Thursday September 23, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Today BC Premier John Horgan addressed the media and took questions, after chairing a meeting of the Council of the Federation (Canada’s premiers) earlier in the day.
He said the provinces will be pushing for a federal partner in the goal of increasing the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) eventually back up to 35% where it used. The CHT was cut back over the years under previous federal governments.
The goal is to have “stable and predictable increases in the Canada Health Transfer,” Horgan said during the 2 pm media session.
CHT payments are made on an equal per capita basis, including both cash and tax point transfers. Starting in 2014-15, provincial and territorial CHT transfers were allocated on an equal per capita cash basis only.
As announced in December 2011, total CHT cash levels are set in legislation to grow at 6 per cent until 2016-17. Starting in 2017-18, total CHT cash will grow in line with a three-year moving average of nominal Gross Domestic Product, with funding guaranteed to increase by at least 3 per cent per year.
In 2020-2021, the CHT was the largest federal transfer, at $42 billion.
Pressures due to COVID:
Of course the pressure on health-care systems has been enormous during the COVID-19 pandemic, which for almost 20 months has borne heavily on the budgets of all of Canada’s provinces and territories.
The federal government has, of course, funding the supply of vaccines which has been an enormous support all the way around (from negotiating, to paying for the products, to organizing the shipping logistics).
Health-care already loomed large at 30-50% of annual provincial budgets prior to the pandemic, being the largest single expenditure for provinces and territories.
More health-care funds:
More dollars available for health-care would underpin the desired improvements in long-term care, mental health supports, hospital staffing and infrastructure, health-care staff training and many other aspects of the system that were brought to light or otherwise pressured by the onslaught of the COVID pandemic since March 2020.
Horgan did not specifically dwell on pharmacare, but did emphasize that one of the big differences between Canada and the USA is the universal health-care system that we have in Canada. He said he had been speaking with leaders of both the opposition parties (Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh) in the days since Monday’s federal election in the hopes of having “all voices represented in the House of Commons”; Horgan congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on winning the 44th federal election on September 20.
Canadians rely on that fundamental plank of Canadian life perhaps even more than they may realize (emergency rooms available without charge, discounts for low-income seniors on pharmaceuticals, dial-in support services from nurses and dieticians, immunization services, and much more).
Other collaborative efforts:
Horgan otherwise talked about collaborative efforts among the provincial premiers as being key to achieving the CHT objective as well as approaches to solutions to other serious challenges such as climate change and overall affordability (of which child care and housing are key planks) and also Indigenous issues.
“As chair of the Council of the Federation, I look forward to working in collaboration with the other premiers and the prime minister to address the challenges the pandemic has placed on our people, our economy and our health-care system,” is exactly how Horgan put it in a new release yesterday.
He said that “BC’s interests must be represented internationally as well.” In that context he mentioned the impacts of the pandemic on the tourism industry.
Horgan congratulates Trudeau on Sept 20 election win (Sept 22, 2021)
About the Canada Health Transfer (by the Canada West Foundation)