Premier Smith says no to national health-care 'Digital ID'

Alberta joins Saskatchewan as the only Canadian provinces opposed to implementing a national health-care 'digital ID.'

Premier Smith says no to national health-care 'Digital ID'
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Alberta has joined Saskatchewan as the only Canadian provinces opposed to implementing a national health-care “digital ID.” Premier Danielle Smith tweeted Friday afternoon that she stands firmly with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in protecting private health information. 

“I will ensure that any agreements with the Federal Government do NOT include the sharing of any such personal information with the Feds or third party,” she said.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told the Trudeau Liberals last week that his province would not facilitate a national healthcare “digital ID” — even if it's required to secure health-care funding from the feds.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is not creating a digital ID, nor will we accept any requirements for the creation of a digital ID tied to health-care funding,” penned Moe in a public letter to the province.

Moe said he would refuse the Trudeau Liberals if they required a digital ID for the provinces to secure health-care funding from them.

In December, Saskatchewan's premier criticized the health-care cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government as “inadequate” to meet public demand for medical care.

“At 22% federal funding, 78% provincial funding, I'd just put forward that's not sustainable moving forward, and the health-care cost-sharing, an investment-sharing arrangement that was brought forward several decades ago, was never anticipated to be with this small of the federal share,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Globe and Mail confirmed that the premiers would receive $46.2 billion in new health-care funding over 10 years — significantly less than the provinces and territories demanded.

Smith expressed her disappointment with the offer but admitted that the provinces are unlikely to receive another from Trudeau.

“It looked like that was his first and only offer,” she said. “I know there’s a great amount of disappointment.”

Still, she said the immediate funding — of which Alberta’s share will be roughly $518 million — will be helpful to accelerate health reforms, such as decreasing waiting times for emergency rooms and ambulances, reducing surgery backlogs, and recruiting more front-line workers, especially in primary care.

The feds proposed boosting the health transfer an additional $2 billion top-up, bringing it to $51.3 billion, and increasing the annual health transfer increase to 5% a year for five years, up from 3% under the previous cost-sharing agreement.

They also intend to divide the new federal money between the baseline funding sent to provinces and territories through the CHT and $25 billion for separate bilateral deals targeting primary care and mental health.

But per Moe, if a condition of a bilateral deal with the Trudeau Liberals involves sharing “personal medical information,” they will reject that in accordance with the Health Information Protection Act.

After concerned citizens expressed grave concerns about the possibility of a federal digital ID, Moe wrote a letter about introducing digital health-care IDs.

Smith has yet to pen a similar letter as of the time of writing.

“The Government of Saskatchewan will not share personal medical information with the federal government. This information is protected under the Health Information Protection Act and will remain so," said Moe.

Saskatchewan only reports publicly on health-care statistics, such as surgical wait times, which Moe said he is willing to do.

“The Government of Saskatchewan may share already publicly available healthcare statistics, including the number of physicians in Saskatchewan and surgical wait times, if requested by any party, including the federal government,” he said.

According to the Fraser Institute, Saskatchewan observed surgical wait times averaged 11.9 weeks to see a specialist and an additional 18.1 weeks to receive the surgery in 2021/22.

In Alberta, the province observed surgical wait times averaging 14.1 weeks to see a specialist and an additional 19.2 weeks to receive the surgery for the same period.

According to the Fraser Institute and, Canadian patients waited longer than ever this year for medical treatment, including critical surgeries, treatments, and procedures. In 2021/22, median wait times for Canadians were 27.4 weeks — the longest ever recorded — up from 25.6 weeks in 2021 and 195% higher than the 9.3 weeks in 1993 when the Fraser Institute first tracked wait times. 

At least 13,581 patients died while waiting for surgeries, procedures, and diagnostic scans in 2021/22 — up from the previous year's total of 11,581. 

Roughly one-in-10 residents are still waiting for surgery, a diagnostic scan, or an appointment with a specialist.

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