Premier Robert Ghiz says federal parties need to listen on health care

Teresa Wright
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Premier Robert Ghiz

As Canada’s premiers prepare to meet in Prince Edward Island this week, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz says federal parties gearing up for the 2015 federal election would be wise to pay close attention to their discussions, especially regarding health funding.

The premiers of all the provinces and territories are converging in Charlottetown for their annual Council of the Federation meetings, and one item on the agenda will be health care and how provinces are trying to cope with mounting costs amid a rapidly aging population.

Ghiz pointed to statements made recently by the new president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Chris Simpson, wherein he slammed the federal government for failing to take a leadership role in the changing needs of the health-care system.

“We heard from the Canadian Medical Association talking about how we have an acute-care system that was designed in 1955. Today we have an aging population, the system hasn’t adapted to that yet,” Ghiz said.

“We need to sit down and have some discussions on how we can ensure that the system will be, one, affordable, and two, responsive to the changing demands.”

He reiterated criticism of the Harper government’s unilateral decision in 2011 to change its health-care funding model to the provinces.

The former Canada Health Accord was replaced with the 10-year Canada Health Transfer, which guarantees annual increases of six per cent in transfers only continue until the year 2017-18.

After that, health transfers will be tied to economic growth plus inflation.

The premiers released a report last year showing this change would amount a $36-billion cut in total health funding to the provinces over 10 years.

Ghiz says he will continue to call for greater funding for health care, but will not necessarily be targeting this message to the sitting government in Ottawa.

“It’s not really a message so much for the Harper government, it’s a message for the Conservative Party of Canada, for the Liberal Party of Canada, for the New Democrats, the Greens — health care is something that, regardless of whether you’re a federal or provincial party, it’s important to Canadians,” Ghiz said.

“I think the federal government, if they were smart, and the political parties, they would pay attention to the health care file and the funding mechanisms that are in place.”

A new Nanos poll, commissioned by the Canadian Health Coalition, would appear to support this position. A majority of respondents — 83 per cent — said they believe the federal government plays a “significant leadership role in securing the future of public health care in Canada.”

The poll also found 65 per cent of those surveyed said they want the premiers to “take a stand” against the federal changes to health care funding.

A number of national health advocates and unions are in Charlottetown this week, hoping to voice their concerns over health funding shortages.

But health care will not be the only item up for discussion among the country’s premiers.

Infrastructure funding, identifying new trade markets and promoting greater co-operation among the provinces on a variety of issues will be debated.

Also, the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have indicated they are in favour of a national energy strategy and will raise this during the meetings.

But with interim premiers in both Alberta and Newfoundland — the country’s two most oil rich provinces — these discussions will likely be preliminary.

Ghiz said he expects the premiers will meet again after elections are held in those provinces, and after the current provincial election in New Brunswick, in order to hash out more concrete stances on more contentious issues.

But the premiers will not wait to reissue a call for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“Last year all premiers in Canada did come out and endorse (an inquiry), we believe it’s the right step. We’re seeing many organizations and a lot of pressure taking place across the country, so I wouldn’t expect that our position would change,” Ghiz said.

“I think you’ll probably see us make that call again, hopefully, this year.”

The Council of the Federation meetings get underway in Charlottetown on Thursday.

Organizations: Canadian Medical Association, Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada Canadian Health Coalition

Geographic location: Canada, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Ottawa Ontario Quebec Alberta Newfoundland New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Fed up
    August 27, 2014 - 18:37

    That's all Ghiz is good for...PASSING THE BUCK!!!! BLAMING SOMEONE ELSE!!! HE needs to listen to US!! And stop blaming everyone else for his broken promises. Anyone remember "a doctor for every Islander?!?" What a JOKE he is!! He has Currie bragging about all the doctors they have brought in. Someone...please...ask him how many doctors have LEFT!!!! Last day Currie bragged about bringing in 11 doctors? EIGHTEEN left in that same week!! All saying Ghiz government treats them like can he blame someone else for THAT I wonder?!? So tired of this government...only good for building three times the cost of any other province! His Liberal friends are making a MINT charging way more than in other provinces...

  • IBC
    August 27, 2014 - 15:12

    I hope you all remember " how super great ghiz is " when election time comes . How about you all take your blinders off in the coming year . He never got my vote and never will .

  • Way I see it
    August 27, 2014 - 14:00

    Way I see it Ghiz needs to listen to islanders every once in awhile.

  • stupid voter
    August 27, 2014 - 12:49

    i voted for ghiz

  • agnes
    August 27, 2014 - 11:41

    I needed a prescription renewed, and guess what, I can get to see my doctor in 2 weeks time, for that and only that purpose. Featherbedding is what that is. This doctor has also decided to give up on annual check-ups at which time prescription renewal used to take place. Layers upon layers of administration, - that is Gjiz style health care. (Health PEI)

  • Suggestion
    August 27, 2014 - 08:49

    Maybe the federal government should remove the provincial goverment's from over seeing the health care . Then we would have constant health care across Canada with a lot less waste without provincial goverment's over staffing the administer level & more money used for front line care . Mr Ghiz is a prefect example of a province screwing up health care . Our health care is so wasteful at present it's shameful . We got better , faster , health care 30 years ago . At least then you didn't have to wait a week or until your arm turns BLACK before having a broken bone reset .

  • Aongasha
    August 27, 2014 - 08:35

    Same old same old premiers' conference. Looking fo photo ops and picking fights with the feds so you look tough for the voters at home. Why don't you look to your own backyards first. How much of your health budget is taken up by administrative costs, an over loaded bureacacrsy and paying high priced administrators.?

  • Ira
    August 27, 2014 - 08:32

    When I see a headline "Ghiz says", I immediately pass the article over. Who cares what this empty bag has to say? He is Premier I name only, he has no clue, is a puppet without an idea or thought of his own. I petty him, it must be awful to act everyday as if he knew something. Please somebody give the man a break, so he can get out of this role, that he is so ill fitted for.