The federal government “missed an opportunity” to stabilize pandemic-battered provincial health care networks in its latest budget, B.C. Premier John Horgan said Friday.
As chair of the provincial and territorial leaders’ Council of the Federation, Horgan has led the push for Ottawa to restore some of the health transfers that have diminished from a 50-50 share of the growing costs. Horgan has been calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise its share from 22 per cent to 35.
“The federal budget missed an opportunity to address the major health care challenges facing Canadians,” Horgan said in a Council of the Federation statement April 8.
A Liberal commitment in last fall’s federal election to add $6 billion to reduce surgical wait lists ended up as $2 billion, and another fund to supporting hiring 7,500 more doctors was not in the budget tabled by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland April 8.
To satisfy Trudeau’s support agreement with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the budget contained new commitment if more than $5 billion to provide dental care for low-income people.
B.C.’s budget in February projected health ministry costs to continue climbing, from just below $24 billion in 2021-22 to $27 billion three years later. Recovering from COVID-19 pandemic demands and disruptions, B.C. prioritized new money to surgeries, diagnostic scans, urgent and primary care centres, paramedics and dispatchers.
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