The federal government has signed an agreement in principle with Saskatchewan to invest nearly $6 billion into the province's health-care system over the next 10 years. 

"This agreement in principle with the federal government is a positive step that will accelerate and enhance work already underway," Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a news release Wednesday.

The deal includes $1.11 billion for a new bilateral agreement focusing on shared health care priorities. It also provides Saskatchewan with a one-time $61 million top-up to the Canada Health Transfer to address urgent needs, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms.

The province said the funding would be used to speed up measures already underway to improve access to primary health care, surgeries and mental health and addiction services.

"Saskatchewan is making significant investments to build a stronger, more resilient health-care system that works for everyone in our province," Merriman said.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said the deal with Saskatchewan is an opportunity to continue collaboration and improve the experience of health workers and patients.

"Better quality of care means helping residents of Saskatchewan and Canadians live longer, healthier lives," Duclos said in a news release.

Saskatchewan is the eighth province to sign a deal with Ottawa on health-care funding, following Alberta, the four Atlantic provinces, Ontario and Manitoba.

The agreements in principle are a first step to completing the $196-billion, 10-year health-care funding proposal that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made on Feb. 7.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe previously said that offer was much less than what provinces wanted but that no region was in a position to turn it down.

As part of the new agreement, Canada also committed to working with Saskatchewan to streamline foreign credential recognition for internationally educated health professionals. 

And Saskatchewan agreed to collect, use and share depersonalized health information to track progress on key areas within health care. 

Federal Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said the agreement "builds on our shared objective of ensuring all Canadians, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay, can access the care they need, when they need it."

"Our government will continue to work with our partners across the country to build a better health-care system."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.