Ottawa wants to make sure health spending delivers 'tangible results,' Trudeau says

·2 min read

VICTORIA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government wants to make sure billions of dollars transferred to the provinces and territories for health care will "deliver real, tangible results for Canadians" with shorter wait times and better services.

He says there have been "huge investments" by provincial and federal governments in the past "that haven't always delivered" the necessary improvements.

Trudeau also says he doesn't think any of his predecessors have met with the premiers about health care as much as he has over the last two years, and the leaders will continue to work together to address "pressures" in the system.

His remarks come a day after the 13 premiers wrapped up two days of talks in Victoria, united in frustration that Trudeau won't meet with them to renegotiate funding for what they say is a "crumbling" health system.

Several premiers, including Ontario's Doug Ford and B.C.'s John Horgan, expressed frustration at the end of their meetings that federal ministers had discussed the health funding issues with the media without sitting down with them.

Horgan says the premiers are happy to talk about potential conditions on the money the federal government gives, 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, Horgan 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 Ottawa.

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 news conference for the premiers' Council of the Federation gathering on Tuesday.

The premiers have asked the federal government to increase its share of long-term health funding to 35 per cent, up from 22 per cent.

Trudeau says Ottawa has added $72 billion in health-care funding over the past two years, on top of the tens of billions provided through the Canada health transfer.

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

The Canadian Press

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