Ottawa’s Health Offer Leaves Premiers Feeling Mixed

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s meeting with the country’s premiers on Tuesday resulted in a $196 billion offer in health funding over the next 10 years.

But it’s left some premiers with mixed emotions.

The offer includes a $2 billion boost for the provinces and territories through the Canada Health Transfer to address “immediate pressure on the health-care system.”

That includes issues faced in pediatric hospitals, emergency rooms and surgical and diagnostic backlogs.

Provinces can also get $1.7 billion over five years to increase wages for personal support workers. Meanwhile, a separate $2-billion fund will be offered for Indigenous health-care needs.

Trudeau told reporters on Parliament Hill his government’s proposal is “a massive investment” for the current state of health care and the future.

“We certainly look forward to working with [the provinces] to be able to deliver not just that money, but those health-care improvements to citizens across the country,” he said.

The premiers said Ottawa’s offer would increase its share of health care costs from 22 per cent to 24 per cent — significantly less than the 35 per cent the provinces and territories want.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson expressed disappointment at the size of Trudeau’s proposal. She added the premiers would take time to assess the proposal and reconvene within days.

“It’s significantly less than what we’re looking for,” she told reporters.

Meanwhile, some premiers, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, appeared ready to accept the offer.

“I will never refuse new funding,” he said.

“What we see this as is a starting point, it’s a down payment on further discussions.”