SPARK: Action

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Inform  •  Influence  •  Impact 

Ignite Change with SPARK: ACTION

Welcome to SPARK: Action, Children's Healthcare Canada's dynamic policy newsletter that illuminates the vital advocacy work undertaken by our dedicated members in shaping federal policies for child and youth healthcare.

Each edition of SPARK: Action spurs inspiration and mobilization, showcasing the impactful initiatives, collaborations, and achievements driving positive change in children's health across the nation. From legislative updates and advocacy campaigns to member spotlights and policy analysis, SPARK: Action fuels momentum towards a brighter, healthier future for every child.

Join us as we ignite change and champion the voices of children and youth to shape federal policy and advocacy efforts. Subscribe now to stay informed, engaged, and empowered with SPARK: Action.

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 SPARK: Action | April 2024

Championing Children's Health in Canada

In our latest newsletter, we're thrilled to spotlight the impactful advocacy efforts of Children's Healthcare Canada and our dedicated members!

In our latest update, we delve into the recent Child Health Ministerial Roundtable, where federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Mark Holland, emphasized the importance of a national strategy for children and youth, acknowledging the vital role of healthcare leaders in shaping policies that prioritize the well-being of our youngest citizens.

But our advocacy doesn’t stop there. From advocating for a right-sized healthcare approach to addressing workforce challenges, to championing the inclusion of child specific needs in National Pharmacare legislation, our members are at the forefront of driving change.

Stay tuned for more updates on our ongoing advocacy efforts, including our upcoming "Child Health Hill Day" on May 7th, where we'll engage with policymakers to amplify the voices of children and youth in Canada's health agenda.


In this issue: 


Children's Ministerial Roundtable 

"Children's health is a priority for Canadians-it crosses all partisan boundaries and the public expects us to lead on it together”- Federal Minister of Health, Mark Holland

On April 5, 2024, Children’s Healthcare Canada was pleased to convene a roundtable discussion with federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Mark Holland. Children’s Healthcare Canada members presented an overview on the current state of child healthcare systems in Canada and shared our vision for a right-sized approach to healthcare that would measurably improve outcomes for children and youth in Canada.

Minister Holland acknowledged that a national strategy for children and youth would be well received by health leaders across the country. Minister Holland’s immediate priority for inter-governmental affairs is to address health workforce issues and he noted that children’s health needs must be a specific consideration in addressing workforce challenges. Minister Holland expressed his interest in engaging Children’s Healthcare Canada’s executive network on data and inter-operability, especially to understand patient perspectives and systems impact. Children’s Healthcare Canada will continue to engage the Minister of Health’s office and will follow up on opportunities to include child health as a priority in the federal Minister’s agenda. This will include exploring the establishment of a Data and Inter-Operability Working Group that would include representatives from the executive network.

A screenshot of a zoom call with Minister Holland and others.

Right-Sizing Canada’s Health Workforce for Children

This April, Children’s Healthcare Canada convened the Pediatric Chairs of Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society, and the Canadian Association of Paediatric Nurses for a discussion with Deb Gordon, Interim CEO of Health Workforce Canada. Health Workforce Canada was established earlier this year as an independent, arms-length organization designed to work with the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway and other organizations to improve collection and sharing of health workforce data. This meeting was an opportunity to highlight the unique characteristics of the child and youth health workforce and ensure their inclusion in national strategic planning.

Accurate data for workforce planning emerged as a central theme throughout the discussions and concerns were raised regarding the lack of knowledge on the number of pediatric sub-specialists that currently operate across the country and the difficulty in training more specialists without appropriate data. Other challenges included the grouping of the pediatric workforce under a single category in the current collection of data, rather than being divided up by sub-specialities and the lack of standardized training among all provinces and territories.

Health Workforce Canada will be convening their network between May and June to explore opportunities for enhancement of current data to enable forecasting and modelling and child health data could be incorporated into this review. We will continue to engage with Health Workforce Canada in discussions to incorporate child health perspectives within workforce planning, training, and data generation initiatives.

Status Quo is NOT an Option: A Vision to Inform a Future Fit for Kids 

It’s time to transform Canada’s health-care systems, to measurably improve health outcomes of children and youth for generations to come.

If not now, when?

On February 13, 2024, iPolitics published an op-ed by Children’s Healthcare Canada to mark the one-year anniversary since the federal government signed an agreement of $198.3 billion with the provinces to improve health care across the country with dedicated health transfers aimed at addressing Canada’s ongoing health-care crisis. This agreement included an immediate one-time top-up of $2 billion to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to address immediate pressures on the health-care system, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries”.

Despite recognizing the pressing need to address persistent gaps that exist in child health systems, there has been insufficient progress towards building capacity in children’s health systems.

