Letter of agreement to amend bilateral agreements for home and community care and mental health and addiction services

August 9, 2021

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Hajdu,

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges for Canadians, and has disproportionately affected those residing in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, and seniors' residences. Outbreaks in these facilities have taken the lives of some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens, and forever changed the lives of families and caregivers. To address this crisis, since spring 2020, British Columbia has been working to improve the safety of care for those living in long-term care settings, and those who care for them. Some of these improvements have been supported by federal investments and resources, including most recently the $740M from the September 2020 Safe Restart Agreement funding.

Further to the Government of Canada's commitment on November 30, 2020, to further support provinces and territories through a new Safe Long-term Care Fund, providing jurisdictions an additional $1 billion, Canada and British Columbia agree, through this Letter of Agreement, to amend the Canada British Columbia Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addiction Services Agreement (the Bilateral Agreement), in accordance with appendices A and B to this Letter, with the aim of further protecting and improving the lives of British Columbians  who reside in these settings.

The amendments in Appendix A establish the terms and conditions that apply to the Safe Long-term Care funding.

The Government of Canada will provide British Columbia with total funding of up to $133.9 million in fiscal year 2021-22 under the Safe Long-term Care Fund for eligible expenditures incurred from December 1, 2020, to March 31, 2022.

The federal funding through the Safe Long-term Care Fund will support British Columbia to increase infection prevention and control in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and seniors' residences providing continuing care services. Priorities for initiatives supported by this funding will include renovations to existing infrastructure and new equipment and furniture and fixtures, such as HVAC systems, specialty mattress and bedframes and additional cleaning, food service and medical supply requirements to prevent COVID-19 infections and spread.

British Columbia has attached an amended action plan (Appendix B) which includes: the background on long-term care in British Columbia; efforts undertaken since spring 2020 to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in long-term care settings, and particularly efforts to enhance infection prevention and control, including activities supported by the Safe Restart Agreement funding; details on the new or enhanced initiatives that will be supported by the Safe Long-term Care Fund in the three priority and other eligible areas, along with a breakdown of planned expenditures and the individual facilities benefiting from this funding; and performance measures to track progress (measures, targets and outcomes).

British Columbia will ensure that federal investments are used to further enhance the protection of residents and staff and to ensure transparency in the use of funds. British Columbia will amend its action plan by December 1, 2021, and by March 31, 2022, to provide information on results, with a view to demonstrating to Canadians the progress achieved to protect vulnerable Canadians in long-term care settings through its initiatives for increased infection prevention and control.

In keeping with the processes and practices followed in the province to date, British Columbia will provide equipment and supplies to Health Authority owned and operated, not-for-profit and private for profit operators equally to ensure that the needs of British Columbians are met without contributing to profitability of private for profit operators.

Appendix B to this Letter of Agreement sets out British Columbia's amendment to its action plan (Annex 2 to the Agreement) which provides information on the initiatives, expenditures, expected results and performance metrics on the initiatives supported by the Safe Long-term Care funding.

Except as set out in the appendices to this Letter of Agreement, the terms of the Bilateral Agreement will remain in effect.

This Letter of Agreement to amend the Bilateral Agreement will be effective upon both of our respective signatures and, as per the Agreement, will remain in effect until March 31, 2022, unless otherwise terminated by the parties to the Agreement. It, along with the updated Agreement and annexes, will be made public online by Health Canada.

The Honorable Adrian Dix, British Columbia Minister of Health
August 9, 2021

The Honorable Patty Hajdu, Federal Minister of Health
August 9, 2021

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