Prime Minister Stephen Harper “sabotaged” health-care talks between the federal government and the provinces, says Premier Robert Ghiz.
Ghiz, who is co-chairing a working group on the future of health care in Canada, didn’t pull his punches when he discussed his frustrations over meetings last January in British Columbia in his year-end interview with The Guardian.
The premiers were hoping to sit down with the federal government to negotiate a new formula for funding health care. However, Ottawa had no interest in negotiating. It put a take it or leave it deal on the table.
“We were hoping that we were going to go into negotiations with the federal government to discuss health care funding in the future,” Ghiz said in the interview, which will be published in The Guardian Dec. 26 and air on Eastlink TV Dec. 27.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister sabotaged it to a certain extent and came out and said here’s what the federal government is putting on the table and we’re not having any discussions with the provinces. We were extremely surprised by that. We wanted to sit down with the federal government. We wanted to work with them in terms of improving our health care system across the country.”
The province contends when publicly funded health care was launched in Canada, the federal and provincial governments equally funded the program. Now, the provinces say they pick up 80 per cent of the tab.
Ghiz also weighed in on Harper’s reluctance to meet with the premiers.
Premiers have been calling for a First Ministers meeting, but so far Harper has refused to meet with them. Ghiz calls it disappointing.
“As a country, it’s important for us as leaders to be able to get together to discuss issues of a common interest,” he said in the year-end interview, a portion of which is now posted online.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister doesn’t want to do that.”
The P.E.I. premier has held one-on-one meetings with the prime minister including a meeting this fall in Ottawa. Ghiz said he has a good working relationship with Harper.
“I still would like a little bit more for our province in terms of realizing that we are a small jurisdiction where employment insurance is extremely important, job cuts - while I know they are going to happen I don’t want them disproportionately happening in the province of Prince Edward Island,” Ghiz said.
“We still have a lot of issues out there.”
The full interview with Ghiz will be published in the print edition of The Guardian Dec. 26.
The one-hour prime time special, A Conversation with Premier Robert Ghiz, will air on Eastlink TV Thursday, Dec. 27 at 8 p.m.
An online exclusive portion of the year-end interview is posted now on The Guardian’s website at www.theguardian.pe.ca. Click on latest videos.
“We were hoping that we were going to go into negotiations with the federal government to discuss health care funding in the future,” - Premier Robert Ghiz
Ghiz said the federal government’s reluctance to work with the provinces on the future of health care prompted the provinces to create the Council of the Federation Innovation Health Working Group, which he co-chairs with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
Ghiz said the working group has already made great strides in improving collaboration among Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories.
The focus now, he said, is reducing the costs of drugs across the country.
- The full interview with Premier Robert Ghiz will be published in the print edition of The Guardian Dec. 26.
- The one-hour prime time special, A Conversation with Premier Robert Ghiz, will air on Eastlink TV Thursday, Dec. 27 at 8 p.m.
- An online exclusive portion of the year-end interview is posted now on our website. Click here to see it.