Government undecided on transfer payments: Philpott

On the outskirts of Thursday's climate change meeting, premiers expected to press government on health transfers

OTTAWA – Health Minister Jane Philpott says the Liberal government has not yet made up its mind about the amount of money it plans to offer to the provinces and territories for health care, or how many years that commitment will cover.

The provincial and territorial premiers gather in Ottawa on Thursday for a two-day meeting devoted to developing a national plan to combat climate change, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also agreed to discuss health transfer payments at a working dinner after the main event.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she and her fellow premiers are agreed that a cut from a six-per-cent annual increase in federal health transfers to a three-per-cent annual escalator – as is set to happen next April – is going to have severe impacts on the health-care system.

Philpott, meanwhile, has tried to shift the conversation away from the health transfer, saying she wants to focus on how a new health accord can set shared goals and highlight priorities such as home care and mental health.

The Liberal government has promised $3 billion over four years to increase access to home care – separate from the transfer payments – but is open to increasing that amount or the time period if it applies to shared priorities such as mental health.

Philpott also says the $3 billion for home care could go up in the future if it proves to be a good investment and improves access.

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