SASKATOON, SK, July 11, 2019 – Premiers are committed to ensuring that all Canadians receive high-quality health services while keeping the healthcare system sustainable, in the future. Mental health continues to be an area of focus for all provinces and territories, as all Canadians are affected by mental health issues.
Premiers are committed to improving the quality and sustainability of Canada’s healthcare systems. New technology, advances in treatment and an aging population are putting continued pressure on healthcare budgets, despite efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare spending. This means that provinces and territories, which are responsible for the delivery of healthcare services to Canadians, have less money to invest in operating rooms, medical equipment, the hiring of more healthcare professionals and the provision of supports to help keep Canadians in their own homes.
When Medicare was established in Canada, the federal government was a sustainable partner. Over the years, the share of federal funding has declined significantly. The federal government needs to return to a sustainable partnership so that Canadians can continue to access high-quality, timely healthcare services. Various fiscal analyses, including third party expert reports, such as that by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, clearly show that the federal government has the fiscal capacity to increase its healthcare funding and return to a more equitable partnership with provinces and territories. As a starting point, Premiers called on the federal government to increase funding by an annual escalator of 5.2% to the Canada Health Transfer, consistent with independent analysis by the Conference Board of Canada of budget pressures. The Conference Board of Canada also notes the Canada Health Transfer does not factor aging into its payments, and as such, federal transfers are not sufficient to support the additional care needs of Canada’s aging population.
Provinces and territories have implemented innovative service delivery options to ensure their residents have access to timely, quality services consistent with Canada’s universal healthcare systems. Premiers call on the federal government to respect provincial constitutional and territorial jurisdiction over health to ensure provinces and territories have the flexibility needed to deal with emerging issues while ensuring federal funding continues to flow. Premiers also acknowledge federal funding should be allocated to provinces and territories in a fair and transparent way, and be flexible in how the funding is used to meet the priorities of Canada’s diverse regions.
Premiers emphasized their commitment to providing access to affordable medicine to Canadians. Since 2010, provinces and territories have also been leaders in reducing the costs of prescription drugs through the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) and, as of April 1, 2019, the pCPA has saved $2.26 billion a year in combined jurisdictional savings. Given this record of accomplishment Premiers urge the federal government to work with provinces and territories regarding any changes to pharmaceutical policy, to build on work already done by provinces and territories to avoid duplication and to further build on the good work that already exists.