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IVF funding, expanded cancer care, seniors' supports: A look at B.C.'s $6B in new health-care spending

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B.C.'s 2024 budget outlines $6 billion in increased health-care spending over three years, including millions more for cancer care, mental health and addictions, seniors’ care and in vitro fertilization.

Next spring, the province will launch a $68 million in vitro fertilization program, funding one round of treatment and medication. That’s expected to start in April of 2025, but the budget document announces that “B.C. will immediately begin work to establish a program to help with the cost of in-vitro fertilization services” with establishment of an expert clinical group.

Finance Minister, Katrine Conroy, described the policy as “catching up” with several other provinces who already cover the costs of one round of IVF.

Over the next three years, $270 million will go toward cancer treatment, as well as screening and prevention services that include the HPV vaccine – that’s funding in addition to the initial $440 million investment in the 10-Year Cancer Action Plan.

They also plan to expand “specialized cancer services” including pediatric oncology, malignant hematology, immunotherapy, and theranostics.

More than $200 million in funding for mental health services, overdose prevention sites, crisis response teams, and recovery programs will continue, and the NDP government intends to expand the Red Fish Healing model, which they did last year as well.

As part of that, harm reduction initiatives including 49 overdose prevention sites and naloxone kit distribution will see funding remain at $39 million over the three years.

Another $13 billion is earmarked for health-care infrastructure, from hospital redevelopments and new cancer centres to new care home accommodations for seniors.

Health-care has the largest budget of any ministry by far, with $28.7 billion in operating funding this year, growing to $33.7 billion by 2025-26.

As part of that, home and community care services for seniors will from $45 million a year now to $163 million a year in 2026-27.

Included in the budget documents, were provided the ministers’ mandate letters with their priorities and strategies for the year ahead. The top priorities for health minister, Adrian Dix, revolve around access to a family doctor and non-emergency care, but close behind is mental health and substance use, with a series of strategies to “build a seamless and integrated system of care” including “development and implementation of a new model of care that will support people across all stages of substance use recovery from detox to aftercare.”

Full coverage of B.C. Budget 2024

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