Premiers discuss the way forward with Ottawa

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The leaders of Canada’s provinces and territories met in Mississauga this week to discuss issues and create a policy agenda that would appeal to the minority Liberal government in Ottawa.

While many of the premiers have met one-on-one with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since the October 21 election, this is the first time all the premiers are meeting as a group since Trudeau began his second mandate.
They might have different opinions, but all agreed upon one thing — they will be looking for more money from Ottawa to shore up provincial budgets, some of which have been hit by sinking oil prices and soaring health-care costs.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said health care was the most pressing agenda item at this meeting. He said the federal government is pushing a national prescription drug plan at a time when the country’s existing health care system is already stretched.

The premiers have been pushing Ottawa to lift the current health care spending growth cap — currently set at three per cent each year — to help provinces tackle their single biggest budget line item.

Ford said the Canada Health Transfer which is the money the federal government sends to the provinces and territories to help them pay for health care should grow by 5.2 per cent to better reflect the changing demographics and health care needs.

The Liberal campaign platform pledged $6 billion over four years in new health spending, with funding earmarked for boosting the number of doctors, a move toward a pharmacare program and improvements to mental-health services.

After the Liberal government introduced a series of measures perceived as an affront to the country’s natural resources sector, voters this October turfed all Liberal MPs between Manitoba and BC.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have also urged Ottawa to revisit the current equalization formula which they say is unfair. -CINEWS

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