The Liberal government is spending more than $1 billion in a three-year bilateral health agreement with Alberta. The announcement was made Thursday morning by the Mark Holland, Canada's Minister of Health and Adriana LaGrange, Alberta Minister of Health, unveiling a comprehensive plan to enhance healthcare access and services for residents in the province.The cash is part of the larger Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan, where the Government of Canada is dedicating more than $200 billion over ten years, including $25 billion for tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories. The collaboration aims to address shared health priorities, with a focus on expanding access to family health services, supporting healthcare workers, reducing backlogs, increasing mental health and substance use support, and modernizing healthcare systems through health data and digital tools.The bilateral agreement with Alberta involves an injection of $1.06 billion over the next three years. This includes $285 million annually in new funding by the Government of Canada, complemented by the ongoing commitment of $70 million per year in previously-announced mental health and substance use funding. The financial support will be instrumental in expediting ongoing initiatives in Alberta to uplift healthcare access and services.The three-year action plan outlined for Alberta's healthcare system includes several key components, ensuring a comprehensive approach to improvement by 2026:Primary Care Access Enhancement: Alberta aims to increase access to primary care providers, reducing the reliance on emergency departments for concerns that could be addressed by family medicine offices. This will be achieved through the expansion of team-based care, enhanced virtual care and an increase in available appointments.Diagnostic Imaging Capacity: The province will allocate funds to community providers to increase diagnostic imaging capacity, effectively reducing wait times for essential procedures such as CT scans and MRIs.Digital Health Services: The plan involves a significant focus on improving patient care by implementing e-referral services and accelerating the secure exchange of data across the health system. This initiative will empower Albertans to access digital health services and their own health information more efficiently.Youth Mental Health Services: Alberta is committed to expanding integrated services for youth mental health through school-based and community day programs. Additional supports will be offered for youth with complex needs as they transition into adult services.Community Mental Health and Substance Use Services: The median wait times for community mental health and substance use services will be reduced through the establishment of new treatment spaces and improvements to existing facilities. Culturally appropriate indigenous community supports will be prioritized.Access for First Nations and Métis People: Dedicated funding will ensure that First Nations and Métis people have access to high-quality, culturally safe care that meets their unique health needs. This involves enhancing primary care in indigenous communities and funding for capacity-building and infrastructure development.Access for Underserved Albertans: Efforts will be directed at improving access to health care for underserved populations, including expanded community pilots in rural, remote and indigenous communities, advancement of French-language health services and enhanced clinical care for women.The progress on these initiatives and broader commitments will be measured against specific targets, with Alberta committed to annual public reporting."Our government is working together with provinces and territories to get Canadians the healthcare they need. This agreement is an important step in our collaboration with Alberta to take measurable actions to transform our health care system," Holland said.Minister Adriana LaGrange affirmed Alberta's commitment to revitalize healthcare delivery, stating, "This initial funding from the federal government is a good start and will support our shared health priorities of expanding access to primary care across the province and especially in our indigenous communities, supporting our health care workers, improving access to quality mental health and modernizing our health systems."The bilateral agreement also emphasizes the importance of collecting, sharing and reporting health information to Canadians, recognizing the significant role played by foreign-educated health professionals. Additionally, it aims to facilitate the mobility of key health professionals within Canada and uphold the Canada Health Act's shared responsibilities.In response to the significant health disparities among indigenous populations, the Government of Canada and Alberta commit to meaningful engagement and collaboration with indigenous partners to improve access to quality and culturally appropriate health care services.