Territories agree to health funding deal with federal government

Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories have signed bilateral deals with the federal government on health-care transfers.

Nunavut, Yukon and N.W.T. join 3 of 4 Atlantic provinces in signing bilateral deals with Ottawa

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Health Minister Jane Philpott have struck bilateral deals with the territories for future health-care funding. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories have signed bilateral deals with the federal government on health-care transfers.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced the deals on Monday in a tweet, which was followed by a statement from Health Canada.

The deal means that the territories will together get an additional $36.1 million in new financial funding for mental health and home care over the next 10 years, beginning in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

The territories join the provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick, which all came to their own agreements with the federal government before Christmas.

Like the agreement with the three provinces, Monday's deals all follow the current structure of the Canada Health Transfer: base health transfers will increase by three per cent per year, or the rate of growth of nominal GDP, whichever is higher.

Improving mental health, home care

The Northwest Territories will get an additional $7.4 million for home care and $6.1 for mental health initiatives. 

Nunavut will get $6.1 million for home care and $5.1 million for mental health, while Yukon will get $6.2 million for home care and $5.2 for mental health over the same period.

In a statement the federal government said these investments are expected to improve "access to mental health services for children and youth" and that more patients would be cared for at home, rather than in hospitals, than current funding permits.

In the pre-Christmas deals, Newfoundland and Labrador got a total of $160 million in new funding over the next 10 years, with $87.7 million going to home care and $73 million going toward mental health initiatives.

Nova Scotia will receive $287.8 million, with $157 million for home care and $130.8 million for mental health services, while New Brunswick got a total of $230 million in new funding, $125.1 for home care and $104.3 for mental health. 

Tracking progress

The federal government said in a statement that it would develop performance indicators and a detailed plan on how these funds would be spent "over and above existing programs."

Health Minister Jane Philpott said she was pleased the territories had decided to sign on and that her department would continue to work with them to improve health-care delivery.

In December, the federal government offered the provinces an additional $11.5 billion in health funding for home care and mental health initiatives over the next decade. Morneau also said he would raise the annual Canada Health Transfer, which will be set at 3 per cent a year as of April 1, to 3.5 per cent over the next five years. 

When the provinces pushed back, asking for the health transfer to increase by 5.2 per cent, negotiations broke down and the talks in Ottawa ended without a deal.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant broke that deadlock by signing his own deal with Ottawa a few days later, becoming the first of six jurisdictions to strike a bilateral funding deal with the federal government.


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