OTTAWA – Health Minister Jane Philpott confirmed Friday that Ottawa has reached health agreements with Quebec, Ontario and Alberta – a dramatic turnaround after months of negotiations and threats of walkouts at meetings last year.
Philpott confirmed the deals in the House of Commons with a wide grin and high-fives with her fellow cabinet ministers. No additional details were immediately available.
The agreements come on the heels of an arrangement reached last month with British Columbia that included $1.4 billion in health-funding over a 10-year period, leaving Manitoba as the only remaining holdout.
Philpott has advocated for targeted money in home care and mental health in order to ensure the areas are treated as priorities.
At a meeting of health and finance ministers last December, provinces and territories rejected a federal offer of $11 billion over 10 years for home care and mental health, as well as $544 million over five years for prescription drug and innovation initiatives.
At that time, Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette threatened to walk away from the negotiating table if the federal government didn’t put up more money.
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa accused the federal government of shutting down the December talks in favour of a unilateral approach.
The main point of contention was the Liberal government’s plan to limit annual health transfers to three per cent – half the six per cent increase set out in the last long-term agreement with the provinces.
Philpott insisted, however, that the federal government had put substantial offers on the table that she believed would change the face of health care in Canada.
With files from Andy Blatchford in Ottawa and Allison Jones in Toronto