Outgoing B.C. premier offers to act as bridge-builder in health-care funding debate | CBC News


Outgoing B.C. Premier John Horgan says he’s offered to act as an intermediary between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers on the thorny topic of health-care funding once he leaves office.

“My message to the prime minister was, ‘I’ve not fallen off the earth. If I can be of any value to the premiers, if I can be of value to the federal government, I want to do that,'” Horgan said in an interview airing Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

Health-care funding has become an even more contentious issue in recent weeks. The provinces and territories have been united in pushing the federal government to boost its share of health-care spending — something Ottawa has suggested it’s willing to do under certain conditions.

Horgan, who recently sat as the chair of the Council of the Federation, said he has strong working relationships with Trudeau and the premiers.

“I’ve relationships across party lines. It’s not a partisan thing for me and, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s a partisan thing for anyone else,” Horgan told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

When asked if Trudeau would take Horgan up on his offer, the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t rule out the possibility.

“Premier Horgan has been a great partner over the past years. Our government looks forward to continuing to work with him in the future on a variety of issues important to Canadians,” the PMO said in a statement.

Meetings fail to produce concrete plan

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was in Vancouver last week for two days of discussions with his provincial and territorial counterparts. The talks yielded no concrete plan to address issues plaguing Canada’s health-care systems.

But before the meetings could conclude, premiers released a media statement saying that “no progress” had been made in the talks and repeating their request for a meeting with Trudeau.

While the funding question loomed large over the meetings, health ministers discussed other issues — including support for health-care workers, long-term care and home care, mental health and addiction, and health data and virtual care.

The ministers were supposed to produce an action plan to move forward on these issues. Duclos said the premiers squashed any progress by focusing on the funding issue.

Horgan said he still believes common ground can be found, despite the way the Vancouver meetings ended.

“My advice to my colleagues … is to hold together, not in a combative way, but in the interest of Canadians,” he said.

Horgan announced last June that he would retire as premier. B.C. Attorney General David Eby is set to be sworn in as the next premier on Friday after being acclaimed leader of the governing B.C. NDP in a controversial non-contest that saw his only rival disqualified.

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