Legault Wants No Conditions on Health Deal but Says He’s Open to Sharing Data

By Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier
Noé Chartier is an Epoch Times reporter based in Montreal. Twitter: @NChartierET Gettr: @nchartieret
February 7, 2023Updated: February 7, 2023

Quebec Premier François Legault said on Feb. 7 he wants Ottawa to increase health transfers with no strings attached, but is open to sharing the province’s health data, one of the conditions spelled out previously by the Trudeau government.

“We don’t want conditions, what we want is to be able to apply our plan, we already have a plan for healthcare in Quebec, and we need more financing from the federal government,” Legault told reporters in Ottawa before a meeting of the premiers with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We’re open to share data, we already share data with the population, so I have no problem giving these data to the federal government.”

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has reiterated in recent months that Canada’s health data system is sub-par and that provincial data sharing was a condition for a health deal.

Premiers of provinces and territories have been asking for a meeting with Trudeau on health for some time, and the issue percolated over the holidays with increased stress across health systems.

The premiers are asking for the federal health contribution to increase from 22 to 35 percent.

Legault said premiers are seeking a 5 percent yearly indexation of the transfers to tackle the increasing demand on the health-care systems due to the aging population. The current rate is 3 percent.

Legault didn’t deny he would be open to negotiations on the 35 percent target.

“It would be welcomed to receive a substantial amount, even if it’s not the total amount,” he said.

On the prospective offer to be presented to premiers, Legault said that Trudeau had two years to table a proposal, “So I guess we would ask [for] a few days to study it.”

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, who also spoke to reporters, said she was “optimistic” about the outcome of the talks and was going in with an “open mind.”

Stefanson didn’t comment on whether a lesser target than 35 percent would be acceptable.

“I’m not going to start negotiating against ourselves here,” she said.

“But we know what our proposal is. We’ll see what theirs is and then we’ll take it one step at a time moving forward.”

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston didn’t stop to talk with reporters but also said he was “optimistic” as he was making his way to the meeting.

Trudeau spoke briefly and said he was looking forward to meeting with the premiers and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith for a bilateral meeting.

“Obviously, it’s been a tough few years, but there’s a need for support now and better results for Canadians now but also into the coming years as we build a more modern system that will respond to the challenges of the coming years,” Trudeau said.

He previously said throwing more money at provincial health care was not a solution, and expressed a desire to see reforms.