Conor Murphy stressed the need to follow through with structural reforms of healthcare delivery.
He told MLAs that without reform, the service would continue to need money that would otherwise have been used for other public services.
Mr Murphy (pictured) has already indicated that other departments may have to give up funding in the forthcoming three-year budget plan to bolster health spending.
But he told the Assembly that approach could not continue indefinitely.
He said successive health ministers have been committed to reform measures but had been hamstrung by the limits of budgets that only lasted for 12 months.
Mr Murphy said the new three-year Stormont budget would provide an opportunity to follow through with the systemic changes required.
“The Executive, particularly if we’re in a situation where other departments are making a contribution, we will want to understand that the programme of reform has been followed through and that we’re getting that,” he said.
“Because there is a recognition, and health (department) recognises this as much as anybody, to leave things unchanged for the next period over a number of years would result in an ever-increasing contribution from the entire block grant into health alone, and that’s not sustainable in the longer term.”