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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with the Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 1.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s Premier is drawing the line on an expanded role for private medicine ahead of next week’s health care talks among first ministers.

At a news conference Wednesday morning on Parliament Hill, David Eby said private clinics have been helping meet B.C.’s public health care needs, but that the province would not expand that work.

“We are looking for opportunities to use public clinic models to take pressure off our health care system rather than expanding the private sector,” said the B.C. Premier, who later in the day had a 45-minute meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to present provincial and territorial leaders with a detailed, long-term health care funding plan next Tuesday, responding to their request for the federal government to increase its share of funding to 35 per cent a year from 22 per cent.

As the talks in Ottawa loom, questions have been raised about the role of private health care services in public care. Much of the discussion has been prompted by Ontario’s announcement of a plan to increase the use of private clinics to deal with Ontario’s surgery wait lists. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said operations in the clinics would be paid for by the public health system.

Federal New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh called on the House of Commons this week to hold an emergency debate on the privatization of health care, but his appeal was rejected.

Mr. Eby, who succeeded John Horgan as British Columbia’s premier in November, 2022, is in Ottawa for two days of meetings. In addition to holding talks with Mr. Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday, his schedule Thursday includes a meeting with David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

The Premier was accompanied by six members of his cabinet, who were holding their own meetings with their federal counterparts in the national capital.

Mr. Eby said Mr. Trudeau told him during their meeting that he will bring forward a “clear and understandable proposal” for the premiers and territorial leaders next week, and that it would include a significant bilateral component to address the specific needs of individual provinces and territories.

Mr. Eby said the Prime Minister did not present funding amounts or other details during their talk. “They will all come, he advised me, at the table next week,” he said in a conference call with journalists Wednesday evening.

“We also talked about data, about the importance of data for accountability, certainly to the federal government, so they know their funding is going where people need it.”

Mr. Eby said he told the Prime Minister that it was critical for him to present a proposal that was credible with all the premiers in order to allow progress on delivering care, and away from political negotiations. “He was very receptive to that message,” the Premier said.

Mr. Eby said he outlined B.C.’s health care priorities, including getting people out of hospital beds and into other care (either at home or in long-term care), mental-health and addiction care, and the supply of family doctors for British Columbians.

The Premier said the Prime Minister’s proposal next week will set the stage for continuing discussion. “It’s pretty clear we’re not going to be coming out of that meeting with a deal,” he said. “Any deal will be down the road, and not at that particular meeting.”

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