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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

 

 

 

Remember the Premier's Sellout on Health Transfers When the Cutbacks Come

 

Steve Kent, Health Critic for the Official Opposition, said, "Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will not forget Premier Ball's pre-Christmas sellout on federal health transfers if the province follows through with health service cuts and other restraint measures in the spring 2017 Budget."

 

"The provinces had a united front when they went into pre-Christmas meetings with Ottawa on health transfers, because the needs for programs like mental health care and seniors' care are so great and so underfunded - but the provinces' united negotiating position was broken by the few who broke ranks, went behind the backs of their colleagues and sold us short for cheaper side deals - and Premier Ball was one of the sellouts who undermined a rare opportunity to get the larger health funding transfers we had been promised," said Kent.

 

"To his credit, Health Minister Haggie was making an argument about how great our health care needs really are, and he really ought to know, as a physician who has seen the needs firsthand. Premier Ball pulled the rug out from under, not just his Health Minister, but every health care provider and patient in the province by selling out for far less than we had been promised and far less than we need.

 

‎"As one province pointed out, because of the high rate of inflation in the health sector, anything less than a 5.2 per cent increase‎ amounts to a cut - so while Premier Ball pretends he secured an increase, he actually settled for a cut, less than the system requires to meet the need.

 

"Premier Ball's sellout will inevitably‎ lead to provincial cuts in health funding and inadequate attention to important needs such as mental health care and long-term care. The Ball Liberals already cut health services in the 2016 Budget, citing inadequate financial resources as the reason for the cuts. The next time they roll out their cuts, they won't be able to say lower oil revenues are to blame. The blame for the inadequate health funding will sit squarely on the shoulders of Premier Ball, who sold us short on the health transfers we had been promised and urgently need," said Kent.

 

"No less important is the fact that Premier Ball undermined the negotiating positions of the other provinces, costing them the health funding they need. Those Premiers understood the importance of standing united to hold the federal Liberals to their obligation to provide health transfers sufficient to meet the provinces' needs. The other Premier's recognized that this is funding for health care, not something people can afford to do without. The next time we look to other provinces for support of a position that is important to us - fair equalization funding or fair electricity transmission, for example - they will point to Premier Ball's sellout at this negotiating table as the reason they can no longer trust him and will not support him. And who will lose out then? Not just Premier Ball, who broke their trust, but every Newfoundlander and Labradorian," he said. "He has weakened our standing on the national scene by showing that Newfoundland and Labrador under his leadership cannot be trusted to stand up for the people."

 

"The Ball Liberals have been telling people to brace themselves for the 2017 Budget, and have been hinting that the province cannot afford to spend‎ so much on health care. It will be absolutely appalling if the people of our province and the health care professionals who serve them will have to endure health funding restraint and cutbacks all because Premier Ball caved in at the negotiating table, at the bidding of Minister Foote and the other federal Liberals who seem to call the shots in Newfoundland and Labrador," said Kent.

 

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Media Contact:

 

Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition,

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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