205 1,495,313 727,586 1,257,620 1,190,016
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 905 948 944 943 964
b. specialists 1,235 1,270 1,333 1,341 1,372
c. other 27 2 5 6 7
d. total 2,167 2,220 2,282 2,290 2,343
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 not applicable not applicable
b. specialists 0 0 0 not applicable not applicable
c. other 0 0 0 not applicable not applicable
d. total 0 0 0 not applicable not applicable
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) 9,290,207 9,599,128 9,569,146 9,591,989 9,806,908
b. total payments ($) 464,685,571 540,495,196 581,817,423 555,659,788 598,546,450
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 6,353,382 6,553,774 6,357,622 6,223,067 6,284,680
b. total payments ($) 246,724,107 254,621,655 255,007,711 258,751,069 266,174,648
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 188,118 198,262 205,237 212,404 215,490
20. Total payments ($). 5,866,887 6,619,938 7,091,572 7,606,977 7,671,840
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 3,111 2,981 2,931 2,701 3,051
22. Total payments ($). 151,175 151,414 153,937 134,729 161,555
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 25 33 29 27 29
24. Number of services provided (#).17 4,343 5,169 5,321 5,831 6,254
25. Total payments ($).18 995,966 1,060,006 1,122,126 1,215,333 1,374,645

New Brunswick

Introduction

New Brunswick remains committed to the five fundamental principles of the Canada Health Act (CHA), a commitment which is evident both in the day to day functioning of the various elements of New Brunswick's health system, and in new initiatives announced or implemented in 2008-2009.

April 1, 2008, witnessed the introduction of a new provincial health plan: Advancing Health Care by Putting Patients First. This plan will guide the provincial health system through 2012, focusing on six pillars:

  • achieving a better balance between the need to promote good health and provide health care for those who are ill;
  • enhancing access to health services when, where and how they are needed;
  • improving the overall efficiency of the health-care system;
  • harnessing innovation to improve safety, effectiveness, quality and efficiency;
  • making quality count in the planning, implementation and delivery of all health-care services; and
  • engaging partners in all aspects of health-care delivery.

In concert with the new Plan, work began to renew the health system's governance structure. The number of Regional Health Authorities (RHA) was reduced to two:

  • Bathurst-based RHA A replaced RHA 1 Beauséjour (Moncton), RHA 4 (Edmundston), RHA 5 (Campbellton) and RHA 6 (Bathurst).
  • Miramichi-based RHA B replaced RHA1 South East (Moncton), RHA 2 (Saint John), RHA 3 (Fredericton), and RHA 7 (Miramichi).

Intended to better ensure standardized care throughout the province, the action also replaced the existing RHA boards with new 17-member boards of directors, appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council based on demonstrated competencies. In addition, two further agencies were created as of the same date, to assume specific roles:

  • Facilicorp NB was established to assume the provision of a number of non-clinical services on behalf of the RHAs. Currently responsible to provide Materials Management and Information Technology services to the RHAs, Facilicorp's role will expand over time to include accounts payable/receivable and payroll, clinical engineering, energy retrofitting, and laundry services.
  • The New Brunswick Health Council was established to measure, monitor and evaluate New Brunswick's health system performance through a dual mandate of public engagement and evaluating population health and health service quality.

Both the RHAs and these two new agencies assumed full operational responsibilities on September 1, 2008.

These actions, and a number of associated investments in services in some ways mirror the Canada Health Act's principles (e.g. Enhancing Access), while in other ways reflect CHA principles implicitly. The transformed governance structure expresses New Brunswick's ongoing commitment to health care's public administration, while exploring options to improve integration, efficiency, quality, and accessibility.

As these initiatives and others become fully implemented, their workings and refinement will continue within the context of the CHA principles, and New Brunswick's obligations to its citizens.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

In New Brunswick, the health care insurance plan is known as the Medical Services Plan. The public authority responsible for operating and administering the plan is the Minister of Health ("Minister"), whose authority rests under the Medical Services Payment Act and its Regulations.

The Medical Services Payment Act and Regulations specify eligibility criteria, the rights of the beneficiary and the responsibilities of the provincial authority, including the establishment of a medical service plan, the insured and the uninsured services. The legislation also stipulates the type of agreements the provincial authority may enter into with provinces and territories and with the New Brunswick Medical Society. As well, it specifies the rights of a medical practitioner; how the amounts to be paid for entitled services will be determined; how assessment of accounts for entitled services may be made; and confidentiality and privacy issues as they relate to the administration of the Medical Services Payment Act.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Medicare - Insured Services Branch and the Medicare - Eligibility and Claims Branch of the Department of Health (the "Department") are mandated to administer the Medical Services Plan. The Minister reports to the Legislative Assembly through the Department's annual report and through regular legislative processes.

The Regional Health Authorities Act establishes the RHAs and sets forth the powers, duties and responsibilities of same. The Minister is responsible for the administration of the Act, provides direction to the RHAs and may delegate additional powers, duties or functions to an RHA.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Three groups have a mandate to audit the Medical Services Plan.

  1. The Office of the Auditor General: In accordance with the Auditor General Act, the Office of the Auditor General conducts the external audit of the accounts of the Province of New Brunswick, which includes the financial records of the Department. For 2008-2009, all financial transactions of the Department were subject to audit. These procedures are completed on a routine basis each year. Following the audit, the Auditor General issues a management letter or report to identify errors and control weaknesses. The Auditor General also conducts management reviews on programs as he or she sees fit and follows up on prior years' audits. For 2008-2009, the Auditor General also reported on the Fee for Service Physicians' Retention Fund, and followed up on prior recommendations regarding the Prescription Drug Program and the Health Levy.
  2. The Office of the Comptroller: The Comptroller is the chief internal auditor for the Province of New Brunswick and provides accounting, audit and consulting services in accordance with responsibilities and authority set out in the Financial Administration Act. The Comptroller's internal audit objectives cover Appropriations Audits, Information Systems Audits, Statutory Audits and Value-For-Money Audits. The audit work performed by the Office varies, depending on the nature of the entity audited and the audit objectives. During 2008-2009, the Office of the Comptroller performed audits of payments made by the Department of Health.
  3. Department of Health Internal Audit Branch: (1) The Department's Internal Audit Branch was established to independently review and evaluate departmental activities as a service to all levels of management. This group is responsible for providing departmental management with information about the adequacy and the effectiveness of its system of internal controls and adherence to legislation and stated policy. The Branch also performs program audits to report on the efficiency, effectiveness and economy of programs in meeting departmental objectives. During 2008-09, the Branch continued work on a review of Medicare card usage. (2) In accordance with the Medical Services Payment Act, the Audit section of Medicare - Eligibility and Claims is responsible for auditing physician payments to ensure they are made in accordance with the Medical Service Plan. When appropriate, funds are recovered from physicians.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Legislation providing for insured hospital services includes the Hospital Services Act, section 9 of Regulation 84-167 and the Hospital Act. At the beginning of fiscal 2008-09 there were eight RHAs established under the authority of the Regional Health Authorities Act; the number was reduced to two RHAs effective September 1, 2008. Each RHA includes regional hospital facilities and a number of smaller facilities, all of which provide insured services for both in- and out-patients. Each RHA has health facilities and health centres without designated beds that provide a range of services to entitled persons.

Under Regulation 84-167 of the Hospital Services Act, New Brunswick residents are entitled to the following in-patient and out-patient insured hospital services.

In-patient services include:

  • accommodation and meals at the standard ward level;
  • necessary nursing service;
  • laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat any injury, illness or disability;
  • drugs, biological and related preparations;
  • use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies, and routine surgical supplies;
  • use of radiotherapy facilities, where available;
  • use of physiotherapy facilities, where available; and
  • services rendered by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the RHA.

Out-patient services in a hospital facility operated by an approved RHA are as follows:

  • laboratory and diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations when referred by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner, when approved facilities are available;
  • laboratory and diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations, where approved facilities are available, when performed for the purpose of a mammography screening service that has been approved by the Minister of Health;
  • the hospital component of available outpatient services when prescribed by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner and provided in an out-patient facility of an approved RHA, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat any injury, illness or disability, excluding the following services:
    • the provision of any proprietary medicines;
    • the provision of medications for the patient to take home;
    • diagnostic services performed to satisfy the requirements of third parties, such as employers and insurance companies;
    • visits solely for the administration of drugs, vaccines, sera or biological products; and
    • any out-patient service that is an entitled service under the Medical Services Payment Act.

The process for adding a hospital service to the list of insured services involves the Department receiving a proposal from a RHA or other stakeholder, who is then screened for eligibility against the criteria for insured hospital services described under the Hospital Services Act and its Regulations.

On March 31, 2009, 53 facilities existed in New Brunswick which delivered insured hospital services to in-patients or out-patients. Many of these provided more than one type of care (e.g. both acute and chronic care), but the breakdown of facilities by their primary function was:

  • 22 provided acute care,
  • 0 provided chronic care,
  • 1 provided rehabilitative care, and
  • 30 provided other (e.g., Community Health Centre).

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation providing for insured physician services is the Medical Services Payment Act and corresponding Regulations.

No changes pertaining to physician services were introduced to this Act and regulations during fiscal 2008-2009.

The New Brunswick Medical Services Plan covers physicians who provide medically required services. The conditions that a physician must meet to participate in the New Brunswick Medical Services Plan are:

  • maintain current licensure with the New Brunswick College of Physicians and Surgeons;
  • maintain membership in the New Brunswick Medical Society;
  • hold privileges in a RHA; and
  • signing of the Participating Physicians Agreement.

The number of physicians with an active status as of March 31, 2009, was 1,500, of which 730 were general practitioners, and 770 specialists.

Physicians in New Brunswick have the option to opt out totally or for selected services. Totally opted-out practitioners are not paid directly by Medicare for the services they render and must bill patients directly in all cases. Patients are not entitled to reimbursement from Medicare for services rendered by totally opted-out physicians.

The selective opting-out provision may not be invoked in the case of an emergency or for continuation of care commenced on an opted-in basis. Opted-in physicians wishing to opt out for a service must first obtain the patient's agreement to be treated on an opted-out basis, after which they may bill the patient directly for the service. In these instances the following procedures must be adhered to.

The physician must advise the patient in advance and:

  • the charges must not exceed the Medicare tariff. The practitioner must complete the specified Medicare claim forms and indicate the exact total amount charged to the patient. The beneficiary seeks reimbursement by certifying on the claim form that the services have been received and forwarding the claim form to Medicare;
  • if the charges will be in excess of the Medicare tariff, the practitioner must inform the beneficiary before rendering the service that:
    • they are opting out and charging fees above the Medicare tariff;
    • in accepting service under these conditions, the beneficiary waives all rights to Medicare reimbursement; and
    • the patient is entitled to seek services from another practitioner who participates in the Medical Services Plan.
  • the physician must obtain a signed waiver from the patient on the specified form and forward such form to Medicare.

As of March 31, 2009, no physicians rendering health care services had elected to completely opt out of the New Brunswick Medical Services Plan.

The range of entitled services under Medicare includes the medical portion of all services rendered by medical practitioners that are medically required. It also includes certain surgical-dental procedures when performed by a physician or a dental surgeon in a hospital facility. The range of non-entitled services is set out under Schedule 2, Regulation 84-20 and the Medical Services Payment Act.

An individual, a physician or the Department may request the addition of a new service. All requests are considered by the New Service Items Committee, which is jointly managed by the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Department. The decision to add a new service is usually based on conformity to "medically necessary" and whether the service is considered generally acceptable practice (not experimental) within New Brunswick and Canada. Considerations under the term "medically necessary" include services required for maintaining health, preventing disease and/or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability. No public consultation process is used.

No physician services were added or deleted during fiscal 2008-2009.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Schedule 4 of Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act, identifies the insured surgical-dental services that can be provided by a qualified dental practitioner in a hospital, providing the condition of the patient requires services to be rendered in a hospital. In addition, a general dental practitioner may be paid to assist another dentist for medically required services under some conditions.

In addition to Schedule 4 of Regulation 84-20, Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMS) have added access to approximately 300 service codes in the Physician Manual and can admit and discharge patients in addition to performing physical examinations. The array of services includes those performed in an outpatient setting.

The conditions that an OMS and a dental practitioner must meet to participate in the medical plan are:

  • maintaining current registration with the New Brunswick Dental Society; and
  • completing the Participating Physician's Agreement (included in the New Brunswick Medicare Dental registration form).

As of March 31, 2009, there were 94 OMSs and dentists registered with the Plan.

OMSs and Dentists have the same opting out provision as physicians (see section 2.2) and must follow the same guidelines. The Department has no data for the number of non-enrolled dental practitioners in New Brunswick.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include the following: patent medicines; take-home drugs; third-party requests for diagnostic services; visits to administer drugs, vaccines, sera or biological products; televisions and telephones; preferred accommodation at the patient's request; and hospital services directly related to services listed under Schedule 2 of the Regulation under the Medical Services Payment Act.

Services are not insured if provided to those entitled under other statutes.

The services listed in Schedule 2 of New Brunswick Regulation 84-20 under the Medical Services Payment Act are specifically excluded from the range of entitled medical services under Medicare, namely:

  • elective surgery or other services for cosmetic purposes;
  • correction of inverted nipple;
  • breast augmentation;
  • otoplasty for persons over the age of 18;
  • removal of minor skin lesions, except where the lesions are, or are suspected to be, pre-cancerous;
  • abortion, unless the abortion is performed by a specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology in a hospital facility approved by the jurisdiction in which the hospital facility is located and two medical practitioners certify in writing that the abortion was medically required;
  • surgical assistance for cataract surgery unless such assistance is required because of risk of procedural failure, other than the risk inherent in removing the cataract itself, due to the existence of an illness or other complication;
  • medicines, drugs, materials, surgical supplies or prosthetic devices;
  • vaccines, serums, drugs and biological products listed in sections 106 and 108 of New Brunswick Regulation 88-200 under the Health Act;
  • advice or prescription renewal by telephone which is not specifically provided for in the Schedule of Fees;
  • examinations of medical records or certificates at the request of a third party, or other services required by hospital regulations or medical by-laws;
  • dental service provided by a medical practitioner or an OMS;
  • services that are generally accepted within New Brunswick as experimental or that are provided as applied research;
  • services that are provided in conjunction with, or in relation to, the services referred to above;
  • testimony in a court or before any other tribunal;
  • immunization, examinations or certificates for travel, employment, emigration, insurance purposes, or at the request of any third party;
  • services provided by medical practitioners or OMS to members of their immediate family;
  • psychoanalysis;
  • electrocardiogram (ECG) where not performed by a specialist in internal medicine or paediatrics;
  • laboratory procedures not intended as part of an examination or consultation fee;
  • refractions;
  • services provided within the province by medical practitioners, OMS or dental practitioners for which the fee exceeds the amount payable under this Regulation;
  • the fitting and supplying of eyeglasses or contact lenses;
  • transsexual surgery;
  • radiology services provided in the province by a private radiology clinic;
  • acupuncture;
  • complete medical examinations when performed for a periodic check-up and not for medically necessary purposes;
  • circumcision of the newborn;
  • reversal of vasectomies;
  • second and subsequent injections for impotence;
  • reversal of tubal ligation;
  • intrauterine insemination;
  • bariatric surgery unless the person (i) has a body mass index of 40 or greater, (ii) has obesity-related co-morbid conditions, and (iii) has, under the supervision of a medical practitioner, commenced and failed an exercise and diet program to reduce the person's weight to a more acceptable level; and
  • venipuncture for the purpose of taking blood when performed as a stand-alone procedure in a facility that is not an approved hospital facility.

Dental services not specifically listed in Schedule 4 of the Dental Schedule are not covered by the Plan. Those listed in Schedule 2 are considered the only non-insured medical services. There are no specific policies or guidelines, other than the Act and Regulations, to ensure that charges for uninsured medical goods and services (i.e., enhanced medical goods and services such as intraocular lenses, fibre-glass casts, etc.), provided in conjunction with an insured health service, do not compromise reasonable access to insured services. Intraocular lenses are now provided by the hospitals.

The decision to de-insure physician or surgical-dental services is based on the conformity of the service to the definition of "medically necessary," a review of medical service plans across the country and the previous use of the particular service. Once a decision to de-insure is reached, the Medical Services Payment Act dictates that the government may not make any changes to the Regulation until the advice and recommendations of the New Brunswick Medical Society are received or until the period within which the Society was requested by the Minister to furnish advice and make recommendations has expired. Subsequent to receiving their input and resolution of any issues, a regulatory change is completed. Physicians are informed in writing following notification of approval. The public is usually informed through a media release. No public consultation process is used.

In 2008-2009 no services were removed from the insured service list.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Sections 3 and 4 of the Medical Services Payment Act and its Regulation 84-20, define eligibility for the health care insurance plan in New Brunswick.

Residents are required to complete a Medicare application and to provide proof of Canadian citizenship, Native status or valid Canadian immigration document. A resident is defined as a person lawfully entitled to be, or to remain, in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in New Brunswick, but does not include a tourist, transient, or visitor to the province.

All persons entering or returning to New Brunswick (excluding children adopted from outside Canada) have a waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicare coverage. Coverage commences on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

Residents who are ineligible for Medicare coverage include:

  • regular members of the Canadian Armed Forces;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
  • inmates of federal prisons;
  • persons moving to New Brunswick as temporary residents;
  • a family member who moves from another province to New Brunswick before other family members move;
  • persons who have entered New Brunswick from another province to further their education and who are eligible to receive coverage under the medical services plan of that province; and
  • non-Canadians who are issued certain types of Canadian authorization permits (e.g., a Student Authorization).

Provisions to become eligible for Medicare coverage include:

  • non-Canadians who are issued an immigration permit that would not normally entitle them to coverage are eligible if legally married to, or in a common-law relationship with, an eligible New Brunswick resident.

Provisions when status changes include:

  • persons who have been discharged or released from the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP or a federal penitentiary. Provided they are residing in New Brunswick at the time, these persons are eligible for coverage on the date of their release. They must complete an application, provide the official date of release and provide proof of citizenship.

3.2 Registration Requirements

A beneficiary who wishes to become eligible to receive entitled services shall register, together with any dependants under the age of 19, on a form provided by Medicare for this purpose, or be registered by a person acting on his or her behalf.

Upon approval of the application, the beneficiary and dependants are registered and a Medicare card with an expiry date is issued to the beneficiary and each dependent.

A Notice of Expiry form providing all family information currently existing on the Medicare files is issued to the beneficiary two or three months before the expiry date of the Medicare card or cards. A beneficiary who wishes to remain eligible to receive entitled services is required to confirm the information on the Notice of Expiry, to make any changes as appropriate and return the form to Medicare. Upon receiving the completed form, the file is updated and new card(s) are issued bearing a revised expiry date.

Currently in New Brunswick, only those individuals deemed eligible are registered; the total number of persons registered as of March 31, 2009 was 742,974.

All family members (the beneficiary, spouse and dependents under the age of 19) are required to register as a family unit. Residents who are cohabiting, but not legally married, are eligible to register as a family unit if they so request.

Residents may opt out of Medicare coverage if they choose. They are asked to provide written confirmation of their intention. This information is added to their files and benefits are terminated.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Non-Canadians who may be issued an immigration permit that would not normally entitle them to Medicare coverage are eligible, provided that they are legally married to, or living in a common-law relationship with, an eligible New Brunswick resident and still possess a valid immigration permit. At the time of renewal, they are required to provide an updated immigration document.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

A person is eligible for New Brunswick Medicare coverage on the first day of the third month following the month permanent residence has been established in New Brunswick. The three month waiting period is legislated under New Brunswick's Medical Services Payment Act and no exemptions can be made.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences in Canada is the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulation 84-20, sub-sections 3(4) and 3(5).

Students in full-time attendance at a university or other approved educational institution who leave New Brunswick to further their education in another province are granted coverage for a 12-month period that is renewable provided they comply with the following:

  • provide proof of enrolment;
  • contact Medicare once every 12-month period to retain their eligibility;
  • do not establish residence outside New Brunswick; and
  • do not receive health coverage in another province.

Residents temporarily employed in another province or territory, are granted coverage for up to 12 months provided the following terms are adhered to:

  • residents do not establish residence in another province;
  • residents do not receive coverage in another province; and
  • residents plan on returning to New Brunswick.

If absent longer than 12 months, residents should apply for coverage in the province or territory where they are employed and should be entitled to receive coverage on the first day of the thirteenth month.

New Brunswick has formal agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories for reciprocal billing of insured hospital services. In addition, New Brunswick has reciprocal agreements with all provinces except Quebec for the provision of insured physicians' services. Services provided by Quebec physicians to New Brunswick residents are paid at Quebec rates, if the service delivered is insured in New Brunswick. The majority of such claims are received directly from Quebec physicians. Any paid claims submitted by the patient are reimbursed to the patient, according to New Brunswick regulations.

Payments made for insured services provided to New Brunswick residents in other provinces and territories during 2008-2009 were $37,772,992 (in-patient), and $12,858,195 (out-patient).

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada is the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulation 84-20, sub-sections 3(4) and 3(5).

Eligibility for "temporarily absent" New Brunswick residents is determined in accordance with the Medical Services Payment Act and Regulations and the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability.

Residents temporarily employed outside the country are granted coverage for up to 12 months, regardless if it is known beforehand that they will be absent beyond the 12-month period, provided they do not establish residence outside Canada.

Any absence over 182 days, whether it is for work purposes or vacation, would require the Director's approval. This approval can only be up to 12 months in duration and will only be granted once every three years. Families of workers temporarily employed outside Canada will continue to be covered, provided that they reside in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick residents who exceed the 12 month extension have to reapply for New Brunswick Medicare upon their return to New Brunswick, and be subject to the legislated three month waiting period. However, a "grace period" of up to 14 days could be extended to those New Brunswick residents who have been "temporarily absent" slightly beyond the 12 month absence. In some cases this would alleviate having to reapply as a returning resident with the legislated three month waiting period.

Mobile Workers

Mobile Workers are residents whose employment requires them to travel outside the province (e.g., pilots, truck drivers, etc.). Certain guidelines must be met to receive Mobile Worker designation. These are as follows:

  • applications must be submitted in writing;
  • documentation is required as proof of Mobile Worker status (e.g., letter from employer confirming that frequent travel is required outside New Brunswick; letter from New Brunswick resident confirming that their permanent residence is New Brunswick and how often they return to New Brunswick; copy of resident's New Brunswick drivers license; if working outside Canada, copy of resident's Immigration document that allows them to work outside the country);
  • the worker's permanent residence must remain in New Brunswick; and
  • the worker must return to New Brunswick during their off-time.

Mobile Worker status is assigned for a maximum of two years, after which the New Brunswick resident must reapply and resubmit documentation to confirm continuing Mobile Worker status.

Contract Workers

Any New Brunswick resident accepting a contract out-of-country must supply the following information and documentation:

  • letter of request from the New Brunswick resident with their signature, detailing their absence including Medicare number, New Brunswick address, date of departure, destination and forwarding address, reason for absence and date of return; and
  • copy of contractual agreement between employee and employer which defines a start date and end date of employment.

"Contract Worker" status is assigned for up to a maximum of two years. Any further requests for contract worker status must be forwarded to the Director of Medicare Eligibility and Claims for approval on an individual basis.

Students

Those in full-time attendance at a university or other approved educational institution, who leave New Brunswick to further their education in another country, will be granted coverage for a 12-month period that is renewable, provided that they do the following:

  • provide proof of enrolment;
  • contact Medicare, once every 12-month period to retain their eligibility;
  • do not establish permanent residence outside New Brunswick; and
  • do not receive health coverage elsewhere.

Insured residents who receive insured emergency services out of country are eligible to be reimbursed $100 per day for in-patient stay and $50 per out-patient visit. The insured resident is reimbursed for physician services associated with the emergency treatment at NB rates. The difference in rates is the patient's responsibility (private insurance).

  • In 2008-2009, New Brunswick funded the following insured services for insured residents temporarily outside Canada:
    • $753,104 for in-patient services;
    • $561,855 for out-patient services;
    • $341,618 for physician services.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Medicare will cover out-of-country services that are not available in Canada on a prior approval basis only. Residents may opt to seek non-emergency out- of-country services; however, those who receive such services will assume responsibility for the total cost.

New Brunswick residents may be eligible for reimbursement if they receive elective medical services outside the country, provided they fulfill the following requirements:

  • the required service, or equivalent or alternate service, must be unavailable in Canada;
  • it must be rendered in a hospital listed in the current edition of the American Hospital Association Guide to the Health Care Field (guide to United States hospitals, health care systems, networks, alliances, health organizations, agencies and providers);
  • the service must be rendered by a medical doctor; and
  • the service must be an accepted method of treatment recognized by the medical community and be regarded as scientifically proven in Canada. Experimental procedures are not covered.

If the above requirements are met, it is mandatory to request prior approval from Medicare in order to receive coverage. A physician, patient or family member may request prior approval to receive these services outside the country, accompanied by supporting documentation from a Canadian specialist or specialists.

Out-of-country insured services that are not available in Canada, are non-experimental, and receive prior approval are paid in full. Often the amount payable is negotiated with the provider by the Canadian Medical Network on the province's behalf.

The following are considered exemptions under the out-of-country coverage policy:

  • haemodialysis: patients will be required to obtain prior approval and Medicare will reimburse the resident at a rate equivalent to the inter-provincial rate of $220 per session; and
  • allergy testing for environmental sensitivity: all tests outside the country will be paid at a maximum rate of $50 per day, an amount equivalent to an out-patient visit.

Prior approval is also required to refer patients to psychiatric hospitals and addiction centres outside the province because they are excluded from the Interprovincial Reciprocal Billing Agreement. A request for prior approval must be received by Medicare from the Addiction Services or Mental Health branches of the Department of Health.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

New Brunswick charges no user fees for insured health services as defined by the Canada Health Act. Therefore, all residents of New Brunswick have equal access to these services.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

People representing many different health professions work in New Brunswick's health care facilities, providing insured hospital services. As of March 31, 2009, a summary of some of the most prominent professions includes:

  • 5,947 nurses providing general care,
  • 118 community health nurses,
  • 44 nurse practitioners,
  • 239 nurse supervisors,
  • 1,611 licensed practical nurses,
  • 775 other nursing resource workers,
  • 845 diagnostic imaging technicians or technologists,
  • 545 medical laboratory technicians or technologists,
  • 338 occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants,
  • 69 audiologists or audiology assistants,
  • 107 psychologists,
  • 177 dieticians,
  • 155 speech language pathologists,
  • 137 pharmacists,
  • 276 physiotherapists, and
  • 369 social workers.

New Brunswick has well-established recruitment and retention initiatives for nurses and allied health professionals, which are aimed at addressing health human resources labour market planning and management at the Provincial level. Regional Health

Authorities are responsible for human resources management within the facilities they operate.

The following measures were taken in 2008-2009 to improve access to hospital services:

  • Significant investments were made towards the purchase of a variety of pieces of diagnostic imaging equipment:
    • digital mammography units in Miramichi, Bathurst, Moncton, and Saint John will promote faster diagnosis, and improve the probability of treating breast cancer successfully;
    • a new CT scanner and an upgrade of an existing CT scanner at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital will enhance the quality of diagnostic images, and the speed at which they are obtained; and
    • digital radiographic/fluoroscopic imaging equipment in Caraquet, Edmundston, and Saint John will upgrade image quality, increase diagnostic viewing and diagnosis, improving workload capacity for such imaging in some regions by up to 50%.
  • Digital echocardiography ultrasound units in Miramichi and Saint John replace outdated equipment. In addition to improved diagnostic capacity, digital imaging promotes faster cardiac care access especially in the regions, through allowing immediate image viewing by cardiac specialists in other areas of the province.
  • Construction began for an addition for a new emergency department at the Saint John Regional Hospital, reflecting the hospital's designation as a Level 1 trauma facility.
  • The number of dialysis treatment units in Miramichi doubled, with the intent that all medically stable dialysis patients in the Miramichi area could receive services in their own region. This is an expansion of a pioneering satellite dialysis program, operating in conjunction with RHA A's nephrology centre in Moncton.
  • Linear accelerators were purchased to replace two existing units in Moncton, one in Saint John, and to add an additional unit in Saint John. Construction was also initiated in Saint John for the bunkers to house this equipment. The accelerators provide radiation therapy to cancer patients; the purchases (made pursuant to an agreement with the Government of Canada) will help ensure that all patients requiring the therapy begin to receive it within an 8 week benchmark timeline.
  • Renovations at the Campbellton Regional Hospital were completed, allowing permanent housing of an oncology clinic. A satellite of an oncology centre in Moncton, the Campbellton clinic is part of an initiative to provide better patient access to chemotherapy in northern New Brunswick. Under the initiative, similar clincs were established in Bathurst and Caraquet, and the Miramichi clinic was upgraded. It is estimated that each regional oncology centre will serve approx. 40,000 New Brunswickers.
  • The Midwifery Act was introduced, describing how midwifery will be regulated and publicly funded in New Brunswick. The Act prepares the way for midwives to be hired in future years, improving access to (insured) obstetrical and maternity care.
  • Plans were unveiled to offer retinal surgery in Saint John, with the actual service slated to begin in 2009-2010. The service will provide care to up to 150 New Brunswickers annually, who previously would have had to travel outside the province for the procedures.
  • A new palliative care program was established in the Campbellton region. This includes a new 4-bed palliative care unit in the Dalhousie Community Health Centre.
  • A new obstetrical and post-natal ambulatory clinic is now in operation in the Acadian Peninsula.
  • A 4-bed palliative care unit was opened at the Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus de Caraquet.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

As of March 31, 2009, there were 730 general practitioners, 770 specialists, and 94 OMSs and dentists registered with the plan.

In fiscal 2008-2009, the Department continued to operate its successful recruitment and retention strategy, aimed at attracting newly licensed family practitioners and specialists. This strategy includes a contingency fund to allow the Department to more effectively respond to potential recruitment opportunities, including the provision of location grants for $25,000 and $50,000 for family practitioners and $40,000 for specialists willing to practice in under-serviced areas of the province. The recruitment and retention strategy also provides for increased government involvement in post-graduate training of family physicians, the maintenance of 350 weeks in summer rural preceptorship training for medical students, and moving physician remuneration toward relative parity with other Atlantic provinces.

5.4 Physician Compensation

Payments to physicians and dentists are governed under the Medical Services Payment Act, Regulations 84-20, 93-143 and 96-113.

During fiscal 2008-2009, negotiations were underway with the New Brunswick Medical Society to develop a new agreement in relation to fee-for-service physicians; the previous agreement expired on March 31, 2008. A tentative agreement was announced in December 2008, although details were not released pending ratification by all parties, which was not achieved by the end of the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

There is no formal negotiation process for dental practitioners in New Brunswick.

The methods used to compensate physicians for providing insured health services in New Brunswick are fee-for-service, salary and sessional or alternate payment mechanisms that may also include a blended system.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The legislative authorities governing payments to hospital facilities in New Brunswick are the Hospital Act, which governs the administration of hospitals, and the Hospital Services Act, which governs the financing of hospitals. The Regional Health Authorities Act provides for the delivery and administration of health services in defined geographic areas within the province.

The Department uses two components to distribute available funding to New Brunswick's RHAs. The main component is a "Current Service Level" (CSL) base. This component addresses five patient-care delivered services:

  • tertiary services (cardiac, dialysis, neurosurgery, radiation oncology);
  • psychiatric services (psychiatric units and facilities);
  • dedicated programs (e.g., addictions services);
  • community-based services (Extra-Mural Program; health service centres); and
  • general patient care.

The mechanism and the authority under which these CSL funds are distributed did not change in 2008-2009, except in regards to the reduction of the number of Regional Health Authorities effective September 1, 2008, as discussed above.

Added to this are non-patient care support services (e.g., general administration, laundry, food services, energy). Funding for these services continues to flow to the Regional Health Authorities, which now use it to engage some non-clinical services from Facilicorp NB under purchase of service agreements.

The current budget process may extend over more than one fiscal year and includes several steps. By March of each year, RHAs are to provide the Department with their utilization data and revenue projections for the following fiscal year, as well as their actual utilization data and revenue figures for the first nine months of the current fiscal year. This information, along with the audited financial statements from the previous two fiscal years, is used to evaluate the expected funding level for each RHA.

Budget amendments are provided during the year to allow for adjustments to applicable programs and services on either recurring or non-recurring bases. The "year-end settlement process" reconciles the total annual approved budget for each RHA to its audited financial statements and reconciles budgeted revenues and expenses to actual revenues and expenses.

Any requests of funding for new programs are submitted to the branch responsible for the new program. An evaluation of the request is performed by Department of Health officials in collaboration with the RHA staff.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

New Brunswick routinely recognizes the federal role regarding its contributions under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in public documentation presented through legislative and administrative processes. These include the following:

  • the Budget Papers presented by the Minister of Finance on March 17, 2009;
  • the 2007-2008 Public Accounts presented by the Minister of Finance on September 26, 2008; and
  • the Main Estimates presented by the Minister of Finance on March 17, 2009.

New Brunswick does not produce promotional documentation on its insured medical and hospital benefits.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

The New Brunswick Long-Term Care program, a non-insured service, was transferred to the Department of Family and Community Services on April 1, 2000. Nursing home care, also a non-insured service, is offered through the Nursing Home Services program of the Department of Family and Community Services, now called the Department of Social Development (since December 2007). Other adult residential care services and facilities are available through a variety of agencies and funding sources within the province.

Nursing homes are private, not-for-profit organizations. In order to be admitted to a nursing home, clients go through an evaluation process, based on specific health condition criteria.

Adult Residential Facilities are, for the most part, private and not-for-profit organizations. The number of available beds fluctuates as private entrepreneurs open and close residential facilities. Clients are admitted after going through the same evaluation process used for nursing home admissions.

Public housing units are available for low-income elderly persons. Admission criteria are based on age and the applicant's financial situation. The Victorian Order of Nurses offers support services to some units.

7.2 Home Care Services

The New Brunswick Extra-Mural Program provides comprehensive home healthcare services throughout the province. Services include acute, palliative, chronic care, rehabilitation services provided in community settings (an individual's home, a nursing home or public school) and a home oxygen program. Since 1996, this program has been delivered by New Brunswick's RHAs according to provincial policies and standards. Service providers include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, social workers, dieticians, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, pharmacists and rehabilitation support personnel, where funded.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

Ambulatory health care services were delivered by New Brunswick's RHAs according to provincial policies and standards, and included services provided in hospital emergency rooms, day or night care in hospitals and in clinics if available in hospitals, health centres and Community Health Centres. This is considered an insured service under the provincial Hospital Services Plan.

Registered Persons
2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 741,726 740,759 738,651 740,845 742,974
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 27 23 23 22 22
b. chronic care 0 0 0 0 0
c. rehabilitative care 1 1 1 1 1
d. other 22 26 26 27 30
e. total 50 50 50 50 53
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care not available not available not available not available not available
b. chronic care not available not available not available not available not available
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total 1,118,701,200 1,205,197,000 1,290,887,880 1,372,911,800 1,449,216,237
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities
providing insured health services (#): 1
a. surgical facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities
for insured health services($): 1
a. surgical facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 5,464 5,418 3,740 4,363 3,919
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). $33,743,005 $38,017,578 $32,494,834 $42,267,067 $37,772,992
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 34,422 45,911 44,941 51,406 46,824
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). $5,887,128 $9,561,558 $10,022,287 $11,316,103 $12,858,195
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 191 215 211 209 196
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). $587,632 $374,035 $741,599 $726,650 $753,104
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1,170 1,453 1,122 1,073 1,430
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). $337,337 $321,202 $358,594 $441,575 $561,855
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#): 2
a. general practitioners 658 667 693 708 730
b. specialists 707 714 706 745 770
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 1,365 1,381 1,399 1,453 1,500
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not available not available not available not available not available
b. specialists not available not available not available not available not available
c. other not available not available not available not available not available
d. total not available not available not available not available not available
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not available not available not available not available not available
b. specialists not available not available not available not available not available
c. other not available not available not available not available not available
d. total not available not available not available not available not available
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) $351,888,988 $373,500,994 $400,481,139 $421,547,901 $441,197,899
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 5,540,170 5,721,352 5,746,248 5,711,742 5,875,756
b. total payments ($) $229,403,104 $240,841,117 $244,907,268 $254,454,602 $260,939,796
Insured Physician Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 175,528 202,555 192,544 213,710 197,023
20. Total payments ($). $9,789,304 $11,353,739 $11,125,487 $11,998,933 $11,607,119
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 5,339 6,707 6,047 5,990 4,175
22. Total payments ($). $409,132 $449,689 $417,942 $487,679 $341,618
Insured Surgical-dental Services Within Own Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 2 22 21 25 21 26
24. Number of services provided (#). 3 2,422 2,890 2,472 2,962 3,323
25. Total payments ($). $537,679 $621,491 $502,913 $598,383 $571,175

Quebec

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

Quebec's hospital insurance plan, the Régime d'assurance hospitalisation du Québec, is administered by the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS) (the Quebec Department of Health and Social Services).

Quebec's health insurance plan, the Régime d'assurance maladie du Québec, is administered by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) (the Quebec Health Insurance Board), a public body established by the provincial government and reporting to the Minister of Health and Social Services.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Public Administration Act (R.S.Q., c. A-6.01) sets out the government criteria for preparing reports on the planning and performance of public authorities, including the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Both plans (the Quebec hospital insurance plan and the Quebec health insurance plan) are operated on a non-profit basis. All books and accounts are audited by the Auditor General of the province.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured in-patient services include the following: standard ward accommodation and meals; necessary nursing services; routine surgical supplies; diagnostic services; use of operating rooms, delivery rooms and anesthetic facilities; medications, prosthetics and orthotic devices that can be integrated with the human body; biologicals and related preparations; use of radiotherapy, radiology and physiotherapy facilities; and services rendered by hospital staff.

Outpatient services include the following: clinical services for psychiatric care; electroshock, insulin and behaviour therapies; emergency care; minor surgery (day surgery); radiotherapy; diagnostic services; physiotherapy; occupational therapy; inhalation therapy, audiology, speech therapy and orthoptic services; and other services or examinations required under Quebec legislation.

Other services covered by insurance are the following: mechanical, hormonal or chemical contraception services; surgical sterilization services (including tubal ligation or vasectomy); reanastomosis of the fallopian tubes or vas deferens; and extraction of a tooth or root when the patient's health status makes hospital services necessary.

The MSSS administers an ambulance transportation program that is free of charge to persons aged 65 or older.

In addition to basic insured health services, the Régie also covers the following, with some limitations, for certain inhabitants of Quebec, as defined by the Health Insurance Act, and for employment assistance recipients: optometric services; dental care for children and employment assistance recipients, and acrylic dental prostheses for employment assistance recipients; prostheses, orthopedic appliances, locomotion and postural aids, and other equipment that helps with a physical disability; external breast prostheses; ocular prostheses; hearing aids, assistive listening devices and visual aids for people with a visual or auditory disability; and permanent ostomy appliances.

With regard to drug insurance, since January 1, 1997, the Régie has covered, in addition to its regular clientele (employment assistance recipients and persons 65 years of age or older), individuals who would not otherwise have access to a private drug insurance plan. Currently (as of 2008), the drug insurance plan covers 3.18 million insured persons.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The services insured under this plan include medical and surgical services that are provided by physicians and that are medically necessary.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Services insured under this plan include oral surgery performed by dental surgeons and specialists in oral and maxillo-facial surgery, in a hospital centre or university institution determined by regulation.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital services include: plastic surgery; in vitro fertilization; a private or semi-private room at the patient's request; televisions; telephones; drugs and biologics ordered after discharge from hospital; and services for which the patient is covered under the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases or other federal or provincial legislation.

The following services are not insured: any examination or service not related to a process of cure or prevention of illness; psychoanalysis of any kind, unless such service is rendered in a facility maintained by an institution authorized for such purpose by the Minister of Health and Social Services; any service provided solely for aesthetic purposes; any refractive surgery where there is documented failure in respect of corrective lenses and contact lenses, with the exception of astigmatism of more than 3 diopters or anisometropia of more than 5 diopters measured from the cornea; any consultation by telecommunication or by correspondence; any service rendered by a professional to his or her spouse or children; any examination, expert appraisal, testimony, certificate or other formality required for legal purposes or by a person other than one who has received an insured service, except in certain cases; any visit made for the sole purpose of obtaining the renewal of a prescription; any examinations, vaccinations, immunizations or injections, where the service is provided to a group or for certain purposes; any service rendered by a professional on the basis of an agreement or contract with an employer, association or body; any adjustment of spectacles or contact lenses; any surgical extraction of a tooth or dental fragment performed by a physician, unless such a service is provided in a hospital centre in certain cases; all acupuncture procedures; injection of sclerosing substances and the examination performed at that time; mammography used for detection purposes, unless this service is rendered on medical prescription in a place designated by the Minister to a recipient 35 years of age or older, provided that the person has not been so examined for one year; thermography, tomodensitometry, magnetic resonance imaging and use of radionuclides in vivo in humans, unless these services are rendered in a hospital centre; ultrasonography, unless this service is rendered in a hospital centre or, for obstetrical purposes, in a local community service centre (CLSC) recognized for that purpose; any radiological or anesthetic service provided by a physician if required with a view to providing an uninsured service, with the exception of a dental service provided in a hospital centre or, in the case of radiology, if required by a person other than a physician or dentist; any sex-reassignment surgery, unless it is provided on the recommendation of a physician specializing in psychiatry and is provided in a hospital centre recognized for this purpose; and any services that are not related to a pathology and that are rendered by a physician to a patient between 18 and 65 years of age, unless that individual is the holder of a claim booklet, for colour blindness or a refractive error, in order to provide or renew a prescription for spectacles or contact lenses.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Registration with the hospital insurance plan is not required. Registration with the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec or proof of residence is sufficient to establish eligibility. All persons who reside or stay in Quebec must be registered with the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec to be eligible for coverage under the health insurance plan.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Registration with the hospital insurance plan is not required. Registration with the Régie or proof of residence is sufficient to establish eligibility.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Services received by regular members of the Canadian Forces, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and inmates of federal penitentiaries are not covered by the plan. There are no health premium charges.

Certain categories of residents, notably permanent residents under the Immigration Act and persons returning to live in Canada, become eligible under the plan following a waiting period of up to three months. Persons receiving last resort financial assistance are eligible upon registration. Members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP who have not acquired the status of inhabitant of Quebec become eligible the day they are discharged, and inmates of federal penitentiaries become eligible the day they are released. Immediate coverage is provided for certain seasonal workers, repatriated Canadians, persons from outside Canada who are living in Quebec under an official bursary or internship program of the ministère de l'Éducation (the Quebec Department of Education), and refugees. Persons from outside Canada who have work permits and are living in Quebec for the purpose of holding an office or employment for a period of more than six months become eligible for the plan following a waiting period.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Persons settling in Quebec after moving from another province of Canada are entitled to coverage under the Quebec health insurance plan when they cease to be entitled to benefits from their province of origin, provided they register with the Régie.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Quebec (in Canada)

If living outside Quebec in another province or territory for 183 days or more, students and full time unpaid trainees may retain their status as residents of Quebec: students for a maximum of four calendar years, and full-time unpaid trainees for a maximum of two consecutive calendar years.

This is also the case for persons living in another province or territory who are temporarily employed or working on contract there. Their resident status can be maintained for no more than two consecutive calendar years.

Persons directly employed or working on contract outside Quebec in another province or territory, for a company or corporate body having its headquarters or a place of business in Quebec, or employed by the

federal government and posted outside Quebec, also retain their status as an inhabitant of the province, provided their families remain in Quebec or they retain a dwelling there.

Status as an inhabitant of the province is also maintained by persons who remain outside the province for 183 days or more, but less than 12 months within a calendar year, provided such absence occurs only once every seven years and provided they notify the Régie of their absence.

The costs of medical services received in another province or territory of Canada are reimbursed at the amount actually paid or the rate that would have been paid by the Régie for such services in Quebec, whichever is less. However, Quebec has negotiated a permanent arrangement with Ontario to pay Ottawa doctors at the Ontario fee rate for emergency care and when the specialized services provided are not offered in the Outaouais region. This agreement came into effect on November 1, 1989. A similar agreement was signed in December 1991 between the Centre de santé Témiscaming (Témiscaming Health Centre) and North Bay.

Costs of hospital services with which a recipient is provided in another province or territory of Canada are paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of the interprovincial agreement on reciprocal billing regarding hospital insurance agreed on by the provinces and territories of Canada. In-patient costs are paid at standard ward rates approved by the host province or territory, and out-patient costs or the costs of expensive procedures are paid at approved interprovincial rates. However, as of November 1, 1995, when patients are hospitalized in a hospital centre in another province for non-urgent care or services available in their region, the Government of Quebec reimburses a maximum of $450 per day of hospitalization.

Insured persons who leave Quebec to settle in another province or territory of Canada are covered for up to three months after leaving the province.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Quebec (outside Canada)

Students, unpaid trainees, Quebec government officials posted abroad and employees of non-profit organizations working in international aid or cooperation programs recognized by the Minister of Health and Social Services must contact the Régie to determine

their eligibility. If the Régie grants them special status, they receive full reimbursement of hospital costs in case of emergency or sudden illness, and 75 percent reimbursement in other cases.

Persons directly employed or working on contract outside Canada, for a company or corporate body having its headquarters or a place of business in Quebec, or employed by the federal government and posted outside Quebec, also retain their status as an inhabitant of the province, provided their families remain in Quebec or they retain a dwelling there.

As of September 1, 1996, hospital services provided outside Canada in case of emergency or sudden illness are reimbursed by the Régie, usually in Canadian funds, to a maximum of CAN$100 per day if the patient was hospitalized (including in the case of day surgery) or to a maximum of CAN$50 per day for out-patient services.

However, hemodialysis treatments are covered to a maximum of CAN$220 per treatment, including drugs, whether the patient is hospitalized or not. In such cases, the Régie provides reimbursement for the associated professional services. The services must be rendered in a hospital or hospital centre recognized and accredited by the appropriate authorities. No reimbursements are made for nursing homes, spas or similar establishments.

Costs for insured services provided by physicians, dentists, oral surgeons and optometrists are reimbursed at the rate that would have been paid by the Régie to a health professional recognized in Quebec, up to the amount of the expenses actually incurred. The cost of all services insured in the province is reimbursed at the Quebec rate, usually in Canadian funds, when they are incurred abroad.

An insured person who moves permanently from Quebec to another country ceases to be a recipient as of the day of departure.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Insured persons requiring medical services in hospitals abroad, in cases where those services are not available in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada, are reimbursed 100 percent if prior consent has been given for medical and hospital services that meet certain conditions. Consent is not given by the Plan's officials if the medical service in question is available in Quebec or elsewhere in Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Everyone has the right to receive adequate health care services without any kind of discrimination. There is no extra-billing by Quebec physicians.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

On March 31, 2009, Quebec had 117 institutions operating as hospital centres for a clientele suffering from acute illnesses. There were 20,440 beds for persons requiring care for acute physicial or psychiatric ailments allotted to these institutions. From April 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008, Quebec hospital institutions had 716,191 admissions for short stays (including newborns) and 307,246 registrations for day surgeries. These hospitalizations accounted for 5,124,049 patient days.

Restructuring of the health network: In November 2003, Quebec announced the implementation of local service networks covering all of Quebec. At the heart of each local network is a new local authority, the Centre de santé et de services sociaux (CSSS; the health and social services centre). These centres are the result of the merger of the public institutions whose mission it was to provide CLSC (local community service centre) services, CHSLD (residential and long-term care) services, and, in most cases, neighbourhood hospital services. The CSSSs also provide the people in their territory with access to other medical services, general and specialized hospital services, and social services. To do so, they will have to enter into service agreements with other health sector organizations. The linking of services within a territory forms the local services network. Thus, the aim of integrated local health and social services networks is to make all the stakeholders in a given territory collectively responsible for the health and well-being of the people in that territory.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Primary care: In 2003-2004, family medicine groups (FMGs) were established. These groups work closely with the CSSSs and other network resources to provide services such as health assessment, case management and follow-up, diagnosis, treatment of acute and chronic problems, and disease prevention. Their services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In April 2009, there were 193 accredited FMGs in Quebec.

The Conseil médical du Québec (Quebec medical board) has established a committee to develop the concept of the physician/population ratio because interprovincial comparisons suggest that Quebec has an adequate number of physicians.

5.4 Physician Compensation

Physicians are remunerated in accordance with the negotiated fee schedule. Physicians who have withdrawn from the health insurance plan are paid directly by the patient according to the fee schedule after the patient has collected from the Régie. Non-participating physicians are paid directly by their patients according to the amount charged.

Provision is made in law for reasonable compensation for all insured health services rendered by health professionals. The Minister may enter into an agreement with the organizations representing any class of health professional. This agreement may prescribe a different rate of compensation for medical services in a territory where the number of professionals is considered insufficient. The Minister may also provide for a different rate of compensation for general practitioners and medical specialists during the first years of practice, depending on the territory or the activity involved. These provisions are preceded by consultation with the organizations representing the professional groups.

While the majority of physicians practise within the provincial plan, Quebec allows two other options: professionals who have withdrawn from the plan and practise outside the plan, but agree to remuneration according to the provincial fee schedule; and non-participating professionals who practise outside the plan, with no reimbursement from the Régie going to either them or their patients.

In 2008-2009, the Régie paid an estimated $4,094,500 to doctors in the province, while the amount for medical services outside the province reached an estimated $10.5 million.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Minister of Health and Social Services funds hospitals through payments directly related to the cost of insured services provided.

The payments made in 2007-2008 to institutions operating as hospital centres for insured health services provided to inhabitants of Quebec were more than $9 billion. Payments to hospital centres outside Quebec were approximately $128.8 million.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Intermediate care, adult residential care and home care services are available. Admission is coordinated on a local or regional level and based on a single assessment tool. The health and social services centres receive individuals, evaluate their care requirements, and either arrange for provision of services such as day care centre programs or home care, or refer them to the appropriate agencies.

