Premier Horgan asks Trudeau for help on doctor shortage during meeting Tuesday

Opposition critics have said Horgan is passing the buck by blaming Ottawa for B.C.'s health-care woes

Canadian Press 4 minute read May 25, 2022

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s second day in B.C. included a meeting with Premier John Horgan, who asked for an increase in federal health transfers to fix the family doctor shortage.

“Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau met briefly today and committed to continue working together on health-care funding in Canada, as well as working together on reconciliation and supporting Ukrainians,” the Premier’s Office said in a statement Tuesday. “They also spoke about the importance of salmon to British Columbians.”

Trudeau made no promises on increasing the federal health transfer and he did not speak about B.C.’s family doctor crisis that has left 900,000 British Columbians without a family doctor.

Trudeau’s Liberals made a 2021 campaign promise of $4.5 billion over five years of increased mental health transfers to the provinces and territories to establish national standards of care but there was no mention of that funding in April’s federal budget.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Charolette Ned of Quilchena (Sylix Nation) at a memorial event marking the first anniversary of the discovery of unmarked Indigenous child graves at the Tk’emlups Pow Wow Arbour in Kamloops, B.C., May 23, 2022. JENNIFER GAUTHIER / REUTERS

Horgan has been pressing the federal government to increase the Canada health transfers to help B.C.’s “crumbling” health care system. Horgan has said provinces are on the hook for 80 per cent of health care costs compared to a 50-50 split between the provinces and federal government decades ago.

Opposition critics have said Horgan is passing the buck by blaming Ottawa for B.C.’s health-care woes.

Horgan and Trudeau appeared together Tuesday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver to announce that the federal and provincial governments will kick in $15 million each to support the 2025 Invictus Games in Vancouver and Whistler.

The Invictus Games will be “uniquely Canadian” Trudeau said, as they will feature adaptive winter sports such as alpine skiing, nordic skiing, skeleton and wheelchair curling.

It was the second day of Trudeau’s visit to B.C. which on Monday included a tense visit to Kamloops. The prime minister faced angry chants by some at a memorial ceremony at the former residential school in Kamloops.

Skwelcampt, back right, from Turtle Island, shouts at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he arrives for a ceremony marking the one-year anniversary of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announcement of the detection of the remains of 215 children at an unmarked burial site at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 23, 2022. Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS

During a visit with a Vancouver family to discuss federal housing policy Tuesday, Trudeau told reporters that it’s been a difficult year since the discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools and those expressing anger are justified in doing so.

He said Canada is responsible for “horrific things” committed against Indigenous people, the trauma of which continues today through socio-economic inequality, mental health challenges and the painful legacies of residential schools.

“There were a number of people who are still very, very hurt by this and who are angry, and, frankly, they have a right to be angry,” Trudeau said. “These are things that Canada needs to grapple with and, of course, there’s a need for healing, there’s a need for partnership, but there’s also going to be a lot of trauma and anger.”

The ceremony in Kamloops on Monday marked one year since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc announced that ground-penetrating radar had identified 215 suspected graves in an apple orchard by the former residential school.

The discovery forced a countrywide reckoning over Canada’s treatment of Indigenous Peoples and led to searches for more suspected graves on the grounds of former residential school grounds across the country.

with files from The Canadian Press

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