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Federal government announces $560M in funding for health, long-term care in Sask.

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland, centre, signs a health-care funding agreement in Regina on Monday, accompanied by Sask. Health Minister Everett Hindley, left, and Tim McLeod, the Sask. minister of mental health and addictions, seniors and rural and remote health. (Olivier Jodouin/CBC - image credit)
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland, centre, signs a health-care funding agreement in Regina on Monday, accompanied by Sask. Health Minister Everett Hindley, left, and Tim McLeod, the Sask. minister of mental health and addictions, seniors and rural and remote health. (Olivier Jodouin/CBC - image credit)

The federal government has announced $560 million in health-care and long-term care funding for Saskatchewan.

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland made the announcement Monday in Regina, along with Saskatchewan Health Minister Everett Hindley and Tim McLeod, the provincial minister of mental health and addictions, seniors and rural and remote health.

"There's a lot of areas that we can disagree in life, but when it comes to health, I think what people expect of us is to find common ground, to find ways of working together, not finding differences, but finding what we have in common," Holland said at the announcement.

The funding comes in two bilateral agreements. The Working Together agreement has close to $391 million for health-care system improvement. Another $169 million is included in the Aging with Dignity agreement, supporting home care, palliative care and long-term care initiatives.

The Working Together agreement will support Saskatchewan's three-year action plan on improving its health-care system, including:

  • Supporting a Saskatchewan family physician payment model.

  • Expanding Saskatoon's chronic pain clinic.

  • Growing the virtual triage physician program through Healthline 811.

  • Creating 64 new permanent acute care and complex care beds, with 28 in Regina and 36 in Saskatoon.

  • Supporting the expansion of 550 post-secondary training seats.

  • Expanding the delivery of culturally appropriate mental health and substance use support.

  • Modernizing health-care systems.

The Aging in Care agreement includes money to support the province's five-year action plan on home care and long-term care. Funding will to go enhancing home and community care services, improving palliative care and strengthening long-term care and home care services.

Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan's health minister, says the federal funding commitment will build on provincial initiatives already underway.
Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan's health minister, says the federal funding commitment will build on provincial initiatives already underway.

Everett Hindley, Saskatchewan's health minister, says the federal funding commitment will build on provincial initiatives already underway. (Olivier Jodouin/CBC)

Hindley was asked after the announcement how patients would see a tangible difference in the near future. He said the funding would support "a number of initiatives," some of which are already underway.

"So what does that mean to the patient in Saskatchewan that is in need of health care, or needs to utilize the health care system? Well, I think it's important, right? And it will make a significant impact, being able to partner with the federal government for these additional dollars," he said.

Funding welcomed by SUN president

Saskatchewan Union of Nurses president Tracy Zambory attended the announcement on Monday and said it was "very good" to hear.

"Really, we needed a partnership with the federal government, there's no two ways about it, because alone we weren't doing very well, really struggling," she said. "The devil is always in the details, in any financial announcement with a whole lot of money attached to it."

Zambory said she was pleased to hear the announcements about elderly care, because long-term care "has been abandoned" in the province. She said she hopes it's not just going to mean more for-profit beds.

"We need to do a huge investment into publicly funded, publicly administered long-term care in this province. While it's great to have people age at home for as long as possible, it's not a reality, and we need to be able to have really a lot of funding put back into long-term care," she said.

The federal government first pitched its 10-year, approximately $200-billion health-care plan, now called Working Together, in February 2023 during a meeting of Canada's premiers. Of that, $46.2 billion is new money.

Since then, it has been working on bilateral agreements with each province and territory. The first province to sign was B.C., in October. Saskatchewan is now the 10th.