B.C. premier approaching health care talks without 'any red lines'


British Columbia Premier David Eby says he's going into next week's health-care meeting between the premiers and prime minister with an open mind — and without a red line dollar ask for the federal government.

Canada’s premiers are set to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday after months of pushing for a sit down to hash out a health-care funding deal. They want the federal government to increase funds through the Canada Health Transfer from 22 per cent to 35 per cent of health-care costs, about an additional $28 billion a year.

But Eby told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday, he’s open to seeing what the federal government brings to the negotiating table, even if it’s not the full ask from the provinces.

And when pressed on whether he’s specifically looking for the federal government to increase the escalator — the percentage by which the federal government increases the Canada Health Transfer annually — the B.C. premier wouldn’t say.

“I'm not going into this meeting with any red lines,” Eby said. “I'm going to this meeting with mindset of how can I deliver health care for British Columbians? And what is the federal government going to be bringing to that shared responsibility that we both have?”

Eby said that after overcoming the “hurdle” of getting the premiers and the prime minister around the negotiating table, he hopes the federal government comes with a “good faith offer.”

“We're going to sit around the table and the prime minister is going to bring his offer, and it’s going to include, I assume, discussion around the escalator piece of it as well as what the core funding amount is going to be and how much is going to be allocated to this bilateral, all these technical things,” Eby said. “And we're going to sit down as premiers and come to a resolution with the prime minister.”

“I'm looking forward to that,” he said. “But that's going to happen at that table.”

Eby added he’s open to a bilateral agreement with the federal government to meet the needs of British Columbians specifically, as long as there’s also an agreement about core funding across the board for all the provinces.

“There are two hours that have been set for the meeting,” he said. “So obviously, this isn't going to be the meeting where we get to the deal.”

Other provinces, meanwhile, are sticking by their push for a 35-per-cent share of health-care costs from the federal government, and an increase to the escalator.

“I think it's important that we don't have a situation where we have an immediate influx of money and then we ended up bleeding back again,” Ontario Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones said on CTV’s Power Play Thursday. “We want a partner who's going to be there not for the short term, but for the long term as we have committed.”

With files from CTV News