The MSSS offers some home care services, including nursing care and assistance, homemaker services and medical supervision.

The province ensures that residential facilities and long-term care units in acute-care hospitals focus on maintaining their clients' autonomy and functional abilities by providing them with a variety of programs and services, including health care services.

Ontario

Introduction

Ontario has one of the largest and most complex publicly funded health care systems in the world. Administered by the province's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Ontario's health care system was supported by over $40 billion (including capital) in spending for 2008-2009.

The Ministry provides services to the public through such programs as health insurance, drug benefits, assistive devices, forensic mental health and supportive housing, long-term care, home care, community and public health, and health promotion and disease prevention. It also regulates hospitals and nursing homes, operates medical laboratories and coordinates emergency health services.

Fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) plan, fund and integrate local health care services. With the LHINs responsible for local health care management, the Ministry assumes a stewardship role establishing overall strategic direction and priorities for the provincial health care system.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is administered on a non-profit basis by MOHLTC. OHIP was established under the Health Insurance Act, Revised Statutes of Ontario, 1990, c. H-6, to provide insurance in respect of the cost of insured services provided in hospitals and health facilities, and by physicians and other health care practitioners.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Health Insurance Act stipulates that the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care is responsible for the administration and operation of OHIP, and is Ontario's public authority for the purposes of the Canada Health Act.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

MOHLTC is audited annually by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. The Auditor General's 2008 Annual Report was released on December 8, 2008.

MOHLTC's accounts and transactions are published annually in the Public Accounts of Ontario. The 2008-2009 Public Accounts of Ontario were released on September 25, 2009.

1.4 Designated Agency

LHINs were established under the Local Health System Integration Act, 2006 to improve Ontarians' health through better access to high-quality health services, coordinated health care, and effective and efficient management of the health system at the local level. On April 1, 2007, the LHINs assumed full responsibilities for funding, planning, and integrating health care services at the local level.

LHINs are not-for-profit Crown Agencies that plan, fund and integrate local health care services that are delivered by hospitals, Community Care Access Centres, long-term care homes, community health centres, community support services, and mental health agencies. The Act requires each LHIN to prepare an Annual Report for the Minister who is required to table the reports in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

MOHLTC has accountability agreements with each LHIN that include performance goals and objectives for the networks. The agreements also include the allocations for health service providers. The legislation also provides the LHINs with the authority to fund health service providers and to enter into service accountability agreements with each provider.

The Act also reaffirms the principles of the French Languages Services Act to ensure equitable access to services in French for French-speaking Ontarians.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services in Ontario are prescribed under the Health Insurance Act, and Regulation 552 under that Act.

Insured in-patient hospital services1 include medically required: use of operating rooms, obstetrical delivery rooms and anaesthetic facilities; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of any injury, illness or disability e.g. dialysis related equipment and supplies; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; and, accommodation and meals at the standard ward level.

Insured out-patient services include medically required: laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; use of radiotherapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy facilities, where available; use of diet counselling services; use of the operating room, anaesthetic facilities, surgical supplies, necessary nursing service, and supplying of drugs, biologicals, and related preparations (subject to some exceptions), including vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, biologicals and related preparations (subject to some exceptions); provision of equipment, supplies and medication to haemophiliac patients for use at home; and the following drugs for take-home use: cyclosporine to transplant patients; zidovudine, didanosine, zalcitabine and pentamidine to patients with HIV infection; biosynthetic human growth hormone to patients with endogenous growth hormone deficiency; drugs for treating cystic fibrosis and thalassemia; erythropoieitins to patients with anaemia of end-stage renal disease; alglucerase to patients with Gaucher disease; clozapine to patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia; verteporfin to treat patients with predominantly classic subfoveal choroidal neovascularisation secondary to either age-related macular degeneration, presumed ocular histoplasmosis syndrome or pathologic myopia.

In 2008-2009, there were 150 public hospital corporations (excluding specialty mental health hospitals, private hospitals) staffed and in operation in Ontario. This includes 130 acute care hospital corporations, 15 chronic care hospitals, and four general and special rehabilitation units. Though they provide a mix of services, hospitals are categorized by major activity.

For example, many acute care hospitals offer chronic care services. A number of designated chronic care facilities also offer rehabilitation.

When insured physician services are provided in licensed independent health facilities outside hospitals and where the total cost paid for these insured services is not included in the physician fees paid under the Health Insurance Act, MOHLTC provides funding through the payment of facility fees under the Independent Health Facilities Act. Facility fees (fees for services/costs that support, assist or are a necessary adjunct to insured services) are payable in order to cover the cost of the premises, equipment, supplies, and personnel related to an insured service. Under the Independent Health Facilities Act, charges to patients for facility fees are prohibited.

Facility fees are charged to the provincial government only by facilities that are licensed under the Independent Health Facilities Act. Examples of facilities that are licensed under this Act include: surgical/treatment facilities (e.g., those providing abortions, cataract surgery, dialysis and non-cosmetic plastic surgery) and diagnostic facilities (e.g., those providing x-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, sleep studies and pulmonary function studies). New facilities are ordinarily established through a Request for Proposals process based on an assessment of need for the service.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Insured physician services are prescribed under the Health Insurance Act and regulations under that Act.

Under subsection 37.1(1) of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, a service provided by a physician in Ontario is an insured service if it is medically necessary; contained in the Schedule of Benefits for Physician Services; and rendered in such circumstances or under such conditions as outlined in the Schedule of Benefits. Physicians provide medical, surgical and diagnostic services, including primary health care services. Services are provided in a variety of settings, including: private physician offices, community health centres, hospitals, mental health facilities, licensed independent health facilities, and long-term care homes.

In general terms, insured physician services include: diagnosis and treatment of medical disabilities and conditions; medical examinations and tests; surgical procedures; maternity care; anaesthesia; radiology and laboratory services in approved facilities; and, immunizations, injections and tests.

The Schedule of Benefits is regularly reviewed and revised to reflect current medical practice and new technologies. New services may be added, existing services revised or obsolete services removed through regulatory amendment. This process involves consultation with the Ontario Medical Association.

During 2008-2009, physicians could submit claims for all insured services rendered to insured persons directly to the OHIP office, in accordance with section 15 of the Health Insurance Act, or a limited number could bill the insured person, as permitted by section 15.2 of the Act (see also Part II of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act). Physicians who do not bill OHIP directly are commonly referred to as having "opted-out". When a physician has opted out, the physician bills the patient (not exceeding the amount payable for the service under the Schedule of Benefits), and the patient is then entitled to reimbursement by OHIP. However, the number of physicians who may opt out was fixed (on a "grandparented" basis) following proclamation of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act on September 23, 2004.

Physicians must be registered to practice medicine in Ontario by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

There were approximately 24,500 physicians who submitted claims to OHIP in 2008-2009. This figure includes physicians submitting both fee-for-service claims and physicians included in an alternative payment plan who submitted tracking or shadowbilled claims.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Certain surgical-dental services are prescribed as insured services in section 16 of Regulation 552 in the Health Insurance Act and the Dental Schedule of Benefits. The Health Insurance Act authorizes OHIP to cover a limited number of procedures when the insured services are medically necessary and are performed in a public hospital graded under the Public Hospitals Act as Group A, B, C or D by a dental surgeon who has been appointed to the dental staff of the public hospital.

Approximately 291 dentists and dental/oral surgeons provided insured surgical-dental services in Ontario in 2008-2009.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Services prescribed by and rendered in accordance with the Health Insurance Act and regulations under that Act are insured.

Uninsured hospital services include: additional charges for preferred accommodation unless prescribed by a physician, oral-maxillofacial surgeon or midwife; telephones and televisions; charges for private-duty nursing; provision of medications for patients to take home from hospital, with certain exceptions; and in-province, out-patient hospital visits solely for administering drugs, subject to certain exceptions.

Section 24 of Regulation 552 details those physician and supporting services that are specifically prescribed as uninsured.

Uninsured physician services include: services that are not medically necessary; toll charges for longdistance telephone calls; the preparation or provision of a drug, antigen, antiserum or other substance, unless the drug, antigen or antiserum is used to facilitate a procedure; advice given by telephone at the request of the insured person or the person's representative; an interview or case conference (in limited circumstances); the preparation and transfer of records at the insured person's request; a service that is received wholly or partly for producing or completing a document or transmitting information to a "third party" in prescribed circumstances; the production or completion of a document or transmitting information to any person other than the insured person in prescribed circumstances; provision of a prescription when no concomitant insured service is rendered; acupuncture procedures; psychological testing; research and survey programs; and experimental treatment.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act specifies the eligibility criteria for OHIP coverage.

On April 1, 2009, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care amended the eligibility provisions of Regulation 552. Part of the purpose of these changes was to align the ministry's administration of OHIP eligibility with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and related federal government processing changes.

The changes to Regulation 552 also formalized existing policies and government commitments, including the addition of the eligibility and portability provisions of the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability to ensure adherence to this agreement and to facilitate compliance with the Canada Health Act.

To be considered a resident of Ontario for the purpose of obtaining Ontario health insurance coverage generally speaking, a person must:

  • hold Canadian citizenship or an immigration status as prescribed in Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act;
  • make his or her primary place of residence in Ontario;
  • subject to some limited exceptions, be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days in any 12-month period; and
  • for most new and returning residents, be physically present in Ontario for 153 of the first 183 days following the date residence is established in Ontario (i.e., a person cannot be away from the province for more than 30 days in the first six months of residency).

With certain prescribed exceptions in which there is an exemption from the waiting period, residents of Ontario, as defined in Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, are eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage subject to a three-month waiting period. Assessment of whether or not an individual is subject to the three-month waiting period occurs at the time of their application for health insurance coverage. Examples of those who are exempt from the three-month waiting period include newborn babies, eligible military family members, and insured residents from another province or territory who move to Ontario and immediately become residents of an approved long-term care facility in Ontario.

Individuals who are not eligible for OHIP coverage are those who do not meet the definition of a resident, including those who do not hold an immigration status that is set out in Regulation 552, such as tourists, transients, and visitors to the province. Other individuals such as federal penitentiary inmates, Canadian Forces members and ranked Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel do not require Ontario health insurance coverage as their health services are covered under a federal health care plan.

Persons who were previously ineligible for Ontario health insurance coverage but whose status and/or residency situation has changed (e.g., change in immigration status) may be eligible, upon application, subject to the requirements of Regulation 552.

When it is determined that a person is not eligible or is no longer eligible for OHIP coverage, a request may be made to MOHLTC to review the decision. Anyone may request that the Ministry review the denial of their OHIP eligibility by making a request in writing to the OHIP Eligibility Review Committee.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Every resident of Ontario (or their legally authorized substitute decision maker), who seeks Ontario health insurance coverage, is required to apply to obtain coverage.

A health card is issued to eligible residents upon application provided they meet the eligibility requirements as set out under Regulation 552. Eligible persons should apply for coverage upon establishing their primary place of residence in the province.

As of April 21, 2008, MOHLTC, in partnership with the Ministry of Government Services, transferred the delivery of health card registration services to Service Ontario. Service Ontario now manages the province-wide network for health card registration services. MOHLTC continues to be responsible for the policy and programs related to health insurance, including the policy and program management of health card registration.

Health Card Registration services are provided through local Service Ontario Centres. Applicants for Ontario health insurance coverage must complete and sign a Registration for Ontario Health Insurance Coverage form and provide original documents to prove their Canadian citizenship or eligible immigration status, their residence in Ontario and their identity. Eligible applicants over the age of fifteen and one half years are generally required to have their photographs and signatures captured for their photo health cards.

Each photo health card has a renewal/expiry date in the bottom right-hand corner of the card. Renewal notices are sent to registrants several weeks before the card's renewal date.

MOHLTC is the sole payer for OHIP insured physician, hospital, and dental-surgical services. An eligible Ontario resident may not register with or obtain any benefits from another insurance plan for the cost of any insured service that is covered by OHIP (with the exception of during a waiting period).

Approximately 12.8 million Ontario residents were registered with OHIP and held valid and active health cards as of April 1, 2009.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

MOHLTC provides health insurance coverage to residents of Ontario other than Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents/Landed Immigrants. These residents are required to provide acceptable documentation to support their eligible immigration status, their residence in Ontario, and their identity in the same manner as Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident/Landed Immigrant applicants.

The individuals listed below, who are resident in Ontario, may be eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage in accordance with Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act. Clients applying for coverage under any of these categories should contact their local Service Ontario Centre for further details.

Applicants for Permanent Residence/Applicants for Landing: These are persons who have submitted an application for Permanent Resident/Landed Immigrant status to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), even if the application has not yet been approved, provided that CIC has confirmed that the person meets the eligibility requirements to apply for permanent residency in Canada and that the application has not yet been denied.

Protected Persons: These are persons who are determined to be Protected Persons under the terms of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Members of this group are exempt from the three-month waiting period.

Holders of Temporary Resident Permits/Minister's Permits: A Temporary Resident Permit/Minister's Permit is issued to an individual by Citizenship and Immigration Canada when there are compelling reasons to admit an individual into Canada who would otherwise be inadmissible under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Each Temporary Resident Permit/Minister's Permit has a case type or numerical designation on the permit that indicates the circumstances allowing the individual entry into Canada. Individuals who

hold a permit with a case type of 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 or 80 (if for adoption) are eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage. Individuals who hold a permit with a case type of 80 (except adoption), 81, 84, 85 and 96 are not eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage.

Clergy, Foreign Workers and their Accompanying Family Members: An eligible foreign clergy is a person who is sponsored by a religious organization or denomination if the member has finalized an agreement to minister to a religious congregation or group in Ontario for at least six months, as long as the member is legally entitled to stay in Canada.

A foreign worker is eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage if the individual has been issued a Work Permit/Employment Authorization or other document by CIC that permits the person to work in Canada if the person also has a formal agreement in place to work full-time for an employer in Ontario. The work permit/ other document issued by CIC or a letter provided by the employer must set out the employer's name, state the person's occupation with the employer and state that the person will be working for the employer for no less than six consecutive months.

A spouse and/or dependant child (under 22 years of age; or 22 years of age or older, if dependent due to a mental or physical disability) of an eligible foreign member of the clergy or an eligible foreign worker is also eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage as long as the spouse or dependant is legally entitled to stay in Canada.

Live-in Caregivers: Eligible Live-in Caregivers are persons who hold a valid Work Permit/Employment Authorization under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) administered by CIC. The Work Permit/Employment Authorization for LCP workers does not have to list the three specific employment conditions required by all other foreign workers.

Applicants for Citizenship: These individuals are eligible for Ontario health coverage if they have submitted an application for Canadian citizenship under Section 5.1 of the federal Citizenship Act, even if the application has not yet been approved, provided that CIC has confirmed that the person meets the eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship under that section and the application has not yet been denied.

Migrant Farm Workers: Migrant farm workersare persons who have been issued a Work Permit/ Employment Authorization under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program administered by CIC.

Due to the special nature of their employment, migrant farm workers are deemed resident (may be resident for less than the required five month period and not have a primary place of residence in Ontario) and are not required to complete the threemonth waiting period and still qualify for OHIP.

Children born out-of-country: A child born to an OHIP-eligible woman who left Ontario to receive insured services that were pre-approved for payment by OHIP is eligible for immediate OHIP coverage provided the mother was pregnant at the time of departure from Ontario.

Internationally Adopted Children: Children under 16 who are adopted by Ontario residents are eligible for Ontario health insurance coverage, provided the child has an OHIP-eligible citizenship/immigration status and meets the other residency requirements as set out in Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act. Additionally, these children may be exempt from the three-month waiting period if the adoption meets the requirements set out in Regulation 552.

3.4 Premiums

There are no premiums payable as a condition of obtaining Ontario health insurance coverage. The Ontario Health Premium is collected through the provincial income tax system and is not connected to OHIP registration or eligibility in any way. Responsibility for the administration of the Ontario Health Premium lies with the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

In accordance with section 5 of Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act, individuals who move to Ontario are typically entitled to OHIP coverage, three months after establishing residency in the province, unless listed as an exception in section 6.

In accordance with section 5 of Regulation 552 under the Health Insurance Act and as provided for in the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, persons moving permanently to Ontario from another Canadian province or territory will typically be eligible for OHIP coverage after the last day of the second full month following the date residency is established.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Insured out-of-province services are prescribed under sections 28, 28.0.1, 29 to 32 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

Ontario adheres to the terms of the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability; therefore, insured residents who are temporarily outside of Ontario can use their Ontario health cards to obtain insured physician (except in Quebec) and hospital services.

An insured person who leaves Ontario temporarily to travel within Canada, without establishing residency in another province or territory, may continue to be covered by OHIP for a period of up to 12 months.

An insured person who seeks or accepts employment in another province or territory may continue to be covered by OHIP for a period of up to 12 months. If the individual plans to remain outside Ontario beyond the 12-month maximum, he or she should apply for coverage in the province or territory where that person has been working or seeking work.

Insured students who are temporarily absent from Ontario, but remain within Canada, may be eligible for continuous health insurance coverage for the duration of their full-time studies, provided they do not establish permanent residency elsewhere during this period. To ensure that they maintain continuous OHIP eligibility, a student should provide MOHLTC with documentation from their educational institution confirming registration as a full-time student. Family members (spouses and dependent children) of students who are studying in another province or territory are also eligible for continuous OHIP eligibility while accompanying students for the duration of their studies.

In accordance with Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, most insured residents who want to travel, work or study outside Ontario, but within Canada, and maintain OHIP coverage, must have resided in Ontario for at least 153 days in the last 12-month period immediately prior to departure from Ontario.

Ontario participates in Reciprocal Hospital Billing agreements with all other provinces and territories for insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services. Payment is at the in-patient rate of the plan in the province or territory where hospitalization

occurs. Ontario pays the standard out-patient charges authorized by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee.

Ontario also participates in the Physicians' Reciprocal Billing agreements with all other provinces and territories, except Québec (which has not signed a reciprocal agreement with any other province or territory), for insured physician services. Ontario residents who may be required to pay for physician services received in Québec can submit their receipts to MOHLTC for payment as an insured service at Ontario rates.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Health insurance coverage for insured Ontario residents during extended absences outside Canada is governed by sections 1.7 through 1.14 (inclusive) of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

In accordance with the above noted sections of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, MOHLTC provides insured Ontario residents with continuous Ontario health insurance coverage during absences outside Canada of longer than 212 days (seven months) in a 12-month period.

The Ministry requests that residents apply to MOHLTC for this coverage before their departure and provide documents explaining the reason for their absence outside Canada. In accordance with the regulations and MOHLTC policy, most applicants must also have been resident in Ontario for at least 153 days in each of the two consecutive 12-month periods before their expected date of departure.

The length of time that MOHLTC will provide a person with continuous Ontario health insurance coverage during an extended absence outside Canada varies depending on the reason for the absence. Please refer to the information below for further details:

Study
Duration of a full-time academic program in an educational institution (unlimited)
Work
For a term of up to 5 continuous years
Charitable Worker
For a term of up to 5 continuous years
Vacation/Other
For a term of up to 5 continuous years

Certain family members may also qualify for continuous Ontario health insurance coverage while accompanying the primary applicant on an extended absence outside Canada.

Out-of-country services are covered under sections 28.1 to 28.6 inclusive, and sections 29 and 31 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

Effective September 1, 1995, out-of-country emergency hospital costs are reimbursed at Ontario fixed per diem rates of:

  • a maximum $400 (CAD) for in-patient services;
  • a maximum $50 (CAD) for out-patient services (except dialysis); and
  • the actual cost incurred by the patient per dialysis treatment.

During 2008-2009, emergency medically-necessary out-of-country physician services were reimbursed at the Ontario rates detailed in regulation under the Health Insurance Act or the amount billed, whichever is less. Charges for medically-necessary emergency or out-of-country in-patient and out-patient services are reimbursed only when rendered in an eligible hospital or health facility. Medically necessary out-of-country laboratory services when done on an emergency basis by a physician are reimbursed in accordance with the formula set out in section 29(1)(b) of the Regulation or the amount billed, whichever is less, and when done on an emergency basis by a laboratory, in accordance with the formula set out in section 31 of the Regulation. 2008-2009 figures reflecting Ontario's payments for out-of-country emergency in-patient and outpatient insured hospital and medical services are not available.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

As set out in section 28.4 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act, written approval from MOHLTC is required for payment for non-emergency health services provided outside of Canada prior to the medical services being rendered. Where identical or equivalent treatment is not performed in Ontario, or in those instances where the patient faces a delay in accessing treatment in Ontario that would threaten the patient's life or cause medically-significant irreversible tissue damage, the patient may be entitled to full funding for out-of-country insured health services.

Funding requirements for non-emergency laboratory tests performed outside Canada are described in section 28.5 of Regulation 552 of the Health Insurance Act.

Generally speaking, Ministry funding may be provided if the prior approval application establishes that the services or tests are:

  • not performed in Ontario (or the identical or equivalent service is performed in Ontario but it is necessary that the insured person travel out of Canada to avoid a delay that would result in death or medically significant irreversible tissue damage);
  • generally accepted by the medical profession in Ontario as appropriate for a person in the same circumstances as the insured person;
  • not experimental;
  • not performed for research purposes or survey; and,
  • performed at a hospital or health facility (as defined in the regulation).

In 2008-2009, Ontario's total payments for prior-approved treatment outside Canada were $127.9 million.

There is no formal prior-approval process required for services provided to eligible Ontario residents outside the province, but within Canada, if the insured service is covered under the Reciprocal Hospital Billing Agreements. Costs associated with all uninsured or approved for clinical usage (experimental) devices and drugs are the responsibility of the patient or must have prior approval from their home province. As detailed above in section 4.2, Regulation 552 and the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability ensures that Ontario residents who are temporarily travelling, working or studying in another province continue to be eligible for Ontario health coverage.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

All insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are available to Ontario residents on uniform terms and conditions.

All insured persons are entitled to all insured physician, surgical-dental and hospital services, as defined in the Health Insurance Act and Regulations.

Access to insured services is protected under Part II of the Commitment to the Future of Medicare Act (CFMA), "Health Services Accessibility". This Act prohibits any person or any entity from charging or accepting payment or other benefit for rendering an insured service to an insured person except as permitted in the Act. In addition, the CFMA prohibits physicians, practitioners and hospitals from refusing to provide an insured service if an insured person chooses not to pay a "block" fee for an uninsured service. The Act further prohibits any person or entity from paying, conferring or receiving a payment or other benefit in exchange for preferred access to an insured service.

MOHLTC investigates all possible contraventions of Part II of the CFMA that come to its attention. For situations in which it is found that a patient has made an unauthorized payment, the Ministry ensures that the amount is repaid to that patient.

MOHLTC implemented Health Number/Card Validation to aid health care providers and patients with access to the information requested for OHIP and claims payment. Providers may subscribe for validation privileges to verify their patient eligibility and health number/version code status (card status). If patients require access to insured services and do not have a health card in their possession, the provider may obtain the necessary information by submitting to MOHLTC a Health Number Release Form signed by the patient. An accelerated process for obtaining health numbers for patients who are unable to provide a health number and require emergency treatment is available to emergency room facilities through the Health Number Look Up service.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

Public hospitals in Ontario are not permitted to refuse the admission of a patient if by refusal of admission the patient's life would be endangered.

In 2008-2009, there were 150 public hospital corporations staffed and in operation in Ontario, which included chronic, general and special rehabilitation units. There were 7,692,770 acute patient days, 1,914,309 chronic patient days and 763,326 rehabilitation patient days delivered by public hospitals.

Acute care priority services are designated highly specialized hospital-based services that deal with life-threatening conditions. These services are often high-cost and are rapidly growing, which has made access a concern. Generally, these services are managed provincially, on a time-limited basis.

Acute care priority services include:

  • selected cardiovascular services;
  • selected cancer services;
  • chronic kidney disease;
  • critical care services; and
  • organ and tissue donation and organ transplantation.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Dental-Surgical Services

During 2008-2009, MOHLTC implemented the following initiatives in order to improve access to health care services:

Underserviced Area Program (UAP): UAP is one of a number of initiatives/supports that MOHLTC provides to help communities across the province access needed health care services. UAP provides a variety of integrated initiatives aimed at attracting and retaining health care providers. To be eligible for the UAP's recruitment and retention support, a community must be designated as under-serviced. UAP works closely with under-serviced communities to identify their need for health human resources. It provides financial incentives and practice supports, and enables community access to primary care services in smaller, rural areas unable to support full-time family physicians by providing funding to operate 21 nursing stations, as well as access to physician services by funding locums and outreach clinics in northern communities experiencing physician shortages. Currently, there are 134 communities in Ontario designated as underserviced for general/family practitioners and 13 northern Ontario communities designated as under-serviced for medical specialists.

Northern Physician Retention Initiative (NPRI): The NPRI provides eligible family practitioners and specialists who maintain practices and full active hospital privileges in northern Ontario for at least four years with a retention incentive as well as access to funding for continuing medical education.

Northern Health Travel Grant (NHTG) Program: The NHTG helps defray travel-related costs for residents of northern Ontario who must travel long distances to access insured hospital procedures and specialist medical services that are not locally available, and also promotes using specialist services located in northern Ontario, which encourages more specialists to practice and remain in the north.

Primary Health Care: During 2008-2009, Ontario continued to align its new and existing primary care delivery models to help improve and expand access to primary health care for all Ontarians by continuing to include elements such as after-hours access to telephone triage, health information, and on-call physicians (as required) through the Telephone Health Advisory Service (THAS), increased afterhours coverage and preventive care initiatives that enhance health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic disease management. As of March 31, 2009, there were approximately 8.8 million patients rostered to 7,278 physicians in the various models, which include the Comprehensive Care Model (CCM), Family Health Groups (FHGs), Family Health Networks (FHNs), Family Health Organizations (FHOs), Rural and Northern Physician Group Agreement (RNPGA), and Community Health Centres (CHCs). Negotiated agreements are in place to address other special needs populations such as: the homeless, remote First Nations communities, palliative care patients, and maternity centre patients.

General Practitioner (GP) Focused Practice Alternative Funding Plans (AFPs) have been developed to recognize and compensate physicians practicing within speciality areas such as HIV and palliative care. In addition, work is underway to develop alternative funding plans for physicians with focused practices in oncology and care of the elderly.

As part of transforming its health care system, Ontario has reached its goal of creating 150 Family Health Teams (FHTs), which are in various stages of development and implementation. When fully operational it is expected that these 150 teams will improve access to primary care for more than 2.5 million Ontarians in 112 communities.

5.4 Physician Compensation

Physicians are paid for the services they provide through a number of mechanisms. Some physician payments are provided through fee-for-service arrangements. Remuneration is based on the Schedule of Benefits under the Health Insurance Act. Other physician payment models include Primary Care Models (such as blended capitation models), Alternate Payment Plans and new funding arrangements for physicians in Academic Health Science Centres.

General practitioners paid solely on a fee-for-service basis represent 33 per cent of Ontario's registered general practitioners. The remaining family physicians in Ontario receive funding through one of the primary care initiatives such as Family Health Organizations, Family Health Networks, Family Health Groups, Comprehensive Care Models, and Blended Salary Model - Family Health Team. Family Health Teams build upon existing primary care physician funded models by providing funding for inter-disciplinary health care professionals, who work as integral members of the team. Physicians participating in Family Health Teams are funded by one of three compensation options that include: Blended Capitation (such as FHN or FHO), Complement Based Models (RNPGA or other specialized model agreements) and Blended Salary Model (for community-sponsored FHTs).

MOHLTC negotiates physician funding with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). A new fouryear Physician Services Agreement, from April 2008 to March 31, 2012 was reached in October 2008. The 2008 Physician Services Agreement centers on delivering on two key Government priorities - access to family health care and reducing congestion in emergency departments. The Agreement does not provide for any across-the-board fee increases. Increases in specific fee codes will be implemented to address Ministry priorities and income relativity between OMA sections. The fee code revisions will be achieved through annual investment in the Schedule of Benefits,with 5% in the second year, 3% in the third year and 4.25% in the fourth year.

The Agreement also includes investments in recruitment and retention initiatives and in northern/rural programs to support stabilizing physician human resources as well as investments in other ministry priority areas, such as mental health, diagnostic services and care of the elderly. Additionally, through this Agreement, $100 million in performance based funding is provided for a new Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)-Physician Collaboration Incentive Fund. This Fund will recognize and reward the local efforts of physician groups who work together and in collaboration with other service providers to support the needs of patients in four key areas - Most Responsible Physician, Emergency Department, Unattached Patients and Hospital On-Call Coverage.

With respect to insured surgical-dental services, MOHLTC negotiates changes to the Schedule of Benefits for Dental Services with the Ontario Dental Association. In 2002-2003, MOHLTC and the Ontario Dental Association agreed on a new multi-year funding agreement for dental services, which became effective on April 1, 2003, and expired on March 31, 2007. The terms of the agreement continue until a new contract is negotiated by the parties.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Ontario budget system is a prospective reimbursement system that reflects the effects of workload increases, costs related to provincial priority services, wait time strategies, and cost increases in respect of above-average growth in the volume of service in specific geographic locations. Payments are made to hospitals on a semi-monthly basis.

On April 1, 2007, LHINs assumed funding authority for hospitals in Ontario. The LHINs negotiated twoyear Hospital Service Accountability Agreements (HSAAs) with the hospitals and are the lead for the Hospital Annual Planning Submissions (HAPS) which are the precursors to the HSAAs. Payments to hospitals are based on historical global allocations and multi-year incremental increases that incorporate population growth and anticipated service demands within the available provincial budget.

Public hospitals submit HAPS to the LHINs that are the result of broad consultations within the facilities (e.g., all levels of staff, unions, physicians and board) and within the community and region. HAPS are based on a multi-year budget and provide a corresponding multi-year planning forecast. The data submitted in the HAPS are used to populate schedules for service volumes and performance targets that form the contractual basis for the HSAA.

In an HSAA between the LHIN and the hospital, hospital performance is measured through five key performance indicators: total margin, current ratio, percentage of full-time nurses, relative risk of readmission and chronic care patient quality indicators. A review of the targets in each of the schedules and a discussion of corresponding corridors for performance indicators in the HSAA is conducted between the LHIN and the hospital.

The Interprovincial Hospitals' Reciprocal Billing agreements are a convenient administrative arrangement in which provincial/territorial governments reimburse hospitals in their jurisdictions for insured services provided to patients from other provinces/territories.

MOHLTC reviews chronic care co-payment regulations and rates annually, accounting for changes in the Consumer Price Index, Old Age Security each year, and determines whether revisions to the regulations and rates are appropriate.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Ontario publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer in its 2008-2009 publications.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

Long-Term Care (LTC) homes provide care and personal support services and accommodation for people who are no longer able to live independently. Nursing care is available on-site 24-hours a day. Residents may also require on-site supervision, personal care and monitoring to ensure their safety and well-being. The home-like environment is intended to foster the best possible quality of life. MOHLTC, via the LHINs, currently funds all LTC homes licensed or approved under three different Acts: the Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act, the Nursing Homes Act, and the Charitable Institutions Act. MOHLTC retains responsibility for compliance, inspections and enforcement under the various Acts.

The Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 (LTCHA), which received Royal Assent on June 4, 2007, is the cornerstone of the government's strategy to improve care for residents in Ontario's long-term care (LTC) homes and to strengthen the LTC home sector. Once proclaimed into force, this legislation would replace the three existing pieces of legislation governing LTC homes which would be repealed. Once proclaimed into force, the LTCHA would be the legislative authority for safeguarding resident rights, improving the quality of care and improving the accountability framework of LTC homes for the care, treatment and well-being of more than 75,000 residents. Regulation development is currently underway to support the requirements in the Act.

As of March 31, 2009 there were approximately 622 Long Term Care (LTC) homes with over 76,000 beds in operation. Of the 622 LTC homes, 354 were for-profit and 268 were not-for-profit.

LTC homes offer higher levels of nursing and personal care support services than those offered by either retirement homes or supportive housing. Residents in LTC homes must qualify for placement in the homes. Placement is solely coordinated by Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).

MOHLTC regulates the LTC home sector through its Compliance Management Program which is designed to safeguard residents' rights, safety, security, quality of care and quality of life. Through the Compliance Management Program, MOHLTC monitors and inspects LTC homes for compliance with legislation, regulation, standards and criteria, service agreements and, where necessary, uses enforcement measures to achieve compliance.

A public ministry web site provides information on all LTC homes in Ontario, including reports on home profiles, the outcomes of compliance inspections and verified complaint inspections for a 12-month period.

The Ontario Health Quality Council (OHQC) is currently developing quality indicators which will be used to publicly report on residents' quality of life and quality of care outcomes, resident and family satisfaction, and staff satisfaction and engagement. By January 2010, OHQC will begin publicly reporting on quality indicators for the LTC homes sector.

The Ministry engaged Ms. Shirlee Sharkey in August 2007 to provide independent advice regarding staffing and care standards for LTC homes in Ontario. Ms. Sharkey completed her review and submitted her final report, People Caring for People: Impacting the Quality of Life and Care of Residents of Long-Term Care Homes. Ms. Sharkey's report, released publicly on June 17, 2008, includes 11 recommendations relating to strengthening staff capacity and accountability for better outcomes in the LTC homes sector.

Ms. Sharkey led a team of stakeholders (including residents, staff and LTC home operators) that was tasked to facilitate implementation of her recommendations. The team developed staffing plan guidelines for implementation in the LTC homes sector. Once implemented, LTC homes will consult with residents, families and staff to develop staffing plans to better match staffing resources to the anticipated needs of residents. The team also provided feedback to the OHQC and advised on key resident care areas which require regulations under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.

7.2 Home Care Services

Ontario home and community care programs provide a range of services that support people living in their homes or other community care settings. These services are available through CCACs and Community Service agencies.

CCACs provide simplified access for eligible Ontario residents, of all ages, to home and community care; make arrangements for the provision of home care services to people in their homes, schools and communities; and determine eligibility, manage the waiting lists, and authorize admission to publicly-funded LTC homes. There is no charge for services provided by CCACs.

The CCAC is responsible for the following:

  • providing or purchasing a range of community services on behalf of eligible clients. Services include: nursing, personal support, homemaking, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, pharmacy services, speech language pathology, social work, social service work, dietetics, medical supplies, dressings and treatment equipment, laboratory and diagnostic services, and transportation services;
  • assessing an individual's requirements and determining their eligibility for professional health services, homemaking, and personal support services provided in people's homes and in the community. CCACs assess and determine eligibility for professional health services for children/youth in public and private schools and children/youth receiving home schooling, and for personal support services for children/ youth in private schools and children/youth receiving home schooling;
  • developing plans of service;
  • re-assessing the individual's needs and revising the plan of service when the individual's needs have changed;
  • providing information and referral services for the public to home and community care related services; and
  • managing the Requests for Proposal process for purchased client services.

Legislation most relevant to CCACs includes: the Long-Term Care Act, 1994; Community Care Access Corporations Act, 2001; Nursing Homes Act; Charitable Institutions Act; Homes for the Aged and Rest Homes Act; Local Health System Integration Act, 2006; and French Language Services Act. Each CCAC must also be familiar with all other relevant laws, including, but not limited to, the Health Care Consent Act, 1996; Substitute Decisions Act, 1992; Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004; and the Ministry of Health Appeal and Review Boards Act, 1998.

Community Support Service agencies provide support services that include: adult day programs, caregiver support, meal services, home maintenance and repair, friendly visiting, security checks or reassurance, social or recreational services and transportation. Some of these community services are also provided to clients through assisted living services in supportive housing and there are services specifically for clients with acquired brain injury. Community services are regulated under the Long-Term Care Act, 1994 and are delivered by community-based, not-for-profit agencies that rely heavily on volunteers, and are funded by the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs).

The provincial End-of-Life Care Strategy helps replace hospitalizations, where appropriate, with home care services made possible through advances in treatment practices and collaborative planning between all health care sectors. The objectives of the strategy are to shift care of the dying from the acute setting to an appropriate alternate setting based on individual preference; to enhance/develop a clientcentred and interdisciplinary end-of-life care service capacity; and to improve access to, and coordination/ consistency of comprehensive end-of-life care services. End-of-life care services are provided in home or the community by CCACs, Community Support Service agencies and residential hospices.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

Community Health Centres

Community Health Centres are transfer payment agencies governed by incorporated non-profit community boards of directors that include members

of the community served by the centre. The name "Community Health Centre" reflects the fact that the agency is established by the community and provides programs and services in response to needs identified in that community. Community Health Centres deliver services through inter-disciplinary teams including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, counsellors, dieticians, therapists, community health workers and health promoters. Services include comprehensive primary care as well as group and community programs, such as diabetes education, parent/child programs, community kitchens, and youth outreach services. Community Health Centres work within a population health framework that places an equal emphasis on providing comprehensive primary care, preventing illness, and health promotion.

Community Health Centres identify the priority populations that they will serve -- traditionally people have experienced barriers to access based on culture, language, literacy, age, geographic isolation, socio-economic status, disability, mental health status and homelessness. Community Health Centres also develop partnerships with other service providers to improve access to care, promote effective service integration and build community capacity to address the social determinants of health in their communities.

Service is provided through 54 Community Health Centres operating from more than 80 full-service sites across Ontario. Of these, 27 are in large urban centres, 14 are in smaller urban centres, and 13 are in either northern or rural communities. There is no legislation specific to Community Health Centres.

Historically, Community Health Centres were developed based on expressions of interest from sponsoring groups. This resulted in an uneven distribution and some significant gaps in coverage across the province. In 2004 and 2005 the government announced an expansion of the network of Community Health Centres by adding 21 new Community Health Centres and 28 new Community Health Satellite Centres. This expansion was targeted to communities with at-risk populations facing barriers to access. The new Community Health Centres and Community Health Satellite Centres are in various stages of development with a goal of addressing the most critical gaps in coverage across the province.

Family Health Teams

Family Health Teams build upon existing primary care physician funded models by providing funding for inter-disciplinary health care professionals, who work as integral members of the team. Physicians participating in Family Health Teams are funded by one of three compensation options that include: Blended Capitation (such as FHN or FHO), Complement Based Models (RNPGA or other specialized model agreements) and Blended Salary Model (for community-sponsored FHTs).

Family Health Teams are located across the province, in both urban and rural settings, with half being located in under serviced communities. Family Health Teams range in size, structure, scope and governance and reflect varying degrees of community integration. The teams include an interdisciplinary team of physicians and other providers such as nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and dietitians all working together to see more patients and keep them healthy.

As of March 31, 2009, the 150 teams, which are in various stages of development and implementation, are currently providing care to over 1.9 million Ontarians and are serving over 270,000 new unattached patients. Of these, 149 teams have commenced operation and have hired over 1,193 new allied health professionals. These numbers will continue to grow as the teams continue to develop and become more operational.

The ministry has made impressive progress during the past four years toward its goal of increasing access to family health care for Ontarians. A central goal has been reducing the number people in Ontario who do not have regular access to a family health care provider. A commitment has been made to implement 50 new Family Health Teams over the next four years. The implementation of the 50 new Teams is part of the government's Family Care for All Strategy which will improve access to comprehensive family health care for all Ontarians.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 12,400,000 12,500,000 2 12,600,000 2 12,700,000 2 12,800,000 2
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 135 134 132 132 130
b. chronic care 13 14 14 14 15
c. rehabilitative care 4 4 4 4 4
d. other 3 4 4 4 5
e. total 155 3 156 3 154 3 154 3 154 3
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available
b. chronic care not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available
c. rehabilitative care not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available
d. other not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available 4 not available
e. total 12,300,
000,000
12,700,
000,000
13,500,
000,000
14,032,
000,000
14,700,
000,000
Private
For-Profit
Facilities
2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
c. total not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services($):
a. surgical facilities not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
c. total not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5 not available 5
Insured Hospital Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 8,184 8,374 8,037 7,130 9,457
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 52,000,000 54,000,000 49,870,000 45,712,000 65,183,888
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 154,460 174,848 139,036 166,373 161,193
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 23,000,000 29,100,000 25,576,000 31,052,000 38,030,901
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 21,710 23,845 20,800 24,327 21,869
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 42,466,826 66,916,271 76,828,432 113,663,332 136,036,532
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). not available 6 not available 6 not available 6 not available 6 not available
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). not available 7 not available 7 not available 7 not available 7 not available
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 10,660 10,774 11,114 11,288 11,511
b. specialists 11,016 11,460 12,087 12,571 12,900
c. other not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not available 8
d. total 21,676 22,234 23,201 23,859 24,411
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 14 12 13 10 9
b. specialists 62 39 36 31 30
c. other not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not applicable 8 not available 8
d. total 76 51 49 40 39
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not available 8
b. specialists not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not available 8
c. other not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not available 8
d.total not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not applicable 9 not available 9
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) 200,825,265 10 215,980,656 10 222,632,480 10 230,383,956 10 238,551,791 10
b. total payments ($) 6,424,329,400 10 7,072,813,000 10 7,791,581,966 10 8,410,478,000 10 9,324,794,000 10
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 191,451,200 203,656,000 204,545,656 206,136,644 209,528,058
b. total payments ($) 4,973,000,000 5,312,085,618 5,642,049,000 5,962,775,787 6,528,353,572
Insured Physician Services Provided To Residents In Another Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 534,179 573,830 627,375 759,570 683,377
20. Total payments ($). 20,300,000 21,164,600 23,754,500 25,180,900 26,471,536
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 179,410 200,723 182,693 211,323 247,741
22. Total payments ($). 11,635,998 13,211,381 19,351,944 37,901,297 54,780,594
Insured Surgical-dental Services Within Own Province Or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 335 330 316 317 291
24. Number of services provided (#). 86,000 87,111 92,264 91,540 99,212
25. Total payments ($). 11,786,600 12,546,397 14,229,896 13,423,384 13,916,464

Manitoba

Introduction

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living provides leadership and support to protect, promote and preserve the health of all Manitobans. The Department is organized into six distinct but related functional areas: Corporate and Provincial Program Support; Primary Care & Healthy Living; Health Workforce; Regional Affairs; Administration, Finance and Accountability and Public Health. Their mandates are derived from established legislation and policy pertaining to health and wellness issues. The roles and responsibilities of the Department include policy, program and standards development, fiscal and program accountability and evaluation. In addition, specific direct services continue to be provided in the areas of mental health, diagnostics/laboratory, tuberculosis prevention and control and public health inspection.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living remains committed to the principles of Medicare and improving the health status of all Manitobans. In support of these commitments, a number of activities were initiated in 2008/09:

  • Manitoba continues to make progress in improving patient access through the reduction of wait lists and wait times in priority areas. Access targets to address national benchmarks have been developed for cardiac surgery, cataract surgery, radiation therapy, and hip and knee joint replacement. The provincial patient access registry has instituted a standardized way of collecting wait time data to improve reporting and support ongoing efforts to ensure a timely and seamless journey for patients through the system.
  • Manitoba provides disaster management through intense operational support and guidance in emergencies such as the summer 2008 forest fires, the spring 2009 flood, and the February 2009 ice storm.
  • Manitoba Health has been advancing public health through initiatives to reduce disparities in health status and decrease preventable diseases and injuries, improving surveillance and analysis of public health threats, updating the legislative/regulatory framework required to protect the health of the public, addressing and responding to existing and emerging diseases, reviewing preparedness plans for public health emergencies, responding to environmental health issues, and working collaboratively with partners to improve data collection, information sharing, and research related to public health best practice.
  • We have been further developing our Health Human Resources across a range of health professions through a number of recruitment and retention strategies. Net gains in the number of physicians and nurses in the province continued to be seen in fiscal 2008/09. The Northern Remote Physician Practice Initiative was established to address the retention of graduates in northern/ remote settings. As of March 31, 2009, 384 rural and northern nursing vacancies were filled through the Conditional Grant Program. There has also been progress in other disciplines, such as an increase in midwifery positions (from 34.0 to 41.5) and the introduction of 18 new nurse practitioner positions (from 58 to 76).
  • Continued focus on healthy living was advanced in the department's seven priority areas of healthy living - active living, healthy eating, mental health promotion and substance abuse reduction, chronic disease prevention, tobacco reduction, injury prevention, and healthy sexuality. Highlights include:

Active Living:

  • Received the 2008 Canada in motion Russ Kisby Physical Activity Leadership Award in recognition of excellence in physical activity leadership for Manitoba in motion; this initiative includes Healthy Schools in motion, Communities in motion and Workplaces in motion.

Healthy Eating:

  • With various partners, Manitoba Health engaged in promotion of the Northern Healthy Foods Initiative, the Manitoba Food Charter, a Food in Schools website, the School Fruit and Vegetable Snack pilot program, and the Dial-A-Dietician service.

Mental Health Promotion and Substance Abuse Reduction:

  • The Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy was developed with a focus on aboriginal youth; enhancement of community-based eating disorders; and improved access to addiction services in the province.

Chronic Disease Prevention:

  • A Healthy Living guide and Healthy Together Now were distributed as resources; 83 communities were supported to implement Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative action plans; and over 700 health care providers were trained as part of the Regional Diabetes Program.

Tobacco Reduction:

  • Developed a website to support the Review & Rate V teen smoking prevention program; completed a renewed strategy for tobacco control and disease prevention; continued to support Not on Tobacco, a teen smoking cessation program, and Students Working Against Tobacco.

Injury Prevention:

  • With various partners, Manitoba Health continued to promote such successful initiatives as the Low-Cost Bike Helmet campaign, the Personal Flotation Device Loaner Program, the Community Water Safety Grant program, Falls Prevention and Vision Screen project, and the Safe Play Areas on Farms grant program.

Healthy Sexuality:

  • Manitoba Health continued implementation of a healthy sexuality plan to address the needs of five priority populations.
  • We committed funding and began implementation of thirteen Maternal and Child Healthcare Services (MACHS) Initiatives that focus on supporting access to service closer to home, addressing service gaps, and supporting promising (best) practice.
  • Manitoba Health continued to work with interdepartmental and community partners on the children's therapy initiative, action planning for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and healthy living resources for persons with disabilities.
  • In partnership with the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence, Manitoba Health introduced the Women's Health Profile by conducting a gender-based analysis of provincial and federal data to identify over 140 indicators of women's and teen girls' health.
  • Manitoba Health supported the falls prevention component of the SafetyAid Program for seniors in conjunction with Manitoba Justice, Seniors and Healthy Aging Secretariat and community partners.
  • We worked with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to provide the Clinic for Alcohol and Drug Exposed Children (CADEC) with additional funding to stabilize services, and to expand diagnostic services for children and youth with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Manitoba promotes and encourages major provincial quality improvement endeavours including the provision of guidance and support for regions as they continue to operationalize legislative requirements for critical incident reporting and management. This mandatory reporting and learning process is aimed at enhancing patient safety by reducing the potential for recurrence of critical incidents. In June 2007, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced the province and its partners will invest $3.6 million to construct a clinical learning and simulation facility (CLSF). This facility opened in 2008. The state-of-the-art facility will bring medical, nursing and allied health-care students and professionals together to practice medical and surgical procedures prior to contact with patients. The Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety (MIPS), established in 2004, continues to implement a variety of activities to promote, coordinate and stimulate research and initiatives that enhance patient safety and quality care. These include planned expansion

of their health literacy initiative, It's Safe to Ask, to include education and awareness relative to medication safety. This initiative will consist of practical tools for both patients and health care providers. The aim of this initiative is to enhance clear communication and help reduce health care errors and critical incidents. MIPS sponsors the Western Node of Safer Healthcare Now. MIPS continues to organize education events for the public and healthcare providers on various patient safety topics. MIPS is working on another important initiative to address medication safety relative to the use of abbreviations.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living restructured provincial drug programs to establish three functional units (Operational Program Management, Professional Services and Drug Management Policy) to facilitate comprehensive, coordinated and proactive drug benefit program management for the publiclyfunded drug programs in Manitoba. The Operational Program Management Unit is responsible for operational issues. The Professional Services Unit focuses on formulary management and implementation of drug management intervention strategies. The Drug Management Policy Unit provides for focused policy and planning capacity on emerging drug management and utilization issues. In 2008/09, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living extended the Utilization Management Agreement (UMA) strategy implemented in 2007 for brand-name drugs, to generic products. In Manitoba, UMA are now requisite for listing new products on the formulary. As part of the UMA process, drug companies are required to develop a business case to demonstrate the proposed utilization of the drug product and how that particular product's value proposition compared to other products in the class. On the basis of the proposal, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living modifies the formulary listing of the existing and new products, and ensures, as part of the legal contract, that the most cost-effective product is appropriately promoted.

Aging in Place is the central principle in the planning of all provincial government housing and long-term care initiatives. By increasing the opportunity to remain in one's community, or age in place, Manitobans will be provided options to continue to contribute to the social, civic and economic life of the community. Aging in Place is a matter of preserving the ability of Manitobans from every culture to remain safely in their own community, to enjoy the familiar social, cultural and spiritual interactions that enrich their lives even though their health may be compromised. Aging in Place supports an individual's identity and sense of self within the larger community, whether it is in rural or urban areas, in northern or aboriginal communities. The principles of Aging in Place address the need for affordable options for housing with supports, as alternatives to premature personal care home placement. The strategy addresses the elements between an individual living in their home and Personal Care Homes.

Aging in Place is a lifestyle that supports the following inherent values:

  • Safety and security - living with reduced risks in the home
  • Flexibility - adjusting services to meet changing needs
  • Choice - freedom to choose among options
  • Equity - equal access for all seniors
  • Dignity - Ability to maintain sense of self worth, self esteem and humanness

It is anticipated that supporting individuals to remain in their community and age in place will not only promote independence in daily living, but will also maximize overall well-being and health.

