UPDATE 1-Canada pledges C$46.2 bln in additional healthcare funding over 10 years
(Adds details of federal plan)
OTTAWA, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Canada's federal government will provide an additional C$46.2 billion ($34.4 billion) in new funding for the country's public healthcare system over 10 years, it said on Tuesday following a meeting with its provincial and territorial counterparts to hammer out a deal to fix the overburdened system.
Canada's public healthcare systems have been under strain thanks in part to the pandemic and staffing shortages that have left hospitals stretched to a breaking point.
For years the provincial governments, who are responsible for healthcare delivery, have asked Ottawa to increase its contribution to health spending. The federal government, for its part, said it wanted new money to come with conditions.
Some of the new funds promised Tuesday are unconditional; others are earmarked for certain priority areas. The federal government is asking the provinces to commit to better data gathering and sharing in order to access the increased funds.
The additional C$46.2 billion funding unveiled Tuesday is part of a larger C$196.1 billion package in increased health funding over a decade.
"Canadians deserve better health care and we need immediate actions to address current and future challenges," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.
The deal needs signoff from the provinces, who have previously pushed back against the federal government's conditions.
Tuesday's meeting in Ottawa could result in an agreement over a general outline of healthcare funding, but the federal government and the provinces have cautioned not to expect finalized deals on Tuesday.
Long a source of pride, Canada's publicly funded healthcare system has been strained by the pandemic and staff shortages.
"We will be there putting more money on the table but it's also important to make sure that the focus is on results and outcomes for Canadians, including with better use of health data, more supports for people where they need them across the country," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Monday.
Tuesday's package includes C$25 billion over 10 years to be hammered out in bilateral agreements to target shared health priorities in the fields of family health services, healthcare workers and backlogs, mental health and substance use, and "a modernized healthcare system." ($1 = 1.3414 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil in Ottawa and Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto; Editing by Sandra Maler and Aurora Ellis)