Premiers disappointed as Trudeau offers health plan lower than requested

Akeeagok and other territorial leaders eye bilateral funding with Ottawa to address northern challenges

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok attends a press conference with his fellow premiers after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Canada’s premiers expressed disappointment Tuesday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to boost annual health-care funding that didn’t meet their desired goal.

The premiers of the 13 provinces and territories met Trudeau in Ottawa, where he presented his response to their request for more federal government funding. Two months ago, the premiers put up a united front, demanding a meeting with the prime minister to talk about how to fix the country’s ailing health-care system.

Trudeau announced Tuesday an increase in federal government health-care funding of $19.6 billion a year for the next 10 years. That amount was about one-third less than the $28-billion increase premiers were hoping for ahead of the meeting.

Included in that, Trudeau allocated $25 billion over 10 years for bilateral agreements between the federal government and particular provinces or territories.

There is also $2 billion over 10 years allocated specifically for Indigenous health issues.

Trudeau called it a “Team Canada approach” in a news release his office issued after the meeting.

“Today’s announcement is about strengthening our health care system to address existing challenges and provide Canadians with the safe, high-quality care they need and deserve, including when it comes to mental health,” Trudeau said in a statement.

The premiers were not so cheery.

After leaving the meeting with their eyes focused on the salty floor of the bright, glass-fronted federal office building in downtown Ottawa, they shared their reactions at a press conference at a nearby hotel they used as their base before and after the meeting.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, the chair of the Council of the Federation — the organization of premiers — who led them on these discussions, called the funding shortfall a “disappointment.”

“There wasn’t a lot in the way of new funding,” Stefanson said.

“It’s significantly less than what we were looking for.”

Provincial counterparts largely echoed that sentiment.

Quebec Premier François Legault said the federal proposal was far from what he was looking for. Ontario Premier Doug Ford eyed the future, calling the announcement a “down payment on further discussion.”

The territorial premiers expressed less disappointment; however, they said they’re looking to see what they can get from bilateral agreements with Ottawa to address northern-specific needs.

“I, too, would like to thank Prime Minister Trudeau for coming to the table but also realizing the unique nature the territories are in in terms of the geographic distance, the challenges that we face,” Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said.

“It’s very important to us to ensure the bilaterals such as the [Territorial] Health Investment Fund are where we get our resources.”

Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane and Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai emphasized the need for the northern premiers to work together on regional health-care improvements.

“There is a movement in addressing the needs of the territories and the specific needs that we have challenges on,” Cochrane said.

Akeeagok said he’ll spend some time reflecting on the day’s meeting and looks forward to the next stage of working with the premiers.

“I’ll be spending the next day really digesting what was presented,” he said.

“I think there’s always more we can try and secure; as an example, we have huge infrastructure deficits in our communities and challenges in terms of human resources.”


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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Translator on

    “I think there’s always more we can try and secure; as an example, we have huge infrastructure deficits in our communities and challenges in terms of human resources.”
    Translation: “Justin, please build new clinics in every community in Nunavut, build elder care facilities in every community in Nunavut, and send us the trained Inuit to staff those facilities. I’d appreciate it if you could get that done before my mandate ends.” PJ

    • Posted by Inuk on

      Wouldn’t it be great if politicians, especially those in need such as PJ to just say what they mean rather than beating around the bush. It’d be easier to say yes or no to as a common Canadian.

    • Posted by Putting this out there on

      We need to stop blaming others for not having enough Inuit in the health system (or any of the higher education positions). I had to leave to get get my education but now i am working in Nunavut in that field. I will encourage my children to do the same. We need to support our kids to go to school and learn what is needed to get the professional jobs (Nurse, doctor, teacher, Social worker, Managers, etc).
      We also need to show our kids that we value the work that is done in the positions even when currently filled by transient southerners.

  2. Posted by Stephen C on

    Good luck to everyone involved in the public health care. It is too important and essential to have the for profit (for greed) business to take ever larger shares of it. Far too important.

  3. Posted by The Power on

    Remember Trudope has to keep some of the money for his friends in other countries when they come calling for handouts.

    • Posted by oh ima on

      I guess you’re a person like Peppy La Pew that come up with amusing phases like Trudeaudope; how original!

