Canadian local leaders urge federal government for more financial assistance

Cheryl Sanders
December 3, 2019

"Let me thank my colleagues here for showing they understand the adversity folks in Alberta are undergoing", said Kenney, at a joint press conference at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel in Mississauga, a Toronto suburb.

Canada's provincial and territorial leaders agreed Monday to press the federal government for higher increases to health-care funding, but most expressed hesitation about a national pharmacare program.

They reiterated their call for a 5.2 per cent increase in annual health-care transfer payments from the federal government.

"This alone, right today, sends a very clear message to people back in their home provinces, sends a message to people right across this nation and along with the federal government and the world, we may have our differences but Canada is united", Ford said.

As the new federal Parliament meets later this week for the first time, with Western alienation as a key issue for the minority government of Justin Trudeau, this meeting near Toronto's airport was an effort to influence its priorities, especially its plan on climate change.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, the current chair of the Council of the Federation, all but stormed out of his sit-down with Trudeau more than two weeks ago, insisting he'd heard nothing that gave him any confidence the Liberals were serious about addressing the concerns of the West.

"The priorities will be, are there a few items where the premiers can come to consensus on?"

"If you can't get that right, don't start with another program".

Numerous premiers have met one-on-one with Trudeau since the election, and the full council is expected to sit down with the prime minister early next year.

Moe had originally demanded, with support from Kenney, that Trudeau change the equalization formula, the broad-based program that aims to bring provinces' spending capacities into some measure of equilibrium via federal transfers.

Funding under the stabilization program is now made available to any province whose annual non-resource revenues decline by more than five per cent. Moe and Alberta's Prime Minister Jason Kenney want to discuss changes to the budget stabilization program.

"We're going to have good conversations".

"This (gathering) was a tremendous moment of solidarity", said Jason Kenney of Alberta.

"I believe with all of the premiers making this recommendation, it provides considerable weight to our argument, and I'll be pressing this issue as hard as I can", Toews told reporters in the legislature on Monday.

"I think there's an understanding with other provinces that Alberta's really going through a time of trial", he said.

"The fiscal stabilization program, on the other hand, there's an opportunity there to address a program that was created to be very reactive and when you look at the lack of investment in that program over the last decade or so, it has proved to not be that reactive", Moe continued. Higgs wishes to dispute softwood lumber.

However Ford specified Sunday he's ensured the premiers can uncover some locations of negotiation.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has been outspoken against Quebec's Bill 21, which prohibits some public employees, including teachers, government lawyers and police officers, from wearing prominent symbols of their religious beliefs.

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