Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Canadian federalism fragments health system governance Although the Constitution has been interpreted as providing shared jurisdiction over health generally with respect to health care specifically the courts have interpreted the Constitution as giving direct jurisdiction to the provinces The Federal role in health care is therefore indirect but nevertheless potentially powerful For example the Federal government has used its spending powers to establish the Canada Health Act CHA which commits funding to provinces on condition they provide firstdollar public coverage of hospital and physician services However in recent times as federal contributions have declined the CHA has been weakly enforced Further the failure to broaden the CHA to include prescription drugs dentistry and other important aspects of health care have contributed to Canada's abysmal record on aboriginal health and its increasingly poor rankings in international comparisons Progress requires enforcement of an adequately funded CHA national pharmacare and concerted action on aboriginal health It requires bolder federal action and a panCanadian approach to governance in which federalism again becomes a laboratory of experimentation including on health human resource planning drug utilization and safety health emergency readiness health technology assessment electronic health information systems and systemlevel quality assurance