An Open Letter to

The Honourable Anne McLellan
Minister of Health
Government of Canada
Minister’s Office – Health Canada
Brooke Claxton Bldg.
Tunney’s Pasture
P.L. 0906C
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K9
Fax: (613) 952-1154

The Honourable Jane Purves
Minister of Health
Province of Nova Scotia
Department of Health
4th Floor, Joseph Howe Bldg
1690 Hollis Street
PO Box 488
Halifax, NS B3J 2R8
Fax: (902) 424-0559

The Health Action Lobby (HEAL) is looking forward to the establishment of the National Health Council, which will ensure accountability and sustainability of the health system in Canada.


While HEAL understands the nature of the short delay in proceeding with its inception, we are concerned with media reports that the terms of reference for the National Health Council are changing in the following ways:

  • It will be a temporary body;
  • It will not be independent;
  • It will be dependent on existing provincial, territorial and federal bureaucracies for data and information; and
  • It will report to the public under the aegis of the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health and Deputy Ministers of Health.

As you are undoubtedly aware, HEAL was formed in 1991 by a group of associations and organizations dedicated to protecting and strengthening Canada’s health system. Its 29 member organizations represent more than half a million providers and consumers of health care. We are committed to working with governments and other organizations to ensure an effective health system that meets the needs of all Canadians.

HEAL has welcomed the establishment of the National Health Council. HEAL has been a strong supporter of broader public accountability to all Canadians as being an integral part of a sustainable health system. In HEAL’s publication, HEAL Checklist For Accountability Mechanisms ( ) 8 key principles are outlined:

  1. Mandate: tied to national health goals.
  2. Independence And Influence: operate at arms length from governments and be answerable to Canadians.
  3. Public And Stakeholder Participation: involve the public and key stakeholders.
  4. Credibility: governed by individuals with an appropriate mix of jurisdictional, public and professional backgrounds and be free from political interference.
  5. Processes: conduct its work in an open and transparent manner.
  6. Data And Information: work in collaboration with CIHI and other appropriate national associations to facilitate the development of meaningful indicators of the performance of the health system.
  7. Resources: have the resources to do its job.
  8. Communication: communicate broadly and directly with its many stakeholders.

Canadians deserve a clear and accountable health system. The Health Council will be an important step to ensure Canadians and Canadian health care providers have the opportunity to provide input on how the system operates and monitor its performance.

Our 33 national associations and our provincial and territorial affiliates are committed to working with you, in the interest of the health needs of all Canadians, to create an effective Canadian Health Council.


Gaston Levac
Co-Chair, HEAL
President and CEO,
Canadian College of Health Service Executives

Pamela C. Fralick
Co-Chair, HEAL
Chief Executive Officer,
Canadian Physiotherapy Association

cc. First Ministers
Health Ministers