Not a fan of new federal health deal

Andrew Robinson
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Premier says universal care threatened by PM’s scenario

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to a reporter during the Council of the Federation in Victoria, B.C., Monday. — Photo by The Canadian Press

Premier Kathy Dunderdale appears of the same frame of mind as most of her provincial counterparts when it comes to the federal government’s new plan for health transfer payments.

“Anything that is based on population is of great concern to Newfoundland and Labrador, and Atlantic Canada in particular, because we have very small populations,” she said.

Dunderdale is in Victoria, B.C.,  for two days of meetings with Canadian premiers to discuss health care.

Speaking with The Telegram by telephone Monday, Dunderdale said universal health care is supposed to provide equal care for Canadians regardless of where they live.

She said the new funding arrangement proposed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government threatens that scenario.

“What’s being proposed now, we’re moving away from that principle,” she said.

Other premiers have said a per capita funding plan does not take into account the needs of seniors, most of whom cost more to the health care system as they age. It has been widely documented Newfoundland and Labrador faces an aging population, an issue known to the provincial government, which launched a Provincial Healthy Aging Policy Framework in 2007.

Dunderdale is also critical of the Harper government for not consulting with the provinces on the new arrangement for health transfer payments.

“Provinces are the experts who deliver health care in this country. Without engaging with us in a process where we examine the whole health care system, the different pressures that are being felt throughout the country, where the trends are, where the funding levels are, what we need to do around efficiency, effectiveness, innovation and so on — the fact he hasn’t done that is very disappointing. There’s a great concern here amongst premiers around that.”

Dunderdale said the prime minister should refocus the health care discussion on quality instead of fiscal management.

Health care demands growing

In the 2011 provincial budget, net expenditures for the Department of Health and Community Services were expected to reach almost $3 billion for 2011-12. That was almost 11 per cent above the revised net expenditure figure for 2010-11 of $2.64 billion, which was 12 per cent above the revised net expenditure figure for 2009-10 of $2.35 billion.

“Health care is the largest part of our budget,” said Dunderdale, who noted the federal government provides the province $450 million of the $3 billion allocation for health care.

“The demands in health care are growing all the time. We’re a small population. We’re spread out over a large geographic area, (and) we’re coastal people primarily. This is an extremely important issue in Newfoundland and Labrador to the people of our province, as it is to Canadians generally.”

In order to remain effective, Dunderdale said the health care system will need to find a way to be sustainable, noting increased health care demands could impact spending on schools and roads, among other items.

She spoke of a need for efficiency, effectiveness, and innovation moving forward on health care. Dunderdale said provincial governments in Atlantic Canada have already partnered on reducing wait times for specific surgeries, and premiers in Victoria have discussed opportunities for national co-operation on purchasing drugs and medical equipment.

The premiers’ meeting was due to conclude today.

Twitter: TeleAndrew

— With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: The Telegram, Department of Health and Community, Canadian Press

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada, Victoria

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Recent comments

  • robroy
    January 17, 2012 - 15:10

    you voted her in and she encouraged people to vote harper way to go newfoundland your hindsite should be remembered next time round

  • susan felsberg
    January 17, 2012 - 14:21

    "Efficiency? Innovation?" For goodness sake, Madam Premier, get Midwifery licensed and implemented as soon as possibe. This would provide excellent support to low risk mothers, reduce your costs, relieve over-worked GPs and some specialists, and many people would be very happy and satisfied.

  • sealcove
    January 17, 2012 - 11:25

    Health care in canada is a joke every province is different there are no standards, 8 thousand dollars of the taxes i paid last year will go directly to health care , we have to make sure the people at the top get paid well

  • NIK
    January 17, 2012 - 10:13


  • holy smokes
    January 17, 2012 - 09:42

    So kate isn't a fan of the "health deal" .....I just love it!!!!..You my darling, were the ones who trumpeted what a great fella harper was.....Do ya feel suckered???? So does most of the country!!.

  • Harvey
    January 17, 2012 - 08:09

    Recently, Premier Dunderdale has been talking about the improved relationship between NL and Ottawa. I'm assuming she's referring to her relationship with Harper. Well, let's look at Harper's dealing with senate appointments.Did he not promise to reform that aged body? Has she forgotten the Search and Rescue unilateral deal? With regard to his one-sided stand on health care...does this make for better relationship with the PMO? All those gov't members who openly supported the Conservative dictatorship in they really sleep well at night? And we haven't seen anything yet!!! I shudder when I think of Canada's future under Harper!!!

  • David Prior
    January 17, 2012 - 07:29

    The new Health Care plan like Mr Harper, may be unpleasant but he does have a point. We have to save money and direct those savings to patient care. Eastern Health is dysfunctional , top heavy with overpaid administrators, and many so called "improvements" seem to have been designed by Monty Python. A detailed review of our system is certainly required. Nothing elaborate but at least carried out by people with businerss sense.

  • mainlander
    January 17, 2012 - 07:12

    ...And the Americanization of Canada continues...