Mr. Speaker, on February 6, I asked the Minister of Health if the federal government would be giving the provinces the necessary funding to provide people with the services they need.
In recent months, the federal government has pressured the provinces and territories to accept agreements that slash health transfers from 6% to 3%. This measure is clearly a holdover from the Harper government's austerity policies and forces the provinces to absorb the predictable burden of rising health care costs over the next 10 years.
This will have a major impact in Quebec. Whereas 23% of Quebec's health care spending has been covered by federal transfers until now, only 20% of it will be in the future. Researchers say that Quebec is looking at a shortfall of almost $7.5 billion over 10 years.
The upshot for the people of Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale, and for all Canadians, is longer wait times and fewer services. Quebec's health minister says that this agreement will have serious consequences well into the future. The cuts will compromise patient care quality and overload our professionals. The provinces have a major problem to solve here.
By putting the budgets of provincial governments at risk, the Liberals are opting for a dangerous short-term strategy that ignores growing challenges in the field, such as our aging population.
In addition, we regret the federal government's decision to resort to something much resembling blackmail to get these agreements signed. In fact, the $11.5 billion promised by the Liberal government was made available only to the provinces and territories that signed an agreement. There are two particularly troubling points here.
On the one hand, the government is reducing transfers to the provinces and disengaging financially from health care concerns. On the other hand, the lump sum it is offering is conditional on the provinces agreeing to certain priorities and meeting certain performance requirements.
This is a way for the government to increase its power and control over the provinces. We in the NDP condemn the Liberal government's desire to direct health policies without having to assume the costs. Who is better positioned than the provinces themselves to determine their own needs?
I would add that, by forcing these agreements, the Minister of Health set off a real tug-of-war between provincial and federal institutions. For instance, mental health and home care are already priorities for many provinces, such as Quebec, because they are familiar with the needs on the ground and did not need the federal government to tell them to make those things the priority.
In my riding, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, health institutions work in partnership with countless community organizations and have an intimate knowledge of what our constituents need.
When I think about mental health community agencies, I think about the Centre psychosocial Richelieu-Yamaska, Contact Richelieu-Yamaska, and Collectif de défense des droits de la Montérégie. When I think about home care, I think about the volunteer centres in Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale, and the Aux P'tits soins co-operative.
All these organizations already do extraordinary work in mental health and home care. The government's initiative is positively absurd. Is the government establishing trusting relationships with the provinces and the territories when it comes to health? I do not think so.
In closing, I would like to know if the government plans to keep interfering in the provincial jurisdiction of health and impose its own will.