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
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
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
• provide advice on the best ways to move forward with further work on
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
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
Since the agreement on the 10-Year Plan, every province and territory
has taken action on diverse initiatives to reduce wait times. For
• 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
• The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is conducting research to
gather evidence on benchmarks in the five priority areas for wait times
• 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
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.