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Nurses, doctors, and respiratory therapist prepare to intubate a COVID-19 patient at Humber River Hospital in Toronto on January 20, 2022.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Canada’s provincial premiers and territorial leaders to discuss a new 10-year health care funding deal.

The federal government is proposing $46.2-billion in new health care funding, a figure that is significantly less than what the premiers had demanded, bringing total federal spending on health care to $196.1-billion in the next decade. The new federal money would be divided between the Canada Health Transfer and $25-billion for separate bilateral deals with individual provinces and territories.

Many premiers stated their disappointment with the deal after Tuesday’s meeting – some called the proposal “fiscally limited” and others said it was “a starting point”– however no premier said they would reject the proposal. Meanwhile, Canadian health leaders said that Ottawa’s offer is a “ray of hope” for the country’s pandemic-battered health care system, but isn’t enough for fundamental change.

Opinion: Lots of numbers, little imagination: The federal funding deal won’t fix health care

Globe readers were similarly divided. We rounded up a collection of reader reactions, including personal stories from health care professionals, the experiences of Canadians accessing health care services and many recommendations about what needs to change.

What readers would like to change

From Globe commenter Healthcare Insider:

Does the partisan political fighting ever stop? If we want to fix health care, perhaps we should read the letter that nursing associations and nurse educators wrote the prime minister from all across Canada. They gave their ideas on how to retain nurses and get those who left to work as well as bring international nurses who are in Canada to work as soon as possible. We have 20 per cent more nursing vacancies than we did five years ago. Let’s stop the finger-pointing and work together.

From Globe commenter DRG-rant:

Very disappointing, and won't solve the issues in health care by simply pumping more and more money in and hoping it goes away. We need family doctors and nurses, and most if not all hospitals are already trying to recruit more nurses. The money is already there to hire them, but the people are missing. How is the extra money going to resolve the issues? That's what we want to hear.

From Globe commenter res ipsa loquitur:

The plan should be to significantly increase medical school spots so that Canada can provide its own family doctors to service the current and projected population, taking mass immigration, refugees, [temporary foreign workers], foreign students into account. The idea of poaching doctors from abroad should only be a short-term plan and to the extent that is done, priority should be given to Canadians who have gone to train abroad in comparable systems because our medical school quotas are inadequate. There are a lot of talented young Canadians who want to be doctors and we have the need.

From Globe commenter Canook:

The gripe from the premiers indicates enough money is never enough from the federal government. They want free rein under the Canada Health Act but have no serious plans to update and streamline their own provincial procedures to ensure that money is well spent. Each and every provincial plan limps along as patients continue to suffer and die. Shameful!

From Globe commenter doug5985:

The current health care system is broken. Thousands of people have no family doctor, there are lengthy wait times in emergency rooms (if they are even open), there is hallway medicine with a shortage of hospital beds, there are unreasonable wait times for tests and surgeries, it is almost impossible to get appointments to see specialists. Canada needs a new model for providing health care and everything should be on the table for discussion including the role of both the private and public sector. In order to remake a failing system Canada needs politicians with vision and courage which seem to be seriously lacking at both the federal and provincial levels. As a result instead of trying innovative solutions to repair a broken system it is easier to simply continue to throw more money at the current health care model.

From Globe commenter Western Willy:

The constitutional and political question over who funds and delivers health care is still up for debate. The provinces say healthcare is their jurisdiction, they just want the Feds to fund it. Ottawa is left in a quandary about making sure that health care is delivered equally across provinces and territories – that have very unequal taxation bases. All considered, however, taxpayers and corporations essentially have just one pocket. Time to hammer out the deal.

From Globe commentator Jose Latour:

As an immigrant to Canada, one of the things that I could not comprehend when I learned about it was that a physician from, say, Ontario, could not practice in Manitoba, as if Manitobans were cold-blooded, two-headed aliens from another planet. Making "pan-Canadian licensure of physicians'' would not solve the current situation our health care system confronts, but it would be a step in the right direction.

From Globe commenter Rebecca2:

I would like more reporting in the data sharing. I was recently asked to sign a form giving consent for my doctor to share my information with the province. I’m hesitant because I don’t trust the system at all. I’d like to know what their real plans are for these things.

Reaction from health care workers on the ground

From Globe commenter Thomas Darcy McGee:

My wife is a health care professional. She has been recruited many times to leave her position in the public sector to partner in several private clinics. She can't bring herself to leave her current situation as her hospital is already in a staffing crisis. But her associates are gradually being lured, by better financial compensation, away from their public role to private practices. And the public hospitals and clinics are falling further and further behind in their capacity to serve the public. Private health care is slowly but steadily strangling public health care. We are moving closer and closer to the U.S. model where inferior health care costs twice as much and produces shorter life spans and financially crippled families.

From Globe commenter Brenda J Bell:

Recently, I have had a number of conversations with doctors and nurses in British Columbia, specifically in Interior Health. The most prevalent comments relate to the top-heavy bureaucracy within the health organizations. Apparently, Interior Health has one of the most “admin heavy” systems in the province. Those staff members have almost no contact with patients and contribute to delays in service with bureaucratic red tape. Those same doctors and nurses state that they are rarely, if ever, consulted about how to make the system more efficient. They have ideas!

From Globe commenter app_66324267:

Unfortunately it would require a whole different culture in health care administration. Right now, the system is silo’d to death. Administrators/bureaucrats are rewarded for mediocrity. And the key layers are working on entirely different teams. Health care professionals rarely have input on changes and change is led by administrators without vision. I’m in health care and the biggest issue is that there’s team bureaucrats/administrators in offices versus health care professionals at ground level. This just can’t work. There’s no buy in from anyone. Administrators in my opinion don’t want to know what is happening at the ground level, they just want to shuffle the deck and manage budgets.

From Globe commenter Sarah Jane 41:

How did things get so bad? I am in area of medicine that has experienced 10 per cent growth per year. When the previous heath accord happened, our wait lists went from 4 to 5 years for new routine patients to about a year. We went from 2 MDs up to 5 MDs. That was 17 years ago. Since that time we keep growing in referrals new technology and our area becoming more crucial for patient care and management. We haven’t received any increase in persons to manage this ever-increasing load. So now we are back at 4-5 years for patients to wait. There is no real incentive to innovate but we try. Unit totally demoralized. Part of reason this happened is that government did not increase budget to hospital at all for years and no new MD hires allowed provincially. Heath systems and government need to really collaborate.

People’s personal health care stories:

From Globe commenter MLK6:

I have had two non-urgent major surgeries in the last three years in BC. In both cases, the time from referral to a specialist/surgeon and the actual surgery was less then three months. Admittedly, a small sample size but the relatively short wait time seems reasonable. I also had two minor surgeries in the last year both of which were completed within one month of the referral. The main impediment in B.C. would seem to be the lack of general practitioners (GP) to provide the referral. GPs aside, the system in B.C. seems to be working.

From Globe commenter Lisa Weber:

I live in a little town in Ontario that is mostly retired people. And we have had a recent explosion of francophones who are choosing to retire to Onatario because they are worried about the state of health care in Quebec. It is hard to imagine it gets worse than what we have in Ontario! But, Quebec, has managed to be worse, much, much worse. The stories are unbelievable.

From Globe commenter RfcMD:

I lived in Chicago for many years. Had the best health insurance money could buy. Access to health services and quality of care not as good as I’ve experienced in Calgary. In Alberta, the focus should be on more doctors for the rural areas of the province.

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