Feds and Provinces Agree to Funding Formula; Now the Hard Work of Saving Our Health-Care System Begins

Health Care

Canada’s premiers announced on Monday that they will accept the federal government’s proposal to increase health care funding by billions of dollars. Photo: Hispanolistic/Getty Images

Canada’s premiers have announced that they will accept the federal government’s proposal to increase health-care funding by billions of dollars.

The agreement, which was nearly three years in the making and was only agreed to on Monday, will see the federal government increase payments to the Canada Health Transfer as well as provide an extra $46 billion in new funding.

These new dollars will go toward fixing the gaping holes that have been exposed in Canada’s health-care system since the pandemic: emergency room closures, doctor and nurse shortages and long waiting lists for diagnostics and treatment.

As expected, the new funding will come with strings attached. The provinces and territories must dedicate the new money toward family health services, health workers and backlogs, mental health and substance use, and modernizing the health system. It also stipulates that they must commit to sharing data with the federal government to help in health planning and in case of a public emergency.

The premiers, who had been waiting for two years to get Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to increase the yearly Canada Health Transfer amount, were taken aback by his take-it-or-leave-it offer. Although the premiers agreed that it was a “step in the right direction,” they did not feel it was enough to restore the system to its pre-pandemic levels.

“This is not long-term, sustainable funding that will address the health care challenges that we have across our country,” said Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who chairs the Council of the Federation, which brings together Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders.

The federal offer will see health-care spending increase by $196 billion over the next 10 years — the premiers wanted $300 billion over that period.

But last week Trudeau served notice to the first ministers that he was not in a negotiating mood. “This is the billions of dollars that are there for provinces and we certainly look forward to working with them to be able to deliver not just that money, but those health-care improvements to citizens across the country.”

Bill VanGorder, chief operating officer at CARP (a partner of ZoomerMedia), said his group’s members are relieved that the federal-provincial bickering is over and that leaders can begin to daunting process of fixing our battered system.

He suggests that increasing the number of family doctors and nurses, reducing wait times, improving home care are the number one concerns for older Canadians.

“The provinces must move forward on improving health care immediately,” says VanGorder. He feels that effective improvements will only happen if the premiers adapt and listen. “Health-care providers understand systemic issues much better than politicians and bureaucrats.”


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