The Need for a pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Strategy

Report — July 01, 2015

Health human resources (HHR) represents the single greatest financial component in health service delivery. How policy, planning, and management effectively align with this key resource will be integral to the sustainability
of current business models to support the delivery of universally accessible healthcare. Paradoxically, despite being such a critical element of the healthcare system, HHR can sometimes be so pervasive as to be invisible. Indeed, HHR issues are often the elephant in the room when issues of healthcare reform are being discussed. Peeling away the layers leading to critical issues facing our healthcare system, such as wait times and lack of access to services, quickly reveal these
to be largely HHR issues regarding the availability of healthcare professionals. Efforts to improve Canadian healthcare are often hampered by human resources challenges, including over- and under-supply of labour, changing skillset needs, and inflexibility in adjusting scopes of practice to meet shifting treatment standards. When addressed head on, there is increasing concern whether the supply and current mix of health professionals will be able to meet not only future health systems demand, but also population health needs more broadly.

This paper will make a case for the need for a pan-Canadian HHR Strategy, identify the key elements of such a strategy, and, finally, will suggest an implementation plan for aligning the key stakeholders (e.g., professional associations, regulators, educational institutions, accrediting bodies, federal/ provincial/territorial health ministries, health professionals, and the public) in support of a strategy to address critical and systemic HHR challenges. 

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