The chair of the P.E.I. Health Coalition says health ministers from across the country are ducking the "elephant in the room" this week by failing to make a new health accord a top priority of their discussions.

The provincial health ministers are set to discuss pot legislation, pharmacare, mental health and the opioid crisis in Edmonton.

But the coalition's Mary Boyd says the ministers are missing the mark by not addressing the health accord that the provinces signed onto earlier this year.

'We can't have a patchwork of 14 different health entities all with not enough funds.' —Mary Boyd, P.E.I. Health Coalition

"That should be front and centre on the meeting agenda," she said.

Last year's talks between the federal Liberal government and the provinces failed to produce a long-term national deal on a new health accord.

The provinces' reluctance to sign at the time mostly revolved around the federal government's offer of an annual funding increase of 3.5 per cent — a drop from the six per cent annual increases received under the Harper government.

'Substantial cuts' coming to P.E.I.:Boyd

The federal government has, since the failed deal in December, made individual deals with each province — which left the provinces short of keeping their annual increase at around five or six per cent.

mary boyd

'We hope things are going to change out in Edmonton and that this whole thing of reviving the health accord will be front and centre for part of that meeting,' said Mary Boyd, chair of the P.E.I. Health Coalition. (CBC)

"Because of the failure of the health accord negotiations there's going to be substantial cuts in health care to every province. We're going to have to cope with that on P.E.I.," Boyd said.

Boyd said she met with the province's health minister, Robert Henderson, and asked him to make health accord renegotiations front and centre of the meetings in Edmonton.

"[Henderson] told us that health needs and demands have grown by six per cent, so we have growing demands and we have a shortfall in funds."

5.2 per cent increase is the goal 

She said the top priority would be for P.E.I. to obtain funding that more closely matched the previous deal.

"5.2 per cent would meet the growing needs … it will be touch and go but it's enough to safeguard our single payer system," she said.

"We can't have a patchwork of 14 different health entities all with not enough funds."

P.E.I. signed the health accord deal in January, settling at 3.5 per cent.

At the time, Premier Wade MacLauchlan called it "the best deal we can get for today."

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.