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Trudeau, premiers to meet next month to discuss health-care deal  – National

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Canada’s premiers next month to hammer out a deal on health-care funding following months of significant pressure from the premiers for a summit.

Trudeau said Wednesday he has invited the premiers to a “working meeting” on Feb. 7 in Ottawa to share the federal government’s plans to support the health-care systems across Canada and to hear their priorities for investment.

“Let’s be clear, providing money is certainly part of the solution, and we will do that, but funding alone won’t solve the issues that we’re seeing,” he told reporters, speaking from Hamilton, Ont.

“Reliable, universal public health care is fundamental to Canadians, and we need to keep it that way. … We’ve got a big, amazing country built on strong, progressive institutions like health care that Canadians care deeply about and we’re doing the hard work of strengthening health care and making sure that we all live up to the promise of this country.”

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Canada’s 13 premiers come from different political persuasions, but they have been united in their calls for an increase to the annual Canada Health Transfer to the provinces and territories. They want what would amount to a $28-billion increase to the Canada Health Transfer, which they say will bring the federal contribution toward health costs to 35 per cent from 22 per cent currently.

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With health care now taking up more than a third of their budgets, the premiers say Ottawa must contribute more to these increasing costs, even as many provinces have been posting budget surpluses in recent months.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made a pointed reference to this Tuesday, highlighting that health care is a provincial responsibility and that “with authority comes responsibility.”

“The fiscal position of…

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