Saskatoon

Stall of federal health-care deal puts Sask. services at risk, says former premier

A former Saskatchewan premier says the province risks losing some health services after provincial health ministers rejected a deal from the federal government earlier this week.

Roy Romanow thinks compromises have to be made

Roy Romanow anticipates federal and provincial leaders will be back at the table in the new year. (CBC)

A former Saskatchewan premier says the province risks losing some health services after provincial health ministers rejected a deal from the federal government earlier this week.

"When you don't have money, you are forced to, essentially, start closing down services," Roy Romanow told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

In meetings Monday, the federal Liberals offered a 3.5-per-cent increase to health-care funding — up from three per cent — and about $8 billion over 10 years for home care and mental health. Provincial health ministers called the deal a lacklustre take-it-or-leave-it offer.

It's a question of our leaders getting together, defining what they believe are the principles and the values which define our country.- Roy Romanow

​Romanow said the task between the two sides is difficult. He said the battle is both based on money and the philosophy of how these services should be provided.

When it comes to the province's part in providing health-care services, Romanow said the choices are stark if the money isn't there. He said the province may be forced to close facilities or look at allowing more private services, which he opposes.

The former premier anticipates federal and provincial leaders will be back at the table in the new year.

"It's a question of our leaders getting together, defining what they believe are the principles and the values which define our country," he said, "and roll up their sleeves, make some compromises, and strengthen the publicly-funded health-care program."

On Thursday, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant announced the province had secured $230 million more for health care from the federal government over the next decade in the first deal reached since talks broke down.

That's an annual increase of 4.1 per cent — "the middle ground" between the 3.5 per cent that the federal government had been offering and the provinces' counter-offer of 5.2 per cent.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

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