‘We can’t negotiate with ourselves’: Scott Moe calls for meeting at premiers’ news conference

Premier Scott Moe met with the other premiers virtually to call for prime minister Just Trudeau to meet with them. Global News

Canada’s premiers met with each other virtually on Friday after discussions revolving around health-care with the federal government ended in a stalemate.

Calls have been made by the premiers for the federal government to up its share of health-care funding to 35 per cent from 22 per cent.

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Saskatchewan is one of the many provinces in Canada struggling to keep up with health-care demand.

Doctors like Dr. Ben Thomson say they are seeing unprecedented levels of sick kids, the provincial auditor wrote a report about the critical need for maintenance at health-care facilities in Saskatoon, and residents like Matt Temple are living through a parent’s nightmare – his sick one-year-old son is hooked up to ventilators and has been in the hospital for two weeks.

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Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson started the meeting, calling for the premiers and the prime minister to meet early in the new year to discuss funding for health care.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the current health-care cost-sharing arrangement with the federal government is not sustainable.

“At 22 per cent federal funding, 78 per cent provincial funding, I’d just put forward that’s not sustainable moving forward and the health-care cost-sharing, investment-sharing arrangement that was brought forward a number of decades ago was never anticipated to be with this small of the federal share,” Moe said.

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He said services need to be sustainable moving forward, noting that the federal government committed to raising the Canada Health Transfer.

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Moe said compensation is needed to maintain the current human resources across Canada, but said that’s only a part of how they’ll increase the number of people offering health-care services.

He noted that health-care training seats have been expanded in Saskatchewan, and he also touched on Minister of Health Paul Merriman’s trip to the Philippines to recruit nurses.

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Last month, the federal government withdrew from a joint communique on health funding with provincial and territorial health ministers at a meeting in Vancouver.

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said at the time that he went to the meetings “in good faith” but blamed premiers for giving their ministers “marching orders” to force negotiations to end with no deal after the premiers released a statement he says depicted the talks as a failure.

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“It was reported that ministers had walked away from an offer that was made by Minister Duclos, there was no offer made by Minister Duclos,” Moe said.

He noted the only offer that has been made is one made over two and a half years ago for the premiers to sit down with the prime minister regarding health-care funding.

“We can’t negotiate with ourselves as 13 premiers as to what the federal share should be. We need the federal government at that table.”

— with files from Nathaniel Dove and The Canadian Press

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