Ottawa improving health care staffing in province, territory

New agreements for health workers will 'reduce wait times,' says Trudeau

Ottawa improving health care staffing in province, territory

The federal government has signed more bilateral agreements to improve health care staffing in a Canadian province and a territory.

Ottawa is providing more than $633 million in funding to improve health care in Manitoba. 

“Canadians value universal public health care. That’s why we’re signing agreements with provinces and territories to make health care work better for Canadians,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Today’s agreements with Manitoba will help hire more health workers, reduce wait times, support seniors and make sure Canadians get the care they need, when they need it.”

The federal government is providing up to $434 million through the Working Together agreement to support Manitoba’s three-year action plan to improve health care. Meanwhile, approximately $199 million will go through the Aging with Dignity agreement to support their five-year action plan to improve home, community and long-term care for seniors.

Previously, the federal and Ontario governments recently signed a $3.1-billion, 10-year agreement for major enhancements to the health care system in the province.

More doctors, nurses, paramedics in Manitoba

With the funding from Ottawa through the Working Together agreement, Manitoba will hire 400 more doctors, 300 more nurses, 200 paramedics and 100 home care workers.

This will help to add more acute and medicine beds to Manitoba’s health-care system, ease the pressure on crowded emergency rooms and expand primary care options to families, according to the Manitoba government.

Ottawa and Manitoba are also removing barriers to foreign credential recognition, simplifying licensing processes and increasing program access to educated and skilled health professionals.

Manitoba will hire more psychologists to help reduce wait times for counselling and double hospital spaces for those experiencing homelessness and needing comprehensive health care and treatment.

Improving safety standards in long-term care

Through the funding through the Aging with Dignity agreement, Manitoba will increase safety and standards and hire more long-term care workers to ensure clean, quality and personalized care. Manitoba will also create a seniors advocate to act as an independent, strong voice for seniors and their families.

Ottawa and Manitoba will also work together with Indigenous Peoples to address gaps and systemic inequities in Indigenous health-care services and improve access to culturally safe care.

“Fixing the health-care staffing shortage is job number one for our government – that means more support for the bedside instead of the bureaucracy,” Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew said. “We will work with the Government of Canada to hire more doctors and more nurses into our system, so we can start to cut wait times and deliver the best care possible for Manitobans.”

Ottawa’s investment in Northwest Territories

The federal government is also investing $36 million in total to improve health care access and services in the Northwest Territories.

Through the Working Together Agreement, Ottawa will first provide more than $24 million to support the Northwest Territories' three-year action plan to deliver improvements to its health care system.

The plan will: 

  • Support recruitment, retention and training initiatives for health workers.
  • Increase coordination and access to primary care across the regions.
  • Expand the delivery of addiction services and specialized care.
  • Enhance culturally appropriate mental wellness and suicide prevention programming, including crisis response.

Previously, Saskatchewan and Manitoba made moves to ensure that they attract and retain doctors into their fold.

Through the Aging with Dignity agreement, the federal government is delivering more than $12 million to support the Northwest Territories' five-year action plan to age with dignity close to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility.

The plan will:

  • Improve data-driven, personalized care for Continuing Care clients.
  • Support the hiring of an Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Coordinator.
  • Provide enhanced training and practices for infection prevention, including for preventing the spread of diseases in both home and facility settings, reducing risks to staff safety and improving service delivery and availability.
  • Make possible annual visits and compliance audits of cleaning practices in the nine government funded LTC facilities throughout the Northwest Territories.
  • Establish a Territorial Housekeeping Specialist, to develop and implement best housekeeping policies and standardized training in long-term care facilities.
  • Ensure more residents have access to 3.6 hours of direct care per day, and increase the nurse staffing ratio to respond to the growing complexity of LTC residents.

"Today's announcement marks a significant investment in the health and well-being of NWT residents and communities,” said Lesa Semmler, Northwest Territories minister of health and social services.

“With the Work Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians and Aging with Dignity agreements, we are reinforcing our dedication to sustainable, culturally respectful, and impactful health initiatives. These agreements will enable us to build upon existing efforts and address critical health care needs across our territory, helping to ensure that every resident receives the care they need, when they need it."

The Working Together investment includes $25 billion for tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, a guaranteed 5% Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase for the next five years – estimated to amount to $17.2 billion – and a one time CHT $2 billion top-up to address to urgent needs of emergency rooms and paediatric hospitals delivered in June 2023.

Budget 2023 outlined the federal government’s plan to invest over $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.

As part of the Working Together bilateral agreements, provinces and territories are developing action plans to improve Canada's health care system. 

Healthcare workers’ primary reasons for quitting are poor wages and unsafe working conditions (70%), according to a previous SEIU Healthcare study.

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