OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 10, 2016) - In advance of tonight's dinner discussion on health care between the provincial-territorial Premiers and the Prime Minister, the Ontario Health Coalition called out both sides for their intransigence and advocated a new Health Accord forged in the public interest.
For months, provincial premiers and the federal government have been at odds over funding, with the provinces calling for more and the federal government holding to the funding formula cuts put in place by the Harper government. Health Coalition advocates stressed that both sides need to come to the table with concrete commitments.
The federal government must come to the table with an improved commitment to fund health care to meet the real needs of Canadians. By adopting the reduction in the funding formula that Harper proposed and by tying funding to GDP, the Trudeau government is insulating itself from the impact of population aging on health care costs at the expense of the provinces who cannot afford it, according to the federal government's own Parliamentary Budget Office. (See the 2014 report of the PBO.)
On the other side, the provinces cannot reasonably demand more money and turn around and cut public health care services, priorizing corporate tax giveaways over health (as happened in Ontario), or taking the money and then violating Canada Health Act requirements that protect patients against user fees and extra-billing by doctors and private clinics (as in Saskatchewan where private clinics are billing patients hundreds of dollars for diagnostic tests).
"It is in the public interest that both levels of government sit down serious and negotiate a new Health Accord. The deal must include an improved commitment for federal dollars to meet the real health care needs of Canadians or we will see more service cuts and privatization," noted Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. But the provinces are not off the hook either. "In return, provinces must commit to spending federal funding on improving access and quality in public health care services and not shift them into general revenues while cutting and privatizing services. This is reasonable as both levels of government are accountable to the public."
The Health Coalition is calling for a new 10-year Accord to include the following: