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Prime minister and Manitoba premier announce $633M in health funding

WINNIPEG –

Manitoba and Ottawa announced a deal Thursday to infuse $633 million into the province’s health system, much of which they say will go toward hiring more front-line workers and improving care for seniors.

Almost $434 million is through a bilateral agreement to support Manitoba’s three-year plan to improve health care. It’s the seventh such deal to be signed between Ottawa and the provinces and territories.

The governments say the funding is to support Manitoba’s goal to hire 400 more doctors, 300 more nurses, 200 paramedics and 100 homecare workers. The provincial and federal governments also say they are also working to remove barriers for internationally trained doctors and health professionals to practise in Manitoba.

“One of the things that we’ve learned through the pandemic, through difficult times, is conditions of work dictate conditions of care. And the people who step up to be health-care workers do so because they believe deeply in serving their communities and in helping their fellow citizens,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Winnipeg.

“And when they can’t, when the circumstances of their job, or the pressures that are on them or the resources they have access to are interfering with their ability to give ΓǪ their very best to their patients, that’s when they get most frustrated, that’s when they most need our support.

“The people of Manitoba deserve a system that is there for them, that they can rely on. That’s what every Canadian deserves.”

About $199 million under a separate agreement is to go toward Manitoba’s five-year-plan to bolster home, community and long-term care for seniors.

Manitoba’s NDP government was elected last October and one of its main campaign promises was to improve health care and hire more professionals.

“It’s time for us to take better care of the people who take care of us,” Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew told the news conference.

“And that’s what this partnership with the federal government is all about.”

Just over a year ago, Ottawa announced $196 billion in funding over the next 10 years for provinces and territories to improve access to health care — about $46 billion of that new money.

That funding includes increases to the federal health transfer and $25 billion for tailored one-on-one agreements targeting specific needs in different jurisdictions over a decade.

In exchange, provinces and territories were asked to improve data sharing and measure their progress.

Manitoba’s deal follows ones Ottawa inked with British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and the Northwest Territories.

All provinces and territories have agreed to the health accord in principle except for Quebec, which has balked at being accountable to Ottawa for how money is spent.

The federal government has also set aside $5.4 billion to improve senior care, and so far Manitoba, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories have signed “aging with dignity” agreements.

   — with files from Lauren Krugel in Calgary

   This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024.

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