Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the comments from the hon. member, with respect to health care funding.
Our government is committed to a strong, publicly funded, universally accessible health care system that is there for all Canadians, both today and into the future. That is why we have continued to increase health funding to record levels while, at the time, ensuring that our government's long-term fiscal position is sustainable, in order to continue to support the provision of high-quality health care services that Canadians have come to expect.
In 2015-16, our government will provide $34 billion to provinces and territories in cash support through the Canada health transfer. This ongoing federal investment will continue to increase, surpassing $40 billion by the end of the decade. Even through the economic downturn, we have increased health transfers to the provinces and the territories to unprecedented levels. Combine this with the fact that health spending growth in Canada has actually slowed in recent years, and federal support for health care is even more significant.
In fact, health spending has not exceeded economic growth since 2011. In 2014, provincial and territorial government health spending growth was forecasted to be at 1.9%, which is the lowest rate observed since the mid-1990s. All indications are that this trend of reduced health spending growth will continue into the future.
Notwithstanding, our government has committed to extend the 6% Canada health transfer escalator through 2016-17, providing provinces and territories with additional fiscal room to meet their health care needs as they continue to address their respective priorities. The renewed Canada health transfer will provide provinces and territories with the certainty, stability and additional fiscal flexibility to undertake needed reforms to make the system more effective and sustainable.
Of course, improving health care is about more than just funding levels. It will require innovation to make the most efficient use of available resources. The federal government already plays a key role in supporting health care innovation and improvement, with investments of close $1 billion per year through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. On any given day, we are supporting close to 13,000 researchers across Canada who are working to discover new ways of treating illnesses and delivering health care.
In addition, our government supports pan-Canadian organizations, such as the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, which serve as catalysts for building capacity and sharing innovations across the country. I am pleased to note that economic action plan 2015 would commit $14 million, over two years, for the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement.
Provinces, territories and stakeholders all agree that health care innovation can play a critical role in addressing health care challenges. Given the importance of innovation in health care, in June 2014, we launched the advisory panel on health care innovation to explore how our government can foster innovation, and improve patient care and the sustainability of Canada's health care system. The panel has been asked to identify promising areas of innovation in Canada, and internationally, that have the potential to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of our health care system. The panel will report back in June 2015, offering its recommendations on how our government can best support needed change.
We are also creating partnerships in order to help the provinces and territories carry out innovative health reforms and deliver tangible results for Canadians.
Clearly, we will continue to ensure that our health care system will endure as a source of national pride.