Funding part of $240.5 million investment to enhance health and wellbeing services
The federal government is investing $3.1 million under a bilateral agreement to help expand virtual health services capacity in Northwest Territories.
“Now more than ever, Canadians need access to virtual health care services to support their health. We are working with provinces and territories to support the deployment of such services for Canadians, to ensure they can access the care they need, whenever they need it. Today’s investment will support the Northwest Territories as they meet the health needs of its residents through expanded virtual health services,” said Patty Hajdu, Canada’s minister of health.
The funding is part of the $240.5 million investment Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in May 2020 to increase access to virtual services and digital tools to support Canadians’ health and wellbeing. More than half ($150 million) of that money will be provided to provinces and territories through targeted bilateral agreements aimed at expanding virtual health services in five priority areas for immediate action, including:
- secure messaging and file transfer
- secure video conferencing
- remote patient monitoring technologies
- patient access to their COVID-19 and other lab results
- back-end supports for integration and/or alignment of these new platforms or existing tools
Physicians in Canada generally opted to offer virtual care services options instead of in-person care amid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
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.
Over the coming weeks, the territory will be developing an action plan that outlines how it is investing the funding under the bilateral agreement to expand virtual health services.
“The Government of the Northwest Territories’ main priority remains the health and safety of NWT residents and continues to do what we can to find ways to support those needs for residents across all 33 communities,” said Julie Green, Northwest Territories’ minister of health and social services. “COVID-19 has created a need for virtual services in a way that no one could have anticipated. Continued funding such as this will support the NWT’s health and social services system improvements in key areas, including virtual care and access.”
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.
To date, funding agreements totaling close to $102 million have been announced for eight provinces and territories, including Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.
Health Canada is also 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, according to the federal government.