6/8/11

Will Ontario PCs join call for ten year federal health funding deal?

Ontario's health minister says she's concerned that there's still no commitment in yesterday's federal budget about long-term funding for health care, the Canadian Press reports.  Deb Matthews says the budget was a missed opportunity for the Conservatives to signal that they're willing to hammer out a new 10-year accord with the provinces.


The cash portion of the Canada Health Transfer delivers about $10.7 billion to Ontario for health care every year, covering about 23% of total provincial healthcare spending. With the six percent escalator (and some recent improvements to the funding formula) this has increased funding to Ontario health care by about $700 million per year. 


So this is big money - -and without the increases, public health care will be in big trouble.    


Under pressure during the election the federal Conservatives promised to continue to increase health-care spending by six per cent (proving the ability of people to put pressure on politicians during elections!).


But the Conservatives stayed vague and thus were able to limit their promise to a minimum of two years after the current agreement expires in 2014. 
  
Matthews says the provinces need a longer commitment in order to make long-term plans that would keep rising costs down.  


Now that the election is over, popular pressure on the federal Conservatives to maintain the health care increases has diminished.  So the Minister's call sounds like a positive step, if she sticks to the 6% escalator.  


The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will finance much of their ballyhooed health care funding promise through the 6% federal funding increases promised until 2016.  


So they must recognize that the escalator is vital to Ontario.  The question is, will they join a call for a ten year deal that maintains the funding escalator?  Or will they clam up in conservative solidarity?



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