TORONTO – Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance, issued the following statement after the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers’ Meeting:

“Throughout the fight against this pandemic, Canadians have counted on all three levels of government to work together to protect public health and public services, while supporting businesses and workers.

The federal government joined Ontario and our provincial and territorial partners in rising to this challenge to deliver historic levels of investment through the Safe Restart Agreement, which included $4 billion in joint federal and provincial supports to ensure Ontario’s municipalities could continue to deliver the vital services that Canadians depend on.

However, this new Omicron variant is an entirely new challenge that has once again required governments to step up and support Canadians.

We cannot risk the delivery of vital public services. In the face of mounting pressures on municipalities, I want to thank Minister Freeland for agreeing to continue discussions about municipal shortfalls related to public transit systems during today’s Federal, Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers' meeting.

The Omicron variant has once again reminded us of the needs of Canada’s health care system.

That is why the federal government must come to the table and heed the unanimous call from Premiers across the country to increase the federal government's share of total health care spending to 35 per cent through the Canada Health Transfer, and to maintain this level over time with an appropriate annual escalator. It is the only path forward for building strong, resilient health care systems that the people of Canada can rely on.

The way forward, through this new Omicron variant and whatever future challenges COVID-19 may bring, is to build on our historic partnership and continue to steer the nation through these troubled waters and into the safe harbour beyond.”