Emergency funding for the province’s public hospitals and mental health services has not kept pace with the growth in costs.
The provinces health and social services minister is calling for a new city-wide funding fund to be created for emergency aid in order to fill the gaps in the provincial system, but he acknowledged that there will be a price to pay.
In a letter sent to provincial officials Wednesday, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said that $3.5 billion would be needed by the end of this fiscal year, and the province must provide $1.8 billion by June 30.
He also recommended that the federal government fund the full $3 billion and the provincial government fund only the part that was needed in this fiscal cycle.
The federal government has already pledged $2.5-billion for emergency funding, with more than $1 billion coming from the provincial treasury.
In the letter, de Jong suggested that funding for provincial hospitals, including hospitals run by the Department of Health, could be expanded to cover the full cost of emergency relief.
The federal government’s $1-billion request is still a long way off the funding promised in the budget, which will be announced on Tuesday.
“We’re also going to have to find the money to provide the services to the people who are not going to be able to access it because they can’t afford it,” said de Jong, who is also the deputy minister of health.
At the same time, he said the government was looking at ways to ensure the province could be more flexible in how it spends funds from its rainy day fund.
De Jong said the provincial budget will provide for a $1 per person increase in the minimum wage, with a $500-a-month increase to people earning up to $150,000 a year.
The government also proposed a $100-per-day increase in food assistance and a $50-a of a day increase for child care for all children.
He also recommended more money for public transit, saying that it needs $50 million in transit subsidies over the next two years, and another $20 million over the coming years.
The province is looking at more flexible funding arrangements for the first time in a while, with the province facing significant funding challenges.
There are still a number of outstanding priorities to be resolved, including how to deal with a sudden influx of people in the emergency room, said de Kloet.
“The emergency room is full,” he said.
“There’s just so much that needs to be addressed.
We have to do it quickly.”
The provincial government has also said that the new provincial plan will be the largest in the country, and will be funded in part through a new revenue stream called the province-wide tax on property.
It also aims to create a new public service in every province that provides health care and supports the mental health and other services.
The tax would be administered by the federal Department of Finance, which already has $2-billion in the bank and is on track to receive $2 billion from the federal Liberals.
De Jong, in his letter, also proposed an $80-per person increase for the basic allowance, which is currently $15.75 per week.
The province is also looking at a $20-per day increase in child care subsidies, which were recently introduced.
“The federal and provincial governments have already committed significant funds to our mental health care system, and we are very excited about these new measures,” said the minister.
“We have to ensure that this funding is spent wisely and efficiently, which means not spending it on the most vulnerable in society.”
Meanwhile, the provinces new city of New Orleans, which opened its doors in February, will have to rely on federal aid to keep up with rising costs and staff shortages.
The city’s mayor, Giselle Lachance, has said the city has already run out of money, and has not been able to meet its needs for staff.
She said that if the city were to cut its staff and shut down, she would lose support from the state and federal governments.
Lachure, who had hoped to open the city’s first day in February with more staff, said the new budget does not address that concern.
She also criticized the provincial plan to create an independent board of health inspectors to oversee the city.
Latch said she wants to work with the federal and federal government to create more staff in the city and to create safe spaces for people to go to and from work.
She is also calling for more money to be earmarked for emergency services.
More than 30 cities across the country have taken steps to reduce their workloads and hire more staff over the past few years.
According to the federal Statistics Canada, there were 1,742,700 public-sector workers in Canada last