“I couldn’t care less” Stephen Harper’s own words at the Calgary Convention Friday Evening November 1, 2013. By his actions he very much wants to change Canada’s Public Health System to a private health system and user pay. This will dramatically hurt the chronically ill and the elderly and lower income families. But Harper could care less.
From The Star. “Health Ministers from across Canada were recently told by the Harper government that it will stop funding the Health Council of Canada and wants it “wound down” in order to save $6 million. When the Harper government says it is time to wind down the Health Council of Canada, it is saying in effect, it is time to wind down national medicare. Let me explain.
The Health Council of Canada was formed in 2003, following the Romanow Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, to provide accountability, oversight, planning and national coordination for our health care system. Its achievements to date include lowering wait times and encouraging innovation in the public health care system to ensure access to a continuum of services, in and out of hospital.
The federal role is to facilitate national approaches to health system issues and promote the pan-Canadian adoption of best practices and innovation. This is the glue that holds medicare together and keeps it responsive to the evolving needs of the Canadian people. Provinces and territories cannot perform this role. The vacuum in federal leadership will fragment the health care system into 14 separate systems operating independently from each other. This fragmentation undermines the core principles of the Canada Health Act, especially comprehensive coverage and portability between provinces and territories.
Lack of federal coordination and guardianship means that more and more Canadians will lack access to comparable health services in primary care, prescription drugs, home care, rehabilitation and longer-term care. The Harper government’s decision to terminate the Health Council will put an end to pan-Canadian health outcomes, common standards across the country and comparable indicators. It also strikes a blow to accountability, transparency and evidence-based health care policy. The official line is: “Let the provinces experiment.”
National surveys consistently show that Canadians and the provincial and territorial governments want federal leadership in health care. Instead Harper is choosing to cut and run – cut the funding and then put distance between his government and universal health care. It is difficult to overstate the damage – to people and their public health care – of these cut-and-run policies. Those most at risk from this federal abdication of responsibility are the frail and elderly.” See More
From The Globe and Mail: Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty presented his provincial and territorial colleagues with a take-it-or-leave-it deal at the end of 2011, three years before their current funding arrangement was supposed to expire. Flaherty told the provincial and territorial finance ministers that the federal government would keep increasing health-care funding by six per cent a year until the 2016-17 fiscal year.
But starting in 2016, the amount given to the provinces will be tied to economic growth. The government will link the amount to nominal GDP, the monetary value of all goods and services produced within the country annually, including inflation. If nominal GDP rises four per cent and inflation is two per cent, the economy’s real GDP growth is two per cent. When Health Care increases have typically been 6% annually, the federal governments decrease will severely cut into Health Care. Poorer performing provinces will receive less funding than better performing ones.
As of today, many Canadians suffering from chronic illnesses say high costs are preventing them from filling the prescriptions they need and from seeing specialists, according to a new survey. Federal cuts to health care will exacerbate the problem.
Then there is the problem of increasing drug costs due to CETA. Provisions in the new trade deal being negotiated between Canada and the European Union could add about $2.8-billion a year in costs to Canadian drug plans if implemented, a new report warns. The estimate includes $1.3-billion more for public drug plans and $1.5-billion for private drug plans.
“This will create a huge hole in provincial budgets in particular,” Aidan Hollis, a professor of economics at the University of Calgary and co-author of the report, said in an interview.
“First the Harper government derailed the national pharmaceutical strategy contained in the 2004 Health Accord. As the Health Council pointed out, the national pharmaceutical strategy was integral to the renewal and sustainability of the entire health care system. It is perverse for the Harper government to encourage excessive growth in pharmaceutical costs and abusive marketing practices, and then tell provinces, territories, employers and individual Canadians to pay the bills and deal with the fallout from unsafe and ineffective new prescription drugs.
Then the Harper government unilaterally announced major cuts to federal transfer payments for health as well as fundamental changes to equalization payments. The cumulative effect will be to take more than $60 billion out of health transfers and equalization payments in the decade following 2014.” The Canadian Health Coalition
Harper’s plan is to balance the budget by 2015 on the backs of the Provinces by cutting transfer payments to health, education, public service, municipalities etc.
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The Canadian Health Coalition is a public advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of Medicare. Our membership is comprised of national organizations representing nurses, health care workers, seniors, churches, anti-poverty groups, women, students and trade unions, as well as affiliated coalitions in 9 provinces and one territory.