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Health care is the undisputed top priority for Canadians in this election, and they deserve straight answers on the future of our universal public health care system.

The next federal government will be entrusted with renegotiating the health accord with the provinces and territories. Struck 10 years ago, it provides provinces and territories a six per cent escalator in Canada Health Transfer funding each year.

The CHT is the life blood of our public health care system, and is vital to keeping quality care available to all Canadians.

With the deal set to expire in 2013-14, it should be a simple question for federal leaders: If your party forms the next government, will it commit to continuing the six percent CHT escalator?

Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff have publically said they would. In their platforms, however, neither Conservatives nor Liberals commit to the six percent escalator or even mention the CHT.

In the defeated federal budget, Conservatives included the escalator increases into 2015-16, but only as a “planning assumption,” with the note “from 2014-15 onward, these growth rates have not yet been legislated and are therefore subject to change.”

There is a big difference between “planning assumption” and “commitment.” 

The only party to clearly commit to continuing the six per cent escalator in a new ten-year accord is Jack Layton’s NDP. It’s a commitment in writing, in the NDP platform.

Commitments to our strengthening our public health care system are too important to be left out of platforms.