Canada’s provinces and territories need a partner who will share half the financial burden on the health system, which is reeling without stable, predictable and long-term funding, British Columbia Premier John Horgan said Monday.
The country’s 13 prime ministers began two days of meetings in Victoria with the main topic of health care financing as Canada emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic with a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and other health workers. .
“We need to reinvent public health care in Canada,” said Horgan, who chairs the Federation Council of Prime Ministers.
He said the prime ministers have already sent the federal government a detailed funding proposal and are awaiting a response.
Horgan received a text message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday saying Ottawa is aware of the financial situation and “they’ve been working on it,” he said.
“But we can’t figure out what we’re going to do with the money we don’t have,” he said.
“And we can go much further if we had a partner who carried half the load.”
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Horgan told a news conference that Canada’s history of health care financing was one of “dual responsibility” before the cuts began in the 1990s.
“That has been declining for decades. This is not at the feet of the current Trudeau administration,” she added.
Successive federal governments have provided one-time funding to address immediate health care needs, and that approach isn’t working, Horgan said, adding that stable funding is needed.
@jjhorgan urges the federal government to shoulder half of the #HealthCare burden while #prime ministers meet. #CDNPoli #BCPoli
“Once those one-time, part-time, temporary funds are emptied, we have a void, which is inevitably filled by the jurisdictions that provide the services,” Horgan said of the provinces and territories.
Premiers have asked Ottawa to increase health funding to 35 percent, from what they have said is currently 22 percent.
Stable funding would allow provinces and territories to invest in a human resource strategy, so they don’t “poach” each other as they train the next generation of health care workers to ease the burden of those who were celebrated in the First days. of the pandemic, Horgan said.
“It just isn’t good enough to show our gratitude. Now we need to show that we are committed to those workers, those patients, and that is what these discussions this afternoon and tomorrow are about,” he said.
Canadian nursing leaders also met with prime ministers on Monday with the message that nurses are experiencing a “serious staffing crisis” that threatens the sustainability of public health care.
Referring to that meeting, Horgan said that people who work in the health care system are “stressed beyond belief.”
A statement from Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions, said the system is “on the brink of disaster.”
Silas said nurses have been “fighting against extreme staffing shortages, forced overtime and canceled vacations, with no end in sight” under unsustainable conditions.
The federation said its proposals focus on retaining nurses, encouraging them to return to the profession and adding measures to recruit and train more of them.
Silas said provincial commitments to strengthen health care are welcome, but “no province or territory can solve this on its own,” and federal funding will be key.
The premiers also met with leaders of the National Indigenous Organizations, comprised of the Assembly of First Nations, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Tapiriit Kanatami Inuit, the Métis National Council and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Horgan said they discussed issues including land claims, reconciliation, child welfare, missing and murdered indigenous women, and the “archaic” Indian Law, saying it was introduced when residential school policies were implemented.
He said they also discussed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the BC government is in the process of implementing. Ottawa has also committed to implementing the declaration, and BC Assembly of First Nations regional head Terry Teegee has called a meeting of prime ministers within the next year to focus on how to adopt it at all levels of Canadian governments.
Horgan was also asked how Prime Ministers plan to handle rising inflation and said they will discuss “best practices” in their jurisdictions to help reduce costs to the public and protect them from “seismic issues” affecting the global economy. including the pandemic and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 11, 2022.