Saturday, June 22, 2024

Healthcare Boost: Canada and Alberta Sign $627 Million Agreement to Enhance Senior Care

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Recently, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, and the Honourable Adriana LaGrange, Alberta’s Minister of Health, announced a bilateral agreement for improve healthcare to invest $627 million over the next five years to help Albertans age with dignity. This funding builds on the over $1 billion bilateral agreement announced with the province in December 2023, as part of the Government’s Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan.

Federal funding will support Alberta’s five-year action plan to improve healthcare for seniors. The plan will support home, community, and palliative care services, and improve home care services for all Albertans, particularly those in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, and those with complex care needs, to reduce pressures on hospitals and emergency rooms. It will increase palliative and end-of-life care spaces and services, including coordination of care, psychosocial supports, complex symptom assessment and management, and end-of-life planning.

The plan will also expand caregiver support, improve support for caregivers through increased access to respite services and expanded community day programs, and expand the reach of caregiver support in rural Alberta. Tailored resources and programs will be offered to those who care for individuals with dementia and complex needs to support caregiver wellness.

Alberta’s Plan for Workforce Training, Quality Improvement, and Technological Upgrades

To strengthen the continuing care workforce, the plan includes increased training and mental health support for continuing care staff, including psychosocial support, peer support programming, and trauma-informed care training. It also aims to increase recruitment and retention in difficult-to-recruit continuing care sites, programs, and positions in rural and remote areas. The plan will enhance compliance and improve the quality of continuing care by supporting quality of life and care best practices, including a trauma-informed and culturally safe approach to care.

It will retrofit equipment and technology in continuing care homes to support client and resident care needs and accessibility to meaningful activities and improve compliance and monitoring of continuing care homes to deliver high-quality and safe continuing care services. Progress on these initiatives and broader commitments will be measured against targets that Alberta will publicly report on annually.

Through this new agreement and the Working Together agreement signed in December 2023, Alberta will improve how health information is collected, shared, used, and reported to Canadians. They will streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals, facilitate the mobility of key health professionals within Canada, and fulfill shared responsibilities to uphold the Canada Health Act to protect Canadians’ access to healthcare that is based on need, not the ability to pay.


Canada and Alberta Commit to Culturally Appropriate Healthcare for Indigenous Communities

Recognizing the significant disparities in Indigenous health outcomes, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta also commit to meaningfully engaging and working together with Indigenous partners to support improved access to quality and culturally appropriate healthcare services. Alberta’s action plan is informed by continued engagement with its Indigenous partners. All orders of government will approach health decisions in their respective jurisdictions through a lens that promotes respect and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Alberta and the federal government will continue working together to improve access to health services and deliver results for seniors across the province, including responding to the needs of Indigenous and other underserved and disadvantaged populations. Under the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan, the Government is working with provinces and territories to implement two series of bilateral agreements, one of which is focused on helping Canadians age with dignity, closer to home with access to home or community care or care in a safe long-term care facility.

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The Aging with Dignity agreement, which complements the Working Together agreement, includes $2.4 billion ($600 million per year for fiscal years 2023-24 to 2026-27) over four years to improve access to home and community care from Budget 2017; and $3 billion ($600 million per year for fiscal years 2023-24 to 2027-28) over five years for long-term care from Budget 2021 to apply standards of care in long-term care facilities and help support workforce stability. Alberta has a 5-year Aging with Dignity Agreement and Action Plan posted online.

Nearly $200 Billion Investment to Enhance Healthcare and Address Unique Provincial Needs

Budget 2023 outlined the Government of Canada’s plan to invest close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories, to improve health care for Canadians. Within this funding, $25 billion is allocated through new tailored bilateral agreements to address the unique needs of their populations and geography in four shared health priorities: expanding access to family healthcare services, including in rural and remote areas; supporting healthcare workers and reducing backlogs; increasing mental health and substance use support; and modernizing healthcare systems with health data and digital tools. Alberta’s three-year Working Together Agreement and Action Plan, announced in December 2023, is associated with the above shared health priorities.

The Working Together plan is also a guaranteed 5% Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase for the next five years—amounting to $17.5 billion—and a one-time CHT $2 billion top-up to address the urgent needs of emergency rooms and pediatric hospitals delivered in June 2023. Combined, these investments provide provinces and territories the flexibility to address the unique needs of their populations and geography and accelerate healthcare system improvements.

Budget 2017 committed $11 billion over 10 years in federal funding to provinces and territories to improve access to home and community care, and mental health and addiction services for Canadians. Bilateral agreements were signed with provinces and territories to access the first six years of that funding. The final four years of funding for mental health and addiction services are included in the Working Together bilateral agreements.


Resource: Health Canada, May 23, 2024

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