New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have joined with the federal government to sign separate deals on health care transfer payments, and it appears that increased funding for home care was a major selling point for all three.
The other seven provinces and three territories have so far refused to sign, arguing that they need a bigger increase in health care funding than the 3.5% hike being offered by Ottawa. The federal government upped that amount to slightly more than 4.0% for the three provinces that signed the new funding agreement. For New Brunswick, for instance, the new deal will mean an additional $230 million in federal funding for home care and mental health care over the next decade.
Improved home care funding is a major issue in Atlantic Canada, where all provincial governments are dealing with rapidly aging populations. Improvements in the provision of home care are also a major part of the CMA’s call for the development of a national seniors strategy.
CMA President Dr. Granger Avery notes that a recent Statistics Canada study found that 2.2 million Canadians are already receiving help or care at home due to a long-term health condition or a problem related to aging. He said the health care needs of seniors are a key issue in Atlantic Canada, where 20% of residents are senior citizens. The national average in the last census was about 15%.