Canadian provinces and territories accept federal health funding with strings attached

The intent is to modernize the health-care system with standardized health data and digital tools, according to a Government of Canada backgrounder notice. Several premiers, meanwhile, have pushed back against some of the requests from Prime Minister Trudeau.

Canadian provinces and territories accept federal health funding with strings attached
The Canadian Press / Sean Kilpatrick
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently committed $196.1 billion over 10 years to provinces and territories for health-care expenditures and improvements; $25 billion of this funding will go to four areas of shared priority.

This includes family health services, health workers and backlogs, mental health and substance abuse, and — the one that has Canadians concerned about medical privacy — a modernized health system.

The funding will apparently help accelerate progress.

“Canadians deserve to know what profess is being made. That is why to access their share of the federal funding, including the 5 per cent CHT (Canadian Health Transfer), provincial and territorial governments are asked to commit to improving how health information is collected, shared, used, and reported to Canadians to promote greater transparency on results, and to help manage public health emergencies,” an Ottawa news release reads.

The intent is to modernize the health-care system with standardized health data and digital tools, according to a Government of Canada backgrounder notice.

It includes, “$505 million over give years to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), to Canada Health Infoway and federal data partners to work with provinces and territories on developing new health data indicators, to support the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data, to advance digital health tools and an interoperability roadmap, and to underpin efforts to use data to improve safety and quality of care.”

Many have expressed privacy concerns around the digital identity initiatives, especially in wake of COVID-19 vaccine passports. Yet almost every provincial Premier has denounced the speculation that the funding increase will infringe on personal and private health information.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe stated that he is not creating a digital ID or not will they accept any requirements for the creation of a digital ID tied to health-care funding.

This prompted Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to do the same.

Despite Ontario Premier Doug Ford also stating that he will not “weaken the personal health privacy rights” of Ontarians, it should be noted that he is known in some circles as "Flip Flop Ford.”

Yet Newfoundland and Labrador already have a digital ID pilot project in the works.

The last time the Trudeau Liberals dabbled in digital ID it was with the notoriously controversial and failed ArriveCAN app, a digital surveillance tool that cost Canadians $54 million.

The legality of the costly and useless app is also being questioned and scrutinized by lawyers at The Democracy Fund.

This government has been notorious for not only ethical breaches but also privacy infringements, after the Public Health Agency of Canada bought private Canadian cellphone data from telecommunications giant Telus to track and monitor COVID-restriction compliance.

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