Based on the Aging in Place principle, Manitoba's Long Term Care strategy was launched in 2006. Creating increased community options with supports provides alternatives to premature or inappropriate placement in personal care homes. This enables Manitobans to remain in their communities to enjoy the social, cultural and spiritual interactions that enrich their lives even though their health may be compromised. The strategy currently supports more than 3,300 community living units in the province.

Considerable health capital investments in acute care facilities have been made: the Pediatric Opthalmology Clinic Redevelopment at the Health Sciences Centre, the Community Cancer Program at the Deloraine Health Centre, Hemodialysis Expansion at Thompson General Hospital, renovations to St. Anthony's Hospital (The Pas Health Complex), Emergency/Special Care Unit and Dialysis Units, Outpatient Chemotherapy Program and Obstetric Facilities at Bethesda Hospital in Steinbach are projects that were completed in 2008/09. Further, planning was initiated for the redevelopment of the Women's Hospital at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. The new hospital will replace the existing facility as a provincial centre of excellence in women's health services offering state-of-the-art maternity, newborn and women's medical and surgical care. Capital investments in long-term care facilities included a new 100-bed personal care home in Neepawa.

Further provincial program capital investments included: providing significant tenant improvements, expansions, renovations or redevelopments to the Swan Valley Health Centre, the St. Anne, Bethesda, St. Anthony's and Flin Flon Hospitals, a new health care centre in Wabowden, continued enhancement of rehabilitation services with planning for the second stage of the WRHA Rehabilitation Re-configuration Project, the community health services building in Dauphin, the Lourdeon Wellness Centre in Notre dame de Lourdes, replacement of the Ilford Nursing Station with a new 5-bed freestanding residence in Thompson for persons with acquired brain injuries.

In addition, significant capital investments include the following ongoing projects in construction during 2008/09: Emergency Department Renovations at Concordia General Hospital, Emergency Department Redevelopment at Seven Oaks General Hospital, phase 1 of the Emergency Department and Oncology Redevelopment at Victoria General Hospital, Cardiac Sciences Centre at St. Boniface General Hospital, Sleep Lab at the Misericordia Health Centre, North End Wellness Centre - Primary Health Care Office, Emergency Room Redevelopment at the Portage District General Hospital, Redevelopment of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, a 24-bed residential addictions treatment facility - Thompson Residential Care and Outreach Facility.

In January, 2007 the Colorectal Cancer (CRC) Screening Program was launched. Phase 1 started on April 1, 2007 and was completed in October 2008. This phase targeted a population of select individuals aged 50-74 years in the Assiniboine and Winnipeg Regional Health Authorities, including both rural and urban populations. As of December 31, 2008, a total of 24,174 people had been invited to participate and there has been a 17.5% return rate. Phase 2 funding was announced in September 2008; this will enable the program to expand province-wide. The program will be inviting eligible people from all regions to participate in colorectal cancer screening. Other CRC screening activities include a Colorectal Cancer awareness campaign and further education of primary care providers.

The Role and Mission of Manitoba Health and Healthy Living

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is a line department within the government structure and operates under the provisions of statutes and responsibilities charged to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Healthy Living. The formal mandates contained in legislation, combined with mandates resulting from responses to emerging health and health care issues, establish a framework for planning and delivering services.

The stated vision of Manitoba Health and Health Living is "Healthy Manitobans through an appropriate balance of prevention and care." Manitoba Health and Healthy Living leads the way to quality health care built with creativity, compassion, confidence, trust and respect, and plays a leadership role in promoting prevention and positive health practices.

It is the mission of Manitoba Health and Healthy Living "to meet the health needs of individuals, families and their communities by leading a sustainable, publicly administered health system that promotes well-being and provides the right care, in the right place, at the right time." This mission is accomplished by providing strategic direction and leadership to the provincial health system. This includes defining provincial goals, setting priorities, establishing standards and policies based on evidence and best practices, promoting quality and safety, encouraging innovation, allocating resources within the framework of provincial legislation, and assuring accountability while balancing health service needs with fiscal responsibility.

In addition, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living plays a leadership role in promoting and co-ordinating strategies across departments that reflect the determinants of health which lie outside the traditional health care system. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living also manages the insured benefits claims payments for residents of Manitoba related to the cost of medical, hospital, personal care, Pharmacare and other health services. Most direct services are delivered through regional health authorities, and other health care organizations; however, the department manages the direct operations of Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Cadham Provincial Laboratory.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Manitoba Health Services Insurance Plan (MHSIP) is administered by the Department of Health under the Health Services Insurance Act, R.S.M. 1987, c. H35. The Act1 was significantly amended in 1992, dissolving the Manitoba Health Services Commission and transferring all assets and responsibilities to Manitoba Health and Healthy Living. The dissolution took effect on March 31, 1993.

The MHSIP is administered under this Act for insurance in respect of the costs of hospital, personal care and medical and other health services referred to in acts of the Legislature or regulations thereunder. The Act was amended on January 1, 1999, to provide insurance for out-patient services relating to insured medical services provided in surgical facilities.

The Minister of Health is responsible for administering and operating the Plan. Under section 3(2), the Minister has the power:

  • to provide insurance for residents of the province in respect of the costs of hospital services, medical services and other health services, and personal care; to plan, organize and develop throughout the province a balanced and integrated system of hospitals, personal care homes and related health facilities and services commensurate with the needs of the residents of the province;
  • to ensure that adequate standards are maintained in hospitals, personal care homes and related health facilities, including standards respecting supervision, licensing, equipment and inspection, or to make such arrangements that the Minister considers necessary to ensure that adequate standards are maintained;
  • to provide a consulting service, exclusive of individual patient care, to hospitals and personal care homes in the province or to make such arrangements as the Minister considers necessary to ensure that such a consulting service is provided;
  • to require that the records of hospitals, personal care homes and related health facilities are audited annually and that the returns in respect of hospitals, which are required by the Government of Canada, are submitted; and
  • in cases where residents do not have available medical services and other health services, to take such measures that are necessary to plan, organize and develop medical services and other health services commensurate with the needs of the residents.

The Minister may also enter into contracts and agreements with any person or group that he or she considers necessary for the purposes of the Act. The Minister may also make grants to any person or group for the purposes of the Act on such terms and conditions that are considered advisable. Also, the Minister may, in writing, delegate to any person any power, authority, duty or function conferred or imposed upon the Minister under the Act or under the regulations.

There were no legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2008/2009 fiscal year that affected the public administration of the Plan.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Section 6 of the Act requires the Minister to have audited financial statements of the Plan showing separately the expenditures for hospital services, medical services and other health services. The Minister is required to prepare an annual report, which must include the audited financial statements, and to table the report before the Legislative Assembly within 15 days of receiving it, if the Assembly is in session. If the Assembly is not in session, the report must be tabled within 15 days of the beginning of the next session.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

Section 7 of the Act requires that the Office of the Auditor General of Manitoba (or another auditor designated by the Office of the Auditor General of Manitoba) audit the accounts of the Plan annually and prepare a report on that audit for the Minister. The most recent audit reported to the Minister and available to the public is for the 2008/2009 fiscal year and is contained in the Manitoba Health and Healthy Living Annual Report, 2008/2009. It will also be available on the Province's website in late October 2009.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Sections 46 and 47 of the Act, as well as the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93), provide for insured hospital services.

As of March 31, 2009, there were 96 facilities providing insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients. Hospitals are designated by the Hospitals Designation Regulation (M.R. 47/93) under the Act.

Services specified by the Regulation as insured in- and out-patient hospital services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; drugs, biologics and related preparations; routine medical and surgical supplies; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; and use of radiotherapy, physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy facilities, where available.

All hospital services are added to the list of available hospital services through the health planning process. Manitoba residents maintain high expectations for quality health care and insist that the best available medical knowledge and service be applied to their personal health situations. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is sensitive to new developments in the health sciences.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The enabling legislation that provides for insured physician services is the Medical Services Insurance Regulation (M.R. 49/93) made under the Act.

Physicians providing insured services in Manitoba must be lawfully entitled to practise medicine in Manitoba, and be registered and licensed under the Medical Act. As of March 31, 2009, there were 2,370 physicians on the Manitoba Health and Healthy Living Registry.

A physician, by giving notice to the Minister in writing, may elect to collect the fees for medical services rendered to insured persons other than from the Minister, in accordance with section 91 of the Act and section 5 of the Medical Services Insurance Regulation. The election to opt out of the health insurance plan takes effect on the first day of the month following a 90-day period from the date the Minister receives the notice.

Before rendering a medical service to an insured person, physicians must give the patient reasonable notice that they propose to collect any fee for the medical service from them or any other person except the Minister. The physician is responsible for submitting a claim to the Minister on the patient's behalf and cannot collect fees in excess of the benefits payable for the service under the Act or regulations. To date, no physicians have opted out of the medical plan in Manitoba.

The range of physician services insured by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is listed in the Payment for Insured Medical Services Regulation (M.R. 95/96). Coverage is provided for all medically required personal health care services that are not excluded under the Excluded Services Regulation (M.R. 46/93) of the Act, rendered to an insured person by a physician.

During fiscal year 2008/2009, a number of new insured services were added to a revised fee schedule. The Next link will take you to another Web site Physician's Manual can be viewed on-line at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/manual/index.html

In order for a physician's service to be added to the list of those covered by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, physicians must put forward a proposal to their specific section of the Manitoba Medical Association (MMA). The MMA will negotiate the item, including the fee, with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living may also initiate this process.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Insured surgical and dental services are listed in the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93) under the Act. Surgical services are insured when performed by a certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a licensed dentist in a hospital, when hospitalization is required for the proper performance of the procedure. This Regulation also provides benefits relating to the cost of insured orthodontic services in cases of cleft lip and/or palate for persons registered under the program by their 18th birthday, when provided by a registered orthodontist. As of March 31, 2009, 609 dentists were registered with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living.

Providers of dental services may elect to collect their fees directly from the patient in the same manner as physicians and may not charge to or collect from an insured person a fee in excess of the benefits payable under the Act or regulations. No providers of dental services had opted out as of March 31, 2009.

In order for a dental service to be added to the list of insured services, a dentist must put forward a proposal to the Manitoba Dental Association (MDA). The MDA will negotiate the fee with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

The Excluded Services Regulation (M.R. 46/93) made under the Act sets out those services that are not insured. These include: examinations and reports for reasons of employment, insurance, attendance at university or camp, or performed at the request of third parties; group immunization or other group services except where authorized by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living; services provided by a physician, dentist, chiropractor or optometrist to him or herself or any dependants; preparation of records, reports, certificates, communications and testimony in court; mileage or travelling time; services provided by psychologists, chiropodists and other practitioners not provided for in the legislation; in vitro fertilization; tattoo removal; contact lens fitting; reversal of sterilization procedures; and psychoanalysis.

The Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation states that hospital in-patient services include routine medical and surgical supplies, thereby ensuring reasonable access for all residents. The regional health authorities and Manitoba Health monitor compliance.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living has addressed the issue of patient charges for medical supplies, or "tray fees," by including tray fees in the listing of insured medical benefits.

All Manitoba residents have equal access to services. Third parties such as private insurers or the Workers Compensation Board do not receive priority access to services through additional payment. Manitoba has no formalized process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows regional health authorities and Manitoba Health and Healthy Living to monitor usage and service concerns.

To de-insure services covered by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, the Ministry prepares a submission for approval by Cabinet. The need for public consultation is determined on an individual basis depending on the subject.

No services were removed from the list of those insured by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living in 2008/2009.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Health Services Insurance Act defines the eligibility of Manitoba residents for coverage under the provincial health care insurance plan. Section 2(1) of the Act states that a resident is a person who is legally entitled to be in Canada, makes his or her home in Manitoba, is physically present in Manitoba for at least six months in a calendar year, and includes any other person classified as a resident in the Regulations, but does not include a person who holds a temporary resident permit under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), unless the Minister determines otherwise, or is a visitor, transient or tourist.

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93) extends the definition of residency. The extensions are found in sections 7(1) and 8(1). Section 7(1) allows missionaries, individuals with out-of-country employment and individuals undertaking sabbatical leave to be outside Manitoba for up to two years while still remaining residents of Manitoba. Students are deemed to be Manitoba residents while in full-time attendance at an accredited educational institution. Section 8(1) extends residency to individuals who are legally entitled to work in Manitoba and have a work permit of 12 months or more.

The Residency and Registration Regulation, section 6, defines Manitoba's waiting period as follows:

"A resident who was a resident of another Canadian province or territory immediately before his or her arrival in Manitoba is not entitled to benefits until the first day of the third month following the month of arrival."

There are currently no other waiting periods in Manitoba.

The MHSIP excludes residents covered under the following federal statutes: Aeronautics Act; Civilian War-related Benefits Act; Government Employees Compensation Act; Merchant Seaman Compensation Act; National Defence Act; Pension Act; Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act; Veteran's Rehabilitation Act; or under legislation of any other jurisdiction (Excluded Services Regulations subsection 2(2)). The excluded are residents who are members of the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and federal inmates. These residents become eligible for Manitoba Health and Healthy Living coverage upon discharge from the Canadian Forces, the RCMP, or if an inmate of a penitentiary has no resident dependants. Upon change of status, these persons have one month to register with Manitoba Health and Healthy Living (Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, subsection 2(3)).

3.2 Registration Requirements

The process of issuing health insurance cards requires that individuals inform and provide documentation to Manitoba Health and Healthy Living that they are legally entitled to be in Canada, and that they intend to be physically present in Manitoba for six consecutive months. They must also provide a primary residence address in Manitoba. Upon receiving this information, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living will provide a registration card for the individual and all qualifying dependants.

Manitoba has two health-related numbers. The registration number is a six-digit number assigned to an individual 18 years of age or older who is not classified as a dependant. This number is used by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living to pay for all medical service claims for that individual and all designated dependants. A nine-digit Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN) is used for payment of all hospital services and for the provincial drug program.

As of March 31, 2009, there were 1,209,401 residents registered with the health care insurance plan.

There is no provision for a resident to opt out of the Manitoba Health and Healthy Living Plan.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, sub-section 8(1)) requires that temporary workers possess a work permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for at least 12 consecutive months, be physically present in Manitoba and be legally entitled to be in Canada before receiving Manitoba Health and Healthy Living coverage. As of March 31, 2009, there were 6,514 individuals on work permits covered under the MHSIP. The definition of "resident" under the Health Services Insurance Act allows the Minister of Health or the Minister's designated representative to provide coverage for holders of a Minister's permit under the Immigration Act (Canada). No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2008/2009 fiscal year affected universality.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, section 6) identifies the waiting period for insured persons from another province or territory. A resident who lived in another Canadian province or territory immediately before arriving in Manitoba is entitled to benefits on the first day of the third month following the month of arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93 section 7(1)) defines the rules for portability of health insurance during temporary absences in Canada.

Students are considered residents and will continue to receive health coverage for the duration of their full-time enrolment at any accredited educational institution. The additional requirement is that they intend to return and reside in Manitoba after completing their studies. Manitoba has formal agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories for the reciprocal billing of insured hospital services. Manitoba has a bilateral agreement with the Province of Saskatchewan for Saskatchewan residents who receive care in Manitoba border communities.

In-patient costs are paid at standard rates approved by the host province or territory. Payments for inpatient, high-cost procedures and out-patient services are based on national rates agreed to by provincial or territorial health plans. These include all medically necessary services as well as costs for emergency care.

Except for Quebec, medical services incurred in all provinces or territories are paid through a reciprocal billing agreement at host province or territory rates. Claims for medical services received in Quebec are submitted by the patient or physician to Manitoba Health and Healthy Living for payment at host province rates.

In 2008/2009, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living made payments of approximately $38.6 million for hospital services and $9.7 million for medical services provided in Canada.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Residency and Registration Regulation (M.R. 54/93, sub-section 7(1)) defines the rules for portability of health insurance during temporary absences from Canada.

Residents on full-time employment contracts outside Canada will receive Manitoba Health and Healthy Living coverage for up to 24 consecutive months. Individuals must return and reside in Manitoba after completing their employment terms. Clergy serving as missionaries on behalf of a religious organization approved as a registered charity under the Income Tax Act (Canada) will be covered by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living for up to 24 consecutive months. Students are considered residents and will continue to receive health coverage for the duration of their full-time enrollment at an accredited educational institution. The additional requirement is that they intend to return and reside in Manitoba after completing their studies. Residents on sabbatical or educational leave from employment will be covered by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living for up to 24 consecutive months. These individuals also must return and reside in Manitoba after completing their leave.

Coverage for all these categories is subject to amounts detailed in the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation (M.R. 48/93). Hospital services received outside Canada due to an emergency or a sudden illness, while temporarily absent, are paid as follows:

In-patient services are paid based on a per-diem rate according to hospital size:

  • 1-100 beds: $280
  • 101-500 beds: $365
  • over 500 beds: $570

Out-patient services are paid at a flat rate of $100 per visit or $215 for haemodialysis.

The calculation of these rates is complex due to the diversity of hospitals in both rural and urban areas.

Manitobans requiring medically necessary hospital services unavailable in Manitoba or elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for costs incurred in the United States by providing Manitoba Health and Healthy Living with a recommendation from a specialist stating that the patient requires a specific, medically necessary service. Physician services received in the United States are paid at the equivalent Manitoba rate for similar services. Hospital services are paid at a minimum of 75 percent of the hospital's charges for insured services. Payment for hospital services is made in U.S. funds (the Hospital Services Insurance and Administration Regulation, sections 15-23).

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living made payments of approximately $6,701,1802 for hospital care provided in hospitals outside Canada in the 2008-2009 fiscal year. In addition, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living made payments of approximately $725,382 for medical care outside Canada.

In instances where Manitoba Health and Healthy Living has given prior approval for services provided outside Canada and payment is less than 100 percent of the amount billed for insured services, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living will consider additional funding based on financial need.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is not required for services provided in other provinces or territories or for emergency care provided outside Canada. Prior approval is required for elective hospital and medical care provided outside Canada. An appropriate medical specialist must apply to Manitoba Health and Healthy Living to receive approval for coverage.

No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in the 2008/2009 fiscal year had an effect on portability.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living ensures that medical services are equitable and reasonably available to all Manitobans. Effective January 1, 1999, the Surgical Facilities Regulation (M.R. 222/98) under the Health Services Insurance Act came into force to prevent private surgical facilities from charging additional fees for insured medical services.

In July 2001, the Health Services Insurance Act, the Private Hospitals Act and the Hospitals Act were amended to strengthen and protect public access to the health care system. The amendments include:

  • changes to definitions and other provisions to ensure that no charges can be made to individuals who receive insured surgical services or to anyone else on that person's behalf; and
  • ensuring that a surgical facility cannot perform procedures requiring overnight stays and thereby function as a private hospital.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living has developed a number of initiatives to increase clients' access to insured services such as Advanced Access, Health Links-Info Sante congestive heart failure initiative, collaborative practice and Bridging Generalist and Specialist Care.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

All Manitobans have access to hospital services including acute care, psychiatric extended treatment, mental health, palliative, chronic, long-term assessment/rehabilitation and to personal care facilities. There has been a shift in focus from hospital beds to community services, out-patients and day surgeries, which are also insured services.

Manitoba continues to have growth in the number of active practicing nurses through expansions to the nursing education programs and strategies of the Nurses Recruitment and Retention Fund (NRRF). According to the registration data received from the Colleges of Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, there were 16,126 active practicing nurses in Manitoba in 2008. This is a net gain of 245 more nurses than in 2007. There remain, however, ongoing nursing resource challenges in some rural and northern regions, and in specialty care areas in Winnipeg. Manitoba has increased nursing education seats throughout the province resulting in a more than doubling of enrolments in the last 10 years. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority's (WRHA) strategy, the Winnipeg Critical Care Nursing Education Program (WCNEO), was aimed at increasing the number of Intensive Care Nurses in the province, thus reducing nursing overtime costs, decreasing surgery cancellations and bed closures. The first class commenced in 2008. The NRRF also contributes significantly to improving the nursing supply in Manitoba through initiatives such as relocation assistance, the Conditional Grant Program to encourage new graduates to work in rural and northern regions (outside Winnipeg and Brandon), the personal care home grant, and funding for continuing education, and specialty education programs. The Extended Practice Regulation came to effect in June 2005, allowing nurses on the register to independently prescribe drugs, order screening and diagnostic tests, and perform minor surgical and invasive procedures as set out in regulation. The number of nurses on the register has grown from 4 in June 2005 to 73 as of March 31, 2009.

In addition, Manitoba has a wide range of other health care professionals. There are shortages in midwifery; the development of human resources for maternal/ newborn health services is being addressed by expansion of the Bachelor of Aboriginal Midwifery program delivered by the University College of the North, as well as development of bridging opportunities for internationally educated midwives. Shortages in some of the technology fields persist, primarily in rural and northern areas of the province. Shortages in some of the technology fields such as medical radiology technology, medical laboratory technology and sonography continue to be an issue; however recent expansions of training opportunities are expected to have positive impacts in the near future.

Manitoba currently has access to eight Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines for clinical testing. The first unit was installed in 1990 by the St. Boniface Research Foundation. In Winnipeg, there are three MRI machines located at St. Boniface General Hospital, two located at the Health Sciences Centre and one at Pan Am Clinic. One of the MRIs at the Health Science Centre was a joint initiative with the National Research Council (NRC). The first MRI in Manitoba to be located outside of Winnipeg was opened at Brandon Regional Health Centre in June 2004. The eighth and newest MRI was installed at the Boundary Trails Health Centre in south central Manitoba and became operational November 2007.

Manitoba has 20 Computerized Tomography (CT) scanners, 11 in Winnipeg, 8 in rural Manitoba and one in CancerCare Manitoba. In Winnipeg there are three (one for paediatric patients) at the Health Sciences Centre, two at the St. Boniface General Hospital, one each at Victoria General Hospital, Misericordia Health Centre, Seven Oaks, Grace and Concordia Hospitals. The rural CT scanners are located throughout the province, in Dauphin Regional Health Centre, Thompson General Hospital, Brandon Regional Health Centre, Boundary Trails Health Centre, Bethesda Hospital, The Pas Hospital, Selkirk Regional Health Centre and Portage District General Hospital.

There are a total of 101 diagnostic ultrasound scanners in Manitoba. Seventy-four are in Winnipeg health facilities and 27 are in the rural and northern regional health authorities. The 101st scanner, added in June 2008, is a mobile unit that serves both Eriksdale and Arborg in Manitoba's Interlake region.

Wait Times funding supported the purchase and installation of an additional echo cardiography scanner in Brandon in August 2007, which supported enhanced echo services and lower wait times for echo scans.

In February 2008, Deloraine opened the 16th Community Cancer Program (CCP) site within Manitoba's Community Cancer Program Network (CCPN). The CCPN is a shared-care model in which CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) and Regional Health Authority health care staff partner to provide residents with chemotherapy and other cancer services closer to home. The CCPN program delivers care across the cancer spectrum for most cancer diagnoses.

In early 2007, the Health Sciences Centre received a new Gamma Knife which replaced the Gamma Knife acquired in 2003. Winnipeg is the first site in North America and only second in the world to have this next generation of Gamma Knife, allowing Manitoba to maintain leadership in safe and high quality patient care. This upgraded version of the Knife expands its capability to allow for treatment of cancers in the lower head and neck, therefore avoiding highly disfiguring surgical procedures on many patients. This acquisition fits well with the government's announcement earlier this year of the acquisition of the Artiste. The Artiste is expected to be functional in early January 2010 housed within the Siemens Institute for Advanced Medicine.

Wait time funding has been continued for additional hip and knee joint replacements at several sites in Winnipeg, as well as the Brandon Regional Health Centre and Boundary Trails Health Centre. Prehabilitation clinics have also been established in Winnipeg, Brandon and Boundary Trails to optimize patient health prior to their joint replacement surgery, resulting in better health outcomes.

The Hip and Knee Institute (HKI) is located in a newly developed multi-story building. This building will be the location of a group of orthopaedic surgeons currently known as the Concordia Joint Replacement Group (CJRG). These doctors currently provide and will continue to provide over 1,400 joint replacements per year at the Concordia Hospital (1,491 over 2007) which accounts for 40% of the joint replacement surgeries conducted in Manitoba. The HKI also includes a private x-ray clinic and the Regional Prehab Program. This provides a one stop centre for patients who require hip and knee joint replacements.

The HKI will provide researchers with the facilities needed to recreate the conditions within the body that lead to implant failure. Hip and knee implant simulators will allow investigators to evaluate new implant technology as well as those that have been unsuccessful. This is being done through efforts such as a joint replacement registry and an implant retrieval and analysis program. There are currently over 25 studies underway.

Additional cataract procedures to reduce wait lists at Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg, Brandon Regional Health Centre, Minnedosa and Portage la Prairie have been maintained.

The Cardiac Sciences Program continues to develop with the opening of the Bergen Centre at St. Boniface Hospital and the construction within the Asper Research Centre to house a new intensive care unit and other cardiac care clinics.

In response to the ongoing challenges with the delivery of emergency departments and the recognition that system-based solutions would most effectively address these challenges, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, in conjunction with the regional health authorities and emergency department physicians, conducted a review of emergency department service across the province. The review was completed in November 2006 and as a result, short and medium to long-term strategies to enact system changes were developed. Psychiatric nurse positions were added in 2008/09 in a number of emergency departments across the province, to better support individuals presenting with an exacerbation of a mental illness. Additional nursing resources for a number of the province's busy emergency departments were funded in the year 2009.

The Wait Times Task Force was established in 2006 to oversee the implementation of the Manitoba Wait Time Strategy to improve access to quality care and reduce wait times. The Wait-Time Reduction Strategy targets the five priority areas identified by First Ministers in their 10-year plan to strengthen health care: cancer, cardiac, diagnostic imaging, joint replacement and sight restoration. In addition, Manitoba is targeting four other priority areas: children's dental surgeries, mental health programs, pain management and treatment for sleep disorders. A plan was developed in consultation with practitioners and stakeholders, which will increase the number of surgeries and procedures, invest in human resources, technology and capital, and provide regional health authorities with new wait-list management tools and resources. This work has now been fully implemented. In late 2007, the Patient Access Registry Tool (PART), an information system to capture data on all patients waiting for hospital-based medical consultation and/or surgical services within Manitoba, was implemented. Roll-out and clinician engagement in data submission is still underway.

The Wait Time Task Force established the Manitoba Patient Access Network (MPAN) in 2006 which is charged with developing new approaches to patient navigation, improved patient flow, better system integration and coordination, and improved patient access to services. To date, the MPAN has supported 12 projects focused on achieving the above aims at facilities throughout the province.

Federal funding was announced in March 2008, for the Bridging General and Specialist Care Project, which will create more seamless and timely transitions between general and specialist care by designing and implementing a criteria based interactive referral system, which includes the development of a specialists' catalogue.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

The Physician's Manual, a billing and fee guide, provides Manitoba physicians with a listing of medical services that are insured by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living. Five main system data checks and processes within the Manitoba Health and Healthy Living mainframe ensure that claims for insured services are processed in accordance with the Rules of Application in the Physician's Manual under the Health Services Insurance Act. Appeals under the Physician's Manual are heard by the Medical Review Committee. In addition, The Manitoba Health Appeal Board, a quasi-judicial tribunal hears appeals if a person is not satisfied with certain decisions of Manitoba Health and Healthy Living or is denied entitlement to a benefit under the Health Services Insurance Act.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living continued to support initiatives to improve access to physicians in rural and northern areas of the province. One of the supported initiatives, implemented in the fall of 2005, was a co-ordinated process to assist regional health authorities with the logistics of recruiting foreign-trained physicians. The co-ordinated process, administered through the Physician Resource Coordination Office (PRCO), is aimed at avoiding duplication of effort, while introducing future physician candidates to opportunities available in Manitoba.

The province has recently announced comprehensive physician recruitment and retention initiatives which have been informed, in part, by the PRCO and provincial stakeholders. There are initiatives that improve the flexibility in the health-care system to meet short, medium and long-term needs for physicians, focus on repatriation of Manitoban and Canadian graduates, and continue to improve the processes leading to licensure of international medical graduates.

Manitoba continues to experience increases in the number of new physicians registering with the licensing body. To encourage retention of Manitoba graduates, the province continued to provide a financial assistance grant, introduced in 2001, for students and residents. In return for financial assistance during their training, the student or resident agrees to work in Manitoba for a specific period after graduating. In 2005, the Practice Assistance Option of the Medical Student/Resident Financial Assistance Program (MSRFAP) was enhanced to provide two grants of $50,000 each to physicians re-entering training in an area of critical need in the province, such as emergency medicine or anaesthesia. In addition, five grants of $15,000 each have been made available to family physicians who have been working in an urban area and five grants of $25,000 each to family physicians working in a rural/northern area of the Province, subject to certain eligibility criteria. In one notable example, Manitoba has recently introduced greater funding flexibility to the return of service for students (for example, fourth year grants of $25,000 in return for service in a community designated by the Province) by allowing return by locum (maximum 3 months per year over 4 years). The province also provides a provincial specialist fund to specialists recruited to Manitoba in the amount of $15,000, to those candidates who have not received funds through MSRFAP. Recent announcements that further support physicians include the Physician Resettlement Fund and Physician Relief Fund. Eligibility criteria are being finalized in consultation with regional stakeholders at this time. Since 2001, Manitoba has supported an expansion in medical school class sizes, which continues in 2008 with the first year enrolment reaching 110 students. In 2008, the Province introduced the Northern Remote Physician Practice Initiative. The initiative is a two-year family medicine residency training stream-specific to the rural/north, after which applicants must return service of 2+ years in rural/remote Manitoba, and upon completion of return of service are guaranteed a specialty residency position in Manitoba. The program began with one student with a further ten joining this year. The recent announcement of a coordinator to assist in the repatriation of Manitoban and Canadian students training abroad will facilitate service to the Province.

Through the current assessment and training programs, foreign-trained physicians can achieve conditional licensure to practice medicine in return for agreeing to work in a sponsoring rural regional health authority. Eligible applicants for the Medical Licensure Program for International Medical Graduates may enter one year of residency training similar to family medicine residency training and upon successful completion of that training may be granted conditional licensure for primary care practice in a rural or northern community of Manitoba. Eligible applicants for the family practice assessment process leading to licensure will complete an orientation, a three day Family Practice Assessment and a three month Clinical Field Assessment. Upon successful completion of the assessments, candidates may be recommended for conditional licensure and upon commencement of practice are linked with a physician mentor for a minimum of 12 months. The Non-Registered Specialist Assessment Program initiative assists in facilitating the assessment of physicians whose practice will be limited to a specialty field of training. Through this program clinical assessments are organized and facilitated in order for foreign-trained physicians to meet the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) criteria for licensure.

By the end of 2008/09, the Manitoba Telehealth Network had grown to 65 Telehealth sites across the province, with 17 in Winnipeg and 48 in rural and northern Manitoba. This modern telecommunications link means patients can be seen by specialists and medical staff can consult with each other without having to endure the expense and inconvenience of travelling from rural or northern Manitoba to Winnipeg or a regional centre. Current information on Next link will take you to another Web site Manitoba Telehealth, including location of sites, is available at: http://www.mbtelehealth.ca/index.php.

5.4 Physician

Manitoba continues to employ the following methods of payment for physicians: fee-for-service, salaried, sessional and blended.

The Health Services Insurance Act governs payment to physicians for insured services. There were no amendments to the Health Services Insurance Act (HSIA) related to physician compensation during the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

Fee-for-service remains the dominant method of payment for physician services. Notwithstanding, alternate payment arrangements constitute a significant portion of the total compensation to physicians in Manitoba. Alternate-funded physicians are those who receive either a salary (employer-employee relationship) or those who work on an independent contract basis. Manitoba also uses blended payment methods to "top-up" the wages of physicians whose fee-for-service income may not be competitive, yet whose services remain vital to the province. As well, physicians may receive sessional payments for providing medical services, as well as stipends for on-call responsibilities.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living (MHHL) represents the government in negotiations with Manitoba physicians. The physicians are typically represented by Doctors Manitoba (DMB) with some notable exceptions, such as oncologists.

The August 15, 2008 settlement, effective April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011, maintained some terms of the June 27, 2005, Agreement including:

  • the continuation of a Physician Retention Fund ($5 million in the first year of the agreement, increasing to $6 million annually in subsequent years as well as $6 million per annum in any subsequent agreement);
  • the continuation of the Professional Liability Insurance Fund ($5 million per annum until 2011, and subject to renegotiation in the next agreement);
  • the continuation of the Continuing Medical Education Fund ($2 million per annum until 2011, and subject to renegotiation in the next agreement);
  • the continuation of a Maternity/Parental Benefits Fund ($1 million per annum until 2011, and subject to renegotiation in the next agreement);
  • a mechanism to initiate arbitration proceedings with respect to a subsequent agreement, if notice is given by either party by January 1, 2011; and
  • that physicians covered by the Agreement shall refrain from stopping work or curtailing services and will continue to provide services without interruption.

Other highlights of the August 15, 2008 negotiated settlement include:

  • a three-year term from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2011;
  • the establishment of a tripartite relationship between MHHL, DMB and the Regional Health Authorities (and certain other health system stakeholders) to enable the parties to work together to implement change within the health care system and develop strategies and models of care to provide better health care for Manitobans;
  • an overall increase of a 7.5 percent (noncompounded) to the Fee-For-Service Schedule of Benefits, as well as 7.5% increase (non-compounded) for alternatefunding agreements and arrangements as follows:
    • 2.5 percent effective April 1, 2008
    • 2.5 percent effective April 1, 2009
    • 2.5 percent effective April 1, 2010
  • an additional $15.41 million in 2008/09 devoted to increasing compensation for all fee-for-service blocks for market adjustment purposes;
    • an additional $9.17 million over the duration of the agreement allocated to improving existing fee-for-service programs as well as initiating new programs geared towards effecting health system change including;
    • expansion of eligibility to bill telemedicine tariffs by General Practitioners in order to improve access to care for patients in rural and northern Manitoba;
    • increase to the northern differential from 10% to 25%;
    • expansion of billing of telephone tariffs to GPs and previously excluded specialists in order to expedite and enhance the effectiveness of patient referrals and consults;
    • increase to Personal Care Home (PCHs) tariff rates to encourage GPs to provide on-going medical care to PCH patients;
    • new 65-69 and 70+ categories for some fee-for-service tariffs in order to better compensate physicians and thereby encourage them to treat older, often more complex patients;
  • an additional $29.0 million devoted to new remuneration schemes for alternately funded contracts with the aim of achieving health system change including;
    • compensation review of all general practitioners and specialists alternately funded remuneration;
    • statistics to ensure comparison and equity, based on geographic location, qualification and years of service.;
    • increase in compensation for more frequent, onerous on-call through a new specialist oncall premium;
    • increase to the northern geographic differential for alternate funding contracts from 10% to 25%;
    • new hospital care models for better treatment of unassigned patients;
    • new PCH on-call program in order to ensure afters hours coverage for PCHs; and
    • significant increase in compensation for Government Employed Doctors (GEDs) in order to build greater capacity for strategic planning within the Ministry.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

Division 3.1 of Part 4 of the Regional Health Authorities Act sets out the requirements for operational agreements between regional health authorities and the operators of hospitals and personal care homes, defined as "health corporations" under the Act.

Pursuant to the provisions of this division, Regional Health Authorities are prohibited from providing funding to a health corporation for operational purposes unless the parties have entered into a written agreement for this purpose that enables the health services to be provided by the health corporation, the funding to be provided by the Regional Health Authority for the health services, the term of the agreement, and a dispute resolution process and remedies for breaches. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Act enables them to request that the Minister of Health appoint a mediator to help them resolve outstanding issues. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the Minister is empowered to resolve the matter or matters in dispute. The Minister's resolution is binding on the parties.

There are three regional health authorities which have hospitals operated by health corporations in their health regions. The regional health authorities have concluded the required agreements with health corporations. The operating agreements enable the Regional Health Authority to determine funding based on objective evidence, best practices and criteria that are commonly applied to comparable facilities. In all other regions, the hospitals are operated by the Regional Health Authorities Act. Section 23 of the Act requires that Regional Health Authorities allocate their resources in accordance with the approved regional health plan.

The allocation of resources by regional health authorities for providing hospital services is approved by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living through the approval of the Regional Health Authorities regional health plans, which the Regional Health Authorities are required to submit for approval pursuant to section 24 of the Regional Health Authorities Act. Section 23 of the Act requires that Authorities allocate their resources in accordance with the approved regional health plan.

Pursuant to subsection 50(2.1) of the Health Services Insurance Act, payments from the MHSIP for insured hospital services are to be paid to the regional health authorities. In relation to those hospitals that are not owned and operated by a Regional Health Authority, the Regional Health Authority is required to pay each hospital in accordance with any agreement reached between the Regional Health Authority and the hospital operator.

No legislative amendments to the Act or the regulations in 2008/2009 had an effect on payments to hospitals.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Manitoba routinely recognizes the federal role regarding the contributions provided under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in public documents. Federal transfers are identified in the Estimates of Expenditures and Revenue (Manitoba Budget) document and in the Public Accounts of Manitoba. Both documents are published annually by the Manitoba government. In addition, Manitoba Health and Healthy Living cites the federal contribution from the First Ministers Ten Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care (the 2004 Health Accord--Wait Time Reduction Fund) in funding letters to the regional health authorities and other organizations who are implementing programs using this funding.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Manitoba has established community-based service programs as appropriate alternatives to hospital services. These service programs are funded by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living through the regional health authorities. The services include the following:

Diabetes and Chronic Disease Services: Preventable chronic health conditions can be minimized by addressing three common modifiable risk factors -- physical inactivity, poor eating habits and smoking -- through sustained programs and supportive policies. Regional health authorities provide a number of programs and services to promote the prevention and management of chronic disease. Manitoba instituted a Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative led by the community, coordinated by regional health authorities and supported by the provincial and federal governments. As well, multidisciplinary teams throughout the province deliver a comprehensive Regional Diabetes Program. A screening pilot was completed in partnership with the Brandon Regional Health Authority and is being initiated in partnership with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority to identify prediabetes/undiagnosed type 2 diabetes and validate a national screening tool. An innovative Manitoba Retinal Screening Vision Program was implemented to reduce wait times and improve access to ophthalmology services for northern residents. Regional health authorities are developing healthy living community teams and regional programming for chronic disease prevention and healthy living.

Personal Care Home Services: Insured personal care services are provided pursuant to the Personal Care Services Insurance and Administration Regulation under the Health Services Insurance Act. In 2005, the Personal Care Homes Standards Regulation and Personal Care Homes Licensing Regulation were enacted under the same Act, linking licensing to compliance with a range of standards designed to ensure safe, quality care. Both proprietary and nonproprietary homes are licensed by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living. Personal care homes are visited every two years to review progress in meeting personal care home standards. Residents of personal care homes pay a residential charge towards accommodation costs, with the cost of care funded by Manitoba Health and Healthy Living through the regional health authorities.

Personal care services assist Manitobans who can no longer remain safely at home because of a disability or their health care needs. Personal care services include:

  • meals (including meals for special diets);
  • assistance with daily living activities like bathing, getting dressed and using the bathroom;
  • necessary nursing care;
  • routine medical and surgical supplies;
  • prescription drugs eligible under Manitoba's Personal Care Home Program;
  • physiotherapy and occupational therapy, if the facility is approved to provide these services; and
  • routine laundry and linen services.

The cost of these services is shared by the provincial government (Manitoba Health and Healthy Living) and the client who needs the services. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living pays the majority of the cost through the regional health authorities. The personal care service client pays the other portion of the cost. This cost is a daily charge calculated for each individual resident based on their net income minus taxes payable (as per their most recent year's Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency). For 2008, the minimum daily charge was $29.70 and the maximum was $69.70. There is an application process for requesting a reduction in charges.

Funding in 2008/09 supported the delivery of insured personal care services for 9,683 licensed personal care home beds and 150 unlicensed interim (temporary) personal care beds plus a total of 179 chronic care beds, and 149 rehabilitation beds.

New construction projects during 2008/09 included the Neepawa PCH 100-bed facility which replaced the 124-bed Eastview Lodge in Neepawa. As well, in Winnipeg the two Sharon Personal Care homes, total 229 beds, were amalgamated as a 200 bed facility renamed The Saul and Claribell Simkin Centre of the Sharon Home in September 2008.

In April 2008, MHHL committed $3 million over three years to support residents at six First Nations personal care homes. The $3 million in provincial funding will be provided in a phased in approach over three years. Funding for residents assessed at care levels 1-3 and for capital upgrades to these facilities will continue to be provided by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Home Care Services: The Manitoba Home Care Program is the oldest comprehensive, province-wide, universal home care program in Canada. Manitoba Home Care provides effective, reliable and responsive community health care services to support independent living; to develop appropriate care options to support continued community living; and to facilitate admission to institutional care when community living is no longer a viable alternative. Home Care services are delivered through the local offices of the regional health authorities and include a broad range of services based on a multi-disciplinary assessment of individual needs. Home Care case co-coordinators conduct assessments and develop individual care plans, which may include Self or Family Managed Care, personal care assistance, household maintenance, professional health care, in-home family relief, facility-based respite care, some supplies and equipment, access to adult day programs, and/or access to support services to seniors' programs that coordinate volunteers, congregate meal programs, transportation, emergency response systems and other activities that support continued independent community living.

MHHL partnered with Manitoba Finance in the establishment of the Primary Caregiver Tax Credit (PCGTC) which benefits caregivers of Manitoba's residents assessed at Care Level 2 and higher.

Mental Health, Addictions and Spiritual Health Care Services: Manitoba Health and Healthy Living (MHHL) funds a comprehensive system of mental health services and supports across the province. Regional health authorities are funded by MHHL to provide the majority of services and MHHL directly funds some organizations to deliver services and programs, e.g., provincial mental health self-help. The mental health system in Manitoba includes: in-patient and out-patient services in acute care hospitals; case management including specialized case management programs; inpatient and community forensic mental health; crisis stabilization units and mobile crisis teams; proctor services; phone and online support; safe houses; self-help and family support; vocational and employment supports; housing and community living programs; social and recreational programs; suicide prevention activities; early intervention in mental illness; and, mental health education, prevention, and promotion.

Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC) is a 252-bed, direct-operating unit of Manitoba Health and Healthy Living and is the designated facility for the provision of long-term mental health inpatient treatment and rehabilitation services. Its four mental health program areas include acute, forensic, psychosocial rehabilitation, and geriatric services. SMHC also provides post-acute treatment and rehabilitation to medicallystable individuals impacted by a brain injury.

A key initiative undertaken in 2008/09 was MHHL's Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy. With the goal of preventing youth suicide, the strategy's identified objectives include improving access to mental health services, enhancing protective factors, and reducing modifiable risk factors. Notable initiatives include: building northern youth crisis stabilization and treatment capacity; enhancing access to child and adolescent psychiatric services in remote, northern, and First Nations communities through regular consultation via Telehealth; supporting communitybased, youth services that increase opportunities for Aboriginal children and youth to become more physically active and to develop skills and leadership abilities that promote community development; and, enhancing existing community-based education and peer support programs.

Addictions agencies are funded to provide a comprehensive range of residential and community-based services across the province. These agencies work to reduce the harm associated with alcohol and other drugs and are directed to both adults and youth. Programs include education, prevention, rehabilitation and follow-up supports such as second-stage housing. Also, one regional health authority funds two detox programs while another funds a residential treatment agency for adults. Manitoba's five-point addictions strategic plan was announced in June 2008. Its objectives are to: Build a Better System; Improve Service Access; Increase Residential Treatment Capacity; Build Community-based Treatment Capacity; and, Enhance Addictions Research.

Spiritual health care has become integrated into the former Mental Health and Addictions Branch. Through the addition of a Provincial Spiritual Health Care Coordinator, there is recognition of the ever-growing awareness that health is made up of the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of being. The primary focus of this position is to support comprehensive spiritual health care through strategic planning, analytical study, consensus building, resource sharing and education. Each regional health authority has either a designated and specifically trained Spiritual Health Care Coordinator or a staff person who is responsible for the service. Two provincial committees facilitate the coordination of this aspect of health service: the Spiritual Health Care Management Network and the Provincial Spiritual Care Advisory Committee. These groups ensure communication, connection, and future planning for the province. The management network represents all the regional health authorities in the province. The community-based, advisory committee seeks includes members from a wide range of interfaith, religious, and spiritual groups.

Primary Health Care

The Primary Health Care's Strategic Plan addresses:

  • improved access to primary care services,
  • development of comprehensive multi-disciplinary collaborative teams,
  • establishment of improved linkages amongst the different levels of care,
  • skill building in the areas of quality improvement/leadership,
  • access to and use of information systems,
  • improved working environment for all primary care providers, and
  • demonstration of high quality care with a specific focus on chronic disease management.

Key initiatives to meet these objectives include: the implementation of Advanced Access, CareLink demonstration projects, sponsorship of Physician Management Institutes, support for the use of Electronic Medical Records, the development of a Peer to Peer Network, the introduction of Nurse Practitioners (NP), the expansion of the Physician Integrated Network, hosting customer care workshops, expansion of Midwifery Services, and establishing a provincial Maternal and Child HealthCare Services Task Force (MACHS).

Phase 1 of a provincial initiative to introduce Advanced Access has concluded with 16 clinics trained to implement it. In April 2009, the Minister of Health announced funding to sustain and expand Advanced Access.

Phase 2 will commence in November 2009 with the formal training and education of self-selected clinics. Additional sessions for future trainers will be incorporated into phase 2.

CareLink, supported by Canada Health Infoway, involves two demonstration projects focused on "Improving Patient Access to Quality Primary Care" in Manitoba. Both projects focus on the use of technology and system integration to enhance after-hours access to primary care and province-wide access to chronic disease self-management services particularly in rural, remote and northern regions of Manitoba.

The Primary Health Care Branch has sponsored several Canadian Medical Association Physician Management Institutes for physicians wishing to develop their leadership skills. The first advanced level institute, strategic planning is scheduled for October 2009.

As part of the Primary Care Information System Strategy, Manitoba conducted competitive process to qualify four vendors for the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems. Use of EMRs by physicians and other primary care providers is a key requirement to achieve the benefits of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and to reform the healthcare system through a focus on quality. Manitoba physicians cited uncertainty about what products to buy, and the time and complexity involved in evaluating products, as inhibitors to their adoption of EMRs, and they encouraged Manitoba Health and Healthy Living (MHHL) to show more leadership in this area. The objective of the resulting qualification process is to select a small number of products which satisfy the requirements of Manitoba stakeholders and whose vendors will commit to periodic updates to their product in order to meet emerging requirements to support primary care renewal, to connect to the Electronic Health Record and to meet new functional requirements.

The Physician Peer to Peer Network is an initiative sponsored by Canada Health Infoway and operated by Manitoba eHealth to encourage increased adoption and effective use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems by community physicians. The premise is that physicians are more likely to listen to advice from other physicians in considering, selecting and implementing systems to assist in running their practice and providing quality care to patients. Manitoba has recruited ten physicians with significant experience in implementing technology such as EMRs. The Physician Peer to Peer Network initiative provides a vehicle to reimburse these physicians for spending time with other physicians who are interested in acquiring systems -- guiding their investigations, answering specific questions, pointing them to other sources of information and possibly demonstrating how they use their own EMRs within their practice. This program is underway but will gear up in a more proactive manner once Manitoba has selected its Approved EMR Vendor List in October 2008.

Nurse Practitioners and midwives provide primary care services as employees of the regional health authorities. The integration of nurse practitioners (NPs) into primary care supports primary care renewal and interdisciplinary practice. The Registered Nurse (Extended Practice) Regulation was enacted in 2005, and 65 nurse practitioners were registered as of December 31, 2008. Most work in primary care settings. An NP is a registered nurse with additional education in health assessment, diagnosis and management of illnesses and injuries. In addition to the services a registered nurse can already provide, an NP can prescribe medications, order and manage the results of diagnostic and screening tests and perform minor surgical and invasive procedures. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is working with the regional health authorities to successfully integrate 30 newly funded NP positions across the province. Manitoba has 76 nurse practitioner positions.

Significant human resource needs in midwifery are being addressed by a Bachelor of Midwifery (Aboriginal Midwifery) program through University College of the North, and participation with other jurisdictions in development of bridging programs for internationally educated midwives. Manitoba Health and Healthy Living continues to work with the regional health authorities to develop new positions and provide supports for successful growth of this newly regulated profession.

Another key strategy includes the development of the Physician Integrated Network (PIN) Initiative. PIN focuses on the engagement of fee-for-service physician groups. The objectives of this initiative are: 1) to improve access to primary care, 2) to improve primary care providers' access to and use of information systems, 3) to improve the work life for all primary care providers, and 4) to demonstrate high quality care with a specific focus on chronic disease management. PIN will complete its Phase 1 demonstration period and move to its second phase in September 2008.

All four Phase 1 demonstration sites had an electronic medical record in place at the outset of the initiative. However, many changes to the software and the staff use of the systems were necessary in order to capture relevant indicators, extract useful information, and support the development of a blended funding model which included Quality Based Incentive Funding (QBIF). QBIF provides financial incentives based on selected clinical process indicators (derived from the Canadian Institute for Health Information primary care indicator list (April 2006)).

Phase 2 of the PIN initiative has been planned to not only increase the number of engaged family physicians in Manitoba, but also further develop:

  • a blended funding and remuneration model
  • a provincial indicator development framework
  • information management and information technology in primary care; and
  • data collection and analysis mechanisms.

Manitoba Health and Healthy Living is working with the Regional Health Authorities to support the development of collaborative, multi-disciplinary maternity care teams and to increase access to maternal/newborn health services and birth services closer to home. The development of Midwifery services is a key component of this work. Manitoba introduced, regulated and funded midwifery services as part of primary care in 2000. Midwives provide comprehensive, community-based maternal and newborn health services, and may provide well-woman care in underserved communities. Midwives prescribe medications, order and manage the results of diagnostic and screening tests, perform minor surgical and invasive procedures, admit to hospital and attend births in hospitals and homes. There are now 45.5 funded midwifery positions across the province; 25.5 outside the Winnipeg region including in rural, northern and remote communities. Midwives attend approximately 8% of provincial births; in some communities, midwives attend up to 30% of births. Midwifery services focus on priority populations and on closing the gap in services for Aboriginal people. A Midwifery Database, initiated in 2001, shows lower rates of pre-term birth, high and low birth weight and birth interventions for clients of midwifery services; while over 65% of clients are from priority populations.

