November 14, 2019

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Provinces hoping federal health minister brings Liberals' wallet to Winnipeg summit

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/6/2018 (503 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/6/2018 (503 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Provincial health ministers meeting in Winnipeg Thursday will have a simple request for their federal counterpart Friday.

They want Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Tayor to show them the money.

Kelvin Goetrzen, Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living responds to a reporter's questions as from left, Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health, Robert Mitchell, Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Wellness, Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, and Gaetan Barrette, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, listen in at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

CP

Kelvin Goetrzen, Manitoba Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living responds to a reporter's questions as from left, Sarah Hoffman, Alberta Minister of Health, Robert Mitchell, Prince Edward Island Minister of Health and Wellness, Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, and Gaetan Barrette, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, listen in at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg, Thursday, June 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

"We will be talking tomorrow about a number of things, specifically and especially, maybe mental illnesses, opiate crisis and national pharmacare," Gaétan Barrette, Quebec’s minister of health and social services, told a news conference at the Fort Garry Hotel.

"There is a common denominator around that – it’s funding. "The No. 1 question today (is) what funding role will Ottawa be taking. That’s the question. We want to have more."

Manitoba's Kelvin Goertzen is hosting the two-day summit at the Fort Garry Hotel, but left it to his colleagues to speak with reporters afterward. Goertzen, along with Manitoba's other cabinet ministers, cannot talk about government policy until after the July 17 St. Boniface byelection.

Ontario, which is without a health minister until after Premier Doug Ford's PC government is sworn in Friday, is the lone province not represented at the meetings.

Manitoba last to join coalition

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The last chapter in the Canadian Health Coalition took shape at the same time and place as the provincial health ministers' meeting Thursday.

Members of the Manitoba Health Coalition (MHC) met at the Fort Garry Hotel to form a group that will respond to "growing concerns about the future of public health care in Manitoba," provincial director Brianne Goertzen said in a prepared statement.

"I am honoured to help lead the Manitoba Health Coalition and advocate for the expansion of universal, public health care,” she said. "I look forward to working with our stakeholders and members of the public to raise awareness about ongoing issues and help build healthy communities."

Manitoba is the last province to sign onto the Canadian Health Coalition framework, which launched in 1979 to advocate for public health.

“We are excited to have Manitoba join as our newest provincial affiliate of the Canada Health Coalition,” said Amanda Wilson, CHC's national director of policy and advocacy. “Together, we will work to strengthen and expand public health care for the benefit of all Manitobans."

Barrette didn't provide any details on the kind of increase the provinces and territories are seeking, but he told reporters the quality of health care across the country won’t improve without more money, suggesting the problem is not difficult to understand.

"(It's) simple math that you learn at elementary school," he said.

What Goertzen did say was that the federal government’s advertising campaign about the health-related risks associated with cannabis use has been a disappointment thus far after promising a "robust plan" to educate Canadians — particularly under the age of 25 — about the health effects of weed last October.

"From a Manitoba perspective, we’ve been disappointed that the awareness campaign nationally hasn’t been what we might have expected. But certainly we are hopeful that between now and the date in October of legalization that that might change," he said.

Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said the provinces and territories are on board with a national pharmacare plan if funding flows accordingly.

"We like the concept very much, but I think it’s fair to say the devil’s in the details. We’re looking forward to the discussion tomorrow with the federal minister," he said. "What we need in this case, obviously, is a full funding partner. We don’t want to have the federal government setting the criteria and the dollars not following."

 

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski
Legislature reporter

Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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