Hand arranging wood block stacking with icon healthcare medical and the year 2016CUPE is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to restore federal health funding increases through the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to 2016 levels.

CUPE warns that current funding levels aren’t rising fast enough to meet growing health care needs and costs, never mind providing badly needed new services like pharmacare and dental care that the government promised in last week’s throne speech.

“The federal government is putting health care on course for a crisis,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Canadians are still waiting for Justin Trudeau to reverse the Harper government’s cuts to health care, and they shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

CUPE is calling on the government to return to a minimum increase of 5.2 per cent per year, to ensure health care funding meets Canadians’ needs and respects the principles of the Canada Health Act.

At the outset of public health care in Canada, the federal government provided half of health funding to the provinces and territories.

Today, it is less than a quarter, and the bilateral agreements negotiated with the provinces and territories in 2017 are on course to deliver a $33.2 billion funding gap by 2026.

“The warning signs are all around us. The federal government is knowingly setting provinces and territories up to fail,” warned CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury.

From 2006-2016, the CHT increased by 6 per cent annually, but the new CHT formula only guarantees 3 per cent annual increases, which runs in stark contrast to the rates at which health care costs are expected to grow.

The Conference Board of Canada forecasts that costs will grow by 5.2 per cent between 2017-2022, while the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy conservatively forecasts that health care costs will grow by 4.2 per cent from 2022-2036, due to cost pressures from a growing and aging population, real income growth, inflation, and changes in technology and service utilization.

“Health care is one of the most important institutions that Canadians have,” said Hancock. “It’s time for the Trudeau government to start acting like it.”