Ontario and Prince Edward Island have reached agreements in principle on the health-care funding offer made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the first ministers’ meeting in Ottawa earlier this month.

At the meeting, premiers agreed to accept the federal government’s plan to send more than $46 billion in new money to the provinces and territories over 10 years. The plan will see the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase by five per cent annually, as well as target other specific areas in the system.

Ottawa said that $25 billion of that new money will be targeted to improve four priority areas: family health services; health workers and backlogs; mental health and substance use; and a “modernized health system.” 

Since that announcement, the federal and provincial governments have held bilateral meetings to finalize the individual funding agreements that would target those specific areas in each province. 

On Thursday morning, Ontario was the first province to announce an agreement, with deputy premier and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones saying on Twitter that “this additional funding will bolster Ontario’s investments in health care as we implement our plan for connected and convenient care.”

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, current head of the Council of the Federation, which represents the premiers, told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics last week that the premiers were “united” in their decision to accept the federal government’s proposal.

She cautioned, however, that a cash injection is not a long-term fix. 

“We’ve accepted this for now,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “But we do recognize that this is not a long-term solution to the health-care funding that is needed within our country.”

The flow of funding will also hinge on “action plans” developed by the provinces and territories that detail how the funds will be used and progress will be measured. 

In addition to this new cash for the provinces and territories, Ottawa is promising more money for Indigenous health, an area that is largely under federal jurisdiction.

Trudeau’s plan calls for an additional $2 billion over 10 years for an “Indigenous-specific funding stream,” to address what the government called “unique challenges” that “Indigenous peoples face when it comes to fair and equitable access to quality and culturally safe health-care services.”

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