PM Trudeau presenting premiers with health-care funding offer today


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be presenting the federal government’s offer for billions in new health-care funding to the provinces and territories at a highly anticipated meeting in Ottawa today.

The sit-down — the first in-person meeting of all First Ministers since the COVID-19 pandemic — will see the prime minister outline how much money his government is willing to provide, as well as his expectations for provincial accountability on spending the money to deliver improved care.

Trudeau, accompanied by a handful of ministers, is expected to come into the 1 p.m. ET meeting with a detailed two-hour presentation of how much money the federal government is ready to put on the table.

This boost is set to be offered in two forms:

  • A national increase to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT), which funnels money to all provinces on a per-capita basis, connected to what may be a cross-Canada accord on data and health information sharing; and
  • Direct decade-long bilateral deals with each province and territory tailored to their health-care needs, but connected to shared priorities such as reducing backlogs in surgeries and diagnostics, retaining, recruiting, and recognizing the credentials of health-care workers, investing in mental health; and modernizing the health information system.

On his way into a cabinet meeting on Parliament Hill on Tuesday morning, Trudeau said he was looking forward to the afternoon meeting.

“Canadians are proud of our universal public health-care system. But we all have to recognize it hasn’t been delivering at the level that Canadians would expect,” Trudeau said. “That’s why sitting down with the provinces, working collaboratively, investing significantly in priority areas is going to move us forward in the right way.”

As Trudeau goes behind closed doors to speak to his provincial and territorial counterparts, federal officials have scheduled an embargoed technical briefing “on health system funding” for reporters at 2 p.m. ET.

Billed as a “working meeting” neither side is expecting to come out of this afternoon’s talks with deals in-hand, but some provinces such as Ontario already have a strong sense of what they’re being offered — $30 billion in new money over 10 years according to senior provincial government sources — and appear ready to sign on the dotted line in short order.

Others have arrived in Ottawa telling reporters that they’re still waiting to see what the federal government’s formal offer will be, indicating there may be considerable back and forth before they’re ready to agree to any new accord.

In addition to meeting certain metrics around improving their respective health systems, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Tuesday morning that he expects provinces to maintain their end of the deal by putting forward enough provincial funding to ensure Canadians get the health care they deserve.

Premiers put their heads together ahead of the meeting, and have been speaking generally about their expectations heading into the talks, with some voicing optimism about getting to a place where the two sides are meeting to discuss how to address Canada’s strained health-care systems.

The premiers’ longstanding ask has been for the federal government to increase the share of Canada’s health-care costs that they cover, from the current 22 per cent to 35 per cent. It’s a move that would come with an approximately $28 billion annual price tag, and it’s a request officials on both sides of the talks have already signalled isn’t likely to happen through these deals.

Chair of the Council of the Federation and Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson told reporters on Tuesday morning that, while this has been their years-long request, the premiers’ goal is “to ensure that we have predictable and stable long-term funding put into the baseline of the Canada Health Transfer to ensure… that predictable, stable long-term funding for Canadians.”

With both federal and provincial governments working on drafting their 2023 budgets, the expectation is the details will need to be worked out after Tuesday’s meetings, but in time for the funding to be accounted for in the upcoming fiscal plans.

“We have done a lot of work to prepare for this meeting,” said Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc on his way into Tuesday morning’s cabinet meeting.

Leblanc — who alongside Duclos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett —w ill be taking part in today’s meeting, said he woke up with a “big smile” on his face.

“It’s going to be a great day,” he said.

Despite concerns raised by some premiers that the federal government’s negotiations have been conducted through the media, Trudeau already has plans to hold a press conference at 5:30 p.m. ET to discuss what came out of the meeting.

Premiers too, will be reacting to Trudeau’s offer and the next steps later today. 

View original article here Source