Manitoba takes step to negotiate health-care deal with Ottawa

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A letter from Manitoba’s premier to Ottawa says the province’s conditions for signing a federal health-care deal include more help for Indigenous people and increased funding to fight diabetes.

In the March 1 letter obtained by CBC, Brian Pallister addresses Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directly and asks for a strong federal partner to help address key issues for the province.

Pallister focuses on two main issues he would like addressed before signing a deal: the disparity of health care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Manitobans, and funding for diabetes.

According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the proportion of Manitobans with diabetes is expected to reach 37 per cent by 2027. Already, about 121,000 people in the province have the metabolic disease, which affects blood sugar levels and can lead to kidney damage.

“By 2024, more than 3,000 Manitobans will need treatment for kidney failure, either by dialysis or transplant,” Pallister wrote.

“These human sufferings are borne disproportionately by Manitoba’s Indigenous people, who face the onset and prevalence of end-stage disease at a rate two to three times higher than faced by other population segments.”

The province is asking Ottawa to invest $6 million per year over 10 years to address chronic kidney disease.

The diabetes association said in January it estimates diabetes costs the provincial health-care system $114 million every year.

4 provinces haven’t signed health deal

In the letter, the Progressive Conservative premier praises the Liberal government, and says it has “admirably championed reconciliation.”

In that light, Pallister said, the province requires help addressing long-standing inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in terms of health outcomes.

“This may include support for patient navigators trained in cultural safety and patient-centred care, and to provide vital ancillary service support through discharge planning, language interpretation and transportation.”

Finally, the premier asks for an opportunity to speak with Ottawa about medical transportation costs in the province to resolve “outstanding financial receivables.”

Manitoba, as well as Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, have yet to sign the health-care accord.

Recently, British Columbia signed on after the federal government promised $10 million to help the province address its opioid crisis. Saskatchewan signed after Ottawa agreed to give the province one year to prove its private MRI clinics do not negatively impact the public health-care system.

Ottawa’s health-care offer to provinces includes a pledge to boost spending on home care and mental health for 10 years.

Pallister said those two areas are priorities, but the level of funding on the table does not make up for lost funding through the Canada Health Transfer.

On April 1, the Canada Health Transfer is set to increase by three per cent instead of the previous six per cent.

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Manitoba takes step to negotiate health-care deal with Ottawa

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