All 13 Canadian premiers will be meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to discuss funding for health care.
On Sunday, as he was leaving for Ottawa, Premier Scott Moe said he was pleased to finally have the meeting, noting that they’ve been asking for it for the past 18 months.
“In order to address the challenges that are similar – but often different as well – across the nation, we are going to need some flexibility across Canada in how we’re going to invest those dollars,” Moe said.
He noted the premiers asked for a $28-billion increase to the federal government’s contributions to health-care coverage, calling it a return to the feds being a fair funding partner.
Moe said this investment would ensure the stability of programs in the province, noting that all provinces have increased their investments in mental health and addiction treatment beds.
He said if they don’t get that number, it means there is “more work to do.”
“If the offer isn’t at that number, which it should be, I would put forward, that would mean that there’s more work to do. We would maybe consider this a down-payment on future work and future discussions that the provinces can have.”
In terms of the privatization of health care, Moe said they are looking at it “where it makes sense.”
“For example, we have publicly funded, but privately delivered surgeries that have been happening in Saskatchewan for a while. We’re going to expand on those numbers, in particular where it comes to orthopedic surgeries, but we’re also expanding the number of surgeries in the public sector.”
He said there is a long list of people waiting for surgeries, noting they are looking to expand services everywhere.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said he was hoping for an Indigenous voice at the premier’s meeting, noting that these decisions affect First Nations people.
“There’s an expectation now that First Nation people, by way of inherent treaty rights, that we’re fully included in major decisions that obviously impact First Nation people coast-to-coast,” Cameron said.
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The premiers were looking for the federal government to increase health transfer payments from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.
“To not have our voices at the table in these decision-making tables, it’s a huge slap in the face.”
He said everyone talks about reconciliation, adding that this would be a big move for reconciliation.
There is the possibility that the AFN might have a seat at the table, but Cameron wondered if Chief Roseanne Archibald would get to have her voice heard or not.
“Do they get to voice their concerns, and put forth our position based on treaty?”
Details are still up in the air, but Cameron said if he was invited but expected to sit and be quiet the entire time, he wouldn’t go.
An Angus Reid poll took a closer look at how Canadians felt about health-care and the upcoming meeting, with 59 per cent of Saskatchewan residents saying the provinces should demand more health care funding with no strings attached.
Saskatchewan had the highest ratio of residents with that opinion, opposite of Ontario, which had 54 per cent of residents saying the federal government should demand reforms from the provinces, even if it delays a new agreement.
The poll also showed that many Canadians would consider health care where they live as either poor or very poor, and in crisis.
In terms of why health care is so poor, 46 per cent of residents in Saskatchewan saw both the federal and provincial governments as the culprit, with an additional 28 per cent solely putting the blame on the province and 24 per cent blaming the feds.