MONCTON , NB (December 8, 2006): Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health today urged the federal government to support continued enhancements to improve access to health care.
Ministers stated that significant progress has been made under the 2004 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care to improve access to care and reduce wait times. Federal funding to provinces and territories to enhance access is set to decline after the 2007/08 fiscal year. Ministers stated that federal funding dedicated to reducing wait times must be sufficient to ensure that momentum achieved to date in enhancing access to health care can be maintained.
Annual federal funding to provinces and territories under the Wait Times Reduction Fund is set at $1.2 billion per year for fiscal 2006/07 and 2007/08. This amount will decline to $600 million in 2008/09 and $250 million for all provinces and territories in 2009/10.
“Canadians want enhanced access to a broad range of health services, and we are striving to do this,” said New Brunswick Health Minister Michael Murphy, chair of the Provincial-Territorial Conference of Ministers of Health. “As the Ministers responsible for Canada’s health care systems, we believe we are moving in the right direction, but there is still more to be done. We need a commitment from the federal government to a meaningful partnership so that we can continue working to improve access to care. This will increase the public’s confidence that the health care they need will be available when they need it.”
Ministers urged the federal Minister to be an active partner with provinces and territories in moving forward with the National Pharmaceuticals Strategy, including the development and implementation of catastrophic drug coverage, to ensure that no Canadian suffers undue financial hardship in accessing needed drug therapies.
Attending ministers confirmed provincial-territorial participation in a proposed pan-Canadian conference on improving access to health care, and look forward to working with the federal Minister of Health to define the agenda and the objectives for this event.
Health Ministers discussed closing the gap between the health of Aboriginal people, both on and off-reserve, and non-Aboriginal Canadians. They also discussed the need for continued investments to support Canada Health Infoway electronic health record initiatives, a key tool to improving system-wide access to health services. They reviewed progress toward finalizing a memorandum of understanding among federal, provincial and territorial governments on pandemic preparedness and response, and the need to renew and enhance the National Immunization Strategy.
It is understood that, under the September 2004 agreement entitled “Asymmetrical Federalism that respects Québec’s jurisdiction”, Québec will apply its own plan for renewing Québec’s health system, including wait times and drug strategies, in accordance with the objectives, standards and criteria established by the relevant Québec authorities.
Communications New Brunswick