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Western Premiers Focus on Health Care and Economic Recovery

15 June 2021

For Immediate Release

June 15, 2021

Western Premiers Focus on Health Care and Economic Recovery

Western Premiers met virtually today to discuss reopening plans, strong economic recovery, and the health of western and northern Canadians.

Western Premiers noted that a great deal of work is still needed to advance reconciliation throughout Canada, and strongly reaffirmed their commitment to doing that work together with Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. The confirmation of remains at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation is a reminder that multi-generational trauma stemming from residential schools is not in the past: it continues to affect Indigenous peoples today. Premiers stand respectfully alongside all Indigenous peoples.

Western Premiers committed to listening, learning, and meaningfully supporting Indigenous-led healing. Premiers recognize that healing will require strong partnerships between Indigenous communities, and provincial, territorial, and federal governments.
Premiers were deeply saddened by the recent Islamophobic attack in London, Ontario, and reiterated their shared view that there is no place for such hate in Canada.

Health Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of strong and sustainable health systems. Pandemic-related one-time federal funding has been helpful, but maintaining the strength of our health systems is a long-term challenge. Short-term funding does not put our systems on a sustainable path, nor does it aid strategic funding decisions that are necessary for the long-term management of our systems.

Western Premiers once again call on the federal government to rebalance the health funding partnership by providing sustainable, long-term funding through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). Six months ago, in December 2020, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the federal government needs to increase its share of health funding through the CHT. He committed to have conversations about this with Premiers – the time for those conversations is now. A more balanced and long-term funding partnership will be essential to support sustainable pandemic recovery, including reducing wait times, addressing significant backlogs for diagnostics and surgeries, and meeting the health needs of Canadians not just during this pandemic, but for years to come.

Western Premiers reiterate the unanimous provincial and territorial call for immediate and ongoing increases to the CHT to achieve and maintain a federal share of 35% of provincial and territorial health care spending.

Western Premiers discussed the growing prevalence of mental health and addictions issues in Western Canada and the need to respond to this crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these issues, and Premiers acknowledge the impact the pandemic has had on Canadians’ mental health, and that more must be done to increase awareness of services and reduce the stigma associated with getting help. Premiers highlighted the Council of the Federation podcast series, Promising Practices, which is dedicated to sharing innovations in mental health and addictions and reducing the stigma of mental illness in each jurisdiction.

Economic Recovery

Western Premiers discussed the importance of securing greater market access for Canadian goods, services, and resources, including energy products, and the crucial role that the energy sector will play in economic recovery. Western Premiers shared their concerns on serious challenges in getting products to domestic and international markets. They agreed on the urgency of getting major energy infrastructure, transmission projects, and other infrastructure projects completed in a timely fashion while addressing environmental impacts and maintaining high standards of Indigenous consultation and public engagement.

Western Premiers recognized the importance of economic corridors and their role in improving market access, supporting economic recovery, and ensuring Canadians receive the full and fair value for their natural resources. They discussed the need to secure and maintain pan-Canadian economic corridors, as well as access to foreign markets and tidewater ports, and achieve resolution on disputes. Premiers reiterated their support for Line 5, which is a critical link between Canada and the United States, and call on the State of Michigan to work with Enbridge to resolve the dispute on Line 5.

To support economic corridors that will serve western Canada, Premiers call on the federal government to partner with Western provinces and territories and ensure a fair allocation of new federal funding under the National Trade Corridors Fund in Budget 2021 for western priority projects.

Western Premiers acknowledged the recent and ongoing federal investments in infrastructure. Premiers encouraged continued collaboration and partnerships to address longstanding infrastructure gaps. Nation-building infrastructure, such as ports, roads, airports, housing, telecommunications, pipelines, hydro electricity transmission, and community infrastructure, have a direct link to economic growth. It will be important to ensure that the benefits of, and participation in, economic recovery are broadly shared, in particular by Indigenous people.

Western Premiers reiterated the need for increased federal investments; flexibility for provinces and territories to determine their own priorities; streamlined approval processes; simplified administration and reporting; and meaningful collaboration. These improvements are essential for relaunching the economy, creating jobs, and ensuring that provinces and territories can meet their infrastructure needs and priorities.

Western Premiers renew their call on the federal government to support emission credit trading across international borders and to work with provinces and territories on a strategic approach to finalize the rules under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. This includes ensuring provinces and territories get full credit for reductions resulting from actions in their jurisdictions, including recognizing the exports of, and the sustainable operating practices of, Canadian industries that have already been implemented.

Western Premiers discussed the threat that climate change poses to the natural environment, public health and safety, infrastructure, and the economy. They discussed opportunities to leverage federal climate and economic recovery funding to build a stronger, cleaner, and more competitive western Canadian economy. Provinces and territories will continue to work on climate change plans that address their local needs and priorities, that are contributing to Canada’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Media Contact:

Cate Macleod
Press Secretary to Premier Savikataaq
867-975-5059
cmacleod@gov.nu.ca