Canada's premiers call for far more health care cash from Ottawa

Urgent call for major funding boost to meet national health care needs

  • Premiers call for 35 per cent share
  • Public health care transfer deal used to be a '50-50' split
  • Erosion of funding formula in last 50 years

Canada’s premiers are calling for an urgent restructuring of the Canada Health Transfer funding formula, citing a long-term erosion of the publicly funded model over the last half century.

The provincial leaders are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to increase the federal share to 35 per cent, from a current rate of as low as 22 per cent for some jurisdictions, and insist the public is fully behind the request.

Speaking after an online meeting of the Council of the Federation on Friday, Chair and B.C. Premier John Horgan, said the national health care system is “as Canadian as hockey,” but needed to be nurtured and stewarded, and it needs significantly more money.

“It needs an influx of cash from Ottawa; not as money that is Ottawa’s, but money that is Canadians’,” Horgan said. “We send our tax dollars to Ottawa from wherever we might live, and we need to find a way to reallocate those to meet this biggest challenge that we have face in the delivery of services.”

Horgan said all 13 premiers agree on the need for a significant long-term increase in funding to meet the challenges of the two-year COVID-19 pandemic and ensure services people expect and deserve from coast to coast to coast.

“When our partnership for public health care in Canada began it was more or less a 50-50 proposition,” Horgan said. “But, over the past 50 years we’ve seen an erosion of federal funding to the point now where it is, in some cases, only 22 per cent of the total funding needed to provide services.”

Horgan said the provinces have to pick up the slack, something “unsustainable.”

In a joint statement, the premiers said Canadians need to have the confidence that their health care systems can provide the services they need.

They cited recent polling indicating 85 per cent of Canadians support the request.

They added Canadians make health care one of the most important issues facing the nation.

“Seventy-eight per cent of Canadians agree that in order to see long-term improvements in health care the federal government’s funding must be sustainable and maintained over time,” the statement said.

“Premiers invite the Prime Minister to work with them and begin negotiations without further delay so that a First Ministers’ Agreement on Sustainable Health Care Funding can be finalized in the coming weeks “

The Council of the Federation comprises all 13 provincial and territorial premiers. It enables premiers to work collaboratively, form closer ties, foster constructive relationships among governments, and show leadership on important issues that matter to Canadians.

Published 2022-02-04 by Glenn Hicks

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