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Dear Colleagues:

This is "budget week in Canada" with the federal and provincial both tabling their budgets for 07/08. With a possible federal election in the horizon and Ontario's election on October 10, 2007, these budgets set the stage for a busy election year. On Monday, the Harper Government unveiled its second budget, which was largely focused on restoring the fiscal imbalance between the provinces and the federal government. Overall, the budget commits $1.4 billion in new spending for health care. Key highlights:

Federal Transfers

  • The Canada Health Transfer will provide $21.3 billion in 2007-08, or $1.2 billion over payments made in 2006-07, to support provincial and territorial governments with health care delivery.


Wait Times

  • Up to $612 million over three years to support jurisdictions implement patient wait times guarantees, along with $30 million for patient wait times guarantee pilot projects. Ontario's share of the wait times money is expected to be $215 million. Unfortunately, the budget is silent on health human resources, which is critical for reducing wait times and improving access to care.


eHealth

  • An additional $400 million is dedicated to Canada Health Infoway (CHI) to support provincial and territorial governments develop electronic health records to help reduce wait times and the risk of medical errors. Countless provincial governments and national commissions have called for investments in electronic health records in order to modernize the health care system. As we know at University Health Network, electronic health records have made a real difference in our ability to deliver high quality, timely and efficient care to our patients. Further, funding for CHI will support integration efforts like the SIMS Partnership.


Investing in Leading-Edge Health Research

  • $510 million is committed to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) to support research infrastructure at colleges, universities and research hospitals. The good news is that this will enable the CFI to undertake another major competition before 2010. UHN researchers rely on CFI grants and last year we were awarded a record $28 million. The government anticipates that $70 million will be awarded to institutions in 2008-09. The new resources provided in this budget are expected to lever close to $600 million from others in support of state-of-the-art science infrastructure at universities, colleges and research hospitals.
  • An additional $15 million per year will cover the indirect costs of research, including the operating and maintenance of research facilities.
  • Funding for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the federal health research funding agency, was increased by $37 million. This funding will not substantially increase operating grant funding for our researchers and we will continue to advocate for increases to the CIHR budget.
  • $350 million over 2006/07 and the next two years will be used for Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research.
  • Providing Genome Canada with an additional $100 million in 2006-07 to extend promising research projects and sustain funding for regional genome centres and related technology platforms.
  • Establishing scholarships in the memory of Sir Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best, among others, to "create the next generation of leaders."


Supporting Health Care

  • $300 million in per capita funding to support a national human papillomavirus vaccine program to protect women against cancer of the cervix - the second most common form of cancer after breast cancer, affecting women between 20 and 44. The vaccine is considered by experts to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in women's health care.
  • $10 million over the next two years and $15 million per year thereafter for the establishment of a Canadian Mental Health Commission, chaired by the Honourable Michael Kirby.


For the full bud​get, I encourage you to visit the Finance Ministry's website at http://www.budget.gc.ca/2007/index-e.html Tommorow, we'll turn our attention to the provincial government's fourth budget, which sets the stage for an October 10th election.

Bob​​​

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