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Overview of Health Care Reform and Women

Under pressure to contain costs while maintaining a high quality health care system and in response to the demands of citizens and communities, health care reform emerged as a major concern of policy makers, researchers, health care providers and citizens in Canada in the 1990s.

Canadians have seen the introduction of new organizational forms such as regional health authorities as a way to coordinate and manage care. We have experienced cost-cutting measures as governments and health authorities have tried to control expenses as demands increase with population aging and chronic conditions become more common. We have witnessed the introduction of new ways of working such as private health care clinics and new types of health care providers such as midwives and nurse practitioners. We have seen services discontinued or amalgamated; new technologies introduced and hospitals shut down; more day surgeries performed and shorter stays become the norm for birthing women. We have seen hospitals contract out services and bring in private corporations to prepare food, do laundry and provide security. We have heard about the need for more disease prevention and health promotion and asked what it means to be responsible for our own health. We have seen calls for new national programs to cover the costs of medications or increase access to surgical services, at the same time as we have seen an increase in the role of walk-in clinics. These and other changes are all matters of health care reform.

Women and Health Care Reform has looked at some of these issues and we intend to look at more. We approach our work by consistently asking: How is this a women’s issue and what are the issues for women? And which women are affected by this reform? Older women? Women of colour? Lone mothers? Rural women? ALL women?

As the majority of users and providers of health care, women have particular interests in the changes that occur within health care.

  • Will care be there when I or someone I care for, or care about, needs it?
  • What kind of care will be there?
  • Who will provide the care?
  • Who will pay for it?
  • Will it be in the community or in a facility?
  • Is that facility accessible?
  • Are there criteria for who is able to access care?
  • Who decides?

Women and Health Care Reform examines issues of health care reform with women in mind.

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