Stop and reverse the privatization of health care Stopping privatization refers to the immediate threat of Albertas private health care law, Bill 11, and the growing role of the for-profit health facilities and services across the country. The federal government must strictly enforce the Canada Health Act, strengthening the legislation of required to stem the tide of privatization. Health care must be exempted from any trade deals that increase corporate rights. Support services should be provided by the public and not-for-profit sectors. P3s should be rejected and user fees eliminated.
Increase federal funding for all health care - acute care, long-term care, mental health and home and community care. Governments must reinvest in public health care, increasing staffing and upgrading facilities and equipment to meet growing demands and ensure optimal quality. After years of slashing budgets and staff and closing beds and hospitals, there is an urgent need to increase spending.
The federal and provincial governments have surpluses that should be applied to health care as a priority, restoring transfer payments and increasing health care budgets in line with a growing and ageing population. Tax cuts are not the solution to health care funding problems.
Rebuild the existing public health care system and expand it to include a national home care program and a national drug plan. Governments must make it a priority to rebuild the capacities of acute care, long-term care and community care. The ability of existing programs to provide adequate levels of care have been severely curtailed over the last five years of funding cuts, closures, mergers and amalgamations, and other restructuring. Governments must meet the pressing health care needs of seniors and there must be increased support for community mental health and preventive health care programs.
A national home and community care program is required to assure that the sick, frail and disabled receive high quality health care where it will do them the most good. Patients are being discharged from hospital quicker and sicker. The absence of a home care system that is an integral part of a public health care system endangers the continuity of their care, placing an unfair burden on family members, particularly women and increasing financial strain. Privateers are looking to make huge profits from home care, exploiting non-union labour. The federal and provincial government s should cooperate on a public home care program governed by a Community and Home Care Act, modelled on the same principles as the Canada Health Act.
A national drug plan is essential to support and supplement existing provincial drug plans that are currently under stress. The rising cost of drugs is placing an increasing strain on the budget of Canadian families and represents the fastest growing area of expenditures for the health care system. Prices have skyrocketed in the aftermath of federal legislation that extends the patents of drug manufacturers. Drugs that had been administered in hospital are not covered when patients are discharged to their homes. The National Forum on Health recognized these issues and recommended a national plan as part of the solution.
Improve access to quality health care through primary care reform One of the most costly and inefficient components of the health care system is having doctors working in a fee-for-service system. Patients often have difficulty accessing medical advice outside of the 9 to 5 office hours of their family doctor, contributing to the wait in hospital emergency rooms. As well, the fee-for-service system does not encourage a strong emphasis on promoting health and preventing disease. New funding arrangements for doctors are essential.
The creation of a strong network of community health centres where they dont already exist would contribute to a more integrated, accessible and responsive health care system. Where a strong network of community health centres already exists (Quebec, Manitoba), there must be a commitment to increased public funding and sufficient staffing levels to provide extended hours of care. Community health centres should be staffed with multidisciplinary teams of health and social service workers including nurse practitioners.
Under no circumstances are community health centres based on the health maintenance organization (HMO) model to be part of primary care reform.
Exempt health care from trade deals, specifically NAFTA and WTO Health care is not a commodity to be bought and sold in the marketplace. Provision of health care services are most effectively and efficiently delivered within a publicly funded and publicly delivered system. Corporations and many governments are seeking to open up the $86 billion Canadian health care market to private for-profit health corporations. The federal government has an obligation to ensure that public health care remains public. The federal government has sole jurisdiction over international trade matters and must resist any attempt by a province to pass legislation which opens the door to private provision of health services and in the course of doing so opens the door to private competition under NAFTA. The federal government must also ensure that health services are not on the agenda at any future trade talks.