Canada’s prime ministers are demanding a meeting with the newly re-elected prime minister to ask for more money, unconditionally, to inject into their health care systems.
Provincial and territorial leaders held a conference call Thursday to discuss what they need from the federal government, agreeing that health care is their top priority.
The prime ministers asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold a prime ministers meeting before the next speech from the throne, where they plan to demand an increase in unconditional long-term health funding.
At an afternoon press conference, BC Prime Minister John Horgan said that he and his counterparts discussed tactics to pressure Trudeau to provide them with more funding, something the prime minister has repeatedly postponed.
Horgan said the prime minister promised a meeting on health care financing before the elections, and now that the elections were over, the prime ministers wanted the meeting to take place.
He added that even some prime ministers who are new to their jobs maintain the determination of their predecessors to get more money out of the federal government.
“We need long-term, predictable and sustainable funding, not for us as governments, but for the people we represent. Health care is fundamental to who we are as a society, ”said Horgan, who chairs the Federation Council.
“Publicly funded healthcare has been the difference between us and our neighbors to the south, and we need a federal government that is fully engaged and that is a unanimous position across the country.”
This year’s federal budget, released in April, forecast $ 43.1 billion in healthcare transfers to the provinces, down from $ 45.9 billion last fiscal year after additional cash flowed in to bolster systems beset by cases. of COVID-19.
Prime ministers called on the federal government to immediately increase its share of health care costs from 22 percent to 35 percent, an increase of about $ 28 billion more this year.
They also ask for minimum funding increases of five percent per year, arguing that the current plan for three percent increases in spending means that transfers are not keeping up with annual cost increases.
The premiers push for more unconditional funding for health care from the feds. #CDNPoli #HealthCare
Horgan called the gap in health care funding an “urgent and pressing need,” and he already shared concerns with leaders of the Conservatives and the NDP on Thursday.
Trudeau said in August that he would not discuss permanent changes to federal health care transfers until the pandemic has passed.
As part of his reelection campaign, he pledged billions in healthcare spending, but his promises come with strings attached that include the hiring of new nurses and doctors and improvements to virtual care.
He pledged $ 6 billion to eliminate delays in surgeries and waiting lists for medical care and another $ 3.2 billion to support primary care.
The Liberals also launched a new health transfer specifically targeting mental health, with $ 4.5 billion in five years to start.
Several prime ministers opposed the idea of complying with the new federal conditions, arguing that since health care is a provincial jurisdiction, they are best suited to direct funds where they are needed.
This Canadian Press report was first published on September 23, 2021.
– With files from Jordan Press in Ottawa