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Ontario wants federal health transfers to increase 5.2 per cent a year

TORONTO _ Ontario is proposing a new 10-year federal funding plan that would see Ottawa’s health transfers to the provinces rise by 5.2 per cent a year.

Premier Kathleen Wynne calls the idea a starting point for discussion, and says in exchange the provinces would commit to spend the money on priority areas they agree on with Ottawa, such as mental health and home-care services.

The provinces and territories oppose the federal government’s plan to cut the increase in health transfers from six per cent to three per cent a year, warning it would have a dramatic impact on health care delivery.

Wynne says all the premiers agree a three-per-cent annual increase “is not going to cut it,” especially when Ottawa provides only 23 per cent of the total amount spent on health care.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister refused to sign on to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pan-Canadian climate change framework without first getting an agreement on more federal money for health care.

The issue was a hot topic of discussion among first ministers at a three-hour working dinner in Ottawa last Friday, but provincial officials said no progress was made.

“In the conversation with the prime minister, that informal discussion that we had after the climate change conversation, the prime minister agreed that yeah, the health ministers and the finance ministers need to be able talk about an evidence-based solution because the three per cent that’s on the table is really only related to GDP growth,” Wynne told the Canadian Club of Toronto on Tuesday.

“So we need to look at the evidence from the health-care system and figure out what those numbers are. I think we all know that investments in home care, investments in mental health, investments in innovation, those need to happen.”