More nurses and doctors priority for Ontario under possible federal health deal: Ford

Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a news conference at the Michener Institute of Education in Toronto, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario will prioritize hiring more nurses and doctors as well as making investments to help tackle the surgical backlog under a possible new health-care deal with the federal government, Premier Doug Ford said Friday.

Premiers across the country are set to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February to negotiate changes to the Canada Health Transfer.

The premiers want to see Ottawa cover 35 per cent of health-care costs across the country, up from the current 22 per cent.

Ford said he’s looking for a program that makes sure “we have funding in different areas, no matter if it’s hiring new nurses or doctors or working with us on the backlog surgeries just to name a few.”

Read more: Trudeau to hold health-care funding talks with premiers next month, sources say

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He said the province is also looking to put more money into long-term care and home care.

“We’ll negotiate that with the federal government and we’ll negotiate hard,” Ford said.

But he also said he’s confident they’ll reach a deal.

Trudeau has said the funding will come with strings attached, including sharing health data and outcomes for a national database.

Ford has said he’ll agree to some terms and the province will be transparent and accountable about how the new money is spent.

The premiers are set to join Trudeau in Ottawa on Feb. 7, but the prime minister said earlier this week there wouldn’t be a deal reached immediately.

Trudeau has said he’ll be working on bilateral deals with each province.

Estimates suggest a 35 per cent share in 2023-24 would require close to $30 billion in additional transfers to the provinces.

Trudeau has not committed to that target. If he did, it would likely be a phased-in increase that would not hit 35 per cent for several years.

The talks are looking for a long-term arrangement that could last at least 10 years.

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Ottawa transferred $45.2 billion to provinces for health care for the current fiscal year, and currently expects that amount to increase to $49.4 billion in 2023-24.

Under the existing agreement, the transfers increase by a minimum of three per cent a year, or more under higher economic growth.

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