To date, only two jurisdictions have announced plans to grow investments in children’s health services (ON and NS). Meaningful collaborative efforts between federal, provincial, territorial, Indigenous governments and healthcare leaders is essential to effect meaningful and sustainable change for Canada’s children and youth.

Find the full article here: Status Quo is Not an Option


A scree-capture of the article

National Pharmacare in Canada: Advancing a Right-Sized  Pharmacare System for Kids  

On February 29, 2024, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-64, An Act respecting pharmacare which advances the priorities for the implementation of a national universal pharmacare program in Canada. This framework establishes the core principles for the initial stage of a national universal pharmacare program which includes coverage for diabetes medication and contraception. This legislation is a promising step forward towards securing universal access to essential medications for all Canadians but more work is needed to ensure the distinct pharmaceutical needs of children and adolescents are prioritized through the addition of coverage for pediatric-specific medications and devices within this program

Find the full policy fact sheet here: National Pharmacare in Canada

PharmaWhere? Exploring the Future of Drug Coverage in Canada

CHSPR 2024 36TH Annual Health Policy Conference
March 5, 2024 | UBC Vancouver Campus

On March 5th, Children’s Healthcare Canada attended the CHSPR PharmaWhere? Annual Health Policy Conference in Vancouver. The conference gathered leading experts policymakers, patient partners, industry leaders and researchers to explore the future of drug coverage in Canada at a time of significant policy development.

Key insights gleaned from the conference include the necessity of collaborative efforts between decision-makers and other strategic partners, the importance of evidence-based policy design, and the recognition of diverse perspectives in shaping and informing effective pharmacare solutions. Moving forward, further dialogue and research are essential to scale up and inform policy decisions and ensure equitable access to pharmaceuticals for all Canadians, including children. As Children’s Healthcare Canada continues to monitor recent policy advancements in implementing national pharmacare, we will utilize the insights and learnings from the CHSPR conference in our ongoing policy briefings.  

No Child Elects to Wait: The Staggering Costs of Inaction

Children’s Healthcare Canada, in partnership with the Conference Board of Canada has released a research series highlighting the costs of prolonged delays in access to essential healthcare services for children.  The first report (released in October 2023) examined the costs of delays in access to pediatric spinal surgery. The second report delved into children mental health services (specifically related to anxiety and depression). The reports highlight the staggering costs of inaction. The financial consequences linked to delays in children’s healthcare services, whether the $44.6 million in backlogs for pediatric spinal surgery, or the annual $4 billion expenditure for children and adolescents with anxiety and depression are profound.

We would like to acknowledge McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and One Child Every Child, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation for their contributions to these reports.

This work underpins Children’s Healthcare Canada’s upcoming “Beyond Band-Aids: Delivering Healthcare Fit for Kids” spring campaign, which is the culmination of a two-year focus on right-sizing children’s healthcare systems. The Beyond Band-Aids report (which will be released on May 6th) articulates a vision and action plan to support health systems transformation to meet the needs of children, youth and their families. Stay tuned!


Find the full reports here:


The cover of the No Child Elects to Wait report. A young child with long hair sits on a hospital bed facing away from the viewer.    The cover of the Nurturing Minds for Secure Futures report. The cover shows a teenager walking down a long hallway.









On the Hill: Meetings with Members of Parliament 

On April 2nd, 2024, the Policy team at Children’s Healthcare Canada had the opportunity to meet with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, Yasir Naqvi to share recommended actions the Federal Government could take to improve the health of children and youth in Canada, and to support the healthcare systems that serve them. MP Naqvi underscored his commitment to helping Children’s Healthcare Canada grow awareness of the unique needs of children and youth in this country and has agreed to participate in our forthcoming “Child Health Hill Day” May 7th


A photo of MP Naqvi and staff from Children's Healthcare Canada

Organizations for Health Action (HEAL) Member Meeting

On Thursday March 14th, Children’s Healthcare Canada attended a HEAL member meeting in Ottawa. HEAL is a coalition of 40 national health organizations dedicated to improving the health of Canadians and the quality of care they receive. Members shared current health system priorities and challenges experienced by front-line health workers with special guest MP Naqvi and discussed how the HEAL collective could continue working together with the federal government to promote health system transformation and reshape health care at the national level.

Members of HEAL sitting in discussion around a boardroom table.


Parliamentary Child Health Caucus

In 2023, Children’s Healthcare Canada launched a Parliamentary Caucus to build   awareness of children’s health and align health system priorities with federal policy and investments to measurably improve children’s health and health care systems in Canada. We are working closely with Caucus members on key activities and priorities to advance children’s health in Canada. We look forward to collaborating with caucus members to host our annual Child Health Reception and Hill Day on May 6-7, 2024.


Headshots of the members of the Parliamentary Child Health Caucus