By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
Manitoba has become the sixth province to sign on to a new health-care funding proposal with the federal government.
Following Ontario and the Atlantic provinces, the Manitoba government signed Friday an agreement in principle that would see increased funding and a commitment to target specific areas and share data under a bilateral agreement, the details of which must still be worked out.
“We are going to enter into negotiations with respect to our own bilateral agreement. But we agree today in the principle, in the parameters that the federal government has put forward,” Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson said.
The deal will see more than $6.7 billion in extra federal money put into Manitoba’s health-care system over 10 years, most of which will be through increased annual health-care transfer payments. About $1.2 billion is for the bilateral agreement focusing on shared health-care priority areas, which are to be determined.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the specific priorities may be different for each province, such as setting a target for the percentage of people with a family doctor.
Provinces are required to come up with specific plans showing how they would spend the bilateral money and how they would prove to Canadians that their health-care systems are getting better, including ways to improve patient data systems.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a news release the agreement will “improve access to family health services and mental health services, reduce surgical backlogs and support health workers.”
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has said more provinces are expected to sign on next week.
A spokeswoman for Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s office said Smith met last week with Duclos and LeBlanc.
“The meeting was encouraging and, while there are still details to be worked out as part of this process, we see this as a positive place to begin and offer our support in principle for the proposal,” Rebecca Polak wrote in an email Friday.
The agreements in principle are a first step to completing the $196-billion, 10-year health-care funding proposal that Trudeau made on Feb. 7.