Canada’s universal, publicly funded health care system is a source of pride for Canadians. The Government of Canada is working closely with provincial and territorial governments to strengthen health care and adapt the system to the challenges of delivering health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we move into recovery.
Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced the signature of a bilateral agreement with the Honourable Julie Green, Minister of Health and Social Services for the Northwest Territories to expand virtual health care services for its residents. Under the agreement, the territory will invest federal funding based on agreed-upon pan-Canadian priorities for accelerating virtual health care services during the pandemic.
Through this bilateral agreement, the Northwest Territories is receiving $3.1 million to expand its efforts on virtual health services. Over the coming weeks, the territory will be developing an action plan that outlines how it is investing the funding under the bilateral agreement to expand virtual health services.
“Now more than ever, Canadians need access to virtual health care services to support their health. We are working with provinces and territories to support the deployment of such services for Canadians, to ensure they can access the care they need, whenever they need it. Today’s investment will support the Northwest Territories as they meet the health needs of its residents through expanded virtual health services.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Canada’s Minister of Health
“The Government of the Northwest Territories’ main priority remains the health and safety of NWT residents and continues to do what we can to find ways to support those needs for residents across all 33 communities. COVID-19 has created a need for virtual services in a way that no one could have anticipated. Continued funding such as this will support the NWT’s health and social services system improvements in key areas, including virtual care and access.”
The Honourable Julie Green
Northwest Territories’ Minister of Health and Social Services
On May 3, 2020, the Prime Minister announced an investment of $240.5 million to increase access to virtual services and digital tools to support Canadians’ health and wellbeing.
$150 million of that funding will be provided to provinces and territories through targeted bilateral agreements aimed at expanding virtual health services in five priority areas for immediate action to support further embedding these services within Canadian health systems, namely:
- secure messaging and file transfer,
- secure video conferencing,
- remote patient monitoring technologies,
- patient access to their COVID-19 and other lab results, and
- back-end supports for integration and/or alignment of these new platforms or existing tools.
This funding is also in addition to the $50 million in incremental federal funding allocated to Canada Health Infoway to further support provincial and territorial efforts to rapidly implement new initiatives in keeping with the five priority areas.
Bilateral agreements on virtual care are a time-limited initiative aimed at ensuring that Canadians can continue to access the health care services they need during this time of uncertainty.
Health Canada is building on this investment by working with provinces and territories on related policy issues. This will enable the longer-term adoption of high-quality and safe virtual health care services as a complement to in-person care.
To date, funding agreements totalling close to $102 million have been announced for eight province and territories, including: Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon.