Premiers mingle during a photo op while at the summer meeting of the Canada's Premiers at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, Monday, July 11, 2022. The premiers try again to make their case for a permanent increase in federal health transfers, they're also waiting on $2 billion they were promised back in March to help clear surgical and diagnostic backlogs.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Provinces still haven’t received $2B in health top-ups announced by Liberals in March

As premiers gathered in British Columbia try again to make their case for a permanent increase in federal health transfers, they’re also waiting on $2 billion they were promised back in March to help clear surgical and diagnostic backlogs.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced the one-time top-up to “expedite” surgeries on March 25, and he and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced a bill in the House of Commons the same day to enable the funding.

Bill C-17 never got past first reading, and the promise was instead packaged into the federal budget roughly two weeks later.

Duclos says agreements will be signed with the provinces soon and the Finance Department says payments will start “imminently.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan says the money won’t be enough to meet the need, adding “although the Band-Aid is welcome, we need stitches.”

The per-capita funding ranges from about $2 million for each of the territories to more than $775 million for Ontario.

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