What is the Meaning of Strategy in the Context of Canadian Healthcare? - Backgrounder to Queen's Health Policy Change Conference Series

Report — September 17, 2013

A conference entitled, Toward a Canadian Healthcare Strategy, might easily raise the eyebrows of some, and the blood pressure of others. ‘Skeptics’ might say that other than the Canada Health Act1 , we do not have an overall national level strategy per se and
that the thirteen provinces and territories in whose jurisdiction healthcare delivery mainly falls have their own strategies – thirteen approaches, each with its own governance and administrative structures. Not only is there scant evidence of a Canadian strategy,
but also there is little prospect of an overarching strategy being achieved. More dubious still, ‘cynics’ might be concerned about labeling strategy as “Canadian”, “pan-Canadian” or “national” for fear that it presages an attempt to insert the federal government into the realm of provincial authority. The ideological and political aspects of provincial/territorial autonomy come to the fore. Whereas skeptics think a Canadian strategy isn’t achievable, cynics think it out not to be approached.

The purpose of the conference is to call into question both positions. However, before addressing the issues of whether we should have a ‘Canadian’ strategy - what it would look like and who would hold the jurisdictional controls - we need to understand what a strategy is and how it could apply to our discussions. What follows is a note on the concept of strategy and its application to an integrated Canadian approach to healthcare. 

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