Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says the federal government has been working with provinces to restore the country’s ailing health systems during the pandemic, despite claims to the contrary by Canada’s prime ministers.
The comments come as prime ministers meet for a second day of talks in Victoria that have been dominated by the health care crisis across the country.
BC Premier John Horgan, who chairs the Federation Council that comprises all premiers, said the health care system must reinvent itself with a plan for sustainable human resources and stable federal funding.
He said eight months have passed since the federal government promised to sit down with prime ministers to devise a strategy to restore the health system and that meeting is long overdue.
Duclos said the federal government recognizes that all provincial health systems are in crisis, primarily due to a shortage of health workers.
“Many workers have left the profession during COVID-19 due to the physical and mental health toll that COVID-19 brought on them and their families,” Duclos said in an interview Tuesday.
“The provinces and territories rightfully feel that crisis because they are the most directly affected by the health care crisis that we are all seeing across the country.”
Duclos said he has been working steadily with his provincial counterparts on the issue, while also transferring billions of dollars to the provinces to shore up the system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have moved forward together in terms of policy, but also in terms of funding to support the provinces,” he said, adding that the federal government has already agreed to do more in the long term.
On Monday, prime ministers called on the federal government to increase its share of health care funding to 35 percent from the existing 22 percent amid staffing shortages.
Duclos did not offer a timetable for the federal government to participate in those negotiations. Earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said those talks will take place after the pandemic has passed.
Currently, federal contributions to provincial health systems grow in line with a three-year moving average of nominal gross domestic product.
Based on that formula, the payment of health transfers to the provinces increased by 4.8 percent in the most recent federal budget, which is equivalent to an additional $12 billion projected over the next five years compared to estimates. pre-pandemic.
Affordability issues and economic recovery are among the other issues on the table during the Federation Council’s summer meetings, which wrap up Tuesday.
Horgan says prime ministers are also sharing ideas to combat inflation and skyrocketing costs of living, and hope to see significant federal support in that area as well.
“Ideas in Quebec are just as valid there as they are in British Columbia,” Horgan said Monday.
While some of the causes are global, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian aggression in Ukraine, the impacts are local and require sustained intervention, he said.
“These are seismic issues that are shaking the international economy and we are not immune to that. But collectively, working together to find best practices, what can we do in our respective jurisdictions, and most importantly, how can we collaborate with the federal government. to meet these challenges.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 12, 2022.
— With Laura Osman Archives in Ottawa