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Health care is the undisputed top priority for Canadians in this election. They are demanding shorter wait times, an end to hallway medicine with more health care practitioners and support staff, residential long-term and home care solutions for our seniors, and more affordable prescription drugs. Our next federal government must have a clear plan to protect and strengthen our public health care system for all Canadians.

The next government will be responsible for negotiating the renewal of the Canada Health Transfer agreements with the provinces and territories. These agreements (sometimes called the Health Care Accord) expire in 2014 and determine the money and conditions under which the federal government transfers money to the provinces and territories for health care. Clearly, health care is acritical issue in this election.

We have a choice: more private, for-profit health care in which the rich get care and the rest of us wait, or improvements to make our public system better for all of us. The urgent challenges we face in ensuring Canadians have access to care when and where they need it must be met with leadership at the national level.

Harper Conservatives’ Record

The Harper Conservatives’ record as a government shows they have no real commitment to improving our health care system. The Harper Conservatives have repeatedly refused to even engage in a discussion about health care, saying “it’s a provincial matter.”

The truth is Harper supports increased privatization of our public system. In the Toronto Star Harper said, “We also support the exploration of alternative ways to deliver health care. Moving toward alternatives, including those provided by the private sector, is a natural development of our health care system.”

Under the Harper Conservatives, private, for-profit health care has increased. The number of private for-profit clinics continues to grow unchecked, and user fees are on the rise.

Maxime Bernier, Harper’s former minister of Industry, publicly advocated for an end to federal transfer payments in order to allow provinces to experiment with private, for-profit health care.

Harper has also mandated a Senate Committee - unelected and undemocratic - to conduct the final review of the Health Care Accord before renegotiations begin between the provinces and the federal government. The Committee chair stated that exploring private, for-profit health care would be part of the review.

The Facts

  • 4-5 million Canadians don’t have access to a family doctor.
  • Our hospitals are over-crowded. In   February 2011, in Ontario alone, 773  patients on average were in emergency rooms waiting for an acute care hospital bed each day.
  • Across Canada, more than 7,500 frail seniors are waiting in hospital beds for place in a residential care home.
  • Tens of thousands of seniors and people living with chronic conditions are not receiving the home care they need.
  • Nearly eight million Canadians don’t have coverage for prescription drugs and too many can’t afford to fill prescriptions for necessary medications due to cost.

Better Choices

More than 85 per cent of Canadians support public solutions to make Medicare stronger. We need:

  • federal leadership to protect universal, public health care and the end to the privatization of our health care system;
  • a national strategy for senior’s care based on a publicly-insured and federally-funded pan-Canadian long-term care program covering residential and home/community-based care, based on the conditions and criteria of the Canada Health Act;
  • a health human resources plan that will recruit and retain front line health care workers;
  • a national pharmacare program;
  • await 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 - tied to public non-profit ownership, management, and operation of the facilities, equipment and services.

To get the facts on our vision for health care visit http://cupe.ca/health-care.