Investments to improve health care services for Canadians
I want to thank Kim for acknowledging, as we all do, that we are on the traditional unceded and shared territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, the Katzie, the Kwantlen, Matsqui, and Semiahmoo First Nations.
And thank you, John, for your introduction and for all the work you do.
It’s always great to be here to visit you in Cloverdale–Langley City. Thank you for everything you do for this community as an extraordinarily important voice for them in Ottawa and a great member of our team. Also really happy to be here with Sukh Dhaliwal, our MP for Surrey–Newton, who is also a very strong voice for Surrey. And I can add that Minister Karla Qualtrough wanted to be here today as well, but was unable to join us, but she is on the credential recognition file and job training file, which is so important for everyone today.
Premier Eby, David, it’s always an incredible pleasure to be here with you. We’ve worked together extraordinarily well on a lot of different things over the past number of months, and we will continue to. And the health care announcements we’re making today is just another great example of that, and really happy to be here with Minister Robinson, Andrew Mercier and Megan Dykeman as well. And also Deputy Mayor; thank you very much, Rosemary, for welcoming us here to Langley City.
I also want to thank Kwantlen Polytechnic University for having us today and give a special shout-out to the students that we got to meet earlier. Some of the students I met were internationally educated and are getting training so that they can practise here in Canada. I asked them about the reasons they chose to come to Canada and the work they were doing in the health care system—but not to the level of their qualifications yet. And it’s great to see that, alongside local students who are getting to be RNs and psychiatric nurses, we have international arrivals who are now permanent residents or citizens who are going to be contributing to the fullness of their potential and abilities to the pressures we’re having on our health care system. We’re glad they’re here, and we absolutely need their skills and their dedication because, across Canada, health care workers have been stretched to their limits. They’re working doubles and overtime to be there for patients. They’re going above and beyond to make up for staffing shortages.
Our health care systems are facing challenges and these challenges are affecting staff and patients.
That’s why our government has laid out a plan to strengthen public health care across the country, working hand-in-hand with provinces. This plan will make major investments, but we know that money alone won’t fix everything. So we also want to work with provinces and territories on bilateral deals that will deliver real improvements that people can see and feel.
So, I’m so glad that today we’re able to officially announce that the federal government and the Government of British Columbia have reached an agreement in principle that moves us forward on health care. Thank you, David.
In fact, I can actually add one more to the list today, we now have a signed agreement with Saskatchewan, as well. We’re glad to have them take the step with us and be part of improving our health care systems across the country from coast to coast to coast. Both provinces will join the seven others that have already signed on in creating three-year action plans that map out exactly how they will use these funds to make the improvements that Canadians are counting on.
We have now reached agreements with nine provinces, and we expect to announce agreements with the last province and the three territories very soon. Each agreement is another step in the right direction to improving health care delivery.
Each agreement will be tailored and flexible to the needs of each province and territory, but, consistent among all is the joint responsibility to collect information that monitors how the health care system is performing, so we know that it is delivering the improvements that Canadians deserve. Things like the percentage of Canadians who have access to a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and tracking to make sure that that percentage keeps increasing. Or how long wait-lists for appointments and surgeries are and whether they’re decreasing. More access to mental health care and substance use care, which I know is a shared priority with our partners here in B.C., where you’re all on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. And moving towards a more modern system that allows for you to securely share your health information with your entire health care team. We’re doing this because, what gets measured, gets done.
Another element of our plan is asking provinces and territories to improve how we recognize foreign credentials for health professionals, so that it’s easier for nurses, like the ones I met here at KPU Langley, to get their careers started, treat patients, and be part of easing the pressure on our overworked health care professionals. We’re also committing $2 billion for an Indigenous health equity fund to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners in closing health care gaps.
Once again, I would like to thank Premier Eby for helping us reach this agreement-in-principle so quickly.
Fixing health care is a big issue and we know we can’t solve it overnight, but our government will continue pushing forward, together with our partners, so that we can deliver real results for Canadians and uphold the principles of publicly funded, universal health care that Canadians are so rightly proud of.