OTTAWA — The contentious issue of federal health transfers is expected to be a key topic of discussion when provincial and territorial premiers gather for a meeting next week in Whitehorse.
The Council of the Federation talks will take place as the provinces and territories negotiate a new health accord with the federal government. Ottawa hopes to reach a deal by the end of the year. Here's what some health ministers had to say this week about the issue of federal transfers:
"To me, as a health minister, it's a scary situation because again, I will repeat it, we are at a point where we will have difficulty maintaining the level of services that we are to provide if the current funding is reduced as it is planned." — Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette on the possibility of lower health transfers from Ottawa.
"Well, certainly, Ontario would like to see it continue and nationally there is consensus ... to ensuring that that transfer increase more than what is being planned, so that it will restore a more equitable share to the health-care costs." — Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins on the six-per-cent escalator, which could fall to as low as half that rate at the end of the fiscal year.
"The No. 1 priority of Canadians is for us to get back — to have a top-flight health-care system. We have gone through a period of decline in relation to other OECD (industrialized) countries." — Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine.
"This year, the Canada Health Transfer is the largest in history at $36.1 billion. While the transfer continues to provide a stable funding base, any additional health-care funding will be focused on achieving transformative and measurable improvements in priority areas, like home care and mental health." — Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott in a statement.