Resolutions and solutions: Health-care experts set goals for 2024

2023 was another challenging year in Canadian health care. The system continues to contend with overwhelm and there’s been no shortage of crises in emergency rooms, primary care offices and operating rooms.

But there’s also been much work done in search of solutions. There are a number of proposed plans – resolutions, if you will – laid out to deal with these crises across the provinces and territories.

Provinces have slowly begun to sign on to Ottawa’s $196 billion, 10-year health-care solutions proposal.

Provinces have also resolved to tackle general health-care staff shortages and increased demand. B.C. plans to restructure funding models in long-term care; Ontario is slated to invest $1.18 billion this year to continue funding 3,500 hospital beds across the province, including $7,738,000 for 34 beds in Thunder Bay. Many experts have also championed the value of team-based care as a means to address the primary care physician shortage.

But not all New Year’s resolutions are without contention. Some provinces, like Alberta, have proclaimed a bold set of goals in the form of radically dismantling its current patient-care model, a restructuring that has been criticized for setting the foundation for increased privatization of health services.

Generally speaking, the efficacy of New Year’s resolutions isn’t great.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to set goals for the year ahead.

In a time of upheaval and undoubtedly significant professional strain, we wanted to know what health-care experts themselves had on their New Year’s resolution lists.

Katharine Smart

pediatrician and former president of the Canadian Medical Association

My New Year’s resolution is to continue to focus on my own health so I can show up as the best version of myself for my children, friends, family, colleagues and patients. For me that means hitting my Peloton regularly, mindfulness, gratitude practice, working on my sleep and improving my nutrition. Staying connected with the people who matter to me and finding joy in the small things every day. I am grateful for a career I truly love and want to stay as healthy as I can so I can continue to show up for the people who count on me.

Muhammad Mamdani

vice president of Data Science and Advanced Analytics at Unity Health Toronto

I usually don’t make any New Year’s resolutions so this one is easy! It’s always good to spend some time and reflect on the past year – what went well and what didn’t both professionally and personally – and think about how to adapt to make this coming year better than the last.

Naheed Dosani

palliative care physician and assistant professor at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

I’ve always felt strongly about this issue. Politically, we’re living in a time when there’s been a lot of lip service paid to pharmacare. We’ve seen the reports, we have robust evidence about how it will help Canadians and can even save our economy a lot of money in the long run. 2024 is here and now is the time for action. I’m very hopeful for this kind of change this coming year.

Andrew Longhurst

health policy researcher and PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University

My New Year’s resolution is to continue to advocate through research and policy analysis for two main things. First, the use of evidence to reduce COVID-19 burden on health systems and population health. Second, to address the problems associated with profit-driven health care and the evidence-based policy solutions to improve health-care access for Canadians.

Anthony Fong

emergency physician and clinical assistant professor at UBC’s Department of Emergency Medicine

My New Year’s resolution is to work on my mentorship and leadership skills. Right now, I’m supporting medical students in a project where they will facilitate an emergency medical team to develop disaster preparedness skills. Whether it’s through teaching, volunteering or doing research, I want to be a health-care leader who supports others to be their best selves so that they’re empowered to do great work.

My second resolution is to learn how to say “no” more often. Over the years, juggling family, friends, clinical work, research and my various volunteer positions has stretched me to the max. With a baby due in the new year, 2024 will be a good opportunity to “spring clean” my schedule and prioritize the most fulfilling aspects of my work.

Vivian Stamatopoulos

professor and long-term care researcher and advocate

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions given the empirical link between future intentions and action is tenuous at best. Still, I do believe in daily and sustained efforts to address whatever you wish to address. For myself right now, one such effort involves modifying my time and involvement with social media and moving more of my advocacy offline, despite being aware it was social media that provided me with a platform to share my knowledge and advocate for the families that reached out to me for help. Sadly, and related to my previous Holiday Wish for Healthcare, recent ownership, and profit-sharing changes to the social media site that I primarily used for my advocacy have facilitated an environment where nuanced debate and fact-finding have seemingly given way to hate speech and misinformation “superspreader” engagement, just more evidence of the harm that can be ushered in with the profit motive.

Miranda So

PharmD MPH, pharmacist and Antimicrobial Stewardship Program lead at University Health Network, SH-UHN ASP

I am not big on New Year’s resolutions. However, I do appreciate goal-setting. For 2024, I shall endeavour to read more books. I have always enjoyed reading, but modern life – hijacked by the habitual use of smartphones and constant stimulation from social media – has drastically shortened my attention span. I will set aside time to read and concentrate without interruptions. My reading list:

Spike: The Virus vs. The People – the Inside Story, by Sir Jeremy Farrar with Anjana Ahuja. Dr. Jeremy Farrar was the Director of the Wellcome Trust from 2013 to 2023, an infectious diseases epidemiologist, and one of Britain’s COVID-19 response advisors. As of 2023, Farrar was appointed to be the WHO’s Chief Scientist. In this book, he provided insight into the early investigations and pandemic response. As someone who gained her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Epidemiology during the pandemic, I find the book to be quite gripping (the first few chapters read like a movie!) and educational.

Invisible Women: Data Bias In A World Designed For Men, by Caroline Criado Perez. As a pharmacist, I am well aware that women are under-represented in clinical trials, resulting in a paucity of data informing us on the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics properties and optimal dosing in potentially half of the population. As a result, problems that disproportionately affect women’s responses to treatment may only become apparent in the post-marketing phase, and only if they are reported. I believe this book is vital reading for clinicians and researchers alike. To address gender inequalities, tackling gender bias in data is a crucial first step.

The Art of Explanation: How to Communicate with Clarity and Confidence, by Ros Atkins. He is a journalist-presenter at the British Broadcasting Corporation. During the pandemic, he became known for his tightly packaged, informative and most of all, articulate “explainer videos” that tell you “the what, the why/how, and the ‘now what?’” about a newsworthy subject in a masterful way. This book is a step-by-step manual packed with his own lessons-learned, written in a warm and light-hearted manner. I am hoping it will help me improve my communication skills, especially when it comes to communicating clinical knowledge.

Stefan Baral

population health and family physician providing clinical care in homeless shelters in Toronto

My own personal New Year’s resolution is to be a better advocate for improved access within our health-care system. I would like to see improved continuity of care and the removal of barriers that many folks experience in accessing quality care; in particular for those experiencing homelessness, substance use issues and those who are not documented.

Sasha High

MD FRCPC ABOM, weight loss coach and obesity physician

I’ve committed to running my first full marathon (42 kilometres) in 2024 as a celebration of turning 40. My resolution is continuing on my training plan (including sleep, nutrition, cross-training, mobility) to ensure that I meet my pace target and finishing time.

Amit Arya

medical director, Kensington Gardens specialist palliative care in long-term care outreach team

Working together with my amazing team, I resolve to continue to enhance the quality of life for residents in long-term care homes through front-line clinical care, education, research and leadership. I will actively seek ways to improve communication with long-term care residents and their caregivers, ensuring their values and preferences are at the forefront of decision-making. Additionally, I commit to providing ongoing educational support for the incredibly hard working, dedicated and compassionate front-line health workers in long-term care. By continuing to advocate to governments and policymakers, I hope to continue to make a positive impact on our long-term care system in the coming year.

The comments section is closed.


Maddi Dellplain

Digital Editor and Staff Writer

Maddi Dellplain is a national award-nominated journalist specializing in health reporting. Maddi works across multiple mediums with an emphasis on long-form features and audio-based storytelling. Her work has appeared in The Tyee, Megaphone Magazine, J-Source and more.
Republish this article

Republish this article on your website under the creative commons licence.

Learn more