REGINA - The province and federal governments has announced they reached an agreement-in-principle with the federal government on healthcare funding.
The Saskatchewan government confirmed the agreement on Wednesday morning, with Minister of Health Paul Merriman set to speak to reporters in Saskatoon about it this afternoon.
According to the province, the agreement with the federal government provides Saskatchewan with a one-time $61 million investment and adds $111 million annually to the $6.4 billion provincial healthcare budget under bilateral agreements. The funding is to go towards accelerating or enhance new measures underway to improve access to primary healthcare, surgeries and mental health and addiction services.
The federal government announced details in a news release, noting that by reaching an agreement in principle, "Canada and Saskatchewan are committing to the plan laid out on Feb. 7, 2023, which includes shared commitments to collect, use and share depersonalized health information and to inform Canadians of their progress with key common headline indicators."
According to the feds' announcement, the agreement in principle is for a shared plan to invest $5.94 billion in federal funding over 10 years in Saskatchewan, including $1.11 billion for a new bilateral agreement focusing on the shared health care priorities and $61 million through an immediate, one-time Canada Health Transfer top-up to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.
According to the feds' news release, Saskatchewan residents will see improvements in health care that includes access to high-quality family health services when they need them including in rural and remote and underserved communities; a resilient and supported health workforce providing high-quality, effective, and safe health care services; access to timely, equitable, and quality mental health, substance use and addictions services; and access to their own electronic health information shared between the health professionals they consult.
The federal government also states helping Canadians "age with dignity, closer to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility is another shared health priority where collaborative work is already underway."
“Today’s agreement in principle with Saskatchewan is an opportunity to continue our collaboration and improve the experience of health workers and those they care for," said Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Minister of Health, in a statement. "It will modernize our health care system, improve access to family health services and mental health services, reduce surgical backlogs and support health workers. Better quality of care means helping residents of Saskatchewan and Canadians live longer, healthier lives.”
“Today’s agreement in principle with Saskatchewan builds on our shared objective of ensuring all Canadians, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay, can access the care they need, when they need it," said Hon. Dominic LeBlanc,
federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities. "Our government will continue to work with our partners across the country to build a better health care system.”
“Mental health is health, and through this agreement in principle, we will be working with Saskatchewan to integrate mental health and substance use care as a full and equal part of our universal health care system," said Hon. Carolyn Bennett
federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health, in a statement. "This agreement will help to provide greater access to mental health services, reduce substance use harms, and lower stigma. Together, we must ensure that all Canadians have access to supports and services for their mental health and well-being – when they need them, wherever they need them.”
"Saskatchewan is making significant investments to build a stronger, more resilient health care system that works for everyone in our province," said Hon. Paul Merriman, Sask. Minister of Health, in a statement. "This agreement in principle with the federal government is a positive step that will accelerate and enhance work already underway. Saskatchewan continues to make record investments into the health care system to address key priorities such as reducing surgical backlogs and wait times, and expanding access to mental health services."