Ottawa, NL announce $256 million for health-care funding

A man wearing a suit stands at a podium.  A sign on the podium reads 'Improving Health Care for Canadians' and there are flags for Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador behind him.
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland was in Corner Brook Monday to announce funding to improve health-care services across Newfoundland and Labrador over the next three years. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador is the latest province to ink a bilateral agreement on health-care funding with the federal government, announcing a three-year, $256 million agreement on Monday.

The provincial government says it plans to use the money across the health-care systems to expand access to family health services by creating more family care teams, addressing surgical backlogs, recruiting more staff and expanding virtual care among other items.

“I think really good things are happening here in Newfoundland and Labrador in the health system,” said Canada’s Health Minister Mark Holland on Monday. “This is about accelerating that. This is about moving us forward, faster.”

Holland said the deals being struck with provinces are a good value, since improving health care from the outlet will save money in the long term.

“Because when you’re upstream and you’re investing in prevention and you’re doing what’s needed to make sure people get the care that they need, than that fundamentally is going to make a huge difference in cost as well.”

Standing inside the new Western Memorial Regional Hospital set to open in early June, Premier Andrew Furey said he was especially excited to see the money go toward recruitment, retention and education of health-care professionals.

The hospital has thus far been unable to recruit oncologists for the radiation therapy facility.

“The money is important and you can’t get anything done without it, but what is different is the aligned priorities [with the federal government],” Furey said.

“We have a plan, we have a strategy through Health Accord NL, and this money today helps us achieve it.”

The money will also help expand access to digital health-care records in the province, which Furey said is long overdue in the desire to move away from a paper-based system.

“As a provider, and as a user by the way, being able to see your health records as a patient in real time is incredibly important and transformative.”

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