Canada–British Columbia bilateral agreement to improve health care services


September 2018

The governments of Canada and British Columbia (B.C.) have signed a bilateral agreement outlining how the province plans to invest approximately $656 million in targeted federal funding over five years to improve access to home and community care and mental health and addiction services. In 2021-22, this agreement will be renewed for the remaining five years of the 10-year commitment. 

B.C.’s Action Plan aligns with the objectives and pan-Canadian priorities set out in the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities and will be implemented through a multi-pronged approach.

Home Care and Community Care 

Over the next five years, B.C. will be strengthening its home and community care services, including enhancing supports that will allow British Columbians with increasing care needs to stay in their homes as long as possible. Federal funding in this area will focus on: 

  • The development of specialized community services programs (SCSPs) which will incorporate all services needed by adults with complex conditions/frailty into a single accessible and efficient program. The programs focus on easy access and care coordination through interdisciplinary teams to meet the needs of clients and their families, in alignment with primary care networks. 
  • Expanding client access to palliative and end-of-life care services, increasing the availability of expert resources for consultative advice, and increasing investments in education, orientation and training for all care providers. 

Mental Health and Addiction Services

B.C. will use federal funding for mental health and addiction services to implement a series of early action initiatives to respond to some of the most pressing gaps in the province’s mental health and addiction services system. Federal funding in these areas will focus on: 

  • strengthening the capacity of primary care to respond to mental health and addiction issues, with a focus on prevention, early intervention, and children and youth;
  • expanding access to culturally appropriate and trauma-informed mental health and addiction services for Indigenous communities across B.C.;
  • creating a seamless system of mental health and addictions care so that people can ask once and get help fast;
  • increase access for students to mental health and addictions prevention and early intervention services expanding access to evidence-based treatment and recovery options for vulnerable populations. 

Federal Provincial and Territorial Collaboration to Strengthen Health Care

Budget 2017 committed $11 billion over 10 years in new federal investments to improve access to mental health and addiction services as well as to home and community care across Canada. Provinces and territories already received the first year of this funding through a legislated transfer following their endorsement of the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities.* Funding for the remaining years will flow to provinces and territories through a series of bilateral agreements.

The Common Statement of Principles sets out the objectives and pan-Canadian priorities for federal investments in home care and mental health. It commits governments to addressing specific health system gaps and to focusing efforts in areas that will have the greatest impact. Bilateral agreements will set out the details of how federal funding will be used in alignment with the Common Statement of Principles. As of August 2017, provinces and territories accepted their share of the $11 billion in federal health funding. 

Provinces and territories have also committed to working collectively and with the Canadian Institute for Health Information to develop a focused set of common indicators to measure progress and report to Canadians. 

Federal, provincial and territorial governments have also committed to engaging with regional and national Indigenous leaders on their priorities for improving the health outcomes of Indigenous peoples. 

* The federal government has agreed to an asymmetrical arrangement with Quebec, distinct from the Common Statement of Principles.

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