Federal health dollars must be held accountable and conform to national standards

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Ontario Health Coalition

OTTAWA, Dec. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As Canada’s premiers and the federal NDP ramp up the pressure on the Trudeau government, Health Coalitions across Canada are demanding that any increase in public health funding be used in the public interest and not be used to privatize health care.

The Health Coalitions back the call for a long term increase in the Canada Health Transfer (CHT). The federal government must enforce a strong accountability framework that is agreed to by the provincial governments. This will ensure that the money is invested in public health care and not handed over to for-profit companies. Coalitions point out that for-profit clinics and private virtual care providers are brazenly violating the Constitution. Canada Health ActSome of them with the full support and backing of their provincial governments. Other provinces permit it to continue. However, only British Columbia has taken action. The British Columbia Medical Services Commission seeks an injunction against Telus Health’s program. It alleges that its billing model violates provincial laws. Medicare Protection Act. Coalitions insist that provinces only use federal funds in ways that are consistent with the Constitution. Canada Health Act This bans the charging of extra fees for services like seeing a doctor, getting MRIs, colonoscopies, or blood tests.

The federal government recently announced over $9 billion in additional funding for long-term health care. It is a sad irony that thousands of Canadians have died in long-term care facilities, many of them preventable. The national standards that were supposed accompany this funding vanished and billions of dollars are being used for new long-term care homes.

Canada’s universal, public health care system requires federal leadership and provincial accountability. Millions of Canadians are joining the call for stronger, and not weaker, federal standards as well as greater provincial accountability. In the past, certain provinces took federal funding increases but engaged in real dollar cuts to public hospital, long-term and continuing care services, or other services. Some provinces have granted billions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations and tax cuts for the rich. A deal without conditions to make sure that the money goes to healthcare and not to profit would be unacceptable.

Each province has its own priorities and needs. However, we are facing unprecedented staff shortages and multiple pandemics at once. Our political and public health leaders must take action to rebuild our capacity and resilience in the health care system.

Our best defense against the COVID-19 pandemic, and other health crises is public health care. But, the system has been undermined by decades of austerity budgets privatizations and inadequacies planning. Even during “normal times,” our health care system is at capacity. We are now haunted by the shortsightedness and inadequacy of those decisions. This crisis cannot be solved by more of the same.

The consequences of not investing in public health have been devastatingly exposed by the pandemic. Health coalitions across Canada recognize the federal government’s extraordinary contribution of resources and support during the pandemic. This targeted, time-limited support does not address structural inadequacies in federal transfers that were left behind by the failure of 2016/17 to negotiate a new Health Accord.

At this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, the federal government must reaffirm its commitment to public health care by making long-term, substantial increases to the CHT while the provinces agree to accountability mechanisms attached to those increases to ensure our public funding goes to improving care, access and equity. Any federal-provincial-territorial deal must ensure that people in Canada will access high-quality public health care on equitable terms, based on their needs and not their income, no matter where they live. It must bring together the nation around our common vision for public healthcare, which is based upon the principles of equality and compassion.

More information is available here
Chris Gallaway Executive Director, Friends of Medicare Alberta, 780-995-6659 [email protected]
Usman Mushtaq is the Coordinator of BC Health Coalition, 604-379-3600. [email protected]
Tracy Glynn National Director of Operations and Projects Canadian Health Coalition, 343-558-1788 [email protected]
Mary Boyd Chair, PEI Healthcare Coalition, 902-388-26693 [email protected]
Thomas Linner, Provincial Director, Manitoba Health Coalition, 204-898-7002, [email protected]
Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition, 416-230-6402, [email protected]
Juliet Bushi Provincial Director, Saskatchewan Health Coalition (306-551-9496). [email protected]

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