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Health care
CBC News Online | Updated April 27, 2005

[Note: On April 26, the Liberals and New Democrats reached an agreement-in-principle that the Liberal minority government will make changes to its 2005 budget in exchange for NDP support. The changes can be found here.]

Money allotted for health care.
$41B health-care deal confirmed

The main slice of money for health care allotted in Wednesday's budget comes as no surprise.

Finance Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed the commitments made in the 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care, the $41.3-billion deal signed in September with Canada's premiers and territorial leaders.

For the 2005-06 budget year, that means $2.5 billion will be added to the Canada Health Transfer, bringing the base to $19 billion. For the following eight years, the base will be increased annually by six per cent.

As part of that deal, the budget set aside $625 million this year to tackle wait times, which will be doled out to the provinces and territories to clear backlogs, hire more people, provide more training and improve ambulance services.

Outside the widely expected money outlined in the health agreement, the budget commits $805 million in additional funds over the next five years.

Of that, $75 million will be used to help internationally qualified medical professionals start working in Canada. The money will increase the ability to assess and integrate foreign-trained doctors.

In the wake of drug safety concerns, including the withdrawal of the popular arthritis medication Vioxx in the fall, the federal government has assigned $170 million over five years to improve Health Canada's ability to deal with those concerns.

The money will be used to improve Health Canada's ability to monitor and respond to reports of adverse events caused by drugs and medical devices. It will also be used to give Health Canada more teeth when it comes to ensuring pharmaceutical companies are providing all relevant safety information.

The federal government has also targeted $300 million to bolster its health promotion strategies. The money will go to the Strategy for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease. It will see the base funding for the Public Health Agency of Canada rise by $3 million, to $18 million annually.

Canadians taking care of family members also get something from this budget. Effective immediately, the maximum amount of medical and disability-related expenses a caregiver can claim goes up to $10,000 from $5,000. This measure should save Canadians $15 million in 2005-06, according to budget documents.

Other health measures:
  • $34 million over five years for the development and testing of a "prototype vaccine for an influenza pandemic."

  • $90 million over five years for health-risk assessments of toxic substances.

  • $110 million over five years for the Canadian Institute for Health Information, to help monitor the performance of Canada's health-care system.


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