Premiers’ Meeting


TORONTO, January 23, 2003 – Health care is the number one priority of Canadians. Health care is the number one priority of provinces and territories. First Ministers agree it is time for increased health care funding to become the number one priority for new federal spending.

Committed to Medicare
First Ministers remain committed to the vision of health care articulated at the First Ministers’ Meeting in Ottawa in 2000:

Canadians will have publicly funded health services that provide quality health care and that promote the health and well-being of Canadians in a cost-effective and fair manner

First Ministers are committed to the five principles of Medicare -- that health care be universal, accessible, comprehensive, portable and publicly administered.

First Ministers agree that strengthened commitments in support of stable funding and accountability are required to meet the health care needs of our citizens.

Sustainable Funding
First Ministers agree to the immediate restoration of the federal CHST funding to at least 18% of total health and social expenditures this fiscal year. First Ministers agree that this amount is approximately $5.4 billion in 2002/03, increasing by an additional $1.7 billion in 2003/04, well within the existing federal surplus.

First Ministers agree that to ensure greater accountability, a new Canada Health Transfer will be created within 12 months to replace the existing CHST. The CHT will be based upon the federal shares for health care funding that existed when the Canada Health and Social Transfer was created.

First Ministers agree to escalate this federal contribution by 1% per year of the CHST equivalent to achieve a 25% financial partnership by the end of the decade as recommended by a number of eminent Canadians.

First Ministers agree to the immediate removal of the equalization ceiling retroactive to 2000/01 and agree to complete the development of a strengthened and fairer equalization program formula by September 30th 2003. This will ensure reasonably comparable levels of services to Canadians at reasonably comparable levels of taxation.

First Ministers agree that providing health care to small populations scattered over vast geographic areas presents severe challenges to the limited financial resources of the three territorial governments.
First Ministers agree that a separate designated additional new Territorial health care fund should be established. This fund would be established as 0.5% per territory of the total new health funding and would be an addition to it.

First Ministers agree that additional funding must support the delivery of existing services and create meaningful change so that Canadians can have timely access to quality health services now and in the future.

Aboriginal Health Care
First Ministers agree that the federal government will immediately work with Aboriginal Canadians and provinces and territories to fulfill its responsibilities to Aboriginal peoples and that the federal government will provide a regular public report on its progress.

Priorities for Renewal
First Ministers agree to the following priority areas for new investments to ensure timely access and quality care. These investments will build on the reforms under way across the country.

  • Primary health care - enhancing first contact services close to home
  • Home and community care - providing appropriate care, including seniors' home care, and services at residential centres
  • Community mental health - improving services through an appropriate mix of community based and client-centred services
  • Medical diagnostic services - investing in health technologies
  • Health human resources - ensuring an appropriate supply and distribution of health human resources
  • Pharmaceuticals - ensuring access to appropriate, safe, high quality and cost effective prescription drugs
  • Shortening waiting times for specialized medical and hospital services including modernizing health facilities
  • Healthy living - focusing on prevention and wellness

Increasing Accountability to Canadians
First Ministers agree that Canadians are entitled to complete and timely information regarding health outcomes and the delivery of health services.

First Ministers agree to publish comparable indicators for measuring the health of Canadians. In September 2002, all jurisdictions issued the first of these reports. All jurisdictions will continue to report regularly to their citizens on the changes resulting from effective use of health care funding and health systems reform over the coming years.

Meeting Needs Across Canada
First Ministers agree that flexibility to direct increased funding amongst the priorities of this Accord is essential to meet the needs of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.


TORONTO, January 23, 2003 – Canada’s Premiers and Territorial Leaders concluded their meeting on health care today by releasing a proposed First Ministers’ Health Accord. The Accord reflects the fact that health care is the number one priority of Canadians.

The proposed Accord articulates their collective commitment to Medicare, proposes a sustainable funding arrangement, sets out priorities areas for renewal and identifies mechanisms for increasing accountability.

Premiers look forward to meeting with the Prime Minister in Ottawa on February 4th and 5th to address these very important issues