Council consensus: what premiers are hoping for out of Monday's meeting

Clay Curtis
December 3, 2019

Canada's premiers wrapped up their meeting with Ontario's Doug Ford saying they are showing that Canadians can stand together, despite regional differences.

Canada's provincial premiers have agreed to unanimously press Ottawa for more health care money and to prioritize economic competitiveness in decisions about natural resource development.

According to a joint statement issued after their meeting, the premiers are asking Ottawa for health transfers from the federal government to rise by 5.2 per cent a year, faster than the current rate of 3 per cent.

"It's something concrete the federal government can do basically right now to show some goodwill towards the West, and really show any province that may one day sustain a sudden drop in their revenue that the federal government can be there for them", she said.

Premiers of all the provinces and territories gather Monday in Toronto to try to shape a collective agenda for their relationship with the federal government, after an election that left the nation in a partisan patchwork. "Premier Moe has done an incredible job".

What the premiers came up with was a final formal statement that makes no mention of climate change, but calls for immediate action on getting natural resources to market and approving new projects on "globally competitive timelines", while also working to eliminate protectionist policies in America especially.

"If you can't get that right, don't start with another program".

Numerous premiers have met one-on-one with Trudeau since the election, and the full council is expected to sit down with the prime minister next year.

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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and also Alberta Premier Jason Kenney demand Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to differ the equalization elements, nonetheless there's not likely to be agreement on that particular throughout the premiers' workdesk.

Moe said the request represented a moment of unity in the Canadian federation.

"They were unwavering in their support for recommended changes to the Fiscal Stabilization Program", he said.

The fiscal stabilization program is a vehicle through which the federal government can provide aid to provinces suffering an economic downturn.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan said many provinces already have significant pharmacare plans, so the priority should be a "more equitable distribution of resources to deliver health care".

Right-leaning premiers are on the offensive, taking up the western cause in the hopes it will help them defeat Trudeau in the next election, which could be only a couple years away since the Liberals fell short of winning a majority of seats in parliament. Higgs wants to talk about coniferous wood.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has been outspoken against Quebec's Bill 21, which prohibits some public employees, including teachers, government lawyers and police officers, from wearing prominent symbols of their religious beliefs.

"I was honoured to co-host my fellow Premiers with Saskatchewan Premier and Council of the Federation Chair Scott Moe to roll up our sleeves and get to work for the people of this country", said Premier Ford.

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