What’s in the budget?
$500 million to Canada Health Infoway to encourage electronic health records.
$440 million to First Nations and Inuit health programs, including $135 million for new and upgraded health clinics and nurses’ residences.
What does it mean for Canadians?
This budget delivers nothing on pharmacare, home and community care, wait times, health human resources, or hospital superbugs. There is no dedicated health care infrastructure money (for new and upgraded facilities) outside of the First Nations projects.
Even though health care makes up almost half of federal cash transfers and remains a top priority for Canadians, the federal government has whittled down its role to electronic health information systems.
What are the better choices?
Federal leadership for universal, public health care. The federal government must enforce the Canada Health Act and turn back the privatization of our health care system.
A national seniors’ care program with targeted funding and national standards for home and residential care.
A wait time strategy that guarantees public sector improvements like centralized lists and maximized use of operating rooms, with no outsourcing to for-profit clinics.
A national infrastructure fund to build and redevelop hospitals and long term care facilities that is tied to public non-profit ownership, management, and operation of the facilities, equipment and services.
A national strategy to combat health care associated infections through:
- more cleaning and infection control staff;
- an end to contracting out of health care cleaning services;
- lower bed occupancy rates;
- stringent infection control, cleaning, sterilization, and disinfection standards; and,
- mandatory reporting and public disclosure of healthcare associated infection and death rates.
A federal health strategy for Aboriginal peoples that eliminates the shortfall created by the cap on First Nations budgets, meets the needs identified by the Kelowna Accord, and invests in public infrastructure and services.
A national health human resources strategy built on improved working conditions, training, and wage parity across the sector and an end to the exploitation of migrant workers.
A national pharmacare program that provides equal access to safe and effective drugs while keeping rising costs in check. The program should include first-dollar coverage for essential drugs on a national formulary, bulk purchasing, more rigorous safety standards, evidence-based prescribing, and stricter controls on drug company marketing.