June 28, 2018
(The Government of Saskatchewan is distributing this communique on behalf of the chair of the provincial/territorial health minister's meeting.)
WINNIPEG – Provincial and territorial health ministers held a successful meeting today in Winnipeg.
The meeting included productive discussions on several key issues, including mental health and addictions, the federal legalization of cannabis, pharmaceutical drug coverage, and the need for short and long-term federal funding to meet evolving health care challenges.
The demand for strong mental health and addictions treatment and care services continues to grow in jurisdictions across Canada. Much work is underway to address these issues by investing in coordinated and integrated care, and ministers shared information on mental health and addictions initiatives in their own communities.
Ministers discussed the importance of mental health and wellness and some of the challenges related to providing community-based services that are accessible and culturally appropriate, and agreed to further collaboration among provinces and territories in this important area.
The toxic drug supply and problematic substance use, including opioids, remains at crisis levels across the country. Discussions focused on the current and proposed efforts and opportunities provincial and territorial governments are undertaking to address this serious issue. Ministers agreed that more work is needed on a broad range of supports and services.
Discussions will continue with the federal health minister at the federal/provincial/territorial health ministers' meeting in Winnipeg on Friday, Jun. 29. Provinces and territories will emphasize the importance of longer-term supports and flexibility in announced emergency federal funding to address local and regional priorities, including significant challenges with crystal meth use in some jurisdictions.
As progress continues towards the federal legalization of cannabis in Canada, provincial and territorial health ministers discussed their public education and awareness efforts. Ministers reiterated their call on the federal government to immediately enhance public education and awareness efforts to support public health and safety and reduce potential negative outcomes of cannabis use.
The federal government should provide realistic and on-going funding for aligned public education and awareness campaigns, particularly regarding risks associated with drug-impaired driving and health consequences for youth.
Based on the success of agreements to jointly negotiate pharmaceutical prices, provinces and territories are pursuing pan-Canadian collaboration to purchase health equipment. Provincial and territorial ministers have advanced recommendations to premiers for consideration at their upcoming meeting that would support innovation, efficiencies and improved patient care.
Provinces and territories continue to work collaboratively to increase access and lower the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians. Ministers discussed ongoing opportunities for collective work on pharmaceuticals, and the federal announcement of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
Provincial and territorial ministers agreed that any potential pan-Canadian pharmacare program would need to improve patient access to drugs, and include adequate and secure long-term federal funding. Any scenarios will need to address parameters around the government's ability to pay and the full range of financial implications for jurisdictions. Provinces and territories must retain responsibility for the design and delivery of public drug coverage.
It is understood that Quebec will maintain its own program and will receive comparable compensation if the federal government puts a pan-Canadian program in place.
Ministers also received an update and discussed next steps regarding the work being done by the Expensive Drugs for Rare Diseases Working Group to improve the management of rare diseases drug therapies in Canada.
Ministers continue to support the underlying principles of the Canada Health Act, but have increased concerns with the continued decline in the federal share of overall health funding and the lack of collaboration in the application of the act. They also expressed concerns that the health needs of Canadians are not well served when provincial and territorial governments do not receive fair and sustainable funding through the Canada Health Transfer.
Ministers also received a presentation on northern, rural and remote health care.
Tomorrow, the provincial and territorial health ministers will meet with the federal health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. Provincial and territorial ministers will raise key priorities, including the need for appropriate long-term health funding arrangements, further support for cannabis public awareness and ongoing needs to address opioids and problematic substance use.
NOTE: Given the transition to a new government in Ontario, the province cannot officially endorse the communiqué.