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B.C. Health Minister pushes Ottawa for overhaul of elder care funding system

‘As we know, as you age, health-care costs become higher and higher and higher,’ said B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake, right, with Premier Christy Clark in Vancouver on Jan. 12.


B.C.'s Health Minister says he will push Ottawa next week at federal-provincial meetings to change its funding system so that provinces caring for a larger share of the country's seniors get more money.

British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that the current system, which allots federal health-care money on a per-capita basis, ignores the fact that some provinces, such as his, have much larger segments of their population needing more expensive treatments.

"We're not happy with the changes that were made by the previous federal government," he said. "As we know, as you age, health-care costs become higher and higher and higher.

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"So to have a pure per-capita transfer actually was a disadvantage for populations that were older, such as in British Columbia, and much more an advantage for populations that are younger, like Alberta."

Premier Christy Clark, also at the same news conference, added that "Canada is one of the only countries in the world that doesn't recognize that we need to spend more money per capita on the national level on senior citizens than younger people."

"We talk about palliative care, we talk about care for people with dementia, we talk about hospice care – that's expensive," she said.

Next week's meetings are part of the new Liberal government's attempt to mend relationships with the provinces and territories, which frayed under the Conservatives. On Jan. 19 and 20, provincial and territorial health ministers will meet with their federal counterpart in Vancouver in the hopes of crafting a new national health accord.

The former Conservative federal government had planned to continue increasing health transfers 6 per cent each year until next year. After that, they would be tied to inflation and the rate of economic growth, but not fall below an increase of 3 per cent.

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About the Author
News reporter

Mike Hager is a general assignment reporter at the newspaper’s B.C. bureau. He grew up in Vancouver and graduated from the University of Western Ontario’s Huron College and Langara College. Before joining The Globe and Mail, he spent three years working for The Vancouver Sun. More


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