  4. Posted by Alan Klie on

    I haven’t read everything that’s been put out by this announcement but I’d like to know at the justifications a from the premiered the prime minister for their respective positions. Was the increase requested based on any empirical data and if so, what? What justifies, in the federal government’s mind, a lesser increase? Would the tax burden significantly increase? Personally, I’d be very happy to pay more in taxes if it means that everyone (me included) has access to better, faster healthcare. However, I would want to know that the tax increase is justified by data.

    • Posted by Why are you surprised? on

      I’ll give you a hint as to the allocations:

      the Greater Toronto Area has 53+ federal ridings, and votes hard red every election.

      Nunavut has one, and votes orange.

      Toronto drains the wealth of the nation into itself, to justify its continued rule of the country.

      • Posted by John K on

        Toronto DRAINS the country’s wealth?

        Oh, you sweet summer child.

  5. Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

    How much of this is inflation-adjusted? I would think the feds would just automatically hand over funds to bring us back to the real value we were at prior to the inflation they caused.
    (no time to crunch those numbers myself)

    • Posted by Angel Food Hate on

      The inflation that our federal government has caused? Did the Canadian federal government also cause inflation in…
      USA, Russia, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Serbia, Georgia, Australia, Zimbabwe, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, Spain, UK, Belarus, Romania, Belglium, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Italy, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria? I could go on.
      Only one country on that list had inflation lower than Canada in 2022, and not by much. Maybe a little less Poilievre in your diet.

  6. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    it’s so frustrating watching this liberal government shake hands and tell all of the Provinces and Territories to grin and bear it. shake our hand, accept this or please don’t worry because this is what you are getting.

    but at the same time, you see how Liberals have no qualms about giving money away to foreign aid. we need more more more immigration because hey, those are votes in the next election. we need to help out more overseas because that’s just what Canadians do.

    We need to focus on helping our own people first. overseas have their own government to help them. enough with the photo ops in other Countries. let’s help ourselves first.

    • Posted by Consistency on

      I know right, the Feds should be more like Nunavut and take on the principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, if i remember them correctly they are roughly:

      1) Only look after myself and expect others to help me
      2) Only I know what is best for me, dont listen to others
      3) If someone else want to know something they can figure it out on their own… like i did.
      4) I will only work hard if if helps me, and no you cant benefit from what i do.
      5) If i want to kill all the fish in a lake i will, because if i don’t others might get that fish first and then there would be none for me.
      6) When a problem comes along that is difficult. do nothing other then Cry about it, maybe someone else will do something about it.

      **above is sarcasm, we should show the world what the IQ principles were truly about by caring for and helping others.

  7. Posted by Frank on

    I haven’t had a family doctor since I was a child in the 1960’s. By the way, that was BEFORE taxpayer-funded healthcare.

    As a young man in the 70’s and 80’s and 90’s, I didn’t NEED a family doctor. Now that I’m a “senior citizen” I wish I had access to one. I’m tired of running the gauntlet of nurses who have no clue about my medical history and take it upon themselves to determine if I’m worthy to see the exalted (and usually absent) doctor.

  8. Posted by MICHAEL on

    NU should just state they will look to leave Canada (like QUEBEC DID) and state unless issues in north addressed, NU will no longer state its Canadian . Perhaps Denmark would like some landmass in North America , they seem to treat their aboriginals with upmost respect.

    greenland should be the model, cause they are heavily modern but also hold close ties to their culture.

    Canadian Government is a joke in regards to how they treat their largest land mass

    in the end thats why we are Canadian and why our forefathers were relocated to the high arctic.

    time for Justin to step up and time for leaders in NU government to grow a backbone

    • Posted by John K on

      Nunavut costs a fortune because we can barely function.

      Why would anyone else want us to drag them down?

    • Posted by Get Informed on

      Nunavut is to the Federal Government what Hamlets are to the Territorial Government. You need to get informed how this would never be possible.

    • Posted by Questions for You on

      Ah, nothing like a little light insurrection to get the public’s attention. You want a heavier RCMP presence, do you? How do you feel about military presence? For some, it’d be a great excuse to encourage internal migration to Nunavut and lessen the Inuit demographic advantage.

  9. Posted by 867 on

    Time for long term care center and full service hospital in grise fjord ??


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