OTTAWA – The contentious issue of federal health transfers is expected to be a key topic of discussion when provincial and territorial premiers gather for a meeting next week in Whitehorse.
The Council of the Federation talks will take place as the provinces and territories negotiate a new health accord with the federal government. Ottawa hopes to reach a deal by the end of the year. Here’s what some health ministers had to say this week about the issue of federal transfers:
“To me, as a health minister, it’s a scary situation because again, I will repeat it, we are at a point where we will have difficulty maintaining the level of services that we are to provide if the current funding is reduced as it is planned.” — Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette on the possibility of lower health transfers from Ottawa.
“Well, certainly, Ontario would like to see it continue and nationally there is consensus … to ensuring that that transfer increase more than what is being planned, so that it will restore a more equitable share to the health-care costs.” — Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins on the six-per-cent escalator, which could fall to as low as half that rate at the end of the fiscal year.
“The No. 1 priority of Canadians is for us to get back — to have a top-flight health-care system. We have gone through a period of decline in relation to other OECD (industrialized) countries.” — Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine.
“This year, the Canada Health Transfer is the largest in history at $36.1 billion. While the transfer continues to provide a stable funding base, any additional health-care funding will be focused on achieving transformative and measurable improvements in priority areas, like home care and mental health.” — Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott in a statement.