We need a new Health Accord that will improve services and increase federal funding to the provinces

By Joan Wark
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Canada’s Health Ministers are meeting this week for the first time since 2006. They need to make protecting, strengthening and extending public health care their number one goal.  We need a new Health Accord that will improve services and increasing federal funding to the provinces.

We have had our share of issues here in Nova Scotia and to watch the McNeil Liberal Government  put more cash directly into the new convention center than it will put into our public health care system is shameful.  That’s why we are reminding Health Minister Leo Minister Glavine that our province is facing its own challenges, including a lack of mental health services, crumbling infrastructure, ER closures and under-funding budgets in long-term care and home support.

Canadians want national standards and the enforcement of the Canada Health Act. We want to end long wait times and the patchwork of care across the country

We must not allow for-profit privatization in our public health care system. In our province, we have witnessed creeping privatization which simply funnels money from the public system.

Ottawa also has an obligation to put greater effort into monitoring and enforcement to stop extra-billing and illegal fees.

The promised new Accord should increase health care transfers from Ottawa. We need to move to a more equitable formula for provinces after Harpers’ devastating cuts. When Medicare was launched in 1965, Ottawa shared half the costs. Today, the feds contribute about 23 per cent of all money spent on health care, which will fall 19 per cent by 2024, because of Harper’s cuts. We know that the federal parliamentary budget officer reported that the existing funding formula for the provinces and territories will not meet our aging population’s health-care demands.

Our senior population is growing with one in seven Canadians 65 or older. By 2036, it will be one in four. Preparing for the impact of this massive demographic shift is critical. National standards for seniors need to be adequately resourced to support our aging population.

We must have a national continuing care program that extends the principles of the Canada Health Act to long-term care, home and community care and establishes minimum staffing and phasing out of for-profit delivery.  We also need a national universal Pharmacare program that will provide coverage to all Canadians through a national formulary, evidence-based evaluation of prescribing and protection from trade deals. We need that because our population is aging and because our country has the second-highest pharmaceutical costs per capita.

Our Minister of Health must push with others to ensure there is an adjustment so federal health transfers can factor in demographics. Clearly provinces with older populations should receive more support to cover their higher health care costs.

The Federal Liberals promised to reduce drug costs through bulk buying and there have been discussions on this between the four Atlantic Provinces and small moves have been made. We need more.

A national pharmacare program would ensure all Canadians have access to the drug therapy they need at no little or no cost. On top of that, experts estimate there could be up to $11 billion in annual savings, money better spent on other health-care priorities.

We hope that this meeting in Vancouver will pave the way to a new and improved  Health Accord.

 

 

 

 

 

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