Ottawa to propose 10-year health-care funding plan to provinces, territories

The federal government will propose a decade-long plan to fund and reform the health-care system when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the premiers in Ottawa on Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the plan.

The federal proposal will see new money flow as soon as the next budget. It will include a top-up to the planned across-the-board increase to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and substantial funding for bilateral agreements with provinces and territories to deal with their specific needs. 

Sources say the proposed CHT increases, and the bilateral health deals, will each run for a period of 10 years.

Health-care funding has always been a contentious topic between the provinces and the federal government. The pandemic’s effects on an already strained system have made the need for a new funding agreement more urgent.

On Tuesday, Canada’s premiers will meet in Ottawa with Prime Minister Trudeau to pursue plans to deal with both long- and short-term challenges facing the delivery of health care in Canada.

One major sticking point in the negotiations has been the baseline for health-care funding in Canada. The provinces have been asking the federal government to increase the CHT’s share of total public health spending from 22 per cent to 35 per cent. 

The federal government has said it will offer more money but rejects the claim that it only pays 22 per cent of the cost of health care. Ottawa has argued that the tax points transferred to provinces in 1977 bring the federal share closer to 38 per cent.

The second major sticking point has been about placing conditions on any increased funding. The federal government says it wants additional funding to be targeted at specific areas. 

The provinces have pushed back by insisting the provision of health care is a provincial responsibility. But Quebec and Ontario recently have shown some willingness to meet the federal government half-way.

NDP also wants condition on CHT increase

Earlier Monday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make any health-care funding agreement with the provinces conditional on the provinces agreeing not to direct additional resources toward for-profit private health-care providers.

“The prime minister was very strong on this. He said there are going to be conditions. I absolutely agree there should be conditions,” Singh said Monday. “Those conditions should be public money should solve the problem.

“Public money shouldn’t go toward a for-profit clinic being able to have more profit. Our public money should go toward solving the actual problem that we’re up against, which is a shortage of health-care workers.”

More to come …

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