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Trudeau signs health-care agreements with Atlantic provinces

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signed health-care agreements with all four Atlantic provinces.

The prime minister made the announcement Thursday while speaking with students at Dalhousie University's Faculty of Health.

A roomful of students attended the meeting as part of a roundtable discussion.

The agreements for the Atlantic provinces focus on four shared health-care priorities that will help improve health care, including:

  • access to high-quality family health services when needed, including in rural and remote areas, and for underserved communities
  • a resilient, and supported, health workforce that provides high-quality, effective, and safe health care services
  • access to timely, equitable, and quality mental health, substance use and addictions services
  • patient access to their own electronic health information that is shared between the health professionals they consult

NOVA SCOTIA

Nova Scotia's agreement includes a shared plan in the amount of $4.81 billion in federal funding over 10 years, including $1 billion for a new bilateral agreement focusing on the shared health-care priorities and $52 million through the immediate, one-time CHT top-up to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.

"We are already working to transform Nova Scotia's health-care system so it better serves the people who rely on it," said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston in a news release Thursday.

"We're making investments in primary health care and better mental health and addictions supports. We're investing in technology so our health-care workers can spend their time with patients, not logging into outdated systems."

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Prince Edward Island's deal involves a shared plan that will invest $996 million over 10 years, including $288 million for a new bilateral agreement focusing on the shared health-care priorities, as well as $9 million through the immediate, one-time CHT top-up to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.

"Access to health care is critical no matter where in P.E.I. you live, and a strong, committed health workforce is the foundation of delivering health care for Islanders," said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

"These funding agreements will help us recruit and retain health professionals, invest in our province-wide network of health services, and support our health workers as they deliver care for Islanders."

NEW BRUNSWICK

New Brunswick's agreement involves a shared plan in the amount of $3.64 billion over 10 years, including $900 million for a bilateral agreement focusing on the shared health-care priorities and $42 million through the immediate, one-time CHT top-up to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.

"New Brunswick has been taking important action to address the challenges in the provincial health-care system. We're pleased to have an agreement and look forward to negotiating a deal that will help support efforts to improve health care for all Canadians," said New Brunswick Health Minister Bruce Fitch.

NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

The agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador has a shared plan amount of  $2.18 billion over 10 years, including $749 million for a new bilateral agreement focusing on the shared health-care priorities, and $27 million through the immediate, one-time CHT top-up to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.

"As a doctor, I see the challenges within our health-care system in Canada firsthand. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have a plan to improve the system, and it aligns with the shared priorities outlined by our federal government," said Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey.

"Increased federal funding is necessary to help us modernize our health care system and better deliver care, and I look forward to the progress we will make by continuing to work together."

TERMS OF FUNDING

Negotiations on the exact terms of the funding continue, including health-care goal posts that Trudeau says will be set by each province, which they will then be held accountable for.

"Are you going to have access to a family care physician? Are you going to get that mental health support that you need when you need it? Are we going to see reductions in backlog?" said Trudeau.

Nova Scotia's health minister says she's on board with providing better care to residents.

"We want to report, not just back to the federal government, but to Nova Scotians as well," said Health Minister Michelle Thompson. "About how we are making progress around our action for health and our health priorities."

Liam Grogan, a former high school teacher who attended Thursday's meeting at Dalhousie, asked Trudeau what would happen if provincial government's put forward what the prime minister referred to as "un-Canadian" shifts to health care, such as rapid privatization.

"He talked about clawing back health-care funding, as well as just withholding funds should they not meet those targets that they had mentioned," said Grogan, referencing Trudeau's response to his question.

"As somebody that’s lived all over Canada -- I’ve lived in the prairies, B.C., Ontario, now in the Maritimes -- I think universal health care is something we really pride ourselves in as Canadians and I think it’s important that we try to uphold that as much as possible."

On Feb. 7, Canada's prime minister presented his government's proposal for increasing health-care funding to provinces and territories, which the country's premiers have accepted.

The federal government proposed a 10-year, $196-billion health spending plan, which adds $46.2 billion in new money to health care across Canada.

Trudeau was also scheduled to visit Africville Thursday afternoon to mark Nova Scotia's African Heritage Month.

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