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Billions more for health care likely to top premiers' wish list for throne speech

Citynews 1130 Vancouver
FILE - Ontario Premier Doug Ford responds to a question during his daily update regarding COVID-19 at Queen's Park in Toronto on Saturday, April 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Summary

Conservative-minded premiers are meeting in Ottawa Friday to discuss demands ahead of the throne speech

Premiers for Ontario and Quebec want transfer payments increased

Billions for health care to be at top the of list

OTTAWA — Conservative-minded premiers are meeting in Ottawa Friday and expected to demand billions of dollars for health care and increased transfer payments, as well as more supports for restarting the economy ahead of next week’s federal throne speech.

Quebec’s Francois Legault, Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister plan to hold a news conference in Ottawa to spell out what they hope to see in the speech, on which the fate of Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government could hinge.

Ford and Legault, last week, called on Ottawa to significantly increase the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.

The transfer this year will amount to almost $42 billion under an arrangement that sees it increase by at least three per cent each year.

Ford says he’ll also be pushing for help to get people in businesses affected bu COVID-19 back on their feet and money to fund a shovel-ready infrastructure projects.

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The premiers are also to discuss a potential second wave of COVID-19. Positive cases of COVID-19 have been steadily climbing in some provinces, including B.C., for the last few weeks.

The throne speech is on Wednesday.

The federal government has already committed $19 billion to the provinces for a safe restart of the economy, $10 billion for health care, and $2 billion for schools. But some provinces have complained it’s not enough.

While the prime minister is not meeting with the premiers, he is having conversations with opposition leaders about their priorities. He is to speak with the NDP and Conservative leaders on Friday, after already chatting with the Greens and Bloc Quebecois.