B.C. Premier Eby and federal ministers discuss bilateral health agreements
VICTORIA — The federal health minister says he expects British Columbia and Ottawa to soon reach a flexible one-on-one agreement that improves health services for people needing care and those who provide that service.
The negotiations come after Canada's premiers agreed this week to accept a federal offer that will add $46.2 billion in new health-care funding to provinces and territories over 10 years.
Ottawa intends to negotiate separate agreements with each of the jurisdictions to tailor the deal for provincial or territorial health-care needs.
Talks in Victoria Tuesday focused on reaching side agreements between the B.C. and federal governments on supports for families, front-line workers and those seeking mental health and addictions assistance, and modernizing the work environment for health professionals, Jean-Yves Duclos said.
"It's a great opportunity to be here together, but there's a lot more work to do," said Duclos after he and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc met with Eby.
"Well, there are four areas of priority where results will be achieved: family medicine, mental health, supporting workers and therefore reducing backlogs and a more modern environment in which workers can work," he said.
Eby said the bilateral discussions underway between B.C. and the federal government are about where the province will allocate funding, with relieving pressure on hospitals being a major part of the talks.
"We haven't predetermined any areas but we're broadly supportive of the bucket the federal government has set out around mental health and addictions, around home care, around long-term care," Eby said. "Things that will relieve pressure on our hospitals."
B.C. expects to receive an average of $600 million a year over the next decade for health funding from the federal government, he said.
Duclos said he expects the agreements will improve health services in B.C. and information gathered by the province will give evidence of the progress.
Under the federal government's offer, the provinces and territories will only get the funding if they agree to conditions, including upgrading data collection to show how the system is performing, along with annual reporting of specific indicators.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2023.
The Canadian Press