Saturday, June 15, 2024

Healthcare Investment: Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador Sign $78 Million Agreement for Senior Care

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Recently, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour and Seniors, on behalf of the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, and the Honourable Tom Osborne, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Minister of Health and Community Services, announced a bilateral agreement for improving healthcare to invest $78 million over the next five years to help residents of Newfoundland and Labrador age with dignity. This funding builds on the close to $256 million bilateral agreement that was announced with the province in March of 2024.

Federal funding will support Newfoundland and Labrador’s five-year action plan to improve healthcare for seniors. The plan will improve home and community care systems by hiring additional clinical staff to increase access to care and support; utilizing technology for new service delivery models and implementing initiatives for timely access to home support and care needs, medications, and medical equipment based on clinically assessed needs; supporting individuals living with dementia through new community-based supportive care options and more training courses; and increasing options for restorative and rehabilitative care in the community.

The plan will also enhance palliative and end-of-life care by supporting a new 10-bed community hospice in Grand Falls-Windsor, improving access to supports and services for individuals at end-of-life living at home, and improving palliative and end-of-life care through more training and education opportunities for care providers. To strengthen the workforce, the plan will establish a geriatric medicine fellowship at Memorial University, fund wage increases for more than 1500 personal support workers (PSW) employed in personal care homes, bolster recruitment and retention initiatives for those providing care, and support training to improve health care outcomes and promote independence and well-being.

Healthcare Quality and Access: Enhancing Long-Term Care and Indigenous Health in Newfoundland

The plan will enhance the quality of care and quality of life through improved long-term care standards by ensuring long-term care home standards align with national standards, improving quality of life and quality of care as well as staff work-life balance, and implementing a person-centered care approach through social and recreational programming, access to behavior management specialists, and advanced dementia care education. Progress on these initiatives and broader commitments will be measured against targets that Newfoundlandthat and Labrador will publicly report on annually.

Through this new agreement and the Working Together agreement signed in March 2024, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will work with the Government of Canada to 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 health care based on need, not the ability to pay.

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


Enhancing Healthcare Services for Seniors and Underserved Populations in Newfoundland

Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government will continue working together to improve health services and deliver results for seniors across the province, including responding to the needs of rural, remote, 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.

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. Newfoundland and Labrador’s five-year Aging with Dignity Agreement and Action Plan can be found online.

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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 tailored bilateral agreements to address the unique needs of their populations and geography in four shared health priorities: expanding access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas; supporting health workers and reducing backlogs; increasing mental health and substance use support; and modernizing health care systems with health data and digital tools.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s three-year Working Together Agreement and Action Plan, announced in March 2024, is associated with the above-shared health priorities and can be found online.

$19.5 Billion Healthcare Investment to Enhance Services for Seniors and Rural Communities

The Working Together investment includes a guaranteed 5 per centpercent Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase for the next five years—estimated to amount 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 addictions 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 addictions are included in the new Working Together bilateral agreements.

Newfoundland and Labrador, with the support of this significant federal investment, will be able to address the growing needs of its aging population, ensuring that seniors receive the quality care they deserve in a dignified manner. The collaboration between the federal and provincial governments marks a vital step toward a more inclusive and comprehensive healthcare system for all Canadians, particularly for those in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities.


Resource: Health Canada, May 21, 2024

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