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Alberta calls on Ottawa to reverse military health funding change

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro is calling on the federal government to reverse a decision that will see provinces pick up more of the cost of treating members of the military for medical operations and other health care.

Health Minister Shandro says decision is disrespectful toward the provinces

Health Minister Tyler Shandro, joined by former MP and retired RCAF Lieutenant colonel Laurie Hawn (left) and Leduc-Beaumont MLA Brad Rutherford (right), speaks at a news conference Wednesday. (Paige Parsons/CBC)

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro is calling on the federal government to reverse a decision that will see provinces pick up more of the cost of treating members of the military for medical operations and other health care.

Shandro says the Alberta government was not consulted about the change, which will cost the province about $2 million per year.

Last year, the province budgeted to spend more than $22 billion on health care.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen is also critical of the change, noting it could cost his province almost $1 million.

Global News has reported that Ottawa has been renegotiating new reimbursement agreements with provinces, which has raised fears some hospitals close to Canadian Forces bases that regularly treat military personnel could lose millions of dollars.

Shandro says the decision is disrespectful towards the provinces and is hypocritical given Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's recent commitments to expand medicare.

"I want to say to Justin Trudeau: do the right thing and reverse this decision, this cut in funding, for health care for Forces personnel," Shandro said Wednesday.

"I'll be sending a letter to that effect to the minister of national defence later today."

Friesen said it isn't right that the provinces were not consulted.

"The Canada Health Act makes very clear that members of the Armed Forces are not eligible for provincial and territorial health systems," he said in Winnipeg.

"If the federal government had an idea that they wanted to open that up for discussion, they had an obligation to speak with the provinces and territories, and they declined to do so."

The federal Conservatives have latched onto the issue as an example of the Trudeau Liberals' letting down troops and veterans.

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