Western Premiers' Conference focuses on healthcare funding from Ottawa

Premiers from western Canada met to discuss healthcare in their first face-to-face meeting in more than two years in Regina on Friday at the 2022 Western Premiers' Conference.

The premiers discussed the need for the federal government to increase its share of health transfer payments from 22 per cent to 35 per cent, which would be about $28 billion per year.

“How can we possibly add more when we can’t deliver what we’ve got right now and that’s all about funding and it’s about cooperation and collaboration,” said British Columbia's Premier, John Horgan.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said this would ensure sustainable funding for existing services and future enhancements to the sector.

Moe said he feels confident the federal government will continue discussions surrounding the increase in transfer payments with western leaders after Friday's conference is over.

All provincial and territorial premiers have been calling for the federal government to come to the table to discuss sustainable healthcare funding, and western Premiers reiterated that call today. pic.twitter.com/dlwHc1Ocog

— Scott Moe (@PremierScottMoe) May 27, 2022

In addition to healthcare, other topics such as affordability, economic recovery and security were also discussed at the one day conference.

"Here we are in Western Canada sitting on the third largest oil reserves in the world, fourth largest gas reserves and yet we're paying, I don't know, well in Many parts of Western Canada and B.C. over $2.00 a litre for gas. On the prairies about a buck seventy five. We're a little cheaper because we eliminated our fuel tax, by the way," said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

The premiers issued a call for action in several key areas including:

  • Health transfer payments
  • The labour market
  • Strong supply chains
  • Energy and food security
  • Arctic security and sovereignty

“A good and robust discussion led by our territorial premiers on security and sovereignty and in particular the security and sovereignty of our Arctic areas of Canada, a very paramount and important discussion given what we see happening with the Russian invasion of Ukraine," said Premier Moe.

The premiers also discussed the arrival of Ukrainian refugees.

"To welcome them here for their stay in Canada and so we felt that was very important," said Premier of Manitoba, Heather Stefanson.

Canada's western premiers will need federal cooperation on many of the issues raised. They will have an opportunity to gauge federal support when the Council of the Federation meets in Victoria in July.