Trudeau said emergency room wait times have become dangerously long, people are waiting too long for important surgeries and millions of Canadians are without a family doctor.
“For generations, public health care has been a central part of what it means to be Canadian. It’s built on a promise that no matter where you live or what you earn, you’ll always be able to get it medical care you need. But right now our health care system is not living up to that promise,” Trudeau said.
“Canadians deserve better,” he said.
Trudeau’s Liberal Party government has unveiled a new health care funding proposal that would see Ottawa shift C$196 billion (US$146 billion) over the next 10 years to provinces and territories that oversee health care in the country.
The government has set conditions for the extra funding by asking for commitments to upgrade health data collection and digital medical records
The premiers have long asked for more money, and the pressure increased as the health system was further stressed by the pandemic. Burnt out, understaffed healthcare professionals and emergency rooms could not keep up with demand.
About a quarter of the offering, $46 billion Canadian (US$34 billion), is new money.
The premier of Canada’s provinces says the offer would increase the federal share of health spending to 24% next year, well below the 35% demanded by the provinces and territories.
Still, most premiers seemed ready to accept the offer, although they promised that the health negotiations were not over.
Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, expects public concern about health care to continue.
“Provincial governments attract most of the blame because they are responsible for providing it, yet they don’t have the fiscal resources of Ottawa,” Wiseman said.
“Canada’s health care system is plagued with problems, just as it is in the United States, but the problems are quite different in the two countries. There are problems with the health system in virtually every country.”
Wiseman said health care is effectively rationed in Canada due to a shortage of doctors.
“Nevertheless, critical cases receive immediate and excellent attention and treatment,” he said. “In the United States, the problem is not supply, but demand and limitations on it. Some are too poor to get the care they need, and many are squeezed by insurance companies that try to minimize what they cover and for how much. “