Liberal Government Offers $4.6 Billion Per Year In New Healthcare Spending

The federal offer to the Premiers is $196.1 billion in total over ten years. $46.2 billion would be new spending, less than what the Premiers had been asking for.

The federal government has made their offer to the provinces on healthcare.

While the Premiers had been calling for the federal portion of healthcare spending to increase from 22% to 35%, the federal plan falls short of that request.

However, that would require over $25 billion in new spending this year alone.

Instead, the Liberals are offering $196.1 billion in federal spending for healthcare over the next 10 years. $46.2 billion of that is new spending, amounting to an average of $4.6 billion in new spending per year.

The centerpiece of the new funding over $10 years will be $25 billion for the provinces, with the application of that funding to be worked out in bilateral deals. Notably, the provinces will have to present their plan for the use of the new money to the federal government, and report on their execution of those plans – something that will likely be unpopular among some provincial governments.

$2 billion will be added to the Canada Health Transfer, with no strings attached.

$1.7 billion in new funding will go towards higher wages for personal care workers.

$150 million will go towards a fund to cover health travel expenses in the three territories, and improve healthcare delivery in the territories.

$2 billion will go towards a health equity fund for Indigenous Canadians.

Just over $500 million will go towards the modernization of health data systems.

Private healthcare delivery?

The issue of private healthcare delivery will likely be addressed in the bilateral deals.

The federal government has said provinces must operate within the bounds of the Canada Health Act.

That does not preclude provincial governments from allowing private healthcare delivery, so long as people are not paying out of pocket for the services.

Most likely, the few rational voices within federal government realize that provinces must be allowed to innovate and include more private delivery, since the current socialized system is crumbling.

Will the Premiers accept?

Initial reaction to the federal proposal has been less-than-positive.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson – the current Chair of the Council of the Federation – said “There wasn’t a lot in a way of new funding that is a part of this package,” adding that the Premiers “were a little disappointed at that.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the new money was a “down payment.”

Initial reaction indicates the Premiers look set to ask for more money from the federal government.

However, their leverage is limited.

The federal government can always simply offer no new money, and while the Liberals would pay a political price for that so would the Premiers – some of whom are facing elections soon and wouldn’t want to walk away with nothing.

So, this initial federal offer is the beginning of negotiations that could become quite contentious.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – YouTube