NWT premier and provinces, territories to meet Trudeau over healthcare
Premier Caroline Cochrane and other provincial and territorial leaders will meet Justin Trudeau on Tuesday in their latest attempt to secure more federal funding for healthcare.
The Prime Minister is reported to be ready to offer a decade-long funding package that increases the Canada Health Transfer, the annual cash payment provinces and territories receive.
That transfer is already increasing by 9.3 percent this year. Trudeau’s offer is understood to include a further increase from next year’s budget onward.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, when provincial and territorial premiers met ahead of Tuesday’s gathering with Trudeau, Cochrane said the NWT’s level of spending means per-capita payments like the Canada Health Transfer do not benefit the territory as much as they do other, more populated provinces.
“This per-capita payment is an important piece of what pays for healthcare in the Northwest Territories. However, it does not do enough to address the extraordinary costs we are dealing with as a small jurisdiction,” she said.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information estimates that the NWT spent nearly $22,000 per person on healthcare in 2022. The Canadian average is $8,500.
Much of the additional spending is attributed to the cost of delivering services to isolated communities. Cochrane said the impact of colonization was also a factor.
“We continue to deal with significant and unfair gaps,” the NWT’s premier said.
“The biggest thing I need to emphasize to the federal government is that you can’t fund us per capita. That doesn’t work for us. It doesn’t work in any of the programs that we get funded for.”
Cochrane separately met with new Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai and Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok on Monday, stating on Twitter that the three were jointly “committed to ensuring the unique needs of the North are recognized.”
On Tuesday, she was also scheduled to attend an Ottawa event titled Ukrainian Artists United by the music charity Make Music Matter.