CanadaPolitics

Feds, provinces reportedly close to health-care deal to expand funding

More help could be on the way for provinces who have been struggling to deal with overcrowding in hospitals and long wait times.

Ottawa is reportedly close to making a deal with provincial governments for expanded funding to help with the ailing system.

Government sources tell multiple media outlets the Trudeau government is now considering a hybrid solution that could involve more stable flow of ongoing funding through Canada health transfer payments. The deal would also include several bilateral agreements with provinces who are willing to expand funding for mental health and long-term care.

The reports of a potential agreement comes as public and political pressures is increasing over the state of healthcare across the country. Provinces have been dealing with overflowing emergency rooms, a lack of beds in children’s hospitals, and significant staffing issues.

Ontario and other provinces have accused the federal government of being unwilling to budge on a new health-care funding deal.

No timeline has been set for putting together any new deal and a first ministers meeting would need to be held before any agreement is finalized.

Federal sources tell the Toronto Star the sides could meet in the next couple of weeks, in the days following next week’s federal cabinet retreat.

On Thursday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suggested his party’s ongoing deal with the Trudeau Liberals could hinge on Ottawa reaching a new health-care deal with the provinces.

The NDP signed a confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals last March, in which the NDP agreed to support the minority government in key votes until 2025.

In exchange, the Liberals would advance some shared priorities, including passing pharmacare legislation by the end of this year.

Premier Doug Ford announced on Thursday that his government will be introducing legislation next month that will allow health-care workers enlisted in other provinces and territories to immediately “start working and caring for people in Ontario.”

According to a Ministry of Health release, the province will also — on a short-term basis — allow health-care professionals, including nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and others, to work outside of their regular responsibilities or settings, as long as they have the knowledge skill and judgement to do so.”

Ontario’s healthcare system has faced immense pressure with the emergence of COVID-19, followed by a surge of other seasonal viruses that hit children especially hard.

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