Nova Scotia

Health-care funding model failing, Atlantic premiers agree

The four Atlantic premiers have found a way to save some money by getting together to buy some diagnostic health care equipment, but what the region really needs to ensure adequate health services into the future is a new deal with Ottawa.

Immigration, energy and health-care among hot topics at gathering in Annapolis Royal

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan, left to right, were at a meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Royal on Monday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The four Atlantic premiers have found a way to save money by joining forces to buy diagnostic health-care equipment, but say what they really need is a new deal with Ottawa to ensure adequate health services.

During a meeting that wrapped up Monday in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Royal, the premiers discussed topics such as immigration and energy as well as the need to address health care in the region.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball all agreed to a change in approach to health care. 

'Investing new money'

"We don't like the per-capita model," McNeil said at the end of the day-and-a-half-long meeting with his regional counterparts. 

"There's two options for them," he said. "One is to look at changing the current formula to recognize the way it used to be where they were dealing with determinants of health, disease management, demographics.

"Or if they're unwilling to open up the current one, would you look at investing new money into health care."

Buying new equipment

MacLaughlan agreed the current formula "is not sensible to the real demands" in the Atlantic region, which is home to some of the oldest populations in the country.

Ball said health transfers have a "tremendous impact" on budgets in the Atlantic region, making up 40 per cent or more of provincial spending.

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball, left to right, head from a meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers in Annapolis Royal. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Despite the talk of greater co-operation among the Atlantic provinces, the only tangible and costed measure to come from these talks is a promise to get together to procure anaesthesia and ultrasound equipment, which may save a combined total of $6.1 million over the next three years.

The provinces are also looking at standardizing occupational health and training standards.

Premiers meet for 16th time

Established in May 2000, the mission of the Council of Atlantic Premiers is to promote collaboration among the four Atlantic provinces. 

The council also works with the federal government "on issues of importance to all Atlantic Canadians, including enhancing trade opportunities, supporting research and development, investment in renewable energy initiatives, and economic and social co-operation," according to the council's website.

During a brief photo op on Monday, McNeil, the host for the gathering, joked that Samuel de Champlain dropped by to give the premiers a local history lesson last night. Port Royal, a national historical site, is just down the road from the gathering.

About the Author

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.