In September 2008, Manitoba announced the support of the recommendations of the Maternal and Child Healthcare Services (MACHS) Task Force. The Task Force identified 25 initiatives that focus on supporting access to service closer to home, addressing service gaps, and supporting promising (best) practices. Examples of the initiatives include:

  • a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to allow physicians from across the province to quickly connect with obstetric/gynecologic/pediatric experts to consult;
  • a referral system to help expectant women, who have to relocate from First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities or rural/remote communities for extended periods of time to give birth, access coordinated prenatal and social supports;
  • training for peer support workers to offer pre- and post-natal social support as well as labour support for delivery in a culturally appropriate manner including services in First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages; and,
  • a new program to reduce Vitamin D deficiencies and rickets in women and their infants. Preparations for the implementation of the 13 initiatives, as well as the developmental work required for the other 12 initiatives, are currently underway.
Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of June 1st (#). 3 1,169,667 1,173,815 1,178,457 1,186,386 1,209,4014
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 985 985 955 955 955
b. chronic care 36 36 26 26 26
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available 26 26 26
d. other not available not available not available not available 17 17 17
e. total 98 98 97 97 97
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care 1,400,448,441 1,488,094,835 1,515,237,203 1,605,095,309 1,673,473,520
b. chronic care 96,364,992 71,117,677 75,250,507 76,373,042 71,993,446
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 1 1 1 1 1
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 1 1 1 1 1
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 1,290,989 1,305,132 1,292,830 1,289,964 1,553,438
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 1,290,989 1,305,132 1,292,830 1,289,964 1,553,438
Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 3,036 2,995 2,806 2,823 3,280
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 15,393,378 19,153,208 19,431,036 18,731,739 24,489,298
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 24,057 29,685 30,357 31,329 35,957
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 3,896,789 5,670,133 6,306,240 6,933,920 9,662,718
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 540 569 589 549 658
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 1,085,650 1,455,908 1,294,963 1,791,864 3,252,651
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 6,170 6,690 7,673 8,796 10,121
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 1,112,466 1,325,062 1,695,844 2,692,096 2,650,500
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 979 981 971 1,041 1,061
b. specialists 1,008 1,035 997 1,009 1,012
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. total 1,987 2,016 1,968 2,050 2,073
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not applicable not applicable not applicable 0 0
b. specialists not applicable not applicable not applicable 0 0
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable 0 0
d. total not applicable not applicable not applicable 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. specialists not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) 601,240,469 653,290,519 700,465,401 721,552,291 789,101,000
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 16,578,401 17,466,368 16,794,320 16,959,865 18,011,980
b. total payments ($) 415,749,772 442,485,124 438,813,332 459,573,573 476,227,782
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 209,152 228,090 248,900 290,775 243,881
20. Total payments ($). 8,109,229 8,966,703 9,997,409 9,985,987 9,721,570
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 5,714 6,138 6,486 6,414 7,446
22. Total payments ($). 426,937 608,524 541,403 701,829 725,382
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 114 115 122 120 131
24. Number of services provided (#). 3,774 3,863 4,205 4,616 4,833
25. Total payments ($). 875,657 936,091 984,621 1,107,357 1,175,314

Saskatchewan

Introduction

Through leadership and partnership, the Ministry of Health is dedicated to achieving a responsive, integrated and efficient health care system that puts the patient first, and enables people to achieve their best possible health by promoting healthy choices and responsible self-care.

The Ministry oversees a complex, multi-faceted health care system. It establishes policy direction, sets and monitors standards, provides funding, supports regional health authorities (RHAs) and other agencies, and ensures the provision of essential and appropriate services. The Ministry works in partnership with organizations at the local, regional, provincial, national and international level to ensure Saskatchewan residents have access to quality health care delivered under the Canada Health Act.

The Ministry works with a range of stakeholders to recruit and retain health care providers, including nurses and physicians, and regulates the delivery of health care. It is responsible for approximately 50 pieces of health-related legislation.

The Ministry is committed to encouraging and assisting Saskatchewan residents in achieving their best possible health and well-being. In carrying out this responsibility, the Ministry:

  • provides leadership on strategic policy and health professional groups;
  • establishes goals and objectives for the provision of health services;
  • leads financial planning for the health system and administers the allocation of funding;
  • provides provincial oversight for programs and services, including acute and emergency care, community services, and long-term care;
  • monitors and enforces standards in privately delivered programs such as personal care homes;
  • administers public health insurance programs such as the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Plan;
  • delivers the Saskatchewan Prescription Drug Plan;
  • operates the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory;
  • maintains relationships with regulated health profession groups; and
  • provides leadership on health human resource issues.

The Ministry has a dedicated workforce which provides strategic direction to the health care system and carries out a number of other activities, such as processing applications, paying bills, explaining programs and answering inquiries from the public. The Ministry is organized into 16 branches, each working to ensure that the province's health care system operates in an effective and sustainable manner while remaining accountable to the people of Saskatchewan.

The Ministry oversees a health care system that provides a range of services through a complex delivery system that includes 12 RHAs and the Athabasca Health Authority, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA), affiliated health care organizations and a diverse group of professionals, many of whom are in private practice. The health system as a whole employs more than 37,000 individuals. The province has 26 self-regulated health professions. The scope of services provided is illustrated by the following statistics, compiled during the 2008-09 fiscal year:

  • 75,822 operating room surgeries
  • More than 80,000 CT scans
  • 4.2 million family physician visits /11,500 visits per day
  • 540,000 immunizations
  • More than 47,000 mammograms

For more information on the Ministry's programs and services, please visit the Next link will take you to another Web site Ministry of Health website at: www.health.gov.sk.ca.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The provincial government is responsible for funding and ensuring the provision of insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services in Saskatchewan. Section 6.1 of the Department of Health Act authorizes that the Minister of Health may:

  • pay part of, or the whole of, the cost of providing health services for any persons or classes of person who may be designated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council;
  • make grants or loans or provide subsidies to regional health authorities, health care organizations or municipalities for providing and operating health services or public health services;
  • pay part of or the whole of the cost of providing health services in any health region or part of a health region in which those services are considered by the Minister to be required;
  • make grants or provide subsidies to any health agency that the Minister considers necessary; and
  • make grants or provide subsidies to stimulate and develop public health research and to conduct surveys and studies in the area of public health.

Sections 8 and 9 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act provide the authority for the Minister of Health to establish and administer a plan of medical care insurance for residents. The Regional Health Services Act provides the authority to establish 12 regional health authorities, replacing the former 32 district health boards.

Sections 3 and 9 of the Cancer Agency Act provide for establishing a Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and for the Agency to coordinate a program for diagnosing, preventing and treating cancer.

The mandates of the Ministry of Health, regional health authorities and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are outlined in the Department of Health Act, the Regional Health Services Act and the Cancer Agency Act.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Ministry of Health is directly accountable, and regularly reports, to the Minister of Health on the funding and administering the funds for insured physician, surgical-dental and hospital services.

Section 36 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act prescribes that the Minister of Health submit an annual report concerning the medical care insurance plan to the Legislative Assembly.

The Regional Health Services Act prescribes that a regional health authority shall submit to the Minister of Health:

  • a report on the activities of the regional health authority; and
  • a detailed, audited set of financial statements.

Section 54 of the Regional Health Services Act requires that regional health authorities and the Cancer Agency shall submit to the Minister any reports that the Minister may request from time to time. Regional health authorities and the Cancer Agency are required to submit a financial and health service plan to Saskatchewan Health.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Provincial Auditor conducts an annual audit of government departments and agencies, including Saskatchewan Health. It includes an audit of Ministry payments to regional health authorities, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and to physicians and dental surgeons for insured physician and surgical-dental services.

Section 57 of the Regional Health Services Act requires that an independent auditor, who possesses the prescribed qualification and is appointed for that purpose by a regional health authority and the Cancer Agency, shall audit the accounts of a regional health authority or the Cancer Agency at least once in every fiscal year. Each regional health authority and the Cancer Agency must annually submit to the Minister of Health a detailed, audited set of financial statements.

Section 34 of the Cancer Foundation Act prescribes that the records and accounts of the Foundation shall be audited at least once a year by the Provincial Auditor or by a designated representative.

The most recent audits were for the year ended March 31, 2009.

The audits of the Government of Saskatchewan, regional health authorities and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency are tabled in the Saskatchewan Legislature each year. The reports are available to the public directly from each entity or are available on their websites.

The Provincial Auditor's Office of Saskatchewan also prepares reports to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. These reports are designed to assist the government in managing public resources and to improve the information provided to the Legislative Assembly. They are available on the Next link will take you to another Web site Provincial Auditor's website: http://www.auditor.sk.ca

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Section 8 of the Regional Health Services Act (the Act) gives the Minister the authority to provide funding to a regional health authority or a health care organization for the purpose of the Act.

Section 10 of the Regional Act permits the Minister to designate facilities including hospitals, specialcare homes and health centres. Section 11 allows the Minister to prescribe standards for delivering services in those facilities by regional health authorities and health care organizations that have entered into service agreements with a regional health authority.

The Act sets out the accountability requirements for regional health authorities and health care organizations. These requirements include submitting annual operational and financial and health service plans for Ministerial approval (sections 50-51); establishing community advisory networks (section 28); and reporting critical incidents (section 58). The Minister also has the authority to establish a provincial surgical registry to help manage surgical wait times (section 12). The Minister retains authority to inquire into matters (section 59); appoint a public administrator if necessary (section 60); and approve general and staff practitioner by-laws (sections 42-44).

Funding for hospitals is included in the funding provided to regional health authorities.

As of March 31, 2009, the following facilities were providing insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients:

  • 66 acute care hospitals provided in- and out-patient services; and
  • one rehabilitation hospital provided treatment, recovery and rehabilitation care for patients disabled by injury or illness. Rehabilitation services are also provided in a geriatric rehabilitation unit in one other hospital and in two special-care facilities.

A comprehensive range of insured services is provided by hospitals. These may include: public ward accommodation; necessary nursing services; the use of operating room and case room facilities; required medical and surgical materials and appliances; x-ray, laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures; radiotherapy facilities; anaesthetic agents and the use of anaesthesia equipment; physiotherapeutic procedures; all drugs, biological and related preparations required for hospitalized patients; and services rendered by individuals who receive remuneration from the hospital.

Hospitals are grouped into the following five categories: Community Hospitals; Northern Hospitals; District Hospitals; Regional Hospitals; and Provincial Hospitals, so people know what they can expect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at each hospital. While not all hospitals will offer the same kinds of services, reliability and predictability means:

  • it is widely understood which services each hospital offers; and
  • these services will be provided on a continuous basis, subject to the availability of appropriate health providers.

Regional health authorities have the authority to change the manner in which they deliver insured hospital services based on an assessment of their population health needs and available health professional funding resources.

The process for adding a hospital service to the list of services covered by the health care insurance plan involves a comprehensive review, which takes into account such factors as service need, anticipated service volume, health outcomes by the proposed and alternative services, cost and human resource requirements, including availability of providers as well as initial and ongoing competency assurance demands. A regional health authority initiates the process and, depending on the specific service request, it could include consultations involving several branches within Saskatchewan Health as well as external stakeholder groups such as health regions, service providers and the public.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Sections 8 and 9 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act enable the Minister of Health to establish and administer a plan of medical care insurance for provincial residents. All fee items for physicians can be found in the Next link will take you to another Web site Physician Payment Schedule: www.health.gov.sk.ca/physician-information

The Saskatchewan Health Medical Services Branch Next link will take you to another Web site 2008-09 Annual Statistical Report is available on the website: www.health.gov.sk.ca/medical-services-2008-09

Physicians may provide insured services in Saskatchewan if they are licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan and have agreed to accept payment from the Ministry of Health without extra-billing for insured services.

As of March 31, 2009, there were 1,836 physicians licensed to practice in the province and eligible to participate in the medical care insurance plan.

Physicians may opt out or not participate in the Medical Services Plan but if doing so, they must fully opt out of all insured physician services. The optedout physician must also advise beneficiaries that the physician services to be provided are not insured and that the beneficiary is not entitled to be reimbursed for those services. Written acknowledgement from the beneficiary indicating that he or she understands the advice given by the physician is also required.

As of March 31, 2009, there were no opted-out physicians in Saskatchewan.

Insured physician services are those that are medically necessary, are covered by the Medical Services Plan of the Ministry of Health and are listed in the Physician Payment Schedule of The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations (1994) of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act.

There were approximately 3,300 different insured physician services as of March 31, 2009.

A process of formal discussion between the Medical Services Plan and the Saskatchewan Medical Association addresses new insured physician services and definition or assessment rule revisions to existing selected services (modernization) with significant monetary impact. The Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch manages this process. When the Medical Services Plan covers a new insured physician service or significant revisions occur to the Physician Payment Schedule, a regulatory amendment is made to the Physician Payment Schedule.

Although formal public consultations are not held, any member of the public may make recommendations about physician services to be added to the Plan.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dentists registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan and designated by the College as specialists able to perform dental surgery may provide insured surgical-dental services under the Medical Services Plan. As of March 31, 2009, 79 dental specialists were providing such services.

Dentists may opt out or not participate in the Medical Services Plan, but if doing so, must opt out of all insured surgical-dental services. The dentist must also advise beneficiaries that the surgical-dental services to be provided are not insured and that the beneficiary is not entitled to reimbursement for those services. Written acknowledgement from the beneficiary indicating that he or she understands the advice given by the dentist is also required.

There were no opted-out dentists in Saskatchewan as of March 31, 2009.

Insured surgical-dental services are limited to: services in connection with maxillo-facial surgery required as a result of trauma; treatment services for the orthodontic care of cleft palate; extraction of teeth when medically required for the provision of heart surgery, services for chronic renal disease and services for total joint replacement by prosthesis when a proper referral has been made and prior approval obtained from Medical Services Branch; and certain services in connection with abnormalities of the mouth and surrounding structures.

Surgical-dental services can be added to the list of insured services covered under the Medical Services Plan through a process of discussion and consultation with provincial dental surgeons. The Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch manages the process of adding a new service.

Although formal public consultations are not held, any member of the public may recommend that surgical-dental services be added to the Plan.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Uninsured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services in Saskatchewan include: in-patient and outpatient hospital services provided for reasons other than medical necessity; the extra cost of private and semi-private hospital accommodation not ordered by a physician; physiotherapy and occupational therapy services not provided by or under contract with a regional health authority; services provided by health facilities other than hospitals unless through an agreement with Saskatchewan Health; non-emergency bone mineral densitometry provided outside Saskatchewan without prior written approval; non-emergency insured hospital, physician or surgical-dental services obtained outside Canada without prior written approval; non-medically required elective physician services; surgical-dental services that are not medically necessary; and services received under other public programs including the Workers' Compensation Act, the federal Department of Veteran Affairs and the Mental Health Services Act.

As a matter of policy and principle, insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are provided to residents on the basis of assessed clinical need. Compliance is periodically monitored through consultation with regional health authorities, physicians and dentists. There are no charges allowed in Saskatchewan for medically necessary hospital, physician or surgical-dental services. Charges for enhanced medical services or products are permitted only if the medical service or product is not deemed medically necessary. Compliance is monitored through consultations with regional health authorities, physicians and dentists.

Insured hospital services could be de-insured by the government if they were determined to be no longer medically necessary. The process is based on discussions among regional health authorities, practitioners and officials from the Ministry of Health.

Insured surgical-dental services could be de-insured if they were determined not to be medically necessary. The process is based on discussion and consultation with the dental surgeons of the province and managed by the Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch.

Insured physician services could be de-insured if they were determined not to be medically required. The process is based on consultations with the Saskatchewan Medical Association and managed by the Executive Director of the Medical Services Branch.

Formal public consultations about de-insuring hospital, physician or surgical-dental services may be held if warranted.

No health services were de-insured in 2008-09.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act (sections 2 and 12) and The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations define eligibility for insured health services in Saskatchewan. Section 11 of the Act requires that all residents register for provincial health coverage. The penalty provisions in section 11 of the Act (Duty to Register) provide for a fine of up to $50,000 for giving false information or withholding information necessary for registering an individual.

Eligibility is limited to residents. A "resident" means a person who is legally entitled to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Saskatchewan, or any other person declared by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council to be a resident. Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada relocating from within Canada to Saskatchewan are generally eligible for coverage on the first day of the third month following the establishing of residency in Saskatchewan.

Returning Canadian citizens, the families of returning members of the Canadian Forces, international students and international workers are eligible for coverage on establishing residency in Saskatchewan, provided that residency is established before the first day of the third month following their admittance to Canada.

The following persons are not eligible for insured health services in Saskatchewan:

  • members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), federal inmates and refugee claimants; visitors to the province; and
  • persons eligible for coverage from their home province or territory for the period of their stay in Saskatchewan (e.g., students and workers covered under temporary absence provisions from their home province or territory).

Such people become eligible for coverage as follows:

  • discharged members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, if stationed in or resident in Saskatchewan on their discharge date;
  • released federal inmates (this includes those prisoners who have completed their sentences in a federal penitentiary and those prisoners who have been granted parole and are living in the community); and
  • refugee claimants, on receiving Convention Refugee status (immigration documentation is required).

3.2 Registration Requirements

The following process is used to issue a health services card and to document that a person is eligible for insured health services:

  • every resident, other than a dependent child under 18 years, is required to register;
  • registration should take place immediately following the establishment of residency in Saskatchewan;
  • registration can be carried out either in person in Regina or by mail;
  • each eligible registrant is issued a plastic health services card bearing the registrant's unique lifetime nine-digit health services number; and
  • cards are renewed every three years. (Current cards expire in December 2011.)

All registrations are family-based. Parents and guardians can register dependent children in their family units if they are under 18 years of age. Children 18 and over living in the parental home or on their own must self-register.

The number of persons registered for health services in Saskatchewan on June 30, 2008 was 1,035,544.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Other categories of individual who are eligible for insured health service coverage include persons allowed to enter and remain in Canada under authority of a work permit, student permit or Minister's permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Their accompanying family may also be eligible for insured health service coverage.

Refugees are eligible on confirmation of Convention status combined with an employment/student permit, Minister's permit or permanent resident, that is, landed immigrant, record.

On June 30, 2008, there were 7,290 such temporary residents registered with Saskatchewan Health.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

In general, insured persons from another province or territory who move to Saskatchewan are eligible on the first day of the third month following establishment of residency. However, where one spouse arrives in advance of the other, the eligibility for the later arriving spouse is established on the earlier of a) the first day of the third month following arrival of the second spouse; or b) the first day of the thirteenth month following the establishment of residency by the first spouse.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Section 3 of The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act prescribes the portability of health insurance provided to Saskatchewan residents while temporarily absent within Canada. There were no changes to the in-Canada temporary absence provisions in 2008-09.

Continued coverage during a period of temporary absence is conditional upon the registrant's intent to return to Saskatchewan residency immediately on expiration of the approved absence period as follows:

  • education: for the duration of studies at a recognized educational facility (written confirmation by a Registrar of full-time student status is required annually);
  • employment of up to 12 months (no documentation required); and
  • vacation and travel of up to 12 months.

Section 6.6 of the Department of Health Act provides the authority for paying in-patient hospital services to Saskatchewan beneficiaries temporarily residing outside the province. Section 10 of The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations (1994) provides payment for physician services to Saskatchewan beneficiaries temporarily residing outside the province.

Saskatchewan has bilateral reciprocal billing agreements with all provinces for hospital services and all but Quebec for physician services. Rates paid are at the host province rates. The reciprocal arrangement for physician services applies to every province except Quebec.

Payments/reimbursement to Quebec physicians, for services to Saskatchewan residents, are made at Saskatchewan rates (Saskatchewan Physician Payment Schedule). However, the physician fees may be paid at Quebec rates with prior approval. In recent years, the out-of-province reciprocal hospital per diem billing rates have increased significantly.

In 2008-09, expenditures for insured physician services in other provinces were $27.75 million. Insured hospital services in other provinces were $61.57 million.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

Section 3 of The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations describe the portability of health insurance provided to Saskatchewan residents who are temporarily absent from Canada.

Continued coverage for students, temporary workers and vacationers and travellers during a period of temporary absence from Canada is conditional on the registrant's intent to return to Saskatchewan residence immediately on the expiration of the approved period as follows:

  • education: for the duration of studies at a recognized educational facility (written confirmation by a Registrar of full-time student status is required annually);
  • contract employment of up to 24 months (written confirmation from the employer is required); and
  • vacation and travel of up to 12 months.

Section 3 of The Medical Care Insurance Beneficiary and Administration Regulations provides openended temporary absence coverage for persons whose principal place of residence is in Saskatchewan, but who are not able to satisfy the annual six months physical presence requirement because the nature of their employment requires travel from place to place outside Canada (e.g., cruise line workers).

Section 6.6 of the Department of Health Act provides the authority under which a resident is eligible for health coverage when temporarily outside Canada. In summary, a resident is eligible for medically necessary hospital services at the rate of $100 per in-patient and $50 per out-patient visit per day.

In 2008-09, $1.64 million was paid for in-patient hospital services and $1.47 million was spent on outpatient hospital services outside Canada. In 2008-09, expenditures for insured physician services outside Canada were $647,700.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement Out-of-Province

Saskatchewan Health covers most hospital and medical out-of-province care received by its residents in Canada through a reciprocal billing arrangement. This arrangement means that residents do not need prior approval and may not be billed for most services received in other provinces or territories while travelling within Canada. The cost of travel, meals and accommodation are not covered.

Prior approval is required for the following services provided out-of-province:

  • alcohol and drug, mental health and problem gambling services; and
  • bone mineral densitometry testing.

Prior approval from the Ministry must be obtained by the patient's specialist.

Out-of-Country

Prior approval is required for the following services provided outside Canada:

  • If a specialist physician refers a patient outside Canada for treatment not available in Saskatchewan or another province, the referring specialist must seek prior approval from the Medical Services Plan of Saskatchewan Health. The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is consulted for out-of-country cancer treatment requests. If approved, Saskatchewan Health will pay the full cost of treatment, excluding any items that would not be covered in Saskatchewan.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

To ensure that access to insured hospital, physician and surgical-dental services are not impeded or precluded by financial barriers, extra-billing by physicians or dental surgeons and user charges by hospitals for insured health services are not allowed in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in providing public services, which include insured health services on the basis of race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, disability, age, nationality, ancestry or place of origin.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

As of March 31, 2009, Saskatchewan had 3,040 staffed hospital beds in 66 acute care hospitals, including 2,415 acute care beds, 210 psychiatric beds and 415 other beds. The Wascana Rehabilitation Centre had 54 rehabilitation beds and 196 extended care beds. Rehabilitation services are also provided in a Geriatric Rehabilitation Unit in one acute care hospital and in two special care facilities.

Supply of Health Providers

Saskatchewan is committed to ensuring that its residents have access to the health providers and services they require. A key priority for Saskatchewan's government is to ensure that Saskatchewan recruits, retains and trains the necessary health providers for its system in the next few years, and additional initiatives and activities will be implemented as a result of a new 10-year health human resource plan that will be developed in the coming months.

In looking at the trend of selected health professionals, the majority of Saskatchewan's health professionals have increased between 2003 and 2007 (Table 1).

Regarding the availability of selected diagnostic, medical, surgical and treatment equipment and services in facilities providing insured hospital services, the Ministry of Health notes the following:

  • MRI machines are located in Saskatoon (3) and Regina (2); mobile MRI visits Lloydminster one (1) week out of every five (5) weeks.
  • CT scanners are available in Saskatoon (4), Regina (3), Prince Albert (1), Swift Current (1), Moose Jaw (1), Yorkton (1), North Battleford (1) and Lloydminster (1). The Cancer Agency also operates 2 CT scanners for the purpose of cancer staging only (1 each in Regina and Saskatoon).
  • In-centre hemodialysis is provided at Saskatoon, Regina, Lloydminster, Prince Albert, Tisdale, Yorkton, Swift Current, North Battleford, Estevan and Moose Jaw. As well, a self-care (home) hemodialysis service is being implemented in the province.
  • Cancer treatment services are provided by the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency's two cancer clinics, the Saskatoon Cancer Centre and the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina. In calendar year 2008, over 5,800 new patients began treatment for cancer. Both centres provided over 22,000 chemotherapy treatments to cancer patients in Saskatoon and Regina.
  • Sixteen (16) sites are involved in the Community Oncology Program of Saskatchewan (COPS) that allows patients to receive chemotherapy and other supports closer to home, while maintaining a close link to expertise at the Cancer Centres in Regina and Saskatoon. In 2008, nearly 2,400 patient received over 7,200 chemotherapy treatments at COPS centres.
  • Approximately 72 percent of surgery services are provided in Saskatoon and Regina, where there are specialized physicians and staff and the equipment to perform a full range of surgical services. An additional 24 percent is provided in six mid-sized hospitals in Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current, North Battleford and Lloydminster, with the remaining surgery performed in smaller hospitals across the province.
  • Telehealth Saskatchewan links continue to provide residents in a number of rural and remote areas with access to specialist, family physician and other health provider services without having to travel long distances.

A number of measures were taken in 2008-09 to improve information about and access to insured health services:

  • Access and use of specialized medical imaging services, including MRI, CT and bone mineral density testing, has grown steadily in Saskatchewan. In 2008-09, approximately 17,808 patients received MRI services and approximately 80,053 patients received CT services.
  • The Chronic Kidney Disease Programs that were established in the Regina Qu'Appelle and Saskatoon regions in summer 2001 continue to grow. The goals of these clinics are to delay the need for dialysis and to better prepare patients in making their treatment choices: haemodialysis, peritoneal or home dialysis or transplant. The number of patients served by these clinics significantly surpasses the number of patients on dialysis. By March 31, 2005, 817 patients were being supported through CRI clinics. As of March 31, 2009 this figure was 1,275.
  • The Cancer Agency is responsible for the provincial Screening Program for Breast Cancer. The Screening Program has seven sites around the province and one mobile mammography unit that travels into communities not served by a stationary site. The Screening Program provides mammograms to between 34,000 and 39,000 women annually.
  • The Provincial Malignant Haematology/Stem Cell Transplant Program continues to provide transplants to Saskatchewan residents. In 2008-09, 31 patients with aggressive or advanced blood or other system cancers received stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The program also provides teaching as a formal part of the haematology clinic rotation for residents of Internal Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan Health continues to place priority on promoting surgical access and improving the province's surgical system. In 2008-09 new interactive patient educational and decision support tools were developed to support patient decisions regarding prostate Next link will take you to another Web site health and prostate cancer treatments (www.health.gov.sk.ca/prostate-cancer).

In January 2003, the Next link will take you to another Web site Saskatchewan surgical website was launched. Located at [www.sasksurgery.ca] this surgical access website provides a range of surgical care system information and wait list information, including wait time and wait list data, and physician location and specialty. The website also provides information on surgeries performed, patients waiting and waiting times, as well as how the system works and how to access surgical services in the province. Saskatchewan Health is currently working closely with members of the health regions, physicians and other health partners to maximize access to diagnostic imaging services in Saskatchewan. The focus is on improving access to specialized diagnostic services (MRI, CT), while at the same time providing a basis for improved, sustainable health delivery in the future.

On January 31, 2005, the Minister of Health announced the establishment of a Diagnostic Imaging Network. This Network is a partnership among clinicians, service providers, regional health authorities, regulatory agencies, health training institutions, community and government representatives, that works toward the goal of ensuring equitable access to quality diagnostic imaging services in Saskatchewan. Through collaboration with participating partners, the Network acts as a provincial advisory body to assist in province-wide strategic planning and coordination of the diagnostic imaging system.

The Diagnostic Imaging Network is currently overseeing the following initiatives:

  • Implementation of a Radiology Information and Picture Archiving and Communication System (RIS/PACS) in the Province. The RIS is a system for tracking patients and diagnostic imaging procedures that are provided to them. The PACS is a system that allows for the viewing, storage and retrieval of a digital diagnostic image.
  • Oversight of a multi-year Capital Equipment Replacement Plan. Saskatchewan Health and Regional Health Authorities have created an inventory of the Province's diagnostic imaging equipment and developed a plan for the acquisition and deployment of future diagnostic imaging equipment purchases.
  • Monitoring of access to MRI and CT services. Urgency classifications and wait time targets for ultrasound and nuclear medicine are currently under development.
  • A Provincial Decision Support Tool pilot project: A decision support tool for diagnostic imaging will assist the referring physician in ordering the right test the first time by incorporating evidence-based guidelines for radiology into a quick, user friendly electronic order entry tool.
  • Diagnostic Imaging information on Next link will take you to another Web site Ministry of Health website (http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/diagnostic-imaging-wait-times).
Table 1: Number of Selected Health Professionals, Saskatchewan and Canada
Occupations Saskatchewan Canada
Audiologists 33 35 30 34 30 1,344
Chiropractors 182 182 184 184 176 7,434
Dental Hygienists 334 336 347 355 378 20,928
Dentists 378 376 364 368 378 19,201
Dietitians 242 251 251 262 276 8,797
Environmental Public Health Professionals 63 63 64 80 76 1,420
Health Information Management Professionals 221 230 246 294 312 3,714
Licensed Practical Nurses 2,056 2,131 2,194 2,224 2,381 69,709
Medical Laboratory Technologists 938 949 984 977 963 19,813
Medical Physicists 10 10 9 12 11 352
Medical Radiation Technologists 445 429 453 479 486 16,940
Midwives 5 8 10 10 n/a 665
Nurse Practitioners - 42 75 91 100 1,395
Occupational Therapists 211 214 217 232 211 12,296
Optometrists 108 113 117 117 120 4,255
Pharmacists 1,142 1,170 1,177 1,027 1,142 28,433
Physicians 1,751 1,745 1,770 1,818 1,644~ 63,682~
Family Medicine 1,007 913 930 952 922 32,598
Specialists 744 832 840 866 722 31,084
Physiotherapists 530 526 534 551 522 16,463
Psychologists 374 404 418 431 445 16,097
Registered Nurses 8,503 8,481 8,549 8,480 8,669 257,961
Registered Psychiatric Nurses 939 935 933 900 880 5,124
Respiratory Therapists 97 103 97 116 128 8,168
Social Workers 1,004 1,019 1,161 1,118 1,166 32,043
Speech-Language Pathologists 213 216 240 234 231 6,989

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

As of March 31, 2009, there were 1,836 physicians licensed to practice in the province and eligible to participate in the Medical Care Insurance Plan. Of these, 1,003 (54.6 percent) were family practitioners and 833 (45.4 percent) were specialists.

As of March 31, 2009, there were approximately 372 practising dentists and dental surgeons located in all major centres in Saskatchewan. Seventynine provided services insured under the Medical Services Plan.

A number of new or continuing initiatives were underway in 2008-09 to recruit and retain physicians thereby enhancing access to insured physician services and reducing waiting times.

Specialist Programs

  • A Specialist Physician Enhancement Training Program provides grants of up to $80,000 per year to allow practising specialists the opportunity to obtain additional training and requires a return service commitment.
  • A Specialist Emergency Coverage Program compensates specialist physicians who make themselves available to provide emergency coverage to acute care facilities.
  • The Specialist Resident Bursary Program offers up to 15 bursary spots per year to residents for a maximum of three years funding with a returnof-service commitment.
  • The Specialist Physician Establishment Grant provides up to 15 grants to eligible specialists who establish a practice in Saskatchewan for a minimum of 36 months.

Rural and Regional Programs

  • The Regional Practice Establishment Program provides grants of $10,000 to eligible family physicians who establish a practice in a regional centre for a minimum of 18 months.
  • A Re-entry Training Program provides two grants annually to rural family physicians wishing to enter specialty training, and requires a return service commitment.
  • The Saskatchewan Health International Medical Graduates (IMG) Residency Training Program funds up to 4 positions annually at the University of Saskatchewan. These positions are dedicated to international medical graduates who require a period of residency training in order to qualify for licensure to practise in Saskatchewan.
  • Rural physicians are supported through an integrated Emergency Room Coverage and Weekend Relief Program, which compensates physicians providing emergency room coverage in rural areas and helps those communities with fewer than three physicians gain access to other physicians to provide weekend relief.
  • The Rural Practice Establishment Grant Programs make grants of $25,000 to Canadian trained landed immigrant or foreign trained physicians who establish new practices in rural Saskatchewan for a minimum of 18 months.
  • The Family Medicine Resident Bursary Program provides bursaries of $25,000 to family medicine residents to help them with medical educational expenses in return for a rural service commitment.
  • The Undergraduate Medical Student Bursary Program provides an annual grant of $15,000 to medical students who sign a return service commitment to a rural community.
  • The Rural Practice Enhancement Training Program provides income replacement to practising rural physicians and assistance to medical residents wishing to take specialized training in an area of need in rural Saskatchewan. A return service commitment is required.
  • The Rural Emergency Care Continuing Medical Education Program provides funds to rural physicians for certification and re-certification of skills in emergency care and risk management. Approved physicians are required to provide service in rural Saskatchewan after completing an educational program.
  • The Saskatchewan Medical Association is funded to provide locum relief to rural physicians through the Locum Service Program while they take vacation, education or other leave.
  • The Northern Medical Services Program is a tripartite endeavour of Saskatchewan Health, Health Canada and the University of Saskatchewan to help stabilize the supply of physicians in northern Saskatchewan.
  • The Rural Extended Leave Program supports physicians in rural practice who want to upgrade their skills and knowledge in areas such as anaesthesia, obstetrics and surgery by reimbursing educational costs and foregone practice income for up to six weeks.
  • The Rural Travel Assistance Program provides travel assistance to rural physicians participating in educational activities.
  • The Northern Telehealth Network provides physicians in remote or isolated areas with access to colleagues, specialty expertise and continuing education.

Other Programs

  • Support is provided to initiatives for physicians to use allied health professionals and enhance the integration of medical services with other community-based services through the Alternate Payments and Primary Health Services Program.
  • A Long-term Service Retention Program rewards physicians who work in the province for 10 or more years.
  • The Parental Leave Program was developed in 2004 to provide benefits for self-employed physicians who take a maternity, paternity or adoption child care leave from clinical practice.

5.4 Physician Compensation

The process for negotiating compensation agreements for insured services with physicians and dentists is prescribed by section 48 of the Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Act as follows:

  • a Medical Compensation Review Committee is established within 15 days of either the Saskatchewan Medical Association or the government providing notice to begin discussing a new agreement;
  • each party shall appoint no more than six representatives to the Committee;
  • the objective of the Committee is to prepare an agreement respecting insured services that is satisfactory to both parties;
  • in the case that a satisfactory agreement cannot be reached, the matter may be referred to the Medical Compensation Review Board, consisting of an appointee by either party who in turn select a third member; and
  • the Board has the authority to make a decision binding on the parties.

The latest three-year agreement with the Saskatchewan Medical Association, which expired March 31, 2009, provided increases in the Physician Payment Schedule of 2.8 percent in each year of the agreement. Similar increases were applied to non-fee-for-service physicians. Additional improvements included a total of $11.8 million to support a number of innovative incentive programs focussing on recruitment, retention and improved patient care. These include:

  • increases to existing on-call programs;
  • $2 million to improve patient access to specialists;
  • $2 million to introduce on-call payment for some urban family physicians and to support improve compensation to family physicians who provide assistance during surgery;
  • $4 million to enhance management of chronic diseases; and
  • $3.8 million to improve ongoing retention programs.

Section 6 of The Saskatchewan Medical Care Insurance Payment Regulations, 1994, outlines the obligation of the Minister of Health to make payment for insured services in accordance with the Physician Payment Schedule and the Dentist Payment Schedule.

Fee-for-service is the most widely used method of compensating physicians for insured health services in Saskatchewan, although sessional payments, salaries, capitation arrangements and blended methods are also used. Fee-for-service is the only mechanism used to fund dentists for insured surgical-dental services. Total expenditures for in-province physician services and programs in 2008-09 amounted to $656.2 million: $394.8 million for fee-for-service billings; $22.8 million for Emergency Coverage Programs; $212.7 million in non-fee-for-service expenditures; and $26.0 million for Saskatchewan Medical Association programs as outlined in the agreement.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

In 2007-08, funding to regional health authorities was based on historical funding levels adjusted for inflation, collective agreement costs and utilization increases. Each regional health authority is given a global budget and is responsible for allocating funds within that budget to address service needs and priorities identified through its needs assessment processes.

Regional health authorities may receive additional funds for providing specialized hospital programs (e.g., renal dialysis, specialized medical imaging services, specialized respiratory services and surgical services) or for providing services to residents from other health regions.

Payments to regional health authorities for delivering services are made pursuant to section 8 of the Regional Health Services Act. The legislation provides the authority for the Minister of Health to make grants to regional health authorities and health care organizations for the purposes of the Act and to arrange for providing services in any area of Saskatchewan if it is in the public interest to do so.

Regional health authorities provide an annual report on the aggregate financial results of their operations.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Saskatchewan publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) in the Ministry's 2008-09 Annual Report, the Government of Saskatchewan 2008-09 Annual Budget and related budget documents, its 2008-09 Public Accounts and the Quarterly and Mid-Year Financial Reports. These documents were tabled in the Legislative Assembly and are publicly available to Saskatchewan residents.

Federal contributions have also been acknowledged on the Saskatchewan Health website, news releases, issue papers, in speeches and remarks made at various conference, meetings and public policy forums.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

As of March 31, 2008, the range of extended health care services provided by the provincial government included long-term residential care services for Saskatchewan residents, certain community-based health services such as home care, as well as a wide range of other health, social support, mental health, addiction treatment, palliative care, problem gambling and drug benefit programs.

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

Special-care homes provide institutional long-term care services to meet the needs of individuals, primarily with heavy care needs. Services offered include care and accommodation, respite care, day programs, night care, palliative care and, in some instances, convalescent care. These facilities are publicly funded by Saskatchewan Health through regional health authorities, are designated under the Regional Health Services Act and are governed by the Housing and Special-care Homes Act and regulations.

Under the provincial immunization program, Saskatchewan Health purchases vaccines for regional health authorities to provide immunization for residents in long-term care facilities and other similar residential facilities. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are provided free of charge to regional public health services and other health care providers for administration to residents in the facilities.

Adult Residential Care Services are delivered through the regional health authorities by Mental Health and Addictions Services programs. Apartment Living Programs and Group Homes provide a continuum of support and living assistance to individuals with long-term mental illnesses. These programs are governed by the Residential Services Act.

Saskatchewan Health, in partnership with the Heartland Regional Health Authority, offers a rehabilitation program for people and families struggling with eating disorders. BridgePoint Centre delivers this program and abides by the Registered Charities and the Income Tax Act, and the Regional Health Services Act.

The types of facilities that provide residential alcohol and drug services are listed below. Saskatchewan Health or the regional health authorities may contract with community-based and non-profit organizations governed by the Non-profit Corporations Act to provide services. Facilities providing service typically are designated by the Minister of Health or licensed under the Residential Services Act.

Detoxification services provide a safe and supportive environment in which the client is able to undergo the process of alcohol and/or other drug withdrawal and stabilization. Accommodation, meals and selfhelp groups are offered for up to 10 days.

In-patient services are provided to individuals requiring intensive rehabilitative programming for their own or others' use of alcohol or drugs. Services offered include assessments, counselling, education and support for up to four weeks or longer depending on individual needs.

Long-term residential services provide maintenance and transition programs for an extended period to individuals recovering from chemical dependency and addiction. These facilities offer counselling, education and relapse-prevention in a safe and supportive environment.

7.2 Home Care Services

The Home Care Program provides an option for people with varying degrees of short and longterm illness or disabilities to remain in their own homes rather than in a care facility. The Program is designed to provide care and services for individuals with palliative, acute and supportive care needs. Services include assessment and care coordination, nursing, personal care, respite care, homemaking, meals, home maintenance, therapy and volunteer services. Individualized funding is an option of the Home Care Program. It provides funding directly to people with disabilities so they can arrange and manage their own supportive services. There is also a Collective Funding option for groups of people with disabilities to arrange and manage their own supportive services.

The Home Care Program is funded by Saskatchewan Health, delivered by the Regional Health Authorities, and governed by the Regional Health Services Act.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

Saskatchewan regional health authorities provide a full range of community-based mental health and alcohol and drug services. Mental health services are governed by the Mental Health Services Act. The provision of Alcohol and Drug services generally falls under the Regional Health Services Act.

Regional health authorities offer podiatry services. Services include assessment, consultation and treatment. The Chiropody Services Regulation of the Department of Health Act provides chiropodists and podiatrists with the ability to self-regulate their profession.

Regina Qu'Appelle and Saskatoon regional health authorities provide a provincial Hearing Aid Program. Services include hearing testing, assessments for at-risk infants, and the selling, fitting and maintenance of hearing aids. The provision of these hearing services generally falls under the Regional Health Services Act.

Rehabilitation therapies, including occupational and physical therapies and speech and language pathology, are offered by the regional health authorities to help individuals of all ages improve their functional independence. Services are provided in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, long-term care facilities, community health centres, schools and private homes and include assessment, consultation and treatment. The Regional Health Services Act and The Community Therapy Regulations, which are under the authority of the Department of Health Act, govern these programs.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of June 30th (#).1 1,018,057 1,021,080 1,003,231 1,014,649 1,035,544
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 65 66 66 66 66
b. chronic care 0 0 0 0 0
c. rehabilitative care 1 1 1 1 1
d. other 0 0 0 0 0
e. total 66 67 67 67 67
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care 867,261,0002 922,675,0002 1,173,115,0002 1,277,632,0002 1,402,109,0002
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
e. total 867,261,000 922,675,0002 1,173,115,0002 1,277,632,0002 1,402,109,0002
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,307 4,566 4,627 4,212 4,365
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 30,461,943 33,671,100 36,828,100 31,569,400 43,631,600
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 51,678 55,067 52,591 81,787 65,274
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 9,345,190 11,044,200 11,573,400 17,240,900 17,936,200
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 254 248 242 245 251
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 730,849 2,033,300 2,473,400 2,291,200 1,637,300
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1,002 1,194 1,454 1,381 1,437
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 251,957 1,486,500 1,019,500 970,500 1,468,500
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 967 990 1,003 1,029 1,003
b. specialists 718 729 750 766 833
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 1,685 1,719 1,753 1,795 1,836
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) 491,805,817 528,759,380 554,193,389 585,863,285 630,253,960
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 9,970,606 10,033,881 9,944,187 10,289,448 9,800,308
b. total payments ($) 337,816,629 362,884,810 369,664,529 401,172,658 398,867,624
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 513,694 542,651 603,687 561,415 599,106
20. Total payments ($). 20,379,200 20,541,894 24,239,622 25,442,417 27,753,524
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). not available not available not available not available not available
22. Total payments ($). 510,600 695,900 692,600 637,600 647,700
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 84 78 74 82 79
24. Number of services provided (#). 19,400 18,511 18,203 16,347 18,085
25. Total payments ($). 1,442,800 1,539,420 1,511,882 1,577,176 1,840,276

Alberta

Introduction: Alberta's Health Care System

Alberta provides medically necessary, insured services in a public system that follows the principles of the Canada Health Act: public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. Medically necessary services include hospital and physician services and specific kinds of services provided by oral surgeons and other dental professionals.

Health System Governance

Alberta's health care system is defined in legislation and is governed by the Minister of Health and Wellness. The role of the Ministry of Health and Wellness is to assure accountability and balance health service needs with fiscal responsibility, and provide strategic direction and leadership to the provincial health system through:

  • policy, legislation and standards;
  • allocating resources;
  • helping develop and support the health system; and
  • administering provincial programs such as the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan and communicable disease control expertise.

On May 15, 2008, the Alberta government announced that one provincial governance board would replace Alberta's nine regional health authority boards, the Alberta Mental Health Board, the Alberta Cancer Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission. Effective April 1 2009, the new Alberta Health Services Board became fully responsible for health service delivery for the entire province, and The Health Governance Transition Amendment Act provided for the dissolution of the Alberta Cancer Board and the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, both of which were established by legislation. The legislation allowed the government to complete the transition to Alberta Health Services.

Health services in Alberta are delivered by Alberta Health Services through health professionals in fee-for-service practice and others who provide equipment, supplies and services. Some public health services may also be provided by private health care clinics providing they have contracts with Alberta Health Services to provide publicly insured services.

The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which is part of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, provides direction and guidelines on public health policy to Alberta Health Services, and gives information to the public about communicable diseases and public health programs.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta is an organization engaged in gathering knowledge and translating it into practical actions that can improve the quality, safety and performance of Alberta's health system.

Next link will take you to another Web site Alberta's health legislation can be accessed at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/about/health-legislation.html

Significant Events in 2008/2009

In 2008/2009 the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness continued to pursue its goal of improving the performance and accessibility of the health system in meeting the needs of Albertans. Some key achievements include:

  • In December 2008, government released Vision 2020, a report that outlines a number of actions that will build, improve and guide Alberta's health system into the future. The five main goals in Vision 2020 are:
    • providing the right service, in the right place, and at the right time;
    • enhancing access to high quality services in rural areas;
    • matching workforce supply to demand for services;
    • improving co-ordination of care and delivery of care; and
    • building a strong foundation for public health.
  • A new Alberta Pharmaceutical Strategy was released in December 2008 to provide an accessible, sustainable and affordable pharmaceutical system for Alberta. Key components include redesigned drug coverage for seniors, revised premiums for non-group drug benefit programs, consolidation and alignment of government drug programs, a program to provide drug therapy to those with rare diseases, and an improved process for drug pricing and purchasing.
  • A new provincial Continuing Care Strategy was released in December 2008 to improve health and personal care service options for seniors and persons with disabilities. The strategy will enhance supports to help individuals live in the community and provide incentives for renovations to long-term care facilities and new supportive living spaces.
  • Health care premiums were eliminated in Alberta as of January 1, 2009. This elimination is expected to equal an estimated savings of almost $1 billion annually for Albertans.
  • The governance and funding of Emergency Medical Services (ambulances) was transferred from more than 300 municipalities to Alberta Health Services. Completed on April 1, 2009, this transition lays the foundation for a patient centered, high quality service, ensuring that Albertans are receiving the right ambulance at the right time and the right place, and are not limited or restricted by geographic boundaries.
  • The Children's Mental Health Plan for Alberta: Three Year Action Plan was released in August 2008. The government will invest more than $50 million over three years to implement the 23 actions in the plan, which will improve access to mental health services for infants, children, youth and their families. The plan will also address the needs of children and youth who are at risk for mental health problems.
  • The government announced approximately $34 million in capital funding for a new cancer radiation therapy centre in Lethbridge. The centre, which is part of the Cancer Radiation Therapy Capacity Corridor, will help improve access to cancer treatment in southern Alberta. A centre in Red Deer is currently in the project planning stage.
  • As part of Alberta's Tobacco Reduction Act, retailers across the province were required to remove all point-of-sale advertising and displays of tobacco products from their shelves and to store tobacco products out of sight. As well, the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies, stores that contain pharmacies, health-care facilities and public post-secondary institutions was prohibited.
  • In June 2008, Alberta Health and Wellness announced a new program that will ensure all girls entering Grade 5 will be eligible to receive a vaccine to help prevent Human Papillomavirus infection, which causes 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Ministry of Health and Wellness administers the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan on a nonprofit basis and in accordance with the Canada Health Act. Since 1969, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act has governed the operation of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. The Minister determines which services are covered by the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Minister of Health and Wellness is fully accountable for the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. The Government Accountability Act establishes the planning, reporting and accountability structures that government and accountable organizations must adhere to.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General of Alberta audits all government ministries, departments, regulated funds, and provincial agencies and is responsible for assuring the public that the government's financial reporting is credible. The Auditor General of Alberta completed its audit of Health and Wellness on June 5, 2009, and indicated that the statements fairly present, in all material respects, the financial position and results of operations for the year ended March 31, 2009.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

In Alberta, Alberta Health Services is the body responsible to the Minister for ensuring the provision of insured hospital services. The Hospitals Act, the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation (AR 244/1990), the Health Care Protection Act and the Health Care Protection Regulation (AR 208/2000) define how insured services are provided by hospitals or designated surgical facilities. According to the legislation, all hospitals and surgical facilities must be approved by the Minister. A directory of Next link will take you to another Web site approved hospitals in Alberta can be found at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/documents/hospital-directory.pdf

During 2008/2009 no amendments were made to the legislation regarding insured hospital services.

Alberta'sHealth Care Protection Act governs the provision of insured surgical services performed in non-hospital surgical facilities (NHSF). Ministerial approval of a contract between the facility and/or operator and Alberta Health Services is required to provide insured services. Ministerial designation of a non-hospital surgical facility and accreditation by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta are also required. At the end of 2008 there were 70 accredited non-hospital surgical facilities. For the 2008/2009 fiscal year, 45 operators in 32 accredited facilities had contracts with regional health authorities to provide a variety of insured surgical services.

According to the Health Care Protection Act, Ministerial approval for a contractual agreement shall not be given unless:

  • the insured surgical services are consistent with the principles of the Canada Health Act;
  • there is a current and likely future need for the services in the geographical area;
  • the proposed surgical services will not have a negative impact on the province's public health system;
  • there will be an expected benefit to the public;
  • Alberta Health Services has an acceptable business plan to pay for the services;
  • the proposed agreement contains performance expectations and measures; and
  • the physicians providing the services will comply with the conflict of interest and ethical requirements of the Medical Profession Act and bylaws.

