This week, Canada's premiers are in Ottawa for what has often been reported as "negotiations" with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for a new agreement on the Canada Health Transfer (CHT).
The 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.
Trudeau announced that over the next 10 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,” such as 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, Ontario announced its intention to increase the use of private clinics to help clear surgical waitlists.
In a media interview with the Toronto Star, Trudeau called Ontario’s plan "innovative.”
As a result of the PM's praise for increased involvement of private healthcare, many, including some Liberal MPs, expressed concern and, in some cases condemnation, of the PM's comments. The leader of the federal NDP accused the prime minister 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 had 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 the increase in funding was insufficient to address the severe challenges facing provincial healthcare systems.
Here in B.C., as reported by the Vancouver Sun, our share of the increased funding over the next 10 years works out to $600 million a year. The B.C. provincial budget for health care spending was $23.8 billion in 2021-2022.
The provinces were asking for an annual increase to the CHT of $28 billion.
What Trudeau announced this week is, on average, less than $5 billion in new funding a year.
My question this week:
Do you think Prime Minister Justin 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 [email protected] or call me toll-free at 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.