Victoria: Canada’s provinces and territories need a partner that will share half the financial load on the health-care system, which is buckling without stable, predictable and long-term funding, British Columbia Premier John Horgan said Monday.
The country’s 13 premiers began two days of meetings in Victoria with the primary topic of health-care funding as Canada eases out of the COVID-19 pandemic with a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and other health workers.
“We need to reimagine public health care in Canada,” said Horgan, who chairs the premiers’ Council of the Federation.
He said the premiers already sent the federal government a detailed funding proposal and they are waiting for a response.
Horgan received a text from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday saying Ottawa is aware of the funding situation and “they’ve been working on it,” he said.
“But we can’t determine what we’re going to do with money we don’t have,” he said.
“And we can go a lot further if we had a partner that was carrying half the load.”
Horgan told a news conference that the history of health-care funding in Canada was one of “dual responsibility” before cuts began in the 1990s.
“That has diminished over decades. This is not at the feet of the current Trudeau administration,” he added.
Successive federal governments have provided one-time funding to address immediate health-care needs, and that approach isn’t working, Horgan said, adding stable funding is needed.
“Once those temporary, part-time, once-only funding pots empty, we have a void, which then is inevitably filled by the jurisdictions that are providing the services,” Horgan said of the provinces and territories.

By Brenna Owen
The Canadian Press