Federal health transfers: Ottawa to present 10-year offer

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Federal-health-transfers rals in health: Ottawa will present a 10-year offer

Justin Trudeau will meet with his provincial and territorial counterparts on Tuesday in Ottawa. (File photo)

The federal government will propose a 10-year plan for health care funding and reform when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa on Tuesday.

The federal proposal provides for the injection of new funds from the next budget.

The offer will include a top-up to the planned general increase in the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) as well as substantial funding through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to meet specific needs. of their health care systems.

Health care funding has always been a point of contention between the provinces and Ottawa. The effects of the pandemic on an already strained system have made the need for a new federal-provincial health funding agreement more pressing.

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday between Canada's 13 provincial and territorial premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to try to reach an agreement on this thorny issue.

< p class="e-p">Provincial and territorial government leaders say the federal government pays only 22% of the cost of delivering health care. They want that percentage to increase to 35%, which is a $28 billion increase in the TCS program, which currently stands at $45.2 billion. To this amount would be added an annual increase of 5%.

The feds said they would offer more money, but they reject the ;claim that it only pays 22% of health care costs, and argues that it funds more.

During the negotiations, Ottawa wanted to impose conditions and priority areas for action on the provinces (including improving the support and retention of health care workers, or improving services in the field of mental health), which the Prime Ministers refused. Quebec and Ontario, however, have declared themselves willing to respond to requests from the federal government.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who is this year's chair of the Council of the Federation, said Monday it was frustrating that premiers had yet to see details of the offer. . If we had had it in advance, we could have had a more in-depth discussion [Tuesday], there is no doubt, she said.

< p class="e-p">She would not say whether the premiers would be flexible on their 35% demand, or what concessions or terms they would be open to. We want to see what the proposal will look like, she said. We'll go in with an open mind and then we'll go from there.

Upon his arrival Monday afternoon in Ottawa, Prime Minister François Legault said he was happy to finally meet Mr. Trudeau after two years and to have a proposal from the federal government on the table. Now let's see the amount. We asked for it to be an unconditional proposal, so we'll find out tomorrow. Then we, the prime ministers, we meet this evening, then we always have a beautiful common front, indicated Mr. Legault in a press scrum.

During question period in Ottawa, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, challenged Mr. Trudeau on this issue, calling on him to offer a quick check and not conditions to the provinces.

< p class="e-p">Mr. Blanchet implores prime ministers not to make a 'game out of itof power or jurisdictional issues around the table. The federal government is withholding money to force the provinces to accept interference in a jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. It remains unacceptable. It does not serve the interests of people who are suffering, who are afraid and who are waiting, said the Bloc leader.

Mr. Trudeau recalled that the federal government has invested an additional $72 billion during the pandemic to help the provinces deal with the health crisis over the past two years, while stressing the need to see results.

We are there to help the provinces. We will invest and ensure that there will be results across the country, said Mr. Trudeau, saying that an important step will be taken Tuesday at the meeting in Ottawa.

Earlier Monday, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Mr. Trudeau to make any health care funding agreement with the provinces conditional on the provinces agreeing not to allocate additional resources to private for-profit health care providers.

The Prime Minister has been very strong on this. He said there would be conditions. I absolutely agree: there should be strings attached, Singh said.

Public money should not go to a for-profit clinic able to make more profit. Our public money should be used to solve the real problem we face, which is the shortage of health workers, he added.