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Alberta Becomes Third Province to Reach Health-Care Funding Agreement With Ottawa

Alberta has signed a $1.06-billion, three-year deal with the federal government to help fund improvements to the province’s health-care system.

It’s the third province to come to an agreement with Ottawa after British Columbia signed a similar one in October, and Prince Edward Island inked its deal on Dec. 19.

The bilateral deals are part of a $196-billion, 10-year national health accord Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered to premiers in February.

“We know the challenges that face our health-care system are profound,” federal Health Minister Mark Holland said on Dec. 21 at a news conference at the soon-to-be opened Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Calgary.

“Across the country, folks are having difficulty accessing a family health team, getting access, having a relationship with a doctor to make sure they get the health care they need. We have backlogs.”

Provinces and territories are expected to commit to massive upgrades to digital medical records, and the collection of health-care data, as well as being held to account for meeting targets and timelines.

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Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said the money is to support health and mental health priorities over the next three years.

“As is the case in every other province, we know the health-care system in Alberta is under strain and change is needed,” she said at the news conference.

“Our goal is to improve the delivery of health care for all Albertans and for our front-line workers who work hard every day to serve their patients.”

Ms. LaGrange said the province will increase access to primary care providers, such as doctors or nurse practitioners, improve wait times for urgent care, and provide more mental health and addiction services.

Quebec remains the only province that hasn’t agreed in principle to the accord, with Premier François Legault pushing back against conditions the federal government has put on the funding.

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