Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 18: Health (18-24)

Canada signs over $355 million bilateral agreement with Nova Scotia to improve health care over three years

January 10, 2024

This investment will increase access to a primary health provider, reduce backlogs and wait times, further support mental health services, and provide greater access to health data.

NationTalk: Health Canada, Halifax, Canada – Canadians want and deserve a health care system that provides timely access to health services whenever and wherever they are needed. That is why the Government of Canada is investing over $200 billion over 10 years, which includes $25 billion for tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, to support the Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians plan.

Today, the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada’s Minister of Health, Darren Fisher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, on behalf of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, the Honourable Michelle Thompson, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health and Wellness and the Honourable Brian Comer, Minister of Addictions and Mental Health, announced a bilateral agreement of more than $355 million over the next three years, marking a crucial step in a 10-year plan for collaboration. This new funding by the Government of Canada will help accelerate efforts already underway in Nova Scotia to improve health care access and services.

Through this federal funding, Nova Scotia has a 3-year action plan to deliver improvements to its health care system by 2026, including:

  • Increasing the percentage of people in the province who have regular access to a health care provider to 88%. This will be done by improving access to care in rural and remote communities through expanded clinic hours, Community Health Centres, the introduction of mobile health services, and virtual urgent care so patients without family doctors can receive the care they need;
  • Increasing the number of family physicians, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses across the province, as well as recruiting priority professions and specialized teams to address upcoming health workforce needs, in addition to improving work environments for current health workers;
  • Developing digital tools to make it easier for people in the province to access their health information, book appointments, and access virtual health services, simplifying the way they receive care. This includes creating a single system for patient records and treatments, and improving communication between patients and doctors;
  • Increasing the number of graduates with specialized training in mental health and addictions services, through the development of an Advanced Practice in Mental Health & Addiction stream within the Master of Nursing program at the Dalhousie School of Nursing;
  • Enhancing access to youth mental health and substance use services by adding three active Integrated Youth Services sites by 2025-26, with an additional five under development; and
  • Advancing underserved, underrepresented, and Indigenous health priorities across the province, including an Indigenous patient navigation program and improving the availability of Indigenous language interpretation and translation services, as well as a diverse health workforce and increased access to culturally-appropriate mental health and addictions services for both Indigenous and African-Nova Scotians.

Progress on these initiatives and broader commitments will be measured against targets which Nova Scotia will publicly report on annually.

Through this new agreement, Nova Scotia will improve how health information is collected, shared, used and reported to Canadians; streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals; and facilitate the mobility of key health professionals within Canada. and fulfill shared responsibilities to uphold the Canada Health Act to protect Canadians’ access to health care that is based on need, not the ability to pay.

Recognizing the significant disparities in Indigenous health outcomes, the Government of Canada and of Nova Scotia also commit to meaningfully engage and work together with Indigenous partners to support improved access to quality and culturally appropriate health care services. Nova Scotia’s action plan is informed by continued engagement with its Indigenous partners and recent trilateral discussions involving the federal government. All levels of government will approach health decisions in their respective jurisdictions through a lens that promotes respect and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Nova Scotia and the federal government will continue working together to improve access to health services and deliver tangible results to all patients across the province, including responding to the needs of Indigenous and other underserved and disadvantaged populations.


“Universal public health care is a priority and a point of pride for Canadians. Canadians are counting on us to work together to address the ongoing challenges we are experiencing within our health care systems. This agreement and action plan, which reflects Nova Scotia’s priorities, is one more step in the right direction and will help to expand access to care across the province. Together with all provinces and territories, we will improve Canada’s health care system for everyone.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Canada’s Minister of Health

“Improving access to mental health services is a priority for people across Canada. Through this agreement, Nova Scotia is expanding access to needed mental health and substance use services, including by increasing providers and expanding services for youth. By working together, we are helping Nova Scotia residents access the quality mental health and well-being supports they deserve.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“Young people dealing with mental health and addictions challenges, and their families, need quality mental health and substance use services and supports. Through this agreement, the federal government is supporting Nova Scotia’s plan to expand access to Integrated Youth Services as well as other care to meet the needs of Nova Scotia’s residents. Thanks to this agreement, more young people can get the help they need when they need it, in their own communities.”

Darren Fisher
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“We’re well on our way in implementing Action for Health, our roadmap for transforming healthcare in Nova Scotia, and changes across the system are making meaningful impacts on the front lines and beyond. We’re actively building the healthcare system all Nova Scotians need and deserve and we are pleased the federal government shares our vision and will provide some additional funding to support us in our work.”

The Honourable Michelle Thompson
Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health and Wellness

“Two years ago, we made a commitment to Nova Scotians: to make mental health and addictions care available to everyone as part of our publicly funded healthcare system — a Canadian first. With this funding from the federal government, we’ll be able to continue the momentum we’ve built during that time to connect even more people to the mental health and addictions care they need, faster.”

The Honourable Brian Comer
Nova Scotia’s Minister of Addictions and Mental Health

Quick facts

  • The Working Togetherinvestment includes $25 billion for tailored bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, a guaranteed 5% Canada Health Transfer (CHT) increase for the next five years—amounting to $17.5 billion—and a one time CHT $2 billion top-up to address to urgent needs of emergency rooms and paediatric hospitals delivered in June 2023. Combined, these investments provide provinces and territories the flexibility to address the unique needs of their populations and geography, and accelerate health care system improvements.
  • Budget 2023 outlined the Government of Canada’s plan to invest over $200 billion over 10 years, including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories, to improve health care for Canadians. Within this funding, $25 billion is allocated through tailored bilateral agreements to address the unique needs of their populations and geography in four shared health priorities:
    • expanding access to family health services, including in rural and remote areas;
    • supporting health workers and reducing backlogs;
    • increasing mental health and substance use support; and
    • modernizing health care systems with health data and digital tools.
  • All provinces and territories are already making considerable investments to advance progress in all four of these priority areas, and the new federal funding is complementing and expanding those efforts.
  • As part of these bilateral agreements, provinces and territories are developing action plans that outline how funds will be spent and how progress will be measured to demonstrate to Canadians that improvements are occurring in Canada’s health care system. Nova Scotia’s initial 3-year Action Plan can be found here.
  • Budget 2017 committed $11 billion over 10 years in federal funding to provinces and territories to improve access to home and community care, and mental health and addictions services for Canadians. Bilateral agreements were signed with provinces and territories to access the first six years of that funding. The final four years of funding for mental health and addictions are included in the new Working Together bilateral agreements.
  • The Government is also working with provinces and territories to implement a second bilateral agreement focused on helping Canadians age with dignity close to home, with access to home care or care in a safe long-term care facility. This agreement will include the remaining $2.4 billion over four years to improve access to home and community care from Budget 2017; and the $3 billion over five years for long-term care from Budget 2021 to apply standards of care in long-term care facilities and help support workforce stability.

Associated links


Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Alexander Fernandes
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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