Premiers Call on Federal Government to Increase Health Funding Share in Coming Budget

March 4, 2021 Updated: March 5, 2021

Canada’s premiers again called on Ottawa to increase its funding share for provincial and territorial health care as it prepares its upcoming federal budget.

In a virtual news conference hosted by Quebec Premier François Legault on Thursday, premiers across Canada once again outlined their cases urging the Trudeau government to increase its funding share to cover health care costs in their provinces from 22 percent to 35 percent. 

“Rebuilding our health system after a once-in-a-century pandemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement Thursday. 

“With wait times for backlogged surgeries growing and our long-term care homes in desperate need of more support, it’s never been more important that the federal government work with the provinces.”

“All of the Premiers urge the Prime Minister to become a true funding partner and increase the federal government’s share of total health care spending to 35 percent through the Canada Health Transfer, and to maintain this level over time with a minimum annual escalator of at least 5 percent,” he added. 

Under the Medical Care Act that was passed in 1966, Ottawa had covered 50 percent of hospital and physicians costs. But the federal share has since been reduced to 22 percent.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said there should be fairness in health funding from the federal level. The past year of COVID-19 had the province finding different ways to control spending in their entire healthcare system. 

“But even in that context, we had to increase our budget for surgeries by a billion above and beyond the COVID crisis, and add hundreds of millions of dollars to address the mental health and addictions crisis that we’ve been living through here in this province,” Kenney said.

“So even with extraordinarily difficult efforts to control spending, we still have to spend more to address an aging population and a growing population. And the federal government is not participating. It’s not helping us carry that burden, even though it has much greater fiscal debt.” 

B.C. Premier John Horgan said the issue has to be fixed now as nobody can tell the true costs the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the country. COVID-19 is the disease the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus causes.

“The costs of COVID-19 are not just today, they’ll be for the long term. We have not any idea yet what the cost, the long-term cost will be for those who will suffer long-term symptoms from COVID-19. We do not know yet what the cost will be to catch up on the surgeries that have been delayed,” Horgan said. 

When Legault was asked what he would do if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn’t agree to increase the share, he said the existing health care system problems will continue, while adding that the federal government “will have the money available in the next few years to finance more of the health costs in provinces. 

“I think it’s important before announcing new programmes in other areas that we first settle this problem, which is the top priority of Canadians,” Legault said.