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Premiers Ford, Legault call on federal government to increase health transfers to provinces

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault provide joint COVID-19 update.

The premiers of Ontario and Quebec are calling on Ottawa to increase health transfers to the provinces, saying that sustainable, long-term funding is required on top of existing federal COVID-19 relief to address health-care issues that predate the pandemic.

Ontario’s Doug Ford and Francois Legault of Quebec announced the request Wednesday after meeting in Mississauga, Ont., to discuss economic recovery and health preparedness.

Read more: Quebec Premier Fran├žois Legault arrives in Ontario for provincial economic recovery summit

The two premiers said they have not set a percentage or dollar amount for the support they’re seeking from the federal government, noting they first must consult with the other provincial and territorial leaders on the matter.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Quebec and Ontario premiers meet to discuss economic recovery' Coronavirus: Quebec and Ontario premiers meet to discuss economic recovery
Coronavirus: Quebec and Ontario premiers meet to discuss economic recovery

 

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But they said they believe a significant increase in the Canada Health Transfer is needed to tackle existing pressures on their respective health-care systems, which have now been exacerbated as a result of the global health crisis.

“It’s not a new problem but it’s a problem that is increasing every year and increasing because of the expenses related to COVID-19,” Legault said in a news conference following the inaugural summit between the two provinces.

“But because of the aging population, because of new drugs, new technology, we need more help from the federal government.”

Ford said there is an “endless list of areas in health care that we need to put more funds towards,” including a backlog of surgeries that will require the province’s doctors to work overtime.

Click to play video 'Ontario pushes federal government for more healthcare funding ahead of throne speech' Ontario pushes federal government for more healthcare funding ahead of throne speech
Ontario pushes federal government for more healthcare funding ahead of throne speech

Ottawa is slated to dole out nearly $42 billion to the provinces and territories under the Canada Health Transfer in 2020-2021, which Legault said amounts to roughly 21 per cent of health-care costs.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government will be there to support the provinces on health care, but did not commit to specific relief.

Speaking in Toronto on Wednesday, Trudeau said he would discuss any next steps with the provincial leaders.

Click to play video 'Quebec premier calls on federal government for unconditional healthcare, infrastructure funding' Quebec premier calls on federal government for unconditional healthcare, infrastructure funding
Quebec premier calls on federal government for unconditional healthcare, infrastructure funding

The Quebec and Ontario premiers also said Wednesday they agreed to press Trudeau for funding on other issues affecting economic recovery, such as infrastructure and transit.

Ford and Legault said they also plan to work together to reduce barriers to international trade, and promote products made in Quebec and Ontario.

Both provinces’ ministers of health, finance and infrastructure also participated in the summit, along with other officials.

Click to play video 'Doug Ford says Ontario mayors should tighten restrictions if needed' Doug Ford says Ontario mayors should tighten restrictions if needed
Doug Ford says Ontario mayors should tighten restrictions if needed