Jan 17 Innovation Fund championed at Provincial Premiers Conference in Victoria
By Rosemary Thompson
Two of Canada’s Provincial Premiers are championing the idea of an “innovation fund” separate from health-care transfers to save money and improve health-care services across the country. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty are promoting the fund at a meeting of Provincial Premiers this week in Victoria, British Columbia.
Asked if the Federal Government should kick in money for the fund Premier McGuinty said, “I would argue that the federal government has a greater responsibility when it comes to the future of medicare than to merely passively preside over its evolution.
“I think if we have that kind of (innovation) fund in place, we could draw on that. And then, just as importantly, I think we should be held accountable for measureable results,” Premier McGuinty added.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty surprised the Premiers in December when he announced that the Federal Government would guarantee a 6 per cent increase in health-care funding for the next three years. After that, increases to the health care transfer would be calculated on a per-capita basis and tied to economic growth at a minimum of 3 per cent per year.
Provinces with increasing populations generally liked the plan, others like Quebec and Ontario were worried.
Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan says he was encouraged by a letter to the Provinces from Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. Ms. Aglukkaq’s letter talked about working together with the Provinces to make the health system more sustainable and accountable, and Premier Wall and many others at the Premiers meeting believe that an “innovation fund” will form part of the answer to find efficiencies and cost-savings in the future as Canada’s population ages and the demand for health-care services continues to rise.
-Rosemary Thompson is a member of the Board of Research Canada.