The publicly funded services provided by approved hospitals in Alberta range from the most advanced levels of diagnostic and treatment services for in-patients and out-patients to the routine care and management of patients with previously diagnosed chronic conditions. The benefits available to hospital patients in Alberta are established in the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation (AR244/1990). Next link will take you to another Web site The Regulation is available at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/about/health-legislation.html

There is no regular process to review insured hospital services, as the list of insured services included in the regulations is intended to be both comprehensive and generic and does not require routine review and updating. Changes to specific physician services can be found in the Schedule of Medical Benefits, and are described in the next section.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act governs the payment of physicians for insured physician services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (section 6). Only physicians who meet the requirements stated in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act are allowed to provide insured services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

As of March 31, 2009, 6,266 physicians were enrolled in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan.

Before being registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, a practitioner must complete the appropriate registration forms and include a copy of his or her license issued by the appropriate governing body or association, such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Under section 8 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, physicians may opt-out of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. As of March 31, 2009, there were zero nonparticipating physicians in the province.

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Regulation defines which services are not deemed to be either basic or extended health services. The Medical Benefits Regulation establishes the benefits payable for insured medical services provided to a resident of Alberta. Descriptions of those services are set out in the Next link will take you to another Web site Schedule of Medical Benefits, which can be accessed at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/professionals/SOMB.html

The Schedule of Medical Benefits (SOMB) is continuously being revised for improvements made to physician services insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Effective April 1, 2009, extensive changes were made to the SOMB as a result of the new Physician Services Budget.

Included in these changes was the introduction of two new Health Service Codes (HSC) for patients with a combination of eligible chronic diseases and patients in need of geriatric care services. With Alberta's aging population, the number of patients in these two groups is increasing and will require improved resource efficiencies to ensure their needs continue to be addressed.

Under the new chronic disease HSC, general practice physicians are now able to receive an annual fee for the development, documentation and administration of a patient care plan. Previously, these physicians received a multitude of fees-for-service that were based on short-term assessments. This complex care plan will provide improved benchmarks for a patient's overall health in a given year. This new geriatric HSC enables more comprehensive geriatric assessments, for example, as it includes medical, functional, cognitive, social and environmental assessments over a period of time instead of instances in time.

In addition to the full coverage provided for those physician and dental surgery services listed in the SOMB, the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides partial coverage for podiatry and optometry services received in Alberta. These services have benefit limits or maximums per benefit year, which runs from July 1 to June 30. When the charge for a service exceeds the benefit limit, patients are required to pay the difference in cost. These services are listed in separate Schedules of Benefits.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

In Alberta a dentist may perform a small number of insured surgical-dental services. The majority of dental procedures that can be billed to the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan can only be performed by a dentist certified as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who meets the requirements stated in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act. Under section 7 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act all dentists are deemed to have opted into the plan. A dentist may opt out of the plan by notifying the Minister in writing of the effective date of their opting out and ensuring that each patient is advised of their opted out status before any service is provided to the patient. As of March 31, 2009, no dentists were opted out of the Plan in Alberta.

Alberta insures a number of medically necessary oral surgical and dental procedures that are listed in the Next link will take you to another Web site Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits available at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/professionals/allied-services-schedule.html

In 2008/2009, 202 dentists/oral surgeons provided insured services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Although there is no formal agreement between dentists and the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, the department meets with members of the Alberta Dental Association and College to discuss changes to the Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits. All changes to the benefit schedule require ministerial approval.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Section 12 of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Regulation defines which services are not considered to be insured services. Section 4(2) of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation provides a list of uninsured hospital services.

Alberta's policy for Preferred Accommodation and Non-Standard Goods or Services is posted on the Next link will take you to another Web site AHW website at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/newsroom/pub-health-authorities.html

The policy describes the province's expectations of Alberta Health Service and guides its decision making with respect to provision of preferred accommodation and enhanced or non-standard goods and services. This policy framework requires Alberta Health Service to provide 30 days advance notice to the Minister's designate regarding the categories of preferred accommodation offered and the charges associated with each category. Alberta Health Service is also required to provide 30 days advance notice to the Minister's designate regarding any goods or services that will be provided as nonstandard goods or services. They are also required to provide information about the associated charge for these goods or services, and when applicable, the criteria or clinical indications that may qualify patients to receive it as a standard good or service. Finally, Alberta Health Service must publish and keep current a list of non-standard medical goods or services. These lists are periodically reviewed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and by Alberta Health Service.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Under the terms of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, all Alberta residents are eligible to receive publicly funded health care services under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. A resident is defined as a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes the province his or her home and is ordinarily present in Alberta. The term "resident" does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to Alberta. Persons moving permanently to Alberta from outside Canada are eligible for coverage if they are landed immigrants, returning landed immigrants or returning Canadian citizens. Temporary residents may also be eligible for coverage, if they intend to remain in Alberta for 12 months and their Canada entry documents are in order.

Residents who are not eligible for coverage under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan, but are covered by the federal government include:

  • members of the Canadian Forces;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who are appointed to a rank in it; and
  • persons serving a term in a federal penitentiary.

During 2008/2009 no amendments were made to the legislation regarding eligibility.

3.2 Registration Requirements

All new Alberta residents are required to register themselves and their eligible dependants with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Family members are registered on the same account. New residents in Alberta should apply for coverage within three months of arrival. For persons moving from outside Canada their registration is effective as of the day they become an Alberta resident. The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan processes for registering Albertans and issuing replacement health cards require registrants to provide documentation that proves their identity, legal entitlement to be in Canada and Alberta residency. These requirements have improved security and confidentiality, while reducing the potential for fraud or abuse.

As of March 31, 2009, 3,589,494 Alberta residents were registered with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Under the Health Insurance Premiums Act a resident may opt out of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan by filing a declaration with the Minister. As of March 31, 2009, 283 Alberta residents were opted out of the Plan.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Temporary residents arriving from outside Canada who may be deemed residents include persons on Visitor Records, Student or Employment Authorizations and Minister's Permits. There were 67,018 people covered under these conditions as of March 31, 2009.

3.4 Premiums

On January 1, 2009, health care premiums were eliminated in Alberta. Premiums up to that date, and any outstanding premiums owed, were required to be paid by Alberta residents. Exceptions include:

  • dependants (residents, however, are required to pay premiums on behalf of their dependants);
  • members of the Canadian Forces;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) who are appointed to a rank in it;
  • persons serving a term in a federal penitentiary;
  • seniors aged 65 and older, their spouses and dependants;
  • individuals enrolled in special groups such as Alberta Widows' Pension or income support programs;
  • anyone eligible for full premium assistance; and
  • any resident who elects to opt-out of the plan.

Two programs were used to help lower-income, nonsenior Albertans with the cost of their premiums: the Premium Subsidy Program and the Waiver of Premiums Program.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act, persons moving permanently to Alberta from another part of Canada are eligible for coverage on the first day of the third month following their arrival.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides coverage for the first 12 months of absence to eligible Alberta residents who temporarily leave Alberta for other parts of Canada. Residents who wish to maintain coverage for a longer period may apply for the following extensions of coverage:

  • four years (48 months) if the absence is due to work, business or missionary service;
  • two years (24 months) if the absence is due to travel, personal visits or an educational leave (sabbatical);
  • duration of studies if absence is due to fulltime attendance at an accredited educational institute.

Individuals who are routinely absent from Alberta every year normally need to spend a cumulative total of 183 days in a 12-month period in Alberta to maintain continuous coverage. Individuals not present in Alberta for the required 183 days may be considered residents of Alberta if they satisfy the Ministry of Health and Wellness that Alberta is their permanent and principal place of residence.

Alberta participates in the inter-provincial hospital and medical reciprocal agreements. These agreements were established to minimize complex billing processes and help ensure timely payments to health practitioners and hospitals when they provide services to residents from other provinces/territories (Quebec does not participate in the medical reciprocal agreement). Under these agreements Alberta pays for insured services Albertans receive in other parts of Canada at the host province or territorial rates. In 2008/2009 no amendments were made to the legislation regarding in-Canada portability. During 2008/2009 Alberta paid $93.31 million for in-patient and out-patient hospital services provided to Alberta residents in other provinces. More information on coverage during Next link will take you to another Web site temporary absences outside Alberta is available at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/AHCIP/Q-travel-coverage.html

Section 16 of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation addresses payment for hospital services obtained outside of Alberta within Canada. Section 4 of the Medical Benefits Regulation addresses physician services obtained outside of Alberta within Canada. These sections were not amended in 2008/2009.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan provides coverage for the first six consecutive months of temporary absence from Canada. Residents who wish to maintain coverage for a longer period may apply for the following extensions of coverage:

  • four years (48 months) if the absence is due to work, business or missionary service;
  • two years (24 months) if the absence is due to travel, personal visits or an educational leave (sabbatical);
  • duration of studies if absence is due to fulltime attendance at an accredited educational institute.

Individuals who are routinely absent from Alberta every year normally need to spend a cumulative total of 183 days in a 12-month period in Alberta to maintain continuous coverage. Individuals not present in Alberta for the required 183 days may be considered residents of Alberta if they satisfy the Ministry of Health and Wellness that Alberta is their permanent and principal place of residence.

The maximum amount payable for out-of-country in-patient hospital services is $100 (Canadian) per day (not including day of discharge). The maximum hospital out-patient visit rate is $50 (Canadian), with a limit of one visit per day. The only exception is haemodialysis, which is paid at a maximum of $341 per visit, with a limit of one visit per day. Physician and allied health practitioner services are paid according to Alberta rates. More information on coverage Next link will take you to another Web site during temporary absences outside Canada is accessible at: http://www.health.alberta.ca/AHCIP/Q-travel-coverage.html

During 2008/2009, Alberta paid $7.382 million for insured in-patient and out-patient services provided to Albertans in another country.

Section 16 of the Hospitalization Benefits Regulation addresses payment for hospital services obtained outside of Canada. Section 5 of the Medical Benefits Regulation addresses physician services obtained outside of Canada. These sections were not amended in 2008/2009.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is not required for elective insured services received in another Canadian province/ territory, except for high-cost items not included in reciprocal agreements such as gender reassignment surgery, and gamma knife surgery. Prior approval is required for elective services received out-of-country and will only be given for insured services that are medically required, are not experimental, and are not available in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada. Approval must be received before these services can be covered.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

All Alberta residents have access to provincially funded and insured health services regardless of where they live in the province. In the province, Alberta Health Service works to ensure that all Albertans have access to needed health services. There are two major metropolitan regions, Calgary region and the Capital (Edmonton) region, which provide provincially funded, province-wide services to Alberta residents who need tertiary-level diagnostic and treatment services.

Alberta is committed to ensuring that Albertans have access to new health services and technologies, and that they are introduced based on clinical and economic evidence that respects benefits and costs. The Alberta Health Technologies Decision Process and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Health Technologies have been established to support coverage and funding decisions at the provincial level related to non-pharmaceutical services and technologies using an evidence-informed process.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

The Ministry of Health and Wellness and Alberta Health Services actively participate in a health workforce planning process to ensure an adequate supply of key personnel. The key professions utilized in providing insured hospital services include: physicians, nurses (RNs, LPNs, RPNs), pharmacists, rehabilitation therapists (OTs, PTs, RTs) and clinical support personnel. As of March 31, 2009 there were approximately 103,200 people employed in health occupations in Alberta.

Alberta Health Services is required to develop capital equipment plans as part of its annual business plan submissions to the Minister of Health and Wellness. Funding to Alberta Health Services in 2008/2009 (which includes health services, hospitals, medical equipment and province-wide services) was $7.487 billion.

The Ministry's 2009-2012 capital plan funded several ambulatory care projects, including:

  • renovation of ambulatory care and emergency departments at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Fort McMurray;
  • redevelopment of the emergency department and the endoscopy suite in Grande Prairie's Queen Elizabeth II Hospital;
  • redevelopment of the Viking Health Centre;
  • development of the new Eastwood Primary Health Care Centre in Edmonton;
  • a new primary care clinic in the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre in Calgary; and
  • upgrading of the Richmond Road Diagnostic and Treatment Centre in Calgary.

Funding was continued for the following acute care projects:

  • the expansions of the Foothills Medical Centre, Peter Lougheed Centre and Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary;
  • the new South Calgary Hospital and Health Campus;
  • a new orthopedic surgical facility at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton;
  • the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton; and
  • redevelopment of the Grey Nuns Community Hospital in Edmonton and replacement of the Fort Saskatchewan Health Centre.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Dental-Surgical Services

Alberta continues to implement its Health Workforce Action Plan (2007 to 2016), which was released in September 2007. The plan outlines 19 key initiatives to address Alberta health workforce issues. Some of the actions taken in 2008/2009 to improve access to physician and dental services include:

  • The Alberta International Medical Graduate Program assessed more than 240 international medical graduates for medical residency training, and matched a record 59 international medical graduates to residency positions. This program increases the number of people completing medical residency training in Alberta, which ultimately increases the number of physicians practicing in Alberta.
  • An additional four Primary Care Networks were launched, bringing the total number to 30. The 30 networks involve approximately 1,750 family physicians providing care to more than 1.9 million Albertans. Family physicians working in these networks partner with health regions and use a team approach to improve access and provide coordinated and comprehensive primary health care services to Albertans.
  • Patient navigators were implemented in several areas of the health system, including cardiac care and breast cancer care. The patient navigator helps to coordinate the patient's services, serves as a liaison with other health care providers, provides referrals, and offers advocacy and ongoing support.
  • The Alberta Provincial Stroke Strategy established four new primary stroke centres. This brings the total primary stroke centres across the province to 11. Also, there are two comprehensive stroke centres and twelve stroke prevention clinics that have been developed.
  • Fifteen new Telehealth projects and expansions were approved to enhance delivery of health services particularly to rural and remote communities in Alberta. Projects are in a wide variety of clinical areas such as Oncology, Opthalmology and Cardiology.
  • Nine additional clinical alternate relationship plans (ARP) were implemented bringing the total number of clinical ARPs in Alberta to 42 and involving approximately 700 physicians. ARPs are alternative funding models to fee for service. ARPs encourage innovation in health service delivery and are intended to enhance the recruitment and retention of health care providers, interdisciplinary team approaches to service delivery, improve access to care and increase patient satisfaction.
  • One additional academic alternate relationship plan (AARP) was implemented bringing the total number to eight. The new AARP was implemented in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Calgary. AARPs now involve nine academic programs with approximately 600 physicians, primarily specialists, working in either Calgary or Edmonton.

5.4 Physician Compensation

The Alberta Health Care Insurance Act governs the payment of physicians. Most physicians are compensated through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan on a traditional, volume-driven, fee-for-service basis. Alternate Relationship Plans and Primary Care Networks for specialists and family physicians offer alternative compensation models to the fee-for-service payment system and contribute to better health outcomes by supporting innovative health care delivery.

Physician compensation is negotiated as part of a tri-lateral agreement involving the Alberta Medical Association, the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness and Alberta Health Services. The agreement also contains provisions to improve access to physician services. Under this agreement, Alternate Relationship Plans (ARPs) have been established to enhance specialist physician recruitment and retention, team-based approaches to service delivery, access to services, patient satisfaction and value for money. ARPs provide predictable funding that enables physician groups to recruit new physicians to their programs and retain their services. ARPs are unique in that they offer alternatives to the way government has traditionally funded health service delivery.

Also under the agreement, family physicians can partner with their health regions to create Primary Care Networks that manage access to front-line services. Primary Care Networks use a team approach to coordinate care for their patients. Family physicians work with health regions to better integrate health services by linking to regional services such as home care. Family physicians also work with other health providers such as nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists and mental health workers who help to provide services within the Networks.

As with the majority of physicians, dentists performing oral surgical services insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan are compensated through the Plan on a volume driven, fee-for-service basis. The Ministry of Health and Wellness establishes fees through a consultation process with the Alberta Dental Association and College.

Any changes to the insured physician services listed in the SOMB are the result of trilateral negotiations between the Alberta Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Alberta Medical Association, and Alberta Health Services.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Regional Health Authorities Act governs the funding of Alberta's single regional health authority - Alberta Health Services. Most insured hospital services in Alberta are funded through a population-based funding formula. A mental health funding grant is provided for insured services provided in mental health hospitals and for community mental health services. A funding grant is provided for insured services in cancer hospitals and to pay for cancer services that patients receive in regional hospitals. Hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary receive funding to provide highly specialized province-wide services to all Alberta residents.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Alberta publicly acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health Transfer in its 2008/2009 publications.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Alberta also provides full or partial coverage for health care services not required by the Canada Health Act. They include: home care and longterm care, mental health services, dental, denturist and eyeglass benefits for recipients of the Alberta Widows' pension and their eligible dependants, palliative care, immunization programs for children, allied health services such as optometry, chiropractic and podiatry services, and drugs and other benefits through Alberta Blue Cross for eligible residents.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 3,210,035 3,275,931 3,384,625 3,473,996 3,589,494
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 101 101 102 102 1173
b. chronic care 106 103 98 98 96
c. rehabilitative care 1 1 1 1 1
d. other 3 3 3 3 374
e. total 211 208 204 204 251
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care not available not available not available not available not available
b. chronic care not available not available not available not available not available
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities not available not available5 not available5 26 32
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not available not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5
c. total not available not available5 not available5 not available5 not available5
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services($):
a. surgical facilities not available not available not available not available not available
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not available not available not available not available not available
c. total not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,550 4,508 4,608 5,334 5,447
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 20,139,919 21,080,232 22,005,293 27,481,524 31,475,940
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 72,495 77,438 82,710 101,455 104,124
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 11,473,142 12,820,959 14,305,024 18,004,246 25,346,678
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 4,266 4,124 3,698 4,014 4,762
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 381,217 379,710 336,859 378,043 446,718
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 4,089 3,918 3,816 3,934 4,305
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 227,609 222,896 224,761 214,162 291,836
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 3,026 3,122 3,237 3,361 3,492
b. specialists 2,475 2,463 2,613 2,697 2,774
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. total 5,501 5,585 5,850 6,058 6,266
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable 0
b. specialists not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable 0
c. other not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable 0
d. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) not available not available not available not available not available
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 31,683,660 33,428,098 34,031,123 35,054,154 35,838,334
b. total payments ($) 1,348,724,184 1,472,634,054 1,558,128,163 1,718,717,023 1,851,703,042
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 444,884 479,029 463,410 548,423 696,639
20. Total payments ($). 15,871,755 17,745,928 17,450,377 20,899,683 22,614,491
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 26,017 24,944 22,909 22,055 22,817
22. Total payments ($). 1,208,422 1,049,384 1,054,544 1,105,831 1,245,840
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 216 230 220 207 202
24. Number of services provided (#). 14,658 17,007 16,783 16,769 18,075
25. Total payments ($). 2,843,638 3,275,978 3,637,243 3,913,975 4,479,725

British Columbia

Introduction

British Columbia has a progressive and integrated health system that includes insured services under the Canada Health Act, services funded wholly or partially by the Government of British Columbia and services regulated, but not funded by government.

In June 2008, the Ministry of Health became two separate ministries - The Ministry of Health Services and the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport. Cabinet created the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport to better emphasize population health promotion, health protection and disease and injury prevention; and align programs and initiatives that help British Columbians make healthier choices and increase participation and excellence in sport and recreation. It supports all five of government's Great Goals, in particular Great Goal 2: Lead the way in North America in healthy living and physical fitness.

The British Columbia Ministry of Health Services has overall responsibility for ensuring that high quality, appropriate and timely health services are available to British Columbians. The Ministries of Health work with six health authorities, care providers, agencies and other groups to provide access to care. The Ministry provides stewardship, leadership, direction and support to service delivery partners and sets province-wide goals, standards and expectations for health service delivery by health authorities.

The Ministry directly manages a number of provincial programs and services. These programs include: the Medical Services Plan, which covers most physician services; PharmaCare, which provides prescription drug insurance for British Columbians; the BC Vital Statistics Agency, which registers and reports on vital events, such as a birth, death or marriage; and, the Emergency and Health Services Commission, which provides ambulance services across the province and operates HealthLink BC, a confidential information, Next link will take you to another Web site advice and health navigation system available by telephone or on the web (see www.healthlinkbc.ca). HealthLink BC also publishes the BC HealthGuide and operates bcbedline, the provincial acute bed management system.

The province's six health authorities are the main organizations responsible for local health service delivery. Five regional health authorities are responsible for delivering a full continuum of health services to meet the needs of the population within their respective regions. A sixth health authority, the Provincial Health Services Authority, is responsible for managing the quality, coordination and accessibility of selected, specialized, province-wide health programs and services provided through the following agencies: BC Cancer Agency, BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, BC Mental Health and Addiction Services, BC Provincial Renal Agency, BC Transplant, BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre, and Provincial Cardiac Services.

The delivery of health services and the health of the population are continuously monitored and evaluated by the Ministries. These activities inform the Ministries' strategic planning and policy direction to ensure the delivery of health services continues to meet the needs of British Columbians.

Activities for 2008-2009

In 2008-2009, the Government of British Columbia invested more than $13.59 billion (plus $72 million through the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport) to meet the health needs of British Columbians. This investment was made across a wide spectrum of programs and services aligned with the Ministries' goals to improve health and wellness, deliver high quality patient care, and ensure the publicly-funded health system is sustainable over the long term.

The British Columbia health system continues to be challenged by an ever-increasing demand for health services, global competition for health care workers and professionals, and the need to maintain and improve buildings and equipment. As well, BC wants to ensure that all its residents enjoy access to health services and good health; regrettably, though, BC's Aboriginal population does not have the same level of good health as the rest of province, and the government is working with First Nations, Métis, and other partners to close this gap.

Rising rates of obesity, a lack of physical activity, injuries, and problematic substance use all affect the health status of individuals and increase the demand for health services. In addition, the province's aging population is exhibiting a high incidence of chronic illness.

In 2008-2009, the Ministries of Health introduced, continued or enhanced a number of strategies across the span of health services. These include: population health promotion and health protection, disease and injury prevention, primary care, chronic disease management, Fair PharmaCare, ambulance services, community programs for mental health and addictions, hospital and surgical services, home care, assisted living, residential care and end-of-life care. The Ministries also worked to ensure that an adequate supply of skilled health care providers continued to be available across the continuum of care.

Significant Achievements in 2008-2009

Health and Wellness
  • Maintained the lowest smoking rate in Canada at 14.7 per cent.
  • Launched Seniors in BC: A Healthy Living Framework - BC's framework to support older British Columbians to live healthy, active lives.
  • Provided $1.8 million to 18 ActNow BC Seniors' Community Parks.
  • Created the Seniors Healthy Living Secretariat, which is leading implementation of the Healthy Living Framework across government and with other key partners.
  • Established a Women's Healthy Living Secretariat to support and advance the health and well-being of women in British Columbia.
  • Became the first province to restrict trans fat in all foods prepared and served in restaurants.
  • Banned smoking in vehicles in which children are passengers.
  • Launched the World Healthy Living Challenge, a request to British Columbians and people around the world to adopt healthier lifestyles.
  • Launched the ActNow BC Prescription for Health pilot program, helping patients increase their physical activity levels and learn about healthier eating.
  • Translated the Healthy Eating for Seniors handbook into Chinese and Punjabi.
  • Achieved the lowest self-reported obesity rates in many years and the lowest rates among provinces and territories.
  • Launched the QuitNow and Win contest to help British Columbians quit smoking.
  • Supported a number of successful sporting events, including the World Triathlon Championships, North American Indigenous Games and World Cup events in winter sports, which were "test" events for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • The Transformative Change Accord (TCA) was signed by the First Nations Leadership Council, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada in 2005; it committed to, over ten years, closing the gap between First Nations and other British Columbians in the areas of education, health, housing and economic opportunities.
  • The Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (TFNHP) was created out of the TCA and receives $14 million annually over ten years from the Government of British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Council and the Government of Canada for various projects including the Lytton Health Centre which opened in 2009 and provides culturallyappropriate community health services and seniors' housing.
High Quality, Patient-Centred Care
  • Invested $11.3 million in a state-of-the-art emergency department at Victoria General Hospital to benefit southern Vancouver Island's growing population.
  • Completed $32 million in renovations and upgrades at East Kootenay Regional Hospital, bringing diagnostic imaging-like ultrasound, closer to more patients.
  • Brought a new, comprehensive Public Health Act into force to modernize and strengthen the legislative base for public health services; and revised the regulations under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, including increased measures to prevent falls in residential care facilities.
  • Allocated base funding of $13.3 million (excluding Medical Services Plan funding of $0.7 million) to establish the Burnaby Centre, a 100-bed treatment resource for clients with complex addiction and mental health issues.
    • British Columbia has a five-year agreement with Health Canada, under the Drug Treatment Funding Program, for an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team to support Burnaby Centre waitlist and post-discharge clients. As well, three community-based ACT teams (with case-managing psychiatrists) have been established in Victoria.
  • A new 8-1-1 telephone service was implemented as part of HealthLink BC's suite of services to ensure British Columbians have 24-hour access to non-emergency health information.
Providing increased access to care
  • Increased the number of surgeries in priority areas and reduced waiting times. The median wait times for patients who received surgery in 2008-2009, compared to 2001/02 were:
    • 7.9 weeks for cataracts, compared to 9.0 weeks
    • 6.9 weeks for open heart, compared to 15.1 weeks
    • 10 weeks for hip replacement, compared to 18.7 weeks
    • 13 weeks for knee replacement, compared to 25.4 weeks
  • Increased the number of MRI and CT scanners resulting in thousands more exams. Since 2001, 19 new CT scanners and 13 new MRI machines have been added to the health system resulting in a 90 per cent increase in the number of CT scans and a 170 per cent increase in the number of MRI scans in 2008-2009 compared to 2001-2002.
  • Built 6,027 net new residential care beds, assisted living units and supportive housing units in communities throughout British Columbia, bringing the total of new and replacement beds since June 2001 to over 12,746.
  • Increased the number of disorders screened for at birth, from three screening tests to 19.
  • Opened a multi-organ transplant clinic at BC Children's Hospital to provide access to very specialized care for children who have had an organ transplant, and their families.
  • Introduced a program to fund insulin pumps for eligible children with type 1 diabetes.
  • Provided free Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls in grades six and nine to prevent cervical cancer.
Ensuring quality and safety of health services
  • Invested more than $2.3 million to support the implementation of the Patient Safety Learning System, a tracking system that helps health care organizations identify and examine safety and risk related incidents occurring in the health system.
  • Created a Health Professions Review Board to provide an independent review of certain decisions made by self-regulating colleges regarding the registration of their members and the timeliness and disposition of complaints made against their registrants.
  • The Ministry established a Patient Care Quality Review Board in each health authority and passed the Patient Care Quality Review Board Act. It outlines a clear, consistent, timely and transparent approach to patient complaints and concerns throughout health authorities. The Act also establishes independent review mechanisms for people who are not satisfied with a health authority's response to their complaint.
A Sustainable, Affordable, Publicly Funded Health System
  • The health profession regulatory framework was streamlined and strengthened to increase the accountability and transparency of selfgoverning regulatory bodies, and to support more patient-focused care and more patient choice.
  • BC became the first Canadian jurisdiction to bring into force legislative change requiring regulatory bodies to promote and enhance interprofessional collaborative practice.
  • The transition of all professions to a uniform legislative regime was substantially completed.
  • An independent review board was established to review the decisions of regulatory bodies.
  • The scope of practice of optometrists was expanded to include medication-prescribing authority.
  • Work continued on implementation of a new 'shared scope of practice' regulatory model and on improving the ability of internationally educated medical doctors and registered nurses to enter practice in BC.
  • $300 million was targeted over three years for a Transformation Fund dedicated to projects to transform and modernize the health system.
  • The number of physicians practicing in British Columbia was increased. In December 2008, the Canadian Medical Association reported a total of 9,733 physicians in British Columbia. This translates to 220 physicians per 100,000 population - compared to 200 per 100,000 for Canada.
  • The number of nurse training spaces since 2001 was doubled and 24 nursing programs were added. Also, the number of medical school training positions more than doubled in that time, and 990 new allied health education seats were added.
  • A three-year accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree program option at the British Columbia Institute of Technology was created.
  • Construction began for a fourth medical program - the Southern Medical Program - at UBC Okanagan. When it opens in 2011, the new Health Sciences Centre will accommodate 32 first-year, full-time medical students.
Legislation

The Medicare Protection Act, RSBC 1996, c. 286, provides the authority for the Medical Services Commission to administer the Medical Services Plan of British Columbia.

The Medicare Protection Act was amended to:

  • enshrine in provincial law the Canada Health Act principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility;
  • provide clear definitions of these principles; and
  • add and define the principle of sustainability.

These amendments fulfilled the 2006 Throne Speech commitment and made British Columbia the first province in Canada to define and enshrine in legislation the principles of the Canada Health Act and add a sixth principle of sustainability. The amendments clarify the province's commitment to the Canada Health Act and strengthen our health system today and secure it for future generations.

The Health Authorities Act was amended by adding a section which requires the minister to have regard to the above principles set out the Medicare Protection Act when establishing provincial standards for the provision of health services.

Other Health legislation passed in 2008-2009:

  • The Public Health Act represented a major overhaul of British Columbia's Health Act which had become outdated.
  • The eHealth (Personal Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act created the statutory foundation for the development of the Electronic Health Record. This will enhance citizen access to their health records.
  • The Health Professions (Regulatory Reform) Act made a number of amendments to the Health Professions Act to increase patient choice and access and to create more openness and transparency in the regulation of health professions.
  • The Health Statutes Amendment Act amended a number of health statutes including the Emergency and Health Services Act (to facilitate changes in ambulance fees), the Medicare Protection Act (to enhance ministerial ability to report out on disposition of complaints), as well as the Health and Social Services Delivery Improvement Act and the Health Sector Partnerships Agreement Act.
  • The Patient Care Quality Review Board Act established a publicly accessible and uniform province-wide complaints registry and appeals system. It fulfilled government's Throne Speech commitment by establishing uniform patient care quality offices in each health authority, including the Provincial Health Services Authority.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP) is administered by the British Columbia Ministry of Health Services. The Plan insures medically required services provided by physicians and supplementary health care practitioners, laboratory services and diagnostic procedures. The Ministry of Health Services sets goals, standards and performance agreements for health service delivery and works together with the six health authorities to provide quality, appropriate and timely health services to British Columbians. General hospital services are provided under the Hospital Insurance Act (section 8) and its Regulation; the Hospital Act (section 4); the Continuing Care Act (section 3); and the Hospital District Act (section 20).

The Medical Services Commission (MSC) manages MSP on behalf of the Government of British Columbia in accordance with the Medicare Protection Act (section 3) and its Regulation. The purpose of this Act is to preserve a publicly-managed and fiscally sustainable health care system for British Columbia, in which access to necessary medical care is based on need and not on an individual's ability to pay. The function and mandate of the MSC is to facilitate, under MSP reasonable to quality medical care, health care and diagnostic facility services for British Columbians.

The MSC is a nine-member statutory body made up of three representatives from Government, three representatives from the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) and three members from the public, jointly nominated by the BCMA and Government.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The MSC is accountable to the Government of British Columbia through the Minister of Health Services; a report is published annually for the prior fiscal year which provides an annual accounting of the business of the MSC, its subcommittees and other delegated bodies. In addition, the MSC Financial Statement is published annually: it contains an alphabetical listing of payments made by the MSC to practitioners, groups, clinics, hospitals and diagnostic facilities for each fiscal year.

The Ministries of Health provide extensive information in its Annual Service Plan Reports on the performance of British Columbia's publicly-funded health system. Tracking and reporting this information is consistent with the Ministry's strategic approach to performance planning and reporting and is consistent with requirements contained in the province's Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (2000).

In addition to the Annual Service Plan Report, the Ministries of Health report through various publications, including:

  • Vital Statistics Annual Report;
  • Health Authority Government Letters of Expectations and Reports;
  • Provincial Health Officer's Annual Report (on the health of the population).
  • Nationally Comparable Indicators Report (Canadian Institute for Health Information); and
  • Medical Services Plan Resource Management Reports.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Ministries of Health are subject to audit of accounts and financial transactions through:

  • The Office of the Comptroller General's Internal Audit and Advisory Services, the government's internal auditor. The Comptroller General determines the scope of the internal audits and timing of the audits in consultation with the audit committee of the Ministry.
  • The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of British Columbia is responsible for conducting audits and reporting its findings to the Legislative Assembly. The OAG initiates its own audits and the scope of its audits. The Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Assembly reviews the recommendations of the OAG and determines when the Ministries of Health have complied with the audit recommendations.

1.4 Designated Agency

The Medical Service Plan (MSP) of British Columbia requires premiums to be paid by eligible residents. The monies are collected by the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue during the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

Revenue Services of British Columbia (RSBC) performs revenue management services, including account management, billing, remittance and collection, on behalf of the Province of British Columbia (Ministry of Small Business and Revenue). The Province remains responsible for, retains control of and performs all government-administered collection actions.

RSBC is required to comply with all applicable laws, including:

  • Ombudsman Act (British Columbia).
  • Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (British Columbia).
  • Financial Administration Act (British Columbia).
  • Freedom of Information Legislation: i.e., Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (British Columbia) including FOIPPA Inspections; the Personal Information Protection Act (British Columbia) and the equivalent federal legislation, if applicable.

The enabling legislation is:

  • Medicare Protection Act (British Columbia), Part 2 - Beneficiaries section 8.
  • Medical and Health Care Services Regulation (British Columbia) Part 3 - Premiums

In 2005, the Ministry of Health contracted with MAXIMUS BC to deliver the operations of the Medical Services Plan and PharmaCare (including responding to public inquiries, registering clients and processing medical and pharmaceutical claims from health professionals). The new organization is called Health Insurance BC (HIBC). Policy and decision-making functions remain with the Ministry of Health Services.

  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act submits monthly reports to the Ministry, reporting performance on service levels to the public and health care providers. HIBC also posts quarterly reports on its website on performance of key service levels.
  • HIBC applies payments against fee items approved by the Ministry. The Ministry of Health Services approves all payments before they are released.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Act and Hospital Act Regulation provide authority for the Minister to designate facilities as hospitals, to license private hospitals, to approve the bylaws of hospitals, to inspect hospitals and to appoint a public administrator. This legislation also establishes broad parameters for the operation of hospitals.

The Hospital Insurance Act provides the authority for the Minister to make payments to health authorities for the purpose of operating hospitals, outlines who is entitled to receive insured services and defines the "general hospital services" which are to be provided as benefits. There were no legislative or regulatory amendments made to the Hospital Act in 2008-2009. The Hospital Insurance Act was not amended. However, the Hospital Insurance Act Regulation was amended to repeal s. 5.24 regarding laboratory services.

In 2008-2009, there were a total of 139 facilities designated as hospitals:

  • 80 acute care hospitals (community hospital, large tertiary care and teaching hospitals)
  • 19 chronic care hospitals
  • 3 rehabilitation hospitals
  • 37 other hospitals (including diagnostic and treatment centres, cancer clinics, etc.)

Hospital services are insured when they are provided to a beneficiary, in a publicly-funded hospital and are deemed medically required by the attending physician, nurse practitioner or midwife. These services are provided to beneficiaries without charge, with the exception of incremental charges for preferred, but not medically required, medical/surgical supplies, non-standard accommodation when not medically required and, for residential care patients in extended care or general hospitals - a daily fee based on income.

General hospital services and the conditions under which they are provided are described in the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations and include the following for in-patients: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the Minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room and case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy facilities, where available; and other services approved by the Minister.

The following out-patient general hospital services are also insured: day care surgical services; out-patient renal dialysis treatments in designated hospitals or other approved facilities; diabetic day-care services in designated hospitals; out-patient dietetic counselling services at hospitals with qualified staff dieticians; psychiatric out-patient and day-care services; rehabilitation out-patient services; cancer therapy and cytology services; out-patient psoriasis treatment; abortion services; and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) services.

Insured services in rehabilitation hospitals include: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals and related preparations; use of physiotherapy and occupational therapy facilities; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the Minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; and other services approved by the Minister.

Insured services in extended care hospitals include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals, and related preparations; laboratory and radiological procedures and necessary interpretations together with such other diagnostic procedures as approved by the minister in a particular hospital with the necessary interpretations, for maintaining health, preventing disease and helping diagnose and treat illness, injury or disability; and other services approved by the Minister.

Insured hospital services do not include: transportation to and from hospital (however, ambulance transfers are insured under another Ministry program, with a small user charge); services provided to non-beneficiaries (with the exception of emergency treatment); services or treatment that the Minister, or a person designated by the Minister, determines, on a review of the medical evidence, the beneficiary does not require; and services or treatment for an illness or condition excluded by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

No new hospital services were added during the fiscal year 2008-2009.

There is no regular process to review insured hospital services, as the list of insured services included in the regulations is intended to be both comprehensive and generic and does not require routine review and updating. There is a formal process to add specific medical services (physician fee items) to the list of services insured under the Medicare Protection Act, but this process is described elsewhere.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The range of insured physician services covered by MSP includes all medically necessary diagnostic and treatment services.

Insured physician services are provided under the Medicare Protection Act (MPA). Section 13 provides that practitioners (including medical practitioners and health care practitioners, such as midwives) who are enrolled and who render benefits to a beneficiary are eligible to be paid for services rendered in accordance with the appropriate payment schedule.

Unless specifically excluded, the following medical services are insured as Medical Services Plan (MSP) benefits under the MPA in accordance with the Canada Health Act:

  • medically required services provided to "beneficiaries" (residents of British Columbia) by a medical practitioner enrolled with MSP; and
  • medically required services performed in an approved diagnostic facility under the supervision of an enrolled medical practitioner.

To practice in British Columbia, physicians must be registered and in good standing with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. To receive payment for insured services, they must be enrolled with MSP. In the fiscal year 2008-2009, 8,986 physicians [includes only GPs and Medical Specialists who billed fee-for-service (FFS) in 2008-2009] were enrolled with MSP and billed fee-for-service. In addition, some physicians practice solely on salary, receive sessional payments, or are on contract (service agreements) to the health authorities. Physicians paid by these alternative mechanisms may also practice on a FFS basis. Non-physician healthcare practitioners who may be enrolled to provide insured services under MSP are midwives and supplementary benefit practitioners (dental surgeons, optometrists, osteopaths, surgical podiatrists). Only those MSP beneficiaries with premium assistance status qualify for MSP coverage of physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture and non-surgical podiatry services. In 2008-2009, there were 144 midwives and 5,526 supplementary benefits practitioners (including acupuncturists) paid FFS through MSP.

A physician may choose not to enrol or to de-enrol with the Medical Services Commission (MSP). Enrolled physicians may cancel their enrolment by giving 30 days written notice to the Commission. Patients are responsible for the full cost of services provided by non-enrolled physicians. In 2008-2009, the Medical Services Plan had five opted-out physicians and two de-enrolled physicians.

Enrolled physicians can elect to be paid directly by patients by giving written notice to the Commission. The Commission will specify the effective date between 30 and 45 days following receipt of the notice. In this case, patients may apply to MSP for reimbursement of the fee for insured services rendered.

Under the Master Agreement between the government, MSC and the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), modifications to the Payment Schedule such as additions, deletions or fee changes are made by the Commission, upon advice from the BCMA. Physicians who wish to modify the payment schedule must submit proposals to the BCMA Tariff Committee. On recommendation of the Tariff Committee, interim listings may be designated by the Commission for new procedures or other services for a limited period of time while definitive listings are established

During fiscal year 2008-2009 physician services which were added as MSP insured benefits included fee items which reflect current practice standards, for example:

  • Lysis of intra-abdominal adhesions,
  • Cerebral arterial balloon occlusion tolerance test (procedural fee),
  • Percutaneous sclerotherapy of head and neck vascular lesions under fluoroscopic guidance (procedural fee),
  • Complex diagnostic neuroangiography up to 4 hrs, and after 4 hrs,
  • General Practitioners: Management of labour and transfer to higher level of care facility for delivery,
  • Trichomonas Antigen Test,
  • Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator insertion and single ventricular lead and additional leads up to 3 extra leads,
  • Diagnostic Laboratories: Serum assay for kappa- and lambda-free light chains, with ratio-quantitative analysis,
  • General Internal Medicine complex consultation,
  • Reconstruction of abdominal wall with myofacial advancement flaps,
  • Cardiac ablation for atrial fibrillation, and
  • Subureteric endoscopic injection for vesi-coureteral reflux (VUR).

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Surgical-dental services are covered by MSP when hospitalization is medically required for the safe and proper completion of surgery and when they are listed in the Dental Payment Schedule. Additions or changes to the list of insured services are managed by MSP on the advice of the Dental Liaison Committee. Additions and changes must be approved by the Medical Services Commission. Included as insured surgical-dental procedures are those related to remedying a disorder of the oral cavity or a functional component of mastication. Generally this would include: oral surgery related to trauma; orthognathic surgery; medically required extractions; and surgical treatment of temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Any general dental and/or oral surgeon in good standing with the College of Dental Surgeons and enrolled in the Medical Services Plan may provide insured surgical-dental services in hospital. There were 249 dentists (includes only Oral Surgeons, Dental Surgeons, Oral Medicine and Orthodontists who billed FFS in 2008-2009) enrolled with MSP and billing FFS in 2008-2009.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

For out-patients, take-home drugs and certain hospital drugs are not insured, except those provided under the provincial PharmaCare program. Other procedures not insured under the Hospital Insurance Act include: services of medical personnel not employed by the hospital; treatment for which Worksafe BC, the Department of Veterans Affairs or any other agency is responsible; services solely for the alteration of appearance; and reversal of sterilization procedures.

Uninsured hospital services also include: preferred accommodation at the patient's request; televisions, telephones and private nursing services; preferred medical/surgical supplies; dental care that could be provided in a dental office including prosthetic and orthodontic services; and, preferred services provided to patients of extended care units or hospitals.

Services not insured under the Medical Services Plan include: those covered by the Workers' Compensation Act or by other federal or provincial legislation; provision of non-implanted prostheses; orthotic devices; proprietary or patent medicines; any medical examinations that are not medically required; oral surgery rendered in a dentist's office; telephone advice unrelated to insured visits; reversal of sterilization procedures; in vitro fertilization; medico-legal services; and most cosmetic surgeries.

Medical necessity, as determined by the attending physician and hospital, is the basis for access to hospital and medical services.

The Medicare Protection Act (Section 45) prohibits the sale or issuance of health insurance by private insurers to patients for services that would be benefits if performed by a practitioner. Section 17 prohibits persons from being charged for a benefit or for "materials, consultations, procedures, and use of an office, clinic or other place or for any other matters that relate to the rendering of a benefit."

The Ministries of Health respond to complaints made by patients and takes appropriate actions to correct situations identified to the Ministry. The Medical Services Commission determines which services are benefits and has the authority to de-list insured services. Proposals to de-insure services must be made to the Commission. Consultation may take place through a sub-committee of the Commission and usually includes a review by the BCMA's Tariff Committee. No services were de-listed in 2008-2009.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Section 7 of the Medicare Protection Act defines the eligibility and enrolment of beneficiaries for insured services. Part 2 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation made under the Medicare Protection Act details residency requirements. A person must be a resident of British Columbia to qualify for provincial health care benefits.

The Medicare Protection Act, in section 1, defines a resident as a person who:

  • is a citizen of Canada or is lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence;
  • makes his or her home in British Columbia;
  • is physically present in British Columbia at least six months in a calendar year; and
  • is deemed under the regulations to be a resident.

Certain other individuals, such as some holders of permits issued under the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are deemed to be residents (see section 3.3 below), but this does not include a tourist or visitor to British Columbia.

New residents or persons re-establishing residence in British Columbia are eligible for coverage after completing a waiting period that normally consists of the balance of the month of arrival plus two months. For example, if an eligible person arrives during the month of July, coverage is available October 1. If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the waiting period, eligibility for coverage may be affected.

All residents are entitled to hospital and medical care insurance coverage. Those residents who are members of the Canadian Forces, appointed members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or serving a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary as defined in the Penitentiary Act, are eligible for federally funded health insurance.

The Medical Services Plan (MSP) provides first-day coverage to discharged members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Forces, and to those returning from an overseas tour of duty, as well as to released inmates of federal penitentiaries.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Residents must be enrolled in the Medical Services Plan (MSP) to receive insured hospital and physician services. Those who are eligible for coverage are required to enrol. Once enrolled, beneficiaries are assigned a unique Personal Health Number and issued a CareCard. There is no expiration date on the card. New residents are advised to make application immediately upon arrival in the province.

Beneficiaries may cover their dependents, provided the dependents are residents of the province. Dependents include a spouse (either married to or living and cohabiting in a marriage-like relationship), any unmarried child or legal ward supported by the beneficiary, and either under the age of 19 or under the age of 25 and in full-time attendance at a school or university.

The number of MSP registrants on March 31, 2009, was 4,402,540. Enrolment in MSP is mandatory, in accordance with the Medicare Protection Act (section 7). Only those adults who formally opt out of all provincial health care programs are exempt. A beneficiary who wishes to opt out of MSP can do so by completion and submission of Election to Opt Out form. The term of this decision is 12 months from the first of the month of receipt of the application, after which each adult must re-apply to remain opted out of MSP.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Holders of Minister's Permits, Temporary Resident Permits, study permits, and work permits are eligible for benefits when deemed to be residents under the Medicare Protection Act and section 2 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation.

3.4 Premiums

Enrolment in MSP is mandatory and payment of premiums is ordinarily a requirement for coverage. However, failure to pay premiums is not a barrier to coverage for those who meet the basic enrolment eligibility criteria. Monthly premiums for MSP are $54 for one person, $96 for a family of two, and $108 for a family of three or more.

Residents with limited incomes may be eligible for premium assistance. There are five levels of assistance, ranging from 20 to 100 percent of the full premium. Premium assistance is available only to beneficiaries who, for the last 12 consecutive months, have resided in Canada and are either a Canadian citizen or holder of permanent resident (landed immigrant) status under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Federal)

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

New residents or persons re-establishing residence in British Columbia are eligible for coverage after completing a waiting period that normally consists of the balance of the month of arrival plus two months. For example, if an eligible person arrives during the month of July, coverage is available October 1. If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the waiting period, eligibility for coverage may be affected. New residents from other parts of Canada are advised to maintain coverage with their former medical plan during the waiting period.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation of the Medicare Protection Act define portability provisions for persons temporarily absent from British Columbia with regard to insured services. In 2008-2009, there were no amendments to the Medical and Health Care Services Regulation with respect to portability provisions.

Individuals leaving the province temporarily on extended vacations, or for temporary employment, may be eligible for coverage for up to 24 months. Approval is limited to once in five years for absences that exceed six months in a calendar year. Residents who spend part of every year outside British Columbia must be physically present in Canada at least six months in a calendar year and continue to maintain their home in British Columbia in order to retain coverage. When a beneficiary stays outside British Columbia longer than the approved period, they will be required to fulfill a waiting period upon returning to the province before coverage can be renewed. Students attending a recognized school in another province or territory on a full-time basis are entitled to coverage for the duration of their studies.

According to inter-provincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing arrangements, physicians, except in Quebec, bill their own medical plans directly for services rendered to eligible British Columbia residents, upon presentation of a valid MSP CareCard. British Columbia then reimburses the province or territory at the rate of the fee schedule in the province or territory in which services were rendered. For in-patient hospital care, charges are paid at the standard ward rate actually charged by the hospital. For out-patient services, the payment is at the inter-provincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing rate. Payment for these services, except for excluded services that are billed to the patient, is handled though inter-provincial and inter-territorial reciprocal billing procedures. In 2008-2009, the amount paid to physicians in other provinces and territories was $28.6 million. Quebec does not participate in reciprocal billing agreements for physician services. As a result, claims for services provided to British Columbia beneficiaries by Quebec physicians must be handled individually. When travelling in Quebec or outside of Canada, the beneficiary is usually required to pay for medical services and seek reimbursement later from MSP.

British Columbia pays host provincial rates for insured services according to rates established by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The enabling legislation that defines portability of health insurance during temporary absences outside Canada is stated in the Hospital Insurance Act, s. 24; the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations, Division 6; the Medicare Protection Act, s 51; and the Medical and Health Care Service Regulation, ss. 3, 4, 5. The Medical and Health Care Services Regulation was amended by British Columbia Reg. 111/2005.

The relevant issues addressed by the amendments are as follows:

  • All provinces, except Quebec, have eliminated caps on MSP coverage for students studying abroad, enabling them to finish their undergraduate and graduate studies. The amendment brings British Columbia in line with other provinces and removes the 60-month cap for full-time students studying abroad at an educational institution. The students must be enrolled in and attending the institution.
  • Because of increasing demand for a specialized and mobile work force employed for short-term contracts and assignments, many provinces have extended health insurance coverage to 24 months of absence. British Columbians were deemed residents for the first 12 months of absence. This amendment extends coverage to 24 months; approval is limited to once in five years for absences exceeding six months in a calendar year. This brings British Columbia in line with practices in other provinces.
  • British Columbia residents who are temporarily absent from British Columbia and cannot return due to extenuating health circumstances are deemed residents for an additional 12 months if they are visiting in Canada or abroad. This amendment also applies to the person's spouse and children provided they are with the person and they are also residents or deemed residents.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

No prior approval is required for elective procedures that are covered under the inter-provincial reciprocal agreements with other provinces. Prior approval from the Medical Services Commission is required for procedures that are not covered under the reciprocal agreements.

The physician services excluded under the Inter-Provincial Agreements for the Reciprocal Processing of Out-of-Province Medical Claims are: surgery for alteration of appearance (cosmetic surgery); gender reassignment surgery; surgery for reversal of sterilization; therapeutic abortions; routine periodic health examinations including routine eye examinations; in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination; acupuncture, acupressure, transcutaneous electro-nerve stimulation (TENS), moxibustion, biofeedback, hypnotherapy; services to persons covered by other agencies (e.g., RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, Workers' Compensation Board, Department of Veterans Affairs, Correctional Services of Canada); services requested by a "third party"; team conference(s); genetic screening and other genetic investigation, including DNA probes; procedures still in the experimental/developmental phase; and anaesthetic services and surgical assistant services associated with all of the foregoing.

