Patients before Paperwork

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Health care systems across Canada are facing many complex challenges. A chronic shortage of health professionals, an aging population, and capacity constraints all have put pressure on the health care system and the physicians who support it. Recent survey data shows this is also a priority for small business owners, with 60% wanting governments to place a high priority on addressing challenges in the health care system. Governments will need to consider a broad range of innovative solutions to ensure doctors are able to provide timely care to patients. 

Physician advocacy groups have consistently identified red tape as an obstacle that detracts from patient care and contributes to physician fatigue and burnout. “Red tape” in this context refers to unnecessary paperwork or administrative tasks and includes work that doesn’t require a physician’s clinical expertise - and could therefore be completed by someone else - and work that is wholly unnecessary and could be eliminated. Red tape negatively impacts patient care by limiting both the time physicians can spend caring for existing patients and the number of new patients that doctors can take on. Put simply, red tape makes it harder for doctors to do what they do best: care for their patients.

CFIB’s 2023 Patients Before Paperwork report  found Canadian physicians spend 18.5 million hours each year on unnecessary administrative work - the equivalent of 55.6 million patient visits. By setting a target to reduce physician red tape by 10%, governments across Canada could reduce physician fatigue and burnout, improve the quality of patient care, and save the equivalent of 5.5 million patient visits a year. While not a complete solution for all the problems in Canada’s healthcare systems, eliminating unnecessary administrative tasks for physicians is a clear and practical goal that all governments can achieve. 

Following the release of this report, CFIB issued its 2023 Red Tape Challenge  to all provinces and the federal government to take steps to measure and reduce the physician administrative burden. CFIB’s 2024 Patients Before Paperwork report provides a jurisdictional scan of the initiatives being taken across the country to reduce the paper burden on Canada’s doctors.

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