(Quebec) Prime Minister François Legault invites Quebecers to “take into account” the Trudeau government’s insufficient offer on increases in health transfers in the next federal election. He assures that this new setback does not compromise the deployment of Minister Christian Dubé’s Health Plan.
Accused by his opponents of “crashing” in front of Justin Trudeau, François Legault said Wednesday that the next lever to increase federal health transfers to the provinces will be the future federal elections, scheduled for 2025 at the latest.
“Honestly, it’s the federal election and the priority that Quebecers and Canadians will want to put in good health,” replied Mr. Legault, when asked about his balance of power before Ottawa. “Canadians and Quebecers must understand that it does not make sense, what the federal government is doing, and the federal government must do its fair share,” added the Prime Minister.
What I’m saying is that’s not acceptable. Quebecers must take this into account.
François Legault, Premier of Quebec
His message is reminiscent of that launched in September 2021, in the midst of the federal election campaign, where he had called for a minority Conservative government. Mr. Legault had called on Quebec nationalists to be particularly wary of Justin Trudeau, whose program is “dangerous”.
On Wednesday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said a government led by his party “would maintain the additional funds and respect the commitments made [mardi] “.
Not the end of the negotiations?
Prime Minister Legault denies throwing in the towel, but does not specify for the moment whether he intends to accept the offer on the table. Justin Trudeau hinted that the offer was final and that the “room to maneuver” would lie in the bilateral agreements he wants to conclude with the provinces.
Mr. Legault also says he wants to “protect” this common front to “ask more” from the federal government. A meeting must be held in the coming days with his counterparts from the Council of the Federation to determine a game plan for the future.
He nevertheless gives the indication that he wants to collect now the share that would go to Quebec for the coming year while the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, is drafting his next budget. In the same breath, he assures that the sums necessary for the Health Plan of Minister Christian Dubé will be invested despite everything.
I prefer to have the 1 billion, that we put it in the budget. […] It’s just that it will be more difficult when we look at the balance of public finances in Quebec. Obviously, this will affect our deficit for Quebec.
François Legault, Premier of Quebec
In anticipation of the next budget, the Minister of Finance also confirmed that “the amounts needed to carry out the plan [de Christian Dubé] are planned “.
Minister Christian Dubé for his part said he was “very disappointed” with the amounts proposed by Ottawa. “At the same time, we will continue to implement our health plan,” he said, explaining that his aims are not compromised. “I think we are able to organize ourselves,” he said.
The provinces were demanding an increase in health transfers of $28 billion per year. The Trudeau government offered them an average increase of $4.6 billion per year on Tuesday. From this envelope, Quebec would get some $9 billion more if the proposed agreement is accepted. This is six times less than what was requested.
The only real gain for the provinces concerns the annual increase in health transfers. It would be set at 5% for a period of five years, as the provinces wished, starting in 2024-2025. The offer does not come with any conditions either, apart from the sharing of health data.
A dismal failure, according to the opposition
Les partis de l’opposition ont à l’unisson accusé François Legault d’« aplaventrisme » devant le gouvernement fédéral. Les adversaires politiques de M. Legault ont déploré son manque de combativité. À cela, le principal intéressé a rétorqué mercredi que « c’était une longue journée » et qu’il était « déçu ».
« Sa seule job à François Legault, c’était d’aller chercher l’argent qui nous revient à Ottawa. C’était sa seule job et il est en train d’échouer », a déploré le chef parlementaire de Québec solidaire, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. « Ce qu’on a vu [François Legault] to do is to crash in front of the insulting offer of the Trudeau government. […] I don’t understand this aplaventrism,” he added.
The Liberal Party of Quebec said it was “disappointed” with the offer presented by the federal Liberals and asked François Legault to “pull himself together”.
« Il doit se battre pour aller chercher notre butin à Ottawa et penser aux patients qui sont sur des listes d’attente. C’est inacceptable ! », a lancé le chef intérimaire du Parti libéral du Québec, Marc Tanguay.
De son côté, le Parti québécois tend la main à M. Legault pour qu’il « nomme » l’indépendance du Québec comme option devant ce nouveau revers.
« J’ai beaucoup de difficulté à croire que, quand François Legault se couche […]he does not have in mind that Quebec independence is our only option at this stage,” argued PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.
With Hugo Pilon-Larose and Mélanie Marquis, The Press