Premier of Quebec welcomes O’Toole’s promise to increase federal transfers for health
QUEBEC – François Legault made a few comments on the federal election campaign when he presented his list of demands to party leaders on Thursday.
The Prime Minister has two priorities. He calls for an increase in “unconditional” federal transfers for health in order to reduce the proportion of Ottawa’s funding spending in this sector from 22% to 35%. This would imply an additional $ 6 billion per year for Quebec. Subsequently, he wants these transfers to be indexed annually by six percent rather than three percent.
In his letter to federal leaders, he also calls for more power over immigration matters. He claims full control over family reunification, a category that represents 24% of immigrants welcomed to Quebec each year, half of whom do not speak French, according to him. He made it a “question of survival for the Quebec nation”.
But it is above all with his analysis of the promises of federal leaders that François Legault spiced up the campaign.
He first attacked “two federal parties which have a much more centralizing approach”, which “want to put health priorities back in place of the government of Quebec” and encroach on its area of jurisdiction.
“What is proposed by two parties is more quarrels, more centralization and more bureaucracy. This is not what we need, ”said Legault.
His words left little doubt as to the identity of the two parties involved, and the Prime Minister named them during a question period with reporters: “The Liberal Party and the NDP.
Rather than promising an increase in transfers, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made commitments that encroach on areas of provincial jurisdiction: $ 6 billion to accelerate the elimination of waiting lists in health networks, $ 3 billion $ to hire 7,500 family physicians and nurse practitioners, $ 6 billion to set national standards for long-term care. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he agreed with an increase in transfers, but did not provide figures. He wants to create a federal fund to address the shortage of health workers, especially in long-term care homes. From the start, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet has lined up behind the government of Quebec on this issue.
Erin O’Toole has pledged to reduce annual growth in health transfers from 3% to 6%, which represents an increase of $ 6 billion per year for all provinces. “This is exactly what we are asking for,” replied François Legault. “If it goes through health transfers, there is no problem.
Asked more specifically about the Conservative leader’s promise in relation to his request, he replied that the “6% tip”, the annual indexation he claims, “seems to be accepted by the Conservative Party”. “But the end of the drop from 22% to 35%, which represents $ 6 billion per year for the government of Quebec, I have not heard from the Conservative Party.”
In his letter to federal leaders, François Legault reiterates other demands he made during the previous federal elections, two years ago: to respect the law on the secularism of the State, to subject companies under federal regulation to Law 101 and create a single tax return. administered by Quebec. He also wants an agreement to be reached recognizing that Quebec has an unconditional right of withdrawal, with full financial compensation, for any federal expenditure in its areas of jurisdiction.
In Ottawa, O’Toole – who wants to seize the seats of the Bloc and the Liberals in Quebec – quickly responded to requests from François Legault. At the same time, he recalled the series of commitments he made to Quebec.
O’Toole reiterated his intention to call a meeting with provincial premiers within the first 100 days of a Conservative government, recalling his pledge to “unconditionally” increase health transfers by 6% “at least” each year .
“We will also agree on the unique fiscal balance sheet in Quebec, while preserving jobs in the regions. We will also have to work together to apply Bill 101 to federal companies, ”he added.
O’Toole reiterated that he did not intend to intervene in the legal challenges surrounding Bill 21, also giving “more powers in matters of immigration” to Quebec, in particular in matters of family reunification. .
On the other hand, Yves-François Blanchet indicated that he “converged” with the ideas of the Legault government, stressing that his electoral platform, unveiled on Sunday, was very similar to his ideas.
“Quebec’s demands not only confirm the relevance of the Bloc Québécois, but they also confirm the urgency of increasing our reach in the House of Commons,” he declared.
Jagmeet Singh evokes the massacre that occurred in long-term care homes in Quebec during the first wave, arguing that it was above all necessary to “meet the needs of the population”, beyond the competence of a government. “We have already shown during this pandemic how we are helping Quebecers. We live in a federalist country, and it is normal that we work together “, he declared, without reacting on the substance.
Justin Trudeau declined to comment on Legault’s requests.