Opposition leader says a Conservative government would keep Trudeau's health-care deal — and spend more
Canada's premiers will meet Friday to discuss the government's proposed multi-billion-dollar cash injection for the health-care system.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented premiers with Ottawa's offer on Tuesday — a plan to flow roughly $46.2 billion in new money to the provinces and territories over 10 years to help prop up a faltering health-care system.
The premiers were non-committal about the plan after seeing the fine print for the first time. They said they'd take time to review Trudeau's pitch before either accepting the terms or demanding more.
The $46.2 billion price tag is less than what the premiers requested. They wanted Ottawa to spend $28 billion more a year on health care. Ottawa's offer amounts to a fraction of that.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, chair of the Council of the Federation, said the proposal offers "significantly less" than what the premiers sought.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called Trudeau's offer a "starting point" and a "down payment on future discussions." Other premiers suggested they could live with the plan even if it falls well short of what they wanted.
In an interview with CBC's Power & Politics, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said "we see a couple of real wins in this," adding that the rejigged funding formula will help smaller provinces like his because money won't be handed out on a strictly per capita basis.
Under Trudeau's terms, Ottawa will cut separate bilateral side deals with each of the provinces, earmarking funds for health-care issues that matter most in different parts of the country.
That, Furey said, will be particularly helpful for Newfoundland and Labrador, a place with a rapidly aging population and few young people.
Furey said he "absolutely" believes a deal can be settled before the federal budget is tabled this spring.
"Not everybody is on the same page but we're having a meeting on Friday and I'd like to move quickly," he said.
He's "not perfectly OK" with Ottawa's plan, he said, but he's ready to sign something.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said he's hoping a final deal will materialize soon after Friday's meeting.
WATCH | Will Premiers accept the federal government's health-care proposal?
Will Premiers accept the federal government's health-care proposal?
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey and PEI Premier Dennis King weigh in and react to the federal health-care proposal and whether they will still try to negotiate.
"This is money that is so needed in P.E.I. and we need to get to work on it as quickly as possible," King said.
"I don't think, as the premier of P.E.I., I would be in the position to say, 'I don't want this money from the federal government.' I want it. Could I use more? Absolutely. I'll continue to lobby for more. But we're ready to sit down."
Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said a government led by him would keep in place the Liberal government's proposed health-care deal with the provinces.
"Yesterday, [Trudeau] announced sums that are not adequate, according to the premiers, to fix the health-care damage that has emerged under eight years of Trudeau," Poilievre said in a media scrum.
"Obviously, a future Conservative government led by myself will keep in place these additional sums and honour the commitments made yesterday."
WATCH | Poilievre says he would keep health-care funding proposed by Trudeau:
Poilievre says he would keep health-care funding proposed by Trudeau
Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre says a Conservative government would 'keep in place' commitments made between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the provinces.
Poilievre added that his government would spend more on health care beyond the announced sums in the deal, and could fund the spending by cutting back in other areas.
When asked, he did not give a specific dollar amount of additional health-care spending under a Conservative government.
He did say a Conservative government could partially fund new health-care spending by eliminating consulting fees, referencing recent questions about the government's spending on management consulting firms.
Management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has received more than $100 million in government contracts over the last seven years.
WATCH | Singh discusses whether NDP will support Liberal health-care funding budget
Singh says no decision 'today' on whether NDP will support Liberal health-care funding budget
"We're not making [a] decision today but we are making it really clear that we have a massive disagreement" with the government's health-care funding offer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told Power & Politics Wednesday.
While the federal funding in Trudeau's proposal comes with some conditions, such as improvements in provincial health-care data collection and usage, Poilievre did not say whether health-care spending from a Conservative government would come with conditions.
But he said he wants to work with provinces to fast-track credentialing for immigrants who are health-care professionals.
"A Conservative government will unleash the productive forces of our economy so there's more money available to support health care," Poilievre said.
"We will cut the waste and mismanagement in the federal government, including the high-priced consultants, so that more of your tax dollar goes to the emergency room and to treating your family."
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