B.C. ‘disappointed’ with New Brunswick ‘deal on health funding with Ottawa – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
Dec 22, 2016

VICTORIA _ British Columbia’s health minister says he’s disappointed New Brunswick negotiated what appears to be a side deal on health care funding with the federal government after the provinces and territories rejected an offer from Ottawa earlier this week.

Terry Lake accused the federal government on Thursday of trying to break a stand the provinces and territories took on increased transfer money for health care.

“This is very consistent with the federal government’s approach, which is to try and divide and conquer rather than be collaborative, which flies in the face of the promises the prime minister made in the election campaign,” he said in a telephone interview.

On Monday, the provinces and territories rejected a federal offer that would have poured an additional $25 billion over the next five years into health care, with money tagged specifically for mental health and home care.

The offer included boosting health transfer payments to provinces by 3.5 per cent a year, plus another $11.5 billion over 10 years for home care, mental health services and innovation.

Lake said he doesn’t believe the federal government when it says four or five other provinces are looking at their own side agreements because the provinces he spoke with on Thursday say they won’t budge.

“I’ve talked to my counterparts in Ontario and Manitoba today and they are as firm as we are in that this is not a good deal,” said Lake, who wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call a meeting of first ministers in January to reach an agreement.

Lake said federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are being “disingenuous” when they say their provincial and territorial counterparts walked away from more health funding because the provinces and territories estimate Ottawa’s share of funding for health care would drop under what was offered.

“I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to hear that, when our analysis shows that the contribution of the federal government as a percentage of health care cost will decline with the deal.”

Lake said B.C. will not negotiate a separate health deal with the federal government.

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