Health: numbers war to end with Ottawa
VICTORIA | If nothing changes, the provinces will be heavily in deficit within a few years due to their growing health care spending, while the federal government will be swimming in surpluses, said the Premier of Quebec.
Gathered in Victoria, British Columbia, the premiers of Canadian provinces and territories insisted that they want additional funds to manage their health network, on a recurring basis and without conditions.
« When we look at the projections of The Conference Board, the provinces in the coming years will find themselves with a deficit of $100 billion, $200 billion per year, while the federal government will end up with a surplus of $50 billion per year » , mentioned François Legault in the company of John Horgan, the chairman of the council and premier of British Columbia.
“Growth is greater than income and it becomes impossible for the provinces to get there,” he added, especially after the pandemic.
For several months, Quebec and Ottawa have been waging a war of numbers in terms of health funding. The provinces are asking that the federal government increase its transfers from 22% to 35%. This amount represents an increase of $28 billion.
However, sources in the office of the federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, claim that the share of provincial health expenditure covered by the “Canadian transfer” is already, “on average”, 34%. In this calculation, they take into account the value of the tax points transferred to the provinces and territories.
“It is true that there was a tax point transfer several years ago. But, despite the transfer, in Quebec, for example, 40% of taxes go to Ottawa and 60% to Quebec. But he [Ottawa] only pays 22% of health expenditures. It’s a problem across Canada,” replied Mr. Leagult.
John Horgan, for his part, hopes that the focus will quickly be placed on the health care offered to citizens.
Present during this council, the Minister responsible for Canadian Relations, Sonia LeBel, also believes that Minister Duclos is doing “creative accounting”.
“He’s putting it all in the middle pot saying they’ve given way over 22% in the last two years. We have also spent a lot more in the last two years”, she described, recalling that the pandemic has hurt the provinces.
Mme LeBel even asserts that Ottawa « wants to appropriate » the power of the provinces.
“He wants to play on the ground of the provinces (…) It is up to us to establish our priorities. It is normal for the Quebec nation which has a particular culture, ”she cursed.
« I tell them that if they want to do provincial politics, show up! »
Immigration also on the menu
Recently, François Legault made the repatriation of federal powers in immigration a priority issue for the future election campaign. With his counterparts, the issue of delays in economic immigration will be on the menu.
“Selecting an economic immigrant in Quebec takes six months. But, after that, having the approval of the federal government takes an average. It doesn’t make sense to us and it doesn’t make sense to the provinces. Should it be managed by the provinces?
However, the Prime Minister will not address the issue of non-economic immigrants who are chosen by Ottawa and who do not speak French.
« It’s a problem that is unique between Quebec and Ottawa to protect French, » he said.