Thursday April 21, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [NOTE: Canada’s Premiers will be meeting in Victoria July 11 & 12, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
“We are in a health care crisis,” said Premier John Horgan today regarding the long wait-times at walk-in clinics and the high number of people without a family doctor for continuity of care (about 100,000 people in the Greater Victoria area are in that predicament).
As for the overall health-care system in British Columbia? “We need a massive infusion of cash from Ottawa. It will continue to erode if we don’t have a massive infusion of federal capital,” he told media today.
“We’re addressing decades of neglect in mental health,” he pointed out in particular.
Horgan back from bout of COVID:
Today Horgan was back on the job after about two weeks dealing with an active COVID-19 infection. He says he is still a bit low on energy, but thinks that might be due to his recent radiation treatments during cancer treatment in December and January.
Premiers disappointed in 2022 federal budget:
Premier Horgan chairs the Council of the Federation which assembles the premiers of all 13 provinces and territories. COF has been pressing for an increase in the Canada Health Transfer for over a year now.
Until now, the Council of the Federation (premiers of all the provinces and territories) — chaired by BC Premier John Horgan — has been requesting a flat across-the-board increase to the CHT, without strings attached. The COF response to Budget 2022 last week was one of “disappointment”, saying in a news release on April 8 that “the recent federal budget failed to provide a significant, long-term increase in federal health care funding to support the health and well-being of Canadians”.
“The federal budget missed an opportunity to address the major health care challenges facing Canadians,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan, Chair of the Council of the Federation. “Increased, predictable and sustainable federal health funding would make a real difference in people’s lives. Unfortunately, the federal budget failed to deliver on this priority.”
Trudeau’s comments April 11 on Canada Health Transfer:
On April 11 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Victoria he responded to a live question from Island Social Trends (Is there a national vision for any change in the CHT, and would that include looking at facilities, health-care worker training, and billing rates for physicians?) with this comment on the Canada Health Transfer:
“We’re working hand in hand,” Justin Trudeau said today regarding health-care discussions with COF Chair Premier Horgan and the other provincial and territorial premiers. “There will be more money for health-care. We just need to all of us work together to make sure that it actually delivers results for Canadians.”
“Especially coming through this pandemic, we need more investments in health-care,” Trudeau said today. “We need to make sure Canadians from coast to coast to coast are getting the absolute best quality health-care possible.”
“During the pandemic the federal government stepped up with close to $69 billion in new spending health-care related, much of it transfers to the provinces, to be able to get through this health crisis that was the pandemic. But we know there is a need for more long-term structural spending to go at some of the deeper challenges faced by Canadians across the country in accessing top quality health-care,” the prime minister said today.
“That’s why we’re engaged in conversations with the Council of the Federation, specifically with Premier Horgan, to try and talk about how we can really make sure that money invested in health-care from the federal government … because we are very clear, there will be significantly more money from the federal government in health-care,” Trudeau said. And he continued:
“But we’ve seen in the past, in decades past, that just more money into health-care, even from the federal government, doesn’t necessarily lead to the right outcomes, or better outcomes, for Canadians,” Trudeau said. “So this time, we’re sitting down carefully to talk about how to make sure that new investments in health-care will deliver the results Canadians need from better access to family doctors and nurses, to primary care, more investments in the kinds of… (things people need). “We just did $2 billion a few weeks ago to help provinces with some of the backlogs in surgeries that accumulated over COVID.”
It remains unaddressed in Budget 2022 or any statements so far about the CHT as to how long-term care will be handled in Canada. That’s of particular note due to the crisis for elderly people in long-term care during the pandemic; many deaths occurred in those congregate settings, where the airborne COVID (SARS-CoV-2) virus was shared in relatively closed and contained spaces. However, a more nuanced view of the comments made by Trudeau and Freeland as to ‘planning and clarity’ of health-care funding could be seen to include how wellness of seniors might be addressed.
Not only do the various provinces and territories do things differently, there are significant baseline differences that would complicate attempts for a fair across-the-board increase.
For example, BC already has a Pharmacare program, but most other provinces do not. Some provinces presently have more long-term care facilities privately operated than others. Billing schedules for doctors vary across jurisdictions.
Premiers push for higher federal health-care funding (February 4, 2022)
Affordability, health-care & climate impacts top list of Canadian concerns (February 4, 2022)
Federal NDP 2022: pushing for economic stability & health equity (January 31, 2022)
Trudeau & Horgan: Omicron, Canada Health Transfer, disaster response (January 24, 2022)
Canada Health Transfer top of mind for Premier Horgan into 2022 (December 12, 2021)
Premiers pushing for Canada Health Transfer increase, says Horgan (September 23, 2021)
July 29: Premiers meet with Trudeau about shared COVID response (July 29, 2020)
PM & Premiers hold 10th meeting about COVID-19 impacts (May 22, 2020)