Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Justin Trudeau presented provincial and territorial premiers last month with a package deal for federal health care funding of $196 billion over 10 years.
Quebec wants to sign the health transfer agreement with the federal government, although it considers the funding “largely insufficient”, say three ministers of the Legault government in a letter, excerpts from which were obtained by La Presse Canadian.
The needs are urgent in the Quebec health network, and “this is why Quebec intends to take advantage of its share of the federal funding proposed on February 7,” write in their letter sent to Ottawa on Friday, the Ministers of Finance and Health and the Minister responsible for Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophonie.
Ministers Eric Girard, Christian Dubé and Jean-François Roberge also say they expect Quebec to use these funds “without conditions” to support its health plan. They say they attach to the letter a “draft asymmetric agreement”, which was not included in the extracts obtained by The Canadian Press.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented to the provincial premiers and territories last month in Ottawa a package deal of federal health care funding of $196 billion over 10 years.
Ottawa offered an additional $46.2 billion over ten years, one-sixth of what the provinces were asking for at the meeting. Premier François Legault would thus receive only an additional $1 billion a year out of the $6 billion he hoped to obtain from the federal government.
Ottawa has gradually entered into bilateral agreements with each of the provinces. On Wednesday, only Quebec and the three territories remained to reach an agreement with the federal government.
“As indicated by the Premier of Quebec and reiterated during our meeting, the federal funding offered is well below what Quebecers are entitled to expect”, write the Quebec ministers.
They recall that the “unanimous demand” of the first ministers was “yet clear”, namely that the federal contribution be increased from 22% to 35% of the health expenditure of their governments, and that this level be maintained by more.
In the letter, the ministers say they expect Ottawa not to dictate conditions to Quebec on the health plan.
“[Quebec] intends to do so without conditions, with the guarantee , as in the context of the asymmetrical agreements concluded in 2004 and in 2017, that its specificity and its desire to exercise its full autonomy […] be fully recognized according to its own plans and priorities, rather than on the basis of terms and conditions proposed in your correspondence of February 15, 2023, which raise several issues regarding respect for the division of powers”, they write.
At the end of February in Halifax, Prime Minister Trudeau said he recognized that the government federal is not the “boss” of the provinces when it comes to health. However, he affirmed in the same breath that he would make them accountable to their populations thanks to the better sharing of data that would be provided for in the agreements on the increase in transfers.
He also mentioned targets to be negotiated with the provinces according to what they consider attainable.