Ford says new federal dollars for health care only a 'down payment on future discussions'
Premier Doug Ford says that the $46 billion in new health-care funding that Ottawa has offered the provinces is a “starting point” but should be viewed as a “down payment on further discussions” only.
Ford made the comment during a news conference alongside other premiers on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tabled the offer.
“I always welcome new funding either small or large. But what we see this as is a starting point. It is a down payment on further discussions,” he said.
Trudeau has offered to shift $196 billion to the provinces and territories over the next decade in exchange for their commitment to upgrade health-care data collection and digital record keeping.
But only about $46 billion of that investment is new funding.
Of that, Ontario would receive about $8.4 billion over the next decade as part of a revised bilateral agreement with the feds, Ford’s office says. It would also receive another $776 million as part of an emergency top up of the Canada Health Transfer.
Speaking with reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday, Ford acknowledged that the premiers were looking for more money but said that he remains hopeful that further discussions on more “sustainable” funding arrangements can still happen down the road.
“For all of us it's about sustainability. It's about building a healthcare system not for five years, not for 10 years but decades,” he said. “I think we all need to go back. We need to sit down with our ministers and health experts and finance and see where this puts us and then we will reconvene. We just need to absorb this a letter deeper.”
Ontario Health Minister Sylvia Jones has previously called on the federal government to increase the portion of health care that it funds from about 22 per cent to 35 per cent.
However, Quebec Premier François Legault said on Tuesday that the additional funds offered by Ottawa would likely only increase the federal government’s share of health care spending to around 24 per cent.
“We always welcome new money. Is it going to transform the healthcare system? A few percent? No, it's not,” Ford conceded on Tuesday. “But can we deliver health care in a better fashion, a more efficient way of delivering health care? I truly believe we can.”
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