© Copyright 2006 Rogers Publishing Ltd. The following article first appeared in the May 2005 edition of BENEFITS CANADA magazine.
Provincial health provisions.

The Canadian healthcare system and its physicians have been in the media spotlight recently, as deals are made to keep costs down and service levels up. Here’s a look at some of the more recent arrangements and how some provincial budgets are addressing healthcare.

Ontario – The Ontario Medical Association’s 24,000 doctors ratified a new contract with the provincial government in March. Some features:
• A retroactive increase of 2.5% for general and family practitioners, and a 2% increase for specialists
• Elimination of billing thresholds to help shorten wait times for tests and treatment
• A new wait-list strategy to address physicians’ concerns

Saskatchewan – Total health budget in 2005-2006: $2.9 billion
• Increase from 2004-2005: $192 million or 7.1%
• Percentage allocated to health provider wages and benefits: 72
• Percentage of overall government program spending devoted to healthcare: 44
• Funding to regional health authorities: $1.8 billion
• Increase from 2004-2005: $87 million or 5.1%

Manitoba – Wait-lists for hip and knee surgeries will be targeted with $10 million in health accord funding to increase surgeries throughout the province by 1,000 procedures over two years.

A new regulation has been approved that will allow registered nurses who meet the qualifications and pass a national exam to independently order diagnostic tests, prescribe drugs and perform certain medical procedures.

British Columbia – A $230-million increase has been made to help fund the province’s six health authorities. This money is expected to help such things as:
• Improve access to mental health and addiction services
• Increase the recruitment, retention and education of healthcare professionals
• Deliver effective community and health-based services

Commitments have been made to increase health spending by an additional $700 million by 2007-2008.

Prince Edward Island – Features of the most recent budget:
• Four regional health authorities and provincial health authority to be scrapped
• Separate social services department to be created

Source: Provincial Ministry of Health Web sites.

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