THUNDER BAY – The waiting game is over on healthcare funding, at least from the federal government’s side of the equation. In a move that surprised many, Jim Flaherty, the Minister of Finance announced the new ten year funding plans for healthcare. “We want to put the issue of funding behind us to allow us all to focus on the real issue – how to improve the system so the provinces and territories can ensure timely access to health care when needed,” stated Flaherty.
“The new investment in health care will see funding grow to record levels from $30 billion per year in 2013-14 to $38 billion per year in 2018-19, for a total investment of $178 billion in health care over the five-year period,” stated the federal government in a media release issued late today. “Our Government is committed to a publicly funded, universally accessible health care system, which is a source of great pride to all Canadians,” said Minister Flaherty. “We all depend on our health care system and we all want it to be there when we need it. Today’s investment increases federal funding for health care to new record highs, and ensures funding for our health system is balanced and sustainable.”
Ontario’s Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is not happy about today’s move by Flaherty. Duncan cites that Ontario will lose out on billions of dollars over the coming term of the new agreement.
The Conservatives say from 2006-07 to 2011-12, support provided through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to the provinces and territories in Canada has reached record highs, increasing by almost $7 billion, or nearly 34 per cent overall. Today’s announcement means federal support for health care will now continue to grow every year beyond the record levels the federal government has already invested. “Our landmark investment means health care funding will continue to grow at record levels and in a fiscally sustainable manner. This investment will help ensure our health care system is there when Canadian families need it,” commented Flaherty.
The Government also confirmed the Canada Social Transfer (CST) will continue to grow at its current rate of 3 per cent annually in 2014-15 and beyond, Equalization will continue to grow in line with gross domestic product, and Territorial Formula Financing (TFF) will continue to grow based on its current formula. The CHT and CST will be reviewed again in 2024.
Federal-provincial-territorial officials will continue to review the technical aspects of Equalization and TFF to ensure the proper functioning of these programs. Upon renewal, both programs will be legislated out to 2018-19.
The Government also announced that major federal transfers will reach a new all-time high of almost $59 billion in 2012-13—this figure reaches almost $60 billion once total transfer protection is included. The Government has extended temporary total transfer protection another year to assist provinces and territories in transitioning through current economic challenges.