Canada signs $1.2 billion bilateral agreement with British Columbia to improve health care over three years

News release

October 10, 2023 | Vancouver, British Columbia | Health Canada                                  

Canadians want and deserve a health care system that provides timely access to health services whenever and wherever they are needed. That is why the Government of Canada is investing close to $200 billion over 10 years to support the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan.

This historic investment includes $25 billion for tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, a guaranteed 5% Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase for the next five years -- amounting to $17.2 billion -- and a one time CHT $2 billion top-up to address to urgent needs of emergency rooms and paediatric hospitals delivered in June 2023. Combined, these investments provide provinces and territories the flexibility to address the unique needs of their populations and geography, and accelerate health care system improvements.

Today, the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), on behalf of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health of British Columbia, and the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions of British Columbia, announced a bilateral agreement of more than $1.2 billion over the next three years, marking a crucial step in a 10-year plan for collaboration. This includes $325 million per year in new funding by the Government of Canada and continuing $82 million per year in previously-announced mental health and substance use funding, which will help accelerate efforts already underway in British Columbia to improve health care access and services.

Through this federal funding, British Columbia has a 3-year action plan to deliver improvements to its health care system by 2026, including:  

  •  Developing an innovative model of care at 83 acute care sites throughout British Columbia so nurses can spend more time with patients. As well, by introducing additional recruitment and retention initiatives, patients across the province will have improved access to team-based family health care, including to family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, ultimately helping to reduce diagnostic and treatment backlogs;
  •  Enhancing access to mental health and addictions services by building on existing efforts in areas of integrated youth services, treatment and recovery, and innovative approaches to respond to the ongoing overdose crisis. British Columbia plans to expand the number of Foundry centers from 16 to 35 across the province, and reduce 30-day re-admissions for mental illness or substance use;
  • Supporting efforts led by the First Nations Health Authority to increase the number of individuals and communities with access to culturally safer, trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate healing and treatment services, and mental health and substance use care;
  • Improving outcomes by continuing to address backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and expand initiatives like Hospital at Home to help tackle wait times for inpatient services and decrease pressure on these services;
  •  Increasing the percentage of people in the province who have access to their own electronic health information to 75% to help people take control of their health; and
  •  Increasing the percentage of family health service providers that can securely share patient health information to 50%.

Progress on these initiatives and broader commitments will be measured against targets which British Columbia will publicly report on annually.

Through this new agreement, British Columbia will improve how health information is collected, shared, used and reported to Canadians; streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals; facilitate the mobility of key health professionals within Canada; and fulfill shared responsibilities to uphold the Canada Health Act to protect Canadians' access to health care that is based on need, not the ability to pay.

Recognizing the significant disparities in Indigenous health outcomes, the Government of Canada and of British Columbia also commit to meaningfully engage and work together with Indigenous partners to support improved access to quality and culturally appropriate health care services. All levels of government will approach health decisions in their respective jurisdictions through a lens that promotes respect and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

British Columbia and the federal government will continue working together to improve access to health services and deliver tangible results to all patients across the province, including responding to the needs of Indigenous and other underserved and disadvantaged populations.


"It is clear that Canadians want and deserve better access to health services; and we need to act now to address the challenges in front of us. Reaching this agreement and action plan is a significant step in our collaboration with British Columbia to take measurable action to transform our health care system. Together with all provinces and territories, we will continue working to  achieve better health outcomes for everyone."

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health of Canada

“Mental health is health, and through this agreement, we will be working with British Columbia to integrate mental health and substance use care as a full and equal part of our universal health care system. This agreement will strengthen the capacity of family health providers, reduce substance use harms, and expand virtual care for youth to improve access to quality and timely mental health care and substance use supports. Together, we must ensure that all Canadians have access to supports and services for their mental health and well-being – when they need them, wherever they need them.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health of Canada

“British Columbia is strengthening the public health system and supporting its health care workers in every corner of the province. We’re investing in team-based primary care, cancer care, seniors care, and acute care services, and are spearheading transformative recruitment and retention strategies for B.C.’s doctors and nurses including the implementation of a new payment model for longitudinal family physicians to connect more people to a primary care provider, and a new, first of its kind in Canada, nurse-to-patient ratio care model that will improve working conditions for nurses and ensure patients get the quality care they deserve. This bilateral agreement with the Government of Canada will help us in delivering the health services and access that people need, are counting on, and that we’re strengthening.”

The Honourable Adrian Dix
Minister of Health of British Columbia

“Youth struggling with mental health and addiction challenges and their families need accessible, wraparound health care and social supports. This agreement supports the Government of British Columbia’s expansion of Foundry centres and other vital integrated youth treatment and recovery services so more young people can get the free, confidential and timely care they need, right in their own communities.”

The Honourable Jennifer Whiteside
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions of British Columbia

Quick facts

  •  Budget 2023 outlined the Government of Canada's plan to invest close to $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories, to improve health care for Canadians. Within this funding, $25 billion is allocated through tailored bilateral agreements to address the unique needs of their populations and geography in four shared health priorities:

    • expanding access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas;
    •  supporting health workers and reducing backlogs;
    •  increasing mental health and substance use support; and
    •  modernizing health care systems with health data and digital tools.  
  •  All provinces and territories are already making considerable investments to advance progress in all four of these priority areas, and the new federal funding is complementing and expanding those efforts. 

  • As part of these bilateral agreements, provinces and territories are developing action plans that outline how funds will be spent and how progress will be measured to demonstrate to Canadians that improvements are occurring in Canada’s health care system. British Columbia’s initial 3-year Action Plan can be found here.

  •  Budget 2017 committed $11 billion over 10 years in federal funding to provinces and territories to improve access to home and community care, and mental health and addictions services for Canadians. Bilateral agreements were signed with provinces and territories to access the first six years of that funding. The final four years of funding for mental health and addictions are included in the new Working Together bilateral agreements.

  • The Government is also working with provinces and territories to implement a second bilateral agreement focused on helping Canadians age with dignity close to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility. This agreement will include the remaining $2.4 billion over four years to improve access to home and community care from Budget 2017; and the $3 billion over five years for long-term care from Budget 2021 to apply standards of care in long-term care facilities and help support workforce stability.

Associated links


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Alexander Fernandes
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Ya'ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Chris Shewchuk
Communications Director
Office of the Honourable Adrian Dix
British Columbia Minister of Health

Preet Grewal
Communications Director
Office of the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside
British Columbia Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

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Health Canada

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