Statement by Finance Minister Charles Sousa on Federal Health Care Funding
While federal government funding as a share of provincial-territorial health care spending has increased somewhat in recent years from historic lows in the early 2000s, it still remains well below the original Canadian health care agreement of the 1950s and 1960s, when the federal government was an equal partner in the cost of key provincial health programs.
Today it is estimated that federal funding through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) accounts for just 23 per cent of base provincial-territorial health care funding.
Ontario's action plan for health care is centred on putting patients first. For patients and their families, this means faster access to an integrated health care system that helps them stay as close to home as possible. To ensure the province is able to continue to implement its plan, Ontario requires predictability and sustainability in federal funding for health care.
Finding a collaborative long-term solution to health care funding is important to Ontario. With increasing demands due to an aging and growing population, the reduction in the Canada Health Transfer escalator will put enormous pressure on provinces and territories in continuing to provide quality care for Canadians. It is key that the approach to federal health care funding be evidence-based, reflecting the actual cost-pressures that provinces and territories will be facing over the next decade.
In line with the Premiers' agreed approach, Ontario is calling on the federal government to establish long-term, sustainable funding for provincial and territorial health care systems through the CHT. This approach includes a CHT funding growth rate of 5.2 per cent - a figure that is fair and evidence-based and has been validated by a number of third-parties, such as the Conference Board of Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Fraser Institute.
This is largely due to the additional cost pressures facing provinces and territories, as they provide services and programs in areas sensitive to changes in demographics, such as health care and education. Health care systems in particular are expected to experience increased demand due to the aging population and rising costs associated with providing quality services.
A long-term funding partnership agreement is important, and Ontario is committed to working collaboratively toward one. However, Ontario is disappointed that the federal government is proposing ongoing base funding growth of 3.5 per cent in the CHT, which is not sufficient to respond to the demographic changes in the country. The federal proposal also contains funding for priority areas such as mental health and home care that do not grow over time to address the pressures these priority areas are expected to experience.
The new federal proposal does not provide sufficient funding to sustain core provincial-territorial health care services. The federal share of provincial and territorial health spending would actually fall from the current 23 per cent to 20 per cent.
The current federal funding proposal is $12 billion less, over the next ten years, than what the evidence shows is needed to maintain the sustainability of Ontario's health care system. Ontario has made significant investments in its health care system while finding innovative solutions to meet the demands on the province's health care system and effectively managing health care spending. On the 50th anniversary of Medicare in Canada, Ontario is committed to engaging in a constructive discussion with the federal government to ensure Ontarians and Canadians receive the high quality health care they expect.