Canada’s health ministers are set to meet in British Columbia this week, four months after premiers from across the country gathered in Victoria to show a united front of frustration over what they called a “crumbling” health-care system.
All 13 provincial and territorial health ministers are expected to meet with their federal counterpart, Jean-Yves Duclos, today and tomorrow in Vancouver.
A media advisory from Health Canada says it’s the first time all of the health ministers from different levels of government have met in person since 2018.
The meeting comes after Canada’s premiers met in Victoria last July, where they asked Ottawa to boost the Canada Health Transfer, the money each jurisdiction gets for health care, to 35 per cent, up from what they said amounts to 22 per cent.
Prime Minister Trudeau responded by saying the federal government wants to make sure the billions of dollars transferred to the provinces and territories deliver “real, tangible results for Canadians,” with shorter wait times and better services.
The premiers have renewed their calls to boost the transfer with a Canada-wide awareness campaign launched last month to promote “the critical need for a new and sustainable health-care funding partnership with Ottawa.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has said the extra cash is needed as the province tackles nursing and doctor shortages, works to improve access to digital health care, and boosts mental health and substance-use services related to the toxic drug crisis.
The Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and HealthCareCAN, which represents various organizations and hospitals, also teamed up ahead of this week’s meetings to push the health ministers to work together on urgent solutions to staffing shortages, burnout and other ills plaguing the system.
The groups are jointly calling for measures including incentives to retain workers, such as increased mental health supports, as well as a Canada-wide strategy to gather data on the workforce to allow doctors to be licensed more easily wherever they’re most needed. They have also called for improved access to primary care and virtual visits.