(Quebec) Quebec wants to sign an agreement on health transfers with the federal government, although it considers the fund “largely insufficient”, say three ministers of the Legault government in a letter, excerpts from which were obtained by Canadian La Presse.
Urgent needs in Quebec’s health networks and “this is what Quebec intends to use its participation in federal funding proposed on February 7”, in their letter sent to Ottawa on Friday, the Minister of Finance and Health and the minister responsible for Canadian Relations and the Canadian Francophone.
Ministers Eric Girard, Christian Dubé and Jean-Francois Roberge also say that they expect Quebec to use these resources “without conditions” to help their health plan. They say the letter represents an “asymmetric draft convention,” which is not included in the excerpts from The Canadian Press.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented provincial and territorial premiers last month in Ottawa with the proposed comprehensive federal health care funding of $196 billion over 10 years.
Ottawa has given a sixth of the additional $46.2 billion over ten years it requested in the provincial assembly. Prime Minister François Legault hoped to obtain an additional 1 billion per year from the federal government’s 6 billion in this way.
Ottawa gradually entered into bilateral agreements with each province. As of Wednesday, only Quebec and the three territories remained to be negotiated with the federal government.
“As noted by the Premier of Quebec and repeated in our meeting, the federal funding offered is well below what Quebecers are entitled to expect,” write Quebec officials.
They recall that the “unanimous request” of the prime ministers “is still clear”, that is, the federal participation should be increased from 22% to 35% for the health costs of their governments, and thereafter this order must be maintained.
In the letter, officials say they expect Ottawa not to dictate Quebec’s health conditions.
“(Quebec) intends to do so without conditions, with the caveat, as in the context of the asymmetric agreements concluded in 2004 and 2017, that its property and its desire to exercise full autonomy will be fully recognized. […] according to their plans and priorities rather than from the reasons proposed in the Correspondence of February 15, 2023, which raise several questions about the respect of the division of powers”, they write.
In late February in Halifax, Prime Minister Trudeau said he recognized the federal government is not the “boss” of the provinces when it comes to health. However, he said that he would return with the same breath to his people thanks to better communication of information that could be provided in contracts with increased transfers.
He also mentioned the targets to be negotiated with the provinces according to what they think will bring the matter.