Meeting of Premiers and Territorial Leaders


Québec City, February 3, 2000

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Block
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:

We are writing to set out our respective governments' priority for consideration in the upcoming federal budget.

As you know, at our annual meeting in Québec City last August, all Premiers affirmed their commitment to a " balanced approach " in which tax cuts, equalization and other measures to stimulate the economy are addressed at the same time with the need to maintain adequate and effective health and social programs. We have also recognized that you have also committed to maintaining this balance.

A first step toward this approach has already been made by our collective commitment to tax reduction. Provincial governments have already cut taxes. You have also made clear your intention to introduce tax cuts in the upcoming federal budget. Premiers and Leaders reiterated how it is important for the competitiveness of the economy that such a commitment be reflected by meaningful tax cuts in the upcoming federal budget. The time has now come for us to complete this approach by working cooperatively through an immediate recommitment of funding for health care under the Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST).

Maintaining the integrity and stability of the health care system is the top priority of Canadians. Your government made a first step in dealing with this priority in last year's budget, but this single step is simply not enough. The federal government needs to join the provinces and territories as partners in meeting the ongoing health care needs of Canadians. This cannot happen when the federal government only contributes 13 cents to every dollar governments spend on health and social programs. It can only occur through the full restoration of federal cuts in CHST payments and the establishment of an appropriate escalator to insure that funding for health through the CHST keeps pace with the economic and social factors which impact on the sustainability of the system.

In our joint letter to you in January 1999, all Premiers and Territorial Leaders committed that any additional funds made available in the 1999-2000 federal budget for health care through the CHST would be fully committed to existing health services and programs. We have since fulfilled this promise. Today, through this letter, we are confirming that we will similarly commit any further CHST funding provided in the next federal budget for health care services and social programs, in accordance with the pressures and priorities within our respective provinces and territories.

In the absence of adequate federal funding, people's confidence in our health care system will continue to erode. We all must work cooperatively to reform and modernize our medicare system. We acknowledge the need for reform. However, effective reform can only take place once full restoration of CHST with an appropriate escalator has been provided, and we have ensured the stability and integrity of the current system.

Prime Minister, you have stated that medicare is the best example of how good social policy can also be good economic policy. We share your view that medicare reflects the compassion Canadians show for their fellow citizens while also serving as one of our key competitive advantages. Today we ask you to join with us in preserving our health care system.

Notwithstanding our determination to deal today primarily with health care, we have reaffirmed that the Canadian farm income crisis caused by international subsidies requires immediate attention. Premiers and Territorial Leaders feel strongly that the federal government has a responsibility to urgently address this farm income crisis.


Premiers and Territorial Leaders