Federal Health Minister Mark Holland will attend meetings with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Charlottetown starting Wednesday to discuss, among other things, increasing the health workforce.
Minister Holland points out that the priority is to attract new workers to the system and retain those already employed there. “We need to check our foreign diplomas and obtain pan-Canadian professional licenses,” he said during a news conference in British Columbia on Tuesday.
Ministers will also discuss improving health data integration between provinces, a condition of the health deal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed to his counterparts in February.
The meeting in Prince Edward Island comes a day after British Columbia signed its first bilateral funding agreement with Ottawa.
The Trudeau government has offered provinces and territories $196 billion over the next decade to improve access to health care. This funding includes increases in the federal health care transfer and individual agreements tailored to the specific needs of different jurisdictions.
In return, prime ministers must promise to improve data sharing and empirically measure their progress towards set goals.
All provinces and territories have agreed in principle to the health deal except Quebec, which refused to tell Ottawa how the money will be spent. Still, Minister Holland remained optimistic about the federal government’s ability to reach an agreement with the last recalcitrant province.
According to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the health crisis that prompted the government to propose new health deals in February has worsened in some regions of the country, although there are areas for improvement. The president of the AMC, DD Kathleen Ross plans to host a reception for ministers to discuss how to solve the health workforce problem.
Meanwhile, as part of the Supply and Confidence Agreement with the New Democratic Party (NDP), the federal government is working on two major programs that could impact health care in the provinces.
Minister Holland has promised to present a draft pharmacare bill before the end of the year that will pave the way for a national pharmacare plan, likely to be managed by the provinces. Such a regime has existed in Quebec for many years.
The government will also unveil plans this fall for dental insurance that will eventually provide coverage to low- and middle-income families who do not have private insurance. Ottawa has not yet clarified how this plan will integrate with existing provincial dental plans for low-income people.
Health ministers are expected to hold a news conference at the end of their two-day meeting in Charlottetown.
To watch in the video
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