'Fiscally limited': B.C. premier reacts to federal health-care offer
On his way into an Ottawa meeting between Canada’s premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Columbia’s David Eby expressed optimism about the possibility of a new health-care funding pitch.
"I'm very hopeful we'll see a constructive offer from the federal government,” he said.
But Eby and his provincial and territorial counterparts were less enthusiastic after the two-hour sit down where Trudeau laid out his government’s proposal for a new funding model.
“This proposal is fiscally limited but I think it provides a foundation and some reassurance to British Columbians that we’re having those conversations and we’re moving forward,” Eby said.
The plan presented by Trudeau is for $196 billion from the feds to the provinces over ten years – including $46.2-billion in new money.
There is also $2 billion earmarked for an immediate top-up to the Canada Health Transfer to ease urgent challenges at pediatric hospitals, emergency rooms and surgical centres.
Provinces and territories agreeing to share specific healthcare data with the federal government will also see an additional five percent bump over the next five years.
“It’s more money than it was yesterday,” said Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson. “But again, I think it’s a little disappointing in terms of the new money.”
Within the $46.2 billion in proposed new spending is $25 billion to be doled out in bi-lateral deals between each province and territory and the federal government.
Despite the underwhelming reception his plan received from the premiers, a confident Justin Trudeau expects to begin signing those agreements very soon.
“I have high expectations, but also reasonable expectations, that in the coming weeks – not months – we will conclude bilateral agreements, begin flowing more money and Canadians will start seeing real results,” he said.
He would not say if the proposal delivered Tuesday is his final offer to the provinces.
The premiers say they each plan to review the proposal and meet again amongst themselves in the coming days to discuss how to proceed.
“I’m looking forward to future conversations with my colleagues across the table and also with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister about how we deliver care for Canadians,” Eby said.
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