In recent days, some premiers have voiced optimism about reaching a deal soon with the federal government over increasing health-care funding, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he still wants tied to improved outcomes before the money rolls out of Ottawa.
During his year-end interview with Chief Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News Omar Sachedina, Trudeau said that while the federal government was willing to send “billions more” he wouldn’t pull up a chair at the table until there’s a more concrete plan for provincial accountability.
The prime minister said at the time this was because he wasn’t willing to just put money into a “strained, if not broken” system without assurances it would result in better care.
With some premiers now signalling a willingness to agree to conditions in exchange for more money, are the federal and provincial governments getting closer to an agreement?
Here’s what premiers and the prime minister have said this week.
PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU
“I’ve had some very constructive conversations with premiers, including premier Ford and premier Legault. Our ministers and their counterparts are working very closely, and I’m hopeful that we’re going to be able to come to an agreement soon,” Trudeau told reporters during a press conference on Thursday. “We know that Canadians deserve better health-care services, and the federal government will be there to support.”
The prime minister also offered examples of potential outcomes provinces would be accountable for, such as better access to family doctors, shorter wait times for accessing mental health services, or reducing the backlog for important surgeries.
Coming out of the meeting with Francois Legault Trudeau referenced late last year, the Quebec premier indicated he was “more optimistic” than he was previously about reaching a deal with the federal government after his conversation with Trudeau.
ONTARIO PREMIER DOUG FORD
On Thursday, Ford told reporters that he believes in “sticking with” other premiers, and that he’s recently been in talks with Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson—who is also the chair of the Council of the Federation—about getting “a fair deal” for all provinces and territories.
“We want a deal but we need to sit down with the federal government and the prime minister and really have a talk across the table… I’m still confident we’re going to get a deal. I really am,” said the Ontario premier.
“I’m very, very confident. So we’re going to keep working at it,” Ford continued. “And I’m sure all of us will be out making an announcement, hopefully sooner than later.”
ALBERTA PREMIER DANIELLE SMITH
In an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play with Vassy Kapelos on Monday, Smith said she has no issue with the federal government wanting strings attached to a funding increase.
“I’m working on accountability measures right now. I want more accountability from the health-care system,” she said.
However, her preference would be to have a federal partner that trusts the premiers to know how to best manage their provinces’ health pressure points.
For now, Smith also indicated that she won’t be…