On Dec. 9, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok joined 11 other provincial and territorial premiers in calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hold a first minister’s meeting on health in early 2023.

The news conference was led by Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson from Winnipeg, who spoke on the need for the federal government to go back to the 50/50 arrangement for healthcare funding it once had with the provinces and territories.

“The federal share of healthcare expenses is now down to just 22 per cent,” she said.

Stefanson highlighted the distinct needs and circumstances in each jurisdiction and the necessity of “adequate, stable and predictable funding” through the Canada Health Transfer.

“All premiers are ready, willing and able to sit down as soon as possible,” she added.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he and his colleagues will be ready to meet Trudeau by January.

The premiers who spoke all expressed the need for the federal government to better support the healthcare system.

“In every single province and territory, the healthcare system is facing very significant issues,” said Quebec’s Francois Legault. “It is important the provinces and territories be united and that we speak in one, single, united voice to defend the autonomy that we have a right to.”

Akeeagok alluded to the remoteness of Nunavut and the essential cooperation from jurisdictions to the south.

“The reliance we have on our southern partners is enormous, and we’re so thankful for the incredible partnership we do have (with) the premiers,” he said. “Every Nunavummiut still requires specialized services that, unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to do right here in Nunavut.”

He expressed the need for unity among the provincial and territorial leaders.

“The significance and importance is for us is to support the unified voices that we see right across the premiers here.”

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