P.E.I. Premier Dennis King is hoping to leave first ministers' meetings in B.C. with a promise from the federal government to boost the province's Canada Health Transfer by another $135 million.
And he knows how the province would spend the money.
"Obviously that would be money that we would want to spend to help recruit and bring more health human resources to the province," he said in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin.
"We would like to pay more to those that have been carrying the ball for a long time in terms of the delivery of health-care service in Prince Edward Island. It would mean more long-term care beds, more community care beds."
The premiers want the federal government to raise the CHT to cover 35 per cent of health-care costs. They say it currently covers about 22 per cent, though Ottawa contends it is more like 38 per cent.
One thing is certain, however, King said: Something "drastic" needs to happen to improve health care on P.E.I. and across Canada.
We need to have the federal government come to the table with a very significant investment, one that meets the needs of Canadians and Islanders. — P.E.I. Premier Dennis King
"I think everyone from Nunavut to Prince Edward Island and every province and territory understands that there's tremendous challenges within our health-care system, many of which have been further exposed through the last two and half years of COVID."
P.E.I. is due to receive about $196 million in health transfers for the 2022-23 fiscal period. Raising the percentage to 35 per cent would mean another $135 million for P.E.I., King said.
P.E.I. spends more than half its yearly budget on health care, but it still has significant challenges. For example, there are 23,000 people on P.E.I. without a family doctor.
New model needed, King says
"To address those challenges adequately we need to have the federal government come to the table with a very significant investment, one that meets the needs of Canadians and Islanders,"
King said money is not the only solution. The delivery of health care needs to be changed, and P.E.I. is moving in that direction with the creation of medical homes and neighbourhoods. But money can make the solution happen more quickly, he said.
"I think we're at a tremendous time of transition … The old model is not one we should be trying to fix. We need to create some different newer models to meet the new needs of today and tomorrow."