Following a virtual meeting Friday of Canada’s premiers, Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement calling on Ottawa to hike the federal share of healthcare. He wrote, “as Premiers have advocated for over the past few years, we need the federal government to join us at the table as a fuller partner and provide provinces and territories with sustainable, predictable, and adequate health care funding for the long-term. Rebuilding our health care system after a once-in-a-century pandemic requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. It is more important than ever that the federal government work with provinces and territories to urgently resolve the structural funding shortfall facing our health care systems.”
Meanwhile Ford has been under pressure for being the only Premier to not sign on to Justin Trudeau’s so-called $10-a-day childcare plan. Ford has said the reason for his hesitation is a lack of guarantees by the federal government beyond the five years during which the price of child care would be reduced to $10 a day. Similar thoughts were echoed by Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who has said the amount of federal money on offer would be insufficient to allow the rate to drop to the $10 a day target in Ontario.
The premier’s call for more funding for healthcare mirrors the concern Ontario has about the childcare scheme. When Medicare was introduced in the 1960’s it was sold as a 50-50 federal-provincial contribution scheme. Currently the government share has dwindled to 22 percent. There is good reason for Ford to be worried about something similar happening with childcare. There is no question affordable childcare would be a major benefit to families everywhere, but it has to be sustainable. Rather than being criticized for being the last premier to sign on, Ford may be doing Ontario taxpayers, and the other provinces a service by holding out for better terms.