Federal-provincial health care deal: Canada’s unions cautiously optimistic

February 7, 2023

Bruske: Health care deal is a step in the right direction — Now governments must deliver

OTTAWA — Canada’s unions welcome the federal government’s pledge to increase health funding to provinces and territories. New money being added will help address some of the challenges but with no strings attached, this deal will only scratch the surface of the problems our crumbling health care system is currently facing.

Extreme staffing shortages and years of chronic underfunding put our public health care system at risk. Emergency rooms are overflowing, children’s hospitals are swamped, and wait times for critical surgeries keep getting longer. Tragic reports of people dying as they wait in emergency rooms for care have shaken communities across Canada. 

“Health care staff are on the brink, and our loved ones cannot access the care they need. We are cautiously optimistic to hear that our federal government has committed to $196.1 billion over the next 10 years and $46.2 billion in new funding, now we need to see results,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

“Canadians desperately need meaningful investment in our public health care system to ensure staff are supported and our loved ones can access care when they need it. The agreement of $1.7 billion over five years to support hourly wage increases for personal support workers is encouraging, but it’s not enough and it won’t be sufficient to fix the staff shortage,” added Bruske. 

Canada’s unions are calling on our federal and provincial governments to bolster public health care by: 

  • Increasing funding to the public health care system and putting a stop to for-profit healthcare; 
  • Urgently addressing the critical shortage of health workers; 
  • Implementing publicly funded, and delivered, Pharmacare;  
  • Providing permanent and ongoing funding for public mental health services;   
  • Bringing long-term care entirely into the public system. 

Bruske said that the path out of this health care crisis would require cooperation by all levels of government. “Health care is one of the most pressing issues facing our country right now. Canadians expect to see our elected leaders roll up their sleeves and get to work on rebuilding our public health care system.” 

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