(OTTAWA) Ottawa intends to discuss with provinces and territories over the next few weeks how to “translate the dollars” of promised new funding for health care systems “into concrete results for patients”, but completely rules out the idea of improving its offer by around 46 billion.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos confirmed on Wednesday, in veiled terms, that the monetary proposal unveiled the day before by the federal government was to be taken or left.
“The Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) was very clear,” said Mr. Duclos. Yesterday, he said that this is the offer we are making given the whole context of the Canadian government’s public finances, of what is happening in the world, of the other investments that we need to make. »
The Minister added that “these are the amounts that are believed to be substantial (to) be able to lead to important results for patients and for workers”.
During an interview granted to The Canadian Press, Mr. Duclos carefully avoided using the expression “final offer”. However, he said it is clear to him that the next steps in talks between Ottawa and the provinces do not include an upward revision of the proposed $46 billion over 10 years.
” No no. The offer was announced yesterday and now we need to see what it will do for people over the next few years. »
The Minister indicated that he will send a letter “in the next few hours or days” to each of his 13 provincial and territorial counterparts to ask them for more clarity on their position regarding Ottawa’s offer. He also said he expects to meet with several of them “rather soon” on an individual basis.
Already, a meeting has been planned for Thursday, in Toronto, with the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, and his Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, will also be present.
Mr. Duclos indicated that the missive to be sent to his counterparts will lay the groundwork for the provinces to then provide “action plans” to achieve four common priorities, namely access to family physicians as well as for nurses, waiting list reduction, mental health and information sharing.
“The work that continues is work that (continues) on the basis of the results we want to achieve together. So, these are exchanges and difficult and solid work that I need to do in particular with my fellow Ministers of Health, ”summarized Mr. Duclos.
During a long-awaited meeting of about two hours with the provincial and territorial premiers, Mr. Trudeau announced Tuesday that he intended to inject $46.2 billion in new health funding over the next 10 years.
This is equivalent to about one-sixth of the $28 billion increase the provinces requested in a first year, followed by a 5% indexation.
The Premier of Quebec, François Legault, was quick to qualify the “total amount” put on the negotiating table by Ottawa as “clearly insufficient”.
“Obviously, we don’t have the same definition of the word ‘substantial,'” he said Tuesday, referring to the scale of the increase in the Canada Health Transfer that he claims Mr. Trudeau has given him. dangles.
But while budgets will be tabled in the coming weeks both in Ottawa and in the provinces, several premiers, like Mr. Legault, have said that, until a better agreement is reached, “it’s better to have a small amount than to have nothing”.
Council of the Federation Chair Heather Stefanson said the premiers will analyze the federal offer in more detail and meet among themselves soon to discuss next steps.
In addition, Mr. Legault was delighted that the federal government does not impose “no conditions” that Quebec and the other provinces would be required to respect in order to see their health funding increase.
“Mr. Trudeau was very clear with me: if we want to invest 100% of the money in one of our priorities, we can do so. Even if we are asked to share data, there is no condition to achieve results, so our only accountability is to our citizens,” he said.
Mr. Duclos made similar comments on Wednesday, mentioning that the provinces’ “action plans” as well as “targets” and “indicators” will be publicly available. “It will therefore be up to Canadians to judge for themselves,” concluded the Minister.