Correcting the Record: Liberal Statement on Pallister's Fact-Free Distortions of Health Care Funding

December 10, 2020

TREATY ONE TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - Today, Brian Pallister released a statement about health care funding in Canada that repeats the same distortions and outright falsehoods the Premier has been making for years.

There are two very serious problems with the Premier's position on health care: what he said and what he has done.

The Premier is claiming that the federal government used to pay 50% of health care costs and that the federal share is the lowest it has ever been. Both these statements are false.

At no point in the last 45 years did the Canadian Health Transfer (CHT) ever reach 50% of funding. The closest it reached that point was in the mid 1970s, when it was 35%, but for the entire period since, it has been between 15% and 25%. It is currently at 22% and has been rising steadily for six years.

The Canadian Health Transfer is just one stream of federal health funding. Equalization payments can also be used to pay for health, and in 2018, the Premier and the Federal Government signed an additional health accord for $400-million over ten years for mental health.

Since coming to office in 2016, the Canadian Health Transfer (CHT) has gone up by 3% every year. Equalization payments have increased so that total transfers to the province of Manitoba last year were $899-million than they were before. In addition to that, there is also a federal health accord that provided $400-million over ten years that was supposed to be dedicated to mental health and homecare.

Manitobans might well wonder where that funding has gone. The Premier has implied that there couldn't possibly have been cuts because total spending is up. In five fiscal years, there were three years straight of cuts and freezes, and two years of increases.

Quite aside from the serious harms from cuts, wait times for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgeries are all much worse under the PCs than they were in 2016.

Manitoba Liberals have stated, many times, including directly to the Premier and to the current Minister of Health, that Federal funding for health care can be enhanced, including the creation of a national Pharmacare program, a national diabetes strategy, ensuring that psychological therapy is covered under medicare, and an overhaul of seniors care and personal care homes.

Between 2008 and 2016, Manitoba's total transfers were frozen by the previous Conservative government. Despite a growing and aging population, the Harper Conservatives capped funding to the province for six years, resulting in massive revenue shortfalls.

In 2011, the Harper Conservatives unilaterally changed the CHT formula from 6% a year increases to 3%.

And just as important, Brian Pallister was among the Conservative MPs who, in 2007, voted to fundamentally change Canada's health funding formula, away from one that took extra costs intro consideration - like sicker populations or remote and rural communities - to a per capita calculation. The change took effect in 2014, and resulted in Manitoba losing $31-million a year. In fact, every province but Alberta lost tens or hundreds of millions in funding.

Brian Pallister undermined federal health funding to Manitoba as an MP, and as a Premier has cut and frozen health care with truly disastrous results. This is just the latest example of the Premier attempting to manipulate Manitobans with half-truths in order to avoid responsibility for his own decisions.

To be blunt, the Premier has a credibility problem. The Premier wants to tell Manitobans that he is helpless and powerless, and is being forced to cut because of the federal government. He is not cutting because he has to. He is cutting because he wants to.

Manitoba Liberals have advocated for more federal funding for health, but there must be an ironclad guarantee that it will go to health care and not be diverted into deficit reduction or tax cuts for Pallister and special interests, as it has been for four years.

 


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