Health care and social issues to dominate final day of premiers' confab

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. – Canada’s provincial and territorial leaders will focus on health care and other social issues on the last day of their meeting today in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

The 13 leaders gathered for the Council of the Federation summit will look at what’s being done to lower the cost of prescription drugs and consider plans to cut back on pricey diagnostic tests.

A working group on health care led by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz will report on its efforts over the past year.

The country’s aging population was among the working group’s top concerns and home care is expected to be on today`s agenda.

Several labour and health-care groups held a rally Thursday near the hotel where the council is meeting, calling on the premiers to ensure a new national health accord is in place when the current one expires next year.

When the premiers get together today, they will also talk about bullying and revisit the issue of disaster mitigation after discussing it briefly on Thursday.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says funding for disaster protection came up during talks about infrastructure, but she thinks it merits more attention.

“We want to make sure that the federal government understands that they have a responsibility to work with us, to share the costs with respect to natural disaster mitigation,” she said Thursday.

“One of the things that I was concerned about was that if we let that be subsumed by an infrastructure discussion, we wouldn’t want the federal government to simply say, ‘Well, we’ve provided you with infrastructure money, use it for that purpose.’

“We want to isolate this,” she said.

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