Feds put $633M toward improving Manitoba health, long-term care systems

16 February 2024
Feds put 3M toward improving Manitoba health, long-term care systems


Part of funding stems from bilateral agreement struck with provinces and territories in February 2023.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Winnipeg on Thursday to celebrate Manitoba’s signing of two health-care agreements that will put hundreds of millions into health-care and long-term care funding.

The federal government is sending $633 million in health-care and long-term care funding to Manitoba to help the province hire more staff, address long waits for emergency care and improve home care and long-term care for seniors.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the commitment Thursday during a joint news conference alongside Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew and other provincial and federal officials in Winnipeg.

The funding will help Manitoba hire about 1,000 more health-care workers, Trudeau said at Red River College Polytechnic.

“We have to be honest with ourselves,” he said. “It can be too hard to access a family doctor or a nurse practitioner, emergency rooms are too often overwhelmed, people are waiting for the surgeries they need and health-care workers are under immense pressure.”

Trudeau said years of conservative cuts left Manitoba’s health-care system “struggling to protect and care for patients, and of course health-care workers were pushed to their very limits.”

During seven years in government, the former Progressive Conservatives closed three Winnipeg hospital emergency rooms as part of a controversial health-care overhaul meant to cut wait times and find inefficiencies.

The NDP was elected last October after a campaign largely focused on health-care.

$434M for more workers

Of the $633 million announced Thursday, nearly $434 million will go toward Manitoba’s three-year plan to improve the health-care system as part of the “Working Together” bilateral agreement.

The other $199 million is earmarked for the “Aging with Dignity” agreement to support improvements in home care and long-term care in Manitoba over the next five years.

The federal government first pitched its 10-year, approximately $200-billion health-care plan, now called the “Working Together” agreement, last February during a meeting of Canada’s premiers. Of that, $46.2 billion is new money.

The federal government said $25 billion was set aside for separate deals with each province and territory, aimed at directing funds toward specific priorities, including primary care, mental health and hiring more doctors and nurses.

The money will help Manitoba uphold a “key promise” of what it means to be Canadian — having access to “high quality, publicly funded health care,” Trudeau said.

Kathleen Cook, the PC health critic, suggested the province now has more health-care funding because of the work of the previous Tory government.

“The question is: what’s the actual plan?” Cook said in a statement. “The NDP needs to tell Manitobans the details.”

Some of the $434 million pledged to Manitoba will help the NDP government uphold an election promise to hire 400 more physicians, 300 nurses in Winnipeg and 300 more nurses in rural areas, along with 200 paramedics and 100 home-care workers.

The provincial promise now becomes one of the strings attached to the “Working Together” agreement.

Manitoba must hit a range of targets, including making some progress toward its hiring goal and reducing emergency room wait times, to trigger funding in future years.

With the additional staff, the province hopes to add more acute care and medicine beds to the health-care system, releasing pressure  on crowded hospital emergency rooms, the news release said.

More seniors’ care

Kinew said the pandemic revealed that Manitoba needs to do better by its seniors, and the latest commitment will help the province provide more quality care for seniors.

“It is fundamental to us, being able to say that we are a society that treats the people who raised us with the dignity and respect that they deserve,” he said.

“When we talk about making investments in health care, we’re also talking about us articulating a message of who we are as a society, that we are a people, as Manitobans and as Canadians, that are not going to leave anyone behind.”

He said the funds will go toward improving safety standards and hiring more long-term care workers.

Manitoba also plans to hire more psychologists, boost addictions treatment options, double hospital spaces for people experiencing homelessness and work on removing barriers faced by internationally accredited doctors and other workers who want to work in the province, according to the news release.

‘New vision’ for health care: Asagwara

Kinew said the announcement signals to students in health-care fields that good jobs will be waiting for them when they graduate.

It also lets current front-line workers know the province “has their back,” said Manitoba Health Minister Uzoma Asagwara.

“We will raise the standard of care across the province for seniors and all Manitobans, and we will reduce wait times to make sure that everyone gets the care they need when they need it,” they said.

“Our government has a new vision, one where the culture of health care is the best in Canada, one where patients are at the heart of every decision that is made.”

Manitoba becomes the seventh province or territory to finalize a bilateral deal with Ottawa.

Source: cbc

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