Sunday July 10, 2022 | Island Social Trends
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Canada’s Premiers will meet July 11 and 12 in Victoria. The main meetings will be held at the Fairmont Empress in the city’s downtown core. Media sessions will be held in the Crystal Ballroom there (as well as being livestreamed). Media will be attending from across Canada.
“I am delighted to welcome my colleagues, Canada’s Premiers, to the City of Gardens,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Chair of the Council of the Federation.
The opening news conference will be at 2:45 pm on Monday July 11. The closing news conference is planned for the afternoon of Tuesday July 12.
First in-person meeting since 2019:
“This in-person meeting, our first since 2019, will allow us to collaborate on the key issues facing Canadians,” Horgan said in a news release last week.
During 2020 and 2021, COVID pandemic health restrictions saw the Premiers hold virtual meetings.
Focus on health care funding:
The Premiers have an agenda that will focus their discussions on health care, including the urgent need to resolve the funding shortfall facing our health care systems. They will also discuss affordability issues and economic recovery.
“In every province and territory, too many people are struggling with long waits and access to a family doctor. This must change.We’re fighting for a fair deal with Ottawa to make health care better for everyone,” said Premier Horgan in social media ahead of the meeting.
“The problems Canadians experienced in accessing health care services during the pandemic have intensified strains in our health systems that will continue unless the federal government significantly increases its share of the costs of health care. Canadians must have the confidence that their health care systems will provide the services they need. There can be no further delay in having this vital conversation with the federal government,” said Horgan.
Health care costs include workers, infrastructure like hospitals and other facilities, equipment, research and procurement of supplies. About 20 percent of people in BC don’t have a family doctor due to the payment structures for practitioners which now seem out of step with the times. Even work schedules in hospitals (where 12-hour shifts are often still the standard) don’t fit with today’s lifestyle needs of personnel and arguably don’t provide the best level of care from overworked staff.
Funding amount to provinces must increase, say Premiers:
Presently the Canada Health Transfer of funds from the federal government to the provinces and territories is 22 percent of known costs, and the Premiers want to see that bumped up to 35 percent.
Years ago it was a 50/50 split between federal and provincial, but due to politics and governments of the day, that slipped to the low level where it is today.
“Canada’s public health care system began as a 50/50 partnership, but hte federal government’s contribution has shrunk to just 22 percent, said Horgan on June 22. ‘That is not sustainable for our health care system and we cannot afford to wait,” Horgan insists.
Premiers working collaboratively:
The Council of the Federation comprises all 13 provincial and territorial Premiers. It enables Premiers to work collaboratively, form closer ties, foster constructive relationships among governments, and show leadership on important issues that matter to Canadians.
Horgan is the only premier who leads an NDP government in Canada. But few if any of the other premiers can hardly be expected to say no to more funding to shore up the health care systems in their provinces.
Premier Horgan’s health:
Horgan started ramping up the Canada Health Transfer discussion last fall, but due to his own personal health situation (requiring surgery and followup treatments for throat cancer) meetings that were first scheduled for December 2021 have been postponed into this calendar year.
The federal health minister — and even the prime minister — are not invited to this two-day meeting in Victoria. As Premier Horgan emphasized last week, this is a meeting of Premiers, so they can sort out their own direction on the issues at hand — health care, affordability and pandemic-related economic recovery.
Horgan announced on June 28, 2022 that he will not seek re-election in the next BC provincial election, and will in fact step down as Premier as soon as the BC NDP can choose a new leader this fall. He will remain in place as the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
After Horgan no longer chairs the Council of the Federation, it’s yet to be seen how the demand for an increased Canada Health Transfer will be carried forward. Most of the provinces are presently led by Conservative governments.
Horgan is a master of political timing (turning his success with pandemic management into an NDP majority win in 2020, and likely influencing Trudeau to follow suit in 2021 … producing a similar result once the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the NDP was established this year).
Horgan very likely sees this as the most opportune time to rally premiers behind his political goal to help Canada maintain a universal public health care system. In his university days, Horgan was strongly politically influenced by Tommy Douglas, widely seen as the ‘father’ of universal health care in Canada.
Trudeau wishes Horgan well on upcoming retirement on eve of Canada Health Transfer discussions (June 29, 2022)
Premier Horgan not seeking reelection in 2024 – announcement, comments, photos (June 28, 2022)
Looking back at Horgan on the west shore (Island Social Trends local photo album – June 28, 2022)
Who might replace Premier John Horgan as party leader (June 28, 2022)
Premier Horgan to grads: You are ready to build a better world (June 27, 2022)
Premier Horgan attends Sooke Community Sport Box grand opening (June 27, 2022)
Trudeau promises national network of EV charging stations (April 11, 2022)
Trudeau & Horgan: Omicron, Canada Health Transfer, disaster response (January 4, 2022)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR, is the founder and editor of Island Social Trends. She has been following the politics of Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan since 2008 in the west shore. First through the quarterly south Island news insight MapleLine Magazine, then weekly as Sooke Voice News, then weekly print/PDF as West Shore Voice News, and since mid-2020 at the online news portal Island Social Trends.
Ms Brooke will be covering the two-day Council of the Federation meeting in Victoria, July 11 and 12, 2022.