Pubdate: Sun, 19 Feb 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Rob Shaw
Page: 6


After decrying Ottawa's "divide and conquer" approach to health-care
agreements, British Columbia signed its own side deal on Friday - to
get extra cash for the drug-overdose crisis.

B.C. had been one of the most vocal critics of Ottawa's strategy to
pick off provinces one by one with special agreements, rather than
negotiate across-the-board health transfers with all the provinces.

But B.C. officials said Friday they eventually decided to settle the
feud because they wanted to present a united Canadian front in the
softwood lumber trade dispute with the U.S.

Health Minister Terry Lake and his federal counterpart, Jane Philpott,
announced the funding in Richmond.

"Ottawa has been a very tough negotiator," said Lake. "I would be
lying if we didn't say we were hoping for more. But now we have this
agreement and it's time to get to work."

The deal boosted B.C.'s federal health-care transfers by 4.4 per cent,
including $786 million for home care services (which Ottawa had
previously promised) and $655 million to support mental health
programs. The funding is over 10 years.

"We know this kind of agreement and support will assist the government
of British Columbia as they work to reduce wait times for mental
health care and services, especially children and youth," said
Philpott, who added the money will also help seniors stay in their

The deal also includes $10 million to help fight the opioid overdose
crisis. Lake said B.C.'s budget, to be unveiled Tuesday, will add $5
million to the opioid task force.

B.C.'s coroner announced Friday that 116 people died from overdoses in
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