Canada commits billions to improve the healthcare system

The Canadian government has allocated about C$200 billion ($149 billion; Euros 124 billion) over the next decade to bolster the nation's faltering healthcare system. The funding was presented as a generational remedy for the system in an announcement on Tuesday. Hospitals in Canada have struggled for months with staff shortages and excessive wait times.

Since then, there have been a few stories of individuals dying while awaiting care. Taxpayers fund Canada's healthcare system so that all citizens and permanent residents have free, universal access to necessary hospital and doctor visits. It is funded using a combination of federal and provincial funds but is administered locally. Approximately 25% of the money is provided by the federal government via the Canada Health Transfer.

Canada's provincial premiers have frequently urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to increase federal spending on healthcare. Mr. Trudeau made the funding appeal to provincial leaders. However, he mentioned that he would not increase funding without strings attached. 

After meeting with the premiers on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau said that he was increasing the funding because he wanted Canadians to maintain their trust in the public system. He also mentioned that Canada was a big country that was built on progressive ideas. Some of the ideas were more important to who they are as Canadians than the promise of universal healthcare that is funded by the public. 

The proposal includes a total of $196.1 billion dollars. This will be spent on healthcare over the course of a decade. The money added to what already has been budgeted is $46.2 billion dollars. 

Over the next decade, the Canada Health Transfer to provinces will increase by approximately 61%. It is less than what Canada's premiers desired. They had requested an annual top-up of $28 billion from Mr. Trudeau. Premier of Manitoba Heather Stefanson was "disappointed" with the sum. Doug Ford, premier of Ontario, termed it a "beginning point." The proposal is now being assessed by the premiers. 

Mr. Trudeau mentioned that the money put up by his government is a huge investment in healthcare. However, money alone would not fix the country’s faltering system. He will also negotiate individual agreements with each province so as to address unique regional issues. 

All provinces have been asked for better healthcare data by the government to be able to assess the system’s performance better.  Canada's healthcare system has historically been a source of national pride, but since the Covid-19 outbreak, it has faced increasing strain and longer wait times to obtain care. A 67-year-old lady reportedly died in Nova Scotia after giving up on a seven-hour wait in the emergency room of a local hospital. An increasing backlog for surgical and diagnostic treatments has also had a negative impact on patients. According to sources, over 10% of Canada’s GDP is spent on healthcare, this is about the same as the UK, whereas the US spends over 16%.  Canada’s healthcare system ranks higher than the US but lower than the UK and others in certain international comparisons.