The 2013 budget moves us one step closer to a $36 billion cut to federal health transfers and shows no leadership on pressing Medicare issues.
Women and other equity-seeking groups, both as providers and patients, will be most affected.
We need the federal government to negotiate a new health accord that will protect, strengthen and expand Medicare.
Planned Funding Cuts
The federal government is pressing ahead with plans to cut the Canada Health Transfer by $36 billion (8.3 per cent) over 10 years – starting with elimination of CHT equalization in 2014, then sharp cuts in CHT increases beginning in 2017. Instead of increasing at 6 per cent a year, the health transfer will be tied to economic growth, with a 3 per cent floor. Over time, the federal government’s share of health care spending will shrink to a small fraction of its original 50 per cent contribution – down to 18.6 per cent by 2024 alone.
Lack of Vision
With this budget, Harper failed to offer a vision for Medicare or tackle Canadians’ pressing health care concerns.
It offered nothing substantial to Canadians struggling to pay for prescription drugs or access health care services, stretched to unsafe levels across the country.
Instead of a national program for seniors’ care, this government offers small sums for home care services and palliative care training - not enough to make a dent in long waits and rushed care in this highly privatized sector.
The erosion of federal funding and standards hurts some more than others. Women will continue to shoulder the biggest burden, as the primary providers of both paid and unpaid care. Canadians marginalized by class, gender, race and other oppressions suffer most when federal funding and national standards are weakened.
What we Need
We need the federal government to negotiate with the provinces a new ten year health accord that will protect, strengthen and expand Medicare.
The federal government must protect Medicare through:
- Stable and sufficient funding: Negotiate with the provinces and territories a new 10-year Health Accord with stable and adequate funding, including at minimum the 6 per cent escalator.
- National standards: Enforce the Canada Health Act, including the ban on user fees and extra billing, and correct gaps in monitoring and reporting under the Act.
The federal government must strengthen Medicare through:
- Safe health care: Implement a national strategy to reduce healthcare associated infections, with dedicated funding for microbiological cleaning standards, more in-house cleaning staff, lower hospital occupancy and mandatory public reporting.
- Better frontline care: Promote access to effective primary health care with funding for new and expanded Community Health Centres.
The federal government must expand Medicare through:
- Better continuing care: Create a national continuing care program, covering long-term care facilities, home and community care, with dedicated transfers financed from general revenue and Canada Health Act standards, plus minimum staffing and phasing out of for-profit delivery.
- Safe and affordable drugs: Establish a national pharmacare program, and exempt health care from trade agreements, starting with CETA.
For more information, see: cupe.ca/health-care-public-solutions