Premiers accept federal health-care funding proposal



Canada’s premiers have accepted Ottawa’s proposal to inject billions of dollars into provincial health-care systems.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Canada’s premiers last week to pitch a plan to send roughly $46.2 billion in new money to the provinces and territories over 10 years to help prop up a faltering health-care system.

Premiers met Monday to discuss the proposal. Ottawa will now hold bilateral meetings with individual provinces to finalize funding agreements.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson — the current head of the Council of the Federation, the group that represents the premiers — told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that the premiers were “united” in their decision to accept Ottawa’s proposal.

But Stefanson cautioned that the cash injection is not a long-term fix.

“We’ve accepted this for now,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “But we do recognize that this is not a long-term solution to the health-care funding that is needed within our country.”

Ottawa’s proposal includes a top-up to the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and new money directed at four priority areas: family health services, health workers and backlogs, mental health and substance use and a “modernized health system.”

To access the enhanced CHT, provinces must first commit to improving how health data is “collected, shared, used and reported to Canadians to promote greater transparency on results, and to help manage public health emergencies,” the government said in a background document supplied to reporters.

The funding for the shared priorities will also be contingent on the provinces and territories developing “action plans” detailing how these funds will be spent and how progress will be measured.

A large book is opened
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flips open a briefing book as he meets with Canada’s premiers in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Ottawa’s proposal includes a five per cent annual hike to the CHT for the next five years. The CHT escalator will revert to a three per cent increase each year after that.

That falls well short of what the premiers had been requesting: an annual $28 billion increase to the CHT.

During a press conference last week, Trudeau was asked multiple times if he would be willing to offer more money or if this proposal was his final offer.

“This is the offer we put forward on the table,” he said. “This is the billions of dollars that are there for provinces and we certainly look forward to working with them to be able to deliver

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