Premiers will answer voters if cash injection doesn’t improve healthcare system: LeBlanc
As the federal government prepares to dump billions of dollars in new funding for Canada’s healthcare system, the minister in charge of federal-provincial relations warns that if that money doesn’t get results, prime ministers will be held accountable by voters.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Canadian prime ministers last week to unveil a plan to send some $46.2 billion in new money to provinces and territories over 10 years to help a faltering health care system support.
Premiers had been urging Ottawa for months to increase its share of healthcare spending. The federal government claimed that certain conditions had to be met before any money could flow.
Intergovernmental Affairs Secretary Dominic LeBlanc was asked on the CBC News Network Rosemary Barton Live if the proposed funding could be reclaimed if the provinces do not achieve the desired results.
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LeBlanc didn’t say whether clawbacks are an option, but he did suggest Premiers must respond to voters if they don’t see improvements in provincial health systems.
“Provincial governments will obviously be sensitive to their citizens and constituents regarding these findings,” LeBlanc said in an interview with host Rosemary Barton that aired Sunday.
Ottawa’s proposal includes an increase in the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and new money for four priority areas: family health services, health workers and residues, mental health and substance use, and a “modernized health care system.”
To access the expanded CHT, provinces must first commit to improving the way health data is “collected, shared, used, and reported to Canadians to encourage greater transparency of outcomes and to address emergencies in the community.” in the public health sphere,” the government told reporters in a background document provided.
Funding for the common priorities will also depend on provinces and territories developing “action plans” detailing how these funds will be spent and how progress will be measured.
LeBlanc said it will allow taxpayers to track the progress of their provincial governments so they can decide whether federal funds are being used effectively.
“We think this transparency is the best way to drive sustainable change. And then the taxpayers, the voters in each jurisdiction, can see how a province or territory has performed,” he said.
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The prime ministers commented noncommittally on the plan after seeing the fine print for the first time. They said they would take the time to consider Trudeau’s offer before either accepting the terms or asking for more.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson – currently chair of the Council of the Federation, the group that represents prime ministers – said the prime ministers were “disappointed” by the size of Trudeau’s proposal.
“It’s significantly less than what we’re looking for,” she said.
Premiers had asked Ottawa to increase its CHT contributions to the provinces by $28 billion a year. The Trudeau administration is instead proposing an immediate $2 billion increase, with a 5 percent annual increase over the next five years.
In a separate interview on Rosemary Barton LiveQuebec’s finance minister said the proposal was far worse than he imagined.
“That was probably close to 50 percent of my worst-case scenario,” Eric Girard told Barton.
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Girard said the federal offer is a drop in the bucket compared to Quebec’s health care spending, which accounts for 43 percent of the province’s budget.
“The offer presented will not make any difference,” he said.
Speaking to reporters last week, Trudeau was asked several times if this proposal was his final offer.
“That’s the offer we put on the table,” he said. “These are the billions of dollars available to the provinces, and we look forward to working with them to bring not only that money, but those health care improvements to citizens across the country.”
The prime ministers are expected to meet on Monday to discuss the federal proposal.
So said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs Rosemary Barton Live that he was confident that an agreement would soon be reached with the federal government.
“I have a feeling that in the coming weeks we will actually be able to come to a resolution and a way forward with the federal government,” he told Barton in an interview that aired Sunday.
Higgs also said he supports the release of the metrics showing how the healthcare system is performing.
“I agree with that because I think it’s important now to put actual success and results behind spending dollars,” he said.