The 2019 federal budget made a number of commitments to improving seniors care in Canada, an area where the CMA has consistently advocated for action through its Demand a Plan campaign. Over the next five years, the government plans to provide the Public Health Agency of Canada with $50 million to support the implementation of Canada’s first National Dementia Strategy, which is expected to be released this spring.
In addition, the budget proposes enhancing the guaranteed income supplement’s (GIS) earnings exemption starting next year, so that low-income working seniors can earn more without giving up their benefits.
The 2019 federal budget made several other promises that could improve Canadians’ health:
To help make prescription drugs more affordable for Canadians, the government is setting aside $35 million over four years for Health Canada to develop a Canadian Drug Agency. The agency would:
- assess the effectiveness of new prescription drugs
- negotiate drug prices on behalf of Canada’s drug plans
- recommend which drugs represent the best value-for-money for Canadians
The commitment comes weeks after the interim report of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare, which is exploring options for a national drug program.
The budget also earmarks $1 billion over two years to help Canadians with rare diseases access the high-cost drugs they need, starting in 2022.
The government is proposing a plan that would invest between $5 and $6 billion in rural broadband over the next 10 years. The goal is to give 100% of Canadian homes and businesses access to high-speed internet by 2030. This would enable the implementation of virtual care and potentially improve access to care for rural, remote and Indigenous communities. The CMA just announced its participation in a national task force that will make recommendations to improve virtual care in Canada.
Other health commitments include:
- $739 million over five years to support ongoing efforts to prevent boil water advisories in First Nations communities
- $30.5 million over five years to expand access to a safe supply of prescription opioids and better access to Naloxone in underserved communities
- $25 million over five years to support a bilingual, pan-Canadian suicide prevention service
The 2019 federal budget is just the beginning. With Canadians going to the polls this fall, the CMA is mobilizing to “get health care back on the agenda.” We’re developing our federal election strategy and looking to our members to help set the course. Fill out the CMA’s election survey and let us know what’s important to you.