The services on this list may or may not be reimbursed by the home province. The patient should make enquires of that home province after direct payment to the British Columbia physician.

Some treatments (e.g., treatment for anorexia) may require the approval of the Health Authorities Division of the Ministry of Health Services.

All non-emergency procedures performed outside Canada require approval from the Commission before the procedure.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

Beneficiaries in British Columbia, as defined in section 1 of the Medicare Protection Act, are eligible for all insured hospital and medical care services as required. To ensure equal access to all, regardless of income, the Medicare Protection Act, sections 17 and 18, prohibits extra-billing by enrolled practitioners.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

Nursing

Nurses comprise the largest group of professional staff within the health care sector. The number of Registered Nurses licensed to practice in British Columbia as of March 31, 2009 was 33,974. British Columbia hospitals also employ Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). On March 31, 2009, there were 2,236 RPNs and 7,996 LPNs licensed to practice in the province.

In 2008-2009, the British Columbia government provided additional funding to build on successful recruitment, retention and education nursing strategies. This funding brought the government's total commitment to nursing strategies to $189 million since 2001.

British Columbia's nursing strategies are developed and implemented annually by the Nursing Directorate, Ministry of Health Services, through consultation with stakeholders, input from chief nursing officers of health authorities and the Nursing Advisory Committee of British Columbia, and a review of national trends and policies. The following priorities form the broad strategy framework:

  • human resources planning for recruitment, retention and education of nurses in British Columbia to address population-based health care needs;
  • enhancing nursing practice environments by supporting health authorities and government to make sound nursing policy in keeping with current research and provincial, national and global trends;
  • analyzing nursing data to enhance the Ministry's understanding of trends and changing needs in nursing and health care;
  • recruiting students of Aboriginal descent into nursing, supporting those already in nursing programs, and recruiting/retaining Aboriginal nurses currently practising in British Columbia, and;
  • promoting nursing as a career of choice to ensure the future of a quality British Columbia health care system.

Some of the programs funded in 2008-2009 included: expansion of recruitment initiatives for internationally-educated nurses, including the new Internationally Educated Nurse Assessment Service of BC, Aboriginal nursing strategies, undergraduate nurse program, internship/new graduate transition program, post-basic rural acute nursing certificate program pilot project, and expansion of Nurse Practitioner (NP) integration in primary care. Further strategies to mitigate the supply/demand equation include increasing front-line leadership positions, and enhancing specialty and continuing education.

In 2008-2009, British Columbia has increased the number of Nurse Practitioners in areas of need, both in urban and rural settings. In addition, the Nurse Practitioner Innovation initiative provided funding for NP positions in emergency departments and primary care clinics. As of March 31, 2009, there were 128 practicing NPs in British Columbia.

In addition, the Ministry of Health Services has partnered with the Ministries of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development to work closely with educational institutions to increase nursing education spaces. In addition, the first three-year accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program was announced at the British Columbia Institute of Technology on March 8, 2008, with an initial intake of 64 students in August 2008.

Infrastructure and Capital Planning

In recent years, the British Columbia government has initiated changes that encourage strategic investment in capital infrastructure, and fostered innovative approaches to meeting health service delivery needs, now and in future.

The Ministries of Health have introduced a longer capital planning cycle and have gathered better data on current capital assets to support improved decision-making and better forecasting of needs. The Ministries of Health are now working to extend the capital planning horizon to coincide with longer term acute care and complex care planning. This is particularly beneficial in planning for major infrastructure such as hospitals that have life-cycles encompassing several decades. It also gives health authorities more time to explore creative ways of addressing capital requirements.

The Province committed $86.5 million to expand and upgrade clinical-academic space to support increased enrolment of medical students at teaching hospitals in British Columbia.

In 2008, construction began on the UBC Medical School Facility in Kelowna, part of the Southern Medical Program. The program will welcome 32 new first-year medical students when the building opens in 2011.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Dental-Surgical Services

In 2008-2009, approximately 2,900 general practitioners and specialists received all or part of their income through British Columbia's Alternative Payments Program (APP).

APP funds regional health authorities to hire salaried physicians or contract with physicians, in order to deliver insured clinical services.

The Ministries of Health implemented several programs under the 2002 Subsidiary Agreement for Physicians in Rural Practice, which were con- tinued in the recently signed Physician Master Agreements (PMA) to enhance the availability and stability of physician services in smaller urban, rural and remote areas of British Columbia.

These programs include:

  • Rural Retention Program which provides eligible physicians (estimated at 1,300) with fee premiums. It is available to resident, visiting physicians and locums and also provides a flat fee sum for eligible physicians who reside and practice in a rural community.
  • Northern and Isolation Travel Assistance Outreach Program which provides funding support for approved physicians who visit rural and isolated communities to provide medical service. This program funded an estimated 2,625 visits in 2008-2009 by family doctors and specialists to rural communities.
  • Rural General Practitioner Locum Program which assists rural general practitioners in taking reasonable periods of leave from their practices by providing up to 43 days of paid locum coverage per year. This program assisted physicians in approximately 56 small communities to attend continuing medical education and also provided vacation relief.
  • Rural Specialist Locum Program which assists rural specialists in taking vacations and continuing medical education by providing paid locum support. The program provided locum support for core specialists in 10 rural communities to provide vacation relief and assistance while physician recruitment efforts were underway.
  • Rural Education Action Plan which supports the training needs of physicians in rural practice. This program supports training in physicians' rural practices through several components, including rural practice experience for medical students and enhanced skills for practicing physicians.
  • Isolation Allowance Fund which provides funding to communities with fewer than four physicians and no hospital, and where the Medical On-Call/ Availability Program, call-back, or Doctor of the Day payments is not available. Rural Loan Forgiveness Program which decreases British Columbia student loans by 20 per cent for each year of rural practice for physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists.

The Full-Service Family Practice Incentive Program has been expanded as the Ministry of Health Services and physicians continue to work together to develop incentives aimed at helping to support and sustain full service family practice. In 2008-2009, new and revised fees were in place to support general practitioners in providing primary care to their patients. As of March 31, 2009, 2,550 GPs had billed complex care fee items for 108,145 patients, 1,829 GPs had developed mental health care plans for 49,697 patients, 1,579 GPs had liaised with other health care practitioners to build complex care action plans for 13,255 patients, and 1,103 GPs had billed the conferencing fee for 8,434 patients in residential care.

The University of British Columbia's (UBC) medical school is expanding in collaboration with the University of Northern British Columbia, the University of Victoria and British Columbia's health authorities to double the number of medical students. In 2002, the government announced $134 million to build a new Life Sciences Centre at UBC in Vancouver and other distributed sites for medical programs in Prince George and Victoria. British Columbia's annual intake for medical students was 128 in 2003. The expanded program doubled the number of first-year seats to 256 in 2007. In addition, British Columbia is planning to further expand the medical program to British Columbia's southern Interior, adding another 32 first-year medical school spaces to the province's medical program.

5.4 Physician Compensation

Through negotiations with the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA), British Columbia establishes the compensation and benefit structure for physicians who perform publicly funded medical procedures.

Funding in 2008-2009 for physicians accounted for $3.08 billion, or 22.4 per cent of the Ministry's budget.

In 2007, as provided for by the 2006 Letter of Agreement, the Province and the BCMA concluded negotiations for a Physician Master Agreement (PMA). The PMA remains in effect until 2012.

In addition to the PMA, the Province and the BCMA also have five subsidiary agreements: General Practitioners Subsidiary Agreement; Specialists Subsidiary Agreement; Rural Practice Subsidiary Agreement; Alternative Payments Subsidiary Agreement; and Benefits Subsidiary Agreement. These agreements address matters unique to each aspect of medicine addressed by an individual subsidiary agreement. All five subsidiary agreements terminate in 2012 along with the PMA.

Being long-term, the PMA provides support for a more structured relationship between the BCMA and the Province than had been in place previously. Health authorities have a larger role in making deci- sions which affect health care in their respective regions. A main focus of the PMA is the establish- ment of mechanisms which promote enhanced collaboration and accountabilities between the province and the BCMA. Key to the success of these mechanisms is a strengthened conflict resolution process.

British Columbia anticipates additional benefits from the new PMA structure including: efficiencies stemming from the amalgamation of most agreements with the BCMA into a single agreement framework; streamlining committee structure and communication; providing a formal conflict management process which addresses issues at both the local and provincial levels; limiting physician service withdrawals; and establishing a structured process for physicians wishing to change their method of compensation to better align with strategies and priorities of the Province and of health authorities.

Effective April 1, 2008, physician compensation rates were increased by 2 per cent. Over the life of the PMA the province also provides financial support targeted towards: increasing rural physician incentive programs; providing for new fee items; increasing physician benefit programs; supporting full service family practices; and improving information technology and promoting eHealth initiatives.

The Province and the BC Dental Association (BCDA) negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2007 that is effective through March 2010 and covers the following services: dental surgery; oral surgery; orthodontic services; oral medicine; and dental technical procedures. Fee schedules for these services increased 3 per cent in April 2008. Both the Province and the BCDA agree to meet through a Joint Dental Surgery Policy Committee for the duration of the Agreement.

Medical practitioners are licensed under the Medical Practitioners Act and dentists were licensed under the Dentists Act in fiscal 2008-2009. In April 2009, dentists were regulated under the Health Professions Act.

Compensation Methods for Physicians and Dentists

Payment for medical services delivered in the Province is made through the Medical Services Plan to individual physicians, based on submitted claims, and through the Alternative Payments Program to health authorities for contracted physicians' services. Over 74 per cent of payments were distributed as fee-for-service payments and nearly 11.5 per cent were distributed as alternative payments. Of the alternative payments, 76 per cent are distributed through contracts, 22 per cent as sessions (3.5-hour units of service) and 2 per cent as salaried arrangements. The government funds health authorities for alternative payments; it does not pay physicians directly. In British Columbia, for dentistry services, MSP pays for medically required dental services and medically required dental surgical services performed in a hospital; the rest is self-pay.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

Funding for hospital services is included in the annual funding allocation and payments made to regional health authorities. This funding allocation is to be used to fund the full range of necessary health services for the population of the region (or for specific provincial services, for the population of British Columbia), including the provision of hospital services.

While the hospitals' portion of the funding allocation is normally not specified, the exception to this rule is funding targeted for specific priority projects (e.g., reduction in wait times for hips and knees). For these initiatives, funding is specifically earmarked and must be reported on separately.

Annual funding allocations to health authorities are determined as part of the Ministry's annual budget process in consultation with the Ministries of Health, of Finance and Treasury Board. The final funding amount is conveyed to health authorities by means of an annual funding letter.

The accountability mechanisms associated with government funding for hospitals is part of several comprehensive documents which set expectations for health authorities. These are the annual funding letter, annual service plans, and annual Government Letters of Expectations. Taken together, these documents convey the Ministries' broad expectations for health authorities and explain how performance will be monitored in relation to these expectations.

The Hospital Insurance Act and its related regulations govern payments made by the health care plan to health authorities. This statute establishes the authority of the Minister to make payments to hospitals, and specifies in broad terms what services are insured when provided within a hospital.

No amendments were made during 2008-2009 to legislation or regulations concerning payments for insured hospital services.

Insured hospital services are included within the annual funding allocations to health authorities, as well as specific targeted funding from time to time. Incremental funding is allocated to health authorities using the Ministry of Health Services' Population Needs-Based Funding Formula and other funding allocation methodologies (e.g. to reflect targeted funding allocations directed to specific health authorities).

In 2008-2009, a full continuum of care (acute, residential, community care, public and preventive health, adult mental health, addictions programs, etc.) was provided.

The annual funding allocation to health authorities does not include funding for programs directly operated by the Ministry, such as the payments to physicians, payments for prescription drugs covered under PharmaCare, or for provincial ambulance services.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Funding provided by the federal government through the Canada Health Transfer is recognized and reported by the Government of British Columbia through various government websites and provincial government documents.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

British Columbia also provides full or partial coverage for health care services not required by the Canada Health Act. British Columbia has established community-based services as appropriate alternatives to hospital services. The Home and Community Care program provides a range of health care and support services for eligible residents wit a frailty or with acute, chronic, palliative, or rehabilitative health care needs. The type of assistance and support required will vary from one person to another, and the amount of service necessary may change over time.

The services may include case management, home support, adult day services, meal programs, home care nursing, community rehabilitation, assisted living, residential care, family care homes, group homes for adults with disabilities, hospice, respite, and convalescent care as described below.

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care Services

Residential care facilities provide 24-hour professional nursing care and supervision in a protective, supportive environment for adults who have complex care needs and can no longer be cared for in their own homes.

Residential care clients pay a daily fee based on their after-tax income. Rates are adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The legislation pertaining to residential care facilities is the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Adult Care Regulations, the Hospital Act, the Hospital Act Regulation, the Hospital Insurance Act, the Hospital Insurance Act Regulations, and the Continuing Care Act, the Continuing Care Programs Regulation and the Continuing Care Fees Regulation.

Family care homes are single family residences that provide meals, housekeeping services and assistance with daily activities for up to two clients. The cost for family care homes is the same as for residential care facilities.

The legislation pertaining to family care homes is the Continuing Care Act, the Continuing Care Programs Regulation and the Continuing Care Fees Regulation.

Adults with disabilities can also live independently in the community in publicly-funded group homes. Group homes are safe, affordable, four-bed to six-bed housing projects. They offer short- and long-term accommodation, skills training, peer support and counselling. Group home clients are responsible for living costs, such as food and rent, not associated with their care. Rental costs vary, depending on income. The legislation pertaining to group homes is the Continuing Care Act and the Continuing Care Programs Regulation, as well as the Community Care and Assisted Living Act and the Adult Care Regulation.

Assisted living residences provide housing, hospitality and personal assistance services for adults who can live independently, but require regular assistance with daily activities, usually because of age, illness or disabilities. Residences typically consist of one-bedroom apartments.

Services include help with bathing, grooming, dressing or mobility. Meals, housekeeping, laundry, social and recreational opportunities and a 24-hour response system are also provided. Clients pay a monthly charge based on 70 per cent of their after-tax income, up to a maximum of a combination of the average market rent for housing and hospitality in a particular geographic area and the actual cost of personal care. The legislation pertaining to assisted living residences is the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Assisted Living Regulation, the Continuing Care Act, the Continuing Care Programs Regulation and the Continuing Care Fees Regulation.

Hospice services

Hospice services provide a residential home-like setting where supportive and professional care services are provided to British Columbians of any age who are in the end stages of a terminal illness or preparing for death. Services may include medical and nursing care, advance care planning, pain and symptom management, and psycho-social, spiritual and bereavement support. There may be a charge for some hospice services. The legislation pertaining to hospices is the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, the Adult Care Regulations, the Hospital Act and the Hospital Act Regulation.

Services for Persons with Mental Illness and Addictions

There are five distinct types of housing and support programs for people with severe mental illness and or addictions: Community Residential Care Facilities; Family Care Homes; Supported Housing; Residential Addictions Treatment; and Support Recovery Facilities.

Community Residential Care Facilities

These facilities provide 24-hour care, intensive treatment and support services, including psycho-social rehabilitation, such as assistance with personal care, home/money management, socialization, medication administration and linking with external services such as supported education and supported employment programs. For some residents, community residential care is a 'stepping stone' towards more independent housing while others stay long-term. All facilities are licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. Clients pay a standard daily fee for room and board.

Family Care Homes

These private homes, operated by families or individuals, provide basic living skills and psycho-social rehabilitation services for clients unable to live independently, who require support within a family setting to acquire the skills and confidence necessary for independent living. Homes are not licensed or registered but must meet standards set out by the health authority. Clients pay a standard daily fee for room and board.

Supported Housing

Supported housing programs include affordable, safe and secure accommodation and the availability of a range of psycho-social rehabilitation and home support services, such as assistance with meal preparation, personal care, home management, medication support, socialization, and crisis management. Supported Housing programs include: supported apartments, block apartments, congregate housing; group homes and low barrier housing. Clients pay reduced rent based on income.

Residential Addiction Treatment

These residential addictions treatment facilities provide a safe, structured, and substance-free living environment and are licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. Treatment includes assessment, education, structured individual, group and family counselling/therapy. Length of stay generally ranges from 30-90 days and clients pay a standard daily fee.

Support Recovery Facilities

These facilities provide a temporary residential setting and a basic level of support appropriate for longer-term recovery from addiction. Individuals access outpatient and other community treatment services and supports. Clients pay a standard daily fee.

7.2 Home Care Services

Home care nursing and community rehabilitation services are professional services, delivered to people of all ages by registered nurses and rehabilitation therapists. These services are available on a non-emergency basis and include assessment, teaching and consultation, care coordination and direct care or treatment for clients with chronic, acute, palliative or rehabilitative needs. There is no charge for these services.

Home support services help clients remain in their own homes. Home support workers provide personal assistance with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, grooming and, in some cases, light house-hold tasks that help maintain a safe and supportive home. Depending on an individual's income, there may be a cost associated with home support services. The legislation pertaining to home support services is the Continuing Care Act, the Continuing Care Programs Regulation and the Continuing Care Fees Regulation.

End-of-life care preserves clients' comfort, dignity and quality of life by relieving or controlling symptoms so those facing death, and their loved ones, can devote their energies to embracing the time they have together. Professional care givers and support staff provide supportive and compassionate care in the client's home, in hospital, hospice, an assisted living residence or a residential care facility. Depending on the type of care required and an individual's income, there may be a cost associated with some services. A Palliative Care Benefits Program was implemented in 2001 to provide people living at home who are nearing the end of their life with approved medications for pain or symptom relief and some medical supplies and equipment, at no charge. Approved medications can be obtained through a local pharmacy.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

Adult day programs assist seniors and adults with disabilities to function as independently as possible. They provide supportive group programs and activities that give clients a opportunities to be more involved in their community and offer caregivers respite. Services vary with each centre, but may include personal care, social activities, meals and transportation.

Centres usually charge a minimal daily fee to assist with the cost of craft supplies, transportation and meals. The legislation pertaining to adult day programs is the Continuing Care Act and the Continuing Care Programs Regulation.

Health authorities also provide ambulatory health care services such as home care nursing, community rehabilitation, nutrition and social work, in a variety of community settings (i.e. wellness clinics, ambulatory home care nursing clinics, and community health clinics for the frail elderly). These may be coordinated in partnership with primary health care physicians.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 4,182,682 4,216,199 4,279,734 4,335,676 4,402,540
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):1
a. acute care 92 82 82 80 80
b. chronic care 18 19 18 19 19
c. rehabilitative care 4 4 4 4 4
d. other 23 23 35 37 37
e. total 137 137 139 139 139
3. Payments for insured health services ($):2
a. acute care not available not available not available not available not available
b. chronic care not available not available not available not available not available
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 17 18 22 18 14
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 1 1 0 not available not available
c. total 18 19 22 not available not available
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities not available not available not available not available not available
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not available not available not available not available not available
c. total not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 7,467 6,517 7,172 7,160 7,102
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 51,869,175 49,899,859 65,678,542 55,309,733 64,550,692
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 80,386 77,537 81,878 95,677 95,677
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 13,574,737 14,089,042 17,937,647 19,088,368 24,262,195
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,294 2,345 1,858 1,603 1,963
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 3,811,717 4,248,649 3,452,739 14,486,341 11,811,654
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 761 1,247 960 1,215 1,630
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 741,617 770,215 453,698 553,661 967,704
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 4,629 4,681 4,756 4,806 4,899
b. specialists 3,642 3,773 3,870 3,966 4,087
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 8,271 8,454 8,626 8,772 8,986
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 4 4 3 3 3
b. specialists 2 2 2 2 2
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 6 6 5 5 5
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 1 1 1 2 2
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 1 1 1 2 2
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) not available not available not available not available not available
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 65,944,973 70,083,943 72,660,315 75,659,148 78,936,388
b. total payments ($) 1,956,374,356 2,032,708,002 2,074,806,4903 2,149,229,7223 2,322,851,3073
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 628,546 674,830 869,072 724,805 734,584
20. Total payments ($). 23,641,538 25,801,030 27,402,542 26,458,974 28,643,860
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
21. Number of services (#). 72,905 76,146 80,795 76,092 36,205
22. Total payments ($). 3,145,564 3,471,693 3,739,263 4,005,493 2,276,570
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 228 238 234 245 249
24. Number of services provided (#). 38,310 41,965 44,015 43,262 46,736
25. Total payments ($). 5,268,900 5,833,105 6,087,395 6,305,343 7,289,302

Yukon

Introduction

The health care insurance plans operated by the Government of Yukon Territory are the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan (YHCIP) and the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan (YHISP). The YHCIP is administered by the Director, as appointed by the Executive Council Member (Minister). The YHISP is administered by the Administrator, as appointed by the Commissioner in Executive Council (Commissioner of the Yukon Territory). The Director of the YHCIP and the Administrator of the YHISP are hereafter referred to as the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services. References in this text to the "Plan" refer to either the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan. There are no regional health boards in the Territory.

The objective of the Yukon health care system is to ensure access to, and portability of, insured physician and hospital services according to the provisions of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and the Hospital Insurance Services Act. Coverage is provided to all eligible residents of the Yukon Territory on uniform terms and conditions. The Minister, Department of Health and Social Services, is responsible for delivering all insured health care services. Service delivery is administered centrally by the Department of Health and Social Services. There were 33,983 eligible persons registered with the Yukon health care plan on March 31, 2009.

Other insured services provided to eligible Yukon residents include the Travel for Medical Treatment Program; the Chronic Disease and Disability Benefits Program; the Pharmacare and Extended Benefits Programs; and the Children's Drug and Optical Program. Non-insured health service programs include Continuing Care; Community Nursing; Community Health; and Mental Health Services.

Health care initiatives in the Territory target areas such as access and availability of services, recruitment and retention of health care professionals, primary health care, systems development and alternative payment and service delivery systems. Specifically:

  • Primary care initiatives are proceeding that will broaden and strengthen service delivery and modernize and improve system capabilities.

These initiatives include:

  • Insured Health Information System - a new system has been in use for just over two years for the processing of Health Care Registration, Medical Claims, Hospital Claims and Drug Claims. The Medical Travel Claims component is planned for implementation in the summer of 2008;
  • work with the Yukon Medical Association to find solutions for a number of Yukon residents without a family physician continues;
  • Yukon has recruited a broader base of visiting specialists to provide services at the Visiting Specialist Clinic; and
  • the Diabetes Collaborative, which helps physicians provide improved care for patients with diabetes is moving to another phase that will see an expansion to other chronic conditions (CHF, COPD, hypertension, kidney disease) as well as diabetes in Whitehorse and communities.

Some of the major challenges facing the advancement of insured health care service delivery in the Territory are:

  • effective linkages and coordination of existing services and service providers;
  • recruitment and retention of qualified health care professionals;
  • increasing costs related to service delivery;
  • increasing costs related to changing demographics; and
  • acquiring and maintaining new and advanced high-technology diagnostic and treatment equipment.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The Health Care Insurance Plan Act, sections 3(2) and 4, establishes the public authority to operate the health medical care plan. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

The Hospital Insurance Services Act, sections 3(1) and 5, establishes the public authority to operate the health hospital care plan. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

Subject to the Health Care Insurance Plan Act (section 5) and Regulations, the mandate and function of the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is to:

  • develop and administer the Plan;
  • determine eligibility for entitlement to insured health services;
  • register persons in the Plan;
  • make payments under the Plan, including the determination of eligibility and amounts;
  • determine the amounts payable for insured health services outside the Yukon;
  • establish advisory committees and appoint individuals to advise or assist in operating the Plan;
  • conduct actions and negotiate settlements in the exercise of the Government of Yukon's right of subrogation under this Act to the rights of insured persons;
  • conduct surveys and research programs and obtain statistics for such purposes;
  • determine the information required under this Act and the form such information must take;
  • appoint inspectors and auditors to examine and obtain information from medical records, reports and accounts; and
  • perform such other functions and discharge such other duties as are assigned by the Executive Council Member under this Act.

Subject to the Hospital Insurance Services Act (section 6) and Regulations, the mandate and function of the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is to:

  • develop and administer the hospital insurance plan;
  • determine eligibility for and entitlement to insured services;
  • determine the amounts that may be paid for the cost of insured services provided to insured persons;
  • enter into agreements on behalf of the Government of Yukon with hospitals in or outside the Yukon, or with the Government of Canada or any province or an appropriate agency thereof, for the provision of insured services to insured persons;
  • approve hospitals for purposes of this Act;
  • conduct surveys and research programs and obtain statistics for such purposes;
  • appoint inspectors and auditors to examine and obtain information from hospital records, reports and accounts;
  • prescribe the forms and records necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act; and
  • perform such other functions and discharge such other duties as may be assigned by the regulations.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

The Department of Health and Social Services is accountable to the Legislative Assembly and the Government of Yukon through the Minister.

Section 6 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and section 7 of the Hospital Insurance Services Act require that the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, make an annual report to the Executive Council Member respecting the administration of the two health insurance plans. A Statement of Revenue and Expenditures is tabled in the Legislature and is subject to discussion at that level.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Health Care Insurance Plan and the Hospital Insurance Services Plan are subject to audit by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. The Auditor General of Canada is the auditor of the Government of Yukon in accordance with section 30 of the Yukon Act (Canada). The Auditor General is required to conduct an annual audit of the transactions and consolidated financial statements of the Government of Yukon. Further, the Auditor General of Canada is to report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly any matter falling within the scope of the audit that, in his or her opinion, should be reported to the Assembly.

The most recent audit was for the year ended March 31, 2009.

Regarding the Yukon Hospital Corporation, section 13(2) of the Hospital Act requires every hospital to submit a report of the operations of the Corporation for that fiscal year; the report is to include the financial statements of the Corporation and the auditor's report. The report is to be provided to the Department of Health and Social Services within six months of the end of each fiscal year.

1.4 Designated Agency

The Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan has no other designated agencies authorized to receive monies or to issue payments pursuant to the Health Care Insurance Plan Act or the Hospital Insurance Services Act.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

The Hospital Insurance Services Act, sections 3, 4, 5 and 9, establish authority to provide insured hospital services to insured residents. The Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Ordinance was first passed in 1960 and came into effect April 9, 1960. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

In 2008-2009, insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services were delivered in 15 facilities throughout the Territory. These facilities include one general hospital, one hospital and 13 Health Centres.

Adopted on December 7, 1989, the Hospital Act establishes the responsibility of the Legislature and the Government to ensure "compliance with appropriate methods of operation and standards of facilities and care". Adopted on November 11, 1994, the Hospital Standards Regulation sets out the conditions under which all hospitals in the Territory are to operate. Section 4(1) provides for the Ministerial appointment of one or more investigators to report on the management and administration of a hospital. Section 4(2) requires that the hospital's Board of Trustees establishes and maintains a quality assurance program. Currently, the Yukon Hospital Corporation is operated under a three-year accreditation through the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation. The surveyors are scheduled to do their accreditation review for renewal in May 2010.

The Yukon government assumed responsibility for operating Health Centres from the federal government in April 1997. These facilities, including the Watson Lake Cottage Hospital, operate in compliance with the adopted Medical Services Branch Scope of Practice for Community Health Nurses/ Nursing Station Facility/ Health Centre Treatment Facility, and the Community Health Nurse Scope of Practice. The General Duty Nurse Scope of Practice was completed and implemented in February 2002.

Pursuant to the Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, sections 2(e) and (f), services provided in an approved hospital are insured. Section 2(e) defines in-patient insured services as all of the following services to in-patients, namely: accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level; necessary nursing service; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease and assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of an injury, illness or disability; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B of the Regulations, when administered in the hospital; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; use of radiotherapy facilities where available; use of physiotherapy facilities where available; and services rendered by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital.

Section 2(f) of the same Regulations defines "out-patient insured services" as all of the following services to out-patients, when used for emergency diagnosis or treatment within 24 hours of an accident, which period may be extended by the Administrator, provided the service could not be obtained within 24 hours of the accident, namely: necessary nursing service; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations for the purpose of assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of an injury; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B, when administered in a hospital; use of operating room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; services rendered by persons who receive remuneration therefore from the hospital; use of radiotherapy facilities where available; and use of physiotherapy facilities where available.

Pursuant to the Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, all in- and out-patient services provided in an approved hospital by hospital employees are insured services. Standard nursing care, pharmaceuticals, supplies, diagnostic and operating services are provided. Any new programs or enhancements with significant funding implications or reductions to services or programs require the prior approval of the Minister, Department of Health and Social Services. This process is managed by the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services. Public representation regarding changes in service levels is made through membership on the hospital board.

Additional funds have been provided to Yukon to assist patients with recourse options who have orthopaedic (knees and hip) or ophthalmology surgery requirements. It is hoped that the investment of these unds will result in a significant reduction in the wait times.

These measures will help reduce the Territory's reliance on out-of-territory services.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

Sections 1 to 8 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and sections 2, 3, 7, 10 and 13 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations provide for insured physician services. There were no amendments made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

The Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan covers physicians providing medically required services. The conditions a physician must meet to participate in the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan are to:

  • register for licensure pursuant to the Medical Professions Act; and
  • maintain licensure, pursuant to the Medical Professions Act.

The estimated number of resident physicians participating in the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan in 2008-2009 was 67.

Section 7(5) of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations allows physicians in the Territory to bill patients directly for insured services by giving notice in writing of this election. In 2008-2009, no physicians provided written notice of their election to collect fees other than from the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan.

Insured physician services in the Yukon are defined as medically required services rendered by a medical practitioner. Services not insured by the Plan are listed in section 3 of the Regulations. Services not covered by the Plan include advice by telephone; medical-legal services; preparation of records and reports; services required by a third party; cosmetic services; and services determined to be not medically required.

The process used to add a new fee to the Payment Schedule for Yukon is administered through a committee structure. This process requires physicians to submit requests in writing to the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan/Yukon Medical Association Liaison Committee.

Following review by this committee, a decision is made to include or exclude the service. The relevant costs or fees are normally set in accordance with similar costs or fees in other jurisdictions. Once a fee-for-service value has been determined, notification of the service and the applicable fee is provided to all Yukon physicians. Public consultation is not required.

Alternatively, new fees can be implemented as a result of the fee negotiation process between the Yukon Medical Association and the Department of Health and Social Services. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process and no public consultation is required.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dentists providing insured surgical-dental services under the health care insurance plan of the Territory must be licensed pursuant to the Dental Professions Act and are given billing numbers to bill the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan for providing insured dental services. In 2008-2009, one dentist billed the Plan for insured dental services that were provided to Yukon residents. The Plan is also billed directly for services provided outside the territory.

Dentists are able to opt out of the health care plan in the same manner as physicians. In 2008-2009, no dentists provided written notice of their election to collect fees other than from the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan.

Insured dental services are limited to those surgical-dental procedures listed in Schedule B of the Regulations and require the unique capabilities of a hospital for their performance (e.g., surgical correction of prognathism or micrognathia).

The addition or deletion of new surgical-dental services to the list of insured services requires amendment by Order-in-Council to Schedule B of the Regulations Respecting Health Care Insurance Services. Coverage decisions are made on the basis of whether or not the service must be provided in hospital under general anaesthesia. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, administers this process.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Only services prescribed by and rendered in accordance with the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and Regulations and the Hospital Insurance Services Act and Regulations are insured. All other services are uninsured.

Uninsured physician services include: services that are not medically necessary; charges for long-distance telephone calls; preparing or providing a drug; advice by telephone at the request of the insured person; medico legal services including examinations and reports; cosmetic services; acupuncture; and experimental procedures.

Section 3 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations contains a non-exhaustive list of services that are prescribed as non-insured.

Uninsured hospital services include: non-resident hospital stays; special/private nurses requested by the patient or family; additional charges for preferred accommodation unless prescribed by a physician; crutches and other such appliances; nursing home charges; televisions; telephones; and drugs and biologicals following discharge. (These services are not provided by the hospital.)

Uninsured dental services include: procedures considered restorative; and procedures that are not performed in a hospital under general anaesthesia.

Further, the Act states that any service that a person is eligible for, and entitled to, under any other Act is not insured.

All Yukon residents have equal access to services. Third parties, such as private insurers or the Worker's Compensation Health and Safety Board, do not receive priority access to services through additional payment.

The purchase of non-insured services, such as fibreglass casts, does not delay or prevent access to insured services at any time. Insured persons are given treatment options at the time of service.

The Territory has no formal process to monitor compliance; however, feedback from physicians, hospital administrators, medical professionals and staff allows the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, to monitor usage and service concerns.

Physicians in the Territory may bill patients directly for non-insured services. Block fees are not used at this time; however, some do bill by service item. Billable services include, but are not limited to, completion of employment forms; medical-legal reports; transferring records; third party examinations; some elective services; and telephone prescriptions, advice or counselling. Payment does not affect patient access to services because not all physicians or clinics bill for these services and other agencies or employers may cover the cost.

The process used to de-insure services covered by the Yukon Health Insurance Plan is as follows:

  • Physician services - the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan/Yukon Medical Association Liaison Committee is responsible for reviewing changes to the Payment Schedule for Yukon, including decisions to de-insure certain services. In consultation with the Yukon Medical Advisor, decisions to de-insure services are based on medical evidence that indicates the service is not medically necessary, is ineffective or a potential risk to the patient's health. Once a decision has been made to de-insure a service, all physicians are notified in writing. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process. No services were removed from the Payment Schedule for Yukon in fiscal year 2008-2009.
  • Hospital services - an amendment by Order-In-Council to section 2 (e) (f) of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations would be required. As of March 31, 2009, no insured in-patient or out-patient hospital services, as provided for in the Regulations, have been de-insured. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, is responsible for managing this process in conjunction with the Yukon Hospital Corporation.
  • Surgical-dental services - an amendment by Order-In-Council to Schedule B of the Regulations Respecting Health Care Insurance Services is required. A service could be de-insured if determined not medically necessary or is no longer required to be carried out in a hospital under general anaesthesia. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, manages this process.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for insured health services are set out in the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and Regulations, sections 2 and 4 respectively, and the Hospital Insurance Services Act and Regulations, sections 2 and 4 respectively. Subject to the provisions of these Acts and Regulations, every Yukon resident is eligible for and entitled to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions. The term "resident" is defined using the wording of the Canada Health Act and means a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in the Yukon, but does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to the Yukon. Where applicable, the eligibility of all persons is administered in accordance with the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability.

Under section 4(1) of both Regulations "an insured person is eligible for and entitled to insured services after midnight on the last day of the second month following the month of arrival to the Territory".

Changes affecting eligibility made to the legislation in 2004-2005 now require that all persons returning to or establishing residency in Yukon complete the waiting period. The only exception is for children adopted by insured persons.

The following persons are not eligible for coverage in the Yukon:

  • persons entitled to coverage from their home province or territory (e.g., students and workers covered under temporary absence provisions);
  • visitors to the Territory;
  • refugee claimants;
  • members of the Canadian Forces;
  • convention refugees;
  • members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
  • inmates in federal penitentiaries;
  • study permit holders, unless they are a child and they are listed as the dependent of a person who holds a one year work permit; and
  • employment authorizations of less than one year.

The above persons may become eligible for coverage if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • establish residency in the Territory;
  • become a permanent resident; and
  • the day following discharge or release if stationed in or resident in the Territory.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Section 16 of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act states: "Every resident other than a dependant or a person exempted by the Regulations from so doing, shall register himself and his dependants with the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, at the place and in the manner and form and at the times prescribed by the Regulations". Registration is administered in accordance with the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability.

Persons and dependants under the age of 19 who move permanently to the Yukon are advised to apply for health care insurance upon arrival. Application is made by completing a registration form available from the Insured Health and Hearing Services office or community Territorial Agents. Once coverage becomes effective, a health care card is issued.

Family members receive separate health care cards and numbers. Health care cards expire every year on the resident's birthday and an updated label with the new expiry date is mailed out accordingly.

As of March 31, 2009, there were 33,983 residents registered with the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan. There were no residents who notified Insured Health Services of their decision to opt out of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan in 2008-2009.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

The Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan provides health care coverage for other categories of individuals, as follows:

  • Returning Canadians - waiting period is applied
  • Permanent Residents - waiting period is applied
  • Minister's Permit - waiting period is applied, if authorized
  • Foreign Workers - waiting period is applied, if holding Employment Authorization
  • Clergy - waiting period is applied, if holding Employment Authorization

Employment Authorizations must be in excess of 12 months.

The estimated number of new individuals receiving coverage in 2008-2009 under the following conditions is:

  • Returning Canadians - 96
  • Permanent Residents - 558
  • Minister's Permit - 0
  • Convention Refugees - 0
  • Armed Forces - 7
  • RCMP - 16

The estimated number of individuals receiving coverage in 2008-2009 under the following conditions is:

  • Foreign Workers - 250
  • Clergy - 0

3.4 Premiums

The payment of premiums by Yukon residents was eliminated on April 1, 1987.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Pursuant to section 4(1) of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations, "an insured person is eligible for and entitled to insured services after midnight on the last day of the second month following the month of arrival to the Territory". All persons entitled to coverage are required to complete the mini- mum waiting period with the exception of children adopted from outside Canada by insured persons. (See section 3.1.)

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The provisions relating to portability of health care insurance during temporary absences outside Yukon, but within Canada, are defined in sections 5, 6, 7 and 10 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and sections 6, 7(1), 7(2), and 9 of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations.

The Regulations state that "where an insured person is absent from the Territory and intends to return, he is entitled to insured services during a period of 12 months continuous absence". Persons leaving the Territory for a period exceeding three months are advised to contact the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan and complete a form of "Temporary Absence". Failure to do so may result in cancellation of the coverage.

Students attending educational institutions outside the Territory remain eligible for the duration of their academic studies. The Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, may approve other absences in excess of 12 consecutive months upon receiving a written request from the insured person. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director.

For temporary workers and missionaries, the Director, Insured Health and Hearing Services, may approve absences in excess of 12 consecutive months upon receiving a written request from the insured person. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director.

The provisions regarding coverage during temporary absences in Canada fully comply with the terms and conditions of the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability effective February 1, 2001. Definitions are consistent in regulations, policies and procedures.

No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

The Yukon participates fully with the Inter-Provincial Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreements and Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements in place with all other provinces and territories with the exception of Quebec, which does not participate in the medical reciprocal billing arrangement. Persons receiving medical (physician) services in Quebec may be required to pay directly and submit claims to the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan for reimbursement.

The Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide for payment of insured in-patient and out-patient hospital services to eligible residents receiving insured services outside the Yukon, but within Canada.

The Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide for payment of insured physician services on behalf of eligible residents receiving insured services outside the Yukon, but within Canada. Payment is made to the host province at the rates established by that province.

Insured services provided to Yukon residents while temporarily absent from the Territory are paid at the rates established by the host province. The following amounts were paid to out-of-territory hospitals for the fiscal year 2008-2009:

  • In-patient services - $11,183,888
  • Out-patient services - $2,888,247

These figures are by date of service and may be subject to adjustment.

In 2008-2009 payments to out-of-territory physicians totalled $2,297,501.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The provisions that define portability of health care insurance to insured persons during temporary absences outside Canada are defined in sections 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11 of the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations and sections 6, 7(1), 7(2) and 9 of the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Regulations. No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009. Sections 5 and 6 state that "Where an insured person is absent from the Territory and intends to return, he is entitled to insured services during a period of 12 months continuous absence".

Persons leaving the Territory for a period exceeding three months are advised to contact the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan and complete a form of "Temporary Absence." Failure to do so may result in cancellation of the coverage.

The provisions for portability of health insurance during out-of-country absences for students, temporary workers and missionaries are the same as for absences within Canada. (See section 4.2.)

Insured physician services provided to eligible Yukon residents temporarily outside the country are paid at rates equivalent to those paid had the service been provided in the Yukon. Reimbursement is made to the insured person by the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or directly to the provider of the insured service.

Insured in-patient hospital services provided to eligible Yukon residents outside Canada are paid at the rate established in the Standard Ward Rates Regulation for the Whitehorse General Hospital. The standard ward rate for the Whitehorse General Hospital as of April 1, 2008 was $1,473 and April 1, 2009 was $1,605. This rate is established through Order-in-Council and is derived as follows:

  • Standard Ward Rate = (total operating expenses - non-related in-patient costs - related newborn costs - associated out-patient costs) / (total patient days - patient days for other services; e.g., non-Canadians).

Insured out-patient hospital services provided to eligible Yukon residents outside Canada are paid at the rate established in the Charges for Out-Patient Procedures Regulation. The out-patient rate as of April 1, 2008 was $231 and April 1, 2009 was $238 and is established through Order-in-Council and derived by the Inter-provincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee (IHIACC).

The following amounts were paid in 2008-2009 for elective and emergency services provided to eligible Yukon residents outside Canada:

  • In-patient services - $12,003
  • Out-patient services - $8,233

These figures are by date of service and may be subject to adjustment.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

There is no legislated requirement that eligible residents must seek prior approval before seeking elective or emergency hospital or physician services outside Canada.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

There are no user fees or co-insurance charges under the Yukon Health Care Insurance Plan or the Yukon Hospital Insurance Services Plan. All services are provided on a uniform basis and are not impeded by financial or other barriers.

Access to hospital or physician services not available locally are provided through the Visiting Specialist Program, Telehealth Program or the Travel for Medical Treatment Program. These programs ensure that there is minimal or no delay in receiving medically necessary services.

There is no extra-billing in the Yukon for any services covered by the Plan.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

Pursuant to the Hospital Act, the "Legislature and Government have responsibility to ensure the availability of necessary hospital facilities and programs". The Minister must approve any significant changes to the level of service delivery. Acute care beds are readily available and no waitlist for admission exists at either of Yukon's two acute care facilities. The estimated number of full-time equivalent (FTEs) nurses and other health care professionals working in facilities providing insured hospital services in the Yukon as of March 31, 2009, is:

Profession Whitehorse General Hospital Watson Lake Cottage Hospital
  # of FTEs # of FTEs
Registered Nurses 79.42 7.50
Licensed Practical 8.00 0
Nurse Practitioner 0 0
Social Worker 1.00 0
Pharmacist 2.27 0
Physiotherapist 4.55 0
Occupational Therapist 1.40 0
Psychologist 0 0
Medical Lab/X-Ray 34.64 0
Dietician 5.0 0
Public Health 0 2.00
Home Care 0 1.00

The Whitehorse General Hospital and Community Nursing manage the supply of nurses and health care professionals in the Territory's two hospitals with the Department of Health and Social Services. Shortfalls in staffing are covered by temporary, casual or auxiliary workers to ensure residents have continued access to insured services.

Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and retention initiatives include:

Community Nursing

A Yukon Advisory Committee on Nursing was struck to advise the Department of Healt and Social Services on nursing issues. Recommendations will help Yukon recruit and retain nurses in both the long and short term. Yukonis providing:

  • competitive salaries;
  • recruitment and retention bonuses;
  • participation at job fairs;
  • training and educational opportunities;
  • travel bonus / $2,000 after one year; and
  • relief positions.
Whitehorse General
  • competitive salaries;
  • wage scale recognizes experience;
  • cooperative work schedules;
  • on-site fitness centre/24-hour;
  • monthly clinical skill development;
  • continuing education/development; and
  • travel bonus / $2,000 after one year.
Facilities
Whitehorse General Hospital

As the only major acute care hospital facility in the Territory, this facility provides in-patient, out-patient and 24-hour emergency services. Local physicians provide Emergency Department services on rotation. Emergency surgery patients at the Whitehorse General Hospital are normally seen within 24 hours.

Elective surgery patients are normally seen within one to two weeks. The number of Visiting pecialist clinics is routinely adjusted to address wait times, particularly for orthopaedics, ear/nose/throat and ophthalmology (see section 5.3).

Surgical services provided include:

  • minor orthopaedics;
  • selected major orthopaedics;
  • gynecology/obstetrical;
  • paediatrics;
  • general abdominal;
  • mastectomy;
  • emergency trauma;
  • ear/nose/throat/otolaryngology; and
  • ophthalmology including cataracts.

Diagnostic services include:

  • radiology (including ultrasound, computed tomography, x-ray and mammography);
  • laboratory;
  • electrocardiogram; and
  • cardiac stress testing.

Selected rehabilitative services are available through out-patient therapies.

Watson Lake Hospital

This primary acute care facility is located in Watson Lake. Medical services include emergency trauma, low-risk maternity, medicine, paediatrics, palliative and respite care. Diagnostic services include x-ray, laboratory and electrocardiogram. This is a 12-bed facility and there is no waitlist for admission.

Health Centres

Out-patient and 24-hour emergency services are provided at the remaining 13 community Health Centres by Community Nurse Practitioners and auxiliary nursing staff.

Patients requiring insured hospital services not available locally are transferred to acute care facilities in territory or out-of-territory through the Travel for Medical Treatment Program.

Measures to Improve Access

A number of measures have been taken to better manage access to insured hospital services. The Department of Health and Social Services continues to work with the Yukon Hospital Corporation and Community Nursing to ensure the current waiting time for insured hospital services in the Territory is reduced or maintained at existing levels. For example:

  • Heart defibrillators were made available in all rural Yukon Health Centres. This provides an important tool for Community Nurse Practitioners and improves local access to cardiac care.
  • Officials from the Department attend nursing recruitment fairs across Canada and provide information on working in the Territory to nurses in attendance.
  • The Technical Review Committee continues to make recommendations to the Department on health programs and services in the Yukon as required. Its mandate is to develop criteria for initiating, eliminating, expanding or reducing programs or services.
  • Telehealth provides real-time video in all Yukon communities, giving outlying rural communities access to Whitehorse. As well, Whitehorse and the rural communities can access services from outside centres in British Columbia or Alberta.
  • Telehealth educational sessions continue to occur regularly between Whitehorse and rural Yukon as well as between Whitehorse and British Columbia. These sessions are attended by patients, physicians, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, mental health counsellors and allied professionals such as Community Health Representatives and First Nation Wellness workers.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Existing legislation and administration of services provides all eligible Yukon residents with equal access to insured physician and dental services on uniform terms and conditions.

The following resident physicians, specialists and dentists provided services in the Yukon as of March 31, 2009, (see Statistical Table item #14):

  • General/Family Practitioners - 58
  • Specialists - 9
  • Dentists - 1

Beyond the usual distribution of physicians and specialists in the Territory, uniform access to insured physician and dental services is ensured through the Travel for Medical Treatment Program. This program covers the cost of medically necessary transportation, allowing eligible persons to access services that are not available in their home communities. Eligible persons are routinely sent to Whitehorse, Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary to receive services.

Most physicians in the Yukon are located in Whitehorse. Beyond Whitehorse, only two rural communities have resident fee-for-service physicians: Dawson City and Watson Lake. One contracted physician provides resident services in Mayo.

The Visiting Physician Program provides local access to insured physician services to 10 rural and remote locations. The frequency of visiting clinics is based on demand and utilization. Physicians providing visiting services through this program are compensated under contract for travel time, mileage, meals and accommodation, in addition to a sessional rate or fee-for-service billings.

In addition, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Visiting Specialist Program provide local access at the Whitehorse General Hospital, Mental Health Services or the Yukon Communicable Disease Unit to non-resident visiting specialist services not regularly available in the Territory. Visiting specialists are reimbursed for expenses in addition to a sessional rate or fee-for-service billings.

The number of specialists providing services under the Visiting Specialist Program and the Department of Health and Social Services is:

  • Ophthalmology - 2
  • Oncology - 3
  • Internal Medicine - 2
  • Otolaryngology - 2
  • Neurology - 2
  • Rheumatology - 2
  • Dermatology - 2
  • Infectious Disease - 1
  • Psychiatry - 2
  • Orthopaedics - 5
  • Cardiology - 3

Visiting Specialist clinics at Whitehorse General Hospital are held between one and eight times per year depending on demand and availability of specialists. As of December 1, 2009, the waitlist for non-emergency specialist services was estimated at:

  • Ophthalmology (general) - 18 to 24 months
  • Otolaryngology (cataracts) - 1 to 3 months
  • Orthopaedics - 6 to 24 months
  • Otolaryngology - 2 to 4 months
  • Rheumatology - 1 to 4 months

Visiting Specialist Clinics at the Satellite clinic are held between one and twelve times per year depending on demand and availability of specialists. As of March 31, 2009, the waitlist for non-emergency specialist services was estimated at:

  • Neurology - 1 to 4 months
  • Gastroenterology - 1 to 6 months
  • Internal Medicine - 1 to 2 months

Dental surgery services are not provided through the Visiting Specialist as administered by the Whitehorse General Hospital. There are no waitlists for visiting services not included in the above listing. Patients are seen on the next scheduled visit.

The Department of Health and Social Services has taken several measures to reduce waiting times for insured physician services. A variety of recruitment and retention initiatives were begun in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 such as a Resident Support Program; Locum Support Program; Physician Relocation Program; Education Support; and a Rura Training Fund. The Department of Health and Social Services continues to work with the Yukon Medical Association to find additional cooperative initiatives to be implemented within the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding in effect for the duration of this reporting period.

The Department of Health and Social Services began development of a Health Human Resource Strategy in 2006. The strategy includes initiatives to:

  • Attract people into health care professions through provision of updated information at career fairs.
  • Support students in obtaining health profession education through bursaries in medicine, nursing and other health professions.
  • Support entry to practice in the Yukon with incentive programs for physicians to enter practice and with mentorship of other health professionals, including nurses, social workers and rehabilitation therapists. Incentives for new Canadian medical graduates are provided over several years to encourage retention.
  • Support development of the Yukon health workforce through funding of education to support service needs.
  • Support collaboration within the health care system. At present, collaboration is supported through the Yukon Chronic Disease Management Program. Future initiatives will be planned in collaboration with health professionals.
  • Improve Health Human Resource Planning capacity, including foundational policy, data and communications.

