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Government & policy

BC to increase spending on health innovation

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s upcoming budget will commit an additional $885 million to health funding next year, including a new $100-million fund to promote innovation within the healthcare system, Finance Minister Carole Taylor announced in late January.

Funding for the Ministry of Health, including the new Health Innovation Fund, will increase to $13.1 billion in 2007/08 from $12.2 billion this fiscal year, an increase of 7.3 per cent.

“The rapid growth in healthcare funding is a pressing issue for governments across the country,” said Taylor. “In B.C., we’ve increased healthcare funding by 25.5 percent since 2001/02, and next year alone it will go up another 7.3 percent – yet the pressures on the system continue to mount.”

“Putting healthcare on a sustainable track will take new ideas and innovation, and that’s why the Conversation on Health is so important,” said Taylor. “As a transitional measure, to accommodate any changes that may flow from the Conversation on Health, our health funding commitment is focused on the 2007/08 fiscal year. Over the course of the next year, we will continue our work with the Ministry of Health and health authorities to develop new budget targets for 2008/09 and beyond.”

In addition to their 2007/08 operating grants, health authorities will have access to a new $100-million fund to promote innovation and facilitate change within the healthcare system. The Minister of Finance, in consultation with the Minister of Health, will use the Health Innovation Fund to assist health authorities with the cost of implementing good practices, restructuring service delivery systems, and eliminating key information bottlenecks.

“Communicating our funding commitment early provides our health authorities with more time to develop ideas that could be funded through the Health Innovation Fund,” said Health Minister George Abbott. “It allows them to maximize their potential funding for 2007/08 and introduce innovations sooner.”

Funding directed to British Columbia’s health authorities, not including transfers from the Health Innovation Fund, will increase to $7.53 billion in 2007/08 from $7.06 billion in 2006/07, an increase of 6.7 per cent.

“While we’ve provided a significant increase to health authorities this year, we recognize that pressures will remain,” said Abbott. “In recent years, our health authorities have done an admirable job meeting their budget targets while providing the best possible patient care. This challenge will only increase in the years ahead and we’ll need to work closely with the health authorities to make sure we have the best possible tools and practices to meet the challenge.”

For planning purposes, the upcoming budget will include funding lifts for 2008/09 and 2009/10 that cover negotiating framework costs. Over the next year, the Ministry of Finance will continue to work with the health authorities and the Ministry of Health to accommodate any changes that may flow from the Conversation on Health prior to finalizing the funding commitments for 2008/09 and beyond.

To ensure the three-year fiscal plan remains balanced, the forecast allowances for 2008/09 and 2009/10 will recognize the interim nature of the health spending targets.

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