PEI is the last Atlantic province standing in healthcare negotiations

by Leo Almazora09 Jan 2017
“We are standing with the remaining provinces,” said Prince Edward Island Health Minister Robert Henderson, referring to the province’s decision to wait for better terms in the Canada Health Transfer being negotiated. Henderson saw it as the best way for his province to get a fair deal, reports the Guardian.

“[The result of the current deal] would be a net $3 million loss to our fiscal budget in the first year, and that would accumulate over the years… [W]e think it’s not the deal that would provide that transformation that would be required,” explained Henderson. “We might as well hold out for a little longer, anyway.”

PEI is the only Atlantic province remaining among the group of 10 provinces and territories insisting that Ottawa should give them a better health funding agreement. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland have broken rank, each cutting side deals that are essentially the same one that all 13 provinces turned down in late December. The three other Atlantic provinces have individually negotiated an addendum to their agreements that would give them access to any better deal negotiated by another province.

To Henderson, however, the decisions made by the other Atlantic provinces have weakened the negotiating power of the other provinces, and standing aside hoping to benefit from other provinces’ negotiations is not good enough.

“I think it’s incumbent upon somebody in some provinces to stand up and try make this sustainable and transformative,” he said. “It means that Prince Edward Island does a little more of the heavy lifting in trying to improve health care for Canadians and Islanders.”

The latest offer from the Trudeau government would pare transfers to the provinces, cutting it from 6% to 3.5%. Under that same deal, targeted investments in mental health, home care, and innovation will also be rewarded over the next 10 years.

The 10 provinces that have so far stood firmly against the deal have sent a joint letter to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, insisting that the demands and needs of the health system requires no less than a 5.2% annual increase in health transfers.

“The proposed offer would reduce the federal government’s share of provincial-territorial health-care spending from 23 to about 20 per cent over the life of the proposal,” the group noted in their letter. “We need to have a stronger partner in the federal government going forward, particularly at a time when the costs and demand for health-care services from Canadians is set to increase.”

The 10 remaining provincial and health finance ministers are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with the premiers so they can hammer out a better deal for all provinces with regard to long-term health-care funding.

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