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Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette speaks during question period on March 19, 2015, at the legislature in Quebec City.Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Quebec's health minister says the federal government has indicated it plans to let the annual increase in provincial health transfers fall to half its current level by the end of the year.

As efforts to forge a new federal-provincial health accord continue, Gaetan Barrette says his officials have been told that Ottawa has no appetite to keep the escalator at its current level of six per cent.

The annual increase in transfers was part of the of last health accord that expired in 2014. The previous Conservative government refused to renegotiate it and unilaterally declared it would end in 2017.

The thorny issue of health transfers is expected to be front and centre during next week's meeting of provincial and territorial premiers in Whitehorse.

Barrette says such a shortfall in health transfers would create a scary situation for cash-strapped provinces that face emerging heath-care costs linked to factors such as aging baby boomers.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott would only say that the transfer provides a stable funding base and that any additional cash would be focused on priority areas like home care and mental health.