OTTAWA – According to the Federal Court, critics of the minister of health’s failure to monitor, enforce and report under the Canada Health Act (CHA) have raised important public policy questions which should be taken up in Parliament.
Mr. Justice Mosley of the Federal Court released yesterday his 27-page decision on the legal challenge launched in November 2002 by a coalition of public health care defenders. The groups obtained copies of the decision today – their application was rejected, but their arguments were not dismissed, and the ball has been put squarely in Parliament’s court.
Mr. Justice Mosley did not dismiss the groups’ arguments on privatization, noted Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“The judge has sent a clear message by referring this matter back to Parliament,” said Moist. “Now it’s time for accurate reporting and active enforcement. The next annual report on the CHA must be comprehensive and accurate – no holes and no excuses.”
“A minority government might make it more possible to shed real light on the Minister’s shoddy reporting on and lack of enforcement of the CHA,” said Moist.
Moist noted that the groups went to Court in the first place because the minister of health was submitting porous reports to the House of Commons. The groups are considering their options and discussing whether to appeal.
Defenders of public health care promised that they would work tirelessly with opposition parties to make sure that Parliament is not kept in the dark – again.
“Canadians are kept in the dark by annual reports that are full of holes,” said Mike McBane of the Canadian Health Coalition, “We will be working with opposition parties to take this up concretely in the next Parliament.”
Successive auditors general have highlighted the stunning gaps in reports to Parliament by health ministers concerning the administration of the CHA. As in previous years, huge swaths of data – needed to track monies spent on private care – were missing from the most recent report (2002-03). For many of the provinces, the totals spent on private health care were listed as “not available”. The exceptions were Saskatchewan and Manitoba – both provinces with strong commitments to public health care.
A coalition of public health care supporters – made up of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Canadian Health Coalition (CHC), the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) and the Council of Canadians – launched the legal challenge in November of 2002.
For more information:
Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613) 558-2873 (cell.)
Mike McBane, Canadian Health Coalition, (613) 277-6295 (cell.)
Stephen Shrybman, Legal Counsel, (613) 233-4897 (o)
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431 (cell.)