ARCHIVED - First Ministers Agree on 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal

Ottawa, Ontario - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, the Provincial Premiers and Territorial Leaders today reached an historic agreement with an action plan for change to renew and sustain public health care for Canadians.

"Together, we are taking a big step forward to strengthen our health care system to better serve the needs of Canadians. The 2003 First Ministers' Accord on Health Care Renewal invests in change and makes the health care system more accountable to our citizens," said Prime Minister Chrétien.

"Health care is the single most important priority of Canadians. Canadians want renewal for this generation and for generations to come. This Accord sets out an Action Plan that will ensure all Canadians have timely access to quality health care on the basis of need and not ability to pay. For its part, the Government of Canada is making significant investments which will translate into $17.3 billion in increased federal support for health over the next three years and rising to $34.8 billion over five years. The new investments agreed upon today build on the health care agreement of September 2000. We have also made our health care system more accountable through the creation of a Health Council that will report regularly to Canadians on the quality of their health care system," added the Prime Minister.

New investments in a Health Reform Fund will support primary health care, home care, and catastrophic drug coverage. In addition, funding will support diagnostic and medical equipment, and information technology such as electronic health records and telehealth services. New funding will also be provided to help relieve immediate pressures on our health care system.

The Government of Canada will increase funding to address the health of Aboriginal people and work with other governments and Aboriginal leaders to close the gap in health status between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians through better integration of services.

First Ministers reaffirm the importance of the Equalization program in ensuring that all provinces have the ability to provide comparable levels of public services at comparable levels of taxation.

In order to strengthen the Equalization program, and in light of improved federal fiscal circumstances, the Prime Minister has agreed to permanently remove the Equalization ceiling on a going-forward basis.

The Accord reflects the ideas of Canadians who contributed to the health care renewal debate through consultations on various federal and provincial reports. The excellent reports produced by the Honourable Roy Romanow, Senator Kirby, Messrs. Mazankowski, Clair and Fyke were instrumental in guiding governments to this historic outcome.

"Canadians have told us that they want to see where their health care dollars are being spent and that their money is buying real change. My colleagues and I are committed to strengthening our health care and ensuring it is more accountable to the citizens who fund it," concluded the Prime Minister.

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