Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is joining other provincial leaders to call on the federal government to contribute more to nationwide healthcare funding.
The premiers are reiterating their unanimous demand that the federal government hike the transfer by $28 billion this year, and by five per cent more each year thereafter.
Pallister echoed the message coming from every other premier at a Council of the Federation press conference held in Quebec Thursday, saying issues that existed before COVID-19 are being exacerbated by the pandemic.
“We don’t need a banker, Canadians don’t need a banker. We need a partner, we need a partner on health care,” Pallister said during the press conference, which he attended virtually from Winnipeg.
“This isn’t the Prime Minister’s fault — except if he ignores the problem — then it becomes his fault.”
The premiers argue the federal government shoulders only 22 per cent of the cost of health care; their demand would increase that share to 35 per cent.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that the federal share must eventually increase but he’s told premiers that will have to wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sent the federal deficit into the stratosphere.
The premiers argue they need stable, long-term, unconditional funding now to bolster the core health care system, which was under strain before the pandemic hit.
Pallister warns that a “post-pandemic pileup” is coming as elective surgeries, tests and other procedures that have been delayed during the pandemic get underway again.
Since its creation in 2003, the Council has met approximately twice a year to discuss issues of pan-Canadian significance, whether in the areas of economics, health, the environment or immigration.
— with files from Will Reimer and The Canadian Press