Atlantic premiers want more federal health money
P.E.I. premier says Ottawa should cover 25% of costs and future annual increases
Atlantic Canada's premiers want the federal government to increase the amount of money it gives provinces for health care after the current funding transfer agreement expires in 2014.
"We believe that the same quality of health care that you get in British Columbia should be available in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that the federal government needs to be a partner," Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale said Monday at a meeting of the four Atlantic Canada premiers in St. John's.
"Of nearly a $3-billion health budget in this province, the federal government is only providing $430 million."
Dunderdale hosted Robert Ghiz of P.E.I., David Alward of New Brunswick and Darrell Dexter of Nova Scotia for the 20th session of the Council of Atlantic Premiers.
Speaking in French, P.E.I's Robert Ghiz was explicit about what the provinces want.
"First of all the federal government must be there with the money, with around 25 per cent of the costs of health care and we want a six per cent escalator in the future, for each province," he said.
Health accord expires in 2 years
Dexter agreed future federal-provincial fiscal arrangements must protect and improve what Atlantic Canadians have, "to ensure that the people of Atlantic Canada are able to maintain and deliver the services that are available elsewhere in the country to citizens of this part of Canada."
In 2004, under Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, the provinces and the federal government signed a 10-year health deal, with $41.2 billion allocated for reducing wait times, training medical professionals, expanding home care and implementing a national pharmaceutical strategy, among other strategies.
The accord also included an annual six per cent increase in federal-provincial health transfer payments. What will happen to those annual increases when the accord expires hasn't been determined.
The federal and provincial governments have begun negotiations on a new health-care funding agreement. This fiscal year, Ottawa is providing $27 billion.