Premiers wrap talks with no date for meeting with Ottawa on health care

Premiers wrap talks with no date for meeting with Ottawa on health care
Quebec Premier Francois Legault and B.C. Premier John Horgan answer questions during a press conference on the second day of the summer meeting of the Canada's Premiers in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — Canada’s premiers have wrapped up talks in Victoria, B.C., frustrated that a date has yet to be set for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau focused on health care.

The 13 premiers were unanimous in calling for the meeting to chart a path forward for working with the federal government on funding the modernization of what they say is a “crumbling” health system plagued by severe staffing shortages.

Several premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford and British Columbia’s John Horgan, expressed frustration that federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc had discussed issues related to the request that Ottawa increase its share of health-care funding in the media without sitting down with them.

Horgan says the premiers are happy to talk about potential conditions and best practices, but they first need to meet in person with Trudeau and his government.

He says health-care is the top cost-driver for provincial and territorial budgets and stable, long-term funding is required to “reimagine” Canada’s health system, so there’s no debate about what they would do with the additional funding.

However, he says there are different priorities in each jurisdiction, and a province where the population is aging may focus more on long-term care than another.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says none of the provinces and territories are trying to “scrimp on a health-care budget and divert money somewhere else,” and the only thing hampering progress is the lack of discussions with the federal government.

Canadians don’t care where the money comes from, they just want the different levels of government to come together and take action, Ford told the closing press conference for the premiers’ Council of the Federation gathering on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2022.

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