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B.C. first province to sign individual health deal with feds

British Columbia is the first province to sign a tailored funding agreement with the federal government as part of the $196-billion health accord the prime minister offered provinces earlier this year.

B.C. will receive $1.2 billion over the next three years from the federal government, “marking the first investment in what will be a 10-year plan for collaboration,” Federal Health Minister Mark Holland said at an announcement at Vancouver General Hospital Tuesday morning.

“This is concrete evidence of our two governments committed to Health Transformation. It is a key building block of the change that will see us go from one of the best system health systems in the world to the best health system in the world,” Holland said.

Under the agreed-upon plan, an “innovative model of care” will be introduced at 83 acute care sites across the province so “nurses can spend more time with patients,” he explained.

“It will help retain our best talent. It will help recruit the people we need. It will ensure folks can access the local care they need where and when they need it.”

“Practically, it will reduce diagnostic and treatment backlogs. It will also mean more prevention, more early conversations, and more bad health averted. It will increase access to mental health substance use and addiction services where B.C. is already a leader in, already doing so much.”

Holland says the province will also see the number of Foundry centres — mental health care centres — across the province double over the next three years.

The province has also agreed to work with the First Nations Health Authority to improve access to culturally appropriate and trauma-informed treatment and care.

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“Our partnership will deliver measurable results to patients across the province, that will be felt and seen. This certainly includes essential progress for Indigenous people and other underserved and disadvantaged populations,” Holland said.

“I know the agreement that we’re signing today is going to make a real difference in the lives and health of British Columbians.”

Holland’s provincial counterpart, Health Minister Adrian Dix, explained that the largest share of money in this initial injection will go to supporting nurses.

“Particularly [those] in acute care, so, that’s $200-, $250-, and $300-million in each of the next three years of the agreement, That’s $750-million over three, and that’s the majority of funds,” Dix said Tuesday.

He adds the rest of the money will be distributed to a number of other key areas, including, “diagnostic care, wait lists, and around digital care.”

So far, all provinces and territories have agreed to a bilateral health deal in principle, with the exception of Quebec.

With files from The Canadian Press and Liza Yuzda

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