On Friday, August 17, CUPE Nova Scotia President Danny Cavanagh responded to the provincial government’s request for input on proposed changes to the Nova Scotia Health Services and Insurance Act. While he applauds the Nova Scotia government on strengthening the rules for how Medicare services are funded and delivered, Brother Cavanagh also urges the province to take further steps to make Nova Scotia the country’s leader in defending and improving Medicare.
CUPE recommends that the Nova Scotia government:
- fully establish all five criteria of the Canada Health Act in the body of the legislation;
- strengthen the rules against conflict of interest in a number of areas;
- prohibit physicians from opting out of the public system, following Ontario’s example;
- prohibit private insurance for public insured services, as five other provinces do;
- establish a democratic and evidence-based process for decisions on public health insurance coverage;
- continue moving away from fee-for-service physician payment by expanding community health centres;
- strengthen the audit provisions for all publicly-funded health care programs;
- prohibit the co-mingling of insured and uninsured services;
- regulate block fees, a significant access barrier;
- strengthen the rules against queue jumping, using the Ontario model;
- implement a complete patient safety program and healthcare associated infection strategy, building on the government’s first steps around public reporting;
- introduce minimum staff to patient ratios to improve quality and patient outcomes;
- include robust whistleblower protection;
- end the contracting-out of hospital services to private clinics, a practice that diverts public dollars from care to profit and drains professionals from the public system.
In addition to stable and sufficient funding, CUPE calls on the federal government to negotiate with the provinces a new health accord that protects, strengthens and expands Medicare.
As Premier Dexter stated in January: ” The new federal funding formula for the Canada Health Transfer will place a greater burden on poorer provinces with weaker economies and again populations.” And in July, Premier Dexter confirmed that the federal government will cut the transfer by almost $36 billion over ten years, “brining the federal share of health care costs to less than 20 per cent, compared to about 50 per cent originally.”