Over a ten-year period, the government of Canada has committed almost C$200 billion ($149 billion; £124 billion) to improve the country’s healthcare system.
In a Tuesday press release, the funding was framed as a long-term solution to the system’s problems.
Canadian hospitals have been struggling with staff shortages and long wait times for patients for months.
Since then, a few instances have surfaced of individuals dying while waiting for treatment.
The government of Canada guarantees all citizens and permanent residents free and unlimited access to medical care, including all hospitalizations and doctor’s appointments, for the duration of their lives.
It is jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments but managed at the state and municipal levels. Approximately one-quarter comes from the federal government, via the Canada Health Transfer.
Premiers from across Canada have frequently urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to increase government spending on healthcare, and he finally made the funding argument to them.
Mr. Trudeau, on the other hand, had previously stated that he would not boost financing without conditions.
After a meeting with the province’s leaders on Tuesday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that his administration is “taking action today so Canadians can continue to have trust in our public system.”
He remarked, “This is a large country, established on large progressive ideas.” As a nation, “the promise of universal, publicly funded healthcare is perhaps most important to who we are as Canadians.”
His plan calls for spending an additional $46.2 billion on healthcare over the next decade, bringing the total to $196.1 billion.
Over the next decade, the sum translates to an increase of almost 61% in the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces.
It falls short of the $28 billion annual increase that Canada’s provincial leaders had requested from Prime Minister Trudeau.
Heather Stefanson, the premier of Manitoba, expressed “disappointment” at the sum. Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario, referred to it as a “beginning point.”
The premiers have stated that they are now reviewing the offer.
Mr. Trudeau has called the funding his government has provided a “huge investment in healthcare,” but he has also acknowledged that this is not enough to revive the country’s ailing system.
He promised to work with each province individually to find solutions to their specific problems by negotiating bilateral agreements.
The federal government has also requested more accurate healthcare data from the provinces.
Why Emergency Rooms Across Canada Are Closing
Premiers want to meet with Trudeau to discuss the healthcare problem.
Canada’s healthcare system has been a source of national pride in the past, but it has struggled with increased demand ever since the Covid-19 outbreak.
A 67-year-old lady in Nova Scotia reportedly died after giving up hope of being seen by a doctor at the hospital’s emergency room after waiting for seven hours.
There has been a cumulative effect on patients because of the mounting delay in scheduled surgical and diagnostic treatments.
Canadian healthcare expenditures are over 10% of GDP, similar to those of the United Kingdom, but lower than those of the United States at over 16% due to the higher prices of medical services and pharmaceuticals there.
Some worldwide comparisons place its healthcare system above that of the United States but behind that of the United Kingdom and others.