Canada’s new government launches historic first wait times guarantee in First Nations prenatal project

On the occasion of National Child Day, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health, announced that Health Canada is developing pilot projects to establish and test Patient Wait Times Guarantees (PWTGs) for specific federal health services on reserve, beginning with pilot projects for prenatal care in a number of First Nations communities. Minister Clement made this announcement before the Canadian Institute where he was speaking on patient wait times guarantees in Toronto.

“By establishing Patient Wait Times Guarantees on reserve, Canada’s new government is acting to improve access to some of the health services it provides to First Nations,” Minister Clement stated. “Prenatal care early in pregnancy is instrumental in identifying health problems in the initial stages of fetal development. First Nations women who live on reserve may not have been able to access prenatal care as early as is optimal during their pregnancy. Early intervention can improve overall health for mothers and life-long health and well-being for their children,” he added.

Pilot projects will be implemented in five to 10 communities and last approximately two years. The projects will provide the following Patient Wait Times Guarantees: initial prenatal appointment scheduled within 2 weeks of positive pregnancy test, appointments scheduled with a health care provider every 4 weeks after initial visit and confirmation of a future appointment for specialist and diagnostic services made within 2 weeks of decision to refer a woman with an at-risk pregnancy.

Health Canada will work closely with First Nations and research organizations to ensure the success of these pilot projects. Once complete, the results of the pilot projects will be evaluated for use in other First Nations communities across Canada.

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