Ottawa hopeful Alberta will agree to health deal
BY JAMES WOOD, POSTMEDIA
FIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2017 05:14 PM MST
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, left, and Federal Minister of Health Jane Philpott talk after a news conference following the final day of a meeting of provincial and territorial health ministers in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday January 21, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott expressed optimism this week that Alberta will sign on to a new health funding deal but the NDP government insists it wants a First Ministers meeting to strike a broader agreement between Ottawa and all the provinces.
Talks between the Liberal government and the provinces on a new agreement on health transfers broke down in December over the amount of money on the table.
The Trudeau government has subsequently reached bilateral health funding agreements with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and the three territories that give smaller increases to transfers than what the provinces wanted but put additional dollars toward mental health and home care.
Philpott, who was in Calgary for the Liberal cabinet retreat, said this week there are ongoing talks with all the holdout provinces and she was looking forward to a conversation with Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman while she was in Alberta.
"It's always in the best interest of Canadians when all levels of government work together to make sure Canadians have the health care that they need," she said Monday.
"I think that we'll see some very good news on that in the future."
Hoffman was not made available for an interview Wednesday but her office said she and Philpott had not yet been able to schedule a phone conversation.
The NDP government said it's position has not changed from last week when the holdout provinces issued a joint statement calling for a meeting between the premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss health, which Philpott said would not happen.
The joint statement said the federal plan would see Ottawa's share of health-care funding decline and premiers representing 90 per cent of Canada's population want a fair deal on long-term funding.
"We are continuing talks with our provincial partners and the federal government to achieve this goal on behalf of Albertans," Hoffman said in her own statement Wednesday.email@example.com
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman is right to insist that the health accord should be a national deal. We don't need a further fragmented system, we need national and federal responsibility for greater funding and standards in a new health accord.