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The federal government supports calls from the premiers to establish a five-year review of health-care funding, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a letter to his Ontario counterpart.

Canada's premiers have been urging regular reviews to be established as part of the talks, saying the system needs predictability.

Duclos' letter to Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the province's bilateral agreement will include working toward certain health indicators, agreeing to provide "equity of access" for underserved groups and uphold the Canada Health Act to strengthen the public health system.

It also includes a commitment to streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals and multi-jurisdictional recognition of health professional licences. Ontario must also provide an action plan of how money will be spent and how progress will be measured and reported.

Duclos wrote that the review would consist of two phases, the first to "assess results and determine next steps" for existing bilateral funding deals the provinces made with Ottawa in 2017 to upgrade mental health and home care programs.

The second phase would be to formally review the current deal that's being ironed out after five years.

"This review will consider results achieved thus far in shared health priority areas of family health services, health workers and backlogs, mental health and substance use and health system modernization," Duclos wrote.

It would include "an assessment of progress-to-date on public reporting to Canadians using the common indicators, sharing depersonalized health information, and other health data commitments," he wrote.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford wrote Thursday on Twitter that he had been hearing from Ontarians concerned that the health data provisions in the federal agreement would mean their private information gets shared.

#Ottawa supports premiers' call for health-care deal reviews: @jyduclos. #CDNPoli #HealthCare #HealthCareFunding

"I want to be clear, the Ontario government will never share anyone's personalized health information - digital or otherwise - with the federal government," he wrote in a statement.

"The only discussion that is taking place is how to better use non-personalized health-system statistics to improve performance, such as wait times for surgeries and the availability of family doctors."

Ottawa has offered more than $46 billion to provinces and territories to augment the Canada Health Transfer but the country's premiers say they're "disappointed" with the amount.

"While this first step marks a positive development, the federal approach will clearly not address structural health-care funding needs, nor long-term sustainability challenges we face in our health-care systems across the country," the premiers wrote Thursday to Trudeau.

The letter said premiers are prepared to accept the offer for now, but further discussions are needed to establish longer-term predictability and stability in health care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2023.

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