Atlantic Canada aging faster: BoudreauNew Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau said smaller populations in Atlantic Canada are aging faster than other regions, which adds to health-care costs. "It's not unique to us, but it certainly is something that is affecting us and is going to affect us sooner and harder than anybody else," Boudreau said in an interview before the start of the Council of the Federation meetings.
Jane Philpott responds in the House of Commons, June 9. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has indicated Ottawa will address different provincial circumstances through bilateral agreements. Haggie said Philpott has also signalled the feds want the relationship to shift from the "unrestricted money" of a health transfer into "more targeted" cash within an accord. When it comes to targeted money, the concern for Haggie is that federal priorities don't always match the priorities of every province. He noted Ottawa committed to spend $3 billion over four years across Canada on improving home care, a campaign promise that was later omitted from the federal Liberals' March budget.
Haggie said there have also been discussions between Ottawa and the provinces about a $3-billion commitment — to be paid out in two $1.5-billion blocks — for mental health and addiction. There were also federal-provincial discussions on another $3-billion health investment, he said. "But it wasn't clear after speaking to the federal minister that we weren't actually talking about the same $3 billion being spent three different ways, three times over," Haggie said. "The signals have been a little bit mixed quite frankly." Last week, Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said Ottawa has signalled it intends to let the annual increase in health transfers fall to as low as half its current rate. Barrette said his officials have been told Ottawa has no appetite to keep the escalator at its current level of six per cent. Starting in 2017-18, the transfer is scheduled to grow only as much as Canada's nominal GDP, with a guaranteed minimum increase of three per cent.
"The signals have been a little bit mixed quite frankly."
Provincial leaders, including Barrette, have voiced concerns about a possible drop in the escalator as they face growing heath-care costs. Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine has said big provinces like Ontario and Quebec are "certainly driving hard" to see the annual increase stay at six per cent. Glavine's province is seeking a formula based on the percentage of residents over 65. By 2030, about 30 per cent of Nova Scotia's population will be older than 65, he added. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked Wednesday about a possible impasse in the talks. "I'm looking forward to robust discussions with the provinces as our health minister talks about the kind of future for our health-care system that we need."
"I'm looking forward to robust discussions with the provinces as our health minister talks about the kind of future for our health-care system that we need."
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