Monday, January 16, 2012

Canadian Premiers meet to discuss health care

 At a meeting in Victoria B.C. Canada's premiers and territorial leaders are trying to hammer out a common policy on health care. The Conservative federal government has announced that it will guarantee health-care funding increases right up to the 2016,2017 year. Up until then the yearly increases were set at 6 per cent.
   After that, increases will be related to the growth of GDP but increases will continue at the rate of at least three per cent per annum. These increases were announced unilaterally and without consultation with the provinces as is usual before the federal government announces policy.
   Premier Jean Charest of Quebec was angry that there was no consultation with provinces on the question of funding but this unilateral declaration by the Harper federal government. Charest noted:"We have always in Canada, because of our federal system of government, had a dialogue on this, an exchange of information, a dialogue and decisions were made" Charest wants to hold talks with prime minister Harper on future funding. The present accord does not expire until 2014.
   Future funding will be per capita after 2014. Some provinces object to this in particular British Columbia where there are many seniors. Seniors cost the system much more. The situation does not look positive for health care in Canada. The federal government is reactionary. Although the Conservatives pledge their undying support for universal health care both they and many of the provinces will be looking to privatize more of the system to support their business friends. The system is likely to change so that the the level of services will not be the same in all provinces. No doubt there will be an offloading of costs so far as possible from the provinces to the individual. Rich provinces will no doubt have better health care systems and poorer provinces will struggle to provide basic care. Manitoba Premier Greg Sellinger said:  "The underlying principle is to offer comparable levels of service even if they are different, in such a way that it respects the overall framework of the Canada Health Act," Sellinger is an New Democratic Party premier supposedly on the left. Per capita funding will never achieve the goal he outlines.
    The premier of Nova Scotia Darell Dexter also NDP put the matter much more realistically: "Equal funding is not necessarily equitable funding," "This is the problem. We have 16 per cent of our population currently over the age of 65 in our province. We're going to move from 16 per cent over the age of 65 to almost 30 per cent over the next 20 years," Poorer provinces such as Nova Scotia will simply not have the funds to provide adequate care for an aging population if funding is based solely on so much per person. For much more see this CBC article.

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