The federal government will invest more in health care, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it also needs to ensure that Canadians see the results of an improved system.
Trudeau made his comments in Montreal today ahead of two days of meetings in Vancouver by Canada’s federal, territorial and provincial health ministers.
The prime minister says the government has committed to investing “significantly more” in health care, while pointing to a recent statement from the head of the Canadian Medical Association that there’s no point in putting more money into a broken system.
He says the government wants to ensure people have access to a family doctor and to mental health services, and that they know emergency rooms are open when their children need them.
The meetings in Vancouver are the first time all of Canada’s health ministers have gathered in person since 2018.
The premiers met in July, when they asked the federal government to increase health transfers to 35 per cent, up from what they said was 22 per cent funding.
Trudeau says delivery of health care needs to be improved for Canadians.
“So yes, we will be there with more money, but we need to make sure that more investments in health care end up supporting the folks on the front lines, the nurses and doctors delivering that health care to Canadians, and ensure that Canadians feel the results in our health-care system.”
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 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.