Canada spends $200 billion on health care annually yet there is no strategy on how to best integrate this investment with economic potential. MEDEC and its members already invest substantially in Canada and contribute significantly to the economy – our industry is an economic driver. Recognizing that patients come first, governments can better align health care spending with opportunities to foster jobs and economic growth in the health care environment. Working together with this complementary goal in mind, Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in driving a healthcare economy.
Governments can drive a health care economy by working with MEDEC in the following areas:
Providing Adequate Support for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)
The medical device industry employs more than 35,000 people in close to 1,500 corporate facilities, and many MEDEC member companies are developing medical products here in Canada. Often this development is done with the support of provincial and federal government programs. These programs are generally run through the governments’ Ministries of Industry, Trade, and/or Innovation. However, when it comes time to commercializing these products, the same governments, through their Ministries of Health, have conflicting objectives that need to be resolved to the benefit of patient care and system optimization.
Canada is unique in its publicly funded, single-payer system. In many cases, the government is the only customer for medical products. However Ministries of Health across Canada do not allocate adequate funding for new technologies. Consequently, there is little support to commercialize products that have been developed and made in Canada. As an innovation nation, governments should foster Canada as being the first place to adopt some of these innovative technologies instead of forcing them to go to global markets first.
Improved government collaboration across various levels in supporting Canadian SMEs through accelerated adoption within the Canadian healthcare system would be a boon to innovation and the economy.
Strengthening the Research and Commercialization Environment
MEDEC and its member companies conduct extensive research around the globe in both developing and testing medical technology. Canada is uniquely positioned with its strong research institutions and highly skilled workforce to drive economic growth by fully enabling this innovation environment.
Canada has traditionally had strong research capabilities; however, there is much to be improved in commercialization of medical technology. Commercialization opportunities remain limited within Canada. Governments can partner with industry to better leverage their strength in research to drive a commercialization agenda that will further entrench medical technology development as a driver of the Canadian economy. If successful, Canada has an opportunity to be a global leader in driving a leading healthcare economy.
Improving the Business Climate of Innovation
The government has an important role in promoting programs and tax strategies that encourage all companies, large and small, to continue to invest in Canada, as well as continuing to encourage innovation and technology development through facilitation of research and development with our nation’s academic medical research communities.
Bringing technology to Canadians, and making it cost effective for device manufacturers to do so, would be well served by having harmonization of device licensing reviews. By Health Canada recognizing the review process of the USA or Europe to achieve market authorization, costs would be lower to obtain Canadian authorizations, and therefore we would have faster time to market in Canada and less burdensome financial impact. Health Canada is strongly encouraged to identify a process where mutual recognition of other country authorizations would become a reality, with positive outcomes for suppliers and Canadians, and no compromises to patient quality or safety.
Now, more than ever, capital and people are global and move to jurisdictions where they welcome industry and where their investment can demonstrate return on investment. Canada has a positive track record to date, but as other nations move quickly, the Canadian system has to be dynamic in its response. This means active attention to our tax structure and our regulatory structure to ensure business can be successful in Canada. On tax, MEDEC is supportive of the extensive research and development support structure (SR&ED), which should continue to be leveraged.