Premiers meet in Victoria to present united demand for more money for health care
Canada’s premiers are gathering today for two days of meetings in Victoria, British Columbia, where they are expected to focus on their call for increased health care funding from the federal government.
“Problems faced by Canadians accessing healthcare services during the pandemic have intensified strains in our healthcare systems that will continue unless the federal government significantly increases its share of healthcare costs,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan, this year’s president of the Council of the Federation, said in a news release.
“Canadians need to be confident that their health care system will provide the services they need. There can be no more delay in having this vital conversation with the federal government.
The Council of the Federation, the association of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial premiers, wants the federal government to increase its share of health care funding from the current level of 22% to 35% and maintain funding at this new level . in the future.
“It was … 2004 the last time there were substantial gains made in terms of increases in the [Canada Health Transfer]”Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said last week. “What the provinces are basically asking for is to have an equitable funding partner within the federal government, as has always been expected since very beginning.”
The office of federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told CBC News last week that it was committed to funding public health care in Canada, although it did not specifically respond to the Premiers’ call for the Federal Government to cover 35% of the costs.
Duclos’ office said it has invested more than $72 billion in health care since the pandemic began, including $2 billion to help provinces address surgical backlogs.
His office also said it was committed to bilateral agreements with the provinces that would mean $3 billion for long-term care, $3 billion for mental health services and $3 billion for Home Care.
“We have clearly demonstrated that we are ready to do our part to ensure the sustainability and accessibility of the publicly funded universal health care system that we all cherish as Canadians,” Duclos’ office said in a statement. Press.
“Canadians are not interested in a sterile budget debate. Canadians are interested in results: they want care and that is what we want to focus on.”
In 1977, the way the federal government funds health care was changed. Direct federal funding for some health services was reduced, and provinces were allowed to levy more income and corporate taxes to fund health services directly.
The federal government says that when these tax points are taken into account, the federal government actually covered 27.9% of health care costs in Canada in 2021-22.
When the money Ottawa spends on bilateral agreements for long-term care, home care, mental health, and some other services is integrated, the share of health spending covered by the federal government in 2021-22 s is closer to 38.5%, a federal official said.
A federal government official speaking on the background told CBC News that the premiers’ demand for a $28 billion annual increase to the Canada Health Transfer – with no discussion of where the money will be used – will not fly with Ottawa.
Essential long-term funding: Horgan
The federal government’s decision to fund specific health programs, such as long-term care and home care, has upset some provinces. They say the federal government should just give the money to the provinces and let them decide where it should be spent, rather than earmarking the funding for specific programs.
“We are asking for provincial autonomy within the limits of what the Constitution provides,” Moe said.
Horgan said targeted funding for specific initiatives does not help provinces plan for the long term or deliver health care services in the short term.
CBC News: The House11:49Premiers meet for review of Canada’s health care system
“One-time funding doesn’t help us build the system. It doesn’t help us put a human resources strategy in place,” Horgan told CBC Radio. The House in an interview aired on Saturday.
“Instead, we find ourselves, in certain circumstances, poaching each other. The highest bidder gets the most nurses. This is not how Canada should operate. This is now how we want it to work.”
Economic growth and energy security
Horgan said the premiers will also discuss the economic recovery and the cost of living crisis. Last week, Moe suggested the conversation would focus on the rising cost of energy and how western provinces can, with the help of the federal government, begin to address this problem.
Moe said he would ask the federal government to take a “very serious look at policy developments” that he says impede energy production. He said Ottawa had not done enough to engage with the United States to resolve issues such as the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.
The pipeline was supposed to deliver Canadian oil to U.S. refineries, but it was canceled last year by President Joe Biden, who made stopping the project a key campaign promise.
Moe said his plan for Canada’s and North America’s energy security “includes an east-west corridor” for energy. Quebec Premier Francois Legault has previously said his government would not tolerate a pipeline crossing his province.
Legault has said in the past that his government would tolerate a gas pipeline running through the province – but his government last year canceled a liquefied natural gas project and the pipeline that would have powered it due to environmental concerns.
Following the July 11-12 First Ministers’ Meetings – which are being held in person for the first time since 2019 – the First Ministers will speak to the media and answer questions at the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria.
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