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Provincial and federal officials meet in Saint John on Feb. 22, 2023, to discuss a bilateral health funding agreement. Image: Brad Perry

Provincial, Federal Officials Discuss Bilateral Health Funding

By Brad Perry Feb 22, 2023 | 3:17 PM

A bilateral agreement between New Brunswick and Ottawa for more health-care funding should be in place soon.

Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Bruce Fitch met with federal officials in Saint John on Wednesday to continue discussions.

At the table from the federal level were Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

Following the meeting, LeBlanc told reporters that the premier has been a “very constructive partner” in the conversations.

“I think we’re close to coming to an agreement in principle which would allow New Brunswick to plan how they’ll use these incremental federal dollars,” said LeBlanc, who is also the MP for the riding of Beauséjour.

New Brunswick will receive $900 million over the next decade as part of the bilateral agreement with Ottawa.

That funding is on top of the increase in annual transfers the province will receive from the federal government.

Investments will be centered around four shared health priorities:

  • expanding access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas;
  • supporting our health workers and reducing backlogs;
  • improving access to quality mental health and substance use services; and
  • modernizing the health care system with standardized health data and digital tools.

“We’ve had a great meeting. This is a positive discussion,” Higgs said following Wednesday’s meeting. “We’ve got a path forward and it’s a good-news story.”

Each province and territory will be able to tailor their agreement to address the unique needs of their populations and geography.

According to the federal government, action plans with targeted results and indicators will be made available publicly, and provinces and territories will publicly report on results to their own residents.

“Transparency will behoove all governments to work together to get those better results. We wouldn’t want to be standing here a year from now explaining why we haven’t met the shared-upon, agreed-upon metrics,” said LeBlanc.

Higgs said he anticipates the agreement will be finalized ahead of the province budget release on March 21.

“It’s probably something that’ll come to fruition in dollars come early July but we’ll recognize that in our budget and we’ll have agreements in place that would say exactly where it’s going to go and what it’s going to be used for,” he said.


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