Provincial and territorial health ministers met on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, to discuss priority work they are leading to improve and transform Canada’s health-care systems for Canadians.
“Health ministers discussed important issues, including their respective provincial and territorial action plans on addressing health human resource shortages and sharing innovative practices in mental-health and substance-use services,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health and chair of the meeting. “My colleagues also talked about their government’s future priorities.”
Provinces and territories are responsible and accountable for the delivery of health care to their residents. The provinces and territories have identified their unique priorities and have already taken leadership on many issues, including addressing health-care workforce resource challenges, advancing digital health and health data management, and increasing access to integrated services for mental-health and substance-use disorders.
A predictable federal funding partner is required to financially support and accelerate the essential work. Provinces and territories are making investments that will need to be funded for many years to come. Health ministers need the federal government to commit to increasing the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).
The united position of Canada’s premiers seeks to increase the federal government’s share of provincial and territorial health-care costs to 35%, delivered through the CHT, and to maintain the CHT at that level. The CHT is the most efficient mechanism for federal funding support because it ensures provinces and territories have the means to address their own diverse system needs and priorities to deliver the tests, procedures and other health services Canadians throughout the country need, when they need them.
Although the Prime Minister has committed to discuss the issue with First Ministers, no date has been set for a First Ministers’ meeting and no discussions are underway, despite ongoing provincial and territorial efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue with the federal government about health funding.
Health ministers also recognized contributions made, and are continuing to make, by the health-care workforce to provide necessary health care to Canadians, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provincial and territorial health ministers discussed the significant health-human resource challenges being experienced throughout the country. They reviewed the work underway across jurisdictions to capitalize the training and recruitment of local health professions, and to better enable the recruitment and licensure of internationally educated health professionals as one important opportunity for progress. They also discussed immediate actions and solutions underway, such as enhancing and modifying scopes of practice, including strategies to retain the existing health workforce.
Provinces and territories are directing their plans to address health human resource challenges based on their own needs. In addition, the ministers recognized the importance of working on collective priorities to develop Canada’s capacity to train health professionals in order to meet health service demand over the coming decade. Health ministers agreed to continue to urgently build out training seat capacity throughout Canada. They also directed officials to work with their respective post-secondary institutions and professional health colleges to expedite the training of health professionals to better meet demand. An important component of this work is to ensure Indigenous Peoples have opportunities to enter the health workforce.
The significant action and provincial and territorial investment on mental-health, addictions and substance-use challenges were also highlighted through a dedicated portion of the agenda. Ministers discussed ways they could address common challenges as all jurisdictions work to enhance access to mental-health, addictions and substance-use services, including treatment and long-term recovery in a continuum of care. Health ministers agreed more work needs to be done to better support people.
At the meeting, the health ministers also highlighted the increasing importance of virtual care and licensure, especially in rural and remote communities, including across jurisdictions. The provinces and territories have discussed best practices on cybersecurity and the importance of the safe use of patient data.
Provincial and territorial ministers will attend tomorrow’s meeting with the federal ministers to discuss important issues, including pandemic response. They will also discuss how the federal government can provide provinces and territories with the flexibility they need to recruit health-care workers through immigration, while expediting federal processing of applications to help meet growing labour market needs.
Provincial and territorial work will continue to improve care for Canadians. Ministers support the call of premiers for First Ministers’ to work towards a new and sustainable funding partnership Canadians expect and deserve.
The meeting concluded the Province of British Columbia’s term as chair of the health minister’s council and the Province of Prince Edward Island will assume leadership in the coming months. The ministers thanked B.C. for its leadership role and congratulated P.E.I. as incoming chair of the provincial and territorial health table.