Deal or no deal? Manitoba, Ottawa still negotiating top-up mental health, home-care funding

In August 2017, health ministers from Manitoba and the federal government proclaimed they'd reached an agreement on health-care funding. However, there still are many details to work out.

17 months after province, federal government signed health-care deal, they are still negotiating

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Brian Pallister's respective health ministers haven't hammered out a deal on more health-care funding. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Seventeen months after signing a health funding agreement-in-principle, the Manitoba and federal governments are still wrangling over a bilateral deal to get money for mental health and home care flowing. 

Spokespeople for health ministers from both governments won't say what's holding up the process.

Manitoba has been a holdout before: it was the last province to sign on to the federal health-care deal in August 2017, after loudly objecting that the funding increase was smaller than in previous years.

At the time, then-federal health minister Jane Philpott said, "We now have a pan-Canadian agreement."

"It was the right thing to do," said Kelvin Goertzen, Manitoba's then-health minister, who has also moved to another portfolio.

In return, the province got $5 million to fight kidney disease and address the growing use of opioids.

But directed funding for mental health and addictions was to be part of a later agreement. 

And once again, Manitoba is a hold-out province, along with Alberta and Nunavut.

"Bilateral agreements with the remaining jurisdictions that have not yet been signed and announced are progressing well and are expected to be concluded by March 31, 2019," wrote Health Canada's Eric Morrissette.

Morrissette, a spokesperson for current federal health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, says the first burst of health funding was sent to all provinces after Ottawa legislated a transfer for 2017-18.

The response from the Manitoba government, through a spokesperson for current health minister Cameron Friesen, also said "negotiations continue."

The province also delayed signing a cannabis excise tax deal with the federal government and said "no" to the federal carbon tax plan, arguing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is looking for a fight. It's currently arguing with the city over promised sewage treatment funding and transit funding changes.


Sean Kavanagh

Former CBC reporter

Sean Kavanagh was a reporter for CBC Manitoba from 2003-21. He covered some of the seminal events in Manitoba, from floods to elections.