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Provinces to review Feds’ offer on health care funding

Initial indication from Premiers is the $46.2 billion in new funding isn’t enough; plans are for the Premiers to meet again soon.
Provincial premiers met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa Tuesday on health care transfers to the provinces.

REGINA - The federal government has made an offer to the provinces of $196 billion over ten years in health care funding.

But only $46.2 billion of that is new funding, according to details of the proposal released Tuesday. The initial indication from the premiers, who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders of the federal government on Tuesday afternoon in Ottawa, is the funding offer is well short of the $28 billion a year increase in the Canada Health Transfer that they had been seeking.

“There wasn’t a lot in the way of new funding that is a part of this package put together by the federal government,” said Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, Chair of the Council of the Federation, during the news conference Tuesday.

“I think to say the least, I think we were a little disappointed at that.”

Stefanson added there was a lot of details in the proposal, and that they want to ensure they have the time to go back to their various provinces and territories and “make sure that we see what does that really mean for our areas.”

In terms of next steps, the indication is the premiers plan to meet again as a Council of the Federation for further discussions. Stefanson told reporters they plan to get together “in days, not weeks or months.”

“We all want to ensure and I think Canadians want to see that there is a resolution to this. This is arguably one of the most important things that we face as a country and within our jurisdictions as well, and so Canadians are looking to us to work with the federal government to see some sort of resolution to this.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe concurred that the premiers needed a couple of days to digest the proposal. Moe responded particularly to a question on one of the proposals in the government’s offer:  $2 billion which would be specifically targeted over ten years for Indigenous priorities.

“My initial understanding of that particular fund is that it would be federally delivered, so it wouldn’t have really much of an impact on any of the provincially delivered healthcare systems that we operate here," said Moe at the news conference.

"That’s an example of why we need a couple of days to digest, and our teams to digest, the detailed information that we were provided with today, figure out exactly what type of impact it does have for each of us, and then come back with a response as to where we are going with this funding and what ultimately we can utilize it for, and what type of difference it may or may not make.”

Other items that were part of Trudeau's federal proposal to the provinces on the Canada Health Transfer include the following: 

  • An immediate, unconditional $2 billion Canada Health Transfer top-up to address immediate pressures on the health care system, especially in pediatric hospitals and emergency rooms, and long wait times for surgeries.
  • A five per cent CHT guarantee for the next five years, which will be provided through annual top-up payments as required. 
  • $25 billion over 10 years, to advance shared health priorities through tailored bilateral agreements to support the needs of people in each province and territory.