It is February 2019 and Manitoba, Alberta and Nunavut have still not signed the bilateral agreements with the federal government that starting in 2018 provide a total $3 billion of “targeted” federal dollars over a four year period for home care and mental health. Strangely enough, this information was only obtained through a freedom of information request, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Why is it strange and difficult to get such information? These bilateral agreements are based on an agreed statement of principles, a plan of action, and, very importantly, on a commitment to public accountability and transparent processes. These commitments are made by all the provincial and territorial governments that sign on and get the funds. However, the federal government has apparently given out the first instalments of the targeted funding although one province and two territories have not signed and at least one other province (BC) has not been transparent about its agreement or plan of action.
It matters a lot to us as seniors because of the continuing and urgent need everywhere for more home care, meaning care for specific medically necessary care for chronic conditions, as the Romanow Commission report described and recommended in 2003. Access to home care allows people with medically necessary conditions to stay in their own homes, to enjoy a better quality of life, and to stay out of more expensive institutional care or hospital care. ( Note, home care does not mean assistance with household tasks.)
An essential part of these agreements is that provinces and territories provide a detailed plan showing how the targeted funding is to be used and also agree to provide regular public reports. Some provinces have indeed provided such plans to their citizens and promised to be accountable and transparent about how they spend the funds. We need to be on the lookout for their reports.
The province of BC has apparently signed a bilateral agreement but has not made its plan public. We seniors in BC want to know about the plans for addressing dementia or seniors’ opioid use or depression, and to see when and where and by whom more publicly funded medically necessary home care services are being provided.
Kathleen Jamieson – NPF Member at Large, Health Committee Liaison