Discussions of quality assurance mechanisms for health professions are increasing in Canada. In their roles of protecting the public from incompetent or unsafe health care, and enhancing the quality of care provided by practitioners, provincial licensing organizations are taking an interest in quality assurance programmes. The paper reports the results from a national survey of five self-regulating health professions (dentistry, medicine, nursing, optometry and pharmacy) in Canada. The study found two types of activities in place--a complaints programme and a routine audit programme. Both programmes use a similar approach to identifying poor performers within a health profession. The paper discusses the results of the study, the advantages and disadvantages of the approach used, and suggests a second approach to quality assurance which could be used in conjunction with current activities.
Using the example of a large coalition of senior citizens in Ontario, Canada, the potential of consumer input to contribute to policy development and some key barriers to fulfilling that potential are explored. The political appeal of consumer involvement in policy development is highlighted, as is the potential for opposition from providers. The critical issue of finding sustainable funding to support consumer activities is also identified, along with the worrying trend of diminishing government support for such involvement in Canada.