Trudeau wants 'outlines' of a health deal before meeting with premiers

Published Dec. 27, 2022 8:00 a.m. ET

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While premiers continue to call for a meeting with the prime minister to talk about boosting federal health-care funding, Justin Trudeau says that'll only happen "once there is the outlines of a deal."

"Right now, they still want all this money with no accountability and no clear results. I have to say, that's not what Canadians need. We're going to be sending more money, but we need to see real change, real results," Trudeau said in a year-end conversation with Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor of CTV National News Omar Sachedina, airing in full on Dec. 31.

"I look forward to sitting down with them once there is the outlines of a deal," said the prime minister.

While Trudeau vowed that the federal government is willing to send "billions more," as he's previously emphasised, that money will come with strings attached.

The premiers have been ramping up pressure for Trudeau to meet with them to discuss the federal government increasing the Canada Health Transfer—which funnels federal dollars into provincial health-care systems—to 35 per cent up from the current 22 per cent of coverage for health-care costs.

This longstanding but recently re-emphasized demand comes as hospitals and health-care facilities appear to be in crisis mode, between staffing shortages and a cold-weather surge of illnesses compounding in extended wait times and other struggles to access adequate care.

"Right now, we're seeing that our health-care systems are strained, if not broken right across the country in many, many ways," said the prime minister. "But, as the head of the Canadian Medical Association said this past summer, you can't fix something by just putting money into a broken system."

This latest premiers' push, though, comes as some provinces are coming out of the thick of the pandemic with projected budget surpluses.

In the interview, Trudeau indicated he wouldn’t pull up a chair at the table until there's a more concrete plan for provincial accountability. Though, he noted that federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos continues to meet with his provincial counterparts towards this goal.

"As I've talked to nurses and doctors and front-line workers in our health-care system, they've all said: make sure the provinces are actually delivering better care in exchange for the money that the federal government continues to send them. And that's what we're going to do," he said.

The prime minister said that while "nobody wants to see" the federal government fighting with the provinces over this issue: "if I don't stand strong and say, 'you have to fix your system, you can't just put more money into it,' Canada won't see those changes happen at the provincial level."

You can watch the full interview with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on New Year's Eve. A conversation with the prime minister hosted by CTV's Omar Sachedina will air on Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. across the country. 

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