January 3, 2017 3:15 pm
Updated: January 3, 2017 3:16 pm
Provinces push Justin Trudeau for face to face sitdown on health care
By Andy Blatchford The Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks after meeting with indigenous leaders on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 15, 2016.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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OTTAWA – The federal government’s push to close bilateral health-funding deals with individual provinces and territories appears to be losing momentum.
After talks to establish a national funding framework fell apart last month, the feds reached side deals with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
But health and finance ministers from the 10 other provinces and territories are now repeating their call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet face to face with the premiers to resume those discussions.
In a letter to their federal counterparts, they say they rejected Ottawa’s latest offer – increasing health transfers by 3.5 per cent per year and $11.5 billion in targeted funding over 10 years – because it simply wasn’t enough.
WATCH: Health care talks between the government and the provinces break down
A Trudeau spokeswoman says there are no immediate plans for a first ministers meeting on health.
The feds have argued that they put forward a “historic” offer that was the best they could do within the confines of their own narrow fiscal framework.
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott says Ottawa wants to transform the system because health-care outcomes in Canada are average compared to similar countries – even though Canadians pay some of the highest per-capita costs in the world.
The federal efforts to reach bilateral deals appeared to drive a wedge between provinces and territories.
After the federal-provincial talks collapsed in Ottawa, the provinces seemed united in their opposition to the federal proposal. However, three provinces broke ranks and inked their own deals with the feds.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has called the federal government’s divide-and-conquer approach on health care “deplorable.”
In the letter released Tuesday, the provinces also repeated their request for what they described as an evidence-based annual increase in federal health transfers of 5.2 per cent.
“Canadians expect and deserve their governments to provide long-term sustainable support so that public health care is strong today and for future generations,” reads the letter.“The new federal government was elected, in part, on a mandate to engage in a constructive dialogue with provinces and territories to secure the future of health care.”