The Canadian and Alberta governments signed a bilateral agreement Thursday which will see the province receive more than $1 billion over three years for health care services.
Federal Health Minister Mark Holland said in a news conference in Calgary that the funds would amount to $300 million each year.
He adds this is part of a tailored funding agreement with the federal government as part of the $196-billion health accord the prime minister offered provinces earlier this year.
“With this plan, more appointments will be available to Albertans throughout the province. It will increase diagnostic imaging capacity in the provinces. It will reduce wait times for CT scans and MRIs. It will improve … Albertans ability to access digital health care services and their own health information,” Holland said.
Alberta is the third province to sign the deal with Ottawa after British Columbia signed a similar one in October and Prince Edward Island inked its deal on Tuesday.
He says there will be nearly 100 mental health programs for youth in schools across Alberta, and will be used to offer more support for “youth with complex needs as they transition to adult services.”
Holland says they will reduce the median wait time for community mental health and substance use services by establishing new treatments and “optimizing existing ones,” and prioritizing culturally appropriate Indigenous community supports.
“This is certainly proof that our governments are working together for the better health care Canadians — and specifically Albertans — need when they need it,” he said.
“It’s evidence that working together creates results. Today by signing this agreement, we’re making a concrete difference in the health and well-being of Albertans all across the province.”
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Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange says the funds will help will expand access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas, and support health care workers by reducing backlogs.
“As this is the case in every other province, we know the health care system in Alberta is under strain and change is needed,” she said.
“Our goal is to improve the delivery of health care for all Albertans and for our frontline workers who work so hard each and every day to serve our their patients,” LaGrange said.
She also says it will improve access to mental health, substance use, and addiction services, and also modernize health systems with health data and digital tools.
Quebec remains the only province that hasn’t agreed in principle to the accord, with Premier Francois Legault pushing back against conditions the federal government has put on the funding.
-With files from Logan Stein and The Canadian Press