Quebec says no to health spending disclosures

Federal Health Minister Philpott wants the provinces to specify what healthcare areas they’re spending on, but Quebec is refusing to submit

by Leo Almazora

“I cannot say yes to that.”

That’s what Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette’s had to say about Ottawa’s plan to have provinces propose priority healthcare spending areas and report on outcomes.

According to a report on Huffington Post Canada, Barrette explained that the federal liberals – along with Canadian Health Minister Jane Philpott, who is pushing for the measure – had agreed to abide by the principle of asymmetrical federalism.

“When you say that to Quebec … by definition, it means no strings attached,” he said. “We, as a government, will not agree to a very detailed bilateral agreement.”

He accused Ottawa of moving in this direction for “political credit”, going on to say that Quebec will “no doubt” spend money “in the proper areas” and be able to demonstrate “the proper results” a year from now.

“I can go to her [Philpott] and say look at what we are doing, and look at the way we are measuring those things, but I will not write my name at the bottom of a document that imposes that on me,” he told Huffington Post Canada.

He then contended that Philpott’s moves are a sign that Ottawa doesn’t really want to put money in the next budget, adding that the federal government doesn’t need to interfere for reforms to happen.

“I am reforming our [healthcare] system in Quebec in the manner that has never been done anywhere in Canada," he said. "So I don't need that lecture. I'm writing the course on that. I'm [doing it] …. I [just] need the money to implement it.”

Philpott has previously made remarks about the poor performance of Canada’s healthcare system. While Canada’s publicly funded and insured system puts it among the countries that spend the most on healthcare, she says, the outcomes don’t show it.

Her idea is to move Canada to a more cost-efficient system – one where medically necessary services can be performed at home and in community settings rather than in hospitals that can cost patients $1,000 a day. Her proposal to have provinces “make a case” by submitting health spending proposals and reporting measurable outcomes is intended as incentive to move toward that.

"We don't measure things to punish people,” she said. “We measure things so that we'll know where programs are successful and where they're not working well, and that gives us an idea as to how we can improve the system."

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