Premiers Meet, Try to Find Consensus Amid a Host of Issues

Premier Scott Moe
			By Lisa Schick  CJME	
		Moe hoping for consensus at Council of the Federation meeting				Dec 01 2019

Premier Scott Moe By Lisa Schick CJME Moe hoping for consensus at Council of the Federation meeting Dec 01 2019

Moe, chairman of the Federation Council, says that all the prime ministers will come to the meeting with different priorities and different opinions, but the goal is to find some topics that they have in common.

The leaders of Canada's provincial and territorial governments showed a united front on Monday in demanding more money from the federal government for healthcare and for provinces facing economic hard times.

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

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 premiers also agreed to "continuing to develop resources in a responsible manner" and ensure Canadian products can access markets.

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

"We were very, very productive when we met in Saskatchewan (at the last premiers' meeting)", Ford specified. "We talked about nation building today", he said, after describing how health care can look different as a political issue in the North especially, where infrastructure is far less developed.

Saskatchewan PM Scott Moe and Alberta PM Jason Kenney want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to change the compensation formula, but prime ministers are unlikely to agree. Ontario is making the single largest capital investment in new subway builds in Canadian history and the province has submitted over 350 projects to the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said many provinces already have significant pharmacare plans, so the priority should be a "more equitable distribution of resources to deliver health care".

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 said the request represented a moment of unity in the Canadian federation.

He said in 2015, when oil prices plummeted and the province's revenue tanked by $7 billion, Alberta transferred a net $24.8 billion to the federal treasury, but received just $251 million in relief through the fiscal stabilization program.

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

Right-leaning premiers are on the offensive, taking up the western cause in the hopes it will help them defeat Trudeau in the next election, which could be only a couple years away since the Liberals fell short of winning a majority of seats in parliament.

But Ford said Sunday he is confident the premiers can find some areas of agreement.

In the end, that differing emphasis hardly mattered because Francois Legault of Quebec made it clear that the premiers did not talk about pipelines in particular, nor did they talk about Quebec's controversial bill about religious symbols in public employment.

Latest News