Has Gallant pulled off a coup with his health care deal?
It would appear Premier Gallant has pulled off quite the coup in landing a new health care funding arrangement with Ottawa, on the heels of a failed conference between the federal government and the provinces to do just that.
That’s not to say it was necessarily that difficult, in that I expect Ottawa was just as anxious to be able to flaunt this, but that aside, Gallant got it done. That’s the important point.
The negatives I have heard about this deal, so far at least, are all pretty lame with a sour grapes tinge.
A specific one that jumped out is that New Brunswick shouldn’t have broken ranks with the other provinces; that it is playing into Ottawa’s divide and conquer strategy. What this argument ignores or fails to appreciate is that the Trudeau Liberals met with the Premiers, something the former government refused to do, so that step was taken, and for various reasons the talks failed.
Sure, it’s possible down the road sometime another attempt could be made, or a province could try to negotiate its own deal, which is what New Brunswick did.
Another argument is that it reduces Ottawa’s commitment to health care overall. That is true, but that’s the direction we as a federation were headed in anyway. Simply walking away from the negotiations wasn’t going to change that.
As a result of the agreement, we have an extra 230 million dollars over the next ten years, with the money specifically targeted at mental health and senior’s health care, including money to help seniors stay in their homes longer. These are two specific areas that need serious attention here in New Brunswick. As a result, the way Premier Gallant puts it, we will be able to make fundamental improvements. And with that much money, why wouldn’t that be the case?
The federal conditions, which really amount to accountability in exactly how the money is spent in these areas seem quite reasonable, so why not get it done.
Other provinces can whine and wail all they want, but that shouldn’t be a concern of our Premier.
The icing on the cake though, is the sweetheart deal that if any other provinces manage to get a better deal, New Brunswick’s would change to reflect that.
All in all, seems like Gallant has scored a win here. If it is because of his friendship with Dominic LeBlanc or Justin Trudeau, well, like they say, it’s always good to have friends in high places.