B.C. signs health care deal with federal government, also gets money for opioid crisis

British Columbia is signing on to the health care deal with the federal government with an agreement that will provide more than $1 billion for home care and mental health.

The province will also get an additional $10 million in emergency management funds to help deal with B.C.'s opioid crisis. More than 900 people died last year of illicit drug overdoses, with most of those attributed to opioids such as fentanyl.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the deal and emergency funding Friday in Richmond, B.C., alongside B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake.

Under the deal, Ottawa will provide $1.4 billion for home care and mental health over the next 10 years.

The $10 million in federal money was described as urgent support to address the overwhelming toll of the drug crisis. It's part of a $65-million federal drug strategy, Philpott said.​

"This is the area that has been hardest hit," Philpott said. "Much of that is related to the continued spread of drugs like fentanyl."

Lake said the province will contribute another $5 million toward a joint task force dealing with overdose responses.

British Columbia has been among the most vocal provinces in urging the federal government to help fund strategies to deal with the opioid crisis.

- TERRY LAKE: Strengthening response to B.C.'s opioid crisis

Lake said he had hoped for more money to combat B.C.'s drug crisis. The minister has already asked Ottawa to declare a national public health emergency, which has been rejected.

Today, with the federal minister at his side, Lake repeated that call, saying it could free up more money.

4 provinces still not on-side

The agreement with B.C. leaves four provinces outside of the deal offered by the federal government: Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta. Those provinces have said they were holding out in hopes of receiving a better deal on the level of annual health funding from the federal government.

The annual increase to that transfer falls this year to three per cent from six per cent, or the rate of annual GDP growth, whichever is highest.

The federal government reached deals with Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories last month.

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador completed deals in December.

B.C. will hold a provincial election on May 9.