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NEWS: Atlantic premiers call for Ottawa to pay 25% of provincial health care costs

The Council of Canadians team about to lobby MPs on health care, Ottawa, Dec. 1

The Canadian Press reports, “Atlantic premiers are calling for a new deal that would see Ottawa pay 25 per cent of provincial health care costs. They say Ottawa’s share of health care spending is about 20 per cent and isn’t keeping pace with growing expenses.”

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador (Kathy Dunderdale), Nova Scotia (Darrell Dexter), PEI (Robert Ghiz), and New Brunswick (David Alward) meet in St. John’s, Newfoundland today. “They say they want to present a strong, united front as they prepare for talks with Ottawa to renew health and social funding transfer agreements that expire on March 31, 2014. They’re pushing for a new health deal based on current transfer allocations, but with additional funding to reflect their priorities and a six-per-cent yearly escalator for each province. They stressed that extra health cash should not be offset by possible reductions to other transfer arrangements.”

“In a 2002 report as part of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, Roy Romanow said Ottawa should never pay less than 25 per cent of the cost of insured medical services under the Canada Health Act. Dunderdale said Monday that in her province, Ottawa’s share of health care funding next year will be about 15 per cent or $430 million of a nearly $3 billion health tab.”

The Atlantic premiers met as they “prepare to gather with other premiers in January at the Council of the Federation meeting in Victoria.”

The Council of Canadians was in Halifax on November 24-25 for the meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers – who were later joined by the federal health minister – as they met for their first major discussion on the Canada Health Accord. The Canadian Press reported then, “Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians said the federal government should commit to a 10-year health transfer plan with the provinces that would see a six per cent hike in funding annually.”

The Council was also in Ottawa on November 30 for a speech by Roy Romanow in advance of a December 1 Canadian Health Coalition (of which we are a member) lobby on Parliament Hill, again both focused on the Canada Health Accord. The Toronto Star reported on November 30, “Creeping privatization and individualism in Canadian politics could destroy the country’s public health-care system, warns former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow. In a speech Wednesday evening to the Canadian Health Coalition in Ottawa, Romanow decried a ‘palpable momentum toward individualism, decentralization and privatization’ in Canada.”

And the Council has already begun to consider its intervention at the Council of the Federation meeting on the Canada Health Accord on January 16-17 in Victoria. The Council of the Federation is a forum where the premiers meet to discuss key issues. Its main function is to provide a united front among the provincial and territorial governments in dealings with the federal government.