Premier Moe says offer of federal healthcare funding is ‘disappointing’

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe listened during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday.  Moe said the ministers would meet to discuss the federal government's health spending plan.  (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe listened during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. Moe said the ministers would meet to discuss the federal government’s health spending plan. (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the federal government’s offer of health care funding to premierships this week was “disappointing”.

“The details of the offer amount to a two percent increase and fail to outline a path forward for long-term, sustainable funding, which all prime ministers have been calling for,” Moe said.

Moe and his counterparts have called for a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in recent years to specifically discuss a new funding model. Premiers are asking the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) from 22 percent to 35 percent, or an additional $28 billion a year.

Last year, the CHT cost the federal coffers $45.2 billion. It should rise to $49.1 billion this fiscal year.

With the new funding announced Tuesday, the CHT and the separate bilateral funding arrangements will be worth about $54 billion in 2023-24.

Saskatchewan would receive nearly $6.2 billion of the $196 billion pledged from the federal government over 10 years.

About $5.9 billion would be provided through the federal transfer, with the remainder through bilateral agreements in mental health and substance use, home care and long-term care.

Moe said the prime ministers are expected to meet soon to discuss the details of the federal proposal.

“While the federal funding proposal is disappointing, it will not stop our government from advancing our ambitious health human resources plan to hire over 1,000 new health workers, as well as make important investments in mental health, addiction and surgery wait times.” to shorten times, the construction and renovation of healthcare facilities and many other healthcare priorities,” Moe said in a statement.

Primary care needs an overhaul, health policy analyst says

Canadian health policy analyst Steven Lewis said the nearly $200 billion proposal isn’t huge given what Ottawa is already broadcasting to the provinces.

“The federal government is proposing to add about $5 billion in new money. So there’s not much in the scheme of things. It’s not a big, groundbreaking, massive new investment,” Lewis said.

“So overall I think the Prime Ministers were disappointed with the amount of money, but it doesn’t sound like they were terribly surprised.”

Lewis said money is not the answer when it comes to improving healthcare in Canada.

He said provinces “need to find out once and for all whether we have a money problem or whether we have an organizational problem and an efficiency problem.”

“I think it’s the latter rather than the former, and I think the evidence is that since 2000 we’ve had a 27 percent increase in Canada’s population and a 106 percent increase in real health spending. Did that solve anything? these problems? No.”

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

dr Alika Lafontaine, head of the Canadian Medical Association, said provinces and territories need to create better working environments for health care providers and improve access to primary care.

“More than six million Canadians do not have access to a family doctor. More and more people come to emergency rooms and are not cared for. We have reports of the dying waiting in emergency rooms while trying to be examined,” Lafontaine told CBC power and politics this week.

“These things are just a fraction of what’s going on in the healthcare system. The tough conversation we need to have is how are we going to solve these problems.”

Lewis said primary care is the area that provinces need to focus on.

“I don’t know how the country can stand by when five or six million Canadians don’t have a regular source of care. It’s a shameful and ominous statistic,” he said.

Lewis found that the total number of physicians has increased proportionately faster than the population.

“It’s not a shortage of doctors, we have a shortage of family medicine.”

Lewis said Saskatchewan can address this issue without the federal government.

“We have in Saskatchewan, I suspect, about 200,000 people without regular care. How about we hit that 100,000 in three years? That would be an obligation.”

Saskatchewan opposition NDP leader Carla Beck said the province needed to look at retaining healthcare workers immediately.

“Unless we start addressing this retention issue, we will continue to lose health workers to other provinces. Certainly recruitment is important, but until we address the retention issue, this is a revolving door and that’s what we’ve heard from healthcare workers.”

Beck said she is concerned about how much money the federal government is committing to health care, but that an immediate $2 billion offer to the provinces is needed.

“The lack of basic health care, be it doctors or nurses, is another problem. We’re seeing this in rural communities, but we’re also seeing across the city of Saskatoon, our largest city in the province, sometimes there aren’t any doctors accepting new patients. This is something that needs to be approached critically.”


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