box10.gif (1299 bytes)








Government of Canada appoints advisor on wait times

OTTAWA – The Government of Canada announced the appointment of Dr. Brian Postl (pictured at left) as the Federal Advisor on Wait Times.

In this role, Dr. Postl, currently President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, will work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments to achieve commitments made by First Ministers in the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care.

“The Prime Minister and I are very pleased that Dr. Postl has agreed to accept this position,” said Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh. “I’m convinced that his credibility and experience in the healthcare system will serve to help us all meet the commitments set out in the 10-Year Plan.”

First Ministers committed in the 10-Year Plan to dual objectives of better management of wait times and the measurable reduction of wait times in five priority areas (cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements and sight restoration).

Governments committed to establishing comparable indicators and evidence-based benchmarks for wait times by December 31, 2005, and multi-year targets to achieve priority benchmarks by December 31, 2007.

“Our objective is clear: to ensure that Canadians receive the health care they need when they need it. Canadians want to see results.” Minister Dosanjh added.

To advance further action on the complex and challenging task of achieving meaningful reductions in wait times, Dr. Postl will engage in dialogue with governments, healthcare providers and researchers to:

• identify and continue to develop consensus on establishing comparable indicators and evidence-based benchmarks;

• assess knowledge gaps and find ways to address them;

• encourage the adoption of methods and tools to better manage wait times; and

• provide advice on the best ways to move forward with further work on wait times.

Dr. Postl has extensive experience in the healthcare system as an administrator, physician and academic. He has also served on a number of health-related boards, including the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Canada Health Infoway and the Health Council of Canada.

Dr. Postl, who assumes his position effective immediately, will report regularly to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health on the progress of his discussions.

In September 2004, First Ministers committed to a 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care. A key component of this action plan was the commitment to achieve meaningful reductions in wait times in priority areas such as cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements, and sight restoration by March 31, 2007.

In addition, governments committed to establish comparable indicators of access to healthcare professionals and diagnostic and treatment procedures by December 31, 2005. By this date, governments also agreed to establish evidence-based benchmarks for medically acceptable wait times, starting with the five priority areas.

To support the 10-Year Plan, the Government of Canada is providing $41 billion over ten years. This includes $5.5 billion targeted to reducing wait times.

Budget 2005 provided an additional $15 million over four years in direct federal funding to build on and complement provincial and territorial wait times initiatives.

This money will be used to engage all key players of the healthcare system in wait times efforts and will primarily support the development, dissemination and uptake of innovative approaches in wait times management.

Since the agreement on the 10-Year Plan, every province and territory has taken action on diverse initiatives to reduce wait times. For example:

• The Ontario government has announced significant increases to the number of diagnostic procedures and surgeries in cardiac care, cancer, cataract and joint replacement. In addition, the Ontario Wait Times Reduction Strategy, is moving ahead on several fronts including work to better track wait times through a provincial registry and website.

• Increased federal transfers for healthcare are contributing to Saskatchewan’s additional investments in such areas as the reduction of surgical backlogs, expanding diagnostic capacity, medical and surgical equipment, as well as management systems to improve timely access.

• New Brunswick’s 2005 Budget includes such initiatives as the development of a surgical patient registry, while Nova Scotia’s latest Budget includes measures to address wait lists for orthopaedic surgery.

Progress is also happening on many other fronts across the country,including:

• The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is conducting research to gather evidence on benchmarks in the five priority areas for wait times reductions;

• The Wait Time Alliance, a collaborative of the Canadian Medical Association and medical specialty groups in the five priority areas, conducted cross-country consultations that will inform its final report on proposed benchmarks in the five priority areas.

• The Canadian Institute for Health Information will report on progress on wait times across jurisdictions and the Health Council of Canada will report on progress of elements set out in the 10-Year Plan, including wait times.

Dr. Brian Postl is a graduate of the University of Manitoba where he achieved Royal College Fellowships in community medicine and pediatrics. He has practiced these specialties in rural and northern areas of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories. He is currently President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, a position he has held since 1999. Dr. Postl has been head of the Departments of Pediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.