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Moe heads to Ottawa for First Ministers talks on health care

Premiers are meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on health care funding transfers to the provinces on Tuesday.
Premier Scott Moe spoke to reporters at Regina airport Feb, 5, prior to his flight to Ottawa for the First Ministers meetings.

REGINA - Premier Scott Moe is headed to Ottawa for an important meeting this week of the provincial First Ministers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on health care.

The meeting begins Tuesday, with both sides hoping to come to a long-term deal on the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces. 

At issue is the funding formula and amount of funding the provinces should receive. The provinces have been calling for an increase from the current 22 per cent, or $45.2 billion, up to 35 per cent. 

That would amount to a $28 billion increase to the provinces. The indication has been that the Feds are interested in commitments from the provinces in return to deliver results such as reducing wait times in emergency rooms.

Premier Moe met reporters at the Regina airport Sunday afternoon, and expressed optimism about the talks this week.

“I was very pleased, after about 18 months of requests of all 13 premiers, to be going to a First Ministers meeting with the Prime Minister and my colleagues across the country,” said Moe.

As for what he expects from the meeting of the First Ministers, he expects to see some offer from the federal government.

“I don’t have details as to what the offer from the Federal Government may look like. I would say that we do have some indication that part of it will go into the Canada Health Transfer, some may go into prioritized envelope funding. I would just say in order to address the challenges that are similar but what often different as well across the nation, we are going to need some flexibility across Canada in how we're going to invest those dollars.”

Moe noted the $28 billion ask was a unanimous one from the provincial premiers. He expressed hope that “the federal government will come as close to the $28 billion mark, the ask that the premiers had, to ensure that the changes that are being made already today in Saskatchewan and other provinces are then be sustainable in the future.”

In terms of what he wanted to see come out of this meeting, Moe said this was a financial discussion at this point and pointed to the investments being made in various provinces.

"We have our Human Resource Action Plan here in Saskatchewan. All provinces have increased their investment when it comes to mental health and availability of addictions treatment beds. What this funding will do is really make those investments sustainable into the future. And that's I think, what provinces are looking for.”

Premier Moe indicated he wanted to see the Feds come up with the full $28 billion or 35 per cent. If the Feds did not come through with that full 35 per cent number, “then there would be more work to do.”

If the offer from the Feds does come in lower, “I would put that would mean that there's more work to do, and we would consider this a down payment on future work and future discussions that the provinces can have with this administration or maybe a different one.”

As far as public expectations with respect to getting a deal done, Moe said “I think I'm hoping to see a deal done as well, if not today then in the very near future. And I think the expectations that the public can have is that the investments that are being made today, in province after province, will be sustainable then into the future."



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