Physicians have indicated that they are interested in exploring new models for health care provision. The Government is working with physicians in Yukon to facilitate this.

5.4 Physician Compensation

The Department of Health and Social Services seeks its negotiating mandate from the Government of Yukon, before entering into negotiations with the Yukon Medical Association (YMA). The YMA and the Government each appoint members to the negotiating team. Meetings are held as required until an agreement has been reached. The YMA's negotiating team then seeks approval of the tentative agreement from the YMA membership. The Department seeks ratification of the agreement from the Government of Yukon. The final agreement is signed with the concurrence of both parties.

The Memorandum of Understanding in effect for the time period of this report came into effect April 1, 2008, ending March 31, 2012. That MOU established the terms and conditions for payment of physicians.

The legislation governing payments to physicians and dentists for insured services are the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and the Health Care Insurance Plan Regulations. No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

The fee-for-service system is used to reimburse the majority of physicians and dentists providing insured services to residents. In 2008-2009, one full-time resident rural physician and four resident specialists were compensated on a contractual basis. A number of physicians providing visiting clinics in outlying communities were paid a sessional rate for services.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

The Government of Yukon funds the Yukon Hospital Corporation (Whitehorse General Hospital) through global contribution agreements with the Department of Health and Social Services. Global operations and maintenance (O&M) and capital funding levels are negotiated and adjusted based on operational requirements and utilization projections from prior years. In addition to the established O&M and capital funding set out in the agreement, provision is made for the hospital to submit requests for additional funding assistance for implementing new or enhanced programs.

Only the Whitehorse General Hospital is funded directly through a contribution agreement. The Watson Lake Cottage Hospital and all Health Centres are funded through the Yukon government's budget process.

The legislation governing payments made by the health care plan to facilities that provide insured hospital services is the Hospital Insurance Services Plan Act and Regulations. The legislation and Regulations set out the legislative framework for payment to hospitals for insured services provided by that hospital to insured persons. No amendments were made to these sections of the legislation in 2008-2009.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Yukon has acknowledged the federal contributions provided through the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) in its 2008-2009 annual Main Estimates and Public Accounts publications, which are available publicly. Section 3(1) (d) (e) of the Health Care Insurance Plan Act and section 3 of the Hospital Insurance Services Act acknowledge the contribution of the Government of Canada.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

7.1 Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care

Continuing Care Health Services are available to eligible Yukon residents. In 2007-2008, there were three facilities providing services in the Yukon.

These facilities provide one or more of the following services:

  • personal care;
  • extended care services;
  • intermediate care;
  • special care;
  • complex care;
  • respite care;
  • day program; and
  • meals on wheels.

In total, there were 151 continuing care beds in the Territory in 2008-2009.

Home Care Services

The Yukon Home Care Program provides assessment and treatment, care management, personal support, homemaking services, social support, respite services and palliative care. In Whitehorse, services are provided by home support workers, nurses, social workers and therapists. Some rural communities have a dedicated home care nurse, though many rural communities provide nursing services through the community nursing program. Home support workers assist clients with personal care, homemaking and respite services. Therapy services are provided by a travelling regional team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Services are available Monday through Friday. In Whitehorse, additional services such as planned weekend and evening support may be provided. Twenty-four hour care is not available.

There is no legislated requirement for home care services in Yukon. No other major changes were made in the administration of these services in 2008-2009.

7.3 Ambulatory Health Care Services

The Yukon Home Care Program provides the majority of ambulatory health care services outside institutional settings. Most other services are provided through Community Nursing or Public Health. All residents have equal access to services.

These services are not provided for in legislation. In addition to the services described above, the following are also available to eligible Yukon residents outside the requirements of the Canada Health Act:

  • The Chronic Disease and Disability Benefits Program provides benefits for eligible Yukon residents who have specific chronic diseases or serious functional disabilities: coverage of related prescription drugs and medical surgical supplies and equipment. (Chronic Disease and Disability Benefits Regulation)
  • The Pharmacare Program and Extended Benefits programs are designed to assist registered senior citizens with the cost of prescription drugs, dental care, eye care, hearing services and medical surgical supplies and equipment. (Pharmacare Plan Regulation and Extended Health Care Plan Regulation)
  • The Travel for Medical Treatment Program assists eligible Yukon residents with the cost of emergency and non-emergency medically necessary air and ground transportation to receive services not available locally. (Travel for Medical Treatment Act and Travel for Medical Treatment Regulation)
  • The Children's Drug and Optical Program is designed to assist eligible low-income families with the cost of prescription drugs, eye exams and eye glasses for children 18 and younger. (Children's Drug and Optical Program Regulation)
  • Mental Health Services provide assessment, diagnostic, individual and group treatment, consultation and referral services to individuals experiencing a range of mental health problems. (Mental Health Act and Mental Health Act Regulations)
  • Public Health is designed to promote health and well-being throughout the Territory through a variety of preventive and education programs. This is a non-legislated program.
  • Emergency Medical Services is responsible for the emergency stabilization and transportation of sick and injured persons from an accident scene to the nearest health care facility capable of providing the required level of care. This is a non-legislated program.
  • Hearing Services provides services designed to help people of all ages with a variety of hearing disorders, by providing routine and diagnostic hearing evaluations and community outreach. This is a non-legislated program.
  • Dental Services provides a comprehensive diagnostic, preventive and restorative dental service to children from preschool to grade eight in Whitehorse and Dawson City. All other Yukon communities receive services for preschool to grade 12. This is a non-legislated program.
Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 31,505 32,226 33,103 33,423 33,983
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 2 2 2 2 2
b. chronic care 0 0 0 0 0
c. rehabilitative care 0 0 0 0 0
d. other1 13 13 13 13 13
e. total 15 15 15 15 15
3. Payments for insured health services ($):2
a. acute care 26,255,596 26,867,501 36,330,706 33,825,619 38,283,525
b. chronic care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. rehabilitative care not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
d. other 6,509,897 6,862,368 7,718,344 10,748,0192 49,051,490
e. total 32,765,493 33,729,869 44,049,050 44,573,638 10,767,965
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 674 714 738 976 1,013
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 5,857,725 8,698,387 8,808,130 10,742,393 11,183,888
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 7,412 8,450 8,735 9,027 9,983
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 1,306,531 1,735,520 2,168,964 2,155,225 2,888,247
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 14 15 11 15 13
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 30,566 43,454 20,257 32,075 12,003
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 64 55 42 74 40
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 9,965 8,372 7,101 11,782 8,233
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 54 55 57 58 58
b. specialists 8 9 9 9 9
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 62 64 66 67 67
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) 238,797 248,646 254,170 280,718 304,487
b. total payments ($) 12,892,522 13,752,251 13,788,028 16,342,282 19,139,117
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 219,031 225,815 245,069 255,143 277,118
b. total payments ($) 9,201,579 9,847,991 11,076,701 12,003,059 14,159,297
Visiting Specialists, Locum Doctors and Member Reimbursements:3
a. number of services (#) 13,035 17,127 32,272 17,936 18,099
b. total payments ($) 1,495,701 1,886,289 2,323,060 2,124,340 2,135,068
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 35,401 35,781 39,669 38,512 45,744
20. Total payments ($). 1,921,260 1,873,508 2,139,805 1,977,052 2,297,501
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
21. Number of services (#). not available not available not available not available not available
22. Total payments ($). not available not available not available not available not available
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory4
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). 6 6 2 1 1
24. Number of services provided (#). 30 24 2 1 20
25. Total payments ($). 29,712 25,072 941 587 4,723

Northwest Territories

Introduction

In the Northwest Territories (NWT), the Department of Health and Social Services (henceforth the Department), together with seven Health and Social Services Authorities (HSSAs) and the Tlicho Community Services Agency (TCSA), plan, manage, and deliver a wide spectrum of community and facility-based services for health care and social services. Community health programs include drop-in clinics, public health clinics, home care, mental health and addictions, child protection, school health programs, and educational programs. Communities without resident health care providers, such as physicians, are routinely visited.

As of April 1, 2009, there were more than 42,800 people living in the Northwest Territories, half of whom are Aboriginal. The NWT continues to have a relatively young population and a high birth rate, combined now with a fast growing seniors population. According to 2008 population estimates, approximately 24 percent of the NWT population is under 15 years of age, compared with 17 percent in the overall Canadian population.1.

During the reporting period, the Department undertook several important initiatives, including:

  • Conducting extensive consultations in preparation for a forthcoming Medical Profession Act Bill. The Bill is designed to replace the current legislation, as well as modernize the processes for the registration and discipline of medical practitioners in the Northwest Territories.
  • Initiating work on a new Health Information Act, including the establishment of an Experts Panel and a Northerners Panel. The Experts Panel includes representation from the NWT Information and Privacy Commissioner, physicians, nurses and pharmacists, while the Northerners Panel is composed of members of the public.
  • Drafting of regulations for the Public Health Act, which was passed the previous year. Among the regulations worked on are those for water supply systems, disease surveillance, and food establishment safety.
  • Initiating work on a new system-wide action plan as well as implementation of accreditation process for all hospitals and Health and Social Service Authorities across the NWT.

The Department maintains a bilingual (English and French) Next link will take you to another Web site public website (www.hlthss.gov.nt.ca) that provides an exhaustive source of information, including electronic copies of reports published by the Department.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plans and Public Authority

The NWT Health Care Plan includes the Medical Care Plan and the Hospital Insurance Plan. The public authority responsible for administering the Medical Care Plan is the Director of Medical Insurance as appointed under the Medical Care Act. The Minister administers the Hospital Insurance Plan through Boards of Management established under section 10 of the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act (HIHSSA).

Legislation that enables the Health Care Insurance Plan in the NWT includes the Medical Care Act and Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

Reporting to the Minister, the Department, the HSSAs and the TCSA plan, manage, and deliver a wide spectrum of community and facility-based services for health care and social services.

In the NWT, the Minister of Health and Social Services appoints a Director of Medical Insurance. The Director is responsible for administering the Medical Care Act and the Regulations and to report to the Minister concerning the operation of the Medical Care Plan.

The Minister also appoints members to a Board of Management for each Health and Social Services Authority in the NWT. Boards of Management provide NWT residents with the opportunity to shape priorities and service delivery for their communities. The Boards manage, control and operate health and social service facilitieswithin the government's existing resources; policies and directions and are accountable to the Minister. The Boards' chairpersons hold office indefinitely, while other members hold office for three-year terms. The exception is the TCSA, where every Tlicho community government is responsible for appointing one member to the Board, for a maximum of four years. The Minister responsible for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations will, after consulting with the members appointed by the community governments, appoint a chairperson and fix the length of that term.

An annual audit of accounts is performed on each Board of Management. In addition, the Minister and Deputy Minister have regular meetings with Board of Management chairpersons, which allow the chairpersons to provide non-financial reporting.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Hospital Insurance Plan and the Medical Care Plan are administered by the Department of Health and Social Services. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) audits the payments made under each plan, as part of the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) annual audit.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided under the authority of the HIHSSA and the Regulations.

During 2008-2009, four hospitals and 28 health centres delivered insured hospital services to both in- and out-patients.

The NWT provides coverage for a full range of insured hospital services consistent with the Canada Health Act. Insured in-patient services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biologicals and related preparations prescribed by a physician and administered in hospital; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services, where available; psychiatric and psychological services provided under an approved program; services rendered by persons who are paid by the hospital; and services rendered by an approved detoxification centre.

The NWT also provides a number of out-patient services. These include: laboratory tests, x-rays, including interpretations, when requested by a physician and performed in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures; physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy services in an approved hospital; and psychiatric and psychology services provided under an approved hospital program.

A detailed list of insured in- and out-patient services is contained in the Hospital Insurance Regulations. Section 1 of the Regulations states that "out-patient insured services" means the following services and supplies are provided to out-patients: laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures together with the necessary interpretations for helping diagnose and treat any injury, illness or disability, but not including simple procedures such as examinations of blood and urine, which ordinarily form part of a physician's routine office examination of a patient; necessary nursing services; drugs, biologicals and related preparations as provided in Schedule B, when administered in a hospital; use of operating room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies; routine surgical supplies; services rendered by persons who receive remuneration for those services from a hospital; radiotherapy services within insured facilities; and physiotherapy services within insured facilities.

The Minister may add, change or delete insured hospital services. The Minister also determines if any public consultation will occur before making changes to the list of insured services.

Where medically necessary services are not available in the NWT,travel to hospitals or clinics in other jurisdictions can be approved for residents requiring those services. The NWT provides Medical Travel Assistance (as outlined in the Medical Travel Policy), which ensures that NWT residents have no barriers to accessing medically necessary services. The Department also administers several supplementary health benefits programs.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The NWT Medical Care Act and the NWT Medical Care Regulations provide for insured physician services.

Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and midwives are allowed to provide insured services under the health care insurance plan. All are required by legislation to be licensed to practice in the NWT under the Medical Profession Act (physicians), Nursing Profession Act (nurses and nurse practitioners), and the Midwifery Profession Act (midwives). As of March 31, 2009, there were approximately 265 licensed physicians, most of whom provide locum services.

A physician may opt-out and collect her or his fees other than under the Medical Care Plan by delivering a written notice to that effect to the Director of Medical Insurance. No physicians had opted-out of the Medical Care plan as of March 2009.

A wide range of medically necessary services are provided in the NWT. The Medical Care Plan insures all medically required procedures provided by medical practitioners, including: approved diagnostic and therapeutic services; medically necessary surgical services; complete obstetrical care; and eye examinations provided by an ophthalmologist. Visits to specialists are also insured as long as proper referrals and approvals from an approved medical practitioner are provided.

It is the responsibility of the Director of Medical Insurance to prepare and recommend to the Minister a tariff itemizing the benefits payable in respect of insured services. However, it is the Minister who makes the determination to add or delete insured hospital services to the Regulations, as follows:

  • establishing a medical care plan that provides insured services to insured persons by medical practitioners that will in all respects qualify and enable the NWT to receive payments of contributions from the Government of Canada under the Canada Health Act; and
  • prescribing rates of fees and charges that may be paid in respect of insured services rendered by medical practitioners whether in or outside the NWT, and the conditions under which the fees and charges are payable.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Only licensed oral surgeons may submit claims for billing. The NWT uses the Province of Alberta's Schedule of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Benefits as a guide.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Services provided by hospitals, physicians and dentists, but not covered by the NWT Health Care Insurance Plan, include: medical-legal services; third-party examinations; services not medically required; group immunization; in vitro fertilization; services provided by a doctor to his or her own family; advice or prescriptions given over the telephone; surgery for cosmetic purposes except where medically required; dental services other than those specifically defined for oral surgery; dressings, drugs, vaccines, biologicals and related materials administered in a physician's office; eyeglasses and special appliances; plaster and surgical appliances or special bandages; treatments in the course of chiropractics, podiatry, naturopathy, osteopathy or any other practice ordinarily carried out by persons who are not medical practitioners as defined by the Medical Care Act and Regulations; physiotherapy and psychology services received from other than an insured out-patient facility; services covered by the Workers' Compensation Act or by other federal or territorial legislation; and routine annual checkups where there is no definable diagnosis.

In the NWT, applications for prior approval must be made to the Director of Insured Services for uninsured medical goods or services provided in conjunction with an insured health service. A Medical Advisor provides the Director with recommendations regarding the appropriateness of the request.

The NWT Medical Care Act includes Medical Care Regulations and provides for the authority to negotiate changes or deletions to tariffs. The process is described in section 2.2 of this report.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

The Medical Care Act defines the eligibility of NWT residents for the NWT Health Care Insurance Plan.

The NWT uses the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability in conjunction with the NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines to define eligibility. There were no changes to eligibility for the reporting period.

Ineligible individuals for NWT health care coverage are members of the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), federal inmates and residents who have not completed the minimum waiting period. For persons discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, federal penitentiary, or Canadian citizens returning to the NWT from living outside Canada, coverage is effective the day permanent residency is established.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Registration requirements include a completed application form and supporting documentation as applicable; e.g., visas and immigration papers. The applicant must be prepared to provide proof of residency if requested. Registration should occur before the actual eligibility date of the client. NWT health care cards are valid for a five-year period. Registration and eligibility for coverage are directly linked. Only claims from registered clients are paid.

As of March 2009, there were 46,791 individuals registered with the NWT Health Care Plan.

No formal provisions are in place for clients to opt out of the Health Care Insurance Plan.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Holders of employment visas, student visas and, in some cases, visitor visas are covered if they meet the provisions of the Eligibility and Portability Agreement and Guidelines for health care plan coverage.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

There are waiting periods imposed on insured persons moving to the NWT. The waiting periods are consistent with the Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability. Generally the waiting periods are the first day of the third month of residency, for those who move permanently to the NWT, or the first day of the thirteenth month for those with temporary employment of less than 12 months, but who can confirm that the employment period has been extended beyond the 12 months.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Interprovincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability and the NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines define the portability of health insurance during temporary absences within Canada.

Coverage is provided to students who are temporarily out of the NWT for full-time attendance in a post-secondary institution, and for up to one year for individuals who are temporarily absent from the NWT for work, vacation, etc. Once an individual has completed a Temporary Absence form and been approved by the Department as being temporarily absent from the NWT, the full cost of insured services is paid for all services received in other jurisdictions.

When a valid NWT health care card is produced, most doctor visits and hospital care for medically necessary services will be billed directly to the NWT Department of Health and Social Services. General reimbursement guidelines are in place for patients who are required to pay for medically necessary services up front. During the 2008-2009 fiscal year, over $15.7 million was paid for in- and out-patient hospital services received in other provinces and territories.

The NWT participates in both the Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreement and the Medical Reciprocal Billing Agreement with other jurisdictions.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The NWT Health Care Plan Registration Guidelines set the criteria to define coverage for absences outside Canada.

Per subsection 11 (1) (b) (ii) of the Canada Health Act, the NWT provides personal reimbursement when a NWT resident leaves Canada for a temporary period for personal reasons, such as vacations, and requires medical attention during that time. Individuals are required to cover their own costs and seek reimbursement upon their return to the NWT. Benefits payable are provided in the approved tariff. If services are rendered outside Canada, the benefits payable must not exceed the benefits for insured services rendered in the Territories.

Individuals may be granted coverage for up to a year with prior approval, if they are outside the country. In the eligibility rules, NWT residents may continue their coverage for up to one year if they are leaving Canada, but they must provide extensive information confirming that they are maintaining their permanent residence in the NWT.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

The NWT requires prior approval if coverage is to be considered for elective services in other provinces, territories and outside the country. Prior approval is also required if insured services are to be obtained from private facilities.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

The Medical Travel Program ensures that economic barriers are reduced for all NWT residents. As per section 14 of the Medical Care Act, extra-billing is not allowed unless the medical practitioner has made an election to collect her or his fees for medical services to insured persons otherwise than under the Medical Care Plan.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

Facilities in the NWT do offer a range of medical, surgical, rehabilitative, and diagnostic services. The NWT Medical Travel Program ensures through an approval process that residents can access approved necessary services not available in NWT facilities. Through the use of medical travel arrangements, access to services was maintained throughout the year.

During 2008-2009, Telehealth services were expanded to include a total of 20 units across the NWT.

With regards to recruiting and retaining professional staff, the NWT faces many of the same challenges experienced by other provinces and territories. In addition, the NWT faces unique demands due to its remoteness and socio-economic realities. In an effort to maximize the effectiveness of recruitment for all allied health professionals, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) established a Health Recruitment unit in July 2006. The Health Recruitment Unit results in the following advantages:

  • the ability to leverage candidate pools to fill multiple needs for the same candidate type, across the NWT;
  • the ability to view trends and to react to changes in health care personnel needs across the NWT; and
  • the creation of economies of scale, thereby reducing costs.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

All NWT residents have access to all facilities operated by the GNWT.

Through the Medical Travel Program, the GNWT ensures that residents have access to physicians, while the Telehealth program expands the specialist services available to residents in isolated communities.

5.4 Physician Compensation

Physician compensation is determined through negotiations between the NWT Medical Association and the Department. The majority of family physicians are employed through a contractual arrangement with the GNWT. The remainder provide services through a fee-for-service arrangement. The Medical Care Act and Regulations are used in the NWT to govern amounts to be paid to physicians where insured services are provided on a fee-for-service basis.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

Payments made to HSSAs based on contribution agreements between the Boards of Management and the Department. Amounts allocated in the agreements are based on the resources available in the total government budget and level of services provided by the hospital.

Payments to HSSAs providing insured hospital services are governed under the HIHSSA and the Financial Administration Act. No amendments were implemented in 2008-2009 to provisions involving payments to facilities. A comprehensive budget is used to fund hospitals in the NWT.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

Federal funding received through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) has been recognized and reported by the Government of the Northwest Territories through press releases and various other documents.

For fiscal year 2008-2009, these documents included:

  • 2008-2009 Budget Address;
  • 2008-2009 Main Estimates;
  • 2008-2009 Public Accounts; and
  • 2007-2010 Business Plan for the Department of Finance.

The Main Estimates (noted above) represent the government's financial plan, and are presented each year by the Government to the Legislative Assembly.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Continuing Care programs and services offered in NWT communities may include: supported living, mental health and addictions, adult group homes, long-term care facilities, and extended care facilities. Where applicable, these programs and services operate according to HIHSSA and the Hospital Standards Regulations.

Supported living services provide a home-like environment with increased assistance and a degree of supervision unavailable through home care services. Current services in this area include supported living arrangements in family homes, apartments and group-living homes, where clients live as independently as possible. Group homes, long-term care facilities and extended care facilities provide more complex medical, physical and/or mental supports on a 24-hour basis.

7.2 Home Care Services

The NWT Home Care Program is established to provide community health care services to support independent living, to develop appropriate care options to support continued community living, and to facilitate admission to institutional care when community living is no longer a viable alternative. Home Care is based on need and is available to NWT residents without charge. The range of Home Care services include: acute care, posthospital care, chronic illness care, nutrition services, palliative care, personal care, medication management and monitoring, foot care, social support, ambulation, physical/occupational therapy, transportation assistance, equipment loan, and respite care.

Home care services are delivered through the HSSAs and the Tlicho Community Services Agency, and are based on multi-disciplinary assessments of individual needs. The Home Care Program provides services to the seven regions of Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith, Beaufort-Delta, Sahtu, Deh Cho, and Tlicho. There is no specific NWT Home Care legislation. Home care is funded through the Department of Health and Social Services as a core service. The services have been enhanced through funding from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 44,5042 44,0822 45,5512 46,1772 46,7922
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 4 4 4 4 4
b. chronic care not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3
c. rehabilitative care not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3
d. other 234 234 234 234 234
e. total 27 27 27 27 27
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care not available not available not available not available not available
b. chronic care not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3
c. rehabilitative care not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3 not applicable3
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total 56,143,626 56,388,405 64,852,441 85,818,370 67,081,326
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
b. diagnostic imaging facilities not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
c. total not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable not applicable
Insured Hospital Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1,248 1,198 1,051 1,193 1,149
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 9,020,790 11,482,462 11,429,716 12,811,594 12,038,325
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 10,251 10,666 11,930 11,901 12,560
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 2,572,486 2,633,954 2,690,116 2,739,494 3,721,556
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2 9 8 14 8
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 165 14,868 16,970 41,786 13,145
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 19 54 43 35 12
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 4,972 7,280 9,635 6,666 4,653
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 565 565 575 575 585
b. specialists 215 215 215 215 215
c. other 1396 1556 1846 2086 1866
d. total 2167 2327 2627 2867 2657
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) 213,431 196,210 184,844 183,823 187,556
b. total payments ($) 29,447,633 30,080,888 31,586,793 34,266,876 34,194,377
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service:
a. number of services (#) 28,509 28,844 28,409 28,270 31,269
b. total payments ($) 1,570,686 1,576,406 1,696,823 1,791,593 1,930,160
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of services (#). 43,252 51,203 62,903 57,530 51,200
20. Total payments ($). 3,137,568 3,985,084 3,593,718 4,085,187 3,839,291
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
21. Number of services (#). 88 85 94 100 84
22. Total payments ($). 19,417 3,611 4,142 9,051 5,043
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#). not available not available not available not available not available
24. Number of services provided (#). not available not available not available not available not available
25. Total payments ($). not available not available not available not available not available

Nunavut

Introduction

On April 1, 1999, Nunavut became Canada's third and newest territory. The Territory spans two million square kilometres and covers one-fifth of Canada's total landmass. There are 25 communities located across three time zones in Nunavut. Nunavut is divided into three regions: the Baffin (or Qikiqtaaluk), which consists of 13 communities; the Kivalliq, which consists of seven communities; and the Kitikmeot, which consists of five communities. There are no roads or railways connecting Nunavut's communities; air travel is the only means of travelling into, around and out of the Territory. The population of Nunavut was 31,762 as of April 1, 20091.

Approximately 53 percent of the population is under the age of 25 years2. Inuit make up about 84 percent of Nunavut's population3. There is a small French-speaking population located predominantly in the capital city of Iqaluit. There is also a highly transient workforce in some communities in Nunavut, which includes skilled labourers and seasonal workers from other provinces and territories.

Legislation governing the administration of health and social services in Nunavut was carried over from the Northwest Territories (as Nunavut statutes) pursuant to the Nunavut Act (1999). The Department of Health and Social Services (the Department) continues to review existing legislation to ensure its relevancy and appropriateness with the Government of Nunavut's mandate and objectives. Tamapta: Building Our Future Together 2009-2013 describes the Government's vision and commitment to 10 strategic priorities:

  1. improving education and training outcomes;
  2. reducing poverty;
  3. connecting the community;
  4. increasing housing options;
  5. increasing support for culture and the arts;
  6. helping those at risk in the communities;
  7. supporting community-based, sustainable economies;
  8. addressing social concerns at their roots;
  9. improving health through prevention; and
  10. enhancing Nunavut's recognition in Canada and the world.

All Government of Nunavut departments and agencies also strive to incorporate Inuit societal values into program and policy development as well as into service design and delivery.

The delivery of health services in Nunavut is based on a primary health care model. There are local health centres in 24 communities across Nunavut, including new regional facilities in Rankin Inlet (Kivalliq) and Cambridge Bay (Kitikmeot) with in- and out-patient capacity and one hospital in Iqaluit. The Qikiqtani General Hospital (QGH), formerly known as the Baffin Regional Hospital is a $64 million dollar, 54,000 square foot, acute care facility that officially opened in October 2007. Services based in the new hospital include 24 hour emergency services, inpatient care (including obstetrics, paediatrics and palliative care), surgical services, laboratory services, diagnostic imaging, respiratory therapy and health records and information. QGH remains connected to the old hospital building (46,000 square feet). Repurposing activities to accommodate some services that were unable to be accommodated in the new QGH building due to cost and space consi derations are in the planning stage. This includes pharmacy, medical support services, cafeteria, administration, housekeeping and office space for physicians and medical specialists.

Nunavut's primary health care providers are family physicians, nurse practitioners, community health nurses, and pharmacists. Nunavut recruits and hires its own family physicians and accesses specialist services primarily from its main referral centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Yellowknife. Recruitment of full-time family physicians has improved significantly. There are 21 family physician positions funded through the Department providing over 5,000 days of service annually across the Territory. In 2008-2009, all family physician positions in Nunavut were staffed. Recruitment and retention efforts are now focused on increasing the number of long-term family physicians practicing in Nunavut to provide consistent care for the population.

The management and delivery of health services in Nunavut were integrated into the overall operations of the Department on March 31, 2000, when the former regional boards (Baffin, Keewatin (Kivalliq) and Kitikmeot) were dissolved. Former board staff became employees of the Department at that time. The Department has a regional office in each of the three regions that manages the delivery of health services at a regional level. Iqaluit operations are administered separately.

The territorial operations and maintenance budget for the Department of Health and Social Services in 2008-2009 was $251,388,0004. An additional $14,373,000 was allocated to the Department for capital projects5.

In 2008-2009, Telehealth was accessible in all 25 communities in Nunavut. Nunavut's Telehealth network provides communities with a broad range of health-related services, which include: clinical program delivery such as specialist consultation services; health education; continuing medical education; family visitation; and administrative functions. The network is used for a wide range of services such as: discharge planning, telepsychiatry, geriatrics, occupational therapy, and patient post-operation follow-up. In 2008-2009, use of the Telehealth network totalled approximately 4,030 hours, of which 1,678 hours were for clinical services.

Nunavut has many unique needs and challenges with respect to the health and well-being of its residents. Despite aggressive national and international recruitment and retention activities, Nunavut continues to be challenged by the acute shortage of nurses.

In November 2007, the Department introduced its Nunavut Nursing Recruitment and Retention Strategy. The Strategy was developed to address the long-term health care needs of Nunavut by focusing on: promoting recruitment of new nursing personnel; further educating, training and retaining nurses in the territorial workforce; and preparing Inuit for careers in the nursing profession. In 2008-2009, comprehensive implementation of the Strategy got underway, including the introduction of an enhanced compensation and benefits package, a dedicated Next link will take you to another Web site nursing website (http://www.nunavutnurses.ca), a professional development fund, and the introduction of an access year for students entering the nursing education program offered by Nunavut Arctic College.

Over one quarter of the Department's total operational budget is spent on costs associated with medical travel and treatment provided in out-of-territory facilities. Due to the very low population density in this vast territory and limited health infrastructure (i.e. diagnostic services), access to a range of hospital and specialist services often requires that residents be sent out of the Territory. The two regional health facilities (Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay), as well as the Qiqiktani General Hospital, enable Nunavut to build internal capacity and enhance the range of services that can be provided within the Territory. For example, on May 19, 2008, the Kivalliq Regional Health Facility opened its Day Hospital Program which allows for the treatment and observation of patients who require a stay for periods longer than can normally be accommodated in a health centre. Patients admitted are assessed throughout their stay to determine whether plans will be made for a medical evacuation or a release and return home.

The Department continues to operate a Family Practice Clinic in Iqaluit. The Clinic, established in 2006 with funding from the Primary Health Care Transition Fund, has been successful in helping to reduce pressure on the emergency and out-patient departments of the QGH during working hours. At present, the Clinic is staffed by two nurse practitioners (with consult visits from doctors of the hospital) and continues to be quite busy, with approximately 500 patient visits per month.

The Department is committed to providing a health system that focuses not only on treating illness but also on promoting healthy living. In November 2007, the Department introduced its first public health strategy. Developing Healthy Communities: A Public Health Strategy for Nunavut is a 5-year plan that focuses ontwo priority areas: (1) healthy children and families; and (2) addiction reduction. The Strategy outlines specific measures to promote and protect health and to prevent disease and injury. Implementation efforts in 2008-2009 focused on initiatives such as maternal and newborn care, sexual health, food security and chronic disease and injury prevention. Integration of the Strategy at the regional and community level is a top priority for the Department.

The Department is committed to supporting and increasing access to midwifery services and improving maternal care services across the territory. In September 2008, the Midwifery Profession Act was passed in the Legislative Assembly, enabling the Government of Nunavut to regulate registered Midwives. The supporting regulatory framework will be in place in 2009-2010 and a Maternal and Newborn Health Care Strategy will be introduced to integrate new maternal and midwifery services into the health system.

1.0 Public Administration

1.1 Health Care Insurance Plan and Public Authority

The health care insurance plans of Nunavut, including physician and hospital services, are administered by the Department on a non-profit basis.

The Medical Care Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) governs the entitlement to and payment of benefits for insured medical services. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) enables the establishment of hospital and other health services.

Through the Dissolution Act (Nunavut, 1999), the three former Health and Social Services Boards of Baffin, Keewatin and Kitikmeot were dissolved and their operations were integrated into the Department effective April 1, 2000. The Department retained regional operations in each region of Nunavut to support front-line workers and community-based delivery of a wide range of health and social services programs and services.

There were no legislative amendments in fiscal year 2008-2009.

1.2 Reporting Relationship

A Director of Medical Insurance is appointed under the Medical Care Act and is responsible for the administration of the Territory's medical care insurance plan. The Director reports to the Minister of Health and Social Services and is required to submit an annual report on the operations of the medical insurance plan. The Department's annual submissions to the Canada Health Act Annual Report serve as the basis for these reports under the Medical Care Act.

1.3 Audit of Accounts

The Auditor General of Canada is the auditor of the Government of Nunavut in accordance with section 30.1 of the Financial Administration Act (Nunavut, 1999). The Auditor General is required to conduct an annual audit of the transactions and consolidated financial statements of the Government of Nunavut. The most recent audited report tabled in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut was for the year ended March 31, 2008.

The Auditor General has the mandate to audit the activities of the Department. A report specific to the financial management practices of the Department of Health and Social Services will be issued by the Office of the Auditor General in 2009-2010.

2.0 Comprehensiveness

2.1 Insured Hospital Services

Insured hospital services are provided in Nunavut under the authority of the Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act and Regulations, sections 2 to 4. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2008-2009.

In 2008-2009, insured hospital services were delivered in 28 facilities across Nunavut, including one general hospital (Iqaluit), two regional health facilities (Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay), 22 Community Health Centres, one public health facility (Iqaluit), and one family practice clinic (Iqaluit). There is also rehabilitative treatment available through the Timimut Ikajuksivik Centre located in Iqaluit. The Qikiqtani General Hospital is currently the only acute care facility in Nunavut providing a range of in- and out-patient hospital services as defined by the Canada Health Act. However, as the two regional facilities in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay are able to recruit additional physicians, they will also be able to offer a broader range of in-patient and out-patient services. Community health centres provide public health, out-patient services and urgent treatment services. There are also a limited number of birthing beds at the Rankin Inlet Birthing Centre. Public health services are provided at public health clinics located in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit.

The Department is responsible for authorizing, licensing, inspecting and supervising all health facilities and social services facilities in the Territory.

Insured in-patient hospital services include: accommodation and meals at the standard ward level; necessary nursing services; laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations; drugs, biological and related preparations prescribed by a physician and administered in hospital; routine surgical supplies; use of operating room, case-room and anaesthetic facilities; use of radiotherapy and physiotherapy services where available; psychiatric and psychological services provided under an approved program; services rendered by persons who are paid by the hospital; and services rendered by an approved detoxification centre.

Out-patient services include: laboratory tests and x-rays, including interpretations, when requested by a physician and performed in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; hospital services in connection with most minor medical and surgical procedures; physiotherapy, occupational therapy, limited audiology and speech therapy services in an out-patient facility or in an approved hospital; and psychiatric and psychology services provided under an approved hospital program.

The Department makes the determination to add insured services in its facilities based on the availability of appropriate resources, equipment and overall feasibility in accordance with financial guidelines set by the Department and with the approval of the Financial Management Board. No new services were added in 2008-2009 to the list of insured hospital services.

2.2 Insured Physician Services

The Medical Care Act, section 3(1), and Medical Care Regulations, section 3, provide for insured physician services in Nunavut. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2008-2009. The Nursing Act now allows for licensure of nurse practitioners in Nunavut; previously only medical doctors were permitted to deliver insured physician services in Nunavut.

Physicians must be in good standing with a College of Physicians and Surgeons (Canada) and be licensed to practice in Nunavut. The Government of Nunavut's Medical Registration Committee currently manages this process for Nunavut physicians. There are a total of 24 full-time physician positions in Nunavut (14 in the Baffin region; 4.5 positions in the Kivalliq region; 2.5 positions in the Kitikmeot region; as well as 1 surgeon, 1 anaesthetist and 1 pediatrician at the Qiqiktani General Hospital). Visiting specialists, general practitioners and locums, through arrangements made by each of the Department's three regions, also provide insured physician services. On March 31, 2009, Nunavut had 218 physicians participating in the health insurance plan.

Physicians can make an election to collect fees other than those under the Medical Care Plan in accordance with section 12 (2)(a) or (b) of the Medical Care Act by notifying the Director in writing. An election can be revoked the first day of the following month after a letter to that effect is delivered to the Director. In 2008-2009, no physicians provided written notice of this election.

All physicians practicing in Nunavut are under contract with the Department.

Insured physician services refers to all services rendered by medical practitioners that are medically required. Where insured services are unavailable in some places in Nunavut, the patient is referred to another jurisdiction to obtain the insured service. Nunavut has in place health service agreements with medical and treatment centres in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Churchill, Yellowknife and Edmonton. These are the out-of-territory sites to which Nunavut mainly refers its patients to access medical services not available within the Territory.

The addition or deletion of insured physician services requires government approval. For this, the Director of Medical Insurance would become involved in negotiations with a collective group of physicians to discuss the service. Then the decision of the group would be presented to Cabinet for approval. No insured physician services were added or deleted in 2008-2009.

2.3 Insured Surgical-Dental Services

Dentists providing insured surgical-dental services under the Medical Care Insurance Plan of the Territory must be licensed pursuant to the Dental Professions Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999). Billing numbers are provided for billing the Plan regarding the provision of insured dental services. In 2008-2009, 3 oral surgeons were permitted to bill the Nunavut Medical Care Insurance Plan for insured dental services.

Insured dental services are limited to those dental-surgical procedures scheduled in the Regulations, requiring the unique capabilities of a hospital for their performance; for example, orthognathic surgery. Oral surgeons are brought to Nunavut on a regular basis, but on rare occasions, for medically complicated situations, patients are flown out of the Territory.

The addition of new surgical-dental services to the list of insured services requires government approval. No new services were added to the list in 2008-2009.

2.4 Uninsured Hospital, Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Services provided under the Workers' Compensation Act (NWT, 1988 and as duplicated for Nunavut by section 29 of the Nunavut Act, 1999) or other Acts of Canada, except the Canada Health Act, are excluded.

Services provided by physicians that are not insured include: yearly physicals; cosmetic surgery; services that are considered experimental; prescription drugs; physical examinations done at the request of a third party; optometric services; dental services other than specific procedures related to jaw injury or disease; the services of chiropractors, naturopaths, podiatrists, osteopaths and acupuncture treatments; and physiotherapy, speech therapy and psychology services, received in a facility that is not an insured out-patient facility (hospital).

Services not covered in a hospital include: hospital charges above the standard ward rate for private or semi-private accommodation; services that are not medically required, such as cosmetic surgery; services that are considered experimental; ambulance charges (except inter-hospital transfers); dental services, other than specific procedures related to jaw injury or disease; and alcohol and drug rehabilitation, without prior approval.

The Qikiqtani General Hospital charges $1,876 per diem for services provided for non-Canadian resident stays.

When residents are sent out of the Territory for services, the Department relies on the policies and procedures guiding that particular jurisdiction when they provide services to Nunavut residents that could result in additional costs, only to the extent that these costs are covered by Nunavut's Medical Insurance Plan (see section 4.2 under Portability). Any query or complaint is handled on an individual basis with the jurisdiction involved.

The Department also administers the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program on behalf of Health Canada for Inuit and First Nations residents in Nunavut. NIHB covers a co-payment for medical travel, accommodations and meals at boarding homes (in Ottawa, Winnipeg, Churchill, Edmonton, Yellowknife and Iqaluit), prescription drugs, dental treatment, vision care, medical supplies and prostheses, and a number of other incidental services.

3.0 Universality

3.1 Eligibility

Eligibility for the Nunavut Health Care Plan is briefly defined under sections 3(1), (2), and (3) of the Medical Care Act. The Department also adheres to the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability as well as internal guidelines. No amendments were made to the Act or regulations in 2008-2009.

Subject to these provisions, every Nunavut resident is eligible for and entitled to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions. A resident means a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada, who makes his or her home and is ordinarily present in Nunavut, but does not include a tourist, transient or visitor to Nunavut. Applications are accepted for health coverage, and supporting documentation is required to confirm residency. Eligible residents receive a health card with a unique health care number.

Coverage generally begins the first day of the third month after arrival in Nunavut, but first-day coverage is provided under a number of circumstances (e.g., newborns whose mothers or fathers are eligible for coverage). As well, permanent residents (landed immigrants), returning Canadians, repatriated Canadians, returning permanent residents and a non-Canadian who has been issued an employment visa for a period of 12 months or more are also granted first-day coverage.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and inmates of a federal penitentiary are not eligible for registration. These groups are granted first-day coverage under the Nunavut Health Care Plan upon discharge.

Pursuant to section 7 of the Inter-Provincial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, persons in Nunavut who are temporarily absent from their home province/territory and who are not establishing residency in Nunavut remain covered by their home provincial or territorial health insurance plans for up to one year.

3.2 Registration Requirements

Registration requirements include a completed application form and supporting documentation. A health care card is issued to each resident. To streamline document processing, a staggered renewal process was initiated in Nunavut in 2006. No premiums exist. Coverage under the Nunavut Medical Insurance Plan is linked to verification of registration, although every effort is made to ensure registration occurs when a coverage issue arises for an eligible resident. For non-residents, a valid health care card from their home province/territory is required.

On March 31, 2009, 32,207 individuals were registered with the Nunavut Health Care Plan, up by 795 from the previous year. There are no formal provisions for Nunavut residents to opt out of the health care insurance plan.

3.3 Other Categories of Individual

Non-Canadian holders of employment visas of less than 12 months, foreign students with visas of less than 12 months, transient workers and individuals holding a Minister's Permit (with one exception) are not eligible for coverage. When unique circumstances occur, assessment is done on an individual basis. This is consistent with section 15 of the Northwest Territories' Guidelines for Health Care Plan Registration, which was adopted by Nunavut in 1999.

4.0 Portability

4.1 Minimum Waiting Period

Consistent with section 3 of the Inter-Provincial/Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, the waiting period before coverage begins for individuals moving within Canada is three months; or the first day of the third month following the establishment of residency in a new province or territory; or the first day of the third month when an individual, who has been temporarily absent from his or her home province, decides to take up permanent residency in Nunavut.

4.2 Coverage During Temporary Absences in Canada

The Medical Care Act, section 4(2), prescribes the benefits payable where insured medical services are provided outside Nunavut but within Canada. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, sections 5(d) and 28(1)(j)(o), provide the authority for the Minister to enter into agreements with other jurisdictions to provide health services to Nunavut residents and the terms and conditions of payment. No legislative or regulatory changes were made in 2008-2009 with respect to coverage outside Nunavut.

Students studying outside Nunavut must notify the Department and provide proof of enrolment to ensure continuing coverage. Requests for extensions must be renewed yearly and are subject to approval by the Director. Temporary absences for work, vacation or other reasons for up to one-year are approved by the Director upon receipt of a written request from the insured person. The Director may approve absences in excess of 12 continuous months, upon receiving a written request from the insured person.

The provisions regarding coverage during temporary absences in Canada fully comply with the terms and conditions of the Inter-Provincial/Territorial Agreement on Eligibility and Portability, as of January 1, 2001.

Nunavut participates in physician and hospital reciprocal billing. As well, special bilateral agreements are in place with Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The Hospital Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide payment of in- and out-patient hospital services to eligible Nunavut residents receiving insured services outside the Territory. High-cost procedure rates, newborn rates and out-patient rates are based on those established by the Interprovincial Health Insurance Agreements Coordinating Committee. A special agreement exists between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which, based on a block-funding approach, enables the Stanton Hospital in Yellowknife to provide services to Nunavut residents in the hospital and through visiting specialist services in the Kitikmeot area (western part of the Territory).

The Physician Reciprocal Billing Agreements provide payment of insured physician services on behalf of eligible Nunavut residents receiving insured services outside the Territory. Payment is made to the host province at the rates established by that province.

In the fiscal year 2008-2009, a total of $29,030,549 was paid for in-patient ($19,205,288) and out-patient ($5,056,873) hospital and physician ($4,768,388) services.

4.3 Coverage During Temporary Absences Outside Canada

The Medical Care Act, section 4(3), prescribes the benefits payable where insured medical services are provided outside Canada. The Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, section 28(1) (j) (o), provides the authority for the Minister to set the terms and conditions of payment for services provided to Nunavut residents outside Canada. Individuals are granted coverage for up to one year if they are temporarily out of the country for any reason, although they must give prior notice in writing. For services provided to residents who have been referred out of the country for highly specialized procedures unavailable in Nunavut and Canada, Nunavut will pay the full cost. For non-referred or non-emergency services, the payment for hospital services is $1,876 per day and $231 for out-patient care. These rates increased by $480 and $73 respectively from 2007-2008.

In 2008-2009 there were no payments for insured emergency in-patient and out-patient health services to eligible residents temporarily outside Canada.

In the fiscal year 2008-2009, a total of $2,458 was paid for physician services provided outside of Canada.

Insured physician services provided to eligible residents temporarily outside the country are paid at rates equivalent to those paid had that service been provided in the Territory. Reimbursement is made to the insured person or directly to the provider of the insured service.

4.4 Prior Approval Requirement

Prior approval is required for elective services provided in private facilities in Canada or in any facility outside the country.

5.0 Accessibility

5.1 Access to Insured Health Services

The Medical Care Act, section 14, prohibits extra-billing by physicians unless the medical practitioner has made an election that is still in effect. Access to insured services is provided on uniform terms and conditions. To break down the barrier posed by distance and cost of travel, the Government of Nunavut provides medical travel assistance. Interpretation services in the Inuit language are also provided to patients in any health care setting.

5.2 Access to Insured Hospital Services

The Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit is the only operating acute care hospital facility in Nunavut. The hospital has a total of 35 beds available for acute, rehabilitative, palliative and chronic care services. There are also 6 day surgery beds and 4 recovery beds. The facility provides in-patient, out-patient and 24-hour emergency services. On-site physicians provide emergency services on rotation. Medical services provided include an ambulatory care/out-patient clinic, limited intensive care services, and general medical care, maternity and palliative care. Surgical services provided include minor orthopaedics, gynaecology, paediatrics, general abdominal, emergency trauma and ENT/otolaryngology. Patients requiring specialized surgeries are sent to other jurisdictions. Diagnostic services include radiology, laboratory and electrocardiogram. Rehabilitative services are limited to Iqaluit. Although nursing and other health professionals were not at full capacity, basic services were provided in 2008-2009.

Outside of Iqaluit, out-patient and 24-hour emergency nursing services are provided by local health centres in Nunavut's 24 other communities. Telehealth services are available in all 25 communities in Nunavut. The long-term goal is to integrate Telehealth into the primary care delivery system, enabling residents of Nunavut greater access to a broader range of service options and allowing service providers and communities to use existing resources more effectively.

Nunavut has formalized arrangements with out-of-territory facilities to provide insured services to referred patients.

5.3 Access to Insured Physician and Surgical-Dental Services

Nunavut has agreements in place with a number of out-of-territory regional health authorities and specific facilities to provide medical specialists and other visiting health practitioner services. The following specialist services were provided in Nunavut during 2008-2009 under the visiting specialists program: ophthalmology; orthopae-dics; internal medicine; otolaryngology; neurology; rheumatology; dermatology; paediatrics; obstetrics; physiotherapy; occupational therapy; psychiatry; and dental surgery. Visiting specialist clinics are held depending on demand and availability of specialists.

Nunavut's Telehealth network, linking all 25 communities, allows for the delivery of a broad range of services over distances: specialist consultation services such as dermatology, psychiatry and internal medicine; rehabilitation services; regularly scheduled counselling sessions; family visitation; and continuing medical education.

For services and equipment unavailable in Nunavut, patients are referred to other jurisdictions.

5.4 Physician Compensation

All full-time physicians in Nunavut work under contract with the Department. The terms of the contracts are set by the Department. Visiting consultants are either paid on a per-diem basis or fee-for-service.

5.5 Payments to Hospitals

Funding for the Qiqiktani General Hospital, regional health facilities and community health centres is provided through the Government of Nunavut's budget process.

6.0 Recognition Given to Federal Transfers

The Government of Nunavut recognized the Canada Health Transfer in the Director of Medical Insurance Annual Report on the Operation of the Medical Care Plan for Fiscal Year 2007-2008 which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on March 27, 2009.

7.0 Extended Health Care Services

Nursing Home Intermediate Care and Adult Residential Care

Adult residential care facilities are located in a total of five communities with a total of 64 beds, and serve the needs of Nunavummiut through a mix of predominately privately owned service providers and one publicly-owned and operated facility. Licensing agreements are in place to provide for the leasing of the publicly-owned facilities. Each facility welcomes both male and female clients and offers Level III or Level IV type care on an indeterminate basis. Most facilities offer respite services and nursing services on an as needed or on a regular (8 hour/day and hereafter on-site basis). Personal care is provided to all residents on a round-the-clock basis, with home care services generally offered on an as-needed basis. Rehabilitation services (physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology) are also offered to residents.

The Naja Isabelle Home in Chesterfield Inlet provides supervised care and treatment and specialized programming for 10 clients assessed at care levels IV and V on a 24/7 basis. The facility employs Licensed Practical Nurses (registered in Nunavut as Certified Nursing Assistants) and acute care needs are provided by the Chesterfield Inlet Health Centre. The facility is often able to provide respite care for levels IV and V clients.

Nursing home services are available at the Iqaluit and Arviat Elders Homes. These facilities provide the highest level of long-term care in Nunavut; that is, extensive chronic care services up to the point of requiring acute care when they would need to be transferred to the closest hospital.

No legislation currently exists in Nunavut to formally enable the extended health care services described above.

Home Care Services

The Home and Community Care (HCC) program provides health care and support services to people who require extra attention because of illness, poor health, or disability. The HCC program supports the efforts of Nunavummiut to care for themselves with help from family and community. This is accomplished by providing care in a person's home and/or community, thereby allowing individuals to remain in familiar surroundings close to loved ones and to maintain their sense of independence and well-being.

The guiding objectives of the program are to respect the traditional and contemporary Inuit approach to health and well-being, to support family and community-based healthcare, to be available to individuals of any age with an assessed need, and to provide a level of care equal to that of other Canadians.

During 2008-2009, a full array of home care services was offered in Nunavut, including nursing and personal care, respite care, elders programs and home-making services (which generally represent the majority of service hours provided). In addition, rehabilitation services in the form of physiotherapy and occupational therapy were offered to clients on an as needed basis. Services offered in communities across the Territory vary, as a result of staffing capacity, community needs and fiscal constraints.

