The Prime Minister’s prescription for health care
This week Canada’s premiers are in Ottawa for what has often been reported as “negotiations” with Prime Minister Trudeau for a new agreement on the Canada Health Transfer.
The “Canada Health Transfer” (CHT) transfers a portion of the federal taxes you send to Ottawa back to provinces and territories to help cover the costs of providing healthcare.
I use the term ‘negotiations’ loosely because, in reality, the federal government typically sets out what the increase will be to the CHT.
Provinces have little choice but to accept whatever amount of money the federal government establishes as reasonable.
The CHT is estimated to be $45.2 Billion for the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced that over the next ten years, the increase to the CHT will be $196.1 billion, which represents $46.2 billion in new funding on top of what was previously budgeted.
There is also $25 billion set aside for bilateral deals and some other “top-ups” in specific areas.
Overall, the new funding agreement will lead to an increase of 5% in the CHT over the next five years.
The agreement also includes some “strings” like data sharing between the provinces and the federal government and upholding the Canada Health Act to protect Canadians’ “access to health care based on need and not ability to pay.”
Recently the Province of Ontario announced intentions to increase the use of private clinics to help clear surgical waitlists.
In a media interview with the Toronto Star, the plan by the Province of Ontario was called “innovative” by PM Trudeau.
As a result of the PM’s praise for increased involvement of private healthcare, many, including some Liberal MPs, have expressed concern and, in some cases, condemnation of the PM’s comments.
The leader of the NDP has accused Prime Minister Trudeau of placing Canada’s universal health care system under threat.
Earlier this week, Global News reported on an Ipsos poll that suggested 59% of adults surveyed expressed support for the private delivery of publicly funded health services, adding further fuel to this discussion.
The CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs said: “…in the 30 years he has studied public opinion in Canada, he has never seen such a shift in support toward privatization.”
Getting back to the CHT announcement, as is often the case, the premiers unanimously expressed disappointment noting that the increase in funding was insufficient to address the severe challenges facing provincial healthcare systems.
Here in BC, as reported by the Vancouver Sun, our share of this increased funding over the next ten years works out to $600 million a year.
The BC provincial budget for healthcare spending was $23.8 billion in 2021-2022.
The provinces were asking for an annual increase to the CHT of $28 Billion.
What PM Trudeau announced this week is, on average, less than $5 billion in new funding a year.
My question this week:
Do you think PM Trudeau should have further increased the Canada Health Transfer, or do you view the announced increase as reasonable?
I can be reached by email at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call me toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.