Families Count 2024: new resource on family structure now available

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November 10, 2016

Family Physicians Working with Military Families

(Vancouver, BC, November 9, 2016) Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan joined representatives of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle today to release a new resource called for health professionals to enhance awareness of health care issues specific to military and Veteran families in Canada.

For 40,000 Regular Force military families and 14,000 Reserve Force families in Canada, access to health care is challenging due to frequent geographic relocations, long-term separations from their loved ones and work-related risks of physical and mental illness. Families of active military members do not receive medical care through the military and must access services through provincial and territorial health care systems. Combined, these issues make it difficult to secure a family physician and maintain routine health appointments, immunizations and preventive care. Access to specialists often requires longer wait times and difficulties getting to appointments that may be hours away from where military families are stationed.

Current statistics from Family Physicians Working with Military Families:

  • 44% of Canadian Armed Forces spouses find it extremely difficult to re-establish medical services after relocation (CAFFRT, 2016)
  • 25% of military spouses did not receive needed health care in the past year, mainly due to long wait times (Wang, Aitken & CAFFRT, 2016)
  • 24% of military spouses reported that they don’t have a family physician for themselves; 17% did not have a family physician for their children (compared to the Canadian average of 15.5%)
  • 1 in 6 military members report symptoms of at least one mental health disorder (Pearson, Zamorski & Janz, 2014)

“We depend on the women and men of our Canadian Armed Forces to defend and protect Canadians. It is important that they, and their families, are supported with the health care services needed for active, productive lives,” says Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan. “I applaud the commitment of the partners who have collaborated to produce the new resource being released today. Sharing their collective skills and expertise makes a real difference.”

“This unique partnership and the new resource are positive and important steps to building awareness and providing reliable information for family physicians about the unique health care requirements of military families,” says CFPC Executive Director and CEO Francine Lemire, MD CM, CCFP, FCFP, CAE. “Only then can we impose positive change. The CFPC is proud to participate in this partnership and help enhance access, resources and care for all.”

“It can be challenging for many Canadian families to find family physicians and other health care providers, especially in small and remote communities. Since military families move so frequently, they often face special challenges finding a family doctor when they relocate to a new community, or a new province,” says Colonel Dan Harris, Director, Military Family Services, and Co-Chair, Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle. “Military Family Services, as a member of the Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle, is happy to collaborate with the College of Family Physicians of Canada on this initiative to enhance military literacy among family physicians in Canada.”

“The true value of the Leadership Circle comes to the forefront when committed members work together to build awareness, capacity, competence and community by producing tangible resources such as this for caring community providers across Canada,” adds Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family and Co-Chair of the Canadian Military and Veteran Families Leadership Circle.

This resource was developed by a panel of experts drawn from civilian practice and the military and Veteran community, including the CFPC, Military Family Services, National Defence Health Services Group, Veterans Affairs Canada, Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research and the Vanier Institute of the Family.

Published November 9, 2016