The New Brunswick Health Coalition says Canada’s premiers are correct in asking for more federal dollars in health-care transfer payments, but also agree with Ottawa’s push for strings to be attached.
The premiers presented a united front at meetings in Victoria earlier this month, demanding the federal government increase its share of provincial and territorial health transfer payments from 22 per cent to 35 per cent.
Bernadette Landry, co-chair of the New Brunswick Health Coalition, says Ottawa should send more money, but not without conditions.
“I think it’s very important that there be strings attached and that we know exactly where that money is going,” says Landry, who claims federal money sent to New Brunswick for COVID-19 went to other files.
“The Higgs government used a lot of that money to balance the budget,” says Landry. “That’s not what the money was for.”
Earlier this year, New Brunswick posted a $35.2-million surplus which was much lower than the last quarter’s three estimates of almost $488 million.
The premiers have previously requested federal health-care money with no conditions, arguing the federal government has no authority over provincial health decisions.
New Brunswick Department of Health didn’t directly respond to CTV’s request for comment on the subject on Friday.
Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, agrees more federal money should be sent with targets in place.
“It has to be accountable to health-care,” says Doucet.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said if more federal money was sent to the provinces for health care, it would be expected to “drive the results Canadians expect.” LeBlanc also argued the premiers weren’t using accurate numbers to reflect federal health-care contributions.
Data prepared by federal officials and obtained by The Canadian Press suggests Ottawa contributed 37.8 per cent of public health spending in 2019-2020, 44.7 per cent in 2020-2021 and 39.8 per cent in 2021-2022. The Canadian Press says Ottawa’s calculation includes spending related to COVID-19.
“We need to stop having this repetitive discussion and blaming between governments and not have anything get done,” says Anthony Knight, CEO of the New Brunswick Medical Society.
No firm timeline for the start of funding negotiations has been given by Ottawa.