The HCC program is coordinated through three regional centres with service delivery by: Home and Community Care Workers; Home and Community Care Representatives; Home Care Nurses; and Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists. HCC program standards are developed by the Territorial Home and Continuing Care Coordinator, in consultation with the three Regional Home and Community Care Managers.

No legislation currently exists in Nunavut to formally enable the home and community care services described above.

Ambulatory Health Care Services

In 2008-2009, ambulatory health care services were not offered across Nunavut.

In October of 2004, the Department formed a Continuing Care Task Force to provide recommendations to address Nunavut's aging population as part of a coordinated territorial continuum of care. A report issued by the Task Force outlined several recommendations, including: the construction of four new continuing care facilities; the development of a Healthy Living Strategy for elders (intended to decrease illness and the onset of diseases that may become chronic for the elderly); the increase of home and community care services to support independent living; and the ongoing collaboration with and provision of funding to Nunavut Arctic College to provide health care training and certification in continuing care, either through distance education or on campus learning.

Construction of two new continuing care facilities in Gjoa Haven and Igloolik was nearing completion in 2008-2009. These 10-bed facilities will provide long term care for elders and other adults that require 24 hour, 7 days a week access to nursing and other care that cannot be provided in their homes. To meet the staffing needs of the facilities, Nunavut Arctic College began offering a Home and Continuing Worker Program in both Gjoa Haven and Igloolik in 2008-2009.

Registered Persons
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
1. Number as of March 31st (#). 31,525 31,172 30,104 31,412 32,207
Insured Hospital Services Within Own Province Or Territory
Public Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
2. Number (#):
a. acute care 1 1 1 1 1
b. chronic care not available not available not available not available not available
c. rehabilitative care not available 1 1 1 1
d. other 25 6 26 6 26 6 26 6 26 6
e. total not available 28 28 28 28
3. Payments for insured health services ($):
a. acute care not available not available not available not available not available
b. chronic care not available not available not available not available not available
c. rehabilitative care not available not available not available not available not available
d. other not available not available not available not available not available
e. total not available not available not available not available not available
Private For-Profit Facilities 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
4. Number of private for-profit facilities providing insured health services (#):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
5. Payments to private for-profit facilities for insured health services ($):
a. surgical facilities 0 0 0 0 0
b. diagnostic imaging facilities 0 0 0 0 0
c. total 0 0 0 0 0
Insured Hospital Services Provided to residents in another province or territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
6. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 2,603 2,752 2,761 2,255 1,953
7. Total payments, in-patient ($). 16,452,793 18,179,969 21,829,373 19,001,348 19,205,288
8. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 14,538 17,269 16,242 15,192 16,297
9. Total payments, out-patient ($). 2,683,401 3,719,884 3,652,515 3,659,654 5,056,873
Insured Hospital Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
10. Total number of claims, in-patient (#). 1 1 0 0 0
11. Total payments, in-patient ($). 6,345 954 0 0 0
12. Total number of claims, out-patient (#). 1 16 5 0 0
13. Total payments, out-patient ($). 433 2,637 1,105 0 0
Insured Physician Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
14. Number of participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 86 74 60 91 134
b. specialists 82 61 67 65 84
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 168 135 127 156 218
15. Number of opted-out physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
16. Number of not participating physicians (#):
a. general practitioners 0 0 0 0 0
b. specialists 0 0 0 0 0
c. other 0 0 0 0 0
d. total 0 0 0 0 0
17. Services provided by physicians paid through all payment methods:
a. number of services (#) not available not available not available not available not available
b. total payments ($) not available not available not available not available not available
18. Services provided by physicians paid through fee-for-service: 7
a. number of services (#) 59,542 57,363 46,368 44,071 27,406 7
b. total payments ($) 3,112,661 2,863,075 2,380,746 2,158,549 1,021,829 7
Insured Physician Services Provided to Residents in Another Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
19. Number of Services (#) 45,334 57,332 59,121 53,022 65,171
20. Total payments ($) 2,816,282 3,471,307 3,623,163 3,845,570 4,768,388
Insured Physician Services Provided Outside Canada
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
21. Number of Services (#) 0 36 5 15 36
22. Total payments ($) 0 2,459 1,105 796 2,458
Insured Surgical-Dental Services Within Own Province or Territory
  2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009
23. Number of participating dentists (#) not available not available not available not available not available8
24. Number of services provided (#) not available not available not available not available not available
25. Total payments ($) not available not available not available not available not available

Annex A

Canada Health Act and the Extra-Billing and User Charges Information Regulations

This annex provides the reader with an office consolidation of the Canada Health Act and the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. An "office consolidation" is a rendering of the original Act, which includes any amendments that have been made since the Act's passage. The only regulations in force under the Act are the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations. These regulations require the provinces and territories to provide estimates of extra-billing and user charges prior to the beginning of each fiscal year so that appropriate penalties can be levied, as well as financial statements showing the amounts actually charged so that reconciliations with any estimated charges can be made. These regulations are also presented in an office consolida- tion format. This unofficial consolidation is current to October 2009. It is provided for the convenience of the reader only. For the official text of the Canada Health Act, please contact Justice Canada.

Office Consolidation Canada Health Act

R.S., 1985, c. C-6

Warning Note
Users of this office consolidation are reminded that it is prepared for convenience of reference only and that, as such, it has no official sanction.
Chapter C-6

An Act relating to cash contributions by Canada and relating to criteria and conditions in respect of insured health services and extended health care services

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes:

  • that it is not the intention of the Government of Canada that any of the powers, rights, privileges or authorities vested in Canada or the provinces under the provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867, or any amendments thereto, or otherwise, be by reason of this Act abrogated or derogated from or in any way impaired;
  • that Canadians, through their system of insured health services, have made outstanding progress in treating sickness and alleviating the consequences of disease and disability among all income groups;
  • that Canadians can achieve further improvements in their well-being through combining individual lifestyles that emphasize fitness, prevention of disease and health promotion with collective action against the social, environmental and occupational causes of disease, and that they desire a system of health services that will promote physical and mental health and protection against disease;
  • that future improvements in health will require the cooperative partnership of governments, health professionals, voluntary organizations and individual Canadians;
  • that continued access to quality health care without financial or other barriers will be critical to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of Canadians;

And whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to encourage the development of health services throughout Canada by assisting the provinces in meeting the costs thereof;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Canada Health Act.

1984, c. 6, s. 1.

Interpretation

2. In this Act,

"Act of 1977" [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 34]

"cash contribution" means the cash contribution in respect of the Canada Health and Social Transfer that may be provided to a province under subsections 15(1) and (4) of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act;

"contribution" [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 34]

"dentist" means a person lawfully entitled to practise dentistry in the place in which the practice is carried on by that person;

"extended health care services" means the following services, as more particularly defined in the regulations, provided for residents of a province, namely,

  • (a) nursing home intermediate care service,
  • (b) adult residential care service,
  • (c) home care service, and
  • (d) ambulatory health care service;

"extra-billing" means the billing for an insured health service rendered to an insured person by a medical practitioner or a dentist in an amount in addition to any amount paid or to be paid for that service by the health care insurance plan of a province;

"health care insurance plan" means, in relation to a province, a plan or plans established by the law of the province to provide for insured health services;

"health care practitioner" means a person lawfully entitled under the law of a province to provide health services in the place in which the services are provided by that person;

"hospital" includes any facility or portion thereof that provides hospital care, including acute, rehabilitative or chronic care, but does not include

  • (a) a hospital or institution primarily for the mentally disordered, or
  • (b) a facility or portion thereof that provides nursing home intermediate care service or adult residential care service, or comparable services for children;

"hospital services" means any of the following services provided to in-patients or out-patients at a hospital, if the services are medically necessary for the purpose of maintaining health, preventing disease or diagnosing or treating an injury, illness or disability, namely,

  • (a) accommodation and meals at the standard or public ward level and preferred accommodation if medically required,
  • (b) nursing service,
  • (c) laboratory, radiological and other diagnostic procedures, together with the necessary interpretations,
  • (d) drugs, biologicals and related preparations when administered in the hospital,
  • (e) use of operating room, case room and anaesthetic facilities, including necessary equipment and supplies,
  • (f) medical and surgical equipment and supplies,
  • (g) use of radiotherapy facilities,
  • (h) use of physiotherapy facilities, and
  • (i) services provided by persons who receive remuneration therefor from the hospital,

but does not include services that are excluded by the regulations;

"insured health services" means hospital services, physician services and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons, but does not include any health services that a person is entitled to and eligible for under any other Act of Parliament or under any Act of the legislature of a province that relates to workers' or workmen's compensation;

"insured person" means, in relation to a province, a resident of the province other than

  • (a) a member of the Canadian Forces,
  • (b) a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is appointed to a rank therein,
  • (c) a person serving a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary as defined in the Penitentiary Act, or
  • (d) a resident of the province who has not com- pleted such minimum period of residence or waiting period, not exceeding three months, as may be required by the province for eligibility for or entitlement to insured health services;

"medical practitioner" means a person lawfully entitled to practise medicine in the place in which the practice is carried on by that person;

"Minister" means the Minister of Health;

"physician services" means any medically required services rendered by medical practitioners;

"resident" means, in relation to a province, a person lawfully entitled to be or to remain in Canada who makes his home and is ordinarily present in the province, but does not include a tourist, a transient or a visitor to the province;

"surgical-dental services" means any medically or dentally required surgical-dental procedures performed by a dentist in a hospital, where a hospital is required for the proper performance of the procedures;

"user charge" means any charge for an insured health service that is authorized or permitted by a provincial health care insurance plan that is not payable, directly or indirectly, by a provincial health care insurance plan, but does not include any charge imposed by extra-billing.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 2; 1992, c. 20, s. 216(F); 1995, c. 17, s. 34; 1996, c.8, s. 32; 1999, c. 26, s. 11.

Canadian health care policy

3. It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.

1984, c. 6, s. 3.

Purpose

4. The purpose of this Act is to establish criteria and conditions in respect of insured health services and extended health care services provided under provincial law that must be met before a full cash contribution may be made.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 4; 1995, c. 17, s. 35.

Cash contribution

5. Subject to this Act, as part of the Canada Health and Social Transfer, a full cash contribution is payable by Canada to each province for each fiscal year.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 5; 1995, c. 17, s. 36.

6. [Repealed, 1995, c. 17, s. 36]

Program criteria

7. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, the health care insurance plan of the province must, throughout the fiscal year, satisfy the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 respecting the following matters:

  • (a) public administration;
  • (b) comprehensiveness;
  • (c) universality;
  • (d) portability; and
  • (e) accessibility.

1984, c. 6, s. 7.

8.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting public administration,
    • (a) the health care insurance plan of a province must be administered and operated on a non-profit basis by a public authority appointed or designated by the government of the province;
    • (b) the public authority must be responsible to the provincial government for that administration and operation; and
    • (c) the public authority must be subject to audit of its accounts and financial transactions by such authority as is charged by law with the audit of the accounts of the province.
  • (2) The criterion respecting public administration is not contravened by reason only that the public authority referred to in subsection (1) has the power to designate any agency
    • (a) to receive on its behalf any amounts payable under the provincial health care insurance plan; or
    • (b) to carry out on its behalf any responsibility in connection with the receipt or payment of accounts rendered for insured health services, if it is a condition of the designation that all those accounts are subject to assessment and approval by the public authority and that the public authority shall determine the amounts to be paid in respect thereof.

1984, c. 6, s. 8.

9. In order to satisfy the criterion respecting comprehensiveness, the health care insurance plan of a province must insure all insured health services provided by hospitals, medical practitioners or dentists, and where the law of the province so permits, similar or additional services rendered by other health care practitioners.

1984, c. 6, s. 9.

10. In order to satisfy the criterion respecting universality, the health care insurance plan of a province must entitle one hundred per cent of the insured persons of the province to the insured health services provided for by the plan on uniform terms and conditions.

1984, c. 6, s. 10.

11.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting portability, the health care insurance plan of a province
    • (a) must not impose any minimum period of residence in the province, or waiting period, in excess of three months before residents of the province are eligible for or entitled to insured health services;
    • (b) must provide for and be administered and operated so as to provide for the payment of amounts for the cost of insured health services provided to insured persons while temporarily absent from the province on the basis that
      • (i) where the insured health services are provided in Canada, payment for health services is at the rate that is approved by the health care insurance plan of the province in which the services are provided, unless the provinces concerned agree to apportion the cost between them in a different manner, or
      • (ii) where the insured health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services rendered in the province, with due regard, in the case of hospital services, to the size of the hospital, standards of service and other relevant factors; and
    • (c) must provide for and be administered and operated so as to provide for the payment, during any minimum period of residence, or any waiting period, imposed by the health care insurance plan of another province, of the cost of insured health services provided to persons who have ceased to be insured persons by reason of having become residents of that other province, on the same basis as though they had not ceased to be residents of the province.
  • (2) The criterion respecting portability is not contravened by a requirement of a provincial health care insurance plan that the prior consent of the public authority that administers and operates the plan must be obtained for elective insured health services provided to a resident of the province while temporarily absent from the province if the services in question were available on a substantially similar basis in the province.
  • (3) For the purpose of subsection (2), "elective insured health services" means insured health services other than services that are provided in an emergency or in any other circumstance in which medical care is required without delay.

1984, c. 6, s. 11.

12.

  • (1) In order to satisfy the criterion respecting accessibility, the health care insurance plan of a province
    • (a) must provide for insured health services on uniform terms and conditions and on a basis that does not impede or preclude, either directly or indirectly whether by charges made to insured persons or otherwise, reasonable access to those services by insured persons;
    • (b) must provide for payment for insured health services in accordance with a tariff or system of payment authorized by the law of the province;
    • (c) must provide for reasonable compensation for all insured health services rendered by medical practitioners or dentists; and
    • (d) must provide for the payment of amounts to hospitals, including hospitals owned or operated by Canada, in respect of the cost of insured health services.
  • (2) In respect of any province in which extra-billing is not permitted, paragraph (1)(c) shall be deemed to be complied with if the province has chosen to enter into, and has entered into, an agreement with the medical practitioners and dentists of the province that provides
    • (a) for negotiations relating to compensation for insured health services between the province and provincial organizations that represent practising medical practitioners or dentists in the province;
    • (b) for the settlement of disputes relating to compensation through, at the option of the appropriate provincial organizations referred to in paragraph (a), conciliation or binding arbitration by a panel that is equally representative of the provincial organizations and the province and that has an independent chairman; and
    • (c) that a decision of a panel referred to in paragraph (b) may not be altered except by an Act of the legislature of the province.

1984, c. 6, s. 12.

Conditions for cash contribution

13. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5, the government of the province

  • (a) shall, at the times and in the manner prescribed by the regulations, provide the Minister with such information, of a type prescribed by the regulations, as the Minister may reasonably require for the purposes of this Act; and
  • (b) shall give recognition to the Canada Health and Social Transfer in any public documents, or in any advertising or promotional material, relating to insured health services and extended health care services in the province.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 13; 1995, c. 17, s. 37.

Defaults

14.

  • (1) Subject to subsection (3), where the Minister, after consultation in accordance with subsection (2) with the minister responsible for health care in a province, is of the opinion that
    • (a) the health care insurance plan of the province does not or has ceased to satisfy any one of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12, or
    • (b) the province has failed to comply with any condition set out in section 13,
    and the province has not given an undertaking satisfactory to the Minister to remedy the default within a period that the Minister considers reasonable, the Minister shall refer the matter to the Governor in Council.
  • (2) Before referring a matter to the Governor in Council under subsection (1) in respect of a province, the Minister shall
    • (a) send by registered mail to the minister responsible for health care in the province a notice of concern with respect to any problem foreseen;
    • (b) seek any additional information available from the province with respect to the problem through bilateral discussions, and make a report to the province within ninety days after sending the notice of concern; and
    • (c) if requested by the province, meet within a reasonable period of time to discuss the report.
  • (3) The Minister may act without consultation under subsection (1) if the Minister is of the opinion that a sufficient time has expired after reasonable efforts to achieve consultation and that consultation will not be achieved.

1984, c. 6, s. 14.

15.

  • (1) Where, on the referral of a matter under section 14, the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the health care insurance plan of a province does not or has ceased to satisfy any one of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 or that a province has failed to comply with any condition set out in section 13, the Governor in Council may, by order,
    • (a) direct that any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be reduced, in respect of each default, by an amount that the Governor in Council considers to be appropriate, having regard to the gravity of the default; or
    • (b) where the Governor in Council considers it appropriate, direct that the whole of any cash contribution to that province for a fiscal year be withheld.
  • (2) The Governor in Council may, by order, repeal or amend any order made under subsection (1) where the Governor in Council is of the opinion that the repeal or amendment is warranted in the circumstances.
  • (3) A copy of each order made under this section together with a statement of any findings on which the order was based shall be sent forthwith by registered mail to the government of the province concerned and the Minister shall cause the order and statement to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the order is made.
  • (4) An order made under subsection (1) shall not come into force earlier than thirty days after a copy of the order has been sent to the government of the province concerned under subsection (3).

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 15; 1995, c. 17, s. 38.

16. In the case of a continuing failure to satisfy any of the criteria described in sections 8 to 12 or to comply with any condition set out in section 13, any reduction or withholding under section 15 of a cash contribution to a province for a fiscal year shall be reimposed for each succeeding fiscal year as long as the Minister is satisfied, after consultation with the minister responsible for health care in the province, that the default is continuing.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 16; 1995, c. 17, s. 39.

17. Any reduction or withholding under section 15 or 16 of a cash contribution may be imposed in the fiscal year in which the default that gave rise to the reduction or withholding occurred or in the following fiscal year.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 17; 1995, c. 17, s. 39.

Extra-billing and user charges

18. In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, no payments may be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province in respect of insured health services that have been subject to extra-billing by medical practitioners or dentists.

1984, c. 6, s. 18.

19.

  • (1) In order that a province may qualify for a full cash contribution referred to in section 5 for a fiscal year, user charges must not be permitted by the province for that fiscal year under the health care insurance plan of the province.
  • (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of user charges for accommodation or meals provided to an in-patient who, in the opinion of the attending physician, requires chronic care and is more or less permanently resident in a hospital or other institution.

1984, c. 6, s. 19.

20.

  • (1) Where a province fails to comply with the condition set out in section 18, there shall be deducted from the cash contribution to the province for a fiscal year an amount that the Minister, on the basis of information provided in accordance with the regulations, determines to have been charged through extra-billing by medical practitioners or dentists in the province in that fiscal year or, where information is not provided in accordance with the regulations, an amount that the Minister estimates to have been so charged.
  • (2) Where a province fails to comply with the condition set out in section 19, there shall be deducted from the cash contribution to the province for a fiscal year an amount that the Minister, on the basis of information provided in accordance with the regulations, determines to have been charged in the province in respect of user charges to which section 19 applies in that fiscal year or, where information is not provided in accordance with the regulations, an amount that the Minister estimates to have been so charged.
  • (3) The Minister shall not estimate an amount under subsection (1) or (2) without first undertaking to consult the minister responsible for health care in the province concerned.
  • (4) Any amount deducted under subsection (1) or (2) from a cash contribution in any of the three consecutive fiscal years the first of which commences on April 1, 1984 shall be accounted for separately in respect of each province in the Public Accounts for each of those fiscal years in and after which the amount is deducted.
  • (5) Where, in any of the three fiscal years referred to in subsection (4), extra-billing or user charges have, in the opinion of the Minister, been eliminated in a province, the total amount deducted in respect of extra-billing or user charges, as the case may be, shall be paid to the province.
  • (6) Nothing in this section restricts the power of the Governor in Council to make any order under section 15.

1984, c. 6, s. 20.

21. Any deduction from a cash contribution under section 20 may be made in the fiscal year in which the matter that gave rise to the deduction occurred or in the following two fiscal years.

1984, c. 6, s. 21.

Regulations

22.

  • (1) Subject to this section, the Governor in Council may make regulations for the administration of this Act and for carrying its purposes and provisions into effect, including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, regulations
    • (a) defining the services referred to in paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition "extended health care services" in section 2;
    • (b) prescribing the services excluded from hospital services;
    • (c) prescribing the types of information that the Minister may require under paragraph 13(a) and the times at which and the manner in which that information shall be provided; and
    • (d) prescribing the manner in which recognition to the Canada Health and Social Transfer is required to be given under paragraph 13(b).
  • (2) Subject to subsection (3), no regulation may be made under paragraph (1)(a) or (b) except with the agreement of each of the provinces.
  • (3) Subsection (2) does not apply in respect of regulations made under paragraph (1)(a) if they are substantially the same as regulations made under the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, as it read immediately before April 1, 1984.
  • (4) No regulation may be made under paragraph (1)(c) or (d) unless the Minister has first consulted with the ministers responsible for health care in the provinces.

R.S., 1985, c. C-6, s. 22; 1995, c. 17, s. 40.

Report to Parliament

23. The Minister shall, as soon as possible after the termination of each fiscal year and in any event not later than December 31 of the next fiscal year, make a report respecting the administration and operation of this Act for that fiscal year, including all relevant information on the extent to which provincial health care insurance plans have satisfied the criteria, and the extent to which the provinces have satisfied the conditions, for payment under this Act and shall cause the report to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.

1984, c. 6, s. 23.

Office Consolidation Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations

SOR/86-259

Warning Note
Users of this office consolidation are reminded that it is prepared for convenience of reference only and that, as such, it has no official sanction.

Regulations Prescribing the Types of Information that the Minister of National Health and Welfare may require under paragraph 13(a) of the Canada Health Act in Respect of Extra-billing and User Charges and the Times at which and the Manner in which such Information shall be Provided by the Government of each Province

Short Title

1. These Regulations may be cited as the Extra-billing and User Charges Information Regulations.

Interpretation

2. In these Regulations,

"Act" means the Canada Health Act; ( Loi )

"Minister" means the Minister of National Health and Welfare; ( ministre )

"fiscal year" means the period beginning on April 1 in one year and ending on March 31 in the following year. ( exercice )

Types of Information

3. For the purposes of paragraph 13(a) of the Act, the Minister may require the government of a province to provide the Minister with information of the following types with respect to extra-billing in the province in a fiscal year:

  • (a) an estimate of the aggregate amount that, at the time the estimate is made, is expected to be charged through extra-billing, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the estimate; and
  • (b) a financial statement showing the aggregate amount actually charged through extra-billing, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the aggregate amount.

4. For the purposes of paragraph 13(a) of the Act, the Minister may require the government of a province to provide the Minister with information of the following types with respect to user charges in the province in a fiscal year:

  • (a) an estimate of the aggregate amount that, at the time the estimate is made, is expected to be charged in respect of user charges to which section 19 of the Act applies, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the estimate; and
  • (b) a financial statement showing the aggregate amount actually charged in respect of user charges to which section 19 of the Act applies, including an explanation regarding the method of determination of the aggregate amount.
5. Times and Manner of Filing Information
  • (1) The government of a province shall provide the Minister with such information, of the types prescribed by sections 3 and 4, as the Minister may reasonably require, at the following times:
    • (a) in respect of the estimates referred to in paragraphs 3(a) and 4(a), before April 1 of the fiscal year to which they relate; and
    • (b) in respect of the financial statements referred to in paragraphs 3(b) and 4(b), before the sixteenth day of the twenty-first month following the end of the fiscal year to which they relate.
  • (2) The government of a province may, at its discretion, provide the Minister with adjustments to the estimates referred to in paragraphs 3(a) and 4(a) before February 16 of the fiscal year to which they relate.
  • (3) The information referred to in subsections (1) and (2) shall be transmitted to the Minister by the most practical means of communication.

Annex B

Policy Interpretation Letters

There are two key policy statements that clarify the federal position on the Canada Health Act. These statements have been made in the form of ministerial letters from former Federal Health Ministers to their provincial and territorial counterparts.

Epp Letter

In June 1985, approximately one year following the passage of the Canada Health Act in Parliament, then-federal Health Minister Jake Epp wrote to his provincial and territorial counterparts to set out and confirm the federal position on the interpretation and implementation of the Canada Health Act.

Minister Epp's letter followed several months of consultation with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The letter sets forth statements of federal policy intent which clarify the criteria, conditions and regulatory provisions of the CHA. These clarifications have been used by the federal government in the assessment and interpretation of compliance with the Act. The Epp letter remains an important reference for interpretation of the Act.

Federal Policy on Private Clinics

Between February 1994 and December 1994, a series of seven federal/provincial/territorial meetings dealing wholly or in part with private clinics took place. At issue was the growth of private clinics providing medi- cally necessary services funded partially by the public system and partially by patients and its impact on Canada's universal, publicly funded health care system.

At the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Health Ministers Meeting of September 1994 in Halifax all Ministers of Health present, with the exception of Alberta's Health Minister, agreed to "take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada."

Diane Marleau, the federal Minister of Health at the time, wrote to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health on January 6, 1995 to announce the new Federal Policy on Private Clinics. The Minister's letter provided the federal interpretation of the Canada Health Act as it relates to the issue of facility fees charged directly to patients receiving medically necessary services at private clinics. The letter stated that the definition of "hospital" contained in the Canada Health Act, includes any facility that provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. Thus, when a provincial/territorial health insurance plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a private clinic, it must also pay the facility fee or face a deduction from federal transfer payments.

[Following is the text of the letter sent on June 18, 1985 to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health by the Honourable Jake Epp, Federal Minister of Health and Welfare. (Note: Minister Epp sent the French equivalent of this letter to Quebec on July 15, 1985.)]

June 18, 1985

Ottawa, K1A 0K9

Dear Minister:

Having consulted with all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health over the past several months, both individually and at the meeting in Winnipeg on May 16 and 17, I would like to confirm for you my intentions regarding the interpretation and implementation of the Canada Health Act. I would particularly appreciate if you could provide me with a written indication of your views on the attached proposals for regulations in order that I may act to have these officially put in place as soon as conveniently possible. Also, I will write to you further with regard to the material I will need to prepare the required annual report to Parliament.

As indicated at our meeting in Winnipeg, I intend to honour and respect provincial jurisdiction and authority in matters pertaining to health and the provision of health care services. I am persuaded, by conviction and experience, that more can be achieved through harmony and collaboration than through discord and confrontation.

With regard to the Canada Health Act, I can only conclude from our discussions that we together share a public trust and are mutually and equally committed to the maintenance and improvement of a universal, comprehensive, accessible and portable health insurance system, operated under public auspices for the benefit of all residents of Canada.

Our discussions have reinforced my belief that you require sufficient flexibility and administrative versatility to operate and administer your health care insurance plans. You know far better than I ever can, the needs and priorities of your residents, in light of geographic and economic considerations. Moreover, it is essential that provinces have the freedom to exercise their primary responsibility for the provision of personal health care services.

At the same time, I have come away from our discussions sensing a desire to sustain a positive federal involvement and role - both financial and otherwise - to support and assist provinces in their efforts dedicated to the fundamental objectives of the health care system: protecting, promoting and restoring the physicaland mental well-being of Canadians. As a group, provincial/territorial Health Ministers accept a co-operative partnership with the federal government based primarily on the contributions it authorizes for purposes of providing insured and extended health care services.

I might also say that the Canada Health Act does not respond to challenges facing the health care system. I look forward to working collaboratively with you as we address challenges such as rapidly advancing medical technology and an aging pop-ulation and strive to develop health promotion strategies and health care delivery alternatives.

Returning to the immediate challenge of implementing the Canada Health Act, I want to set forth some reasonably comprehensive statements of federal policy intent, beginning with each of the criteria contained in the Act.

Public Administration

This criterion is generally accepted. The intent is that the provincial health care insurance plans be administered by a public authority, accountable to the provincial government for decision-making on benefit levels and services, and whose records and accounts are publicly audited.

Comprehensiveness

The intent of the Canada Health Act is neither to expand nor contract the range of insured services covered under previous federal legislation. The range of insured services encompasses medically necessary hospital care, physician services and surgical-dental services which require a hospital for their proper performance. Hospital plans are expected to cover in-patient and out-patient hospital services associated with the provision of acute, rehabilitative and chronic care. As regards physician services, the range of insured services generally encompasses medically required services rendered by licensed medical practitioners as well as surgical-dental procedures that require a hospital for proper performance. Services rendered by other health care practitioners, except those required to provide necessary hospital services, are not subject to the Act's criteria.

Within these broad parameters, provinces, along with medical professionals, have the prerogative and responsibility for interpreting what physician services are medically necessary. As well, provinces determine which hospitals and hospital services are required to provide acute, rehabilitative or chronic care.

Universality

The intent of the Canada Health Act is to ensure that all bonafide residents of all provinces be entitled to coverage and to the benefits under one of the twelve provincial/territorial health care insurance plans. However, eligible residents do have the option not to participate under a provincial plan should they elect to do so.

The Agreement on Eligibility and Portability provides some helpful guidelines with respect to the deter- mination of residency status and arrangements for obtaining and maintaining coverage. Its provisions are compatible with the Canada Health Act.

I want to say a few words about premiums. Unquestionably, provinces have the right to levy taxes and the Canada Health Act does not infringe upon that right. A premium scheme per se is not precluded by the Act, provided that the provincial health care insurance plan is operated and administered in a manner that does not deny coverage or preclude access to necessary hospital and physician services to bonafide residents of a province. Administrative arrangements should be such that residents are not precluded from or do not forego coverage by reason of an inability to pay premiums.

I am acutely aware of problems faced by some provinces in regard to tourists and visitors who may require health services while travelling in Canada. I will be undertaking a review of the current practices and procedures with my Cabinet colleagues, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Minister of Employment and Immigration, to ensure all reasonable means are taken to inform prospective visitors to Canada of the need to protect themselves with adequate health insurance coverage before entering the country.

In summary, I believe all of us as Ministers of Health are committed to the objective of ensuring that all duly qualified residents of a province obtain and retain entitlement to insured health services on uniform terms and conditions.

Portability

The intent of the portability provisions of the Canada Health Act is to provide insured persons continuing protection under their provincial health care insurance plan when they are temporarily absent from their province of residence or when moving from province to province. While temporarily in another province of Canada, bona-fide residents should not be subject to out-of-pocket costs or charges for necessary hospital and physician services. Providers should be assured of reasonable levels of payment in respect of the cost of those services.

Insofar as insured services received while outside of Canada are concerned, the intent is to assure reasonable indemnification in respect of the cost of necessary emergency hospital or physician services or for referred services not available in a province or in neighbouring provinces. Generally speaking, payment formulae tied to what would have been paid for similar services in a province would be acceptable for purposes of the Canada Health Act.

In my discussions with provincial/territorial Ministers, I detected a desire to achieve these portability objectives and to minimize the difficulties that Canadians may encounter when moving or travelling about in Canada. In order that Canadians may maintain their health insurance coverage and obtain benefits or services without undue impediment, I believe that all provincial/territorial Health Ministers are interested in seeing these services provided more efficiently and economically.

Significant progress has been made over the past few years by way of reciprocal arrangements which contribute to the achievement of the in-Canada portability objectives of the Canada Health Act. These arrangements do not interfere with the rights and prerogatives of provinces to determine and provide the coverage for services rendered in another province. Likewise, they do not deter provinces from exercising reasonable controls through prior approval mechanisms for elective procedures. I recognize that work remains to be done respecting interprovincial payment arrangements to achieve this objective, especially as it pertains to physician services.

I appreciate that all difficulties cannot be resolved overnight and that provincial plans will require sufficient time to meet the objective of ensuring no direct charges to patients for necessary hospital and physician services provided in other provinces.

For necessary services provided out-of-Canada, I am confident that we can establish acceptable standards of indemnification for essential physician and hospital services. The legislation does not define a particular formula and I would be pleased to have your views.

In order that our efforts can progress in a coordinated manner, I would propose that the Federal-Provincial Advisory Committee on Institutional and Medical Services be charged with examining various options and recommending arrangements to achieve the objectives within one year.

Reasonable Accessibility

The Act is fairly clear with respect to certain aspects of accessibility. The Act seeks to discourage all point-of-service charges for insured services provided to insured persons and to prevent adverse discrimination against any population group with respect to charges for, or necessary use of, insured services. At the same time, the Act accents a partnership between the providers of insured services and provincial plans, requiring that provincial plans have in place reasonable systems of payment or compensation for their medical practitioners in order to ensure reasonable access to users. I want to emphasize my intention to respect provincial prerogatives regarding the organization, licensing, supply, distribution of health manpower, as well as the resource allocation and priorities for health services. I want to assure you that the reasonable access provision will not be used to intervene or interfere directly in matters such as the physical and geographic availability of services or provincial governance of the institutions and professions that provide insured services. Inevitably, major issues or concerns regarding access to health care services will come to my attention. I want to assure you that my Ministry will work through and with provincial/territorial Ministers in addressing such matters.

My aim in communicating my intentions with respect to the criteria in the Canada Health Act is to allow us to work together in developing our national health insurance scheme. Through continuing dialogue, open and willing exchange of information and mutually understood rules of the road, I believe that we can implement the Canada Health Act without acrimony and conflict. It is my preference that provincial/territorial Ministers themselves be given an opportunity to interpret and apply the criteria of the Canada Health Act to their respective health care insurance plans. At the same time, I believe that all provincial/territorial Health Ministers understand and respect my accountability to the Parliament of Canada, including an annual report on the operation of provincial health care insurance plans with regard to these fundamental criteria.

Conditions

This leads me to the conditions related to the recognition of federal contributions and to the provision of information, both of which may be specified in regulations. In these matters, I will be guided by the following principles:

  1. to make as few regulations as possible and only if absolutely necessary;
  2. to rely on the goodwill of Ministers to afford appropriate recognition of Canada's role and contribution and to provide necessary informa-tion voluntarily for purposes of administering the Act and reporting to Parliament;
  3. to employ consultation processes and mutually beneficial information exchanges as the preferred ways and means of implementing and administering the Canada Health Act;
  4. to use existing means of exchanging information of mutual benefit to all our governments.

Regarding recognition by provincial/territorial governments of federal health contributions, I am satisfied that we can easily agree on appropriate recognition, in the normal course of events. The best form of recognition in my view is the demonstration to the public that as Ministers of Health we are working together in the interests of the taxpayer and patient.

In regard to information, I remain committed to maintaining and improving national data systems on a collaborative and co-operative basis. These systems serve many purposes and provide governments, as well as other agencies, organizations, and the general public, with essential data about our health care system and the health status of our population. I foresee a continuing, co-operative partnership committed to maintaining and improving health information systems in such areas as morbidity, mortality, health status, health services operations, utilization, health care costs and financing.

I firmly believe that the federal government need not regulate these matters. Accordingly, I do not intend to use the regulatory authority respecting information requirements under the Canada Health Act to expand, modify or change these broad-based data systems and exchanges. In order to keep information flows related to the Canada Health Act to an economical minimum, I see only two specific and essential information transfer mechanisms:

  1. estimates and statements on extra-billing and user charges;
  2. an annual provincial statement (perhaps in the form of a letter to me) to be submitted approximately six months after the completion of each fiscal year, describing the respective provincial health care insurance plan's operations as they relate to the criteria and conditions of the Canada Health Act.

Concerning Item 1 above, I propose to put in place on-going regulations that are identical in content to those that have been accepted for 1985-86. Draft regulations are attached as Annex I. To assist with the preparation of the "annual provincial statement" referred to in Item 2 above, I have developed the general guidelines attached as Annex II. Beyond these specific exchanges, I am confident that voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange of such subjects as Acts, regulations and program descriptions will continue.

One matter brought up in the course of our earlier meetings, is the question of whether estimates or deductions of user charges and extra-billing should be based on "amounts charged" or "amounts collected". The Act clearly states that deductions are to be based on amounts charged. However, with respect to user fees, certain provincial plans appear to pay these charges indirectly on behalf of certain individuals. Where a provincial plan demonstrates that it reimburses providers for amounts charged but not collected, say in respect of social assistance recipients or unpaid accounts, consideration will be given to adjusting estimates/deductions accordingly.

I want to emphasize that where a provincial plan does authorize user charges, the entire scheme must be consistent with the intent of the reasonable accessibility criterion as set forth [in this letter].

Regulations

Aside from the recognition and information regulations referred to above, the Act provides for regulations concerning hospital services exclusions and regulations defining extended health care services.

As you know, the Act provides that there must be consultation and agreement of each and every province with respect to such regulations. My consultations with you have brought to light few concerns with the attached draft set of Exclusions from Hospital Services Regulations.

Likewise, I did not sense concerns with proposals for regulations defining Extended Health Care Services. These help provide greater clarity for provinces to interpret and administer current plans and programs. They do not alter significantly or substantially those that have been in force for eight years under Part VI of the Federal Post-Secondary Education and Health Contributions Act (1977). It may well be, however, as we begin to examine the future challenges to health care that we should re-examine these definitions.

This letter strives to set out flexible, reasonable and clear ground rules to facilitate provincial, as much as federal, administration of the Canada Health Act. It encompasses many complex matters including criteria interpretations, federal policy concerning conditions and proposed regulations. I realize, of course, that a letter of this sort cannot cover every single matter of concern to every provincial Minister of Health. Continuing dialogue and communication are essential.

In conclusion, may I express my appreciation for your assistance in bringing about what I believe is a generally accepted concurrence of views in respect of interpretation and implementation. As I mentioned at the outset of this letter, I would appreciate an early written indication of your views on the proposals for regulations appended to this letter. It is my intention to write to you in the near future with regard to the voluntary information exchanges which we have discussed in relation to administering the Act and reporting to Parliament.

Yours truly,

Jake Epp
Attachments

[Following is the text of the letter sent on January 6, 1995 to all provincial and territorial Ministers of Health by the Federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Diane Marleau.]

January 6, 1995

Dear Minister:

RE: Canada Health Act

The Canada Health Act has been in force now for just over a decade. The principles set out in the Act (public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility) continue to enjoy the support of all provincial and territorial governments. This support is shared by the vast majority of Canadians. At a time when there is concern about the potential erosion of the publicly funded and publicly administered health care system, it is vital to safeguard these principles.

As was evident and a concern to many of us at the recent Halifax meeting, a trend toward divergent interpretations of the Act is developing. While I will deal with other issues at the end of this letter, my primary concern is with private clinics and facility fees. The issue of private clinics is not new to us as Ministers of Health; it formed an important part of our discussions in Halifax last year. For reasons I will set out below, I am convinced that the growth of a second tier of health care facilities providing medically necessary services that operate, totally or in large part, outside the publicly funded and publicly administered system, presents a serious threat to Canada's health care system.

Specifically, and most immediately, I believe the facility fees charged by private clinics for medically necessary services are a major problem which must be dealt with firmly. It is my position that such fees constitute user charges and, as such, contravene the principle of accessibility set out in the Canada Health Act.

While there is no definition of facility fees in federal or most provincial legislation, the term, generally speaking, refers to amounts charged for non-physician (or "hospital") services provided at clinics and not reimbursed by the province. Where these fees are charged for medically necessary services in clinics which receive funding for these services under a provincial health insurance plan, they constitute a financial barrier to access. As a result, they violate the user charge provision of the Act (section 19).

Facility fees are objectionable because they impede access to medically necessary services. Moreover, when clinics which receive public funds for medically necessary services also charge facility fees, people who can afford the fees are being directly subsidized by all other Canadians. This subsidization of two-tier health care is unacceptable.

The formal basis for my position on facility fees is twofold. The first is a matter of policy. In the context of contemporary health care delivery, an interpretation which permits facility fees for medically necessary services so long as the provincial health insurance plan covers physician fees runs counter to the spirit and intent of the Act. While the appropriate provision of many physician services at one time required an overnight stay in a hospital, advances in medical technology and the trend toward providing medical services in more accessible settings has made it possible to offer a wide range of medical procedures on an out-patient basis or outside of full-service hospitals. The accessibility criterion in the Act, of which the user charge provision is just a specific example, was clearly intended to ensure that Canadian residents receive all medically necessary care without financial or other barriers and regardless of venue. It must continue to mean that as the nature of medical practice evolves.

Second, as a matter of legal interpretation, the definition of "hospital" set out in the Act includes any facility which provides acute, rehabilitative or chronic care. This definition covers those health care facilities known as "clinics". As a matter of both policy and legal interpretation, therefore, where a provincial plan pays the physician fee for a medically necessary service delivered at a clinic, it must also pay for the related hospital services provided or face deductions for user charges.

I recognize that this interpretation will necessitate some changes in provinces where clinics currently charge facility fees for medically necessary services. As I do not wish to cause undue hardship to those provinces, I will commence enforcement of this interpretation as of October 15, 1995. This will allow the provinces the time to put into place the necessary legislative or regulatory framework. As of October 15, 1995, I will proceed to deduct from transfer payments any amounts charged for facility fees in respect of medically necessary services, as mandated by section 20 of the Canada Health Act. I believe this provides a reasonable transition period, given that all provinces have been aware of my concerns with respect to private clinics for some time, and given the promising headway already made by the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committee on Health Services, which has been working for some time now on the issue of private clinics.

I want to make it clear that my intent is not to preclude the use of clinics to provide medically necessary ser- vices. I realize that in many situations they are a cost-effective way to deliver services, often in a technologically advanced manner. However, it is my intention to ensure that medically necessary services are provided on uniform terms and conditions, wherever they are offered. The principles of the Canada Health Act are supple enough to accommodate the evolution of medical science and of health care delivery. This evolution must not lead, however, to a two-tier system of health care.

I indicated earlier in this letter that, while user charges for medically necessary services are my most immediate concern, I am also concerned about the more general issues raised by the proliferation of private clinics. In particular, I am concerned about their potential to restrict access by Canadian residents to medically necessary services by eroding our publicly funded system. These concerns were reflected in the policy statement which resulted from the Halifax meeting. Ministers of Health present, with the exception of the Alberta Minister, agreed to:

  • take whatever steps are required to regulate the development of private clinics in Canada, and to maintain a high quality, publicly funded medicare system.

Private clinics raise several concerns for the federal government, concerns which provinces share. These relate to:

  • weakened public support for the tax funded and publicly administered system;
  • the diminished ability of governments to control costs once they have shifted from the public to the private sector;
  • the possibility, supported by the experience of other jurisdictions, that private facilities will concentrate on easy procedures, leaving public facilities to handle more complicated, costly cases; and
  • the ability of private facilities to offer financial incentives to health care providers that could draw them away from the public system-resources may also be devoted to features which attract consumers, without in any way contributing to the quality of care.

The only way to deal effectively with these concerns is to regulate the operation of private clinics.

I now call on Ministers in provinces which have not already done so to introduce regulatory frameworks to govern the operation of private clinics. I would emphasize that, while my immediate concern is the elimination of user charges, it is equally important that these regulatory frameworks be put in place to ensure reasonable access to medically necessary services and to support the viability of the publicly funded and administered system in the future. I do not feel the implementation of such frameworks should be long delayed.

I welcome any questions you may have with respect to my position on private clinics and facility fees. My officials are willing to meet with yours at any time to discuss these matters. I believe that our officials need to focus their attention, in the coming weeks, on the broader concerns about private clinics referred to above.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, divergent interpretations of the Canada Health Act apply to a number of other practices. It is always my preference that matters of interpretation of the Act be resolved by finding a Federal/Provincial/Territorial consensus consistent with its fundamental principles. I have therefore encouraged F/P/T consultations in all cases where there are disagreements. In situations such as out-of-province or out-of-country coverage, I remain committed to following through on these consultative processes as long as they continue to promise a satisfactory conclusion in a reasonable time.

In closing, I would like to quote Mr. Justice Emmett M. Hall. In 1980, he reminded us:

we, as a society, are aware that the trauma of illness, the pain of surgery, the slow decline to death, are burdens enough for the human being to bear without the added burden of medical or hospital bills penalizing the patient at the moment of vulnerability.

I trust that, mindful of these words, we will continue to work together to ensure the survival, and renewal, of what is perhaps our finest social project.

As the issues addressed in this letter are of great concern to Canadians, I intend to make this letter publicly available once all provincial Health Ministers have received it.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Marleau
Minister of Health

Annex C

Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process Under the Canada Health Act

In April 2002, the Honourable A. Anne McLellan outlined in a letter to her provincial and territorial counterparts a Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process, which was agreed to by provinces and territories, except Quebec. The process meets federal and provincial/territorial interests of avoiding disputes related to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act, and when this is not possible, resolving disputes in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

The process includes the dispute avoidance activities of government-to-government information exchange; discussions and clarification of issues, as they arise; active participation of governments in ad hoc federal/provincial/territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues; and Canada Health Act advance assessments, upon request.

Where dispute avoidance activities prove unsuccessful, dispute resolution activities may be initiated, beginning with government-to-government fact-finding and negotiations. If these are unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may refer the issues to a third party panel to undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations.

The federal Minister of Health has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister will take the panel's report into consideration.

In September 2004, the agreement reached between the provinces and territories in 2002 was formalized by First Ministers, thereby reaffirming their com- mitment to use the CHA dispute avoidance and resolution process to deal with Canada Health Act interpretation issues.

On the following pages you will find the full text of Minister McLellan's letter to the Honourable Gary Mar, as well as a fact sheet on the Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process.

Minister of Health

Ottawa, Canada K1A 0K9

April 2, 2002

The Honourable Gary Mar, M.L.A.
Minister of Health and Wellness
Province of Alberta
Room 323, Legislature Building
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B6

Dear Mr. Mar:

I am writing in fulfilment of my commitment to move forward on dispute avoidance and resolution as it applies to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act.

I understand the importance provincial and territorial governments attach to having a third party provide advice and recommendations when differences occur regarding the interpretation of the Canada Health Act. This feature has been incorporated in the approach to the Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process set out below. I believe this approach will enable us to avoid and resolve issues related to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act in a fair, transparent and timely manner.

Dispute Avoidance

The best way to resolve a dispute is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The federal government has rarely resorted to penalties and only when all other efforts to resolve the issue have proven unsuccessful. Dispute avoidance has worked for us in the past and it can serve our shared interests in the future. Therefore, it is important that governments continue to participate actively in ad hoc federal/provincial/territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues and undertake government-to-government information exchange, discussions and clarification on issues as they arise.

Moreover, Health Canada commits to provide advance assessments to any province or territory upon request.

Dispute Resolution

Where the dispute avoidance activities between the federal government and a provincial or territorial government prove unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may initiate dispute resolution by writing to his or her counterpart. Such a letter would describe the issue in dispute. If initiated, dispute resolution will precede any action taken under the non-compliance provisions of the Act.

As a first step, governments involved in the dispute will, within 60 days of the date of the letter initiating the process, jointly:

  • collect and share all relevant facts;
  • prepare a fact-finding report;
  • negotiate to resolve the issue in dispute; and
  • prepare a report on how the issue was resolved.

If, however, there is no agreement on the facts, or if negotiations fail to resolve the issue, any Minister of Health involved in the dispute may initiate the process to refer the issue to a third party panel by writing to his or her counterpart. Within 30 days of the date of that letter, a panel will be struck. The panel will be composed of one provincial/territorial appointee and one federal appointee who, together, will select a chairperson. The panel will assess the issue in dispute in accordance with the provisions of the Canada Health Act, will undertake fact-finding and provide advice and recommendations. It will then report to the governments involved on the issue within 60 days of appointment.

The Minister of Health for Canada has the final authority to interpret and enforce the Canada Health Act. In deciding whether to invoke the non-compliance provisions of the Act, the Minister of Health for Canada will take the panel's report into consideration.

Public Reporting

Governments will report publicly on Canada Health Act dispute avoidance and resolution activities, including any panel report.

I believe that the Government of Canada has followed through on its September 2000 Health Agreement commitments by providing funding of $21.1 billion in the fiscal framework and by working collaboratively in other areas identified in the agreement. I expect that provincial and territorial premiers and Health Ministers will honour their commitment to the health system accountability framework agreed to by First Ministers in September 2000. The work of officials on performance indicators has been collaborative and effective to date. Canadians will expect us to report on the full range of indicators by the agreed deadline of September 2002. While I am aware that some jurisdictions may not be able to fully report on all indicators in this timeframe, public accountability is an essential component of our effort to renew Canada's health care system. As such, it is very important that all jurisdictions work to report on the full range of indicators in subsequent reports.

In addition, I hope that all provincial and territorial governments will participate in and complete the joint review process agreed to by all Premiers who signed the Social Union Framework Agreement.

The Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution process outlined in this letter is simple and straightforward. Should adjustments be necessary in the future, I commit to review the process with you and other Provincial/Territorial Ministers of Health. By using this approach, we will demonstrate to Canadians that we are committed to strengthening and preserving medicare by preventing and resolving Canada Health Act disputes in a fair and timely manner.

Yours sincerely,

A. Anne McLellan

Fact Sheet: Canada Health Act Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Process

Scope

The provisions described apply to the interpretation of the principles of the Canada Health Act.

Dispute Avoidance

To avoid and prevent disputes, governments will continue to:

  • participate actively in ad hoc federal/provincial/ territorial committees on Canada Health Act issues; and
  • undertake government-to-government informa- tion exchange, discussions and clarification on issues as they arise.

Health Canada commits to provide advance assessments to any province or territory upon request.

Dispute Resolution

Where the dispute avoidance activities between the federal government and a provincial or territorial government prove unsuccessful, either Minister of Health involved may initiate dispute resolution by writing to his or her counterpart. Such a letter would describe the issue in dispute. If initiated, dispute resolution will precede any action taken under the non-compliance provisions of the Act.

As a first step, governments involved in the dispute will, within 60 days of the date of the letter initiating the process, jointly:

  • collect and share all relevant facts;
  • prepare a fact-finding report;
  • negotiate to resolve the issue in dispute; and
  • prepare a report on how the issue was resolved.

If however, there is no agreement on the facts, or if negotiations fail to resolve the issue, any Minister of Health involved in the dispute may initiate the process to refer the issue to a third party panel by writing to his or her counterpart.

  • Within 30 days of the