Saskatchewan will not impose a digital healthcare ID to secure federal funding, says Premier Moe

According to the Health Information Protection Act, the provincial government is not legally obligated to share 'personal medical information.'

Saskatchewan will not impose a digital healthcare ID to secure federal funding, says Premier Moe
The Canadian Press / Liam Richards
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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told the Trudeau Liberals that his province would not facilitate a national healthcare "digital ID" — even if it's required to secure healthcare 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 healthcare 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 healthcare funding from them.  

According to the Health Information Protection Act, the provincial government is not legally obligated to share "personal medical information."

"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 healthcare 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.

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

In December, he said the current healthcare cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government is 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 healthcare 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," said Moe.

Despite Canadians observing median wait times of 27.4 weeks to access medical treatment, including critical surgeries, treatments, and procedures, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented: "If I were to send people all the money they need in the provinces, there is no guarantee those folks would be waiting less time in the hospitals."

"There is no point putting more money into a broken system. And those are harsh words," he added.

Moe wants his federal counterparts to return to a "full funding partner" and give Canadians the healthcare they expect.

"In recent years, federal healthcare funding has fallen from 35% of healthcare costs to 22%," he said. "It's critical to get a new Canada Health Transfer (CHT) agreement where the federal government returns to a full funding partner of healthcare."

The premiers demanded a meeting with the prime minister for early 2023 — set for next week — to finalize an agreement. But the Trudeau Liberals said they need specific commitments from the provinces before the feds can increase its share of costs from 22% to 35%.

Moe clarified his government would not surrender or weaken any personal health privacy rights when signing a new CHT agreement. 

"Instead, we will work diligently toward a funding agreement that benefits Saskatchewan people by investing in healthcare in both rural and urban areas of our province," he said.

Since 2012/13, Saskatchewan has gradually increased CHT payments from $906 million to $1.33 billion in 2021/22. All other provinces and territories also experienced gradual increases in transfer payments from previous federal governments.

The Government of Canada website says that the CHT is the most significant transfer to provinces and territories and that "it provides long-term, predictable funding for health care and supports the principles of the Canada Health Act, which are: universality; comprehensiveness; portability; accessibility; and public administration."

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