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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

How Canada Performs: A National report card with international comparables.

Ask any classroom how many people like getting their report cards, and perhaps a few stellar students will sheepishly lift their hands.  Having our performance assessed is not a favourite pastime for most of us.

This shyness away from grading extends to government performance as well.  In a confederation, one of the strongest roles that a central government can play is in monitoring and reporting on the activities of its members (provinces).  However, in keeping with Canadian mentality, this is frowned upon, and even when the federal government moved to reporting provincial performance as a condition of the 2003 Canada Health Accord, this was vehemently rejected by the provinces. 

In fairness, collective performance is often influenced by so many factors outside of the control of the responsible organization – in this case the provinces.  

Tell that to Bay Street, where performance is monitored and measured essentially in real time. Corporate entities are continuously under scrutiny for delivery of their outcomes, and in a day and age where triple or quadruple bottom lines are measured, it is not limited to performance in fiscal deliverables.

Hence we now have CIHI reporting out on health authority performance (subprovincial level activity) May 2012 and that only occurred since MacLean’s magazine was printing the information in previous years.  Other agencies have taken up the call with Coalition for active health kids, Unicef, Lung association on influenza, and the Canadian Pediatric Society annual report card on children eg 2012 report.

So when last week the economic think tank called the Conference Board of Canada released their score card on health in Canada, while the provincial governments might shudder, the media coverage was extensive.   British Columbia’s government was lapping up the highest ranking, while those with poorer scores such as Manitoba and Newfoundland still felt obliged to respond  rather than discredit the methodology.  How Canada performs.      
Where we continue to fail is that the arms length bodies that are now holding us accountable for performance, have minimal ability to influence the decision process that could change the system.  

If we were to look south of the border, CDC seems to be able to much more readily report on state and county level health information, and ultimately influence resource and policy decisions.

The Conference Board of Canada report card may be a step in the right direction and notable that a predominately corporate entity is having such influence on improving social outcomes.   

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