Premier Brian Pallister today called on the federal government to join Manitoba in pursuing a partnership on sustainable, long-term health-care funding, once again referring to the federal government’s unilateral approach as a significant erosion of the federal funding of health care that will place additional strain on provinces and territories.
“Health care is the single largest budget item for provinces and territories, and we are responsible for ensuring the quality front-line delivery of health-care services to Canadians,” said Pallister. “Provinces representing approximately 90 per cent of Canada’s population continue to seek a true partnership. However, the federal government remains unwilling to meet us at the table, choosing instead to pursue bilateral deals that are insufficient to meet the increasing pressures on provincial and territorial health systems.”
The premier cited the findings of six independent studies that looked at the sufficiency of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The studies, conducted between 2011 and 2017, demonstrate the disproportionate and growing fiscal impact of health care on provinces and territories, and indicate that slower increases in federal transfers are not sustainable and will make it difficult for provinces and territories to both maintain adequate funding for social programs, including health care, and to balance their books.
Medicare originated 50 years ago with cost sharing of health care between federal and provincial governments at a 50-50 partnership. Today, provinces pay more than 75 per cent of health-care costs and the federal government continues to reduce growth in health-care funding. Research from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Conference Board of Canada, the Fraser Institute, C.D. Howe, David Dodge and the most recent Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy Case Study all indicate that health-care costs will continue to grow at a rate well beyond the CHT proposed by the federal government. Excerpts of the reports can be found in the attached backgrounder.
“Health care is the top priority of Canadians, yet federal funding to the provinces and territories for health care is at a historic low. Our government has inherited among the worst wait times in the country for emergency departments and other services, and we have been left to battle a massive inherited deficit,” Pallister said. “The future of our provincial health-care system and our ability to improve the quality and delivery of services is dependent on a sustainable partnership from the federal government. To protect health care, the federal government must fund health care.”