Healthcare Excellence Canada is now accepting applications from teams across the country for a new program focused on improving equitable access to safe, high-quality team-based primary care in northern, rural and remote communities. This new program will help improve patient and provider experiences of care, make care safer, including more culturally safe, and reduce avoidable emergency department visits.
People who live in these communities often prefer care closer to home, avoiding medical transport and transfers, but they tend to have poorer access to primary care compared to their urban-dwelling counterparts. This includes fewer available services and providers, as well as transportation costs and obstacles. Healthcare providers also experience unique opportunities and challenges, including broader scopes of practice, travel and helping patients and families navigate remote services and medical travel. They also work with patients with care requirements that are, on average, more complex than they are in other communities.
In the midst of these circumstances, northern, rural and remote communities and the people who live, work and play in them also have and continue to demonstrate incredible commitment and resourcefulness that build on community strengths and respond to the health needs of the communities they serve.
Strengthening Primary Care in Northern, Rural and Remote Communities is designed to help address these circumstances, while also learning from others facing similar realities. It will help spread promising practices that are improving access to primary care in specific parts of the country.
Example promising practices include increasing access to virtual care options, attaching patients who do not have a primary care home to a team that understands and responds to their community’s needs, and increasing access to virtual collegial support for healthcare providers serving rural, remote and First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
“People living and working in northern, rural and remote communities want and deserve excellence in care,” said Jennifer Zelmer, President and CEO of Healthcare Excellence Canada. “By improving equitable access to safe, high-quality team-based care closer to home, this program will help reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes and improve patient safety in these communities.”
Participants will receive tailored support to implement or bolster a promising practice aimed at strengthening access to primary care in their communities, including:
- Seed funding (up to approximately $50,000 per team)
- Virtual and in-person networking, coaching, and learning events to promote pan-Canadian, regional, and community-level sharing and collaborations
- Resources and capability-building supports
- Measurement and evaluation support
- Opportunities to inform development of new team-based primary care resources
Strengthening Primary Care will support up to 20 teams across Canada.
"Everyone deserves equitable and culturally-safe access to high-quality health care no matter who they are or where they live,” said the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health. “The new Strengthening Primary Care in Northern, Rural and Remote Communities program will help address the challenges that many of these communities continue to face in accessing the health care they need and deserve to improve their health outcomes."
Strengthening Primary Care is part of HEC’s work to spread innovations that bring care closer to home and community with safe transitions. It also aligns with the Government of Canada’s work to improve access to family health services, so everyone has access to high-quality family health services when they need them, including in rural and remote areas, and for underserved communities.
Apply to Strengthening Primary Care
Join people across Canada committed to strengthening primary care in northern, rural and remote communities. Apply to join Strengthening Primary Care: