Ottawa invests in virtual care in BC and PEI
February 10, 2021
OTTAWA – The government of Canada announced investments in virtual care for the provinces of British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Patty Hajdu (pictured), minister of health, signed off on close to $18 million for BC to expand its virtual care services, and nearly $3.5 million for PEI.
“Now more than ever, Canadians need access to virtual health care services to support their health,” said Hajdu. “We are working with provinces and territories to support the rapid deployment of such services for Canadians, to ensure they can access the care they need, whenever they need it.”
On May 3, 2020, the Prime Minister announced an investment of $240.5 million to increase access to virtual services and digital tools to support Canadians’ health and wellbeing.
$150 million of that funding will be provided to provinces and territories through targeted bilateral agreements aimed at expanding virtual health services in five priority areas for immediate action to support further embedding virtual health care services within Canadian health systems, namely:
- secure messaging and file transfer,
- secure videoconferencing,
- remote patient monitoring technologies,
- patient access to their COVID-19 and other lab results, and
- back-end supports for integration and/or alignment of these new platforms or existing tools.
This funding is also in addition to the $50 million in incremental federal funding allocated to Canada Health Infoway to further support provincial and territorial efforts to rapidly implement new initiatives in keeping with the five priority areas.
Bilateral agreements on virtual care are a time-limited initiative aimed at ensuring that Canadians can continue to access the health care services they need during this time of uncertainty.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to new ways for British Columbians to access health and well-being supports across technological platforms, when and where they need it,” said Adrian Dix, British Columbia’s health minister. “The federal government’s investment in the digital tools is needed to deliver timely healthcare services and do everything we can to protect the health and well-being of British Columbians and keep others safe.”
Health Canada is building on its investment by working with provinces and territories on related policy issues. This will enable the longer-term adoption of high-quality and safe virtual health care services as a complement to in-person care.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen a lot of success in telehealth technology and virtual care supporting Island patients and received a lot of positive feedback from those who have used the service,” said Ernie Hudson, PEI’s minister of health. “Through the bilateral agreement we will be able to expand on these services, caring for more Islanders through efficient and secure virtual appointments. Virtual care offers the convenience of care from home, and allows Islanders to access care from across the province, country and world.”