Last week, I wrote about the recent Auditor General's report on COVID-related pandemic benefit payment programs to both individuals and businesses.
In the report, it was suggested as much as $27.4 billion in benefit payments must be further investigated to determine if there was proper eligibility.
The AG mentioned much of this situation arose due to the federal government allowing “self-attestation” from businesses and individuals as sufficient proof of eligibility to receive the benefits, despite potentially not actually meeting the eligibility criteria.
I asked the question “What are your thoughts on the government's use of an attestation in delivering timely support programs?”
Over the past week I have heard a significant amount of feedback (constituents) on this topic.
I raise the point again because the federal government is going to use attestation in the delivery of a new support program that is not pandemic-related.
Recently the federal government announced the Canada Dental Benefit program (a result of its support deal with the NDP) and once again attestation will be used as the criteria to determine eligibility.
In this program, estimated to cost between $1.3 billion and $1.5 billion annually, there is no direct payment to a dentist as most dental care plans require. Instead, the program (as it is currently structured) will send funds directly to qualifying parents with children aged younger than 12.
What is interesting about this approach is how it differs from the the government’s approach to funding health care in Canada. As some will be aware, the government has a program known as the Canada Health Transfer that transfers a portion of the federal taxes you send to Ottawa back to provinces and territories to help cover the costs of providing health care.
Currently, the CHT is forecast to be roughly $45.2 billion for the 2022/23 fiscal year.
Provinces throughout Canada, including here in B.C., are currently facing many healthcare related challenges. Lack of staff, staff burnout, lack of capacity and poor service delivery are all challenges faced in hospitals across Canada.
The premiers are united and clear that the federal government must increase the CHT to help solve these critical health care challenges given that health care is a provincially provided service. Unfortunately for the premiers, when it comes to health care, there is no attestation for an increase in the Canada Health Transfer.
Instead, as the prime minister stated in Question Period, he believes any funding increase must have strings attached. In other words, there is no a “blank cheque”.
This “Ottawa knows best” approach is commonly used by the government and often includes studies and consultation that ultimately means tno immediate increase in funding for the Canada Health Transfer.
Contrast that with the premiers, who regardless of political stripe, are unanimous that this is a crisis situation and federal health care funding (without strings attached) must occur ASAP.
My question this week:
Do you support the Canada Health Transfer being increased immediately, or do you agree with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Ottawa-imposed conditions should be attached before increasing any funding?
I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.