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Quebec premier calls on Justin Trudeau to meet on health care: ‘It’s a real problem’

Click to play video: 'Health care and affordability among topics discussed by premiers on Tuesday' Health care and affordability among topics discussed by premiers on Tuesday
Canada's premiers met in Victoria on Tuesday. As Tom Vernon reports, topics they discussed included affordability and health-care funding – Jul 12, 2022

Canada’s premiers have wrapped a second day of meetings in British Columbia, but they failed to secure a meeting with the federal government to speak about provincial health care needs.

Quebec Premier François Legault called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to come to the table, instead of sending ministers to speak through the media, he said.

“We need to have a meeting,” Legault said. “It’s a real problem, it’s the most important problem in Canada; so I don’t understand why Mr. Trudeau doesn’t want to meet us.”

On Monday, the minister of intergovernmental affairs told CBC it would be “absurd” to increase federal health transfers.

Read more: Canadian health care on ‘brink of disaster,’ nurses say

Dominic Leblanc added Canada does not expect the money to be used to run up surpluses or send cheques to people on the eve of an election.

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“It’s a bit insulting to send Mr. Leblanc or Mr. Duclos answering our request,” Legault replied.

Leblanc’s comment didn’t sit well with the rest of the premiers either.

“There’s nobody here who is trying to scrimp on a healthcare budget and divert it somewhere else, that’s not happening,” said Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston. “The only thing that’s stopping that progress on that is the federal government’s willingness to sit down and talk to us. That’s all we’re asking.”

Read more: Quebec budget includes $500 payment to adult residents, if you make $100,000 or less

Premiers met up in order to demand more money from Canada in health transfers.

They want an increase from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.

Legault says the province needs more federal money to keep new health care staff on the job.

“Provinces cannot continue to pay 78 per cent of health care expenses,” Legault said.

The premier blamed increasing costs in an ageing population and trying to keep up with emerging technologies.

Read more: Quebec vows to overhaul its beleaguered health-care system by 2025

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Back in the spring, Quebec’s health minister Christian Dubé presented a plan to overhaul Quebec’s health care system.

While Legault says they have enough funding to execute the plan, they have an issue with sustaining it long term.

“Currently, Quebec has put in place the necessary gestures for our health care reform. We are able to finance it but there is a deficit in Quebec,” Legault told reporters in British Columbia.

“The problem we have is that Mr. Trudeau has given us non-recurrent money. We used a portion of that money to hire new nurses but if we want to pay these nurses long time, we need a partner.”

Legault says sitting down with the prime minister is essential to discuss those needs and the rest of the provinces.

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