Manitoba asks feds to reverse military health funding reimbursement cut

By | October 9, 2019

Manitoba’s health minister is calling on the Trudeau government to reverse a decision that would see the feds cut the amount of money they reimburse Manitoba for hospital charges incurred by members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the federal government gave Manitoba notice recently it would cut the reimbursement rate by 40 per cent a year, or nearly $1 million a year.

The minister said the federal government made the change without consulting the provinces and territories.

“This is not right. Remember that it is Ottawa that has been insisting that provinces and territories follow the Canada Health Act to the T,” Friesen told reporters Wednesday.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the move will cost Manitoba almost $1 million dollars a year. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

Friesen said the Canada Health Act makes it very clear that members of the armed forces are not eligible for universal health care offered by provincial and territorial health systems, and that’s why the reimbursement system is in place.

Friesen said it was concerning to read reports that some hospitals in other parts of the country may deny services to patients because they aren’t covered.

“Our members of the armed forces are important to us and we need to make sure that health care is there for them.”

The issue first came to light Tuesday after Global News published a story revealing the federal government had quietly rolled back what it pays hospitals to take care of military members.

Friesen said Manitoba and other provinces have been asking for a meeting with federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor for 14 months, to no avail. He said the reimbursement changes are only another reason a meeting needs to be called.

Taylor’s office told CBC News last month Manitoba only asked for a meeting through a letter Saskatchewan wrote that the Manitoba government signed in June.

“That’s not accurate,” Friesen said Wednesday.

CBC News asked Health Canada to respond to Friesen and was told a reply may come on Thursday or Friday.

Alberta’s health minister is also calling on the federal government to reverse its decision.