Prime Ministers Unite to Demand More Health Care Dollars from Ottawa

Premiers meet in Victoria, say Ottawa isn’t stepping up as health system breaks

article content

VICTORY — Provincial and territorial leaders from across the political spectrum are united in their demands for more cash for Ottawa health care to prop up a system that is cracking under pressure, BC’s premier said Monday in the first of a two-day summit of the 13 premieres in Victoria.

Announcement 2

article content

Despite that, the federal government hasn’t pushed through Canada’s health transfer, leaving provinces and territories without a predictable and stable source of funding to come out of the pandemic, said John Horgan, who as president of the Council of the Federation is organizing the prime ministers. in the capital of BC.

“It is disingenuous at best to suggest that the federal government is living up to its responsibility when it comes to funding public health care in Canada,” he told reporters from the Fairmont Empress hotel ballroom on Monday. . “That is not the case”.

BC is facing a health care crisis that has left nearly a million British Columbians without a family doctor and prompted the temporary closure of understaffed emergency rooms.

Announcement 3

article content

The provinces and territories have asked Ottawa to increase its share of health care funding from 22% to 35%, which would mean an increase of $3.9 billion per year for British Columbia. British Columbia’s health budget for the current fiscal year is $27 billion, of which $6 billion is from the federal government.

Horgan said he received a text message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday morning saying he is aware of the prime ministers’ concerns and is working on a solution.

“But we can’t figure out what we’re going to do with the money we don’t have,” he said. “We can and will go much further if we had a partner that carried half load.

Horgan announced last month that he will not seek a third term and said he fears leaving his job in the fall without any movement from the Trudeau government.

Announcement 4

article content

Responding to interviews by Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc on Monday that the 22 per cent figure cited by premiers does not accurately reflect Ottawa’s full health care commitment, Horgan said he is happy to meet the Liberals. federal “halfway” in the negotiations.

“But we are nowhere right now,” he said. “Absolutely nowhere.”

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was not available for an interview, but his office said in a statement that since the start of the pandemic, the government has spent more than $72 billion on the health of Canadians, including $3 billion for the provinces and territories. long-term care, $3 billion in mental health funding, $3 billion in home care, and $2 billion to address surgical backlogs.

ad 5

article content

Premiers at a photo shoot during their summer meeting on Monday in Victoria.
Premiers at a photo shoot during their summer meeting on Monday in Victoria. Photo by CHAD HIPOLITO /THE CANADIAN PRESS

However, Quebec Premier François Legault, appearing alongside Horgan at an afternoon news conference, said the unique funding cited by Ottawa does not allow provinces and territories to do the long-term planning needed to address the gaps. critical in the health care system.

Horgan received assurances from Trudeau during his visit to British Columbia in November after the catastrophic flooding that the federal government would assemble a team to work on health care financing.

“That dialogue has been at a standstill for the past several months,” Horgan said.

The prime ministers spent the morning meeting with nursing leaders from across the country.

Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, said in a statement that “nurses have been battling extreme staffing shortages, forced overtime and canceled vacations, with no end in sight to these conditions of nursing. unsustainable work.

ad 6

article content

That is why he asked Trudeau to call a meeting between Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and the country’s prime ministers “to urgently address the dire state of public health care across the country” which he said , is on the “edge of disaster”.

BC Nurses Union President Aman Grewal said union leaders raised issues such as recruiting new nurses, retaining those already working but facing burnout and ensuring safe staffing levels.

Terry Lake, executive director of the BC Care Providers Association and former minister of health under Christy Clark’s Liberal government in BC, was involved in the last major health financing deal between the province and Ottawa in 2017. Those negotiations resulted in an agreement for Ottawa to provide the best -ups for long-term care, home care and mental health.

ad 7

article content

Lake said he pushed for Canada Health Transfer to be adjusted based on the demographics of each province and territory, which would mean BC, with a large proportion of older people compared to other jurisdictions, gets a larger share. The federal government did not agree with that.

“But the aging population across the country is irrefutable,” Lake said, “so it makes sense for the federal government to put more money toward health care.”

The premiers also spent part of the day meeting the Songhees First Nation with leaders from the National Indigenous Organization which includes leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council.

ad 8

article content

Horgan said the leaders discussed reconciliation, child welfare, land claim issues and how communities are recovering following the discovery of unmarked graves in residential schools across the country.

Elmer St. Pierre, president of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, said the federal government’s mental health transfer that has not yet been delivered could be a vital resource for the roughly 80 percent of indigenous peoples who live in urban areas, many of which are dealing with poverty, homelessness and the legacy of residential schools.

Trudeau has failed to deliver on his 2021 election promise to create a new mental health transfer that would provide $4.5 billion over five years to provinces and territories.

ad 9

article content

Federal Mental Health Minister Carolyn Ann Bennett’s office said in a statement that the mental health transfer is still in the works, but that the minister is working with provinces and territories on how to deliver a “comprehensive evidence-based plan.” “.

The prime ministers will continue their talks on Tuesday.

[email protected]

More news, less ads: Our in-depth journalism is possible thanks to the support of our subscribers. For just $3.50 a week, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post, and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The province.

Announcement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications – you’ll now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there’s an update in a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.

Leave a Comment