Trudeau, prime ministers to meet next month to discuss health care deal – National |

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau He will meet Canada’s prime ministers next month to reach an agreement on healthcare funding after months of significant pressure from prime ministers for a summit.

Trudeau said Wednesday that he has invited the prime ministers to a “working meeting” on February 7 in Ottawa to share the federal government’s plans to support health care systems in Canada and hear their investment priorities.

“Let’s be clear, providing money is certainly part of the solution, and we will, but funding alone will not solve the problems we’re seeing,” he told reporters, speaking from Hamilton, Ontario.

“Universal and reliable public health care is critical to Canadians, and we must keep it that way. … We have a great and incredible country built on strong and progressive institutions like health care that Canadians care about deeply and we are doing the hard work to strengthen health care and make sure that we all deliver on the promise of this country. .”

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Canada’s 13 prime ministers come from different political persuasions but have united in their calls for an increase in the annual Canada Health Transfer to provinces and territories. They want what would amount to a $28 billion increase in the Canada Health Transfer, which they say will bring the federal contribution for health costs to 35 percent from the current 22 percent.

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With healthcare now taking up more than a third of their budgets, the premiers say Ottawa must contribute more to these rising costs, even as many provinces have posted budget surpluses in recent months.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made a specific reference to this Tuesday, noting that health care is a provincial responsibility and that “with authority comes responsibility.”

“The fiscal position of many Canadian provinces is very strong today and I think Canadians quite naturally and appropriately expect provinces to use that fiscal capacity to support the health care systems we all depend on,” Freeland said.

Trudeau has said he is willing to increase federal health transfers to the provinces, but only if they agree to a set of shared priorities that would see “tangible results”, which would improve care for Canadian patients.

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Last week, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said those priorities include: reducing backlogs and supporting health workers, improving access to family medicine, improving mental health services, helping Canadians to age with dignity and agreements to modernize and share health data. Until recently, prime ministers were adamant that they wanted more money from Ottawa with no strings attached.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau meets Cabinet at a retreat in Hamilton'

Trudeau meets Cabinet at a retreat in Hamilton

But last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who represent Canada’s two most populous provinces, said they would be willing to agree to terms, including more data sharing from Health.

On Tuesday, Freeland noted that his Liberal party made a number of healthcare funding commitments during the 2021 election campaign and said the federal government “will stay true” to those election promises. They included $4 billion to help eliminate waiting lists, $3 billion over four years to help hire 7,500 family doctors, nurse practitioners and nurse practitioners, and $400 million over four years to expand virtual health services.

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To date, only $2 billion of this campaign’s commitment has materialized, aimed at reducing waiting lists for surgeries and diagnoses.

“We will be true to those commitments, it’s a promise we made to Canadians,” Freeland said Tuesday.

“I think it’s completely appropriate for the federal government to play its part in making sure our health care system is strong, stable, and has the capacity to meet some of the new challenges of the 21st century.”

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